A nice family dinner in GoodFellas (1990) - never mind the guy dying in the trunk

My Top 20:

  1. GoodFellas
  2. Dances with Wolves
  3. Miller’s Crossing
  4. The Grifters
  5. Presumed Innocent
  6. Cinema Paradiso
  7. The Hunt for Red October
  8. Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
  9. May Fools
  10. The Killer
  11. Longtime Companion
  12. Reversal of Fortune
  13. Avalon
  14. Jesus of Montreal
  15. Edward Scissorhands
  16. White Hunter, Black Heart
  17. Total Recall
  18. The Nasty Girl
  19. Misery
  20. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Note:  Definitely not the consensus list.  I think you would have trouble finding other Top 20 lists that include Presumed Innocent, May Fools or Nasty Girl.  There are probably lots of people who have never seen Dreams, White Hunter Black Heart and Henry.  And I suspect that I rate Hunt for Red October, Edward Scissorhands and Total Recall much higher than others.  But if you think my Top 20 is odd (the Top 10 are all ****, the rest are high ***.5), you should see the rest of my ***.5 films for the year (in order): The Godfather Part III, Texasville, Q & A, Awakenings, Meet the Feebles, The Cook the Thief His Wife and Her Lover, Back to the Future Part III, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, Open Doors and Quick Change.

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  GoodFellas
  • Best Director:  Martin Scorsese  (GoodFellas)
  • Best Actor:  Jeremy Irons  (Reversal of Fortune)
  • Best Actress:  Anjelica Huston  (The Grifters)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Joe Pesci  (GoodFellas)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Whoopi Goldberg  (Ghost)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Dances with Wolves  /  Reversal of Fortune
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Ghost
  • Best Cinematography:  Dances with Wolves
  • Best Foreign Film:  Cyrano de Bergerac

note:  Dances with Wolves becomes the first, and until 1995, the only film to win both the Oscar and the American Society of Cinematographer’s Award.

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Dances with Wolves
  • Best Director:  Kevin Costner  (Dances with Wolves)
  • Best Actor:  Jeremy Irons  (Reversal of Fortune)
  • Best Actress:  Kathy Bates  (Misery)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Joe Pesci  (GoodFellas)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Whoopi Goldberg  (Ghost)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Dances with Wolves
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Ghost
  • Best Cinematography:  Dances with Wolves
  • Best Foreign Film:  Journey of Hope

note:  What do the following films have in common: Scent of a Woman (the original), Seven Beauties, Cousin Cousine, A Special Day, That Obscure Object of Desire, Kagemusha, Au revoir les enfants, Camille Claudel, Cyrano de Bergerac, Farewell My Concubine, Amelie, Pan’s Labyrinth, White Ribbon and Biutiful?  Answer:  Though all of them were widely seen enough and admired enough to earn nominations outside of the Foreign Film category, all of them lost in the Best Foreign Film category to a film that had no other nominations.  In fact, no film since 2004 has won Foreign Film if it had other nominations.  Sometimes this leads to a worthy film winning an Oscar, like Cinema Paradiso or The Lives of Others.  But sometimes it means that Buñel loses to Madame Rosa.  Here’s a tip for your Oscar betting pool: don’t bet on the Foreign Film with lots of nominations to win Best Foreign Film.  Prior to 1975, the 11 films nominated for other categories always won in Best Foreign Film (except Tchaikovsky in 1971 but it lost to another film that had other nominations).  But, since 1975, of the 24 films nominated for other categories, only 8 have won Best Foreign Film, two of which were cinches, because they were Best Picture nominees (Life is Beautiful and Crouching Tiger).  So don’t make that bet.  It’s not a winner.

Cinema Paradiso - one of those films that everyone loves

Top 10 Films  (Top 1000)

  1. GoodFellas  –  #99
  2. Cinema Paradiso  –  #374
  3. The Killer  –  #508
  4. An Angel at My Table  –  #532
  5. The Godfather Part III  –  #616
  6. Edward Scissorhands  –  #625
  7. Miller’s Crossing  –  #764
  8. Days of Being Wild  –  #856
  9. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover  –  #867
  10. Wild at Heart  –  #927

Top 5 Films  (1989 Best Picture Awards):

  1. GoodFellas
  2. Dances with Wolves
  3. Awakenings
  4. The Godfather Part III
  5. Ghost  /  Pretty Woman

note:  Dances with Wolves follows the exact same path as Driving Miss Daisy.  It only wins one critics award – the National Board of Review, but wins the Golden Globe and the PGA, then wins the Oscar and loses the BAFTA.  But while that left Daisy easily at the top of a split year, Dances is crushed in the consensus awards by GoodFellas, which wins all the other critics and the BAFTA.

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points):

  1. GoodFellas  –  2330
  2. Dances with Wolves  –  1683
  3. Reversal of Fortune  –  766
  4. Ghost  –  595
  5. Cinema Paradiso  –  553
  6. The Grifters  –  494
  7. The Godfather Part III  –  456
  8. Cyrano de Bergerac  –  444
  9. Dick Tracy  –  443
  10. Awakenings  –  416

note:  Dances with Wolves finishes a very distant second, yet has enough points that it would have easily finished in first in any of the three previous years.

Top 10 Films  (Domestic Box Office Gross):

  1. Home Alone  –  $285.76 mil
  2. Ghost  –  $217.63 mil
  3. Dances with Wolves  –  $184.20 mil
  4. Pretty Woman  –  $178.40 mil
  5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles  –  $135.26 mil
  6. The Hunt for Red October  –  $122.01 mil
  7. Total Recall  –  $119.39 mil
  8. Die Hard 2: Die Harder  –  $117.54 mil
  9. Dick Tracy  –  $103.73 mil
  10. Kindergarten Cop  –  $91.45 mil

note:  I saw nine of these in the theater.  I still have never seen Turtles.

Top 10 Films  (Worldwide Box Office Gross):

  1. Ghost  –  $505.7 mil
  2. Home Alone  –  $476.7 mil
  3. Pretty Woman  –  $463.4 mil
  4. Dances with Wolves  –  $424.2 mil
  5. Total Recall  –  $261.3 mil
  6. Back to the Future Part III  –  $244.5 mil
  7. Die Hard 2: Die Harder  –  $240.0 mil
  8. Presumed Innocent  –  $221.3 mil
  9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles  –  $202.0 mil
  10. Kindergarten Cop  –  $202.0 mil

note:  Home Alone and Turtles are most out of balance, with Home Alone earning almost 60% of its worldwide gross in the States, while Turtles takes home 2/3 of its gross in the States.

AFI Top 100 Films:

  • Dances with Wolves  –  #75  (1998)
  • GoodFellas  –  #94  (1998)  /  #92  (2007)

note:  In their list of 400 nominees, the AFI, in 1998, didn’t include The Grifters or Miller’s Crossing.  Instead, their third film from 1990 was Pretty Woman.  Explain that.

Ebert Great Films:

  • GoodFellas
  • After Dark, My Sweet

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

It is not wise to fuck with Anjelica Huston in The Grifters - a performance that should have won the Oscar


  • Best Picture:  GoodFellas
  • Best Director:  Martin Scorsese  (GoodFellas)
  • Best Actor:  Ray Liotta  (GoodFellas)
  • Best Actress:  Anjelica Huston  (The Grifters)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Joe Pesci  (GoodFellas)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Lorraine Bracco  (GoodFellas)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  GoodFellas
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Miller’s Crossing


  • Best Picture:  May Fools
  • Best Director:  Tim Burton  (Edward Scissorhands)
  • Best Actor:  Bill Murray  (Quick Change)
  • Best Actress:  Lena Stolze  (The Nasty Girl)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Al Pacino  (Dick Tracy)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Dominique Blanc  (May Fools)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Quick Change
  • Best Original Screenplay:  May Fools

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  GoodFellas
  • Best Director:  Martin Scorsese  (GoodFellas)
  • Best Actor:  Ray Liotta  (GoodFellas)
  • Best Actress:  Anjelica Huston  (The Grifters)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Joe Pesci  (GoodFellas)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Lorraine Bracco  (GoodFellas)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  GoodFellas
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Miller’s Crossing
  • Best Editing:  GoodFellas
  • Best Cinematography:  GoodFellas
  • Best Original Score:  Dances with Wolves
  • Best Sound:  The Hunt for Red October
  • Best Art Direction:  Dick Tracy
  • Best Visual Effects:  Total Recall
  • Best Sound Editing:  The Hunt for Red October
  • Best Costume Design:  Dick Tracy
  • Best Makeup:  Dick Tracy
  • Best Original Song:  “The Post-Mortem Bar” from Longtime Companion
  • Best Foreign Film:  Europa, Europa

Europa, Europa: possibly not eligible, definitely brilliant

My Top 5 Foreign Films released in their home country in 1990:

  1. Europa, Europa
  2. Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
  3. May Fools
  4. Ju Dou
  5. The Nasty Girl

note:  These are the Oscar eligible films.  The top three weren’t submitted.  Europa is confusing.  It was technically a German film and could have been submitted by Germany the next year.  But it is a mostly French production (which is why Germany didn’t submit it) and it played in France in 1990.  France went with Cyrano, which was the favorite (but lost to Journey of Hope – the only two nominated films I think were unworthy of nominations), rather than May Fools, which was a great, and over-looked film.  And Japan, of course, didn’t go with Kurosawa, because that’s what they do.  But Ju Dou and The Nasty Girl were both nominated.  Of the rest of my list (***.5 or higher), La Femme Nikita was passed over (France again), The Match Factory Girl wasn’t submitted by Finland, Open Doors was nominated and Taxi Blues was submitted but not nominated (though the Globes nominated it, which is how I came to see it in the first place).

Penelope Ann Miller gets the award for Awakenings, but I adored her in The Freshman and Kindergarten Cop - she was my big crush of 1990

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  GoodFellas
  • Best Line  (Dramatic):  “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”  (Ray Liotta in GoodFellas)
  • Best Line  (Comedic):  “Could you launch an ICBM horizontally?”  “Sure.  Why would you want to?”  (Alec Baldwin and Jeffrey Jones in The Hunt for Red October, see my note here)
  • Best Opening:  GoodFellas
  • Best Ending:  Longtime Companion
  • Best Scene / Best Use of a Song:  “Then He Kissed Me” in GoodFellas
  • Best Ensemble:  GoodFellas
  • Funniest Film:  Meet the Feebles
  • Most Over-Rated Film:  Henry and June
  • Worst Film:  The Guardian
  • Worst Sequel:  Rocky V  /  Robocop 2  (tie)
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Penelope Ann Miller in Awakenings
  • Sexiest Performance:  Annette Bening in The Grifters
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  Gremlins 2
  • Best Soundtrack:  GoodFellas
  • Skip the Film, READ the Book:  The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Best Cameo:  James Earl Jones in The Hunt for Red October

Film History:  The X rating is dropped by the MPAA and replaced by NC-17, with Henry and June the first film to receive the rating.  Martin Scorsese and others found the Film Foundation.Matsushita buys MCA / Universal.  Time Warner gets the video rights to United Artists’ films.  Billy Crystal hosts his first Oscars.  Barbara Stanwyck dies in January, Michael Powell in February, Greta Garbo in April and Irene Dunne in September.  Jim Henson dies on 16 May.  Wild at Heart wins the Golden Palm at Cannes.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead wins the Golden Lion in Venice.  Two of the Best Picture nominees from 1974 have sequels come out: The Godfather Part III and The Two JakesThe Rescuers Down Under becomes Disney’s first animated sequel.  Chameleon Street wins the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance while Longtime Companion wins the Audience Award.  To Sleep with Anger wins 4 Independent Spirit Awards but loses Best Picture to The Grifters.

Academy Awards:  With 590 points, Dances with Wolves has the highest total since West Side Story in 1961.  For the first time since 1983, two films are nominated for Director and Screenplay but not Picture (The Grifters and Reversal of Fortune); for the first time since 1966, they are both English-language films.  With 7 nominations, Dick Tracy ties for second – the highest finish from a film not nominated for Best Picture since 1969.  For the first time since 1983 (and last time ever), Visual Effects is not a competitive category; the award is simply given to Total Recall.  For the second time, Martin Scorsese loses Best Director to an actor directing his debut.  With 5 nominations, Cyrano de Bergerac has the most for a Foreign Film nominee since 1983; it also sets a record for most nominees by a Foreign Film nominee that fails to win the award (which will be broken in 2001).  Ju Dou becomes the first film from China to earn a Foreign Film nomination.  1988 Best Director winner Barry Levinson, fails to earn a nomination for his film Avalon, in spite of a DGA nomination, while Stephen Frears, who was passed over for a Director nomination in 1988 while his film was nominated for Best Picture, here is nominated for Best Director for The Grifters, but his film is not nominated.  Dances becomes the first film with a Supporting Actress nomination to win Best Picture since 1979.

So, they heap 7 Oscars on Dances with Wolves, but I am a GoodFellas guy.  Well, it still wasn’t bad picking.  I agree with one (Score), four of them come in second for me (Picture, Director, Cinematography, Editing), although they all come in second to GoodFellas, and the other two (Adapted Screenplay, Sound) come in third.  That’s not too bad.  The bigger problem is that two of my top five don’t earn any nominations at all: Miller’s Crossing and Presumed Innocent – they earn 18 nominations from me.  And they do screw up several categories – the only one of the actual nominees to make my top 5 in Actor, Cinematography and Score are the winners and none of their nominees make my top 5 in Original Screenplay.  And “Blaze of Glory” is their only Original Song nominee that makes my top nine, though, I am so screwed up that four of the songs from Meet the Feebles make my top nine.  Their bigger screw-ups there was not nominating “Post-Mortem Bar” or “Wicked Game.”  But the key is this: GoodFellas, one of the most brilliantly shot films of all-time, with one of the single greatest, if not the single greatest steadicam shot of all-time wasn’t nominated for Best Cinematography.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Supporting Actress for Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for Green Card
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Cinematography for GoodFellas
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Days of Thunder
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Miller’s Crossing
  • Best Foreign Film Submitted But Not Nominated:  Taxi Blues  (Soviet Union)
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Makeup
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Best Supporting Actor, Original Score, Art Direction, Sound Effects Editing, Makeup, Visual Effects (special award)

Golden Globes:  For the first time since 1983, a nominee for Best Picture – Comedy (Ghost) ends up nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, while the winning film (Green Card) does not.  The Godfather Part III ties Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with most nominations without any wins (7).  Dances wins Picture, Director and Screenplay out of 6 nominations, while the other Best Picture – Drama nominees (The Godfather Part III, GoodFellas, Reversal of Fortune, Avalon) combine for 19 nominations but just 1 win – Actor – Drama for Reversal.  Best Picture – Comedy has one of its weakest line-ups ever with Green Card, Ghost (which is not a Comedy), Pretty Woman, Dick Tracy and Home Alone – somehow these were all deemed to be better than Edward Scissorhands (which earns Johnny Depp the first of 10 Globe nominations – all but 1 in the Comedy category).  None of the five performances in Best Actor – Comedy are nominated by any other group (Depardieu is nominated for the Oscar and BAFTA, but for a different film) – the first time this happens since 1980.

Awards:  The National Board of Review goes first and gives Best Picture and Director to Dances with Wolves while only giving GoodFellas Supporting Actor.  The rest of the critics go the other way.  GoodFellas wins all the remaining Picture and Director awards while Dances only gets Best Cinematography from the Chicago Film Critics.  GoodFellas ties a number of film for 6th all-time at the New York Film Critics (Picture, Director, Actor), 3rd all-time at the L.A. Film Critics (Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Cinematography), wins Picture and Director at the National Society of Film Critics, making Scorsese the only director besides Bergman to win Director 3 times at the NSFC, takes Picture, Director and Supporting Actor from the Boston Society of Film Critics and sets a new points record at the Chicago Film Critics by taking Picture, Director, Screenplay and both Supporting awards.  Overall, it would set a new points record among the critics groups that would stand until 1997 and is still fourth all-time.  Lost in the shuffle are the four Best Actor awards for Jeremy Irons in Reversal of Fortune (which also wins two Screenplay awards) and three Best Actress awards for Anjelica Huston for The Grifters and The Witches.

Dances with Wolves becomes the first film since Terms of Endearment to win the DGA and WGA and the first film ever to win the DGA, WGA and PGA; it also wins the American Cinema Editors and American Society of Cinematographers.  Its 370 points is a record that stands until 1993 and its 5 wins is a record that stands until 1994 – both records broken because of the addition of more guild awards.  On the other hand, Avalon becomes the second film to earn nominations from the PGA, DGA and WGA but fail to get an Oscar nom for Best Picture – and the only film (still) to win the WGA and earn DGA and PGA noms and not get an Oscar nom.  With 200 points (it also earns an ASC nom) it holds the pre-SAG record for most guild points not to earn a Best Picture nom.  It becomes the first of three consecutive films to win the WGA, get a DGA nom and not get an Oscar nom for Picture and to lose the Oscar in its respective writing category (followed by Thelma and Louise and The Player).  Avalon would do better at the guilds than any of the other DGA nominees – GoodFellas would get WGA and ACE noms, Godfather gets an ASC nom and Cinema Paradiso gets nothing else.  Oscar nominee Ghost would earn WGA, ACE and ASC noms while Awakenings would get a WGA nom and the final PGA nom.  But the only guild winners aside from Dances and Avalon would be the four Motion Picture Sound Editors winners: The Hunt for Red October, Total Recall, The Rescuers Down Under and Quigley Down Under (yes, two films with “Down Under” in the title won and yes Quigley won a guild but GoodFellas didn’t).

The British release dates had not yet aligned with the American ones.  So, while GoodFellas would win Picture, Director and Screenplay at the BAFTA’s (also Editing and Costume Design for 5 awards in 7 nominations), the Oscar-winning film it would beat in Britain would be Driving Miss Daisy (which wins Actress out of its 4 noms – though the Brits would give Bruce Beresford his only Best Director nom for the film); Dances with Wolves would go 0 for 9 the next year.  GoodFellas would be the first film to win Picture, Director and Screenplay at the BAFTA’s since 1977.  Cinema Paradiso, however, would break Dangerous Liaisons‘ record from the previous year by getting 11 nominations but not a Picture nom (a record that still stands); it would win Actor, Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay, Score and Foreign Film.  The final two Best Picture nominees, which would combine for 10 nominations but no wins, are Crimes and Misdemeanors, and, stunningly, Pretty WomanDick Tracy, like at the Oscars, would get 7 nominations, but not any of the big three.

Best Actor:  Jeremy Irons easily wins the consensus, going 6 for 6, with 4 critics awards, the Oscar and the Globe (though, ironically, since he’s British, not even a nom from BAFTA).  Robert DeNiro is next, winning the other two critics awards and getting Oscar and BAFTA noms – though his New York Film Critics award is for GoodFellas, not Awakenings.  I agree with NY, as his GoodFellas performance is my #2 of the year while his Awakenings performance doesn’t make my Top 10.  Gerard Depardieu is likewise split – his Oscar and BAFTA noms are for Cyrano de Bergerac while his Globe – Comedy win is for Green Card.  The other two consensus nominees are Kevin Costner (Oscar, BAFTA, Globe noms) and Robin Williams (sharing the NBR win with co-star DeNiro and a Globe nom).  My own list didn’t get the accolades.  Ray Liotta is my #1 for GoodFellas, followed by DeNiro, Harrison Ford for Presumed Innocent, Irons and Clint Eastwood for White Hunter, Black Heart.  So three of my top 5 earned zilch.  The rest of my list didn’t do much better; my 6-10 are Al Pacino for The Godfather Part III (Globe nom), Costner, Gabriel Byrne for Miller’s Crossing, Michael Rooker for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and Danny Glover for To Sleep with Anger.  Rooker did earn an Indie Spirit nom and Glover won there but Byrne got nothing (of course, neither did his film).

Best Actress:  Anjelica Huston, like Michelle Pfeiffer the year before, wins the Nighthawk and consensus without winning the Oscar.  She loses the Oscar and Globe, but wins three critics awards.  Kathy Bates, who beats her at the Oscars and Globes for her performance in Misery, also wins the Chicago Film Critics and comes in second at the consensus (and third at the Nighthawk).  Third at the consensus but second at the Nighthawks is Joanne Woodward for Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, who wins the New York Film Critics and earns Oscar and Globe noms.  Next on the consensus list is Julia Roberts for Pretty Woman – the only 1990 contender to earn a BAFTA nom (the other three noms went to two 1989 films and Shirley MacLaine, in a supporting role).  Roberts also wins the Globe – Comedy and earns an Oscar nom.  The final consensus nominee is Mia Farrow for Alice, who wins the National Board of Review and earns a Globe nom.  My other two nominees are Helen Mirren for The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover and Lena Stolze for The Nasty Girl.  My #6-10 are Meryl Streep for Postcards from the Edge (Oscar and Globe noms), Roberts, Cher (Mermaids), Debra Winger (Sheltering Sky) and Michelle Pfeiffer (Globe nominee for The Russia House).

Best Supporting Actor:  Joe Pesci easily wins the Nighthawk and also easily win the consensus award – taking four critics awards and the Oscar (and a Globe nom).  The Globe winner, my second place, is Bruce Davison from Longtime Companion.  He is also second on the consensus list, taking home the other two critics awards and getting an Oscar nom.  The rest of the consensus list is Al Pacino for Dick Tracy (Globe, Oscar, BAFTA noms), Salvatore Cascio (BAFTA win for Cinema Paradiso) and Andy Garcia (Oscar and Globe noms).  Gracia is my #3 and Pacino is my #10.  In between are a less acknowledge group.  Rounding out my top 5 are John Spencer (Presumed Innocent) and Albert Finney (Miller’s Crossing).  My 6 through 9 are Graham Greene (who did earn an Oscar nom for Dances), Raul Julia (Presumed Innocent), Paul Sorvino (GoodFellas) and John Turturro (Miller’s Crossing).

Best Supporting Actress:  Because of the way I weight the awards, Whoopi Goldberg’s Oscar, BAFTA and Globe for Ghost barely squeak her out a win in the consensus award over Lorraine Bracco for GoodFellas, with her LA and Chicago wins and Oscar and Globe noms.  But Bracco is my #1 and Goldberg doesn’t make my Top 10.  Next up is Annette Bening for The Grifters with Oscar and BAFTA noms and the NSFC win, then Jennifer Jason Leigh who wins in New York and Boston for her dual performances in Last Exit to Brooklyn and Miami Blues.  The last consensus nominee is Winona Ryder for Mermaids (win in Boston, Globe nom).  Bening is my #2, Leigh my #4 (but for Last Exit only) and Ryder my #9.  Mary McDonnell (Oscar and Globe noms for Dances) is my #5 and Diane Ladd (Oscar and Globe noms for Wild at Heart) my #8.  As for the other four positions?  Well, the same thing I have been harping – the films no one saw: Presumed Innocent, Miller’s Crossing and May Fools.  Marcia Gay Harden slips in at #10 for Miller’s Crossing, Dominique Blanc is #6 for May Fools and Presumed Innocent takes two positions – #3 for Bonnie Bedelia and #7 for Greta Scacchi.

Note:  An interesting note here.  Mary McDonnell and Diane Ladd both earn Oscar and Globe noms but don’t make the top 5 consensus nominees.  The same thing will happen the next year to Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear) and Ladd again (Rambling Rose).  That’s because of the wide array of award winners.  But in 1992, where Judy Davis and Miranda Richardson dominate, Vanessa Redgrave makes the top 5 with only an Oscar nom.  Just the luck of the draw.

Best Director:  With 5 critics awards, the BAFTA and noms from the DGA, Oscars and Globes, Marty runs away with the award (and with the Nighthawk).  Kevin Costner is a distant second with the DGA, Oscar, NBR and Globe (and a BAFTA nom) and comes in 2nd at the Nighthawks.  Coppola is next, with Oscar, DGA and Globe noms.  The other two consensus nominees are Giuseppe Tornatore for Cinema Paradiso (DGA and BAFTA noms) and Barbet Schroeder for Reversal of Fortune (Oscar and Globe noms).  My other three nominees are the Coens for Miller’s Crossing, Stephen Frears for The Grifters (Oscar nom) and Alan J. Pakula for Presumed Innocent.  Except for Coppola (my #7), the rest of my list doesn’t earn any accolades this year: Akira Kurosawa for Dreams, Clint Eastwood for White Hunter Black Heart, John Woo for The Killer and Tim Burton for Edward Scissorhands.

Best Adapted Screenplay:  Dances with Wolves and Reversal of Fortune have an exact tie and GoodFellas just barely doesn’t make it a three-way tie.  Dances wins the Oscar, Globe and WGA and earns a BAFTA nomination, Reversal wins in LA and Boston, GoodFellas wins in Chicago and at the BAFTA’s and both earn WGA, Oscar and Globe noms.  GoodFellas gets my choice, while Dances is my #3 and Reversal my #5.  The remaining consensus nominees are a three-way tie for The Grifters, Awakenings (WGA and Oscar noms for both) and Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (NYFC winner).  The Grifters is my #2 but the other two fall just outside my Top 10.  Presumed Innocent is my other nominee and my 6 through 10 are The Hunt for Red October, Quick Change, Q & A and Misery.

Note:  This is the only year since the WGA adapted its current 10 nominees in two categories in 1984 in which all the Adapted Screenplay nominees at the WGA matched the Oscars.

Best Original Screenplay:  All the critics awards went to adapted scripts, a rarity, which shows the weakness of this year for original scripts.  And, what I deem the best ones of the year were all ignored.  The consensus nominees look like this: Ghost (Oscar, WGA nom, BAFTA nom), Avalon (WGA win, Oscar and Globe noms), Green Card (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA noms), Alice (Oscar, WGA noms), Pretty Woman (WGA, BAFTA noms), Cinema Paradiso (BAFTA win); a three-way tie results from the final three.  My list looks like this: Miller’s Crossing, May Fools, Longtime Companion, Cinema Paradiso, Jesus of Montreal, Avalon, Dreams, Edward Scissorhands, The Nasty Girl, Meet the Feebles.  Yes, that’s my list – and only two overlap.  But really?  All those groups thought the totally unoriginal cliched scripts of Green Card and Pretty Woman were better than Miller’s Crossing and Longtime Companion?

Harrison Ford's best performance still earned no nominations for Presumed Innocent

Under-rated Film of 1990:

Presumed Innocent  (dir. Alan J. Pakula)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has always had difficult time admitting that big movie stars can actually act.  Steve McQueen earned just the one Oscar nomination and the back to back performances of The Truman Show and Man in the Moon didn’t get Jim Carrey onto the nominee list.  Likewise, Harrison Ford has earned just one nomination in his long and very successful career (including 5 of the top 10 grossing films of the 80’s).  Thus, with Indiana Jones in the rear view mirror (at least for two decades), and Ford taking more serious roles, it still not surprising, to find his amazing performance in Presumed Innocent to be ignored by Oscar.  What is so disappointing is that the Academy (as well as the Globes and the Guilds) should so miss out on the rest of the film.

By the time of Presumed Innocent, Alan J. Pakula was a long way removed from the critical success of Klute, All the President’s Men and Sophie’s Choice.  There were those who had written him off, and this is his only true artistic success after 1982.  But it is a masterful work of direction, one, that, if you have not read the book (which I had not when it opened in July of 1990), you would never be able to guess where it is going (some of that credit goes to Frank Pierson, the Oscar winning writer of Dog Day Afternoon who co-wrote the script with Pakula and they did a hell of a job turning a 500 page book into a tightly constructed two hour film).

But the best part of this film, more than the direction, more than first rate script, more than the fantastic under-rated score by John Williams, more even than what may very well be the best performance of Harrison Ford’s career, is the wonderful ensemble cast that plays so well off each other.  There are the showier roles, of course – the defense attorney played so well by Raul Julia and the dangerously seductive victim played by Greta Scacchi.  There are also the very solid smaller performances from Brian Dennehy, Joe Grifasi and Paul Winfield.  But then there are the best performances – the wronged wife of Bonnie Bedelia and the cop who is trying to look after a friend (the late John Spencer).  But it’s how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – the interactions between all of these supporting roles and between them and the desperate indicted prosecutor Rusty Sabich, played so well by Ford, even while he is hampered by one of the worst haircuts in film history.

One of the best things about the film (and the original novel as well – I hadn’t read it before the film but I read it quickly afterwards), is that it plays fair with its audience.  The characters learn things at the same time we do and when the actual killer is made known to us, suddenly everything fits perfectly into place.  (The film influenced me so much much that when I had to write an original screenplay for my script-writing class as an undergraduate, several of my ideas were variations of parts of this film.)

I hope, that if you haven’t seen Presumed Innocent that you give it a chance.  In a year where Al Pacino’s ridiculous mugging in Dick Tracy was nominated for an Oscar and Whoopi Goldberg’s over-the-top performance in Ghost actually won, it’s refreshing (though a bit depressing) to watch the wonderful, more subtle, but far more nuanced performances that deserved those nominations – John Spencer and Bonnie Bedelia.  And of course, at the heart, is that wonderful performance from Harrison Ford, so different than Han Solo and Indiana Jones and one that definitely deserves to be remembered.

Note:  I could have written about so many films here.  Presumed Innocent is not the only great film from 1990 to not earn a single nomination from any group – the same goes for Miller’s Crossing and The Killer, not to mention very good films like White Hunter Black Heart, Meet the Feebles, Back to the Future Part III and Quick ChangeMay Fools only earned a Foreign Film nomination from the Globes (plus I already wrote about it here).

Then there is Longtime CompanionCompanion did receive 4 nominations and won 3 awards, but they were all for Supporting Actor.  Nothing for the film itself or the Screenplay or the brilliant song “The Post-Mortem Bar”.  But Longtime Companion is a wonderful film and deserves to be remembered for more than just Bruce Davison’s brilliant performance.  If nothing else, there is the ending.  With the song playing in the background, the ending is haunting and moving, touching and funny, mournful and hopeful at the same time.  Here’s what I wrote about for a class six years ago: “They are looking back, but in looking back are seeking for a better tomorrow, a place that they can find where they will be free of AIDS, where they won’t have to wake up in the morning and wonder who is sick now.  They are looking forward with hope.”  How appropriate then that Mary-Louise Parker is also in the only AIDS film that is better: Angels in America.  And at the end, she speaks with the same kind of message: ” In this world there’s a kind of painful progress.  Longing for what we’ve left behind, and dreaming ahead.  At least I think that’s so. ”  Angels hadn’t been written when Companion was released, and the two films seem linked in their endings.  For when I watch that ending of Companion and think of the hope that they live for, I always think of that wonderful line from the end of Angels: “The world only spins forward.”