The bas-relief on Boston Common that lead to the film Glory

My Top 20:

  1. Glory
  2. Field of Dreams
  3. Henry V
  4. Born on the Fourth of July
  5. Crimes and Misdemeanors
  6. Say Anything
  7. When Harry Met Sally
  8. The Little Mermaid
  9. My Neighbor Totoro
  10. Do the Right Thing
  11. My Left Foot
  12. Dead Poets Society
  13. Heathers
  14. sex, lies and videotape
  15. Batman
  16. Black Rain  (Imamura)
  17. Drugstore Cowboy
  18. Hanussen
  19. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  20. The Mighty Quinn

note:  As I already wrote in my best of the decade, this year is far and away the best of the decade.  In fact, it is one of the best of all-time.  There is the greatness of the year – the #7 film would be at least #4 in any other year of the decade and would make the top 5 in all but a handful of years in film history.  Its top 10 is only beaten out by 2002.  But there is also the fun to watch aspect.  There are more films in this Top 20 that I would say I love than any other year.  Not just films that are great, but films I watch over and over.  I own 12 of these films.  Field of Dreams and Dead Poets both are important films in my life, I saw Batman several times in the theater, When Harry Met Sally is one of the best date movies, I can’t count how many times I watched Heathers in high school and college, think Totoro is one of the great kids films of all-time and if I had to make a list of films to take with me to a desert island, Little Mermaid, and of course, Say Anything, would be very near the top of the list.

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Driving Miss Daisy
  • Best Director:  Oliver Stone  (Born on the Fourth of July)
  • Best Actor:  Daniel Day-Lewis  (My Left Foot)
  • Best Actress:  Michelle Pfeiffer  (The Fabulous Baker Boys)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Danny Aiello  (Do the Right Thing)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Brenda Fricker  (My Left Foot)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Drugstore Cowboy
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Dead Poets Society  /  When Harry Met Sally
  • Best Cinematography:  The Fabulous Baker Boys
  • Best Foreign Film:  The Story of Women

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Driving Miss Daisy
  • Best Director:  Oliver Stone  (Born on the Fourth of July)
  • Best Actor:  Daniel Day-Lewis  (My Left Foot)
  • Best Actress:  Jessica Tandy  (Driving Miss Daisy)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Denzel Washington  (Glory)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Brenda Fricker  (My Left Foot)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Driving Miss Daisy
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Dead Poets Society
  • Best Cinematography:  Glory
  • Best Foreign Film:  Cinema Paradiso

Abba Kiarostami's Close-Up - the top 1989 film on the Top 1000

Top 5 Films  (Top 1000):

  1. Close-Up  -  #191
  2. Do the Right Thing  -  #205
  3. Crimes and Misdemeanors  -  #272
  4. A City of Sadness  -  #305
  5. My Neighbor Totoro  -  #394

Top 5 Films  (1989 Best Picture Awards):

  1. Driving Miss Daisy
  2. My Left Foot
  3. Dead Poets Society
  4. Do the Right Thing
  5. Crimes and Misdemeanors

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points):

  1. Driving Miss Daisy  -  1153
  2. My Left Foot  -  1108
  3. Born on the Fourth of July  -  1008
  4. Crimes and Misdemeanors  -  839
  5. The Fabulous Baker Boys  -  838
  6. Do the Right Thing  -  831
  7. Dead Poets Society  -  763
  8. Glory  -  522
  9. Henry V  -  468
  10. When Harry Met Sally  -  456

note:  Field of Dreams comes in 16th place with 259 points.  It is the first film since Nicholas and Alexandra in 1971 and the last until The Green Mile in 1999 to get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and not finish in the top 10 for the year.

one of many images from Batman that decorated my room in the summer of 89

Top 10 Films  (Box Office Gross):

  1. Batman  -  $251.18 mil
  2. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade  -  $197.17 mil
  3. Lethal Weapon 2  -  $147.25 mil
  4. Look Who’s Talking  -  $140.08 mil
  5. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids  -  $130.72 mil
  6. Back to the Future II  -  $118.45 mil
  7. Ghostbusters II  -  $112.49 mil
  8. Driving Miss Daisy  -  $106.59 mil
  9. Parenthood  -  $100.04 mil
  10. Dead Poets Society  -  $95.86 mil

note:  As the first year I really went to see a lot of films, I hit a lot of this list.  In no year before this did I see more than 2 of the top 10 in the theater, if I saw any.  I saw 7 of these in the theater and saw the #1 film four times.

AFI Top 100 Films:

  • Do the Right Thing  -  #96  (2007)

Ebert Great Films:

  • Do the Right Thing
  • Say Anything
  • Santa Sangre
  • Crimes and Misdemeanors

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture:  Glory
  • Best Director:  Ed Zwick  (Glory)
  • Best Actor:  Daniel Day-Lewis  (My Left Foot)
  • Best Actress:  Michelle Pfeiffer  (The Fabulous Baker Boys)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Denzel Washington  (Glory)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Brenda Fricker  (My Left Foot)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Glory
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Crimes and Misdemeanors

Meg Ryan in one of the funniest scenes of all-time in When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Comedy:

  • Best Picture:  Say Anything
  • Best Director:  Rob Reiner  (When Harry Met Sally)
  • Best Actor:  John Cusack  (Say Anything)
  • Best Actress:  Meg Ryan  (When Harry Met Sally)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  John Mahoney  (Say Anything)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Anjelica Huston  (Enemies, A Love Story)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Little Mermaid
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Say Anything

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Glory
  • Best Director:  Ed Zwick  (Glory)
  • Best Actor:  Daniel Day-Lewis  (My Left Foot)
  • Best Actress:  Michelle Pfeiffer  (The Fabulous Baker Boys)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Denzel Washington  (Glory)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Brenda Fricker  (My Left Foot)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Glory
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Say Anything
  • Best Editing:  Glory
  • Best Cinematography:  Glory
  • Best Original Score:  Glory
  • Best Sound:  Glory
  • Best Art Direction:  Glory
  • Best Visual Effects:  The Abyss
  • Best Sound Editing:  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Best Costume Design:  Henry V
  • Best Makeup:  The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
  • Best Original Song:  “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid
  • Best Animated Film:  The Little Mermaid
  • Best Foreign Film:  Cinema Paradiso

Kiki's Delivery Service - my #5 foreign film of 1989 and Veronica's favorite film

My Top 5 Foreign Films released in their home country in 1989:

  1. Cinema Paradiso
  2. The Killer
  3. Black Rain
  4. Jesus of Montreal
  5. Kiki’s Delivery Service

note:  These are the Oscar eligibles, of course.  Cinema Paradiso won the Oscar and the Golden Globe – a wonderful choice.  Of the rest, only Jesus of Montreal was even submitted (it was nominated, along with my #6 – Camille Claudel).  Kiki and Black Rain were passed over for Teshigahara’s Rikyu – an over-rated film and a surprising choice over the well-known Black Rain (though, this great film about the Hiroshima aftermath was confused with the mediocre Ridley Scott action film set in Japan with the same title released the same year – thus my notation in my top 20).  John Woo, of course, has never had a film submitted.

"My teenage angst bullshit now has a body count." In 1989, it did not get any sexier than Winona Ryder in Heathers (as Veronica says - what all Veronicas aspire to be)

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Say Anything
  • Best Line  (Comedic):  “I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you’re here at like the Gas ‘n’ Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?”  “By choice man.”  (John Cusack and Loren Dean in Say Anything
  • Best Line  (Dramatic):  “If you build it, he will come.”  (The Voice in Field of Dreams)
  • Best Opening:  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Best Ending:  Say Anything
  • Best Scene:  the orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally
  • Best Use of a Song:  “In Your Eyes” in Say Anything
  • Best Ensemble:  Crimes and Misdemeanors
  • Funniest Film:  When Harry Met Sally
  • Most Over-Rated Film:  Santa Sangre
  • Worst Sequel:  The Karate Kid III
  • Worst Film:  Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects
  • Worst Film I Saw in the Theater:  Tango & Cash
  • Performance to Fall In Love With:  Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally
  • Sexiest Performance:  Winona Ryder in Heathers
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ratio:  Kim Basinger in Batman
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  How I Got Into College
  • Best Soundtrack:  Say Anything
  • Star of the Year:  Morgan Freeman  (Driving Miss Daisy, Glory, Lean on Me)
  • Best Trailer:  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Best Tag-Line:  “To know Lloyd Dobler is to love him.  Diane Court is about to get to know Lloyd Dobler.”  from Say Anything
  • Best Cameo:  Robbie Coltrane in Henry V
  • Sexiest Cameo:  Uma Thurman in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  Rene Auberjonois in The Little Mermaid

Film History:  Sony buys Columbia and Tri-Star Pictures in September.  Warner Communications merges with Time Inc. to become Time-Warner.  Lord Laurence Olivier dies on 11 July.  Michael Moore’s Roger & Me becomes the highest grossing non-concert documentary of all-time; it earns $6.7 million, or less than what Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 will make in its first day.  It goes on to win Best Documentary from the New York Film Critics, LA Film Critics, National Society of Film Critics and National Board of Review and fails to get nominated for an Oscar.  The Thin Blue Line leads to the overturning of the conviction or Randall Dale Adams, about which the film was made.  Mel Blanc dies in July and Sergio Leone dies in April.  Bette Davis dies on 6 October.  Batman cruises to a new opening weekend mark, becoming the first film to ever gross more than $40 million in its opening weekend and becomes the first film to gross $250 million without the involvement of either Steven Spielberg or George Lucas.  Do the Right Thing opens to considerable controversy and critical acclaim – its loss at Cannes brings with it one of the more amusing film anecdotes of all-time: “On a plane from Nice to Paris, a member of the Cannes jury, Sally Field, leaned over a row of seats, took the director’s hand and said: ‘I’m so sorry.  I fought for your movie till the end, and I’d do it again’.” (Sally Field consoling Spike Lee – how strange a visual image is that?)  With a domestic gross of $197 million, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade gives Harrison Ford 5 of the top 10 grossing films of the decade.  sex, lies and videotape wins the Golden Palm at Cannes and goes on to win four Indie Spirit awards, including Picture and Director.  True Love wins the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

Personal Film History:  Of the 106 films that I have seen that were released in the United States in 1988 only two were films that I saw in the theater – Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Rain Man (which I didn’t actually see until February of 89).  But something happened when Jay and I went to see Rain Man.  We released that we could easily ride our bikes to the Century Cinedome, which, at the time, was the best theater in Orange.  This opened up a whole new world.  I had basically stopped buying comic books and baseball cards and suddenly all my money went towards seeing movies.  Here’s what 1989 films I saw in the theater (in order of quality): Glory, Field of Dreams (twice), Born on the Fourth of July, Dead Poets Society, Batman (4 times), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (twice), Parenthood, Back to the Future II, Driving Miss Daisy, Lethal Weapon 2, Major League, Star Trek V, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Karate Kid III and Tango & Cash, twelve of them by count with my best friend Jay.

But it wasn’t just that I was seeing more films.  It was that I was beginning to think about them as films, as works of art.  I began to keep a notebook where I wrote down the films I had seen and what I rated them (ah, OCD).  That notebook has been lost to time, as before the end of the year I was keeping them in a document on the computer.  But I also began that year, in a 70 sheet MEAD notebook, my awards notebook.  The first page was listed “Best Picture I Have Seen.”  When 1989 began, there were two – The Sound of Music and Platoon.  Then came Terms of Endearment and then the Oscars with Rain Man winning and that being added.  So, as of March 29, 1989, I had seen four Best Picture winners.  By the time Driving Miss Daisy was crowned, a year later, it was on the list at #17.  It would grow in fits and starts – only two more before Dances with Wolves, then Silence of the Lambs was #28, Unforgiven was #32 and Schindler’s List was #34.  But then I started picking it up in earnest.  Forrest Gump was #41.  Then I blew through the rest of the list and by the time I finally was able to track down a video copy of You Can’t Take It With You, it was still before Braveheart won the Oscar.  But it began with this notebook in 1989, followed the next page by the list of Oscar nominees and my original point scale, which is very different from the current one.  The page after that show I was already interested in all the groups.  There is a page of “Award Winners 1989″ and in columns down the page are the Picture, Director and Acting winners from the LA Film Critics, New York Film Critics, National Society of Film Critics, National Board of Review, Golden Globes, BAFTA, Independent Spirits, the WGA, the DGA and my own winners.  There is also a list of the highest grossing films of the year – something, in the long ago days before Box Office Mojo, that I had to get from newspapers.  I not only still have the notebook, I still use it every year.  When the first critics groups start announcing their awards, I begin the Award page for each year and the next page is for the Oscar nominees, and it is this notebook I have in my lap every Oscar night, circling the winners.  I’ve got 18 pages left, so it should last me through the end of the decade.  The front cover has fallen off and it’s in bad shape, but it still where I write it down every year.

Academy Awards:  Driving Miss Daisy becomes the only film since 1932 to win Best Picture without a Best Director nomination.  No film reaches double digits in nominations for the fourth year in a row – the longest streak since the mid 30′s.  The five Best Picture nominees combine for 29 nominations – the lowest total since 1952.  The five Best Picture nominees combine for only 9 Oscars – the lowest total since 1947.  Alan Menken wins the first 2 of 8 Oscars in the space of 7 years.  My Left Foot becomes the first Miramax film to be nominated for Best Picture.  Touchstone Pictures’ Dead Poets Society gives Disney its first live-action non-musical Best Picture nomination.  Woody Allen joins Fellini as the only directors to get nominated for Director and Screenplay but not Picture three times.  Driving Miss Daisy is the first film in six years to win Best Picture without a Best Cinematography nomination.

I remember being stunned when Glory wasn’t nominated.  The nominations were out and My Left Foot was in and Glory was not.  I was devastated.  When I later saw My Left Foot, I was okay with its inclusion, but Glory (and Henry V) deserved to be there.  It deserved the 5 nominations and 3 wins it got, but the Academy missed out on it for Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Score.  And for Driving Miss Daisy to win?  I thought right up until the final moment that Born on the Fourth of July would win and it would have been so much a better choice.  The other thing the Academy missed out on were the array of great technical aspects of Henry V, Field of Dreams and Batman – all of which deserved far more nominations then they got.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Picture for Driving Miss Daisy
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Picture for Driving Miss Daisy
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Original Score for Glory
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Harlem Nights
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Say Anything
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Makeup
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Supporting Actress
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Best Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Effects Editing, Costume Design, Foreign Film

Golden Globes:  Born on the Fourth of July becomes the first film in 8 years to win Best Picture (Drama) at the Globes but win no other Best Picture awards and the first film in 15 years to win Picture, Director and Screenplay at the Globes but fail to win Best Picture at the Oscars.  Driving Miss Daisy becomes the first winner of Best Picture (Comedy or Musical) to go on to win the Oscar since 1968.  For the first time since 1963, three films are nominated for Picture and Director at the Globes but not for either at the Oscars – Glory, Do the Right Thing and When Harry Met SallyWhen Harry Met Sally becomes the first film in 10 years to be nominated for Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor and Actress at the Globes but fail to earn a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars and the first film in 7 years to lose in all five categories.  For the first time since 1977, all the Drama winners lose at the Oscars – Born on the Fourth of July (Picture, Actor) and Fabulous Baker Boys (Actress).  Born and Daisy are the big winners – with 7 wins between them, including both Picture and Actor awards.  But while Born wins 4 awards, the other four films nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay (the three already mentioned and Dead Poets Society) combine for 18 nominations but only 1 win – Best Supporting Actor for GloryField of Dreams joins Dangerous Liaisons as only the second film since Dr. Strangelove to get a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars without any Globe nominations.

Awards:  Drugstore Cowboy becomes the most successful film ever at the critics awards to not go on and receive even a single nomination from any of the awards groups.  Driving Miss Daisy becomes the first National Board of Review winner in six years to win the Oscar, but is the first of three in a row and five in six years to do so.  No film dominates the Best Picture awards.  Do the Right Thing does win two of them (LA and Chicago), but the others are split between Driving Miss Daisy, Drugstore Cowboy (National Society), Crimes and Misdemeanors (Boston) and My Left Foot (New York).  Most of the other awards have more consensus.  Daniel Day-Lewis wins 4 Best Actor awards, Michelle Pfeiffer wins 5 Best Actress awards, Danny Aiello wins 3 Best Supporting Actor awards, Drugstore Cowboy wins 3 Best Screenplay awards, Story of Women wins 4 Best Foreign Film awards and Fabulous Baker Boys wins 3 Best Cinematography awards.

With the newly instituted Producers Guild Award, When Harry Met Sally becomes the first of seven films to ever get nominated for the PGA, DGA and WGA and fail to earn a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.  Driving Miss Daisy wins the PGA and WGA but becomes the first film to fail to get a DGA nomination to go on to win Best Picture at the Oscars since 1967 and only the third ever (Around the World in 80 Days, In the Heat of the Night).  With wins from the DGA and Motion Picture Sound Editors and nominations from the PGA, WGA, American Cinema Editors and American Society of Cinematographers, Born on the Fourth of July sets a new points record for the guilds (270), which will be beaten soundly the next year by Dances with Wolves.  Joining Born and Harry with PGA, DGA and WGA nominations are Field of Dreams (also with an ACE nom) and Dead Poets SocietyCrimes and Misdemeanors gets a DGA nom and WGA win while PGA and WGA noms go to Glory (and the ACE win) and My Left Foot. Henry V makes do with just a PGA nom.  The ASC award goes to Blaze.

For the second year in a row and third time in four years, the BAFTA Best Picture winner (in this case, Dead Poets Society) fails to win Director or Screenplay.  Best Director goes to Kenneth Branagh for Henry V, which earns 6 nominations, but not Picture.  Best Adapted Screenplay goes to Dangerous Liaisons, which earns 10 nominations, but not Picture.  The Best Original Screenplay winner, When Harry Met Sally, does get a Picture nomination, but no others.  Indeed, the four Best Picture nominees (My Left Foot and Shirley Valentine are the others) only earn 16 total nominations, only six wins and only Dead Poets gets a Director nom.  The four films nominated for Director (Dead Poets, Liaisons, Henry V, Mississippi Burning) earn 8 wins out of 28 nominations.  All five 1988 Oscar nominees for Picture earns nominations, but only two from 89 (Driving Miss Daisy and Born on the Fourth of July would earn nominations the next year and Field of Dreams would not earn any BAFTA noms).

Best Actor:  Going into the Oscars, having seen the Globe winner win the Oscar the two years before, as I had started to be interested in film, I was sure Cruise would win.  I also hadn’t seen My Left Foot and didn’t know yet how brilliant Day-Lewis’ performance was.  As it was, Day-Lewis, with wins from the NYFC, LAFC, NSFC and BSFC as well as the BAFTA and the Oscar (and a Globe nom), had the most convincing win since De Niro.  Cruise, with a win from Chicago and the Globe and Oscar and BAFTA noms is an easy second.  The rest of the consensus group comes from the Oscar nominees: Morgan Freeman for Driving Miss Daisy (Globe win, NBR win, Oscar nom), Robin Williams for Dead Poets Society (Oscar, BAFTA, Globe noms) and Kenneth Branagh for Henry V (Oscar and BAFTA noms).  My own top 5 are Day-Lewis, Branagh, Cruise, John Cusack for Say Anything (kudos to Danny Peary, whose Alternate Oscars has a lot of strange choices, but whose choice of Cusack was what made me realize how good he is) and Kevin Costner for Field of Dreams.  My 6-10 is Matt Dillon for Drugstore Cowboy, Jack Nicholson for Batman (Globe and BAFTA noms – though supporting from BAFTA), Freeman, Williams and Billy Crystal (Globe nom for When Harry Met Sally).

Best Actress:  Michelle Pfeiffer looked like a sure thing going into the Oscars.  After all, she had matched Meryl Streep’s 1982 tally of five critics awards for Best Actress for her performance in The Fabulous Baker Boys and had won the Golden Globe.  But then sentiment kicked in and Jessica Tandy, who had won the other Globe won the Oscar (and then, the BAFTA the next year).  Following them in the consensus list were Pauline Collins for Shirley Valentine (Globe nom, Oscar nom, BAFTA win), Andie MacDowell for sex, lies and videotape (tie at the LAFC with Pfeiffer, Globe nom) and Jessica Lange (Oscar nom, Globe nom).  Streep herself had somehow earned a Globe nom in the Comedy category for She-Devil but for only the third time in nine years, failed to make it into the Oscar race.  To me, Pfeiffer wins hands down.  She is followed by Isabelle Adjani (who got an Oscar nom for Camille Claudel but nothing else), Meg Ryan for When Harry Met Sally (Globe nom), Winona Ryder for Heathers and MacDowell (in the only truly good performance of her career).  My 6-10 were Kathleen Turner for War of the Roses (Globe nom), Tandy, Lange, Holly Hunter for Always and Collins.

Best Supporting Actor:  Danny Aiello, with three critics wins (LA, Boston, Chicago) and Oscar and BAFTA noms was the consensus winner but I agreed with the Oscar and Globe choice of Denzel Washington for Glory (Aiello was my #5).  The other consensus nominees were Martin Landau for Crimes and Misdemeanors (my #2), with a win in New York and an Oscar nom, Marlon Brando for A Dry White Season with Oscar, BAFTA and Globe noms and Alan Alda from Crimes and Misdemeanors with the NBR win and a BAFTA nom (he’s my #7).  My #3 and 4 choices didn’t earn any accolades – Morgan Freeman in Glory (too busy getting praise of Daisy) and James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams.  John Mahoney barely misses my top 5 for his great performance in Say Anything.  My 8 through 10 were Ray Liotta for Field of Dreams, Sean Connery for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Globe nom) and Ray McAnally for My Left Foot (BAFTA win).

Best Supporting Actress:  The Oscars, the consensus and the Nighthawk all go to Brenda Fricker for her magnificent performance in My Left Foot.  Following her in the consensus are Anjelica Huston in Enemies, A Love Story (NSFC, Oscar and BAFTA noms, Nighthawk #2), Laura San Giacomo in sex, lies and videotape (Chicago Film Critics Award, BAFTA and Globe noms, Nighthawk #6), Lena Olin in Enemies, A Love Story (NYFC, Oscar nom, Nighthawk #3) and Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias (Globe win, Oscar nom, Nighthawk #8).  My fourth place finisher is the sixth place from the consensus – Dianne Wiest, who earned Oscar and Globe noms for Parenthood.  My #5, Amy Madigan in Field of Dreams, got no attention whatsoever.  My 8-10 are Bridget Fonda in Scandal (Globe nom), Anjelica Huston in Crimes and Misdemeanors and Kathy Baker in Jackknife.

Best Director:  For the second time in four years, Oliver Stone would win the Oscar, DGA and Globe and be the consensus Best Director winner, but he comes in third on my list.  Ahead of him for me are Ed Zwick (who earns a Globe nom) and Kenneth Branagh (who comes in third in the consensus with the NBR win, BAFTA win and Oscar nom).  My other nominees are Phil Alden Robinson for Field of Dreams (DGA nom) and Woody Allen (second in the consensus with BSFC win and Oscar, DGA and BAFTA noms).  The other two consensus nominees – Spike Lee (LA and Chicago wins, Globe nom) and Peter Weir for Dead Poets Society (Oscar, DGA, Globe, BAFTA noms) come in 8th and 9th in the Nighthawk Awards.  My #6 is Rob Reiner for When Harry Met Sally (as, for the second of three times, he gets nominated for the DGA and Globe but not the Oscar), my #7 is Tim Burton and my #10 is Soderbergh (who does win the Independent Spirit Award).

Best Adapted Screenplay:  The consensus winner, Drugstore Cowboy, is not only the only consensus winner of Adapted Screenplay to not earn even an Oscar nomination, but also one of only five to not earn a WGA nom.  It does by becoming the first Adapted Screenplay to ever win three critics awards for Best Screenplay – New York, LA and National Society of Film Critics.  It is followed by Driving Miss Daisy, which wins the Oscar and WGA and earns a BAFTA nom, but becomes the first film since 1971 and one of only five to win both the Oscar and WGA and not be the consensus winner.  The other three consensus nominees are the three films that earn both Oscar and WGA noms – Born on the Fourth of July (which also wins the Globe and gets a BAFTA nom), My Left Foot (BAFTA nom as well) and Field of Dreams.  My own list looks like this: Glory (which earned Globe and WGA noms), Field of Dreams, Born on the Fourth of July, Henry V and My Left Foot as my nominees and The Little Mermaid, Drugstore Cowboy, Enemies A Love Story (Oscar nom), The Mighty Quinn and Batman.  A word on the script for Henry V – before the nomination for Branagh for Hamlet, Shakespeare films never get writing noms.  But what Branagh does here, bringing in aspects of Henry IV and knowing exactly how to structure it all points out the importance of the adaptation process.  Screenwriting is more than just dialogue.

Best Original Screenplay:  Dead Poets Society and When Harry Met Sally tie for the consensus award.  They each win one award (Oscar for Poets, BAFTA for Harry) and earn nominations for the other as well as the WGA and Globe.  Crimes and Misdemeanors wins the WGA and earns Oscar and Globe noms.  sex, lies and videotape earns noms from all four but no wins.  Do the Right Thing earns Oscar and Globe noms.  My own winner is Say Anything, which (as shown below) was sadly ignored, but Crimes and Harry are right behind.  My other two nominees are Poets and sex.  Of my 6-10, only Do the Right Thing (#8) and Fabulous Baker Boys (#9 – WGA nom) got attention.  The others, Heathers (#6), My Neighbor Totoro (#7) and High Hopes (#10), were all passed over.

The best tagline of the year on one of the best films of the year and one of my favorite of all-time: Say Anything (1989)

Under-rated Film of 1989:

Say Anything  (dir. Cameron Crowe)

If there was a desert island list – that all other films would be gone forever and I could only take a select few, it would be close to the end before I would knock Say Anything off the list.  It is one of my absolute favorite films of all-time and I am not alone in that.  Several years ago, “Entertainment Weekly” named it the best modern romance.  Everyone I know loves it.  But it wasn’t always that way.  Of the two categories that are built-in, established levels of success – box office gross and awards, it was ignored.  It finished just outside the top 50 of the year and grossed 30% less in its entire theatrical run than Ghostbusters II did in its opening weekend.  And it received exactly 0 nominations from the major groups.

When I was in college, I made a John Cusack tape.  It was Better Off Dead, Say Anything and The Sure Thing.  You can’t imagine how popular it was.  I would start the first film and no one would leave the room until the third one was done.  But while the other two are sheer comedies, funny from start to end, Say Anything has a bit of adulthood in it, a touch of the bittersweet and it would build relationships among friends and lovers in a way that laughter alone couldn’t.

Watching it now, I remember all the different parts of my life that it takes me to.  When Cusack is hopping around in the bathroom, psyching himself up for the phone call (and even more so, when stuck out in the living room when the call is returned), I remember that part of high school which was simultaneously terrifying and wonderfully exciting.  In college, it informed every one of my relationships.  I spent one entire first date discussing whether or not it was a date and wondering what the definition might be and before long one of our dates included watching Say Anything together in her dorm room.  I remember later on, thinking about those smart lines of Corey’s concerning sex, explaining that everything is different now – that’s not just a person, it’s someone you had sex with.  Or remembering the immortal line “The world is full of guys.  Be a man.” and wanting to live up to it.  Or knowing that when Lloyd says “Are you here because you need someone or because you need me?” – a question so many people ask, then admits that he doesn’t care – which is often the case anyway.  And of course, the shaking.  And all too real moment that was really strange and I suppose, given my love of the film, somewhat wonderful when it actually happened.

This film works for many reasons.  The first is the acting.  John Cusack still doesn’t have an Oscar nomination, but if you watch him in this and later in Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity, you know it is only a matter of time before the critics and awards group start realizing how great he can be.  There is Ione Skye, who never his this peak again, but looks and feels right in every moment.  And poor John Mahoney, who in three years, gave the best male supporting performance in Moonstruck, played the manager in Eight Men Out and was phenomenal here as Mr. Court.  And of course, Lili Taylor – who can so perfectly bounce between “Brains stick with brains. The bomb could go off and their mutant genes would form the same cliques.” and “You invade my soul,” and make both sound equally powerful – her brief appearance in High Fidelity always seemed like a nice nod to this film.

It also works because of the great music.  Every song works at every moment, and of course, none so perfectly as “In Your Eyes.”  Those of us who owned So before this film came out already knew what a great song it was, but there is no question that many of those who love the song love it precisely because in this film it is used so powerfully that the scene instantly became iconic.  But the rest of the soundtrack is fantastic (I own it) – a mark of all of Cameron Crowe’s films.  In fact (nod to High Fidelity here), Crowe’s films make me miss mix tapes – the idea of flipping the sides and the way things balance.  I still have the mix tape I made of Cameron Crowe films, with dialogue and songs interspersed.  My track listing for the Say Anything portion goes: the trailer / “Can I borrow a copy of your Hey Soul Classics?” / “In Your Eyes” / “I have hidden your keys!”  /  “I don’t want to sell anything . . .”  /  “Skankin to the Beat”  /  “If you guys know so much about women . . .”  /  “Within Your Reach”  /  ending – going straight into “All for Love.”

All of those lines I mention, of course, just point out how god damn funny the film is.  Any one of those lines could have been the line of the year, and saying them to anyone who loves the film will make them smile, or even quote the rest.

But all of this just simply works towards the ending.  Everything keeps clicking and we keep waiting and then it goes at just the right moment.  In 90 years of feature films, in close to 8000 films, there are only a handful that can possibly live up to this ending – maybe Yankee Doodle Dandy, Mr. Roberts and Running on Empty.  I think I would probably choose this above all, because the film itself means so much to me.  I could keep writing, about how smart it is about high school relationships, about parent-child relationships, about how siblings interact, about how friends want to keep talking about everything but sometimes don’t need to talk at all.  But the film itself says it all and continues to say it all to those of us who love it so much.

Ding.

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