Top 20 Movies Of 1980 (Nos. 16-20)

For this week's Ranked!, we compiled the twenty greatest movies from 1980. Tell us what you think when you get down to #1. And let us know if you would've ordered them differently.

Here are numbers 16-20:

20. Ordinary People

For years I equated Mary Tyler Moore with city girl goodness. Every time I walked through a metropolitan area, I was gripped with the urge to toss my whimsical hat into the air while a smooth-voiced '70s guy sang "you're gonna make it after all." Well, that dream was crushed under the heavy boot of her cold and bitter portrayal of Beth Jarrett, a mother trying to negotiate the horrifying aftermath of a favored son's accidental death in Ordinary People. To be fair, the character is highly unlikable: a woman half-trying to help and understand the suicide attempt of the surviving son Conrad (played by Timothy Hutton) and not at all committed to holding her fraying family together like her far more likable husband Calvin (an awesome Donald Sutherland). This was the first character-driven drama that I remember being good enough to hold my still gnat-like attention span. Some surprising moments punctuated my viewing and I came away with an uncertain feelings. Were there families like this? Did people act like they didn't care about their kids? For a sheltered child who'd grown up in the embrace of a warm but crazy family this, movie was an eye opener to the real world where things didn't always turn out okay. Incidentally I'm still on the lookout for a therapist as good as Judd Hirsch's Dr. Tyrone Berger.--Dufmanno

19. The Hollywood Knights

The Hollywood Knights always seemed like the raunchier kid brother of American Graffiti. Growing up, HBO showed Knights approximately 46 times each week, so I was well versed in the lines, gags, naked body parts, pranks, and stars of the film. And for a lesser known film, it did have some major '80s star wattage: The Nanny's Fran Drescher played one of the main characters and Knights marked the cinematic debuts of Robert Wuhl, Tony Danza, and Michelle Pfeiffer. If you haven't seen this underrated '80s comedic gem, do yourself a favor and give it a spin.--Chris

18. Popeye

In retrospect it seems preposterous that Popeye would even work: a musical version of a 50 year-old comic strip starring Mork from Ork and the chick from The Shining. I didn't much care for the old Popeye cartoons that were on after school, but somehow it all came together for the movie. Even at my ripe old age, I still remember Robin Williams mumbling impersonation, laughing hysterically as Popeye used his "Twisker Punch" (I had to look it up) punch an octopus attacking Olive Oyl into the sky, and can even hum a few bars of "I Yam What I Yam" (written by Harry Nilsson!) It's absurdist fun, as any movie about a pugilist sailor who gets superpowers from spinach should be.--CroutonBoy

17. Xanadu

Of all of the movies on my "favorites of the '80s" list, it is hardest to explain why I (or anyone) would like this particular film. The story is so bizarre: an artist who has a job painting giant reproductions of record album covers (can you say "career that no longer exists... if it ever did?") has a dream to quit his humdrum job and open a nightclub. A Greek Muse (one of the daughters of Zeus) comes to him and, with the help of a has-been big band singer/saxophone player, she helps make his dream of a glam rock/big-band/roller disco come to life. The end.

What the...?

Obviously, Xanadu was written as a musical to showcase Olivia Newton-John's singing. (She was hot off of her success in Grease so they weren't about to give her a non-singing role.) In addition to Olivia, ELO pitches in, as do Gene Kelley and The Tubes. An odd mixture of musical styles in this soundtrack, to be sure. Add this to the crazy, brightly-colored, super-fake '80s imagery, the horrible acting, and the aforementioned plot that defies all reason and breaks apart with even a hint of scrutiny, and you should have a hot mess of a film. But it's not. Somehow, in spite of all of this (or, maybe, because of it), Xanadu is just as fun to watch today as it was in 1980.--Dave

16. The Elephant Man

I was ten when The Elephant Man came out, and I think it's safe to say I wasn't the target audience at the time. Poignant period pieces about misunderstood men and their uneasy relationship with society can't compete with stormtroopers and superheroes at that age. Something about the story stuck in my memory, though, and many years later I rented it to see what the fuss had been about. Boy, was it worth the wait. It's a compassionate and thoughtful story, highlighting both the anguish and unflagging hope of its protagonists (John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins, both amazing) and meticulously assembled by a remarkably restrained David Lynch, whose craft alone makes it worth the rental. To this day I still remember it as one of the most heartfelt, sad, and uplifting films I have ever seen.--CroutonBoy

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