My Five Favorite Films from the Year I was Born: 1984

1984 might seem like a great year for movies. There’s a lot of classics. Terminator, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Freakin’ Ghostbusters! But other than some big heavy hitters, it was actually a boring year with a handful of gems scattered throughout. Even though an Entertainment Weekly writer called 1984 the best year in movie history, he had something crucial to enjoying the sea of boring from that year: nostalgia. Considering I was only alive in 1984 for a total of one week (yes, if you’re doing the math, I was born on Christmas), I don’t have any emotional attachments to that year. And besides, 2008 is the best year in cinematic history.

But that doesn’t mean I hate the movies of 1984. As I said, there were some gems. So, here are my five favorite films from the year I was born. And before we begin—no, Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones are not among them. I eagerly await internet crucifixion.

5. The Terminator


Most of Terminator’s famous lines might come from T2, but the first Terminator is better. Arnold is a great villain in this, and even though there are 4 (5?) films now with him playing Hero-nator, I could never buy it because he’s so damn menacing in The Terminator. And where T2 is this polished film, Terminator is rough. There’s grit here, maybe literally. It’s a tense, packed 108 minutes of a killer robot. Making Terminator protect a brown-haired Daenerys was a mistake. Bring back the 1984 Terminator. Bring back the hurt.

4. Gremlins

I didn’t see Gremlins until I was 30. To this day, I don’t exactly get the appeal for the movie, or what the movie is. Like, why is there a college age kid living at home and acting like he’s twelve? Why is no one working at the movie theater during one of the busiest seasons of the year? Why does Gizmo remind me of an ex-girlfriend? Sure, that has nothing to do with this bizarre and brilliant movie, but it’s still a question. That’s what I love about Gremlins. There is no “getting it”—it just exists. It’s weird and strange, with hardly any logic, but it’s also a hell of a fun movie.

3. This Is Spinal Tap

What happens when you mark inches instead of feet.

A smart movie about dumb people. Rock stars, in particular. Spinal Tap is Rob Reiner’s most interesting film. It’s a mockumentary that was so well done, people claimed they were Spinal Tap fans before the movie came out. Yep—hipsters existed in 1984 too. The jokes range from subtle to ridiculous to this brilliant bit:

2. Repo Man

One of the best cult classics ever made. The production looks like they had a budget of $10—and this just makes the movie better. Repo Man is an 80’s Punk Sci-Fi dystopia satire. The food is labeled as “food,” the beer is “beer.” There are films about American excess now, but Repo Man was talking about it 32 years ago. And it has the embodiment of all 80’s actors, Emilio Estevez. If you haven’t felt your mind properly eroding yet, you need to watch this movie.

1. Ghostbusters

Just kidding.

1. Blood Simple

The film that started the Coen Brothers’ careers, and still one of their best. It’s a 90-minute neo-noir masterpiece. The movie also launched Frances McDormand, and she’s brilliant in it. The pacing is perfect; the cinematography is beautiful. And there’s an unnerving intensity throughout the movie. It’s not just one of the best films of 1984, it’s one of the best movies of all time.

And there are movies from 1984 I still need to see, such as Dreamscape, The Never-Ending Story, and Amadeus. And yes, I do like Indiana Jones and Ghostbusters. I’m not a monster. But since 1984, well, movies became one of the most important aspects of my life. I see 2-3 a week in theaters now. So maybe there was something magical going in cinema that year because I was born addicted to movies.

Roman Colombo
Roman Colombo
Roman Colombo has been teaching comics and movies at Philadelphia area colleges since 2010, including Temple University, Drexel University, and Rosemont College. He has several publications in journals such as The Bookends Review and monkeybicycle. He's also the author of Trading Saints for Sinners, his first published novel.