People who were born in the 1990s will not have seen 1980s movies when they were released for the first time. They may have seen them later on cable TV or streaming services. Perhaps it is not fair to compare a movie from the 1980s to those from the 1970s or 1990s. A day or two here or there blurs the line of when a movie was released. A movie out on December 31, 1989, cannot be compared to one released on January 1, 1990? It is an odd convention.
Nevertheless, movies do get sorted by decade. One measure used is which feature films are best remembered. Again, it may not be fair, but it is simple.
Why do some movies become unforgettable? Perhaps it is one character, played by a talented actor. It could be a script, or how a movie was filmed. Is one yardstick better than others? 24/7 Tempo worked to answer that question.
To identify the best movie you will remember from the 1980s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the 271 movies that had at least 50,000 reviews on IMDb (an online movie database owned by Amazon) or Rotten Tomatoes (an online movie and TV review aggregator). We calculated an index of each movie’s IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes audience score and Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score. All ratings were weighted equally. Data on domestic box office came from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services, last updated in April 2021. Box office figures are not adjusted for inflation. Casting and other supplemental data come from IMDb.
Based on our criteria, one movie of the decade was truly memorable. “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” was released in 1980, directed by Irvin Kershner and starred Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams. Its domestic box office gross totaled $291.7 million, which ranked it number three out of 359 movies released in the 1980s.
In this installment of the popular franchise, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia must continue their fight against Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire after the destruction of the Death Star. Luke begins his Jedi training on the remote planet of Dagobah, with the help of Jedi Master Yoda. This sequel took home an Oscar and a Special Achievement Award.