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Top Ten Awesome People, 1980 Vintage

I suspect many of you weren't alive in 1980 but do you think of it fondly? To give you a little context, since we're discussing that year in the Supporting Actress Smackdown this coming Monday: Jimmy Carter was having a rough last year as POTUS with the ongoing Iran Hostage Crisis and America was about to enter a neo-conservative phase; John Lennon was murdered; "Call Me" by Blondie spent the most weeks as the number one single; DC debuted the awesome 80s comic "New Teen Titans" to compete with Marvel's huge hit "Uncanny X-Men", while Marvel kept it young by adding Kitty Pryde and the disco-leftover superhero Dazzler; "Who Shot J.R.?" via Dallas was insanely popular; Sweeney Todd closed on Broadway and Evita debuted illustrating the shift in the musical theater landscape from the challenging prolific 70s Stephen Sondheim era to the sing-along bombast of British megamusicals of the 80s epitomized by Andrew Lloyd Webber

a tiny sampling of popular 1980 things

But here's why we're here --  to savor 1980's cinematic crop for a moment. Are these movies (and people) and things aging well? Is there much left to savor? 

1980, the debut year of Yoda it wasBest Movies According To...
Oscar: Ordinary People*, Coal Miner's Daughter, Raging Bull, The Elephant Man and Tess were the best pictures nominees but they also really dug Fame (6 noms, 2 wins), The Stunt Man (3 noms) and Melvin & Howard (3 noms, 2 wins)
Golden Globe: Raging Bull*, Ordinary People, Tribute, The Stunt Man and The Elephant Man (drama) Coal Miner's Daughter*, Fame, Private Benjamin, Divine Madness, Nine to Five (comedy/musical)
Cannes: [tie] All That Jazz (USA, a holdover from the previous year) and Kagemusha: The Shadow Warrior (Japan)
Box Office: 1) The Empire Strikes Back 2) Nine to Five 3) Stir Crazy 4) Airplane! 5) Any Which Way You Can
Nathaniel: At the time I was obsesed with only Xanadu and The Empire Strikes Back... so I haven't matured much since then because I still am.

Adorable 1980 Babies after the jump

Born in '80 Mix Tape
Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Gotye, Regina Spektor, and  Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights)

with Dancing by...
Cody Green 

Dressed by...
Zac Posen 

"Introducing" (not born in '80 but debuted then)
Tom Hanks debuted twice over with his first movie (the slasher He Knows You're Alone) and his first television gigs (a guest spot on "The Love Boat" and a co-starring drag role in the sitcom "Bosom Buddies"); Jason began his popular hockey-masked slashing in Friday the 13th... and he's still at it (sigh); and The Shining which I place in the "debut" section only because it then evolved, arguably having the biggest critical and popular turn around in contemporary film history as it was once sneered at as a terrible adaptation of a bestseller and nominated for Razzies and now it's regarded by both the general public and critics as a masterpiece.

The Only Oscar Nominees
Michelle & Ryan & Jakey ... but more on them later 

Chris Pine, Jason Segel, Jordana Brewster, Sam Riley 
(though I reserve the right to change my mind if they step it up or recharge it)

Baby Kitten Cuteness
Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, and Michael Urie 

10 Perfect Physical Specimens Created in Lab To Make Everyone Else Feel Ugly
Tobias Santelmann, Eliza DushkuDavid GandyNicholas Tse, Charlie Hunnam,  Volker Bruch, Minka Kelly, Zachary Levi, Gisele Bündchen, and Olivia Munn

Whatever Happened To...?
Samuel Barnett, who sang so beautifully to his unrequited crush Dominic Cooper in The History Boys (2006)? I'd hoped to see more of him in movies; Viktoria Winge who was memorable in Norway's great Reprise (2006)? Jie Dong one of the beauties from the exquisite 2046 (2004)?; Steve Sandvoss who was so cute and touching in Latter Days (2003)?; Kristen Bell (KIDDING... she'll be back in the Veronica Mars movie, soon);  Jimmy Workman who played Pugsley in the Addams Family movies.

We won't stay fresh for very long. So eat us before we finish this song ♫"

Recently Caught Scene Stealing...
How great was Collette Wolfe in Young Adult? Very. She nailed the very complicated thing the movie was going for, especially in her final sendoff (kissoff?); Tuesday After Christmas (2010), one of many recent acclaimed Romanian dramas, was mostly notable for pairing two married actors as a couple breaking apart, but Maria Popistasu was fresh and guilty and totally compelling as the younger woman inbetween them; Laura Prepon, who I'd forgotten about from That 70s Show, was just excellent in her one season major role on Orange is the New Black. Too bad about Season 2; and David Gyasi was an imposing presence in Cloud Atlas... so much so that you'll next see him in Chris Nolan's Interstellar

Starbuck & Victor
Katee Sackhoff !!! (Battlestar Galactica)
Enver Gjokaj !!! (Dollhouse)
If I were in charge of movie/TV casting, they'd be up for milionz of roles. I will never as long as I live understand the resistance Hollywood has to worshipping/casting great actors who originally made their name in genre fare.

Mark Webber (The End of Love), Ti West (The House of the Devil), Justin Lerner (Girlfriend which won a prize at the Gotham Awards a couple of years ago), Todd Strauss-Schulson (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas), Aaron Harvey (Catch .44) and soon Hey Girl Ryan Gosling himself since he's stepping behind the camera

[drumroll please...]

The 10 Most Awesome Movie People Born in 1980*
This post is dedicated to any TFE reader turning 33 this year. Happy Birthday!

10 Ben Foster
To use one of his own favorite compliments for actors, he's a "beast". Furiously talented, Foster's worked several interesting left turns into a filmography that didn't end up where it started it all. He hasn't yet topped that glorious cocky subversiveness in 3:10 to Yuma (2007) but we're always hoping he will. [Interview]

09 Oscar Isaac
He'll be under a hot spotlight this Christmas when the latest from the Coen Bros arrives. Whether Inside Llewyn Davis will make him a big star or just underline the reasons he's winning so many roles lately, we won't know until we get there. But his journey is one to watch. Our favorite Isaac to date? That humbled wary ex-con in Drive (2011) 

08 Ben Whishaw
He inspires rhapsodic hilarious conversations about his glorious mop of hair on twitter,  and is equally believable as 007's Q, and a genital-free faerie and I forgot what I'm talking about because um genital free faer... anyway, love him. Glad he came out. And may he work for a long time and give us something as beautiful as Bright Star again. Keats ♥

07 Sibel Kekilli
I don't watch Game of Thrones regularly but I'm aware that millions are now aware of her which is good. But it's depressing that they probably ONLY think of her, if they think of her at all, as "Shae" and her career is so much greater than that. I recommend renting the amazing Head On (2004) or the brutal When We Leave (2011), which won her two Best Actress awards in Germany, to see what she can do dramatically. Because that double feature will make you want to grab a razor, you should chase it with the light romantic comedy What a Man (2012) in which she is hardly award worthy but still supes adorable. 

06 Eva Green
One of the most amazing Bond girls ever. One of the most beautiful women ever. I'm not sure Hollywood knows what to do with her -- which is weird because SEXY and also TALENTED ACTRESS -- but her dangerous raven-haired beauty sure does suit those sexy witches roles well which is what they're thinking of her for, lately. Nobody liked The Golden Compass but she looked good on a broomstick. Nobody liked Dark Shadows but she ran circles around that film so hard it fell to the ground dizzy from the spinning to keep up with her.

05 Christina Ricci
I was thinking about the deadpan glories of Wednesday Addams earlier today and said to myself "even if Christina Ricci never makes a good movie again ( a distinct and depressingly realistic possibility and another weird tie to her one-time mentor Winona Ryder whose career also fell on hard times way too soon) we'll always have classic Wednesday and cute Kate Flax, intense Wendy Hood, nympho Rae and doll-like Katrina van Tassal, and Shelley who loved the color brown, and Lucy and Layla and ohmygod DEDE TRUITT and we'll just always have to cherish her anyway!". And then I agreed with myself and you should, too. Christina Forever!

04 Channing Tatum

03 Michelle Williams
Building quite a filmography and confounding expectations regularly since Dawson's Creek with something strangely akin to genius modesty, a combo that almost never shows itself. (Great actress. Who me?)

02 Ryan Gosling
Hey girl, he's taking a break post-ubiquitous ascendance. That's wise since people are starting to snark on him after two years of panty-throwing / fainting-crowd hysteria. We'll miss him but it's probably for the best. AS LONG AS HE COMES BACK RECHARGED.

01 Jake Gyllenhaal 
Speaking of recharged - our Gyllenhaalism is. After something of a rough patch after that amazing run in the early Aughts from Donnie Darko to Brokeback (which got us good), he's recaptured some lost mojo lately with End of Watch (2012 honorable mention), Enemy (reviewed) and Prisoners (reviewed). Whatever he does next, we'll want some of that. 

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Reader Comments (26)

I didn't think I could be happier than when Viktoria Winge popped up in this post, but Michelle Williams sure did it.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwill h

Steve Sandvoss has given up on Hollywood and has changed his name to Max and is now a goat farmer along with his brother. He's still hot, though, and probably even sexier as a farmer. http://harvardmagazine.com/2013/09/a-fever-for-chevre

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

Omg Jake is only 32?! Jeez. His best years (especially with the Academy) are ahead of him. He's been knocking out great genre performances lately; hopefully the Oscar-y roles will come knocking soon though.

+++ for Wolfe (great Mad Men episode too!), Prepon, and Foster.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJake D

This top ten is superb. What a great group of actors!

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJay

I love Ben Foster ... he can play any role given him... Just saw Ain't Them Bodies Saints, and he just blew me away with his role

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

I will always love that two of the best people here -- Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling -- started out in TV shows that were so derided that they were immediately discounted or subconsciously relegated to Hollywood purgatory films with titles like Betrayed by Murder or Rooting For Ya: The Life and Times of Carrot Top. Of course, it doesn't hurt that they're obscenely talented and lovely to look at, but I hope struggling actors always remember that it's possible to rise from WB/CW zeitgeist dreck or syndicated crapfests like The Young Adventures of Hercules and Breaker High.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFlickah

I really hope Michelle Williams doesn't go to commercial on us. Her string of latest choices (OZ PREQUEL, MIDDLING MARILYN BIOPIC, HOLOCAUST OSCAR BAIT BY THE GUY WHO THE DIRECTED THAT KEIRA KNIGHTLEY DUCHESS MOVIE IN '08) have me worried my gurl has sold out. However, I'm supes excited about Joshua Marston's THE DOUBLE HOUR which will hopefully feauture mucho steamy sex scenes between her and Joel Edgerton!

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDamian

Love Ben Foster as well!! I remember him from wayyy back when to get this: 1) Flash Forward, a 90s Disney show that I loved in which he played a geek 2) Bang Bang You'r Dead -- has anyone seen this super powerful tv movie about school shootings (at least it seemed so then)? Anyway he plays a guy that may go on a rampage. 3) Get Over It -- the high school movie version of a Midsummer's Night Dream with Kirsten Dusnt. Seriously -- all of these combined made me love him early on...and then he comes around into utter hottness and does some incredible acting in a movie like The Messenger!

Also, I just found out yesterday (after perusing Vulture's Emmy party timeline) that he's dating Robin Wright! Impressed. Going for a much older, albeit very attractive, woman.

Seriously, though, I'd happily be next in line!

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

Hard to believe a movie mostly starring women in their thirties and forties could be the second highest grossing picture of the year. I love Nine to Five like nobody's business.

I also am loving this "year of the month" business, though, as a child of the early 80s, it's making me feel very old.

September 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDusty Hixenbaugh

1. Great update in the comments on Steve ("Max") Sandvoss!

2. Laura Prepon is now coming back for season 2 of Orange is the New Black. http://variety.com/2013/tv/news/laura-prepon-cant-wait-for-season-two-of-orange-is-the-new-black-1200656803/

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercorey

That is one fuckable top ten. What? Someone had to say it.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Samuel Barnett went back to the theatre in the UK - he did a double bill of Shakespeare last year - but he did also appear in the wonderful sitcoms Beautiful People and Twenty Twelve. Worth hunting out.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScottieboy

Thank you for this awesome post. I did not know all 10 Perfect Physical Specimens Created in Lab To Make Everyone Else Feel Ugly, but I can agree on all of them. And the Top 10 list is fantastic (and Ryan T. is absolutely right). I first noticed Oscar Isaac in "10 years", and I rewatched the movie several times just because of him.
Very happy you included Sibel Kekilli there.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIvonne

Yeah 1980! The year I was born, awesome year LOL!
So surprise (in a good way) you know Nicholas Tse. One of the hottest bad boy in HK cinema, though he toned down his rebellious way in recent years.
Would like to add one name to "Whatever happened to...": Macaulay Culkin

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

Delicious post!

I would say take Eva Green out and put Evan Rachel Wood in the list.
And, well, take someone else out, too, and put either Keira Knightley or Carey Mulligan or both in.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

But James T -- evan rachel wood, keira knightley, and carey mulligan are ineligible for this list since their parents hadn't even met yet when these people were born ;)

September 25, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

PJ --happy birthday sometime this year!

September 25, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R


September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMARK

Awn! You forgot me! I was born on 22nd May 1980. Could I've a place in your list?

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterhernanhugo

Yeah, I should read the whole thing - I always do that! Thought it was a list of people born in the 1980's, not the year 1980. Explains a lot :p

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

1980 baby here, so you're probably not surprised to hear that I absolutely love this post!

Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky were both born in 1980 as well. I saw "My Girl" at the cinema in early 1992 when I had just turned 12 and absolutely cried my eyes out.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteranna

Other than Culkin and Chlumsky, who a couple of people have brought up already, here are a few other 1980 babies:

Ben Savage
Jason Schwartzman
Jason Ritter
Wilmer Valderrama
Ben Feldman
Mercedes McNab

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Ryan -- HARMONY. ohmygod. how did i forget mercedes mcnab

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

What in the heck is "Stir Crazy?" And I was in college by 1980 so I would remember if it made any impact whatsoever.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

Dave -- it's that richard pryor / gene wilder thing. they were super popular

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Um, yeah, I would have avoided that back then and even now, so no wonder it didn't register at all.

I remember being somewhat obsessed with Coal Miner's Daughter and Ordinary People at the time. I eventually watched Ordinary People at a dorm at BYU (it must have been an edited early VHS, no?) and people were talking through it while I was crying. Losers! :-)

And I'm still miffed that Beverly D'Angelo wasn't nominated for an Oscar, thinking of the Supporting Actresses from that year from the other post I wonder if she even got close?

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

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