When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked back at 1984, it gave its Best Picture award to Amadeus. That one made it into my top 10, but it isn't at number one:
1. Repo Man
Written and directed by Alex Cox
"It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes."
2. Love Streams
Directed by John Cassavetes
Written by Cassavetes and Ted Allan, from a play by Allan
"All through the making of this picture," Cassavetes later said, "I kept reliving my father's words. 'For every problem there's an answer.' But since Love Streams is about a question of love, there didn't seem to be an answer I could find....Even now, I still don't know what the brother and sister really feel about each other."
3. This Is Spinal Tap
Directed by Rob Reiner
Written by Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer
My favorite rock movie; the first and funniest of the Christopher Guest troupe's semi-improvised comedies; and the strongest evidence that the now-insufferable Reiner was once capable of doing good work.
4. Once Upon a Time in America
Directed by Sergio Leone
Written by Leone, Leonardo Benvenuti, Piero De Bernardi, Enrico Medioli, Franco Arcalli, Franco Ferrini, and Stuart Kaminsky, from a novel by Harry Grey
One of the greatest gangster pictures. Arguably even better than The Godfather.
5. Nothing Lasts Forever
Written and directed by Tom Schiller
This movie harkens back to so many different film styles that it seems to take place in the entire 20th century at once. But it's a different 20th century—one where the Port Authority has seized dictatorial powers in Manhattan, a benevolent conspiracy of tramps guides people's destinies from a hidden base beneath New York, and the U.S. government first went to the moon in 1953, where it set up a secret shopping district for elderly American tourists.
6. Antonio Gaudí
Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara
The next best thing to seeing the buildings in person.
7. Secret Honor
Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone, from their play
Like a post-Watergate conspiracy picture, only instead of a thriller it's a one-man show.
Directed by Milos Forman
Written by Peter Shaffer, from his play
"Mediocrities everywhere, I absolve you."
Directed by Ivan Reitman
Written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis
A pleasant little comedy about a small business and its run-ins with the Environmental Protection Agency.
10. Blood Simple
Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
My favorite living American filmmakers make their directorial debut.
11. King Lear (Michael Elliott)
12. Before Stonewall (John Scagliotti, Greta Schiller, Robert Rosenberg)
13. Favorites of the Moon (Otar Iosseliani)
14. There Will Come Soft Rains (Nazim Tulyakhodzayev)
15. After the Rehearsal (Ingmar Bergman)
16. Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders)
17. Return to Waterloo (Ray Davies)
18. Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch)
19. Two Tribes (Kevin Godley, Lol Creme)
20. A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven)
Of the films of 1984 that I haven't seen, I'm most interested in Tightrope and The Funeral.