Richard Linklater‘s “Everybody Wants Some!!” makes 1980 seem like a year that everyone got high, hooked up at discos, and played knuckles in too-tight shorts. It was. But it was also a cinematic goldmine because of all the grim drama that went down in that pivotal, recessionary year.
In Linklater’s 1970s set-classic “Dazed and Confused,” one stoned teen speculates that the 1980s might be “awesome.” Were they? You tell us.
“Last Days of Disco”
Whit Stillman‘s 1997 classic is set in the very early ’80s, and can we get personal? Your humble correspondent was 5 years old in 1980, crying through “The Empire Strikes Back” and rarely going to discos. But to me, no film better captures the scary, melancholic uncertainty of that awkward year. People still smoked inside, money was tight, and the music was sexy and cocaine-fueled and amazing.
1980 began optimistically enough, with six Americans escaping Iran by disguising themselves as Canadians. (It was a humbler time.) Their journey was dramatized in this 2012 thriller from Ben Affleck, who formerly played a paddle-wielding nutcase in Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused.”
The U.S. hockey team set Hollywood up for a very easy shot when it miraculously beat the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics. Hollywood finally went for it with 2004’s “Miracle.” The hockey win was nice, but didn’t totally mitigate the whole “Are-we-going-to-nuke-each-other” question that kept many people awake through most of the decade.
Early 1980 marked the end of the Abscam sting on crooked lawmakers that inspired “American Hustle.” 1980 still seems OK so far, right? That’s about to change.
Joy Division singer Ian Curtis’ life, and his suicide in May 1980, inspired this 2007 biopic.
“24 Hour Party People”
Curtis was also featured in this 2002 comedy. Maybe he killed himself because he knew 1980 was about to get really bad?
Like many of the films in this gallery, “Goodfellas” spans many years. But that frantic drug arrest of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta)? That was in May 1980. Should’ve gone to “The Empire Strikes Back,” Henry.
That Richard Pryor film that’s been in the works forever will hit an emotional low when it portrays the June 1980 day our hero accidentally set himself on fire while freebasing cocaine. It was apparent by 1980 that the year kind of sucked in a lot of ways.
This 1983 film starring Mariel Hemingway was only a few years removed from the grim event it portrayed: the murder of Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten. Ugh, just end, 1980.
If you thought 1980 was bad before December, well brace yourself, Beatles fans, because one of your heroes is about to horribly die. In “Chapter 27,” a larger-than-usual Jared Leto plays Mark David Chapman in the days before he murdered John Lennon to close out 1980.