The 10 Best Movies of 1986


See the Top 10 of 1985

1986 was the year when "the future" was supposed to have arrived.

Fortunately, George Orwell's dark and dire prediction for two years

earlier hadn't come true. Instead of a dreary, mind-numbing existence

where "Big Brother is watching," we were smack-dab in the middle of a

flashy and often tacky decade where bigger was better (especially when

it came to hair) and style ruled over substance. Let me take you back...

Wham!, Falco, Bananarama and the Pet Shop Boys rule the charts,

along with Huey Lewis, Steve Winwood, Robert Palmer and Madonna. Don

Johnson gives us "Heartbeat," and the world is introduced to a young

lady named Whitney Houston who will soon declare herself "bigger than

the Beatles."

The Chicago Bears dance the Super Bowl Shuffle in possibly the worst

music video ever made, then trample all over the upstart New England

Patriots. The Mets beat the Red Sox in the World Series. And before

anyone had heard of Lance Armstrong, Greg LeMond becomes the first

American to win a Tour de France.

Budding investigative journalist Geraldo Rivera discovers the secret

vault of Al Capone and opens it on live TV only to discover a single

bottle of moonshine.

The nation suffers a heartbreaking tragedy when the space shuttle

Challenger explodes just after take-off, killing all seven people on

board including teacher Christa McAuliffe. The Soviets manage to

successfully launch MIR, but then suffer their own disaster back on

earth when fire erupts at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, killing dozens

and turning parts of the Ukraine into a poisonous wasteland. On the

political front, Ronald Reagan is in the White House still talking

tough about the "evil" Soviet empire, while members of his

administration are secretly selling weapons to Iran to fund the Contras.

'86 is as opulent and cheesy as you get and the movies reflect it.

The crew of the Enterprise saves the whales and the world in Star

Trek IV; Jason Gedrick blows up the Middle East with a single jet

in Iron Eagle; Rutger Hauer scares the crap out of us in The

Hitcher; Howard the Duck is perhaps the worst film ever

made; and Arnold Schwarzenegger battles Sylvester Stallone for the

unofficial title of most muscle-bound action star.

But the year's movies are not all about muscles and puppets. Here

are my picks for the best of '86.

1. Top Gun

Director: Tony Scott

Stars: Tom Cruise, Anthony Edwards, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer,

Tom Skerritt

Why a fave? The first (and still one of the best) movies of its

genre, the military action/adventure, or as I like to call it, the "war

movie when there isn't a war." There's something for everyone to enjoy:

fighter jets for the guys and that volleyball scene for the ladies.

C'mon, admit it... you and your friends went around calling each other

Maverick and Ice Man.

2. Aliens

Director: James Cameron

Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Bill


Why a fave? One of the first movies I remember where the sequel

was better than the original. What could be scarier than a monstrous

alien with acid for blood? Hundreds of them. Now send in some kick-ass

Marines of the future to fight the aliens and you have a movie. Great

story, great special effects (for the first time) and solid acting.

3. The

Color of Money

Director: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

Why a fave? Paul Newman reprises the character of Fast Eddie

Felson, one of the roles that made him a star. Despite the fact that I

think he's a lunatic now, Tom Cruise was brilliant as the arrogant and

hyper Vincent, who becomes Eddie's pool protege.

4. Hoosiers

Director: David Anspaugh

Stars: Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper, Barbara Hershey

Why a fave? The story's a little cheesy and predictable, but the

performances are top-notch. I still get chills when Dennis Hopper's

character has to take over coaching and calls the play that wins the


5. Ferris

Bueller's Day Off

Director: John Hughes

Stars: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jeffrey Jones,

Jennifer Grey

Why a fave? Ferris Bueller: every teenage girl wanted him; every

teenage boy wanted to be him. This movie and War Games

launched Matthew Broderick's career into the stratosphere, but whatever

happened to Mia Sara, anyone know?

6. Platoon

Director: Oliver Stone

Stars: Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger

Why a fave? The dirty little secret that was the Vietnam War was

out of the bag. Among the first movies to expose the darker sides of

war that few talked about, from fragging to other atrocities by U.S.


7. Sid

and Nancy

Director: Alex Cox

Stars: Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb

Why a fave? One of Gary Oldman's first and best films about

British punk rocker Sid Vicious. Chloe Webb was great too, but I admit

I got sick of her whining.

8. Heartbreak


Director: Clint Eastwood

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Marsha Mason, Mario Van Peebles

Why a fave? Okay, I know some of you might disagree with me on

this, but I LOVED this movie. Eastwood is terrific in front of

and behind the camera. Mario Van Peebles is in his most comfortable

role. Probably the only movie ever made about the invasion of Grenada.

9. Stand

By Me

Director: Rob Reiner

Stars: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry

O'Connell, Kiefer Sutherland

Why a fave? You are not allowed to not like this movie.

Seriously, I think it's a law or something. A touching, poignant and

endearing coming of age film from a short story written by, of all

people, Stephen King (NOT known for touching, poignant and endearing


10. Highlander

Director: Russell Mulcahy

Stars: Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Roxanne Hart, Clancy


Why a fave? I'm not much of a Christopher Lambert fan, but he

was fine as the tortured and brooding Connor MacLeod. Clancy Brown is

one of my favorite "that guy" actors: you don't know his name, but when

you see him you say, "oh yeah, THAT GUY." He has my favorite line from

the film: "I have something to say. It's better to burn out than to

fade away!"


See the Top 10 of 1985

Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt."

Go ahead and write me.