Astute readers will realize I have used this picture before. Being astute, they will also realize it's the perfect image to encompass the only film to sweep the big 5 at the Oscars that deserved all five.

Astute readers will realize I have used this picture before. Being astute, they will also realize it’s the perfect image to encompass the only film to sweep the big 5 at the Oscars and the Nighthawks.

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 12 in the categories but only the top 5 earn Nighthawk nominations.  I’m going with 12 because most categories have at least that many, if not more on my list and they stay strong 12 deep.  In future years, it will probably even expand beyond 12.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. The Silence of the Lambs  **
  2. JFK  *
  3. Beauty and the Beast
  4. The Fisher King
  5. Boyz N the Hood
  6. Europa Europa
  7. The Commitments  *
  8. Grand Canyon
  9. Thelma & Louise
  10. Dead Again
  11. Homicide
  12. Barton Fink

Analysis:  All 12 of these films are **** as well as three others: The Killer, Truly Madly Deeply and City of Hope.  The Top 10 for this year are the third best to-date and the Top 20 are the best to-date (the rest of the Top 20 are Life is Sweet, Ju Dou, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Bugsy and La Femme Nikita).  The #6-10 films are the third best to-date and the #11-20 are the best in a single year so far (beaten out by the combined year of 1912-26).  Dead Again is the best #10 film since the combined year of 1912-26.
The Silence of the Lambs is the first Oscar winner I agree with since 1984.  It is also the first film to win four critics awards and go on to win the Oscar.  Even today, it is one of only four films to do that (Schindler’s List, No Country for Old Men, The Hurt Locker).  It is still in the Top 10 today of all critics winners with 1187 points and is one of only four films in history to earn at least 250 points from four different critics groups (GoodFellas, LA Confidential, The Social Network).
Since 2011, when I wrote my most recent review of JFK, I have had my view on what happened on November 22, 1963 changed considerably by reading all 1600+ pages of Vincent Bugliosi’s masterful Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, including going through a lot of the footnotes on the accompanying CD-ROM.  That Bugliosi’s book changed my mind about what happened on that day has not changed my mind about Stone’s film.  I think now what I thought then: “Stone isn’t really showing us an analysis of anything, no matter how many research notes he gives us.  He is using one particular case to explore history.”
This category earned a 71.8 Oscar Score, the highest in nine years.

  • jonathan-demme-feeding-anthony-hopkins-a-french-fry-on-the-set-of-silence-of-the-lambsBest Director
  1. Jonathan Demme  (The Silence of the Lambs)  **
  2. Oliver Stone  (JFK)  *
  3. Terry Gilliam  (The Fisher King)  *
  4. John Singleton  (Boyz N the Hood)
  5. Agnieszka Holland  (Europa Europa)
  6. Alan Parker  (The Commitments)
  7. Ridley Scott  (Thelma & Louise)  *
  8. David Mamet  (Homicide)
  9. John Woo  (The Killer)
  10. Barry Levinson  (Bugsy)  *
  11. Joel Coen  (Barton Fink)
  12. Kenneth Branagh  (Dead Again)

Analysis:  Jonathan Demme earns the second most Consensus points to this point, behind only Scorsese from the year before; unlike Scorsese, however, he wins the Oscar.  He is the first Oscar winner to win the Nighthawk since 1984.  It’s a little surprising to look back and realize how much of a surprise the Oscar nomination for John Singleton was; he failed to earn a nomination from any group and the only precursor he had was one of the 9 honorable mentions at the CFC.
These are the only Nighthawk nominations for Singleton, Holland and, surprisingly, Demme.  It’s the second nomination for Gilliam.  It’s the third and final nomination for Stone (well, I suppose Snowden could change that but it’s certainly the last for now).
With all five nominees in my Top 10, the Oscar Score is 90.0, the third highest to-date and it won’t be beaten again for over a decade.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. The Silence of the Lambs  **
  2. JFK  *
  3. The Commitments  *
  4. Beauty and the Beast
  5. Europa Europa
  6. The Indian Runner
  7. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
  8. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  9. Open Doors
  10. My Own Private Idaho
  11. The Prince of Tides  *
  12. Fried Green Tomatoes  *

Analysis:  Oliver Stone earns his fourth writing Nighthawk nomination.
It had not yet occurred to the writers that Animated films were worth nominating and so Beauty and the Beast, with its great script, wasn’t nominated for anything.
I have actually read the source materials for all of these, if you include a few caveats.  The first is that I have only read Europa Europa already because I got ahead with some of my Best Adapted Screenplay posts, getting hold of harder to find sources while I still had an account at Tufts I could use for ILL’s.  The Indian Runner is based on a Springsteen song, so I have technically “read” the “source.”  I have “read” the source for T2 by watching the original film, although that, while an “original” script, was basically ripping off a Harlan Ellison-penned episode of The Outer Limits, which I haven’t seen.  I still point to Silence as just about the best and most faithful adaptation of a novel, staying so close to the novel it’s impressive.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. The Fisher King  *
  2. Boyz N the Hood  *
  3. Grand Canyon  *
  4. Thelma & Louise  **
  5. Barton Fink
  6. Truly Madly Deeply
  7. Dead Again
  8. Homicide
  9. City of Hope
  10. Life is Sweet
  11. Guilty by Suspicion
  12. LA Story

Analysis:  There is a treasure of great scripts in this year.  It’s so good that Bugsy, which comes in second at the Consensus Awards (LAFC win, Oscar, WGA, Globe noms) can’t even make my Top 12.  It’s so good that Thelma & Louise, the first original script since 1976 to win the Oscar, WGA and Globe comes in fourth on my list.  It’s not just that the Top 5 tie for the third best to-date.  It’s that the riches keep going down the list.  Life is Sweet is good enough that it would earn a nomination in most years.  It kills me that neither Truly Madly Deeply or Dead Again earns a nomination but the list is just too stacked.  There probably isn’t a Top 10 to compare to this year.
The Coens earn their third nomination for writing.  Lawrence Kasdan earns his fifth (and final) writing nomination.

  • Best Actor:
  1. Anthony Hopkins  (The Silence of the Lambs)  **
  2. Nick Nolte  (The Prince of Tides)  *
  3. Warren Beatty  (Bugsy)  *
  4. Robin Williams  (The Fisher King)  *
  5. River Phoenix  (My Own Private Idaho)  *
  6. Val Kilmer  (The Doors)
  7. Jeff Bridges  (The Fisher King)
  8. Kenneth Branagh  (Dead Again)
  9. Robert De Niro  (Cape Fear)  *
  10. Robert De Niro  (Guilty by Suspicion)
  11. Kevin Kline  (Grand Canyon)
  12. Joe Mantegna  (Homicide)

Analysis:  Two of the six wins for Hopkins were for Supporting Actor, showing there wasn’t a clear notion that he was the lead until the awards groups began.  It’s too bad for Nolte, who gives the best performance of his career, that he had to run into the Hopkins juggernaut (he was the only one to beat him, winning the Globe).  If Hopkins had been considered supporting, I think Nolte would likely have dominated the awards groups.  There are six Consensus nominees because De Niro’s Oscar and Globe noms have the same weighted total as River Phoenix’s NSFC win.
This is actually the only Nighthawk nom for Nick Nolte, who comes close in other years but doesn’t quite make it.  It’s the first nomination for Robin Williams.  It’s the second nomination for River Phoenix.  It’s the sixth nomination for Warren Beatty, and to date, it’s also his last.  It’s only the fourth for Anthony Hopkins, but it’s also his second win and the start of a decade where, by the end of it, he will earn five more nominations and be in the Top 10 in points.
With all five Oscar nominees in my Top 9 (and the top four agreeing), the Oscar Score is an impressive 94.6, the highest in five years.

  • Best Actress
  1. Jodie Foster  (The Silence of the Lambs)  **
  2. Geena Davis  (Thelma & Louise)  *
  3. Susan Sarandon  (Thelma & Louise)  *
  4. Juliet Stevenson  (Truly Madly Deeply)
  5. Emma Thompson  (Dead Again)
  6. Laura Dern  (Rambling Rose)  *
  7. Gong Li  (Ju Dou)
  8. Irene Jacob  (The Double Life of Veronique)
  9. Bette Midler  (For the Boys)  *
  10. Anne Parillaud  (La Femme Nikita)
  11. Isabelle Huppert  (Madame Bovary)
  12. Mimi Rogers  (The Rapture)

Analysis:  This is the only nomination for Juliet Stevenson.  It’s the second (and final) nomination for Geena Davis.  It’s the second nomination for Susan Sarandon.  It’s the second nomination for Jodie Foster, but also her second win.  It’s the first nomination for Emma Thompson and the beginning of one of the most impressive runs in Nighthawk history, as she will earn six more nominations and will win three awards before the end of the decade.
Jodie Foster is the best winner in this category in four years.  That continues down through the category – it’s the best Top 5 in eight years.  This is the first time since 1971 that I agree with the Oscars winners in both Best Actor and Best Actress.

  • alan-rickman-robin-hood-prince-thieves-1991Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Alan Rickman  (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)  *
  2. Steve Martin  (Grand Canyon)
  3. Ben Kingsley  (Bugsy)
  4. Ice Cube  (Boyz N the Hood)
  5. Michael Lerner  (Barton Fink)  *
  6. Tony Lo Bianco  (City of Hope)
  7. Alan Rickman  (Truly Madly Deeply)
  8. Jack Palance  (City Slickers)  *
  9. Tommy Lee Jones  (JFK)  *
  10. John Mahoney  (Barton Fink)
  11. Laurence Fishburne  (Boyz N the Hood)
  12. Harvey Keitel  (Thelma & Louise)  **

Analysis:  Keitel’s Consensus win is a little misleading.  It was a year without much consensus.  Five different actors won at least won award and only Keitel earned more than two nominations.  Keitel won the NSFC and CFC for both Thelma & Louise and Bugsy.  He earned Oscar and Globe noms for Bugsy, where I have him ranked 18th.  Keitel has the lowest points for a Consensus winner post-1982 and every year since has had at least one actor with three wins.  Because of the lack of consensus, Ben Kingsley, who was Oscar and Globe nominated, misses out on a Consensus nomination.  Meanwhile, two of the best performances of the year, Steve Martin and Ice Cube, went completely unrecognized.
These are the only Nighthawk nominations for Ice Cube and Michael Lerner.  It’s the first nomination for Alan Rickman.  It’s the second nom for Steve Martin and Ben Kingsley.
Alan Rickman is the weakest winner in this category in six years.  This is one of those categories where I went through various winners (and nominees) over the years, including Rickman, Martin and Ice Cube.  The Top 5 is also the weakest in six years.  Only Rickman and Martin would earn nominations if they were in 1992.
At #8, Jack Palance is the lowest ranked Oscar winner in this category since 1968, especially notable since I actually agree with the other three acting winners.  With the Oscars not appreciating most of the best performances, the score is a 78.1, the lowest in six years.

  • ruehlBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Mercedes Ruehl  (The Fisher King)  **
  2. Judy Davis  (Naked Lunch)  *
  3. Jane Horrocks  (Life is Sweet)  *
  4. Annette Bening  (Guilty by Suspicion)
  5. Judy Davis  (Barton Fink)  *
  6. Kate Nelligan  (The Prince of Tides)  *
  7. Juliette Lewis  (Cape Fear)
  8. Diane Ladd  (Rambling Rose)
  9. Kate Nelligan  (Frankie & Johnny)  *
  10. Angela Bassett  (Boyz N the Hood)
  11. Mary McDonnell  (Grand Canyon)
  12. Nicole Kidman  (Billy Bathgate)

Analysis:  Kate Nelligan earns a Nighthawk nomination because of Judy Davis’ two Top 5 performances.
These are the only nominations for Mercedes Ruehl, Jane Horrocks and Kate Nelligan.  It’s the second nomination in a row for Annette Bening.  It’s the fourth and fifth nominations for Judy Davis.
Because critics awards group performances together, Davis’ two Consensus nominations are really one (she won the NYFC for both films) as are Kate Nelligan’s (she won the NBR for both films, then won the BAFTA for Frankie & Johnny while earning an Oscar nom for Prince of Tides).  The fifth Consensus nominee was actually Jessica Tandy (Fried Green Tomatoes) who was my #13 and I recall Siskel and Ebert declaring was a terrible, sentimental nomination.
Ruehl wins this award by a mile.  Judy Davis is the weakest #2 in this category in four years.  As a result, the Top 5 is the weakest in four years as well.

  • Best Editing:
  1. The Silence of the Lambs
  2. JFK
  3. The Commitments
  4. Beauty and the Beast
  5. Dead Again
  6. Grand Canyon
  7. The Killer
  8. Boyz N the Hood
  9. Europa Europa
  10. Thelma & Louise
  11. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  12. The Fisher King

Analysis:  JFK is the first #2 in this category since 1974 to earn my highest rating.  With all five nominees in my Top 11, the Oscar Score is 92.3, only the second time it has even beaten 80.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. The Silence of the Lambs  *
  2. JFK  *
  3. The Fisher King
  4. The Commitments
  5. Homicide
  6. Bugsy  *
  7. Ju Dou
  8. Barton Fink  **
  9. Grand Canyon
  10. Europa Europa
  11. Thelma & Louise
  12. The Killer

Analysis:  Seventeen years after his first nomination, Tak Fujimoto wins the Nighthawk.  Robert Richardson earns his third nomination (all from Oliver Stone films).  Roger Pratt (The Fisher King) earns his fourth nomination.  Roger Deakins (Homicide) earns his first nomination, but he’ll earn four more before the end of the decade.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. JFK
  2. Beauty and the Beast
  3. Hook
  4. Grand Canyon
  5. The Silence of the Lambs
  6. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
  7. The Fisher King
  8. Backdraft
  9. City of Hope
  10. At Plays in the Fields of the Lord
  11. The Prince of Tides
  12. Dead Again

Analysis:  John Williams caps off five nominations in three years by winning his sixth Nighthawk, his first in a decade.  Though he will win several more, this is the only post-1978 Nighthawk he wins that isn’t connected to either Lucas or Spielberg, though of course his other nomination is for a Spielberg film.  He now has 300 points just from Spielberg films, more than all but five other composers have at all; overall he’s up to 575 points, 125 more than any other composer.  Alan Menken, whose Oscar was well-earned, earns his second nomination.

  • Best Sound:
  1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  2. JFK
  3. Beauty and the Beast
  4. The Commitments
  5. The Silence of the Lambs
  6. The Killer
  7. Backdraft
  8. The Doors
  9. Homicide
  10. Dead Again
  11. La Femme Nikita
  12. Europa Europa

Analysis:  Because there is basically no difference between #4-7, the Oscar score is actually a perfect 100 for only the second time in this category.

  • the-fisher-king-5Best Art Direction:
  1. The Fisher King
  2. Bugsy
  3. The Silence of the Lambs
  4. Barton Fink
  5. Hook
  6. Dead Again
  7. Ju Dou
  8. Prospero’s Books
  9. The Doors
  10. The Addams Family
  11. Billy Bathgate
  12. The Commitments

Analysis:  This is the first year since 1978 where the winner in this category doesn’t earn my highest rating.  But, with four nominees in my Top 5, the Oscar Score bounces back up after three off years to 88.9.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  2. Hook
  3. Backdraft
  4. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  5. The Rocketeer

Analysis:  This is an easy perfect 100 Oscar Score, with all three nominees easily being the Top 3.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  2. The Killer
  3. Backdraft
  4. JFK
  5. The Silence of the Lambs
  6. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  7. The Doors
  8. Hook
  9. La Femme Nikita
  10. Beauty and the Beast
  11. The Rocketeer
  12. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves


  • bugsy-1991-09-gBest Costume Design:
  1. Bugsy
  2. Hook
  3. Barton Fink
  4. Ju Dou
  5. Dead Again
  6. Black Robe
  7. Billy Bathgate
  8. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
  9. Madame Bovary
  10. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
  11. The Fisher King
  12. The Addams Family

Analysis:  Bugsy is the weakest winner in this category since 1982.  The Top 5 is also the weakest in five years.  But, the nominees were solid among the choices and the Oscar Score of 89.7 is the highest since 1974.

  • Best Makeup
  1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  2. The Silence of the Lambs
  3. The Addams Family
  4. Hook
  5. Prospero’s Books
  6. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  7. Dead Again

Analysis:  T2 is the weakest winner in this category in seven years.  The Top 5 is also the weakest in seven years.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. Something There”  (Beauty and the Beast)
  2. Beauty and the Beast”  (Beauty and the Beast)
  3. Until the End of the World”  (Until the End of the World)
  4. Sax and Violins”  (Until the End of the World)
  5. Be Our Guest”  (Beauty and the Beast)
  6. (Everything I Do) I Do It For You”  (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)
  7. Blood of Eden”  (Until the End of the World)
  8. Fretless”  (Until the End of the World)
  9. Tears in Heaven”  (Rush)
  10. Belle”  (Beauty and the Beast)
  11. Death’s Door”  (Until the End of the World)
  12. Gaston ” (Beauty and the Beast)

Analysis: lists songs from different films.  In this year it lists 142 songs from 57 different films.  I have seen 29 of those films accounting for 84 songs including 5 of the 7 films with more than 4 songs (I haven’t seen Shout or Pink Nights).  Now, I try not to use songs that aren’t included, but there are no songs listed from Until the End of the World, and I know for a fact that these songs were all written for that film, so I’m including them, especially as it has one of the greatest soundtracks ever recorded.
This is actually the best Top 5 of all-time.  It maxes out the category, even beating out 1964.  Until the End of the World is tied for the 3rd highest point total for Original Song and Beauty and the Beast is in 7th place (the best for an Animated Disney film).
With Beauty and the Beast dominating the nominations, the Oscar Score is 83.3, breaking 80 for only the second time since 1949.
Incredible as it may seem today, after it became the most over-played song of the 1990’s, “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” was not expected to necessarily be a hit and certainly wasn’t the lead-in to the film.  It was not actually released as a single until the Tuesday after the film was released and Waking Up the Neighbours wasn’t released until three months later.  It had been four years since Adams’ previous album, Into the Fire, which had been a commercial disappointment compared to Reckless and had been a critical disaster.  This song was even buried deep in the end credits and we were headed out of the theater when I stopped and said “I think this is Bryan Adams” and so we stopped and listened.  But “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You”, and let’s be clear, I love this song and have for 25 years, and it only finishes sixth because this is a great year, was such a massive hit after it was released that by the time the album came out, it was a guaranteed success and it revitalized Adams’ career and pointed his way towards being the Kenny Loggins of the 90’s, with numerous big hit singles from films (almost none of which I like particularly much and my homemade Best of Bryan Adams, which has 18 songs, only has one after 1991).

  • beauty-and-the-beast-1991Best Animated Film:
  1. Beauty and the Beast  **

Analysis:  One of the greatest Animated films ever made and deserving of all of its accolades.  It wins the LAFC, becomes the only film to win the NBR until 2000 and it wins the initial Annie Award (in 1992 over Bebe’s Kids and Ferngully).  There won’t be another Consensus winner with more points until 2000 when more groups start giving out this award.  While the quality in this category will go up over the decade, there won’t be a winner as good as Beauty again until 2002.  The timing of this is perfect, as the 25th anniversary Diamond DVD is coming out next week, complete with a first look at the new live-action version starring Emma Watson.

  • europaBest Foreign Film:
  1. Europa Europa  *(*)
  2. Raise the Red Lantern  **
  3. The Lovers on the Bridge
  4. The Double Life of Veronique  *
  5. Only Yesterday
  6. Solo con tu pareja
  7. The Ox
  8. Savage Nights

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

Analysis:  Okay, so here’s the deal with the Consensus Awards: Raise the Red Lantern wins four awards (and a fifth nom) to earn 172 weighted points.  Europa Europa also wins four awards (and a fifth nom), but it earns 160 weighted points.  However, except for the Oscar nomination, all of the awards for Raise were in 1992 (including beating Europa at the BAFTAs).  Europa earns all of its awards (except the BAFTA nom) in 1991.  Their awards are similar: they both win the NYFC and BSFC and Raise‘s Oscar nomination is equivalent to Europa‘s BAFTA nom.  But Raise‘s BAFTA and NSFC wins weight higher than Europa‘s Globe and NBR wins.  So, in essence, they both win.  Raise has the most Consensus points since 1985.  Because of the timing, Europa has more points than any other Foreign film to not win the Consensus except for Pan’s Labyrinth.
Poland earns its second nomination, almost 30 years after its first.  Hong Kong earns its second nom, the first of three straight.  Germany earns its second straight nom and its first win since 1931 (not counting West Germany’s three wins).  Japan earns a nom for the fourth straight year.  Japan is now up to 1080 points and France is up to 2180.  Zhang Yimou earns his second straight nom and his third in four years.  Krzysztof Kieslowski earns his first nom.  Those two directors will earn the most points in the decade but this is the only year they will compete against each other.
Both the Top 5 and the Top 10 are down just slightly from the year before even though Europa Europa is the best winner in four years and Raise the Red Lantern is the best #2 in three years.  Those two, however, are the only **** films.

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.

  • The Silence of the Lambs  (605)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Sound Editing, Makeup
  • The Fisher King   (335)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Art Direction
  • JFK  (275)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Sound Editing
  • Beauty and the Beast  (240)
    • Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Original Score, Sound, Original Song, Original Song, Original Song, Animated Film
  • Boyz N the Hood  (165)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day  (140)
    • Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Makeup
  • Barton Fink  (135)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Art Direction, Costume Design
  • Europa Europa  (125)
    • Director, Adapted Screenplay, Foreign Film
  • Bugsy  (115)
    • Actor, Supporting Actor, Art Direction, Costume Design
  • The Commitments  (110)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Sound
  • Thelma & Louise  (110)
    • Original Screenplay, Actress, Actress
  • Grand Canyon  (95)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Original Score
  • Hook  (90)
    • Original Score, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Costume Design, Makeup
  • Dead Again  (75)
    • Original Screenplay, Actress
  • The Prince of Tides  (65)
    • Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves  (60)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Backdraft  (40)
    • Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • The Killer  (40)
    • Sound Editing, Foreign Film (1989)
  • My Own Private Idaho  (35)
    • Actor
  • Truly Madly Deeply  (35)
    • Actress
  • Ju Dou  (35)
    • Costume Design, Foreign Film (1990)
  • Life is Sweet  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • Guilty by Suspicion  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • Naked Lunch  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • Homicide  (25)
    • Cinematography
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • The Rocketeer  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • La Femme Nikita  (20)
    • Foreign Film (1990)
  • The Double Life of Veronique  (20)
    • Foreign Film
  • Until the End of the World  (20)
    • Original Song, Original Song
  • The Addams Family  (10)
    • Makeup
  • Prospero’s Books  (10)
    • Makeup

Analysis:  There are five more films than the year before, lead by the 13 films with only one nomination.

Best Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • City of Hope

Analysis:  This will start to become more common – a **** film that earns no Nighthawk nominations.  It’s my #15 film and it finishes three times in the Top 10 and eight times in the Top 20, but no higher than 6th (Supporting Actor).

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

  • LA Story

Analysis:  My #28 film, I give this film a 75, which makes it the highest *** possible and just below my cut-off for Best Picture consideration.  It does have two Top 20 finishes, peaking at #12 in Original Screenplay.

Biggest Awards Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Fried Green Tomatoes

Analysis:  It does solidly in my Globes category but doesn’t finish in the Top 5 in the regular categories.  Between the Oscars (2), BAFTA (2), Globes (3) and the WGA, it earned 8 total nominations.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:


  • Best Picture
  1. The Silence of the Lambs
  2. JFK
  3. Boyz N the Hood
  4. Europa Europa
  5. Grand Canyon

Analysis:  The rest of the **** Dramas are Thelma & Louise, Dead Again, Homicide, The Killer and City of Hope.  The ***.5 Dramas are, in order, Ju Dou, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Bugsy, La Femme Nikita, The Double Life of Veronique, The Indian Runner, Open Doors, Taxi Blues and Korczak.

  • Best Director
  1. Jonathan Demme  (The Silence of the Lambs)
  2. Oliver Stone  (JFK)
  3. John Singleton  (Boyz N the Hood)
  4. Agnieszka Holland  (Europa Europa)
  5. Ridley Scott  (Thelma & Louise)

Analysis:  These are the only Drama noms for Demme, Singleton and Holland, though Demme has multiple Comedy noms.  It’s the second Drama nom for Ridley Scott.  It’s the third Drama nom for Oliver Stone.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. The Silence of the Lambs
  2. JFK
  3. Europa Europa
  4. The Indian Runner
  5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Analysis:  Oliver Stone earns his fourth Drama writing nomination.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Boyz N the Hood
  2. Grand Canyon
  3. Thelma & Louise
  4. Dead Again
  5. Homicide

Analysis:  Lawrence Kasdan earns his third Drama nom.  David Mamet also earns his fourth Drama nom.
The Top 5 are the best since 1974 and the second best to-date.

  • Best Actor:
  1. Anthony Hopkins  (The Silence of the Lambs)
  2. Nick Nolte  (The Prince of Tides)
  3. Warren Beatty  (Bugsy)
  4. River Phoenix  (My Own Private Idaho)
  5. Kenneth Branagh  (Dead Again)

Analysis:  This is the first Drama nom for Nick Nolte.  It’s the second for both River Phoenix (who, of course, won’t have anymore with career tragically cut short) and Kenneth Branagh (who will have several more).  It’s the fifth, and to date, the final nom for Warren Beatty.  It’s the fifth for Anthony Hopkins and his second win, but it’s also the start of an incredible decade that will see him earn five more.

  • Best Actress
  1. Jodie Foster  (The Silence of the Lambs)
  2. Geena Davis  (Thelma & Louise)
  3. Susan Sarandon  (Thelma & Louise)
  4. Emma Thompson  (Dead Again)
  5. Laura Dern  (Rambling Rose)

Analysis:  These are (a little surprisingly) the only Drama nominations for both Geena Davis and Laura Dern.  It’s the third nom (and second win) for Jodie Foster.  It’s the second nom for Susan Sarandon, but the start of four in five years.  It’s the first nom for Emma Thompson, but she will win this award in three of the next four years.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Alan Rickman  (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)
  2. Steve Martin  (Grand Canyon)
  3. Ben Kingsley  (Bugsy)
  4. Ice Cube  (Boyz N the Hood)
  5. Tony Lo Bianco  (City of Hope)

Analysis:  These are the only Drama nominations for Steve Martin, Ice Cube and Tony Lo Bianco.  It’s the second for Ben Kingsley and Alan Rickman.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Judy Davis  (Naked Lunch)
  2. Annette Bening  (Guilty by Suspicion)
  3. Kate Nelligan  (The Prince of Tides)
  4. Juliette Lewis  (Cape Fear)
  5. Diane Ladd  (Rambling Rose)

Analysis:  These are the only Drama nominations for Kate Nelligan and Juliette Lewis.  It’s the second nom for Diane Ladd and Annette Bening.  It’s the fourth Drama nom and second win for Judy Davis.
The Top 5 is the weakest since 1984.


  • The Silence of the Lambs  (410)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • Boyz N the Hood  (205)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • Thelma & Louise  (155)
    • Director, Original Screenplay, Actress, Actress
  • JFK  (135)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay
  • Europa Europa  (135)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay
  • Grand Canyon  (120)
    • Picture, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • Dead Again  (110)
    • Original Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • Bugsy  (65)
    • Actor, Supporting Actor
  • The Prince of Tides  (65)
    • Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Rambling Rose  (65)
    • Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves  (60)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Naked Lunch  (60)
    • Supporting Actress
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • The Indian Runner  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • Homicide  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • My Own Private Idaho  (35)
    • Actor
  • City of Hope  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Guilty by Suspicion  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • Cape Fear  (30)
    • Supporting Actress

Analysis:  The Silence of the Lambs is the first Drama to sweep the big 5 at the Globes since Chinatown in 1974.

Best Drama Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • The Killer

Analysis:  My #13 film of the year and my #9 Drama.  Its highest finish is in Director, where it comes in 7th.

Comedy / Musical:

  • Best Picture
  1. Beauty and the Beast
  2. The Fisher King
  3. The Commitments
  4. Barton Fink
  5. Truly Madly Deeply

Analysis:  Those are all the **** Comedies.  The ***.5 Comedies are: Life is Sweet, Solo con tu pareja and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
The Top 5 is the best since 1979.  Truly Madly Deeply is the best #5 film since 1979.

  • Best Director
  1. Terry Gilliam  (The Fisher King)
  2. Alan Parker  (The Commitments)
  3. Joel Coen  (Barton Fink)
  4. Oliver Stone  (The Doors)
  5. Anthony Minghella  (Truly Madly Deeply)

Analysis:  These are the only Comedy noms for Stone and Minghella, neither of whom are known for Comedies.  It’s third for Parker, all for Musicals (with another to come in five years).  It’s the second for Joel Coen, but he will earn three more before the end of the decade.  It’s the fourth nomination and second win for Terry Gilliam; he goes up to 270 points and a five-way tie for 7th place among Comedy directors.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. The Commitments
  2. Beauty and the Beast
  3. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
  4. Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. The Fisher King
  2. Barton Fink
  3. Truly Madly Deeply
  4. Life is Sweet
  5. LA Story

Analysis:  Mike Leigh earns his first Comedy nomination.  The Coens earn their second Comedy nom.
The Top 5 is the third best to-date.

  • fisher-king-robin-williamsBest Actor:
  1. Robin Williams  (The Fisher King)
  2. Val Kilmer  (The Doors)
  3. Jeff Bridges  (The Fisher King)
  4. Robert Arkins  (The Commitments)
  5. John Turturro  (Barton Fink)

Analysis:  The Globes must not have considered The Doors a Musical, because otherwise I can’t comprehend how Dustin Hoffman would have been nominated for Hook over Kilmer.
These are the only Comedy noms for Kilmer, Arkins and Turturro.  It’s the second in a row for Jeff Bridges.  It’s the third for Robin Williams, and a little surprisingly, his only win.

  • trulyBest Actress
  1. Juliet Stevenson  (Truly Madly Deeply)
  2. Bette Midler  (For the Boys)
  3. Alison Steadman  (Life is Sweet)
  4. Michelle Pfeiffer  (Frankie and Johnny)
  5. Kathy Bates  (Fried Green Tomatoes)

Analysis:  This is the only nomination for Juliet Stevenson and Alison Steadman.  It’s the first nomination for Kathy Bates, the second for Michelle Pfeiffer and the third for Bette Midler.
Midler won the Globe and managed to parlay that into an Oscar nom, but it’s really Stevenson’s performance that is noteworthy here.  She is so touching and moving and yet also funny in Truly Madly Deeply, a greatly under-appreciated film, a film I enjoy so much that when I did my post on Anthony Minghella, I chose to write about it instead of The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley or Cold Mountain.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Michael Lerner  (Barton Fink)
  2. Alan Rickman  (Truly Madly Deeply)
  3. Jack Palance  (City Slickers)
  4. John Mahoney  (Barton Fink)
  5. John Goodman  (Barton Fink)

Analysis:  This is the only Comedy nom for Michael Lerner and Jack Palance.  It’s the first for both Alan Rickman and John Goodman.  It’s the second for John Mahoney.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Mercedes Ruehl  (The Fisher King)
  2. Jane Horrocks  (Life is Sweet)
  3. Judy Davis  (Barton Fink)
  4. Kate Nelligan  (Frankie and Johnny)
  5. Jessica Tandy  (Fried Green Tomatoes)

Analysis:  Kate Nelligan peaks, earning her only Comedy nomination in the same year as her only Drama nom.  It’s the first nomination for Jane Horrocks.  It’s the second nom for Mercedes Ruehl and Jessica Tandy.  Judy Davis earns the first of an astounding five Comedy nominations in this decade; she has always been under-appreciated.


  • The Fisher King  (385)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Barton Fink  (320)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Truly Madly Deeply  (235)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor
  • The Commitments  (210)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor
  • Beauty and the Beast  (140)
    • Picture, Adapted Screenplay
  • Fried Green Tomatoes  (105)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Life is Sweet  (105)
    • Original Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress
  • The Doors  (80)
    • Director, Actor
  • Frankie & Johnny  (65)
    • Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • LA Story  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • For the Boys  (35)
    • Actress
  • City Slickers  (30)
    • Supporting Actor

Analysis:  Because so many of the great films are balanced between Drama and Comedy, the overall Globe categories rank as the third best to-date.  Screenplay, in particular (combined between Comedy and Drama and between Adapted and Original) is the best to-date.  The Fisher King earns the 5th most points (3rd for a Comedy) for a film that doesn’t win Best Picture and the most since 1979.

Best Comedy Not Nominated for any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Solo con tu pareja

Analysis:  The debut film from Alfonso Cuaron, it’s a solid ***.5.  It comes in at #22 for the year and 7th among Comedies.  Unfortunately, it’s an original script and that, along with Picture and Director is a category that is packed solid.

Roundup for the Year in Film:

Eligible Films I Have Seen:  169

By Stars:

  • ****:  15
  • ***.5:  12
  • ***:  83
  • **.5:  27
  • **:  15
  • *.5:  4
  • *:  8
  • .5:  5
  • 0:  0
  • Average Film Score for the Year, out of 100:  62.07

Analysis:  A drop of 25 films from the year before and only one year after this will have fewer films.  But the **** films are back way up and with a rise in the higher numbers and a drop in some of the lower ratings, the average film score is up over a point and a half for the highest average since 1973.  It won’t be this high again for another six years.  The **** tie 1989 for the most to-date and they account for 8.88% of the total films, the highest since 1963.  The numbers are all good.  Percentage of films above ***?  Highest in nine years.  Percentage of films above **.5?  Highest since 1982, second highest since 1968.  Percentage of bad films (** and *.5)?  Lowest since 1967.

My Year at the Theater

Introduction:  As before, this is all the films I saw in the theater, organized by their release date, even if that’s not when I first saw them.  This is the first year where the Oscars really start to inform my movie-going, helped by the late year release of several nominees, which meant I knew they were contenders while they were still in the theaters.

  • Sleeping with the Enemy  –  Okay, at this point there’s no denying that I had a thing for Julia Roberts.  This was her third starring role in a row that I saw in the theater.  It was a solid start to the year and I still think this film is kind of under-appreciated, with the performances from Roberts and Patrick Bergin as her psycho-ex particularly good.  The climactic line is still pretty awesome (“Come quickly.  I’ve just killed an intruder.”).
  • The Silence of the Lambs  –  Jake Bassett and I saw this on opening night at Cinemapolis.  I knew I had seen something brilliant and when Lector sat up in the ambulance just about everyone in the theater jumped.  Again, big cheers for the big line at the end (“I’m having an old friend for dinner.”).  We had just seen a film that made us feel sympathetic towards a serial killing sociopath.
  • The Doors  –  I saw this on the Saturday night of opening weekend, after a track invitational with a couple of friends who were on the team.  I really enjoyed it and I still do.  It has serious flaws, but it’s still good entertainment and Kilmer’s performance is magnificent.  Oh, and of course, a magnificent soundtrack.  It the first time I ever heard the song “Heroin” by The Velvet Underground.
  • Guilty by Suspicion  –  This was my introduction to the Blacklist.  It would be almost a decade before I would learn of my own personal connection, as can be seen in my full review of the film here.  The film, while having some flaws, moved me then and still does.  It has the better performances of the year from both Robert De Niro and Annette Bening.
  • F/X 2: The Deadly Art of Illusion  –  It had been almost two months since I had been to the movies, so I was desperate to see something.  The original F/X was a film that had been recommended to me by my mother and brother and I had liked it quite a lot.  This sequel is nowhere near as good and I haven’t bothered to see it again.
  • Backdraft  –  I went to see Hudson Hawk and was carded and couldn’t get in and, given how bad it turned out to be, I’m glad.  I can’t remember if we then went to see Backdraft – I remember Jake and I seeing a trailer for Backdraft with Silence of the Lambs and being really impressed by the cast.  The film itself was okay and I haven’t seen it since (even though it’s been on some pay movie stations recently).
  • City Slickers  –  My friends and I loved this.  My friend Sean Adrean laughed so hard at the line “We’ll jump off that bridge when we come to it” that I had to actually drag him out of the theater to compose himself.  John Ramirez named his car Norman after the calf.  I saw it 3 times in the theaters, though only paid for it twice (see below).
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves  –  Saw this opening day with my friend Deb Edelman.  I had the idea about a year before for a Robin Hood movie with Kevin Costner, but I also wanted to throw in a time travel factor that would eliminate the need for an accent (a bunch of Western outlaws find a cave that transports them back to 12th Century England and the leader, a fan of the Robin Hood stories, becomes Robin Hood).  We had no idea that there would be a new Bryan Adams song (see Best Original Song) or that Sean Connery would cameo as King Richard (when you first hear his voice, I, very audibly, said “That’s Sean Connery!” before you see him).  I still find this film enjoyable.  Not great, but enjoyable.
  • Dying Young  –  Yes, that’s how big my thing for Julia Roberts was.  I went to see this.  Now, it wasn’t enough to make me stay for the end of it, though, since it was so painful.  I knew what time City Slickers was playing and 45 minutes in, ditched this film and went to see City Slickers again.
  • The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear  –  Deb and I went to see this on a “date”.  She insisted it was a date, which was odd since she had a boyfriend at the time.  What made it more awkward was that Ghost was “their movie”.  So, when there is the Ghost parody scene, complete with numerous metaphors for sex, Deb blushed a deep shade of red I have never seen since.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day  –  I saw this on the special preview on July 2 with Jake Bassett and his girlfriend Beth Randall.  It was awesome and it was a great crowd (when Sarah Conner says “On August 29th, 1997, it’s gonna feel pretty fucking real to you too. Anybody not wearing 2 million sunblock is gonna have a real bad day.” someone yelled out “That’s my birthday!” and the whole crowd busted up.).
  • Boyz N the Hood  –  I talk below about how John Ramirez and I reacted while watching this film.
  • Point Break  –  I have no excuse.
  • Mobsters  –  This one makes Point Break seem like Citizen Kane.  I can’t fathom why my friends and I saw this.  It was the worst film I had seen in the theater to this point.
  • Doc Hollywood  –  I’m blaming my friends for this one.  I wanted to see Hot Shots (and later did) but we saw this.  It was so pathetically predictable that I was actually saying the lines before the actors were and I was only 16.
  • Hot Shots  –  Still damn funny after all this time.  Later “parody” films like Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans have really given the genre a horrible name.  But the two Hot Shots films really do hold up very well.  I do remember John and I objecting that “Hershiser” was the word for curveball when Hershiser didn’t have a curveball.
  • Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare  –  My friend Ed Montoya dragged me to this.  The first film I ever saw in 3-D and since I wear glasses, it began a lifelong dislike of it.
  • The Fisher King  –  John Ramirez and I went to this and loved it.  It really felt like the Oscar season was beginning with this film.  We didn’t see when it first came out for some reason (possibly because it was cross country season and I had meets on Saturday mornings) but ended up seeing it at the old crappy second run theater on Tustin Avenue later in the run (the only time I ever went to that theater).
  • Necessary Roughness  –  Well, we needed a break and we needed a dumb comedy and this fit that.  It also had Kathy Ireland, who was one of the it girls at the time because of her cover of the 25th anniversary Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated.
  • Other People’s Money  –  Again, this is about my thing for Penelope Ann Miller.  One of a number of films on this list that I saw in the theater and have never seen since (at least a good half dozen, if not more).
  • Cape Fear  –  I hadn’t seen GoodFellas in the theater, but I wasn’t missing the next Scorsese / De Niro film.  Sadly, not up to snuff, though I liked it a lot at the time.
  • Beauty and the Beast  –  My first real date, with Mary Hawkins (the Deb date didn’t count since she had a boyfriend).  I saw this film four times in the theater and I bought the soundtrack after seeing it (and bought it for Mary for Christmas – we kept dating for several months).  As I have been filling in from the lines of the previous year, we’ve now reached the number of films I saw in 1990 but with several more still to go, so clearly I saw a lot more in 1991.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country  –  I saw this twice on opening day, as I detailed in my full review of the film.  I also saw it again with Mary Hawkins in a really late night showing in which we were both so exhausted (we had both seen it before) that we fell asleep next to each other in the theater.
  • Hook  –  This was Spielberg directing Julia Roberts so I wasn’t gonna miss it.  It’s okay.  I wish it was better and every time I have seen it, I want it to be better.  The art direction, music and costumes are wonderful, but the film is just okay.
  • The Last Boy Scout  –  A dumb Bruce Willis action comedy that I remember almost nothing about except that Ed dragged me to it.
  • Bugsy  –  It opened on December 13 in LA but not until December 20 in Orange County, so I suspect that the Globe nominations were already out before I saw it.  I was already kicking into Oscar high gear, so I made certain to see it.
  • JFK  –  I saw this with my older sister (possibly my younger as well) during Christmas week.  More Costner, and it was clearly going to be an awards contender, plus I was fascinated with the JFK assassination.
  • The Prince of Tides  –  I remember seeing this with Jay, John and Sean, as noted in my review of the film.

Endnote:  So, I saw all five of the Best Picture nominees in the theater, four of the Director nominees and all five Actor nominees (but only one Actress nominee).  I also saw all of my Top 5 in the theater, although, bizarrely, none of the next 12 on my list.

Oscar-Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • none

Oscar Quality:

Best Picture:  It’s the 9th best year all-time and the third best to this date, surpassed to this date only by 1973 and 1980.  That’s because it is one of only six years in history to have three Top 100 films, with Silence at #33, JFK at #95 and Beauty and the Beast at #97.  It is also helped by the lack of a weak nominee.  The Prince of Tides, the weakest of the nominees, is still at #366 – in the 5 Best Picture nominee era, only 10 years have a weakest film that is better.

The Winners:  Overall, every Tech Oscar winner comes in either 1st or 2nd on my list, for a 1.44 average, the lowest since 1983.  Overall, 84.21% of the Oscar winners come in either 1st or 2nd, the highest to-date.  Among the nominees, the average winner ranks at 1.53, the best since 1975 and the fourth best to-date.  It is the first time in five years that the Academy didn’t pick the weakest nominee in any category and the only categories where they didn’t pick the best or second best choice are Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor and Foreign Film.  Among all films, the average rank of the winner is 2.42, the best in five years and again the fourth best to-date.  Those same three categories (which finish, in order, 4th, 8th and 13th) are the only ones in which the Academy didn’t pick my #1 or #2.  Given that the Academy and I agreed on Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor and Actress, I am inclined to say this is the best job that Academy has ever done with the winners.

The Nominees:  While this year isn’t the best in Oscar history, as it is with the winners, it is still the best to-date.  The overall Oscar score is 83.5, over two and a half points than any previous year.  It’s lead by a Tech score of 84.6, also the highest to this date (both marks will be beaten in 2001).  It earns perfect 100 scores in Sound and Visual Effects and doesn’t earn a score lower than 65.8 in any Tech category.  The acting is a solid 86.6, lead by great scores in Actor (94.6) and Actress (91.4).  The major category score is a 79.2, the highest in nine years, with a 90.0 in Director, the highest since 1973.

Golden Globe Best Picture – Comedy / Musical:  The kudos extend to the Globes as well.  The nominees rank as the 6th best in history and the best to-date.  That starts with the winner, Beauty and the Beast, the best winner between 1986 and 2001.  After three straight years where the average nominee was better than the winner, here there is a 77 point difference in the winner’s favor.  That’s especially impressive when you realize that the nominees include The Fisher King and The Commitments.  Those three films make this the only year with three Top 50 Globe Comedy nominees, making up for the two mid-range *** nominees Fried Green Tomatoes and City Slickers.  There were several films that would have made better choices (Barton Fink, Truly Madly Deeply, Life is Sweet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, LA Story).  But, in the end, neither of those last two were terrible picks and they’re much better than some of the other films nominated for acting awards that they might have broken down and chosen (Soapdish, Switch) so I’m not going to complain too much especially since it’s one of the best years of all-time and it won’t be surpassed for five years.

Top 5 Films of the Year:

1  –  The Silence of the Lambs  (reviewed here and here)

2  –  JFK  (reviewed here and here)

3  –  Beauty and the Beast  (reviewed here)

See what kind of magic can happen when a studio just sits back and lets Terry Gilliam make a film?

See what kind of magic can happen when a studio just sits back and lets Terry Gilliam make a film?

4  –  The Fisher King  (dir. Terry Gilliam)

I don’t care about religion.  That’s ironic because I was a course away from a Religious Studios minor in college, but that’s because I find religion interesting from a sociological viewpoint, not a personal one.  So, when I say I have a strong fascination for the Holy Grail, it has nothing to do with Jesus or religious iconography.  I am fascinated with it from a storytelling standpoint – the quest, the power of redemption.  I like what you can do with it.  I wrote a screenplay just after college based around the hunt for it during Arthurian times and also worked it into a novel that takes place during and after the second World War.  High school was a good time to be interested in the Holy Grail.  I had learned about it during my Freshman English class, as we studied the Arthurian Legend and watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail in class.  I also first read the novel Nova, which makes brilliant use of the Grail Quest.  Then, during the time that I was in high school, the Grail was found by Indiana Jones, MacGyver (who noted that Indiana Jones had already done that) and Parry, the mostly deranged homeless man played by Robin Williams in the best performance he ever delivered.

The thing that people often forget about this film, especially since he was nominated for Best Actor and is first billed on the poster, is that not only is Robin Williams not the primary star of the film, he’s not even the primary focus of the film.  Williams’ performance is remarkable – the best example ever of him being able to take it over the edge and then bring it just back far enough to the other side of the line and it’s the direction of Terry Gilliam that helps him find that line.  Williams plays Parry, a man who is haunted by a tragic event that broke his life and now lives on the outer edges of society, a homeless man saving people on the streets of New York, sometimes from muggers, sometimes from themselves.  But he also believes he has found the Holy Grail and that it is in the upper East Side castle of an architect.  That’s the point where he runs into Jack Lucas.

Lucas is a former shock jock whose advice to a man on the edge brought about the death of numerous people.  He blames himself and falls out of the upper echelon and ends up running a video store with Anne.  Anne is played by Mercedes Ruehl in a powerhouse performance, a woman who knows what she wants in life, knows who she wants in life and is determined to try and make life and the man understand that and she’s going to pound into both of them if she has to.  Ruehl won the Oscar and she wins the Nighthawk by a mile – I have rarely had a choice this easy to make.  She’s trying to push some life back into Jack, who is slipping further and further away from anything meaningful.

Before The Big Lebowski made him into a worshipped cult figure, Jeff Bridges was simply one of the most solid actors at work in Hollywood.  He had already earned three Oscar nominations and in recent performances in Tucker, The Fabulous Baker Boys and Texasville, he proved that he was just as solid as ever.  But The Fisher King was something different.  This film is really his journey, as he rediscovers his own humanity somewhere inside Parry’s madness.  With his deep core of anger and need for forgiveness, until he reinvented himself as the master hippy in The Big Lebowski and went on to his double whammy of great performances in Crazy Heart and True Grit, this was the best performance of his career.

Gilliam didn’t write this film and he directed it partially because he wanted to move away from the budget problems he had been having with his last couple of films.  So, in some ways this is less of a Terry Gilliam film.  But, with the madness in his actors, the sublime little moments (the waltz in the station, cloud-busting), the very nature of the mad quest itself, in some ways, it is the perfect Gilliam film.

It's not the film that was predictable; it was the life.

It’s not the film that was predictable; it was the life.

5  –  Boyz N the Hood  (dir. John Singleton)

An interesting thing happened during opening day of this film that points a finger in two different critical directions at approaching this film.  I sat in the theater with John Ramirez (one white, one hispanic – it was a very white crowd in Orange because there aren’t very many blacks in Orange or even Orange County – in 1991, it was less than 2% of the population and it still is today).  John pointed to a character in the film, Ricky, the talented football player who is hoping to use his skills to go to USC and get out of South Central.  John asked “How long before he dies?”  “43 minutes,” I replied.  Just under 43 minutes later, Ricky is gunned down through circumstances that are beyond his control.  Now, if your inclination is to dismiss this film, and there are definitely people who do that (I remember, a year and a half after the film came out, talking about with some fellow students at Brandeis and one, an intellectual Jew raised in suburban Connecticut, dismissed it out of hand with a comment about how he wasn’t going to bother with a film that couldn’t bother with proper grammar in the title) you could make the argument that this film is predictable.  It’s predictable to the point that we not only knew which character was going to die, but figure out exactly how long it would take over the course of the story for him to die.  But it’s not the story that was predictable; it was the life.

John Singleton knew what he was writing about.  He was raised in L.A. and he escaped to USC.  Now, you have to understand what I mean by that and understand something about Los Angeles.  I think of the Joan Didion quote about California (“It is very easy to sit at the bar in, say, La Scala in Beverly HIlls, or Ernie’s in San Francisco, and to share in the pervasive delusion that California is only five hours from New York by air. The truth is that La Scala and Ernie’s are only five hours from New York by air. California is somewhere else.”).  USC is like that for South Central, because if you are unfamiliar with the University of Southern California, it is literally right down the street from the Crenshaw neighborhood where this film takes place.  But, just getting that acceptance letter means you can escape to a better life – you are no longer held down by what is going on around you.  It is easy, of course, for me to write things like that, a child of white intellectuals raised in the mostly white Orange County.  But, even though South Central and Villa Park are, in one sense, worlds away from each other, they are still only 30 miles apart from each other on the ground.  This film was released almost a year before the LA riots, but well after the actual Rodney King beating that would have an end result in those riots.  It was easy to see what life was like up there, with some people hoping to escape through study, some people hoping to escape through sports and some people having no interest in getting out at all.

Which brings me back to the film itself.  The film focuses on three young men.  The first, Ricky, is played by Morris Chestnut, and he’s the football star who is fated to die.  He wants a better life and he knows that it might be within his reach if he can just survive life enough and if he can struggle through the SAT and get the minimum score needed to be able to get a scholarship to USC.  That he will manage one but not the other, is, of course, part of the tragedy of this film.  The second, Tre, is played by Cuba Gooding, the real star of the film.  His parents have divorced and he had been living in Inglewood with his mother (played very well by Angela Bassett).  But his temper keeps getting in the way of his mind, so she sends him to Crenshaw to live with his father (played very very well by Laurence Fishburne – it would be a bit eerie to see Bassett and Fishburne again play a troubled couple two years later in What’s Love Got to Do With It) to learn discipline and respect.  Both of these boys want to escape, one through the body and the other through the mind.  But there is a third, and he’s a revelation.

Because I don’t listen to hip hop, I was vaguely familiar with the existence of Ice Cube in 1991, but only in the sense that he was one of two rappers with the name Ice who was moving into acting in 1991.  I was not prepared, walking into the film, for the intensity or the authenticity of his performance.  His Doughboy understands the life he has chosen.  He has embraced a life of crime and violence, learning young that he has no escape option, and so he will fulfill the life he has been promised.  He has been in jail, he has joined the Crips, he is the one who will measure out the level of revenge for the killing of his half-brother Ricky.  While performance from Jack Palance and Harvey Keitel were winning awards, Ice Cube’s intense performance went completely unrecognized.

This film, while passed over for Best Picture, was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.  That made John Singleton the youngest director ever nominated as well as the first African-American.  But, sadly, in spite of the talent that’s so clear in much of this film, it did not provide bigger and better things.  Singleton’s next couple of movies were extremely disappointing and he’s never come close to fulfilling the potential shown here.  Gooding would win an Oscar but has mostly filled his career with crap (though he may win an Emmy soon for playing OJ).  Ice Cube eventually moved into family friendly fare in a move that still astounds me.  But none of that matters when you watch this film.  It is a film of power and emotion in every scene.  How much?  Well, because of poor planning and bad timing, I wasn’t able to re-watch the film before writing this review.  I wrote this based off the one time I saw it in the theater, but the memory of it is still so vivid, so moving, so powerful, that 25 years later I can still see it in my head.

The Razzies:  The Razzies like to tackle personal projects that are bombs (like Star Trek V).  They also like to tackle massive studio productions that bomb (like Bonfire of the Vanities).  So Hudson Hawk was probably like catnip for them, covering both areas.  As noted above, I actually went to go see it and was actually carded for the first time and so couldn’t.  Afterwards, it was such an obvious failure that I lost all interest and didn’t finally see it until the last year or so.  It’s a bad film (I rate it at *, and it’s #159 out of 169 films) but doesn’t quite make the worst of my list.  Still, not a bad choice for the Razzie winner.  But they still made a bad choice, because of the other nominees, one, Dice Rules, is a documentary, so I don’t count it (though I did watch it and it’s pretty worthless), but the other three are my worst, third worst and fourth worst of the year.  Those four films average a nine, which means Hudson Hawk is actually twice as good than the average nominee.  Still – kudos to the Razzies for really nominating the right films.  I can’t decide if I’m irritated they didn’t nominate Mobsters, which is my #163 film and one of the worst films I have ever seen in the theater and I kick myself for bothering to see it or if I’m glad they didn’t nominate Mobsters so that I can say my theater choices were good enough that I didn’t see any Worst Picture Razzie nominee in the first half of the 1990’s.

5 Worst Films  (#1 being the worst):

  1. Nothing But Trouble
  2. Mannequin Two: On the Move
  3. Cool as Ice
  4. Return to the Blue Lagoon
  5. Highlander 2: The Quickening

note:  That’s the whole list of .5 films for this year.  But, continuing my new trend, here’s my list of Presumably Crappy Films That I Can’t Confirm Because I Haven’t Seen Them: Child’s Play 3, Curly Sue, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, Double Impact, Ernest Scared Stupid, Kickboxer 2, King Ralph, Oscar, Problem Child 2, Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.

Nothing but crap. Sorry, too easy. One year after Dances with Wolves, Dan Aykroyd proves that not all actors should become directors.

Nothing but crap. Sorry, too easy. One year after Dances with Wolves, Dan Aykroyd proves that not all actors should become directors.

Nothing But Trouble  (dir. Dan Aykroyd)

I avoided this film when it came out because it just stank of failure.  I only finally saw it recently when I decided I needed to see the Razzie nominees so that I could make a more informed decision about what the worst film of the year was.  This is the answer, and it’s really rather astounding.  Consider this paragraph from page 858 of Inside Oscar: “Originally angling for $40 million, [Director Spike Lee making Malcolm X] said he could live with $32.  Warner Brothers gave him $20, with an additional $8 million coming in for foreign rights.  Budgetary battles between filmmakers and studio heads are as old as the movies themselves, and industryites realized that Lee did have a point when he griped that first-time director Dan Aykroyd was given $45 million to make Nothing But Trouble, a comedy notable only for the makeup Aykroyd wore to make his nose look like a penis.”  Now, that might be a line that makes some people race to see the film, including some of my loyal readers (you know who you are Fat Tony), but I’m not one of those people.  Nonetheless, I have determined to try and see the Razzie nominees, and by god, I have suffered through them.

This is the perfect example of a vanity project.  It was conceived, produced, directed and written by Dan Aykroyd, who then decided to give himself the most eccentric part.  This kind of thing, a man gets pulled over for speeding in a small out of the way town and bizarre things ensue, works better as a horror film than as a bizarre comedy.  But perhaps it might have done better with a director with more control and more experience.  Roles that cry out for people to act bizarre also need someone to reign the eccentricity in or it will sink the film, which is precisely what happens here.  Aykroyd got the first idea for the film when he was pulled over in a small town and brought before a judge in the middle of the night.  That might have worked.  But then he had the idea of putting John Candy in a dress and found it so funny that he built a plot around it.  That was a bad enough idea.  But he still might have gotten away with it if he hadn’t decided that the crazed judge needed to have horrible makeup.  It’s the extra bad idea that helps to sink everything.

Chevy Chase has said that he wanted to star in the film because he was friends with Akyroyd.  But they had previously starred together in Spies Like Us and Caddyshack II.  Did those films really make Chase think that this one was going to be a good idea?  Aykroyd has apparently said he tried lighting tricks to disguise the fact that the town itself was an old Western set.  If they were using an old Western set then what the hell did they spend $45 million on?  It sure as hell wasn’t the makeup which looks like it must have cost about $20.

In spite of the makeup, in spite of Dan Aykroyd the director, doing nothing to reign in the performance of Dan Aykroyd the over-actor, in spite of Chevy Chase giving yet another lifeless performance (outside of Caddyshack and Fletch, I mostly write off his film career), in spite of a complete waste of Demi Moore (Ghost was cheezy and sentimental, but it knew how to make use of her looks and her weepy melodrama – this film does none of that), in spite of John Candy in a dress, the worst thing in this film is the shameless song in the middle of it.  The band Digital Underground (yes, the film provides the film debut of Tupac) is arrested in the film but are allowed to go if they play a song (yes, they are playing themselves) and so we get this song in the middle of the film that’s only purpose is to presumably bring in younger film-goers who like the band, but then that is undermined in the middle of the song when Aykroyd, complete in his horrible makeup, joins the band with a keyboard solo that is hideous but actually makes the band stop and admire him.  You can see the scene here and then wonder how anyone thought anything about this film was a good idea.  It’s an embarrassment to everyone involved, but Aykroyd, as the writer-director-producer-star clearly deserves the lion’s share of it.


  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:   The Silence of the Lambs  (12)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:   The Silence of the Lambs  (7)
  • Most Nighthawk:   The Silence of the Lambs  (605)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Award:  Naked Lunch
  • 2nd Place Award:  JFK  (Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Sound)
  • 6th Place Award:  Europa Europa  (Picture)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Nominations:   The Silence of the Lambs  (5)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Awards:   The Silence of the Lambs  (5)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Points:   The Silence of the Lambs  (410)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Drama Award:  Naked Lunch
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Nominations:   Barton Fink  (8)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Awards:   The Fisher King  (3)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Points:   The Fisher King  (385)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Comedy Award:  For the Boys

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:  John Williams  (575)
  • Foreign Film:  Akira Kurosawa  (580)

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

  • Drama:  75 (35)  –  JFK  (65.2)
  • Foreign:  53  –  Europa Europa  (67.5)
  • Comedy:  38 (5)  –  The Fisher King  (61.6)
  • Crime:  9 (2)  –  Boyz N the Hood  (64.8)
  • Action:  9 (3)  –  The Killer  (51.7)
  • Kids:  8 (1)  –  Beauty and the Beast  (53.5)
  • Suspense:  7  –  The Silence of the Lambs  (65.9)
  • Musical:  6 (1)  –  The Commitments  (59.8)
  • Sci-Fi:  4 (2)  –  Terminator 2: Judgment Day  (66)
  • Horror:  4  –  Two Evil Eyes  (35.8)
  • Fantasy:  3  –  Prospero’s Books  (45.3)
  • War:  2 (2)  –  Europa Europa  (85)
  • Adventure:  2 (1)  –  Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves  (69.5)
  • Mystery:  2 (1)  –  City Zero  (56.5)
  • Western:  0

Analysis:  Just over 70% of the films are non-genre (Drama / Comedy / Musical), the highest percentage since 1980 and the second highest since 1952.  Over 44% of the films are Dramas, the second highest percentage since 1973 and third highest since 1959.  The rise of Animated films lead to 8 Kids films, the most since 1986, but every year after this one will have at least that many.  The Action films actually manage to average **.5 for the first time since 1982.  Lead by T2, Sci-Fi films average *** for the first time since 1984.
The Silence of the Lambs is the first Suspense film since 1944 and only the second one at all to win the Nighthawk.  If you want to consider it a Horror film, it’s the first since 1975.  The Commitments is the first Musical to make the Top 10 since 1984 and even the first in the Top 20 since 1986.  For the first time since 1977 and only the second time since 1964, multiple Action films make the Top 20 (The Killer, La Femme Nikita).  With 3 more Crime films in the Top 20, that makes 7 in two years, or the same as were in the Top 20 from 1981 to 1989.  In spite of providing the largest number of films, only 5 Dramas make the Top 20, the lowest since 1984.

Studio Note:  Warner Bros leads the way yet again with 15 films, the only studio to have more than 11.  This is the last year Orion will reach double digits in films (10); they close strong, though, winning the Nighthawk for the fourth time (and the Oscar in back-to-back years – the first Indie to do so) and land two films in the Top 10 for the 6th time in eight years (Europa Europa, which is distributed by Orion Classics).  For this one shining year they break into the Top 10 all-time with total films (134), bouncing out Disney, but Disney will be back in the next year and Orion will never again be higher than 11th.  The Borrower is the last film to date I have seen from Cannon, ending a little over a decade of mostly crappy films.  There is also Felix the Cat: The Movie, the last film from New World Pictures, which lasted longer than Cannon but was mostly just as crappy with the bizarre exception of them winning the Nighthawk for distributing Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers.  But this is also the first year of Fine Line Features who already specialize with artistic directors like Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho), Jane Campion (An Angel at My Table) and Hal Hartley (Trust).  October Films is founded this year to distribute Life is Sweet and will have a solid decade as an indie distributor until it merges with Gramercy to become USA Films at the end of the decade.
For the first time since 1975, six different major studios have a film in the Top 10: Columbia (Boyz N the Hood), Disney (Beauty and the Beast), 20th Century-Fox (The Commitments, Grand Canyon), MGM (Thelma & Louise), Paramount (Dead Again) and Warners (JFK).

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

  1. Beauty and the Beast  (****, Trousdale / Wise, Disney)
  2. An American Tail: Feivel Goes West  (***, Nibbelink / Wells, Universal)
  3. Fist of the North Star  (**.5, Ashida, Streamline)
  4. Robot Carnival  (**.5, Otomo, Streamline)
  5. Charlie Strapp and Froggy Ball Flying High  (**.5, Gissberg, Cinemation Industries)
  6. The Magic Riddle  (**, Gross, Yoham Gross Films)
  7. Felix the Cat: The Movie  (*, Hernadi, New World)
  8. Rover Dangerfield  (*, George / Seeley, Warner Bros)

Note: only lists four films and one of them, Ring of Fire, is a documentary and a short, neither of which I count (although I have seen it).  The other listed are Beauty and the Beast, An American Tail and Robot Carnival.
I expected Rover Dangerfield to suck (and it did), but was shocked and depressed that Felix was almost as bad – I enjoyed the show as a kid (John had a little Felix figure in his locker all through high school), but the film was just a disaster.

51 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):

  • Alias La Gringa  (Durant, Peru)  *
  • La Belle Noiseuse  (Rivette, France)
  • A Brighter Summer Day  (Yang, Taiwan)  *
  • El Bulto  (Retes, Mexico)
  • Charlie Strapp and Froggy Ball Flying High  (Gissberg, Sweden)
  • Children of Nature  (Frederikson, Iceland)  **
  • Danzon  (Novaro, Mexico)
  • Delicatessan  (Jeunet, France)
  • The Double Life of Veronique  (Kieslowski, Poland)  *
  • The Elementary School  (Svarek, Czechoslovakia)  **
  • Europa Europa  (Holland, Germany)
  • La Frontera  (Larrain, Chile)  *
  • Get Thee Out  (Astrakhan, USSR)  *
  • The Great Day on the Beach  (Olsson, Denmark)  *
  • Hello Hemingway  (Perez, Cuba)  *
  • Henna  (Kapoor, India)
  • High Heels  (Almodovar, Spain)  *
  • Highway Patrolman  (Cox, Mexico)
  • Homework  (Humberto Hermosillo, Mexico)  *
  • The House of Smiles  (Ferreri, Italy)
  • I Don’t Kiss  (Techine, France)
  • Jerico  (Alberto Lamata, Venezuela)  *
  • Johnny Stecchino  (Benigni, Italy)
  • Lost in Siberia (Mitta, United Kingdom)  *
  • The Lovers on the Bridge  (Carax, France)
  • Madame Bovary  (Chabrol, France)
  • Mediterraneo  (Salvatores, Italy)  ***
  • O Sangue  (Costa, Portugal)  *
  • Once a Thief  (Woo, Hong Kong)
  • Once Upon a Time in China  (Tsui, Hong Kong)
  • Only Yesterday  (Takahata, Japan)
  • The Original of the Forgery  (Kresoja, Yugoslavia)  *
  • Over the Ocean  (Goldwasser, Israel)  *
  • The Ox  (Nykvist, Sweden)  **
  • Raise the Red Lantern  (Yimou, Hong Kong)  **
  • Rhapsody in August  (Kurosawa, Japan)  *
  • Robot Carnival  (Otomo, Japan)
  • Roujin-Z  (Kitakubo, Japan)
  • Savage Nights  (Collard, France)
  • Silent Mobius  (Kikuchi, Japan)
  • Solo con tu pareja  (Cuaron, Mexico)
  • The Spring Festival  (Jianzhong, China)  *
  • The Stranger  (Ray, India)
  • Stray Dog  (Oshii, Japan)
  • Tokyo Decadence  (Murakami, Japan)
  • Las Tumbas  (Torre, Argentina)  *
  • Toto le Heroes  (Van Dormael, Belgium)  *
  • Tous les matins du monde  (Corneau, France)
  • Van Gogh  (Pialat, France)  *
  • The Well  (Bodzhakov, Bulgaria)  *
  • Zentropa  (von Trier, Denmark)

Note:  I have my first Foreign Language Film from the U.K.  I have 5 films from Mexico, the most since 1951.  Japan has 7 films, its most since 1985 (in fact, the most by any country other than France since 1985).  France once again leads, this time with 8 films.
I don’t know why Zhang Yimou’s Raise the Red Lantern is a Hong Kong film when all his other films are from China, but they actually submitted it to the Academy (and earned a nomination), so I’m leaving it with Hong Kong.
I have my last film from Yugoslavia.  I have seen 31 Yugoslavian films, 27 of which were submitted for the Oscars.  Most of them are in the *** range, with one ***.5 (The Ninth Circle, from 1960) and one * (Sweet Movie, from 1974).  The breakup of the country will actually lead to me seeing more films because the individual former states will all start submitting to the Oscars.  This will also be the last year with a film from Czechoslovakia, but the breakup there doesn’t drastically increase, partially because it only breaks up into two countries, and partially because Slovakia doesn’t submit all that often (or can be hard to find when they do submit).  I’ve seen 33 films from Czechoslovakia, 15 of which were part of the Czech New Wave from 1964-69.  There are a lot more great (Closely Watched Trains) and very good Czech films (eight films) and still only one terrible one (Daisies).  It never won the Nighthawk, but it did earn nominations in 1949, 1966 and 1967.
The USSR also finishes, with 116 total films (ranked fourth at this point).  It also doesn’t lead to a big increase, partially because many former Soviet republics don’t submit to the Academy, but also partially because the Soviets had a bustling film industry, so I had often seen multiple Soviet films in a year.  The Soviet films are impressive; only three of them rank below **.5 (The Second Circle, The Diamond Arm, Battle Beyond the Sun), while they have nine **** films and 13 ***.5 films.  It earns 16 Nighthawk nominations and wins in 1964 and 1971, both for Shakespeare adaptations (Hamlet, King Lear), although it earns no nominations after 1977.  In Eisenstein and Tarkovsky, it also produces two Top 100 directors.
There are four Sci-Fi films, the first time there have been more than two and the first time there have been multiple in a year since 1979.  After dropping to less than 50% the year before, Dramas account for over 60%.

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

  • Algeria:  Cheb  (dir. Bouchareb)
  • Austria:  I Love Vienna  (dir. Allahyari)
  • Canada:  A Bullet in the Head  (dir.  Bertalan)
  • Colombia:  Confessing to Laura  (dir. Osorio Gomez)
  • Hungary:  Brats  (dir. Rozsa)
  • Netherlands:  Eline Vere  (dir. Kumel)
  • Switzerland:  Der Berg  (dir.  Imhoof)

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 27 for 34 (79%), my best between 1976 and 2003.  Canada and Hungary are the only repeat countries I am missing from the year before.
It’s the first time in four years that the number of submissions are down from the year before.  Eight countries don’t submit that did the year before: Germany (last time it misses), Romania, Thailand, Egypt, Greece, South Korea, Finland and Indonesia.  There are five countries submitting that didn’t the year before: Belgium (which hasn’t missed since), Algeria, Colombia, Venezuela and, submitting for the first time, the United Kingdom.  This is the last year with submissions from Czechoslovakia (I’m 13 for 23), Yugoslavia (27 for 29) and the USSR (a perfect 24 for 24), but the next year we’ll get new countries formed from those countries submitting.
Even though it was in Russian, the Academy accepted the UK film (Lost in Siberia) as a submission, breaking their own rules requiring the language to be native to the country.  Germany didn’t submit Europa Europa because, with a Polish director and a mostly French production, they didn’t think it was really a German film and instead Germany didn’t submit any film.
These misses are my first (Colombia), third (Algeria), 7th (Canada), 8th (Austria, Hungary), 9th (Switzerland) and 11th (Netherlands).

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

  • Touki Bouki  (1973)
  • Alexandria Why  (1979)
  • My Brother’s Wedding  (1983)
  • Fist of the North Star  (1986)
  • Drowning by Numbers  (1988)
  • Felix the Cat: The Movie  (1988)
  • Rodrigo D: No Future  (1988)
  • The Borrower  (1989)
  • Chameleon Street  (1989)
  • City Zero  (1989)
  • Freeze Die Come to Life  (1989)
  • The Killer  (1989)
  • Love Without Pity  (1989)
  • Requiem for Dominic  (1989)
  • Rikyu  (1989)
  • Waltzing Regitze  (1989)
  • Alexandria Again and Forever  (1990)
  • An Angel at My Table  (1990)
  • Close-Up  (1990)
  • The Comfort of Strangers  (1990)
  • Europa, Europa  (1990)  *
  • Everybody’s Fine  (1990)
  • La Femme Nikita  (1990)
  • Journey of Hope  (1990)
  • Ju Dou  (1990)
  • Korczak  (1990)
  • Larks on a String  (1990)
  • Mister Johnson  (1990)
  • My Mother’s Castle  (1990)
  • Open Doors  (1990)
  • The Reflecting Skin  (1990)
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead  (1990)
  • The Second Circle  (1990)
  • Song of Exile  (1990)
  • Taxi Blues  (1990)
  • Trust  (1990)
  • Two Evil Eyes  (1990)
  • The Voice of the Moon  (1990)

Note:  These 38 films average a 64.6.  It includes two great films (Europa Europa, The Killer) and a handful of very good films (Ju Dou, La Femme Nikita, Open Doors, R & G are Dead) and a couple of terrible films as the final films from distributors that specialized in terrible films (The Borrower, Felix).  Europa Europa has an asterisk because it is technically a 1990 film, but because of when it was released in Germany, it was eligible for Best Foreign Film in 1991 while normally films on this list are eligible in the year listed here.

Films Not Listed at

  • Alias La Gringa
  • A Brighter Summer Day
  • Children of Nature
  • Close-Up
  • Felix the Cat: The Movie
  • Fires Within
  • Fist of the North Star
  • The Great Day on the Beach
  • Hello Hemingway
  • Homework
  • The House of Smiles
  • I Don’t Kiss
  • Jericho
  • O Sangue
  • The Original of the Forgery
  • Over the Ocean
  • The Second Circle
  • Solo con tu pareja
  • The Spring Festival
  • Stray Dog
  • The Tombs
  • Touki Bouki
  • The Voice of the Moon
  • Waltzing Regitze
  • The Well

Note:  I use the list at for deciding which year films are eligible in.  Some films, however, don’t appear in that database.  For those films, I use the IMDb.  These are the films that aren’t listed in the database but that end up in this year.
As is usually the case, most of these are Foreign films which never got an L.A. release.  The films marked in orange were those that were submitted for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars (not necessarily in this year).

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

  • The Adjuster  (1992)
  • Danzon  (1992)
  • Delicatessan  (1992)
  • Edward II  (1992)
  • The Efficiency Expert  (1992)
  • Flirting  (1992)
  • Highway 61  (1992)
  • The Hours and Times  (1992)
  • Johnny Stecchino  (1992)
  • Mediterraneo  (1992)
  • Mississippi Masala  (1992)
  • The Ox  (1992)
  • Proof  (1992)
  • Raise the Red Lantern  (1992)
  • Roadside Prophets  (1992)
  • Toto le Heroes  (1992)
  • Tous les matins du monde  (1992)
  • The Tune  (1992)
  • Van Gogh  (1992)
  • Where Angels Fear to Tread  (1992)
  • Zentropa  (1992)
  • American Friends  (1993)
  • The Elementary School  (1993)
  • Get Thee Out  (1993)
  • Married to It  (1993)
  • Once Upon a Time in China  (1993)
  • Riff-Raff  (1993)
  • Tokyo Decadence  (1993)
  • Highway Patrolman  (1994)
  • Once a Thief  (1994)
  • Savage Nights  (1994)
  • Silent Mobius  (1994)
  • Arizona Dream  (1995)
  • El Bulto  (1995)
  • The Stranger  (1995)
  • Roujin-Z  (1996)
  • The Lovers on the Bridge  (1999)
  • La Frontera  (2006)
  • Only Yesterday  (2011)

Note:  These 39 films average a 64.4.  It includes two great films (Flirting, Raise the Red Lantern) and a handful of very good films (The Lovers on the Bridge, Only Yesterday, Proof, The Ox, Savage Nights).  Though there are several ** films, nothing is lower than that, with Zentropa, at the very bottom end of ** the worst on this list.