Best Movies of 1985

10. BLOOD SIMPLE

Blood Simple

44 LISTS | 2 TOP SPOTS
Joel Coen | 99 mins | Crime/Drama/Thriller
John Getz | Frances McDormand | Dan Hedaya

“Anybody who ever got sick of watching a $50 million monstrosity lumber across the screen will love this $1.5 million murder mystery set in Texas and filmed by two young brothers — Joel and Ethan Coen — from Minneapolis. M. Emmet Walsh gives an outstanding performance as the sleazy private detective whose greed finally gets the best of him.” – Joe Bensoua, The Daily Breeze

10. COCOON

Cocoon

44 LISTS | 2 TOP SPOTS
Ron Howard | 117 mins | Comedy/Drama/Sci-Fi
Don Ameche | Wilford Brimley | Hume Cronyn

“Ron Howard’s bravura combination of comedy, adventure and science fiction. “Cocoon” offers Don Ameche in the most sensational role of his 50-year career and gives equally glittering opportunities to Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Steve Guttenberg, Brian Dennehy and others.” – Scott Cain, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

9. OUT OF AFRICA

Out of Africa

65 LISTS | 4 TOP SPOTS
Sydney Pollack | 161 mins | Biography/Drama/Romance
Meryl Streep | Robert Redford | Klaus Maria Brandauer

“Some critics have commented on this film’s dignity in a condescending manner. (Perhaps they would have been happier had it included a few eye-gougings?) At any rate, the thrill-seekers among you needn’t worry; Out of Africa is a good deal livelier than last year’s prestigious travelogue-with-drama, A Passage to India.
Robert Redford also has taken some heat for his slightly mannered portrayal of the great white hunter. Yet the role was written as more mythical figure than human; under the circumstances, Redford played the part the only way it could be played. In any event, the film belongs to Meryl Streep, who gives a performance of scope and urgency. I don’t automatically rave about Streep, whose technique has shown once too often in the past. But she captivated me in Out of Africa.
Under Sydney Pollack’s tasteful yet showmanly direction, the film succeeds as both an epic adventure and an intimate love story between two proud, independent people. And the passion between Streep and Redford is convincing and dizzying. Isak Dinesen, the tough but gallant writer whose beautiful prose inspired the movie (and who is played by Streep in the film), probably would be pleased. At least for the most part.” – Philip Wuntch, Dallas Morning News

8. THE COLOR PURPLE

The Color Purple

67 LISTS | 14 TOP SPOTS
Steven Spielberg | 154 mins | Drama
Danny Glover | Whoopi Goldberg | Oprah Winfrey

“Steven Spielberg’s triumphant return to adult moviemaking – adapting Alice Walker’s controversial, semi-autobiographical novel about rural black life in the early 1900s – featured the single most overwhelming emotional experience offered by American movies in 1985. While occasionally overwrought, the pictures raw power was not to be denied: the performances included one of the most exciting screen debuts of the ‘80s (Whoopi Goldberg’s), as well as memorable works by several other actors.
If 1984’s “A Soldier’s Story” signaled a new maturity in Hollywood’s approach to black material, “The Color Purple” marked another significant benchmark in the industry’s painfully slow progress toward a more honest depiction of black American experience on the screen.” – David Baron, New Orleans Times-Picayune

7. AFTER HOURS

After Hours

70 LISTS | 0 TOP SPOTS
Martin Scorsese | 97 mins | Comedy/Crime/Drama
Griffin Dunne | Rosanna Arquette | Verna Bloom

“There is but one God in Heaven, and Martin Scorsese is His Anointed One. For the last fifteen years, Scorsese’s dark morality plays have made an indelible impression on the American consciousness. In “After Hours,” he replaced some of his harshness with tense, hair-trigger black comedy. Many thanks to Scorsese, writer Joseph Minion, and the fine cast, including Griffin Dunne as the harried yuppie, and Rosanna Arquette, Teri Garr, and Catherine O’Hara as three of the weirdo blondes who give him opportunities for both sin and redemption.” – Bernie Hyland, Daily Northwestern

6. BACK TO THE FUTURE

Back to the Future

74 LISTS | 4 TOP SPOTS
Robert Zemeckis | 116 mins | Adventure/Comedy/Sci-Fi
Michael J. Fox | Christopher Lloyd | Lea Thompson

“Though it couldn’t be more different tone or content, “Back to the Future” is another less-than-perfect film. But its clever premise and stylish execution make it stand out in a truly mediocre year. Sure, it’s basically popcorn fodder, but when you look at the summer’s endless list of excruciating teen comedies you can appreciate the craftsmanship of director Bob Zemeckis, who cowrote the film with Bob Gale.
For those who have spent the year in a cave, Michael J. Fox plays a contemporary teen-ager who’s transported back to the year 1955. Circumstances force him to play matchmaker for his parents, but in a neat, Oedipal twist his mother has the hots for Fox instead.” – Lou Lumenick, The Record

5. RAN

Ran

79 LISTS | 15 TOP SPOTS
Akira Kurosawa | 162 mins | Action/Drama
Tatsuya Nakadai | Akira Terao | Jinpachi Nezu

“Choosing it as “No. 1” in this year of the videocassette explosion is a particular pleasure because “Ran” (meaning “Chaos”) is not the kind of film that you will ever want to see on a videocassette at home.
“Ran” is epic moviemaking of a style that uses every cinematic device to its fullest and, typical of Kurosawa, to its most subtle power. For every massive battle scene there is a scene of aural and visual quiet, as the characters reflect upon themselves or each other.
And in the spirit of a film full of contrasts, “Ran” is both profound and a whole lot of fun.
“Ran” could be the last film to be made by the great Japanese director Kurosawa, who is 75 and half-blind. Best known for his samurai epics, Kurosawa has made another great one with “Ran,” based in part upon his interpretation of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.”
Instead of unruly daughters, however, the lord of “Ran” is confronted with quarreling sons and a vicious daughter-in-law who carve up his disintegrating empire, leaving the great man to walk, literally, among the ruins of his world, as we contemplate what is eternal and what is ephemeral.
A full review of “Ran” will appear in Wednesday’s Tribune. But if nothing else is communicated here, let it be that the film is not highbrow; it is a rousing, epic piece of moviemaking–the most expensive film ever made in Japan–filled with unforgettable characters who are both larger than life and just as petty.” – Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

4. KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN

Kiss of the Spider Woman

79 LISTS | 4 TOP SPOTS
Hector Babenco | 120 mins | Drama
William Hurt | Raul Julia | Sônia Braga

“William Hurt may win most of this year’s acting honors as the flamboyant homosexual lost in fantasies spawned by B- grade 1940s movies, but Raul Julia is no less effective as the macho revolutionary who shares an Argentine prison cell with him and comes to realize that they are more alike than either would have imagined. Manuel Puig’s celebrated 1976 novel yields a Brazilian movie that is exquisitely crafted.” – Roy Proctor, Richmond Times-Dispatch

3. WITNESS

Witness

85 LISTS | 5 TOP SPOTS
Peter Weir | 112 mins | Crime/Drama/Romance
Harrison Ford | Kelly McGillis | Lukas Haas

“Combining elements of two time-honored Hollywood staples – the good old-fashioned thriller and the good old-fashioned romance – “Witness” offers a compelling examination of the collision between two worlds: violent 20th-century America and the pastoral, pacifist Amish society that has remained virtually unchanged for two centuries.
Australian director Peter Weir makes a notable American debut, enhancing a scrupulously balanced script with stunning visuals that reveal each new environment through the eyes of its explorer. And Weir has performers equal to the movie’s multi-leveled challenges: luminous, ethereal Kelly McGillis; and that two-fisted throwback to our believed movie heroes of yore, Harrison Ford. Ford moves beyond his well-known, winning presence to create an intense, understated but wholly persuasive character, one who demonstrates once and for all Ford’s on-screen authority and range.” – Carol Cling, Las Vegas Journal-Review

2. THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO

The Purple Rose of Cairo

104 LISTS | 3 TOP SPOTS
Woody Allen | 82 mins | Comedy/Fantasy/Romance
Mia Farrow | Jeff Daniels | Danny Aiello

“Genius is a word randomly and usually inaccurately bandied about in the movie industry, but once in a while it applies. Steven Spielberg probably qualifies. Woody Allen undoubtedly does, which “The Purple Rose of Cairo” re-emphasizes. The concept, of course, is dazzling, no surprise since there are no better screenwriters than Allen, a lovely fantasy of what might happen if characters in a movie-within-a-movie became characters in the movie-without-a-movie. It’s not as confusing as it sounds. What it is, though, is delightful, even without Allen the actor. Allen the writer and director are enough to guarantee quality. There’s also another terrific performance by Mia Farrow, who continues to blossom under Allen’s tutelage.” – Bill Hagen, San Diego Evening Tribune

1. PRIZZI’S HONOR

Prizzi's Honor

111 LISTS | 10 TOP SPOTS
John Huston | 130 mins | Comedy/Crime/Drama
Jack Nicholson | Kathleen Turner | Robert Loggia

“Not for simple folk, John Huston’s best black comedy since “The Maltese Falcon” is about a Mafia family in which the top gun (Jack Nicholson) first seems a dumb Palooka, then a fool for love, and finally a rather terrific prince of darkness. It’s a witty film, pointedly cynical yet never crass, and Richard Condon’s audacious script was worked out like a serpentine dance by Huston and the crack cast: Nicholson near his peak, Anjelica Huston at hers, Robert Loggia, Kathleen Turner and William Hickey as the creepy don, delivering the line of the year, “Have a cookie, my dear.”” – David Elliott, San Diego Union-Tribune

RFilmL#1ARL%#1%TCLTCL1TCL%TCL1%
1Prizzi's Honor111104.1966%10%37461%11%
2The Purple Rose of Cairo10434.9762%3%34056%0%
3Witness8555.3250%5%23038%0%
4Kiss of the Spider Woman7943.9447%4%28246%6%
5Ran79155.1746%15%32852%23%
6Back to the Future7445.2244%4%19131%3%
7After Hours7005.2141%0%23038%0%
8The Color Purple67142.9740%14%21534%14%
9Out of Africa6546.5338%4%15125%3%
10Cocoon4426.5626%2%9015%0%
10Blood Simple4423.8326%2%14023%0%
12Brazil4343.0025%4%14123%3%
13Lost in America3906.0023%0%19031%0%
14The Official Story3924.9423%2%20133%3%
15Shoah39105.0023%10%23338%9%
16Mask3417.3020%1%508%0%
17Desperately Seeking Susan3006.0718%0%13021%0%
18The Emerald Forest2807.1817%0%8013%0%
19Silverado2406.1714%0%407%0%
20The Trip to Bountiful1906.5011%0%6010%0%
21The Breakfast Club1814.5711%1%305%0%
22Streetwise1615.8810%1%7111%3%
23Wetherby1526.299%2%8213%6%
24Sweet Dreams1405.258%0%305%0%
24The Shooting Party1406.788%0%508%0%
26Twice in a Lifetime1305.118%0%8013%0%
27The Falcon and the Snowman1205.717%0%407%0%
27Dance With a Stranger1209.007%0%508%0%
29Dreamchild1206.177%0%8013%0%
30Runaway Train1203.507%0%203%0%
31Agnes of God1106.677%0%203%0%
31Plenty1106.507%0%305%0%
33When Father Was Away on Business1108.006%0%6010%0%
34A Private Function1007.006%0%6010%0%
34Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome1006.406%0%6010%0%
34White Nights1006.606%0%203%0%
34Pee Wee's Big Adventure1005.406%0%508%0%
34The Sure Thing1003.506%0%203%0%
34Young Sherlock Holmes1006.256%0%102%0%
34Jagged Edge1005.336%0%203%0%

Lists Included 169 | Top Critics’ Lists Included 61

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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