Top 20 Movies Of 1981 (Nos. 16-20)

For this week's Ranked!, we compiled the twenty greatest movies from 1981. 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. Das Boot

The entire war movie genre was pretty much created as a propaganda tool. I'm not really faulting that. I can only imagine the level of justified fear that people felt during World War II. The idea of being able to go to the movies and see idealized versions of our men in uniform valiantly defeating the (equally one-dimensional) evil Axis and Japanese soldiers who were threatening our country had to be of great comfort.

In the years after the war ended, war movies went through a transformation that was (in my opinion) for the better. No longer were the lines so crisply drawn between black and white, good and evil. Audiences got to see shades of gray in the characters, and learn that there were motivations, both good and evil, on both sides.

Which brings me to Das Boot, which I consider one of the greatest war movies ever made. Not only is it realistic--the submarine that is the setting for the majority of the film is so claustrophobic and so gritty that you can almost smell it by the end of the movie--but it is also able to do something that, up until this movie was made, I had never seen. It made you feel sorry for the Germans in World War II. Not all of them, mind you, but the crew of the U-boat definitely. By the end of the movie, these guys--not painted as idealistic or nationalistic, just as sailors performing their duty--had gone through so much that you were pulling for them to make it through everything alive. And, when the ending of the movie comes... well, you'll just have to see it. It's heart wrenching.

It's a masterful film that just has to be seen to be believed.--Dave

19. Neighbors

This dark comedy was a mess. Its foremost problem is that Dan Ackroyd and Jim Belushi both played against type in this film and it would've probably been a better film had they changed roles (which was the initial plan). Still, it had some great moments and Belushi did a fantastic job as a bored suburban father who is completely intrigued, turned on, and disgusted by his new neighbors, not knowing if he wants to kill them, become them, or join them.

Fun fact: the actress who played Belushi's daughter in Neighbors was also in our next film.--Chris

18. Friday The 13th Part 2

Being a fan of Jason Voorhees and the Friday The 13th series required a much greater suspension of disbelief than most films. It also didn't hurt if you weren't looking for a cohesive narrative. I mean, during the course of the series, Jason is killed numerous times, somehow takes a cruise ship from his tiny little lake to Manhattan, develops the ability to change bodies, and ends up in space. And oh yeah, he fought Freddy Krueger somewhere in all that as well.

Part 2 requires you to throw all kinds of logic out the window. Jason was a little boy who drowned at Crystal Lake, causing his mother to go on the murder spree in the original movie. Jason pops out of the lake at the end of the film. Somehow, not only is Jason now walking the Earth again in Part Two, he's able to age as well. If you can put this all aside and just enjoy the film for what it is--a senseless, mindless, slasher film--you'll be in for one hell of a ride.--Chris

17. On Golden Pond

I'm not gonna lie, this is one of those movies that my mom made me watch. *I* wanted to see this movie when I was young because of Dabney Coleman. He was so funny in 9 To 5 that I thought that surely he'd be funny here too. Not so much. But it's a pretty fine movie in spite of that. I'd seen Katherine Hepburn in Woman Of The Year and thought she was a gorgeous tough lady and I really liked her. But in On Golden Pond she was, well, old. And I was kind of fascinated by the elegance and strength and romance that these old people had going on. And then about ten years later my super old-fashioned Southern grandmother announced that she was going to go into acting. At a local community theater. Run by two gay men. From New York. Scandal. Seriously. Some of her friends kind of freaked out. And I was so impressed. My grandmother and I didn't see eye to eye on a lot of issues, but that was the first time I realized how incredible my grandmother really was. She played the Hepburn part and was incredible. I mean, the woman who couldn't remember birthdays or groceries without writing them down in multiple places learned all these lines and was really good at delivering them. And she didn't care what people thought, she did it, had a great time, and kept on doing it. So this film has a special place in my heart for being the story that really connected me to an amazing woman for the first time.--Archphoenix

16. The Incredible Shrinking Woman

This film was way ahead of its time, warning us of the dangerous of household chemicals. After Pat Kramer (Lilly Tomlin) is exposed to some perfume, she begins to shrink. At first, it's hardly noticeable. She's thinking that maybe she's losing a little weight. Eventually, it becomes obvious that the woman is shrinking when she's as tall as her kids. It doesn't stop there! Soon, she's a foot tall, and she's a celebrity, even making a guest appearance on a TV talk show. Mad scientists capture her, and for what reasons I don't know. If mad scientists are involved, you can be assured its to rule the world. She escapes with the help of a sentient gorilla and some nerd, but she continues to shrink into nothing. Her family freaks out, but she happens to be in a puddle of Windex and maybe Palmolive. The chain reaction of household chemicals makes her grow back to normal size, and we have our happy ending. Or do we? The final scene shows Pat's shoe ripping open, leading us to believe she's going to be the next Godzilla.--Jay

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