The Best ‘80s Movies on Netflix Right Now, from ‘Back to the Future’ to ‘Purple Rain’

Neon spandex. Acid-wash jeans. Glossy Jheri curls. They all practically defined the ‘80s (and we’ve seen quite a few of them make a comeback), but these bold fashion trends aren’t the only thing we love about the decade.

Allow us to reintroduce some of the most iconic films from the ‘80s, from Back to the Future to Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Since we’re feeling nostalgic, we’re taking a trip back in time, with 20 of the best ‘80s movies on Netflix right now, including action-adventure, romantic comedies, biographical dramas and more.

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1. ‘mystic Pizza’ (1988)

Who’s in it? Annabeth Gish, Julia Roberts, Lili Taylor, Matt Damon

What’s it about? This film follows the complicated love lives of three tight-knit teens who spend their summer working as waitresses at the local pizza parlor, Mystic Pizza. Within minutes, this coming-of-age film will make you feel like you’ve made three new BFFs.

2. ‘do The Right Thing’ (1989)

Who’s in it? Spike Lee, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson

What’s it about? In Brooklyn during the late ‘80s, racial tensions soar when the Black community takes issues with the lack of diversity in a local pizzeria’s "Wall of Fame." Leave it to Lee to create a powerful story that speaks to race relations in America.

3. ‘she's Gotta Have It’ (1986)

Who’s in it? Tracy Camilla Johns, Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell, Spike Lee, Raye Dowell

What’s it about? It's a refreshing, unfiltered look at Black womanhood and female sexuality, proving that Lee was way ahead of his time. It follows Nola Darling (Johns), a skilled Brooklyn-based artist who’s content with juggling three men without committing to any of them. But the tables turn when her partners meet up for the first time...

4. ‘ferris Bueller's Day Off’ (19860)

Who’s in it? Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jennifer Grey

What’s it about? Ferris Bueller (Broderick) is a high-school senior who decides to take a “sick day” from school and opts for a fun adventure in the streets of Chicago. But as Ferris cruises about in his dad’s pricey Ferrari, his school principal is determined to catch him in the act. Who knew skipping school could be so complicated?

5. ‘e.t. The Extra Terrestrial’ (1982)

Who’s in it? Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore

What’s it about? When Elliott (Thomas) discovers an alien that was left stranded on Earth, he and his siblings develop a bond with the friendly creature, who names himself “E.T.” But then E.T. starts to get ill, and little do they know that the alien is being tracked by the government.

6. ‘back To The Future’ (1985)

Who’s in it? Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover

What’s it about? The year is 1985. Troubled teen Marty McFly (Fox) decides to pay his brilliant scientist friend a visit, but in a matter of minutes they realize that they’ve accidentally time-travelled to the year 1955. Can Marty make it back home without completely changing the course of history?

7. ‘indiana Jones And The Last Crusade’ (1989)

Who’s in it? Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody, Denholm Elliott, Julian Glover, River Phoenix

What’s it about? Our favorite explorer and archaeologist is on a mission to save his father (Connery), who mysteriously vanishes while trying to find the Holy Grail. As much as we love the entire Indiana Jones franchise, the comedic scenes and the chemistry between Ford and Connery truly make this film stand out.

8. ‘purple Rain’ (1984)

Who’s in it? Prince, Apollonia Kotero, Morris Day, Clarence Williams III

What’s it about? You’ve got Prince’s undeniable charm, multiple chart-topping singles and a storyline that’s sure to keep you engaged. In the Oscar-winning film, Prince stars as the Kid, a talented musician who performs to escape his troubled life at home. But when another popular star enters the club scene, the Kid realizes he’ll have to up his game to stay in the spotlight.

9. ‘national Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ (1989)

Who’s in it? Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Randy Quaid

What’s it about? Clark Griswold (Chase) knows all too well that Christmas is the most wonderful (and stressful) time of the year. While he tries to give his family the perfect holiday, things immediately go south when Clark’s cousin Eddie (Quaid) and his relatives show up unannounced.

10. ‘the Golden Child’ (1986)

Who’s in it? Eddie Murphy, Charlotte Lewis, Charles Dance

What’s it about? Murphy delivers plenty of laughs in this dark fantasy, where he stars as a social worker trying to fulfill his newfound destiny as the "Chosen One." After learning that he must rescue a young boy with magical powers—The Golden Child—he embarks on his wildest adventure yet.

11. ‘zoot Suit’ (1981)

Who’s in it? Daniel Valdez Edward, James Olmos, Charles Aidman

What’s it about? Based on the real-life Sleepy Lagoon murder trial during World War II, Zoot Suit follows a group of young Mexican-American gangsters who were unfairly tried and put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit. The film was adapted from the 1979 Broadway play, which featured most of the original cast.

12. ‘midnight Run’ (1988)

Who’s in it? Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, Yaphet Kotto, John Ashton, Joe Pantoliano

What’s it about? If you really want to see De Niro flex his comedy muscles, then this action flick is a must-watch. When bond dealer Eddie Moscone (Pantoliano) hires a bounty hunter named Jack (De Niro) to capture an accountant, Jack is convinced that it’ll be a quick job. But when he finally gets to his target, he realizes that the job is way more than he bargained for.

13. ‘the Blue Lagoon’ (1980)

Who’s in it? Brooke Shields, Christopher Atkins, Leo McKern, William Daniels

What’s it about? Is it realistic? Not by a longshot. But, seeing two wildly attractive cousins fall in love as they go through puberty on a scenic tropical island makes for one interesting romantic tale.

14. ‘rain Man’ (1988)

Who’s in it? Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino

What’s it about? When Charlie Babbitt (Cruise), a selfish collectibles dealer, learns that his wealthy father has passed away, he’s stunned to hear that the majority of his fortune was left to an older sibling he never knew existed. Upon visiting his brother Raymond (Hoffman), Charlie learns that he’s autistic and has savant syndrome, causing him to concoct a clever plan that just might get him the rest of their father’s money.

15. ‘hard Lessons’ (1986)

Who’s in it? Denzel Washington, Lynn Whitfield, Earl Billings, Ray Buktenica

What’s it about? Before he rose to superstardom, Washington starred as Principal George McKenna in this biographical TV film, which chronicles McKenna’s efforts to transform a failing high school into a successful institution.

16. ‘blade Runner’ (1982)

Who’s in it? Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos

What’s it about? Ford stars as a retired officer named Rick Deckard, who is tasked with hunting down a fugitive group of synthetic humans known as "replicants." Get ready for all the sci-fi action and dazzling special effects.

17. ‘once Upon A Time In America’ (1984)

Who’s in it? Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci

What’s it about? Often considered one of the greatest gangster films of all time, Once Upon a Time in America tackles relationships, betrayal, loss, violence and everything in between. It follows two close friends, David "Noodles" Aaronson (De Niro) and Maximilian "Max" Bercovicz (Woods), as they form their own gang and navigate the dark world of crime in New York.

18. ‘strange Voices’ (1987)

Who’s in it? Nancy McKeon, Valerie Harper, Stephen Macht

What’s it about? Nicole's (McKeon) comfortable life is turned upside down when, out of nowhere, she starts to hear voices in her head. When they drive her to think paranoid thoughts and act violently, her parents seek help and learn that their daughter is suffering from schizophrenia.

19. ‘quiet Victory’ (1988)

Who’s in it? Pam Dawber, Michael Nouri, Peter Berg, James Handy

What’s it about? Based on the inspiring true story of Charlie Wedemeyer, the film follows a high school teacher and football coach who gets diagnosed with ALS at 32 years old. When he learns that he has very little time left to live, he refuses to let the illness take over his life and continues to lead his talented team. (You might want to grab the tissues for this one.)

20. ‘a Stoning In Fulham County’ (1988)

Who’s in it? Ron Perlman, Ken Olin, Jill Eikenberry, Gregg Henry

What’s it about? This heartbreaking film depicts the real-life murder of an Amish child in Indiana in 1979. Set in North Carolina, an Amish couple’s baby is instantly killed when a group of reckless teens throw rocks at the family. Jim Sandler (Olin), a prosecutor, is determined to bring the guilty parties to justice, but there’s just one problem—the couple refuses to press charges.

nakeisha campbell bio
Nakeisha Campbell

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...
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