April 2011


Tom Hulce (Oscar nominee) and F. Murray Abraham (Oscar winner) in 1984's Best Picture: Amadeus

The 57th annual Academy Awards, for the film year 1984.  The nominations were announced on February 6, 1985 and the awards were held on March 25, 1985.

Best Picture:  Amadeus

  • A Passage to India
  • The Killing Fields
  • A Soldier’s Story
  • Places in the Heart

Most Surprising Omission:  Broadway Danny Rose

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  This is Spinal Tap

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #15

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Veronica and Thomas next to the famous Bronx Zoo cobra. It's actually really small.

Well, the reason for the big gap between the Year in Film and Best Picture for 1984 was that we went down to New York and Philadelphia on Thursday and Friday.

Bert, Veronica, Thomas and Ernie

All started out well on Thursday morning.  We zipped down to the Bronx in 3 1/2 hours (including stopping for breakfast) and we got to the north corner of the Bronx Zoo (Fordham Rd and Southern) by 10:08, just after the zoo opened.  All we had to do then was drive the four blocks down Southern and make a left into the zoo entrance.

It took 72 minutes.  On the worst paved major road I have ever been on.  Maybe next time instead of spending $150 million to run for a third term, Bloomberg should just spend his money on paving the damn road next to one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city.  And put a cop at the intersection who won’t tell me “go down to the next light and make a left” when the next light is a one-way street running the wrong way.

Luckily, the rest of the trip was much better.  The zoo was nice (it was sunny and nice, although windy).  We saw a lot of things (although the Asia monorail didn’t open until the following Saturday) and Thomas had a nice time.  In fact, Thomas did great at both locations on the trip and the drive (but he did have a hard time calming down at night in the hotel because he was so excited). (more…)

Tom Hulce is brilliant as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

My Top 20:

  1. Amadeus
  2. A Passage to India
  3. The Killing Fields
  4. This is Spinal Tap
  5. Ghostbusters
  6. Broadway Danny Rose
  7. Under the Volcano
  8. A Soldier’s Story
  9. Once Upon a Time in America
  10. The Cotton Club
  11. The Bounty
  12. Gremlins
  13. Beverly Hills Cop
  14. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  15. The Hit
  16. Romancing the Stone
  17. Dangerous Moves
  18. After the Rehearsal
  19. Entre Nous
  20. Sixteen Candles (more…)

the 1951 Modern Library dust jacket for Ernest Hemingways The Sun Also Rises (1926)

The Sun Also Rises

  • Author:  Ernest Hemingway (1899  –  1961)
  • Rank:  #46
  • Published:  1926
  • Publisher:  Charles Scribner’s Sons
  • Pages:  247
  • First Line:  “Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton.”
  • Last Lines:  “ ‘Oh, Jake,’ Brett said, ‘we could have had such a damned good time together.’  Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic.  He raised his baton.  The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.  ‘Yes,’ I said.  ‘Isn’t it pretty to think so?’ ”
  • ML Edition:  #170  –  two dust jackets  (1935, 1946) – Bennet Cerf was unable to get a renewal on the Scribner’s authors and thus Hemingway, Wolfe and Fitzgerald were gone from the Modern Library by the mid-50’s
  • Film Version:  1957  (**.5 – dir. Henry King),  1984 TV film
  • Acclaim:  All-TIME List; Modern Library Top 100 English Language Novels of the 20th Century #45
  • First Read:  Spring 1994 (more…)

Nicholson and MacLaine won Oscars for Terms of Endearment - Debra Winger will have to settle for being my serious childhood crush

The 56th annual Academy Awards for the film year 1983.  The nominations were announced on February 16, 1984 and the awards were held on April 9, 1984.

Best Picture:  Terms of Endearment

  • The Big Chill
  • The Right Stuff
  • The Dresser
  • Tender Mercies

Most Surprising Omission:  Fanny and Alexander

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  Fanny and Alexander

Best Eligible English-Language Film Not Nominated:  Zelig

Rank (out of 82) Among Best Picture Years:  #26 (more…)

Fanny and Alexander (1983): Ingmar Bergman's triumphant farewell to film-making (which didn't mean he stopped making films)

My Top 20:

  1. Fanny and Alexander
  2. Terms of Endearment
  3. The Big Chill
  4. The Right Stuff
  5. Zelig
  6. Betrayal
  7. Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi
  8. Local Hero
  9. Educating Rita
  10. Denton
  11. The Year of Living Dangerously
  12. The Return of Martin Guerre
  13. Silkwood
  14. Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life
  15. The Mirror
  16. The King of Comedy
  17. Trading Places
  18. The Evil Dead
  19. L’Argent
  20. El Bruto (more…)

the lovely banner celebrating 50 Disney Animated Films

Now that we have finally seen Tangled this seems like a fitting list to do.  After all, there have now been 50 Disney Animated Films (actually, there have been a lot more).  So, with that in mind, I am here to rank all 50 of them – some of them are absolute classics and some of them, well, some of them are, shall we say, not good.  I’ve seen all 50 of them.  I almost started to write, “but there are probably a lot of people who have”.  But now that I think about it, it might be less common than I think.

First of all, there are a bunch of films that you probably are thinking of for this list that, technically, according to the people at Disney, not part of this list.  The first is of course, the Pixar films, all of which would be near the top of the list.  The second group would be the Studio Ghibli films (Hayao Miyazaki’s films), many of which would also be near or at the top.  There are of course films like Song of the South, Mary Poppins, Pete’s Dragon or Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which combine live action and animation.  Then, finally, there are the DisneyToon films – like the recent Winnie the Pooh films, the films made from tv shows or the endless number of sequels to the actual Disney Animated Films.  And there are many of these films – especially the package films from the late 40’s or the lesser quality films from the last decade that you might not have actually seen.  But these are the films that count and we know which ones they are because conveniently, Disney numbers them.  Well, so will I.  But their numbering is in order of release.  Mine is in order of greatness.

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The Wonderful Worlds of Walt Disney

They aren’t just about films and bad tween television.  They also used to do a lot of books.  A lot of wonderful books.

Back in the days before videos, if you loved the Disney films, you had the chance to see them every several years when they were re-released (I, in fact, saw Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Mary Poppins and Fantasia all in the theater).  But, other than that, you had the books to get you through either what you were trying to remember or what you had never had a chance to see.

The Disney Company has released all sorts of books through the years, various tie-ins with all of their films and such.  But I want to focus on two types of books, specifically, which we happen to have in our library.  The first is the Little Golden Books that Disney released through the years (they had a tie-in with them for a long time).  The other is the set of books called The Wonderful Worlds of Walt Disney that was released in 1965. (more…)

Congrats to Sabonis on making the Hall of Fame.

He is one of my favorite players of all-time.  He brings joy to long-time Blazer fans and pain to even longer time Blazer fans.  He is one of the greatest pure shooters of all-time, one of the greatest all-around players and no one who only witnessed his NBA career has any idea how good he truly was.  In spite of what my dad might say about Bill Walton, he is the greatest passing big man of all-time.  He could shoot it from anywhere on the court.  He could score, rebound, block, pass, do it all.  But by the time he came to Portland his knees were mostly shot and the fans only caught glimpses of what could have been.  He’s not my Vydas.  He’s not your Vydas.  He’s Arvydas Sabonis! (more…)

The first edition of Salman Rushdie's Booker of Bookers: Midnight's Children (1981)

Midnight’s Children

  • Author:  Salman Rushdie (b. 1947)
  • Rank:  #47
  • Published:  1981
  • Publisher:  Jonathan Cape
  • Pages:  552
  • First Line:  “I was born in the city of Bombay . . . once upon a time.”
  • Last Line:  “Yes, they will trample me underfoot, the numbers marching one two three, four hundred million, five hundred six, reducing me to specks of voiceless dust, just as, in all good time, they will trample my son who is not my son, and his son who will not be his, and his who will not be his, until the thousand and first generation, until a thousand and one midnights have bestowed their terrible gifts and a thousand and one children have died, because it is the privilege and the curse of midnight’s children to be both masters and victims of their times, to forsake privacy and be sucked into the annihilating whirlpool of the multitudes, and to be unable to live or die in peace.”
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Film Version:  planned by the BBC in the late 90’s with a screenplay by Rushdie; current version being planned
  • Awards:  Booker Prize; 25th Anniversary Booker of Bookers; 40th Anniversary Booker of Bookers, All-TIME List; Modern Library Top 100 English Language Novels of the 20th Century #90
  • First Read:  Spring, 2000 (more…)