The first black-and-white Nighthawk winner since 1966.

The first black-and-white Nighthawk winner since 1966.

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. Raging Bull  *
  2. Breaker Morant
  3. The Elephant Man  *
  4. The Empire Strikes Back
  5. Ordinary People  **
  6. Tess
  7. Kagemusha
  8. The Shining
  9. Stardust Memories
  10. Airplane!

Analysis:  The best Top 5 in six years and tied for 7th to this date.  The Top 10 (all **** films) is also the best since 1974, but is the 4th best to this date, behind only 1960, 1962 and 1974.  There are no other **** films in this year.  Melvin and Howard, a high ***.5, is my #11 and was a Consensus nominee.

  • ragingBull[2]Best Director
  1. Martin Scorsese  (Raging Bull)  *
  2. Akira Kurosawa  (Kagemusha)  *
  3. David Lynch  (The Elephant Man)  *
  4. Bruce Beresford  (Breaker Morant)
  5. Stanley Kubrick  (The Shining)
  6. Robert Redford  (Ordinary People)  **
  7. Roman Polanski  (Tess)  *
  8. Woody Allen  (Stardust Memories)
  9. Irvin Kershner  (The Empire Strikes Back)
  10. Luis Buñuel  (L’ Age D’Or)

Analysis:  Beresford earns his only nomination.  Lynch earns his first nomination.  Marty, in his third nomination, earns his first win, but there will be a lot more.  Kubrick earns his 8th nomination, going up to 495 points and a tie for 3rd place.  Kurosawa, on the other hand, is earning his 11th nomination, though his first in 14 years, and is at 675 points.
Everyone thinks of Marty as being robbed, but it’s worthwhile to note that Redford dominated him at the Consensus, beating Marty at the DGA, Oscars and Globes and winning the NBR.  Both of them earned mentions at the NYFC and Marty won the NSFC and finished second.
The Oscar score for this category is an 85.0, the highest in seven years and the fourth highest to-date.  The final nominee, Richard Rush for The Stunt Man, is #11 on my list.
There are 8 Top 30 Directors in the Top 10 here, and Beresford beats out three Top 12 directors.  Pretty good for a director who never made another great, or even very good, film.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Breaker Morant
  2. Ordinary People  **
  3. The Empire Strikes Back
  4. The Elephant Man  *
  5. The Shining
  6. Tess
  7. Raging Bull
  8. My Brilliant Career
  9. The Stunt Man  *
  10. The Brothers Karamazov

Analysis:  Lawrence Kasdan, brought in to re-write Leigh Brackett’s script of Empire after she died, earns his first nomination (and a rare Adapted one for him).  Kubrick earns his 8th nomination, bringing him up to 440 points and a tie for 5th place with Chaplin.
The best Top 5 in this category since 1971 and tied for the best Top 5 since 1957.  Tess would have finished second in Original Screenplay.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Stardust Memories
  2. Melvin and Howard  **
  3. Kagemusha
  4. Airplane!  *
  5. The Return of the Secaucus Seven  *
  6. No Regrets for Our Youth
  7. Mon Oncle D’Amerique
  8. Floating Clouds
  9. From the Lives of the Marionettes
  10. L’Age D’Or

Analysis:  Airplane! was actually the winner at the WGA for Adapted Comedy, presumably because they thought a parody counted as an adaptation.
John Sayles earns his first nomination.  Kurosawa earns his 11th nomination and his first since 1965, putting him at 640 points.  Woody Allen earns his fourth straight win, putting him at 520 points, all of which he earned since Kurosawa earned his last nomination.
In spite of all its awards, Melvin and Howard is actually my weakest #2 finisher in this category since 1972.
The Oscar score is an abysmal 29.6, the lowest in this category since 1958.  I can’t really understand how they passed over Woody Allen, Akira Kurosawa and John Sayles for the likes of Fame, Brubaker and Private Benjamin.

  • Best Actor:
  1. Robert De Niro  (Raging Bull)  **
  2. John Hurt  (The Elephant Man)  *
  3. Tatsuya Nakadai  (Kagemusha)
  4. Jack Nicholson  (The Shining)
  5. Edward Woodward  (Breaker Morant)
  6. Peter O’Toole  (The Stunt Man)  *
  7. Donald Sutherland  (Ordinary People)
  8. Woody Allen  (Stardust Memories)
  9. Robert Duvall  (The Great Santini)
  10. Anthony Hopkins  (The Elephant Man)

Analysis:  One of the best Top 5’s to date.  O’Toole would have earned a Nighthawk nomination in most years.
De Niro gives one of the greatest performances on all-time and it’s measured in his Consensus score.  He sets a new high of 420 points and becomes only the second Actor to win 6 awards and the first to earn 7 nominations (he loses the BAFTA to Burt Lancaster the next year because of different eligibility dates).
This is the only nomination for Woodward.  It’s the second nomination for Nakadai and the third for Hurt.  After a five year gap, Nicholson earns his sixth nomination.  He’s now at 310 points and would have entered the Top 10, if not for De Niro.  De Niro wins his fifth Nighthawk award (plus one other nomination) to go up to 360 points, moving from 10th place up to a tie with Alec Guinness with 4th place.

  • Best Actress
  1. Mary Tyler Moore  (Ordinary People)  *
  2. Judy Davis  (My Brilliant Career)  *
  3. Sissy Spacek  (Coal Miner’s Daughter)  **
  4. Gena Rowlands  (Gloria)  *
  5. Carrie Fisher  (The Empire Strikes Back)
  6. Goldie Hawn  (Private Benjamin)
  7. Ellen Burstyn  (Resurrection)  *
  8. Natassja Kinski  (Tess)
  9. Shelley Duvall  (The Shining)

Analysis:  Sissy Spacek ties the record set by Diane Keaton and Sally Field of 6 wins and by Diane Keaton of 7 nominations (she loses the BAFTA).  She sets a new Consensus record of 413 points which would only last for two years.
These are the only Nighthawk nominations for Moore and Fisher.  It’s the first nomination for Davis and the second for Rowlands.  It’s already the fourth nomination for Spacek in just seven years.

  • raging_bull_joe_pesci1Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Joe Pesci  (Raging Bull)  **
  2. Timothy Hutton  (Ordinary People)  *
  3. Jason Robards  (Melvin and Howard)  *
  4. Jack Thompson  (Breaker Morant)
  5. Judd Hirsch  (Ordinary People)  *
  6. Freddie Jones  (The Elephant Man)
  7. Bryan Brown  (Breaker Morant)
  8. Michael O’Keefe  (The Great Santini)  *
  9. Anthony Daniels  (The Empire Strikes Back)
  10. John Geilgud  (The Elephant Man)

Analysis:  Thanks to Pesci’s three critics wins, Hutton becomes only the third Supporting Actor to win the Oscar and Globe and not win the Consensus, joining Gig Young (1969) and John Mills (1970).
These are the only nominations for Hutton, Thompson and Hirsch.  It’s Pesci’s first nomination – he’ll be back with another win in a decade.  It’s the fourth, and final nomination for Robards.
With all five Oscar nominees in my Top 8, the score is a 91.4, the highest in five years.

  • RagingBull4Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Cathy Moriarty  (Raging Bull)  *
  2. Mary Steenburgen  (Melvin and Howard)  **
  3. Diana Scarwid  (Inside Moves)  *
  4. Setsuko Hara  (No Regrets for Our Youth)
  5. Eileen Brennan  (Private Benjamin)  *
  6. Elizabeth McGovern  (Ordinary People)
  7. Wendy Hiller  (The Elephant Man)
  8. Charlotte Rampling  (Stardust Memories)
  9. Eve Le Gallienne  (Resurrection)  *

Analysis:  Mary Steenburgen has the most dominant win in Supporting Actress Consensus history.  She earns 336 from her 6 wins (Oscar, Globe, NYFC, LAFC, NSFC, BSFC), which account for 56% of all the points, only the third person to ever break 50% in this category and the highest of all-time.  Her dominance is a combination of three factors – 1 – that she is so dominant with winning, 2 – that there were a lot fewer groups in this year than in later years (no CFC, SAG or BFCA) and 3 – the BAFTAs dropped the supporting awards for this year for some reason.
These are the only Nighthawk nominations for Moriarty, Steenburgen, Scarwid and Hara.  It’s the second nomination for Brennan.
Even though all five Oscar nominees are in my Top 9, the difference between Hara’s performance and Le Gallienne’s means the score is an 88, a bit low for Supporting Actress.

  • Best Editing:
  1. Raging Bull
  2. The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Breaker Morant
  4. Stardust Memories
  5. The Shining
  6. Kagemusha
  7. The Elephant Man
  8. L’Age D’Or
  9. Melvin and Howard
  10. The Stunt Man

Analysis:  A very solid Top 5.  I love that Raging Bull won the Oscar.  Thelma Schoonmaker might be the most talented editor in film history and her partnership with Marty has been fantastic for both.  But the work on Empire shouldn’t be under-estimated either, with the way it moves back and forth between the different parts of the story (Han & Leia / Luke / Vader).  Passing it over for the likes of The Competition and Coal Miner’s Daughter leads to a dip to a score of 38.9 for the Oscars.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. Raging Bull
  2. Kagemusha
  3. The Elephant Man
  4. The Shining
  5. Tess  **
  6. Stardust Memories
  7. The Empire Strikes Back
  8. Breaker Morant
  9. Ordinary People
  10. The Big Red One

Analysis:  Tess joins Barry Lyndon as only the second film to win four awards (Oscar, BAFTA, NYFC, LAFC).  The fact that I put it in fifth says nothing negative about it – the cinematography is amazing.  It’s just that this year is so good – it’s the best Top 5 of all-time (not to-date, but all-time).  And the Academy honored this year by nominating Coal Miner’s Daughter and The Formula.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. The Elephant Man
  3. Kagemusha
  4. The Stunt Man
  5. Floating Clouds
  6. Somewhere in Time
  7. Tess
  8. The Shining
  9. The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
  10. Altered States

Analysis:  It’s John Williams again, with his fourth straight nomination and his third win in four years.  What’s so impressive is that Williams doesn’t just revisit his original score for the first film, but creates a brand new score, including the awesome “Imperial March” (see more below in my review).  He’s at 275 points and tied for fourth place.

  • Best Sound:
  1. Raging Bull
  2. The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Kagemusha
  4. The Shining
  5. The Stunt Man
  6. The Big Red One
  7. Fame
  8. The Elephant Man
  9. Breaker Morant
  10. Coal Miner’s Daughter

Analysis:  The best Top 5 to-date, a good four points higher than any previous year, and it won’t be surpassed until at least the 90’s.

  • kagemushaBest Art Direction:
  1. Kagemusha
  2. The Elephant Man
  3. The Shining
  4. Tess
  5. The Empire Strikes Back
  6. Popeye
  7. Flash Gordon
  8. Stardust Memories
  9. The Stunt Man
  10. The Master and Margaret

Analysis:  The Elephant Man is the best #2 in this category since 1974.  This is the best Top 5 to-date.  The fifth Oscar nominee was Coal Miner’s Daughter.  The Oscar score is an 85.4, which is a tiny dip from the year before, but otherwise the highest since 1965.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. Altered States
  3. The Stunt Man
  4. The Master and Margaret
  5. The Shining
  6. The Big Red One

Analysis:  Empire wins this one by a long, long way.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. Kagemusha
  3. Raging Bull
  4. The Stunt Man
  5. The Big Red One
  6. The Shining
  7. Altered States

Analysis:  The best Top 5 to-date, and it won’t be surpassed until 1989.  The Academy didn’t even bother with this award this year which was just stupid given what they had to work with.

  • KAGEMUSHA, Tatsuya Nakadai, 1980. (c) Toho Company.Best Costume Design:
  1. Kagemusha
  2. The Elephant Man
  3. Tess
  4. The Empire Strikes Back
  5. My Brilliant Career
  6. Moliere
  7. Popeye
  8. Breaker Morant
  9. Don Giovanni
  10. Flash Gordon

Analysis:  The best Top 5 in six years.  And what did the Academy go with instead of Kagemusha?  Somewhere in Time (on my list, just outside the Top 10) and When Time Ran Out (not even on my list).

  • elephant-manBest Makeup
  1. The Elephant Man
  2. The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Kagemusha
  4. The Shining
  5. Flash Gordon
  6. Raging Bull
  7. The Big Red One
  8. Fame
  9. The Stunt Man

Analysis:  Empire is the first #2 in this category to ever earn my highest ranking and it won’t happen again until the 90’s.  The best Top 5 to-date, and it won’t be beaten until 1990.
The Academy got a lot of flack for not honoring The Elephant Man‘s makeup and it’s a major part of what lead to them finally establishing a regular Makeup award the following year.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. Late in the Evening”  (One-Trick Pony)
  2. “I’m Alright”  (Caddyshack)
  3. “America”  (The Jazz Singer)
  4. “One-Trick Pony”  (One-Trick Pony)
  5. “Fame”  (Fame)
  6. “Call Me”  (American Gigolo)
  7. “Flash”  (Flash Gordon)
  8. “How the Heart Approaches What It Yearns”  (One-Trick Pony)
  9. “Nine to Five”  (Nine to Five)
  10. “Out Here on My Own”  (Fame)

Analysis:  “Late in the Evening” wins this by a mile.  It’s one of my favorite Paul Simon songs and it makes for a great opening to the film.  Yes, I do like the song “America”, and it’s hard to explain why, but I do.  I accept it if you hate it and prefer to ignore it being on my list. lists 272 songs from 75 different films.  I have seen the films for 161 of them, including all six films that have 10 or more (The Apple, The Jazz Singer, The Idolmaker, Popeye, One-Trick Pony, Xanadu).  Most of those films are terrible and you shouldn’t bother to see them.  There are no more semi-finalists from this point forward.
A big drop from the year before (it goes down nine points), but that still makes it better than 8 of the 10 years in the 70’s.

  • Best Animated Film:
  1. none

Analysis:  There are only two animated films in this year, both of them mid-range ***.  The (very) slightly better one is The Bugs Bunny / Road Runner Movie (which is a clip movie), followed just behind by Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown, the last of the feature length Peanuts films until 2015.  After this year, with one exception (1984), every year will have at least six eligible animated films, though there will still be several years without a winner.

  • kagemusha (1)Best Foreign Film:
  1. Kagemusha  *
  2. The Last Metro  **
  3. Mon Oncle D’Amerique  *

note:  Films in green were submitted to the Academy but not nominated.  There are none among my list this year.

Analysis:  With Kurosawa finally making films in Japan again, Japan has its first nomination since 1973 and its first win since 1965.  Kurosawa earns his 19th nomination and 6th win.  He goes up to 500 points and back into a tie with Bergman for 1st place.  Truffaut earns his 9th, and last nomination.  He finishes with 280 points and a tie with Buñuel for 3rd place.  Alain Resnais earns his fourth nomination.
With only three nominees, this is a pretty bad year.  Kagemusha is the second best winner since 1973 but Last Metro is the weakest second place finish in five years and Oncle the weakest third place in thirty years.  The Top 5 (including Germany Pale Mother and Olympics 40 which don’t earn nominations) is the weakest in 10 years.  The Top 10 is tied with 1977 for the weakest since 1950.  Sadly, there are weaker years to come soon in this decade.

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.

  • Raging Bull  (575)
    • Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Sound, Sound Editing
  • The Empire Strikes Back   (345)
    • Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Editing, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Costume Design, Makeup
  • Kagemusha  (330)
    • Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Sound Editing, Costume Design, Makeup, Foreign Film
  • The Elephant Man  (275)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup
  • Breaker Morant  (265)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Editing
  • The Shining  (240)
    • Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Editing, Cinematography, Sound, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Makeup
  • Ordinary People  (220)
    • Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor
  • Stardust Memories  (105)
    • Original Screenplay, Editing
  • Melvin and Howard  (100)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Stunt Man  (85)
    • Original Score, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Tess  (60)
    • Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design
  • My Brilliant Career  (50)
    • Actress, Costume Design
  • No Regrets for Our Youth  (50)
    • Supporting Actress, Foreign Film (1946)
  • Airplane!  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Return of the Secaucus Seven  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Coal Miner’s Daughter  (35)
    • Actress
  • Gloria  (35)
    • Actress
  • Private Benjamin  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • Inside Moves  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • One-Trick Pony  (30)
    • Original Song, Original Song
  • Floating Clouds  (25)
    • Original Score
  • The Master and Margaret  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • Altered States  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • The Big Red One  (20)
    • Sound Editing
  • L’Age D’or  (20)
    • Foreign Film (1930)
  • Mon Oncle D’Amerique  (20)
    • Foreign Film
  • Flash Gordon  (10)
    • Makeup
  • Fame  (10)
    • Original Song
  • Caddyshack  (10)
    • Original Song
  • The Jazz Singer  (10)
    • Original Song

Analysis:  A very tough year, not just because of the great films, but because so many of them are so technically brilliant.  The overall tech score for the year blows away any previous year and it won’t be passed until 1989.

Best Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • The Brothers Karamazov

Analysis:  A 1969 *** film that finally earns a U.S. release and ends up as my #19 of the year.

Biggest Awards Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Resurrection

Analysis:  I hated this film and it ends up at the bottom end of **.  That doesn’t take away from the two strong performances in it by Ellen Burstyn (Oscar, Globe noms) and Eve Le Gallienne (NBR win, Oscar nom) but they end up as my #7 and #9, respectively.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:


  • Best Picture
  1. Raging Bull
  2. Breaker Morant
  3. The Elephant Man
  4. The Empire Strikes Back
  5. Ordinary People

Analysis:  The best Top 5 in this category since 1974 and tied for the second best since 1946.  Breaker Morant was nominated as a Foreign Film at the Globes (making it ineligible for Best Picture).

  • Best Director
  1. Martin Scorsese  (Raging Bull)
  2. Akira Kurosawa  (Kagemusha)
  3. David Lynch  (The Elephant Man)
  4. Bruce Beresford  (Breaker Morant)
  5. Stanley Kubrick  (The Shining)

Analysis:  This is the first Drama nomination for Lynch and the only one for Beresford.  Marty earns his third nomination (and first win) and Kubrick earns his sixth nomination.  But this is the 12th nomination for Kurosawa; he’s at 720 points and far ahead of any other director.
The best Top 5 since 1973 and one of the best to-date.  Any year that can’t fit in Polanski’s direction of Tess is pretty damn impressive.  Also, there is Redford’s direction, which won the Globe and comes in 7th.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Breaker Morant
  2. Ordinary People
  3. The Empire Strikes Back
  4. The Elephant Man
  5. The Shining

Analysis:  Lawrence Kasdan earns his first nomination while Kubrick earns his sixth.  The best Top 5 in this category since 1962.  The Globes, in a fit of insanity, gave their Best Screenplay award to The Ninth Configuration, one of the worst awards they ever gave out.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Kagemusha
  2. The Return of the Secaucus Seven
  3. No Regrets for Our Youth
  4. Floating Clouds
  5. From the Lives of the Marionettes

Analysis:  John Sayles earns his first nomination.  At the same time, Kurosawa earns his 8th win and his 15th and 16th nominations.  He’s now up to 960 points, but is still behind Bergman who earns his 19th win and is at 1040 points.  It’s the first time since 1967 they’ve both earned Drama nominations in the same year; it’s the 7th time it’s happened, and the last.
This is the weakest Top 5 in this category in eight years – Tess, which couldn’t earn a nomination in Adapted, would have won in this category.

  • de-niro-allstarBest Actor:
  1. Robert De Niro  (Raging Bull)
  2. John Hurt  (The Elephant Man)
  3. Tatsuya Nakadai  (Kagemusha)
  4. Jack Nicholson  (The Shining)
  5. Edward Woodward  (Breaker Morant)

Analysis:  The best Top 5 in six years and the second best since 1963.  This is the only nomination for Woodward, the second for Nakadai, the third for Hurt, the sixth for Nicholson and the sixth for De Niro (and his fifth win).  De Niro (360) and Nicholson (310) are now both in the Top 10 in Drama points.

  • ordinaryBest Actress
  1. Mary Tyler Moore  (Ordinary People)
  2. Judy Davis  (My Brilliant Career)
  3. Gena Rowlands  (Gloria)
  4. Carrie Fisher  (The Empire Strikes Back)
  5. Ellen Burstyn  (Resurrection)

Analysis:  These are the only nominations for Moore and Fisher.  It’s the first nomination for Davis, the second for Rowlands and the fourth for Burstyn.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Joe Pesci  (Raging Bull)
  2. Timothy Hutton  (Ordinary People)
  3. Jack Thompson  (Breaker Morant)
  4. Judd Hirsch  (Ordinary People)
  5. Freddie Jones  (The Elephant Man)

Analysis:  These are the only nomination for Hutton, Thompson, Hirch and Jones, while Pesci will win again in a decade.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Cathy Moriarty  (Raging Bull)
  2. Diana Scarwid  (Inside Moves)
  3. Setsuko Hara  (No Regrets for Our Youth)
  4. Elizabeth McGovern  (Ordinary People)
  5. Wendy Hiller  (The Elephant Man)

Analysis:  Not a strong group – the weakest Top 5 in five years.  These are the only nominations for Moriarty, Scarwid and Hara.  McGovern earns her first of back-to-back nominations.  On the other hand, it’s the sixth Drama nomination for Hiller, who ends her career with 225 points.


  • Raging Bull  (380)
    • Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Ordinary People  (250)
    • Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Breaker Morant  (240)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor
  • The Elephant Man  (230)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Kagemusha  (160)
    • Director, Original Screenplay, Actor
  • The Empire Strikes Back  (125)
    • Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Actress
  • The Shining  (120)
    • Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor
  • No Regrets for Our Youth  (70)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actress
  • Floating Clouds  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Return of the Secaucus Seven  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • From the Lives of the Marionettes  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • My Brilliant Career  (35)
    • Actress
  • Gloria  (35)
    • Actress
  • Resurrection  (35)
    • Actress
  • Inside Moves  (30)
    • Supporting Actress

Analysis:  A tough group when Kagemusha and The Shining can’t earn Picture noms and Tess can’t earn anything.

Best Drama Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Tess

Analysis:  A great film, and it’s my #6 in Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Actress in Drama as well as #7 in Director.  It’s rare enough to have a **** film in this spot (only three times in the previous 20 years), but to have one this good is almost unheard of.  It just shows how tough the competition at the top is in this year.

Comedy / Musical:

  • Best Picture
  1. Stardust Memories
  2. Airplane!
  3. Melvin and Howard
  4. L’ Age D’Or
  5. The Stunt Man

Analysis:  L’Age D’Or is actually a film from 1930 that finally gets a U.S. release (it’s even on the list), ironically, since Buñuel had retired a few years earlier.
The Top 5 worked perfectly here, as these are my #9-13 films of the year.  The next best film, Mon Oncle D’Amerique, is down at ##18 and is ten points lower than The Stunt Man.
The Stunt Man was actually nominated as a Drama by the Globes, but you watch it and you’ll realize it’s a Comedy.

  • Best Director
  1. Woody Allen  (Stardust Memories)
  2. Luis Buñuel  (L’ Age D’Or)
  3. Richard Rush  (The Stunt Man)
  4. Jonathan Demme  (Melvin and Howard)
  5. Alan Parker  (Fame)

Analysis:  This is the only nomination for Rush, while it’s the first for both Demme and Parker.  Allen earns his fifth nomination, and second win.  Buñuel, having already retired, earns his ninth, and final, nomination for a film from the beginning of his career.  He finishes by passing Billy Wilder and getting to 540 Comedy Director points, only 45 behind Chaplin for 1st place.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. The Stunt Man
  2. Hopscotch

Analysis:  There’s really not much to go with but there often isn’t in this category.  The WGA winner for Best Adapted Screenplay Comedy was Airplane.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Stardust Memories
  2. Melvin and Howard
  3. Airplane!
  4. Mon Oncle D’Amerique
  5. L’Age D’Or

Analysis:  Buñuel earns his 8th and final nomination.  Woody Allen earns fourth win (third in the last four years) and 10th nomination.  He’s up to 560 points and leapfrogs Chaplin into 2nd place.

  • stuntmanBest Actor:
  1. Peter O’Toole  (The Stunt Man)
  2. Woody Allen  (Stardust Memories)
  3. Walter Matthau  (Hopscotch)
  4. Paul Simon  (One Trick Pony)
  5. Paul LeMat  (Melvin and Howard)

Analysis:  O’Toole was nominated at the Globes in Drama, but they gave their award to Ray Sharkey (The Idolmaker) and nominated Neil Diamond (The Jazz Singer), so what the hell do they know.  These are the only nominations for LeMat and Simon and only the second comedy nom for O’Toole.  But it’s the fifth nominations for both Allen and Matthau and they both move into the Top 10 in Comedy points.

  • sissy-spacek-coal-miners-daughterBest Actress
  1. Sissy Spacek  (Coal Miner’s Daughter)
  2. Goldie Hawn  (Private Benjamin)

Analysis:  Spacek earns her first Comedy nomination.  Hawn, who I have never liked, but has great comic timing, earns her third Comedy nomination.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Jason Robards  (Melvin and Howard)
  2. Levon Helm  (Coal Miner’s Daughter)

Analysis:  Robards’ performance in this category is the best since 1968 and there won’t be another winner as good until 1986.  This is the only nomination for Helm, known better for being in The Band (it’s the year for acting male singers).  It’s the second Comedy nom (and win) for Robards.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Mary Steenburgen  (Melvin and Howard)
  2. Eileen Brennan  (Private Benjamin)
  3. Charlotte Rampling  (Stardust Memories)

Analysis:  These are the only Comedy nominations for all three actresses.


  • Stardust Memories  (335)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Melvin and Howard  (290)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Stunt Man  (245)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor
  • L’Age D’or  (135)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay
  • Coal Miner’s Daughter  (100)
    • Actress, Supporting Actor
  • Airplane!  (90)
    • Picture, Original Screenplay
  • Hopscotch  (75)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor
  • Private Benjamin  (65)
    • Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Fame  (45)
    • Director
  • Mon Oncle D’Amerique  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • One-Trick Poiny  (35)
    • Actor

Analysis:  Not a strong year overall – Stardust Memories isn’t nearly at the same level as Allen’s previous two Comedies and this year pales in comparison to 1979.

Best Comedy Not Nominated for any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • My Bodyguard

Analysis:  An amusing little Comedy, my #23 of the year (#8 among Comedies) but its best strength is the script, and Original Screenplay is too full.

Roundup for the Year in Film:

Eligible Films I Have Seen:  140

By Stars:

  • ****:  10
  • ***.5:  8
  • ***:  45
  • **.5:  39
  • **:  15
  • *.5:  4
  • *:  12
  • .5:  5
  • 0:  2
  • Average Film Score for the Year, out of 100:  56.80

Analysis:  A big drop, of almost three points.  This is the second lowest average to date.  Only 45% of the films are *** or better, the lowest percentage yet and only the third time it has dropped below 50%.  And almost 28% of the films are **.5, the highest total in 34 years.  That combines with only 32% of the films being ***, the lowest to-date.  That means that, aside from the great films at the top of the list, the rest of this year is really pretty bad.  A whopping 13.57% of the films are * or worse, the first time any year has had more than 10%.

Oscar-Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • none

Oscar Quality:

Best Picture:  This year is an echo of 1973.  There is one truly incredible film (Raging Bull / Cries and Whispers).  There are two other high-level **** films (The Elephant Man, Ordinary People / The Exorcist, American Graffiti), one one other mid-range **** film (Tess / The Sting) and then a *** film that doesn’t make the Top 400 of Best Picture nominees (Coal Miner’s Daughter / A Touch of Class).  And, in both cases, the final, weakest film was replaced in the Best Director race by a significantly better film (The Stunt Man / Last Tango in Paris).  This year has the slight better average nominee (90.0 to 89.8) but a slightly lesser average rank (174.00 to 169.80), which is why this is only the second best year to-date (8th overall) while 1973 was the best to-date (7th overall).  There won’t be a better year for Best Picture until 1994.  The Oscar score for Best Picture is a 75.0, which is one of the better scores to date, but it’s calculated in relation to the films from this year.

The Winners:  Among the nominees, the average winner ranks at 2.25, which is the weakest in six years (although better than the next two years).  In only four categories does the best nominee win the Oscar (Screenplay, Actor, Editing, Song – Visual Effects doesn’t count because it wasn’t a competitive award).  On the other hand, among all nominees, the average winner rank is 3.88, which is a significant improvement over the year before.  That’s a ratio of 1.73 which is one of the better scores to date, meaning they might not have given the award to my choice, but that the Oscar winner was generally one of the best choices of the year (and that the better choice was at least nominated).  Only 3 Oscar winners win the Nighthawk and only 5 others come in second, but on the other hand, only three categories have a winner outside my Top 5 and the only one outside my Top 8 is Score.

The Nominees:  The Oscar score is solid.  With a 70.3, it would have been the best to-date before 1972, but the 70’s had several years that were better.  It includes a 63.6 Tech score (tied for third best to-date), an 89.1 for acting and a 69.2 for the major categories.  Overall, it’s a solid year, and up a bit from the year before, but it looks weaker because the next several years will all be much higher.  This year is better than every year before 1972 and only slighter than the average score for the 70’s, but it will end up being the second lowest score of the 80’s, as the Academy finally starts making better choices.

Golden Globe Best Picture – Comedy / Musical:  This year is a very slight drop from the year before, ranking 31st out of 66 years.  The year before had two really high films cancelled out by one really low film.  This year doesn’t have anything like that.  The highest ranked film is #82 and the lowest is #216.  The winner is one of the weakest of the nominees (Coal Miner’s Daughter).  The other nominees are Airplane, Melvin and Howard, Fame and The Idolmaker.  The Globes didn’t do as badly as it might seem at first glance.  Their nominees average a 76.8 while mine average an 88.2.  However, one of my films was nominated as a Drama (The Stunt Man) and two of them were foreign films (L’Age D’Or, Mon Oncle D’Amerique).  Substituting my next three films (My Bodyguard, One-Trick Pony, Fame), that brings the average down to 79.6.  So, at that point, three of their nominees are on my list and there’s not a lot of difference between My Bodyguard and Coal Miner’s Daughter.  So, the only film they really blew it with is Stardust Memories, a far better film than The Idolmaker, but at least they didn’t nominate any mediocre films in this year.  And it’s better than the next year, when none of the films will be better than ***.

Top 5 Films of the Year:

1  –  Raging Bull  (reviewed here)

The Australian New Wave makes their bitterness against the British known.

The Australian New Wave makes their bitterness against the British known.

2  –  Breaker Morant  (dir. Bruce Beresford)

In my mind, this film is linked with Z.  That has nothing to do with the film in and of itself, but who first recommended the film to me: my mother.  I mentioned this in my review of Z, which you can find here.  Both films are built upon horrible true tragedies, and while Z has what you think is a happy ending at the first, in the end it turns out not to be so.  This film didn’t even have that.  It ends with tragedy, a country ordering its men to do one thing and then blaming them for it.  What they did was wrong, of course, and in today’s world, they can most certainly be held accountable.  But they can be held accountable at an international level.  I still don’t know of any case in which a country ordered its soldiers to do something and then decided to hold them accountable for that.  It would be like deciding that the actual people who did the waterboarding are the ones who should be tried for war crimes by those who ordered it to be done.

Of course, Z is not really the most appropriate comparable film to this one.  There’s no question that the companion film to this is Gallipoli.  Both of them were made in Australia, part of the films that made the Australian New Wave such an international success.  Both were directed by Australians who would go on to great success in Hollywood (Peter Weir, director of Gallipoli, would earn multiple Oscar nominations while Bruce Beresford, the director of Breaker Morant, would have his Driving Miss Daisy win Best Picture).  Most importantly, through the eyes of two different wars (the Boer War in this film, World War I in Gallipoli), these films would examine what they felt was a betrayal by the British commanders of the Australian troops who served under them.  I will wait until next year to go more in depth on Gallipoli, but suffice to say, these films really do belong together.

Breaker Morant is a true story of the Boer War.  During that war, fighting a guerilla force, the British went to extreme lengths to beat them down, including summarily executing those caught in disguise.  Morant has men executed and kills a priest who has been spying.  Then, with the world frowning on British actions, they decide to make an example out of Morant and his men.  It’s easier than making an example of actual British troops and it will help ease the international outrage.  So, Morant and his men are brought to trial.  But they’re not allowed to rely on the orders they were given.  The defense witnesses who could help their case have all been sent to India.  They are given a lawyer who’s not used to criminal proceedings and who only has a day to prepare.  They are railroaded through and the end of this film seems as inevitable as the end of Paths of Glory.

This film would be almost unwatchable if not for a few things.  The first is the beautiful construction of the film, the adept use of the script to bring us into the story in part and eventually allow us to see the whole thing, the careful editing that makes all of that work, and the beautiful cinematography in the South African fields.  But more important are the two main performances – that of Edward Woodward as the charismatic Morant, a man who actually is given a chance to escape at the end and see the world and who replies “I’ve seen it.”  His final words in the film, “Don’t make a mess of it,” are at once funny and moving.  But no less impressive is Jack Thompson as the outraged lawyer, doing everything he can to save his clients when it’s clear that everything is being set into a wall to prevent that from happening.

Breaker Morant is a heart-breaking film.  We shouldn’t forget that what Morant himself did and what he ordered men to do was horrifying and is a war crime.  He should not have gone unpunished.  But for the man who ordered those crimes to not only get away scot-free, but also be the man ordering that those men be put on trial, is perhaps even worse.  Films like these exist, partially as works of art, but, hopefully, partially as a means to remind us of when we are less than we can be and to hope that we can do better.

3  –  The Elephant Man  (reviewed here)

Certainly one of the greatest sequels ever made.

Certainly one of the greatest sequels ever made.

4  –  Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back  (dir. Irvin Kershner)

While Star Wars was steeped in Joseph Campbell’s theories about myth, there were objections to the actual dialogue in the film.  The lines worked great for kids and “May the force be with you” might be the most commonly used film quote of all-time, but adults thought it was hokey and the actors themselves objected.  So, in spite of two Oscar nominations for writing, George Lucas decided to bring in some outside help for the sequel.  First he went to Leigh Brackett, who thought she was being brought in for co-writing The Big Sleep with Faulkner, but really had been spotted because of her pulp Sci-Fi novels.  Brackett produced a first draft while sick with cancer and then died.  The script wasn’t particularly good and is very different from the film we know (you can find it online) but Lucas decided to give her screen credit.  Then he found Lawrence Kasdan, and oh what a find that was.

Think of some of the masterful lines from Empire: “I’d just as soon kiss a wookie!”  “I can arrange that!” or “Apology accepted, Captain Needa.” or “Who’s scruffy looking?”  Think of the entire scene between Han and Leia before C-3PO interrupts them.  We have Kasdan to thank for all of that.  This would be just the start for Kasdan – after this he would be brought in to write Raiders of the Lost Ark, then would write and direct his first feature, Body Heat, and a great career was born.

When I was younger, Empire was viewed as the weak link between Star Wars and Return of the Jedi.  Don’t believe me?  Think of the scene in Clerks when Dante and Randall debate it.  Dante prefers Empire and Randall calls it blasphemy.  But, along the line, things changed, and it became a commonly held belief that Empire was not only better than Jedi, but perhaps the best of all the Star Wars films.  I still think the original Star Wars is the best, but, discounting Lord of the Rings (all one story, filmed at the same time, broken into three films for release), this film rivals The Dark Knight as the second best sequel ever made (behind, of course, The Godfather Part II).

Part of that comes from the script, of course.  We’ve departed from Campbell territory and moved into pure story.  There is romance, there is adventure, there is terror (if you’re old enough to have seen this in the theater, ask yourself how scared you were when Luke goes into the cave and finds himself facing off against Vader), there is drama, there is comedy.  There is everything you could ever want from a film.

The technical aspects of this film still shine as much as they did in 1980, when it won 2 Oscars, was nominated for two more and, I argue, was under-appreciated.  Look at how brilliantly the editing moves between stories without feeling chaotic.  Listen to the magnificent sound effects – how Luke is saved by a split second because of Vader’s breathing.  The battle on Hoth stills feels exciting and the lightsaber battle, ranging from the carbon-freezing chamber to the catwalk is all the more exciting for the pauses in it.

Now we come to the music.  As I mentioned above, John Williams didn’t simply rest on his laurels from Star Wars – he composed new, original music for this film and it shines.  Can you think of another sequel where the primary theme comes so readily to mind?  “The Imperial March”, composed for this film, is so magnificently stirring that I walked into my wedding to it.  Or look at how the music slows down for that terrifying moment in the cave, or things speed up as the Millennium Falcon is pursued at the climax of the film.  This score sucks us in as readily as the first one did.  So does the film.

One last note: this is the one of the original trilogy that is best served by the Special Edition (and subsequent DVD releases).  It doesn’t have the controversy over Han shooting first or the big change to the end of the Jedi.  What this film adds are new visual effects shots that look great – open shots of Cloud City rather than white walls everywhere and, most importantly, new shots of the wampa that were unavailable with technology at the time but look great.  The two new wampa shots are perhaps the best additions in all three films.  For the DVD releases, there is also some new dubbing, with Ian McDiarmid and Temeura Morrison lending their voices to make it more compatible with the prequel trilogy.  Of all the post-prequel tweaks, these might be favorite.  There is also one tiny little tweak which I happen to really like.  “Bring my shuttle” is not an impressive line.  But when Darth Vader, with that ominous voice, says “Alert my star destroyer to prepare for my arrival,” well, given that he’s already force-choked to death a captain and an admiral in this film, then preparing for his arrival is probably a pretty damn good idea.

5  –  Ordinary People  (reviewed here)

5 Worst Films  (#1 being the worst):

  1. Caligula
  2. Guyana: Cult of the Damned
  3. Galaxina
  4. The Apple
  5. Can’t Stop the Music

note:  Welcome to the Razzie Era.  I decided that, to do this properly, I would need the watch the Razzie nominees.  I couldn’t really declare something the worst of the year if I hadn’t even seen the films nominated for Worst Film of the Year.  It has sucked, watching 35 years of Razzie nominees, but I put myself through it.  The irony is, in this year, the four worst films weren’t nominated.

The Razzies:  The Razzies, in their inaugural year, nominated 10 films.  Only five of them made my bottom 10, three more were in my next 10 and one film actually made it as high as #119 (out of 140).  So, from worst to least worst, here are the nominees: Can’t Stop the Music, Saturn 3, Xanadu (all .5), Windows, Raise the Titanic!, Friday the 13th, The Jazz Singer, Cruising, The Nude Bomb (all *) and The Formula (*.5).   The Formula was even Oscar-nominated for Best Cinematography, thus becoming the first Razzie Worst Picture nominee to also earn an Oscar nomination.  It won’t be the last – it won’t be until 1983 that the Razzie nominees will be free of Oscar nominations.  But, hey, thanks to the song “America”, The Jazz Singer becomes the first Razzie nominee for Worst Picture to earn a Nighthawk nomination.

You wouldn't think a film with Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole and Malcolm McDowell could be the worst film ever made but it is.

You wouldn’t think a film with Helen Mirren, Peter O’Toole and Malcolm McDowell could be the worst film ever made but it is.

Caligula  (dir. Tinto Brass)

I wasn’t originally going to write a review of Caligula here.  That’s because I wrote an entire post declaring it the worst film ever made.  But, going back to that post, I realized I didn’t actually review the film.  I mostly quoted Roger Ebert’s review (and you really should read it) and mentioned other contenders.  I owe it to my devoted half-dozen fans to write the review this film deserves.

I am going to get a little crass here, but this movie calls for nothing more dignified than that anyway.  How bad is Caligula?  Caligula is so bad that it has Helen Mirren nudity and it’s worthless trash.  It has a scene where Helen Mirren gets banged from behind and the scene is so distasteful that it can’t even qualify as erotic.  How fucking messed up is that?  How can you waste the epic sensual talent that is Helen Mirren?

Caligula is lost from the very start of the film.  It begins with a biblical quotation: “What shall it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul.” which is Mark 8:36.  Just using that quote shows how much the filmmakers had no idea what they were doing.  Caligula is a sociopath and always was.  This is not a man who suddenly lost his soul in his quest for power.  He never had a soul.  He simply grabbed the power he was able to grab and made horrific use of it.  This not a parable about a good man who lost his way upon coming into power.  What story did they think they were telling anyway?

This film has Helen Mirren and she’s wasted.  It has Malcolm McDowell, but apparently nobody bothered to offer him any direction other than “be a sociopath.”  It has Peter O’Toole in one of the more distasteful scenes in film history, having a man’s testes tied so that he can not urinate and then force-feeding him wine so that his bladder will burst and he will die.  Even the presence of John Gielgud can’t add any dignity to the proceedings.

It is true that the film was produced by Penthouse and the idea was the make a hardcore sex film with a real plot and real actors and serious subject matter.  But there were two massive problems with the results.  The first is that because or production arguments, the script and direction ended up a complete mess.  The second is that this film forgets something basic about sex that even most porn gets right – that sex is something to be enjoyed.  The whole point is the pleasure of sex.  No one in this film seems to actually enjoy anything that happens.  If you wanted to counter that I approve of A Clockwork Orange in which also no one enjoys sex, I would point out that Clockwork is about rape and rape isn’t about sex, it’s about violence.  This film is supposed to be about sex (it was meant as high-class porn, after all) and fails miserably.

This film is a litany of distaste.  There is a giant mechanical device (which surely must be anachronistic) that sweeps off the heads of people buried in the ground while the court watches.  There is a wedding where Caligula decides to deflower the bride, and then, for good measure, rape the groom as well.

Did the makers of this film watch I Claudius and think to themselves, well, hell, what if we had Caligula’s depravity and weren’t confined by the limits of public television?  Why bother?  John Hurt’s performance was already so disturbing that they needn’t have bothered.  This is, as I once wrote, the worst film ever made, not just for its complete and utter artistic failure, but for that extra dimension of repulsiveness that glowers through in every frame.


  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:   The Empire Strikes Back / Kagemusha  (11)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:   Raging Bull  (8)
  • Most Nighthawk Points:  Raging Bull  (540)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Award:  The Jazz Singer
  • 2nd Place Award:  The Elephant Man  (Actor, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design)
  • 6th Place Award:  Tess  (Picture, Adapted Screenplay)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Nominations:   The Elephant Man  /  Ordinary People  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Awards:   Raging Bull  (5)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Points:  Raging Bull  (380)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Drama Award:  Resurrection
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Nominations:  Melvin and Howard  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Awards:  Stardust Memories  (3)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Points:  Stardust Memories  (335)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Comedy Award:  Private Benjamin

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

Progressive Leaders:

  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:  The Wizard of Oz  /  The Godfather  (18)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:  The Wizard of Oz  /  Bonnie and Clyde  (14)
  • Most Nighthawk Points:  Bonnie and Clyde  (865)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards without winning Best Picture:  Frankenstein  /  The Magnificent Ambersons  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Best Picture Nomination:  Yojimbo  (11)
  • Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Nighthawk Award:  Throne of Blood (13)
  • Actor:  Humphrey Bogart  (475)
  • Actress:  Katharine Hepburn  (560)
  • Director:   Billy Wilder  (585)
  • Writer:  Billy Wilder  (960)
  • Cinematographer:  Sven Nykvist  (275)
  • Composer:  Max Steiner  (450)
  • Foreign Film:  Ingmar Bergman  (500)

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

  • Drama:  61 (22)  –  Raging Bull  (62.5)
  • Foreign:  33  –  Kagemusha  (64.5)
  • Comedy:  20 (4)  –  Stardust Memories  (58.6)
  • Musical:  18 (1)  –  One-Trick Pony  (51.6)
  • Horror:  12  –  The Shining  (48.8)
  • Action:  6 (2)  –  Kagemusha  (52.5)
  • Sci-Fi:  6  –  The Empire Strikes Back  (43.7)
  • Suspense:  5  –  Dressed to Kill  (31.6)
  • Mystery:  3 (1)  –  Zigeunerweisen  (56.7)
  • Kids:  2  –  The Bugs Bunny / Road Runner Movie  (70)
  • Crime:  2 (2)  –  Vengeance is Mine  (67)
  • Western:  2  –  Eagle’s Wing  (67)
  • War:  1  –  The Big Red One  (72)
  • Fantasy:  1 (1)  –  Arabian Nights  (52)
  • Adventure:  1  –  Raise the Titanic!  (16)

Analysis:  Dramas account for only 43.6% of all films, the highest in 7 years and the second highest since 1962.  A whopping 70.7% of all films are either Dramas, Comedies or Musicals, the highest total since 1952.  The 18 Musicals are the most since 1944; in spite of that there isn’t a single Musical in the Top 20.  On the other hand, Foreign films account for only 23.6%, the first time since 1958 that less than a quarter of the films I have seen are Foreign.  There are only 2 Crime films, the lowest total since 1945 and they’re both Foreign films (and both originally from other years).

Studio Note:  Warner Bros leads the way with 13 films, followed by Paramount and United Artists with 12 each.  47.9% of the films are from the major studios, a big jump from the year before.  Unfortunately, except for 20th Century-Fox, they’re not good films.  Aside from Fox, no studio has a film average higher than 62.5 and Universal’s 11 films average a truly dreadful 40.45, the lowest for any studio in a single year.  There are five Universal films in the bottom 20 of the year: The Nude Bomb, The Jazz Singer, Where the Buffalo Roam, Xanadu and Guyana: Cult of the Damned.  Fox, on the other hand, averages a 75.3, the highest for the studio since it had Murnau under contract in 1928, and its 7 films include Empire Strikes Back, Kagemusha and The Stunt Man.

32 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):

  • The Aviator’s Wife (Rohmer, France)
  • Bye Bye Brazil  (Diegues, Brazil)  *
  • La Cage Aux Folles II  (Molinaro, France)
  • Les Charlots contre Dracula  (Desagnat, France)
  • City of Women  (Fellini, Italy)
  • Confidence  (Szabo, Hungary)  **
  • A Distant Cry from Spring  (Yamada, Japan)
  • Egon Schiele – Excess and Punishment  (Vesely, Austria)  *
  • Every Man for Himself  (Godard, Switzerland)  *
  • The Fiancee  (Rucker / Reisch, East Germany)  *
  • From the Lives of the Marionettes  (Bergman, Sweden)
  • Gaijan, a Brazilian Odyssey  (Yamasaki, Japan)
  • Germany, Pale Mother  (Sanders-Brahms, West Germany)
  • Good Riddance  (Mankiewicz, Canada)  *
  • Invisible Adversaries  (Export, Austria)
  • Kagemusha  (Kurosawa, Japan)  **
  • The Last Metro  (Truffaut, France)  **
  • The Latin Immigrant  (Nieto Ros, Colombia)  *
  • The Legend of Six Dynasty  (Wong, Taiwan)  *
  • Life and Death  (Vennerod, Norway)  *
  • Loulou  (Pialat, France)
  • Manila by Night  (Bernal, Philippines)
  • Mon Oncle D’Amerique  (Resnais, France)
  • Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears  (Menshov, USSR)  ***
  • The Nest  (de Arminen, Spain)  **
  • Olympics 40  (Kotkowski, Poland)  *
  • Palermo or Wolfsburg  (Schroeter, West Germany)
  • Payal Ki Jhankaar  (Bose, India)  *
  • Pepe, Luci, Bom and the Other Girls  (Almodovar, Spain)
  • Space Firebird 2772  (Sugiyama, Japan)
  • Special Treatment  (Paskaljevic, Yugoslavia)  *
  • Zigeunerweisen  (Suzuki, Japan)

Note:  The 32 total films are the fewest I’ve seen since 1961; there won’t be another year with less than 43.  There are also almost no genre films – only five of these aren’t a Drama or Comedy.  France is back on top with 6 films, followed by Japan with 5.  It’s the seventh time those two have been 1-2, but the first since 1969.  For the first time (and last for a while), I have seen two films from Austria.  For the first time since 1975 and the last time for a very long time, there are no films from Hong Kong.  There are only 2 West German films, the fewest since 1972, namely because there are no films from either Herzog or Fassbinder.  There is only one film from Italy, the lowest since 1946.

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

  • Cameroon:  Our Daughter  (dir. Kamwa)
  • Czechoslovakia:  Love Between the Raindrops  (dir. Kachyne)
  • Finland:  Tulipaa  (dir. Honkasalo / Lehto)
  • Iceland:  Land and Sons  (dir. Gudmundsson)
  • Israel:  The Thin Line  (dir. Bat-Adam)
  • Italy:  A Leap in the Dark  (dir. Bellocchio)
  • Netherlands:  In for Treatment  (dir. Kok / van Zuylen)
  • Portugal:  Morning Undersea  (dir. Antonio)
  • Sweden:  Herr Puntila and His Servant Matti  (dir. Langbacka)
  • West Germany:  Fabian  (dir. Gremm)

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 16 for 26 (62%).  That’s my lowest mark since 1970 and second lowest to-date.  Sadly, it’s a sign of the decade to come.  In the 80’s, I will only see 67.1% of the submitted films, almost 8% below the previous decade.  Part of that is because of the big increase in countries submitting.  No year in the 70’s ever had more than 24 submissions while no year in this decade will ever have less than 25.
Even though this year has three more submissions than 1979, the differences are significant.  There are 7 countries that submitted in 1979 that don’t submit this year (Argentina, Hong Kong, China, Belgium, Egypt, Denmark, Bulgaria – rare misses for Denmark and Argentina) while there are 10 that didn’t submit the year before (Brazil, India, Taiwan, Finland, East Germany, as well as Norway, with only its third submission and its first since 1962, and first time submissions from Portugal and Colombia (regular submitters after this), Cameroon (its only submission so extra annoying that I wasn’t able to see it) and Iceland (has submitted every year since, which ties it with Taiwan, which also hasn’t missed since, with the 9th longest active streak of submissions).  With submissions from Finland and Norway (but, surprisingly, not Denmark), it’s the first time since 1957 that three of the four Scandinavian countries submit in the same year, but that will be the normal from now on.
Israel is the most annoying this year – it’s the second straight year I am missing the submitted Michal Bat-Adam film.  Israel is a constant problem – from 1964 to 1985 they submit 18 times, six of which are nominated and of the other twelve I have only seen one.  Of course, I’m missing Cameroon, Portugal and Iceland in their first years.  This is Finland’s second but I have seen the first.  It’s the fourth Czech submission I am missing.  It’s the fifth Swedish submission I am missing, but since they submit almost every year, that’s not so bad.  It’s the middle of a horrible five year stretch where I am missing every submission from the Netherlands.  It’s the fifth West German submission I am missing.  It’s only the second Italian submission I am missing.

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

  • L’ Age D’or  (1930)
  • No Regrets for Our Youth  (1946)
  • Floating Clouds  (1955)
  • The Colour of Pomegranate  (1968)
  • The Brothers Karamazov  (1969)
  • Everything for Sale  (1969)
  • The Canterbury Tales  (1972)
  • Ludwig: Requiem for a Virgin King  (1972)
  • The Master and Margaret  (1972)
  • Arabian Nights  (1974)
  • The Cars That Ate Paris  (1974)
  • The Devil’s Playground  (1975)
  • Barocco  (1976)
  • Manthan  (1976)
  • ABBA: The Movie  (1977)
  • Why Shoot the Teacher?  (1977)
  • The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith  (1978)
  • Empire of Passion  (1978)
  • The Getting of Wisdom  (1978)
  • In a Year of 13 Moons  (1978)
  • Moliere  (1978)
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps  (1978)
  • Angi Vera  (1979)
  • Breaker Morant  (1979)
  • Caligula  (1979)
  • Christ Stopped at Eboli  (1979)
  • Don Giovanni  (1979)
  • Eagle’s Wing  (1979)
  • A Force of One  (1979)
  • The Great Santini  (1979)
  • Mad Max  (1979)
  • My Brilliant Career  (1979)
  • Radio On  (1979)
  • Scum  (1979)
  • Tess  (1979)
  • The Third Generation  (1979)
  • The Tin Drum  (1979)
  • Twice a Woman  (1979)
  • Vengeance is Mine  (1979)
  • Zombie  (1979)

Note:  These 40 films average a 63.3.  They earn 16 Nighthawk nominations, only 2 of which are for Best Foreign Film.  They include the #2 film of the year (Breaker Morant) and #6 film of the year (Tess) as well as several more in the Top 20 (L’Age D’or, My Brilliant Career, No Regrets for Our Youth, Floating Clouds, The Brothers Karamazov).  However, it does also include Caligula, the worst film ever made.  Without it, these films go up to a 65.0.

Films Not Listed at

  • ABBA: The Movie
  • Angi Vera
  • Breaking Glass
  • The Brothers Karamazov
  • The Canterbury Tales
  • Les Charlots contre Dracula
  • Circle of Two
  • The Colour of Pomegranate
  • Eagle’s Wing
  • Floating Clouds
  • Invisible Adversaries
  • The Legend of Six Dynasty
  • Life and Death
  • Ludwig: Requiem for a Virgin King
  • Manila by Night
  • Manthan
  • The Master and Margaret
  • Moliere
  • No Regrets for Our Youth
  • Olympics 40
  • Palermo or Wolfsburg
  • Payal Ki Jhankaar
  • Permanent Vacation
  • Phobia
  • Radio On
  • Scum
  • Solo Sunny
  • The Third Generation
  • Zigeunerweisen
  • Zombie

Note:  I use the list at for deciding which year films are eligible in.  Some films, however, 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.
As is usually the case, most of these are Foreign films which never got an L.A. release.  The films marked in orange were those that were submitted for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars..

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

  • Atlantic City  (1981)
  • Bye Bye Brazil  (1981)
  • La Cage Aux Folles II  (1981)
  • City of Women  (1981)
  • Confidence  (1981)
  • Every Man for Himself  (1981)
  • Gaijan, A Brazilian Odyssey  (1981)
  • Good Riddance  (1981)
  • Heaven’s Gate  (1981)
  • Jane Austen in Manhattan  (1981)
  • The Last Metro  (1981)
  • Loulou  (1981)
  • Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears  (1981)
  • Richard’s Things  (1981)
  • Superman II  (1981)
  • The Aviator’s Wife  (1982)
  • Grendel Grendel Grendel  (1982)
  • The Long Good Friday  (1982)
  • Space Firebird 2772  (1982)
  • The Nest  (1983)
  • Germany, Pale Mother  (1984)
  • The Gods Must be Crazy  (1984)
  • Special Treatment  (1986)
  • Pepe, Luci, Bom and the Other Girls  (1992)

Note:  These 23 films average a 64.2. Since 1980 is already a year quite crowded at the top, I don’t mind that The Long Good Friday is moved to 1982, and Atlantic City is an example of why I move films – though it was originally released overseas in 1980, I’m not going to put it anywhere but 1981, when it was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.  Those two films would have made already crowded races for Picture and, especially, Actor, even tougher.