Best of 1982

1982 was considered a very good year for movies, and it was led by two classic films: Steven Spielberg’s E.T. and Sydney Pollack’s Tootsie.  Perhaps due to its commercial success, E.T. was left off of 5 lists, which gave Tootsie the edge as the most acclaimed film of the year.  But both films lost to Gandhi at the Oscars.

Perhaps more surprisingly, Blade Runner could not muster up enough votes to place in the top 20, despite the fact that it’s now considered Ridley Scott’s masterpiece.

This list is the result of the wonderful film polls that Patrick McGilligan and Mark Rowland conducted back in 1982.  50 critics were polled and the results are as follows:

20. Moonlighting (9 lists)


“Moonlighting is the kind of film that had me marveling throughout how anyone ever came up with such a great idea for a movie and, having come up with it, proceeded to realize that idea so completely …” – Richard T. Jameson, Parallax View

20. Tex (9 lists)


“This is a film that accomplishes everything that it attempts, and does so expertly. On its own terms, it is a success through and through.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

20. Victor Victoria (9 lists)


“Blake Edwards’s 1982 sex comedy has the most beautiful range of tones of any American film of its period: it is a work of dry wit, high slapstick, black despair, romantic warmth, and penetrating intelligence.” – Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

17. 48 Hrs. (10 lists)

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“The movie’s story is nothing to write home about. It’s pretty routine. What makes the movie special is how it’s made. Nolte and Murphy are good, and their dialogue is good, too — quirky and funny.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

17. Personal Best (10 lists)


“This is a very physical movie, one of the healthiest and sweatiest celebrations of physical exertion I can remember.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

17. Three Brothers (10 lists)


“Three Brothers shows how societal violence is a toxin in the lives of these characters.” – Frederick and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice

15. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (11 lists)


“Miller’s choreography of his innumerable vehicles is so extraordinary that it makes Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark look like a kid fooling with Dinky Toys.” – David Pirire, Time Out

15. The World According to Garp (11 lists)

The world according to Garp 1982 George Roy Hill Glenn Close Robin Williams

“Robin Williams displays the acting chops that would later win him an Oscar” – Alex Sandell, Juicy Cerebellum 

13. Mephisto (12 lists)


“Few have dared what Brandauer accomplishes: showing us a good actor responding to the same neurotic drive for the center of the stage, the immortalizing role. His is a great performance, nothing less.” – Richard Schickel, Time Magazine

13. My Dinner With Andre (12 lists)


“The dining duo struggle with words between bites, groping for a recipe summoning the meaning of life. And in a movie that redefined as a surprising and inventive enduring classic, both leading man requisites and filmmaking conventions.” – Prairie Miller, WBAI Radio

11. My Favorite Year (13 lists)


“Peter O’Toole received an Oscar nomination for playing an eccentric womanizer and boozy star (modeled on Errol Flynn) in this charming comedy set in the 1950s.” – Emanuel Levy,

11. Sophie’s Choice (13 lists)


“So perfectly cast and well-imagined that it just takes over and happens to you. It’s quite an experience.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

9. Gandhi (15 lists)


“Once in a long while a motion picture so eloquently expressive and technically exquisite comes along that one is tempted to hail it as being near perfect.” – Variety

9. An Officer and a Gentleman (15 lists)


“An Officer and a Gentleman is the best movie about love that I’ve seen in a long time. Maybe that’s because it’s not about “love” as a Hollywood concept, but about love as growth, as learning to accept other people for who and what they are.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

8. Shoot the Moon (16 lists)


“Parker and Goldman seem to want this battling couple to represent a sort of romantic ’60s point of view, and they show up the younger lovers as shallow, ’70s-style hedonists.” – Dan Callahan, Slant Magazine

7. Missing (18 lists)


“Spacek and Lemmon are fine as the missing man’s wife and father, but what makes the film so overwhelming in places is its unending night-time imagery of a society coming apart at the seams.” – Derek Adams, Time Out

5. Das Boot (21 lists)


“Suspenseful when it needs to be and intelligent in its depiction of the horrors of war and the sweaty claustrophobia of submarine life. On occasion, it’s even — pardon the pun — deep.” – Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle

5. Diva (21 lists)


“The most exciting debut in years, it is unified by the extraordinary decor – colour supplement chic meets pop art surrealism – which creates a world of totally fantastic reality situated four-square in contemporary Paris.” – Time Out

4. The Verdict (25 lists)


“Sidney Lumet’s direction, like David Mamet’s patchy script, may not be quite good enough to justify the Rembrandt-like cinematography of Edward Pisoni and the brooding mood of self-importance, but it’s good direction nonetheless.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

3. Diner (26 lists)


“Movies like Diner — fresh, well-acted and energetic American movies by new directors with the courage of their convictions — are an endangered species.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

2. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (45 lists)


“Captivating, endearingly optimistic and magical at times, Steven Spielberg’s fantasy about a stranded alien from outer space protected by three kids until it can arrange for passage home is certain to capture the imagination of the world’s youth.” – Todd McCarthy, Variety

1. Tootsie (46 lists)


“Tootsie restores the original meaning to the term ‘situation comedy,’ free of the pejorative associations that have accrued over the years because of the glut of awful ones on television.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times