MOVIEGOERS rallied around the all- American hero in a resurgence of right-wing muscle with box-office punch in 1985. It was the year of Rambo, Commando, and even poor old Remo: These O-boys had it all.
Chuck Norris, Schwarzenegger, Stallone and even Mikhail Baryshnikov waved the flag, first in Chernenko's, then Gorbachev's face. The crowds went wild. "Rocky" came back, along with "Mad Max," but they seemed mild- mannered opposite the new reactionaries.
And the new heroes were better built than the old bombshells. Stars no longer study lines (they don't have any) -- they lift weights.
Stallone's fiance, no dumbbell, tried to muscle in on the action with "Red Sonja," as did a bevy of bulky beauties in "Pumping Iron II." But flex appeal was soundly rebuffed in favor of the new reel woman, who keeps her pecs to herself, preferring to slink tragically.
The year's best and most demanding roles went to women, though the scripts weren't always up to the bravura standards of their heroines, a Waspy lot of Anglo blondes -- Meryl Streep in "Plenty," Sissy Spacek in "Marie," Glenn Close in "The Jagged Edge," Miranda Richardson in "Dance With a Stranger," and Jessica Lange, who did dye her hair brown for "Sweet Dreams."
Other creeds and hair colors were also well represented, with Whoopi Goldberg in "The Color Purple," Meg Tilly in "Agnes of God," and Argentina's Norma Aleandro in "The Official Story."
Women wrestled with a new range of choices, not just career vs. marriage, but in some cases whether to live in the world of men at all. "Agnes" was the most obvious example, but the German movie "Sheer Madness" and "Color Purple" also took extreme feminist stances. Too often, though, the choices overwhelmed the characters, who surrendered to insanity or turned to murder as convenient outs.
Madonna and Rosanna Arquette were the exceptions to the rule in the lighthearted, free-spirited "Desperately Seeking Susan;" even little Dorothy Gale was taking shock therapy in "The Return to Oz."
Parents had had it with kids quaking in the their laps and waking up with nightmares, so "Oz" and even Disney's "The Black Cauldron" did less business than expected, with the innocuous "Care Bears" proving that a toddler movie could qualify as a blockbuster, too. Age barriers begin to shift with the population as Ron Howard found an audience for his senior space cadets in "Cocoon." Teen sex farces bellyflopped. No matter the hoopla, the western didn't come back, but Yuppies, Catholics, the Japanese and existentialism did.
The year was no bellringer, but there were some movies to remember nonetheless:
MORE THAN THE 10 BEST
The Color Purple
Dance With a Stranger
Desperately Seeking Susan
A Filmmaker's Journey
Kiss of the Spider Woman
The Makioka Sisters
The Purple Rose of Cairo
Stranger Than Paradise
Back to the Future
You don't expect much from movies about ax murderers or sex-starved computer nerds, likewise "Morons From Outer Space." But expectations run high when we're talking name directors, stars, screenwriters or even irradiated Gila monsters. So herewith:
THE BEST OF THE BUSTS
The Emerald Forest
Lust in the Dust
The Year of the Dragon
WORST NEW GENRE
High tech T&A as realized in "Weird Science" and "Real Genius."
Since the year stands out for its false promise and determined mediocrity, the following category seems not only appropriate, but de rigueur. For the first time in Weekend's history -- Ta Dah:
THE 10 MOST MEDIOCRE
The Breakfast Club
The Falcon and the Snowman
Heaven Help Us
St. Elmo's Fire
View to a Kill
MOST MEMORABLE DIALOGUE
*Rocky to Apollo Creed in "Rocky IV": "We're changing. We're, like, turning into regular people."
*Little girl to Clint Eastwood in "Pale Rider": "They killed my dog (long pause) and my grandfather . . . I buried my dog over there. I think I love you."