The 12 Best '80s Movies to Watch When You're Feeling Nostalgic

These movies are seriously rad.

Flashdance. Photo: CBS via Getty Images

Everyone loves a good throwback, especially judging by the world's recent obsession with nostalgia. And sometimes, when you're picking a movie on a night in, the oldies just hit better. After all, they're the landmark for all modern cinematography.

Over-the-top musical or dance numbers, ridiculously big hair, and crazy costumes: they certainly don't make movies like they did in the '80s. There's nothing like that water scene from Flashdance or a corny romance like Sixteen Candles. So, we're taking a trip down memory lane to revisit some of the classics from the '80s. Read on for your next movie-night selection.

The Outsiders

The tale of a battle between the gangs with young Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, and Patrick Swayze. Say less.

Sixteen Candles

A freshly 16-year-old Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald) falls for the original high school jock, dreamy Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling) in this classic high-school romance.

Dead Poets Society

As a new English teacher at all-boys prep school, John (Robin Williams) must use unconventional methods of teaching to help his students who are facing major pressure from the school and their parents.

The Breakfast Club

In this John Hughes film, five very different students wind up in detention together on a Saturday and bond during their 8-hour sentence.


A steel-mill worker by day, a dancer by night, Alex Owens's (Jennifer Beals) dream is to attend a prestigious dance conservatory. With the support and encouragement (and later romance) from her boss, Alex pursues her goal.


In a town where dancing is illegal, newcomer Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) sets out to defy the laws and loosen up the conservatives with the help of new friend Willard (Christopher Penn) and romantic interest, Ariel (Lori Singer), whose father happens to be the small city's reverend.

Risky Business

When Joel's (Tom Cruise) parents go out of town, he decides to have a wild weekend, which includes hiring Lana (Rebecca De Mornay) for a night. A hefty bill from Lana and his dad's wrecked Porsche causes the rebel to turn his house into a brothel to raise funds to cover his scandalous weekend alone.

Little Shop of Horrors

This 1986 remake of the '60s classic stars Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, and Bill Murray in a musical comedy you'll be singing along to.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

This movie stars a young Matthew Broderick — long before Sarah Jessica Parker and Sex and the City — as high schooler Ferris Bueller who has a knack for calling in sick and getting away with it.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Neal Page (Steve Martin) is on his way home to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with his family when a snowstorm reroutes his plane to a small town in Kansas. He and an annoying bunkmate Del Griffith (John Candy), must figure out alternate travel plans to make it to their respective destinations in time for the holiday.

E.T.: The Extraterrestrial

This legendary Steven Spielberg film has an adorable alien, a baby Drew Barrymore, valuable life lessons, and '80s special effects. What else could you ask for?

Back to the Future

Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) accidentally travels back to the 1950s thanks to an experiment gone wrong by Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). When he stumbles upon young versions of his parents, he has to help them fall in love — or else he'll stop existing.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles