26 Movies That Prove 1985 Was One of the Best Years in Cinema

Do you remember what Hollywood was producing in 1985? It was an awesome year for films. So, I put together a list of 26 of the absolute best of the bunch. Enjoy!

1. St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)

St. Elmo's Fire 1985
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

St. Elmo’s Fire, directed by Joel Schumacher, depicts the lives of a group of recent college graduates as they face the hardships of adulthood. The film addresses themes of friendship, love, and the struggle to find one’s place in the world.

With an ensemble cast that includes Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, and Ally Sheedy, the movie captures the essence of the ’80s and resonates with a generation undergoing similar transitions.

2. The Goonies (1985)

The Goonies Chunk
Image Credit: Warner Bros..

Directed by Richard Donner and produced by Steven Spielberg, The Goonies is an iconic adventure film that captures the spirit of youthful curiosity and camaraderie. A group of friends embarks on a treasure hunt to save their homes from foreclosure, leading to a series of thrilling escapades filled with mystery and excitement. The film’s timeless appeal has made it a beloved classic among audiences of all ages.

3. Back to the Future (1985)

Back to the Future Marty McFly 1985
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

A timeless science-fiction classic directed by Robert Zemeckis, Back to the Future introduces us to Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and his eccentric scientist friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd).

When Marty travels back to the 1950s, he inadvertently jeopardizes his existence and must ensure that his parents’ romance flourishes. The film’s innovative storytelling, humor, and memorable characters have solidified its status as an iconic ’80s film.

4. Weird Science (1985)

Weird Science 1985
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Directed by John Hughes, Weird Science takes a comedic and fantastical approach to the teen genre. Two socially awkward friends, played by Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith, create a perfect woman using their computer. The ensuing chaos and hilarious misadventures that follow lead to unexpected life lessons about self-discovery, friendship, and acceptance.

5. The Breakfast Club (1985)

The Breakfast Club 1985
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Another John Hughes masterpiece, The Breakfast Club, brings together five high school students from different cliques who are in Saturday detention. Their initial differences and prejudices break down as they spend the day together, revealing their shared struggles and vulnerabilities.

This insightful exploration of teenage angst, identity, and the complexities of growing up resonates with audiences and remains a poignant cultural touchstone.

6. The Color Purple (1985)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Steven Spielberg directs Thia Melberg. It’s based on Alice Walker’s novel. The movie is a gripping drama. It follows Celie Harris (Whoopi Goldberg). She navigates decades of suffering and abuse.

The film addresses themes of racism, sexism, and empowerment, portraying Celie’s journey toward self-discovery and resilience. The movie’s emotional depth and stellar performances earned it critical acclaim and multiple Academy Award nominations.

7. Teen Wolf (1985)

Teen Wolf 1985
Image Credit: Atlantic Releasing Corporation.

Teen Wolf, directed by Rod Daniel, offers a lighthearted and supernatural twist on the coming-of-age genre. Michael J. Fox stars as Scott Howard, a high school student who discovers he has the ability to transform into a werewolf. While the film incorporates elements of comedy and romance, it also explores themes of self-acceptance and the challenges of adolescence.

8. The Jewel of the Nile (1985)

The Jewel of the Nile 1985
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

A sequel to Romancing the Stone, The Jewel of the Nile continues the adventures of Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) and Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) as they embark on a perilous journey through the Middle East to locate a precious jewel. Directed by Lewis Teague, the film combines action, romance, and comedy, making it a memorable addition to the ’80s adventure film genre.

9. Clue (1985)

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Based on the popular board game, Clue brings the classic whodunit mystery to the big screen with a comedic twist. Directed by Jonathan Lynn, the film follows a group of strangers who are invited to a mansion only to find themselves entangled in a murder investigation. With multiple endings released in theaters, the movie offers a unique and interactive viewing experience.

10. Commando (1985)

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Commando is an action-packed film directed by Mark L. Lester. Schwarzenegger plays John Matrix, a retired special forces operative who must rescue his kidnapped daughter from a group of mercenaries. Filled with explosive action sequences and one-liners, the movie embodies the high-octane spirit of ’80s action cinema.

11. Real Genius (1985)

Real Genius 1985
Image Credit: Tri-Star Pictures.

Real Genius, directed by Martha Coolidge, is a quirky comedy that centers around a group of brilliant students at a top-secret university. When they discover that their work is being used for military purposes, they decide to use their intellect for something more meaningful. With its blend of humor, intelligence, and heart, the film has become a cult favorite and captures the spirit of ’80s college life.

12. After Hours (1985)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Directed by Martin Scorsese, After Hours offers a unique and darkly comedic portrayal of a nightmarish evening in New York City. The film follows a man’s series of bizarre and surreal encounters as he navigates through the city’s eccentric subcultures. Scorsese’s distinct visual style and storytelling create a tense and unpredictable atmosphere, making After Hours an unforgettable cinematic experience.

13. Witness (1985)

Witness 1985
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Directed by Peter Weir, Witness is a captivating drama combining crime and romance elements. Harrison Ford stars as a detective who goes undercover in an Amish community to protect a young Amish boy who has witnessed a murder. The film explores themes of cultural clash, forbidden love, and the pursuit of justice, resulting in a compelling and thought-provoking narrative.

14. Fright Night (1985)

Fright Night 1985
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

A horror-comedy directed by Tom Holland, Fright Night pays homage to classic vampire tales while infusing them with ’80s flair. A teenager becomes convinced that his charming new neighbor is a vampire, leading him to seek the help of a TV horror show host. The film balances scare and humor, becoming a beloved entry in the horror genre.

15. Brazil (1985)

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Directed by Terry Gilliam, Brazil is a visually stunning dystopian masterpiece that blends dark satire with imaginative storytelling. The film is set in a totalitarian society with omnipresent bureaucracy and surveillance.

A low-level government worker becomes embroiled in a series of surreal and absurd events that challenge his perception of reality. Brazil explores themes of freedom, individuality, and the power of imagination.

16. Cocoon (1985)

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Directed by Ron Howard, Cocoon is a heartwarming science fiction film about a group of elderly residents in a retirement home who discover a rejuvenating alien pool. As they experience newfound vitality, the residents must navigate their extended lives’ moral and emotional complexities. The film combines themes of friendship, aging, and the unknown with a touch of wonder and nostalgia.

17. Mask (1985)

Mask 1985 Cher
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Mask is a moving drama directed by Peter Bogdanovich that is inspired by the actual tale of Rocky Dennis, a young guy with a facial defect. Cher delivers a powerful performance as Rocky’s mother, portraying the challenges of raising a unique child in a world that often misunderstands him. The film explores themes of acceptance, love, and the resilience of the human spirit.

18. A Room with a View (1985)

A Room With a View 1985
Image Credit: Curzon Film Distributors/Cinecom Pictures.

A Room with a View, directed by James Ivory and based on E.M. Forster’s novel, is a romantic drama set in Edwardian England. The film follows a young woman’s journey of self-discovery as she navigates societal conventions and her own desires. With its lush cinematography and captivating performances, the movie explores themes of love, freedom, and class dynamics.

19. Come and See (1985)

Come and See 1985
Image Credit: Belarusfilm.

Come and See, directed by Elem Klimov, is a harrowing war drama set during World War II. The film follows a young Belarusian boy who joins partisans to resist Nazi occupation, only to witness firsthand war horrors. Renowned for its raw and unflinching portrayal of the brutality of conflict, the movie leaves a lasting impact on viewers with its haunting visuals and emotional intensity.

20. Out of Africa (1985)

Out of Africa 1985
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Directed by Sydney Pollack, Out of Africa is a sweeping romantic drama that stars Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. The film tells the true story of Danish author Karen Blixen and her tumultuous relationship with big-game hunter Denys Finch Hatton in colonial Kenya. Against the backdrop of breathtaking landscapes, the film explores themes of love, independence, and the complexities of colonialism.

21. Beverly Hills Cop (1985)

Beverly Hills Cop 1984
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Martin Brest directs Beverly Hills Cop. The film is an action-comedy. Eddie Murphy stars as Axel Foley. He’s a Detroit police detective. Axel travels to Beverly Hills. His mission: solve his best friend’s murder. The film’s blend of humor, action, and Murphy’s charismatic performance made it a box office hit and solidified Murphy’s status as a leading actor.

22. Rocky IV (1985)

Rocky IV 1985
Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Sylvester Stallone returns as Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV, which he also directed. Rocky faces his most formidable opponent in this movie: Ivan Drago, a Soviet boxer. The film’s iconic training montages, intense boxing matches, and themes of patriotism and personal redemption make it a memorable entry in the Rocky series.

23. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Pee-wee's Big Adventure 1985
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Tim Burton’s directorial debut, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, follows the whimsical journey of Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) as he embarks on a cross-country quest to recover his beloved bicycle. With its quirky characters, visual style, and offbeat humor, the film captured Burton’s signature creative vision and launched his successful directing career.

24. Fletch (1985)

Fletch 1985
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Fletch, based on Gregory McDonald’s novel, starring Chevy Chase as investigative journalist Irwin Fletch Fletcher. Directed by Michael Ritchie, the film follows Fletch as he investigates a drug trafficking scheme while assuming various disguises. Chase’s comedic timing and the film’s witty dialogue contribute to its enduring popularity.

25. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)

Mad max Beyond the Thunderdome
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is the third part in the Mad Max series, directed by George Miller and George Ogilvie. Mel Gibson reprises his role as Max Rockatansky, who finds himself in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and becomes entangled in a power struggle in the desert city of Bartertown. The film’s unique setting, action sequences, and themes of survival contribute to its cult following.

26. Better Off Dead (1985)

Better Off Dead 1985
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Savage Steve Holland’s Better Off Dead is a dark comedy that follows high school student Lane Myer (John Cusack) as he navigates the ups and downs of life after his girlfriend breaks up with him. The film’s eccentric characters, offbeat humor, and memorable scenes have made it a cult classic that continues to resonate with audiences.

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Rhinestone 1984
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

The 1980s produced many cultural landmarks that shaped modern cinema. The decade was full of cinematic invention, from thrilling action films to iconic comedies and revolutionary sci-fi.

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Mick Jagger The Rolling Stones
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

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Prom Night 1980
Image Credit: AVCO Embassy Pictures.

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Stevie Nicks
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The 1970s was an incredible decade for music. So, I know dozens of singers, songwriters, and bands deserve their spots on this list. But I was an MTV baby who didn’t discover this great music until later in life. So, I have selected the musicians and bands that I personally love today.

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Drop Dead Gorgeous 1999
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

The 1990s are known for iconic blockbusters. Nonetheless, there are a ton of underrated films that are typically overlooked while revisiting the classics. Here are some of the most seriously underrated films of the 90s. Do you agree?