The desperation and tragedy of love in Sophie's Choice.

The desperation and tragedy of love in Sophie’s Choice.

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 (or directors) in olive are links to earlier posts that I don’t want to have show up in blue and be mistaken for a nominee.  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. Sophie’s Choice
  2. The Verdict  *
  3. Das Boot
  4. Tootsie  *
  5. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  6. Missing  *
  7. E.T.  *
  8. The Long Good Friday
  9. Diner
  10. Fitzcarraldo

Analysis:  There are nine **** films and then a three point drop to a high-level ***.5, followed by another couple of high-level ***.5 films, My Favorite Year and Blade Runner.  Yes, that means I have Blade Runner as the third-ranked Sci-Fi film of the year, which for many will be blasphemy.
Because Sophie’s Choice is a 95, that means there is a much tighter range in the Top 9 than usual.  Diner is a 90, which means there is only a difference of five points between the #1 and #9 films, only the fifth time the difference has been this low (only once has it been lower – 1960, and it will only be this low again once in the next decade).
This year also has by far the best Oscar score in this category to-date and one of the best ever.  That’s partially because there are no high-level **** films, and partially because every film nominated was at least ***.5.  The score is an 84.4, the first time it has broken 80, and that won’t happen again for another 20 years.
There is some irony here with the Oscar for Gandhi.  At #20 on my list, it is the lowest ranked Best Picture winner since 1968 and it’s the first winner since 1958 to be the weakest of the nominees.  But it still made my list, so being the weakest of the nominees is a reflection of the good choices the Academy made in nominating films.

  • dasBest Director
  1. Wolfgang Petersen  (Das Boot)  *
  2. Sidney Lumet  (The Verdict)  *
  3. Alan J. Pakula  (Sophie’s Choice)
  4. Steven Spielberg  (E.T.) **
  5. Sydney Pollack  (Tootsie)  *
  6. Costa-Gavras  (Missing)
  7. Werner Herzog  (Fitzcarraldo)
  8. Ridley Scott  (Blade Runner)
  9. John MacKenzie  (The Long Good Friday)
  10. Nicholas Meyer  (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Analysis:  Spielberg wins his first Consensus Award, with his fourth Consensus nomination, but it will still be over a decade before he’ll win his first Oscar (he’s already got two Nighthawks at this point).
Even though he won an Oscar, this is Sydney Pollack’s only Nighthawk nomination.  It’s also the only one for Petersen.  Pakula earns his second nomination (it’s his second time winning Best Picture at the Nighthawks).  Lumet, eternally a bridesmaid never a bride, earns his fifth Nighthawk nomination, all without a win.  Spielberg earns his fourth nomination, but with two wins, he’s ahead of Lumet in points.
The Oscar score here is an 88.2, the highest in nine years.  It’s not as high as a year like 1972 or 1973 because the film nominated for Picture but not Director wasn’t the weak link in the Picture nominees like in those previous years.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Sophie’s Choice  *
  2. The Verdict  *
  3. Missing  **
  4. Das Boot  *
  5. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  6. Fast Times at Ridgemont High  *
  7. Victor/Victoria  *
  8. Three Brothers
  9. Blade Runner
  10. The World According to Garp  *

Analysis:  There was a three-way tie for 5th place in the Consensus, thus the seven nominees.  David Mamet earns his first Nighthawk nomination (The Verdict), though it’s still a few years before he starts directing.
With my Top 4 all earning Oscar noms and the fifth nominee as my #7, the Oscar score is a 96.8.  It’s the second highest score to-date, the highest since 1951 and only the fourth time it has broken 90.  It also the start of three straightt years above 90.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Tootsie  **
  2. Diner  *
  3. My Favorite Year
  4. E.T.  *
  5. The Long Good Friday
  6. Shoot the Moon
  7. Fitzcarraldo
  8. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid
  9. The Missionary
  10. Moonlighting

Analysis:  Gandhi, which won the Oscar and Globe (and is #16 on my list) finishes third in the Consensus, the only original script to win both awards and not come in 1st or 2nd.  That’s because Tootsie dominates the awards (three critics awards, WGA win, Oscar, Globe, BAFTA noms) and E.T. wins the WGA and earns Oscar, Globe and BAFTA noms while Gandhi wasn’t eligible for the WGA.  Tootsie has the most points since Annie Hall and is tied for the most points for a film not written by Woody Allen prior to 1993.
For the second straight year, neither Woody Allen nor Ingmar Bergman is nominated for writing, the first two year gap since 1952-53.
This is the first time in 15 years that the Oscar winner hasn’t made my Top 10.

  • Best Actor:
  1. Paul Newman  (The Verdict)  *
  2. Dustin Hoffman  (Tootsie)  *
  3. Ben Kingsley  (Gandhi)  **
  4. Jack Lemmon  (Missing)  *
  5. Bob Hoskins  (The Long Good Friday)
  6. Klaus Kinski  (Fitzcarraldo)
  7. Peter O’Toole  (My Favorite Year)
  8. Albert Finney  (Shoot the Moon)  *
  9. Jurgen Prochnow  (Das Boot)
  10. Klaus Marie Brandeur  (Mephisto)

Analysis:  This is the first nomination for Kingsley (who will wait a while before his next) and Hoskins (who will earn two more before the end of the decade).  It’s the fifth nomination for Hoffman and the sixth for Lemmon.  It’s also the sixth for Newman, but it’s his second win and he’s now at 280 points.
This Top 5 is the best since 1974 and tied for the third-best to date.  I have changed the winner in this category a number of times over the years, and I could really go with any of the Top 5 – they all have the same rating for me.  So if you want to pick a different winner among those five, I won’t argue with you.  It has a very strong second five as well.
Like Adapted Screenplay, the start of three straight years of an Oscar score above 90, in this case, a 95.0.

  • Best Actress
  1. Meryl Streep  (Sophie’s Choice)  **
  2. Sissy Spacek  (Missing)  *
  3. Julie Andrews  (Victor/Victoria)  *
  4. Jessica Lange  (Frances)  *
  5. Diane Keaton  (Shoot the Moon)
  6. Debra Winger  (An Officer and a Gentleman)  *
  7. Barbara Sukowa  (Lola)
  8. Debra Winger  (Cannery Row)
  9. Dolly Parton  (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas)

Analysis:  This is the first nomination for Lange, the fourth for Andrews, the fifth for Spacek and the fifth for Keaton.  It’s already the sixth for Streep, who goes up to 255 points and moves into the Top 10.  It’s Streep’s second win, but her first as a lead.
Streep becomes the first lead actress to win 7 awards and to earn 8 nominations (she loses the BAFTA).  Her 483 Consensus points crushes the record and won’t be surpassed until 1992.  Her Consensus percentage is the highest since the Globes started having nominees and remains the third highest since then even today, surpassed only in 1992 and 1993.  Likewise, her 7 wins and 8 noms won’t be surpassed until 1992.
It kills me to have Winger not receive a nomination.  She was my most massive celebrity crush through the 80’s and this movie is a major part of the reason why.  This is the best Top 5 in four years and tied for the best in eight years and she would be nominated in a lot of years.  But Keaton’s performance, like the whole film, is under-appreciated.
Streep’s performance in this film rivals Gloria Swanson (Sunset Blvd.), Vivien Leigh (A Streetcar Named Desire) and Elizabeth Taylor (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf) for the greatest lead actress performance of all-time.  It’s the first time in five years I agree with the Oscar winner in this category.
With all the Oscar nominee in my Top 6, the Oscar score is a 97.1, the highest in five years, and it won’t be this high again for over a decade.

  • klineBest Supporting Actor:
  1. Kevin Kline  (Sophie’s Choice)
  2. Robert Preston  (Victor/Victoria)  *
  3. Louis Gossett, Jr.  (An Officer and a Gentleman)  **
  4. James Mason  (The Verdict)  *
  5. Peter MacNicol  (Sophie’s Choice)
  6. Milo O’Shea  (The Verdict)
  7. Sean Penn  (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)
  8. Charles Durning  (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas)
  9. Bill Murray  (Tootsie)
  10. Dabney Coleman  (Tootsie)

Analysis:  John Lithgow, who is my #12, won the Consensus, but not by much.  He has the fewest points for a Consensus winner since 1975 and no one since has had fewer.  He is part of a strange trend in a lack of consensus in this category in this decade, as he’s the first of four different Consensus winners to lost the Oscar and not even earn a Globe nomination.  Kline wasn’t actually nominated for anything for his performance, which I can’t fathom, as he’s brilliant (in his screen debut, no less).
These are the only nominations for Gossett and MacNicol.  These are the second nominations each for Preston and Mason after respective gaps of 20 and 28 years.  It’s the first for Kline (obviously), but he’ll win another Nighthawk before the end of the decade.
If you want to accuse me of category fraud for MacNicol, I will accept that.  It’s tricky to have him as supporting in his own story, but he feels like a supporting player in his own story.
This is the weak link in the Oscar acting scores this year; although it still scores an 80.6, it is the only category below a 95.

  • jessica-lange-tootsieBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Jessica Lange  (Tootsie)  **
  2. Kim Stanley  (Frances)  *
  3. Helen Mirren  (The Long Good Friday)
  4. Teri Garr  (Tootsie)  *
  5. Lesley Ann Warren  (Victor/Victoria)  *
  6. Glenn Close  (The World According to Garp)  *
  7. Cher  (Come to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean)
  8. Lainie Kazan  (My Favorite Year)
  9. Charlotte Rampling  (The Verdict)

Analysis:  These are the only nominations for Stanley, Garr and Warren.  It’s the second in a row for Mirren, but she won’t earn another one until the 90’s.  It’s the second for Lange, to go along with her other nomination above.
Lange joins Fay Bainter (1938) and Teresa Wright (1942) in earning Oscar noms in both lead and supporting, and like the first two, she wins in supporting.
This is the start of a stretch of weak Top 5’s in this category.  The Oscars made good use of it though, and the score is a 96.0, the second highest of the decade.

  • Best Editing:
  1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  2. Sophie’s Choice
  3. E.T.
  4. The Long Good Friday
  5. Missing
  6. Three Brothers
  7. Diner
  8. Das Boot
  9. Tootsie
  10. The Verdict

Analysis:  Gandhi won the Oscar, and at #22 on my list, that gives it the lowest ranking yet for an Oscar winner.  But at least it made my list, which is better than a number of previous winners.  So, its rank being so low is also a reflection of the quality of editing in the year.
If you want a good idea of why I picked Star Trek II, go the the year in film (linked at the top) and read my full review of the film.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. E.T.  *
  2. Das Boot
  3. Fitzcarraldo
  4. Gandhi  *
  5. Sophie’s Choice  *
  6. Blade Runner  **
  7. Quest for Fire
  8. Missing
  9. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  10. The Long Good Friday

Analysis:  Blade Runner becomes the third film to win the Consensus without an Oscar nom.
This is the weakest Top 5 since 1970.  But, the Oscars made fairly good choices (the final nominee, Tootsie, was my #22).  It earns an 84.8, just barely lower than the year before, but the second highest score since 1950.
Allen Daviau wins his first Nighthawk; he’ll win another in five years, also working with Spielberg.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  2. E.T.
  3. Conan the Barbarian
  4. Fitzcarraldo
  5. Sophie’s Choice
  6. Gandhi
  7. Poltergeist
  8. Blade Runner
  9. Missing
  10. Tootise

Analysis:  James Horner wins his first Oscar (he’ll win another in 1989) and earns his first nomination.  What’s more remarkable is that John Williams wins his second Oscar, but fails to win the Nighthawk after winning the previous two.  He does earn his sixth straight nomination and moves up to 350 points and a tie for second place with Bernard Herrmann.

  • Best Sound:
  1. Das Boot
  2. E.T.
  3. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  4. Pink Floyd: The Wall
  5. Fitzcarraldo
  6. Blade Runner
  7. Poltergeist
  8. Tron
  9. Conan the Barbarian
  10. Firefox

Analysis:  A strong top two, and you could really go either way with the winner, but it drops off after that.

  • bladerunnerBest Art Direction:
  1. Blade Runner
  2. Gandhi
  3. Sophie’s Choice
  4. Victor/Victoria
  5. Mephisto
  6. The Dark Crystal
  7. Pink Floyd: The Wall
  8. Frances
  9. Fitzcarraldo
  10. The Verdict

Analysis:  With an Oscar score of 79.4, this is actually the second worst score in this category in the decade.  I’m not as big a fan of Blade Runner as many others, but its Art Direction is definitely the best feature of the film.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. E.T.
  2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  3. Poltergeist
  4. Blade Runner
  5. Tron
  6. The Dark Crystal
  7. Das Boot
  8. Cat People
  9. Conan the Barbarian

Analysis:  This is the best Top 5 to-date and it won’t be beaten until 1996.  This is already the third Spielberg film to win in this category.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. Das Boot
  2. E.T.
  3. Blade Runner
  4. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  5. Poltergeist
  6. Conan the Barbarian
  7. Fitzcarraldo
  8. Tron
  9. Firefox
  10. Stalker

Analysis:  The second best Top 5 to-date and there won’t be a better year until 1989.  Again, like with Sound, you could go either way with the top two films.

  • Gandhi-1982Best Costume Design:
  1. Gandhi
  2. Sophie’s Choice
  3. Victor/Victoria
  4. Fitzcarraldo
  5. Conan the Barbarian
  6. Frances
  7. Mephisto
  8. The Dark Crystal
  9. Siberiade
  10. La Traviata

Analysis:  This is the first time in five years that I agree with the Oscar winner, but it’s the start of an eight year streak where I agree with the Oscar winner.

  • Quest for Fire.JPGBest Makeup
  1. Quest for Fire
  2. Blade Runner
  3. Cat People
  4. Victor/Victoria
  5. Conan the Barbarian
  6. Poltergeist
  7. Tootsie
  8. Gandhi
  9. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  10. Sophie’s Choice

Analysis:  The third best Top 5 to-date.  It’s interesting, that with the massive amount of wins for Gandhi, that it didn’t win here.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. “When the Tigers Broke Free”  (Pink Floyd: The Wall)
  2. Somebody’s Baby”  (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)
  3. Up Where We Belong”  (An Officer and a Gentleman)
  4. It Might Be You”  (Tootsie)
  5. Eye of the Tiger”  (Rocky III)
  6. “Cat People”  (Cat People)
  7. “Flying Dreams”  (The Secret of Nimh)
  8. “If We Were in Love”  (Yes Giorgio)

Analysis: lists songs from different films.  It lists 182 songs from this year, from 67 different films.  I have seen 35 of those films, covering 122 songs, including all five films with more than 7 songs (Annie has the most with 13, which is one of the reasons I take the list with a grain of salt, since those songs aren’t original, as they came from the Broadway musical).  Still, it’s a good way to figure out original songs, even if it isn’t perfect.  It doesn’t list “Somebody’s Baby”, but Inside Oscar does and I know it was written for the film.
This is the best Top 5 to-date that has all the songs coming from different movies, as opposed to 1939 (The Wizard of Oz), 1964 (Mary Poppins, A Hard Day’s Night) or 1979 (The Muppet Movie).
“Eye of the Tiger” is an interesting choice here for the Academy – it’s much more of a rock song than they have been nominating (and compare to the ballads that were also nominated).  “When the Tigers Broke Free” is a good example of why I used to buy 45’s; for a long time, it was the only way you could get the song, as it ended up not being used on The Final Cut, in spite of what the 45 sleeve says.

  • secret_of_nimhBest Animated Film:
  1. The Secret of Nimh

Analysis:  There are 11 eligible films (listed below).  For a long time, The Secret of Nimh was like The Fox and the Hound in 1981, bouncing back and forth between *** and ***.5.  But when I watched it for its RCM review, I firmly put it in ***.5, though, at a 77, it’s only two points above a ***.  Director Don Bluth had worked at Disney for a long time, then left and made this film.  You would think he had a great career ahead of him, but sadly, he only had two other solid films in his future (An American Tail, Anastasia) and most of the rest of his work is pretty bad.  This film does make MGM/UA the first non-Disney American studio to win this award, or even earn a nomination.  In fact, no other American studio aside from Disney (and Pixar) will even earn a nomination again until 1999.
This category won’t have a winner again until 1985.

  • fitzcarraldoBest Foreign Film:
  1. Fitzcarraldo  *
  2. The Return of Martin Guerre
  3. Coup de Torchon
  4. Tree of Knowledge

note:  Films in green were submitted to the Academy but not nominated.

Analysis:  There is no Consensus in this year.  The awards go to Volver a Empezar (Oscar – a terrible choice), Gandhi (Globe), Christ Stopped at Eboli (BAFTA – eligible in 1979 for this award), Time Stands Still (NYFC – a decent choice), The Road Warrior (LAFC), Mephisto (NBR), Three Brothers (BSFC), the last two both good picks, but eligible for the Oscar and thus the Nighthawk Awards, in 1981.  The only films to received multiple nominations are Fitzcarraldo and La Traviata (both Globe and BAFTA, but not Oscar).  That the Oscars would nominate mediocrity like Flight of the Eagle, and worse, give their award to Volver a Empezar while actually choosing not to nominate the best Foreign Film of the year is just beyond me.  This makes the fourth time the best eligible film was submitted and wasn’t even nominated, making the second time for Herzog (The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser) and twice for Bergman (The Seventh Seal, Persona).  It thankfully won’t happen again for over a decade, but then it will happen twice in four years.
West Germany wins for the second year in a row (it won’t win again before reunification).  A year after failing to earn a nomination, France earns two nominations for the third time in five years.  Denmark earns its third nomination (its first since 1966).  West Germany and Germany combined now have 560 points, passing Italy.  But France, with 1920 points, has almost as many points as the next three countries combined.
Werner Herzog becomes the 12th director to win two awards.  He’s now tied with Fellini in 7th place with 140 points.
This is the weakest Top 5 (including The Night of the Shooting Stars, the 5th place film), since 1970.  That’s partially because Fitzcarraldo is the first winner since 1975 not to earn **** (ironic, since that was Herzog’s other win).  But it’s also a terrible Oscar year.  It’s rare to have two films in my Top 5 that were submitted but not nominated.  This year earns an Oscar score of 20.0, the worst score in a year where an actual nominee made my list.  The Academy didn’t have a lot to work with, but they blew it with what they did have.

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.

  • Sophie’s Choice  (495)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design
  • Das Boot   (325)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound, Sound Editing, Foreign Film (1981)
  • Tootsie  (310)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actress, Original Song
  • E.T.  (265)
    • Director, Original Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan  (250)
    • Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Original Score, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • The Verdict  (235)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor
  • Victor/Victoria  (140)
    • Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup
  • Missing  (135)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Editing
  • The Long Good Friday  (130)
    • Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing
  • Fitzcarraldo  (125)
    • Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Costume Design, Foreign Film
  • Gandhi  (110)
    • Actor, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design
  • Blade Runner  (90)
    • Art Direction, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Makeup
  • Frances  (65)
    • Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Conan the Barbarian  (50)
    • Original Score, Costume Design, Makeup
  • Diner  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • My Favorite Year  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • An Officer and a Gentleman  (40)
    • Supporting Actor, Original Song
  • Pink Floyd: The Wall  (40)
    • Sound, Original Song
  • Mephisto  (40)
    • Art Direction, Foreign Film (1981)
  • Poltergeist  (40)
    • Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • The Secret of Nimh  (40)
    • Animated Film
  • The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family  (40)
    • Foreign Film (1941)
  • Shoot the Moon  (35)
    • Actress
  • Tron  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • Quest for Fire  (20)
    • Makeup
  • Coup de Torchon  (20)
    • Foreign Film
  • Three Brothers  (20)
    • Foreign Film  (1981)
  • The Boat is Full  (20)
    • Foreign Film  (1981)
  • Tree of Knowledge  (20)
    • Foreign Film
  • Cat People  (10)
    • Makeup
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High  (10)
    • Original Song
  • Rocky III  (10)
    • Original Song

Analysis:  There are 32 films that earn nominations, which is a lot (8 more than the year before).  That’s partially because there are 14 films that earn only one nomination.  There are also 11 films which earn 100 points, which is a lot and shows the failure of any dominating films.

Best Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Man of Iron

Analysis:  My #21 film of the year, it finished in sixth place in Best Foreign Film in 1981 (which had a tougher group of nominees).

Biggest Awards Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

Analysis:  It finished 12th in the year in points almost entirely because of the performances from Glenn Close and John Lithgow, which accounts for the 4 critics awards and two Oscar nominations (it also earned a WGA nom).  Close came in 6th on my Supporting Actress list.  I don’t love the film, which is ironic, since the link will make the clear that I passionately love the book.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:


  • Best Picture
  1. Sophie’s Choice
  2. The Verdict
  3. Das Boot
  4. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  5. Missing

Analysis:  Again, a tight group – there are 3 points difference between my #1 and #5, tied for the lowest since 1960.  Compare that to Comedy, where there is a 10 point differential and a three points difference just between #1 and #2.

  • Best Director
  1. Wolfgang Petersen  (Das Boot)
  2. Sidney Lumet  (The Verdict)
  3. Steven Spielberg  (E.T.)
  4. Alan J. Pakula  (Sophie’s Choice)
  5. Costa-Gavras  (Missing)

Analysis:  This is an oddity, in that Petersen, the winner, is the only director here without any other Nighthawk Drama nominations.  It’s the second nom for Costa-Gavras, the third for Pakula, the third for Spielberg and the sixth for Lumet.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Sophie’s Choice
  2. The Verdict
  3. Missing
  4. Das Boot
  5. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Analysis:  Actually a pretty strong group, tied for the second best Top 5 between 1962 and 1989.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. E.T.
  2. The Long Good Friday
  3. Shoot the Moon
  4. Fitzcarraldo
  5. The Boat is Full

Analysis:  E.T. is the weakest winner in this category since 1966.

  • verdict_1Best Actor:
  1. Paul Newman  (The Verdict)
  2. Ben Kingsley  (Gandhi)
  3. Jack Lemmon  (Missing)
  4. Bob Hoskins  (The Long Good Friday)
  5. Klaus Kinski  (Fitzcarraldo)

Analysis:  It’s the first nominations for Kingsley and Hoskins, the third for Lemmon (who has multiple Comedy wins), the third for Kinski but it’s the sixth for Newman and his second win.  His 280 Drama points leaves Newman just outside the Top 10.
Even with Hoffman’s performance not here, this is tied for the second best year since 1951.

  • meryl-streep-1Best Actress
  1. Meryl Streep  (Sophie’s Choice)
  2. Sissy Spacek  (Missing)
  3. Jessica Lange  (Frances)
  4. Diane Keaton  (Shoot the Moon)
  5. Debra Winger  (An Officer and a Gentleman)

Analysis:  Wow.  I can’t ever remember perfectly agreeing with the Globes like this.  It’s the first nominations for Winger and Lange, the fourth for Keaton and the the fourth for Spacek.  It’s already the third win and fifth nomination for Streep who, in just five years, has gone from 0 points to 255 points and into the Top 10.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Kevin Kline  (Sophie’s Choice)
  2. Louis Gossett, Jr.  (An Officer and a Gentleman)
  3. James Mason  (The Verdict)
  4. Peter MacNicol  (Sophie’s Choice)
  5. Milo O’Shea  (The Verdict)

Analysis:  These are the only Drama nominations for all five actors, rather surprisingly for Kline and Mason.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Kim Stanley  (Frances)
  2. Helen Mirren  (The Long Good Friday)
  3. Cher  (Come to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean)
  4. Charlotte Rampling  (The Verdict)

Analysis:  This is the first nomination for Rampling, but it will be quite a while before she earns another one.  It’s also the first for Cher, but she’ll earn another the next year.  It’s the only nomination for Stanley.  It’s the second in a row for Mirren.
This is the weakest Top 5 in seven years, which is a startling contrast against Comedy.  It’s only partially because the category is incomplete, as Stanley is also the weakest winner in seven years.


  • Sophie’s Choice  (385)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor
  • The Verdict  (295)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Missing  (205)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • Das Boot  (180)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay
  • E.T.  (125)
    • Director, Original Screenplay
  • The Long Good Friday  (105)
    • Original Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • Frances  (95)
    • Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan  (90)
    • Picture, Adapted Screenplay
  • Fitzcarraldo  (75)
    • Original Screenplay, Actor
  • Shoot the Moon  (75)
    • Original Screenplay, Actress
  • An Officer and a Gentleman  (65)
    • Actress, Supporting Actor
  • The Boat is Full  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Gandhi  (35)
    • Actor
  • Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean  (30)
    • Supporting Actress

Analysis:  As a whole, the Drama winners are the weakest since 1970.  The nominees are the weakest in four years, but that’s because the group as a whole is brought down by Original Screenplay and Supporting Actress.

Best Drama Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Blade Runner

Analysis:  In Drama, it ranked 9th in Picture and 7th in both Director and Adapted Screenplay.

Comedy / Musical:

  • Best Picture
  1. Tootsie
  2. Diner
  3. My Favorite Year
  4. Pink Floyd: The Wall
  5. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Analysis:  A much better Top 5 than the year before, but there won’t be another this weak until 1990.

  • Best Director
  1. Sydney Pollack  (Tootsie)
  2. Barry Levinson  (Diner)
  3. Alan Parker  (Pink Floyd: The Wall)
  4. Richard Loncraine  (The Missionary)

Analysis:  These are the only Comedy nominations for Levinson and Loncraine.  It’s the second for Parker, both of which were for Musicals.  It’s the only nomination (and win) for Pollack.  This is the last year without a nomination for Woody Allen until 1988.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  2. Victor/Victoria
  3. The World According to Garp

Analysis:  Adapting his own novel, Cameron Crowe wins his first of several Nighthawk Comedy awards, though this will be his only win in Adapted Screenplay.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Tootsie
  2. Diner
  3. My Favorite Year
  4. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid
  5. The Missionary

Analysis:  Tied for the fourth-best to-date, this Top 5 is the start of a rising trend of original Comedy scripts.  Each of the next seven years will be better than this one.

  • tootsieBest Actor:
  1. Dustin Hoffman  (Tootsie)
  2. Peter O’Toole  (My Favorite Year)
  3. Jeremy Irons  (Moonlighting)
  4. Robin Williams  (The World According to Garp)
  5. Steve Martin  (Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid)

Analysis:  This is the only Comedy nomination for Irons.  It’s the first of several nominations for Williams.  It’s the third for O’Toole.  It’s the second win and third nomination for Hoffman.  It’s the second for Martin, the second in a row, and the second of a whopping six in the decade.

  • victorBest Actress
  1. Julie Andrews  (Victor/Victoria)
  2. Dolly Parton  (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas)

Analysis:  This is the only nomination for Parton.  Andrews, on the other hand, wins her third award and earns her fifth nomination; this gives her 280 points and moves into her into fourth place in Comedy points, behind only the two Hepburns and Shirley MacLaine.
Even with only two nominees, one of them barely earning a mention, this is only the weakest in eight years.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Robert Preston  (Victor/Victoria)
  2. Sean Penn  (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)
  3. Charles Durning  (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas)
  4. Bill Murray  (Tootsie)
  5. Dabney Coleman  (Tootsie)

Analysis:  Preston was actually nominated as a lead at the Globes.
These are the only Comedy nominations for Penn and Coleman (who I have never particularly liked).  It’s the first of back-to-back noms for Durning.  It’s the first of a lot for Murray.  It’s the third for Preston, the second of back-to-back noms and his second Comedy win.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Jessica Lange  (Tootsie)
  2. Teri Garr  (Tootsie)
  3. Lesley Ann Warren  (Victor/Victoria)
  4. Glenn Close  (The World According to Garp)
  5. Lainie Kazan  (My Favorite Year)

Analysis:  These are the only nominations for Warren and Kazan, the first of back-to-back for Close, the first for Lange and the second for Garr.
While the Drama Top 5 was pretty weak (and incomplete), this is the second best Comedy Top 5 to-date, at least partially because this category often doesn’t fill completely.


  • Tootsie  (490)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Victor/Victoria  (200)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High  (160)
    • Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • My Favorite Year  (155)
    • Picture, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Diner  (135)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay
  • The World According to Garp  (105)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Pink Floyd: The Wall  (95)
    • Picture, Director
  • The Missionary  (85)
    • Director, Original Screenplay
  • Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid  (75)
    • Original Screenplay, Actor
  • The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas  (65)
    • Actress, Supporting Actor
  • Moonlighting  (35)
    • Actor

Analysis:  No film is anywhere as good as Raiders from the year before, but as a whole, a much, much stronger group.  Tootsie ties with Young Frankenstein for the most points since 1963.

Best Comedy Not Nominated for any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • 48 Hours

Analysis:  It contends for both Original Screenplay and Actor, but doesn’t make the Top 5 in either.  A high-level ***, it’s my #29 film of the year, making it my #9 Comedy.

Roundup for the Year in Film:

Eligible Films I Have Seen:  150

By Stars:

  • ****:  9
  • ***.5:  17
  • ***:  74
  • **.5:  19
  • **:  17
  • *.5:  2
  • *:  7
  • .5:  4
  • 0:  1
  • Average Film Score for the Year, out of 100:  61.69

Analysis:  This year leaps up four points from 1981 and it will drop over three and a half points to 1983.  It’s the best year between 1973 and 1991.  That’s because *** and up all have more films and almost everything below it has fewer.  The 17 ***.5 films are the most since 1947 and tied for the second most to-date.  The films better than *** account for over 17% of the total, the fifth highest percentage to-date.  In fact, the films at *** or better account for exactly 2/3 of all the films, the highest since 1968.  It will be another nine years before that number will even be above 60% again.

Oscar-Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • none

Oscar Quality:

Best Picture:  This year is #22 overall and the fifth best to-date (barely – I had to go to three decimal points before it fell below 1975).  It actually has the highest film average of nominees to-date (90.2), and that won’t be exceeded until 1993; this is because it’s the first year in which every film earns at least ***.5 (and thus, makes my own Best Picture list).  The reason it doesn’t rank higher is because no film breaks through into true greatness.  The best of the nominees, The Verdict, ranks at #159 among all the nominees.  It joins 1978 as the only years from 1960 to 1987 in which no film reaches the Top 150.  Overall, the average film is the 8th best of all-time, but the average film rank brings it down.

The Winners:  The winners, among the nominees, are slightly better than the year before, but still not great.  They rank at 2.45, namely because there are four 5th place finishes, the most since 1958.  They include Picture, Director, Original Screenplay and Foreign Film.  Among all films, the average winner rank is a 6.75, the worst since 1968.  If you take out Picture, it gets a bit better, up to 6.05, which is only the worst since 1979.  There are really five categories that kill the year, Picture (20), Director (13), Original Screenplay (16), Editing (22) and Foreign Film (34).  Of the rest of the categories, only Cinematography (4) is worse than third.  There are 10 categories where the Academy picked either the best or second best choice, which is better than the previous two years and the same as 1979.
This is the first time since 1931 that both Picture and Director go to the worst choice, which says more about the quality of the nominees than the choice of Gandhi, which really is a very good film.

The Nominees:  This year easily sets a new record, with an overall score of 80.6, breaking the previous high by over five points.  The includes a new high in the Tech categories of 76.7, a fantastic acting score of 92.3 (not the highest, but one of the highest) and an impressive score in the four major categories of 86.3, a new high and only the second time it has beaten 80.  All of this is done with only one perfect score (Song Score) and one new high score (Picture).  But seven categories score at least a 90 (Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Song Score, Visual Effects, Sound Editing) and only three categories score below a 66.7 (Editing, Song, Foreign Film).

Golden Globe Best Picture – Comedy / Musical:  This year is the first of four years (1992, 1994, 2008 are the others) in which four of the films nominated at the Globes are good choices (among the Top 150 of the 329 nominees) and the fifth is a terrible choice (#300 or worse).  1994 is the best of them because it has two top 50 films, but they are all solid years.  This year finishes at #21.  The first three of those are my top three films (Tootsie, which wins both the Globe and the Nighthawk, Diner and My Favorite Year).  The fourth earns a 75, which is the highest score for a *** film and thus doesn’t make my list, but is still a good choice (Victor/Victoria).  For the record, it’s my #7 Comedy of the year.  But the final choice is The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the #300 nominee all-time, a **.5 film that’s my #29 Comedy of the year.  The acting categories weren’t much better, with nominations for films that were even worse like Author Author or Annie.  But look at some of the films that were passed over: Pink Floyd: The Wall, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Missionary, Moonlighting, 48 Hours, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The World According to Garp, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy.  Any of those would have been much better choices than Whorehouse.

Top 5 Films of the Year:

1  –  Sophie’s Choice  (reviewed here)

2  –  The Verdict  (reviewed here)

The drama and tension get ratcheted up when you're stuck underwater.

The drama and tension get ratcheted up when you’re stuck underwater.

3  –  Das Boot  (dir. Wolfgang Petersen)

There are several remarkable things about this film.  Let’s look at the first one – what an amazing job we have from a director (Wolfgang Petersen) and an actor (Jürgen Prochnow) who have careers that make this seem like an aberration.

That might not be completely fair to Prochnow, a German actor that I have mainly seen in villainous roles in which he acted in English.  Perhaps in German he is a better actor.  But here, as the captain of a U-boat, he gives a remarkable performance as someone who continually pushes his crew to work hard, using his wits to keep them alive against all odds, pursued by the enemy, fighting against nature, and somehow managing to come out of the water and make land.  His final scene is the most touching in the film, a surprisingly moving moment that makes you admire the man (and the performance).  I don’t know if Tom Clancy had seen this film before he wrote The Hunt for Red October, but I imagine that he must have and that some of Marko Ramius must have come from the captain in this film.

Let’s look now at Wolfgang Petersen, a director who definitely earned his Oscar nomination in this year (he wins the Nighthawk) and looked like he had an impressive career going forward.  But, unfortunately, except for one more great film (In the Line of Fire), his career has mostly been about big budget epics with poor writing, marginal direction, and overloaded special effects, films like Enemy Mine, The Perfect Storm, Troy and The Poseidon.  For every good film he made (like Air Force One), it seemed there was a terrible one to counter-balance it (like Outbreak).  But in this film, he ratchets up the tension, finds solid performances from the cast, and keeps you in suspense with the way the editing, cinematography, and especially the sound, come together to form the core of the film.  Almost every film he made after this one felt like he wanted to come back to what had made this one so good, but just couldn’t find the right balance again.

But perhaps the problem was that Petersen never found a good enough script again.  Because now we come to the last thing that is so damn remarkable about this film.  This film manages to make us truly feel about these men, this crew desperately trying to do their jobs and stay alive while everything is lining up against them.  We find ourselves rooting for Nazis.  Yes, we’re watching men at war in a boat, so it doesn’t feel quite the same, but that doesn’t change the fact that these are German sailors in World War II in a U-boat, sinking American and British ships.  But this film tells a remarkable story about how the crew works together, and when we get to the end, we might find ourselves surprised to be truly moved by the fate of the crew (and especially the captain) and only later do we go back and wonder who exactly it was that we were rooting for.

What’s odd about that, of course, is that Petersen himself wrote the script.  I would say that maybe he should have stuck to writing his scripts, but he also wrote his terrible film Shattered, so maybe not.  But this film is a tour-de-force, with great direction, solid writing, solid acting and some really remarkable technical achievements, definitely one of the best German films of all-time and perhaps the best West German film not made by Werner Herzog.

4  –  Tootsie  (reviewed here)

5  –  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan  (reviewed here)

The Razzies:  The Razzies did a pretty good job this year.  The winner, Inchon, is my 7th worst film and three of the other nominees are my second (Megaforce), 6th (Butterfly) and 9th (The Pirate Movie).  I certainly don’t blame the Razzies for not nominating Human Highway, which was barely seen.  But, as much as I hate Annie, and it’s a lot, it’s nominated more because it’s a bad effort by a great director.  It comes in #121 out of 150, and earns **.  Grease 2 is much more deserving of being among the nominees.

5 Worst Films  (#1 being the worst):

  1. Human Highway
  2. Megaforce
  3. Grease 2
  4. Jekyll and Hyde… Together Again
  5. Murder by Phone

note:  A year after making the four best films of the year, Paramount makes the 3rd and 4th worst films.  For the second year in a row, amazingly, there are no Horror films in the bottom five.

Neil Young might be a brilliant musician, but as a feature filmmaker, he's closer to Ed Wood.

Neil Young might be a brilliant musician, but as a feature filmmaker, he’s closer to Ed Wood.

Human Highway  (dir. Neil Young)

My guess is you haven’t seen this film.  If you have, you might not have made it all the way through.  I mentioned this film a couple of times before, most notably in a post entitled What is the Worst Film Ever Made?  (The answer is Caligula.)  For a good four years, from the time I saw this film (I have not re-watched it for this review, so I am doing this with 15 year old memories) until I saw Caligula, I ranked it as the worst film ever made.  A friend of mine at Powell’s, named David Armstrong, loaned it to me.  He was a Neil Young fanatic and had been given the film, but found it to be so bad he had never finished it.  Veronica and I finished it, though I wonder what we could have been thinking.  The film is, at 88 minutes, far too long, is extremely boring for long stretches, has dialogue that is hideous beyond belief, and then just morphs into a ridiculously long jam session.

Now, the jam session, on one level is very interesting (and you can see it here).  It’s interesting because it takes “My My Hey Hey”, a truly great song, one of the best from one of the greatest and most interesting musicians in the history of rock and roll, and it turns into something new.  It’s not necessarily something good, in that it’s far too weird and it goes on forever.  And I do mean forever.  This session covers 10 minutes of a film that runs less than an hour and a half.  It combines the musical talents of Neil Young and Devo.  I’m not making that up.  No one ever seems to believe it, because it’s just too ridiculous.  And then, after the jam session, the film still has to conclude.  That jam session is musically important, because even though the film wasn’t finished filming until 1981 and wasn’t released until 1982, the jam session was filmed in 1978 and included Mark Mothersbaugh saying “rust never sleeps”, the key line that would then become the title for Young’s best album, which included two different versions of the song.

The jam session is interesting for its place in musical history and for the sheer weirdness of it.  But to have it in the film just kills a film that was already terrible to begin with.  It just devolves into sheer excess and nothingness.  And, with a bizarre plot about nuclear war and rambling dialogue, it was already a mess to begin with.  The best way to sum it up might be from Jimmy McDonough’s great book about young, Shakey:

“This movie was made up on the spot by punks, potheads and former alcoholics,” said Young proudly of Human Highway in 1983.  “The plan was, there was no plan, no script,” said Dean Stockwell.  An impromptu egg fight involving Young, Dean Stockwell, Russ Tamblyn and Larry Johnson somehow “gave birth to Human Highway,” said Tamblyn.  “We decided we would all write our own parts.  Neil, Dean and I were the nucleus . . . . We had a scriptwriter who would write the script after we’d do a scene.”  Joel Bernstein recalls, “Neil at one point said to me, ‘Charlie Chaplin used to do his films without a script.’  (p 528)

Yes, Young somehow thought he was making a film in the same way as Chaplin.  But Chaplin had a story in his head and characters, and Young had neither.  So, do yourself a favor, and if you are interested in the music, watch the jam session.  But stay far away from the film.


  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:   Sophie’s Choice  (11)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:  Sophie’s Choice  /  Das Boot  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Points:  Sophie’s Choice  (495)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Award:  Cat People
  • 2nd Place Award:  The Verdict  (Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay)
  • 6th Place Award:  Missing  (Picture, Director)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Nominations:   The Verdict  (7)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Awards:   Sophie’s Choice  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Points:  Sophie’s Choice  (385)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Drama Award:  Frances
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Nominations:  Tootsie  (8)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Awards:  Tootsie  (5)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Points:  Tootsie  (490)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Comedy Award:  The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

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 (27)  –  Sophie’s Choice  (66.5)
  • Foreign:  47  –  Das Boot  (69.1)
  • Comedy:  28 (5)  –  Tootsie  (59.7)
  • Musical:  13 (3)  –  Pink Floyd: The Wall  (49.6)
  • Kids:  8 (1)  –  The Secret of Nimh  (64.1)
  • Action:  7 (3)  –  48 Hours  (55.1)
  • Horror:  7  –  Poltergeist  (46.3)
  • Sci-Fi:  6 (3)  –  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan  (76.8)
  • Fantasy:  6  –  Conan the Barbarian  (51.3)
  • Suspense:  5 (2)  –  Coup de Torchon  (54.4)
  • Crime:  3 (2)  –  The Long Good Friday  (75.3)
  • Western:  2  –  The Man from Snowy River  (67)
  • War:  2 (1)  –  Das Boot  (53.5)
  • Adventure:  1 (1)  –  Fitzcarraldo  (87)
  • Mystery:  1  –  Evil Under the Sun  (65)

Analysis:  Dramas, Comedies and Musicals account for 68% of the films, the second highest total since 1952.  The 7 Horror films are the fewest since 1967.  The 8 Kids films, on the other hand, are the highest to-date.  Crime films have their highest average since 1956.  Dramas have their highest since 1965.  Foreign films have their highest since 1963.  Sci-Fi, lead by Star Trek II, E.T. and Blade Runner, has its highest average ever in a year with multiple films.  Musicals, on the other hand, set a new low, the first year for any genre other than Action or Horror to have double digits in films and average less than **.5 and War has its lowest average ever for a year with multiple films.
Fitzcarraldo is the first Adventure film to make the Top 10 in five years.  For only the second time, there are two Sci-Fi films in the Top 10.  It’s only the third time there have been multiple Sci-Fi films in the Top 20 and the first time there has been three.  It’s the first time in four years there are multiple Foreign films in the Top 10.

Studio Note:  Universal leads the way for only the second time, and its 17 films ties 1947 for its high to-date.  United Artists is in second with 15.  The major studios actually account for 55% of all the films, the highest total since 1967.  The prominent independents only account for 10% but that’s because Orion only has 1 film – that will change starting the next year.
Universal wins its third Best Picture in less than a decade, but it is the last of the original remaining majors to win its fifth award.  Columbia has two films in the Top for the first time since 1971.  Universal has 3 Top 10 films for the first time since 1973 and only the fourth time to-date; it has four films in the Top 20 for the first time since 1952.  United Artists is in the last year of its record 32 year streak with a film in the Top 10.  Eight of the Top 10 and 15 of the Top 20 are from the major studios; with the rise after this year of first Orion, and then Miramax, the majors will never dominate like this again.

11 Films Eligible for Best Animated Film  (ranked, with stars, director and studio in parenthesis)

  1. The Secret of Nimh  (***.5, Bluth / Rich, MGM/UA)
  2. Gauche the Cellist  (***, Takahata, Oh Production)
  3. The Last Unicorn  (***, Rankin / Bass, Jensen Farley)
  4. Bugs Bunny’s 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales  (***, Jones, Warner Bros)
  5. Grendel Grendel Grendel  (***, Stitt, Satori Productions)
  6. The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, A Sailor from York  (***, Latal, Kratky Film Praha)
  7. Heidi’s Song  (***, Taylor, Paramount)
  8. Space Firebird 2772  (***, Sugiyama, Toho)
  9. Time Masters  (**.5, Laloux, CCFC)
  10. The Wizard of Oz  (**, Takayama, New Hope Entertainment)
  11. Mighty Mouse in the Great Space Chase  (**, Friedman / Kachivas, Filmation)

Note:  This year is emblematic of something about animated films before, first Miyazaki, and then Pixar came along – that they were primarily adapted.  All 11 of these films classify as Adapted Screenplays because they are either pre-existing stories or characters. only lists five eligible films under their “Animated” classification for this year: The Secret of Nimh, The Last Unicorn, Grendel Grendel Grendel, Heidi’s Song and Pink Floyd: The Wall.  I decided that too little of The Wall was animated for me to classify it as such for my awards, though it would have won the award had I included it.
There are a few prominent directors here.  Don Bluth will direct a lot more animated films, but most of them won’t be very good.  Isao Takahata is about to co-found Studio Ghibli.  Rankin and Bass, of course, did lots of work for television, and I re-watched The Last Unicorn to decide whether or not it is *** or better (it’s ***, but worth watching).

38 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):

  • 1990: The Bronx Warriors  (Castellari, Italy)
  • Alsino and the Condor  (Littin, Nicaragua)  **
  • Angoor  (Gulzar, India)
  • Arth  (Bhatt, India)
  • La Balance  (Swaim, France)
  • The Battle for the Republic of China  (Xi, Taiwan)  **
  • Boat People  (Hui, Hong Kong)
  • La Colmena  (Camus, Spain)
  • Coup de Torchon  (Tavernier, France)  **
  • Fitzcarraldo  (Herzog, West Germany)  *
  • The Flight of the Eagle  (Troell, Sweden)  **
  • For 200 Grand, You Get Nothing New  (Molinaro, France)
  • Francisca  (de Oliveira, Portugal)  *
  • Gauche the Cellist  (Takahata, Japan)
  • Himala  (Bernal, Philippines)
  • Identification of a Woman  (Antonioni, Italy)
  • Khan Asparoukh  (Staikov, Bulgaria)  *
  • La Traviata  (Zeffirelli, Italy)
  • Labyrinth of Passion  (Almodovar, Spain)
  • Last Days of the Victim  (Aristarain, Argentina)  *
  • The Night of the Shooting Stars  (Taviani, Italy)  *
  • La Nuit de Varennes  (Scola, Italy)
  • On Top of the Whale  (Ruiz, Chile)
  • Private Life  (Raizman, USSR)  **
  • Querelle  (Fassbinder, West Germany)
  • A Question of Silence  (Gorris, Netherlands)
  • The Return of Martin Guerre  (Vigne, France)
  • Rickshaw Boy  (Ling, China)
  • Shaolin Temple  (Zhang, Hong Kong)
  • The Smell of Quinces  (Idrizovic, Yugoslavia)  *
  • Tenebre  (Argento, Italy)
  • Time Masters  (Laloux, France)
  • Time Stands Still  (Gother, Hungary)  *
  • Tree of Knowledge  (Malmros, Denmark)  *
  • Veronika Voss  (Fassbinder, West Germany)
  • Victoria L  (Vennerod / Wam, Norway)  *
  • Volver a Empezar  (Luis Garci, Spain)  ***
  • Yol  (Goren, Switzerland)  *

Note:  The 38 total films are a big drop from the year before, but, partially thanks to the increasing Oscar submission list, there won’t be another year with less than 43.  There are only 5 French films, so it drops to 2nd place and first place is taken by Italy (6) for the first time since 1972.  No other country has more than three.  I have my first film from Nicaragua.  I have my first film Denmark in 8 years, my first from Chile in 13 years and my first from Portugal in 19 years.  For the first time since 1967, I don’t have a film from Poland, mostly because it doesn’t submit one to the Oscars for the first time since 1967.  It’s the first time since 1971 I’ve seen more than two films from Spain, but it’s the start of 10 Spanish films in three years.

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

  • Algeria:  Sandstrom  (dir. Lakhdar-Hamina)
  • Belgium:  Minuet  (dir. Rademakers)
  • Canada:  Wild Flowers  (dir. Lefebvre)
  • Czechoslovakia:  The Assistant  (dir. Zahon)
  • Greece:  Angel  (dir. Katakouzinos)
  • Iceland:  Inter Nos  (dir. Gunnlaugsson)
  • Israel:  Hamsin  (dir. Wachsmann)
  • Japan:  Onimasa  (dir. Gosha)
  • Netherlands:  The Cool Lakes of Death  (dir. van Brakel)

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 25 (64%), with four of the countries the same from 1981 (Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Israel, Netherlands – all but Belgium were also missing in 1980).
There are five countries submitting that didn’t in 1982 (Portugal, Denmark, Bulgaria, Algeria and first time submitter Nicaragua).  The film from Denmark is only the fourth submission of their 21 to date that I’ve seen.  The five countries out this year are Egypt, Finland, Austria (who won’t ever miss again), Mexico (only missing twice since), and missing for the first time since 1967, Poland (who will also miss in 1983 and 1984, but after that, only once more.
It’s the first time I’m missing Algeria (only the third time they’ve submitted), the 8th out of 10 submissions I’m missing from Belgium, the second I’ve missed from Canada, the third in a row and sixth overall from Czechoslovakia, the third from Greece, the second (out of only three) from Iceland, the fourth in a row (and ninth overall) from Israel, the seventh from Japan and the fifth in a row (and eighth overall) from The Netherlands.

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

  • Humanity and Paper Balloons  (1937)
  • The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family  (1941)
  • One Wonderful Sunday  (1947)
  • The Grim Reaper  (1962)
  • 25 Fireman’s Street  (1973)
  • The Desert of the Tatars  (1976)
  • Don’s Party  (1976)
  • Xica  (1976)
  • Unfinished Piece for Player Piano  (1977)
  • Autumn Marathon  (1979)
  • Death Watch  (1979)
  • Siberiade  (1979)
  • Stalker  (1979)
  • The Aviator’s Wife  (1980)
  • Grendel Grendel Grendel  (1980)
  • The Long Good Friday  (1980)
  • Space Firebird 2772  (1980)
  • 36 Chowringhee Lane  (1981)
  • The Beastmaster  (1981)
  • Le Beau mariage  (1981)
  • Blood Wedding  (1981)
  • The Boat is Full  (1981)
  • Bolero  (1981)
  • Butterfly  (1981)
  • Christiane F.  (1981)
  • Das Boot  (1981)
  • Diva  (1981)
  • Edo Porn  (1981)
  • Gregory’s Girl  (1981)
  • Inchon  (1981)
  • Lola  (1981)
  • Man of Iron  (1981)
  • The Martial Club  (1981)
  • Mephisto  (1981)
  • Passione d’Amore  (1981)
  • Quartet  (1981)
  • The Road Warrior  (1981)
  • Three Brothers  (1981)

Note:  Das Boot and The Long Good Friday are the most important films here, combining for 11 nominations and 4 awards.  These 39 films average a 65.6, but if you take out The Beastmaster, Butterfly and Inchon, that average goes up to a 69.7.

Films Not Listed at

  • 25 Fireman’s Street
  • 36 Chowringhee Lane
  • The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, A Sailor From York
  • Angoor
  • Arth
  • Autumn Marathon
  • Bad Blood
  • The Battle for the Republic of China
  • Bolero
  • The Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family
  • Bugs Bunny’s 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales
  • La Colmena
  • The Desert of the Tatars
  • For 200 Grand, You Get Nothing New
  • Francisca
  • Gauche the Cellist
  • The Grim Reaper
  • Himala
  • Human Highway
  • Humanity and Paper Balloons
  • Khan Asparoukh
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains
  • Last Days of the Victim
  • The Martial Club
  • Murder by Phone
  • One Wonderful Sunday
  • Passione d’Amore
  • Shaolin Temple
  • Siberiade
  • The Smell of Quinces
  • Stalker
  • Tree of Knowledge
  • Victoria L

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:

  • 1990: The Bronx Warriors  (1983)
  • Alsino and the Condor  (1983)
  • Angel  (1983)
  • La Balance  (1983)
  • The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez  (1983)
  • Britannia Hospital  (1983)
  • The Draughtman’s Contract  (1983)
  • The Flight of the Eagle  (1983)
  • The Grey Fox  (1983)
  • Hammett  (1983)
  • A Night in Heaven  (1983)
  • The Night of the Shooting Stars  (1983)
  • La Nuit de Varennes  (1983)
  • The Plague Dogs  (1983)
  • Private Life  (1983)
  • Querelle  (1983)
  • The Return of Martin Guerre  (1983)
  • The Return of the Soldier  (1983)
  • Smithereens  (1983)
  • Starstruck  (1983)
  • The State of Things  (1983)
  • Volver a Empezar  (1983)
  • We of the Never Never  (1983)
  • The Year of Living Dangerously  (1983)
  • Android  (1984)
  • Boat People  (1984)
  • The Loveless  (1984)
  • A Question of Silence  (1984)
  • Rickshaw Boy  (1984)
  • On Top of the Whale  (1986)
  • Tenebre  (1987)
  • Labyrinth of Passion  (1990)
  • Identification of a Woman  (1996)

Note:  These 33 films average a 60.7.  The only prominent films are The Return of Martin Guerre and The Year of Living Dangerously.  You might expect to see Fanny and Alexander here, but since it was eligible at the Oscars for Best Foreign Film in 1983, I count it there.