An incredible look at life itself.

An incredible look at life itself.

You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category (or Globe, in the Globes section).  Films in blue were nominated.  Films with an asterisk (*) were Consensus nominees (a scale I put together based on the various awards) while those with a double asterisk (**) were the Consensus winners.

I’m listing the top 10 in the categories but only the top 5 earn Nighthawk nominations.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Ikiru
  2. The Apartment  **
  3. The Virgin Spring
  4. The Cranes are Flying
  5. Spartacus  *
  6. Psycho
  7. The World of Apu
  8. Tunes of Glory
  9. The Hidden Fortress
  10. Elmer Gantry  *

Analysis:  This is, quite frankly, a fantastic Top 10.  It’s an excellent Top 5 (tied with 1940 and 1952, trailing only 1946, 1959 and 1950) but an even better Top 10, the best to date.  Tunes of Glory is the best #8 film to date and The Hidden Fortress is the best #9 film to date with Elmer Gantry the second best #10 film to date.  The 6 through 10 is several points higher than any previous year and the Top 10 is a full 10 points higher than any previous year, although it seems pretty obvious how good this year is when Psycho can’t make my Top 5.  The next 10 are pretty damn good as well, the second best 11 through 20 after the combined year of 1912-1926: The Magician, Three Penny Opera, Ivan the Terrible Part II, Our Man in Havana, The Angry Silence, Sons and Lovers, The Magnificent Seven, Lola Montes, Home from the Hill and Ice Cold in Alex.
Until I actually started work on this year, my Best Picture winner was The Apartment.  But watching Ikiru again, I just had to move it up.

  • Akira Kurosawa joins Billy Wilder and Orson Welles in the 3-time Nighthawk Best Director winner category.

    Akira Kurosawa joins Billy Wilder and Orson Welles in the 3-time Nighthawk Best Director winner category.

    Best Director

  1. Akira Kurosawa  (Ikiru)
  2. Billy Wilder  (The Apartment)  **
  3. Ingmar Bergman  (The Virgin Spring)
  4. Stanley Kubrick  (Spartacus)
  5. Alfred Hitchcock  (Psycho)  *
  6. Mikhail Kalatazov  (The Cranes are Flying)
  7. Akira Kurosawa  (The Hidden Fortress)
  8. Satyajit Ray  (The World of Apu)
  9. Ronald Neame  (Tunes of Glory)
  10. Sergei Eisenstein  (Ivan the Terrible Part II)

Analysis:  There will never be a better group of five directors: all five make my Top 9 all-time.  This is only the third nomination for Kubrick, the fourth for Bergman and the third for Kurosawa (but third win as well), but it’s the 8th for Wilder (also with three wins) and the 9th, and final one for Hitchcock (with one win).  This moves Kurosawa into a large tie for 8th place (270 pts), Hitchcock into a tie with William Wyler for 2nd (450) and Wilder stays in 1st place (540).  Ronald Neame is not normally thought of as a great director and Tunes of Glory is his best film by far; he began as a cinematographer and screenwriter for David Lean.
For a long time, this was Billy Wilder’s fourth Nighthawk Award for Best Director, but like with Picture, Screenplay and Actor, I moved Ikiru up.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. The Virgin Spring
  2. The Cranes are Flying
  3. Tunes of Glory  *
  4. The World of Apu
  5. Elmer Gantry  **
  6. Our Man in Havana
  7. Sons and Lovers  *
  8. Inherit the Wind  *
  9. Psycho  *
  10. Spartacus  *

Analysis:  I have read four of the original sources here – #5-8.  Spartacus, is of course, famous for having the script that officially broke the Blacklist, though it’s far from the strongest part of the film.  Elmer Gantry would be one of those rare instances where a director won an Oscar for writing while being passed over for his directing.  Overall, this is a very strong category.  This award would give Bergman four wins in three years except this is one of the few Bergman films that he didn’t write.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Ikiru
  2. The Apartment  **
  3. The Angry Silence  *
  4. The Magician
  5. The Hidden Fortress
  6. Hiroshima Mon Amour
  7. Ivan the Terrible Part II
  8. Bad Luck
  9. Northwest Frontier
  10. Picnic on the Grass

Analysis:  I hate that I have to bump The Apartment from first place.  It is easily the best second place finisher in this category to date and possibly ever.  There is a big drop from the first two to the rest, though the Top 5 are still a good group.  But, Adapted Screenplay is a stronger Top 5 and a much stronger Top 10.  This list says something sad about American screenwriting.  Seven of the film on this list are Foreign language films and two are British.  That just leaves The Apartment.
This now leaves the Top 5 as Billy Wilder (840 pts), Bergman (400), Chaplin (400), Preston Sturges (320) and a tie between Kurosawa and John Huston (280).

  • Best Actor:
  1. Takashi Shimura  (Ikiru)
  2. Jack Lemmon  (The Apartment)  *
  3. Burt Lancaster  (Elmer Gantry)  **
  4. Alec Guinness  (Tunes of Glory)
  5. John Mills  (Tunes of Glory)
  6. Richard Attenborough  (The Angry Silence)
  7. Fredric March  (Inherit the Wind)
  8. Trevor Howard  (Sons and Lovers)
  9. Anthony Perkins  (Psycho)
  10. Alec Guinness  (Our Man in Havana)

Analysis:  For the second year in a row, Jack Lemmon is bumped from the win by a performance in a classic Foreign film that deals with oncoming death.  He’s still brilliant and will run away with the Globe – Comedy, but I have to give the win to Shimura.  This year is so strong at the top that I have to push an Oscar-nominated performance from Laurence Olivier (The Entertainer) down to #11.  The British performances in my Top 10 – Guinness, Mills, Attenborough and Guinness again – are all very under-appreciated.
This is the first nomination for Mills, the third for Lemmon, the third for Lancaster and the 7th (in 11 years) for Guinness.  It’s the first nomination and only win for Shimura, though he will be nominated twice more, for films that he had made much earlier but were getting late U.S. releases.

  • Best Actress
  1. Shirley MacLaine  (The Apartment)  **
  2. Tatyana Samojlova  (The Cranes are Flying)
  3. Wendy Hiller  (Sons and Lovers)
  4. Deborah Kerr  (The Sundowners)  *
  5. Ingrid Thulin  (The Magician)
  6. Joanne Woodward  (The Fugitive Kind)
  7. Martine Carol  (Lola Montes)
  8. Elizabeth Taylor  (Butterfield 8)  *
  9. Jean Simmons  (Elmer Gantry)
  10. Greer Garson  (Sunrise at Campobello)  *

Analysis:  MacLaine, like Jones below earned a spot in my 50 Sexiest Performances of All-Time article.  With Picture, Director, Screenplay and Actor all bumped for Ikiru, this is the only award that The Apartment has managed to hold onto.
This is the only nomination for Samojlova, the second (in a row) for Thulin, the second for MacLaine, the fourth for Hiller and the ninth for Kerr, whose 375 points moves her best Ingrid Bergman and into 3rd place.
The Oscar nominees are not a great group.  Taylor’s win is widely viewed as either a makeup for not winning for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or sympathy because she had an emergency tracheotomy and almost died.  Garson’s performance (her seventh, and last, Oscar nomination, 15 years after she earned 6 nominations in seven years) is not up to the level of her best work in the 40’s, yet somehow she actually won at the Globes.  The fifth nominee was Melina Mercouri who barely makes my list.

  • crass3Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Laurence Olivier  (Spartacus)
  2. Gene Kelly  (Inherit the Wind)
  3. Vasili Merkuryev  (The Cranes are Flying)
  4. Peter Ustinov  (Spartacus)  **
  5. Jack Kruschen  (The Apartment)  *
  6. Sal Mineo  (Exodus)  *
  7. Peter Ustinov  (The Sundowners)
  8. Anthony Quayle  (Ice-Cold in Alex)
  9. Burl Ives  (Our Man in Havana)
  10. Peter Falk  (Murder Inc)  *

Analysis:  These are the only nominations for Merkuryev, Kruschen, and, surprisingly, Kelly (though Kelly earns numerous Comedy noms).  It’s the second nom for Ustinov.  On the other hand, this after losing his first six nominations, this is Olivier’s second win (it’s his second of three Supporting noms).
The Oscar race in this year was particularly notorious because of the aggressive ad campaign that character actor (and general comic relief) Chill Wills ran after he was nominated (undeservedly) for The Alamo.  It can all be read about on pages 323-324 of Inside Oscar, but it included an ad with the cast of The Alamo proclaiming “We of the Alamo cast are praying harder – than the real Texans prayed for their lives in the Alamo – for Chill Wills to win the Oscar.”  But I mention it all here, because Wills ran another ad listing every member of the Academy telling them they were all his cousins and he loved them all.  Groucho Marx placed his own ad: “Dear Mr. Chill Wills, I am delighted to be your cousin, but I voted for Sal Mineo.”  I wish I could have done the same, but I have Mineo in sixth.

  • sjegBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Shirley Jones  (Elmer Gantry)  **
  2. Janet Leigh  (Psycho)  *
  3. Bibi Andersson  (The Magician)
  4. Kay Walsh  (Tunes of Glory)
  5. Miki Odagiri  (Ikiru)
  6. Heather Sears  (Sons and Lovers)
  7. Shirley Knight  (The Dark at the Top of the Stairs)  *
  8. Glynis Johns  (The Sundowners)  *
  9. Mary Ure  (Sons and Lovers)  *
  10. Sylvia Sims  (Ice-Cold in Alex)

Analysis:  This is a solid Top 10, though slanted towards Drama, as can be seen below.  Only Andersson (two previous noms, including a win) and Walsh (three previous noms) have been nominated before and only Andersson and Jones will earn nominations again.  Jones gives a magnificent performance which several years ago I ranked as the 8th sexiest performance of all-time (link above under Actress).
If you get a chance, make certain to see The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, a film that has been extremely hard to find over the years.  It’s a low-level ***.5 film; this is its only appearance in my Top 10, though it has four more Top 20 mentions (Adapted Screenplay, Actor (Robert Preston), Art Direction, Costume Design).
Obviously, from the fact that all five Oscar nominees make the Top 10, I think this is the best of the five acting categories (Oscar-wise).  It earned a score of 96.4, which actually makes it the best in this category since 1948 and the best in any acting category at the Oscars since 1951.

  • Best Editing:
  1. Ikiru
  2. The Virgin Spring
  3. The Apartment
  4. Psycho
  5. The Cranes are Flying
  6. Spartacus
  7. The Three Penny Opera
  8. Tunes of Glory
  9. Our Man in Havana
  10. Ivan the Terrible Part II

Analysis:  With The Apartment, the Academy made a much better choice than they usually do (in 4 of the previous 5 years the Oscar winner didn’t finish any higher than 10th on my list).  That doesn’t mean the category is great overall – the Academy nominated The Alamo for god’s sake.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. The Virgin Spring
  2. Psycho
  3. Spartacus
  4. Ikiru
  5. The Cranes are Flying
  6. The Hidden Fortress
  7. The World of Apu
  8. Sons and Lovers
  9. Ivan the Terrible Part II
  10. Black Orpheus

Analysis:  Sven Nykvist takes over as Bergman’s regular Cinematographer and wins his first of many Nighthawk awards.
Eight of my top 10 films are black-and-white, yet only two of them earned Oscar nominations.  The other six are all foreign films – the Academy was doing a disservice to the category by nominating the mediocre American films over the fantastic black-and-white work being done in other countries.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. Exodus
  2. Psycho
  3. The Magnificent Seven
  4. Spartacus
  5. The Hidden Fortress
  6. Ivan the Terrible Part II
  7. The World of Apu
  8. Ikiru
  9. The Cranes are Flying
  10. The Sundowners

Analysis:  Bernard Herrmann, with his fourth nomination in three years (for Psycho), is now tied with Charlie Chaplin in 2nd place, with 300 points.
People may remember the music from Psycho (especially as it’s used so often to parody it) and the music from Magnificent Seven is great, but the theme from Exodus was really a big hit at the time – it was a #2 Billboard single and won the Grammy for Song of the Year (yes, really, Song of the Year).

  • Best Sound:
  1. Spartacus
  2. The Hidden Fortress
  3. The Magnificent Seven
  4. Psycho
  5. Northwest Frontier
  6. The Unforgiven
  7. Tunes of Glory
  8. Ice Cold in Alex
  9. The Cranes are Flying
  10. The Alamo

Analysis:  I don’t understand the Academy when it comes to this category, at least back then.  This makes the tenth year in a row this category earns a score of less than 50 from me.  The 10th place finish for Oscar winner The Alamo is better than any of the winners from 1954 to 1958 did.  I can’t understand how they passed over Spartacus or Magnificent Seven to nominate Pepe and Sunrise at Campobello.

  • 25-peter_ustinov_theredlistBest Art Direction:
  1. Spartacus
  2. Ikiru
  3. The Three Penny Opera
  4. The Cranes are Flying
  5. Psycho
  6. Sons and Lovers
  7. Lola Montes
  8. Elmer Gantry
  9. The Apartment
  10. The Virgin Spring

Analysis:  The Academy couldn’t possibly screw up the Color award here – there was never any question of a film other than Spartacus winning.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. The Time Machine
  2. 3 Worlds of Gulliver
  3. Spartacus

Analysis:  A pretty easy choice, with the George Pal film easily outdistancing anything else.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. Spartacus
  2. The Hidden Fortress
  3. The Magnificent Seven
  4. Northwest Frontier
  5. Ice Cold in Alex
  6. The Cranes are Flying
  7. The Time Machine
  8. The Alamo
  • Best Costume Design:
  1. Spartacus
  2. The Virgin Spring
  3. Ivan the Terrible Part II
  4. The Hidden Fortress
  5. Lola Montes
  6. Elmer Gantry
  7. Can-Can
  8. The Idiot
  9. Sons and Lovers
  10. The Magician

Analysis:  Like with Art Direction, an easy choice for Color.  But Black-and-White went with The Facts of Life which was just a tired and pathetic choice (yet added another Oscar to Edith Head’s trophy room).

  • Best Makeup
  1. The Magician
  2. Spartacus
  3. Lola Montes
  • Best Original Song:
  1. “Adieu Tristesse”  (Black Orpheus)
  2. “La Chanson D’Orphee”  (Black Orpheus)
  3. “G.I. Blues”  (G.I. Blues)
  4. “La Samba D’Orphee”  (Black Orpheus)
  5. “Cimarron”  (Cimarron)
  6. “The Green Leaves of Summer”  (The Alamo)
  7. “Never on Sunday”  (Never on Sunday)

Analysis:  “La Chanson” and “Cimarron” were semi-finalists, as can be seen here.  I counted 122 eligible songs from (including 10 from G.I. Blues).  But overall, this category is still pretty weak.

  • Best Animated Film:
  1. none

Analysis:  There’s only one eligible film – The Snow Queen – a very low level *** Soviet film.

  • virginspringBest Foreign Film:
  1. The Virgin Spring  **
  2. The Bad Sleep Well
  3. Shoot the Piano Player
  4. La Dolce Vita  *
  5. L’Aventurra
  6. Macario  *
  7. Zazie in the Subway
  8. The Ninth Circle  *
  9. Bad Luck

note:  Films in green were submitted to the Academy but not nominated (none on my list this year)

Analysis:  This Top 5 is the third best to date, behind 1957 and the combined year of 1912-1926.  It’s the fourth best Top 10, behind the combined year of 1912-1926, 1957 and 1955.
Akira Kurosawa finishes in 2nd place behind Ingmar Bergman, something that will happen again in 1961 and 1963.
The Academy did a decent job, nominating the four best submitted films and giving the Oscar to the best choice.  Ozu’s Late Autumn is probably the submitted film many people would rank higher than I would (I have it as a mid ***).
The five nominated directors here (Bergman, Kurosawa, Truffaut, Fellini, Antonioni) are just about the best cross-section you could have for international film at this time.

By Film:

note:  They’re in points order.  You get twice as many points for a win as for a nomination.  Hopefully your math skills will let you figure out the system.

  • Ikiru  (505)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction, Foreign Film (1952)
  • Spartacus  (415)
    • Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Costume Design, Makeup
  • The Virgin Spring  (305)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Costume Design, Foreign Film
  • The Apartment  (295)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Editing
  • The Cranes are Flying  (245)
    • Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction, Foreign Film (1957)
  • Psycho  (190)
    • Director, Supporting Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction
  • The Hidden Fortress  (160)
    • Original Screenplay, Original Score, Sound, Sound Editing, Costume Design, Foreign Film (1958)
  • The Magician  (145)
    • Original Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress, Makeup, Foreign Film (1958)
  • Tunes of Glory  (140)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Elmer Gantry  (135)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Magnificent Seven  (65)
    • Original Score, Sound, Sound Editing
  • The World of Apu  (60)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Foreign Film (1959)
  • Exodus  (50)
    • Original Score
  • The Angry Silence  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Northwest Frontier  (40)
    • Sound, Sound Editing
  • The Three Penny Opera  (40)
    • Art Direction, Foreign Film (1931)
  • The Time Machine  (40)
    • Visual Effects
  • Black Orpheus  (40)
    • Original Song, Original Song, Original Song
  • Sons and Lovers  (35)
    • Actress
  • The Sundowners  (35)
    • Actress
  • Ivan the Terrible Part II  (35)
    • Costume Design, Foreign Film (1958)
  • Inherit the Wind  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Lola Montes  (25)
    • Costume Design, Makeup
  • 3 Worlds of Gulliver  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • Ice Cold in Alex  (20)
    • Sound Editing
  • Those Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail  (20)
    • Foreign Film  (1945)
  • Hiroshima Mon Amour  (20)
    • Foreign Film  (1959)
  • G.I. Blues  (10)
    • Original Song
  • Cimarron  (10)
    • Original Song

Analysis:  This is the luck of the draw for a lot of these films – they would earn a lot more nominations if they were in other years.  In any year from 1952 to 1958, World of Apu would have been a Picture and Director nominee, but here can only managed writing.  The Hidden Fortress, here the #9 film and nominated for mostly technical awards, would be the #3 film if it had landed in the States a year later.
The irony is such that Exodus, a film that doesn’t land in my Top 100 for the year (it’s #108) finishes with more points than two **** films (Three Penny Opera, Ivan the Terrible Part II).
The overload of strong Foreign films hitting the States in this year means that there are three different Best Foreign Film winners and 7 other Best Foreign Film nominees.

Best Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Our Man in Havana

Analysis:  This feels dumb because I already wrote about it in my Year in Film as the under-appreciated film of the year and yet I don’t give it any nominations.  It does earn 5 Comedy nominations below (and wins one), but its best finish here is 6th.  It has 4 Top 10 finishes (Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Editing) and two more Top 20 finishes (Picture, Director).  It’s my #14 film of the year, the top ***.5 film of the year.
But Home from the Hill might be the film that is hurt the most by what year it came out.  It’s a mid-range ***.5 film, but at #19 on the year it manages 10 Top 20 finishes but doesn’t finish any higher than 13th in any category.

Biggest Awards Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • The Trials of Oscar Wilde

Analysis:  Winner of Best Foreign Film at the Globes, as well as winner of Best British Actor at the BAFTAs, it earned 5 BAFTA nominations.  Peter Finch, who won the BAFTA, comes in at #20 on my Best Actor list.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:


  • Best Picture
  1. Ikiru
  2. The Virgin Spring
  3. The Cranes are Flying
  4. Spartacus
  5. Psycho

Analysis:  Just a fantastic five, and with The Apartment in Comedy, Psycho manages to get into the Top 5.

  • Best Director
  1. Akira Kurosawa  (Ikiru)
  2. Ingmar Bergman  (The Virgin Spring)
  3. Stanley Kubrick  (Spartacus)
  4. Alfred Hitchcock  (Psycho)
  5. Mikhail Kalatazov  (The Cranes are Flying)

Analysis:  Hitchcock earns his 9th nomination, but still without a win and goes up to 405 points and 3rd place.  Kurosawa, on the other hand, earns his 3rd win and moves up to 7th place with 270 points.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. The Virgin Spring
  2. The Cranes are Flying
  3. Tunes of Glory
  4. The World of Apu
  5. Elmer Gantry

Analysis:  The countries here are Sweden, USSR, England, India and finally, the U.S..

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Ikiru
  2. The Angry Silence
  3. The Magician
  4. The Hidden Fortress
  5. Hiroshima Mon Amour

Analysis:  We have here Japan, England, Sweden, Japan and France.  Bergman’s nomination here moves him into a tie with Emeric Pressburger for second place in Drama (360).

  • ikiru-2Best Actor:
  1. Takashi Shimura  (Ikiru)
  2. Burt Lancaster  (Elmer Gantry)
  3. Alec Guinness  (Tunes of Glory)
  4. John Mills  (Tunes of Glory)
  5. Richard Attenborough  (The Angry Silence)

Analysis:  While the regular Nighthawk nomination was Guinness’ 7th and only Lancaster’s 3rd, here it is the 4th for both of them.  Attenborough seems to give his best performances in years stacked with Comedy – this is his 2nd of 5 Drama nominations but he only earns 1 regular Nighthawk nomination.

  • tatiana-samoilova-1Best Actress
  1. Tatyana Samojlova  (The Cranes are Flying)
  2. Wendy Hiller  (Sons and Lovers)
  3. Deborah Kerr  (The Sundowners)
  4. Ingrid Thulin  (The Magician)
  5. Joanne Woodward  (The Fugitive Kind)

Analysis:  The Globe winner was Greer Garson for Sunrise at Campobello, who only makes it to #9 on my Drama list.  Samojlova, the winner, is my only first-time nominee.  Thulin was nominated the year before, Woodward earned two nominations in 1957 (and the win) and Hiller has been nominated twice as lead and won in Supporting in 1958.  Then there is Deborah Kerr.  This puts her at 375 and 3rd place, only 10 points behind Ingrid Bergman for 2nd.  She has two wins, plus a win in Supporting and this is her 8th nomination.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Laurence Olivier  (Spartacus)
  2. Gene Kelly  (Inherit the Wind)
  3. Vasili Merkuryev  (The Cranes are Flying)
  4. Peter Ustinov  (Spartacus)
  5. Sal Mineo  (Exodus)

Analysis:  Kelly, of course, was far more known for Comedy.  But here, essentially playing H.L. Mencken, he actually gives what I think is the best performance in the film.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Shirley Jones  (Elmer Gantry)
  2. Janet Leigh  (Psycho)
  3. Bibi Andersson  (The Magician)
  4. Kay Walsh  (Tunes of Glory)
  5. Miki Odagiri  (Ikiru)

Analysis:  The only nominations for Jones, Leigh and Odagiri, the third in two years for Andersson and the fourth for Walsh.

  • Ikiru  (370)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Cranes are Flying  (235)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor
  • Spartacus  (185)
    • Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor
  • The Virgin Spring  (175)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay
  • Tunes of Glory  (140)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Elmer Gantry  (135)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Psycho  (125)
    • Picture, Director, Supporting Actress
  • The Magician  (105)
    • Original Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress
  • The Angry Silence  (75)
    • Original Screenplay, Actor
  • The World of Apu  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • The Hidden Fortress  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Hiroshima, Mon Amour  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Sons and Lovers  (35)
    • Actress
  • The Sundowners  (35)
    • Actress
  • The Fugitive Kind  (35)
    • Actress
  • Inherit the Wind  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Exodus  (30)
    • Supporting Actor

Analysis:  When films as great as The World of Apu and The Hidden Fortress can only manage Screenplay nominations you can see how strong the Drama category is in this year.

Best Drama Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Ivan the Terrible Part II

Analysis:  Ivan is a great film, but it’s my #13 of the year, and with only two of the 12 films above it being Comedies, it just doesn’t fit anywhere in these categories.

Comedy / Musical:

  • Best Picture
  1. The Apartment
  2. The Three Penny Opera
  3. Our Man in Havana
  4. Bad Luck
  5. Picnic on the Grass

Analysis:  Though I manage to fill the list, there are some big gaps here.  These films are, in order, my #2, 12, 14, 26 and 27 of the year.  That’s a high level ****, a bottom ****, a high ***.5 and two very low ***.5.  That’s not to say these films aren’t very good or even excellent.  Three Penny Opera has been released by Criterion and it’s fascinating (yes, it’s the 1931 film just now getting a release), especially to hear the original version of “Mack the Knife”.  Our Man in Havana was my under-appreciated film of the year (see link to the Year in Film at the top of the post).  Bad Luck is an under-appreciated Polish comedy and Picnic on the Grass is still Renoir, even if it’s not great Renoir.

  • Best Director
  1. Billy Wilder  (The Apartment)
  2. Georg Wilhelm Pabst  (The Three Penny Opera)
  3. Carol Reed  (Our Man in Havana)
  4. Jean Renoir  (Picnic on the Grass)
  5. Andrezej Munk  (Bad Luck)

Analysis:  Wilder gets his second win in a row (and 3rd overall) and moves up to 315 points and into 3rd place, behind only Chaplin and Preston Sturges.  This is actually Renoir’s 3rd nomination and he moves to 180 points and into the Top 10.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Our Man in Havana
  2. I’m All Right Jack
  3. The Three Penny Opera

Analysis:  Our Man in Havana is adapted from a Graham Greene novel, whose works don’t generally fall under Comedy, but this is a nice satire on the world of secret agents.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. The Apartment
  2. Bad Luck
  3. Picnic on the Grass

Analysis:  While Wilder is only up to 3rd in Comedy Director points, here he is now in 1st, with 560 points, thanks to the scripts he wrote before Hollywood let him take up directing again.

  • gal_Lemmon_Jack_2Best Actor:
  1. Jack Lemmon  (The Apartment)
  2. Alec Guinness  (Our Man in Havana)
  3. Peter Sellers  (I’m All Right Jack)
  4. Bogumil Kobiela  (Bad Luck)

Analysis:  So, we have one actor that I think I’ve only seen in three films ever.  Then we have Peter Sellers, earning his first Comedy nom (within four years he will be in the Top 10 in points for Comedy), Lemmon, leaping all the way into 7th place (200 points), and Guinness, who is up to 4th place, with 340 points, only 5 behind Cagney for 3rd place.
It’s disappointing that the Globes, after nominating Our Man in Havana for Best Picture, passed over Guinness, especially given the lackluster performances he was passed over for, none of which make my own short list.

  • Shirley-in-The-Apartment-shirley-maclaine-5246299-1280-720Best Actress
  1. Shirley MacLaine  (The Apartment)
  2. Corola Neher  (The Three Penny Opera)
  3. Melina Mercouri  (Never on Sunday)
  4. Marilyn Monroe  (Let’s Make Love)

Analysis:  The only nominations for Neher and Mercouri, the fourth and final for Monroe and the third for MacLaine (and her first win).  MacLaine’s performance is really better than the other three put together – she gives a performance for the ages and the other three were just good enough for me to include them on the list.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Jack Kruschen  (The Apartment)
  2. Burl Ives  (Our Man in Havana)
  3. Peter Sellers  (Carlton-Browne of the F.O.)
  4. Fred MacMurray  (The Apartment)

Analysis:  Not a particularly strong group, though, obviously way better than what was available for Supporting Actress.  Sellers’ performance in Carlton-Browne of the F.O., like I’m All Right Jack, in Actor, is one of those that made him a big comedy star in Britain while he still wasn’t particularly known in the States.  As I am most assuredly, not a Terry-Thomas fan, I think Sellers is the main reason to see Carlton.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. none

Analysis:  This is the fourth time in a decade that this category is left completely empty.  It won’t happen again.

  • The Apartment  (500)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor
  • Our Man in Havana  (240)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor
  • The Three Penny Opera  (170)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress
  • Bad Luck  (170)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor
  • Picnic on the Grass  (135)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay
  • I’m All Right Jack  (75)
    • Original Screenplay, Actor
  • Never on Sunday  (35)
    • Actress
  • Let’s Make Love  (35)
    • Actress
  • Carlton-Browne of the F.O.  (30)
    • Supporting Actor

Analysis:  This is all about The Apartment, of course.  If it only had a Supporting Actress performance worth listing it would have set new records here.

Best Comedy Not Nominated for any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • A Touch of Larceny

Analysis:  Solid British comedy, but my #40 on the year and #8 in Comedy / Musical.

Roundup for the Year in Film:

Eligible Films I Have Seen:  138

By Stars:

  • ****:  13
  • ***.5:  16
  • ***:  72
  • **.5:  24
  • **:  7
  • *.5:  3
  • *:  1
  • .5:  2
  • Average Film Score for the Year, out of 100:  65.94

Analysis:  Though there are more great and very good films, this year drops a third of a point because of the increase in films below **.

Oscar-Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • none

Other Award Nominated Films I Have Not Seen (in descending order of points total):

  • Chance Meeting  (BAFTA – Best British Screenplay (1959))
  • Girl and the River  (Golden Globe – Best Foreign Film (1959))
  • Rosemary  (Golden Globe – Best Foreign Film (1959))

note:  Girl and the River doesn’t seem to have had an Oscar-eligible release, but the other two films are listed in this year by

Oscar Quality:

Best Picture:  On the one hand, this year scores at 59th overall, which is not particularly good.  On the other hand, that’s better than the two previous years, 7 of the previous 8 and 9 of the previous 11.  Like a lot of those years, there is one film that really drags it down (The Alamo).  But, it is also saved by The Apartment, which is in the Top 50 (only 3 of the previous 11 years had a film in the Top 50).

The Winners:  The Academy does very well among the nominees, averaging a 1.67, the 7th best score to date.  Only four categories do they pick a winner who’s not the best or second best choice among the nominees: Actress, Scoring of a Musical Picture, Costume Design (Black-and-White), all of which they picked the 3rd best choice, and Song, where they picked the worst choice.  Overall, they average a 3.9 among all films, still a fairly good score (6th best to date).  The only two categories where the Oscar winner doesn’t make my Top 8 are Sound (10th) and Costume Design (Black-and-White) (13th) and I agree completely with their winner in 7 categories.

The Nominees:  The overall score is a 55, which is lower than the year before but higher than most years in the 50’s.  Picture is kept down because of The Alamo, but the other major categories are all over 50 because The Alamo wasn’t nominated in those.  Overall the acting scores at a 77.9, the highest score in six years, lead by Supporting Actress, at a 96.4, the highest score in 12 years.  The Tech score is an unimpressive 46.2, with Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture the only score above 50 (though it scores an 85).

Golden Globe Best Picture – Comedy / Musical:  This is the third year of the separate categories for Comedy and Musical.  Musical does better than the two previous years, but that’s not saying much, and it ranks 54th overall, without a single film in the Top 150.  The winner, Song Without End, is the 6th worst in Globe history and none of the rest of the nominees (Bells are Ringing, Can-Can, Let’s Make Love, Pepe) are better than mid-range ***.  There’s not much to work with in Comedy either (my own Top 5 is not all that strong and contains three films that wouldn’t have been eligible at the Globes).  They do give the award to the best film (The Apartment) and nominate the second-best (Our Man in Havana).  The other three are mid-range *** (Grass is Greener, The Facts of Life, It Started in Naples), leading to a rank of 31st overall (out of 64).

Top 5 Films of the Year:

The third Takashi Shimura / Akira Kurosawa collaboration to win the Nighthawk for Best Picture.

The third Takashi Shimura / Akira Kurosawa collaboration to win the Nighthawk for Best Picture.

1 –  Ikiru  (dir. Akira Kurosawa)

When you first start to get truly interested in film you hear the name Akira Kurosawa.  As you get more interested, you will learn about Toshiro Mifune and the incredible collaboration the two men had (even going so far as to have a dual biography written about them).  But Mifune is the big obvious actor – the international star who is a force of pure nature.  When you are a serious student film you will learn about the other actor who is so intertwined with Kurosawa: Takashi Shimura.

Shimura was never a flashy actor; he was nothing the bolt of pure energy that defined Mifune in performances in Rashomon and Seven Samurai.  It’s possible that most people in the United States know how only as an actor in the original Godzilla film and several other monster movies of much lesser quality.  But he starred in 21 of Kurosawa’s films – yes, five more than Mifune did.  He began his work with the great director in Sanshiro Sugata (Kurosawa’s first film, in 1943) and continued to appear all the way until Kagemusha (in 1980).  Shimura and Mifune seemed to define their work together early on – in Drunken Angel, Shimura was the lead role of the drunken doctor but Mifune had the much more showy role as the gangster.  In Seven Samurai it would be Shimura who would lead the samurai into battle while Mifune was just the upstart along for the ride.  However, while Shimura was always a solid actor, but nothing he ever did was anything like the role he plays in Ikiru, one of Kurosawa’s greatest films and one of the best meditations ever put onto film about the meaning in life.

Notice I didn’t say the meaning of life.  Kurosawa wouldn’t try to put such a concept on screen.  But Ikiru, with the spectre of death hanging over it from the first shot, is all about finding some meaning in an individual life.  The first thing we see in the film is the x-ray of a stomach.  We are told that the person with this x-ray has stomach cancer and will soon be dead, but he doesn’t know that yet.  It’s his journey of discovery, first that he is dying, and then we he tries to figure out something about living, that is the remarkable journey of this film.

Kurosawa is primarily thought of as an action director.  After all, this is the man who brought us Seven Samurai, and even when doing Shakespeare (Ran, Throne of Blood), he found a way to combine it with the samurai sub-genre.  Even Rashomon, one of the most thought-provoking films ever made has its fair share of action.  So it’s hard how to know to be prepared for Ikiru, which is certainly among his greatest films and is definitely the calmest of his great films.

2 – The Apartment  (reviewed here)

The Academy finally realizes Bergman's greatness and awards him Best Foreign Film.

The Academy finally realizes Bergman’s greatness and awards him Best Foreign Film.

3 – The Virgin Spring  (dir. Ingmar Bergman)

If Ikiru is about the search for meaning in life as it approaches death, The Virgin Spring is perhaps the opposite – the search for meaning in death.  That, in the end, there is no meaning to be found, only eternal mysteries, says something about the way Bergman approaches such vital questions.  He struggles to find meanings in events which he already knows will not provide us with a sense of peace after the questions have faded from the immediate memory.  Tragedies happen, for no reason.  Sometimes miracles occur, also, it would seem, for no reason.

The film is based on a 13th century Swedish ballad.  A devout Christian sends his beautiful teen daughter off to the church with their servant.  The daughter is raped and killed by three men (with the servant hiding, but watching).  The men then pass the night with the Christian who realizes what they have done because they try to sell him and his wife their daughter’s clothes and the servant returns to tell them what happened.  He then kills the men, seeks out his daughter, vowing to build a church where she has died, and when he lifts her dead body, a spring comes from the ground.

This is one of Bergman’s best films, for a number of reasons.  The first is that it so well made.  The editing is first-rate, the cinematography, by Sven Nykvist, is simply amazing (as evidenced by the fact that it wins the Nighthawk over both Psycho and Spartacus) and the costumes were so good that until 1973 this was the only Bergman film to receive an Oscar nomination in a technical category.  But it is in the direction and the writing where Bergman really shines.  We watch this man, who thinks he knows what his god is asking of him, only to have that taken away.  He becomes brutal and vindictive and rips the life from his daughter’s rapists and murderers with his own bare hands, even the life of a boy.  He is forced to admit that he does not know what God asks of him, but he will do what he can to make his penance, vowing to build a church on the site of his daughter’s death.  To find that spring, a gift of life, in the midst of this meaningless death only offers him more confusion.  It is a reminder that nothing can ever truly be known, that we are on our own and must make our way as best we can.

Russian tragedy begets brilliance.

Russian tragedy begets brilliance.

4 – The Cranes are Flying  (dir. Mikhail Kalatazov)

There may be a meaning in a life.  There might be no meaning for a death.  But in the end, there is still life.  When there is nothing left except life, can we judge those for making the best they can of such a situation?

I suspect most serious fans of film have seen Ikiru and The Virgin Spring.  They are, after all, two of the best known films of two of the greatest directors who ever lived (the two greatest directors who ever lived to many).  But it is much easier to have missed out on The Cranes are Flying, and more the loss for those who have.  The director, Mikhail Kalatozov, is not nearly as well-known and its only award nominations were from the BAFTAs.  I saw Ikiru and The Virgin Spring for the first time back in the mid-90’s.  I didn’t see The Cranes are Flying until 2008.  But that first time I watched it I knew it was a brilliant film, knew it was one of the great international class of 1957, along with The Seventh Seal, Throne of Blood, Wild Strawberries, Nights of Cabiria, White Nights and Aparajito.

This is the story of Veronika, a young woman in the Soviet Union at the outbreak of the second World War.  Her boyfriend goes off to serve and she goes to live with his family.  But tragedies abound: her boyfriend is killed, she feels abandoned, her boyfriend’s cousin seduces her (almost certainly rape) and the family believes she has betrayed her love and after hearing the way people think about her (and others in her situation), she becomes determined to kill herself.  Our sympathy is entirely with her.  She is played with exquisite beauty and pain and tragedy and realism by Tatyana Samojlova in a remarkable performance.

But she does not kill herself.  What happens then, what happens from that moment until the end of the film, and especially, her actions at the end of the film remind us.  They remind us that in war there is still life, going on, if not as before, yet, still going on.  They remind us that in the midst of what seems darkness we can find a light.  They remind us that there is still something in our hearts that we optimistically refer to as human nature – the best of us that can find a way through pain.  We see in her performance, her Veronika is able to embody all of that.  And we find our beating core of humanity.

If nothing else, the Blacklist is broken.  There's a lot more else.

If nothing else, the Blacklist is broken. There’s a lot more else.

5 – Spartacus  (dir. Stanley Kubrick)

“I am Spartacus!”  So many people know the line.  They may even know the circumstances.  But do they understand what it truly means?  Could they grasp the possible meaning of such a struggle for freedom?  That they were willing to die free than to be returned to slavery shows, not just what their lives were like and that they were willing to part with them, but that they had a leader who had so inspired them that to watch him suffer and die while they remained alive was not a price they were willing to pay.

Doesn’t that make the circumstances of this film so remarkable.  The original novel was written by Howard Fast, while in prison for refusing to testify before HUAC.  Dalton Trumbo was hired by producer (and star) Kirk Douglas to write the screenplay and was going to use a pseudonym, but Douglas decided to publicly announce his hiring to officially end the Blacklist.  Just two weeks after his inauguration, JFK crossed American Legion picker lines (protesting the hiring of Trumbo) to go see the film in the theater.  This was a film about the cost of freedom and those involved were learning from its lesson.

Spartacus is more than a history lesson, more than a civics lesson.  It is a rousing adventure film.  It is filled with great action, it is tragic romance, it has pain and suffering, but also great triumphs.  It is simply gorgeous to look at, filmed in glorious Technicolor, with magnificent costumes and sets.  It has a rousing score from Alex North.  It is important in the development of Stanley Kubrick, because while it has first direction, on the same kind of epic scale that David Lean would show, it also made Kubrick realize that he needed to control his own productions and would be involved in the writing process of all his remaining films.

Most of all, Spartacus is a reminder of why we see movies in the theater.  It is big and rousing and exciting, and when it is seen, in its full glory, spread out across the screen, only then can we truly appreciate everything that this film has to offer us.

5 Worst Films  (#1 being the worst):

  1. The Wasp Woman
  2. Frankenstein’s Daughter
  3. Attack of the Giant Leeches
  4. 13 Ghosts
  5. Battle in Outer Space

note:  Both the worst and third worst films of the year are directed by Roger Corman.

I have to admit, I think just about all the non-Por Corman films are terrible.

I have to admit, I think just about all the non-Poe Corman films are terrible.

The Wasp Woman  (dir. Roger Corman)

Roger Corman has built up a large fan base among viewers of cult films.  As the major producer of films at American International Pictures, he made a lot of films in the 50’s and 60’s and just about all all of them turned a profit.  But, except for those films he made as part of his Poe cycle most of them are simply terrible.  I talked about this already when I reviewed Attack of the Crab Monsters as the worst film of 1957.

The Wasp Woman, however, is bad of a different sort.  Attack was a zero talent horror film with terrible special effects.  This would also be the same except for two things.  The first is that this doesn’t really have any special effects; the poster is terribly misleading as the character in the film actually takes on a wasp’s face and still has a human body, the opposite of what it shows on the poster.  The second is that it takes so ridiculously long for anything to actually happen in this film.

To summarize the plot, the head of a cosmetics firm sees her firm losing money because she’s the face and she’s aging.  So she trusts her mad scientist and starts taking wasp injections to make herself young, overdoes it, becomes sort of a wasp vampire, and this is eventually killed.  The problem is that she doesn’t actually turn into the wasp woman until 63 minutes into a 72 minute film.  And even when she finally does change, it’s just a bad mask and some weird pincers on her hands.

All of this could have been worked around if anyone involved in the film had shown a modicum of talent.  But it’s badly written, barely directed, the acting is horrible and the effects are laughable.  Even the music, which might be considered the best part of the film, really shouldn’t be.  If Wikipedia is to be believed, then composer Fred Katz wrote music for A Bucket of Blood and simply re-sold AIP the same music every time they asked him for more.  He apparently sold them the same score seven times, including this film.


  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:  Spartacus  (12)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:  Ikiru  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Points:  Ikiru  (505)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Award:  3 Worlds of Gulliver
  • 2nd Place Award:  The Apartment  (Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor)
  • 6th Place Award:  The Cranes are Flying  (Director, Sound Editing)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Nominations:  Ikiru / The Cranes are Flying  (5)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Awards:  Ikiru  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Points:  Ikiru  (370)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Drama Award:  Exodus
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Nominations:  The Apartment  (7)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Awards:  The Apartment  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Points:  The Apartment  (500)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Comedy Award:  Never on Sunday

Note:  * means a Nighthawk record up to this point; ** ties a Nighthawk record

Progressive Leaders:

  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:  The Wizard of Oz  (18)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:  The Wizard of Oz  (14)
  • Most Nighthawk Points:  The Wizard of Oz  (795)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards without winning Best Picture:  Frankenstein  /  The Magnificent Ambersons  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Best Picture Nomination:  Captain Blood  /  Henry V  (10)
  • Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Nighthawk Award:  My Man Godfrey (11)
  • Actor:  Humphrey Bogart  (475)
  • Actress:  Bette Davis  (555)
  • Director:   Billy Wilder  (540)
  • Writer:  Billy Wilder  (840)
  • Cinematographer:  Arthur Edeson  /  Gregg Toland  (200)
  • Composer:  Max Steiner  (450)
  • Foreign Film:  Akira Kurosawa  (320)

Breakdown by Genre  (Foreign in parenthesis, best film in genre following, avg. score is afterwards, in parenthesis):

  • Drama:  46 (19)  –  Ikiru  (70.1)
  • Foreign:  43  –  Ikiru  (70.7)
  • Comedy:  26 (5)  –  The Apartment  (65.9)
  • Musical:  11 (4)  –  The Three Penny Opera  (65.7)
  • Crime:  11 (4)  –  Take Aim at the Police Van  (65.2)
  • Horror:  9 (2)  –  Psycho  (53.8)
  • War:  8 (4)  –  The Cranes are Flying  (73.3)
  • Western:  7  –  The Magnificent Seven  (69.9)
  • Adventure:  6 (1)  –  Northwest Frontier  (66.7)
  • Sci-Fi:  5 (1)  –  The Time Machine  (41.2)
  • Kids:  4 (1)  –  Pollyana  (65)
  • Fantasy:  3 (1)  –  3 Worlds of Gulliver  (47.3)
  • Action:  1 (1)  –  The Hidden Fortress  (93)
  • Mystery:  1  –  The 39 Steps  (63)
  • Suspense:  0

Analysis:  The 26 Comedies are the most to date, as are the 11 Crime films; the 43 Foreign Films are only matched by the combined year of 1912-1926.  On the other hand, we have the lowest number of Dramas in six years and they account for the smallest percentage of films on the year since 1943.  Most of the genres are in the same range as previous years, with many of them having averages falling between 1958 and 1959, with two notable exceptions: Dramas have their highest average since 1948 and War films have their highest since 1947 (when, I should note there were only two – the only years with more than two War films and better averages are 1912-1926 and 1929-30).
There are Lit Adaptations galore, including two from Dostoevsky, two from John O’Hara (neither of them good), as well as adaptations of Twain, Lawrence, Swift, Stevenson, Wells, Pushkin and Sinclair Lewis.
The only Action film, The Hidden Fortress, is the first in the genre to make the Top 10 in five years.  Psycho is the first Horror film to make the Top 10 since 1945 and only the second since 1935.  For the first time since 1930, half the Top 10 films are Foreign films.  For the seventh time in 15 years, a Foreign film is the Nighthawk winner for Best Picture.

Studio Note:  For the first time since the combined year of 1912-1926 the major studios account for less than 60% of the films I’ve seen (82 out of 138, 59.42%).  20th Century-Fox leads the way by far with 19, followed by MGM and Paramount with 12 each.  This means, for the first time, only one major accounts for more than 10% of the films.  Warner Bros only has 8 films, the lowest total since 1952.  Another 16.67% comes from the bigger indies (AIP – 5, Janus – 5, Continental – 4, Lopert – 4, Allied Artists – 3, Tojo – 2).  As recently as 1948, Fox was in 4th place overall, but here it passes Warners and moves into 2nd overall (419 films total).
Several studios drop significantly in quality this year.  Disney’s 4 films average a 63.5, the lowest to date.  MGM averages a 61, its lowest total in six years.  Columbia averages a 60.36, its lowest total in 14 years.  But Warners actually averages a 71.38, its highest total in 12 years.
Only 5 of the Top 10 films of the year are from the majors – the lowest total since 1949.  For the first time, Toho Company wins the Nighthawk Award for Best Picture, though, to be fair, two previous winners (Rashomon and Seven Samurai) were Tojo films that were distributed in the U.S. by major studios.

57 Films Eligible for Best Foreign Film (alphabetical, with director and country in parenthesis – red are ****, blue are ***.5 – both those colors qualify for my Best Foreign Film Award; an asterisk means it was the Official selection for the Oscar, two asterisks were nominated, three asterisks won the Oscar):

  • 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse  (Lang, West Germany)
  • Austerlitz  (Gance, France)
  • Bad Luck  (Munk, Poland)
  • The Bad Sleep Well  (Kurosawa, Japan)
  • Battle in Outer Space  (Honda, Japan)
  • Bell’Antonio  (Bolognini, Italy)
  • Black Sunday  (Bava, Italy)
  • Blood and Roses  (Vadim, France)
  • Les Bonnes Femmes  (Chabrol, France)
  • Breathless  (Godard, France)
  • Caltiki, The Immortal Monster  (Hamton, Italy)
  • Candide  (Carbonnaux, France)
  • Classe Tous Risques  (Sautet, France)
  • The Cloud-Capped Star  (Ghatak, India)
  • El Cochecito  (Ferreri, Spain)
  • Death Commands Brigandage  (Coimba / Motta, Brazil)  *
  • The Devil’s Eye  (Bergman, Sweden)
  • La Dolce Vita  (Fellini, Italy)
  • Everybody Go Home  (Comencini, Italy)
  • Eyes Without a Face  (Franju, France)
  • The Fabulous World of Jules Verne  (Zeman, Czechoslovakia)
  • Faust  (Gorski, West Germany)  *
  • General Della Rovere  (Rossellini, Italy)
  • The Good Soldier Schweik  (von Ambesser, West Germany)
  • The Great Moghul  (Asif, India)  *
  • The Housemaid  (Kim, South Korea)
  • Intimidation  (Kurahara, Japan)
  • It Happened in ’43  (Vancini, Italy)
  • Jigoku  (Nakagawa, Japan)
  • Kapo  (Pontecorvo, Italy)  **
  • Khovanshchina  (Stroyeva, India)
  • Knights of the Black Cross  (Ford, Poland)  *
  • L’Aventurra  (Antonioni, Italy)
  • Lady with the Little Dog  (Kheifits, USSR)
  • Late Autumn  (Ozu, Japan)  *
  • The Law  (Dassin, France)
  • Macario  (Gavaldon, Mexico)  **
  • Mill of the Stone Women  (Ferroni, Spain)
  • The Naked Island  (Shindo, Japan)
  • Never on Sunday  (Dassin, France)
  • Night and Fog in Japan  (Oshima, Japan)
  • The Ninth Circle  (Stiglic, Yugoslavia)  **
  • Paris Belongs to Us  (Rivette, France)
  • Purple Noon  (Clement, France)
  • The Queen of Spades  (Tikhomirov, USSR)
  • Rocco and His Brothers  (Visconti, Italy)
  • Shoot the Piano Player  (Truffaut, France)
  • The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales  (Gonzalez, Mexico)
  • Take Aim at the Police Van  (Suzuki, Japan)
  • Testament of Orpheus  (Cocteau, France)
  • Le Trou  (Becker, France)
  • La Verite  (Clouzot, France)  **
  • The Virgin Spring  (Bergman, Sweden)  ***
  • The Warped Ones  (Kurahara, Japan)
  • When a Woman Ascends the Stairs  (Naruse, Japan)
  • White Dove  (Vlacil, Czechoslovakia)
  • Zazie in the Subway  (Malle, France)

Note:  Prior to this year only one year had a country in double-digits (France, with 11 in 1959).  This year has France with 15 and Japan and Italy each with 10.  The 57 films are by far a new high and almost as high as the combined list from 1912-1926.  It’s the first year with multiple films from Czechoslovakia but the New Wave won’t really hit from there until 1964.  Since I track Germany separate from East Germany and West Germany (and therefore Germany hasn’t had any films since 1945), this is the year where Italy, now up to 77 films, passes Germany into 3rd place.
Because I count Monster movies as Horror rather than Fantasy, this is the first time there are two Fantasy films in the same year since 1947 (Macario and The Fabulous World of Jules Verne).  This gives this year as many Fantasy films as the whole previous decade combined.  On the other hand, even with no Monster movies in this year, there are 7 Horror films, by far the most in one year to date and include films from Italy (Black Sunday, Caltiki), France (Eyes Without a Face, Blood and Roses), Japan (Jigoku), Mexico (The Skeleton of Mrs Morales) and Spain (Mill of the Stone Women).  There are also 9 Crime films (the previous high was 3), helped by the French New Wave.  All this means while Drama has accounted for anywhere between 48 and 70 percent of the Foreign films from 1943 to 1959, this year they only account for 30%.

Foreign Films Submitted for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars That I Haven’t Seen:

  • Egypt:  Teenagers  (dir. Diaeddin)
  • Hong Kong:  The Enchanting Shadow  (dir. Han-hsiang)
  • Spain:  At Five O’Clock in the Afternoon  (dir. Bardem)

note:  At this point I am making a concerted effort to see as many submitted films as I can.  The full list can be found here.  This year I am 9 for 12.

Films Eligible in This Year But Originally Released in a Different Calendar Year:

  • The Three Penny Opera  (1931)
  • Those Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail  (1945)
  • Ikiru  (1952)
  • Lesson in Love  (1954)
  • Dreams  (1955)
  • Lola Montes  (1955)
  • Bob le Flambeur  (1956)
  • The Forty-First  (1956)
  • Sword and the Dragon  (1956)
  • An Alligator Named Daisy  (1957)
  • And Quiet Flows the Don  (1957)
  • La Casa del Angel  (1957)
  • The Cranes are Flying  (1957)
  • The Snow Queen  (1957)
  • Aren’t We Wonderful  (1958)
  • The Captain’s Daughter  (1958)
  • Carlton-Browne of the F.O.  (1958)
  • Carry On Nurse  (1958)
  • Carry On Sergeant  (1958)
  • Eugene Onegin  (1958)
  • Frankenstein’s Daughter  (1958)
  • The Hidden Fortress  (1958)
  • Ice Cold in Alex  (1958)
  • The Idiot  (1958)
  • Ivan the Terrible Part II  (1958)
  • Jack the Ripper  (1958)
  • The Magician  (1958)
  • The Atomic Submarine  (1959)
  • Attack of the Giant Leeches  (1959)
  • The Battle of the Sexes  (1959)
  • Black Orpheus  (1959)
  • A Bucket of Blood  (1959)
  • Les Cousins  (1959)
  • Crime and Punishment USA  (1959)
  • Expresso Bongo  (1959)
  • Hiroshima Mon Amour  (1959)
  • I’m All Right Jack  (1959)
  • The Last Days of Pompeii  (1959)
  • Northwest Frontier  (1959)
  • Picnic on the Grass  (1959)
  • School for Scoundrels  (1959)
  • The 39 Steps  (1959)
  • Tiger of Eschnapur  (1959)
  • A Touch of Larceny  (1959)
  • The Wasp Woman  (1959)
  • Who Was That Lady  (1959)
  • The World of Apu  (1959)

Note:  These 47 films average a 67.3.  This lists includes the #1 film of the year, two of the Top 5, four of the Top 10, 9 of the Top 20 and 12 of the Top 23, but also the three worst films of the year.

Films Not Listed at

  • Austerlitz
  • Bad Luck
  • La Casa del Angel
  • The Cloud-Capped Star
  • The Great Moghul
  • The Housemaid
  • Intimidation
  • It Happened in ’43
  • Jigoku
  • The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales
  • Take Aim at the Police Van
  • Those Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail
  • The Warped Ones
  • White Dove

Note:  I use the list at for deciding which year films are eligible in.  For some films, however, they don’t appear in that database.  For those films, I use the IMDb.  These are the films that aren’t listed in the database but that end up in this year.
The Great Moghul was submitted for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.  Every one of these is a 1960 Foreign film that didn’t seem to get a U.S. release with two exceptions:  Those Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail is a 1945 Akira Kurosawa film that seemed to get a U.S. release this year, though perhaps not an L.A. release, while La Casa del Angel is a 1957 film in the same situation.

Films Released This Year Originally But Eligible in a Different Year:

  • Alakazam the Great  (1961)
  • Battle of Blood Island  (1961)
  • Black Sunday  (1961)
  • Blood and Roses  (1961)
  • A Breath of Scandal  (1961)
  • Breathless  (1961)
  • Caltiki, the Immortal Monster  (1961)
  • La Dolce Vita  (1961)
  • The Fabulous World of Jules Verne  (1961)
  • The Flesh and the Fiends  (1961)
  • General Della Rovere  (1961)
  • The Grass is Greener  (1961)
  • The Hand  (1961)
  • Hell is a City  (1961)
  • Khovanshchina  (1961)
  • L’Aventurra  (1961)
  • The League of Gentlemen  (1961)
  • The Little Shop of Horrors  (1961)
  • Macario  (1961)
  • Magic Boy  (1961)
  • The Millionairess  (1961)
  • The Ninth Circle  (1961)
  • The Plunderers  (1961)
  • Purple Noon  (1961)
  • Rocco and His Brothers  (1961)
  • Saturday Night and Sunday Morning  (1961)
  • The Savage Innocents  (1961)
  • Sword of Sherwood Forest  (1961)
  • The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll  (1961)
  • La Verite  (1961)
  • The Young One  (1961)
  • Bell’Antonio  (1962)
  • The Devil’s Eye  (1962)
  • Everybody Go Home  (1962)
  • Eyes Without a Face  (1962)
  • Knights of the Black Cross  (1962)
  • The Naked Island  (1962)
  • No Love for Johnnie  (1962)
  • Peeping Tom  (1962)
  • The Queen of Spades  (1962)
  • The Vampire and the Ballerina  (1962)
  • Atom Age Vampire  (1963)
  • The Bad Sleep Well  (1963)
  • Candide  (1963)
  • Classe Tous Risques  (1963)
  • The Good Soldier Schweik  (1963)
  • Lady with the Little Dog  (1963)
  • Mill of the Stone Women  (1963)
  • Shoot the Piano Player  (1963)
  • The Tell-Tale Heart  (1963)
  • Colossus and the Amazon Queen  (1964)
  • Moderato Cantabile  (1964)
  • Paris Belongs to Us  (1964)
  • Le Trou  (1964)
  • Zazie in the Subway  (1964)
  • Kapo  (1965)
  • Les Bonnes Femmes  (1966)
  • 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse  (1966)
  • Horrors of Spider Island  (1967)
  • Testament of Orpheus  (1967)
  • Hamlet  (1968)
  • Late Autumn  (1973)
  • Night and Fog in Japan  (1985)
  • When a Woman Ascends the Stairs  (1986)
  • El Cochecito  (1987)

Note:  These 65 films average a 64.4.  There are three great films (La Dolce Vita, Bad Sleep Well, Shoot the Piano Player) and five very good films (L’Aventurra, Peeping Tom, Macario, Zazie in the Subway, The Ninth Circle).  But there are also two * films (Atom Age Vampire, Vampire and the Ballerina) and one 0 star film (Horrors of Spider Island).