Annual Reports

Top 25 Films of 1987

20. Wall Street

wall street 1987 Top 25 Films of 1987

Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Okay, it’s admittedly not as much fun to watch Wall Street these days, especially knowing that our current Dickhead in Chief probably masturbated to the movie when it first dropped into theaters in 1987. But, that doesn’t change the fact that Oliver Stone’s rallying war cry against the movers and shakers and scumbags of our financial markets is any less compelling. Thirty years later, the stylish drama remains a vital piece of American cinema, if only for the way the film subverts its audience as they, much like Charlie Sheen’s naive Bud Fox, enjoy the pricey thrills of a social class that doesn’t even register on the spectrum. Michael Douglas, who won the Oscar for his role as Gordon Gekko, plays the ultimate baby boomer anti-hero to perfection, totally emblematic of the schmoozy excess that continues to win over the hearts of Americans with a little grease, a wicked smile, and capitalistic soliloquies. You might sit there in all your rage, but at least your morals get the happy ending. In reality, we’re stuck with this. –Michael Roffman

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19. Empire of the Sun

empire of the sun Top 25 Films of 1987

Only Steven Spielberg could take a screenplay by legendary playwright Tom Stoppard, adapted from a semi-autobiographical novel by legendary novelist J.G. Ballard, and turn in a movie perhaps more visually stunning than anything word-related. There are sequences in Empire of the Sun, in fact, that are so visually appealing that they stand tall without the need for any dialogue at all. The film tells the story of a young boy named Jamie “Jim” Graham (Christian Bale) scraping by in Shanghai as WWII falls. His obsession with planes becomes his downfall when he stops to pick up a dropped toy, only to be cut off from his parents and left behind as the non-Chinese flee in the face of far more real planes dropping bombs. Jim is forced to rely on the kindness of beguiling but dangerous strangers (chief among them a top-tier outing from John Malkovich). And by the time he’s reunited with his family, Jim has seen too much, learned too much, felt too much. He has gotten through because he has changed, the impact of the war compressed into one irrevocably altered life. –Lior Phillips

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18. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

a nightmare on elm street 3 dream warriors 1 Top 25 Films of 1987

Out of all the classic horror franchises, A Nightmare on Elm Street is easily the most consistent of the bunch. Although none of its sequels ever captured the cutthroat horror of Wes Craven’s 1984 original, a couple of them came achingly close, and most will point to A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. With Craven back behind the typewriter, righting his ship following 1985’s disappointing A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, it felt like the series had reconnected with its imaginative roots. Craven’s idea to have the sleep-deprived Elm Street kids fight together in their dreams totally flipped the script, introducing more sci-fi fantasy elements that would, in turn, expand the world. Even better, Heather Langenkamp returned to finish her story as surviving hero Nancy Thompson, serving this time as the mentor for the new cast of Dream Warriors. And unlike its predecessor, these kids are worth championing, coming in with interesting backstories that were punched up by co-writer Frank Darabont, whose knack for character is all over this movie. Toss in Bill Maher doppelgänger Craig Wasson, a lush score by Angelo Badalamenti, early performances by Larry Fishburne and Patricia Arquette, and jaw-dropping visuals by art director Mick Strawn, and you have one of the best sequels of all time. Not hyperbole. –Michael Roffman
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17. Fatal Attraction

fatal attraction Top 25 Films of 1987

In the horror genre, there are few things quite as scary as a scorned lover. Sure, vampires and ghosts are spooky, but the man or woman who’s just a little too … always there … even once you’ve called it quits? Now that’s something terrifying, because we’ve all had that experience to one degree or another. Glenn Close brings that to its bloody conclusion in Fatal Attraction, menacing the family of Michael Douglas’s Dan Gallagher after he puts an end to their affair. The film has generated so much analysis — feminist, psychiatric, structural — but beyond its gender and relationship politics, Close and Douglas deliver thrilling performances that transcend even the jumps and leering threats. So next time you get creeped out by a monster hiding in the shadows, just remember: your significant other could be even scarier. –Lior Phillips
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16. The Untouchables

 Top 25 Films of 1987

“What are you prepared to do?” Why, write about how great The Untouchables is for starters. Brian De Palma’s last great film (I’ll hear your M:I argument) brings a pop sensibility to the true-life story of agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and his team of incorruptible cops (and one accountant). Together they try to take down the seemingly un-convictable mob boss Al Capone (Robert De Niro), who dominated the bootlegging of alcohol during Prohibition. The film features a welcomed over-the-top performance by De Niro (“Baseball!”) and is a highlight of the then-rising career of Costner, but it’s Connery’s role as mentor Jimmy Malone that steals the whole thing. The performance won Connery his first and only Oscar, and the relationship between Malone and Ness is the cornerstone of the whole enterprise. Their methods may be in opposition to one another, but they know they need to work together. Add the incredible ode to Battleship Potemkin via train station, a gangbusters score from legendary Ennio Morricone, and the reminder that casting Billy Drago in your movie is always a good thing, and its undeniable that The Untouchables is one of the best. “Never stop fighting till the fight is done.” I’ve made my case. –Justin Gerber
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