Films of 1982: what was hot when 20th Century Flicks opened its doors | Bristol

With aliens (friendly and not-so-friendly), cyborgs, love stories and serious dramas, 1982 produced some classic movies. As a Bristol video shop celebrates 40 years since first opening its doors to film fans, we look back at the top films of the year.


Nominated for nine Oscars, Steven Spielberg’s family-friendly classic tells the story of a young boy called Elliott who befriends an extraterrestrial stranded on Earth after being left behind by his spaceship.

Elliott and his family help the charming alien – dubbed ET by his friends – find a way of returning home despite being pursued by the authorities.

blade runner

Harrison Ford starred as burnt-out cop Rick Deckard in Ridley Scott’s return to sci-fi, set in a dystopian future Los Angeles in… 2019.

Ford hunts down synthetic humans known as “replicants”, and the film features a monologue by the character played Rutger Hauer which is lauded and parodied in equal measure.


The year’s second most profitable film after ET, this romcom tells the story of an actor, played by Dustin Hoffman, who assumes a new identity as a woman to land a role. Jessica Lange won the best supporting actress Oscar for her role as Julie Nichols.


Winning an impressive eight out of its 11 Oscar nominations, this biopic – starring Ben Kingsley in the title role as Mahatma Gandhi – covered the key moments of the revered campaigner’s life.

An Officer and a Gentleman

Richard Gere’s turn as Zack Mayo, who falls in love with “townie” Paula (Debra Winger) while training to become an aviation officer, catapulted him to the very top of the A-list in this critically lauded drama, with many even rating it movie of the year.


Werner Herzog’s West German epic wowed audiences with its audacity and Klaus Kinski’s magnetic turn as Brian Fitzgerald, who attempts to transport a steamship over a steep hill to access a rich rubber territory in the Amazon basin.


Now recognized as a horror classic, Poltergeist tells the story of a family whose home is invaded by malevolent ghosts that end up abducting their daughter.

Eating Raoul

This failed to make a tooth with the critics but is much loved 40 years on. Paul Bartel wrote, directed and even starred in a black comedy about a married couple who kill and rob rich swingers to pay for their dream restaurant.

Sophie’s Choice

Meryl Streep won the Oscar for best actress as she starred as Sophie, a Holocaust survivor who becomes close to a young writer called Stingo (Peter MacNicol) as she recounts the horrors she faced.

Grossing $30m at the box office, the film was a phenomenal success among audiences and critics alike.

The Thing

John Carpenter’s stomach-churning Antarctic horror was panned at the time, but has only grown in stature over 40 years. The effects were cutting-edge in 1982 and still hold strong today – as does Kurt Russell’s growling lead performance.

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