Oskar Schindler watches in horror the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto.

Oskar Schindler watches, in horror, the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto.

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.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Schindler’s List  **
  2. The Age of Innocence
  3. In the Name of the Father  *
  4. Much Ado About Nothing
  5. A Perfect World
  6. The Remains of the Day  *
  7. My Neighbor Totoro
  8. Nightmare Before Christmas
  9. Three Colors: Blue
  10. Shadowlands
  11. In the Line of Fire
  12. Menace II Society

Analysis:  Schindler’s List crushes all previous Consensus records.  It sweeps the six major critics awards (a first) and wins all 10 awards.  While its total nominations have been beaten, the two other films which would sweep the critics awards (L.A. Confidential, The Social Network) would lose the Oscar and PGA and still fall short of the 10 wins for Schindler.  It still holds the Consensus record for points and it earns 49.19% of all the points, while no other post-1947 film has earned over 40%.  Even with the addition of the BFCA and the expansion of the guilds, only one film has managed to earn more total awards points in the years since (The Social Network).  Schindler’s List, even without the BFCA is still 9th all-time in total awards nominations and 2nd in wins (behind only Sideways).  It is still 5th all-time in total critics points.
It kills me to have to pick between Schindler and The Age of Innocence.  This is the second year in a row where the top two films have the same score.  The Age of Innocence is the best #2 in this category since Annie Hall.
This list has all twelve of the **** films for the year.

  • schindler-spielbergBest Director
  1. Steven Spielberg  (Schindler’s List)  **
  2. Martin Scorsese  (The Age of Innocence)  *
  3. Jim Sheridan  (In the Name of the Father)
  4. Kenneth Branagh  (Much Ado About Nothing)
  5. Clint Eastwood  (A Perfect World)
  6. James Ivory  (The Remains of the Day)  *
  7. Wolfgang Petersen  (In the Line of Fire)
  8. Krzysztof Kieslowski  (Three Colors: Blue)
  9. Jane Campion  (The Piano)  *
  10. Andrew Davis  (The Fugitive)
  11. Andrew / Albert Hughes  (Menace II Society)
  12. John Woo  (Hard-Boiled)

Analysis:  Jim Sheridan earns his first Nighthawk nomination.  Clint Eastwood and Kenneth Branagh earn their second noms.  Martin Scorsese earns his fifth nom.  It’s Spielberg’s sixth Nighthawk nomination and his fourth win; he moves up to 450 points and a tie for 7th place.
While Spielberg only wins three of the six critics awards, he easily wins the Consensus by becoming the first director in seven years to sweep the awards groups (Oscar, BAFTA, DGA, Globe); no director will do that again until Ang Lee in 2005.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Schindler’s List  **
  2. The Age of Innocence
  3. The Remains of the Day  *
  4. In the Name of the Father  *
  5. Shadowlands  *
  6. The Snapper
  7. Much Ado About Nothing
  8. Short Cuts  *
  9. Like Water for Chocolate
  10. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
  11. Six Degrees of Separation
  12. Hot Shots Part Deux

Analysis:  Schindler’s List becomes the first script since 1974 and the first ever Adapted Screenplay to sweep the awards groups (Oscar, BAFTA, WGA, Globe).  It also wins the CFC, becoming the first Adapted Screenplay to win five awards.
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala earns her third Nighthawk nom.
This is the best Top 5 to-date, finally beating the Top 5 from 1940.
This is the first time that all five Oscar nominees are my Top 5, meaning that the Oscar Score in this category is 100 for the first time.
I have read eight of the original sources (nine if you count having seen Hot Shots!), the first eight listed.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. A Perfect World
  2. My Neighbor Totoro
  3. Three Colors: Blue
  4. Groundhog Day  *
  5. In the Line of Fire  *
  6. Nightmare Before Christmas
  7. Philadelphia  *
  8. Menace II Society
  9. The Wedding Banquet
  10. Hard-Boiled
  11. The Last Days of Chez Nous
  12. Dave  *

Analysis:  The Piano earns the most awards since 1986 and the most nominations since 1982 but I am not fond of the script (it is #14 on my list).  I can’t believe that A Perfect World got no notice for its script but that silly piece of romantic tripe Sleepless in Seattle was a Consensus nominee.
Hayao Miyazaki earns his second writing nomination.
This is the second weakest since 1984, and given that no Oscar nominees in my Top 5, it doesn’t say much for the Oscar nominees.  The Oscar Score is 45.5, the second lowest in this category since 1980.

  • Best Actor:
  1. Daniel Day-Lewis  (In the Name of the Father)  *
  2. Anthony Hopkins  (The Remains of the Day)  **
  3. Anthony Hopkins  (Shadowlands)  **
  4. Daniel Day-Lewis  (The Age of Innocence)  *
  5. Liam Neeson  (Schindler’s List)  *
  6. Kenneth Branagh  (Much Ado About Nothing)
  7. Kevin Costner  (A Perfect World)
  8. Tom Hanks  (Philadelphia)  *
  9. Clint Eastwood  (In the Line of Fire)
  10. Ben Kingsley  (Schindler’s List)
  11. Laurence Fishburne  (What’s Love Got to Do With It)
  12. Clint Eastwood  (A Perfect World)

Analysis:  Because of the multiple nominations for both Daniel Day-Lewis and Anthony Hopkins, Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Costner both earn Nighthawk noms.
The best Top 5 since 1960 and tied for the best to-date.  This is a really, really great year for lead actor.  It’s not a knock on Tom Hanks that his Oscar-winning performance is 8th on my list.
Because I factor out multiple nominations when calculating the Oscar Score (I can’t dock the Academy for not nominating performances that can’t be nominated because of their rules), the Oscar Score for this category is 97.4, the highest since the perfect scores in 1978 and 1979.
This is the only Nighthawk nom for Liam Neeson.  It’s the second nom for Kenneth Branagh.  It’s the third nom for Kevin Costner.  It’s the fourth and fifth noms for Daniel Day-Lewis and his second win.  It’s the sixth and seventh noms for Anthony Hopkins.
The fifth Consensus nominee is David Thewlis (Naked), who is my #13.

  • Best Actress
  1. Emma Thompson (The Remains of the Day)  *
  2. Holly Hunter  (The Piano)  **
  3. Emma Thompson  (Much Ado About Nothing)
  4. Juliette Binoche  (Three Colors: Blue)
  5. Debra Winger  (Shadowlands)  *
  6. Michelle Pfeiffer  (The Age of Innocence)
  7. Angela Bassett  (What’s Love Got to Do With It)  *
  8. Tilda Swinton  (Orlando)
  9. Stockard Channing  (Six Degrees of Separation)  *
  10. Hiep Thi Le  (Heaven and Earth)
  11. Debra Winger  (A Dangerous Woman)
  12. Lisa Harrow  (The Last Days of Chez Nous)

Analysis:  Because of the multiple nominations for Emma Thompson, Michelle Pfeiffer earns a Nighthawk nom.
The best Top 5 since 1983 and tied with several years for the second best to-date.
Because I factor out multiple nominations when calculating the Oscar Score (I can’t dock the Academy for not nominating performances that can’t be nominated because of their rules), the Oscar Score for this category is 94.4, the highest since 1984.
It’s the first Nighthawk nomination for Juliette Binoche.  It’s the second nom for Debra Winger, a decade after her first.  It’s also the second nom for Holly Hunter, who won her first nom.  It’s the second straight nom for Michelle Pfeiffer and her fourth overall.  It’s the second straight win for Emma Thompson and her third and fourth nominations.
Everyone is in agreement in the Holly Hunter Consensus win (9 award sweep).  So why do I pick Thompson?  Because I think Thompson’s role is more complex, the simultaneous revelation and repression of emotions.  It is nothing against Hunter’s performance, which is also amazing.  Thompson doesn’t pick up a Consensus nomination because she wasn’t nominated for anything for Much Ado.

  • fiennes-schindlerBest Supporting Actor:
  1. Ralph Fiennes  (Schindler’s List)  **
  2. Michael Keaton  (Much Ado About Nothing)
  3. Pete Postlethwaite  (In the Name of the Father)  *
  4. Tommy Lee Jones  (The Fugitive)  *
  5. Leonardo DiCaprio  (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape)  *
  6. John Malkovich  (In the Line of Fire)  *
  7. Denzel Washington  (Much Ado About Nothing)
  8. Sean Penn  (Carlito’s Way)
  9. Christopher Lloyd  (Twenty Bucks)
  10. Richard Jordan  (Gettysburg)
  11. Haing S. Ngor  (Heaven and Earth)
  12. James Fox  (The Remains of the Day)

Analysis:  The Oscar Score is an impressive 97.1, the highest since the perfect score in 1988.
These are the first Nighthawk nominations for Pete Postlethwaite, Tommy Lee Jones and Leo.  It’s the second nom for Michael Keaton.  It’s the first nom (and win) for Ralph Fiennes, but he will win again and earn three more noms before the end of the decade.
To me, Ralph Fiennes wins this by a mile.  He does win the Consensus convincingly, with the highest Consensus score to-date for someone who doesn’t win the Oscar (he’s third even today, without the benefit of BFCA or SAG awards existing yet) and the third highest to-date at all.  It is still quite possibly the most chilling portrait of evil ever put on screen.

  • winona-ryder-ageBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Winona Ryder  (The Age of Innocence)  *
  2. Emma Thompson  (In the Name of the Father)
  3. Anna Paquin  (The Piano)  *
  4. Embeth Davidtz  (Schindler’s List)
  5. Gong Li  (Farewell My Concubine)  *
  6. Holly Hunter  (The Firm)  *
  7. Miriam Margolyes  (The Age of Innocence)  *
  8. Julianne Moore  (Short Cuts)
  9. Laura Dern  (A Perfect World)
  10. Gwyneth Paltrow  (Flesh and Bone)
  11. Rosie Perez  (Fearless)  **
  12. Lili Taylor  (Household Saints)

Analysis:  The best Top 5 since 1986 and tied for the best Top 5 to-date.  The Oscar Score is also over 90, making this the first year since 1972 that all four acting categories break 90.
This is the only Nighthawk nomination for Embeth Davidtz.  It’s the first nom for Anna Paquin.  It’s the second straight nom for Gong Li.  It’s Winona Ryder’s second nom and the first of three in four years.  Counting the two above, it’s the fifth nomination for Emma Thompson and her fifth in just three years.
There’s not a lot of consensus.  Winona Ryder is the only one to earn Oscar, BAFTA and Globe noms but she only wins the Globe (and the NBR).  Rosie Perez wins two critics awards and earns Oscar and Globe noms.  Anna Paquin wins the LAFC (in a tie with Perez) and the Oscar and earns a Globe nom.  The three of them are in a tight race at the top.

  • Best Editing:
  1. Schindler’s List
  2. The Age of Innocence
  3. Nightmare Before Christmas
  4. Much Ado About Nothing
  5. A Perfect World
  6. Three Colors: Blue
  7. In the Line of Fire
  8. In the Name of the Father
  9. Hard-Boiled
  10. Jurassic Park
  11. The Fugitive
  12. The Remains of the Day

Analysis:  This is another strong category, which is why the Oscar nominees are pushed down.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. Schindler’s List  **
  2. The Age of Innocence
  3. Three Colors: Blue
  4. Much Ado About Nothing
  5. The Piano  *
  6. The Remains of the Day
  7. Farewell My Concubine
  8. Heaven and Earth  *
  9. Hard-Boiled
  10. Jurassic Park
  11. The Fugitive  *
  12. In the Line of Fire

Analysis:  Schindler’s List becomes the first film to win 6 Cinematography awards, yet it loses the ASC to Searching for Bobby Fischer.  Its records for nominations, wins and Consensus points will all stand until 2011.
Michael Ballhaus earns his third Nighthawk nom, all working with Martin Scorsese; there will be a nine year gap before he earns a fourth because there is a nine year gap before he works with Scorsese again.  Janusz Kaminski earns his first nom and first win (he’ll earn another win and a third nom this decade, all with Spielberg).

  • Best Original Score:
  1. Schindler’s List
  2. Much Ado About Nothing
  3. Jurassic Park
  4. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  5. Three Colors: Blue
  6. My Neighbor Totoro
  7. Heaven and Earth
  8. Olivier Olivier
  9. The Piano
  10. The Remains of the Day
  11. The Age of Innocence
  12. Army of Darkness

Analysis:  Zbiegniew Preisner earns the first of back-to-back nominations (for the same trilogy).  Patrick Doyle earns his first nomination (Much Ado), the first of three in four years.  Danny Elfman earns his third nom and the first of three in four years.
After a year off, John Williams earns two noms.  He wins his 7th Nighthawk and earns his 17th nomination, both records.  He’s now at 650 points, 200 more than any other composer.  Schindler’s List also won Williams his fifth Oscar over a decade after he won his fourth.
The best Top 5 in four years and tied for the fourth best top 5 to-date.

  • Best Sound:
  1. Jurassic Park
  2. Schindler’s List
  3. Nightmare Before Christmas
  4. The Fugitive
  5. Hard-Boiled
  6. In the Line of Fire
  7. Geronimo: An American Legend
  8. Gettysburg
  9. In the Name of the Father
  10. Dead Alive
  11. Army of Darkness
  12. Heaven and Earth
  • MSDAGOF EC006Best Art Direction:
  1. The Age of Innocence
  2. Schindler’s List
  3. The Remains of the Day
  4. Farewell My Concubine
  5. Much Ado About Nothing
  6. Orlando
  7. Strictly Ballroom
  8. The Secret Garden
  9. Gettysburg
  10. Addams Family Values
  11. Short Cuts
  12. Shadowlands

Analysis:  The best Top 5 to-date.  It kills me to have to pick between Age of Innocence and Schindler’s List, but the competition between #3-5 is also pretty fierce.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. Jurassic Park
  2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  3. Army of Darkness
  4. The Fugitive
  5. The Heroic Trio

Analysis:  The best Top 5 since 1984 and tied for the second best to-date.
The clip below, by the way, not only shows why Jurassic Park is my winner for Visual Effects, but also why it wins Sound Editing and Sound, is #3 in Original Score and is in the Top 10 for both Editing and Cinematography.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. Jurassic Park
  2. Hard-Boiled
  3. Nightmare Before Christmas
  4. Schindler’s List
  5. The Fugitive
  6. In the Line of Fire
  7. Army of Darkness
  8. Dead Alive
  9. Gettysburg
  10. The Heroic Trio
  11. Cliffhanger
  12. Geronimo: An American Legend

Analysis:  The best Top 5 in four years and tied for the second best to-date.

  • age-of-innocence-5-copy_0Best Costume Design:
  1. The Age of Innocence
  2. Schindler’s List
  3. Farewell My Concubine
  4. Much Ado About Nothing
  5. Orlando
  6. The Remains of the Day
  7. Gettysburg
  8. The Piano
  9. Strictly Ballroom
  10. Germinal
  11. Geronimo: An American Legend
  12. Tombstone

Analysis:  Just like with Art Direction, the best Top 5 to-date.

  • farewell-my-concubineBest Makeup
  1. Farewell My Concubine
  2. Army of Darkness
  3. Philadelphia
  4. Schindler’s List
  5. The Age of Innocence
  6. Dead Alive
  7. Orlando
  8. Addams Family Values
  9. Strictly Ballroom
  10. Mrs. Doubtfire
  11. Geronimo: An American Legend
  12. Gettysburg

Analysis:  At #10, Mrs. Doubtfire is the lowest ranked Oscar winner in this category to-date.  I don’t know what the Academy was thinking, especially since they didn’t even nominate Farewell My Concubine.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. “Thief of Your Heart”  (In the Name of the Father)
  2. Stay (Faraway, So Close)”  (Faraway, So Close)
  3. Streets of Philadelphia”  (Philadelphia)
  4. What’s This”  (The Nightmare Before Christmas)
  5. In the Name of the Father”  (In the Name of the Father)
  6. This is Halloween”  (The Nightmare Before Christmas)
  7. Lovetown”  (Philadelphia)
  8. Totoro”  (My Neighbor Totoro)
  9. Go Go Go”  (My Neighbor Totoro)
  10. Jack’s Lament”  (The Nightmare Before Christmas)
  11. Billy Boola”  (In the Name of the Father)
  12. Kidnap the Santa Claus”  (The Nightmare Before Christmas)

Analysis:  Oscars.org lists songs from different films.  It lists 54 songs from 33 different films.  I have seen 22 of those films, accounting for 39 songs (including all five films with more than two songs).  This is definitely one year, though, where I took that list and threw it out the window.  That’s because neither of the top two songs were listed, even though they both earned Globe noms and both were written for their respective films.  No songs were listed for The Nightmare Before Christmas or Totoro.  So I said the hell with it.  But, even factoring out all those songs not listed at oscars.org, the Oscar Score is a dreadful 38.7, the lowest since 1979.
The song “Philadelpia” by Neil Young, which was also Oscar nominated, is my #13.  There is no #14 – I don’t even think the nominated songs from Poetic Justice, Beethoven’s 2nd and Sleepless in Seattle are worth putting on my list at all.
Tied for the second best Top 5 to-date with several other years.

  • totoroBest Animated Film:
  1. My Neighbor Totoro
  2. Nightmare Before Christmas  *

Analysis:  Mighty River, a Documentary Short (neither of which do I count) wins the Consensus by winning the LAFC.  Because of eligibility strangeness, Aladdin wins the Annie.
The best Top 5 to-date, namely because there are actually two **** films.  There won’t be a better year until 1999 when there starts being more than two nominees by which point there will also be a lot more eligible films.  The full list of eligible films is down below, of course.
By the way, I can’t stress how much we love Totoro.  We have a book on the art, we have a Totoro blanket, Thomas has a Totoro shirt, I have a Totoro shirt, Thomas has a Totoro hat (one of two he has owned), Thomas has a plush Totoro, he also has a little 100 piece Totoro puzzle he got in his stocking a few years ago, Veronica (who first introduced me to Totoro and Studio Ghibli) has a Totoro sweatshirt, a Catbus keychain and she also has a Totoro tape dispenser that I gave her for Christmas a couple of years ago.  Most of those items we got at Anime Zakka in the Garage at Harvard Square, a great place to pick up such things.

  • blueBest Foreign Film:
  1. Three Colors: Blue
  2. The Scent of Green Papaya
  3. The Wedding Banquet  *
  4. The Heroic Trio
  5. Madadayo
  6. Farewell My Concubine  **
  7. Cronos
  8. Fiorile
  9. The Bride with White Hair 2
  10. Belle Epoque  *
  11. The Bride with White Hair
  12. El Mariachi
  13. The Executioners

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

Analysis:  I listed The Executioners because it’s the last film on my list and it’s rare to have a list in this category that runs all the way to #13.
Farewell My Concubine was a film I had to re-watch and this time I bumped it up.  The first time I watched it, back in 1994, I really didn’t care for it (in some of the same ways that I also don’t care for The Piano).  It sets new Consensus records for points, wins (6) and nominations (7), all of which will be broken in 1999.  It still has the second most points for a film that didn’t win the Oscar.
I have my first nomination from Vietnam (with my first film from Vietnam).  I have my third straight nominee from Hong Kong (also my last until 2004).  I have my second of three straight nominations from Taiwan (all directed by Ang Lee).  I have my last of six straight years with a nominee from Japan.  After a year off without a nomination, France gets its first win since 1987.
Ang Lee earns his second nomination.  Krzysztof Kieslowski earns his second nomination and first win.  Akira Kurosawa earns his 21st nomination and goes up to 600 points, extending his lead in 1st place all-time.  It is also his final nomination (and indeed, final film).
Lead by two **** films, it’s the best Top 5 in four years.  But, with a list extending all the way to 13 places, it’s the best Top 10 since 1963 and the 7th best to-date.

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.

  • Schindler’s List  (630)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Sound Editing, Costume Design, Makeup
  • The Age of Innocence   (395)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup
  • Much Ado About Nothing  (305)
    • Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design
  • In the Name of the Father  (295)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Song, Original Song
  • A Perfect World  (235)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Editing
  • The Remains of the Day  (165)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Art Direction
  • Three Colors: Blue  (160)
    • Original Screenplay, Actress, Cinematography, Original Score, Foreign Film
  • Jurassic Park  (145)
    • Original Score, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas  (140)
    • Editing, Original Score, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Original Song, Animated Film
  • My Neighbor Totoro  (120)
    • Original Screenplay, Animated Film, Foreign Film (1988)
  • Shadowlands  (110)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • The Piano  (90)
    • Actress, Supporting Actress, Original Score
  • The Fugitive  (90)
    • Supporting Actor, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Farewell My Concubine  (85)
    • Supporting Actress, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup
  • Hard-Boiled  (60)
    • Sound, Sound Editing, Foreign Film (1992)
  • In the Line of Fire  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Groundhog Day  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • The Heroic Trio  (40)
    • Visual Effects, Foreign Film
  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Army of Darkness  (30)
    • Visual Effects, Makeup
  • Philadelphia  (30)
    • Makeup, Original Song
  • Like Water for Chocolate  (25)
    • Foreign Film
  • The Wedding Banquet  (25)
    • Foreign Film
  • Orlando  (15)
    • Costume Design
  • Faraway, So Close  (10)
    • Original Song

Analysis:  There are six fewer films than the year before; its the fewest films on the list since 1983.  The winners in this year, as a whole, are the best to-date.  The second place finishers, as a whole, are also the best to-date.  In a whopping 10 categories, the second place finishers earn my highest rating, which means that the competition for winning the awards is very tough.  The difference between the winners and the second-place finishers, on the whole, is the closest to-date.  Overall, the acting is the best to-date, surpassing the great year of 1950.  The overall average among all categories is tied with 1989 for the best to-date.  Schindler’s List has the most nominations since 1985.

Best Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Menace II Society

Analysis:  This film, which kind of got lost in the mix coming two years after Boyz N the Hood is excellent.  It’s my #12 film of the year and has five Top 20 finishes but its highest is #8 (Original Screenplay).

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

  • The Last Days of Chez Nous

Analysis:  A very good Australian film and my #26.  In this year that’s crowded with very good films there are three others that don’t earn any Top 10 finishes: Naked, El Mariachi and King of the Hill.

Biggest Awards Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Strictly Ballroom

Analysis:  The directing debut of Baz Luhrmann is very good (my #30) and has three Top 10 finishes but none higher than the 7th for Art Direction.  It was a big hit at the BAFTAs (8 noms, 3 wins) and also was nominated for Best Picture – Comedy / Musical at the Globes.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture
  1. Schindler’s List
  2. The Age of Innocence
  3. In the Name of the Father
  4. A Perfect World
  5. The Remains of the Day

Analysis:  For the second year in a row, the 5th nominee is my #6 film overall, is a Merchant / Ivory film and stars Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins.
The Age of Innocence is the best film not to win in this category since Paths of Glory in 1957.  Overall, it’s the second best Top 5 since 1980.
This list is followed, in order by: My Neighbor Totoro, Three Colors: Blue, Shadowlands, In the Line of Fire, Menace II Society (all ****), Jurassic Park, The Piano, Like Water for Chocolate, Hard-Boiled, The Fugitive, The Heroic Trio, Philadelphia, Farewell My Concubine, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Last Days of Chez Nous, Naked, El Mariachi, King of the Hill and Un Couer en Hiver.

  • Best Director
  1. Steven Spielberg  (Schindler’s List)
  2. Martin Scorsese  (The Age of Innocence)
  3. Jim Sheridan  (In the Name of the Father)
  4. Clint Eastwood  (A Perfect World)
  5. James Ivory  (The Remains of the Day)

Analysis:  Jim Sheridan earns his first Drama nomination.  James Ivory and Clint Eastwood earn their second noms.  Martin Scorsese earns his seventh nom and goes up to 405 points.  Spielberg earns his sixth nom but also his third win and he also goes up to 405 points.  Both Spielberg and Scorsese tie Orson Welles and John Huston for 7th place in Drama points.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Schindler’s List
  2. The Age of Innocence
  3. The Remains of the Day
  4. In the Name of the Father
  5. Shadowlands

Analysis:  This Top 5 beats out 1957 as the best to-date.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. A Perfect World
  2. My Neighbor Totoro
  3. Three Colors: Blue
  4. In the Line of Fire
  5. Philadelphia

Analysis:  Hayao Miyazaki earns his third Drama writing nomination.

  • in-the-name-of-the-father-ddlBest Actor:
  1. Daniel Day-Lewis  (In the Name of the Father)
  2. Anthony Hopkins  (The Remains of the Day)
  3. Anthony Hopkins  (Shadowlands)
  4. Daniel Day-Lewis  (The Age of Innocence)
  5. Liam Neeson  (Schindler’s List)

Analysis:  This Top 5 ties 1951 as the best Top 5 to-date.
This is the first Drama nom for Liam Neeson.  These are the sixth and seventh noms for Daniel Day-Lewis and his second win.  It’s the seventh and eighth noms for Anthony Hopkins and he moves up to 335 Drama points and into the Top 10.
Between 1986 and 1997, Daniel Day-Lewis will earn nine Drama noms and Anthony Hopkins will earn seven but this is the only time the two will directly compete with one another.

  • emma-remainsBest Actress
  1. Emma Thompson (The Remains of the Day)
  2. Holly Hunter  (The Piano)
  3. Juliette Binoche  (Three Colors: Blue)
  4. Debra Winger  (Shadowlands)
  5. Michelle Pfeiffer  (The Age of Innocence)

Analysis:  This is the best Top 5 since 1974.
Ironically, Debra Winger was the fifth Globe nominee; she was nominated for A Dangerous Woman.
This is the first Drama nom for Juliette Binoche.  It’s the second nom for Holly Hunter.  It’s the third nom for Debra Winger.  It’s also the third nom for Michelle Pfeiffer, who won her previous two.  It’s the third straight nom for Emma Thompson and the second of back-to-back wins.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Ralph Fiennes  (Schindler’s List)
  2. Pete Postlethwaite  (In the Name of the Father)
  3. Tommy Lee Jones  (The Fugitive)
  4. Leonardo DiCaprio  (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape)
  5. John Malkovich  (In the Line of Fire)

Analysis:  These are the first Drama noms for Pete Postlethwaite, Tommy Lee Jones and Leo.  It’s the second nom for John Malkovich.  It’s the first nom and win for Ralph Fiennes but by the end of the decade he will have three wins and five noms.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Winona Ryder  (The Age of Innocence)
  2. Emma Thompson  (In the Name of the Father)
  3. Anna Paquin  (The Piano)
  4. Embeth Davidtz  (Schindler’s List)
  5. Gong Li  (Farewell My Concubine)

Analysis:  This Top 5 beats out 1946 as the best Top 5 to-date.
This is the only Drama nom for Embeth Davidtz.  It’s the first nom for Anna Paquin and Winona Ryder.  It’s the second straight nom for Gong Li.  It’s Emma Thompson’s fourth nom in three years.

  • Schindler’s List  (395)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • In the Name of the Father  (265)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Age of Innocence  (265)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress
  • The Remains of the Day  (240)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • A Perfect World  (175)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay
  • Shadowlands  (110)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • Three Colors: Blue  (85)
    • Original Screenplay, Actress
  • In the Line of Fire  (70)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • The Piano  (65)
    • Actress, Supporting Actress
  • My Neighbor Totoro  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Philadelphia  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • The Fugitive  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Farewell My Concubine  (30)
    • Supporting Actress

Analysis:  The four Drama acting categories are the best to-date, beating out 1950.  The major categories (Picture, Director, writing) ties 1989 for the best to-date.  Which means, of course, that overall, this is the best to-date in Drama as a whole.

Best Drama Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Menace II Society

Analysis:  As I wrote above, it’s my #12, but with only two Comedies above it, the only category it comes close in is Original Screenplay where it finishes just outside the Top 5.

Comedy / Musical:

  • Best Picture
  1. Much Ado About Nothing
  2. Nightmare Before Christmas
  3. The Wedding Banquet
  4. Short Cuts
  5. Groundhog Day

Analysis:  Only the top two films are ****, though the next three are all high ***.5.  The other ***.5 films are The Snapper, The Match Factory Girl, Army of Darkness and Strictly Ballroom.  While many years have no films that earn a 75 (the very highest *** and just one point below making my list) this year is notable in having three Comedies that earn a 75 and fall just below the list: Six Degrees of Separation, Dave and Hot Shots! Part Deux.

  • Best Director
  1. Kenneth Branagh  (Much Ado About Nothing)
  2. Robert Altman  (Short Cuts)
  3. Ang Lee  (The Wedding Banquet)
  4. Baz Luhrmann  (Strictly Ballroom)
  5. Sam Raimi  (Army of Darkness)

Analysis:  It’s the only Comedy nom for Sam Raimi.  It’s the only Comedy nom (and win) for Kenneth Branagh.  Ang Lee earns his first Comedy nom but he’ll earn another the following year.  Baz Luhrmann earns his first Comedy nom but he’ll win this award in 2001.  Robert Altman, on the other hand, earns his second straight nom and his fourth overall; he moves up to 270 points and a six way tie for 7th place.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. The Snapper
  2. Much Ado About Nothing
  3. Short Cuts
  4. Six Degrees of Separation
  5. Hot Shots! Part Deux

Analysis:  With a full five on the list for once, this is the best Top 5 in this category since 1972.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Groundhog Day
  2. Nightmare Before Christmas
  3. The Wedding Banquet
  4. Dave
  5. The Match Factory Girl

Analysis:  The Match Factory Girl is an Aki Kaurismaki film, a bizarre but fun filmmaker you should definitely be aware of.

  • much-ado-about-nothing-4-1sm12noBest Actor:
  1. Kenneth Branagh  (Much Ado About Nothing)
  2. Laurence Fishburne  (What’s Love Got to Do With It)
  3. Colm Meaney  (The Snapper)
  4. Bill Murray  (Groundhog Day)
  5. Johnny Depp  (Benny and Joon)

Analysis:  The best Top 5 in five years.  In spite of that the Globes nominated Tom Hanks (Sleepless in Seattle) and gave the award to Robin Williams (Mrs. Doubtfire).  Their fifth nominee was at least a good choice: Kevin Kline (Dave) who was my #6.  The Williams win is not only stupid but odd, in that Fishburne wasn’t nominated at the Globes but earned an Oscar nom; that makes this the first time since 1973 that a Comedy winner failed to be nominated at the Oscars while someone who was eligible in Comedy failed to be nominated at the Globes but was nominated at the Oscars.
These are the only Comedy noms for Laurence Fishburne and Colm Meaney.  It’s the first for Kenneth Branagh.  It’s the second nom for Johnny Depp and the first of three straight noms.  It’s the fourth nom for Bill Murray.

  • Best Actress
  1. Emma Thompson  (Much Ado About Nothing)
  2. Angela Bassett  (What’s Love Got to Do With It)
  3. Stockard Channing  (Six Degrees of Separation)
  4. Kati Outinen  (The Match Factory Girl)
  5. Meg Ryan  (Sleepless in Seattle)

Analysis:  There’s a big drop off after the top three, but this is still the best Top 5 in four years.  Emma Thompson is the best winner in this category since Holly Hunter in 1987.
These are the only Comedy noms for Angela Bassett, Stockard Channing and Kati Outinen.  It’s the second nom for both Emma Thompson and Meg Ryan.
Just remember that the Globes, rather than nominate Thompson’s magnificent performance, went with Diane Keaton (Manhattan Murder Mystery) and Anjelica Huston (Addams Family Values).

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Michael Keaton  (Much Ado About Nothing)
  2. Denzel Washington  (Much Ado About Nothing)
  3. Frank Langella  (Dave)

Analysis:  Michael Keaton is the best winner in this category since Kevin Kline in 1988.
This is Denzel Washington’s first Comedy nom (and quite possibly his only one).  It’s the second nom for Frank Langella, 23 years after his first as well as the second for Michael Keaton.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Julianne Moore  (Short Cuts)

Analysis:  Julianne Moore is the weakest winner since 1981, but at least I was able to get someone in this category.  It’s her first Comedy nom but she will earn three more before the end of the decade.

  • Much Ado About Nothing  (460)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor
  • Short Cuts  (195)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress
  • Groundhog Day  (165)
    • Picture, Original Screenplay, Actor
  • The Wedding Banquet  (135)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay
  • The Snapper  (115)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas  (90)
    • Picture, Original Screenplay
  • Six Degress of Separation  (75)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actress
  • The Match Factory Girl  (75)
    • Original Screenplay, Actress
  • Dave  (70)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • What’s Love Got to Do With It  (70)
    • Actor, Actress
  • Army of Darkness  (45)
    • Director
  • Strictly Ballroom  (45)
    • Director
  • Hot Shots! Part Deux  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • Benny & Joon  (35)
    • Actor
  • Sleepless in Seattle  (35)
    • Actress

Analysis:  Much Ado may have gone winless in the regular Nighthawk Awards, but it dominates the Comedy awards, earning by far the most points of any Comedy in the entire decade.

Best Comedy Not Nominated for any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Dead Alive

Analysis:  Peter Jackson does a zombie comedy years before Shaun of the Dead, but there is more emphasis on gore and less on romance.  It’s not quite as good as Shaun either, ending up as a high ***.  It’s #13 among Comedies and #46 overall.

Roundup for the Year in Film:

Eligible Films I Have Seen:  174

By Stars:

  • ****:  12
  • ***.5:  21
  • ***:  68
  • **.5:  36
  • **:  23
  • *.5:  6
  • *:  5
  • .5:  3
  • 0:  0
  • Average Film Score for the Year, out of 100:  61.94

Analysis:  The average goes back up by almost two points.  That’s because of the large rise in ***.5 films and the big drop in ** films.  For the first time since 1948, the ***.5 films account for more than 12%.  But the *** films account for only 39.08%, the lowest since 1980.  The great and very good films account for 18.97%, the highest since 1960.  The awful films (* or below) account for only 4.60%, the lowest since 1973.

My Year at the Theater

Introduction:  This was initially going to be listed in movie release order, like the previous few years.  But what happens is that in September I start dating again after a mostly lonely and miserable Freshman year split between Brandeis and Pacific.  Attempting to write about the films in the order they were released didn’t work – for this year I absolute have to put them in the order I saw them, which I can do thanks to the datebook I bought in March of that year.

  • National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1  –  I remember seeing this film and I suspect I saw it by myself.  I remember that it had very few laughs.  I remember basically nothing else and haven’t seen it since.
  • Groundhog Day  –  Somehow I didn’t see this until its sixth weekend, the day before I went back to Orange for Spring Break.  But then I saw it again during Spring Break with John Ramirez.  We came out and turned on the car and “I Got You Babe” was actually on the radio (we had left it on K-Earth 101, the oldies station in LA) and we started freaking out.  It was just too weird.  A better film than any film I saw in 1992 in the theaters before August.
  • Falling Down  –  I saw this on 24 March, just before watching Groundhog Day (both at the Century Cinedome, where John had worked during high school).  John and I both felt that the notion of “normal guy goes nuts because of too many little things” was undermined by having the Michael Douglas character having a violent history.
  • Point of No Return  –  I had seen La Femme Nikita over the great Thanksgiving weekend of 1992 and was interested in the remake.  I saw this with my closest high school friends (Jay, John, Sean, Scott) my last night in Orange for Spring Break in its second weekend.  It was okay.  Never seen it since.
  • Dave  –  I barely knew anyone my first semester at Pacific and so didn’t really get out to the movies much.  I saw this on its third weekend as school was ending.  It was another sign that this was a much better year than 1992.
  • Jurassic Park  –  When I was in the John Wayne Airport on my way back from Spring Break on 29 March I decided I should read some popular fiction so I bought several books that film versions coming out: Jurassic Park, Rising Sun and The Pelican Brief.  I loved Jurassic Park (still do), didn’t love Rising Sun but was intrigued (I quickly read all of Crichton) and enjoyed The Pelican Brief enough to read the other Grisham books, though I would abandon him after the double whammy suckiness of The Client and The Chamber.  By the time Jurassic Park came out, I was working graveyard at a cannery and it was hard to get to the movies during the week, so I saw this on the Sunday of opening weekend at the Forest Theater (this theater, amazingly, still exists).  It didn’t have very many reel plates (is that what those are called?) so there was actually an intermission in the film so they could switch reels.
  • Hot Shots! Part Deux  –  As mentioned in the 1992 post, I saw The Crying Game in early April at the old Tanasbourne Mall in Beaverton.  They tore it down soon after and built a new big theater across the street (in Hillsboro): the Evergreen Parkway Theater.  My datebook doesn’t list me seeing Hot Shots! Part Deux but I remember going to see it on the grand opening day because The Firm wasn’t out yet and I had already seen Jurassic Park, so it must have been between 13 June and 30 June.
  • The Firm  –  I’ve always been a big Tom Cruise fan and was really excited about this – I had read the novel by this point and it also had Gene Hackman and Cruise’s wife was being played by Jeanne Tripplehorn who I had been captivated by in Basic Instinct.  The problem was that the book has a kind of stupid ending and the film decided to go with a different, only slightly less stupid ending.  It just peters out.  Box Office Mojo lists the opening day as 2 July but my datebook has it down as the Wednesday, 30 June (so does the IMDb).
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights  –  I must have seen a special preview of this because I saw it on 29 July, the day before the listed opening day.  It has a couple of great moments (I remember every guy in the theater flinched at the sign “Circumcisions: Now Half Off”) but otherwise, is late era Mel Brooks, which isn’t a compliment.
  • Rising Sun  –  I was excited and confused by this at the same time since the hero of the book was clearly white but Wesley Snipes was playing him.  That would have been fine if Snipes wasn’t such a crappy actor.  This film sits just outside my bottom 10 for the year, though I don’t think I’ve seen it since opening day (30 July).
  • img_1503The Fugitive  –  As is obvious from the picture, I was very excited about this.  It was mostly about Harrison Ford, since I had never seen an episode of the original show (they would air the first and the two-part final episodes on television, but not until 26 August, though I recorded them and still have that videocassette).  It’s a very good film, but I was a little surprised that it ended up earning a Best Picture nomination.
  • Needful Things  –  The worst film I saw in a theater that year and probably one of the worst I have ever seen in the theater.  Yet, chronologically, an important film for me because this was when I started dating again.  I had met Rebecca on 3 September.  It turned out we were both kind of damaged goods at the time, both of us having fallen for people who were directly in front of us all the time but were also, in a sense, unattainable.  We went to dinner that night and we went to Needful Things the next night (a week after it opened), because, hey, what’s more romantic than a really bad Stephen King adaptation?  I had read the book and wanted to see it and didn’t realize how bad it would be.  This was my first date in a long time and it should have lead to something and that it didn’t had partially to do with Rebecca’s own choices, partially to do with my unattainable (and that I had become friends with her unattainable), but mostly due to the fact that the day before I met Rebecca, I met Deborah Quay.
  • Much Ado About Nothing  –  Deborah Quay was the love of my college life who I am absolutely not bitter about.  I was one of four guys who started pursuing her from the start (a fact mentioned in my datebook on 12 September) but I was the first to land an actual date with her and I took her to see Much Ado About Nothing, figuring Shakespeare was a much better choice than Stephen King.  That was on 10 September, some four months after this film had been released.  The choice to take her to this is reflected in several pieces of fiction and non-fiction I have written.  Taking someone to a Shakespeare film on a first date says a lot about me.
  • Malice  –  That I went for a drive with Deb on 8 October, then was up talking to Kari Panger until 5 AM and the next day started dating Kari says more about Deb and I than it does about Kari and I.  It also says that if I couldn’t be with Deb, then I could at least be with Kari, which does not reflect well upon me, as has been pointed out by pretty much every person who knew me in 1993 or has known me since.  This wasn’t our first date (that was bowling and dinner) but after we were already entrenched as a “couple” among our friends (when we told our friend Jenn Murray that we were together it was very much like the moment in Scrubs when Laverne is asked if she know about J.D. and Elliot and Laverne says that she knew before they did), the weekend after we started dating.  This was the only film Kari and I saw while a couple originally (which lasted two weeks) though our relationship would last on and off for the next three years and we would see a lot of movies together.  I remember very little about it and haven’t seen it since.
  • So I Married an Axe Murderer  –  I had become good friends with George by this time (who, second semester would become my roommate).  But he had been dating my friend Lisa and then cheated on her.  So, to cheer up Lisa, her roommate Jenn and Jenn’s boyfriend and I took her to the movies.  George had claimed to Lisa that he just wasn’t ready to commit (which was partially true, but it was really the cheating that was key) which I mention because in this film, Mike Myers dumps Harriet claiming that he’s not ready to commit, at which point, Lisa, who was sitting next to me, tried to strangle me for bringing her to this.  Since I hadn’t seen it beforehand, it’s not really my fault.  The lines “Harriet, Harriet, hard-hearted harbinger of haggis” are still stuck in my head after over 20 years even though I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the whole film again.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas  –  On November 12 several friends went to dinner together.  I was not invited (Deb was because it was at her roommate’s parents’ house), so I went with Justin, another friend who wasn’t invited, and we walked over to see this at the Forest Theater.  Loved it.  Still love it.
  • Sleepless in Seattle  –  This had come out in June but I skipped it because it looked dumb (turns out it was dumb).  My high school friend Cody, who was going to U of O, came to our house for Thanksgiving.  He and my younger sister and I went to see this before dinner on Thanksgiving at a second run theater in Beaverton.
  • A Perfect World  –  This came out the day after Thanksgiving and I convinced Cody to go see it.  He hated it (as have others I have known because of the moral ambiguity), I loved it.  Still think it’s one of the best films of the year and greatly under-appreciated.
  • The Three Musketeers  –  On 10 December, after my Poli Sci Final, I went to the movies with Deb, her roommate, her roommate’s boyfriend and a high school friend of her roommate who was in love with her and, for good measure, tried to put moves on Deb.  My datebook doesn’t list the movie but it has to be this because it’s the only film I saw in the theater that’s unaccounted for.  Good god did it suck.
  • Mrs. Doubtfire  –  Outvoted by my family, this was the “family movie” for this year, which we all went to on 26 December.  How much I dislike it will be made clear down in the Golden Globes Best Picture – Comedy / Musical piece.
  • The Age of Innocence  –  Emily had been one of George’s hook-ups before Lisa.  She was a nice girl and had relatives in Forest Grove so she stuck around during Christmas and she and I went to see this on a date on 27 December.  Another potential relationship that would have probably been a better move than pining for Deb while dating Kari.  This was my #1 movie of the year for one day, though for the next several years, the two films would bounce back and forth.
  • Schindler’s List  –  I saw this on 28 December, the first film I ever went all the way into Portland to the Lloyd Center to see (by myself).  My #1 film of the year.
  • The Piano  –  I was in an awards groove, with the Globe nominees already announced.  This was three Best Picture nominees in as many days when I saw this (by myself) on 29 December.  I remember getting a ride with my parents into Portland and while they were doing something else, I went and saw this, I think at the KOIN Center.  I still don’t get it.
  • Carlito’s Way  –  I went to see this in a theater in downtown Portland that no longer exists on New Year’s Day then went to pick up my sister at the airport.  I remember seeing the trailer for In the Name of the Father when I saw this, and since it used my favorite song in the trailer (“Pride”), I was hooked and ready for it.
  • Heaven and Earth  –  I saw this on 9 January with Jenn, Lisa, Jacob and our friend Jodi.  We were all interested because this was Oliver Stone back when he was still a really big deal.  This was a big disappointment however and more than a big bummer.
  • The Pelican Brief  –  Given that I had enjoyed the book and I have an established thing for Julia Roberts, I’m surprised it took me almost a month to see this, but it did (I saw it on 14 January).
  • Philadelphia  –  AIDS has always been a big issue with me.  I wrote my college application essay on And the Band Played On and for my 18th birthday, in lieu of presents, I had my family donate money to the Arthur Ashe Foundation.  So I was anxiously awaiting this and I went to see it (by myself) on 20 January, in its first week of wide release.
  • In the Name of the Father  –  Four months later, Deb and I finally get to a movie by ourselves again on a date for her 19th birthday (21 January).  Like the first date, it had Emma Thompson in it.  I was also keeping her out of her dorm room for a planned surprise party (note: she was very surprised).  This was the start of the second phase of mine and Deb’s relationship.
  • The Remains of the Day  –  Deb and I had a third date just five days later, seeing yet another Emma Thompson film.  This also meant I had seen all five Globe – Drama nominees (as it turned out, it also meant that for the first time I had seen all five eventual Oscar nominees before the nominations were announced which wouldn’t be until 9 February).  Then Deb went home for the break between January term and Spring semester.
  • Shadowlands  –  I went to see this with Lisa (whose roommate, Jenn was out of town) and Emily.  It made us all cry.  It starred my childhood crush and was about C.S. Lewis (I had grown up reading and rereading the Narnia books), so there was no way I was gonna miss this.  Then, I saw this again on 9 March when Brett Meyer and I kidnapped our friend Ali O’Grady and explained that if she didn’t take a break from studying and go with us to see Shadowlands and cry then we would duct-tape her and drag her along to it anyway.  She went willingly and we all went to see Shadowlands and cried.
  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape  –  This had a very slow release, helped by the Oscar nomination for Leo.  Deb and I saw this (our first date movie without Emma Thompson) on 11 April.  My datebook lists it as an excellent day but a considerable part of that is the INXS concert several of us went to that night.  By this point I had already seen two 1994 films.
  • Grumpy Old Men  –  Saw this on a date with Deb on 16 April.  A disappointing end to what was really a pretty good year at the movies.

Endnote:  That’s 12 more movies than the year before, but when you’re dating (especially different people) you go to more movies.  They are also better films.  In 1992, before August, I saw 12 films and they averaged 54.4.  This year, I only saw 10 and they averaged 60.8.  Overall, in 1992, the films I saw averaged 63.2 while here they average 69.3.  I saw all five Oscar nominees as well as several films nominated for acting.  I saw all of my Top 6 in the theater as well as 8 of my Top 10.  In 1992, I saw three four star films while here I saw three just on dates with Deb.

Oscar-Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • none

Oscar Quality:

Best Picture:  On the one hand, this year is 10th overall which also makes it the 4th best to this point.  That is phenomenal.  All five films are on my Best Picture list for the first time since 1982 and the Academy even caps it off by giving the Oscar to the best film for the third straight year.  The five nominees average a 91, the best to-date.  But, on the other hand, if the Academy had gone with The Age of Innocence rather than The Fugitive, which many thought they would, the average would be 93.8 and this year would be the best to-date and the 3rd best overall.

The Winners:  Among the nominees, the average winner ranks at 1.84, the same as the year before.  Eleven times the Academy made the best choice and only once did they give the Oscar to the worst choice.  But, for the second straight year, the acting winners average a 3.00 among the nominees, the worst since 1981.  But, with so many Tech Oscars to Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park, they average a 1.33.  But, among all films, the Academy is actually much improved over the year before, going down from 5.26 to 3.26.  That’s because only one winner is outside the Top 10 (Original Screenplay – #14) and it’s not that low.  Ten times I agree with the Academy completely and twice more they make the second best choice.  Only four categories have a winner that doesn’t at least earn a Nighthawk nomination (Original Screenplay, Actor, Makeup, Foreign Film).

The Nominees:  All four acting categories break 90 for an overall acting score of 95.2, the second highest ever (behind only 1972).  But the other categories can’t match up to that.  The major categories earn a 75.5, higher than the year before but lower than 1991.  The Tech score is a 77.6, lower than each of the last two years and none of the categories is higher than 88.1 (Art Direction).  The ends up with an overall score of 79.2, higher than any year prior to 1982 but lower than several years of the previous decade.

Golden Globe Best Picture – Comedy / Musical:  In between two strange years (1992 and 1994 each have four Top 150 nominees and a nominee not in the Top 300) we get a pretty terrible year.  This year ranks 42nd out of 66.  In a sense, it’s similar to the year before and year after, except there are just three Top 150 nominees (Much Ado About Nothing, Strictly Ballroom, Dave) and two films not in the Top 300 (Sleepless in Seattle, Mrs. Doubtfire) and the latter two of the good films barely make the Top 150.  This is the second weakest year since 1976 and there won’t be another this bad until 2006.  To top it all off, they gave the award to Mrs. Doubtfire, not only the weakest of the five nominees, but the weakest winner in Globes history.  If there really are people who think that Mrs. Doubtfire is a better film than Much Ado About Nothing, I would prefer not to think they get to vote on such awards.  This is the first time since 1989 and the last time to-date that the award has gone to the weakest film and is also the only film post-1974 to win the award while earning less than *** from me.  It’s questionable as to whether they would have considered Short Cuts a Comedy, but they passed up giving Best Picture nominations to The Snapper and Six Degrees of Separation, both of which earned acting nominations and would have been much better choices than Doubtfire or Sleepless.  They also passed over Groundhog Day for Picture and Actor which would have been a good choice in both and they could have been daring and given a Picture nom to Nightmare Before Christmas.  While there were only a couple of great films to choose from, there were several ***.5 and very high *** films that they could have gone with and they just botched it.

Top 5 Films of the Year:

1  –  Schindler’s List  (reviewed here)

Marty captures the artistic brilliance of 19th Century New York.

Marty captures the artistic brilliance of 19th Century New York.

2  –  The Age of Innocence  (dir. Martin Scorsese)

When this film was first announced it seemed an odd departure for Martin Scorsese.  This was a man who directed gangster films and films about male brutality and domination.  But, if you read page 897 of Inside Oscar, you begin to understand why Scorsese made this film.  Because this was a film about guilt and conscience (as it was put it to him by friend Jay Cocks), because it was about a group of people in New York who had formed their own closed-off society, because if you know about Marty, then you know one of the films he saw as a child that made an indelible impression on him was The Heiress and there are similarities between the two films and the societies they portray.  This was really a novel that was crying out to be made by Martin Scorsese, a film to reveal that he was more than what people were making of him.

And that’s what it should have been.  This should have been his return to the Oscar race, facing off against Steven Spielberg, who was almost certain to win.  Yet, somehow, it didn’t end up there.  Somehow The Fugitive, the film of the year that most combined good reviews with solid box-office managed to bounce it from the Best Picture race and Robert Altman’s continued comeback with Short Cuts bounced Marty from the Best Director race.

I was not befuddled like the Oscar voters were.  I wasn’t yet the Scorsese disciple I would later become, partially because some of that comes from the magnificent run of films that he has done this century which were still ahead of him and partially because many of his best films I still hadn’t seen by this point.  But I had seen GoodFellas and I had seen Raging Bull and I knew what an incredible talent that he was.  I hadn’t yet become a big Daniel Day-Lewis fan, having not yet seen The Last of the Mohicans or The Unbearable Lightness of Being.  I had hated Ethan Frome when I read it in high school and hadn’t thought much of The House of Mirth when I had read it the semester before for my American Lit class but I was willing to give this Edith Wharton adaptation a try and when I saw it, I was blown away.  I was so blown away that I bought the movie cover copy of the book, something I almost never do (I no longer have it, having ditched it years ago for the Modern Library copy).

Really, looking at this film, how could you not see Scorsese in this film?  I’m not talking about the graceful camera work that brings the society to life.  I’m not talking about the beautiful direction that takes your breath away.  I’m talking about the story itself.  What could be more Marty than two people who are forced to push away their heart’s desires because of notions of loyalty and honor.  What could seem more like the world of GoodFellas than the young who must go to see their elder to get the wisdom needed to move forward in life?  Yes, it’s Miriam Margolyes rather than Paul Sorvino, but really, it’s the same thing.  Or what about a person like Newland Archer, who is living a secret life, reaching for something that his heart wants while trying to follow the relentless and ruthless rules that his society places around him.  Who cares that he’s a lawyer in 19th Century New York society rather than a gangster in the 20th Century New York underworld?

You could try to make the argument that Edith Wharton’s novel is so carefully and beautifully constructed that any director could have made a first-rate film out of it.  But that isn’t the case, as was proved by the mediocre 1934 adaptation of the novel.  It takes the kind of fantastic acting work we get from not only Daniel Day-Lewis, Winona Ryder and Michelle Pfeiffer, but the entire ensemble crew of great actors.  It takes the magnificent art direction and costumes, some of the most beautiful ever put on screen, married to the direction of Scorsese, the graceful cinematography and artful editing.  It takes the kind of vision that only Martin Scorsese can provide.

3  –  In the Name of the Father  (reviewed here)

much_ado_about_nothing

The kind of movie I pick for a first date.

4  –  Much Ado About Nothing  (dir. Kenneth Branagh)

The tragedies and histories make for great films.  They also make for crappy films.  Of the Shakespeare films I have seen (76 in all), most of the **** films are either tragedies or histories.  All but one of the films below **.5 are tragedies or histories (the 1929 Taming of the Shrew is the one exception).  But to get the Comedies right is hard.  How hard?  Well there are 14 films that I classify as a Comedy that I consider Shakespeare films, plus five version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that I classify as Fantasy.  Sixteen of them I rate at ***.5 or lower.  Two of them are **** but aren’t really Shakespeare adaptations, as they use Shakespeare at the center of the plot and have a lot of a particular play, but those plays are actually tragedies (Shakespeare in Love, In the Bleak Midwinter).  That leaves just one film: this film.

Part of the brilliance of this film lies in the adaptation decisions that Kenneth Branagh makes.  In the original play, the audience never sees what Don Pedro and Claudio see in the window and there is even the question of whether or not we should believe them (which caused a large argument in one of my Shakespeare classes as an undergrad – one of five Shakespeare classes I took in my undergrad and grad careers), but here we understand why Pedro and Claudio act the way they do.  Or the way that the song from the middle of the play is also moved to the beginning and the end to provide some narrative continuity.  Or the way that the line “Love me! why, it must be requited.” becomes the great cry “Love me!  Why?  It must be requited.” adding a new, very amusing twist to the line without changing the text.  Or how Don John is actually brought into the action at the end, for a sense of closure, while in the original play he does not appear.  Branagh makes great use of the text, cutting where he feels he needs to, but adding small touches that don’t appear in the original text without adding any actual dialogue.

Branagh the writer helps make the film great, but it is nothing compared to Branagh the director.  It is his work that makes the film so alive and vibrant and quite frankly, fun, in a way that no other Shakespeare film is.  He provides a spark of sensuality to the film from the very beginning as the woman run back to the house to disrobe and wash before the soldiers arrive and there are bare backsides a plenty, but he is an equal opportunity director, and when the soldiers arrive, we get the male version, as they splash and play and we again get bare backsides a plenty.  We see Beatrice and Hero, with their robes starting to slide down their backs without actually getting any nudity from the stars themselves, a tantalizing touch of sensuality that reminds us that this is a romantic comedy after all.

But the romance comes, not with love scenes, but in the sparkling display of wit between the two main characters, two of Shakespeare’s best, Beatrice and Benedick.  Played by Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, who had already played a couple in Fortunes of War, Henry V and Dead Again, this is the one film that really shows how perfectly matched they were.  I write this review in the aftermath if the breakup of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, which I could not possibly give a shit about because celebrity gossip has never interested me.  I dismayed at the breakup of Branagh and Thompson in the mid-90’s not because I cared about a celebrity couple but because it meant they were not likely to make any more films together and they had been so brilliant, playing off each other in this film, from their scintillating battle of wit at their first meeting, to the desperate declarations of love in the aftermath of the aborted wedding, to the playful reconciliation that marks the climax of the play.

But it isn’t just them.  There is the vastly under-appreciated performance from Michael Keaton, embracing all the low humor in the play (ably assisted by Ben Elton, who was in the show Alfresco, the first television work of Emma Thompson, which is un-even but can be quite funny).  There is the smart casting of Denzel Washington, who is great as Don Pedro and leads to another great interpretation of the play (the scene where he asks Beatrice to marry him, which can be done very differently as I once saw it on stage in Portland and Pedro kisses her drunkenly and forcefully when she refuses him).  There are the strong supporting performances from two of my favorite British actors (and stalwarts of the Branagh films): Richard Briers and Brian Blessed.  There is even the amusing fact for us Harry Potter fans, that the three worst teachers at Hogwarts are all in this film: Lockhart (Branagh), Trelawney (Thompson) and Umbridge (Imelda Staunton).

All of this works together under the direction of Branagh.  He knows how to use the actors just right.  He makes fantastic use of the beautiful, rousing score that his constant collaborator Patrick Doyle provides.  But nothing is more impressive than the final shot, as the couples begin to dance and we follow through away from the chapel, under a building and into a courtyard, then back out into the open and then lifting higher, higher, higher, all one final amazing shot to capture all the fun and passion that this film has been providing us with for the past two hours, with that fantastic score in the background.

5  –  A Perfect World  (reviewed here)

The Razzies:  This is another year where the Razzies went after the big name, big budget flops (Indecent Proposal, Cliffhanger, The Last Action Hero) rather than the worst films.  Indeed, they even gave Worst Picture to Indecent Proposal, the second best of the five nominees.  The five films average a 28.6.  They did get one film mostly right (Sliver – my 8th worst) and one film very right (Body of Evidence – my 2nd worst, though I don’t know how it didn’t win).  But they were on the right track in other categories, with the worst film of the year, Boxing Helena, winning Worst Director, and the 9th worst, The Three Musketeers, earning a nomination for Worst Supporting Actor.  I can understand some of the films they pass over (they tend to avoid nominating Stephen King adaptations, so understandably no Needful Things, and Leolo was a foreign film) but how they did avoid the two terrible Wesley Snipes films Rising Sun and Demolition Man?  For the record, the five nominees are my #154 (Last Action Hero), #159 (Indecent Proposal), #162 (Cliffhanger), #167 (Sliver) and #173 (Body of Evidence).

5 Worst Films  (#1 being the worst):

  1. Boxing Helena
  2. Body of Evidence
  3. Needful Things
  4. Leolo
  5. Judgment Night

note: Only the bottom three films are .5.  The list of Presumably Crappy Films That I Can’t Confirm Are Crappy Because Thankfully I Haven’t Seen Them include: The Beverly Hillbillies (also never seen the show), Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (I try to watch actual Stephen King adaptations but skip the crappy sequels), Coneheads, Cop and a Half, Ernest Rides Again, Fatal Instinct, Hard Target, Jack the Bear (my college roommate, a fanatical Danny DeVito fan assures me this movie is awful beyond belief), Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Look Who’s Talking Now, Robocop 3, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Striking Distance, Super Mario Bros, Surf Ninjas, Wayne’s World 2, Weekend at Bernie’s II.

When the lawsuit is better known than the film you have problems.

When the lawsuit is better known than the film you have problems.

Boxing Helena  (dir. Jennifer Chambers Lynch)

Whew.  I just got away from the “Portland Curse” thanks to Body of Evidence earning a 3 while this film earns a 2.  Granted, now I have to write about this film which had an even worse curse.  How many films become more famous for the lawsuit they inspire than the actual film?  Indeed, the film was so bad that Kim Basinger, in the lawsuit, eventually paid the filmmakers over twice as much money as the film made in the theaters, although that was kind of the filmmakers argument in the first place (that if she had been in it, it would have made more money).

The problem is that Basinger’s determination not to be in the film wasn’t the reason it bombed.  It was that it was so badly made.  Everyone but Gene Siskel agreed on that (though over the years, I generally agreed with Siskel more than Ebert, because I felt that Siskel usually looked at the film as a whole rather than parts of it like Ebert often did, this is the second year in a row where Siskel apparently gave a positive review to my worst film of the year).  It was written and directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch, the daughter of David Lynch and the reviews savaged her so intensely (she was given Worst Director at the Razzies and was attacked for nepotism and for misogyny) that she stepped away from the film industry for over a decade.  But shouldn’t the studio have realized how bad it was early on and cut the cord?  Or did they think that she was just a weird but effective filmmaker like her father?

The basic premise of the story is that a doctor is obsessed with a young woman and spies on her (the woman is played by Sherilyn Fenn who had been in Twin Peaks).  When she is in an accident near his house, he kidnaps her and eventually starts cutting off her limbs to maintain her as a prisoner.  In the meantime, she’s so much more dominant of a personality that she has some control of the situation.  In the end, it all turns out to be a dream that he’s having during her surgery.

There are several problems, some of them that should have been obvious before the film was made, some of them that could only have come up when the film was being made and some of them that are more apparent after the passage of time.  We’ll deal with the last one first, because it’s not the fault of the filmmakers.  This film can be completely ignored.  That’s because, almost 20 years later, Pedro Almodovar, a singularly talented filmmaker, would make The Skin I Live In, a much, much, much better film that deals with a lot of the same issues, except does it with a creeping horror, with solid performances and with first-rate direction and writing.  If the subject interests you, that’s the film to choose.

But then go back to the first problem.  You’re trying to make this serious film that deals with disturbing issues.  You’ve got to get talented people involved.  Lynch was very young and her screenplay has all the signs of that.  The dialogue is rough and problematic.  The direction has no poise.  If her script had been given to a more assured director, things could have taken a better turn.  Yes, the casting issues became a problem, but while the film ended up with Sherrilyn Fenn, who wasn’t that talented an actress, she had the right degree of sensuality for the role (she’s actually much more suited for it than Basinger would have been).  But Julian Sands as the doctor is a terrible casting choice and it just about kills the whole film.

That’s when we get to the film itself.  Look at the early scenes of the film.  Fenn is in a love scene, and the scene is filmed with a great deal of sensuality while Sands is spying on her from outside.  But then Sands flees the scene, and we keep getting the love scenes with Fenn intercut with terribly filmed scenes of Sands running and sweating like mad.  The editing just isn’t right to tell a proper story.

The very concept of the story isn’t terrible and it actually does have a great deal to say about female empowerment, so I think the charges of misogyny were mislaid.  And the lawsuit against Kim Basinger was unfair – it was the company, by not stepping in and allowing either another writer to help with the script or get a more experienced director or, and this is really the biggest problem, get a new lead, because it’s not Sherrilyn Fenn’s casting that kills this film but the casting of Julian Sands.

Points:

  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:   Schindler’s List  (14)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:   Schindler’s List  (7)
  • Most Nighthawk:   Schindler’s List  (630)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Award:  Faraway, So Close
  • 2nd Place Award:  The Age of Innocence  (Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography)
  • 6th Place Award:  The Remains of the Day  (Picture, Director, Cinematography, Costume Design)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Nominations:   Schindler’s List  /  The Age of Innocence  /  In the Name of the Father  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Awards:   Schindler’s List  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Points:   Schindler’s List  (395)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Drama Award:  What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Nominations:   Much Ado About Nothing  (7)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Awards:   Much Ado About Nothing  (5)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Points:   Much Ado About Nothing  (460)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Comedy Award:  Sleepless in Seattle

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  /  Tom Jones  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Best Picture Nomination:  Yojimbo  (11)
  • Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Nighthawk Award:  Throne of Blood (13)
  • Actor:  Jack Nicholson  (500)
  • Actress:  Katharine Hepburn  (560)
  • Director:   Akira Kurosawa  (765)
  • Writer:  Ingmar Bergman  (1040)
  • Cinematographer:  Sven Nykvist  (325)
  • Composer:  John Williams  (650)
  • Foreign Film:  Akira Kurosawa  (600)

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

  • Drama:  79 (26)  –  Schindler’s List  (64.8)
  • Foreign:  50  –  My Neighbor Totoro  (66.5)
  • Comedy:  36 (9)  –  Much Ado About Nothing  (60.7)
  • Kids:  11 (1)  –  My Neighbor Totoro  (59)
  • Action:  8 (5)  –  Hard-Boiled  (60.1)
  • Suspense:  8  –  In the Line of Fire  (51.3)
  • Crime:  7 (2)  –  Menace II Society  (63.7)
  • Horror:  6 (1)  –  Jurassic Park  (58)
  • Musical:  4 (1)  –  Strictly Ballroom  (65)
  • Western:  4  –  Geronimo: An American Legend  (59.3)
  • Fantasy:  3 (2)  –  The Nightmare Before Christmas  (68.3)
  • War:  3 (1)  –  Heaven and Earth  (66.7)
  • Sci-Fi:  3 (2)  –  Macross II: Lovers Again  (50)
  • Mystery:  1  –  The Pelican Brief  (57)
  • Adventure:  1  –  The Three Musketeers  (28)

Analysis:  Dramas are at their highest total in five years.  They account for 45.4% of the total films, the highest since 1949.  Kids films go into double digits for only the second time, though that will soon become commonplace.  There are only 4 Musicals, the fewest in five years and the second fewest since 1929.  There is only one Mystery for the first time since 1982.  Westerns enjoy a brief resurgence, with the most since 1976 though that doesn’t mean they’re good as they have their lowest average for a year with multiple films since 1981.  Action films have their highest average since 1973.  Horror films have their highest average since 1968 thanks to Jurassic Park and Army of Darkness.  Action films finally pass Adventure films for total (247 to 245).
Schindler’s List is the first Drama to win the Nighthawk in eight years, the longest gap in history.  Seven of the Top 10 are Dramas, the most since 1951.  The Nightmare Before Christmas is the first Fantasy film in the Top 10 in five years.

Studio Note:  Warner Bros. leads with 20 films, eight more than any other studio and the most by any studio in ten years.  It’s followed by Universal with 12 films.  Once again, the studio films aren’t very good as the only studio to average *** is Columbia, the second year in a row that Columbia has been at least six points higher than any other major.  Miramax, though, has both quantity (10) and quality (75.1 average).  I have my first five films from Gramercy, which will be an important indie until the end of the decade, when it merges with October Films to form USA Films.
Miramax only has one film in the Top 10 (Blue) but ties Columbia with 4 in the Top 20.  It’s the most in the Top 20 for Columbia since 1987.  Universal has 3 in the Top 20 and becomes the sixth major to win 6 Nighthawk Awards for Best Picture.  For the first time since 1981, 20th Century-Fox doesn’t have a film in the Top 20.  It’s the first time since 1926 that neither Fox nor Paramount have a film in the Top 20.

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

  1. My Neighbor Totoro  (****, Miyazaki, 50th Street Films (Ghibli))
  2. The Nightmare Before Christmas  (****, Selick, Disney)
  3. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm  (***, Radomski / Timm, Warner Bros)
  4. Macross II: Lovers Again  (***, Yatagi, Tara Releasing)
  5. Once Upon a Forest  (***, Grosvenor, 20th Century-Fox)
  6. Vampire Hunter D  (**.5, Ashida, Streamline)
  7. Tom and Jerry: The Movie  (**.5, Roman, Miramax)
  8. Patlabor 2: The Movie  (**.5, Oshii, Shochiku)
  9. Ninja Scroll  (**, Kawajiri, Toho)
  10. We’re Back: A Dinosaur’s Story  (**, Zondag, Universal)
  11. Happily Ever After  (**, Howley, First National Film)

Note:  Oscars.org only lists eight films, with Patlabor 2, Vampire Hunter D and Ninja Scroll not listed.
I really wish Macross II were better because I so love Robotech, but it just isn’t.

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):

  • Abraham’s Valley  (de Oliveira, Portugal)  *
  • Belle Epoque  (Trueba, Spain)  ***
  • Bhaji on the Beach  (Chadha, India)
  • The Blue Exile  (Kiral, Turkey)  *
  • The Blue Kite  (Tian, China)
  • The Bride with White Hair  (Yu, Hong Kong)
  • The Bride with White Hair 2  (Yu, Hong Kong)
  • The Canary Season  (Mihailov, Bulgaria)  *
  • The Conjugal Bed  (Daneliuc, Romania)  *
  • Countess Dora  (Berkovic, Croatia)  *
  • Cronos  (Del Toro, Mexico)  *
  • The Diary of Lady M  (Tanner, Switzerland)  *
  • The Executioners  (To, Hong Kong)
  • Faraway, So Close  (Wenders, Germany)
  • Farewell My Concubine  (Chen, Hong Kong)  **
  • Fiorile  (Taviani, Italy)
  • The Flight of the Innocent  (Carlei, Italy)
  • Full Contact  (Lam, Hong Kong)
  • Gatica, el mono  (Favio, Argentina)  *
  • Germinal  (Berri, France)  *
  • Hedd Wyn  (Turner, UK)  **
  • Helas Pour Moi  (Godard, France)
  • The Heroic Trio  (To, Hong Kong)
  • Iron Monkey  (Yuen, Hong Kong)
  • Johnny 100 Pesos  (Graef-Marino, Chile)  *
  • Justice  (Geissendorfer, Germany)  *
  • Kika  (Almodovar, Spain)
  • The Legend of Fong Sai-Yuk  (Yuen, Hong Kong)
  • Madadayo  (Kurosawa, Japan)  *
  • El Mariachi  (Rodriguez, USA)
  • My Favorite Season  (Techine, France)
  • Ninja Scroll  (Kawajiri, Japan)
  • Patlabor 2: The Movie  (Oshii, Japan)
  • Le Petit Apocalypse  (Costa-Gavras, France)
  • Puppetmaster  (Hou, Taiwan)
  • The Red Squirrel  (Medem, Spain)
  • Report on Death  (Gavidia, Peru)  *
  • Ripa Hits the Skids  (Lindblad, Finland)  *
  • Sailor Moon R: The Movie  (Ikuhara, Japan)
  • Sankofa  (Gerima, Burkina Faso)
  • The Scent of Green Papaya  (Tran, Vietnam)  **
  • La Scorta  (Tognazzi, Italy)
  • Le Sexe des etoiles  (Baillargeon, Canada)  *
  • Sonatine  (Kitano, Japan)
  • Squadron  (Machulski, Poland)  *
  • Three Colors: Blue  (Kieslowski, France)
  • Un, deux, trois, soleil  (Blier, France)
  • The Visitors  (Poire, Fance)
  • We Never Die  (Koltai, Hungary)  *
  • The Wedding Banquet  (Lee, Taiwan)  **
  • When I Close My Eyes  (Slak, Slovenia)  *

Note:  I have my first films from Vietnam and Slovenia (first Oscar submissions from both).  I have my first USA made Foreign film in 10 years.  For the first time in seven years I have no film from Cuba.  I have 8 films from Hong Kong, the most ever for a country other than France, Japan or Italy.  France only has seven films, the first time since 1982 that France has not had at least a tie for the most films.  Only 45% of these films are Dramas, the lowest total since 1978.  For only the second time since 1980, 10 of them are Comedies.  There are also 6 Crime films, the most since 1969.  There are 4 Fantasies, only the second time there have been more than two in a year.

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

  • Austria:  Indien  (dir. Harather)
  • Belgium:  Just Friends  (dir. Wajnberg)
  • China:  Country Teachers  (dir.  He)
  • Denmark:  Black Harvest  (dir. Refn)
  • Iceland:  The Sacred Mound  (dir. Gunnlaugsson)
  • India:  Rudaali  (dir. Lajmi)
  • Israel:  Revenge of Itzik Finkelstein  (dir.  Rottenberg)
  • Italy:  The Great Pumpkin  (dir.  Archibugi)
  • Netherlands:  Little Blond Death  (dir.  van de Velde)
  • Norway:  The Telegraphist  (dir.  Gustavson)
  • Slovakia:  Everything I Like  (dir.  Sulik)
  • Sweden:  The Slingshot  (dir.  Sandgren)

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 23 for 35 (66%), my lowest since 1987.  Iceland and Sweden are the only repeat countries missing from the year before.
After two straight declines, the submissions are up to 35 this year.  Seven countries are out from the year before including two who were nominated (Russia, Uruguay).  This is the last year Russia will fail to submit a film.  The other countries out are Indonesia, Cuba and three of the countries that submitted for the first time in 1992: Kazakhstan (not back until 2006), Estonia (not back until 2001) and Latvia (not back until 2008).
In another strange development, for the second year in a row three countries are nominated after not submitting the year before: Hong Kong, the UK and Vietnam (its first ever submission).  The other brand new submitters are Slovenia and Slovakia while back after a year off are Peru, Bulgaria and Chile while back after a longer gap is Finland.
The misses here are my first (Slovakia), 2nd (China), 3rd (India), 4th (Italy), 6th (Norway), 9th (Sweden), 10th (Iceland), 10th and start of a seven year streak (Austria), 12th (Belgium, Netherlands), 14th (Israel) and 21st (f*&^g Denmark!).

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

  • Heat-Haze Theatre  (1981)
  • Vampire Hunter D  (1985)
  • My Neighbor Totoro  (1988)
  • Good Evening Mr Wallenberg  (1990)
  • Happily Ever After  (1990)
  • The Match Factory Girl  (1990)
  • Sure Fire  (1990)
  • American Friends  (1991)
  • The Elementary School  (1991)
  • Get Thee Out  (1991)
  • Married to It  (1991)
  • Once Upon a Time in China  (1991)
  • Riff-Raff  (1991)
  • Tokyo Decadence  (1991)
  • Alive  (1992)
  • American Heart  (1992)
  • Being at Home with Claude  (1992)
  • Careful  (1992)
  • Daens  (1992)
  • Dead Alive  (1992)
  • Dragon Inn  (1992)
  • Hard-Boiled  (1992)
  • Into the West  (1992)
  • Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.  (1992)
  • King of Beggars  (1992)
  • The Last Days of Chez Nous  (1992)
  • Leolo  (1992)
  • Like Water for Chocolate  (1992)
  • The Long Day Closes  (1992)
  • Macross II: Lovers Again  (1992)
  • Masala  (1992)
  • Olivier Olivier  (1992)
  • Orlando  (1992)
  • Piano Piano Kid  (1992)
  • Romper Stomper  (1992)
  • Sofie  (1992)
  • The Stolen Children  (1992)
  • The Story of Qiu Ju  (1992)
  • Un Couer en Hiver  (1992)

Note:  These 38 films average a 64.3 though if you take out Leolo it goes up to a 65.6.  There is one great film (Totoro) with several very good films (The Match Factory Girl, Hard-Boiled, The Last Days of Chez Nous, Like Water for Chocolate, Un Couer en Hiver).

Films Not Listed at Oscars.org:

  • Abraham’s Valley
  • The Blue Exile
  • The Canary Season
  • Countess Dora
  • Daens
  • The Diary of Lady M
  • The Elementary School
  • Gatica, el mono
  • Get Thee Out
  • Good Evening Mr Wallenberg
  • Heat-Haze Theatre
  • The Heroic Trio
  • Justice
  • Mr Wonderful
  • Ninja Scroll
  • Patlabor 2: The Movie
  • Le Petite Apocalypse
  • Public Access
  • Puppetmaster
  • Red Hot
  • The Red Squirrel
  • Report on Death
  • Ripa Hits the Skids
  • Squadron
  • The Thing Called Love
  • Un, deux, trois, soleil
  • Vampire Hunter D
  • When I Close My Eyes

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:

  • Belle Epoque  (1994)
  • Bhaji on the Beach  (1994)
  • The Blue Kite  (1994)
  • The Bride with White Hair  (1994)
  • Combination Platter  (1994)
  • The Conjugal Bed  (1994)
  • Cronos  (1994)
  • Even Cowgirls Get the Blues  (1994)
  • Fiorile  (1994)
  • Helas Pour Moi  (1994)
  • Kika  (1994)
  • Little Buddha  (1994)
  • Necronomicon  (1994)
  • Raining Stones  (1994)
  • Red Rock West  (1994)
  • The Scent of Green Papaya  (1994)
  • La Scorta  (1994)
  • Le Sexe des etoiles  (1994)
  • Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould  (1994)
  • Arabian Night  (1995)
  • The Bed You Sleep In  (1995)
  • The Bride with White Hair 2  (1995)
  • Calendar  (1995)
  • The Executioners  (1995)
  • Full Contact  (1995)
  • The Innocent  (1995)
  • Johnny 100 Pesos  (1995)
  • Love and Human Remains  (1995)
  • Sankofa  (1995)
  • Hedd Wyn  (1996)
  • My Favorite Season  (1996)
  • The Visitors  (1996)
  • Bad Boy Bubby  (1997)
  • Sonatine  (1998)
  • Madadayo  (2000)
  • Sailor Moon R: The Movie  (2000)
  • Iron Monkey  (2001)

Note:  These 37 films average a 62.5 although that goes up to a 64.1 if you take out Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.  There is one **** film (The Scent of Green Papaya) and a bunch of ***.5 films (Belle Epoque, The Bride with White Hair, Cronos, Fiorile, Red Rock West, The Bride with White Hair 2, The Executioners, Madadayo).

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