'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' ... "The Empire Strikes Back" ... "The Breakfast Club' ... where do they rank?

Films in the '80s, like the decade itself (and our hair throughout), are remembered for their size, as in BIG -- big action, big adventure, big special effects, big box office (read: blockbusters).We chose from an array of giant sci-fi, comedy, drama, action-adventure -- and winnowed our list to the top 40.

Which flicks made the grade? Let's put it this way: It was a very good decade for Bill Murray, who appears in four of our top films, and an awesome one for Harrison Ford, who stars in three of our top five. Read on as we count down the 40 best movies of the Me Decade.

Best Movies Ever: The 80s

    Movie-wise, the 1970s were a tough act to follow. Films in the '80s took fewer chances, opting for tried and true formulas designed to put moviegoers in theater seats (read: blockbusters). But of course there were standouts -- and we've got the top 40.

    Which flicks made our list? Let's put it this way: It was a very good decade for Bill Murray, who appears in four of our top films, and an awesome one for Harrison Ford, who stars in three of our top five. Read on as we count down the 40 best movies of the Me Decade. -- By Tom Johnson

    AP | Universal | MGM | 20th Century Fox

    40. 'Ghostbusters' (1984)

    Bill Murray and Harold Ramis -- the improbable duo that hit it out of the park in the gonzo comedy 'Stripes' two years before -- team up once more in one of the biggest comedy hits of the decade. As paranormal investigators, Murray, Ramis and Dan Aykroyd keep Manhattan safe from flitting and floating spirits while Bill also carves out some time to romance Sigourney Weaver (but first he's got to exorcise a nasty ghoul that's taken up a short-term lease in her body).

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    39. 'Diner' (1982)

    Once upon at time, before a ravaged Mickey Rourke needed to make a career comeback, there was this coming-of-age sleeper of a group of 1950s neighborhood chums who hang out at a local Baltimore diner. The movie, part of a clutch of Baltimore-themed films directed by Barry Levinson (his debut in fact), stars Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser, Tim Daly, Daniel Stern and Ellen Barkin -- all young actors back then on the brink of breaking out. Time flies.

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    38. 'The Thing' (1982)

    As remakes go, this CGI-laden redux of the 1951 sci-fi thriller about scientists at a remote Arctic outpost terrorized by an alien they thaw from the permafrost delivers some gory shocks. And for an encore, it keeps on delivering them. What stops the movie from spiraling into 'Friday the 13th' schlockdom is the anchoring performance of Kurt Russell, who must marshal his rapidly dwindling cadre of lab coats to fight the menace.

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    37. 'Room With A View' (1985)

    At the turn of the century, a young Englishwoman (Helena Bonham Carter) on the grand tour in Florence, meets an eccentric (Julian Sands) who totally derails her carefully laid future life plan, including arrangements for her impending marriage. This Merchant-Ivory film adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel follows the blueprint that made the company's name synonymous with veddy British period pieces, especially starchy Edwardian-era dramas.

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    36. 'Ghandi' (1982)

    The winner of eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor, 'Gandhi' (like 'The English Patient and 'Chariots of Fire') has joined a tiny pantheon of movies deemed overrated in the public consciousness. Still, there is much to admire in Ben Kingsley's performance as Mahatma Gandhi, an Indian lawyer who, through nonviolent protest, eventually brought the British Raj to its knees.

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    35. 'Moonstruck' (1987)

    A rational woman accustomed to following a logical course rather than the dictates of her heart, Loretta Castorini (Cher) finds herself engaged to Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello), while falling head-over-heels for his brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage). Cher and Olympia Dukakis won Oscars in this hyper-romantic paean to finding true love in the borough of Brooklyn while Cage and Aiello as squabbling sibs provided the ideal launching pad for the ladies in their quest to reach the Oscar podium.

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    34. 'Brazil' (1985)

    George Orwell's '1984' meets Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' when, in the distant future, a bureaucrat (Jonathan Pryce) with Walter Mittyish fantasies attempts to correct an administrative mistake and is then erroneously pegged as an enemy of the state for a series of terrorist bombings. Written and directed by 'Monty Python' alum Terry Gilliam, the stellar cast includes Robert De Niro, Ian Holm, Bob Hoskins and Katherine Helmond, who all step out of their usual comfort zones to gambol about in Gilliam's fevered reverie of a bizarro future world.

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    33. 'Do the Right Thing' (1989)

    On the hottest day of the summer in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, a flash-fire of hate and bigotry ignites between the white owners of a pizzeria and the overwhelmingly black clientele they serve. In his most fully realized film, Spike Lee plays Mookie, a deliveryman for the pizzeria who must tread the tightrope between obeying his bosses and staying true to his "peeps." The movie's subsequent dismissal at Cannes where it finished as an also-ran against sex, lies and videotape,' was the cause of several caustic comments by Lee leveled at 'lies'' director Stephen Soderbergh.

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    32. 'sex, lies and videotape' (1989)

    The eponymous title says it all. When an old college friend (James Spader) on a journey to exorcise personal demons drops in on a married couple (Peter Gallagher and Andie MacDowell) who themselves are struggling with frigidity, unbridled egoism and marital infidelity, little does anyone know that the visit will transform all their lives. This first effort from director Stephen Soderbergh won the Palme d'Or at Cannes.

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