Step into the neon-soaked era of excess and nostalgia as we journey through the cinematic gems of the 1980s, now readily available on Netflix. In a time when mullets were cool, and synthesizer music ruled the airwaves, the silver screen was graced with unforgettable classics that defined a generation. Our curated list transcends time, bringing you the best of the 1980s, from iconic blockbusters to hidden indie treasures. Whether you’re a fan of heart-pounding action, heartwarming coming-of-age tales, or supernatural adventures, Netflix has your retro cravings covered. Join us as we rekindle the magic of the ’80s, one movie at a time.
16. K-9 (1989)
As the title suggests, for those who know, the film explores the relationship between a cop, Michael Dooley, and his partner-in-crime, Jerry Lee, a German Shepherd. For those who do not know, K-9 is another name for a police dog. This film is thus a buddy cop action comedy wherein Michael and Jerry solve crimes together, the latter being a sniffer dog with a very strong sense of smell as far as drugs are concerned. Starring Jim Belushi as Dooley, along with Mel Harris, Kevin Tighe, and James Handy, ‘K-9’ is directed by Rod Daniel. You can watch it here.
15. Ek Jaan Hain Hum (1983)
An Indian Hindi-language directed by Rajiv Mehra, this movie stars Rajiv Kapoor, Tanuja Samarth, Divya Rana, and Shammi Kapoor. In true Bollywood fashion, the movie tells the story of a girl and boy who fall in love. However, while the boy’s parents agree to their marriage, the girl’s parents have other plans, including that of getting her married to a U.S. resident. Things worsen for the boy when he is accused of arson, with evidence pointing that he set fire to the girl’s father’s property. As per the boy’s father, the only way for the boy to avoid imprisonment is to prove that he is mentally ill. But for how long? To know what happens eventually, you can stream the movie here.
14. Duniya (1984)
An Indian Hindi-language (Bollywood) film directed by Ramesh Talwar, it stars one of India’s greatest actors of all time, Dilip Kumar, along with other hugely popular veteran actors Rishi Kapoor, Ashok Kumar, Amrita Singh, Pran and Amrish Puri. The film follows Mohan Kumar, who is framed for murder and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Once he is released, he decides to take revenge on the three people who framed him, namely Jugal Kishore, Bhandari, and Balwant. However, things are bound to get complicated as Kumar’s estranged son, Ravi, who doesn’t know that Kumar is his father, joins Jugal Kishore’s gang and is told to kill Kumar. Will Kumar end up killing his son in his thirst for vengeance? To find out, you can watch the film here.
13. Quiet Victory (1988)
‘Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story’ is a touching television film directed by Roy Campanella II. This inspirational true story revolves around Charlie Wedemeyer, a high school football coach and teacher who, at age 31, was diagnosed with ALS, a debilitating illness. Despite his physical challenges, Charlie continues to coach his football team while his wife, Lucy, supports him tirelessly. The film stars Michael Nouri as Charlie Wedemeyer and Pam Dawber as Lucy. Their unwavering determination and love form the heart of the story, making ‘Quiet Victory’ a testament to the power of the human spirit and resilience in the face of adversity. Feel free to check out the movie here.
12. Adam: His Song Continues (1986)
This Robert Markowitz directorial is a sequel to ‘Adam’ (1983), which showcases the tragic true story of the kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old American kid Adam Walsh. He was kidnapped from a mall in Hollywood, Florida, on July 27, 1981, and only his severed head was recovered in a drain in rural Indian River County, Florida. It showed how publicity by Adam’s parents, John and Reve Walsh, threw light on the sheer absence of ways for the authorities to find missing children. ‘Adam: His Song Continues’ picks up from where the first part ended and shows John and Reve striving to raise national awareness about the issue of missing children. The cast includes Daniel J. Travanti as John Walsh and JoBeth Williams as Reve Walsh, respectively. You can watch the film here.
11. The Blues Brothers (1980)
Jake Blues and Elwood Blues, the Blues Brothers, are on a mission from God. It doesn’t matter that Jake has just got parole, and both are criminals. They plan on saving the orphanage they grew up in by getting their hands on $5,000 to clear the orphanage’s taxes. But their mission isn’t free of danger as someone is desperately trying to kill them. The film is a musical action comedy wherein Jake is a Blues vocalist (thus the name of the film), and we also get to see other real-life famous Blues musicians, including James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Ray Charles. Directed by John Landis, the film stars John Belushi as Jake and Dan Aykroyd as Elwood. You can watch the film here.
10. Sixteen Candles (1984)
‘Sixteen Candles’ features Molly Ringwald, Michael Schoeffling, and Anthony Michael Hall and has been directed by John Hughes. The movie centers on 16-year-old Samantha, who seems to have everything going against her wishes in life. Her sister’s wedding overshadows her birthday; her crush is the most popular senior in school who doesn’t even know that she exists, and a nerd she dislikes has a crush on her. All this and more complications make her journey towards womanhood anything but blossoming. To see how she figures out her ways, you can watch the movie here.
9. Silverado (1985)
A Western flick directed by Lawrence Kasdan, this one follows four horsemen who arrive at the city of Silverado to make some riches. However, as it is with any old Western town, there is a greedy rancher, Ethan McKendrick, who torments the place, and the corrupt sheriff of the town is also on his side. So before they can take what they want, they have to establish peace in Silverado and rid it of its villains. If you are a lover of organic Western movies, you cannot afford to miss this one. The film stars Kevin Costner, Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, Scott Glenn, John Cleese and Ray Baker. You can watch it here.
8. Strange Voices (1987)
Directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman, ‘Strange Voices’ revolves around a young girl named Suzanne, portrayed brilliantly by Nancy McKeon, who is gripped by schizophrenia. Struggling to understand her reality, Suzanne experiences haunting auditory hallucinations, leading her into a world of confusion and fear. The film dives deep into the harrowing effects of mental illness, portraying Suzanne’s internal battles with sensitivity and empathy. Seidelman’s direction, coupled with McKeon’s compelling performance, paints a vivid and heartbreaking picture of the challenges faced by individuals dealing with mental health issues, shedding light on the importance of compassion and understanding. You may watch ‘Strange Voices’ here.
7. Dostana (1980)
Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha, and Zeenat Aman, ‘Dostana’ is an Indian Hindi-language movie directed by Raj Khosla. The movie tells the story of two childhood friends Vijay Varma and Ravi Kapoor. While Vijay is a police officer, Ravi is a barrister. While they have given each other the word that they won’t interfere in each other professional lives, their personal lives get complicated when they fall in love with the same girl, Sheetal Sahni. This allows Vijay’s old nemesis, Mr. Dagga, to create a barrier between the two best friends. You can watch the movie here to find out how things turn out for the two.
6. The Ryan White Story (1989)
‘The Ryan White Story’ is a biographical drama based on the life of American teenager Ryan White, who was the poster child for AIDS all across America after being banned from his school in Russiaville, Indiana, for the same. Born in 1971, Ryan was a hemophiliac, and he contracted AIDS from the factor VIII blood treatment he received for his hemophilia. He was diagnosed with the disease in December 1984 and passed away on April 8, 1990, at the age of 19. The film shows what Ryan and his mother, Jeanne, had to go through, be it in terms of gossip, judgment, and mistreatment, all of which were due to the lack of knowledge and misconceptions about AIDS. The film stars Lukas Haas as Ryan White, Judith Light as Jeanne White, Sarah Jessica Parker, and George C. Scott. You can watch it here.
5. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Directed by Martin Brest, this movie is considered one of the best action comedies of all time and one that kickstarted the now-immensely popular buddy cop action comedy franchise that has another sequel on the way (‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley’) in 2024. Starring Eddie Murphy as Detroit Police Department detective Axel Foley, who arrives at Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, to investigate the murder of his best friend’s murder. Soon, he locks horns with local crime kingpin Victor Maitland after uncovering a drug operation using unusual methods that also point to a deeper conspiracy. All this is underscored by Murphy’s perfect comic timing, which makes the movie a must-watch. You can do so right here.
4. Too Young The Hero (1988)
‘Too Young the Hero,’ directed by Buzz Kulik, is a poignant made-for-TV film that tells the remarkable true story of Calvin Graham, portrayed by Rick Schroder. Set during World War II, the movie follows Calvin, a 12-year-old boy who lies about his age to enlist in the U.S. Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Despite his youth, he valiantly serves aboard the USS South Dakota, demonstrating incredible bravery during combat. The film explores themes of courage, sacrifice, and determination, showcasing Calvin’s inspiring journey as he battles adversity on the front lines. Schroder’s compelling performance and Kulik’s sensitive direction make this movie a heartfelt tribute to an extraordinary young hero. You can stream ‘Too Young The Hero’ here.
3. Twins (1988)
Directed by Ivan Reitman, ‘Twins’ stars Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the leads. In layman’s terms, this movie is about two twin brothers who look the exact opposite of each other, especially visually. Products of scientific experiments, Julius (Schwarzenegger) is a human specimen while Vincent (DeVito) is an accident and is thus smaller in size with flawed aspects. Brought up by professors, Julius is a perfect human being, while Vincent grows up in an orphanage and ends up becoming a small-time crook. When Julius comes to know that he has a brother, he seeks him out in Los Angeles, and together, they shall find out the truth behind their mother’s death, that is, if she is even dead. A commercial success, ‘Twins’ is a classic American comedy. You can stream it right here.
2. Sea of Love (1989)
Starring Al Pacino, Ellen Barkin, John Goodman, Richard Jenkins, and Samuel L. Jackson, ‘Sea of Love’ is a crime thriller based on the 1978 novel ‘Ladies’ Man’ by Richard Price. It follows New York City homicide detective Frank Keller, who is desperately looking for his latest target, a female serial killer, all of whose victims are found to have written poetry in the Lonely Hearts column of the same newspaper. Keller decides to catch the killer by applying the same method: putting a rhyming ad in the column and meeting the women who respond. The one whose fingerprints match the ones recovered from the murder scene has to be the killer. But things get complicated when Keller gets romantically involved with one of the suspects, Helen Cruger, who seems to have secrets of her own. You can watch this intriguing film right here.
1. The George McKenna Story (1988)
Starring Denzel Washington, Lynn Whitfield, and Akosua Busia, ‘The George McKenna Story’ is directed by Eric Laneuville. The movie is a biographical drama based on George McKenna, former principal of the Washington Preparatory High School in Los Angeles. McKenna successfully managed to bring an end to the gang and drug culture that was prevalent inside the school premises and which affected the students as well as the parents. How he did it and reformed the school is what we see in the movie. You can stream it here.
Read More: Best Movies From The 80s