Best of 1987

Patrick McGilligan and Mark Rowland polled 100 critics for their 1987 film poll, and reported on the top 17 films.  Perhaps most surprising about 1987’s poll is the exclusion of The Princess Bride and Fatal Attraction.  Moonstruck and Good Morning Vietnam also missed the cutoff, although likely due to their late release dates.

17. Tampopo (20 lists)


“Itami’s humor and invention is such that we never have a chance to feel deprived. His stylistic palette and sense of fun are so wide-ranging that he can oscillate between brightness and darkness to articulate one gag.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

14. The Dead (22 lists)


“A well-crafted miniature, this dramatization of the Joyce story directly addresses the theme of how the ‘shades’ from ‘that other world’ can still live in those who still walk the earth.” – Variety

14. Manon of the Spring (22 lists)


“The acting, from that of the four major stars to the numerous supporting cast members, is without flaw.” – James Berardinelli, ReelViews

14. Platoon (22 lists)


“Platoon is one of those movies that, once seen, will never be forgotten, and, at least for those who were not in Vietnam, will forever alter the way in which the war is considered.” – James Berardinelli, ReelViews

13. The Untouchables (25 lists)


“It goes to that place that all films aspiring to greatness must attain: the country of myth, where all the figures must be larger and more vivid than life.” – Richard Schickel, Time Magazine

12. Empire of the Sun (26 lists)


“No special use is made of the talents of Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers, Joe Pantoliano and the others, so it is up to young English thesp Bale to engage the viewer’s interest, which he does superbly.” – Variety

11. Raising Arizona (28 lists)


“To their old fascination with Sunbelt pathology, to their side-winding Steadicam and pristine command of screen space, the Coens have added a robust humor, a plot that keeps outwitting expectations and a…dollop of sympathy for their forlorn kidnapers.” – Richard Corliss, Time Magazine

10. The Last Emperor (28 lists)


“It’s a tribute to the film’s intelligence and its feeling for dialectics that it views both the Forbidden City and the detention center as prisons, and that when Pu Yi winds up as a gardener there’s a sense of gain as well as loss.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

8. River’s Edge (30 lists)


“River’s Edge is a contemporary horror story about teen-agers, but it contains no slasher scenes or serial homicides. Its monsters are all too real.” – Michael Wilmington, Los Angeles Times

8. Tin Men (30 lists)


“Levinson’s follow-up to Diner has strong characters, funny dialogue, and terrific ensemble, but the film is dramatically shapeless.” – Emanuel Levy,

7. Roxanne (34 lists)


“The nose itself is a perfect prop for a man who began his career with a fake arrow through his head, a man who has since evolved from a coolly absurdist stand-up comic to a fully formed, amazingly nimble comic actor.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

5. Jean de Florette (38 lists)


“You may also become permanently sick of goats. But after Jean, a rich residue of themes and images remains — much as after reading a long but great novel or Greek tragedy.” – Desson Thomson, Washington Post

5. Radio Days (38 lists)


“Childhood anecdotes and charming vignettes are set against bright-light, big-city sets, a-dazzle with beautiful players.” – Rita Kempley, Washington Post

4. Full Metal Jacket (44 lists)


“Kubrick’s harrowing, beautiful and characteristically eccentric new film about Vietnam, is going to puzzle, anger and (I hope) fascinate audiences as much as any film he has made to date.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times

3. My Life as a Dog (45 lists)


“A series of emotionally wrenching moments that made My Life as a Dog a transatlantic hit when it arrived in 1985.” – Michael Booth, Denver Post

2. Hope and Glory (53 lists)


“The Blitz as a comedy: Director John Boorman offers a warmly nostalgic view of his childhood in a London suburb during WWII.” – Emanuel Levy,

1. Broadcast News (61 lists)


“Broadcast News has a lot of interesting things to say about television. But the thing it does best is look into a certain kind of personality and a certain kind of relationship.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times