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Cinema’s Greatest Decade: The 80s vs The 90s

I watched a program last night called The 90's: Cinema's Greatest Decade. It was hosted by Alex Zane who seems to be Sky TV’s go-to movie guy.

In the show he looked at some of the biggest movies of the decade and the impact they had on us as movie-goers and on the industry itself.

It’s not big news to anyone that films just aren’t as good these days as they used to be. I bang on about it all the time. The past 10 plus years of cinema have been mostly dominated by remakes, unnecessary “legacy sequels” and superhero movies.

How is it that two decades in particular (the 80s and 90s) gave us not only some of the best movies ever made but some of the best stories ever told on screen? Not only that, what happened to all the originality?!

Apparently Alex Zane did one of these programs about the 80s and it got me thinking: Which was the best decade for movies? The 80s, or the 90s?

It’s very easy to blurt out the answer without giving the question some proper thought. For instance I would immediately go with the 90s. Not only was it my era but we had some amazing films during that time. However, when I start to think about the films that came out of both decades it gets harder and harder to choose without nostalgia playing a big part.

Just to give you some context I’ll list a few movies from both decades:

The 80s

Die Hard, The Terminator, Lethal Weapon, Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places, Gremlins, Short Circuit, Highlander, Blade Runner, Coming to America, The Lost Boys, The Goonies, Top Gun, The Karate Kid, Batman, the Indiana Jones trilogy, the Star Wars and Rocky sequels, Crocodile Dundee, Big, Romancing the Stone, E.T, Flight of the Navigator, Fatal Attraction...

The 90s

Jurassic Park, Independence Day, The Shawshank Redemption, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber (and any of the Farrelly brothers stuff), Good Will Hunting, Titanic, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Mission Impossible, Armageddon, The Mummy, The Bodyguard, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Pulp Fiction, Train Spotting, Twister, Speed, The Matrix, The Sixth Sense, American Pie, Se7en, Edward Scissorhands, Scream, Toy Story, The Silence of the Lambs...

Obviously it’s impossible to list them all but these are the ones that immediately come to my mind.

Both decades were absolutely brimming with originality with the 80s especially launching franchises that are still being milked dry even today, and the 90s making soundtracks ever more popular thanks to theme songs like, “Everything I Do, I Do It For You” (Bryan Adams), “My Heart Will Go On” (Celine Dion), Unchained Melody (The Righteous Brothers), I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” (Aerosmith) and I Will Always Love You (Whitney Houston) dominating the charts after the movies they were featured in became such massive hits at the box office.

Sadly, when compared to those two decades, the past 20 years of cinema seems like a very different place. Maybe Matt Damon was right when he said the decline in popularity of DVDs and home video as a medium resulted in the decline in quality of movies themselves.

But which is cinema’s greatest decade? Is it the 80s or is it the 90s? Maybe you don’t think it’s either..? Whatever the case, as always let me know what you think in the comments.

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