Best of 1986

In 1986, Patrick McGilligan and Mark Rowland increased their poll to include 100 film critics from across the nation.  The 1986 Best Picture winner, Platoon, made 35 lists, despite not having a wide release until February of 1987.  It went on to make an additional 22 lists in 1987.

Had it been released earlier in the year, it certainly would have made a run for the number one spot.  However, Hannah and Her Sisters made 78% of the lists, giving it the highest percentage since Tootsie in 1982 and making a strong case that it would have remained at number one regardless of Platoon‘s release date.

19. Little Shop of Horrors (18 lists)


“You can try not liking this adaptation of the Off-Broadway musical hit — it has no polish and a pushy way with a gag — but the movie sneaks up on you, about as subtly as Audrey II.” – Richard Corliss, Time Magazine

15. Children of a Lesser God (20 lists)


“This is romance the way Hollywood used to make it, with both conflict and tenderness, at times capturing the texture of the day-to-day, at times finding the lyrical moments when two lovers find that time stops.” – Paul Attanasio, Washington Post

15. Sid & Nancy (20 lists)


“Though dark and harrowing, explicit and unsparing, the movie proves a riveting biography of these burnt-out icons and their iconoclastic half-decade.” – Rita Kempley, Washington Post

15. Something Wild (20 lists)


“Demme observes the human eccentricity that underlies the corner-store banalities of Middle America with warmth and loving detail; while a magnificent rock soundtrack and faultless performances from Daniels, Griffith and Liotta ensure pleasures galore.” – Geoff Andrew, Time Out

15. Vagabond (20 lists)


“A masterpiece, clearly one of the finest films in many a year.” – Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

14. Crimes of the Heart (22 lists)


“There are moments when the movie doesn’t seem to know where it’s going, but for once that’s a good thing because the uncertainty almost always ends with some kind of a delightful, weird surprise.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

13. Peggy Sue Got Married (23 lists)


“Ignore the ridiculous happy ending of this film, and you have a much more fatalistic exercise in which Coppola eschews easy laughs in favour of the exposure of feeling and the fact that these people’s lives, however empty, matter to them.” – Time Out

12. Stand By Me (24 lists)


“It stands, sweet and strong, ribald, outrageous and funny, like its heroes themselves — a bit gamy around the edges, perhaps, but pure and fine clear through. It’s one of those treasures absolutely not to be missed.” – Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times

11. Salvador (26 lists)


“The polemic may seem obvious and at times laboured, but the action sequences are brilliant, and the film does achieve a brutal, often very moving, power.” – Derek Adams, Time Out

10. My Beautiful Laundrette (29 lists)


“This new British picture raises enough issues for a half-dozen more conventional movies. And though this approach makes for a structure that’s a little shaky, the film somehow holds together.” – Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel

9. The Fly (30 lists)


“The Fly seizes on our ingrained, instinctive horror of sexuality, the sense of shame that our fundamentally puritanical society can’t help but teach us, and by confirming our worst fears, helps us, for a moment, to move beyond them.” – Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune

7. The Color Of Money (35 lists)

Paul Newman, right, and Tom Cruise, in a scene from the 1986 film "The Color of Money," for which Newman won an Oscar for best actor.

“We are not on Rocky’s side of the street, but in Martin Scorsese country, where bent character, not sentiment, shapes destiny, and the best the struggling human spirit can hope for is a split decision.” – Richard Schickel, Time Magazine

7. Platoon (35 lists)


“This film is an act of courage. Stone, the gutsy writer-director, records in a devastating barrage of images the relentless horror and the senseless carnage experienced by far too many Americans in Vietnam.” – Kathleen Carroll, New York Daily News

6. Mona Lisa (36 lists)


“In an era when movies about love almost always invariably devolve into formulaic affairs, Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa stands out as an often-surprising, multi-layered achievement.” – James Berardinelli, ReelViews

4. Aliens (40 lists)


“It’s blaster action, not Gothic future-horror. Fortunately, director-screenwriter James Cameron has shaped his film around the defiant intelligence and sensual athleticism of Weaver, and that’s where Aliens works best.” – Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times

4. Round Midnight (40 lists)


“Round Midnight is a superbly crafted music world drama in which Gallic director Bertrand Tavernier pays a moving dramatic tribute to the great black musicians who lived and performed in Paris in the late 1950s.” – Variety

3. Blue Velvet (48 lists)


“Blue Velvet is David Lynch in peak form, and represents (to date) his most accomplished motion picture. It is a work of fascinating scope and power that rivals any of the most subversive films to reach the screens during the ’80s.” James Berardinelli, ReelViews

2. A Room With a View (61 lists)


“A thoroughly entertaining screen adaptation of novelist E.M. Forster’s comedy of manners about the Edwardian English upper class at home and abroad, distinguished by superb ensemble acting, intelligent writing and stunning design.” – Variety

1. Hannah and Her Sisters (78 lists)


“The marvel of Hannah and Her Sisters is just how many fully realized characters and relationships Allen is able to weave into the fabric of this extraordinarily well-written film. This script is one to be studied by aspiring filmmakers.” – Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune