The Best Films of 1986

Originally published on Geekdom 101 on May 13, 2016.

Sorry for not posting on this website for so long…it’s been hard enough to update my own website, let alone another’s.  Anyhow, there is one article I was looking forward to writing, and this is it.  This my list of the top movies of 1986.  In most years I have a hard enough time coming up with 10 films, and in those I would have no interest in watching again any not in the top 3.  But this year was amazing for movies.  Of my top 10 favorite movies from the 1980s, five are from this year.  Heck, the top 4 are contenders for my favorites of all time.  This is a solid list.  So solid that I had to make it my top dozen as I felt I had to put the #11 and #12 on the list.  It is that good of a list.

#12: Highlander

I can just hear the wondering now…you rated this quintessential geek movie your 12th favorite movie?  Well, there are a few reasons.  The foremost reason is that I am far more a fan of the TV show than the movie, to the point where I actually had Elizabeth Gracen as my nominee for the best breasts competition we had a few years back.  Also, once again it is a fairly dark film, and lighter fare will always be more popular with me.  I will say that the soundtrack is definitely one of the best of all time; if only one band is going to do all your songs, Queen is a pretty good one.

For those who have never watched it, the movie entails a Scot who is one of the few immortal beings on Earth, and after living over 400 years the last remaining Immortals are concentrated in NYC where they fight to the death until only one remains, who will receive some nebulous “Prize”.  If you like swordfighting, great music, Scottish themes, or history then you’ll want to watch this film.

#11: Stand By Me

Here is another coming of age movie.  It is a nice film, and in most years it would be in or close to the top 5, but in 1986 all it can manage is 11th.  One wouldn’t be surprised to find out I am not a Stephen King fan, althro this is my 2nd favorite King film (and the 1st favorite is a major departure from the original work).

Anyways, four boys travel along a railroad track to find the body of a dead child presumably killed in a railroad accident.  It is a bittersweet tale, and would be the work to which Wil WHeaton is known for if it wasn’t for his role in Star Trek: the Next Generation.

#10: Police Academy 3: Back in Training

Originally this film was ranked below the last two, but just before I wrote this I decided that if I was picking up a DVD just to watch, I was more likely to grab this film than Highlander or Stand By Me.

In this third film of the series, the group is called back to help Lassard’s school for police be the one left standing as there are two police academies and the budget will allow for only one.  However, the magic of watching the training of new recruits is just not there as compared to the first film, which has some nudity and more original screwball comedy.  Also, none of the new recruits really matter in the long term of the series, so this very much feels like a pointless movie.  Still, it has its moments and if you’ve seen others in the series you will want to watch this too.

#9: Hamburger: the Motion Picture

I was talking about screwball comedies, and this is definitely a quintessential 80’s screwball pic.  There was a certain type of film you’d be likely to find on HBO after 11pm and this definitely fits the bill.  Last I checked this film was available on Youtube, even thro it is definitely a rated-R flick.

The protagonist of film keeps getting kicked out of colleges due to his sexual exploits, and he must graduate from one so that he inherits some wealth, and his parents refuse to help him any longer.  He discovers that the world’s largest hamburger chain, Buster Burger, has a fully accredited university he can go to.  Lot of screwball hijinks ensure, althro I do wonder what the two Hispanics who post on this website would think of the Latina character who is also attending the school.  If you like ribald humor, check this film out…I’m just glad they didn’t have the nun character bare her breasts.

#8: Space Camp

I would have loved to have gone to Space Camp when I was a kid, but I had no idea growing up that we didn’t have the money I thought we did.  Still, when other kids (including my little brother) loved their dinosaurs, I loved space exploration.  Another thing about the film is that, being that I saw this film back in the day, I don’t feel creepy thinking how cute the girls are in the film (at the time, the actresses were older than I was)…wanting to avoid feeling creepy stopped me from watching the more recent Power Rangers series.

In the film 5 campers and their female astronaut counselor are accidently launched into space on a space shuttle, and have to find a way to survive long enough to get back in contact with NASA and land back on Earth.  This movie wins a “bad timing” award as earlier in the year the Challenger accident occurred, and among the deaths was that of a school teacher…making this film inadvertently creepy.  It is also factually wrong because it is set at the Kennedy Space Center, but at the time Space Camp was held in Huntsville, Alabama, a distance discrepancy of 671 miles.  Still, a light-hearted flick that I can always watch, but I do not know how many readers of this website would be that interested in it.

#7: Flight of the Navigator

Man it is convenient that this movie is ranked right next to Space Camp (not intentional).  This particular film has the Disney touch, but at a time where Disney had not yet truly recovered from the death of Walt even thro 20 years had passed, and The Little Mermaid was still a few years away.

This is practically two movies in one, which is rather appropriate considering how many times Disney would combine 2 or 3 episodes of a Wonderful World of Disney with the same characters and then release it as a movie.  With the first half we see a 12 year old who disappeared for 8 years but didn’t age a day, and no one knows what happened to him.  In the second half he’s having the time of his life zipping across the USA in a space craft until he has to make some hard decisions.  It’s a fun family movie with some nostalgia value and even those who did not grow up with it might find it worth a watch.  Check it out.

#6: Wildcats

Many the movies in this year would normally be in my top 5, and this is a difficult one to rank so low.  It features not only Goldie Hawn, but also Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson while they were still up and coming; in fact, it is their film debut.  LL Cool J also makes a cameo.  If I had to say a movie was my favorite football movie, I think I would have to give this one the nod.

Anyways, Goldie’s character Molly has always wanted to coach football and she gets her chance by coaching in a inner-city high school.  Of course, few support her because she’s female and most of the players are black ya ya ya…good thing this film was done in the 1980s instead of today so that it could be a decent film.  She also has to deal with keeping custody of her two daughters that her ex and his wife want custody of.  On Rotten Tomatoes the critics gave it a ridiculous 13% rating but fans gave it 50% so I heartily suggest deciding for itself, if for no other reason than to check out Snipes and Harrelson and see what they started with.

#5: Short Circuit

“Nice software hmmmmm”.  Sorry, but I love this movie.  Most years it would easily be my number one film, but in this Wrestlemania 17 of years it can only come in 5th.  I quote this movie all of the time, especially when there is a dog around. (Small mammal.  Dog. Canine. Mutt!)  It is definitely very 80s with Guttenberg and Sheedy but so am I.  Maybe Adolfo should have put it in his top 100 sci fi movies???  Okay, maybe not.

In the film, the lead protagonist is a combat robot who by some freak weather accident becomes a sentient being.  He quickly befriends a mobile caterer (Sheedy) who is the only one he can convince of his sentience.  His creator (Guttenberg) tries to retrieve the robot before the military destroys it.  Lots of fun slapstick and some philosophy about life, but nothing that gets too deep.

#4: Heartbreak Ridge

Many of the movies that would appear on my Top 10 lists might not have that much appeal to the readership, but this one would.  It’s Clint Eastwood and Mario Van Peebles together in a military movie, partially set in an historical event.  I almost considered it my favorite war movie of all time, except that most of it is not set in combat and Gettysburg has to get the nod from me over it.

This movie is also almost 2 movies in one, but not near as much as Flight of the Navigator or, in a much more similar movie, Full Metal Jacket.  Eastwood plays a marine gunnery sergeant, Highway, who is almost at forced retirement when the only thing he really excelled at was training troops and engaging in combat.  He struggles to find himself while having to deal with a commanding officer that does not respect him, as well as renewed feeling for his ex-wife.  The movie was initially going to be used to help promote the Marine’s Toys for Tots charity, except for that to be put a stopped to due to the excessive foul language involved.  There was also concern about a recon unit falling into such lapsed attitude as well as a military officer disrespecting a CMH winner, but in the end it is a great movie to watch with friends.

#3: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

I was thinking about it while writing this  that the top four movies this year involve being in a military unit of some sort.  C’mon, Starfleet is the military wing of the Federation.  Other than Enterprise, which I have never watched, the Original Series of Star Trek is my least favorite Trek series.  However, I do think that this and Star Trek VI are the best Trek movies.  Also, if I had a Trek cosplay I would want the outfits the original cast had in these movies over any other as they just look sharp as hell, and we penguins know all about dressing sharply.  In fact, the movie is totally whale done.

Yes, I said that on porpoise.

If you think I will apologize, forget it.

Given how goofy the premise is, it’s amazing that Trekkies and their uber-seriousness would love this movie.  A spaceship manned by whales is desperately trying to get in contact with whales on Earth, but since whales have gone extinct centuries before, there is no one to respond to them and meanwhile the space whale signals are causing global weather havoc on Earth.  Yes, I am totally serious…that is actually the movie’s premise.  Captain Kirk and crew have recently went against orders from Starfleet, but now are the Earth’s only hope for survival as they devise a plan to time travel back to 1986 Earth to get two humpback whales and bring them back to the future.  This is also the most humorous of the Trek movies and that is probably why it is my favorite of them.  Seeing Spock curse and Chekov confused as a Soviet spy are just wonders to behold.  Also, after low-balling Highlander earlier rating this movie so highly reestablished my geek cred.

#2: Top Gun

♫♫Highway to the penguin zone♫♫

Hey, why not improve the lyrics?

Anyways, before Tom Cruise was seen as a bit of a joke, he was the epitome of cool.  This is one of those films that created that image.  Created with the help of the United States Navy, it still took some liberties with what would actually happen at the Top Gun school and some of the things military officers would get away with.  One of the military advisors said it was all he could do to stop this movie from becoming a musical.  This also has one of the best soundtracks ever…only the top movie of this year has a better soundtrack.  I even tried, like in the movie, singing to a girl You Lost that Loving Feeling…yes, it failed miserly.  Utterly miserably.  Let’s just say I could definitely have used some of the dating tips once published on this website (Superfriends Universe).

The movie concerns a hot shot naval pilot named Maverick who is sent to the US Navy’s top aviation school, nicknamed Top Gun, to learn to be a better pilot.  While at the school he endeavors to prove he is the best of the best, while having to deal with not only his reputation but also his father’s, as well as falling in love with one of the civilian instructors.  After a tragic loss he must rebound in time to serve his country when enemy fighters are to be engaged.  Thrilling dogfights, great acting, there is so much to recommend this movie, whether the website is the epitome of manliness or the end-all be-all of geekdom.

…to be continued…

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Yes, I am serious. I could write a whole article on my number one film, so I don’t want to simply give it two paragraphs, especially a film that is a contender for my favorite film of all time (althro the original Star Wars probably tops it).  In a few months will be the 30th anniversary of its release, and then I’ll do a whole article on it.

(Hey, I gave you a warning that there was something different about this list with the title alone…deal with it.)

Quoth the penguin evermore.

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