The Movie Moments Homepage / Reviews & More

12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1982

It’s 1982. The world watches as a joint Middle East peace agreement is signed in Washington D.C., while U.S. President Ronald Reagan declares war on drugs. On TV, Late Night with David Letterman debuts on NBC, with Bill Murray as his first guest. In sports, Steve Carlton becomes the first pitcher to win 4 Cy Young Awards. And at the movies, a little alien was about to make it the biggest year of the decade. Here are the 12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1982.

12) Nowhere Else to Go

12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1982
Richard Gere, Louis Gossett Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman, 1982)
FILM: An Officer and a Gentleman

Military-themed movies have long been a setting for finding true love and this romantic drama is one of the best. The story of Zach Mayo (Richard Gere), who enlists in Aviation Officer Candidate School is one about sacrifice, discipline, friendship and honor. But mostly it’s about love. As Mayo falls for the beautiful Paula Pokrifki (Debra Winger), he faces hardships from his Drill Instructor, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (Louis Gossett, Jr.), who sees potential in Mayo but thinks he can’t cut it. In this moment, he punishes the cadette and demands he quit. Mayo’s heartfelt response reveals a troubling truth about the rebellious young man and changes everything. And props to Gere for holding his legs up that long. Ouch.

11) The Great Conjunction

12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1982
Aughra, Jen (The Dark Crystal, 1982)
FILM: The Dark Crystal

In this children’s fantasy film from Jim Henson and Company, a magical crystal, long ago, is broken and two strange species emerge. One are the malevolent Skeksis, who use the power of a shard from the crystal to continually replenish themselves, and the others are kind frumpled wizards called Mystics. On their planet exists an elf boy named Jen who is the last of his clan, killed by the Skeksis. He is taken in by a Mystic and told to restore the crystal. On his journey, he meets Aughra, a repulsive creature who keeps the shard that can heal the crystal. She tells Jen of the Great Conjunction, where the planet’s three suns will align. Her home is a wildly inventive place with a huge, always moving metal model of the heavens. So eye-catching is the contraption, it was two viewings before we really heard what the old hag had to say.

10) I’m Your Worst Nightmare

12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1982
Eddie Murphy (48 Hrs., 1982)
FILM: 48 Hrs.

By 1982, Eddie Murphy was already a rising star from his appearances on the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. He made his feature film debut with 48 Hrs. and it made him an international star. The mix of comedy and violence won over audiences and critics alike. While the movie has plenty of memorable moments, it is in a redneck country-western bar where Murphy flat-out sets the screen on fire. With a foul-mouthed boom heard round the world, he announced he was here to stay. Playing a thief named Reggie Hammond, out of jail to help tough detective Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) solve a crime, he is challenged by Jack to get information out of the bar, knowing it would be next to impossible for the black man to do so. He is wrong. Reggie absolutely owns the show and powers through the bar like a tidal wave, taking a racial slur and flipping it so hard, there’s not a person in the place who doesn’t believe who he says he is. He’s the new sheriff in town.

9) Time For You To Leave

12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1982
Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, 1982)
FILM: Gandhi

This story of India’s independent movement from Great Britain follows the life of its leader, Mohandas Gandhi (Ben Kingsley). Advocating non-violent, non-cooperative methods, Gandhi became the ‘Father of the Nation’ and at great sacrifice, led the millions of multi-religious people of his home country to rise up and reclaim what was theirs. In this stirring moment, Gandhi and his officers sit across from a stable of British military and diplomatic leaders who are hearing for the first time Gandhi’s demand that they simply leave India. It’s a shocking proposal and one some at the table can’t see as legit, but Gandhi’s always impressive fortitude and determination, even as one man doesn’t see himself as an alien in a country that is not his own, is inspiring.

8) Light Cycle Battle

12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1982
Tron, 1982
FILM: Tron

When this mix of live-action and computer animated film debuted, is was a calling card to the rest of Hollywood that a new breed of filmmaking was here. From it spawned a horde of copy-cats, ushering in the next great leap forward in technology for the medium. The film follows Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), a software engineer and video game designer whose work is stolen and published by someone else. To uncover the larger conspiracy, he hacks into ENCOM, the company he works for and who is stealing his games, and is digitized into the computer system by its Master Control Program, or MCP, (voiced by David Warner). Once there, as a living entity in the form of his human body, he discovers that anyone opposing the MCP must do battle to the death in games. One such game is the Light Cycle Battle where combatants ride two-wheeled cycles that emit a wall of light behind them that if struck by another player, destroys them. It’s a gorgeous sequence that had every person watching saying, “I want to play that.” And what do you know? They could.

7) That Is One Nutty Hospital

12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1982
Dustin Hoffman (Tootsie, 1982)
FILM: Tootsie

After character actor Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) can’t find work because of his difficult reputation, he decides to become someone new. That person is Dorothy Michaels, a secret persona he creates that is so effective, he lands a job on a daytime drama where all believe he is a woman. Dorothy meets and falls in love with an actress on the show named Julie (Jessica Lange), who sees Dorothy as a mentor and a potential date for her widowed father (Charles Durning). Meanwhile, Dorothy becomes a national sensation as a proud, independent woman until Michael can’t take it anymore and on live television reveals to the world who Dorothy really is, shocking everyone but his roommate, Bill Murray, who gets the best line while watching. Seriously funny.

6) The Red Bikini

12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1982
Phoebe Cates (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1982)
FILM: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

High School teen sex comedies were a dime a dozen in the 80s but one of the early ones that got it right was this movie directed by Amy Heckerling. It follows the misadventures of several typical horny students and their many mishaps, including a popular but shy senior named Brad Hamilton (Judge Reinhold) who hopes his last year in school will be good. His sister Stacey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is still a virgin and wants to learn more before the summer and gets her best friend (and more experienced) Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates) to offer some tips, including one that involves a carrot. Meanwhile, Brad has a terrible crush on the beautiful Linda, and one day while she and his sister are lying around the swimming pool, he watches through a bathroom window and fantasizes about the little brunette emerging from the pool and taking off her bikini top. Cates’ brief nudity has become iconic and none has done it better.

5) I Have Been And Always Shall Be

12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1982
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan)
FILM: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

In the follow-up to the trippy first movie of the beloved television sci-fi show, the crew of the spaceship Enterprise meet an old enemy bent on acquiring a powerful new weapon that can terraform an entire planet. The man’s name is Khan (Ricardo Montalbán), a genetically engineered superhuman who attempted to take over the ship 15 years earlier. Along with his followers, they were set upon a hospitable planet, but not long after, a disaster ravaged the planet and left Khan with only a few others to survive in a desolate landscape. Seeking revenge, he gets his chance and as he pursues his nemesis, learns of the Genesis Device, a tool meant to help populate new worlds, but in the wrong hands a sinister weapon. At one point, as a choice leaves Spock (Leonard Nimoy) believing he must sacrifice himself, he saves the ship at the cost of his own life. Before he dies, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) rushes to his side and the two share a final moment. One of the great all-time death scenes.

4) Don’t Make Me Choose

12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1982
Meryl Streep (Sophie’s Choice, 1982)
FILM: Sophie’s Choice

Zofia “Sophie” Zawistowski (Meryl Streep) is an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor who managed to make it to the Unites States after the war. She becomes involved with a sometimes violent, mentally unstable man with flights of fancy. Next door moves Stingo (Peter MacNicol), a young writer working on a novel. He befriends the couple but becomes involved with Sophie when he witnesses the abuse. As the story progresses, we learn more about Sophie’s past and in time, in a hotel on the run with Stingo, she confesses to an encounter at the German camp where she was faced with a horrific choice no parent should have to make. One of the most emotionally disturbing moments ever put to film. Let’s move on.

3) Tuned To A Ghost

12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1982
Heather O’Rourke (Poltergeist, 1982)
FILM: Poltergeist

Often wrongly attributed to Steven Spielberg, there is still some debate as to who had control over the film, even though Tobe Hooper‘s name is listed as director. Either way, this landmark horror film (who some say is cursed) is one of the best ghost movies ever made, mixing eye-popping visual effects and a great script (written by Spielberg). In the story, the Freeling family live in a quiet California suburb who are the victims of a haunting by ghosts from an ancient Native American burial ground their home is built upon. This moment sees their arrival as the children nestle up in their parent’s bed. With all asleep, the television broadcast signal ends (that was a thing once) and the screen goes to static. It is through here that the poltergeists enter the home, with 5-year-old Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) waking and drawn to the hum of the TV. When she gets close, the spirits burst from the monitor in beams of light, shaking the house and awakening the others. At the foot of the bed, Carol Anne turns to them and announces: “They’re here.” And we’re leaving!

2) Tears in Rain

12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1982
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, 9182)
FILM: Blade Runner

In this adaptation of Philip K. Dick‘s classic sci-fi book, a Blade Runner (a cop who hunts androids who are illegally on the planet) named Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) takes after a group of Replicants who have come back in search of their creator, hoping for more life. This triumph of production design and direction (by Ridley Scott) is one of the most influential films in cinema history with its complex themes and visually arresting narrative style. In this moment, a Replicant named Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), a superior being with high intelligence and strength, has been targeted by Deckard and the two perform a game of cat and mouse, leading to the rainy rooftops of a bleak, dystopian Los Angeles. It’s here where Batty’s emotional soliloquy reveals a much different character than Deckard (or us) expected. Often considered one of the greatest last words ever spoken in movies. We concur.

1) Calling Home

12 Greatest Movie Moments of 1982
Henry Thomas (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
FILM: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Steven Spielberg‘s second alien film is a children’s movie about hope and imagination and believing in yourself no matter what. It’s also really great sci-fi family fun. In the story, a small alien is left behind when their exploratory party is nearly discovered. Now alone on a strange world, the extra-terrestrial makes his way to the suburbs and soon befriends a 10-year-old boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas) who hides him from authorities and helps it try and get back home. The movie is filled with many defining moments but the one on everybody’s lips at the time, and one that has endured for decades, is when E.T. begins to talk and his tells Elliott, his younger sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore), and their older brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton), “E.T. Phone Home!” Dialed straight into our hearts.

Other years:

1980     1981

You might also like


  1. movierob July 4, 2016