I think a great case can be made for Scorsese as the top director of the 80s, in fact I think he is, starting with Raging Bull and King of Comedy, then After Hours, the underrated Color of Money, and even more underrated Last Temptation of Christ. I think he did a brilliant job of juggling fantastically artistic films and making accessible to a larger, almost mainstream, audience. While people may think it’s easy to say Scorsese as the best, think it would be criminal to deny just how accomplished director he is.
I think David Lynch was very impressive in the decade with The Elephant Man and Blue Velvet alone — and I’m not one to hate on Dune, in fact, I named my Golden Retriever Dune, soooo….
But I’m tagging this thread to Roland Joffe who inexplicably basically fell of the face of the film earth and now has finally returned.
The Killing Fields and the Mission and two very impressive films with large scope and detailed storytelling, not to mentioned great cinematography by Chris Menges, and then to follow those two up with the neglected Fat Man and Little Boy, is a successful six year run.
I’ll leave the world view to the more studied and learned members here, but here are three I submit as the best of the 80s in a decade that made many, many flows and I think is the most dated decade in film history.
How about Wim Wenders for Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire?
Actually, since the 80s was really the decade of the blockbuster, I would be inclined to list a director who made a lot of great popcorn flicks:
Spielberg: Raiders, ET, Last Crusade
Burton: Pee Wee, Beetlejuice, Batman
Cameron: Terminator, Aliens
Hughes: Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Ferris, Planes, Uncle Buck
And some might also lean towards Woody Allen, although I think he falls into the Kubrick camp of being great overall but not in a specific decade. Although with Manhattan, Hannah, and Crimes & Misdemeanors, that’s pretty impressive stuff.
Yes, it’s Scorsese (is Last Temptation underrated? I thought it was recognized by all but its protesters as great.)
Yes to Spielberg, but Temple of Doom>Last Crusade.
Yes to Woody, but Manhattan was 1979.
Burton was much better in the nineties.
- Scanners (81)
- Videodrome (83)
- The Dead Zone (83)
- The Fly (86)
- Dead Ringers (88)
- The Fog (80)
- Escape From New York (81)
- The Thing (82)
- Christine (83)
- Starman (84)
- Big Trouble in Little China (86)
- Prince of Darkness (87)
- They Live (88)
Just a few…..
Yeah, other contenders (good call, Pierre):
Bill Forsyth: Gregory’s Girl, Local Hero, Comfort and Joy, Housekeeping, Breaking In
Jonathan Demme: Melvin and Howard, Who Am I This Time?, Swing Shift, Stop Making Sense, Something Wild, Swimming to Cambodia, Married to the Mob
Jarmusch: Permanent Vacation, Stranger than Paradise, Down by Law, Cigarettes and Coffee, Mystery Train
Kieslowski: Talking Heads, Blind Chance, No End, Short Films About…, Dekalog
Rohmer: The Aviator’s Wife, Le Beau Mariage, Pauline at the Beach, Full Moon in Paris, Le Rayon vert, Boyfriends and Girlfriends, Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle), A Tale of Springtime.
Woody Allen. He had a string of superb films back to back.
Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Radio Days (1987)
Wim Wenders is a clear candidate with Wings of Desire and Paris, Texas both in my Top 25. Though I haven’t seen any of his other ’80s films yet.
Miyazaki had arguably his best decade with My Neighbour Totoro (his best film) and Castle in the Sky both ranking as amazing films. Nausicaa and Kiki’s Delivery Service are great.
Roland Joffe? Absolutely not. He had The Killing Fields & The Mission, but beyond that…
No way he could hold a candle to Costa-Gavras, Scoreses (for RAGING BULL alone but there’s also Last Temptation & The King of Comedy), John Sayles, John Boorman and Louis Malle…all of whom contributed mightily during the decade
Rob Reiner. :)
Ahem, it’s not that funny. ;)
Here’s Reiner’s films fwiw:
1989 When Harry Met Sally…
1987 The Princess Bride
1986 Stand by Me
1984 This Is Spinal Tap
I haven’t seen enough of the films by the non-Hollywood directors, but of the American/Hollywood directors, I think Reiner’s films are superior entertainment. For example, these four are better, more successful in terms of entertainment than films the films by Carpenter and Cronenberg (if we’re comparing the films collectively). But Carpenter and Cronenberg are more interesting in that they’re auteurs were Reiner may not be. He’s penalized for not being an auteur.
On the other hand, I would argue that some of these films are unique and/or groundbreaking.
Yeah, Reiner had a string of great films and I do think that if we’re talking about the 80s, you gotta look at entertainment. Out of all the decades, I think the 80s was the weakest in terms of overwhelming auteur output. Of course there are exceptions (Lynch and Wenders among others) but overall, I feel like this is the popcorn decade.
My vote goes to Spielberg.
Wenders and Jarmusch. need to dig more into Demme’s films from the 80s..only seen Something Wild and Stop Making Sense.
“There can only be one!
Raúl Ruiz made a shitload of beautiful films in the 1980s (over 30 features, TV series’ and shorts). My favourites:
On Top of the Whale (1982)
Three Crowns of the Sailor (1982)
City of Pirates (1983)
Manoel on the Island of Wonders (1984)
The Insomniac on the Bridge (1985)
Life is a Dream (1986)
The Blind Owl (1987)
Is City Of Pirates really better than Highlander?….
Of course it is! :)
I’d go for Scorsese, Forsyth (glad to see Forsyth in particular get some love) and Lynch.
Spielberg’s 80s output is mostly just fluff, but the unspeakable TEMPLE OF DOOM, man, is just unforfuckinggivable. Allen got off to a great start, but the foul SEPTEMBER and ANOTHER WOMAN are real blights.
Yeah, yeah, DUNE is a mess, but a far more interesting mess than Spielberg and Allen’s atrocities.
As for Joffe, well. I only barely made it through THE MISSION and found it a total waste of time — sentimental religious crap, a great cast working in vain to bring a sodden and self-righteous script to life, their efforts undone by the most heavy-handed director Pre-Minghella.
After Dune Lynch made Blue Velvet. Sweet.
hahaha – Joffe and Minghella do seem to be cut from the same cloth.
Mamoru Oshii. Hands down for me.
1983 Urusei Yatsura: Only You
1984 Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer
1985 Angel’s Egg
1987 The Red Spectacles
1987 Twilight Q
1988 Mobile Police Patlabor
1989 Patlabor: The Movie
1989 Gosenzosama Banbanzai!
Any discussion of the best directors of the 80s would be incomplete without a nod to Triple H of cinema himself, Hou Hsiao-hsien.
A Time to Live and a Time to Die
Summer at Grandpa’s
Dust in the Wind
Boys from Fengkuei
City of Sadness
And those are just the usually recognized masterpieces… He made several other films in the 80s as well.
Angelopoulos(Alexander The Great, Voyage To Cythera, Landscape In The Mist)
Greenaway(The Draughtman’s Contract, Zed and Two Noughts, Drowning By Numbers, The Cook, The Thief……….)
Kieslowski: (Blind Chance, No End, Short Films About…, Dekalog)
Allen:(Broadway Danny Rose, Hannah and Her Sisters)
Scorsese(Raging Bull, King Of Comedy, Last Temptation Of Christ)
Jamursch(Stranger than Paradise, Down by Law, Mystery Train)
Carpenter(The Thing, The Fog, Big Trouble In Little China, They Live)
Hollywood: Zemeckis(Romancing The Stone, Back To The Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit), Spielberg(Indy trilogy, E.T), Burton(Pee Wee, Batman and Beetlejuice), De Palma(Blowout, The Untouchables, Scarface)
If two good films is enough to qualify, I’ll take the Taviani brothers, Paradjanov and Tarkovsky. As American blockbuster filmmakers go, DePalma had a good decade (Dressed to Kill, Blowout, Scarface, The Untouchables, etc).
There are few filmmakers I like less than Roland Joffe.
^^I was thinking about the Taviani Brothers too actually, but i haven’t seen enough of their films.
Well, i’m glad I got y’alls attention with Joffe.
I’m surprised by the lack of mention of Gilliam: Time Bandits, Brazil, Baron Munchausen (one of the first films to really capture my attention in terms of film making style).
Cronenberg all the way: the 80s was his decade. Four masterpieces in a row!
Uli, i thought about mentioning Gilliam, but i only love Brazil from the 80’s(although i like Time Bandits and Munchausen).
Gilliam is a frustratingly uneven director i think..
Twenty 80s Directors with several films I’ve rated highly:
Brian De Palma