series-wallpaperA few notes.  First, I cover all pre Oscar Era films in the blanket “year” of 1926.  From 1927 to 1933, films are where they land in the combined Oscar years.  After that, they’re all in years by Oscar eligibility.  Second, any time there is a 2nd place Award that’s because it was such a tough year to just go with one and I want to reward as many films as possible here.  There might occasionally be notes as well.  Third, some of these might not agree with what I wrote in the original Year in Film pieces but my lists are always fluid and some of these lists I didn’t even come up with until much later.  Fourth, in certain “best” or “worst” lists, I won’t list films unless they exceed (or fall below) a certain threshold; for a “best” it has to be ***.5 or ****, for “worst”, it has to be ** or below. (more…)

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slistThis is the prime award, where a group of people (or, in the case of the Nighthawk Awards, me) decide what the best film of the year is.  It was complicated right from the start, of course, because the Academy Awards, the first awards group, had two different awards: Outstanding Picture and Quality Production.  The first, according to the rule book was “the most outstanding motion picture, considering all elements that contribute to a picture’s greatness” while the second was “the most artistic, unique, and/or original motion picture without reference to cost or magnitude.”  The italics are my emphasis because it’s that first award that went to Wings, often considered the first Best Picture winner which shows that right from the start, the Academy was focused on large productions.  That’s the reason that films like The Great Ziegfeld, The Greatest Show on Earth, Around the World in 80 Days, Out of Africa, Braveheart and Titanic have Oscars.  Well, that and questionable taste from the Academy.

The first critics group (sort of) was the National Board of Review and they began in 1933, followed two years later by the New York Film Critics.  They agreed in that same year but the award went to The Informer which won everything but Picture at the Oscars.  The Golden Globes arrived in 1943 (before the first three groups had ever agreed) but didn’t start splitting their award up until 1951.  They did complicate the idea of a “Consensus Award” by having Foreign films (including British) not eligible for Picture.  After complete lack of consensus in 1943 (four different films won the four awards), 1944 gave us the first film with three awards (Going My Way).  In 1946 The Best Years of Our Lives would be the first to win four awards but that still wasn’t a sweep because one of those was the new BAFTA award which would complicate things by often being on a different calendar (the award was actually in 1947).  Consensus got trickier in the 50s with A Streetcar Named Desire winning because it had the most points and noms (4) but only one win while two other films had two each.  Also, many years had no limit on Globe or BAFTA nominees so the Consensus list was very long.  On the Waterfront would set a new points record (410) and noms records (5) and would be the first film to win both critics awards and the Oscar but it would lose the BAFTA (to a film from a different year).  Bridge on the River Kwai would become the first film to sweep all 5 awards.  A Man for All Seasons would win 5 awards but in the year the National Society of Film Critics added a sixth award (which often went to a Foreign film).  In 1974, Day for Night would become the first film to win the Consensus without an Oscar nomination thanks to two critics wins and the BAFTA win.  The LA Film Critics would another award in 1975 and the Boston Society of Film Critics another in 1980.  All the President’s Men would be the first film with 6 noms while GoodFellas would set new records across the board for points (650), noms (8) and wins (6) as the Chicago Film Critics and PGA added two more awards, all of which would be thumped by Schindler’s List, the only film to ever sweep all existing awards with 10 and a points record (910) that has not been matched and the highest Consensus percentage post-1946 (49.19%) by a considerable margin.  Two years later the Critics Choice finally added the 11th and final award (six critics, five awards groups) with L.A. Confidential the first to 11 nominations with only Hurt Locker (10) also managing double-digits since.

For a full list of my own 9 point films (anything high ****) see the full Top 2000 list.

note:  Critical Acclaim.  That’s a phrase I will use below several times.  So that I don’t have to keep repeating what it means, it’s based on the Consensus Awards that I do.  My feelings don’t play into those awards except by the percentages I assign.  100 points for a win, 50 for a nomination.  100% for the Oscars, SAG, BAFTA, NYFC, LAFC, 90% for the BSFC, CFC, NSFC, 80% for the BFCA, NBR, 70% for the Globes.  Then, I calculate percentage of the total points.  That’s because in 1943 (the first year of the Globes) there were 990 total points and in 2011 there were 2795 total points, so the percentage of the total points is the best way to account for historical changes in scores.  So, the film with the highest percentage of the year’s total points has the most critical acclaim under the definition I am using.

The Academy Awards

First, I’m doing this all as one post – no summarizing the post-2011 down below.  This is complete through 2021.  Second, there are a lot of tables here rather than text.

Summary:

I have covered each year in this category through 2020.  Just go to the search bar of the blog and enter a year and look at it to get an idea for the years themselves.

As for trends, well the Academy with its focus on large-scale productions and major studios missed the boat for quite a long time.  In the first six years, the Academy picked the two worst winners ever and a third among the 6 worst and had two years (1929, 1931) that couldn’t even average a good film among the nominees.  Through 1934, they had only nominated 4 of the Top 200 nominees.  Things started to improve in the latter half of the 1930s with 1935 being the first year to average a deserving Best Picture nominee (76 or higher) and 1939 the first year to average over an 80 as well as the first year with five great nominees (but not all 10 – don’t believe the hype).  Still, none of those years even hits the Top 60 among Oscar years and the first 12 years (through 1938) are all among the 20 weakest Best Picture slates.  In 1944, the Academy dropped to 5 nominees (it was variables through 1933, 12 each in 1934 and 1935 and 10 each through 1943) but didn’t necessarily start getting better.  Though 1946 had two Top 100 nominees and 1947 set a new mark for highest average nominee (86.4), neither of them could still crack the Top 30 for years.  The 1950s were actually a considerable step back.  Though it had two of the best winners it also had two of the worst and the average winner was just an 80.6 after an 88.4 in the 1940s.  The nominees had dropped from 81.25 to 77.04.  No year even cracked the Top 50 and 1956 was one of the worst years ever.  The 1960s were an improvement but still mixed with 1961 the best to date and 1963 the worst since 1931.  The winners averaged a 90.4 but only had three Top 100 films.  The 1970s finally saw Best Picture become what it should be.  The nominees averaged 84.68 and the winners averaged 93.4 with 1972 becoming the first in which the average nominee was a great film and 1973 becoming the first Top 10 year.  From 1972 to 1979 only two years were outside the Top 25.  The 1980s both got better with 1980 and 1982 the first with nominees averaging 90 and two top 10 finishes for years but also worse as the first decade where the worst nominee was chosen three times (1985, 1985, 1989) and an average winner was the exact same as an average nominee (86.1).  The 1990s were a bit odd with one terrible year (1995) and three great years (1991, 1993, 1994).  But starting in 1991 and running through 2003, the Academy either picked the best of the nominees (91-93, 96, 98, 99, 03) or the worst (the rest).  2002 exhibited that oddness with the best slate of nominees by far (96 average) and awarding the weakest of them.  The oddness continued with the weakest film chosen in 2005 and then the best for the last three years of the 5 BP Era.  Then in 2009 came a change to 10 films, then in 2011 back to a variable which lasted through 2020 with a switch back to 10 in 2021.  The interesting bit is that in spite of not nominating The Dark Knight or Wall-E in 2008 and prompting the switch, the Academy had been doing great; from 2001 to 2007, the Academy had five of the six best years in history.  Since the final switch, the nominees have mostly been solid but undistinguished.  The years have ranged as high as 12th (2017) and as low as 53rd (2011).  It has included mostly great films (four years averaged above 90) but also some bad ones (seven nominees outside the Top 500).  What’s more, they have yet to pick the best nominee in any year since the change.  They picked the 2nd best several times (2009-12, 14, 15) but lately have been much worse (7th, 5th, 7th, 7th in the last four).

Sequels:

The Bells of St Mary’s was the first to earn a nomination and The Godfather Part II was the first winner with Return of the King following years later as the second winner.  Other nominated films are The Godfather Part III, The Two Towers, Toy Story 3 (the first one nominated when the original wasn’t), Mad Max: Fury Road and Black Panther (sort of).

Genres:

No Kids, Horror or Sci-Fi film has ever won.  The single winners are Action (The French Connection), Adventure (Mutiny on the Bounty) and Suspense (Silence of the Lambs).  The Crime films are grouped (1972 and 1974, 2006 and 2007).  Fantasy never won before 2003 but has now won three times.  Comedy has gone long gaps between wins (1938-1956, 1977-1989, 1998-2011).  Musical won five times between 1958 and 1968 and only twice since then.  War is split – two World War I films, two World War II films, two Vietnam films, one Iraq film.  Western went almost 60 years between wins and then won again two years later.  Drama’s nadir was the 70s – just three wins.  It’s peak was the 40s – it won every year from 1941 to 1950 and 16 times from 1937-1955.  Its largest gap is 6 years (1969-1975) but followed that with 10 wins in 14 years.

Genre Wins %
Drama 50 52.63%
Comedy 13 13.68%
Musical 10 10.53%
War 7 7.37%
Crime 4 4.21%
Western 3 3.16%
Fantasy 3 3.16%
Mystery 2 2.11%
Action 1 1.05%
Adventure 1 1.05%
Suspense 1 1.05%

Of the nominees, every genre is covered.  Action took until 1971 for a nomination but won with its first.  It also went 26 years between noms from 1974 to 2000.  After not earning a nom until 1971, Horror earned four in six years then didn’t earn another until 1999.  I don’t count Silence (like many do) but count many films that others don’t (Clockwork Orange, Black Swan, Get Out).  Sci-Fi took until 1977, earned another in 1982 and then jumped to 2009 but since then has seven more; they do very well with also earning Tech noms with all but one earning Sound and all but one earning Visual Effects and surprisingly well in Screenplay (only Gravity didn’t earn a nom).  Kids has been grouped (one in 1939, two in the mid 40s, two in the mid 60s, two in the early 90s, two in the late 00s).  Mystery has now gone 18 years since its last nomination.  Fantasy earned its first nom in 1935 but didn’t get its second until 1981 and its third until 1990; only half the Fantasy films nominated for Best Picture earned a Visual Effects nom but they all won the award.  Adventure earned 8 noms from 1931 to 1938 but only 6 since and only two since 1972 (Master and Commander, Revenant); it has done poorly in Director (5 noms) but very well in Editing (11 noms, 3 wins) to go with Picture.  The heyday for Suspense was the 40s (seven noms from 1940-47 including three for Hitchcock films) with only seven since and none since 1993.  Westerns had a huge gap from 1969-1990 without a nom and a smaller one from 1992-2010.  Crime once went 30 years without a nom (1937-1967) and its best period was not the 30s (just two noms) but 1985-1996 (six noms); of the post-1937 nominees only Hell or High Water didn’t earn a Director nom, all earned writing noms and all but Atlantic City earned Supporting Actor noms (several earning multiple).  In fact, the 17 Crime films nominated for Best Picture from 1967-2019 earned a combined 23 Supporting Actor noms with 4 wins.  War films have had several eight year gaps between noms (1962-70, 1970-78, 1998-2006) but never more than that.  Most War films earn Director, Editing and Cinematography noms as well (15 added all three of those).  Musicals don’t do well in major categories; while Musicals average 6.54 noms (versus 6.45 for all Picture nominees), over half their noms don’t earn a Director nom, over half don’t earn a Writing nom and a whopping 10 (21.2%) earn no major noms outside of Picture (compared to less than 10% of all Picture nominees).  Musicals have had at least one nominee in every decade but what most people think of as a Musical (people burst into song) went nearly 30 years between Cabaret and Moulin Rouge.  Musicals account for just 8% of all Picture nominees but account for 19% of Picture nominees nominated for Editing, Cinematography, Score, Art Direction, Sound and Costume Design.  It took until 1931 for a Comedy to be nominated and Comedies, even with more than 5 nominees in lots of years now, still average less than one nomination per year and from 1944-1949 the only nominee was The Bishop’s Wife.  In 1973, three Comedies were nominated and The Sting won and in 1977 two were nominated and Annie Hall won but none were nominated in the three years between.  The biggest gap is five years 1989-1994).  Even with the expanded era, there were no Comedy nominees in 2016 or 2020 though Comedies have benefited from this era with 21 nominees in 14 years after just 21 in the previous 28 years.  In contrast to Musicals, only three Comedies have failed to earn another major nom and none since 1936 though only two Comedies earned those six Tech noms (The Sting, Shakespeare in Love).  Comedies are especially weak in Visual Effects (one nom), Sound Editing (two), Song (four) and Foreign (two).  Drama films average 3.25 nominees a year and even averaged 2.67 nominees a year in the 5 BP Era (1944-2008).  In the original expanded era, (1932-1943), Dramas had a whopping 67 noms including 7 just in 1939 and set a new record in 2020 with 8 (out of 9!).  Dramas have never had a year without a nominee have never had a decade with fewer than 25 noms and have had several years where it had 4 of the 5 nominees.  While many Dramas have had no other major noms only two have done so since 1956 (Selma, Ford v Ferrari).  Though 8 Dramas have earned no other noms except Picture, Dramas as a whole average 6.48 noms for their Picture nominees while Dramas that win the Oscar average 8.78 nominations and average 5 wins.

Genre Noms % Wins %
Drama 308 52.74% 50 16.23%
Comedy 81 13.87% 13 16.05%
Musical 47 8.05% 10 21.28%
War 32 5.48% 7 21.88%
Crime 21 3.60% 4 19.05%
Western 16 2.74% 3 18.75%
Adventure 14 2.40% 1 7.14%
Suspense 14 2.40% 1 7.14%
Fantasy 10 1.71% 3 30.00%
Mystery 10 1.71% 2 20.00%
Kids 9 1.54% 0 0.00%
Sci-Fi 9 1.54% 0 0.00%
Horror 8 1.37% 0 0.00%
Action 5 0.86% 1 20.00%

Foreign Films:

There have been 12 nominees over the years.  The first was Grand Illusion in 1938 but the next wasn’t until Z in 1969, the first to also earn a Foreign Film nomination (and win).  Of the 12 films, only six also earned Foreign Film noms (they all won).  Parasite became the first to win the Oscar.  Two films were American made films in other languages (Letters from Iwo Jima, Minari).  Of interest, while Grand Illusion received no other noms, the other 11 were all nominated for Director and Screenplay.

Single Nominations:

This was common early on; from 1928-1936 15 films received a Picture nom with no other noms with Grand Hotel even winning.  After that, it was just three more (Grand Illusion, One Foot in Heaven, The Ox-Bow Incident).  Just two nominations was also common early on (12 films from 1928-36 including one winner), became rare (one in 1943, one in 1951) then non-existent (none again until 1994) and then sprang back into being more common with the new expanded BP era (five since 2009).

Other Categories:

There will be four charts.  This first one is Best Picture winners (of which there are 95) with how often they win in other categories.  There are no current streaks as Picture was literally the only award that Nomadland and CODA shared.  The last active streak of more than two years was Director from 2006-11.

Cat Wins %
D 67 70.53%
AS 43 45.26%
Ed 34 35.79%
AD 28 29.47%
A 27 28.42%
Ci 27 28.42%
Scr 26 27.37%
Sd 23 24.21%
Sc 20 21.05%
CD 20 21.05%
SA 18 18.95%
AS 13 13.68%
SAS 13 13.68%
VE 6 6.32%
Sg 5 5.26%
Mk 4 4.21%
SE 3 3.16%
Fo 1 1.05%
An 0 0.00%

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My Top 2000 Films of All-Timeimg_0065-e1594138826263

Complete list through 2021.  No 2022 films included (likely Top 1000 in rank order: Everything Everywhere All At Once, Likely Top 1001-2000 in rank order: Turning Red, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On).  Done in straight order rather than reverse to make it easier to format, plus the mystery is already gone from the Top 1000 lists you can find here.

I’m not breaking down my ratings – I’ve done enough of that in other places.  But I did mark Oscar winners and nominees.  Just to have something else to mark them, films that are in bold I saw in the theater (at some point).  Suffice it to say if you have a serious love of film you should see every film on this list.  You may not love them or all or even like them but you should see them. (more…)

Screen Shot 2022-09-18 at 7.53.57 AMThis is the second update to my Top 1000 list.  The list, recently completed here has an introduction here.  I have broken this down by year.  I was originally going to include “hard luck cases”, films that made the Top 1000 in their year of release and then got bumped, but an upcoming post made me decide not to bother.  So, under each year are films that make the current Top 1000 list (through 2021), by year of initial release (not necessarily Oscar eligible / Nighthawk eligible year) from lowest on the list to highest. (more…)

Screen Shot 2022-08-22 at 7.18.46 AMThis is the first update to my Top 1000 list.  The list, recently completed, has an introduction here.  I have broken this down by year.  I was originally going to include “hard luck cases”, films that made the Top 1000 in their year of release and then got bumped, but an upcoming post made me decide not to bother.  So, under each year are films that make the current Top 1000 list (through 2021), by year of initial release (not necessarily Oscar eligible / Nighthawk eligible year) from lowest on the list to highest. (more…)

spielberg-scorsese

Did you think this would let you know who the #1 director is? You fool! Read the list.

As I said on the 2.0 version, my lists are always organic; they continue to change and grow.  I’ve continued to watch films and new films have come out and I fiddled with the categories again as said in the introduction.  I’ve also already listed the directors who made my chart but didn’t make the Top 100.  It’s way overdue, but here is the final version of My Top 100 Directors of All-Time.

This list is in two parts.  The first just counts down the directors from #100 to #1 with their total score.  It includes a link to a piece on the director.  The number in that link is from the original list (or, in the case of directors who only made the 2.0 list, that list) and not from this list (unless they’re the same rank as before).  Those posts are now over a decade out of date and I haven’t bothered to write posts for the new directors to make the list (12 directors in all though three link to their Oscar Director post). (more…)

godardTo create my 3.0 version of the Top 100 Directors of All-Time I didn’t just start with the previous versions of my list.  I created a chart that had several hundred names by including anyone who scored more than 10 points on the external Top 1000 list (see the Introduction for that point scale), anyone who had scored more than 10 points on the Consensus list (ditto) and anyone who had ever earned a Nighthawk point for directing.  From there, I narrowed it down to anyone who had at least 10 points on two of those three lists.  To be in the Top 1000 it wasn’t enough to just get points from one – you needed to have at least two groups agree you were deserving.

I did decide, for completeness sake, to add back in any director who had more than 40 on the external Top 1000 even if they had no points on the other two lists (8 directors, none of whom scored more than 340 points in total).  I also added in seven directors (misstated as six in the introduction) to provide context to the list.  I’ll explain more on that below.

Suffice to say, Godard, the director pictured above, is NOT ON THE LIST.  I considered titling this post “Sir Not Appearing on The Top 100 List” but thought people getting the joke might think that meant Gilliam didn’t make this version and he did so I didn’t. (more…)

Screen Shot 2022-08-07 at 11.49.33 AMI have been promising this post for a long time.  The 2.0 version was posted in September of 2011, which really means it was my Century of Film post because I cut those posts off in 2011.  It got delayed for so long because I was so busy writing other posts and trying to come up with tweaks to my system.  The 1.0 and 2.0 versions had a couple of problems which I will describe below.

But a lot of films have been released since then as well.  Of those three brilliant directors pictured on the left, only one was on the first version and only two in the second.  What’s more, in September of 2011 those three men had never won an Oscar (out of one nomination for Director) while since then they have won a combined 5 Oscars just for Best Director (10 in total), almost as many as everyone else in the film industry combined in that time period.  This time, they’re all three in there and they have made some big leaps.

Now, down to business. (more…)

lean-o-tool-tour-lawrence--gRight from the start, the directors kind of ruled the world of film.  They were paid well and by the 1930s they were getting “film by” credit and before too long that credit was before the title (in fact, mandated that way by agreement with the DGA).  They formed one of the powerful early guilds and their guild was one of the first two to begin giving out their own awards.  Writer-directors started to rise in the 1940s (lead by Preston Sturges and John Huston) and that would become the standard for most of the great foreign directors.  In the 1960s the auteur theory would come along and propel a number of directors to the top of the film world when it came to critical appreciation of the medium.  Today we are still in an era of truly great film directors, from those who came up through the medium in the 70s (Spielberg, Scorsese) to those 70s type independent minded directors who missed that era and came right after (Coen Brothers, Almodovar) to the great directors who made their mark in the 90s and later (Tarantino, Nolan, P.T. Anderson).  Following not too long after this post will come finally my 3.0 version of the Top 100 Directors of All-Time.

(more…)

Screen Shot 2022-06-16 at 8.17.16 AMThis is the final grouping of 50 to count down the 1000 Greatest Films of the first Century of Film (1912-2011).

The original introduction can be found here.  Other parts can be found here.

The films in this portion rate at a 98 down through Modern Times and a 99 after that.

After some other posts, there will be an update that covers the years 2012-2016.  Then after some other posts, there will be another update that will cover the years 2017-2021.

(more…)