The first year of the 80s wound up being one that didn't have a large quantity of films I feel that strongly for. It has what looks like a pretty good Best Picture race for the Oscars, though I'm not sure who talks about Ordinary People anymore. It also featured films from some directors I really like, but ones that weren't really up there with my favorite of their output. Anyway, I did have to pick and choose through this year, so it was all bad.
Here's what the Oscars looked like:
WINNER - Ordinary People
Coal Miner's Daughter
The Elephant Man
And here's what I like
Of all the comedies released in this year, I guess I'm going with Airplane! I'm a sucker for old school Zucker, and this is considered by many to be their finest hour. Leslie Nielsen revamped himself for what would be his persona for the remainder of his career. This movie is as infinitely quotable as it is silly. Back in high school, one of our favorite things to do to enter a conversation would be to go "Excuse me, I speak jive."
This, maybe forgotten film, follows Al Pacino as a cop who fits the description of serial killer's victim type. These victims are homosexuals involved heavily in the "underground" gay nightclub scene. I think uncomfortable homophobia may have been a reason why this film was plenty dismissed back in the day. I'll admit, as a heterosexual male, its a challenging watch during some parts. But, c'mon...this is Friedkin...that's the point. The guy loves getting under your skin. Its also a very surreal mystery. Everything about it is intentionally ominous. He's directed a film that really impacts you and when you see it you'll never forget it. I think modern audiences would be able to handle it much better if this film had some sort of rediscovery.
The Empire Strikes Back
My personal favorite of the Star Wars films...and coincidentally one of my favorite films ever (The original Trilogy really gets that distinction). This one features some of the coolest planets visited in a Star Wars movie, offering up completely different and imaginative aesthetics and sequences. The film also is quite different from anything else in its structure too, as the big scale battle of the film happens at the beginning and the rest lends itself to more personal conflicts and action. Its also somewhat spooky of a movie as when I was younger I found myself quite afraid of the Dagobah stuff as well as Lukes confrontation with Vader at the end of the film. This is a film and series I could on and on about and have been for years, so we'll just leave this short and sweet.
One of John Carpenter's more understated films, but definitely a great one and I think its one when people see it or return to it, realize...oh yeah, The Fog is great. Dean Cundey had some beautiful cinematography here, capturing this coastal small town. I love this "tale of legend" kind of ghost horror film. Also, this is one of the rare occasions we get Tom Atkins without the mustache. The film is also known for how quickly he gets Jamie Lee Curtis into the sack. I'd say if it was mustached Atkins, he'd have been quicker. Dude was slacking without it.
Friday The 13th
The film that was my gateway drug into horror. There's a dirty kind of feeling to this movie that comes from its super low budget. What separates it and gives it its own identity apart from Halloween (Which Cunningham openly admits he was ripping off), is that it gave us Tom Savini, and some righteous gore effects. I also think the original Friday the 13th falls more into a teenage murder mystery Agatha Christie style than just typical slasher. However a mystery it may be, the killer reveal is indeed a complete cheat, but still good enough because of how wonderful Betsy Palmer is about being a lunatic. The film also boasts a pretty iconic score that is incredibly effective and something I think all horror "classics" should come with.
Another bundle of wonderful. Kubrick's masterpiece is one that brings awe and for some damn reason makes you want to watch it over and over and over again. There's just so much to look for, to pick up on and ideas and themes to form in your head. Its also a really damn scary movie. The film features so many iconic images and moments you'll never forget. One wish of mine has always been to see this formatted and screen for IMAX as the films cinematography is not only just outstanding, but it has an incredibly grand and larger than life feel that I feel the film would take on a whole knew level of sweeping horror epic at that stage.