Friday, September 28, 2007

Best of the 1980s

Ah, the 1980s. Our first decade of existence on this planet...and possibly our least favorite decade of culture. Coincidence, bad luck, or both? The 1980s' artistic highlights were (as far as we're concerned) few and far between, but in the spirit of making lemons out of lemonade, we've realized that such a scarcity of classic works lends the decade handily to the 10 Best treatment, and thus renders it much less intimidating than either the 1960s, 1970s, or 1990s. If anything, it's a bit of an exercise in resourcefulness. It's like picking the ten best popes: you're lucky to find ten you can really get behind.

The 1980s were not a complete wash, however. Hell, if something was good in the 1980s, in a way that makes it even more impressive than something that was good in the 1960s or 1970s; I mean, not only was it good, but it was good in the 1980s! Or maybe it's the other way around: it only seemed good because it came out in the 1980s and everything else was so bad. Chicken or the egg, folks?

Nonetheless, in honor of that golden decade of our youth, we will now be presenting over the course of the next few (days? weeks? months?) our own separate lists of 10 best movies and 10 best albums of the 1980s. Up first: Movies.

1980s cinema got fucked right from the start simply by having to follow the 1970s. It wasn't just the whole "Spielberg and Lucas killed the auteur movie" thing. One of our theories is that all the cinematographers held a secret meeting on New Year's Eve in 1979 and agreed to switch to the crappiest, most generic equipment possible, because as soon as the calendars hit January 1980, the quality of cinematography in movies took a big fat nosedive. Don't ask us why. Ultimately, the 1980s never really recovered from the "highbrow/lowbrow split": all the serious, critically-acclaimed, Oscar-winning movies were too stiff and formally unadventurous, while all the silly, special effects-laden, franchise-establishing blockbusters were too flashy and shallow. In the 1970s filmmakers knew how to make movies that were both entertaining and serious at the same time. By the time the 1980s rolled around, maybe it just wasn't a priority. (ED: We were all too busy watching our themed team adventure cartoons and eating our increasingly sugary breakfast cereals.)

Of course, there were exceptions. And for the most part, the exceptions are what will be featured here. If anything, the best films of the 1980s mostly have one thing in common: you can barely tell they're from the 1980s.

6 comments:

ninquelote said...

Critics call The first installment of the Best of the 1980s "... more anticipated than the '80's themselves!"

yoggoth said...

I didn't anticipate the 80's at all. They came as a complete surprise.

Schrödinger's Penguin said...

Weren't the Beatles part of the Eighties or somethin?

How about Pokemon?

k'd cowan said...

What do you have against the 80's?

I think the 80s was a major break and relief from the over-commercialized rock scene of the 70s, and it was a completely refreshing time. Think of The Clash, Joy Division, The Pretenders, AC/DC, The Dead Kennedys,.. too mainstream for you? How about Black Flag, The Smiths, Sonic Youth, The Cure, Duran Duran, The Human League, The Fixx, Tears for Fears... more? Falco, Nena (99 Luft Balloons anyways), or what about INXS, or maybe Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds...

Or were you just talking about films? So none of these films touched your sense of what is good and interesting in the film industry?
Driving Miss Daisy, Rain Man
The Last Emperor, Amadeus, Terms of Endearment, Platoon, or perhaps Ghandi....

Ya if you are going to dis the 80s I am going to have to quote you, thank you for your opinion, but you are wrong.

Try again please. :-)

Little Earl said...

99 Luftballoons? Driving Miss Daisy? Please try a little harder to prove my point for me.

yoggoth said...

None of those movies would make my list. There was some great music during the 80s, though. How about the Pixies and Mission of Burma? Those two bands presaged 90% of rock that was to follow.