Best 1980s Movies On Netflix That Are Totally Rad

The 1980s was the decade of excess: loud colors, over-the-top fashion, greed, and it also provided some of the best movies that are currently available on Netflix. Movies in the ’80s made a shift from the “new Hollywood” period of the ’60s and ’70s, to the “high concept” era. Movies that focused on simple and highly marketable straightforward plots were the trend. This was the decade that created the moniker of “Hollywood blockbusters,” and Netflix is hosting a great deal of them.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Steven Spielberg’s E.T. is one of the most iconic movies ever created, and it is the highest-grossing film of the 1980s. It was the highest-grossing movie of all-time until it was ousted by another Spielberg classic, Jurassic Park. The critic consensus on Rotten Tomatoes describes why this is one of the best movies on Netflix.

“Playing as both an exciting sci-fi adventure and a remarkable portrait of childhood, Steven Spielberg’s touching tale of a homesick alien remains a piece of movie magic for young and old.”

e.t. best movies on Netflix
[Image by Universal Pictures]

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Eddie Murphy was a staple of the 1980s. His fame from Saturday Night Live took his career to the big-screen, and Beverly Hills Cop is conceivably his most popular movie. It also provided one of the most recognizable theme songs in movie history: Axel F. composed by Harold Faltermeyer.

Sixteen Candles (1984)

“The Brat Pack” is a phrase used for the ’80s group of young actors that became pop culture icons. Members of this club include Robert Downey Jr., Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald, and several others. Hall and Ringwald appeared in numerous movies together, including Sixteen Candles.

sixteen candles best movies on Netflix
[Image by Universal Pictures]

Footloose (1984)

Get your dancing shoes out and watch Kevin Bacon boogie his way to justice in this movie currently streaming on Netflix.

Back to the Future (1985)

Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd sealed their stardom with Back to the Future. The movie also spawned one of the most popular soundtracks of the decade. Soundtracks were as big as the hair in the 1980s, and Huey Lewis and the News had two songs featured in Back to the Future: Back in Time and Power of Love. Huey Lewis appeared in the movie, and Christopher Lloyd made an appearance in the Power of Love music video.

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Tim Burton directed this movie about Pee-wee Herman in a cross-country adventure to find his bike. For those wanting more of the man-child, Netflix created the latest movie in this franchise, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday.

pee-wee's big adventure best movies on Netflix
[Image by Warner Bros.]

Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985)

Dance TV shows like Solid Gold and Soul Train were popular in the 70s and 80s; this movie captures that craze. Helen Hunt and Sara Jessica Parker play two young women that enter a dance contest to become regulars on a show.

girls just want to have fun best movies on Netflix
[Image by New World Pictures]

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

John Carpenter directed many epochal films including Escape from New York, The Thing, Starman, and Big Trouble in Little China. Kurt Russell starred in this film that pays homage to kung fu B-movies while providing top-notch action.

big trouble in little china best movies on Netflix
[Image by 20th Century Fox]

Top Gun (1986)

Audiences still enjoy watching aviators Goose, Maverick, and Iceman compete in the United States Navy.

Over the Top (1987)

Cannon Films provided some of the cheesiest action movies including American Ninja, Missing in Action, and Over the Top. Watching Sylvester Stallone arm-wrestle his way to the top while winning back his son is priceless.

over the top best movies on Netflix
[Image by Warner Bros.]

Can’t Buy Me Love (1987)

The classic tale of the nerdy guy who gets the popular girl is classic ’80s material.

The Princess Bride (1987)

The Princes Bride is one of the most popular movies on Netflix. Giants, shrieking eels, pirates, swashbuckling duels, a six-fingered man, and true love—this film has it all.

Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

Elisabeth Shue takes the children she’s babysitting to the heart of the big city to help a stranded friend, and comedy-adventure ensues. Netflix subscribers rate this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars, and it is well deserved.

adventures in babysitting best movies on Netflix
[Image by Buena Vista Pictures]

Fatal Attraction (1987)

In one of the most suspenseful movies on Netflix, Glen Close plays a stalker that will have men hugging their pets and thinking twice before they have an affair.

fatal attraction best movies on Netflix
[Image by Paramount Pictures]

Black Widow (1987)

Another movie featuring a villainess, Black Widow is a steamy thriller about a woman who marries men for their money and then kills them.

Lethal Weapon (1987)

Buddy-cop films were popular in the decade of excess and Lethal Weapon is one of the best.

Coming to America (1988)

Another gem starring Eddie Murphy, Coming to America also featured Arsenio Hall. IMDB provides the synopsis for one of the funniest movies on Netflix.

“It is the 21st birthday of Prince Akeem of Zamunda and he is to marry a woman he never saw before. Now the prince breaks with tradition and travels to America to look for the love of his life.”

coming to america best movies on Netflix
[Image by Paramount Pictures]

Working Girl (1988)

Starring Harrison Ford and Melanie Griffith, in one of her most popular roles, Working Girl was nominated for six Academy Awards.

Major League (1989)

Bad boy Charlie Sheen plays—well—a bad boy in this hilarious baseball movie. The owner of the Cleveland Indians purposely stacks the roster with horrible players so they will lose, but the plan backfires.

major league best movies on Netflix
[Image by Paramount Pictures]

Back to the Future II (1989)

Doc Brown and Marty McFly return in the second installment of the Back to the Future trilogy. This movie showed what the year 2015 might look like through the lens of the ’80s. Although there weren’t any flying cars in 2015, the film hit the nail on the head when it came to flat-screen TVs, video phoning, and fingerprint scanning for basic security.


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From E.T. to Back to the Future, some of the best movies on Netflix came from the 1980s.

[Featured Image by Buena Vista Pictures]