The second Marty film to win the Nighthawk. It won't be the last.

The second Marty film to win the Nighthawk. It won’t be the last.

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. GoodFellas  **
  2. Dances with Wolves  *
  3. Miller’s Crossing
  4. The Grifters
  5. Presumed Innocent
  6. The Hunt for Red October
  7. Cinema Paradiso
  8. Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
  9. May Fools
  10. Reversal of Fortune

Analysis:  GoodFellas sets new Consensus records for points, wins (6) and nominations (8).  It has the highest percentage of points since 1946.  All of these will be thumped in 1993.  But it begins the trend of a film dominating the critics awards (and sometimes the BAFTA) but losing the Globe, PGA, DGA and Oscar.  That trend will repeat in 1994 and 1997 and, with some variations, in 2010, 2012 and 2014.  It remains in the Top 10 all-time for Consensus points in spite of the BFCA not existing yet at this point.
The Top 5 is weaker than 1989 but stronger than 1988.  The Top 10, however, is the weakest in six years and it’s an astounding 31 point drop from the year before.  Surprisingly though, films 11-20 are almost as good as they were in 1989 (#11-20, in order are: Avalon, Longtime Companion, Edward Scissorhands, Black Rain, Jesus of Montreal, White Hunter Black Heart, Misery, The Nasty Girl, The Godfather Part III and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, all of which are ***.5).  On my 100 point scale, there is the same point differential between #1 and 3 (4 pts) as there are between #5 and 17.  The Grifters would have been the #9 film in 1989 and Presumed Innocent is the weakest #5 film since 1984.  Only the first nine films are ****.

  • MonthofScorsese-Martin-Scorsese-Goodfellas-Robert-De-Niro-Film-Locations-Untapped-CitiesBest Director
  1. Martin Scorsese  (GoodFellas)  **
  2. Kevin Costner  (Dances with Wolves)  *
  3. Joel Coen  (Miller’s Crossing)
  4. Stephen Frears  (The Grifters)  *
  5. Alan J. Pakula  (Presumed Innocent)
  6. Akira Kurosawa  (Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams)
  7. Francis Ford Coppola  (The Godfather Part III)  *
  8. Clint Eastwood  (White Hunter, Black Heart)
  9. Tim Burton  (Edward Scissorhands)
  10. John McTiernan  (The Hunt for Red October)

Analysis:  This is the only nomination for Costner, who is a talented director but doesn’t direct much.  It’s the second nomination for Frears and Coen (with a lot more coming for the latter).  It’s the third and final nomination for Pakula.  It’s only the fourth nomination for Scorsese but it’s already his second win.
Scorsese wins his first Consensus Award with ease, setting a new points record (752) and earning 32.79% of all the points, the highest since 1947.  The points record will stand for seven years and the percentage has only been surpassed once since and that was an odd case (2000).
With the Oscars going with Frears (and Barbet Schroeder, my #11) rather than Penny Marshall and Jerry Zucker, whose films earned Best Picture noms, they earn a score of 86.8, the highest in eight years.  The score is 26.8 higher than Best Picture, the highest difference since 1968.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. GoodFellas  *
  2. The Grifters  *
  3. Dances with Wolves  **
  4. Presumed Innocent
  5. The Hunt for Red October
  6. Reversal of Fortune  **
  7. White Hunter, Black Heart
  8. Misery
  9. Mr. & Mrs. Bridge
  10. Awakenings  *

Analysis:  This is a rare year in that two films tie for the Consensus win and if I just went by raw totals, three films would tie, with GoodFellas falling just behind on the weighted total.  GoodFellas and Reversal of Fortune both win two awards and earn five noms while Dances wins three but only has one other nom.  There hasn’t been a tie in this category since.
With all five nominees in my Top 10, the Oscar score is 91.2, the highest in seven years.  It’s a hell of a lot better than Original Screenplay.
I have read six of the sources on the list: GoodFellas, Presumed Innocent, The Hunt for Red October, White Hunter Black Heart, Misery and Awakenings.  Hell, four of them I read as far back as high school (GoodFellas, Presumed Innocent, The Hunt for Red October, Misery).

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Miller’s Crossing
  2. May Fools
  3. Cinema Paradiso  *
  4. Longtime Companion
  5. Jesus of Montreal
  6. Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
  7. Avalon  *
  8. Edward Scissorhands
  9. The Nasty Girl
  10. Leningrad Cowboys Go America

Analysis:  There’s a raw total tie in this category as well, with Ghost winning in the weighted total over Avalon (both having 1 win and three noms).  Ghost (#18 on my list) is the third straight Oscar winner to not earn any other wins, although in all three cases, the winner is the only Best Picture nominee nominated in this category.  That will happen again the next year, but Bugsy will lose to non-Best Picture nominee Thelma & Louise.  Ghost is the last Oscar winner to date to not earn any other wins and only Talk to Her earns fewer than three total wins.  It will also take until Talk to Her in 2002 for another Consensus winner with this few points (160).  At #18, Ghost is the lowest ranked Oscar winner in this category since 1964.
Louis Malle earns his fourth and final writing nomination.  The Coens earn their first writing Nighthawk (there will be more) and their second nom.
Even though it’s written by the Coens, Miller’s Crossing is still the weakest winner in eight years.  The category, as a whole, is the weakest in six years, and with four of the top six and six of the Top 10 being Foreign films at a time when Foreign films aren’t at their strongest, it really doesn’t say much about American screenwriting in this year.
The Oscar score is a truly dreadful 18.8, the lowest in this category’s history.

  • Best Actor:
  1. Ray Liotta  (GoodFellas)
  2. Robert De Niro  (GoodFellas)  *
  3. Jeremy Irons  (Reversal of Fortune)  **
  4. Al Pacino  (The Godfather Part III)
  5. Harrison Ford  (Presumed Innocent)
  6. Kevin Costner  (Dances with Wolves)  *
  7. Robert De Niro  (Awakenings)  *
  8. Clint Eastwood  (White Hunter, Black Heart)
  9. Danny Glover  (To Sleep with Anger)
  10. Michael Rooker  (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer)

Analysis:  The winners of the other seven major categories have been pretty much set in stone since sometime in 1991.  This one changed constantly over the years and I think all five of my nominees have, at one point or another, been my winner.  Several of them have also ended up out of my Top 5, replaced usually by either Eastwood or Costner (also by Sean Connery for The Hunt for Red October who is #12 on my list).
This is the only Nighthawk nomintion for Ray Liotta.  To win he beats out Jeremy Irons (third nom), Harrison Ford (fourth nomination in a decade), Al Pacino (sixth nomination, but first in over a decade) and Robert De Niro (eighth nomination).  De Niro moves up to 430 points and into fifth place, passing Claude Rains.
This is a year of criminally under-appreciated performances.  Liotta, Ford, Eastwood, Glover and Rooker all fail to earn any major nominations (Glover won the Indie Spirit and Rooker was nominated).
While Jeremy Irons doesn’t win the Nighthawk, the two actors above him weren’t Oscar nominated.  That makes 1988-1990 the first three year stretch where the Academy chose the best of the Best Actor nominees since 1952-54.

  • Best Actress
  1. Anjelica Huston  (The Grifters)  **
  2. Joanne Woodward  (Mr. & Mrs. Bridge)  *
  3. Kathy Bates  (Misery)  *
  4. Helen Mirren  (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover)
  5. Lena Stolze  (The Nasty Girl)
  6. Julia Roberts  (Pretty Woman)  *
  7. Meryl Streep  (Postcards from the Edge)
  8. Cher  (Mermaids)
  9. Michelle Pfeiffer  (The Russia House)
  10. Debra Winger  (The Sheltering Sky)

Analysis:  This is the only nomination for Lena Stolze, who, at 34, does a first-rate job of portraying a character from her teens into adulthood.  It’s the first nomination for Bates.  It’s the third nom for Mirren.  It’s the fifth nom for Woodward, but the first in 17 years (and also her last).  It’s not only the fourth nom (and second win) for Huston, it’s her fourth nom in just six years.
With all five nominees in my Top 7, the Oscar score is an impressive 93.8, the highest in six years; it’s the first time in five years that Best Actress has the highest score of the four acting categories.

  • pesciBest Supporting Actor:
  1. Joe Pesci  (GoodFellas)  **
  2. Bruce Davison  (Longtime Companion)  *
  3. Andy Garcia  (The Godfather Part III)  *
  4. John Spencer  (Presumed Innocent)
  5. Raul Julia  (Presumed Innocent)
  6. Albert Finney  (Miller’s Crossing)
  7. Graham Greene  (Dances with Wolves)
  8. John Turturro  (Miller’s Crossing)
  9. Paul Sorvino  (GoodFellas)
  10. Armin Mueller-Stahl  (Avalon)

Analysis:  These are the only nominations for Davison, Garcia and Spencer and the second for Julia and Pesci (although it’s also the second win for Pesci).
Pesci runs away with the Consensus, earning the most points, nominations and wins since 1983.
Bruce Davison is the weakest #2 in this category in five years.
This is the third year in a row that I have agreed with the Oscar winner, bizarrely the only three year streak in this category’s history.
Like with Actor, this is a group of under-appreciated performances.  Spencer and Julia are the most noteworthy – as I said when I reviewed the film in the Year in Film, Presumed Innocent is filled with fantastic acting.

  • braccoBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Lorraine Bracco  (GoodFellas)  *
  2. Annette Bening  (The Grifters)  *
  3. Bonnie Bedelia  (Presumed Innocent)
  4. Gretta Scachi  (Presumed Innocent)
  5. Mary McDonnell  (Dances with Wolves)
  6. Dominique Blanc  (May Fools)
  7. Jennifer Jason Leigh  (Last Exit to Brooklyn)  *
  8. Shirley MacLaine  (Postcards from the Edge)
  9. Helena Bonham-Carter  (Hamlet)
  10. Winona Ryder  (Mermaids)  *

Analysis:  Whoopi Goldberg, who won the Oscar (and Consensus) for Ghost, is my #14.  In a raw total tie at the Consensus, but very slight weighted total loss, was Bracco, whose performance was miles better in my opinion.  Bracco, in fact, is the best winner between 1986 and 1994.  Bening is the best #2 in this category between 1986 and 1993.
These are the only nominations for all of the actresses except Bening.  It’s the first of consecutive nominations for Bening.
At #14, Goldberg is the first Oscar winner not to earn a Nighthawk nomination since 1970 and is the first Oscar winner in this category to not make the Top 10.  She’ll soon have company in that dubious distinction (I’m looking at you Kim Basinger).  Goldberg is also the first Oscar winner in this category to be the weakest of the nominees, but that will happen twice more this decade (Basinger is scott-free on that one).

  • Best Editing:
  1. GoodFellas
  2. Miller’s Crossing
  3. Dances with Wolves
  4. The Hunt for Red October
  5. Presumed Innocent
  6. The Grifters
  7. Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
  8. Edward Scissorhands
  9. Jesus of Montreal
  10. Misery

Analysis:  Below is Reason #1 why GoodFellas should have won the Oscar for Best Editing, or Reason #2 why the Unplugged version of “Layla” sucks.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. GoodFellas  *
  2. Dances with Wolves  **
  3. Miller’s Crossing
  4. The Grifters
  5. Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
  6. The Hunt for Red October
  7. Presumed Innocent
  8. Avalon  *
  9. The Sheltering Sky  *
  10. The Godfather Part III  *

Analysis:  Dances with Wolves easily wins the Consensus as it is the first film to win both the Oscar and the ASC (it won’t happen again until 1995).
Barry Sonnenfeld (Miller’s Crossing) earns a second Nighthawk nom just before embarking on his directorial career.  Michael Ballhaus earns his second nom and his first win.  Takao Saito earns his fourth and final nom.  Somehow GoodFellas didn’t even earn a nomination.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. Dances with Wolves
  2. Presumed Innocent
  3. Edward Scissorhands
  4. The Grifters
  5. Miller’s Crossing
  6. The Hunt for Red October
  7. Avalon
  8. Ghost
  9. Dick Tracy
  10. Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams

Analysis:  Carter Burwell (Miller’s Crossing) earns his first Nighthawk nom.  Danny Elfman earns his second nom, again working with Tim Burton.  John Barry finally wins the Nighthawk with his fifth nomination.  Elmer Bernstein (The Grifters) earns his first nomination in 27 years and his fifth overall.  John Williams earns his 15th nomination and moves farther ahead in 1st place, now up to 500 points.
This is the first time I have agreed with the winner in this category since 1977.  Is it a shock then, that it’s not a John Williams score that wins, or is it because Williams doesn’t win my Nighthawk that the Nighthawk winner finally agrees with the Oscar?  In spite of that, with only three nominees in my Top 10 and only one in my Top 7, the Oscar score is 60.5, the lowest in 11 years.

  • Best Sound:
  1. The Hunt for Red October
  2. GoodFellas
  3. Dances with Wolves
  4. Miller’s Crossing
  5. Total Recall
  6. Dick Tracy
  7. White Hunter, Black Heart
  8. Black Rain
  9. The Godfather Part III
  10. Die Hard 2

Analysis:  Hunt‘s sounds were really amazing and at least the film won for Best Sound Editing.

  • dicktracyBest Art Direction:
  1. Dick Tracy
  2. GoodFellas
  3. Dances with Wolves
  4. Miller’s Crossing
  5. Edward Scissorhands
  6. The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and Her Lover
  7. The Godfather Part III
  8. Avalon
  9. Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
  10. Vincent & Theo

Analysis:  In a category where the Oscar score is usually high, the presence of only three nominees in my Top 10 means a score of 75.6, the lowest in 12 years.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. Total Recall
  2. The Hunt for Red October
  3. Back to the Future Part III
  4. Ghost
  5. Edward Scissorhands
  6. Black Rain
  7. Die Hard 2
  8. Arachnophobia

Analysis:  The Oscar for Total Recall was a Special Oscar, as there was no competitive award this year.  I don’t think the effects for Back to the Future Part II the year before were so much better that it could be nominated but the third film couldn’t be.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. The Hunt for Red October
  2. Total Recall
  3. GoodFellas
  4. Dick Tracy
  5. Back to the Future Part III
  6. Edward Scissorhands
  7. Miller’s Crossing
  8. Die Hard 2
  9. Black Rain
  10. Darkman
  • dick-tracy-theredlistBest Costume Design:
  1. Dick Tracy
  2. Dances with Wolves
  3. Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
  4. GoodFellas
  5. Miller’s Crossing
  6. Avalon
  7. Cyrano de Bergerac
  8. Vincent & Theo
  9. Mountains of the Moon
  10. Hamlet

Analysis:  After an eight year streak in which the Oscar winner also wins the Nighthawk, the Oscar winner comes in 7th.  There won’t be another winner this low until 2015.  While Dick Tracy and Dances have the best costumes, Dreams, with its different stories in different periods, has the most interesting costumes in some ways.

  • Best Makeup
  1. Dick Tracy
  2. Edward Scissorhands
  3. Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
  4. Total Recall
  5. Darkman
  6. Dances with Wolves
  7. Hamlet
  8. The Witches
  9. Jesus of Montreal
  10. Mountains of the Moon

Analysis:  This Top 5 is the best to-date, beating out 1980 by two points.  Yet, only two of them earned Oscar nominations (the third Oscar nom went to Cyrano de Bergerac, a nomination which was ridiculed by Siskel and Ebert).
With two of the three nominees at the top of my list, the Oscar score is 73.9, the highest since this became a competitive category.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. “Post-Mortem Bar”  (Longtime Companion)
  2. Blaze of Glory”  (Young Guns 2)
  3. “You Gotta Love Someone”  (Days of Thunder)
  4. “Sooner or Later”  (Dick Tracy)
  5. “Promise Me You’ll Remember Me”  (The Godfather Part III)
  6. “Cradle of Love”  (The Adventures of Ford Fairlane)
  7. “Somewhere in My Memory”  (Home Alone)
  8. “I’m Checkin’ Out”  (Postcards from the Edge)

Analysis:  Oscars.org lists songs from different films.  In this year, there are 182 listed songs from 69 different films.  I have seen 33 of those films which account for 103 songs.  I was not able to see Lambada, which had 14 songs and quite frankly, I’m glad I was able to skip it – The Forbidden Dance, which had 10 was bad enough.  Graffiti Bridge had 17, the most in quite a while.  Now, to be fair, “Post-Mortem Bar” is not on the list.  But I have not been able to find anything to indicate that it wasn’t written for the film and it is so moving, concluding the film, that I’m keeping it on until somebody tells me otherwise.  Besides, that way I don’t have to nominated “Cradle of Love”.  This year is a big disappointment, coming between 1989 (The Little Mermaid) and 1991 (Beauty and the Beast, Until the End of the World).
Dick Tracy slips into the middle of the streak of Disney Animated films winning this award, but it’s still a Disney film – it’s just not animated.
The Oscar score is 77.3, which is actually the highest in 14 years, possibly because there wasn’t a Disney song around to have its best song overlooked.

  • Best Animated Film:
  1. none

Analysis:  No film earns higher than *** as will be listed down below.  The Consensus winner is The Rescuers Down Under, which wins the only award at the time (the LAFC).

  • akira_kurosawas_dreamsBest Foreign Film:
  1. Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
  2. May Fools
  3. Ju Dou
  4. La Femme Nikita
  5. The Nasty Girl  **
  6. The Match Factory Girl
  7. Open Doors
  8. Taxi Blues
  9. Korczak

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

Analysis:  The Nasty Girl has the fewest Consensus points for a winner between 1986 and 1995 but does win the BAFTA and LAFC and earns Oscar and Globe noms.  The only other film with more than one nom is Cyrano de Bergerac (Globe, NBR wins, Oscar, BAFTA noms) which I rate at ***.  Journey of Hope actually won the Oscar, and at #12 for the year among Foreign films, it’s one spot better than Cyrano, which was widely expected to win.  After a year where the Oscar winner won the Nighthawk, this is the first of three straight years where the Oscar winner doesn’t even make my Top 10 – the longest such streak in this category’s history.
Japan earns its five nomination and second win in the last three years.  Germany earns its first nomination since 1933.
Louis Malle earns his fourth and final nomination.  Zhang Yimou earns his second nomination and second of three in four years.  Akira Kurosawa wins his ninth and final Nighthawk and takes the points lead back from Ingmar Bergman, going up to 580 points.
The Top 5 is slightly weaker than the year before, but with nine films on my list, the Top 10 is slightly stronger.  Both are weaker than 1988.  This is the first year the list is this long since 1969.

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.

  • GoodFellas  (670)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Sound, Art Direction, Sound Editing, Costume Design
  • Presumed Innocent   (340)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actress, Editing, Original Score
  • Dances with Wolves  (320)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Costume Design
  • Miller’s Crossing  (305)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Costume Design
  • The Grifters  (285)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Original Score
  • The Hunt for Red October  (165)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Dick Tracy  (120)
    • Art Direction, Sound Editing, Costume Design, Makeup, Original Song
  • Longtime Companion  (90)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Original Song
  • Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams  (90)
    • Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup, Foreign Film
  • Total Recall  (90)
    • Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Makeup
  • Cinema Paradiso  (80)
    • Original Screenplay, Foreign Film
  • The Godfather Part III  (75)
    • Actor, Supporting Actor
  • Edward Scissorhands  (75)
    • Original Score, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Makeup
  • May Fools  (60)
    • Original Screenplay, Foreign Film
  • Jesus of Montreal  (60)
    • Original Screenplay, Foreign Film
  • The Nasty Girl  (55)
    • Actress, Foreign Film
  • Back to the Future Part III  (40)
    • Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Reversal of Fortune  (35)
    • Actor
  • Misery  (35)
    • Actress
  • Mr. & Mrs. Bridge  (35)
    • Actress
  • The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover  (35)
    • Actress
  • Ghost  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • Black Rain  (20)
    • Foreign Film
  • Pathfinder  (20)
    • Foreign Film
  • Darkman  (10)
    • Makeup
  • Young Guns II  (10)
    • Original Song
  • Days of Thunder  (10)
    • Original Song

Analysis:  The Tech winners, on the whole, are the best between 1983 and 2000.  On the other hand, this is the first time since 1978 that none of my second place finishers in any category earn my highest rating.  The winners are almost always the clear winner to me.  In most categories, the Top 5 is weaker than 1989 but stronger than 1988.  The Top 5 films earn a combined 49 nominations, the most in nine years.

Best Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Avalon

Analysis:  My #11 film of the year, a high-level ***.5.  It earns 6 Top 10 finishes (and finishes in 11th twice more) but the highest it lands is the 6th place finish in Costume Design.

Best Film Not to Earn a Top 10 Finish at the Nighthawk Awards:

  • Texasville

Analysis:  My #21 film of the year, a mid-range ***.5.  It’s one of three ***.5 films that don’t earn a Top 10 (Q & A and Quick Change are the other two).

Biggest Awards Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Cyrano de Bergerac

Analysis:  An over-rated version of the classic play that earned a Best Actor nom at the Oscars and actually won Best Costume Design.  It does earn 4 Top 20 finishes from me but nothing higher than the 7th place for Costume Design.  But it finished 8th in Awards Points with 15 nominations and 7 wins.  It won Best Foreign Film at the NBR and the Globes, won 1 Oscar and earned four other nominations and was big at the BAFTAs (in 1991), winning four awards and earning eight total nominations.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture
  1. GoodFellas
  2. Dances with Wolves
  3. Miller’s Crossing
  4. The Grifters
  5. Presumed Innocent

Analysis:  As much as I feel Presumed Innocent is under-appreciated, it’s still the weakest nominee in this category in five years.
The other **** films are The Hunt for Red October, Cinema Paradiso and Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams.  The ***.5 films, in order, are: Reversal of Fortune, Avalon, Longtime Companion, Black Rain, Jesus of Montreal, White Hunter Black Heart, Misery, The Godfather Part III, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Awakenings, Total Recall, Q & A, Pathfinder, Mr. & Mrs. Bridge and The Cook the Thief His Wife and Her Lover.

  • Best Director
  1. Martin Scorsese  (GoodFellas)
  2. Kevin Costner  (Dances with Wolves)
  3. Joel Coen  (Miller’s Crossing)
  4. Stephen Frears  (The Grifters)
  5. Alan J. Pakula  (Presumed Innocent)

Analysis:  This is the only nomination for Costner.  It’s the second nomination for Coen who, because of Comedies, won’t earn another until after the turn of the century.  It’s also the second for Frears, two years after winning the award.  It’s the fourth and final nomination for Pakula.  It’s already the sixth nomination and second win for Scorsese and he moves up to 360 points and into the Top 10 for Drama.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. GoodFellas
  2. The Grifters
  3. Dances with Wolves
  4. Presumed Innocent
  5. The Hunt for Red October
  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Miller’s Crossing
  2. Cinema Paradiso
  3. Longtime Companion
  4. Jesus of Montreal
  5. Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams

Analysis:  The Coens win their second Drama Nighthawk.  Akira Kurosawa earns his 18th (and final) Drama writing nom, finishing with 1080 points and in 2nd place.
While the lack of great Original Screenplays hurts the main category, the lack of strong Comedy helps the Drama category, and it’s the strongest in four years and the second best since 1974.

  • liottaBest Actor:
  1. Ray Liotta  (GoodFellas)
  2. Robert De Niro  (GoodFellas)
  3. Jeremy Irons  (Reversal of Fortune)
  4. Al Pacino  (The Godfather Part III)
  5. Harrison Ford  (Presumed Innocent)

Analysis:  This is the only Drama nom for Liotta.  On the other hand, it’s the third for Ford, the fourth for Irons in just a decade, the sixth for Pacino (after a gap of over a decade) and the eighth for De Niro (the only time he hasn’t won except for 1973 when he lost to himself).  De Niro goes up to 465 points and in third place in Drama.  But that will actually be it for De Niro, who, after this, will focus more on Comedy and he’ll remain 5 points behind Olivier for 2nd place.
This top 5 ties 1989 for the best since 1974.

  • Grifters-red-dressBest Actress
  1. Anjelica Huston  (The Grifters)
  2. Joanne Woodward  (Mr. & Mrs. Bridge)
  3. Kathy Bates  (Misery)
  4. Helen Mirren  (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover)
  5. Cher  (Mermaids)

Analysis:  This is the only Drama nom for Bates, who will later earn Supporting Actress noms in Comedy.  It’s the third nom for Cher, whose film might have been considered a Comedy by some.  It’s also the third for Mirren, who, like Cher, had earned two back-to-back supporting noms early in the 80’s.  Three years after winning in supporting, Huston wins in lead.  It’s the sixth nom for Woodward, her first in 17 years; she finishes with 245 points and just outside of the Top 10.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Joe Pesci  (GoodFellas)
  2. Bruce Davison  (Longtime Companion)
  3. Andy Garcia  (The Godfather Part III)
  4. John Spencer  (Presumed Innocent)
  5. Raul Julia  (Presumed Innocent)

Analysis:  These are the only nominations for Davison, Garcia and Spencer.  It’s the second nom for Julia.  It’s the second nom for Pesci, but also his second win.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Lorraine Bracco  (GoodFellas)
  2. Annette Bening  (The Grifters)
  3. Bonnie Bedelia  (Presumed Innocent)
  4. Greta Scachi  (Presumed Innocent)
  5. Mary McDonnell  (Dances with Wolves)

Analysis:  Bracco, whose career will be downhill until The Sopranos, earns her only nom.  This is also the only nomination for Bedelia, whose performance in Presumed Innocent is really under-appreciated.  Scachi, who has the more showy, sexy role, will earn another nom in 1994.  It’s the first nom for McDonnell, who will earn a lead nom in two years.  It’s the first of back-to-back supporting noms for Bening.
This Top 5 ties 1946 for the best Drama Top 5 to-date.

Points:

  • GoodFellas  (495)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Presumed Innocent  (290)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actress
  • The Grifters  (235)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Miller’s Crossing  (170)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay
  • Dances with Wolves  (165)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress
  • Longtime Companion  (70)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • The Godfather Part III  (65)
    • Actor, Supporting Actor
  • The Hunt for Red October  (70)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • Cinema Paradiso  (70)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Jesus of Montreal  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Reversal of Fortune  (35)
    • Actor
  • Mr. & Mrs. Bridge  (35)
    • Actress
  • Misery  (35)
    • Actress
  • The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover  (35)
    • Actress
  • Mermaids  (35)
    • Actress

Analysis:  Presumed Innocent earns the second most Globe points for a film with no wins, topped only by The Trouble with Harry.  There is a considerable chance it will be the only Drama to ever go 0 for 8.

Best Drama Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Avalon

Analysis:  Again, it just can’t make the list.  It has the misfortune to be the #10 Drama (only one film above it in this year is a Comedy).  It finishes 6th in Original Screenplay.

Comedy / Musical:

  • Best Picture
  1. May Fools
  2. Edward Scissorhands
  3. The Nasty Girl
  4. Texasville
  5. Leningrad Cowboys Go America

Analysis:  The Nasty Girl was nominated for Best Foreign Film.
The Comedies across the board are very weak.  The Nasty Girl is the weakest winner since 1978.  Only one of these films is **** and the average is below **** for the first time since 1982.  Leningrad Cowboys Go America is the weakest nominee in this category since 1981.  This will also be the case in almost all the Comedy categories.  I should note, by the way, that the Globes nominated Ghost as a Comedy which is absurd.  I do no such thing, though even if I did, it wouldn’t make my list anywhere except Supporting Actress.
The only other ***.5 films on my list are Back to the Future Part III and Quick Change.

  • Best Director
  1. Tim Burton  (Edward Scissorhands)
  2. Louis Malle  (May Fools)
  3. Peter Bogdanovich  (Texasville)
  4. Pedro Almodovar  (Tie Me Up Tie Me Down)
  5. Michael Verhoeven  (The Nasty Girl)

Analysis:  It’s the only nomination for Verhoeven (it’s the only film I’ve even seen by him).  It’s the second nominations each for Bogdanovich and Almodovar, although the gap between nominations is 15 years shorter for the latter.  It’s the third Comedy nom for Malle.  It’s the second Comedy nom and first win for Tim Burton who will move into the Top 10 in Comedy points within a few years.
The weakest Top 5 in this category since 1981.  Burton is the weakest winner since 1978.  The irony is that his second win, in 1994, will be one of the best ever.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Quick Change
  2. Texasville
  3. Back to the Future Part III

Analysis:  The weakest Top 5 in this category since 1985.  Quick Change is the weakest winner in five years.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. May Fools
  2. Edward Scissorhands
  3. The Nasty Girl
  4. Leningrad Cowboys Go America
  5. The Freshman

Analysis:  Twenty five years after earning his first Comedy writing nom, Louis Malle wins with his second attempt.
I don’t nominate Woody Allen, even in a weak field, even though he earned an Oscar nom.  I just don’t think Alice has that strong a script, even for a weak year.  It’s the first time Allen has gone three straight years without a Comedy writing nom since before he started as a screenwriter.
The weakest Top 5 in this category since 1981.  May Fools is the weakest winner since 1980.

  • bill-murray-09_0Best Actor:
  1. Bill Murray  (Quick Change)
  2. Antonio Banderas  (Tie Me Up Tie Me Down)
  3. Johnny Depp  (Edward Scissorhands)
  4. Jeff Bridges  (Texasville)
  5. Richard Gere  (Pretty Woman)

Analysis:  These are the first nominations for everyone but Murray.  But, while Banderas and Gere will have to wait quite a while for more noms, Bridges will earn another the next year and Depp will dominate the middle of the decade.  It’s Murray’s third Comedy nom but his first win.  The Globe winner was Gerard Depardieu for Green Card, but Murray’s performance is one of his most under-appreciated and Depardieu’s was an average performance in an average film.  And to pass over Murray, they nominated Macauley Culkin in Home Alone.
The weakest Top 5 in this category since 1965.  Murray is the weakest winner since 1957; he wouldn’t have come close to a nomination the year before.

  • thenastygirl21Best Actress
  1. Lena Stolze  (The Nasty Girl)
  2. Julia Roberts  (Pretty Woman)
  3. Meryl Streep  (Postcards from the Edge)
  4. Victoria Abril  (Tie Me Up Tie Me Down)
  5. Mia Farrow  (Alice)

Analysis:  This is the only nom for Stolze.  Roberts and Abril won’t be back until after the turn of the century.  Streep earns just her second Comedy nom (and also won’t be back until after the turn of the century).  Farrow, on the other hand, earns her fifth nomination, moving up to 210 points and a tie for 7th place.
The weakest Top 5 in this category since 1984, even though it ended up with two Oscar nominees.  Stolze is the weakest winner in four years.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Marlon Brando  (The Freshman)
  2. Hector Elizondo  (Pretty Woman)
  3. Al Pacino  (Dick Tracy)

Analysis:  These are the only Comedy nominations for all three.  Not surprising for Elizondo, but Brando and Pacino are great actors who just weren’t comedic.  Brando’s performance is so entertaining because he makes fun of his Oscar winning performance in The Godfather.
The weakest Top 5 in this category since 1984.  Brando is the weakest winner in six years.  He wouldn’t have even been nominated the year before.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Dominique Blanc  (May Fools)
  2. Shirley MacLaine  (Postcards from the Edge)
  3. Penelope Ann Miller  (The Freshman)

Analysis:  These are the only noms for Blanc and Miller.  Miller’s star rose and fell quite quickly in the early 90’s and she’s got a great sensuality in this film.  Shirley MacLaine earns her ninth nom (11 years after her last) and moves up to 405 points, just behind Audrey Hepburn for 1st place (she’ll pass Hepburn and take over 1st place in 1994).
The weakest Top 5 in this category since 1984.  Yes, Whoopi Goldberg would have earned a nomination if I put Ghost in Comedy like the Globes did, but she would have finished in third.  Blanc is the weakest winner in six years.

Points:

  • May Fools  (285)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actress
  • Edward Scissorhands  (215)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor
  • The Nasty Girl  (205)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress
  • Texasville  (170)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor
  • Quick Change  (150)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor
  • The Freshman  (130)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Tie Me Up Tie Me Down  (115)
    • Director, Actor, Actress
  • Pretty Woman  (100)
    • Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor
  • Leningrad Cowboys Go America  (90)
    • Picture, Original Screenplay
  • Postcards from the Edge  (65)
    • Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Back to the Future Part III  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • Alice  (30)
    • Actress
  • Dick Tracy  (30)
    • Supporting Actor

Analysis:  We’ve got more films than either of the last two years, even with several categories that aren’t full.  No film makes it to 300 points and no film has more than 4 nominations.  Overall, it’s a terrible year for Comedy and I can’t ream out the Globes down below when the available films weren’t so hot.  The total Comedy score is the weakest since 1981.  The winners, as a whole, are the weakest since 1976.  It’s the first time since 1982 that no winner earns my highest rating.

Best Comedy Not Nominated for any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Carnival Scenes

Analysis:  The #51 film of the year and the #10 Comedy.  Because the Comedies are so weak this year, this is simply the highest Comedy not to even be on any of my lists.

Roundup for the Year in Film:

Eligible Films I Have Seen:  194

By Stars:

  • ****:  9
  • ***.5:  21
  • ***:  80
  • **.5:  43
  • **:  19
  • *.5:  8
  • *:  8
  • .5:  5
  • 0:  1
  • Average Film Score for the Year, out of 100:  60.42

Analysis:  Even with the big drop in **** films (fewest in four years), the average goes up by almost a half-point.  That’s because the awful films (*.5 or worse) make up almost 3 percent fewer than the year before.  This year has the second most films to date and it won’t be beaten for five years, although it will be beaten fairly regularly after that.

My Year at the Theater

Introduction:  I started going to more films this year, although I hadn’t yet hit my Oscar fanaticism yet.

  • The Hunt for Red October  –  Released the day before Academic Decathlon.  I went to Decathlon and competed and then went to a showing of Hunt in the biggest screen at the Cinedome with John and Jay.  Then I came home and discovered I had chicken pox and had just infected all of Orange County.
  • Pretty Woman  –  I didn’t take a date to this film and I only remember that I saw it, not who I saw it with.  I think I saw it because I was really into Julia Roberts.
  • Bird on a Wire  –  I don’t know why I went to this, since I have never liked Goldie Hawn.  I did like Mel Gibson at the time, though, so maybe it was that.  I thought it mediocre at the time and haven’t bothered to see it since.
  • Back to the Future Part III  –  We saw this the second weekend, when we went to go see Total Recall and it was sold out.  Jay had been adamantly against seeing this because he had so disliked the second one, but we talked him into it and once the train came on-screen at the end, it was all he could talk about.
  • Total Recall  –  I think we saw this either the next day or a week later, since it was sold out when we first tried to see it.  Still great fun – I owned the video for years.
  • Dick Tracy  –  I even had the shirt you got for seeing this the first day.  I was more excited about this than anyone else I knew, but that’s partially because I grew up reading a book called Celebrated Cases of Dick Tracy: 1931-1951 (which had been my brother’s), so I was more interested in the character than just about anyone else my age.  It’s often viewed as a big failure, but it was the #9 film of the year, and of course it won three Oscars.
  • Die Hard 2  –  I hadn’t been able to see the first one in the theater, but I was all over this.  I think this was the first film where I simply lied and claimed I was 17.  It has suffered upon rewatching it, but I enjoyed the hell out of it at the time.
  • Ghost  –  I didn’t actually see this until December, after the Globes nominations were announced.  Possibly not until after the Oscar nominations were announced.
  • Arachnophobia  –  I saw this in Lake Tahoe with my sister and a family friend because the movie we really wanted to see wasn’t opening until the next day.  Still, it’s enjoyable – funny and creepy at the same time.
  • Presumed Innocent  –  At the time, Harrison Ford was my favorite actor and I had seen every film he had ever been in.  My mother had read the book.  So, as a late birthday present (her birthday was a couple of weeks before), we went to LA and rode on the newly opened Blue Line Metro, which she wanted to do, then went to the movie.  Because my mother had read the book, she knew who the killer was.  I hadn’t at that point and was floored when it was revealed – one of the few times I have been genuinely surprised by such a revelation.
  • Young Guns II  –  The film we really wanted to see in Tahoe.  An improvement on the original, and my sister was already a big fan of the Bon Jovi song.
  • Flatliners  –  One of three films opening that day that I saw in the theater, and the one I’m pretty certain I saw first.  I think I saw this mainly because I had a thing for Julia Roberts (which perhaps explains going to see Pretty Woman).  It was quite mediocre, as I would later come to expect from a film directed by Joel Schumacher.
  • Air America  –  I think this was the second film I saw and it was pretty dumb.  I haven’t seen it since.  I really liked Mel Gibson for several years before he started turning out crap like Braveheart and turned into a drunken lunatic.
  • The Two Jakes  –  This was still early in my days of being a serious film fanatic, but I had already seen Chinatown and, as a film made in the year of my birth and about the city I lived near, was already established as one of my favorite films.  So, when the sequel finally came out, of course I had to see it.  It was disappointing, but is easily the best of the three films released this day, even if it made the least money by a considerable margin.
  • Men at Work  –  My sisters were big on the Estevez brothers, and a rare chance to see them together meant that we were definitely going to see this.  I remember it as being mostly dumb, but I’m pretty certain I haven’t seen it in the 26 years since.
  • Fantasia  –  Yes, it’s not a 1990 film.  But it was re-released in theaters before finally getting a video release.  I dragged Jay to it.  It did for classical music for me what Dead Poets Society had done for poetry.  I would get the film and the soundtrack for Christmas.  I still have the film on video but I have replaced the soundtrack with the compact discs.  Dancing hippos!
  • Dances with Wolves  –  I saw this over Thanksgiving with my brother.  It was the first film I ever reviewed, writing a review for the high school newspaper (where it was much anticipated – remember that Costner is an alumni of my high school).  It was a terrible review, and by that I mean my writing, not my feelings on the film, which were glowing.  I predicted (correctly) that it would win most of the Oscars, including Picture and Director.
  • Home Alone  –  I liked this then a lot more then than I do now.  I saw it before it became a runaway hit.  This was a film that really built – it opened lower than eight other films from the year, but more than doubled the box office of any film that had a bigger opening.  I can not overstate how big this film was, surprising as it may seem now.  It was the #1 film for 12 straight weeks, something only two other films had done before and only Titanic has done since.  By the time it had finished its theatrical run, it was the #3 movie.  Not of the year, but of all-time.  It had passed Raiders, Batman, Jaws and Return of the Jedi and was only behind Star Wars and E.T..
  • Predator 2  –  I was dragged to this by my friends.  We hadn’t gone as a group to any film since Flatliners and they really wanted to see this.  Given how much it sucked, I say I was right.  The worst film I would see in the theaters in 1990, though there would be worse ones in 1991.
  • Kindergarten Cop  –  I saw this as a drive-in double feature with The Godfather Part III, of all films.  I enjoyed this and still find parts of it enjoyable (I had a thing for Penelope Ann Miller).  It would have a different meaning a couple of years later when I would move to Oregon and suddenly recognize a lot of the film (although the opening mall scenes were shot in Main Place in Orange County, the same mall where Arnold would shoot T2 the next year).
  • Hamlet  –  I went to see this with a class from school.  I had a friend who was convinced Mel Gibson would be Oscar-nominated, but I wasn’t convinced.  It was good though, and since I hadn’t at this point seen Olivier’s, this was my first film Hamlet.
  • The Godfather Part III  –  I had missed out on GoodFellas and Miller’s Crossing in the theaters, but wasn’t going to miss this.  By this time I had seen both the first two Godfathers.  Yes, it is not remotely on the same level as those films, but is still very good.  I cringed though, at Sofia Coppola’s death scene, as it was so terrible.

Endnote:  I saw three of the Best Picture Oscar nominees in the theater, though I didn’t think Ghost would earn a nomination.  Not only did I only see of my Top 10 in the theater, but I only saw 4 of my Top 20, so I wasn’t making the best choices.

Oscar-Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • none

Oscar Quality:

Best Picture:  Bizarrely, this year is almost even with the year before, in spite of being completely different.  The ranks in 1989 were 48, 104, 238, 253, 442.  Here, they are 8, 92, 303, 311, 368.  But it evens out and this year finishes in 26th, one spot behind the year before.  The lack of any really mediocre film makes up for the fact that only two of the nominees are ****.  Only 11 years in the Best Picture era have a weakest nominee that’s better than Ghost.

The Winners:  Among all winners, this year is much better than the year before and better than the two years before that as well.  They average a 4.32.  Among the Tech categories, it’s an excellent 2.22, but among the acting it’s 5.25, the weakest in five years, with Whoopi Goldberg the lowest acting winner (at #14) since 1969.  Among the nominees, it’s a solid 2.11, which is actually up from the year before.

The Nominees:  The Oscar score is very close to the year before, down from 75.7 to 75.2.  The Tech categories are actually up to 74.3, though only Visual Effects, with its one film earns above an 86.  Among the acting, three of the categories break 80 but only one (Actress – 93.8) breaks 90 and the score is down to 86.3.  Among the major categories, thanks to the terrible Original Screenplay score (18.8), the score is down almost ten points to 65.5.

Golden Globe Best Picture – Comedy / Musical:  As I mentioned above in my own Comedy awards, this was a terrible year for Comedy.  Aside from that, three of my Top 5 Comedies are Foreign Films which weren’t even eligible for this category at the Globes.  My top 5 films that were actually eligible average a 79.6, which is pretty pathetic.  Yet, the Globes still made it worse by nominating none of those films (Edward Scissorhands, Texasville, Back to the Future Part III, Quick Change, The Freshman) and only Edward earned any noms (Actor).  Instead, the Globes gave us a lineup that averaged a 66.2, in the bottom 10 of all-time.  The total rank for the year is 55th out of 66, so it barely escapes the bottom 10.  It is, by a dozen spots, the worst year between 1976 and 2009.  First, they considered Ghost a Comedy (it’s not).  Then, even though it’s definitely the best of their nominees it would lose to Green Card.  Ghost would then go on to earn an Oscar nomination, becoming only the third film to earn a Comedy / Musical nom and go on to earn an Oscar nom while losing the Globe to a film that wouldn’t be nominated, something which has become more common since, happening five more times (1969, 1983, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2006, 2007).  Dick Tracy and Pretty Woman would also earn nominations; they are my #6 and 7 eligible films, so they’re not terrible choice and they did both earn acting noms.  But the final choice is Home Alone, which is all about its success because there’s no way it should have been nominated; it’s the worst nominee since Flashdance in 1983.  This is the first year since 1981 and the last year to date in which none of the nominees reaches ***.5 and thus not good enough to even make my list.  It also means this is the last year to date in which no film makes the Top 150 of Globe Comedy nominees.

Top 5 Films of the Year:

1  –  GoodFellas  (reviewed here)

2  –  Dances with Wolves  (reviewed here)

This won't end well for John Turturro. If it did, it wouldn't be a Coen Brothers film.

This won’t end well for John Turturro. If it did, it wouldn’t be a Coen Brothers film.

3  –  Miller’s Crossing  (dir. Joel Coen)

“Sister, when I’ve raised hell you’ll know it.”  Those are Tom Reagan’s words.  He’s an enforcer in a petty little town.  As played by Gabriel Byrne in one of his best performances (rivaled only by The Usual Suspects), Tom is at times a caustic, a sardonic, a brutal and a desperate man.  He’ll raise hell before the end of this film and everyone in the town will know it.

This film is, technically, an original screenplay by the Coen Brothers, their third film that showed a shift back to their original film, the instant noir classic Blood Simple.  But the Coens arrive at this gangster classic through the lens of Dash Hammett.  Hammett’s novels Red Harvest and The Glass Key and his short story “Corkscrew” are all clear influences on the story of a man who can’t decide who he’s really working for.  Tom is torn because Johnny Caspar wants Bernie the bookie killed.  Tom agrees with that idea, but his boss Leo doesn’t.  What’s worse, Bernie’s sister is the moll for Leo.  She’s also Tom’s mistress.  Everyone is being played against each other.  Tom tries to play it straight and ends up with a severe beating at the hands of Leo for his troubles.  Then he tries the other side and his own heart betrays him out in the woods.  Where will he turn and by the time he finally makes that fateful turn who will be left to kill?

The back and forth plot (which seem reminiscent of Yojimbo, which also was strongly influenced by the Hammett books) is only part of the brilliance here.  But this is a period film and the film comes to life with costumes and sets and dialogue imported straight in a time loop from the 1920’s.  But all of that would be nothing without the brilliance of the Coens.  We follow a hat through the woods, the visual image that brought this film to life in their heads.  We move through the trees, following the hat, moving deeper into shadows, watching a doomed man begging for his life, watching a cold man stand over him with a gun and we know nothing good can come of this.

This film is an interesting stop in the Coen Brothers work.  It was the first film of theirs I ever saw and I knew they were for me.  It stars Gabriel Byrne and has Albert Finney and Marcia Gay Harden in prominent roles, not their regular cast.  But the begging Bernie is played so perfectly in key by John Turturro, his first of a number of Coen roles.  His lover, who he later kills, is played by Steve Buscemi and this won’t be the last time that he ends up dead in a Coen Brothers film.  Gangster Johnny Caspar is played by Jon Polito, who has never seemed trustworthy and he certainly doesn’t here, or in other Coen roles like the sleazy private dick in The Big Lebowski or the man who ends up dead in The Man Who Wasn’t There.  There was even supposed to be more of the troupe – Trey Wilson who had been Nathan Arizona was supposed to play Leo but he died and Peter Stomare, who would later star in multiple Coen films couldn’t do it because he was busy playing Hamlet.

This was a year for great crime films.  The main two gangster films, GoodFellas and The Godfather Part III took all the awards attention.  The Grifters, the con film, received a lot of critical awards.  But Miller’s Crossing ended up lost in the shuffle, even opening the same week as GoodFellas.  But it’s a masterful gangster film, one that slipped through the cracks at the time and deserves to be recognized for what it is – easily one of the best films of 1990.

Whatever you do, don't play cards with these people.

Whatever you do, don’t play cards with these people.

4  –  The Grifters  (dir. Stephen Frears)

The young man in the bar makes two mistakes.  The first is that he is not smooth enough with his con.  The second is that he protects the wrong thing.  The two mistakes don’t end up being fatal because of a chance meeting but in the long run, they are fatal enough.  You can’t be soft in this game and this man isn’t hard enough, as has been pointed out, by, of all people, his mother.  That softness will kill him.

He’s a con man.  He pretends to be a salesman but he does small time hustles and grifts.  In the bar, he orders a beer and flashes a twenty, but when the drink arrives, he’s switched it for a ten.  It almost seems to be a habit for him.  But the bartender actually looks at the bill he’s handed and knows he’s being played.  The switch was made too early and he’s mistaken an easy score for someone who’s more observant.  Then comes the second mistake – he doesn’t want to be hit in the face, so he instinctively protects it when the bartender bring out a bat.  So the bartender instead nails him in the chest.  The face would have hurt badly and might have disfigured him.  Instead, though, he’s been hit in such a way that he’s internally bleeding and doesn’t know it.  He goes home and then collapses but his mother has surprised him with a visit and her visit saves his life.

The man is named Roy, and as played by John Cusack, he would seem to be the weak link in the film, with one strong caveat.  Yes, Cusack’s performance, while good, is massively outshone by both Anjelica Huston, giving a career best performance as Lily, Roy’s mother who works for a gangster reducing the odds on horse races so he can manipulate the payouts and Annette Bening, whose melt-the-screen sexy Myra is Roy’s girlfriend, well, except for those moments where she’s offering up her naked body on the bed for her landlord with the rent money on the dresser and allowing him to make a choice.  What does he choose?  Well, she’s giving what I ranked as the 14th Sexiest Performance of All-Time, so you can make a pretty good guess.  So, yes, when looking at Huston and Bening, it seems like Cusack is the weak link.  But really, it’s not Cusack who is the weak link.  It’s Roy.

Roy just isn’t tough enough for this life.  He doesn’t have the stomach.  Myra sees it but she’s fascinated by his youthful cuteness and wants him to go in for a long haul like she used to do.  His mother sees it and tries warn Roy away from the life and get him to do something real for a living.  But in the end, he’s determined to try and make it and that’s what does him in, because the ruthlessness you need in this life, what Myra shows, what Lily does time and time again, well, he just doesn’t have it.

This film has first-rate direction from Stephen Frears that’s miles away from Dangerous Liaisons which two years earlier had earned a Best Picture nomination but for which he was passed over as director.  It has some truly great writing in it.  It has magnificent cinematography and sets.  It’s one of the best modern noir films.  It’s just, no one seemed to have told the filmmakers that.  It’s the bright sunshine, out in the day, the California sun beating down on you noir film that no one would have expected.  And just remember – though it was nominated for four Oscars, all of them major ones, it was passed over for Best Picture in favor of Ghost.

5  –  Presumed Innocent  (reviewed here)

The Razzies:  I’m incomplete in this year because (happily for me) I couldn’t get hold of Ghosts Can’t Do It, which co-won the Razzie for Worst Picture.  The other four nominees average a 19, which is pretty solid for the Razzies.  They mainly attack big budget flops (The Bonfire of the Vanities), vanity projects (Graffiti Bridge) or a combination of the two (Rocky V, which is in my bottom 10).  Graffiti Bridge is easily the best of the four films.  The other winner, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (also a vanity project) definitely deserved its wins for Picture, Actor and Screenplay.  If nothing else, Bonfire produced The Devil’s Candy: The Bonfire of the Vanities Goes to Hollywood, a fantastic book by Julie Salamon that shows how badly the film was conceptualized and then all the compounding errors that kept going into it.  I highly recommend it (much more than the actual Wolfe novel which I loathe).  I can’t figure out, though, how Ghost Dad escaped getting any Razzie noms.  Troll 2 makes sense – it could just be ignored, but Ghost Dad?  I’m also a little surprised that both Lambada (which I haven’t seen, but assume is awful) and The Forbidden Dance (which I have seen and know is awful – it’s just outside my bottom 5) escaped Razzie attention as well.

5 Worst Films  (#1 being the worst):

  1. Troll 2
  2. Ghost Dad
  3. The Guardian
  4. The Adventures of Ford Fairlane
  5. Frankenhooker

note:  The other .5 films is Taking Care of Business.
The list of Presumably Crappy Films That I Can’t Confirm Because I Haven’t Seen Them for this year are, in alphabetical order: Child’s Play 2, Delta Force 2, Ernest Goes to Jail, The Gods Must Be Crazy II, Lambada, Look Who’s Talking Too, Navy Seals, Nuns on the Run, Opportunity Knocks, Problem Child, The Shrimp on the Barbie and Three Men and a Little Lady.

Troll 2  (dir. Claudio Fragasso)

There have been times when I have seen a film featured within another film before you see it on its own.  In fact, I had the endings of The Bicycle Thieves and Touch of Evil ruined for me because of The Player and Get Shorty.  But it’s bizarre to see a documentary about a film before you see the film.  So, this time I’m actually gonna give myself a pass and not review the film itself.  Why do I need to?  If you have any interest in watching Troll 2, well then god help you.  You will be much better off watching Best Worst Movie, the documentary made about the film.  It’s not a great documentary by any means, but if you have to pick, it’s definitely the way to go.

Points:

  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:   GoodFellas  (13)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:  GoodFellas  (8)
  • Most Nighthawk:  GoodFellas  (670)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Award:  Days of Thunder
  • 2nd Place Award:  Dances with Wolves  (Picture, Director, Cinematography, Costume Design)
  • 6th Place Award:  The Hunt for Red October  (Picture, Cinematography, Original Score)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Nominations:  Presumed Innocent  (8)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Awards:  GoodFellas  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Points:  GoodFellas  (495)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Drama Award:  Mermaids
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Nominations:   May Fools  /  Edward Scissorhands  /  The Nasty Girl  /  Texasville  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Awards:   May Fools  (3)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Points:   May Fools  (285)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Comedy Award:  Postcards from the Edge

Note:  * means a Nighthawk record up to this point; ** ties a Nighthawk record
Note:  Mermaids is a good film (high ***) but at #42 for the year, is still the lowest Drama nominee.

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:  John Williams  (500)
  • Foreign Film:  Akira Kurosawa  (580)

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

  • Drama:  70 (35)  –  Cinema Paradiso  (65.9)
  • Foreign:  64  –  Cinema Paradiso  (64.5)
  • Comedy:  34 (11)  –  May Fools  (56.2)
  • Horror:  18 (1)  –  Misery  (45.8)
  • Crime:  14 (4)  –  GoodFellas  (72.1)
  • Action:  12 (1)  –  Dick Tracy  (53.7)
  • Suspense:  9 (1)  –  Presumed Innocent  (58.3)
  • Musical:  9 (3)  –  Leningrad Cowboys Go America  (56)
  • Fantasy:  8 (4)  –  Edward Scissorhands  (61.3)
  • Kids:  5  –  The Rescuers Down Under  (60)
  • Sci-Fi:  5 (2)  –  Total Recall  (54.2)
  • Mystery:  4 (1)  –  The Vanishing  (53.3)
  • Western:  3  –  Dances with Wolves  (73.3)
  • War:  2 (1)  –  No, or the Vain Glory of Command  (62)
  • Adventure:  1  –  Mountains of the Moon  (71)

Analysis:  Action has its most films since 1975 and ties for the most to-date; they also have their highest average in eight years.  Adventures has it fewest films since 1982.  Comedy has its fewest in five years and accounts for its lowest percentage since 1980.  Crime has its most since 1974 and its third most to-date; lead by three of the Top 5 films, they have their highest average in eight years.  As a percentage, Drama has its lowest since 1981 but has its highest average in seven years.  Fantasy sets a new high, which won’t be broken until 2001.  Foreign sets a new high, which will last until 1996.  Horror ties for its most since 1972 and ties for it second most to-date; it also has its highest average in eight years.  Kids has its fewest in six years.  Musicals have their most in six years.  Mystery ties for its most since 1978.  Suspense ties for its second most to-date.  Westerns have their most since 1983 and tied for their most since 1976.
There are three Crime films in the Top 10 for the first time since 1931.  Dances with Wolves is the first Western in the Top 10 since 1976.  There are only two Comedies in the Top 20 for the first time in six years.  After four straight years with no Crime films in the Top 20, there are four this year.  For the first time since 1978, there are multiple Horror films in the Top 20.  There are six Foreign films in the Top 20 for the first time in seven years.

Studio Note:  This is the year Miramax really arrives.  Prior to this year, I’ve seen nine Miramax films; I see 11 in this year alone.  This is also the year that both Disney and Orion pass AIP for total films (125 and 124 to 122), with Disney breaking back into the Top 10 (for one year).  Warner Bros leads the way with 19 films (the most by any studio in five years), followed by Orion with 14.  Warners, with a 63.1 average, is the only major to average *** (and it barely does).  Miramax, on the other hand, averages a 72.6.
Warners wins its 10th Nighthawk, still the only studio at this point with more than seven.  It has 4 Top 10 films (GoodFellas, Presumed Innocent, Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, Reversal of Fortune), the most for any major since 1981 and 5 Top 20 (White Hunter Black Heart), also the most by any major since 1981.  It’s the first time Warners has hit either of those numbers.  Miramax has multiple Top 10 films for the first time (The Grifters, Cinema Paradiso).

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

  1. Akira  (***, Otomo, Streamline)
  2. The Rescuers Down Under  (***, Butoy / Gabriel, Disney)
  3. Ducktales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp  (***, Hathcock, Disney)
  4. Lensman  (**.5, Kawajiri / Hirokawa, Streamline)
  5. The Nutcracker Prince  (**.5, Schibli, Warner Bros)
  6. Jetsons: The Movie  (**.5, Hanna / Barbera, Universal)
  7. Twilight of the Cockroaches  (**, Yoshida, Streamline)

Note:  Oscars.org actually lists all seven of these films.
I suspect I will get objections to my rating of *** for Akira, but I don’t think the story is strong enough to merit any higher.  Jetsons is the first Hanna / Barbera film in four years and the first actually directed by them since A Man Called Flintstone in 1966.  Ducktales is the first film made by DisneyToon Studios, the division of Disney which will often do straight-to-video sequels (in the rest of the decade, they will make nine more films, only one of which, A Goofy Movie, will get a theatrical release).
This won’t be the last year where no film reaches ***.5; it will happen again in 1997.

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

  • The Adventures of Paper Peter  (Kristinsson, Iceland)  *
  • Agneepath  (Anand, India)
  • Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams  (Kurosawa, Japan)
  • Alexandria Again and Forever  (Chahine, Egypt)  *
  • Anjali  (Ratnam, India)  *
  • Bashu, the Little Stranger  (Beizai, Iran)
  • The Belle of the Alhambra  (Barnet, Cuba)  *
  • The Branches of the Tree  (Ray, India)
  • Bullet in the Head  (Woo, Hong Kong)
  • Cabeza de Vaca  (Echevarria, Mexico)  *
  • Carnival Scenes  (Pintilie, Romania)  *
  • Close-Up  (Kiarostami, Iran)
  • Cyrano de Bergerac  (Rappeneau, France)  **
  • Days of Being Wild  (Wong, Hong Kong)
  • Evenings  (van den Berg, Netherlands)  *
  • Everybody’s Fine  (Tornatore, Italy)
  • La Femme Nikita  (Besson, France)
  • Good Evening Mr Wallenberg  (Grede, Sweden)  *
  • The Hairdresser’s Husband  (Leconte, France)
  • Hamoun  (Mehrjui, Iran)
  • I, the Worst of All  (Bemberg, Argentina)  *
  • International Gorillay  (Mohammed, Pakistan)
  • Journey of Hope  (Koller, Switzerland)  ***
  • Ju Dou (Yimou, China)  **
  • The King’s Trial  (Grilo, Portugal)  *
  • Korczak  (Wajda, Poland)  *
  • Larks on a String  (Menzel, Czechoslovakia)
  • Lensman  (Kawajiri / Hirokawa, Japan)
  • Love Under the Date-Tree  (Tsiolis, Greece)  *
  • Margarit and Margarita  (Volev, Bulgaria)  *
  • The Match Factory Girl  (Kaurismaki, Finland)
  • May Fools  (Malle, France)
  • Mayumi  (Sang-ok, South Korea)  *
  • A Moment of Romance  (Chan, Hong Kong)
  • The Moon in the Mirror  (Caiozzi, Chile)  *
  • My Mother’s Castle  (Robert, France)
  • The Nasty Girl  (Verhoeven, Germany)  **
  • No Fear, No Die  (Denis, France)
  • No, or the Vain Glory of Command  (de Oliveira, Portugal)
  • Open Doors  (Amelio, Italy)  **
  • Requiem for Dominic  (Dornhelm, Austria)  *
  • The Second Circle  (Sokuruv, USSR)
  • Singapore Sling  (Nikolaidis, Greece)
  • Song of Chaophaya  (Yukol, Thailand)  *
  • Song of Exile  (Hui, Taiwan)  *
  • Taxi Blues  (Lungin, USSR)  *
  • Tie Me Up Tie Me Down  (Almodovar, Spain)
  • Time of Miracles  (Paskaljevic, Yugoslavia)  *
  • The Voice of the Moon  (Fellini, Italy)
  • The Winter War  (Parikka, Finland)  *

Note:  I have seen only 50 films, the lowest in three years and after this only 1998 will be lower, thanks mostly to the vast increase of countries submitting at the Oscars.
I have my first films from Pakistan and Thailand (also my last Pakistani film for at least 15 years – see below for more on it).  It’s the first time since 1962 I have seen multiple Greek films and the only time through at least 2006 where I have seen multiple Finnish films.  The 3 Iranian films are as many as I had seen in the previous two decades combined.  The 2 Japanese films are the lowest since 1982.  France leads the way, but with only six films.  It’s the first time since 1947 that only one country has more than three films.  Only 24 of the 50 films are Dramas, the first time they have accounted for less than half of the total since 1978.
International Gorillay, by the way, is a film that has to be seen to be believed.  It’s a Pakistani Musical in which Salman Rushdie is portrayed as an international criminal mastermind and he is killed in the end with lightning bolts from flying Korans.  It is one of the worst Foreign films I have ever seen.

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

  • Canada:  An Imaginary Tale  (dir.  Forcier)
  • Czechoslovakia:  Vojtech Called Orphan  (dir. Tyc)
  • Denmark:  Dance of the Polar Bears  (dir.  Larsen)
  • Hong Kong:  Eight Taels of Gold  (dir.  Cheung)
  • Hungary:  Little But Tough  (dir. Grunwalsky)
  • Indonesia:  My Sky, My Home  (dir. Djarot)
  • Israel:  Shuru  (dir. Gavison)
  • Japan:  The Sting of Death  (dir. Oguri)
  • Norway:  Herman  (dir. Gustavson)
  • Peru:  Fallen from Heaven  (dir. Jose Lombardi)
  • Spain:  Ay Carmela  (dir.  Saura)

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 26 for 37 (70%).  Only two of these countries were ones I was missing in 1989.
Seven countries that submitted in 1988 don’t do so in this year, one of which because it no longer exists (West Germany), one that hasn’t submitted since 1989 (Burkina Faso), as well as South Africa, Turkey, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and, for the final time missing out, Belgium.  Seven countries submit that didn’t the year before (Finland, South Korea, Egypt, Peru, Chile as well as Mexico, which hasn’t missed since and Germany, in its first year of re-unification).
These are my first miss (Peru, Indonesia), 5th miss (Hong Kong, Norway), 6th miss (Canada), 7th miss (Hungary), 10th and final miss (Czechoslovakia), 12th miss (Japan), 13th miss (Israel, Spain) and 20th miss in 29 submissions (f^%$g Denmark!).

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

  • What Did the Lady Forget?  (1937)
  • The Plot Against Harry  (1970)
  • The Travelling Players  (1975)
  • Labyrinth of Passion  (1982)
  • Inocencia  (1983)
  • Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain  (1983)
  • Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer  (1986)
  • A Better Tomorrow  (1987)
  • A Better Tomorrow II  (1987)
  • A Chinese Ghost Story  (1987)
  • Pathfinder  (1987)
  • Twilight of the Cockroaches  (1987)
  • Akira  (1988)
  • Ariel  (1988)
  • Camp de Thiaroye  (1988)
  • Fable of the Beautiful Pigeon Fancier  (1988)
  • I’m the One You’re Looking For  (1988)
  • Letters from the Park  (1988)
  • Mack the Knife  (1988)
  • The Mahabharata  (1988)
  • Miracle of Rome  (1988)
  • My Uncle’s Legacy  (1988)
  • Peking Opera Blues  (1988)
  • Rouge  (1988)
  • The Story of Fausta  (1988)
  • The Summer of Miss Forbes  (1988)
  • The Vanishing  (1988)
  • Veronico Cruz  (1988)
  • A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings  (1988)
  • Baxter  (1989)
  • Black Rain  (1989)
  • Cinema Paradiso  (1989)
  • The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover  (1989)
  • Fear, Anxiety and Depression  (1989)
  • The Icicle Thief  (1989)
  • Jesus of Montreal  (1989)
  • Landscape in the Mist  (1989)
  • Last Exit to Brooklyn  (1989)
  • Leningrad Cowboys Go America  (1989)
  • Life and Nothing But  (1989)
  • Mama, There’s a Man in Your Bed  (1989)
  • Monsieur Hire  (1989)
  • My 20th Century  (1989)
  • Santa Sangre  (1989)
  • The Seventh Continent  (1989)
  • Speaking Parts  (1989)
  • Stanley & Iris  (1989)
  • Sweetie  (1989)
  • The Tall Guy  (1989)
  • Time of the Gypsies  (1989)
  • Time of Violence  (1989)
  • Too Beautiful for You  (1989)
  • Torrents of Spring  (1989)
  • The Unbelievable Truth  (1989)
  • Yaaba  (1989)

Note:  These 55 films average a 64.2.  There is one **** film (Cinema Paradiso) and several ***.5 films (Black Rain, Jesus of Montreal, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Leningrad Cowboys Go America, Pathfinder, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover).  They earn a combined 7 Nighthawk nominations, including two for Original Screenplay and one for Actress.  There is only film below ** (Twilight of the Cockroaches).

Films Not Listed at Oscars.org:

  • Agneepath
  • Anjali
  • Baxter
  • The Belle of the Alhambra
  • The Branches of the Tree
  • Camp de Thiaroye
  • Carnival Scenes
  • Evenings
  • International Gorillay
  • The King’s Trial
  • Margarit and Margarita
  • Mayumi
  • A Moment of Romance
  • The Moon in the Mirror
  • No, or the Vain Glory of Command
  • The Seventh Continent
  • Song of Chaophaya
  • Time of Miracles
  • Time of Violence
  • Troll 2
  • What Did the Lady Forget?

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:

  • Alexandria Again and Forever  (1991)
  • An Angel at My Table  (1991)
  • Close-Up  (1991)
  • The Comfort of Strangers  (1991)
  • Europa, Europa  (1991)  *
  • Everybody’s Fine  (1991)
  • La Femme Nikita  (1991)
  • Journey of Hope  (1991)
  • Ju Dou  (1991)
  • Korczak  (1991)
  • Larks on a String  (1991)
  • Mister Johnson  (1991)
  • My Mother’s Castle  (1991)
  • Open Doors  (1991)
  • The Reflecting Skin  (1991)
  • Requiem for Dominic  (1991)
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead  (1991)
  • The Second Circle  (1991)
  • Song of Exile  (1991)
  • Taxi Blues  (1991)
  • Trust  (1991)
  • Two Evil Eyes  (1991)
  • The Voice of the Moon  (1991)
  • All the Vermeers in New York  (1992)
  • Cabeza de Vaca  (1992)
  • The Hairdresser’s Husband  (1992)
  • No Fear, No Die  (1992)
  • Rock a Doodle  (1992)
  • Good Evening Mr Wallenberg  (1993)
  • Happily Ever After  (1993)
  • The Match Factory Girl  (1993)
  • Sure Fire  (1993)
  • Bullet in the Head  (1994)
  • I, The Worst of All  (1995)
  • Days of Being Wild  (1996)
  • Singapore Sling  (1996)

Note:  These 36 films average a 64.2.  There is no film worse than **.  There is one **** film (Europa, Europa) and several ***.5 films (Journey of Hope, Ju Dou, Korczak, Open Doors, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Match Factory Girl).  There is an asterisk by Europa, Europa because films on this list are generally eligible for Best Foreign Film in this year.  But, because of its late in the year release in Germany, it was eligible in 1991, even though Germany did not end up submitting it to the Oscars.  But, since it is a 1990 film, I wanted to put it here in case anyone asked.

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