A trio of Austen sisters brought to life with magnificence and humor.

A trio of Austen sisters brought to life with grace and humor.

You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category (or Globe, in the Globes section).  Films in blue were nominated.  Films (or directors) in olive are links to earlier posts that I don’t want to have show up in blue and be mistaken for a nominee.  Films with an asterisk (*) were Consensus nominees (a scale I put together based on the various awards) while those with a double asterisk (**) were the Consensus winners.

I’m listing the top 10 in the categories but only the top 5 earn Nighthawk nominations.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Sense and Sensibility  **
  2. The Usual Suspects
  3. Richard III
  4. Les Miserables
  5. 12 Monkeys
  6. Leaving Las Vegas  *
  7. To Die For
  8. Toy Story
  9. Clockers
  10. Mina Tannenbaum

Analysis:  These 10 films are the only **** films of the year.  The Top 5 is also the weakest since 1982 and that will be reflected all the way through.  Richard III, my #3 film, would have been the #8 film in 1994.  The Top 10 is the weakest since 1990 and the second weakest since 1984.
Sense and Sensibility becomes the first film since 1972 to win the BAFTA and Globe and not win at the Oscars.  It’s the first to win the BAFTA, Globe and BFCA (a new award this year) and not win the Oscar, something that has only happened twice since (2005, 2014).  On the other hand, the Oscar went to Braveheart, the only Oscar winner since 1974 to fail to win any other Best Picture award and also the only winner since 1988 to fail to earn at least three nominations (because it’s the only winner since the advent of the PGA in 1989 to fail to earn a nomination and since the advent of the BFCA in 1995 to only winner to fail to earn a nomination).

  • angleeBest Director
  1. Ang Lee  (Sense and Sensibility)  **
  2. Bryan Singer  (The Usual Suspects)
  3. Terry Gilliam  (12 Monkeys)
  4. Richard Loncraine  (Richard III)
  5. Claude Lelouch  (Les Miserables)
  6. Mike Figgis  (Leaving Las Vegas)  *
  7. Gus Van Sant  (To Die For)
  8. Spike Lee  (Clockers)
  9. Michael Mann  (Heat)
  10. Zhang Yimou  (Shanghai Triad)

Analysis:  These are the only Nighthawk noms for Singer, Loncraine and Lelouch.  It’s the second nom for Terry Gilliam.  It’s the first nom (and win) for Ang Lee, but get used to seeing him among the nominees.
Ang Lee is the first ever Consensus winner to fail to earn an Oscar nom, though he will be followed by Kathryn Bigelow in 2012 and Todd Haynes in 2015.  Ironically, in 2012, Ang Lee will win his second Oscar when Bigelow and Ben Affleck fail to earn Oscar noms.
The Top 5 in this category are the weakest since 1988.  But that’s nothing compared to the Oscar nominees, since, as you can see, only one even makes my Top 10.  The Oscar nominees are the weakest since 1956.  The Oscar Score itself a dreadful 34.3.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Sense and Sensibility  **
  2. Les Miserables
  3. To Die For
  4. Leaving Las Vegas  *
  5. 12 Monkeys
  6. Richard III
  7. Clockers
  8. Get Shorty
  9. An Awfully Big Adventure
  10. Il Postino  *

Analysis:  So, the pig movie got Oscar, WGA and BAFTA nominations but To Die For got nothing?
Emma Thompson crushes all Consensus records for Adapted Screenplay with 8 nominations and 7 wins.  All her records will be thumped two years later.
Les Miserables is the weakest #2 in this category since 1983.  The Top 5 are the weakest since 1988.  But again, the Oscar nominees are much weaker, the weakest since 1987.  However, the combination of the weaknesses means that the Oscar Score of 71.9 is stronger than three of the previous four years.
I’ve read Sense and Sensibility (as much as I could anyway), Les Miserables (multiple times in multiple translations), 12 Monkeys (by seeing the original film), Richard III and Get Shorty.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. The Usual Suspects  **
  2. Toy Story
  3. Smoke
  4. Mina Tannenbaum
  5. Burnt by the Sun
  6. Kids
  7. Whisper of the Heart
  8. Before the Rain
  9. The Brothers McMullen
  10. Muriel’s Wedding  *

Analysis:  Toy Story is the weakest #2 in this category since 1984.  The Top 5 are the weakest since 1984.

  • Best Actor:
  1. Nicolas Cage  (Leaving Las Vegas)  **
  2. Ian McKellen  (Richard III)
  3. Anthony Hopkins  (Nixon)  *
  4. Jean-Paul Belmondo  (Les Miserables)
  5. Massimo Troisi  (Il Postino)  *
  6. Hugh Grant  (An Awfully Big Adventure)
  7. Sean Penn  (Dead Man Walking)  *
  8. Clint Eastwood  (The Bridges of Madison County)
  9. John Travolta  (Get Shorty)
  10. Gabriel Byrne  (The Usual Suspects)

Analysis:  Cage almost pulls off a sweep, but loses the BAFTA (to Nigel Hawthorne from 1994 The Madness of King George).  But he sets new records for Consensus wins (9) and noms (10) as well as points and has the highest percentage since 1948.  His wins and points will be broken in 2005 and his nominations in 2006, but as is clear from 2006, it’s now impossible to surpass Cage’s percentage because of more awards groups.  Because no other actor earns both a Globe and BAFTA nom and because the BFCA are winners-only in this, their first year, for the only time post-1970, no other actor earns more than 10% of the Consensus points.
These are the only Nighthawk nominations for Belmondo and Troisi.  It’s the first nom for Cage and McKellen (but McKellen will soon have several more).  It’s the fourth just this decade for Hopkins and his seventh overall; he goes up to 335 points and enters the Top 10.

  • Best Actress
  1. Emma Thompson  (Sense and Sensibility)  *
  2. Elizabeth Shue  (Leaving Las Vegas)  **
  3. Nicole Kidman  (To Die For)  *
  4. Meryl Streep  (The Bridges of Madison County)  *
  5. Susan Sarandon  (Dead Man Walking)  *
  6. Julianne Moore  (Safe)
  7. Georgina Cates  (An Awfully Big Adventure)
  8. Romane Bohringer  (Mina Tannenbaum)
  9. Sharon Stone  (Casino)
  10. Emma Thompson  (Carrington)

Analysis:  The only place where you’ll find my Top 5 is in the Top 5 of the Consensus.  Kidman wasn’t nominated for SAG or the Oscar and her Globe win was in Comedy while the other four (and Sharon Stone, the other SAG and Oscar nominee) were the Drama nominees.
Though Thompson wins my award, I feel I should point out how good Shue is, especially since she’s never shown anywhere near this level of talent before or since.  She sets a new record for Consensus points without an awards group win (by earning noms from SAG, Oscars, BAFTA, Globes and winning three critics awards) and, since the only three later actresses to surpass her point total all win the BFCA (which only has winners at this point), technically, she still has the most points for an actress who doesn’t win an awards group award.
This is the only Nighthawk nomination for Shue, obviously.  It’s the first nom for Kidman.  It’s the third nomination for Sarandon.  It’s the sixth nomination (and third win) for Thompson in just five years.  She’s leapt all the way from 0 points in 1990 to 310 points and into the Top 10.  It’s the 11th nomination for Streep, who moves up to 430 points and 5th place all-time.
This is one of the few categories where the Top 5 in this year is an improvement on the year before.  In fact, it’s the second best Top 5 since 1983 and third best since 1973.
The Oscar Score is 94.6, the highest since 1984 while the actual Oscar nominees are the second best to-date behind only 1983.
The Top 5 is probably a list you would find from a lot of people.  The bottom 5 is a list you wouldn’t probably wouldn’t see anywhere else.

  • kevin-spacey-the-usual-suspectsBest Supporting Actor:
  1. Kevin Spacey  (The Usual Suspects)  **
  2. Patrick Stewart  (Jeffrey)
  3. Brad Pitt  (12 Monkeys)  *
  4. Kenneth Branagh  (Othello)
  5. Alan Rickman  (Sense and Sensibility)
  6. Harvey Keitel  (Clockers)
  7. Alan Rickman  (An Awfully Big Adventure)
  8. Ed Harris  (Apollo 13)  *
  9. Nathan Lane  (Jeffrey)
  10. Forest Whitaker  (Smoke)

Analysis:  Alan Rickman earns only a BAFTA nom, Branagh only a SAG nom and Stewart earns nothing, which shows that the voters don’t understand the greatness of British acting.
It’s the only nom for Patrick Stewart.  It’s the first nom for Brad Pitt.  It’s also the first for Kevin Spacey, but it’s the first of three wins in five years.  It’s the second nom for Alan Rickman.  It’s the third nom for Kenneth Branagh.
With only two nominees in my top 7, the Oscar Score is the lowest since 1985 (77.8).

  • winsletBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Kate Winslet  (Sense and Sensibility)  *
  2. Joan Allen  (Nixon)  *
  3. Mira Sorvino  (Mighty Aphrodite)  **
  4. Anjelica Huston  (The Crossing Guard)  *
  5. Ileana Douglas  (To Die For)
  6. Gong Li  (Shanghai Triad)
  7. Sigourney Weaver  (Jeffrey)
  8. Elizabeth Spriggs  (Sense and Sensibility)
  9. Mare Winningham  (Georgia)  *
  10. Chloe Sevigny  (Kids)

Analysis:  For the third time in six years, the Consensus race is very tight, with Sorvino scoring 5 wins and 7 noms but Allen getting 4 wins and 7 noms and Sorvino winning by just 13 points.  The fifth Consensus (and Oscar) nominee was Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13), who is my #12.  Sadly, Ileana Douglas, for her fantastic snarky, bitter performance in To Die For received no awards attention.
If you’ve seen Jeffrey (doubtful, sadly), you’ll know that Nathan Lane (above) and Sigourney Weaver basically have one scene each.  But the scenes are long enough and they are so damn good that I included them anyway.
These are the only nominations for Douglas and Sorvino (whose career is mostly pretty weak outside of this role).  It’s the first of back-to-back wins for Winslet, who won’t earn more nominations this decade after that but will start going through the roof next decade.  It’s the first nomination for Allen, but also the first of four straight.  It’s the fifth nomination for Huston.

  • Best Editing:
  1. The Usual Suspects
  2. Sense and Sensibility
  3. 12 Monkeys
  4. To Die For
  5. Richard III
  6. Les Miserables
  7. Toy Story
  8. Heat
  9. Clockers
  10. Burnt by the Sun

Analysis:  The weakest Top 5 since 1987.  But that’s better than the Oscars.  The only nominees to even make my list are the winner, Apollo 13 (my #12) and Babe (my #27).  The Oscar Score is a horrendous 14.3, the lowest since 1956.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. Sense and Sensibility
  2. The Usual Suspects
  3. Shanghai Triad  *
  4. Leaving Las Vegas
  5. Apollo 13  *
  6. 12 Monkeys
  7. The Bridges of Madison County
  8. Richard III
  9. Heat
  10. The Secret of Roan Inish

Analysis:  The Consensus winner is Braveheart, with Oscar, ASC and BAFTA wins, but I’ve made clear my feelings on its Cinematography.
It’s the weakest Top 5 since 1983.  And with only two Oscar nominees in my Top 10, the Oscar Score is only 60.0, the lowest since 1980.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. Sense and Sensibility
  2. Il Postino
  3. The Usual Suspects
  4. The Secret of Roan Inish
  5. Nixon
  6. 12 Monkeys
  7. The Quick and the Dead
  8. Rob Roy
  9. Burnt by the Sun
  10. Hyenas

Analysis:  Patrick Doyle earns his second nomination and wins the Nighthawk.  John Williams (Nixon) earns yet another nomination and goes up to 675 points, 225 more than any other composer; it’s his sixth nomination of the decade.
In spite of the Oscar, Il Postino is the weakest #2 in this category since 1971.  It’s also the weakest Top 5 since 1974.

  • Best Sound:
  1. Heat
  2. Apollo 13
  3. The Usual Suspects
  4. Nixon
  5. Toy Story
  6. Crimson Tide
  7. Waterworld
  8. 12 Monkeys
  9. Richard III
  10. Dead Presidents

Analysis:  Thanks to the top two films, this is the rare category that is stronger than the year before.  But how, how, how did the Oscars not nominate Heat?

  • Best Art Direction:
  1. Sense and Sensibility
  2. Richard III
  3. 12 Monkeys
  4. Shanghai Triad
  5. City of Lost Children
  6. Les Miserables
  7. An Awfully Big Adventure
  8. A Little Princess
  9. Casino
  10. Farinelli: Il Castrato

Analysis:  The second lowest Oscar Score since 1978 (70.3).

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. Babe
  2. Jumanji
  3. Apollo 13
  4. 12 Monkeys
  5. GoldenEye
  6. Strange Days
  7. Batman Forever
  8. Waterworld
  9. The Executioners
  10. Heat

Analysis:  Babe is the weakest winner in this category after 1977 (in other words, post-Star Wars).  I still find it surprising that Jumanji wasn’t nominated.
Because I give the same rating to Jumanji and Apollo 13, the Oscar Score is actually 100, which is 25 points higher than any other Tech category this year.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. Heat
  2. Apollo 13
  3. The Usual Suspects
  4. Crimson Tide
  5. 12 Monkeys
  6. GoldenEye
  7. Jumanji
  8. Waterworld
  9. Nixon
  10. Toy Story

Analysis:  Apollo 13 is the strongest #2 in this category since 1988.

  • Best Costume Design:
  1. Sense and Sensibility
  2. Richard III
  3. Shanghai Triad
  4. Restoration
  5. An Awfully Big Adventure
  6. Farinelli: Il Castrato
  7. Burnt by the Sun
  8. Les Miserables
  9. A Little Princess
  10. Carrington

Analysis:  This is the only category where 12 Monkeys actually received a nomination and it doesn’t even make my Top 10.  It was a bizarre nomination.

  • Best Makeup
  1. An Awfully Big Adventure
  2. 12 Monkeys
  3. The Bride with White Hair 2
  4. Farinelli: Il Castrato
  5. Shanghai Triad
  6. City of Lost Children
  7. Batman Forever
  8. Jefferson in Paris
  9. Don Juan de Marco
  10. The Executioners

Analysis:  An Awfully Big Adventure is the weakest winner in this category since 1978 and 12 Monkeys is the weakest #2 in this category since 1978.  And, of course, it’s the weakest Top 5 since 1978.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. “Cancion del Mariachi”  (Desperado)
  2. You’ve Got a Friend in Me”  (Toy Story)
  3. Dead Man Walking”  (Dead Man Walking)
  4. Colours of the Wind”  (Pocahontas)
  5. Mockingbird Girl”  (Tank Girl)
  6. I Will Go Sailing No More”  (Toy Story)
  7. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”  (Batman Forever)
  8. Sodomy”  (Meet the Feebles)
  9. I Will Remember You”  (The Brothers McMullen)
  10. Missing”  (The Crossing Guard)

Analysis:  Oscars.org lists songs from different films.  In this year, it lists 89 songs from 47 different films.  I have seen 35 of those films, accounting for 76 songs (the only film with more than one listed song I haven’t seen is The Hunted).  As has been typical, there are some issues with the oscars.org list which does not list either “Cancion del Mariachi” or “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”, both of which I know were written for their films (“Hold Me” was even Globe nominated).  Meet the Feebles isn’t listed at oscars.org at all.
I will admit that the only reason I have seen Tank Girl is so that the song “Mockingbird Girl” could be eligible for my list.
After a really good four years, this year’s Top 5 drops quite a bit and is the weakest in five years.

  • toy_story_ver1Best Animated Film:
  1. Toy Story  *
  2. Whisper of the Heart

Analysis:  Pixar wins its first Nighthawk with its first feature film.  Though they are distributed by Disney, I do track the Pixar films separately.  Studio Ghibli earns another nomination, its fourth in a row.  The next two years for this category will be very lacking because there will not be another Pixar or Ghibli film until 1998.  Because of timing and different films, Pixar won’t beat Ghibli head to head again until 2009.

  • les_miserablesBest Foreign Film:
  1. Les Miserables  *
  2. Shanghai Triad  *
  3. Whisper of the Heart
  4. Antonia’s Line  *(*)
  5. City of Lost Children
  6. French Twist
  7. Underground

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

Analysis:  Antonia’s Line is the sort-of Consensus winner.  Two films finished above it, Wild Reeds and Il Postino, but by Academy rules, they would have both been eligible the year before.  Those two films accounted for four of the six critics awards (with the fifth going to Mina Tannenbaum, also eligible the year before).  The only awards from this year that go to films eligible this year are the Oscar (Antonia’s Line), Globe (Les Miserables) and NBR (Shanghai Triad).
The Netherlands (Antonia’s Line) gets its first nomination since 1977 and its second overall.  China earns its second nomination.  France wins its second of three award in four years.  France is now at 2300 points, followed by Japan with 1140 points.
Claude Lelouch earns his only win and his second nomination, 21 years after his first.  Jean-Pierre Jeunet earns his first nomination.  Zhang Yimou earns his fourth nomination.
The Top 5 and Top 10 are huge drop-offs from the previous two years.  Only the first film is **** and while the rest are all ***.5, #5-7 are fairly low ***.5.  City of Lost Children earns a nomination, but in 1994 it wouldn’t have even made the Top 10.

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.

  • Sense and Sensibility  (625)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design
  • The Usual Suspects   (375)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Sound Editing
  • 12 Monkeys  (260)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Editing, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Makeup
  • Les Miserables  (210)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Foreign Film
  • Richard III  (190)
    • Picture, Director, Actor, Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design
  • Leaving Las Vegas  (170)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Cinematography
  • To Die For  (130)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress, Editing
  • Toy Story  (110)
    • Original Screenplay, Sound, Original Song, Foreign Film
  • Nixon  (110)
    • Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Score, Sound
  • Shanghai Triad  (90)
    • Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup, Foreign Film
  • Apollo 13  (85)
    • Cinematography, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Il Postino  (80)
    • Actor, Original Score, Foreign Film
  • Heat  (80)
    • Sound, Sound Editing
  • Mina Tannenbaum  (60)
    • Original Screenplay, Foreign Film (1994)
  • Dead Man Walking  (45)
    • Actress, Original Song
  • Burnt by the Sun  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Smoke  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • City of Lost Children  (40)
    • Art Direction, Foreign Film
  • Babe  (40)
    • Visual Effects
  • Whisper of the Heart  (40)
    • Foreign Film, Animated Film
  • Hyenas  (40)
    • Foreign Film (1992)
  • The Bridges of Madison County  (35)
    • Actress
  • An Awfully Big Adventure  (35)
    • Costume Design, Makeup
  • Jeffrey  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Othello  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • The Crossing Guard  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • Mighty Aphrodite  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • The Secret of Roan Inish  (25)
    • Original Score
  • Goldeneye  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • Jumanji  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • Crimson Tide  (20)
    • Sound Editing
  • Desperado  (20)
    • Original Song
  • Pushing Hands  (20)
    • Foreign Film  (1992)
  • Restoration  (15)
    • Costume Design
  • The Bride with White Hair 2  (10)
    • Makeup
  • Farinelli: Il Castrato  (10)
    • Makeup
  • Pocahontas  (10)
    • Original Song
  • Tank Girl  (10)
    • Original Song

Analysis:  There are five more films than the year before.  The Tech winners, as a whole, are the weakest since 1978.  The overall winners, as a whole, are the weakest since 1987.  Only 8 of the winners earn my highest rating, the fewest since 1984.  No #2 in any category earns my highest rating for the first time since 1990 and only the second time since 1978.  The Top 5 of all the categories, on average, is the weakest since 1984.

Best Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Clockers

Analysis:  It’s rare to have a Top 10 film not earn any nominations.  But Clockers, while having five Top 10 finishes, never gets higher than 6th.

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

  • Exotica

Analysis:  My #29 film of the year, a low ***.5.  It is the only one of the 34 films that are **** or ***.5 not to earn a Top 10 finish (it’s highest finish is #11 in Editing).

Biggest Awards Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Braveheart

Analysis:  Surprisingly not the biggest movie to date in awards points to not earn a Nighthawk nomination.  Marty has more points, even though it was 40 years earlier and didn’t have the BFCA or nearly as many critics awards, guild awards or BAFTA awards to compete for.  But Braveheart wasn’t actually that big of a film (it was 4th in points for the year).  It won 14 awards and earned 28 nominations.  It made my Top 20 twice, finishing in 13th in Sound Editing and 17th in Sound.  You can read my original review here to see why I think so lowly of it.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture
  1. Sense and Sensibility
  2. The Usual Suspects
  3. Richard III
  4. Les Miserables
  5. 12 Monkeys

Analysis:  This Top 5 is the weakest in seven years.  The other **** Drama films are Leaving Las Vegas, Clockers and Mina Tannenbaum.  There are a whole host of ***.5 films and in order they are: Il Postino, Heat, Smoke, Whisper of the Heart, Shanghai Triad, Kids, Apollo 13, Burnt by the Sun, Before the Rain, The Secret of Roan Inish, The Crossing Guard, The Bride with White Hair 2, Safe, Exotica, Dead Man Walking and The Executioners.

  • Best Director
  1. Ang Lee  (Sense and Sensibility)
  2. Bryan Singer  (The Usual Suspects)
  3. Terry Gilliam  (12 Monkeys)
  4. Richard Loncraine  (Richard III)
  5. Claude Lelouch  (Les Miserables)

Analysis:  These are the only Drama noms for Singer, Gilliam, Loncraine and Lelouch.  It’s the first Drama nom (and win) for Lee, who will earn another nomination in two years and another win in five years.
The Top 5 is the weakest since 1988, which had a much stronger Comedy selection to make up for it.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Sense and Sensibility
  2. Les Miserables
  3. Leaving Las Vegas
  4. 12 Monkeys
  5. Richard III
  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. The Usual Suspects
  2. Smoke
  3. Mina Tannenbaum
  4. Burnt by the Sun
  5. Kids
  • leavingBest Actor:
  1. Nicolas Cage  (Leaving Las Vegas)
  2. Ian McKellen  (Richard III)
  3. Anthony Hopkins  (Nixon)
  4. Jean-Paul Belmondo  (Les Miserables)
  5. Massimo Troisi  (Il Postino)

Analysis:  These are the only Drama noms for both Belmondo and Troisi (who died just after filming finished).  It’s also the only Drama nom (and win) for Cage.  It’s the first nom for McKellen but there are about to be a lot more and very soon.  It’s the eighth nom for Hopkins and his fourth this decade; he’s at 370 Drama points and is in 7th place.

  • sense_and_sensibility_-_emma_thompsonBest Actress
  1. Emma Thompson  (Sense and Sensibility)
  2. Elizabeth Shue  (Leaving Las Vegas)
  3. Meryl Streep  (The Bridges of Madison County)
  4. Susan Sarandon  (Dead Man Walking)
  5. Julianne Moore  (Safe)

Analysis:  This is the only Drama nom for Elizabeth Shue, whose career is just a bit outclassed by the other four actresses.  It’s the first Drama nom for Julianne Moore, but she will earn four more before the end of the decade.  It’s the fifth nom for Sarandon, but also her fourth in five years.  It’s the fifth nom for Emma Thompson in just five years and her third win in four years.
It’s the tenth Drama nom for Meryl Streep.  This moves her up to 465 points and she passes both Deborah Kerr and Katharine Hepburn and into third place, behind only Ingrid Bergman and Bette Davis.
It doesn’t say much for the Globe voters that I agreed with four of the nominees but not their winner.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Kevin Spacey  (The Usual Suspects)
  2. Brad Pitt  (12 Monkeys)
  3. Kenneth Branagh  (Othello)
  4. Alan Rickman  (Sense and Sensibility)
  5. Harvey Keitel  (Clockers)

Analysis:  This is the first Drama nom for Brad Pitt.  It’s the second for Keitel, 19 years after his first.  It’s the third nom for Rickman.  It’s also the third for Branagh, and the first of back-to-back (although next year it will be as a lead).  It’s the first for Spacey, but he will win two more awards before the end of the decade.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Kate Winslet  (Sense and Sensibility)
  2. Joan Allen  (Nixon)
  3. Anjelica Huston  (The Crossing Guard)
  4. Gong Li  (Shanghai Triad)
  5. Elizabeth Spriggs  (Sense and Sensibility)

Analysis:  This is the only Drama nom for Elizabeth Spriggs.  It’s the first nom for Kate Winslet, but she’ll win again the next year.  It’s the first nom for Joan Allen, but also the first of four straight.  It’s the third nom for Gong Li (in fact, the third in four years).  It’s the third nom for Huston, but the first time she doesn’t win.

  • Sense and Sensibility  (460)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actress
  • The Usual Suspects  (235)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • Richard III  (170)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor
  • Les Miserables  (170)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor
  • 12 Monkeys  (165)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • Leaving Las Vegas  (135)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • Kids  (75)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actress
  • Nixon  (65)
    • Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Mina Tannenbaum  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Smoke  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Burnt by the Sun  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Il Postino  (40)
    • Actor
  • Safe  (30)
    • Actress
  • Dead Man Walking  (30)
    • Actress
  • The Bridges of Madison County  (35)
    • Actress
  • Clockers  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Othello  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Shanghai Triad  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • The Crossing Guard  (30)
    • Supporting Actress

Analysis:  The Drama categories, on a whole, are the weakest since 1988, which had a much stronger Comedy selection to balance it out.

Best Drama Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Heat

Analysis:  Clockers manages a nomination with its acting, but Heat isn’t so lucky.  It was my #10 Drama of the year but does better in the Tech categories.

Comedy / Musical:

  • Best Picture
  1. To Die For
  2. Toy Story
  3. Hyenas
  4. Get Shorty
  5. An Awfully Big Adventure

Analysis:  This Top 5 is the weakest in five years.  To Die For is also the weakest winner in five years and the second weakest since 1978.  The other ***.5 Comedies are Muriel’s Wedding, Jeffrey, City of Lost Children, Pushing Hands and Babe.

  • Best Director
  1. Gus Van Sant  (To Die For)
  2. Barry Sonnenfeld  (Get Shorty)
  3. Djibril Diop Mambety  (Hyenas)
  4. Jean-Pierre Jeunet  (City of Lost Children)
  5. Mike Newell  (An Awfully Big Adventure)

Analysis:  These are the only Comedy noms for Van Sant, Sonnenfeld and Mambety.  It’s the second nom each for Jeunet and Newell (second in a row for Newell).

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. To Die For
  2. Get Shorty
  3. An Awfully Big Adventure
  4. Jeffrey
  5. Hyenas

Analysis:  We have here both the films that I felt so strongly about that I wrote about how under-appreciated they were for my Year in Film.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Toy Story
  2. Muriel’s Wedding
  3. Clueless
  4. Mighty Aphrodite
  5. Pushing Hands

Analysis:  Woody Allen earns a second straight nomination (the second of four straight).  He’s now up to 960 Comedy points.
This is the weakest Top 5 since 1981.

  • grantBest Actor:
  1. Hugh Grant  (An Awfully Big Adventure)
  2. John Travolta  (Get Shorty)
  3. Johnny Depp  (Don Juan de Marco)
  4. Michael Douglas  (The American President)
  5. Harrison Ford  (Sabrina)

Analysis:  This is the only Comedy nom for Michael Douglas.  It’s the second nom for Ford.  It’s the second in a row for Grant who wins in a performance about the same level as the performance the year before that only earned him a nomination because this year is a lot weaker.  It’s the third nomination for Travolta, 17 years after his last one.  It’s the third in a row and fourth overall for Depp.
There is a large drop in quality after the first two performances.  That makes for the weakest Top 5 since 1990 and the third weakest since 1975.  Hugh Grant is the weakest winner since 1990.

  • nicole-kidman-to-die-forBest Actress
  1. Nicole Kidman  (To Die For)
  2. Georgina Cates  (An Awfully Big Adventure)
  3. Toni Collette  (Muriel’s Wedding)
  4. Minnie Driver  (Circle of Friends)
  5. Jennifer Jason Leigh  (Georgia)

Analysis:  This is the only Comedy nom for Georgina Cates, who hasn’t had much of a film career, which is unfortunate because she’s really good in the film.  It’s the first nom for Kidman, Collette and Driver.  It’s the second straight nom for Leigh.
Georgia isn’t really a Comedy but it is a Musical (the way I classify Musicals).  If you feel like it shouldn’t count, then Holly Hunter (Home for the Holidays) would be next up on my list.
This Top 5, in contrast to the rest of the Comedy categories, is the highest since 1989 and one of the strongest to-date.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Patrick Stewart  (Jeffrey)
  2. Alan Rickman  (An Awfully Big Adventure)
  3. Nathan Lane  (Jeffrey)
  4. Dennis Farina  (Get Shorty)
  5. James Cromwell  (Babe)

Analysis:  These are the only Comedy nominations for Stewart, Farina and Cromwell.  It’s the first nom for Lane.  It’s the second nom for Rickman (and in both years he was also nominated in Drama).

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Mira Sorvino  (Mighty Aphrodite)
  2. Ileana Douglas  (To Die For)
  3. Sigourney Weaver  (Jeffrey)
  4. Mare Winningham  (Georgia)
  5. Cynthia Stevenson  (Home for the Holidays)

Analysis:  These are the only Comedy nominations for Sorvino, Douglas and Winningham.  It’s the second noms for Weaver and Stevenson.
Again, if you don’t want to count Mare Winningham, then next on my list is Rachel Griffiths (Muriel’s Wedding).

  • To Die For  (370)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress
  • An Awfully Big Adventure  (270)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor
  • Get Shorty  (200)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor
  • Jeffrey  (160)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Hyenas  (135)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay
  • Toy Story  (130)
    • Picture, Original Screenplay
  • Mighty Aphrodite  (100)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actress
  • Muriel’s Wedding  (75)
    • Original Screenplay, Actress
  • Georgia  (65)
    • Actress, Supporting Actress
  • City of Lost Children  (45)
    • Director
  • Pushing Hands  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Clueless  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Don Juan DeMarco  (35)
    • Actor
  • The American President  (35)
    • Actor
  • Sabrina  (35)
    • Actor
  • Circle of Friends  (35)
    • Actress
  • Babe  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Home for the Holidays  (30)
    • Supporting Actress

Analysis:  There are six more films than the year before, but that’s because only five films earn more than two nominations and because all eight categories are full for once.

Best Comedy Not Nominated for any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Meet the Feebles

Analysis:  My #37 film of the year and my #11 Comedy.  It is completely lacking in taste and gives you no idea of what Peter Jackson would do years later, but it’s also really damn funny and disturbing.  Imagine The Muppet Show with a shitload of sex, drugs and violence.

Roundup for the Year in Film:

Eligible Films I Have Seen:  195

By Stars:

  • ****:  10
  • ***.5:  25
  • ***:  77
  • **.5:  41
  • **:  19
  • *.5:  7
  • *:  10
  • .5:  4
  • 0:  2
  • Average Film Score for the Year, out of 100:  60.59

Analysis:  The average drops another half-point, helped by having two 0 star films for the first time in 12 years (it won’t happen again until 2008).  While the **** films are down, the ***.5 are way up and are at their highest percentage (12.82%) since 1948.  The total films are the most since 1987.

My Year at the Theater

Introduction:  I’m still listing all the films I saw in the theater.  They are back in release date order.

  • Outbreak  –  I remember seeing this with Kari and Jonathan and that it sucked.  Really sucked.
  • Circle of Friends  –  I’m fairly certain I saw this with Kari after we started dating again.  It was a good film, but it had that problem of the “ignored, ugly duckling” who wasn’t an ugly duckling at all, as especially evidenced by Minnie Driver then becoming the desirable female lead two years later in Grosse Pointe Blank and Good Will Hunting.
  • Don Juan de Marco  –  I believe I saw this with Kari.  I’ve always had a higher opinion of it than the consensus and I rather liked both Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando in it.
  • While You Were Sleeping  –  Honestly, I don’t remember who I saw this with.  It might have been Kari.  It might have been a last date with Deb before she left and went off to art school.
  • Crimson Tide  –  I believe I might have seen this with George at the start of the summer, as we were about to start working and living together.
  • Die Hard: With a Vengeance  –  Almost certain I saw this with George around the time we started painting houses that summer.
  • Forget Paris  –  Perhaps with Kari, although Jonathan remembers seeing this and thinks it must have been with me, so maybe all three of us went.  This film would become relevant early the next year, when I started dating someone while in London and then the relationship didn’t hold together after we got back to the States.
  • Braveheart  –  Saw this with George on opening weekend at Evergreen.  Was unimpressed and eventually later grew to hate it.
  • The Bridges of Madison County  –  I think I must have seen this with Kari because I can’t imagine I went to see it by myself.
  • Smoke  –  This was the big small critical hit of the summer, as dynamically opposed to Apollo 13, which was a film on a large scale.  I was certain this film would earn a nomination for Best Original Screenplay and am still kind of surprised that it wasn’t.  I’m fairly certain I saw it by myself at the KOIN Center which was then still the big art house theater in Portland.
  • Batman Forever  –  George skipped this one because we went to the midnight showing and he didn’t want to mess up his sleep schedule for work.  I saw it with Kari, Mary (George’s then girlfriend) and our friend Tabitha.  Such a colossal disappointment after the two Burton films.
  • Pocahontas  –  I went to this by myself the day it opened at Washington Square because I had been so pleased with the last few Disney films, but the Renaissance was over.  One great song and a rather dud of a film.
  • Belle de Jour  –  This was the first film I ever went to at Cinema 21, with Jonathan and his friends Ben and Heather.  A brilliant film, my first Buñuel film.  In general, I don’t list revival showings, but this was a film that wasn’t available at the time and was actually re-released as opposed to numerous films I would see at McMenamins over the years (including The Princess Bride, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Breakfast at Tiffany’s).
  • Il Postino  –  I think I saw this late in the summer after it had really been built up.  I’m fairly certain I saw it before school started.
  • Apollo 13  –  This was the big film of the summer.  I never thought it was great, but I always thought it was very good and was a certain Oscar nominee.  I never could have imagined at this point that its director would be passed over and that Braveheart would go on to win Best Picture.  Remember that Braveheart wasn’t a big box office hit (the lowest grossing Best Picture in eight years) and wasn’t a big critical hit.  When this came out and was a big hit, both critically and commercially (third biggest film of the year), everyone thought this was the big Best Picture contender.
  • First Knight  –  I remember seeing this with Kari in Tigard because I love the Arthur legend and I thought Sean Connery was a good choice, but good god did it suck.  The second of three movies with Julia Ormond where basically two brothers (in this case, not literal brothers) fight over her while she stands around and looks beautiful and does nothing else.
  • Kids  –  Saw this by myself at the KOIN Center.  Very disturbing film that felt like a documentary because the actors weren’t known and that made it even more disturbing.  I was really impressed with Chloe Sevigny and was glad to see her get more roles soon after this.
  • An Awfully Big Adventure  –  I saw this at Cinema 21 with my parents.  Still a very under-appreciated film as I wrote about in my Year in Film.  I was really impressed with how well this showed Hugh Grant’s range after Four Weddings.
  • Babe  –  Though this was released in August, I skipped it.  When it started getting awards attention, it was re-released the weekend before the Oscar nominations were announced and so Kari, Jonathan and I went out to the Lloyd Center to see it.  If not, it would have been the first Best Picture nominee in three years I hadn’t seen in the theater.
  • Jeffrey  –  I saw this with my dad at Cinema 21.  Loved it, found it hilarious, wrote about it as a second under-appreciated film in my Year in Film.
  • A Matter of Life and Death  –  I saw this with my mom at Cinema 21.  It was strange to go to Cinema 21 in succession, first with my parents, then with each parent, but I distinctly remember doing it (although I might have wrong which movie I saw with which parent).  Brilliant, brilliant film that was unavailable on video and remained so for over a decade after this theatrical release.  I’ve had to approximate this date because unlike Belle de Jour, BoxOfficeMojo doesn’t list this re-release.
  • The Brothers McMullen  –  Another big critical indie hit while Ed Burns has never really lived up to.  I’m fairly certain I saw this with Kari and Jonathan.
  • The Usual Suspects  –  I saw this with Kari and Jonathan in Tigard on its opening weekend.  It was immediately my #1 film of the year.  In fact, it was the only **** I had seen (except for the two films that weren’t eligible for awards – Belle de Jour and A Matter of Life and Death).
  • Clockers  –  Jonathan and I saw this together, probably on opening weekend, as by that time we were roommates.  This slotted in as my #2 movie of the year at that point.  One of the reasons I liked this so much more than earlier Spike Lee films is that I find him to be a really annoying actor and he’s barely in this.
  • Unstrung Heroes  –  I saw this in Tigard with Jonathan and Kari but I struggle to remember why we would have bothered.  We kind of liked it but it was strange.
  • Seven  –  I saw this at the new movie theater that had just built in Forest Grove (and which is no longer there).  I hated it, simply hated it.  I thought Brad Pitt was absolutely terrible.
  • Showgirls  –  I was down in California for a weekend and was at the Century Cinedome and waiting for John Ramirez to get off work.  My choices of a film were Assassins or Showgirls.  I chose sex over violence.  My very first zero star film and still the only zero star film I’ve ever seen in the theater.  Still, I will generally go with sex over violence.  There’s a full review below.
  • To Die For  –  Saw this with Kari and Jonathan.  Jonathan almost died laughing when “All By Myself” played.  Became my #2 film of the year when I saw it.  Loved it.  Still can’t believe the Oscars passed over Nicole Kidman for Sharon Stone.
  • Dead Presidents  –  Jonathan remembers seeing this, so the two of us must have seen it together.  I saw this because I had been really impressed with Menace II Society, but that wasn’t nearly at the same level, though I still vividly remember the transition from the streets of the Bronx to the jungles of Vietnam, a brilliant piece of editing.
  • How to Make an American Quilt  –  I figured that Kari must have dragged me to this, but Jonathan remembers seeing it.  Could we have been that obsessed with Winona Ryder that we went to see this?  Maybe all three of us saw it.
  • Strange Days  –  I don’t remember who I saw this with.  I went to see it because it starred Ralph Fiennes, and after Schindler’s List and Quiz Show I would have watched a documentary of Ralph Fiennes making lunch.  It’s a very uneven film but it has some rather visionary moments in it.
  • Get Shorty  –  Fairly certain I saw this with Jonathan and Kari.  Really liked it when I saw it and still think it is quite good.  Was the start of an Elmore Leonard wave.
  • Mallrats  –  I had actually not seen Clerks in the theater, which is surprising to look back at and realize, since it’s one of my favorite films of all-time.  But I had seen it by this time and loved it and wasn’t going to miss his next film, especially since I had been a total mallrat as a teenager (ironically, since now I hate malls).  I remember seeing this at Washington Square, I think with Kari.
  • Mighty Aphrodite  –  Fairly certain I saw this with both Kari and Jonathan.  A bit of a disappointment after Bullets over Broadway.
  • Leaving Las Vegas  –  This opened in a very limited engagement in October, but I didn’t see it until December.  I distinctly remember seeing it.  Kari and I drove in to Portland and parked at the Broadway Metroplex.  Then we walked over to the KOIN Center to see this and got horribly depressed.  Then we walked back to the Metroplex and saw Sense and Sensibility and that cheered us right back up.  I have never seen this since, though I eventually will have to for my Adapted Screenplay project.  I don’t relish the thought.
  • Home for the Holidays  –  I saw this at Evergreen with my mom.  There are some very good moments, but overall it’s just okay.  Good supporting performances from Robert Downey Jr and Cynthia Stevenson.
  • GoldenEye  –  I believe I saw this with Kari at the Forest Grove 7.  It was the first James Bond film I had ever seen in the theater.  Sadly, the future Pierce Brosnan films would not be nearly as good.
  • The American President  –  Fairly certain I saw this with Kari on opening weekend in Tigard.  It looked like a sure Golden Globe contender (and was) but I was actually a bit disappointed.
  • Toy Story  –  I saw this on Thanksgiving with my family at the Forest Grove 7 and then came down with pneumonia and spent the rest of Thanksgiving weekend shivering in my bed back at my apartment.
  • Casino  –  Jamie and I hadn’t been living together since the end of school in May and had kind of drifted apart.  We went to see this over Christmas together because we hadn’t been seeing much of each other.
  • Heat  –  Though this opened on December 15, I know I didn’t see it until December 31 and then I only saw most of it.  On December 30, I flew down to Orange County to spend New Year’s with all my high school friends, because in the previous few months we had all turned 21 (and none of my college friends were 21 yet).  I pretty much gave myself alcohol poisoning and was lucky not to end up dead.  While still suffering from the ill effects of that, several of us went to see Heat at the Century Cinedome, but I had to keep leaving to throw up.  So, after getting back to Forest Grove, I saw it again with George, Mary, Kari and Jonathan at the Forest Grove Theater so I could see the final half hour.
  • Sabrina  –  I’m fairly certain I saw this with Kari.  I wasn’t going to miss a Harrison Ford film, even if Julia Ormond was just going to stand around and look pretty and have two brothers fight over her.  I will give her credit though, for being more forgettable as the young Sabrina than Audrey Hepburn was and under-going more of a transformation.
  • Sense and Sensibility  –  Instantly competed with The Usual Suspects for my #1 spot and they would continue to compete for years, until Sense finally edged it out.  As I noted above, I saw this with Kari at the Broadway Metroplex immediately after watching Leaving Las Vegas.  It was definitely the right move to see this film second.
  • Othello  –  I’m fairly certain I saw this with Kari.  I think it would have been a lot better if Kenneth Branagh had also directed as well as playing Iago.
  • Nixon  –  Maybe I saw this by myself?  I’m fairly certain I didn’t see it with Jonathan who ended up hating it after he saw it.  Very flawed film, but Hopkins and Joan Allen (a real discovery for me in this film and she would be a big part of my awards for the next few years) are magnificent.
  • 12 Monkeys  –  I believe I saw this with Kari at the Forest 7.  Jonathan refused to see it because of Brad Pitt, but since he wasn’t the lead and since it was Gilliam, I felt okay about it.  This was proof positive that Pitt is generally terrible as a lead but great as a character actor in supporting performances.
  • Dead Man Walking  –  I believe I saw this by myself during awards season.  Very good but not great film.
  • Richard III  –  This looked amazing and I remember going to see it but not with who.  Jonathan thinks he was there.  Though I had seen him in films before, this was the film where I first really noticed Ian McKellen and he immediately became one of my favorite actors.  I was in London and Vienna for January and don’t think I saw this until after I returned to the States.
  • Mr. Holland’s Opus  –  There was already talk by this time of a “Portland curse”, of films made in Portland sucking.  But Jonathan, Kari and I went to see this anyway because it looked like it would earn a Best Actor nomination.  Dreyfuss was solid but the film itself wasn’t very good and it didn’t look like the film to break the curse, a curse which never really existed when you think about films like Drugstore Cowboy and My Own Private Idaho.

Endnote:  That’s 10 more films than the year before.  I saw all of the Oscar nominees before the nominations, although I was only able to do that because Babe was re-released the weekend before the nominations were announced.  I also saw 8 of my top 9 and 11 of my top 13 films of the year in the theater.  In fact, you have to go all the way down to #23 to find an English language film on my list that I didn’t see in the theater this year (The Secret of Roan Inish).

Oscar-Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • none

Oscar Quality:

Best Picture:  Oh what a disaster.  Even not accounting for the fact that Braveheart was the worst winner since 1952 this is a bad year.  Yes four of the five films qualify for my Best Picture list, but one of them just barely (Babe) and there is only one **** film for the first time since 1968.  After 1994 (best to-date, 3rd best ever) we drop over 60 spots, down to #64, the worst since 1970.  There hasn’t been a year anywhere near as bad as this one since.  The second best nominee is Il Postino, which is a very good film, but only 9 years have a second best film that is weaker.  And of course, by failing to nominate Ang Lee and Ron Howard they basically guaranteed that the winner would be the mediocre Braveheart.

The Winners:  Well, this is why I do a ranking of the winners average (14.7, worst since 1958, second worst since 1933, 5th worst to-date) and a ranking of the winners average without Best Picture (8.11, still worst since 1958, but now only 6th worst to-date).  Braveheart wins five Oscars and none of them are in my Top 10, with Picture, Director and Cinematography really bringing down the total.  Among the nominees it’s actually an improvement over the year before, with an average of 2.35, because in only three categories did they pick the worst nominee (Picture, Director, Sound Editing).  This year joins the oddities of 1968 and 1976 where the Picture and Director winners don’t make the Top 10 but both Screenplay categories winners also win the Nighthawk (in all three cases, of course, the Best Picture winner didn’t win Screenplay).  There are actually more categories where the Academy made the best choice among the nominees in this year (8) than in the year before (7).

The Nominees:  The reason for that is that the nominees simply weren’t very good.  The overall score was 63.1, the lowest since 1977 and the second lowest since 1969.  Among the Tech categories it was a particularly bad 54.9, the lowest since 1977 namely because of the abysmal scores in Makeup (o), Editing (14.3) and Sound Editing (34.8).  But the major categories were also terrible, with a score of 51.5, the lowest since 1965.  Picture was a dreadful 46.9, the lowest since 1968 and Director was even worse (34.3, the worst since 1956).  The score is saved a bit by the acting categories which actually improve from the year before, going up to a very respectable 87.3.  Only Actress is above 90 (94.6) but only Supporting Actor is below 80 and it’s still a very good 77.8.

Golden Globe Best Picture – Comedy / Musical:  The Globes don’t fall as far as the Oscars but they do drop considerably from 1994.  This year is 33rd overall, with one **** film (Toy Story), one high ***.5 film (Get Shorty), one low ***.5 film (Babe – the winner), one *** film (The American President) and one **.5 film (Sabrina).  So the question is – what the hell were they thinking?  I mean, I don’t really expect the Globes to nominate An Awfully Big Adventure or Jeffrey while Hyenas, City of Lost Children and Pushing Hands wouldn’t have been eligible.  But the answers were right there in their nominees for Best Actress – To Die For and Muriel’s Wedding.  Even if you leave in The American President (it was nominated for Director and Screenplay after all – joining Avanti as the only film to earn the Globe big 5 nominations and none of those 5 from the Oscars) and just cut Sabrina for To Die For you jump all the way to #15.

Top 5 Films of the Year:

1  –  Sense and Sensibility  (reviewed here)

And let the quoting of immortal movie lines begin now.

And let the quoting of immortal movie lines begin now.

2  –  The Usual Suspects  (dir. Bryan Singer)
This was marketed at the time as just an interesting thriller.  Could they have known that they were making a film for the ages?  That this would be a film that would win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor, that it would have lines that would be quoted from the day it was released all the way until today?  That it would take a director who had made one small film and make him a huge success?

There are a lot of great things about this film.  There is a great performance in its lead from Gabriel Byrne, who was still not particularly well known and even today isn’t appreciated for how great an actor he is.  There was the great use of an ensemble cast, where the cast perfectly fits together into their roles.  Just look at the moment where the crew gets their dossiers and we find out who committed the crime that put them all in the same line-up to begin with and they way they react.  There is the performance from Chazz Palmentiri, the complete opposite of his Oscar nominated performance from the year before in Bullets Over Broadway, and yet, also, a remarkably similar performance.

But there are three things about this film that really make it one of the stand out films of the year.  The first is the screenplay.  While it was passed over for Best Picture and Director at the Oscars, it actually won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, the first winner without either of those nominations since 1972.  The script figures out how the story works and makes it circle around to itself, not quite playing fair with us at first, but making certain that all the things come back together.

The second is the performance from Kevin Spacey.  Spacey leapt into stardom this year, mainly on the performance here and in Seven, but also for Outbreak and Swimming with Sharks.  This was really the performance, as he gets all the best lines, making perfect use of them, his scared little voice hiding in his body, but then he bursts with confidence at the exact minute that he needs to.  This is the performance that would show he was capable of both L.A. Confidential and American Beauty.

The third thing that really stands out is the editing and it’s ridiculous that the Academy didn’t nominate the incredible work on this film.  The writing helps show the way, but it is the editing that makes it all fit together, moving from one moment to the next, but then back, then around, until it is like an intricately constructed jigsaw puzzle that we can finally see as a whole once all the pieces have been fitted in.

And yet, it all comes down those final few moments, the moments when we suddenly realize, just as Chazz has, what exactly has been going on and how brilliant everything we have been watching on screen for the previous two hours really is.

Before he was Magneto and Gandalf, he was one of Shakespeare's most dastardly villains.

Before he was Magneto and Gandalf, he was one of Shakespeare’s most dastardly villains.

3  –  Richard III  (dir. Richard Loncraine)

I had been watching Ian McKellen for years without knowing it.  At the latest I saw my first McKellen film sometime in 1990 when Scandal came out on video.  But he was just another of the numerous British actors in that film.  But in late 1995 I started reading about and seeing ads for this new visionary film of Richard III, one based on McKellen’s stage version of the play.  Then I went to London in January of 1996 and got really fascinated with the play, seeing it on stage in Stratford and meeting one of the performers, who talked with my class about the play.  So, once I got back to the States and had time to get to the movies (in England all I did was go to the theater) this was one of the first films I headed to.  And damn did I love it.

I was no neophyte when it came to modernizing Shakespeare.  Even putting aside something like West Side Story that used the story but not the language, my school had done a version of Hamlet set in the 1930’s.  So, seeing a modern day Richard with fascism as a central theme seemed only all too appropriate.  It was a smart move, especially taking the two characters who are kind of out of place in the family and making them American.  But nothing could have prepared me for the lead performance.

Look at how we meet Richard, bursting through a wall with commandoes and killing a man himself.  Then we see him enjoying the admiration of his brother, only to slip off into the bathroom and provide us with those memorable opening lines while urinating.  Then, soon after, we get one of the most disturbing scenes in all of Shakespeare, when Richard is proposing, a scene made even more unnerving when he suck his hand to get the ring off and then takes it, still dripping with his saliva, and slides it onto her finger.

This is a Richard for these times.  He’s a murderer.  He’s a brutal fascist who is willing to kill whoever stands in his way. He is a man who envisions himself a leader but can do nothing but rule by fear and deceit.  It’s a mesmerizing performance by McKellen that locks us into place.  It sets the stage for all the great film performances to follow.  Without this film, would we have his Gandalf or Magneto?  Without this, could imagine the deft satiric touch in Cold Comfort Farm or the powerhouse performance in Gods and Monsters?  He was already one of the most acclaimed stage actors in Britain but this film sets up one of the great film careers to follow.

We won't make the musical, we'll re-envision the book in a way you never thought of.

We won’t make the musical, we’ll re-envision the book in a way you never thought of.

4  –  Les Miserables  (dir. Claude Lelouch)

By 1995, Les Miserables was well-established as one of the greatest and most popular musicals in stage history.  It celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Royal Albert Hall, complete with a stage full of the world’s Valjeans coming out to sing together.  So, when a new film version was announced, it was natural to expect that it would be the film adaptation of the musical.  It was not.  We would have to wait another 17 years (and through yet another film adaptation) before we would get to that.  Instead, what Claude Lelouch would do was re-imagine the original novel in a completely new way, one which stays true to the book and moves forward in such new and invigorating ways that we don’t know what will come next.

This film is not the story of Jean Valjean, though we hear about Valjean’s troubles and we even see them on the screen.  There are parallels between Valjean’s life and the life of Henri Fortin, the hero of this story.  Henri is strong like Valjean (he becomes a boxer).  His father died in prison attempting to escape, much as Valjean constantly attempted to escape.  When World War II arrives, Henri tries to help a Jewish couple escape the Nazi invasion.  He helps shelter their daughter in a convent.  Over the years he will become a father figure to the girl and will aid in her romance with a young man named Marius.

But those are just the parallels.  Really, this story, like the original novel, is a story of love and war, of revolt and liberty, of freedom and perseverance.  The husband in the Jewish couple is kept alive for years by a farmer and his wife, but they also don’t tell him once France is liberated.  The wife is forced to endure the brutality of the Nazis, just trying to stay alive.  The daughter comes to Henri because he is the only person she knows after the Liberation.  The film takes ideas from the novels and looks at them in new and interesting ways, yet never strays too far from the original concepts.  It is bold and new and you could easily claim it as one of the best adapted screenplays of the year or one of the best original screenplays of the year.

Holding it all together is the performance from Jean-Paul Belmondo.  Ever since Breathless he had been a powerhouse of charisma on the screen.  But never, in his long career, did he give a performance anywhere near the power of this one, embodying all the virtues of Jean Valjean while never shying away from any of his faults.  He is strong and dedicated, but he is also a criminal when he feels he can be.  He is a complete human being and he anchors the film with a complete performance.

The greatness of Les Miserables, a novel that certainly has faults, is that it is such a magnificent story that it can be pulled in so many directions.  From films that stay true while cutting much, to television versions that encompass the entire novels to bold, breath-taking stage musicals to this new, completely different version, it is one of our great stories and this is one of the best versions.

twelve_monkeys_ver2

Another happy at the look at the future from Terry Gilliam.

5  –  12 Monkeys  (dir. Terry Gilliam)

Is Terry Gilliam afraid of the future?  Look at Brazil, his dark, visionary tale of an Orwellian future in which death in a dream is the only real happy ending possible.  Or you can look here at 12 Monkeys, where the world has been wiped out and the only hope for mankind is to send a prisoner back in time and hope that he can hold things together in his head long enough to prevent the apocalypse.  Even that will end up simply in a loop, time reoccurring again and again until there is nothing left itself but the loop.  Like Brazil, it’s dark and visionary, although it doesn’t have the humor that Brazil had.

There are several things that are impressive about this film.  The first is the way that it takes a little short film called La Jetée, which is just made up of still images, and crafts a much larger film around it.  It creates characters who inhabit that world without betraying the original source material, but also takes that material in a completely new direction.  It expands and surrounds that material.

But it also has a fascinating look to it.  The costumes were Oscar nominated, which was a bold move by the Academy for costumes that were clearly a far cry from what the Academy would normally nominate (and very different than the other four nominees).  It creates a world of animals running loose, of life underground, of a future that has lost control of the surface.  It has a dark grimy look, but then we burst into the bright cold world of an airport for our final moments.  We see academic buildings and dank dirty psychiatric wards.  We see seedy motels and life on the streets.

But perhaps the most impressive thing is the acting.  Not because the acting is so good (although, in Brad Pitt, it most certainly is), but because of what Gilliam is able to do with a cast that certainly wasn’t going to be considered a powerhouse of acting at the time.  Brad Pitt, who had just been simply awful, a charismatic vacuum at the center of Seven, almost completely reinvents himself as a bizarre character actor who can captivate the screen provided he’s not called on to carry the film.  Carrying the film instead is Bruce Willis, who, yes was coming off Pulp Fiction, but was also coming off Color of Night and here carries a role which shows the range he could provide in a film like Sixth Sense later on.  The female lead is Madeline Stowe, no one’s idea of a great actress even if she is many people’s idea of a great beauty.  But here she can seem helpless, vulnerable and strong all at the same time, trying to take command of a situation that is so far out of hands that she can’t even tell what is going on.

All of this works together because, while studios have never had faith in Gilliam, what he puts on the screen is so amazing and visionary (yes, I have used the word a lot, but it’s really the right word when it comes to Gilliam) that the results might not be box office magic, they are are a true work of art, much more so than the box office hits that many other directors provide.

The Razzies:  The Razzies do mostly a good job, handing out a record number of awards to the worst film of the year (Showgirls) and giving nominations to two other deserving films (Congo, The Scarlet Letter).  Neither of those make my bottom 5, but they are both *.  The fourth nominee, It’s Pat, I have been unable to see because I refuse to pay to see it on YouTube – I’m not that dedicated to this project – and it’s not readily available on video, but quite frankly I assume it belonged here.  It is an SNL movie after all.  That leaves us with Kevin Costner once again.  Clearly, after The Bodyguard, the Razzies decided that Costner was one of their major targets.  They targeted Wyatt Earp in 1994 which was stupid because it was quite a good film.  In 1997 they will go after The Postman, and while I think higher of that film than most people, I understand the targeting.  But here we have Waterworld.  It was a huge flop and deserved to be – it’s relentlessly mediocre and Costner is quite bad in it.  But it’s not nearly deserving to be nominated as one of the worst films of the year.  It’s just not that bad (I have it as a low **.5).  The Razzies did nominate Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde, one of the worst films of the year for Worst Remake.  They also nominated the big budget disaster Cutthroat Island for Worst Director, which is good because it was considerably worse than Waterworld.  But the weirdest omission is Jade, which was heavily hyped, had horrible reviews and was supposed to make David Caruso a movie star instead of destroying his career.  How the hell did that not earn any Razzie noms?  It’s much worse than Waterworld (low *.5).

5 Worst Films  (#1 being the worst):

  1. Showgirls
  2. The Doom Generation
  3. Billy Madison
  4. The Mangler
  5. Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde

note:  The first two are 0 star films with the other three being .5 films.  The only other .5 film in this year is Mortal Kombat.
The list of Presumably Crappy Films That I Would Confirm are Crappy But I Haven’t Seen Them and Don’t Intend to See Them are: Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Assassins (see below), Grumpier Old Men, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Highlander: The Final Dimension, It’s Pat, Jury Duty, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Nine Months, Operation Dumbo Drop, Powder and Vampire in Brooklyn.

Hopefully this will forever be the worst film I have ever seen in the theater.

Hopefully this will forever be the worst film I have ever seen in the theater.

Showgirls  (dir. Paul Verhoeven)

This will remain, hopefully forever, the worst film I ever saw in the theater.  For several years, it was the only film I ever rewarded with 0 stars.  Yet, in one way, at least, I don’t regret seeing it.  I was killing time at the Century Cinedome waiting for my friend John Ramirez to get off work so we could drive to San Diego.  My choices (because of timing) were Assassins or Showgirls.  I decided if I was going to see a shitty movie, I wanted the one with sex and not the one with violence.

I had some decent hopes for this film.  It was directed by Paul Verhoeven.  Verhoeven had made Total Recall, which was a first-rate Sci-Fi film that had humor and action balanced well together.  Then he made Basic Instinct, which had a solid performance from Sharon Stone, some really good moments of suspense and a terrible script.  The problem was that this film was being made with the same shitty screenwriter.  And that wasn’t the only problem.

Whose idea was it to make a film about showgirls in Vegas and have, as its star, an actress who is not particularly beautiful, is not sensual at all (two different things and the latter is much more important for a film like this) and most importantly, can’t act worth a damn.  Yes, Verhoeven had been a talented director, and he would even be one again (look at Black Book).  But if you have a truly awful script (“She’s no butterfly. Tony, she’s all pelvic thrust. I mean, she prowls. She’s got it!”), a truly terrible lead performance and no sense of eroticism then what the hell do you have?  You have a movie like this.

Look at one scene in particular.  It’s the scene with Elizabeth Berkley and Kyle MacLachlan in the pool.  First of all, Kyle is an actually talented actor (just look at Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks).  What the hell is he even doing in this film?  Hiding perhaps?  That’s my only explanation for that hairdo.  So, she gets naked and hops in his pool.  He follows her in with a bottle of champagne, which he then pours over her, because, you know, what makes champagne taste better than when it’s mixed with chlorinated pool water.  Then they start having sex.  Either that or Berkley goes into cardiac arrest, because I don’t know what the hell she is doing flopping around in the pool like that.

I suppose someone might chime in and lay forth the claim that this is all satire, that we’re meant to enjoy it as satire and that it’s actually good.  There are certainly people who defend Verhoeven’s next shitty film, Starship Troopers, like that.  But satire requires a certain amount of intelligence that I don’t think is on display here.  What’s on display is a lot of female flesh.  It’s not sexy.  It’s not erotic.  For the most part, it just becomes boring.  And any film with this much nudity that just becomes boring is so bad that it just has to be a zero star film.

Points:

  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:   Sense and Sensibility  (11)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:   Sense and Sensibility  (9)
  • Most Nighthawk:   Sense and Sensibility  (625)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Award:  Tank Girl
  • 2nd Place Award:  The Usual Suspects  (Picture, Director, Cinematography)
  • 6th Place Award:  Leaving Las Vegas  (Picture, Director)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Nominations:   Sense and Sensibility  (7)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Awards:   Sense and Sensibility  (5)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Points:   Sense and Sensibility  (460)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Drama Award:  Othello
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Nominations:   An Awfully Big Adventure  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Awards:   To Die For  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Points:   To Die For  (370)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Comedy Award:  Sabrina

Note:  * means a Nighthawk record up to this point; ** ties a Nighthawk record
Note:  There are five Comedies that earn nominations that are worse than the worst Drama film (Mighty Aphrodite, Don Juan de Marco, The American President, Georgia, Sabrina).

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  (675)
  • Foreign Film:  Akira Kurosawa  (600)

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

  • Drama:  79 (31)  –  Sense and Sensibility  (66.2)
  • Foreign:  53  –  Les Miserables  (68.4)
  • Comedy:  43 (8)  –  To Die For  (59.9)
  • Crime:  18 (5)  –  The Usual Suspects  (60.5)
  • Kids:  14  –  Toy Story  (59.7)
  • Action:  9 (3)  –  The Executioners  (55.6)
  • Horror:  7  –  Shallow Grave  (37.3)
  • Fantasy:  5 (4)  –  The Bride with White Hair 2  (64.8)
  • Sci-Fi:  5  –  12 Monkeys  (45.4)
  • Adventure:  5  –  Rob Roy  (39.2)
  • Suspense:  4 (1)  –  The Innocent  (57)
  • Musical:  2 (1)  –  Georgia  (65)
  • Western:  2  –  The Quick and the Dead  (56.6)
  • Mystery:  2  –  Devil in a Blue Dress  (52)
  • War:  0

Analysis:  After not having a year from 1941 to 1993 without a War film, for the second year in a row, I have seen no War films.  The 18 Crime films are a new high.  The 5 Fantasy films are the highest between 1990 and 2001.  The 14 Kids films are a new high.  The 4 Suspense films are the fewest since 1983.  The Drama average is its highest since 1983.  The Foreign average is the highest since 1982.
12 Monkeys is the first Sci-Fi film to make the Top 10 in nine years and the only between Aliens and Minority Report.  The 3 Comedies in the Top 20 are the fewest in five years.  The 4 Crime films in the Top 20 are tied for the 2nd most to-date.  The 11 Dramas in the Top 20 are the most since 1983.

Studio Note:  It’s all about Miramax.  It takes the top title away from Warner Bros after Warner has been on top for five straight years.  The 22 Miramax films I have seen in this year are the most I have seen from any studio since 1953.  Ironically (since Miramax was owned by Disney), Buena Vista, the release arm of Disney is in second place with 17 films, its highest total to-date.  No other studio has more than 12 films.  Gramercy Picture starts to become an important indie and has the #2 film of the year.  I have my first film from Lionsgate (Pushing Hands).  Sony Pictures Classics takes a big leap up, with 9 films.  I only have 6 films from 20th Century-Fox, my lowest output from them since 1934.  The 10 Warners films are the lowest since 1981.  But I have 12 films from MGM/UA, the most since 1983.
Ironically, while Miramax has a lot more films than ever before, they are not as good.  In 1994, 5 of the 15 Miramax films were in the Top 10.  In this year, none of the 22 films are in the Top 10, though there are three in the Top 20, lead by Il Postino (my #11) and Smoke (my #13).  Paramount has its worst year ever, with their 10 films averaging a dreadful 46.2.  Perhaps I just skipped the bad Warners films, because its 10 films average 67.3, the highest for the company since 1988.  New Line’s 9 films are even worse than Paramount’s, averaging 41.56.
The two MGM/UA films in the Top 10 (Richard III, Leaving Las Vegas) are the most since 1988.  In fact, 8 of the Top 10 films are from the major studios (The Usual Suspects and Mina Tannenbaum are the exceptions), the most since 1982.
After its great stretch in the 50’s and 60’s (winning six awards from 1953 to 1964) and becoming the first studio to win six Nighthawks, Columbia finally wins its seventh after a 31 year gap, becoming the third studio to win seven awards.

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

  1. Toy Story  (****, Lassetter, Disney (Pixar))
  2. Whisper of the Heart  (***.5, Kondo, Toho (Ghibli))
  3. Memories  (***, Morimoto / Ohtomo / Okamura, Bandai Visual Company)
  4. The Wings of Honneamise  (***, Yamaga, Tara Releasing)
  5. Balto  (***, Wells, Universal)
  6. A Goofy Movie  (***, Lima, Disney)
  7. The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb  (**.5, Borthwick, Tara Releasing)
  8. Pocahontas  (**.5, Gabriel / Goldberg, Disney)
  9. Faust  (**.5, Svankmajer, Zeitgeist Films)
  10. Arabian Night  (**, Williams, Miramax)
  11. The Pebble and the Penguin  (**, Bluth, MGM/UA)
  12. Gumby: The Movie  (*.5, Clokey, Arrow Releasing)

Note:  Only seven of these films were Oscar eligible (Toy Story, Balto, A Goofy Movie, Pocahontas, Arabian Night, The Pebble and the Penguin, Gumby: The Movie).  Three more are listed at oscars.org with an LA release date but were not on the official Oscar eligibility list (The Wings of Honneamise, The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb, Faust).  The last two (Whisper of the Heart, Memories) aren’t even listed at oscars.org and might not have gotten a US theatrical release.
For only the second time, following 1947, there are three Disney films.  I track all Disney distributed films together, even the Pixar ones.  But these are the three different types of Disney films: one Pixar film, one Disney Animated film (Pocahontas) and only the second DisneyToon film (and the last until 2000): A Goofy Movie.  This is the last year until 2009 that there is no Warner Bros film.  Balto is the last Universal film until 2006.

55 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):

  • 301, 302  (Park, South Korea)  *
  • 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance  (Haneke, Austria)
  • Adultery: A User’s Guide  (Pascal, Switzerland)  *
  • All Things Fair  (Widerberg, Sweden)  **
  • Antonia’s Line  (Gorris, Netherlands)  ***
  • The Bait  (Tavernier, France)
  • Beyond the Clouds  (Wenders, Germany)
  • Blush  (Li, China)
  • Brother of Sleep  (Vilsmaier, Germany)  *
  • La Ceremonie  (Chabrol, France)
  • The Chinese Feast  (Tsui, Hong Kong)
  • City of Lost Children  (Jeunet, France)
  • The Confessional  (Lepage, Canada)  *
  • Crows  (Kedzierzawska, Poland)  *
  • Cyclo  (Tran, Vietnam)
  • Dust of Life  (Bouchareb, Algeria)  **
  • Fallen Angels  (Wong, Hong Kong)
  • The Flower of My Secret  (Almodovar, Spain)  *
  • French Twist  (Balasko, France)  *
  • Gamera: Guardian of the Universe  (Kaneko, Japan)
  • Ghost in the Shell  (Oshii, Japan)
  • God’s Comedy  (Monteiro, Portugal)  *
  • Guantanamera  (Tabio, Cuba)
  • La Haine  (Kassovitz, France)
  • The Horseman on the Roof  (Rappeneau, France)
  • Jonah and the Pink Whale  (Valdiva, Bolivia)  *
  • Kristin Lavransdatter  (Ullmann, Norway)  *
  • Kuruthipunal  (Sriram, India)  *
  • Les Miserables  (Lelouch, France)
  • Like Two Crocodiles  (Campiotti, Italy)
  • Maborosi  (Koreeda, Japan)
  • Macross Plus  (Kawamori, Japan)
  • Memories  (Morimoto / Ohtomo / Okamura, Japan)
  • Midaq Alley  (Fons, Mexico)  *
  • A Moment of Innocence  (Makhmalbaf, Iran)
  • A Moslem  (Khotinenko, Russia)  *
  • Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud  (Sautet, France)
  • O Quatrillo  (Barreto, Brazil)  **
  • A Pure Formality  (Tornatore, Italy)
  • Red Cherry  (Ye, China)  *
  • Rumble in the Bronx  (Tong, Hong Kong)
  • Shanghai Triad  (Yimou, China)
  • Sicario  (Ramon Novoa, Venezuela)  *
  • The Star Maker  (Tornatore, Italy)  **
  • The Stendhal Syndrome  (Argento, Italy)
  • Summer Snow  (Hui, Hong Kong)  *
  • Super Citizen Ko  (Jan, Taiwan)  *
  • Tears of Stone  (Oddsson, Iceland)  *
  • Ulysses’ Gaze  (Angelopoulos, Greece)  *
  • Underground  (Kusturica, Serbia)  *
  • Washed Out  (Ogresta, Croatia)  *
  • Whisper of the Heart  (Kondo, Japan)
  • The White Balloon  (Panahi, Iran)  *
  • Wild Horses  (Pineyro, Argentina)  *
  • Zero Kelvin  (Moland, Norway)

Note:  I have my first film from Bolivia.  I have two films from Norway for the first time.  I have my first films from Greece and South Korea in five years.  I have my first film from Brazil in seven years.  France leads yet again with 8 films.  Japan is back in 2nd place for the first time in four years with 6 fims.
The Confessional is my first Mystery in six years.  I have two Horror films for the first time in eight years, marking a slight uptick in the genre (most years after this will have at least two).  Drama films drop, but with 34 of the 55, they still account for well more than half.

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

  • Austria:  Ant Street  (dir. Glawogger)
  • Belgium:  Mannekin Pis  (dir. van Passel)
  • Czech Republic:  I Thank You for Each New Morning  (dir. Steindler)
  • Dominican Republic:  Nueba Yol  (dir. Muniz)
  • Finland:  The Last Wedding  (dir.  Polonen)
  • Hungary:  The Outpost  (dir.  Gother)
  • Israel:  Lovesick on Nana Street  (dir.  Gavison)
  • Japan:  Deep River  (dir.  Kumai)
  • Philippines:  Harvest Home  (dir.  Siguion-Reyna)
  • Slovakia:  The Garden  (dir.  Sulik)
  • Thailand:  Once Upon a Time… This Morning  (dir.  Rittakol)
  • Tunisia:  Le Magique  (dir.  Melliti)
  • United Kingdom:  Branwen  (dir.  Sherlock)

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 28 for 41 (68%), the start of six years where I rarely get above 70%.  This is the first of two straight years of declining submissions (down five from the year before) before the climb really begins.
An astounding 15 countries that submitted the year before don’t submit this year, including two nominees (Cuba, Macedonia) and three first-time submitters who won’t be back for several years (Bosnia, Cambodia, Guatemala).  The others out from the year before are Denmark (it’s only post-1980 miss), Romania, Turkey, Peru, Chile, Slovenia, Egypt, Colombia, Puerto Rico and Belarus.  Returning with submissions after a year off are Brazil, China, Finland and the UK, returning after longer lay-offs are Greece, Philippines, Thailand and the Dominican Republic while submitting for the first time are Bolivia and Tunisia.
I am missing that first Tunisian submission.  The other misses are my first (Dominican Republic), second (Czech Republic), third (Slovakia, Thailand, Philippines, UK), sixth (Finland), ninth (Hungary), 12th (Austria), 13th (Belgium), 14th (Japan), and 16th, although I’ll have all its future submissions (Israel).

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

  • The Money Order  (1968)
  • Xala  (1974)
  • The Element of Crime  (1984)
  • City on Fire  (1987)
  • The Wings of Honneamise  (1987)
  • Meet the Feebles  (1989)
  • I, The Worst of All  (1990)
  • Arizona Dream  (1991)
  • El Bulto  (1991)
  • The Stranger  (1991)
  • Guelwaar  (1992)
  • Hyenas  (1992)
  • Pushing Hands  (1992)
  • The Women from the Lake of Scented Souls  (1992)
  • Arabian Night  (1993)
  • The Bed You Sleep In  (1993)
  • Calendar  (1993)
  • The Executioners  (1993)
  • Full Contact  (1993)
  • The Innocent  (1993)
  • Johnny 100 Pesos  (1993)
  • Love and Human Remains  (1993)
  • Sankofa  (1993)
  • Bandit Queen  (1994)
  • Before the Rain  (1994)
  • Burnt by the Sun  (1994)
  • Country Life  (1994)
  • Ermo  (1994)
  • Exotica  (1994)
  • Farinelli: Il Castrato  (1994)
  • Faust  (1994)
  • Green Snake  (1994)
  • Lisbon Story  (1994)
  • The Mangler  (1994)
  • Mina Tannenbaum  (1994)
  • Once Were Warriors  (1994)
  • Il Postino  (1994)
  • Priest  (1994)
  • The Promise  (1994)
  • The Secret of Roan Inish  (1994)
  • Shallow Grave  (1994)
  • Strawberry and Chocolate  (1994)
  • Swimming with Sharks  (1994)
  • Through the Olive Trees  (1994)
  • Wild Reeds  (1994)

Note:  These 46 films average a 65.2 though if you take out The Mangler, the average goes up to 66.6.  The list includes one great film (Mina Tannenbaum) and a number of very good films (Il Postino, Hyenas, Burnt by the Sun, Before the Rain, The Secret of Roan Inish, The Bridge with White Hair 2, Exotica, Pushing Hands, The Executioners).  They account for 11 Nighthawk nominations, only four of which are for Foreign Film.

Films That Weren’t Eligible at the Oscars:

  • Arizona Dream
  • Bandit Queen
  • The Bed You Sleep In
  • Before the Rain
  • El Bulto
  • Burnt by the Sun
  • Calendar
  • The Chinese Feast
  • City on Fire
  • Delta of Venus
  • The Element of Crime
  • Ermo
  • The Executioners
  • Full Contact
  • Green Snake
  • Guelwaar
  • I, the Worst of All
  • The Mangler
  • Mina Tannenbaum
  • Persuasion
  • The Promise
  • Pushing Hands
  • Sankofa
  • The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb
  • The Stranger
  • Strawberry and Chocolate
  • Super 8 1/2
  • Through the Olive Trees
  • Wild Reeds
  • The Wings of Honneamise
  • Women from the Lake of Scented Souls
  • Xala

Note:  This is different from the list below.  Starting in 1994, I have full lists from Academy press releases of all the eligible films.  But there are a lot of films in each year that weren’t officially eligible for a variety of reasons but were released in what would normally be considered qualifying runs.  So, these are films that are listed on oscars.org (unlike the list below), but weren’t actually eligible for the Oscars.  I ignore that, of course, and these films are all eligible for the Nighthawks.  But having them on the list helps me know what year they were “eligible” even if they really weren’t.  Bear in mind that some of these films were eligible (and sometimes even nominated) for Best Foreign Film in their original release year.

Films Not Listed at Oscars.org:

  • Adultery: A User’s Guide
  • The Bait
  • The Bride with White Hair 2
  • Dust of Life
  • God’s Comedy
  • Hyenas
  • Johnny 100 Pesos
  • Jonah and the Pink Whale
  • Kristin Lavransdatter
  • Kuruthipunal
  • Like Two Crocodiles
  • Lisbon Story
  • Meet the Feebles
  • Memories
  • The Money Order
  • A Moslem
  • O Quatrillo
  • Summer Snow
  • Super Citizen Ko
  • Tears of Stone
  • Washed Out
  • Whisper of the Heart
  • Wild Horses

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:

  • 301, 302  (1996)
  • All Things Fair  (1996)
  • Angels and Insects  (1996)
  • Antonia’s Line  (1996)
  • Blush  (1996)
  • Brother of Sleep  (1996)
  • Butterfly Kiss  (1996)
  • Le Ceremonie  (1996)
  • Cold Comfort Farm  (1996)
  • The Confessional  (1996)
  • Crows  (1996)
  • Cyclo  (1996)
  • The Flower of My Secret  (1996)
  • French Twist  (1996)
  • Gamera: Guardian of the Universe  (1996)
  • Ghost in the Shell  (1996)
  • La Haine  (1996)
  • The Horseman on the Roof  (1996)
  • In the Bleak Midwinter  (1996)
  • Land and Freedom  (1996)
  • The Last Supper  (1996)
  • Maborosi  (1996)
  • Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud  (1996)
  • Red Cherry  (1996)
  • Rumble in the Bronx  (1996)
  • The Star Maker  (1996)
  • Trainspotting  (1996)
  • Welcome to the Dollhouse  (1996)
  • The White Balloon  (1996)
  • Angel Baby  (1997)
  • Female Perversions  (1997)
  • Guantanamera  (1997)
  • Macross Plus  (1997)
  • Notes from Underground  (1997)
  • Other Voices, Other Rooms  (1997)
  • Ulysses’ Gaze  (1997)
  • Underground  (1997)
  • Zero Kelvin  (1997)
  • Fallen Angels  (1998)
  • Beyond the Clouds  (1999)
  • Midaq Alley  (1999)
  • The Stendhal Syndrome  (1999)
  • A Moment of Innocence  (2000)
  • 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance  (2006)
  • Sicario  (2007)

Note:  These 45 films average a 66.7.  There are three **** films (Trainspotting, Cold Comfort Farm, In the Bleak Midwinter) which make a considerable difference in the awards in 1996 (and would if they were here as well).  There are also several low-level ***.5 films (Antonia’s Line, French Twist, Welcome to the Dollhouse, Underground).

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