Best Movies of 1984

10. SPLASH

Splash

37 LISTS | 1 TOP SPOT
Ron Howard | 111 mins | Comedy/Fantasy/Romance
Tom Hanks | Daryl Hannah | Eugene Levy

“Pure comedy again, but with a touch of fantasy and pathos that make it more emotionally involving that many a heavier flick. The love of a man for a mermaid may sound like one of the great yawners of all time, but when the mermaid is Darryl Hannah, it all seems to make heart-achingly good sense. And when the man’s slobbish brother is John Candy, the laughs come fast and furiously throughout this disarmingly lovely picture.” – Richard Freedman, Newhouse News Services

9. COUNTRY

Country

38 LISTS | 1 TOP SPOT
Richard Pearce | 105 mins | Drama
Jessica Lange | Sam Shepard | Wilford Brimley

“Sometimes the things that are most deeply felt need the least explanation, as the drama of small, independent farmers battling foreclosures on their properties illustrated. Beautifully acted by Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard, the film reached for the heart and achieved its mark.” – Joyce J. Persico, Trenton Sunday Times

8. THIS IS SPINAL TAP

This is Spinal Tap

38 LISTS | 0 TOP SPOTS
Rob Reiner | 84 mins | Comedy/Music
Rob Reiner | Michael McKean | Christopher Guest

“The most inventive film of the year would have to be Rob Reiner’s caustic satire, This Is Spinal Tap. Told in the form of a “rockumentary” about a fictitious British heavy-metal band in its declining years, it’s a scathing sendup of one pompous rock cliche after another.” – Rick Lyman, Philadelphia Inquirer

7. BROADWAY DANNY ROSE

Broadway Danny Rose

38 LISTS | 1 TOP SPOT
Woody Allen | 84 mins | Comedy
Woody Allen | Mia Farrow | Nick Apollo Forte

“Woody Allen working in miniature — nothing cosmic here — and at the top of his craft. Here’s Danny Rose (played by Allen), agent to has-beens in the making: He handles the woman who plays water-filled wine glasses, the couple who make balloon animals (“You should open with the dachshund and build to the giraffe”) and the man with the ice- skating penguin dressed as a rabbi. And here’s Tina Vitale (Mia Farrow), a gal from New Jersey with sights set so low that when she calls another woman “a cheap blonde” you can hear the envy in her voice. Naturally, it’s a love story — Woody Allen is always at his best when he’s in love — with the mob, bad comedians and worse lounge acts in close support. No self- examination, no big therapy gags in this one. Allen wasn’t out to prove a point, just to have a good time. A reminder that Allen can make pure entertainment any time he wants.” – Bill Cosford, Miami Herald

6. A SUNDAY IN THE COUNTRY

A Sunday in the Country

43 LISTS | 2 TOP SPOTS
Bertrand Tavernier | 90 mins | Drama
Louis Ducreux | Michel Aumont | Sabine Azéma

“Everyone’s heard of Jean Renoir, but who recalls the likes of this beguiling French movie’s fictional Monsieur Ladmiral, the French Impressionist who didn’t make the grade? Director Bertrand Tavernier details his spiritual plight when, in the autumn of his life, his very different son and daughter visit him at his country estate. The result is utterly lovely and loving.” – Roy Proctor, Richmond Times-Dispatch

5. A PASSAGE TO INDIA

A Passage to India

51 LISTS | 8 TOP SPOTS
David Lean | 164 mins | Adventure/Drama/History
Judy Davis | Victor Banerjee | Peggy Ashcroft

“Fourteen years after the fiasco of ”Ryan’s Daughter,” director-writer David Lean has made a brilliant comeback with this literate, pictorially grand, sometimes stately screen adaptation of the classic E. M. Forster novel, about a nasty confrontation between East and West in British India in the early 1920’s. The film, like the novel, has an appreciation for the kind of narrative drive, vivid characters and events that one rarely sees any more. The splendid cast is headed by Victor Banerjee, as a young, earnest Indian doctor whose life is almost wrecked by some well-meaning English tourists; Judy Davis, the Australian actress (”My Brilliant Career”), as the instrument of the doctor’s torture, and Peggy Ashcroft, the great English dame who plays Forster’s most winning – and mysterious – character, Mrs. Moore. Though the physical scale of the film is huge, the intimate aspects of the story never get lost in all of the exotic scenery, as happened with Mr. Lean’s ”Doctor Zhivago.” ”A Passage to India” is the best thing Mr. Lean has done since ”The Bridge on the River Kwai” and ”Lawrence of Arabia.”” – Vincent Canby, New York Times

4. THE KILLING FIELDS

The Killing Fields

69 LISTS | 10 TOP SPOTS
Roland Joffé | 141 mins | Biography/Drama/History
Sam Waterston | Haing S. Ngor | John Malkovich

“To be sure, this film which opens in San Antonio in February, gains much of its power from merely presenting the gruesome reality in Cambodia in the mid-1970s, when that nation became little more than a giant death camp in which three million of its seven million inhabitants were killed by Communist-led forces. But beyond that tragedy, “The Killing Fields” is a story of friendship.” – Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

3. PLACES IN THE HEART

Places in the Heart

71 LISTS | 10 TOP SPOTS
Robert Benton | 111 mins | Drama
Sally Field | Lindsay Crouse | Ed Harris

“An indication of how good writer-director Robert Benton’s nostalgic and beautiful celebration of the human spirit is may be found in the fact that release of “The River” was rescheduled to avoid conflict with “Places in the Heart,” since the themes are similar.
Sally Field is absolutely brilliant as the Great Depression-era widow desperately struggling to keep her home and family together in small-town Texas. When great screen actresses are being discussed, Field definitely deserves to be included, if not at the top of the list, certainly in the top three.
Not that she labors alone in “Places in the Heart.” The cast has been chosen with great care and wisdom, from the two youngsters who play Field’s children to the remarkable John Malkovich and Danny Glover, Ed Harris, Lindsay Crouse and Amy Madigan.
It’s a touching, deeply moving piece of work, climaxed by Benton’s bold and dazzling epilogue of the American Dream as it might be in a more perfect society. It’s a great movie, an American masterpiece.” – Bill Hagen, San Diego Union-Tribune

2. A SOLDIER’S STORY

A Soldier's Story

72 LISTS | 3 TOP SPOTS
Norman Jewison | 101 mins | Crime/Drama/Mystery
Howard E. Rollins Jr. | Adolph Caesar | Art Evans

“This powerful study about an all-black platoon and how it deals with stateside racism in 1944 was the best Hollywood had to offer in 1984. Directed and produced by Norman Jewison and based on Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, the film offered crisp, non-cliched dialogue, top-notch ensemble acting and an unforgettable performance by Adolph Caesar as the platoon leader. A Columbia Pictures release.” – Joseph Bensoua, Daily Breeze

1. AMADEUS

Amadeus

93 LISTS | 22 TOP SPOTS
Milos Forman | 160 mins | Biography/Drama/History
F. Murray Abraham | Tom Hulce | Elizabeth Berridge

“This Milos Forman work is a tremendously gorgeous movie celebrating the musical genius of Mozart. It’s also a wonderful drama about man’s relationship with God. F. Murray Abraham, a veteran character actor, is just right as Antonio Salieri, a prominent 18th century composer who confronts Mozart’s music and decides he must destroy this loathsome upstart to protect the general community of artists from being consigned to worthlessness. Tom Hulce, one of the young stars of Animal Hous e, plays Mozart, giving the wild and obscene youth enough charm to make you believe he was selected by God to be His flute on earth. In all respects, Amadeus is one of the all-time great movies.” – George Williams, Sacramento Bee

Full List:

RFilmL#1ARL%#1%TCLTCL1TCL%TCL1%
1Amadeus93222.559%23%34950%22%
2A Soldier's Story7235.3546%3%23034%0%
3Places in the Heart71103.8945%10%26238%5%
4The Killing Fields69103.6842%10%26338%7%
5A Passage to India5184.5631%8%21431%10%
6A Sunday in the Country4325.2226%2%21231%5%
7Broadway Danny Rose3815.124%1%16124%2%
8This Is Spinal Tap3806.5624%0%19028%0%
9Country3815.5324%1%609%0%
10Splash3714.2523%1%15022%0%
11The Cotton Club3714.723%1%21031%0%
12Stranger Than Paradise3205.6720%0%15022%0%
13Choose Me3124.519%2%14021%0%
14Ghostbusters3025.319%2%12218%5%
15Paris, Texas3034.6919%3%14121%2%
16The Natural2916.1118%1%7010%0%
17Stop Making Sense2905.5718%0%14021%0%
18Careful, He Might Hear You283518%3%11116%2%
19The Gods Must Be Crazy290618%0%203%0%
20El Norte2816.3618%1%11016%0%
21Bizet's Carmen2805.7317%0%12018%0%
22Romancing the Stone2708.217%0%406%0%
23Under the Volcano2424.3315%2%8012%0%
24Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes2315.815%1%12018%0%
25Gremlins2306.6315%0%8012%0%
25All of Me2305.4315%0%12018%0%
27Entre Nous2205.3314%0%9013%0%
28Once Upon a Time in America213413%3%10315%7%
29Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom1817.1311%1%7010%0%
30Repo Man1617.1310%1%8012%0%
31Moscow on the Hudson1513.439%1%7110%2%
32The Karate Kid1506.139%0%507%0%
33The Brother From Another Planet15059%0%507%0%
34L'Argent1546.679%4%9313%7%
35Starman1316.68%1%203%0%
36Racing With the Moon1305.758%0%304%0%
36Purple Rain1306.678%0%609%0%
38Tightrope1207.258%0%101%0%
38The Pope of Greenwich Village1207.718%0%304%0%
38Beverly Hills Cop1202.678%0%406%0%
41After the Rehearsal1235.48%3%527%5%
42Comfort and Joy1205.137%0%507%0%
43A Nos Amours1238.177%3%7110%2%
44Birdy1212.27%1%507%0%
45The Ballad of Narayama1116.47%1%619%2%
46The Times of Harvey Milk11017%0%304%0%
47And the Ship Sails On1007.836%0%304%0%
47The Terminator1005.56%0%609%0%
47Another Country1006.676%0%507%0%

Lists Included 158 | Top Critics’ Lists Included 68

R Rank
L Total number of lists where the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year
AR Average position on ranked top 10 lists
#1 Total number of lists where the film was selected as the best film of the year
L% Percentage of total lists where the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year
#1% Percentage of mentions where the film was selected as the best film of the year
TCL Number of times that the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL1 Number of times that the film was selected as the best film of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL% Percentage of times that the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL1% Percentage of lists where the film was selected as the best film of the year on top critics’ lists

 

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