July 2012

My inscribed First Edition of The Satanic Verses.

The Satanic Verses

  • Author:  Salman Rushdie  (b. 1948)
  • Published:  1988
  • Publisher:  Viking
  • Pages:  561
  • First Line:  ” ‘To be born again,’ sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, ‘first you have to die.’ “
  • Last Line:  ” ‘I’m coming,’ he answered her, and turned away from the view.”
  • ML Edition:  None
  • Film:  Are you kidding?
  • Acclaim:  Whitbread Award; Booker Prize Finalist
  • First Read:  Fall, 2000 (more…)

This kind of says it all.

Here is group #3 of my complete ranking of all the directors ever nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards.  Apparently this is where you end up if you make one great film and a career of, shall we say, less then stellar films.  You have your John Singleton, your Anthony Harvey, your Roland Joffé, your Peter Cattaneo.  Not only are three of them right next to each other (appropriately), but all four directed one Oscar nominated film, it was their first film, and if not for that film, they would have appeared in the first post, down at the bottom of the list, just above Frank Perry and Roberto Benigni (except Joffé, who would have been between them), and below Adrian Lyne (except Singleton, who would have been just above Lyne).  They are not as low as Michael Cimino because the rest of their careers aren’t as bad as Cimino’s (without The Deer Hunter, Cimino drops 130 points – these four drop between 80 and 94 points).

Let me remind you that this is a work in progress.  When I first started typing this part of the list, Joffé was actually next to the others.  Now he’s dropped so low he deserves to have been in the previous post.  By the way, it’s an interesting bit that with each group, the percentage of films I have seen by the group goes up.  Of the first 10 directors (here), I had only seen 63% of their films.  With the second group (here), I had seen 70.5%.  With this group, I have seen 74.2%.  And it goes up with each group of 25.  Since I’ve tried to see every film by every director, and have availed myself of Netflix, ILL, YouTube and everything else I can find, it seems to me, the better directors have films that are easier to find because they are the better directors.

Another reminder, like before.  The Sarris quotes come from The American Cinema, which was published in 1968, so it has no directors after that.  The Thomson quotes come from the 2002 edition of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, unless I specifically mention the 5th edition, which was published in 2010.  The points system is explained here.

Another short note here.  In the intervening time since I wrote the last piece, Andrew Sarris died.  Sarris is one of the best film critics this country has ever had.  If you have never read The American Cinema, one of the most important books in film history, you need to do so.  I may not agree with everything in it, but I would not do without it.

The Modern Library’s most egregious oversight.


  • Rank:  #14
  • Author:  Toni Morrison  (b. 1931)
  • Published:  1987
  • Publisher:  Alfred Knopf
  • Pages:  275
  • First Line:  “124 was spiteful.”
  • Last Line:  “Beloved.”
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Film:  1998  (***)
  • Acclaim:  Pulitzer Prize; NY Times Best American Novel of the Past 25 Years; All-TIME List
  • First Read:  Spring, 1995 (more…)

Arlington_Microburst  A microburst came through Arlington this afternoon.

A tree that got uprooted in our local park. The two people are standing quite close to it, if that gives you perspective.

It was a nicely powerful thunderstorm, with lightning, sheets of rain (the only accurate way to describe it) and a lot of wind.  After it cleared, I joined much of the neighborhood, walking around, assessing the damage.  I chose an example picture at right of an uprooted tree, but I took a bunch of pictures and threw them together in a Powerpoint, which is the link at the top.

A trio of Oscar winners for Million Dollar Baby: Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman and Hillary Swank.

The 77th annual Academy Awards, for the film year 2004.  The nominations were announced on 25 January 2005 and the awards were held on 27 February 2005.

Best Picture:  Million Dollar Baby

  • The Aviator
  • Sideways
  • Finding Neverland
  • Ray

Most Surprising Omission:  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Best Eligible Film Not Nominated:  A Very Long Engagement

Best Eligible English-Language Film Not Nominated:  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Rank (out of 84) Among Best Picture Years:  #12 (more…)

I think we have firmly established that I have a thing for Cate Blanchett.

My Top 20:

  1. The Aviator
  2. A Very Long Engagement
  3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  4. Sideways
  5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  6. House of Flying Daggers
  7. Closer
  8. Million Dollar Baby
  9. The Incredibles
  10. Kill Bill Volume 2
  11. Silver City
  12. Hero
  13. Hotel Rwanda
  14. Spider-Man 2
  15. Kinsey
  16. Bad Education
  17. Finding Neverland
  18. Vera Drake
  19. Mar Adentro
  20. Shrek 2