Johnny Depp as the irrepressible Ed Wood

My Top 20:

  1. Ed Wood
  2. Pulp Fiction
  3. The Shawshank Redemption
  4. Four Weddings and a Funeral
  5. Heavenly Creatures
  6. Quiz Show
  7. Bullets over Broadway
  8. Three Colors: Red
  9. Grave of the Fireflies
  10. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
  11. Clerks
  12. Death and the Maiden
  13. Three Colors: White
  14. Eat Drink Man Woman
  15. The Scent of Green Papaya
  16. Nobody’s Fool
  17. The Crow
  18. The Lion King
  19. Queen Margot
  20. The Madness of King George

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Pulp Fiction
  • Best Director:  Quentin Tarantino  (Pulp Fiction)
  • Best Actor:  Tom Hanks  (Forrest Gump)
  • Best Actress:  Jessica Lange  (Blue Sky)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Martin Landau  (Ed Wood)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Dianne Wiest  (Bullets over Broadway)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Forrest Gump
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Pulp Fiction
  • Best Foreign Film:  Three Colors: Red
  • Best Animated Film:  The Lion King
  • Best Cinematography:  Ed Wood

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Forrest Gump
  • Best Director:  Robert Zemeckis  (Forrest Gump)
  • Best Actor:  Tom Hanks  (Forrest Gump)
  • Best Actress:  Jessica Lange  (Blue Sky)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Martin Landau  (Ed Wood)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Dianne Wiest  (Bullets over Broadway)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Forrest Gump
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Pulp Fiction
  • Best Foreign Film:  Burnt by the Sun
  • Best Cinematography:  Legends of the Fall

Things are about to get tense in Pulp Fiction – the most critically acclaimed film of 1994 and, probably the nineties.

Top 5 Films  (Top 1000):

  1. Pulp Fiction  –  #151
  2. Three Colors: Red  –  #463
  3. The Shawshank Redemption  –  #563
  4. Forrest Gump  –  #607
  5. Three Colors: White  –  #736

Top 5 Films  (1994 Best Picture Awards):

  1. Pulp Fiction
  2. Forrest Gump
  3. Quiz Show
  4. Four Weddings and a Funeral
  5. The Shawshank Redemption

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points):

  1. Pulp Fiction  –  2381
  2. Forrest Gump  –  1952
  3. Four Weddings and a Funeral  –  919
  4. Ed Wood  –  848
  5. Quiz Show  –  706
  6. The Madness of King George  –  701
  7. Bullets over Broadway  –  673
  8. The Shawshank Redemption  –  532
  9. The Lion King  –  494
  10. Three Colors: Red  –  450

The Lion King – #2 domestic, #1 worldwide, now #1 domestic thanks to the 3-D re-release

Top 10 Films  (Domestic Box Office Gross):

  1. Forrest Gump  –  $329.69 mil
  2. The Lion King  –  $312.85 mil
  3. True Lies  –  $146.28 mil
  4. The Santa Clause  –  $144.83 mil
  5. The Flintstones  –  $130.53 mil
  6. Dumb and Dumber  –  $127.17 mil
  7. Clear and Present Danger  –  $122.18 mil
  8. Speed  –  $121.24 mil
  9. The Mask  –  $119.93 mil
  10. Pulp Fiction  –  $107.92 mil

note:  The Lion King becomes the fourth highest grossing film of all-time but fails to be the highest grossing film of the year because of Forrest Gump (though, with re-releases, it has now grossed over $400 million).  It will remain the highest grossing #2 film of a year until 2001.  It remains, by far, the highest grossing hand-drawn animation film and the highest grossing of the official Disney Animated Films.

Top 10 Films  (Worldwide Box Office Gross):

  1. The Lion King  –  $787.7 mil
  2. Forrest Gump  – $677.4 mil
  3. True Lies  –  $378.9 mil
  4. The Mask  –  $351.6 mil
  5. Speed  –  $350.5 mil
  6. The Flintstones  –  $341.6 mil
  7. Dumb and Dumber  –  $247.3 mil
  8. Four Weddings and a Funeral  –  $245.7 mil
  9. Interview with the Vampire  –  $223.7 mil
  10. Clear and Present Danger  –  $215.9 mil

note:  Clearly the world likes smart humor more than we do, as Four Weddings and a Funeral does almost 80% of its business overseas.  And the infantile crap doesn’t travel as well as Dumb and Dumber does slightly better than half its business in the States and The Santa Clause takes in over 3/4 of its gross domestically.

AFI Top 100 Films:

  • Forrest Gump  –  #71  (1998)  /  #76  (2007)
  • Pulp Fiction  –  #95  (1998)  /  #94  (2007)
  • The Shawshank Redemption  –  #72  (2007)

Ebert Great Films:

  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Grave of the Fireflies
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Hoop Dreams
  • Three Colors Trilogy
  • Crumb
  • Exotica

A performance that deserved an Oscar: Sigourney Weaver in Death and the Maiden (with Ben Kingsley)

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture:  Pulp Fiction
  • Best Director:  Quentin Tarantino  (Pulp Fiction)
  • Best Actor:  Tim Robbins  (The Shawshank Redemption)
  • Best Actress:  Sigourney Weaver  (Death and the Maiden)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Samuel L. Jackson  (Pulp Fiction)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Uma Thurman  (Pulp Fiction)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Shawshank Redemption
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Pulp Fiction

Comedy:

  • Best Picture:  Ed Wood
  • Best Director:  Tim Burton  (Ed Wood)
  • Best Actor:  Johnny Depp  (Ed Wood)
  • Best Actress:  Jennifer Jason Leigh  (The Hudsucker Proxy)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Martin Landau  (Ed Wood)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Dianne Wiest  (Bullets over Broadway)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Ed Wood
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Four Weddings and a Funeral

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Ed Wood
  • Best Director:  Tim Burton  (Ed Wood)
  • Best Actor:  Johnny Depp  (Ed Wood)
  • Best Actress:  Sigourney Weaver  (Death and the Maiden)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Martin Landau  (Ed Wood)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Dianne Wiest  (Bullets over Broadway)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Ed Wood
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Pulp Fiction
  • Best Editing:  Pulp Fiction
  • Best Cinematography:  Ed Wood
  • Best Original Score:  Ed Wood
  • Best Sound:  Leon
  • Best Art Direction:  Interview with the Vampire
  • Best Visual Effects:  Heavenly Creatures
  • Best Sound Editing:  Heavenly Creatures
  • Best Costume Design:  Interview with the Vampire
  • Best Makeup:  Interview with the Vampire
  • Best Original Song:  “Can’t Even Tell”  (Clerks)
  • Best Foreign Film:  Three Colors: Red
  • Best Animated Film:  Grave of the Fireflies

Red – the magnificent conclusion to Kieslowski’s Three Colors Trilogy

My Top 10 Foreign Films Released in Their Home Country in 1994:

  1. Three Colors: Red
  2. Three Colors: White
  3. Eat Drink Man Woman
  4. Mina Tannenbaum
  5. Queen Margot
  6. Il Postino
  7. Before the Rain
  8. Burnt by the Sun
  9. To Live
  10. La Separation

Being smart is sexy: Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dorothy Parker

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Clerks
  • Best Line  (comedic):  “Thirty-seven.  My girlfriend sucked thirty-seven dicks.”  “In a row?”  Brian O’Halloran and Mike Belicose in Clerks
  • Best Line  (dramatic):  “I’m tryin real hard to be the shepherd.”  Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction
  • Best Opening:  Four Weddings and a Funeral
  • Best Ending:  The Lion King
  • Best Scene:  Orson Welles scene in Ed Wood
  • Best Use of a Song:  “C’est la vie” in Pulp Fiction
  • Best Ensemble:  Four Weddings and a Funeral
  • Funniest Film:  Clerks
  • Most Over-Rated Film:  Reality Bites
  • Worst Film:  North
  • Worst Sequel:  Major League II
  • Worst Film I Saw in the Theater:  Mixed Nuts
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  Maverick
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Irene Jacob in Three Colors: Red
  • Sexiest Performance:  Jennifer Jason Leigh in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral
  • Best Soundtrack:  Clerks
  • Best Soundtrack to a Bad Film:  Reality Bites
  • Read the Book, SKIP the Film:  The House of the Spirits
  • Coolest Performance:  Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction
  • Best Original Song from a Bad Film:  “Stay” from Reality Bites
  • Best Cameo:  Vincent D’Onofrio in Ed Wood
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  Nathan Lane in The Lion King

Film History:  Pulp Fiction amazes crowds at Cannes, winning the Palme d’Or, and becomes the most influential film in a generation.  Hoop Dreams becomes the most talked about documentary in years, and, like the last great talked about documentary, Roger and Me, fails to earn an Oscar nomination.  Frank Wells dies in a helicopter accident, causing the chain of events that will lead Jeffrey Katzenberg to leave Disney.  Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen form Dreamworks SKG.  The Independent Film Channel is launched.  With 3 films in the top 16 of the year, Jim Carrey becomes a box office star overnight.  John Candy dies in March.  Burt Lancaster and Raul Julia both die in October.  Peter Cushing dies on 11 August.  It is the watershed years for raters on the IMDb – The Shawshank Redemption has been the #1 film for most of the IMDb’s existence and the five Best Picture nominees average 325,000 votes each – over double the average for any other year.  Clerks, Hoop Dreams and Spanking the Monkey all win awards at Sundance, but What Happened Was wins the Grand Jury Prize.  Pulp Fiction wins Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Actor at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Academy Awards:  The Oscars are full of controversy.  Not only does Forrest Gump wipe away critical fave Pulp Fiction, but Hoop Dreams fails to earn a Best Documentary nomination, Red is disqualified by the Foreign Film committee for not being a majority Swiss production and Linda Fiorentino’s performance in The Last Seduction is declared ineligible because the film played first on television (because it couldn’t get a theatrical release at the time).  Forrest Gump has the most nominations since 1966 (13) while Four Weddings and a Funeral has the fewest nominations for a Best Picture nominee since 1951 (2).  Woody Allen becomes the first writer/director to get nominated for Director and Screenplay without a Best Picture nomination four times.  Forrest Gump becomes the 13th Best Picture winner to get nominated for all five major technical awards (Editing, Cinematography, Score, Sound, Art Direction), but only the second to fail to win more than one (All About Eve is the other).  For the only time in Academy history (even up until today) no film is nominated from France, Italy, Japan or Germany for the second year in a row.  Russia wins its (so far) only Oscar (as opposed to the three won by the Soviet Union).  Ang Lee has a film nominated for Best Foreign Film for the second year in a row.  Both of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s films are submitted but Red is rejected and White fails to be nominated.  For the first time, all five of the countries that had made up the defunct Yugoslavia submit films with Before the Rain, the submission from Macedonia, receiving a nomination.  The Best Picture nominees tie a record with three of them failing to win an Oscar.  The year sets two records with its Best Picture nominees – fewest wins outside of the Best Picture film (1) and fewest wins by all five films combined (7 – tied in 1999 and 2005).  For the only time since the seventies no film released in December is nominated for Best Picture.  For the first time since 1980 and only third time ever no film from Warner Bros. or 20th Century-Fox is nominated for Best Picture – the first of three years straight that this will happen.  Forrest Gump becomes only the second Best Picture winner (after Ben-Hur) to win Best Visual Effects.  It is the first Best Picture winner to be nominated for Visual Effects since 1970 and the first to be nominated for Sound Effects Editing since 1967.

After choosing the best film three years in a row, the Academy hits a rut.  In the first 66 years, the Academy only chooses the worst of the nominated films five times.  But here they begin a trend, choosing the worst film three of the next four years and six times in the next 12 years; this is more of a shame here because this is the best year for Best Picture nominees to this time and I still rank it 3rd all-time.  Then they make it worse by giving Oscars to pieces of crap like Speed and Legends of the Fall.  They reward the performances in The Client and Tom & Viv and the songs in The Paper and Junior.  But look the list of films that don’t earn a single nomination: Death and the Maiden, Clerks, The Crow and White.  And, while they give Ed Wood two Oscars, they don’t nominate it for Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor or Cinematography (which it won four critics awards for).  They nominate Heavenly Creatures for its Screenplay (rightfully) but not for its incredible effects.  They nominate the costumes in Maverick rather than the centuries worth of costumes in Interview with the Vampire.  And they nominate those horrible songs from Junior and The Paper but not any of the songs from Clerks or The Crow.  Oh, and don’t even get me started on Foreign Film.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Picture for Forrest Gump
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Original Song for “Look What Love Has Done” from Junior
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Picture for Ed Wood
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Tom & Viv
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Clerks
  • Best Foreign Film Submitted But Not Nominated:  Three Colors: Red  (Switzerland – declared ineligible);  Three Colors: White  (Poland)
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Sound Effects Editing
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress

Golden Globes:  For the first time in four years and only fourth time ever, a film that loses Best Picture – Comedy (Four Weddings and a Funeral) is nominated for Best Picture at the Oscar while the winner of the category (The Lion King) fails to earn an Oscar nom.  For a consecutive year, all the major Oscar winners (Forrest Gump, Robert Zemeckis, Tom Hanks, Jessica Lange) win at the Globes; it is the first time this has happened in back-to-back years since 1957-58.  Forrest Gump is the big winner – like with Dances with Wolves (and later, Titanic), setting the stage for its guild and Oscar wins after getting slaughtered at the critics awards.  It gets 7 nominations and wins Picture, Director and Actor (its 385 points are the most in 9 years), going head to head with Pulp Fiction in six categories and only losing to it in Screenplay.  Also nominated for Best Picture – Drama are Quiz Show (4 noms including Picture, Director and Screenplay, but no wins), Legends of the Fall (4 noms including Picture and Director, but no wins) and Nell (3 noms, no wins).  Meanwhile, Four Weddings and a Funeral wins Actor – Comedy and Ed Wood wins Supporting Actor, but both lose Best Picture – Comedy to The Lion King (which also wins Score and Song – tying Forrest Gump with 3 wins).  The Best Actress – Comedy category is one of the weakest ever, with nominations for Shirley MacLaine for Guarding Tess, Emma Thompson for Junior, Geena Davis for Speechless and Andie MacDowell for Four Weddings and a Funeral with Jamie Lee Curtis winning for True Lies (while they somehow overlook Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hudsucker Proxy, Tara Fitzgerald in Sirens and Judy Davis in The Ref).  And they somehow nominate Arnold Schwarzennegar for Junior rather than Kevin Spacey for The Ref.

Awards:  The critics awards were really the Pulp Fiction traveling show.  It took home all six Best Director awards, all five Best Screenplay awards (the National Board of Review didn’t have one), four Best Picture awards (LA Film Critics, National Society of Film Critics, Boston Society of Film Critics and a tie with Forrest Gump at the National Board of Review) and one Best Actor award for good measure (from LA).  The last two Best Picture awards went to Quiz Show (New York) and Hoop Dreams (Chicago), but those were the only wins for each film.  The other traveling show was Martin Landau (Ed Wood) and Dianne Wiest (Bullets over Broadway).  They won the two supporting acting awards in New York,  LA, the NSFC and Chicago.  Landau also added the award in Boston, while the film won Best Cinematography in New York, LA, Boston and the NSFC and added Best Score in LA to end up with the second highest point total.  While Gump would win big with the awards groups, its only real fans at the critics were the NBR, who gave it Best Picture, Actor and Supporting Actor; its only other win was Best Actor in Chicago.

Thanks to the inauguration of the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Forrest Gump sets new guild records for nominations (11), wins (7) and points (585) – all of which will be surpassed within 3 years.  It wins the PGA, DGA, WGA, SAG (Actor), ACE (Editing), CAS (Sound) and MPSE (Sound Editing).  For the first time in 10 years, all five films nominated at the DGA are nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.  Of the 11 times this has happened (before and since), this is the only time when two of the films (Shawshank Redemption and Four Weddings and a Funeral) fail to get their directors nominated at the Oscars along with the film.  All five films are also nominated at the PGA – for the third year in a row, but the last time to date.  With his 17th WGA nomination, Woody Allen becomes the all-time WGA points leader, passing Billy Wilder.  The SAG has their first awards, with three of the winners going on to win the Oscar (Jodie Foster being the exception).  But while they agree with the Oscars on 8 of the 10 males, they agree on only 5 females.  Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction become the first two films to earn three SAG nominations.  With two MPSE wins and the Annie, The Lion King becomes the first film to win 3 guild awards and fail to earn a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.  After Gump, the big nominees are the Oscar films – Shawshank Redemption (7 noms, win for Cinematography), Pulp Fiction (6 noms), Four Weddings and a Funeral (3 noms, WGA win) and Quiz Show (4 noms), with all of them nominated for the WGA except the ineligible Pulp Fiction.

Four Weddings and a Funeral is the big winner at the BAFTAs – 11 nominations (including 5 for acting), 4 wins (Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress); but it becomes the first film since Gandhi in 1982 to win Picture and Director but not Screenplay.  Forrest Gump earns 8 nominations, including Picture, Director and Screenplay but only manages to win Visual Effects.  The other two Best Picture nominees are Pulp Fiction (9 noms, including Director and Screenplay, wins Supporting Actor and Screenplay) and Quiz Show (3 noms, Adapted Screenplay win), marking the first time in 12 years that all the BAFTA nominees are also Oscar nominees.  The Best British Picture winner is Shallow Grave, the first film to do so without a regular Best Picture nomination and it receives only the one nomination – the last time that will happen until 2003.

Best Director:  Quentin Tarantino wins the Consensus Award running away.  He is the first to win all six critics awards and he adds in the Indie Spirit Award and Oscar, DGA, BAFTA and Globe noms for good measure.  Robert Zemeckis wins the Oscar, DGA and Globe and earns a BAFTA nom for Forrest Gump but can’t do better than a distant second.  Robert Redford comes in third with DGA, Oscar and Globe noms for Quiz Show.  Mike Newell wins the BAFTA and earns a DGA nom for Four Weddings and a Funeral to come in fourth, while Kryzstof Kieslowski comes in fifth with Oscar and BAFTA noms for Red.  My own list is Tim Burton for Ed Wood, Tarantino, Frank Darabont for Shawshank Redemption (DGA nom), Peter Jackson for Heavenly Creatures and Redford.  My 6 through 10 are Kieslowski, Woody Allen for Bullets over Broadway (Oscar nom), Roman Polanski for Death and the Maiden (Indie nom), Kieslowski again, this time for White, and Alex Proyas for The Crow.

Best Adapted Screenplay:  Forrest Gump wins the Consensus Award by winning the Oscar and WGA and getting Globe and BAFTA nominations, leading me to believe that the writers didn’t actually see the film (it isn’t even in my Top 10).  It is followed by Quiz Show (BAFTA win, Oscar, WGA, Globe noms), The Madness of King George (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA noms), The Shawshank Redemption (Oscar, WGA, Globe noms) and a four-way tie for fifth place between Nobody’s Fool (Oscar nom), Little Women, Ed Wood (WGA noms for both, though the WGA considered Ed Wood an original script) and The Browning Version (BAFTA nom).  Ed Wood is my #1, followed by Shawshank, Quiz Show, Nobody’s Fool (having re-read the book and re-seen the film a bunch recently, it’s incredible how good a job they did of delivering the 550 page book in 2 hours, knowing exactly what to keep and what to cut) and Grave of the Fireflies (which probably wasn’t really eligible for anything).  My 6 through 10 are Madness of King George, Little Women, Death and the Maiden (the great forgotten film of the year – no nominations from anything), Vanya on 42nd Street and The Crow.

Best Original Screenplay:  Pulp Fiction does a clean sweep.  It wins everything it can – the Oscar, BAFTA, Globe and all five critics awards (missing are the NBR, which didn’t have a Screenplay award at the time and the WGA because Tarantino isn’t a WGA member and thus it wasn’t eligible).  It, of course, also takes the Nighthawk Award.  The WGA goes to Four Weddings and a Funeral, which also earns Oscar, Globe and BAFTA noms on the way to a second place finish.  Bullets over Broadway comes in third, with Oscar, WGA and BAFTA noms.  Fourth place is a three way tie between Heavenly Creatures (Oscar and WGA nom), The Adventures of Priscilla (WGA and BAFTA noms) and Red (Oscar and BAFTA noms).  But they lose sight of some truly great scripts because this is a phenomenal year for original screenplays.  My 2 through 5 are Four Weddings and a Funeral, Clerks, Heavenly Creatures and Bullets over Broadway.  That’s one hell of a top five right there.  But that means the next five don’t make the nominee list: Red, Adventures of Priscilla, White, Eat Drink Man Woman and The Hudsucker Proxy.  And that’s still leaving out the next couple of great foreign films, Belle Epoque and The Scent of Green Papaya.  Just an all around fantastic year for original scripts.

Best Actor:  Tom Hanks does better than the year before, taking home two critics awards and the new SAG to go with his Oscar and Globe (and BAFTA nom) to take the consensus in a divided year.  Paul Newman follows with his great performance in Nobody’s Fool with New York and NSFC awards and SAG, Oscar and Globe wins.  John Travolta wins the LAFC for Pulp Fiction, but becomes the first person to lose at SAG, Oscar, Globe and BAFTA in the same year.  The last two consensus slots are Hugh Grant (BAFTA and Globe – Comedy wins) for Four Weddings and a Funeral and Nigel Hawthorne (BAFTA win the next year and Oscar nom) for The Madness of King George.  The major groups missed out on what I considered the best performances of the year.  My #1 choice, Johnny Depp in Ed Wood, only received a Globe nom.  My #2, Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemption only got a SAG nom.  My #3, Ralph Fiennes in Quiz Show, got nothing at all.  My #4, Terrence Stamp, did slightly better, with Globe and BAFTA noms for The Adventures of Priscilla.  Then Newman is my #5.  My next group did better: Grant, Hawthorne, Ben Kingsley (nothing for his great performance in Death and the Maiden), Morgan Freeman (SAG and Oscar noms for Shawshank) and, finally, Hanks.

Best Actress:  There really wasn’t a lot of consensus.  The only actress to win more than one critics award was Jennifer Jason Leigh, who won the NSFC and CFC but only added a Globe nom to the rest of her list for her fantastic performance in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle.  Jessica Lange won the Consensus by winning the LAFC, Oscar and Globe, but only earned a SAG nom and got nothing from BAFTA.  Miranda Richardson, for her performance in Tom & Viv won the NBR and earned Oscar, BAFTA and Globe noms but was ignored by SAG.  Susan Sarandon won the BAFTA and earned SAG and Oscar noms for The Client.  Jodie Foster was the actual SAG winner (for Nell) but lost at the Oscars and Globes.  The consensus finish was Lange, Richardson, Leigh, Sarandon and Foster.  This left the most talked about performance of the year – Linda Fiorentino’s NYFC winning, BAFTA nominated (and Oscar ineligible) femme fatale from The Last Seduction just out of the consensus nominees.  My own list is nothing like this one.  I think Lange’s performance is extremely over-rated and I’m not real impressed with either Sarandon or Richardson.  My top 5 is Sigourney Weaver’s great, unrewarded performance in Death and the Maiden, Leigh for Mrs. Parker, the brilliant (and, again, unrewarded) performance by Isabelle Adjani in Queen Margot, Winona Ryder’s Oscar nominated performance in Little Women and Natalie Portman’s incredible performance in Leon.  That is followed by Irene Jacob for Red (BAFTA nominee), Leigh again, but this time for The Hudsucker Proxy, Fiorentino, Foster and BSFC winner Julianne Moore in Vanya on 42nd Street.

Best Supporting Actor:  Martin Landau walks away with the Nighthawk Award and Consensus Award by winning the Oscar, Globe, SAG and all the critics except the NBR and adds a BAFTA nom for good measure.  The rest of the Consensus nominees are Samuel L. Jackson for Pulp Fiction (BAFTA win, Oscar, Globe, SAG noms), Gary Sinise for Forrest Gump (NBR win, Oscar, SAG, Globe noms), Chazz Palmentiri for Bullets over Broadway (Oscar and SAG noms) and Paul Scofield for Quiz Show (Oscar and BAFTA noms).  My own top five is close to that – Landau, Jackson, John Turturro for Quiz Show (SAG, Globe noms), Palmentiri and Scofield.  That’s followed in my 6-10 by Simon Callow for Four Weddings and a Funeral (BAFTA nom), Sinise, Paul Newman for The Hudsucker Proxy, Ian Holm for The Madness of King George (BAFTA nom) and Gary Oldman for Leon.

Best Supporting Actress:  The luckiest thing to happen to the race was for the early critics to decide that Dianne Wiest was indeed a supporting actress in Bullets over Broadway.  Prior to the first critics awards, I had her as many hands down winner of Best Actress and didn’t know who the hell would be a serious contender for supporting.  She would go on to win four critics awards (all but Boston and NBR), as well as the Oscar, Globe and SAG (and, by a large distance, the Nighthawk).  Then came Uma Thurman, who didn’t win anything, but got Oscar, SAG, BAFTA (for lead) and Globe nominations to come in second.  Rosemary Harris won the NBR and earned an Oscar nom for Tom & Viv while Kirsten Dunst won in Boston and earned a Globe nom for Interview with the Vampire.  In fifth place was Helen Mirren, who earned Oscar and BAFTA noms (though, like Thurman, the BAFTAs nominated her as a lead) for The Madness of King George.  My own list after Wiest was Kristin Scott-Thomas (who won the BAFTA for Four Weddings and a Funeral), Thurman, Dunst and Mirren.  My 6 through 10 was Susan Sarandon (who, surprisingly, while Oscar nominated for lead in The Client, was ignored by all the groups for her supporting performance in Little Women), Jennifer Tilly (a surprising Oscar nominee for Bullets over Broadway), Greta Scachi for The Browning Version, Harris and Robin Wright Penn (who earned SAG and Globe noms for Forrest Gump).

nominated for absolutely nothing: The Crow (1994)

Under-appreciated Film of 1994:

The Crow  (dir. Alex Proyas)

There is a scene, a half hour in, where Eric Draven sits with a box full of rings, pulling them out one by one.  He is not looking at them.  He is searching for a memory, and all he needs is a touch.  That’s what this film is – a descent into the bitter darkness at the soul, the way memories keep coming back to haunt us.  In this case, for Draven, he is pulled back from the dead to avenge his own and his fiancee’s murder and these memories guide his way and give him purpose.

The Crow is a film that struggled to get made, was cursed in its production, then, because of the death of star Brandon Lee on set, almost never saw the light of day.  But it managed to get completed and get a release and even make its money back.  But there were those who only saw it as a pale imitation of Tim Burton’s Batman and none of the awards groups seemed to take it seriously.  They were too busy handing out nominations and even Oscars to the likes of Speed and Clear and Present Danger to recognize the incredible skill with which the film was blessed.  When Dark City came on the scene four years later, critics seemed to want to think that Alex Proyas had come out of nowhere, rather than that film was the next step after The Crow.

It is the dark story of a man who comes back from the dead, a man now blessed with immortality.  It takes place in a rainy, dreary, dark Detroit.  Its dark cinematography, cursed hero and shots out of film noir do echo Batman, but they are not an imitation.  Batman is a man who will never rest until all the wrongs are righted, while Draven only seeks to avenge the deaths and return to the blessed sleep of death.

Aside from the Sound and Sound Editing, both of which deserved Oscar nominations (and earn Nighthawk nominations), the key aspects of the film are two: the haunted performance from Brandon Lee that shows that we could have expected good things to come had his accident not befallen him, and the music.  The soundtrack of this film, one of the best in a year of great soundtracks, is as dark as the film itself and as fitting.  In The Cure (who wrote a great new song called “Burn” for the film), we see the darkness of the soul and we even get hints of Robert Smith’s appearance in the white makeup that Draven wears once he comes back from the dead.  And then there is Joy Division, covered by Trent Rezner, and the darkness of Ian Curtis’ life seems to seep over into the screen.  Certainly both bands were influential on the makers of the film (as they have acknowledged) and the dark music only makes the film a harder sell for audiences, and a better treat for those who can stand it.  Then there is the song that deserved an Oscar nomination, the wonderful “It Can’t Rain All the Time” that closes out the film, a song that echoes the sentiment of the film itself.

The Crow today still seems to be lost in the shuffle.  Without a great villain and without the budget of the great super-hero films from the early part of this century, without the following of a Batman or a Spider-Man, it seems to have languished and almost been forgotten again, not helped by the truly dreadful sequels that have followed it.  But it is a great film and it deserves to be remembered for all that it was able to do, in spite of everything that happened.

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