the mysterious Sophie and the men who love her - Peter MacNichol, Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline in Sophie's Choice (1982)

My Top 20:

  1. Sophie’s Choice
  2. The Verdict
  3. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  4. Das Boot
  5. Tootsie
  6. Missing
  7. E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial
  8. The Long Good Friday
  9. Diner
  10. Fitzcarraldo
  11. Blade Runner
  12. Poltergeist
  13. Pink Floyd: The Wall
  14. My Favorite Year
  15. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  16. Shoot the Moon
  17. Three Brothers
  18. Mephisto
  19. Gandhi
  20. Coup de Torchon

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Gandhi
  • Best Director:  Richard Attenborough  (Gandhi)
  • Best Actor: Ben Kingsley  (Gandhi)
  • Best Actress:  Meryl Streep  (Sophie’s Choice)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Louis Gossett  (An Officer and a Gentleman)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Jessica Lange  (Tootsie)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Missing
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Gandhi
  • Best Foreign Film:  Volver a Empezar

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Gandhi
  • Best Director:  Steven Spielberg  (E.T.)
  • Best Actor: Ben Kingsley  (Gandhi)
  • Best Actress:  Meryl Streep  (Sophie’s Choice)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  John Lithgow  (The World According to Garp)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Jessica Lange  (Tootsie)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Missing
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Tootsie

note:  Meryl Streep, with 7 wins, has the most dominant win in Best Actress history, which stands until 1992.

Harrison Ford in the futuristic world of Blade Runner (1982)

Top 10 Films  (Top 1000):

  1. Blade Runner –  #46
  2. Stalker –  #125
  3. E.T. –  #135
  4. Tootsie –  #436
  5. Passion –  #504
  6. Diner –  #550
  7. Fitzcarraldo –  #575
  8. The Verdict –  #634
  9. Gandhi –  #676
  10. Mephisto –  #768

note:  With Missing coming in at #841, all five Best Picture Oscar nominees make the list.

Top 5 Films  (1982 Best Picture Awards):

  1. Gandhi
  2. E.T.
  3. Tootsie
  4. Missing
  5. The Verdict

Top 10 Films  (1982 Awards Points):

  1. Gandhi –  1881
  2. Tootsie –  1748
  3. E.T. –  1506
  4. Missing –  756
  5. Sophie’s Choice –  714
  6. Victor/Victoria –  514
  7. An Officer and a Gentleman –  511
  8. The Verdict –  468
  9. Blade Runner –  330
  10. The World According to Garp –  324

Top 10 Films  (Box Office Gross):

  1. E.T. –  $359.19 mil  (#1 all-time)
  2. Tootsie –  $177.20 mil
  3. An Officer and a Gentleman –  $129.79 mil
  4. Rocky III –  $124.14 mil
  5. Porky’s –  $105.49 mil
  6. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan –  $78.91 mil
  7. 48 Hours –  $78.86 mil
  8. Poltergeist –  76.60 mil
  9. The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas –  $69.70 mil
  10. Annie –  $57.05 mil

AFI Top 100 Films:

  • E.T. –  #25  (1998)  /  #24  (2007)
  • Tootsie –  #62  (1998)  /  #69  (2007)
  • Sophie’s Choice –  #91  (2007)
  • Blade Runner –  #97  (2007)

Ebert Great Films:

  • E.T.
  • Fitzcarraldo
  • Blade Runner
  • Mephisto

Nighthawk Golden Globes:


  • Best Picture:  Sophie’s Choice
  • Best Director:  Wolfgang Peterson  (Das Boot)
  • Best Actor:  Paul Newman  (The Verdict)
  • Best Actress:  Meryl Streep  (Sophie’s Choice)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Kevin Kline  (Sophie’s Choice)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Kim Stanley  (Frances)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Sophie’s Choice
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Long Good Friday

Dustin Hoffman and a very uncomfortable Sydney Pollack in Tootsie (1982)


  • Best Picture:  Tootsie
  • Best Director:  Sydney Pollack  (Tootsie)
  • Best Actor:  Dustin Hoffman  (Tootsie)
  • Best Actress:  Julie Andrews  (Victor/Victoria)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Robert Preston  (Victor/Victoria)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Jessica Lange  (Tootsie)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Tootsie

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Sophie’s Choice
  • Best Director:  Wolfgang Peterson  (Das Boot)
  • Best Actor:  Paul Newman  (The Verdict)
  • Best Actress:  Meryl Streep  (Sophie’s Choice)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Kevin Kline  (Sophie’s Choice)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Jessica Lange  (Tootsie)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Sophie’s Choice
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Tootsie
  • Best Editing:  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Best Cinematography:  Fitzcarraldo
  • Best Original Score:  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Best Sound:  Das Boot
  • Best Art Direction:  Blade Runner
  • Best Visual Effects:  E.T.
  • Best Sound Editing:  Das Boot
  • Best Costume Design:  Gandhi
  • Best Makeup:  The Quest for Fire
  • Best Original Song:  “When the Tigers Broke Free” from Pink Floyd: The Wall
  • Best Foreign Film:  Fitzcarraldo

if you don't get it then there's just no hope for you

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Best Line (Comedic):  “I’d like to make her a little more attractive.  How far can you pull back?”  “How do you feel about Cleveland?”  (Doris Belack / Robert D. Wilson in Tootsie)
  • Best Line (Dramatic):  “Logic clearly dictates the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”  (Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
  • Best Ending:  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Best Scene:  the Genesis countdown in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Kirstie Alley in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Sexiest Performance:  Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice
  • Best Use of a Song:  “Somebody’s Baby” in Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  • Best Ensemble:  Diner
  • Funniest Film:  Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  Conan the Barbarian
  • Most Over-rated Film: The Thing
  • Worst Film:  Grease 2

Film History: E.T. becomes the highest grossing film in history.  Columbia Pictures, CBS and HBO form Nova, which will eventually become Tri-Star.  Vic Morrow and two children are killed on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie and director John Landis is indicted for involuntary manslaughter.  Frank Capra is awarded the AFI Life Achievement Award.  Steven Spielberg purchases Rosebud at auction for $60,500.  Henry Fonda dies on 12 August, a few months after winning Best Actor at the Oscars.  Rouben Mamoulian, who was never nominated for an Oscar, is given the DGA D.W. Griffith Award.  Ingrid Bergman dies on 29 August, two weeks before Grace Kelly dies in a car crash (10 years later I will tell a man in Towers Records in Cambridge who says that Bergman was the most beautiful woman who ever lived that it was in Grace Kelly).  John Belushi dies of a drug overdose in March.  Missing and Yol share the Golden Palm at Cannes.  Rainer Werner Fassbinder dies in June at age 37.  Fanny and Alexander, Ingmar Bergman’s farewell film, opens in Stockholm.

Academy Awards: Missing becomes the first film since 1960 to win Best Adapted Screenplay without a Best Director nomination.  Gandhi earns the most points since 1964 (565).  It also is the first Best Picture winner since 1970 to earn nominations in the five major technical categories.  Spain wins its first Foreign Film Oscar in 10 nominations.  Alsino and the Condor becomes the first film from Central America to be nominated for Best Foreign Film (Nicaragua).  Gandhi becomes the second straight film to win Best Picture at the Oscars without a Golden Globe nomination (ineligible) and the last to do so until 2005.  It is the first Best Picture winner since 1966 to win Best Cinematography and the first BP winner to receive a Best Makeup nomination.

The Academy Awards do well with their nominees, but go with the epic biopic that is typical Academy fare (leading to three actors – Ian Charleson, John Geilgud and Richard Griffiths being in back to back winners) over the other four, better films.  And somehow they manage not to nominate two of the best films of the year – Sophie’s Choice (which is nominated for Adapted Screenplay and wins Actress) and Das Boot (which, typical for Foreign films, is nominated for Director and Adapted Screenplay but not Picture).  I wouldn’t expect them to nominate something like Star Trek II for Picture, but that it wasn’t nominated for anything is surprising (especially it’s magnificent score and first rate visual effects).  Among the acting, the big omissions are Bob Hoskins (The Long Good Friday), Diane Keaton (Shoot the Moon) and Kevin Kline (Sophie’s Choice), though there are no egregiously bad choices among the nominees.  And of course, the voters in the Best Original Song category once again can’t seem to find the best songs – leaving Pink Floyd’s “When the Tigers Broke Free” and Jackson Browne’s “Somebody’s Baby” out of the nominees.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Foreign Film for Volver a Empezar
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Original Song for “How Do You Keep the Music Playing” from Best Friends
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Picture for Sophie’s Choice
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Annie
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Best Foreign Film Submitted But Not Nominated:  Fitzcarraldo
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Editing
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Actress
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Best Actress, Supporting Actress, Visual Effects, Costume Design, Makeup

Golden Globes: Gandhi, ineligible for Best Picture (though winner of Best Foreign Film), would be the only film in Globes history to win Director and Screenplay without a Picture nomination.  It would also take home Best Actor, going a perfect 4 for 4 – the last film with as many nominations to go undefeated until Return of the King.  All five nominees for Best Director would go on to earn Best Picture nominations at the Oscars with Tootsie winning Picture (Comedy), Actor (Comedy) and Supporting Actress, E.T. winning Picture (Drama) and Score and Missing and The Verdict each getting 5 nominations without any wins.

Awards: Though it would only win one Best Picture award (from the National Society of Film Critics), Tootsie would be the big overall winner among the critics groups.  It would take home Best Director (NYFC), two Best Actors (NYFC, BSFC), three Supporting Actress (NYFC, NSFC, BSFC) and three Screenplay (NYFC, NSFC, LAFC).  E.T. would win Picture and Director from L.A. and Boston as well as Director from the NSFC.  Gandhi would win the remaining two Best Picture and remaining three Best Actor awards.  Sophie’s Choice would win all five Best Actress awards as well as Cinematography from the NYFC.

E.T. becomes the fourth Spielberg film to earn nominations from the DGA, WGA, ACE and MPSE, winning for Screenplay and Sound Editing.  Gandhi is only nominated for Director and Editing but wins them both.  The final Editing nominee is Tootsie, which is nominated for the DGA and wins the WGA for Original Comedy.  The two adapted categories at the WGA go to Victor/Victoria and Missing while the two final nominees for the DGA are An Officer and a Gentleman and Das Boot.  The MPSE expands to four awards, with the other three going to Das Boot, Victor/Victoria and My Favorite Year.

Gandhi sets a record with 15 BAFTA nominations (tied by Shakespeare in Love).  With 595 points, it is the most since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1970, winning Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress and Director – the first film to win Picture and Director in 5 years.  For the first time in 10 years all the BAFTA nominees are Oscar nominees for Best Picture – Gandhi, Missing, E.T. and On Golden Pond.  The latter three combine for 23 nominations (including Director and Screenplay for all three), but only 4 wins (Screenplay and Editing for Missing, Score for E.T. and Actress for Pond).  Reds and Blade Runner don’t get the big three, but do manage 14 nominations and 5 wins (both Supporting for Reds and Cinematography, Art Direction and Costume Design for Blade Runner).

Best Supporting Actor: The critics groups split their awards.  The big guns – New York and L.A. went with John Lithgow in The World According to Garp.  The National Society of Film Critics and the Boston Society of Film Critics both went with Mickey Rourke from Diner.  The final group, the National Board of Review chose Robert Preston from Victor/Victoria.  But then the Golden Globes threw everything awry by not nominating any of them (Preston was nominated, but as a lead).  They gave their award to Lou Gossett for An Officer and a Gentleman with the other nominations going to James Mason (The Verdict), Raul Julia (The Tempest), David Keith (An Officer and a Gentleman) and Jim Metzler (Tex).  The Academy would split the difference – their own award would go to Gossett and they would nominate Lithgow and Preston from the critics and Mason from the Globes, with Charles Durning earning the fifth nomination for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  The BAFTA’s wouldn’t settle any of it, giving the award to Jack Nicholson from Reds and their nominations to Edward Fox and Roshan Seth for Gandhi and Frank Finlay for Return of the Soldier.

"Is that the one with the ears?" - Martha Wakefield

Under-appreciated Film of 1982:

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (dir. Nicholas Meyer)

There is a four minute stretch late in the film as good as almost any sequence ever put on film.  It is a reminder of the importance of those three technical categories that I give the most points to: Editing, Cinematography and Score.  In this scene, set almost in real time (you can see it here without dialogue, but if, like me, you know the film, you know what is being said and this only emphasizes the importance of these three things), it is all about the construction of the film.  The visual effects shots are perfectly sequenced into the desperate race against time to get away from the explosion they know will kill them all.  We know they have four minutes and that is how long we have on film (the timing syncs up perfectly with Saavik’s time of 2:10 but is too early for the 3:30 – which we can figure is simultaneous with Khan’s death).  Look particularly close as we get to the second point where Kirk asks for the time.  It perfectly moves between closer and closer shots of every major player on the bridge – we get their individual reactions as we, and they, know that they don’t have enough time.  Listen to how good that music is as the feeling washes over them.  Remember those words that Kirk said to Saavik early in the film and that David repeats to him after Spock’s death: “How we face death is at least as important as how we face life.”

This is the best of all the Star Trek films.  It is ironic that the two best films of a series set in a future where we have learned to be a better species both deal with revenge.  But they are also the two that reference specific episodes of the respective series – some of the best episodes at that.  Just as First Contact would offer up the best acting performance of any Star Trek film in Patrick Stewart’s intense performance, so to, would this be the best acting of the original crew members.  They all have their moments – for seriousness and for levity.  And that is another of the best things about this film.  It is the best written of all the Star Trek films.  It hadn’t yet descended into any campiness, so the humor flows freely from the individual moments (“Where are we going?” “Where they went.”  “What if they went nowhere?”  “Then this is your chance to get away from it all.”).  It learned the lesson from the first film – don’t try to overdo the story, but rather focus on the characters and see where they lead you.  In fact, the one shame about this film is that one of the best moments in the novelization would be absent in the film – when Kirk tells Saavik the head to the second star to the right and straight on till morning.  The line would be used, very well, at the end of the sixth film, but here the fact that she doesn’t question the order shows her growing humanity – something they lost sight of when they had to re-cast the role for the third film (which was a shame, because Kirstie Alley was sexy and smart and great in the role and couldn’t be properly replaced).

But it is also the best because of how well made it is.  It has a wonderful villain, it has a great story, it has first rate special effects (these effects actually still look really good after all this time), and of course, it is expertly constructed.  The Jerry Goldsmith score from the first film might be iconic and can never be replaced, but the James Horner score from this film is one of the great film scores of all-time, and even bests the Goldsmith in that the whole score, not simply the main title score, is great to listen to.  Just listen to the music in that scene – especially during the close-ups, or earlier in the film when the lights come on all across the Enterprise before it leaves Spacedock.  Look at the shots, not only here, but during Kirk’s first appearance, the way we can know the voice without yet seeing the face.  Look at how expertly it moves between the scenes, always keeping us with the story, even when moving between the different parts of Regulus, Reliant and the Enterprise, or how we don’t get any shots of the Enterprise when we believe it has left them behind.

It is impossible to express what this film was like for those of us who were waiting for it.  I was only 8, but I was already ready for it.  The first film had been a disappointment, but I was already a fan of the series (my uncle had every episode on tape – sadly they are all on Beta).  I went to see it as a double feature with Superman II on my 8th birthday with my mom, my older sister and my older brother and loved it.  Right from the start it was surprising.  The Enterprise had a new captain.  Of course, in the opening scenes you think it is Saavik, and there is no reason to think otherwise – after all Decker was the Captain at the start of the previous film.  But then we realize that Spock has actually been promoted to Captain.  We see the old interplay between Kirk, Spock and McCoy (“Jim, be careful.”  “We will.”).  We get the new relationship between Spock and his protege, Saavik.  And, of course, I wanted to see it so badly because my oldest brother had said to me: “There’s two words that mean you have to see it: Spock dies.”  It was no secret of what was going to happen at the end, though of course it is done so well you wouldn’t have it any other way.  What I didn’t know was how well they would set things up to continue.  Leonard Nimoy hadn’t wanted to make the film and was certain this would be the final one.  But the ending worked so perfectly that they had to continue.  And of course, there is not only the wonderful funeral oration, but the knowledge that “Amazing Grace” is not an amazingly beautiful song, but when played on the bagpipes is perhaps the most beautiful musical piece ever written.

This is not only the best of the Star Trek films, but one of the best science-fiction films ever made and one of my favorite films of all-time.  Yet, it made less money than Porky’s or Rocky III and was not nominated for any awards.  For the Nighthawk Awards, it is nominated for Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound, Visual Effects and Sound Editing and wins Editing and Original Score.  It is a film to be watched again and again, or, in my case, again and again and again and again and again.

Note 1:  Watching this film scarred my mother for life.  She constantly asks about it: “Is that the one with the ears?”  (to distinguish it from Star Trek IV: “the one with the whales.”)

Note 2:  If you ever want to know how hideous fashions were in the early 80’s, watch the interviews with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley on the second disc of the Director’s Edition two disc set.  Oh god are they bad.

Note 3:  Months ago I made a list of each film I would write about as my under-appreciated film for each year.  It is a happy coincidence that the timing of this has worked out so that this posts on William Shatner’s 80 birthday and just 4 days before Leonard Nimoy’s 80 birthday.