For the second decade in a row, my #1 album has some awesome black and white photography from Anton Corbijn.

Introduction:  So these are my top albums of the 90’s.  Once again, these are studio albums only, so no live albums and no compilations of greatest hits, though both of those will be discussed here in this introduction.

Because I didn’t do a big massive post with all sorts of lists like in the 80’s, there are a number of subcategories that I didn’t already address.  For instance, the best debut albums of the decade, which, going down the list, would obviously be lead by Ten, followed, depending on your definition, by Little Earthquakes.  Other debut albums on this list include August and Everything After, New Miserable Experience and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.  Jagged Little Pill is only the first album by Alanis Morissette released in the United States, not her actual first album and the massive success of Nevermind, Dookie, Throwing Copper and Siamese Dream often make people forget the much lesser known first albums by Nirvana, Green Day, Live and Smashing Pumpkins.  Ten is among the greatest debut albums of all-time and Little Earthquakes is up there if you count it as Tori’s first solo album but none of the others approach the list in my 80’s post. (more…)


MARTHA: And it was an accident . . . a real, goddamn accident!
(GEORGE takes from behind his back a short-barreled shotgun, and calmly aims it at the back of MARTHA’s head.)  (p 57)

My Top 10:

  1. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  2. A Man for All Seasons
  3. Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment
  4. The Professionals
  5. The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming
  6. Alfie
  7. Red Beard
  8. You’re a Big Boy Now
  9. The Shop on Main Street
  10. Georgy Girl

Note:  Back up to 12 films on my list this year.  One is reviewed below as a WGA nominee (Harper) and the final one is on a separate list at the bottom.
Note:  No less than five reviews in this year were lost when my computer died and three of them (Morgan, Alfie, Shop) were of sources that had been a pain to get the first time and so I have tried to write them again as best as possible from memory. (more…)


A Century of Film

The Genre:

Westerns are a uniquely American art form.  It has been said that the three things America has contributed to world culture are baseball, Jazz and Westerns.  The very start of Westerns goes back to the start of narrative story-telling in American film with The Great Train Robbery perhaps the first great narrative American film.

I had written a paragraph about what I see as the basic Western (as opposed to the sub-genres listed below) but then I found this bit on page 195 of The Rough Guide to Westerns that summed it up much better than I had:

Pulp writer Frank Gruber says there are seven essential Western plots:

  1. The Union Pacific story (the railroad/stagecoach comes to town or wagon train adventures)
  2. The ranch story (conflict between ranchers or ranchers vs. others)
  3. The empire story (an epic version of the ranch story)
  4. The revenge story
  5. The cavalry and indians story
  6. The outlaw story
  7. The marshal story.

Those pretty much sums it up.  The fifth one is a specific sub-genre below and the third one really kind of fits into the “Epic” sub-genre.  But otherwise, those are pretty much the films that don’t have a sub-genre.  Ironically, most of the films starring the biggest Western stars (also listed below) aren’t in any of the sub-genres but fit those basic story types.  You can also get much more detailed by going here, though most of what is down below you will only find here which is why I wrote all this. (more…)

Three out of three amigos have now won Oscars.

The 90th annual Academy Awards, for the film year 2017.  The nominations were announced on 23 January 2018 and the awards were held on 4 March 2018.

Best Picture:  The Shape of Water

  • Lady Bird
  • Dunkirk
  • The Post
  • Darkest Hour
  • Phantom Thread
  • Get Out
  • Call Me By Your Name
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Most Surprising Omission:  I, Tonya

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Coco

Rank (out of 90) Among Best Picture Years:  #10 (more…)

The best ending of the year in the best film of the year.

My Top 20:

  1. Lady Bird
  2. Dunkirk
  3. The Shape of Water
  4. The Post
  5. Coco
  6. Darkest Hour
  7. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  8. Phantom Thread
  9. I, Tonya
  10. It: Chapter One
  11. Get Out
  12. Call Me By Your Name
  13. T2 Trainspotting
  14. Beauty and the Beast
  15. Wonder Woman
  16. The Greatest Showman
  17. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  18. Blade Runner 2049
  19. The Big Sick
  20. Okja

note:  The first 15 films are ****.  There are a few awards films I haven’t seen yet that are all mentioned below. (more…)

A Century of Film: 1912-2011

So when does film begin?  Does it begin with some of the Edison shorts?  Do you start with Méliès?  What about a specific film to start with like A Trip to the Moon in 1902 or The Great Train Robbery in 1903?  You could easily start in 1906 with The Story of the Kelly Gang, the first film to run over an hour, kind of the demarcation point for what constitutes a feature film (though the Academy defines it as 40 minutes).  The problem is The Story of the Kelly Gang, while running over an hour in length, today consists of only fragments and those fragments add up to only 17 minutes.  So where to begin?

All of this also brings up the question of where to end a history of film.  Every week new films get released.  Do you include them?  Do you need time to truly reflect on them?  You could cut things off on December 31, 1999 and call it a day but that leaves 17 years of films worth out in the cold and it accounts for considerably less than a century’s worth of films since feature films didn’t yet exist in 1900. (more…)

“You realize who this linen girl Tanya is?” (p 612 – Pevear / Volokhonsky translation)

My Top 9:

  1. Dr. Zhivago
  2. The Pawnbroker
  3. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
  4. The Collector
  5. A Thousand Clowns
  6. King Rat
  7. The Human Condition: Part III
  8. Thunderball
  9. The Train

Note:  That’s it.  After years and years of a list longer than ten, I can only come up with nine films and one of those, The Train, was actually nominated in the Original Screenplay category even though it was based on Rose Valland’s book. (more…)