This is part two of the best decades for movies. For part one, where I review the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, click here.
The first four years of this decade were owned by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. However, most of my memories of this decade involve teen/romance/comedy dramas. Case in point: The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, The Goonies, Footloose, Teen Wolf, Say Anything… shall I go on? Action flicks found their niche’ on the big screen in the 80’s as well, giving us the likes of Mel Gibson, Kurt Russell, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwar… the bodybuilder. Unfortunately, the 80’s also proved that sequels, with few exceptions, rarely deliver on the hype generated by the original. For example: Porky’s 2, Teen Wolf Too, Revenge of the Nerds 2, Caddyshack 2 and Friday the 13th Parts 3 through infinity, just to name a few. After a pretty incredible decade prior, and although it started fairly well, the 80’s overall were just… meh. A lot of “good-not-great” films. To piggyback off a lame tradition in teen comedy/dramas, I’ll call this the “decade of the slow-clap-followed-by-silence”.
In the 90’s, movies became less of something you went to see on a special occasion and more of an “I’m bored, let’s see a movie” type of entertainment. The introduction of DVDs made a big impact as well. According IMDb’s user ratings, 21 of the top 100 movies of all time were from the 90’s, four of which are in the top ten (both of those numbers being the most of any decade). Check out some of these titles: The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Schindler’s List, Titanic, Braveheart, Toy Story, Forest Gump, Saving Private Ryan and The Matrix. You don’t recognize these titles because you’ve seen them recently, you recognize them because they’re amazing! Movies returned to a high quality of entertainment in the 90’s. For that reason I call the 90’s the “decade of raising the bar”.
As far as computer generated imagery (CGI) goes, Star Wars got the ball rolling in the late 70’s/early 80’s, but it moved at a snail’s pace until The Matrix re-invented CGI in 1999, leading into the 2000’s. Some popular CGI-heavy films of this decade were Pirates of the Caribbean, Avatar, Iron Man, 300, Star Wars Episodes 2 & 3, The Matrix Reloaded and Transformers. The quality of animated films increased greatly here, even beginning to take place of family comedies as many major comedy releases went for an edgier PG-13, or even R-rated, audience. Super-hero’s were also big this decade. Batman (thankfully) got a makeover, Spiderman made Tobey Maguire cool, Superman attempted a comeback, The X-Men showed us their claws and the seeds of The Avengers were sown with Iron Man and Incredible Hulk. This decade however belongs to epic novels. The bulk of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings were released in the 2000’s, along with The Twilight Saga getting it’s start. Especially if you count comic books as “novels”, the 2000’s were the “decade of the on-screen epic novel”.
How They Rank
1. 1990’s: It will be very hard to match the quality of movies released in the 90’s. In 50 years, we’ll be looking back on the 90’s as the “golden age” of movies.
2. 1970’s: The edge here is almost exclusively due to the impact of Star Wars. If that movie flops, this decade goes way down. Also might be considered the “golden age” for comedies.
3. 1950’s: If you can’t appreciate the sheer star-power and classic films this decade produced, well, you’re a communist! Just kidding… sort of.
4. 2000’s: I’m a big super-hero fan and a sucker for multi-movie stories. The 2000’s also show great promise for combining depth of story/character with awesome CGI.
5. 1960’s: Tough choice on these last two. Though a transition phase for Hollywood, this decade produced some classic Westerns and some one-liners still quoted today.
6. 1980’s: I’d love to rank the 80’s higher. I grew up on these films. However, this is the only decade with zero titles in the top ten of IMDb’s user ratings, and only one in the top 25! By comparison, the substance just isn’t there.
So, how do you rank them?