ran-1985-1You 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. Ran  *
  2. Blood Simple
  3. Kiss of the Spider Woman
  4. The Purple Rose of Cairo  *
  5. Brazil
  6. Witness  *
  7. Back to the Future
  8. The Color Purple  *
  9. After Hours
  10. A Private Function

Analysis:  It’s the fourth time that Kurosawa wins Best Picture at the Nighthawks, although Bergman has won it three times since Kurosawa won it last.
This is the strongest Top 5 in this category in five years, namely because Brazil is the best #5 film in five years.  Witness is the best #6 film in six years.  That strong top 5 means a low Oscar score (54.1 – the lowest since 1977 and second lowest since 1969).  The Oscar itself goes to Out of Africa, the worst choice since the 50’s; it’s the first film since 1974 to win without a single critics award.  But the Consensus Award goes to Prizzi’s Honor, which is my #12.

  • ran-1985-013-kurosawa-locationBest Director
  1. Akira Kurosawa  (Ran)  *
  2. Joel Coen  (Blood Simple)
  3. Terry Gilliam  (Brazil)
  4. Hector Babenco  (Kiss of the Spider Woman)
  5. Woody Allen  (The Purple Rose of Cairo)
  6. Peter Weir  (Witness)  *
  7. Steven Spielberg  (The Color Purple)  *
  8. Martin Scorsese  (After Hours)
  9. Erich von Stroheim  (Queen Kelly)
  10. John Huston  (Prizzi’s Honor)  **

Analysis:  The best Top 5 in five years.
John Huston wins his second Consensus Award, 37 years after his first.  It’s his first Consensus nomination in 21 years and his first Oscar nomination in 33 years; no other director has ever gone more than 19 years between Oscar nominations.
This is the only nomination for Babenco.  It’s the first nomination for both Coen and Gilliam.  But it’s already the fifth nomination for Woody Allen.  Kurosawa, of course, blows everyone away.  This is his fifth win and his 12th nomination and he finishes his career with 765 points, 180 more than any other director at this point.
This is the only year in which all of my original top three from my Top 100 Directors list are in the same Top 10: Kurosawa, Scorsese and Spielberg.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Ran  *
  2. Kiss of the Spider Woman  *
  3. The Color Purple  *
  4. Prizzi’s Honor  **
  5. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
  6. The Trip to Bountiful
  7. Plenty
  8. Fletch
  9. The Falcon and the Snowman
  10. A Sunday in the Country

Analysis:  I have only read the source material from the first three on the list.
After three straight years with an Oscar score over 90, it drops all the way down to 69.2  With Out of Africa also winning the Oscar, it means for only the second time (1931 was the first), Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay all go to the weakest of the nominees.  Out of Africa ties with Prizzi’s Honor for the Consensus win.
Hayao Miyazaki earns his first writing nomination.  Akira Kurosawa earns his 7th win and 11th nomination, moving up to 720 points and stays in third place.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. The Purple Rose of Cairo  **
  2. Blood Simple
  3. Brazil  *
  4. Back to the Future  *
  5. Witness  *
  6. A Private Function  *
  7. The Breakfast Club
  8. After Hours
  9. The Official Story  *
  10. The Sure Thing

Analysis:  This is the best Top 5 since 1974 and the second best to-date.  With the Oscars making great choices among them, it leads to an Oscar score of 91.9, the highest between 1959 and 1994.
The Coens earn their first writing nominations.  Woody Allen wins his fifth award and earns his 12th nomination, moving up to 680 points and stays in 4th place.

  • Best Actor:
  1. William Hurt  (Kiss of the Spider Woman)  **
  2. Tatsuya Nakadai  (Ran)
  3. Harrison Ford  (Witness)  *
  4. Jack Nicholson  (Prizzi’s Honor)  *
  5. M. Emmet Walsh  (Blood Simple)
  6. Jonathan Pryce  (Brazil)
  7. James Garner  (Murphy’s Romance)
  8. Eric Stoltz  (Mask)
  9. Terrence Stamp  (The Hit)
  10. Michael Palin  (A Private Function)

Analysis:  With the Oscars going for Jon Voight (Runaway Train) instead of Nakadai, the Oscar score is just 73.7, the lowest since 1969.  William Hurt is the first Oscar winner to win the Nighthawk in five years, but he wasn’t always.  For a long time, I had Nakadai as my winner and it’s still close between the two.
Hurt and Nicholson have the same number of award wins (4) and nominations (5) and have the same raw total at the Consensus Awards, but Hurt has the slightly higher weighted total.  Hurt wins the LAFC, NBR, Oscar and BAFTA and earns a Globe nom while Nicholson wins the NYFC, NSFC, BSFC and Globe – Comedy and earns an Oscar nom.
This is the only nomination for Walsh.  It’s the second nomination for Ford and the third for Nakadai.  It’s the second nomination for Hurt, but the first of three straight.  It’s the ninth nomination for Nicholson; he goes up to 435 points and second place.

  • Best Actress
  1. Frances McDormand  (Blood Simple)
  2. Meryl Streep  (Out of Africa)  **
  3. Kathleen Turner  (Prizzi’s Honor)
  4. Maggie Smith  (A Private Function)  *
  5. Norma Aleandro  (The Official Story)  *
  6. Meryl Streep  (Plenty)
  7. Gloria Swanson  (Queen Kelly)
  8. Vanessa Redgrave  (Wetherby)
  9. Cher  (Mask)
  10. Mia Farrow  (The Purple Rose of Cairo)

Analysis:  The weakest winner in six years and the second weakest since 1952.  The winner in this category has changed a lot over the years.  But, even the low Top 5 still doesn’t mean a good Oscar score, as they make even weaker choices, and the score is just 77.4, the lowest since 1973.  The Oscar winner, Geraldine Page (The Trip to Bountiful) wins what I call a “Career Oscar”.  She finishes 13th on my list, the lowest to-date for a Best Actress winner (the lowest of the century actually and possibly lowest ever).
The raw total of the Consensus Awards is actually a three-way tie between Streep, Page and Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple (my #11).  But the weighted total puts Streep on top, followed by Page, then Goldberg.  The result is that Streep is the last actress to win the Consensus with just one win (the LAFC) because of her other nominations (Oscar, BAFTA, Globe).  It also makes Streep only the second actress to win three lead Consensus Awards (plus the Supporting one she has already won) with two more wins in her future; Ingrid Bergman won four, all in lead.
It’s the first nomination for Aleandro and McDormand and the second for Turner.  But it’s the fifth nomination for Maggie Smith.  It’s already the eighth nomination for Streep in less than a decade; she’s already at 325 points and in 5th place.

  • out-of-africa-7Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Klaus Maria Brandeur  (Out of Africa)  **
  2. Raul Julia  (Kiss of the Spider Woman)  *
  3. Peter  (Ran)
  4. Michael Palin  (Brazil)
  5. Denholm Elliott  (A Private Function)  *
  6. Ian Holm  (Brazil)
  7. Don Ameche  (Cocoon)  *
  8. John Geilgud  (Plenty)  *
  9. William Hickey  (Prizzi’s Honor)
  10. Ian Holm  (Wetherby)  *

Analysis:  The weakest winner in seven years.  Brandeur is lucky I go by Academy eligibility, otherwise Daniel Day-Lewis would win for My Beautiful Laundrette (pushed to 1986).  Julia is the weakest #2 in the category in 10 years.  Overall, it’s the weakest Top 5 since 1971.  The Oscar score is just 69.0, the lowest since 1970.  Don Ameche is the first Oscar winner in this category not to at least earn a Nighthawk nomination since 1968; he’s also the last Oscar winner to date to fail to earn any other nominations.  Julia is actually a Consensus nominee in Actor, where he co-won the NBR with William Hurt and was Globe nominated, but I really think it’s a supporting role to Hurt’s.
These are the only nominations for Brandeur, Julia, Peter and Palin.  It’s the first of back-to-back noms for Elliott.

  • ran-haradaBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Mieko Harada  (Ran)
  2. Anjelica Huston  (Prizzi’s Honor)  **
  3. Margaret Avery  (The Color Purple)
  4. Liz Smith  (A Private Function)  *
  5. Sonia Braga  (Kiss of the Spider Woman)
  6. Kelly McGillis  (Witness)  *
  7. Tracy Ullman  (Plenty)
  8. Judi Dench  (Wetherby)
  9. Amy Madigan  (Twice in a Lifetime)  *
  10. Meg Tilly  (Agnes of God)  *

Analysis:  The Top 5 is the strongest in four years and tied for the second best since 1973.  The Oscar score is just 61.3, the lowest in this category since 1959 and the lowest in any acting category since 1969.
With five critics wins, the Oscar and nominations from the BAFTAs and Globes, Anjelica Huston is the first Supporting Actress to earn 8 nominations.
These are the only nominations for Harada, Avery, Smith and Braga.  It’s the first nomination for Huston.

  • Best Editing:
  1. Blood Simple
  2. Ran
  3. Back to the Future
  4. The Purple Rose of Cairo
  5. Witness
  6. After Hours
  7. Kiss of the Spider Woman
  8. To Live and Die in L.A.
  9. Brazil
  10. Cocoon

Analysis:  This is the strongest Top 5 since 1974.  The Oscar, on the other hand, ignore those great films and we end up with an Oscar score of 23.1, the lowest since 1963.  At least they gave their award to Witness, the only nominee to make my Top 10.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. Ran  *
  2. Blood Simple
  3. The Color Purple  *
  4. Brazil
  5. Out of Africa  **
  6. Witness  *
  7. Kiss of the Spider Woman
  8. After Hours
  9. Silverado
  10. The Purple Rose of Cairo

Analysis:  Barry Sonnenfeld, later a successful director, earns his first Cinematography nomination working for the Coen Brothers.  Roger Pratt (Brazil) earns his first of three nominations in the second half of this decade.  Asakazu Nakai wins his second Nighthawk and earns his 7th nomination; he’s up to 225 points and tied with Gordon Willis for 2nd place.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. Back to the Future
  2. Silverado
  3. Witness
  4. The Color Purple
  5. Ran
  6. Blood Simple
  7. Dangerous Moves
  8. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
  9. Out of Africa
  10. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

Analysis:  This is the strongest Top 5 to date, and it feels weird to write that since John Williams doesn’t have a single mention on this list.  That’s the big news of this year – it’s the first time since 1976 that Williams doesn’t earn a Nighthawk nomination (he also didn’t earn an Oscar nomination for the first time since 1979); he actually doesn’t score any films this year.
But this year does have Maurice Jarre (Witness).  It’s the 9th nomination for Jarre and he’s now up to 325 points and tied for 4th place.

  • Best Sound:
  1. Ran
  2. Back to the Future
  3. Brazil
  4. Silverado
  5. To Live and Die in L.A.
  6. Blood Simple
  7. Witness
  8. A Chorus Line
  9. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
  10. Ladyhawke

Analysis:  The weakest winner in seven years, but that’s more a statement on how strong the last several winners have been.  The Oscar winner was Out of Africa, which is the first winner in this category not to at least earn a Nighthawk nomination since 1971; it finishes in 13th and is the first winner not finish at #1 or #2 on my list since 1974.

  • Best Art Direction:
  1. Ran
  2. Brazil
  3. The Purple Rose of Cairo
  4. The Color Purple
  5. Kiss of the Spider Woman
  6. Out of Africa
  7. Queen Kelly
  8. Prizzi’s Honor
  9. After Hours
  10. Colonel Redl

Analysis:  The Oscars at least got one category right – the score is 94.7, the highest since 1948.  The fifth Oscar nominee, Witness, is my #12.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. Back to the Future
  2. Brazil
  3. Young Sherlock Holmes
  4. Cocoon
  5. Return to Oz
  6. Ran
  7. The Company of Wolves
  8. Ladyhawke

Analysis:  The weakest winner in seven years.  And, in the one Tech category the Oscars usually do well in, the score is 81.3, the lowest in ten years.  Cocoon is the first Oscar winner not to finish 1st or 2nd at the Nighthawks since 1963.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. Ran
  2. Back to the Future
  3. Brazil
  4. To Live and Die in L.A.
  5. Cocoon
  6. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
  7. Silverado
  8. Ladyhawke
  9. Rambo: First Blood Part II
  10. The Company of Wolves

Analysis:  Tied for the 3rd best Top 5 to-date.

  • ranBest Costume Design:
  1. Ran
  2. The Purple Rose of Cairo
  3. The Color Purple
  4. The Company of Wolves
  5. Out of Africa
  6. Brazil
  7. Colonel Redl
  8. The Shooting Party
  9. Young Sherlock Holmes
  10. Silverado

Analysis:  While the Oscars got Art Direction right, they didn’t do the same here (oddly – especially since they agreed with my winner), and the score is 60.6, the lowest in seven years.

  • Best Makeup
  1. Ran
  2. Mask
  3. Brazil
  4. The Company of Wolves
  5. The Purple Rose of Cairo
  6. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
  7. The Color Purple
  8. The Emerald Forest

Analysis:  Tied for the 2nd best Top 5 to-date.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”  (The Breakfast Club)
  2. The Power of Love”  (Back to the Future)
  3. Crazy for You”  (Vision Quest)
  4. Separate Lives”  (White Nights)
  5. Miss Celie’s Blues”  (The Color Purple)
  6. Invincible”  (The Legend of Billy Jean)
  7. A View to a Kill”  (A View to a Kill)
  8. St. Elmo’s Fire”  (St. Elmo’s Fire)
  9. Weird Science”  (Weird Science)
  10. Into the Groove”  (Desperately Seeking Susan)

Analysis:  Oscars.org lists songs from different films.  In this year, it lists 197 songs from 70 different films.  The most, with 11 songs, was Rappin’.  I have seen all 9 films that had at least 7 listed songs and am only missing one of the 15 films with at least 5 listed songs (The Heavenly Kid).  I have actually seen 43 of the films which account for 153 of the songs, which is definitely one of the best percentages of listed eligible songs I have seen.
The best Top 5 since 1964 and tied for the 2nd best to-date – the only years as good so far were dominated by specific films (The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, A Hard Day’s Night).
The actual Oscar winner is “Say Me Say You” (White Nights) and is at #12 on my list, which makes it seven spots higher than the previous Oscar winner.
I’ll point out that Veronica doesn’t give an opinion on most of the categories.  But I decided to prod her on this category in this year to see what she thought of my choices (with the caveat that Veronica hates Phil Collins).  So, her list of these same 10 songs went “St. Elmo’s Fire”, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, “Weird Science”, “A View to a Kill”, “Into the Groove”, “The Power of Love”, “Invincible”, “Crazy for You”, “Separate Lives” and “Miss Celie’s Blues”.

  • NausicaaposterBest Animated Film:
  1. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Analysis:  There are 8 eligible films (listed below), although only six of them are listed as oscars.org and Nausicaa isn’t one of them.  But it’s a seminal film, the film that really establishes Hayao Miyazaki and its success would lay the basis for Studio Ghibli.

  • ran-posterBest Foreign Film:
  1. Ran  **
  2. My Life as a Dog  *
  3. The Official Story  *
  4. Colonel Redl  *
  5. Vagabond  *

note:  Films in green were submitted to the Academy but not nominated (none this year).  In spite of Ran being one of the widely hailed foreign films in film history, it would not be submitted by Japan, which is probably why Japan went from 1954 until 2008 without an Oscar win in this category.

Analysis:  Finally, a winner that shines – Ran is the best winner in this category since 1972 and the second best since 1957.  Thanks almost entirely to Ran, this is the best Top 5 in four years and tied for the best since 1973.  Thanks to Ran’s four critics win (and BAFTA win and Globe nom), The Official Story becomes the first film since 1959 to win the Oscar and Globe but not win the Consensus.  The five wins and 6 noms for Ran both tie Fanny & Alexander for the most to-date and neither will be passed until 1993.
It’s the second win in a row for Japan and it’s up to 900 points but that’s still less than half of what France has.  France earns a fifth straight nomination.  Sweden earns a third straight nomination, although for once it’s not for an Ingmar Bergman film (the first non-Bergman film for Sweden to earn a nomination since 1971).  Hungary earns its third nomination and Argentina its first.
Agnes Varda, Lasse Hallstrom and Luis Puenzo earn their only nominations.  Istvan Szabo earns his second nomination.  Akira Kurosawa, on the other hand, earns his 8th win and 19th nomination.  He goes up to 540 points, just 20 behind Ingmar Bergman.

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.

  • Ran  (705)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Sound Editing, Costume Design, Makeup, Foreign Film
  • Blood Simple   (315)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Editing, Cinematography
  • Kiss of the Spider Woman  (285)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Art Direction
  • Brazil  (280)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Sound, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Makeup
  • The Purple Rose of Cairo  (245)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup
  • Back to the Future  (205)
    • Original Screenplay, Editing, Original Score, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Original Song
  • The Color Purple  (165)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design, Original Song
  • Prizzi’s Honor  (140)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Out of Africa  (135)
    • Actress, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Costume Design
  • Witness  (125)
    • Original Screenplay, Actor, Editing, Original Score
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind  (120)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Animated Film, Foreign Film (1984)
  • A Private Function  (95)
    • Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Official Story  (55)
    • Actress, Foreign Film
  • Silverado  (45)
    • Original Score, Sound
  • To Live and Die in L.A.  (40)
    • Sound, Sound Editing
  • Cocoon  (40)
    • Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • The Company of Wolves  (25)
    • Costume Design, Makeup
  • Young Sherlock Holmes  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • Return to Oz  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • The Breakfast Club  (20)
    • Original Song
  • Late Chrysanthemums  (20)
    • Foreign Film (1954)
  • Dangerous Moves  (20)
    • Foreign Film (1984)
  • Beyond the Walls  (20)
    • Foreign Film (1984)
  • A Sunday in the Country  (20)
    • Foreign Film (1984)
  • Colonel Redl  (20)
    • Foreign Film
  • Mask  (10)
    • Makeup
  • Vision Quest  (10)
    • Original Song
  • White Nights  (10)
    • Original Song

Analysis:  With 15 nominations, Ran has the most for any film since 1972 and is tied for sixth most to-date.  It is also the first film since 1973 to break 700 points.

Best Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • After Hours

Analysis:  My #9 film of the year.  Marty’s black comedy is dark and disturbing and it’s a high ***.5 with 6 Top 10 finishes, but nothing higher than its 6th place for Editing.

Best Film without a Top 10 Finish:

  • Dance with a Stranger

Analysis:  This will start to become more common – films that earn at least ***.5 (and thus, make my Best Picture list) that don’t earn any Top 10 finishes because there are just so many top-rate films.  This thriller is my #19 film, a mid-range ***.5 and it has five Top 20 finishes but it peaks with its 11th place finish for Ian Holm in Supporting Actor and 12th place for Miranda Richardson in Actress.

Biggest Awards Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Runaway Train

Analysis:  Yes, it’s based on a Kurosawa script, but I don’t think it’s all that good.  More importantly, I don’t think highly of the two performances: Jon Voight (Oscar nom, Globe – Drama win) and Eric Roberts (Oscar and Globe noms).  It even earned a Globe nom for Picture – Drama.  Overall, it earns 8 noms and 2 wins (Sound Editing is the other).

Nighthawk Golden Globes:


  • Best Picture
  1. Ran
  2. Blood Simple
  3. Kiss of the Spider Woman
  4. Witness
  5. The Color Purple

Analysis:  Ran was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Globes (it lost to The Official Story).  I still can’t believe they gave the award to Out of Africa when you look at the other available films.  Even worse, they nominated Runaway Train.

  • Best Director
  1. Akira Kurosawa  (Ran)
  2. Joel Coen  (Blood Simple)
  3. Hector Babenco  (Kiss of the Spider Woman)
  4. Peter Weir  (Witness)
  5. Steven Spielberg  (The Color Purple)

Analysis:  The best Top 5 in six years.
This is the only nomination for Babenco.  It’s the first for Coen, the third for Weir and the fourth for Spielberg.  It’s the fifth Drama win and 13th nomination for Kurosawa, who finishes with 810 points, 270 more than anyone else at this point.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Ran
  2. Kiss of the Spider Woman
  3. The Color Purple
  4. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
  5. The Trip to Bountiful

Analysis:  I have only read the source material from the first three on the list.  Miyazaki earns his first Drama writing nomination.  Kurosawa, on the other hand, wins his 9th and earns his 17th nomination.  He goes up to 1040 points, but is still over 100 points behind Bergman for 1st place.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Blood Simple
  2. Witness
  3. The Official Story
  4. The Hit
  5. Dangerous Moves

Analysis:  The best Top 5 in four years and tied for the 2nd best since 1976.  The Coens win their first Drama writing Nighthawk.

  • KissOfTheSpiderWomanBest Actor:
  1. William Hurt  (Kiss of the Spider Woman)
  2. Tatsuya Nakadai  (Ran)
  3. Harrison Ford  (Witness)
  4. M. Emmet Walsh  (Blood Simple)
  5. Eric Stoltz  (Mask)

Analysis:  These are the only nominations for Walsh and Stoltz.  It’s the first of back-to-back nominations for Ford and Hurt.  It’s the third nomination for Nakadai.  Like I said above, Jon Voight was the Globe winner which hurts my brain.

  • blood_simple_4_coenBest Actress
  1. Frances McDormand  (Blood Simple)
  2. Meryl Streep  (Out of Africa)
  3. Norma Aleandro  (The Official Story)
  4. Meryl Streep  (Plenty)
  5. Gloria Swanson  (Queen Kelly)

Analysis:  Aleandro and McDormand both earn their first nominations.  Swanson earns her fifth, 35 years after her last one and 57 years after the film was made.  Streep earns her sixth and seventh Drama nominations; this puts her at 360 points and sixth place.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Klaus Marie Brandeur  (Out of Africa)
  2. Raul Julia  (Kiss of the Spider Woman)
  3. Peter  (Ran)
  4. Don Ameche  (Cocoon)
  5. John Geilgud  (Plenty)

Analysis: Cocoon was considered a Comedy by the Globes.  Julia was nominated as lead.  These are the only nominations for everyone except Geilgud; it’s the second for Geilgud.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Mieko Harada  (Ran)
  2. Margaret Avery  (The Color Purple)
  3. Sonia Braga  (Kiss of the Spider Woman)
  4. Kelly McGillis  (Witness)
  5. Tracy Ullman  (Plenty)

Analysis:  These are the only Drama nominations for all five of these actresses.


  • Ran  (395)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Blood Simple  (280)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • Kiss of the Spider Woman  (265)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Witness  (200)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Color Purple  (165)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress
  • Out of Africa  (95)
    • Actress, Supporting Actor
  • Plenty  (95)
    • Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Official Story  (75)
    • Original Screenplay, Actress
  • The Trip to Bountiful  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • The Hit  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Dangerous Moves  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Mask  (35)
    • Actress
  • Queen Kelly  (35)
    • Actress
  • Cocoon  (30)
    • Supporting Actor

Best Drama Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Silverado

Analysis:  Lawrence Kasdan’s Western is my #16 film of the year, making it my #9 Drama but it doesn’t get any higher than that in any of the Drama categories.

Comedy / Musical:

  • Best Picture
  1. The Purple Rose of Cairo
  2. Brazil
  3. Back to the Future
  4. After Hours
  5. A Private Function

Analysis:  A Private Function is the best #5 film in this category in five years.  Back to the Future is the best #3 film in six years.  Overall, the Top 5 is marginally weaker than the year before but still the third best since 1969.  Prizzi’s Honor (my #6) won the Globe.

  • Best Director
  1. Terry Gilliam  (Brazil)
  2. Woody Allen  (The Purple Rose of Cairo)
  3. Martin Scorsese  (After Hours)
  4. John Huston  (Prizzi’s Honor)
  5. Robert Zemeckis  (Back to the Future)

Analysis:  The best Top 5 since 1979 and tied for the 2nd best to-date.  It’s rare to have this many directors of this level in this category.
These are the only Comedy nominations for both Scorsese and Huston.  They are the second each for both Gilliam and Zemeckis.  It’s the third in a row for Allen and his eighth overall; he’s up to 450 points and 4th place on the Comedy Director list.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Prizzi’s Honor
  2. Fletch
  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. The Purple Rose of Cairo
  2. Brazil
  3. Back to the Future
  4. A Private Function
  5. The Breakfast Club

Analysis:  The best Top 5 in the category to date and it won’t be beaten until 1994.  Woody Allen wins his fifth Comedy writing award.  He’s now up to 720 points and is only two years away from catching Billy Wilder for 1st place.

  • prizziBest Actor:
  1. Jack Nicholson  (Prizzi’s Honor)
  2. Jonathan Pryce  (Brazil)
  3. James Garner  (Murphy’s Romance)
  4. Michael Palin  (A Private Function)
  5. Chevy Chase  (Fletch)

Analysis:  Nicholson is the weakest winner in this category in seven years.
These are the only Comedy nominations for Pryce and Chase.  It’s the first for Palin, with his second earned below.  It’s Nicholson’s second Comedy nom and his first win.  It’s third Comedy nom for Garner.

  • Best Actress
  1. Kathleen Turner  (Prizzi’s Honor)
  2. Maggie Smith  (A Private Function)
  3. Mia Farrow  (The Purple Rose of Cairo)
  4. Jessica Lange  (Sweet Dreams)
  5. Molly Ringwald  (The Breakfast Club)

Analysis:  The best Top 5 in this category since 1954 and the second best to-date.
It’s the second nomination in a row for Ringwald, the second for Lange and the third for Smith.  It’s the third in a row for Farrow.  It’s the second of three in a row for Turner.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Michael Palin  (Brazil)
  2. Denholm Elliott  (A Private Function)
  3. Ian Holm  (Brazil)
  4. William Hickey  (Prizzi’s Honor)
  5. Christopher Lloyd  (Back to the Future)

Analysis:  These are the only nominations for Holm, Hickey and Lloyd.  It’s the third nomination for Elliott in just five years.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Anjelica Huston  (Prizzi’s Honor)
  2. Liz Smith  (A Private Function)
  3. Teri Garr  (After Hours)

Analysis:  This is the only nomination for Liz Smith.  Huston earns her first nomination and win (she’ll win this category again in four years) while Garr earns her second.


  • Prizzi’s Honor  (355)
    • Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Brazil  (305)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor
  • The Purple Rose of Cairo  (240)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress
  • A Private Function  (220)
    • Picture, Original Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Back to the Future  (165)
    • Picture, Director, Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • After Hours  (125)
    • Picture, Director, Supporting Actress
  • Fletch  (75)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor
  • The Breakfast Club  (50)
    • Original Screenplay, Actress
  • Murphy’s Romance  (35)
    • Actor
  • Sweet Dreams  (35)
    • Actress

Analysis:  Prizzi’s Honor obliterates the record for most Globe points without a Best Picture nomination.  It was the #6 Comedy film.  Also, after four years of dominant winners in this category (470+ points), no film breaks 360 points.
Overall, the acting categories in Comedy are the strongest in six years, as it the total Comedy score.

Best Comedy Not Nominated for any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • The Sure Thing

Analysis:  My #18 film of the year and my #8 Comedy.  But it finishes in 7th in Original Screenplay and doesn’t land on any acting lists.

Roundup for the Year in Film:

Eligible Films I Have Seen:  175

By Stars:

  • ****:  8
  • ***.5:  18
  • ***:  70
  • **.5:  31
  • **:  25
  • *.5:  8
  • *:  10
  • .5:  5
  • 0:  0
  • Average Film Score for the Year, out of 100:  58.78

Analysis:  A drop of almost a full point from the year before.  There are slightly more great and very good films, but a big drop in *** films, which leaves only 54.86% of the films as *** or better, compared to 58.56% the year before.

Oscar-Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • none

Oscar Quality:

Best Picture:  This year drops considerably from the last several years.  It comes in at #47 all-time, the worst in seven years and the second worst since 1970.  Out of Africa, the winner, is the worst nominee since 1974 and the worst winner since 1958.  Yet, the five films still average an 85.2, which is better than any pre-1972 year except 1947.  It sits so low in the overall standing only partially because of Out of Africa; it’s also partially because it’s only the third year since 1968 to not have any Top 100 films.  It’s best film, Kiss of the Spider Woman, is #127 and the second best, Witness, is #198.  That gives it an overall average rank of 261.2, which is lower than a lot of years to this point.

The Winners:  Well, they’re pretty bad.  The average among all films is 12.16, the worst since 1958 and the second worst since 1933.  It’s only the sixth year with an average in double-digits.  If you take out Best Picture (Out of Africa is my #93 film), the average drops down to 7.67, which is still the worst since 1958 and the second worst since 1933.  There are four other categories where the winner doesn’t make my Top 10, one of which (Actress) wasn’t won by Out of Africa.  But Actor and Costume Design are the only categories where I agree with the Academy, the lowest number since 1968 and tied for the lowest since 1958.  There are also only three more categories where my #2 wins the Oscar (Supporting Actress, Sound Editing, Makeup).  The 5 categories where either my #1 or #2 wins the Oscar is the lowest since 1963.  So, basically, they blew the winners in this year.  Among the nominees, the average winner ranks at 2.79, the worst since 1958 and tied for the worst since 1941.  There are four categories where the Academy gave the Oscar to the worst choice (Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Sound), tied for the most since 1958.  But there are 7 categories where the Academy gave the Oscar to the best nominee.  It’s the first time since 1969 that there are more times that the Academy rewarded the best nominee than the number of times the Academy gave the Oscar to my #1 or #2 choice.  What does that say?  It says the nominees also weren’t that good, and that’s reflected in the next paragraph.

The Nominees:  The nominees weren’t that good.  The score drops to 67.6, 12 and a half points down from the year before and the lowest since 1979.  That’s lead by the Tech categories, down over 17 points from the year before and again the lowest since 1979.  Art Direction and Visual Effects are the only Tech categories above 75.  The major categories are surprisingly strong (74.8), namely because Adapted Screenplay is the strongest since 1959 (91.9).  But it’s acting where things are really bad.  The acting score is 70.5, the lowest since 1947.  It’s the first time since 1968 that none of the categories score at least an 80 (Actress is the highest with 77.4).  Supporting Actress is the worst, with a 61.3, the lowest score in the category since 1959.

Golden Globe Best Picture – Comedy / Musical:  This is a very good year, but it could have been a truly great one.  It ranks 9th all-time, with three films in the Top 100 (The Purple Rose of Cairo, Back to the Future, Prizzi’s Honor), one just outside (Cocoon – which I didn’t consider a Comedy) and one down close to #200 (A Chorus Line).  It was the last one where they dropped the ball a bit.  If they had gone for either A Private Function or After Hours, this year would rank 4th instead of 9th.  But if they had nominated Brazil instead of A Chorus Line this year would rank 2nd.  After Hours is the most blatant of those omissions because it was nominated for Actor and so we know the Globes considered it a Comedy.  Nonetheless, it’s the best year to-date by quite a ways, and given that the Academy did a pretty mediocre job, the Globes should be commended for doing such a good job.

Top 5 Films of the Year:

1  –  Ran  (reviewed here)

Still one of the best debut films ever made.

Still one of the best debut films ever made.

2  –  Blood Simple  (dir. Joel Coen)

Subtle things startle us.  Inanimate objects become things of terrifying urgency.  A couple of fish slapped on a table.  A single lightbulb burning on the ceiling.  A newspaper flying through the air.  Sudden movements of violence make us jump – a man shot in the chest, a shot crushing through glass and flesh and bone, a knife slamming down on a menacing hand groping around a corner.  Simple notes of music accompany it all, the kind of score you don’t think of as cinematic but which moves carefully with the moments.  The editing places it all carefully together and you don’t wonder how a woman is cowering in a corner because you feel that way too.  Before their second film would establish that they had one of the quirkiest senses of humor to ever find its way on film, the Coen Brothers debuted with this masterpiece, which slipped under the radar and didn’t really start to be appreciated after they had become much bigger names.

Blood Simple is a minimal thriller.  It begins with a common trope of such films – a man knows his wife is having an affair and hires a man to take care of it.  First, there is the proof of the affair, then there is the killing.  Except the killing doesn’t go off the way the man had planned it and he finds himself staring at a man who has just shot him in the chest.  If he’s confused, he’s no more so than we are because this is where things take a strange turn and where the Coens really begin to make their mark.

What do you think of when you think of the Coens?  Do you think of their bizarre sense of humor in films like Raising Arizona, The Hudsucker Proxy or Intolerable Cruelty?  Or do you think of their violent films like Miller’s Crossing or No Country for Old Men?  Some of them, of course, manage to combine the two in disturbing and inventive ways like Barton Fink, Fargo and Burn After Reading?  The violence begins here and you never know where you might find it and that’s part of what makes this film so good.  The Coens had started as editors (on The Evil Dead no less) and they knew how to tell a story.  This story, like I said, begins with a basic premise, and then keeps going in different places.  Is the couple in the pictures dead?  Is the man in the back of the trunk dead?  Is the person who was buried dead?  Who is doing the stalking and who will make it out alive?

If there is one downside to this film it’s the rather bland performance from John Getz, but maybe that’s all part of the film.  He’s just the good-looking bartender that the unhappy wife decides to have a fling with.  But to focus on him loses focus on the two main performances.  The first is from Frances McDormand, who would soon marry one of the brothers and would later win an Oscar working with them.  Her performance, the best of the year, was completely over-looked by every awards group.  But even more surprising is the great performance from M. Emmet Walsh, a lifelong character actor (he has over 200 acting credits) whose performance is full of twists and turns and you never know what he might try to do next.

This is just the first Coen Brothers film, of course.  They will, in time, come to rule over the Nighthawk Awards.  In the 3.0 version of the Top 100 Directors they are dangerously close to moving, not only into the Top 5, but close to the very top itself.  And this is just the start.

Woody Allen reminds us why we escape to the movies.

Woody Allen reminds us why we escape to the movies.

3  –  The Purple Rose of Cairo  (dir. Woody Allen)

A lonely housewife goes to the movies.  She goes a lot.  Her husband is supposedly looking for work, but what he really seems to do is play cards and complain to her.  He wants his meals ready on time, though for him, on time is whenever he bothers to come through the damn door.  She’s working in a diner (badly), but mostly what she wants is an escape.  She escapes so much that the movie starts to notice her.

Lots of people dream of escaping into the movies.  It’s very different for the movie to want to escape and find out what life is all about.  But the main character in the film, an archeologist (who speaks very much like a 1930’s romantic comedy movie character and not at all like a real person) who has just been introduced to New York high society decides he would rather find out what it is about him and his movie that is dragging this little mid-western housewife to watch him all day.  So he steps out of the film.

All of this makes for one of Woody Allen’s most inventive films.  Because it’s not just the idea that a character might step out of the movie, but what happens after he steps out of the movie that makes the film so much fun to watch.  They go out to dinner and he’s expected to have money (he doesn’t carry money in the movie).  They try to escape in a car but he expects the car to simply start because that’s why cars in the movies do.  He doesn’t understand real wants and desires and he has a sudden urge to.

But then something more happens.  The actor who played the character in the first place is getting bad publicity because his character has walked out of the film (we get shots of the rest of the characters standing around, not really certain what to do now that their star has left them, one of whom is played by Edward Herrmann, which is perfect, since if anyone was ever born to play Edward Everett Horton roles in 1930’s films it’s Edward Herrmann), so he comes to town, determined to make his character get back into his black-and-white world.

None of this would work if we don’t get one of Mia Farrow’s best performances as the poor lonely waitress.  Farrow was rarely a great actress (aside from Rosemary’s Baby), but the three Woody Allen films in the mid-80’s (Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, The Purple Rose of Cairo) found her best sustained acting of her career.  We understand why she wants to escape and we can feel for her when things don’t work out and she finds herself back at the movies, just seeking a little of the happiness that she found for just a fleeting moment.  More than a love story to the movies of the 1930’s, this film, more than almost any other, understands precisely what it is about the movies that we want to escape to and the dreariness of everyday life that means that life will never really be like the movies.

4  –  Kiss of the Spider Woman  (reviewed here)

Just remember: the man who made this has a lot of trouble getting films made but people keep throwing money at Shyamalan and Michael Bay.

Just remember: the man who made this has a lot of trouble getting films made but people keep throwing money at Shyamalan and Michael Bay.

5  –  Brazil  (dir. Terry Gilliam)

The big year had come, George Orwell’s totalitarian nightmare.  It had arrived with a portentous commercial for the new MacIntosh directed by Terry Gilliam and a film version of Orwell’s famous novel.  There were hints of the nightmare all around us (don’t mention Reagan’s America, because if you haven’t figured it out, I’m a liberal).  What kind of horrors would the future hold for us?  Then came 1985 and there was a reminder of Camus and what doesn’t often get mentioned about Kafka.  A decade later I would write about in a paper about viewing Existentialism as a form of black humor.  But it’s evident here in Terry Gilliam’s magnum opus, the one he had to take a full page ad in Variety just to prompt the studio to release it.  The world might be dark and full of despair, but there’s something to laugh about in all of that.  It would take an American sensibility tinged with the height of British humor to find what could be funny in all of that.

What do you see when you see the future?  Terry Gilliam saw the darkness of Orwell’s vision tinted with a massive swath of utter blandness.  It wasn’t just that everyone had lost their will; they had also lost their imaginations.  So it would take a desk worker getting lost in his dreams to send forth a spark to light that revolution.

Jonathan Pryce has never really broken through to a mass audience.  Yes, many movie fans would find him familiar, but only as Keira Knightley’s father in the Pirates films.  They won’t remember his performance in Carrington, as a lost soul adrift in the artistic world.  They won’t realize that his performance as the Engineer in Miss Saigon is one of the most lauded performances in London history.  They won’t realize that he’s the lead character in Brazil, the man who sees a typo and manages to use it to break free of conformity in a way that Winston Smith never would have dreamed of.  So, he flies above the masses.  He fights Japanese samurai warriors.  He watches as revolutionary men do works on his ducts.  He chases the girl, even after he gets thrown out of her truck.  He learns to fly even when there is nothing left inside to lift his wings.

Pryce isn’t the real revelation in this film, of course.  It’s not Ian Holm, who had already shown in Alien how quietly intense and disturbing he could be.  It’s not even Michael Palin, whose brilliant comic work in Monty Python and Ripping Yarns never could have prepared you for the darkness in his eyes every time he appears on-screen in Brazil.  The revelation, of course, is Terry Gilliam.  Gilliam had co-directed two of the Python films and then gone off and made his own little short film (with ideas of where he would go with Brazil) for the third one.  He had also made two interesting fantasy films, but they had not shown that he could tell a coherent story to match his incredible visual style.  This film would finally do it, and sadly, there would never really be another one like it.  His crash and burn with Munchausen meant that after that he was mostly a director for hire and so while his films would have visual flair, they would often seem like another man’s films when looking at it as a whole.  But the clearest indication of his talent is Brazil, viewed in its entirety on the first disc of the Criterion box set.

The Razzies:  The five Razzie nominees average a 37.6, which rounds up to a 38, which gives it **.  Given that I have 23 films listed below **, that’s an awful high average.  This is where the Razzies really ditch the worst films (The Last Dragon, my worst film of the year, was nominated for Worst Song twice, but not for Picture) and go for the really disappointing by name films.  So, out of 175 films that I have seen, their “winner” is Rambo: First Blood Part II, which is my #160.  Their other nominees are my #158 (Revolution), 152 (Year of the Dragon), 140 (Fever Pitch) and 138 (Rocky IV).  I mean, Rocky IV is part of the downward trend from the first one, but can you really say it’s worse than Lust in the Dust, Gymkata, Red Sonja or King Solomon’s Mines (all of which earned Razzie noms in other categories) or Commando or Police Academy 2?  They just wanted their digs at Stallone (he won Worst Actor for his two films combined and Worst Director for Rocky IV).  The direction of Revolution (Hugh Hudson) and King Solomon’s Mines (J. Lee Thompson), both of which were directed by former Oscar nominees, was worse.

5 Worst Films  (#1 being the worst):

  1. The Last Dragon
  2. Gymkata
  3. Lust in the Dust
  4. Death Wish 3
  5. Lifeforce

note:  This is the entire list of .5 films for this year – there’s a four point jump to my 6th worst film (The Stuff).  But, in a surprise, none of these films is a Horror film (three Action films, one Comedy, one Sci-Fi).  Two studios are here which have ended up in this bottom five a lot: New World Pictures (Lust in the Dust) and Cannon (Death Wish 3).

For the love of God,

For the love of God, forget that Julius Carry was ever in this and just go watch Brisco instead.

The Last Dragon  (dir. Michael Schultz)

There’s one thing you should bear in my mind when you read my review of the worst film of the year (in most years, certainly, in this year definitely): I don’t like camp.  It doesn’t matter if the campiness is deliberate (I have watched my way all through the entire six seasons of Xena and it was because of Veronica’s choice, not mine) or accidental, though I am less inclined for those “accidental” camp films.  There’s another word for those films: terrible.  This film is a perfect example.

You don’t even have to start watching this film to realize how awful it’s going to be.  It’s not just that the reviews were bad (they were).  It’s the very film itself.  For one thing, it’s a martial arts musical.  Now, I have nothing against musicals, and they can be clever in all sorts of situations (I watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and love it).  But a martial arts musical is just a bad idea to begin with, aside from the fact that it was a good decade overdue (not to suggest that the characters break into song in this film, but it’s bad enough that it might have been a good idea if they had).  James Bond was making it’s faux Shaw Brothers film back in 1974 and now we’re up to 1985 and Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, whose musical instincts were amazing, was less successful in film.

Next, let me quote a line directly from Wikipedia: “This was the first acting role for Taimak, a then-19-year-old black belt who learned to act on the set of this picture.”  “Learned to act” is never a phrase you want to see describing the lead in a film.  It’s also, given that I have seen the film, a vast overstatement of what Taimak does.  Sadly, it’s no worse than what almost anyone else in the film does, from Julius Carry in a ridiculous performance as the ludicrously named villian Sho’nuff (though he was quite good as the co-star in the campiest show I have ever really enjoyed, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr) to Vanity, who could sing but certainly couldn’t act to Chris Murney (whose character is a video game mogul, which tells you what kind of absurd movie you’ve landed in) who gets to deliver the line “Without me, you’re nothing! Without that outfit, you’re just another no-talent dental hygiene school drop-out from Kew Gardens getting by on her tits!” and seems to think he might even mean it.

Perhaps the film can be summed up, not just by the soundtrack, but by a single song on the soundtrack.  It’s “Rhythm of the Night” by DeBarge and it’s a song that will not let me go.  My brain continually tells me that it’s a terrible song that should be shunned by all, but that same brain also remembers four girls in my fifth grade class dancing to it.  It was Oscar eligible (and indeed, even Globe nominated) but I couldn’t bring myself to put it on my own Best Original Song list, even in last place.  It’s so appropriate that it was the first big hit written by Diane Warren, who two years later would write a song that would earn an Oscar nom that also sears my brain and won’t let go no matter how much my taste in music wants me to stomp on it (“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from Mannequin, which is almost as bad as The Last Dragon).

Look, it has been noted before that perhaps I am the wrong person to review certain films.  If that is the case, then maybe is this exact type of film: ridiculous, badly acted, with a soundtrack that some people love but which I want to run away from.  I’ll just say that on a scale of 0-100, I gave this a 2, so it could have been worse.


  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:   Ran  (15)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:  Ran  (11)
  • Most Nighthawk Points:  Ran  (705)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Award:  Return to Oz
  • Worst Film to Earn a Top 10 Finish:  Rambo: First Blood Part II
  • 2nd Place Award:  Blood Simple  (Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Cinematography)
  • 6th Place Award:  Witness  (Picture, Director, Supporting Actress, Cinematography)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Nominations:Ran  /  Kiss of the Spider Woman  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Awards:  Ran  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Points:  Ran  (395)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Drama Award:  Out of Africa
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Nominations:  Prizzi’s Honor  /  Brazil  /  A Private Function  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Awards:  Prizzi’s Honor  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Points:  Prizzi’s Honor  (355)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Comedy Award:  Sweet Dreams

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:   Akira Kurosawa  (765)
  • Writer:  Ingmar Bergman  (1040)
  • Cinematographer:  Sven Nykvist  (325)
  • Composer:  Max Steiner  (450)
  • Foreign Film:  Ingmar Bergman  (560)

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

  • Drama:  70 (32)  –  Ran  (65.8)
  • Foreign:  48  –  Ran  (64.8)
  • Comedy:  33 (5)  –  The Purple Rose of Cairo  (60.8)
  • Horror:  15 (3)  –  The Company of Wolves  (43.4)
  • Action:  13  –  Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome  (29.4)
  • Kids:  9 (1)  –  Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird  (51.9)
  • Adventure:  6 (2)  –  Where the Raven Flies  (49.6)
  • Sci-Fi:  5  –  Brazil  (47.7)
  • Suspense:  5 (1)  –  Blood Simple  (68.7)
  • Crime:  4 (1)  –  Prizzi’s Honor  (66.5)
  • Musical:  4 (2)  –  A Chorus Line  (62.5)
  • Fantasy:  3 (1)  –  Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind  (57)
  • Mystery:  3  –  Young Sherlock Holmes  (55.3)
  • Western:  2  –  Silverado  (78)
  • War:  1  –  Revolution  (31)

Analysis: You aren’t reading that number wrong up above.  The average Action film is a 29.4, or a low *.5.  It’s the most Action films in six years and yet the worst group ever (though barely above the following year).  I’ll give you the whole group, in rank order: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, A View to a Kill, Year of the Dragon, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Code of Silence, Commando, Death Wish 3, Gymkata and The Last Dragon.  Combined with the 7 Adventure films that makes 17 for the larger Action-Adventure genre that most people list, tied for the most ever.  The 8 Kids films is also tied for the most to-date as animated films start becoming more common.  The 6 Musicals is the fewest since 1979 and tied for the fewest since 1932.
Ran is the second Shakespeare film to win the Nighthawk and ironically neither of them use the actual language (West Side Story is the other).  With Blood Simple and Witness in the Top 10, it’s the first time there have been multiple Suspense films since 1974.  Also for the first time since 1974, there are three Crime films in the Top 20.  After a year where, for the first time in almost 40 years no Foreign Film made the Top 10, Ran becomes the 14th Foreign Film to win the Nighthawk.  Silverado, my #16 film, is the first Western in the Top 20 since 1976.

Studio Note:  Warner Bros is the top studio for the third straight year, this time with 19 films.  Columbia is the next major with 13 films, but Orion beats out all the majors except WB with 14 films.  This is the last big year for MGM/UA, with 10 films, as the next year their production will slip and never recover.  The films from the majors are pretty bad on the whole, with Disney leading the way with a 63.3 (very low ***), going all the way down to the 51.9 average for MGM/UA (very low **.5), with the only film released solely by MGM earning a 44.
Orion wins a second Nighthawk in a row (actually it’s Orion Classics) and has two Top 10 finishes.

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

  1. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind  (***.5, Miyazaki, Toei)
  2. The Black Cauldron  (***, Berman / Rich, Disney)
  3. Asterix vs. Caesar  (***, Brizzi / Brizzi, Gaumont)
  4. Here Comes the Littles  (**.5, Deyries, Atlantic Releasing)
  5. The Secret of the Sword  (**, Friedman, Atlantic Releasing)
  6. The Care Bears Movie  (**, Selznick, Samuel Goldwyn Company)
  7. Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer  (*, Yabuki / Deyries, Warner Bros)
  8. Starchaser: The Legend of Odin  (*, Hahn, Atlantic Releasing)

Note:  Oscars.org doesn’t list Nausicaa or Asterix.
This is first of the two big years for Atlantic Releasing, which specialized in feature length versions of television shows.  None of their films are any better than **.5.  Nausicaa is the final pre-Ghibli film for Miyazaki; its success would inspire the founding of the studio.  It’s often thought of as a Ghibli film and it’s on the Ghibli box set.

53 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):

  • Alpine Fire  (Murer, Switzerland)  *
  • Angry Harvest  (Holland, West Germany)  **
  • Asterix vs Caesar  (Brizzi, France)
  • The Berlin Affair  (Cavani, Italy)
  • Calamari Union  (Kaurismaki, Finland)
  • The City and the Dogs  (Jose Lombardi, Peru)  *
  • Ciuleandra  (Nicolaescu, Romania)  *
  • Colonel Redl  (Szabo, Hungary)  **
  • Come and See  (Klimov, USSR)  *
  • Comic Magazine  (Takita, Japan)
  • Demons  (Bava, Italy)
  • Dim Sum  (Wang, Hong Kong)
  • Dust  (Hansel, Belgium)  *
  • L’Effrontee  (Miller, France)
  • Eoudong  (Lee, South Korea)  *
  • Frida: Natureleza Viva  (Leduc, Mexico)  *
  • Godzilla 1985  (Hashimoto, Japan)
  • Hail Mary  (Godard, France)
  • Himatsuri  (Yanagimachi, Japan)
  • Mr. Vampire  (Lau, Japan)
  • My Life as a Dog  (Hallstrom, Sweden)
  • Night on the Galactic Railroad  (Sugii, Japan)
  • No End  (Kieslowski, Poland)
  • Nothing Left to Do But Cry  (Benigni, Italy)
  • The Official Story  (Puenzo, Argentina)  ***
  • Oriana  (Torres, Venezuela)  *
  • Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer  (Yabuki / Deyries, Japan)
  • Ran  (Kurosawa, Japan)
  • Rendez-vous  (Techine, France)
  • Ronia the Robber’s Daughter  (Danielsson, Sweden)  *
  • Saagar  (Sippy, India)  *
  • Subway  (Besson, France)
  • Tampopo  (Itami, Japan)
  • Three Men and a Cradle  (Serreau, France)  **
  • A Time to Live and a Time to Die  (Hou, Taiwan)
  • Twist and Shout  (August, Denmark)
  • Vagabond  (Varda, France)
  • Vampire Hunter D  (Ashida, Japan)
  • Vampires in Havana  (Padron, Cuba)
  • When Father Was Away on Business  (Kusturica, Yugoslavia)  **
  • Wuthering Heights  (Rivette, France)
  • A Year of the Quiet Sun  (Zanussi, Poland)
  • Yesterday  (Piwowarski, Poland)  *

Note:  France and Japan lead with 8 films each; no other country has more than 3.  The 8 films are the most from Japan since 1969.  Several countries are back after long gaps: Finland (12 years), Cuba (1976), Belgium (1978).  But, for the first time since 1974, I have seen no films from Spain.  I have seen three Polish films for only the third time.  I have only seen one West German film, the lowest since 1967.  With the increase of animated films, I have seen 3 Kids films for the first time since 1970.  The are also 5 Horror films, the most since 1975.

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

  • Austria:  Malambo  (dir. Dor)
  • Canada:  Jacques and November  (dir. Beaudry / Bouvier)
  • Czechoslovakia:  Scalpel, Please  (dir. Svoboda)
  • Iceland:  Deep Winter  (dir. Bertelsson)
  • Israel:  When Night Falls  (dir. Green)
  • Italy:  Macaroni  (dir.  Scola)
  • Japan:  Gray Sunset  (dir.  Ito)
  • Netherlands:  The Dream  (dir.  Verhoeff)
  • Norway:  Wives – Ten Years After  (dir.  Breien)
  • Philippines:  This is My Country  (dir.  Brocka)
  • Spain:  The Witching Hour  (dir. de Arminan)
  • Taiwan:  Kuei-Mei, a Woman  (dir. Yi)

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 18 for 30 (60%), my worst mark since 1970.  Five of these are the same countries I was missing in 1984 (and two I was also missing in 1983).
There are four countries submitting that didn’t in 1984 (Mexico, Peru, Belgium and Poland, back after a three year gap).  The countries that are out from the year before are China, Finland, Brazil, Colombia and Hong Kong, all of which will be back in 1986, as well as Hong Kong and Thailand, which won’t be back until 1989.
Of the missing submissions, this is my 2nd miss (Philippines), 3rd (Italy, Norway), 4th (Iceland, Canada), 5th and 3rd in a row (Taiwan) 6th and 3rd in a row (Austria), 8th (Czechoslovakia), 8th and the beginning of four straight misses (Japan), 9th (Netherlands) and 11th (Israel, Spain).

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

  • Queen Kelly  (1929)
  • Late Chrysanthemums  (1954)
  • Night and Fog in Japan  (1960)
  • Oedipus Rex  (1967)
  • All My Good Countrymen  (1969)
  • Allonsanfan  (1974)
  • Barry MacKenzie Holds His Own  (1974)
  • Je Tu Il Elle  (1975)
  • Letters from Marusia  (1975)
  • Dead End  (1977)
  • Do You Remember Dolly Bell  (1981)
  • Les Plouffe  (1981)
  • Henry IV  (1983)
  • L’Homme Blesse  (1983)
  • The Inheritors  (1983)
  • The Lift  (1983)
  • Rembetiko  (1983)
  • The Wall  (1983)
  • The Wild Duck  (1983)
  • Beyond the Walls  (1984)
  • The Company of Wolves  (1984)
  • Dangerous Moves  (1984)
  • Enormous Changes at the Last Minute  (1984)
  • Grace Quigley  (1984)
  • The Hit  (1984)
  • The Holy Innocents  (1984)
  • The Home and the World  (1984)
  • MacArthur’s Children  (1984)
  • Memoirs of Prison  (1984)
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind  (1984)
  • The Ploughman’s Lunch  (1984)
  • A Private Function  (1984)
  • So Long, Stooge  (1984)
  • A Sunday in the Country  (1984)
  • War-Time Romance  (1984)
  • Where the Green Ants Dream  (1984)
  • Where the Raven Flies  (1984)
  • Where’s Picone?  (1984)
  • Wildrose  (1984)

Note:  These 40 films average a 66.8.  They account for a total of 19 Nighthawk nominations which is quite a lot.  Only three of the films make the Top 19 (Blood Simple, A Private Function, Queen Kelly), but they dominate the lower end of the ***.5 films in this year.  Seven of the eight films from #20-27 for the year are on this list: The Hit, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Dangerous Moves, Late Chrysanthemums, A Sunday in the Country, Beyond the Walls, The Company of Wolves.

Films Not Listed at Oscars.org:

  • All My Good Countrymen
  • Barry MacKenzie Holds His Own
  • Beyond the Walls
  • Calamari Union
  • Ciuleandra
  • Crimewave
  • Do You Remember Dolly Bell
  • Eoudong
  • The Inheritors
  • Je Tu Il Elle
  • Late Chrysanthemums
  • Mr. Vampire
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
  • Night and Fog in Japan
  • No End
  • Nothing Left to Do But Cry
  • Les Plouffe
  • Queen Kelly
  • Remebtiko
  • Saagar
  • So Long, Stooge
  • Where the Raven Flies
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Yesterday

Note:  I use the list at Oscars.org 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 Oscars.org 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 (not necessarily in this year).

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

  • Angry Harvest  (1986)
  • The Berlin Affair  (1986)
  • Caravaggio  (1986)
  • Defence of the Realm  (1986)
  • Demons  (1986)
  • Dust  (1986)
  • L’Effrontee  (1986)
  • Legend  (1986)
  • Letter to Brezhnev  (1986)
  • My Beautiful Laundrette  (1986)
  • Night on the Galactic Railroad  (1986)
  • Restless Natives  (1986)
  • Ronia the Robber’s Daughter  (1986)
  • Screamplay  (1986)
  • Three Men and a Cradle  (1986)
  • Twist and Shout  (1986)
  • Vagabond  (1986)
  • A Year of the Quiet Sun  (1986)
  • Alpine Fire  (1987)
  • The City and the Dogs  (1987)
  • Come and See  (1987)
  • Comic Magazine  (1987)
  • Frida: Natureleza Viva  (1987)
  • The Good Father  (1987)
  • Gothic  (1987)
  • My Life as a Dog  (1987)
  • The Night Stalker  (1987)
  • Oriana  (1987)
  • Rendez-vous  (1987)
  • Tampopo  (1987)
  • Vampires in Havana  (1987)
  • A Zed & Two Noughts  (1987)
  • A Time to Live and a Time to Die  (1988)
  • Mala Noche  (1989)
  • Vampire Hunter D  (1993)

Note:  These 35 films average a 62.9.  There are a couple of very good films, but the one with the biggest impact is My Beautiful Laundrette, which would actually win Daniel Day-Lewis his first Nighthawk Award if it were in 1985.