1984: Cinema’s greatest year?

It's a tough call but someone had to do it

How many times have you been asked what your favourite film of all-time is? Many, no doubt, but what about your opinion on which is the silver screen’s best year? Not many, right? Well, in the following article, the gauntlet has been well and truly laid down to argue the case for 1984.

This was the year that saw Band Aid top the charts, the birth of Prince Harry, as well as the very first televised nine-darter, but where do we start with our cinematic odyssey?

A franchise that started life 31 years ago, and whose patiently-awaited third instalment is out next year, would be a good enough place. A world away from the impending all-female line-up, the original Ghostbusters that included Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis, grossed a whopping $238,632,184 all told. This does, however, include profits from a re-release the following year, so what actually was 1984’s highest earner? Enter Eddie Murphy in Beverley Hills Cop, with $234,760,478 in the single calendar year alone, which also went on to spawn two sequels, but certainly didn’t hang around in doing so. In fact, of the top ten movies of the year, only Footloose and Splash remained one-offs, but we’re not doing badly so far, are we? Let us not forget that money doesn’t always talk, as Amadeus proved by scooping both the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Picture.

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’84 saw the beginning of a few franchises that went on to see mixed fortunes. The Terminator (a step too far this year), The Karate Kid (one was enough) and Police Academy (just outstayed its welcome) all saw the light of day, whilst horror fans were introduced to the terrifying world of Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Meanwhile, two established sagas continued in the form of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Personally, I haven’t a clue as to how dearly fans hold the former to their hearts, but as an avid ‘Indy’ viewer the second outing is sometimes the best.

The industry itself moved forward in this year as well. To help films that ‘trod the line’ shall we say, the Motion Picture Association of America introduced the PG-13 rating, mainly in response to the mayhem that ensued in Gremlins. 1985 may have had Back to the Future, but there’s no denying that the Warner Bros. classic broke new ground and single-handedly reinvented the entire concept of the Christmas movie. Disney also got in on the act by forming Touchstone Pictures, in order to accommodate releases with a more mature feel than their standard fare. Speaking of Disney, ’84 also saw the re-release in cinemas of Pinocchio and The Jungle Book from their roster of animated favourites – does it get any better than that?

Inevitably, Hollywood has to mourn the passing of some greats and this year saw us pay tribute to Richard Burton, Johnny Weismuller and James Mason. But there’s always new arrivals to carry on the torch, and a few household names made their debuts on the big screen, including Colin Firth, Charlie Sheen and one Johnny Depp in the afore-mentioned Elm Street. Not only that, but Scarlett Johansson was born (okay, don’t all cheer at once).

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So there you have it, quite a compelling case I think you’ll agree. And to finish with, a special mention must go to The Bounty. Not the most memorable 1984 flick, but how about Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson, Daniel Day-Lewis and Anthony Hopkins for a cast? What we’d all give for that nowadays.

Discussion feed
  • I wasn't born in until 92 so maybe that explains why for me it has to be 1995! Kevin Spacey's power duo of Usual Suspects and Seven, Apollo 13, Toy Story 1, 12 Monkeys, Heat, one of the best coming of age comedies Clueless, oh and Usual Suspects AGAIN because it is my fav haha. Shame I was only three when this year happened so I can't say I was let into any of these films at the time except Toy Story!
  • It's unfortunate that 1990 had such bad sequels, but other than that it's another great shout. Sam, I think Amadeus seems to fall under the radar sometimes, which is a shame.

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