The Weekly Discussion: The 80s in Cinema!


Last week on The Weekly Discussion (August 2), I asked you who the most influential director of the 1910-1919 period. Nine people voted, and they all voted for one person, D.W. Griffith, who is the winner for that week. We still have four more decades to cover, the 1900s, the 1920s, the 1940s and the 1980s, so this week we’ll be doing the 80s.

Here’s the poll:

Thanks for voting. If there’s anything you’d like to add on the subject, please leave a comment below. Thanks!


Posted on August 14, 2011, in Filmmakers, Movies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. When it comes to influence I often lean towards James Cameron because of The Terminator and Aliens. The films have been mimicked so often over the years. But, having said that, John Hughes’ influence on the teen comedy-drama was huge and sheer array of films he either directed, wrote or was involved in during the 80s prompts me to vote for him.

  2. spielberg changed cinema forever. his idea of making toys and mass marketing and release schedules etc. which in turn caused movies to get stupider to appeal to more and more people for 30 seconds before the next one gets churned out. only oneperson had more influence – jerry bruckheimer and he doesnt count cos he isnt a director.

    • Wow, that’s quite a statement. But you’re right, Spielberg had such an effect on the industry, especially in his later years.

      • ok so maybe its a litte broad as a statement and spielbergs movies are a lot more intelligent than what followed but theres no mistaking that hollywood changed after the effects of jaws settled in to their collective consciousness.

    • This is exactly why I voted for Spielberg. I liked Scorsese’s 80’s work more (and David Cronenberg too, for that matter) but since we’re talking influence, it’s tough to top Spielberg. He dominated that decade. You still have people making movies like Super 8 that are directly influenced by Spielberg’s run.

      • I don’t think he’ll stop having an influence, even if he is going a little nutty in the head with things like Indiana Jones 4. Its all a matter of time to when you think he had the biggest influence (a period I maintain was the 70s).

  3. Wow, extremely hard to make a choice here as they are all such important directors….had to go with Steven Spielberg….

  4. Hi, Tyler and company:

    Excellent topic, Tyler!

    I don’t know if ‘influential’ is the right word.

    More elegant and extravagant use of CGI and special effects seemed a hallmark of the 80s. With Spielberg’s ‘E.T.’ and the Indiana Jones trilogy, Cameron’s ‘Aliens’ and Terminator franchise and ‘The Abyss’. Also Cronenberg’s ‘Scanners’ (Which still ROCKS!), ‘Videodrome’, ‘Dead Zone’ and ‘The Fly’. So it that regard, the playing field is pretty level. Limited only by the director’s imagination.

    In the category of flat out story telling, Scorsese gets my vote. There’s something about his style and ability to get the most from his cast (Writ large and in spades with ‘Raging Bull’ and Goodfellas;) that puts him just above ‘memorable’. Which the directors above certainly filled at the time, And just below ‘influential’.

    Just my two cents.

    • What I meant by ‘influential’ was ‘having the greatest effect on Hollywood today,” so yes, the choice becomes difficult. It’s really up to you, the reader, and how you see it.

  5. I apologize for the next paragraphs:

    It’s probably unfair of me to think that the 80’s is the red headed step child of film history. The Regeanite thinking that still effects our cultural, political and economic decline makes many of us feel like forgetting that decade ever existed. I also have this impression that the decade was just too flashy and tacky for its own good. Yes, I had a good childhood and watched my Star Warses and Indiana Joneses and Back to the Futures. High school was peppered with period films from Peter Shaffer. College years introduced me to Elm Streets and Full Metal Jacket. But those aren’t enough to fill my gaps of knowledge. And then I watch A Streetcar Named Desire or something and the 80’s fare got wiped out of my head. Just like that. Clean.

    Every decade had their thing, but this one is unfortunately sandwiched between the risky new Hollywood dominance in the 1970’s and the Merchant Ivory/Indie explosion in the 90’s. And the populism of 80’s films don’t help its personal reputation. And TV/rep cinemas have retrospectives for other decades and eras – MGM Wednesdays, noir Saturdays, a whole month of Fellini. The 80’s is old enough for us to ironically dress like it but not really old enough to recognize that media made at the time were works of art. More succinctly, ‘old’ but not ‘classic.’ Which is really sad because Scorsese apparently was really experimental in that decade. And the 80’s can be considered the last great era of American actresses (although thank God for the Natalie Portman generation, telling the Kates, inhumanly talented as they are, to go on back home).

    Although the ‘classic-ification’ of the 80’s is on its way, the genre films made at the time are having its runs on rep cinema events, movies like Elm Street and Fright Night getting remakes and reboots, hoping to change minds like mine.

    But to answer your question, Cameron. He’s a mood guy. I like mood. I like Aliens and he sexy tech noir punk ethos of Terminator. And he’s one of those responsible for the sci-fi, genre, geeky explosions in movies for the past decade.

    • Don’t apologize, I love long comments!

      Very thoughtful point you’ve made there, Paolo. I suppose the 80s is a fairly underappreciated decade. Most people just think of it for the summer blockbusters and teen comedies, but there was so much more!

    • If I had been standing in front of you when you made this comment, I would high-five you.

      If movie decades were food, the 80’s would be the chicken mcnugget.

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