Probably my mother's favorite movie, at least in part because Chris Cooper actually plays the hero.

Probably my mother’s favorite movie, at least in part because Chris Cooper actually plays the hero.

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. Lone Star
  2. Trainspotting
  3. The English Patient
  4. Fargo
  5. Hamlet
  6. Secrets & Lies
  7. Jerry Maguire
  8. In the Bleak Midwinter
  9. Cold Comfort Farm
  10. The Crucible
  11. Romeo + Juliet
  12. Emma

Analysis:  There are a lot of years that have a better #1 film than Lone Star.  But not many have a better #2 than Trainspotting.  Even fewer have a better #3 than The English Patient.  The Top three films are tied with several others years for third best to-date (behind 1946 and 1950).  But Fargo is the best #4 film to-date (actually, it’s almost certainly the best #4 film ever).  And only a handful of years have a #5 film as good as Hamlet.  As a result, this year is tied with 1946 for the best Top 4 to-date and Top 5 to-date (and, probably, all-time).  There is a three point drop after that, so it’s only the second best Top 6, then another two point drop.  But, because all 10 films are ****, it is in the 6th best Top 10 to-date, behind only 1989, 1960, 1994, 1962 and 1991.
One thing I must make mention of here.  I don’t count documentaries, as I have mentioned in the past.  That is particularly relevant in this year, a year in which I actually went to see two documentaries in the theater (The Celluloid Closet, Looking for Richard) and there are a couple of others which are phenomenal (When We Were Kings, Paradise Lost).  I went with 12 films because this is my whole list of **** films.
Two of these films rank among the films I have watched the most over the last 20 years (Trainspotting, In the Bleak Midwinter).

  • englishpatient-minghellaBest Director
  1. Anthony Minghella  (The English Patient)  *
  2. Danny Boyle  (Trainspotting)
  3. John Sayles  (Lone Star)
  4. Joel Coen  (Fargo)  **
  5. Kenneth Branagh  (Hamlet)
  6. Baz Luhrmann  (Romeo + Juliet)
  7. Mike Leigh  (Secrets & Lies)  *
  8. John Schlesinger  (Cold Comfort Farm)
  9. Neil Jordan  (Michael Collins)
  10. Cameron Crowe  (Jerry Maguire)
  11. Alan Parker  (Evita)
  12. Nicholas Hytner  (The Crucible)

Analysis:  The Top 5 ties 1986 for the best Top 5 to-date.  Boyle, Sayles and Coen would all win in most years.
The Oscar Score is drastically improved from the year before but is still the second worst of the decade (60.5), namely because of the nomination for Shine.
Anthony Minghella earns his only nomination.  Danny Boyle and John Sayles earn their first Nighthawk directing nominations.  Kenneth Branagh and Joel Coen earns their third noms.
Because Minghella is my #1, but his film was my #3, this is the first time since 1948 that I agree with the Academy on Director but not Picture.
If I only counted the same things for the Consensus Awards in Best Director that I do in the other categories, Minghella would win, just barely over the Coens.  However, because the Director Consensus Awards use far more information (because they are one of the factors in my Top 100 rankings), the Coens add in a runner-up at the LAFC, a win at the Satellites over Minghella, a win at the Indies and the Best Director award at Cannes

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Trainspotting  *
  2. The English Patient  **
  3. The Crucible  *
  4. Cold Comfort Farm
  5. Emma
  6. Hamlet
  7. The Birdcage
  8. Romeo + Juliet  *
  9. The Secret Agent
  10. Star Trek: First Contact
  11. Mother Night
  12. Jude

Analysis:  Tied for the second best Top 5 since 1946.
So, Sling Blade isn’t the lowest ranked Adapted Screenplay ever to win the Oscar.  It’s the second lowest, being beaten out by Gigi.  Given the opportunity to award four magnificent scripts, including giving an Oscar to Arthur Miller, the Academy went with the crappy script.  You can defend it if you want, but I won’t listen because I hate the film and the script is the reason why.  It ranks high on the list of Academy Awards that annoy me the most.  It added The English Patient to the list of films that dominate the Oscars but fail to win Adapted Screenplay (like Ben Hur and West Side Story).  What made it especially odd was that Sling Blade was the first film to win Adapted Screenplay without a Best Picture nomination since 1952.  It was also the only adapted script to win the Oscar and WGA without any other nominations after 1962; all but four of the other 36 scripts to win both award post-1962 earned at least a Globe nom and the other four all earned BAFTA noms (many of the 36 earned both).
The Consensus Awards are complicated by having three BAFTA winning scripts in one category (because of eligibility differences, we have the 1995 winner (Trainspotting), the 1996 winner (The English Patient) and the 1997 winner (Romeo + Juliet)).
I have read all 12 sources.  They range from Top 100 Novels (Mother Night) to Top 200 Novels (The English Patient, The Secret Agent, Jude) to two of the greatest plays ever written (Hamlet, The Crucible), a great novel (Trainspotting), an okay novel (Cold Comfort Farm), a novel I can barely tolerate (Emma), an over-rated play (Romeo), a play that’s in French (The Birdcage) and the source television show (Star Trek).  I’ve even read the source material for the next two on my list as well (Evita and James and the Giant Peach) though I haven’t read the source for the final film on my list (The First Wives Club), nor do I ever intend to.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Lone Star  *
  2. Fargo  **
  3. In the Bleak Midwinter
  4. Secrets & Lies  *
  5. Jerry Maguire
  6. Beautiful Girls
  7. Everyone Says I Love You
  8. Citizen Ruth
  9. Breaking the Waves
  10. Ridicule
  11. Welcome to the Dollhouse
  12. Big Night

Analysis:  Tied with 1974 and 1994 for the best Top 5 to-date.
The People vs. Larry Flynt (my #20) is an oddity in this year.  It is the only original screenplay (and one of only three screenplays at all) to win the Globe without any other nominations.
Mike Leigh earns his first Nighthawk nomination.  Cameron Crowe earns his third.  John Sayles earns his third with his first win.  The Coens earn their fourth writing nominations.
It kind of kills me not to give the award to Fargo, but Lone Star is just so brilliantly written and the Coens will win this award in the future (actually, they’ll win Adapted).
This seems like the only place to mention the film Ed’s Next Move.  It’s quite a ways down my list (#18), but it’s quite a good film and makes use of the band Ed’s Redeeming Qualities, a band I first heard when I was a student at Brandeis and I grew to love their quirky humor.  If you ever have a chance, see the film and enjoy the music.

  • Best Actor:
  1. Ralph Fiennes  (The English Patient)  *
  2. Kenneth Branagh  (Hamlet)
  3. Daniel Day-Lewis  (The Crucible)
  4. Ewan McGregor  (Trainspotting)
  5. Chris Cooper  (Lone Star)
  6. Tom Cruise  (Jerry Maguire)  *
  7. Liam Neeson  (Michael Collins)
  8. Geoffrey Rush  (Shine)  **
  9. Leonardo DiCaprio  (Romeo + Juliet)
  10. Timothy Spall  (Secrets & Lies)
  11. Michael Maloney  (In the Bleak Midwinter)
  12. Nick Nolte  (Mother Night)

Analysis:  Tied with 1951 and 1993 for the best Top 5 to-date.
With the nominations for Woody Harrelson (my #13) and Billy Bob Thornton (my #30, just barely making the list), the Oscar Score is 70.7, the lowest since 1957.
These are the first Nighthawk noms for Ewan McGregor and Chris Cooper.  It’s the second in a row, third in four years and fourth overall for Kenneth Branagh, though sadly, it will be over a decade before he is nominated again.  It’s the third nom for Ralph Fiennes in just three years (and his second win).  It’s already the seventh for Daniel Day-Lewis in just 11 years.
Four of my top five fail to earn a single nomination from any awards group.  It’s just astounding given how good those four performances are.  The Globes passed them all over, but nominated fucking Mel Gibson for Ransom.
I really wish the top three performances were in separate years so I could reward them all.  And it kills me not to have Cruise in the Top 5.

  • Best Actress
  1. Frances McDormand  (Fargo)  **
  2. Emily Watson  (Breaking the Waves)  *
  3. Winona Ryder  (The Crucible)
  4. Gwyneth Paltrow  (Emma)
  5. Laura Dern  (Citizen Ruth)
  6. Brenda Blethyn  (Secrets & Lies)  *
  7. Kate Beckinsale  (Cold Comfort Farm)
  8. Renee Zellweger  (Jerry Maguire)
  9. Kate Winslet  (Jude)
  10. Claire Danes  (Romeo + Juliet)
  11. Kristen Scott-Thomas  (The English Patient)  *
  12. Madonna  (Evita)

Analysis:  Fran is the only actress between 1992 and 2002 to win the Oscar and the Nighthawk.  The six year stretch after this year where the Academy and I don’t agree is the longest in the history of this category.
For the first time since 1988 (and last until 2011), it’s the Oscar that decides the Consensus win; had Blethyn won the Oscar over Fran, she would have won the Consensus as well.
These are the first Nighthawk noms for Gwyneth Paltrow, Laura Dern and Emily Watson.  Frances McDormand earns her third nom and second win.  Winona Ryder earns her fourth nom; sadly, while this looked like she was just hitting her stride, she had actually peaked and will not earn any more nominations after this.
I think of this year as the year of naked great performances.  That’s not necessarily true, but it does seem like there’s a lot more nudity on my list than in most years: Emily Watson, Kate Winslet and Kristen Scott-Thomas all appear fully nude.  In Supporting Actress, Kate Winslet appears nude from the side while Courtney Love and Kelly MacDonald both have full nudity scenes.  And outside my Top 12, there is Victoria Abril in French Twist (my #19), who appears partially nude.
I went back and forth for years on Renee Zellweger being lead or supporting before deciding on lead.
This was a year of welcome surprises.  Frances McDormand, Winona Ryder and Kate Winslet had all been nominated for Nighthawks before this.  But Emily Watson was making her film debut, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale had only been in smaller roles that showed off their beauty but not their acting, Claire Danes was mostly known for television (though great television), Renee Zellweger was unknown to me at the time and Madonna’s acting had been highly suspect in the past.

  • fargo_174pyxurzBest Supporting Actor:
  1. William H. Macy  (Fargo)  *
  2. Edward Norton  (Primal Fear)  **
  3. Paul Scofield  (The Crucible)  *
  4. Ian McKellen  (Cold Comfort Farm)
  5. Jeremy Northam  (Emma)
  6. Edward Norton  (The People vs. Larry Flynt)  **
  7. Noah Taylor  (Shine)
  8. Cuba Gooding Jr  (Jerry Maguire)  *
  9. Robert Carlyle  (Trainspotting)
  10. Ben Kingsley  (Twelfth Night)
  11. Hank Azaria  (The Birdcage)
  12. Dustin Hoffman  (Sleepers)

Analysis:  This is the only Nighthawk nom for Jeremy Northam.  It’s the first for William H Macy and Edward Norton.  It’s the third nom for Paul Scofield.  It’s the second (and second in a row) for Ian McKellen.
Norton wins the Consensus for both performances because his three critics awards (LAFC, BSFC, NBR) were for both.  As much as I would prefer to reward him for the much, much better film, his performance in Primal Fear was really the better one.
It was Armin Mueller-Stahl who was Oscar nominated for Shine (he’s my #15) but I thought Noah Taylor actually gave the performance in the film (yes, better than the Oscar winning performance from Rush).
Norton and Gooding dominated the awards (11 noms, 8 wins) but the rest of the awards were all over the place – 15 nominations and 4 wins scattered among 12 different actors with no one receiving more than 2 nominations.

  • kate-as-ophelia-in-hamlet-kate-winslet-12007258-1023-465Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Kate Winslet  (Hamlet)
  2. Juliette Binoche  (The English Patient)  **
  3. Joan Allen  (The Crucible)  *
  4. Natalie Portman  (Beautiful Girls)
  5. Courtney Love  (The People vs. Larry Flynt)  *
  6. Sophie Thompson  (Emma)
  7. Elizabeth Peña  (Lone Star)
  8. Marianne-Jean Baptiste  (Secrets & Lies)
  9. Barbara Hershey  (The Portrait of a Lady)  *
  10. Katrin Cartlidge  (Breaking the Waves)
  11. Kelly MacDonald  (Trainspotting)
  12. Lauren Bacall  (The Mirror Has Two Faces)  *

Analysis:  Not only the best Top 5 to-date, but far and away the best Top 5 to-date.
By passing over the magnificent performances from Winslet, Portman and Love, the Oscar Score is 76.9, the lowest score in the category since 1987.
This is the only Nighthawk nom for Courtney Love.  It’s the second noms each for Juliette Binoche and Natalie Portman.  Kate Winslet wins her second Supporting Actress in a row.  Joan Allen earns the second of four straight noms.
I went back and forth for years on Courtney Love, deciding between lead and supporting (she was nominated as a lead at the Globes but won the NYFC and BSFC in supporting) before placing her here.
I find it appalling that Kate Winslet, Natalie Portman and Sophie Thompson all received zero awards attention for their performances.
Just like in Actress, the Oscar determined the Consensus winner; had Bacall won the Oscar she would have won the Consensus (for that matter, had Hershey won the Oscar she also would have won the Consensus, but that was much less likely).  But that wasn’t a new thing in supporting – the same thing had happened in 1995 (Mira Sorvino over Joan Allen) and would happen again in 1997 (Kim Basinger over Julianne Moore), although after that it won’t happen again until 2012.

  • Best Editing:
  1. Lone Star
  2. Trainspotting
  3. The English Patient
  4. Fargo
  5. In the Bleak Midwinter
  6. Evita
  7. Everyone Says I Love You
  8. Hamlet
  9. Michael Collins
  10. Secrets & Lies
  11. Jerry Maguire
  12. The Frighteners

Analysis:  Trainspotting is a phenomenal #2 in this category.  It would win this award in almost any other year but can’t quite match up to the way that Lone Star seamlessly moves between time periods.  And that’s not even talking about the magnificent editing in The English Patient.  Tied with 1974 for the best Top 5 to-date.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. The English Patient  **
  2. Lone Star
  3. Trainspotting
  4. Fargo  *
  5. Michael Collins  *
  6. Hamlet
  7. Evita  *
  8. Romeo + Juliet
  9. Fly Away Home
  10. Emma
  11. The Crucible
  12. Breaking the Waves  *

Analysis:  The best Top 5 since 1980 and tied with several other years for the second best Top 5 to-date.
The Oscar Score is 87.8, the highest since 1987.
The English Patient ties Schindler’s List with 6 wins, which won’t be surpassed until 2011.
Chris Menges (Michael Collins) earns his third Nighthawk nom and his first in a decade.  Roger Deakins (Fargo) also earns his third nom and the first of three in a row.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. Fargo
  2. The English Patient
  3. Hamlet
  4. Michael Collins
  5. Mars Attacks
  6. Emma
  7. Lone Star
  8. The Crucible
  9. The Portrait of a Lady
  10. The Rock
  11. Mary Reilly
  12. Star Trek: First Contact

Analysis:  Carter Burwell wins his first Nighthawk with his second nomination; astoundingly, he won’t earn an Oscar nomination until 2015.  Patrick Doyle earns his third Nighthawk nomination and second in a row, once again working with Kenneth Branagh.  Danny Elfman, working as usual with Tim Burton, earns his fifth Nighthawk nom in less than a decade.
Emma won the short-lived Comedy Score award.  I wonder if Fargo would have been eligible for that.

  • Best Sound:
  1. The English Patient
  2. Evita
  3. Lone Star
  4. Fargo
  5. The Rock
  6. Twister
  7. Star Trek: First Contact
  8. Independence Day
  9. Michael Collins
  10. Trainspotting
  11. Hamlet
  12. Mars Attacks

Analysis:  The Oscar Score is a very impressive 97.0, the third highest in this category to-date.

  • hamletBest Art Direction:
  1. Hamlet
  2. The English Patient
  3. The Birdcage
  4. Romeo + Juliet
  5. Evita
  6. The Crucible
  7. Cold Comfort Farm
  8. Emma
  9. Ridicule
  10. Trainspotting
  11. Lone Star
  12. The Portrait of a Lady

Analysis:  Tied with 1993 for the best Top 5 to-date.  With the Oscars and I agreeing 5/5, this is the single best group of five that the Academy has ever nominated.
The English Patient won the big 5 Tech Oscars but only wins two of those same Nighthawks.  But in two of those categories, it was the best of the nominees.  This is the only one of those where I think they got the Oscar wrong but I’m not gonna complain too much.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. Independence Day
  2. Star Trek: First Contact
  3. Twister
  4. The Frighteners
  5. Mars Attacks
  6. The Rock
  7. Mission: Impossible

Analysis:  The best Top 5 to-date, which has to do with having five solid nominees more than any standouts aside from Independence Day.  This will actually be beaten by the next year by quite a ways.  The third Oscar nominee was Dragonheart.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. The Rock
  2. Evita
  3. Twister
  4. Independence Day
  5. Mission: Impossible
  6. Star Trek: First Contact
  7. Mars Attacks
  8. The Frighteners
  9. The English Patient
  10. The Ghost and the Darkness
  11. Hamlet
  12. Courage Under Fire

Analysis:  I can’t understand the Oscar voters in this category at all and a result the Oscar Score is a truly dismal 15.0.  How did they nominate Daylight and Eraser but not The Rock?  What’s worse is that the films in green are the semi-finalists (this is the earliest year I know that information).  That means that all four semi-finalists were better than the three actual nominees.  How do you screw that up that badly?

  • Best Costume Design:
  1. Hamlet
  2. The English Patient
  3. Ridicule
  4. Evita
  5. Emma
  6. The Crucible
  7. The Portrait of a Lady
  8. Cold Comfort Farm
  9. The Birdcage
  10. Michael Collins
  11. Twelfth Night
  12. The Horseman on the Roof

Analysis:  Tied for the second best Top 5 to-date.
The fifth Oscar nominee was Angels and Insects, which has good costumes but ended up as #14 on my list.

  • Best Makeup
  1. The English Patient
  2. The Birdcage
  3. Ridicule
  4. Hamlet
  5. Star Trek: First Contact
  6. The People vs. Larry Flynt
  7. The Nutty Professor
  8. The Crucible
  9. Trainspotting
  10. Romeo + Juliet
  11. Ghosts of Mississippi
  12. Independence Day

Analysis:  Tied for the third best Top 5 to-date, but the Oscars kind of blew that.  They’re too obsessed with fat suits and old age makeup.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. “Walls”  (She’s the One)
  2. You Must Love Me”  (Evita)
  3. Welcome to the Dollhouse”  (Welcome to the Dollhouse)
  4. Angel Dream”  (She’s the One)
  5. That Thing You Do”  (That Thing You Do)
  6. California”  (She’s the One)
  7. Family”  (James and the Giant Peach)
  8. Out There”  (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
  9. Theme from Spy Hard”  (Spy Hard)
  10. Because You Loved Me”  (Up Close and Personal)

Analysis:  Oscars.org lists songs from different films.  In this year, it lists 114 different songs from 55 separate films.  I have seen 36 of those films which accounts for 84 of the songs.  I have seen all 9 films with more than three listed songs.  Once again, I have bucked the Oscar system, because they don’t list any of the songs that Tom Petty wrote for She’s the One.  Yes, I include Celine Dion’s ballad from Up Close and Personal, but it just barely makes it onto my list, which is why there are no #11 or 12.  It’s embarrassing to even have it there.
I should mention that the opening credits of Spy Hard, with Weird Al’s song is, by far, the best thing about the film.
“You Must Love Me” is the highest ranked Oscar winner in five years.  And I really like it a lot.  But what Tom Petty does with “Walls“, in having the two completely different versions of the song that open and close the film is outstanding (and, by far, the best thing about the disappointing She’s the One, which I had high hopes for after The Brothers McMullen and it didn’t live up).
There is really a big drop from #3 to #4 and then again from #4 to #5

.

  • james and the giant peach - cinema quad movie poster (teaser 1).Best Animated Film:
  1. James and the Giant Peach

Analysis:  The weakest film to ever win this award and it just barely makes it into the ***.5 list and becomes eligible for my award, but hey that’s better than 1997 when no film will be good enough to make my list.  This is actually the last time Disney will win this award except for Pixar and Ghibli films.
The Consensus winner is A Close Shave, the Wallace and Gromit short, and yes, that is the best Animated Film of the year by far, but it’s also a short, so I don’t count it.

  • ridicule_ver2Best Foreign Film:
  1. Ridicule  **
  2. Ponette  *
  3. La Promesse  *(*)
  4. The Other Side of Sunday

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

Analysis:  France gets back to back wins for the first time since 1986-87.  France earns 60 points for the second straight year, the first country to do that since France did it in 1952-53.  Norway earns its second nomination, nine years after its first.  Belgium earns its second nomination, 49 years after its first.
It’s the first year since 1989 that neither Zhang Yimou or Ang Lee earn a nomination.
Ridicule, which is a high ***.5, is the last winner in this category to not earn **** (at least through 2015).
The Top 5 Foreign films (Prisoner of the Mountains is the fifth even though it’s not nominated) average less than 80 for the first time since 1984.  The Top 10 Foreign films average 75.9, also the lowest since 1984.  La Promesse, the #3 film here would be the #6 in 1995 and wouldn’t even make the Top 10 in 1993, 1994 or 1997.
Because of how the Oscar Score works, this category actually earns a perfect 100 because they nominated every eligible film on my list.
While Ridicule wins the Consensus, it is Kolya that is the first film in seven years to win both the Oscar and the Globe (Ridicule loses both to Kolya while winning the BAFTA, BFCA and the NBR).  La Promesse is sort of the Consensus winner for 1997 (when it wins the LAFC and NSFC) but was Oscar eligible in 1996.  Foreign films are really a nightmare at the Consensus Awards.
When I wrote my Year in Film, I had seen 19 eligible films for this category and complained that only four of them were good enough to earn a nomination from me.  As can be seen from the list down below, that number is now 58 and I still am only nominating four films.  Just a terrible year for Foreign films.

By Film:

note:  They’re in points order.  You get twice as many points for a win as for a nomination.  Hopefully your math skills will let you figure out the system.

  • The English Patient  (475)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup
  • Fargo   (385)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound
  • Lone Star  (355)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Editing, Cinematography, Sound
  • Hamlet  (295)
    • Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup
  • Trainspotting  (260)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Editing, Cinematography
  • The Crucible  (170)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Emma  (120)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Costume Design
  • Evita  (85)
    • Sound, Art Direction, Sound Editing, Costume Design, Original Song
  • Cold Comfort Farm  (70)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • In the Bleak Midwinter  (65)
    • Original Screenplay, Editing
  • Ridicule  (65)
    • Costume Design, Makeup, Foreign Film
  • The Rock  (60)
    • Sound, Sound Editing
  • Independence Day  (60)
    • Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Michael Collins  (50)
    • Cinematography, Original Score
  • Mars Attacks  (45)
    • Original Score, Visual Effects
  • Secrets & Lies  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Jerry Maguire  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Twister  (40)
    • Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • James and the Giant Peach  (40)
    • Animated Film
  • Breaking the Waves  (35)
    • Actress
  • Citizen Ruth  (35)
    • Actress
  • Primal Fear  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • The People vs. Larry Flynt  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • Beautiful Girls  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • The Birdcage  (30)
    • Art Direction, Makeup
  • Star Trek: First Contact  (30)
    • Visual Effects, Makeup
  • She’s the One  (30)
    • Original Song, Original Song
  • Romeo + Juliet  (20)
    • Art Direction
  • The Frighteners  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • Mission: Impossible  (20)
    • Sound Editing
  • Antonia’s Line  (20)
    • Foreign Film
  • Welcome to the Dollhouse  (10)
    • Original Song
  • That Thing You Do  (10)
    • Original Song

Analysis:  There are five fewer films than the year before.  There are only 93 total nominations, the lowest since 1983.  The five Best Picture nominees all win a Nighthawk (rare enough) and account for 15 wins, the most since 1985 and an especially high number for a year where the Best Picture winner doesn’t win very many.  In fact, the 7 nominees for Lone Star is the fewest for a winner since 1986 and the 3 wins tie for the fewest ever for a winner.  The 355 points for Lone Star are the fewest for a winner since 1942.  The English Patient has the most points for a film that doesn’t win Best Picture since 1984 and it’s the 7th most to-date.
This year joins 1994 as the only years to-date in which the #2 film in Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay all earn my highest rating.
With all the best / second best Top 5’s I mention, you would think this is the best year to-date but it isn’t.  The Tech categories are the second best to-date as a whole (behind only 1989).  The acting and the major categories are both the best to-date as a whole (acting will be beaten in 2002 but the major categories won’t be beaten for at least a decade).  But because Song isn’t that song and because Animated Film and, more problematic, Foreign Film, are so weak, the overall score as a whole isn’t quite that high.

Best Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Everyone Says I Love You

Analysis:  My #15 film of the year, a very good, very enjoyable Woody Allen musical.  It finishes in 7th place twice (Original Screenplay, Editing) but otherwise not higher than 15th.

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

  • Flirting with Disaster

Analysis:  The only other ***.5 without a Top 10 finish is Big Night.  Flirting with Disaster is my #26 film and it has two Top 20 finishes: Original Screenplay (#14) and Lily Tomlin in Supporting Actress (#15).

Biggest Awards Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Shine

Analysis:  Braveheart had won Best Picture at the Oscars but wasn’t the all-time leader here.  But Shine crushes any previous film in this category.  It earns 34 total wins and 10 different awards, mostly for Geoffrey Rush’s performance.  While I think Shine is flawed and that Rush’s performance is over-rated, it is still a much, much better film than Braveheart and it comes close to earning a Nighthawk nom, finishing in 7th place once (Supporting Actor) and 8th place once (Actor).

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture
  1. Lone Star
  2. The English Patient
  3. Hamlet
  4. Secrets & Lies
  5. The Crucible

Analysis:  Because of the balance between Drama and Comedy, there are several other years that have better Top 5’s.  However, the only year that has a better Top 5 in Drama and a better Top 5 in Comedy to this point is 1994.  This year joins 1979 and 1994 as the only years in which the Top 5 in Drama and the Top 5 in Comedy both average at least a 93.
Because the Comedy and the Drama lists are so well balanced, there is only one other **** Drama (Romeo + Juliet).  The ***.5 films, in order are: Star Trek: First Contact, Breaking the Waves, Ridicule, Michael Collins, The People vs. Larry Flynt and The Rock (yes, you read that correctly).  For, perhaps obvious reasons, Star Trek: First Contact and The Rock are the only Dramas that fail to earn Globe noms.

  • Best Director
  1. Anthony Minghella  (The English Patient)
  2. John Sayles  (Lone Star)
  3. Kenneth Branagh  (Hamlet)
  4. Baz Luhrmann  (Romeo + Juliet)
  5. Mike Leigh  (Secrets & Lies)

Analysis:  Minghella and Luhrmann earn their only Drama noms.  Sayles and Leigh earn their first Drama noms.  Branagh earns his second nom.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. The English Patient
  2. The Crucible
  3. Hamlet
  4. Romeo + Juliet
  5. The Secret Agent
  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Lone Star
  2. Secrets & Lies
  3. Breaking the Waves
  4. Ridicule
  5. Bottle Rocket

Analysis:  Mike Leigh earns his first Drama nom.  John Sayles earns his fourth.  Wes Anderson earns an actual Drama nomination.

  • englishpatient-ralphfiennesBest Actor:
  1. Ralph Fiennes  (The English Patient)
  2. Kenneth Branagh  (Hamlet)
  3. Daniel Day-Lewis  (The Crucible)
  4. Chris Cooper  (Lone Star)
  5. Liam Neeson  (Michael Collins)

Analysis:  Tied for the third best Top 5 to-date.
This is the first Drama nom for Chris Cooper.  It’s the second nom for Liam Neeson.  It’s the fourth nom for Kenneth Branagh.  It’s only the third nom for Ralph Fiennes but it’s also the third win (in just four years).  It’s the eighth nom for Daniel Day-Lewis and he is now up to 340 points and is just outside the Top 10 for Drama.

  • emilywatsonBest Actress
  1. Emily Watson  (Breaking the Waves)
  2. Winona Ryder  (The Crucible)
  3. Brenda Blethyn  (Secrets & Lies)
  4. Kate Winslet  (Jude)
  5. Claire Danes  (Romeo + Juliet)

Analysis:  The weakest Top 5 in four years.
Brenda Blethyn and Claire Danes earn their only Drama noms.  Emily Watson earns her first nom.  Kate Winslet earns her second nom.  Winona Ryder earns her third (and final) nom.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Edward Norton  (Primal Fear)
  2. Paul Scofield  (The Crucible)
  3. Edward Norton  (The People vs. Larry Flynt)
  4. Dustin Hoffman  (Sleepers)
  5. Derek Jacobi  (Hamlet)

Analysis:  This is the only Drama nom for Derek Jacobi.  It’s the first and second noms for Edward Norton.  It’s the third for Paul Scofield.  It’s the sixth for Dustin Hoffman.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Kate Winslet  (Hamlet)
  2. Juliette Binoche  (The English Patient)
  3. Joan Allen  (The Crucible)
  4. Courtney Love  (The People vs. Larry Flynt)
  5. Elizabeth Peña  (Lone Star)

Analysis:  The best Top 5 to-date and it won’t be beaten for at least a decade.
Courtney Love and Elizabeth Peña earn their only Drama noms.  Juliette Binoche earns her second nom.  Joan Allen earns her second of four straight.  Kate Winslet earns her third nom in two years (and second win).
Love was nominated as a lead at the Globes.

  • The English Patient  (320)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Lone Star  (290)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Hamlet  (260)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Crucible  (220)
    • Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Secrets & Lies  (170)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress
  • Romeo + Juliet  (120)
    • Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress
  • Breaking the Waves  (110)
    • Original Screenplay, Actress
  • Primal Fear  (60)
    • Supporting Actor
  • The People vs. Larry Flynt  (60)
    • Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Secret Agent  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • Ridicule  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Bottle Rocket  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Michael Collins  (35)
    • Actor
  • Jude  (35)
    • Actress
  • Sleepers  (30)
    • Supporting Actor

Analysis:  There are four fewer films than the year before.  The Drama acting as a whole is the third best to-date behind 1950 and 1993.

Best Drama Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Star Trek: First Contact

Analysis:  My #7 Drama and it finishes 6th in Drama in Adapted Screenplay but neither is enough to earn a nomination.

Comedy / Musical:

  • Best Picture
  1. Trainspotting
  2. Fargo
  3. Jerry Maguire
  4. In the Bleak Midwinter
  5. Cold Comfort Farm

Analysis:  So, yes, I consider Trainspotting a Comedy.  If I didn’t that would drastically affect how good this year is in the Comedy categories.
Like I said, Comedy and Drama are well-balanced, with six **** films in each (Emma is the other **** Comedy).  But there are a lot more very good Comedies than very good Dramas.  The ***.5 films, in order, are: Everyone Says I Love You, The Birdcage, Beautiful Girls, Evita, Antonia’s Line, The Frighteners, Citizen Ruth, Flirting with Disaster, Welcome to the Dollhouse, Big Night, French Twist and James and the Giant Peach.  The only one on the list after Evita that earns a Globe nom is Citizen Ruth because this year is stacked.
The Globe went to Evita, which was my #9 film (so, not a terrible choice), but ranks last among the nominees (so, a terrible choice).

  • Best Director
  1. Danny Boyle  (Trainspotting)
  2. Joel Coen  (Fargo)
  3. John Schlesinger  (Cold Comfort Farm)
  4. Cameron Crowe  (Jerry Maguire)
  5. Alan Parker  (Evita)

Analysis:  The best Top 5 to-date.
John Schlesinger, known for Drama over his long career, earns his only Comedy nom.  Danny Boyle earns his only Comedy nom.  Cameron Crowe earns his third nom.  Alan Parker and Joel Coen earns his fourth nom.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Trainspotting
  2. Cold Comfort Farm
  3. Emma
  4. The Birdcage
  5. Evita

Analysis:  The best Top 5 since 1964 and the fourth best to-date.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Fargo
  2. In the Bleak Midwinter
  3. Jerry Maguire
  4. Beautiful Girls
  5. Everyone Says I Love You

Analysis:  Tied with 1994 for the best Top 5 to-date.
Kenneth Branagh earns his second Comedy nom.  The Coens earn their third Comedy writing noms and their first win.  Cameron Crowe earns his fourth nom.  Woody Allen earns his third in a row and becomes the first Comedy writer to reach 1000 points.

  • ewan-mcgregor-trainspotting-toilet-sceneBest Actor:
  1. Ewan McGregor  (Trainspotting)
  2. Tom Cruise  (Jerry Maguire)
  3. Geoffrey Rush  (Shine)
  4. Michael Maloney  (In the Bleak Midwinter)
  5. Robin Williams  (The Birdcage)

Analysis:  The best Top 5 since 1988 and the 5th best to-date.  And yes, you can easily argue that Shine doesn’t belong here.  But I’ve been putting Musical biopics in this category, so I’m sticking with that decision.
This is the only Comedy nom for Michael Maloney.  It is the first nom for Ewan McGregor and Geoffrey Rush.  It’s the second nom for Tom Cruise (13 years after his first).  It’s the fourth nom for Robin Williams.
The Globes nominated Nathan Lane for The Birdcage (my #6), Antonio Banderas for Evita (my #7), Kevin Costner for Tin Cup (my #8) and Eddie Murphy for The Nutty Professor (my #11).

  • fargo3Best Actress
  1. Frances McDormand  (Fargo)
  2. Gwyneth Paltrow  (Emma)
  3. Laura Dern  (Citizen Ruth)
  4. Kate Beckinsale  (Cold Comfort Farm)
  5. Renee Zellweger  (Jerry Maguire)

Analysis:  The best Top 5 to-date by quite a significant margin.  Yes, Madonna, the Golden Globe winner isn’t in my Top 5, but she is my #6.  It was a bizarre choice for the Globes but not an awful one.
Frances McDormand, Kate Beckinsale and Laura Dern earn their only Comedy noms.  Gwyneth Paltrow and Renee Zellweger earn their first.
I can’t fucking understand how the Globes could nominate Glenn Close (101 Dalmations) and Barbra Streisand (The Mirror Has Two Faces), neither of whom even make my list (their last nominee, Debbie Reynolds for Mother, was at least my #8), yet pass up Paltrow, Dern, Beckinsale and Zellweger.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. William H. Macy  (Fargo)
  2. Ian McKellen  (Cold Comfort Farm)
  3. Jeremy Northam  (Emma)
  4. Noah Taylor  (Shine)
  5. Cuba Gooding Jr  (Jerry Maguire)

Analysis:  Tied with 1987 for the best Top 5 to-date.  The Comedy performances really dominated my list this year, with a lot of really good ones not making my Top 5, which is kind of rare.
These are the only Comedy noms for Jeremy Northam, Noah Taylor and Cuba Gooding.  They are the first Comedy noms for William H Macy and Ian McKellen.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Natalie Portman  (Beautiful Girls)
  2. Sophie Thompson  (Emma)
  3. Kelly MacDonald  (Trainspotting)
  4. Lauren Bacall  (The Mirror Has Two Faces)
  5. Lynn Redgrave  (Shine)

Analysis:  The best Top 5 since 1989.
Sophie Thompson, Kelly MacDonald and Lauren Bacall earn their only Comedy noms.  Natalie Portman earns her first Comedy nom.  Lynn Redgrave earns her second nom, some 30 years after winning Best Actress.

  • Trainspotting  (370)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Fargo  (305)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor
  • Jerry Maguire  (235)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor
  • Cold Comfort Farm  (200)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor
  • Emma  (135)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • In the Bleak Midwinter  (125)
    • Picture, Original Screenplay, Actor
  • Beautiful Girls  (100)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actress
  • Shine  (95)
    • Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Evita  (85)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Director
  • The Birdcage  (75)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor
  • Everyone Says I Love You  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Citizen Ruth  (35)
    • Actress
  • The Mirror Has Two Faces  (30)
    • Supporting Actress

Analysis:  While filling all the categories, there are five fewer films than the year before.  That’s a reflection of how good the films in this year are.  The Comedy acting, as a whole, is the best to-date, though 1998 will beat it.  The major categories are also the best to-date.  Overall, of course, that means the Comedy categories are the best to-date, though again, they will be beaten out by 1998.
Because of the balance between Drama and Comedy, the Globe acting as a whole among all eight categories is the best to-date.  Actually, the same goes for the major categories and the Globes as a whole, a significant increase from the previous best in 1989.
The Comedy winners in the four acting categories are the best to-date.  The four winners in the major categories all earn my highest rating, a first for the Comedy categories.  As a result, the eight Comedy winners are by far the best to-date, crushing 1994, the previous best year.

Best Comedy Not Nominated for any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Antonia’s Line

Analysis:  Antonia’s Line just barely keeps this from being a Peter Jackson for a second straight year (The Frighteners).  The former is #22 and the #11 Comedy while the latter is #24 and #12.

Roundup for the Year in Film:

Eligible Films I Have Seen:  214

By Stars:

  • ****:  12
  • ***.5:  18
  • ***:  98
  • **.5:  32
  • **:  31
  • *.5:  5
  • *:  11
  • .5:  7
  • 0:  0
  • Average Film Score for the Year, out of 100:  60.18

Analysis:  The average drops almost another half-point, namely because of the large increase of **.5 and ** films and because the films better than *** drop from almost 18% to just barely over 14%.

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.

  • Broken Arrow  –  Just a few months before I had seen The Killer and Hard Boiled with friends in Berkeley, so I was looking forward to this.  Kari and I went to see it in Tigard and boy were we bored silly.
  • In the Bleak Midwinter  –  I almost went to see this when I was in London in January but didn’t have the time.  I anxiously awaited it in the States and I dragged Kari to see it the day it opened at the KOIN Center (to be fair, she really liked it), but there were like three other people in the theater.  You people who haven’t seen this (almost everyone) don’t know what you’re missing out on.
  • City Hall  –  Saw this with Kari (and possibly Jonathan).  It had a great cast and looked like it could be really good but it was just kind of there and it’s pretty unmemorable.  Haven’t seen it since.
  • Down Periscope  –  I don’t remember precisely what happened that first weekend of March that I so desperately needed to see a Comedy but it did.  And I loathe Adam Sandler.  And I hadn’t even seen a Jackie Chan film so didn’t really know they could be funny.  So that left this.  It looked terrible.  It was terrible.  But I just needed a Comedy and this barely fit the bill, so Kari and I went to go see it.
  • The Birdcage  –  Too bad it wasn’t a week later, because then this came out.  Made me laugh a lot.  Still makes me laugh a lot.  I don’t have it at **** but I do have on my list of 100 Favorite Films of All-Time.  I saw this on opening weekend in Forest Grove with George and Mary and then later went and saw it again with Kari.
  • Fargo  –  This might have expanded to Portland in its second weekend.  If not, we definitely saw it the weekend after when it expanded to 412 screens.  We saw it opening day in the Portland area, though we saw it in Tigard.  The we is me, Kari and Jonathan and we loved it.  Just brilliant.
  • The Celluloid Closet  –  I was interested enough that I actually went to a documentary in the theaters, something I rarely ever do.  I had also gotten more into going to Cinema 21 and this opened in Portland at Cinema 21.  A great documentary (and book, originally) about the history of gay and lesbian themes on film.
  • James and the Giant Peach  –  I remember Kari and I going to see this in Tigard, which had really become our go-to theater during opening weekend.  Not great, but good enough.
  • The Truth About Cats & Dogs  –  I don’t remember why we to see this as well as I remember Down Periscope, but from the look of what films we had been seeing, maybe we just needed to see a romantic comedy, the we being Kari and I.
  • The Pallbearer  –  I remember seeing this but can’t remember for the life of me why.  I didn’t watch Friends, so I had no interest in David Schwimmer.  Emma had not yet been released, so I barely even knew who Gwyneth was (aside from her head in a box).  This came out just a week after The Truth About Cats & Dogs.  Did we need a romantic comedy again already?  It was terrible either way and I’ve tried to forget it.
  • Cold Comfort Farm  –  There used to be an old art theater in Portland, on either Main or Jefferson, up by 405.  It was upstairs and had one big theater.  It would be a key theater for Kari and I in 1996, starting with Cold Comfort Farm, which we were interested in because of Ian McKellen, who we had loved in Richard III.  Cold Comfort Farm had aired on British television so it was technically ineligible at the Oscars, but that has never stopped me from including it in my Nighthawk Awards.
  • Mission: Impossible  –  I saw this by myself.  I had gone down to California for a week after graduating and I was in Lake Forest at my brother’s house when it opened.  There was a special sneak preview showing at the new enormous theater that had just opened in the El Toro Y (the Irvine Spectrum Center) where I drove over and saw this.  I really enjoyed it and still do.  The plot was never confusing for me and I have always been a fan of Tom Cruise.  After having loved Kristen Scott Thomas’ performance in Four Weddings, this was the film that made realize she could also be a knockout.
  • Spy Hard  –  I think I saw this in Forest Grove with Kari, which means I had to wait at least a week, until after I was back from California.  Terrible film.  Very little of it was actually funny.  The Weird Al opening credits, as I said above, is the best thing about the film.
  • The Rock  –  I think I actually saw this with George and Mary.  We definitely saw it in Forest Grove.  Great fun.  It’s still good, ridiculous fun.  My best friend, John Ramirez, and I still quote one particular line: “Your best?  Losers always whine about their best.  Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.”
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame  –  Well, the Disney Renaissance was seriously slipping.  Pocahontas had good songs but had been disappointing otherwise.  This was the opposite.  The story was okay and the animation was good but I really didn’t think much of the music (if you go here and here, you can see commenters who fervently disagree with me on that).  I saw this with Jonathan at the theater in Seaside.
  • Lone Star  –  Well, this time it was off to the KOIN Center for the hit art film of the summer, though I don’t think we (Kari and I, I believe) saw this until later in the summer.
  • Independence Day  –  Definitely saw this on opening day in Forest Grove, I think with Kari, George and Mary.  That Super Bowl commercial had really won me over for seeing this.  I wasn’t yet inured to the disaster porn film like this, so this was still good fun.  This was a huge movie at the time – grossing over $300 million when that was still rare and ending its run at #6 all-time (and it would stay in the Top 10 until 2002).  The start of Will Smith as the king of the summer.
  • Phenomenon  –  This opened the same day as Independence Day.  It was an interesting film and had a strong performance from John Travolta but it really fizzled out at the end and I haven’t seen it since.
  • Courage Under Fire  –  Depressing film that I have caught parts of recently on cable.  Very good performance from Denzel.  Strong social issue (women in combat).  It’s weird to go back and look at young Matt Damon before he knew who he was.
  • Trainspotting  –  One of my absolute favorite films of all-time which definitely says something about me.  The trailer had won me over – all I remembered about it were the toilet scenes and they made me know I had to see this.  Went to see it the day it opened in Portland (in Tigard, I believe), which probably wouldn’t have been until after I had seen the next two films.  Had trouble understanding Robert Carlyle, so I dragged George and Jonathan to see it the next day.  They couldn’t understand Carlyle, so we all went to see it again the day after that.  Fell desperately for Kelly MacDonald, a celebrity crush I definitely still have to this very day, much to the confusion of Veronica.  If you don’t think I’m desperately waiting for the sequel, then you are crazy.  This film almost instantly made Ewan McGregor one of my favorite actors even before he was Obi-Wan.
  • A Time to Kill  –  I have a strange history with John Grisham.  I bought this in John Wayne airport in March of 1993, flying back to Portland after Spring Break, along with Jurassic Park because I read so much literary fiction I thought I should read some popular fiction.  Loved Jurassic Park and devoured all of Crichton.  Liked this novel and quickly read The Firm (disappointing ending), The Pelican Brief (decent) and The Client (simply terrible), but then The Chamber came out and was so bad I refused to read him anymore and later came to loathe him and all his books which all seemed to same – as I went to work in book stores he became the partial embodiment of the best-selling authors who aren’t good writers but who dominate the lists with over-saturation (especially embodied by James Patterson, who I would gladly have punched in the face for years before he decided to start giving away millions of dollars to independent bookstores and then made me want to punch him in the face and shake his hand).  But, I saw The Firm (okay) and The Pelican Brief (not very good, but hey, Julia Roberts!) and The Client (terrible).  So, this was the first book that had only become a best-seller after the fact because of his later books.  But I still liked this book the best, probably because it had more of an interesting plot.  So, now the film finally comes out and it has Sandra Bullock (not as cute as Julia Roberts, nor as good an actress, but the new it girl), but also Matthew McConaughy.  The latter was the problem.  He had been brilliant in his very small role in Lone Star, but in a lead role was just a mass of star power without charisma.  I instantly started comparing him to Brad Pitt, who had been brilliant in a small role (Thelma & Louise), but then had become a star without any charisma (Legends of the Fall, Seven).  Both would later prove that they can actually act, and even carry a film but I still don’t like either one when they are in lead roles, but give them a supporting role (like the former in Wolf of Wall Street or the latter in the Ocean’s films) and they are great.  Oh, the film was kind of disappointing because of McConaughey’s performance.
  • Kingpin  –  I’m not sure how George dragged me to this.  I hadn’t seen Dumb & Dumber and the Farrelly Brothers held no interest for me.  I didn’t particularly like Woody Harrelson (though, by the end of the year, he would prove he could act).  So why did I agree to see this?  No idea.  The Bill Murray scenes are funny.  Don’t much care for the rest.  Judging from Kari’s reaction to the rough draft of this list (“Seriously you have seen this?????”), it’s a safe bet I didn’t see it with her.
  • Emma  –  Back to that Portland art theater with Kari again.  Loved this.  Was stunned to realize that Ewan McGregor, the guy from Trainspotting, was in it.  Added Gwyneth to the short list of Hollywood blondes that I find seriously attractive (have seen her in person at a concert in 2001 and that didn’t change my opinion one iota), but also realized, that The Pallbearer wasn’t indicative of her acting ability.  She could really act.
  • Tin Cup  –  Regular readers will know, of course, that Kevin Costner and I went to the same high school.  He had been the star of my high school years but I had only seen him in one film in the theaters while I was in college (A Perfect World).  But he was now back in a quasi-sports film (golf is not a sport!) and it was very good fun with a good performance.  I remember my parents saw this not long after and my dad complaining that Rene Russo was so thin and I talked about how she was just there for the romance and wasn’t very well written, and then he said that he meant she was physically thin.  Don’t remember who I saw this with or where.
  • wellsThe Island of Dr. Moreau  –  Now this I do remember.  My revenge on George perhaps for Kingpin?  Either way, George has never let me live this down.  I guarantee if I were to call him and mention this film, he would cuss me out for making him see it.  In college, my brothers had removed any of their stuff from my parents house, which meant that any books left behind now belonged to me.  I claimed The Complete Science Fiction Treasury of H.G. Wells and slowly read my way through it.  This was the second novel in the treasury and even though I hadn’t made my through it yet (it’s a bit of a slog – see here), I really wanted to see the film.  In spite of knowing that the production of the film was becoming a famous disaster.  I dragged George with me.  He hated it.  Viciously hated it.  And with good reason – it’s pretty terrible (I give it * and it’s #199 for the year, which means it’s not the worst film I saw during the year in the theater – it’s better than Daylight and Down Periscope – but it is worse than The Pallbearer and Spy Hard).  I recently re-watched it before doing this post and I actually down-graded it from *.5 to *.
  • She’s the One  –  I think I saw this with Kari, so she got this disappointment instead of George.  I was expecting much more from this after how good The Brothers McMullen was, but this film just didn’t come through (it also had Cameron Diaz in a key role and I have never been a fan).  The Tom Petty soundtrack was pretty damn good though.  The opening and end credits, with the two uses of the Petty song “Walls” were the best parts of the film.
  • annapaquin-flyawayhomeFly Away Home  –  Either this film or the last one (I think it was this one), for some reason, Kari and I drove all the way across the Columbia and saw in Vancouver, WA.  I don’t know why we went to see this, but it was worth it.  It was smart, it was interesting and Anna Paquin was oh so adorable and was very good as the young girl who leads a group of goslings on a long journey.  I have had that picture on the right on my computer for 18 years.  For some reason, it is just about the oldest image that I still have, dating back several computers now.  It pretty much helped lead to this article I wrote several years ago.
  • The First Wives Club  –  Kari and I saw this, I believe, namely because it was written by Paul Rudnick, whose play (and film) Jeffrey I passionately love.  That’s the only reason I could be talked into seeing a film with Bette Midler (who I am lukewarm on) and Goldie Hawn (who I really dislike).  But I actually really liked this film, I liked that Dan Hedaya actually was somewhat sympathetic, I liked the way Jennifer Dundas tells her father she’s gay.  But I loved the ending.  It absolutely worked for me.  Which is ironic, because I don’t like the original Lesley Gore version of the song.  I only like the version sung by Keaton, Midler and Hawn.  I actually like this whole concept, of an actor breaking into song.  I once had a screenplay where I wanted a character to sing all of “Hawkmoon 269”, a U2 song which is over six minutes long.  That would have been daring and this is daring and I love it.  I will also love it when a couple of films do this again in 1997.
  • Secrets & Lies  –  This opened really slowly, so I probably didn’t see it until the awards attention started in December.  At this point I had still never seen a Mike Leigh film and I didn’t really know what to expect.  I think I saw this at the KOIN Center, probably with Kari, but I don’t really remember.
  • Michael Collins  –  I think I saw this in Tigard when it opened wide, just after my birthday.  Kari and I might have gone to see this before I left for California (see below), though, given the timing we more likely saw after I came back.
  • Looking for Richard  –  I want to say I saw this with Jonathan and Kari.  My second documentary in the same year!  But, given the cast involved and how interested I had become in this play after the Ian McKellen version the year before (and I saw it in Stratford in January), there was no way I was missing this.
  • Sleepers  –  I had Kari buy us tickets for this on the Saturday of opening weekend, 19 October 1996.  Between that phone call and her getting to my parents house (where I had been living since I graduated from Pacific in May), we got a phone call and learned that my grandfather had dropped dead of a heart attack that morning.  When Kari got to the house, I didn’t want to go the film and couldn’t explain why.  I made my parents tell her what had happened, because I couldn’t get it out, but they also decided I should go to the movie with her.  So, we went.  And it was not good.  Another terrible Brad Pitt performance.  A mess of a film.  Dustin Hoffman was very good but the film just didn’t work.  I don’t think I’ve ever been able to watch it since because of the association.  My mother left for California that day.  I stayed in Oregon for the week to work (and to watch the Braves lose four straight to the fucking Yankees in the World Series – my 22nd birthday was far from a joyful occasion) and then flew to California the day after my birthday for the funeral.
  • Jude  –  I saw this with Kari sometime after returning from California.  More good times!  I hadn’t yet read any Thomas Hardy, but this film was starring Kate Winslet, who was so awesome in Sense and Sensibility.  And holy crap, she was fully nude!  Little did I know how common the sight of Kate Winslet’s breasts would be in the future, though, given that she is beautiful and one of the most talented actresses alive, that’s a good thing.
  • Twelfth Night  –  I saw the two night films (see the next film) on the same day at the same theater, the Lloyd Cinemas.  Both were enjoyable.  I recently re-watched this with Veronica and it still holds up as a solid film version, with very good supporting performances from Ben Kingsley and Nigel Hawthorne.  But the most important thing was the trailer that we got before this film.  It’s still the greatest trailer I’ve ever seen (yes, that’s an upcoming list post).  When the X-Wing flies out of the screen, I just about leapt out of my seat.  I knew the Special Editions were coming, but that moment in the trailer is just perfect.
  • Mother Night  –  My Sophomore Year, I took a Winter III class (at Pacific, there is a winter term that lasts three weeks, in which you take one class for three hours every day – it’s a great time to take a trip class (like when I went to London my senior year for Theater), take a class you want to be quickly done with (two of my roommates took a math class one year), a class that shows a lot of films (I took Film & Lit my Junior Year) or a class that you think you will really love, because you’re in class for three hours every day) called Literature About War.  It was a great class, but aside from the books we read (including Catch-22 and The Good Soldier Svejk), there were the books we were told about that I kept writing down.  One of them was Slaughterhouse-Five.  I hadn’t read Vonnegut at that point, but I bought that and read it that semester.  Loved it.  Over the next summer, I read my brother’s copy of Cat’s Cradle while living with him in San Jose and loved that as well.  When I got back to school in the fall of my Junior Year (1994), I basically bought and read all of Vonnegut’s books that semester.  Mother Night was always one of my favorites.  So when a film was being made, there was no way I was missing it.  If I had blinked, I would have missed it, but Kari and I caught it at Lloyd Cinemas (the weekend it opened, I believe) and saw it immediately after walking out of Twelfth Night (or, possibly vice versa).
  • Romeo + Juliet  –  I don’t remember anyone seeing this with me when I saw it on opening day (at Evergreen, I believe), although Kari thinks she saw it with me (and could very well be right).  What I do remember is that several people (all of them older) walked out of the theater fairly early on.  Luhrmann’s new take on this classic play definitely wasn’t for them.  It was for me, especially when the red-headed Claire Danes came on screen.  When I wrote my novel in your most frail gesture, I wrote a fictionalized version of Danes which hinged on her still having this hair, which she basically stopped having after this film and has never had again since (except for Shopgirl).
  • Ransom  –  I honestly don’t remember why I saw this.  But I did and on opening weekend as I recall.  It’s relentlessly mediocre.
  • Space Jam  –  I went to this for work.  I was working at a daycare (I had gotten it as a summer job upon graduating, thinking I would head out of town for grad school, but then I didn’t and they kept me on when the school year started) and we wanted to take the kids to a film.  So I went to this.  I love Looney Tunes.  But, and I can’t stress this enough, I fucking hate Michael Jordan.  So this was a mixed bag for me.
  • The Mirror Has Two Faces  –  I’m really hoping I waited until this was getting awards attention for Lauren Bacall before I went to see this.  So not my thing.  This is one of those films where the female lead gets a makeover that makes her look less appealing than she did before the makeover (see also Grease – in both cases, I just don’t like perms).
  • The English Patient  –  I went by myself to see this on the Saturday after it came out in Tigard, so probably on November 23.  I know I went to see it by myself because when I was walking out to my car, standing near it, having a cigarette, was my college Sociology professor, Byron Steiger.  He had been my advisor my first two years at Pacific (“Byron is always the smartest man in the room and he knows it.  He talks a lot.  He’s hyper intelligent and very arrogant.  You’ll like him.  He’s just like you,” is what my father told me before giving him to me as an advisor) and we both liked to talk about films.  We had actually both just come out of the same film and we talked about it (we were both impressed, but felt the Lawrence of Arabia comparisons weren’t really apt because this film was a romance and Lawrence had no women) while he had his cigarette and waited for his wife to come out of the bathroom.
  • Star Trek: First Contact  –  I was supposed to see this in Forest Grove on opening night, but I was at a dance recital for Kate, a kid I knew from my job and it took too long.  So I had to drive out to the tiny theater in Aloha to see it there.  Loved it.  Immediately became my second favorite Star Trek film.  Still is.
  • Shine  –  My mother stayed in California for much of the next several months after her father died.  This left my dad and I living together and so we actually caught a few movies together.  This was the first of them, at the Broadway Metroplex.  I’m not a big fan.
  • 101 Dalmations  –  Melissa, my boss at the daycare, wanted to take the kids to a movie over Christmas vacation but she wanted to be certain it was okay for all the kids.  So I had to go see this to make certain it was okay and I dragged Kari along with me (which she apparently has no memory of).  Then I had to sit through it again with the kids.  Terrible film.  Stick to the original animated version.
  • The Crucible  –  The second film I saw with my dad, again at the Broadway Metroplex.  A first-rate version of the play with magnificent acting from all four stars.  It’s ridiculous that it only earned one Oscar nomination for acting.
  • Daylight  –  I think this was supposed to be a date.  I saw this in an almost empty theater with my sister’s best friend, Carol.  Except I had no interest in dating Carol.  And Carol had no interest in dating me (I was the wrong gender, for one thing).  But we would later become roommates because we got along so well.  Terrible film though.  Simply terrible.  After watching this, I thought, Amy Brenneman is cute and she can act, so why have they given her Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone as her love interests in her last two films?  Can they not find anyone more age appropriate?
  • Everyone Say I Love You  –  I have absolutely no idea who I saw this with.  Very fun Woody Allen musical that used old songs (I always wanted to do that – make a musical with pre-existing songs, even before I saw Return to the Forbidden Planet in London).
  • Jerry Maguire  –  The third film I saw with my dad.  It may seem odd, seeing a romantic comedy with your dad, but I think we were both thinking more of the sports aspect.  And even though he had only directed two films at this point, I was a big Cameron Crowe fan, so I think we went on opening day.
  • Mars Attacks  –  I think I saw this with Kari.  Perhaps with Jonathan as well.  Fun, silly film from Tim Burton.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head Do America  –  I know I saw this in Forest Grove, but not who I saw it with, although I suspect it was George.  It’s odd that I saw it in the first place since I barely watched the show.  To me, the best thing about the show was that it was the starting point for Daria.
  • My Fellow Americans  –  I’m almost certain I saw this with George, because I remember him busting up at the line “What am I?  Fucking MacGuyver?”  But there might have been more people there – Mary?  Kari?  Jonathan?  No idea.  I just remember seeing this in Forest Grove and George busting up.
  • The People vs. Larry Flynt  –  I know I saw this in Tigard.  I think I saw it with Jonathan and Kari.  I know I thought it was quite good, but not nearly good enough to make my Best Picture list.  And that I was still waiting for perhaps my two most anticipated films of the year.
  • Evita  –  I will repeat something I have said before on this blog.  I once said to a co-worker “I own every Andrew Lloyd Webber musical” and he replied “You may be the only heterosexual male who can say that.”  Phantom was the one that first got me into ALW, but it was Evita that was next, listening to it a lot my last year in high school and first year in college.  I saw it on stage back in 1994.  Love the music, love the way it is constructed.  Was anxiously awaiting the film which had been bouncing around in pre-production for years (at one time to star Michelle Pfeiffer and be directed by Oliver Stone).  Madonna was solid, Antonio Banderas was solid, it was very well directed.  Not a great film, but a hell of a lot better than what would happen when Phantom would finally hit screens in 2004.
  • Hamlet  –  But this was the film I was really waiting for.  I saw Henry V when it first came out on video in 1990 and was immediately hooked.  I had gotten into Shakespeare quite young, when I did A Midsummer Night’s Dream in sixth grade.  Much Ado About Nothing had been my first date with Deb.  So I couldn’t wait for Branagh’s complete text film of Hamlet.  Loved it.  At first it was my #1 film, but eventually it had to yield to the other four brilliant films from this year.  Saw this on that theater on Main / Jefferson with Kari the day it came out in Portland.

Endnote:  That’s yet another four films over the year before.  But this might very well be the peak of my movie-going.  It drops significantly the next year.  I saw pretty much everything I needed to.  Sling Blade was the highest awards film I didn’t see in the theater and it’s #10.  The only other ones in the Top 20 of awards points I didn’t see in the theater were The Portrait of a Lady and Primal Fear.  The highest film on my list I didn’t see in the theater was Ridicule at #17 and Beautiful Girls at #18 is the only other film in the Top 20 I didn’t see.

Oscar-Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • none

Oscar Quality:

Best Picture:  This year is reminiscent of a few other years: 1973, 1980 and 2003.  What all four years have in common is that four of the nominees are **** films and the fifth is a mid-range *** film that keeps the year from really breaking through, which is why these films are #4 (2003), #7 (1973), #8 (1980) and #11 (1996) instead of at the top.  In this case, the film bringing the rest of the year down is Shine, a film that just never really rises above average for reasons I make clear in the review (see the Best Picture link at the top).  But it makes up for it by being one of only seven years to have two Top 50 films (The English Patient, Fargo).  It will be five more years before there’s a better year than this for Best Picture.  This is also a rare year (one of only seven ever) in which the Best Picture winner is the best among the nominees but not the Nighthawk winner (the first time since 1983).  It’s one of only three years (joining 1928 and 1963) in which the Best Picture winner is the best of the nominees but not one of my top 2 films of the year.  It’s in the middle of a streak from 1991 to 2003 where the Academy gave the award to either the best nominee or worst nominee in every year.

The Winners:  Among the nominees, the average winner finishes at 1.80, which is the best since 1991.  That’s lead by a very strong Tech group of winners (1.40 average).  In eleven categories the Oscars awarded the best nominee and only chose the worst nominee in one category (Adapted Screenplay).  They award the best or second best choice in every category except Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor and Foreign Film.  Among all films, it’s not quite as good, with an average of 6.15, although if we were to take out Adapted Screenplay (#54), that drops all the way down to 3.63.  All the rest of the categories finish in the Top 12 at least with the only ones not earning nominations being Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Sound Editing, Makeup and Foreign Film.  I only agree with 6 winners, but that’s better than the last two years and six more times the Oscar winner is my #2.

The Nominees:  The overall Oscar Score is below average for the decade (74.2) but still a big improvement on 1995.  That’s mainly because the Tech scores go way up, to 73.8, with only Comedy Score, Sound Editing and Makeup earning below a 69 and Sound earning a 97 and Art Direction a perfect 100.  The major categories are okay, with Picture and Director both in the 60’s but both Screenplay categories in the 80’s.  It’s the acting categories that slip, with none of the categories earning above a 90 for the first time since 1987, as they range from a low of 70.7 (Actor) to a high of 89.2 (Actress).  The overall Oscar Score for acting is an 80.3, the lowest since 1985 and second lowest since 1977.

Golden Globe Best Picture – Comedy / Musical:  The second best year in history and easily the best to this date.  Two of the nominees are **** (Fargo, Jerry Maguire) and the other three are high ***.5 (The Birdcage, Everyone Says I Love You, Evita), so the films actually average ****.  All five films are in the Top 100.  Did they kind of blow it by giving the award to the weakest of the five, even if it is a really good film?  Yes, they did.  But it’s still a great year and won’t be beaten out until the incredible nominees in 2013.  This is the last time (though 2015) where they give the award to the weakest of the five films.  It’s even the last time the winning film is below the average for the five nominees.

Top 5 Films of the Year:

1  –  Lone Star  (reviewed here)

2  –  Trainspotting  (reviewed here)

3  –  The English Patient  (reviewed here)

4  –  Fargo  (reviewed here)

5  –  Hamlet  (reviewed here)

The Razzies:  I have to give kudos to the Razzies this year.  They got it pretty much right.  Their five nominees are my worst, my 2nd worst, my 3rd worst, my 6th worst and my 16th worst films of the year.  They average a 9.6, which is .5.  Yes, their winner was only my 6th worst film of the year, but that’s because of their “punishing big stars” concept, as they gave the award to Striptease.  The other nominees were The Stupids, Barb Wire, Ed and The Island of Dr. Moreau.

5 Worst Films  (#1 being the worst):

  1. The Stupids
  2. Barb Wire
  3. Ed
  4. Down Periscope
  5. Carpool

note:  They are all .5 films and there are two more .5 films: Striptease and Thinner.
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: Bio-Dome, Black Sheep, Chain Reaction, The Chamber, The Fan, High School High, Jingle All the Way, The Juror, Sgt. Bilko and A Very Brady Sequel.

Is there any way to look at this poster and not think it's going to be the worst film of the year?

Is there any way to look at this poster and not think it’s going to be the worst film of the year?

The Stupids  (dir. John Landis)

There are a lot of different kinds of comedy.  Some of them I really like (intellectual humor, for example, like Woody Allen).  Some of them I really don’t like (uncomfortable humor, like Ben Stiller).  But for me, the worst is stupid humor.  Having dumb people do dumb things isn’t funny to me.  It’s why I had no use for Dumb & Dumber.  It’s also why I have no use for The Stupids.  I don’t need to watch comedies about people doing stupid things.  I can just look at the election results.

This is a painfully unfunny film about a family who are unbearably stupid (who are also named Stupid).  They are the type of people who believe that people are plotting to steal their garbage rather than grasping the concept of a garbage collector.  That’s not funny in any way, shape or form, aside from the ludicrousness that people this moronic could ever be in a position to buy a house.  I mention the garbage because it’s not just an attempt at a gag, but it sets in motion a completely moronic plot in which Stanley Stupid (played by Tom Arnold – who could possibly have been a more appropriate choice? – although today I think they would have cast Kevin James who seems to be the current version of Tom Arnold) saves the world.

There are actual gags in this film.  For instance, the villain is named Neidermeyer, and he is played by Mark Metcalf, who also played Neidermeyer in John Landis’ Animal House, a film that actually is extremely funny even when it is crass (sometimes especially when it is crass) but is not stupid.  There is also the random appearances of famous directors in cameo roles, something which Landis has long delighted in (the best being Spielberg’s appearance in The Blues Brothers).  But did anyone really think the premise of this film would be funny?  I suppose it it is true that Dumb & Dumber was a big hit but that’s probably because Jim Carrey was a big star.  Tom Arnold was no such thing.  He barely even qualifies as an actor, let alone being asked to be a star.

Clearly others feel as I do.  It made less than $2.5 million at the box office.  It earned four Razzie nominations and won Worst Actor.  It’s a waste of time and I suffered through it because it was a Razzie nominee and I try to do due diligence for my Worst Film of the Year Award.  Don’t waste your time.

Points:

  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:   The English Patient  (12)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:   The English Patient  (5)
  • Most Nighthawk:   The English Patient  (475)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Award:  Primal Fear
  • 2nd Place Award:  The English Patient  (Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design)
  • 6th Place Award:  Secrets & Lies  (Picture, Actress)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Nominations:   Hamlet  /  The Crucible  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Awards:   The English Patient  (3)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Points:   The English Patient  (320)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Drama Award:  Primal Fear
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Nominations:   Jerry Maguire  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Awards:   Trainspotting  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Points:   Trainspotting  (370)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Comedy Award:  The Mirror Has Two Faces

Note:  * means a Nighthawk record up to this point; ** ties a Nighthawk record.
Note:  In quite a rarity, both the worst Drama nominated (#154) and the worst Comedy nominated (#163) rank below #150 for the year.

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:  90 (39)  –  The English Patient  (63.9)
  • Foreign:  65  –  Ridicule  (65.3)
  • Comedy:  49 (10)  –  Jerry Maguire  (57.9)
  • Crime:  14 (5)  –  Fargo  (63.5)
  • Horror:  11 (4)  –  Trainspotting  (57.4)
  • Action:  11 (1)  –  The Rock  (41.3)
  • Kids:  10 (1)  –  James and the Giant Peach  (55.4)
  • Suspense:  7 (1)  –  The Secret Agent  (59)
  • Sci-Fi:  6 (1)  –  Star Trek: First Contact  (60.5)
  • Musical:  5  –  Everyone Says I Love You  (73.6)
  • Mystery:  3 (1)  –  Lone Star  (74)
  • Fantasy:  3  –  A Midsummer Night’s Dream  (29)
  • War:  2 (1)  –  Courage Under Fire  (69)
  • Adventure:  2 (1)  –  Ashes of Time  (55)
  • Western:  1  –  Dead Man  (62)

Analysis:  The 11 Action films are tied for the 2nd most to-date.  The 49 Comedies are the highest since 1987 and the second highest to-date.  The 14 Crime films are tied for the 4th highest to-date.  The 90 Dramas are a new high to-date as are the 65 Foreign films.  The 11 Horror films are the most in six years.  The 6 Sci-Fi films are the most in seven years.
Sadly, while the quantities are high, the quality is not.  Action films are their lowest in 8 years.  Dramas are their lowest in four years and third lowest since 1980.  The Fantasy films are the lowest since 1974.  Foreign films are their lowest in four years.  Musicals, on the other hand, lead by Everyone Says I Love You and Evita have their highest average ever in a year with more than two films.  This is the year where Westerns start getting passed; they drop from 6th in total films to this point (322) to 7th, being passed by Suspense and within a decade they will also be passed by Kids and Action films.
Because I consider Trainspotting an Urban Horror film (much like A Clockwork Orange or Taxi Driver), it is the first Horror film in the Top 10 since 1984.  Lone Star is the first Mystery in the Top 10 since 1986 and the first to win the Nighthawk since Chinatown, but it’s also the first of back-to-back Mystery winners.  For the first time in seven years there are no Foreign films in the Top 10.  For the first time since 1986 two Musicals make the Top 20.  For the first time since 1953 only one Foreign film makes the Top 20.

Studio Note:  It’s all about Miramax again.  It ups its total to 24, the highest from any studio since 1953.  Once again, Disney is in second place with 17, so between its two arms, Disney dominates things.  No other studio has more than 14 films.  Warner Bros has 14 but so does 20th Century-Fox and that brings up a way I track things.  I track the side indies as the parent studio, so those 14 Fox films include four from Fox Searchlight, the independent arm of the studio.  That will be the same for Paramount Vantage / Classics and Warner Independent, simply because it’s a lot easier for my tracking system.
Once again, the averages from the major studios are pretty bad, only getting as high as 66.0.  But Universal hits an astounding low, with seven films that average an incredibly bad 34.57, with crappy films that include Ed, Daylight, Dragonheart and Happy Gilmore.  Several indies have much better marks, including Miramax (70.21), Sony Pictures Classics (74.0) and October Films (74.4).
This is reflected in the Top 10 – only two major studios have a Top 10 film, with one from Columbia (Hamlet) and one from Fox (The Crucible), tying 1986 for the fewest ever.  But that was also the case at the Oscars with the indies dominating there and Miramax winning Best Picture.  Miramax has two of my top three (Trainspotting, The English Patient) and 6 of my Top 20.  It’s Sony Pictures Classics which actually wins the Nighthawk, its first (but not last).

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

  1. James and the Giant Peach  (***.5, Selick, Disney)
  2. Ghost in the Shell  (***, Oshii, Manga Entertainment)
  3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame  (***, Trousdale / Wise, Disney)
  4. Space Jam  (***, Pytka, Warner Bros)
  5. Roujin-Z  (**.5, Kitakubo, Kit Parker Film)
  6. Beavis and Butt-Head Do America  (**.5, Judge, Paramount)
  7. All Dogs Go to Heaven 2  (**, Sabella / Leker, MGM/UA)

Note:  All of these films are listed at oscars.org, though Roujin-Z wasn’t Oscar eligible.  Oscars.org also lists Wallace and Gromit: The Best of the Aardman Animations, which is just a collection of the shorts.  If I considered that, it would easily win.
Whether people react most to Ghost in the Shell being a *** film depends on whether the commenter who couldn’t fathom that I didn’t love the songs in Hunchback back when I did my Disney rankings sees this.
Since I track the Pixar and Ghibli films separate from Disney films in my Studio chart for the Animated awards, this is the last year (through at least 2015) where Disney wins the Nighthawk.

58 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):

  • Un Air de famille  (Klapisch, France)
  • At Full Gallop  (Zanussi, Poland)  *
  • Beaumarchais, the Scoundrel  (Molinaro, France)
  • Between Pancho Villa and a Naked Woman  (Berman / Tardan, Mexico)  *
  • Bitter Sugar  (Ichaso, Dominican Republic)
  • Bolse vita  (Fekete, Hungary)
  • Capitaine Conan  (Tavernier, France)
  • A Chef in Love  (Dzhordzhadze, Georgia)  **
  • Chronicle of a Disappearance  (Suleiman, Israel)
  • Comrades: Almost a Love Story  (Chan, Hong Kong)
  • Conspirators of Pleasure  (Svankmajer, Czech Republic)
  • Dead Sure  (Aguiluz, Philippines)  *
  • The Deathmaker  (Karmakar, Germany)  *
  • Devil’s Island  (Fridrikkson, Iceland)  *
  • Drifting Clouds  (Kaurismaki, Finland)  *
  • The Eighth Day  (Van Dormael, Belgium)  *
  • Eva Peron  (Desanzo, Argentina)  *
  • Floating Life  (Law, Australia)  *
  • Forbidden City Cop  (Chow, Hong Kong)
  • From Hell to Hell  (Astrakhan, Belarus)  *
  • The God of Cookery  (Chow, Hong Kong)
  • Goodbye South, Goodbye  (Hou, Taiwan)
  • Hamsun  (Troell, Denmark)  *
  • Hindustani  (Shankar, India)  *
  • Hu-Du-Men  (Kei, Hong Kong)  *
  • Irma Vep  (Assayas, France)
  • The King of Masks  (Wu, China)
  • Kolya  (Svarek, Czech Republic)  ***
  • L’Appartement  (Mimouni, France)
  • Lea  (Fila, Czech Republic)
  • Lilies  (Greyson, Canada)
  • Long Live the Queen  (Lammers, Netherlands)  **
  • Luna e l’altra  (Nichetti, Italy)
  • Madame Butterfly  (Mitterrand, France)
  • Maybe … Maybe Not  (Wortmann, Germany)
  • Mother and Son  (Sokurov, Russia)
  • My Sexual Life  (Desplechin, France)
  • The Nymph  (Wertmuller, Italy)
  • Oedipus Mayor  (Triana, Colombia)  *
  • The Other Side of Sunday  (Nesheim, Norway)  **
  • Perfect Love  (Breillat, France)
  • Ponette  (Doillon, France)
  • Pretty Village, Pretty Flame  (Dragojevic, Serbia)  *
  • Prisoner of the Mountains  (Bodrov, Russia)  **
  • La Promesse  (Dardenne / Dardenne, France)
  • Pusher  (Refn, Denmark)
  • Ridicule  (LeConte, France)  **
  • Saint Clara  (Folman / Sivan, Israel)  *
  • Salon Mexico  (Garcia Agraz, Mexico)
  • Salut Cousin!  (Allouache, Algeria)  *
  • Shall We Dance  (Sou, Japan)
  • The Son of Gascogne  (Aubier, France)
  • Thesis  (Amenabar, Spain)
  • Think of Me  (Sotto Diaz, Cuba)  *
  • Three Lives and Only One Death  (Ruiz, Chile)
  • Tieta of Agreste  (Diegues, Brazil)  *
  • Vaska Easoff  (Gothar, Hungary)  *
  • X: The Movie  (Rintaro, Japan)

Note:  I have my first films from Australia and Georgia.  I have three films from the Czech Republic, as many as the next four years combined.  For the first time in five years, I don’t have a film from Croatia.  I have my last film from Cuba for six years.  I have my first film from the Philippines in 13 years.  For the first time since the Soviet breakup (and last time until 2002), I have two films from Russia.  I have two films from Denmark for only the third time.  For only the second time I have multiple Belgian films.  I have two Israeli films for the first time in eight years.  For the last time for at least a decade I have no films from Iran.  Hong Kong again has four films, but this time it’s good for second place.  France leads as usual, this time with 11 films, the most from another country since 1983.
For the first time in eight years, there are no Action films on the list.  There are 15 Comedies, by far the highest to-date (and won’t be passed until 2001 when there will be a lot more total films).  For the third straight year over the half the films are Dramas.

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

  • Albania:  Colonel Bunker  (dir. Cashku)
  • Austria:  Hannah  (dir. Schwabenitzky)
  • Canada:  Not Me!  (dir. Gang)
  • Croatia:  Nausikaya  (dir. Ruic)
  • Italy:  My Generation  (dir.  Labate)
  • Japan:  A Class to Remember 2  (dir.  Yamada)
  • Romania:  State of Things  (dir.  Gulea)
  • Slovenia:  Felix  (dir.  Sprajc)
  • Spain:  Bwana  (dir.  Uribe)
  • Sweden:  Jerusalem  (dir.  August)
  • Switzerland:  Les Agneaux  (dir.  Schupbach)
  • Taiwan:  Tonight Nobody Goes Home  (dir.  Chang)
  • Vietnam:  Gone, Gone, Forever Gone  (dir.  Minh)

note:  At this point I am making a concerted effort to see as many submitted films as I can.  The full list can be found here.  This year I am 26 for 49 (67%), the start of six years where I rarely get above 70%.
Ten countries that didn’t submit the year before are in this year, including Georgia, which earns a nomination with its first submission.  Other first time nominees are Albania and Australia.  Back after two years is Vietnam.  The other countries are all back after a year off: Belarus (its last submission to date), Colombia, Slovenia, Romania, Cuba and Denmark (which hasn’t missed since).  The countries that submitted in 1995 but don’t this year are Portugal, Greece and Venezuela (which haven’t missed since), Slovakia, Iran, South Korea, United Kingdom, China, Thailand, Bolivia, Tunisia and the Dominican Republic (which won’t submit again until 2016).
This is my first miss from Albania (obviously), Croatia, Slovenia and Vietnam, my second miss from Romania, my fifth miss from Italy, my eighth miss from Taiwan, my ninth miss from Canada, my 10th miss from Sweden, my 11th miss from Switzerland, my 13th miss from Austria, my 15th miss from Japan and my 16th miss from Spain.

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

  • Wings  (1966)
  • Identification of a Woman  (1982)
  • As Tears Go By  (1988)
  • Days of Being Wild  (1990)
  • Singapore Sling  (1990)
  • The Dark Side of the Heart  (1992)
  • Stalingrad  (1992)
  • Hedd Wyn  (1993)
  • My Favorite Season  (1993)
  • The Visitors  (1993)
  • Ashes of Time  (1994)
  • Cemetery Man  (1994)
  • Chungking Express  (1994)
  • Cold Fever  (1994)
  • The Day the Sun Turned Cold  (1994)
  • I Don’t Hate Las Vegas Anymore  (1994)
  • L’America  (1994)
  • Of Love and Shadows  (1994)
  • The Silences of the Palace  (1994)
  • Vive L’Amour  (1994)
  • 301, 302  (1995)
  • All Things Fair  (1995)
  • Angels and Insects  (1995)
  • Antonia’s Line  (1995)
  • Blush  (1995)
  • Brother of Sleep  (1995)
  • Butterfly Kiss  (1995)
  • Le Ceremonie  (1995)
  • Cold Comfort Farm  (1995)
  • The Confessional  (1995)
  • Crows  (1995)
  • Cyclo  (1995)
  • The Flower of My Secret  (1995)
  • French Twist  (1995)
  • Gamera: Guardian of the Universe  (1995)
  • Ghost in the Shell  (1995)
  • La Haine  (1995)
  • The Horseman on the Roof  (1995)
  • In the Bleak Midwinter  (1995)
  • Land and Freedom  (1995)
  • The Last Supper  (1995)
  • Maborosi  (1995)
  • Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud  (1995)
  • Red Cherry  (1995)
  • Rumble in the Bronx  (1995)
  • The Star Maker  (1995)
  • Trainspotting  (1995)
  • Welcome to the Dollhouse  (1995)
  • The White Balloon  (1995)

Note:  These 49 films average a 66.1.  This list drastically affect the awards as five of these films (Trainspotting, Cold Comfort Farm, In the Bleak Midwinter, Antonia’s Line, Welcome to the Dollhouse) combine for 12 nominations, only one of which is Foreign Film.

Films That Weren’t Eligible at the Oscars:

  • All Things Fair
  • Antonia’s Line
  • As Tears Go By
  • Ashes of Time
  • Bitter Sugar
  • Blush
  • Bolshe Vita
  • Brother of Sleep
  • Butterfly Kiss
  • Cemetery Man
  • La Ceremonie
  • Chungking Express
  • Cold Comfort Farm
  • Cold Fever
  • Cyclo
  • The Dark Side of the Heart
  • The Day the Sun Turned Cold
  • Days of Being Wild
  • The Flower of My Secret
  • Freeway
  • French Twist
  • Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe
  • I Don’t Hate Las Vegas Anymore
  • Identification of a Woman
  • L’America
  • My Favorite Season
  • Maborosi
  • Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud
  • Of Love and Shadows
  • Roujin-Z
  • The Silences of the Palace
  • Singapore Sling
  • Stalingrad
  • The Star Maker
  • The Stupids
  • 301-302
  • Three Lives and Only One Death
  • Tromeo & Juliet
  • The Visitors
  • The White Balloon

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:

  • Between Pancho Villa and a Naked Woman
  • The Confessional
  • Crows
  • Dead Sure
  • The Deathmaker
  • Drifting Clouds
  • Forbidden City Cop
  • From Hell to Hell
  • The God of Cookery
  • Goodbye South, Goodbye
  • Hedd Wyn
  • Hindustani
  • Hu-Du-Men
  • Lea
  • Long Live the Queen
  • Luna e l’altra
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • The Nymph
  • Oedipus Mayor
  • Perfect Love
  • Red Cherry
  • Salon Mexico
  • Thesis
  • Think of Me
  • Vaska Easoff
  • Victory
  • Wings

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:

  • At Full Gallop  (1997)
  • Beaumarchais, The Scoundrel  (1997)
  • Box of Moonlight  (1997)
  • Brassed Off  (1997)
  • Capitaine Conan  (1997)
  • A Chef in Love  (1997)
  • Children of the Revolution  (1997)
  • Chronicle of a Disappearance  (1997)
  • Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day  (1997)
  • Conspirators of Pleasure  (1997)
  • Cosi  (1997)
  • Crash  (1997)
  • The Delta  (1997)
  • The Eighth Day  (1997)
  • Fire  (1997)
  • Hamsun  (1997)
  • Irma Vep  (1997)
  • Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love  (1997)
  • Kolya  (1997)
  • L’Appartement  (1997)
  • The Last Time I Committed Suicide  (1997)
  • Lilies  (1997)
  • Love Serenade  (1997)
  • Madame Butterfly  (1997)
  • My Sexual Life  (1997)
  • The Pillow Book  (1997)
  • Ponette  (1997)
  • Prisoner of the Mountains  (1997)
  • La Promesse  (1997)
  • Saint Clara  (1997)
  • Salut Cousin!  (1997)
  • Schizopolis  (1997)
  • Shall We Dance  (1997)
  • Suburbia  (1997)
  • The Van  (1997)
  • Waiting for Guffman  (1997)
  • The Watermelon Woman  (1997)
  • The Wind in the Willows  (1997)
  • Un Air de famille  (1998)
  • Carla’s Song  (1998)
  • Comrades: Almost a Love Story  (1998)
  • Hard Core Logo  (1998)
  • The Leading Man  (1998)
  • Mother and Son  (1998)
  • The Other Side of Sunday  (1998)
  • Pretty Village, Pretty Flame  (1998)
  • The Son of Gascogne  (1998)
  • Tieta of Agreste  (1998)
  • Floating Life  (1999)
  • The King of Masks  (1999)
  • Pusher  (1999)
  • Devil’s Island  (2000)
  • X: The Movie  (2000)

Note:  These 53 films average a 64.9.  This year definitely benefits from the eligibility years because several **** films were added in from 1995 while only four of these films are even ***.5 (Ponette, Waiting for Guffman, La Promesse, The Other Side of Sunday).

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