Heaven’s Gate (1980)

It is only fitting that the melancholy lament of changing historical eras in Heaven’s Gate would be reflected in a film so often blamed for ending the New Hollywood movement, and yet time has been kind to this historical box-office bomb, where Michael Cimino skilfully stages an epic Western confrontation between the landowners and European immigrants of late 19th century Wyoming.

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Blood Simple (1984)

Armed with a penchant for riveting visual storytelling, the Coen Brothers deliver a neo-noir vision of Texas in Blood Simple made up of grimy, low-lit bars and fatefully botched murders, navigating this moral wasteland with profuse dramatic irony and an omniscient perspective that seeks to understand its place in a godless universe.

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Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Cinema Paradiso bleeds the sort of pure, unassuming love of film that greater movies may have tackled with more ambitious visual artistry, and yet Giuseppe Tornatore’s majestic coming-of-age fable nevertheless inspires a rousing sentimentalism which erodes all traces of cynicism in even the harshest critics.

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Something Wild (1986)

A sudden immersion into the screwball comedy genre might be the perfect challenge to the stagnant lifestyle of middle-class yuppie Charlie, as through his impromptu road trip with the freewheeling Lulu, Jonathan Demme sends Something Wild spinning off in hilarious and terrifying directions, drawing us into the orbit of characters trying to reconcile their own contradictory, innate desires.

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The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)

While The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover’s indictments of Thatcherism’s anti-intellectualism operate as a sharp political allegory in the vein of George Orwell, Peter Greenaway’s opulent Baroque aesthetic lifts it to another transcendent level altogether, transforming a restaurant into a gallery of vivid tableaux illustrating the horrific abuses of one gangster’s despicably gluttonous conquest.

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Fitzcarraldo (1982)

In Fitzcarraldo’s absurd dream of building an opera house in the Amazon jungle and his even stranger endeavour of hauling a giant steamship up a mountain, Werner Herzog centres him as a tragic figure in an epic fable of extraordinary ambition, fully consuming his mind with a megalomania that threatens the foundations of his own conceited, fragile mortality.

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