20 Severely Underrated Movies From The 1980s
The 1980s saw the continued rise of the blockbuster, an increased amount of nudity in film and the increasing emphasis in the American industry on film franchises, especially in the science fiction, horror, and action genres. Much of the reliance on these effect-driven blockbusters was due in part to the Star Wars films at the advent of this decade and the new cinematic effects it helped to pioneer.
If you think 1980s is all about big blockbuster movies, then you are wrong, this decade also saw the flourish of many outstanding smaller films in every genre. So we have a bit of everything mixed up here, documentaries, political thrillers, epic westerns, wild comedies, you should find your type of movies on this list.
Miles Kendig knows too much. One of the CIA’s top international operatives, he suddenly finds himself relegated to a desk job in an agency power play. Unwilling to go quietly, Kendig, with the aid of a chic Viennese widow, puts himself back in the game by writing a memoir exposing the innermost secrets of every major intelligence agency in the world. The CIA wants Kendig dead, but he refuses to cooperate—he’s having too much fun.
Based on Brian Garfield’s best-selling novel, and starring the inimitable comic team of Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson, Ronald Neame’s Hopscotch is a smart and stylish tale of international intrigue and a cat-and-mouse comedy.
19. My Dinner With Andre
In Louis Malle’s captivating and philosophical My Dinner with André, actor and playwright Wallace Shawn sits down with friend and theater director André Gregory at an Upper West Side restaurant, and the two proceed into an alternately whimsical and despairing confessional on love, death, money, and all the superstition in between.
Playing variations on their own New York–honed personas, Shawn and Gregory, who also wrote the screenplay, dive in with introspective, intellectual gusto, and Malle captures it all with a delicate, artful detachment. A fascinating freeze-frame of cosmopolitan culture, My Dinner with André remains a unique work in cinema history.
18. Burden of Dreams
For nearly five years, acclaimed German filmmaker Werner Herzog desperately tried to complete one of the most ambitious and difficult films of his career, Fitzcarraldo, the story of one man’s attempt to build an opera house deep in the Amazon jungle.
Documentary filmmaker Les Blank captured the unfolding of this production, made more perilous by Herzog’s determination to shoot the most daunting scenes without models or special effects, including a sequence requiring hundreds of native Indians to pull a full-size, 320-ton steamship over a small mountain. The result is an extraordinary document of the filmmaking process and a unique look into the single-minded mission of one of cinema’s most fearless directors.
Missing is political filmmaker extraordinaire Costa-Gavras’s compelling, controversial dramatization of the search for American filmmaker and journalist Charles Horman, who mysteriously disappeared during the 1973 coup in Chile.
Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek give magnetic, emotionally commanding performances as Charles’s father and wife, who are led by U.S. embassy and consulate officials through a series of bureaucratic dead-ends before eventually uncovering the terrifying facts about Charles’s fate and disillusioning truths about their government.
Written and directed with clarity and conscience, the Academy Award–winning Missing is a testament to Costa-Gavras’s daring.