I will fully admit that L.A. Confidential would be better if it had just ended on this shot and skipped that final scene.

I will fully admit that L.A. Confidential would be better if it had just ended on this shot and skipped that final scene.

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. L.A. Confidential  **
  2. Boogie Nights
  3. The Sweet Hereafter
  4. The Ice Storm
  5. Jackie Brown
  6. Amistad
  7. Good Will Hunting  *
  8. Oscar and Lucinda
  9. Grosse Pointe Blank
  10. The Full Monty  *
  11. The Wings of the Dove
  12. Chasing Amy

Analysis:  These are all the **** films of the year.
It’s unfortunate that these films are all in 1997.  If any of my #2-4 were in 1998, they would win the Nighthawk, Boogie Nights especially.  L.A. Confidential is still my winner without question, but Boogie Nights keeps moving higher up my all-time list every time I watch it.  The Wings of the Dove got bumped up to **** when I re-watched it before doing these awards.

  • curtis-hansonBest Director
  1. Curtis Hanson  (L.A. Confidential)  **
  2. Paul Thomas Anderson  (Boogie Nights)
  3. Atom Egoyan  (The Sweet Hereafter)  *
  4. Ang Lee  (The Ice Storm)
  5. Quentin Tarantino  (Jackie Brown)
  6. Steven Spielberg  (Amistad)  *
  7. Gus Van Sant  (Good Will Hunting)  *
  8. Gillian Armstrong  (Oscar and Lucinda)
  9. Martin Scorsese  (Kundun)
  10. Ian Softley  (The Wings of the Dove)
  11. Luc Besson  (The Fifth Element)
  12. Peter Cattaneo  (The Full Monty)

Analysis:  This is the only nomination for Atom Egoyan and Curtis Hanson.  It’s the first nomination for Paul Thomas Anderson.  It’s the second nomination for Quentin Tarantino and Ang Lee.  The last three all have multiple nominations coming in their futures.
Curtis Hanson runs away with the Consensus Award, earning almost the exact same as what Tarantino earned in 1994, with the exception that Tarantino won the Indie Spirt (which Hanson wasn’t eligible for) and Hanson earned a Satellite nom (which didn’t exist in 1994).  They both swept all six critics awards and were nominated but lost the Oscar, DGA, BAFTA and Globe.
Spielberg’s Consensus nom is his seventh and he is up to 405 points and a three way tie for 5th place (only 45 points behind 1st place).  On a scaled total (in which all the Top 20 finishes receive points on curve), he is at 621 points, which moves him up to 11th.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. L.A. Confidential  **
  2. The Sweet Hereafter
  3. The Ice Storm  *
  4. Jackie Brown
  5. Oscar and Lucinda
  6. The Wings of the Dove  *
  7. Wag the Dog  *
  8. Donnie Brasco  *
  9. Absolute Power
  10. The Winter Guest
  11. Underground
  12. Night Falls on Manhattan

Analysis:  This is the best Top 5 to-date and possibly ever.
L.A. Confidential sets new Consensus records for wins, nominations, points and percentage, the last of which still stands while the others will be beaten in 2004.
Quentin Tarantino earns his third writing nomination.
I have had some extreme reactions to the source materials that I have read.  I am a big fan of L.A. Confidential and The Sweet Hereafter (both in my Top 200).  But both The Ice Storm and The Wings of the Dove appeared in my post about watching the film and skipping the book.  I struggled to get through Oscar and Lucinda but really enjoyed Rum Punch (the source novel for Jackie Brown).  The rest will just have to wait until I get to the Adapted Screenplay post, sometime after the end of time.
This is the last year of a seven year stretch where the Oscar went to either the best choice in the category or the worst, a stretch in which Picture and Director also did the same.  But, for the last three years, they have been the opposite – in 1995 and 1997, Picture and Director went to the worst of the five choices while Adapted Screenplay went to the best and in 1996, Picture and Director went to the best while Adapted Screenplay went to the worst.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Boogie Nights  *
  2. Good Will Hunting  **
  3. Grosse Pointe Blank
  4. The Full Monty  *
  5. Deconstructing Harry
  6. Chasing Amy
  7. Waiting for Guffman
  8. Ponette
  9. Amistad
  10. In and Out
  11. Ma Vie en Rose
  12. Eve’s Bayou

Analysis:  Good Will Hunting wins the Globe and the Oscar but loses the WGA, the first original script to do that since 1949.
P.T. Anderson wins his first writing Nighthawk (and earns his first nom).  Woody Allen earns his 16th writing nom and is now up to 880 points.
The Oscars did well with their choices here, earning an Oscar Score above 90 (91.2) for just the second time in the last decade.

  • Best Actor:
  1. Ian Holm  (The Sweet Hereafter)
  2. Jack Nicholson  (As Good as It Gets)  **
  3. Ralph Fiennes  (Oscar and Lucinda)
  4. Dustin Hoffman  (Wag the Dog)  *
  5. Matt Damon  (Good Will Hunting)  *
  6. Kevin Kline  (The Ice Storm)
  7. Daniel Day-Lewis  (The Boxer)
  8. Johnny Depp  (Donnie Brasco)
  9. Djimon Honsou  (Amistad)
  10. Guy Pearce  (L.A. Confidential)
  11. John Cusack  (Grosse Pointe Blank)
  12. Russell Crowe  (L.A. Confidential)

Analysis:  Nicholson is the weakest #2 since 1991.  It’s the weakest Top 5 since 1987.
Matt Damon earns his first Nighthawk nom.  Ian Holm earns his third nom (his first as lead).  It’s not only Ralph Fiennes’ fourth nom, but his fourth in five years.  It’s the seventh nom for Dustin Hoffman.  It’s the 12th nom for Jack Nicholson and he’s now up to 535 points and extends his 1st place lead.
I am kind of appalled that Ian Holm didn’t earn any Consensus points.
Jack Nicholson is actually the last Oscar winner to also win the Consensus in this category until 2004.

  • Best Actress
  1. Cate Blanchett  (Oscar and Lucinda)
  2. Helena Bonham-Carter  (The Wings of the Dove)  **
  3. Helen Hunt  (As Good as It Gets)  *
  4. Judi Dench  (Mrs. Brown)  *
  5. Joan Allen  (The Ice Storm)
  6. Pamela Grier  (Jackie Brown)
  7. Julie Christie  (Afterglow)  *
  8. Emma Thompson  (The Winter Guest)
  9. Tilda Swinton  (Female Perversions)
  10. Kate Winslet  (Titanic)  *
  11. Emily Watson  (The Boxer)
  12. Katrin Cartlidge  (Career Girls)

Analysis:  This is the only Nighthawk nomination for Helen Hunt.  It’s the first nom (and win) for Cate Blanchett, who will soon come to dominate the awards.  It’s the second nom for Helena Bonham-Carter and Judi Dench.  It’s the third nom (in a row) for Joan Allen who will make it four straight the next year.
It’s really tough to push Grier out of the top 5, but this year is filled with really good #6 choices in most categories.
I don’t know if Blanchett (or Fiennes, above) were hurt by the really late release of Oscar and Lucinda (I wasn’t even certain it was Oscar eligible until it received a nomination for Costume Design) but the next year she wouldn’t be overlooked, as she would actually win the Consensus.

  • kevin_spacey_019Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Kevin Spacey  (L.A. Confidential)  *
  2. Burt Reynolds  (Boogie Nights)  **
  3. Robin Williams  (Good Will Hunting)  *
  4. Robert Forster  (Jackie Brown)
  5. Anthony Hopkins  (Amistad)  *
  6. Tom Wilkinson  (The Full Monty)
  7. James Cromwell  (L.A. Confidential)
  8. Ed Harris  (Absolute Power)
  9. Philip Seymour Hoffman  (Boogie Nights)
  10. Billy Connolly  (Mrs. Brown)
  11. Greg Kinnear  (As Good as It Gets)  *
  12. Bruce Greenwood  (The Sweet Hereafter)

Analysis:  This is the best Top 5 since 1987.
Robert Forster earns his only Nighthawk nom.  Burt Reynolds and Robin Williams earn their second noms.  It’s Kevin Spacey’s second nom but also his second win.  It’s the ninth nom for Anthony Hopkins and his sixth of the decade.
Burt Reynolds sets new a high for Consensus points without winning the Oscar, something that will last until 2004.

  • julianne-moore-boogie-nightsBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Julianne Moore  (Boogie Nights)  *(*)
  2. Sigourney Weaver  (The Ice Storm)  *
  3. Joan Cusack  (In and Out)  *
  4. Sarah Polley  (The Sweet Hereafter)
  5. Anne Heche  (Wag the Dog)
  6. Judy Davis  (Absolute Power)
  7. Anne Heche  (Donnie Brasco)
  8. Christina Ricci  (The Ice Storm)
  9. Phyllida Law  (The Winter Guest)
  10. Minnie Driver  (Good Will Hunting)
  11. Judy Davis  (Deconstructing Harry)
  12. Kim Basinger  (L.A. Confidential)  **

Analysis:  These are the only Nighthawk noms for Joan Cusack, Sarah Polley and Anne Heche.  It’s the first nom (and win) for Julianne Moore and the first of four nominations in three years.  It’s the fourth nom for Sigourney Weaver.
The reason for the second star for Julianne Moore is that Kim Basinger was nominated as a lead at the BAFTAs and if you take away those extra five points, they tie for the Consensus win.  Basinger won three awards (SAG, Oscar, Globe) and earned a BAFTA nom, much to my confusion since I think she’s by far the weakest thing in the film while Moore (who I think gives one of the greatest supporting performances of all-time) wins the LAFC and NSFC and earns SAG, Oscar and Globe noms.
Basinger is the lowest ranked winner in this category since 1990 and the second lowest ranked to-date.  Between her and Gloria Stuart (my #22), the Oscar Score is a 70.6, the lowest in this category in 10 years.

  • Best Editing:
  1. L.A. Confidential
  2. Boogie Nights
  3. Jackie Brown
  4. The Sweet Hereafter
  5. Grosse Pointe Blank
  6. The Ice Storm
  7. The Fifth Element
  8. Amistad
  9. The Full Monty
  10. Deconstructing Harry
  11. Chasing Amy
  12. Wag the Dog

Analysis:  Even in a category where they often made terrible choices, Titanic is a terrible choice for the Oscar here.  Really?  You loved the Editing that made the film an hour longer than it should have been?  It’s the first time since 1944 that the Oscar went to the worst of the five choices.  Overall, the Oscar Score is a dismal 35.0, the second lowest since 1985 and the third lowest since 1968.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. L.A. Confidential  *
  2. Boogie Nights
  3. Amistad  *
  4. Titanic  *
  5. Kundun  **
  6. The Sweet Hereafter
  7. Jackie Brown
  8. The Wings of the Dove  *
  9. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
  10. The Ice Storm
  11. Oscar and Lucinda
  12. Donnie Brasco

Analysis:  Boogie Nights is the best #2 in four years.  Its cinematographer, Robert Elswit, earns his first nomination working with P.T. Anderson but it won’t be his last.  Dante Spinotti wins his second Nighthawk.  Janusz Kaminski earns his second nom (both with Spielberg).  Roger Deakins earns his fourth nomination and the middle nom of three in a row.
The Oscar Score is a phenomenal 92.7, the highest it has been since the split categories were dropped in 1967.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. Amistad
  2. The Sweet Hereafter
  3. L.A. Confidential
  4. Oscar and Lucinda
  5. Titanic
  6. Kundun
  7. Good Will Hunting
  8. Rosewood
  9. The Winter Guest
  10. The Boxer
  11. The Fifth Element
  12. Absolute Power

Analysis:  Thomas Newman earns his second Nighthawk nom.  James Horner earns his fourth nom.  Jerry Goldsmith earns his sixth, 18 years after earning his fifth (and this one, like his 1974 win, is for a mystery set in a period LA film).  John Williams, after a year off, wins yet another Nighthawk (his eighth); he is now at 725 points.
This is the first time in five years that the Oscar doesn’t go to my #1 or #2, but it’s the start of a four year stretch where I really disagree with the Oscar choices in this category.  But the Oscar Score is 87.5, the highest since 1984.

  • Best Sound:
  1. Titanic
  2. L.A. Confidential
  3. The Fifth Element
  4. Amistad
  5. Boogie Nights
  6. Face/Off
  7. Men in Black
  8. Contact
  9. Air Force One
  10. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  11. Jackie Brown
  12. The Boxer

Analysis:  I have to say, of the 11 Oscars that Titanic won, this was the one it deserved the most.

  • Best Art Direction:
  1. L.A. Confidential
  2. Boogie Nights
  3. Titanic
  4. Kundun
  5. Amistad
  6. The Fifth Element
  7. Oscar and Lucinda
  8. The Wings of the Dove
  9. Gattaca
  10. Jackie Brown
  11. Mrs. Brown
  12. The Ice Storm

Analysis:  This is the best Top 5 to-date and possibly ever, even beating out the magnificent Top 5 from the year before.  Titanic‘s Oscar was a good choice, but I just think there were better choices.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. The Fifth Element
  2. Titanic
  3. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  4. Men in Black
  5. Starship Troopers
  6. Contact
  7. Alien Resurrection
  8. Tomorrow Never Dies
  9. Air Force One
  10. Face/Off

Analysis:  The films in green were semi-finalists.  The last semi-finalist was Batman & Robin which didn’t even make my list and is a little surprising that it made the Academy’s semi-finals list over Alien Resurrection, especially since the first three Alien films had all been Oscar nominated.
Titanic is the best #2 to-date in this category and the only the second film to finish 2nd in spite of earning my highest rating (Close Encounters was the first).  This is easily the best Top 5 to-date.  It won’t be beaten until 2002.
Nothing against the three nominees (well, a lot against all three, but nothing against their visual effects), but it still boggles my mind that The Fifth Element wasn’t nominated.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. Titanic
  2. The Fifth Element
  3. L.A. Confidential
  4. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  5. Men in Black
  6. Face/Off
  7. Air Force One
  8. Contact
  9. Tomorrow Never Dies
  10. Alien Resurrection
  11. Starship Troopers
  12. Amistad

Analysis:  The films in green were semi-finalists.  The last semi-finalist, Con Air, is my #13 (the last film on my list).
The Fifth Element is the first film since 1983 to earn my highest rating in this category and not win.  This is also the best Top 5 to-date (and won’t be beaten until 2002).  It also earns a great Oscar Score (92.0), the highest since the perfect 100 in 1988.

  • titanicBest Costume Design:
  1. Titanic
  2. Oscar and Lucinda
  3. Boogie Nights
  4. L.A. Confidential
  5. Amistad
  6. Kundun
  7. The Wings of the Dove
  8. Mrs. Brown
  9. The Fifth Element
  10. Washington Square
  11. Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love
  12. Beaumarchais, The Scoundrel

Analysis:  The Top 5 tie 1993 for the best Top 5 to-date, which will last until 2004.  With all five Oscar nominees in my Top 7, the Oscar Score is 97.6, which is the highest to-date in this category.

  • fifthelement_219pyxurzBest Makeup
  1. The Fifth Element
  2. Men in Black
  3. Kundun
  4. Boogie Nights
  5. Titanic
  6. Amistad
  7. Alien Resurrection
  8. L.A. Confidential
  9. Face/Off
  10. Ma Vie en Rose

Analysis:  Again, I really don’t grasp how The Fifth Element wasn’t nominated, especially since Men in Black was.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. “The Sweet Hereafter”  (The Sweet Hereafter)
  2. God Be With You”  (The Devil’s Own)
  3. Alive”  (Chasing Amy)
  4. Once Upon a December”  (Anastasia)
  5. The Perfect Drug”  (Lost Highway)
  6. Wag the Dog”  (Wag the Dog)
  7. Journey to the Past”  (Anastasia)
  8. In the Shadow of a Gun”  (The Boxer)
  9. The End is the Beginning is the End”  (Batman and Robin)
  10. Eye”  (Lost Highway)
  11. Miss Misery”  (Good Will Hunting)
  12. Tomorrow Never Dies”  (Tomorrow Never Dies)

Analysis:  Oscars.org lists songs from different films.  This year it lists 141 songs from 64 separate films.  As usual, there are some songs on my list that aren’t on their list, like “Alive” (which Kevin Smith has mentioned was written by Joey Lauren Adams for the song), the two Lost Highway songs, “Wag the Dog” and “In the Shadow of a Gun”.  I have seen 31 of the films, accounting for 76 of the songs and I have seen 6 of the 8 films with more than 4 songs (I haven’t seen Playing God or Napoleon).
“God Be With You” is the weakest #2 in seven years.  It’s also the weakest Top 5 since 1988.
So, “My Heart Will Go On“, from Titanic, is down at #15, but it is on my list.  I’m a little torn on it.  It hearkens back to 1955 and “Unchained Melody”, a song that was well-written but not well-sung in the film or well-used.  So, do I reward the song because later versions have proven the song to be great or do I not because it’s the film version that’s being rated?  The same issue here.  I have never liked the Dion version.  But several years later, I heard the Neil Diamond version and that gave me a new appreciation for the song itself.  Then, recently, I got the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes version and I really love that one.  I have left the Dion song where I feel her version belongs.  But the song is better when you get someone else to perform it.  It’s the first time since 1985 that the Oscar winner isn’t in my Top 10 but it’s the start of three straight years where that is the case.
The Oscar Score drops below 50 (48.4) for only the second time since 1985.

  • Best Animated Film:
  1. none

Analysis:  As can be seen in the list of all the eligible films down below, no film earns more than *** from me which means no film is eligible for this award.  The Consensus winner was Hercules, but I hated Hercules (see the Films I Saw in the Theater).
This is not only the last year without any nominees, but it’s also the last year (through at least 2017) without a Disney, Pixar or Ghibli nominee.  It’s the last year until 2005 without either a Disney or Pixar nominee.

  • princess_mononoke_japanese_poster_movieBest Foreign Film:
  1. Princess Mononoke
  2. Insomnia
  3. Abre Los Ojos
  4. Character  *
  5. Live Flesh
  6. Winter Sleepers
  7. Men with Guns
  8. Ma Vie en Rose  *
  9. The Thief
  10. Beyond Silence
  11. Perfect Blue

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

Analysis:  The Netherlands earns its third nomination.  Spain earns its first nomination in nine years (it earns two, in fact).  Sweden earns its first nomination in 11 years.  Japan wins its first award since 1990.  For the only time from 1993 to 2008, France fails to earn a nomination.
Pedro Almodovar earns his second nomination but he will soon start earning a lot more.  Hiyao Miyazaki earns his sixth nomination and his third win; he moves up to 180 points and 6th place all-time.
The Top 5 is a huge improvement over the year before and there is a full Top 10 for the first time in three years.  It’s the 6th best Top 10 to-date.  Perfect Blue, which is #11 here, would have been #3 in 1996.
However, with two submitted films on my list that weren’t nominated (including my #1), the Oscar Score is a pathetic 43.8, the lowest since 1982.
Discounting Red (which was declared ineligible), Princess Mononoke is the best film submitted but not nominated since at least 1987 (Wings of Desire) and possibly 1966 (Persona).  It’s in my Top 10 list all-time for films that were submitted but not nominated and to this point joins only The Seventh Seal, Persona, The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser, Fitzcarraldo and Red in winning the Nighthawk while being passed over for a nomination at the Oscars, although it will happen again in 2005 (Cache) and 2007 (Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days).
This is the last year with basically no Consensus.  The Oscar (Character), the Globe (Ma Vie en Rose), the BAFTA (L’Appartement) and the BFCA (Shall We Dance) go to four different films.  The critics awards barely help as only the LAFC and NSFC agree (La Promesse) and they go to a film technically eligible the year before.  The NYFC (Ponette) and BSFC (Underground) just add more confusion, with the NBR giving their award to Shall We Dance, creating a small amount of consensus, though again, for a 1996 film.  But, while the Oscar’s archaic rules will often mean they’re not a help with the Consensus, the Globe from here on out will go to a film that wins at least one other award except in 2003 and will usually win multiple awards and earn other nominations and the BAFTAs will generally be the same while every BFCA winner from here on out will at least earn another nomination and almost all will earn multiple other nominations and other wins.

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.

  • L.A. Confidential  (550)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Sound Editing, Costume Design
  • Boogie Nights   (380)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Sound, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup
  • The Sweet Hereafter  (305)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing, Original Score, Original Song
  • Titanic  (210)
    • Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Costume Design, Makeup
  • The Ice Storm  (200)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Jackie Brown  (190)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Editing
  • Oscar and Lucinda  (185)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Original Score, Costume Design
  • Amistad  (160)
    • Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design
  • Good Will Hunting  (105)
    • Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor
  • The Fifth Element  (100)
    • Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Makeup
  • As Good as It Gets  (70)
    • Actor, Actress
  • Grosse Pointe Blank  (60)
    • Original Screenplay, Editing
  • Wag the Dog  (65)
    • Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Kundun  (50)
    • Cinematography, Art Direction, Makeup
  • Men in Black  (50)
    • Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Makeup
  • The Full Monty  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Deconstructing Harry  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park  (40)
    • Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • The Wings of the Dove  (35)
    • Actress
  • Mrs. Brown  (35)
    • Actress
  • In and Out  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • Starship Troopers  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • Ponette  (20)
    • Foreign Film  (1996)
  • La Promesse  (20)
    • Foreign Film (1996)
  • Lost Highway  (10)
    • Original Song
  • Chasing Amy  (10)
    • Original Song
  • Anastasia  (10)
    • Original Song
  • The Devil’s Own  (10)
    • Original Song

Analysis:  There are five fewer films than the year before.  The Tech categories, as a whole, are the best to-date, even beating out 1989.

Best Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Absolute Power

Analysis:  My #15 film, an under-appreciated Clint Eastwood thriller.  It’s highest finish is 6th place (Supporting Actress) and it also has top 10 finishes in Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay.

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

  • Eve’s Bayou

Analysis:  The only other ***.5 to not earn a Top 10 is Night Falls on Manhattan.  It’s my #18 film, but its highest finish is 12th (Original Screenplay).

Biggest Awards Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • The Apostle

Analysis:  I really disliked this film.  But that’s only one part of it.  I also didn’t think it was very good and though Robert Duvall’s performance was solid, I didn’t think it was nearly worth the attention it received (SAG nom, Oscar nom, three critics awards).

Nighthawk Golden Globes:


  • Best Picture
  1. L.A. Confidential
  2. Boogie Nights
  3. The Sweet Hereafter
  4. The Ice Storm
  5. Amistad

Analysis:  The best Top 5 since 1989 and the sixth best to-date.
These are all **** films.  The other **** Dramas are, in order: Good Will Hunting, Oscar and Lucinda and The Wings of the Dove.  The ***.5 films, in order are: The Fifth Element, Absolute Power, Donnie Brasco, Eve’s Bayou, Ponette, Kundun, Face/Off, The Boxer, Night Falls on Manhattan, The Winter Guest and La Promesse.

  • Best Director
  1. Curtis Hanson  (L.A. Confidential)
  2. Paul Thomas Anderson  (Boogie Nights)
  3. Atom Egoyan  (The Sweet Hereafter)
  4. Ang Lee  (The Ice Storm)
  5. Steven Spielberg  (Amistad)

Analysis:  This is the best Top 5 since 1989.
This is the only Drama nomination for Curtis Hanson and Atom Egoyan.  It’s the first nomination for Paul Thomas Anderson.  It’s the second nomination for Ang Lee.  On the other hand, it’s the seventh nomination for Spielberg, who goes up to 540 points and a tie for 5th place in Drama points.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. L.A. Confidential
  2. The Sweet Hereafter
  3. The Ice Storm
  4. Oscar and Lucinda
  5. The Wings of the Dove

Analysis:  Tied for the second best Top 5 to-date.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Boogie Nights
  2. Good Will Hunting
  3. Ponette
  4. Amistad
  5. Eve’s Bayou

Analysis:  P.T. Anderson earns his first writing Drama nom (and win).

  • thesweethereafter4Best Actor:
  1. Ian Holm  (The Sweet Hereafter)
  2. Ralph Fiennes  (Oscar and Lucinda)
  3. Matt Damon  (Good Will Hunting)
  4. Kevin Kline  (The Ice Storm)
  5. Daniel Day-Lewis  (The Boxer)

Analysis:  This is the weakest Top 5 since 1987.
It’s the first Drama nom for Matt Damon.  It’s the second for Kevin Kline, 15 years after his first.  It’s the fifth Drama nom for Ian Holm but his first as a lead (he commented when cast in the role that it was his first lead film role).  It’s the fourth nom in five years for Ralph Fiennes and the first time he doesn’t win.  It’s already the ninth nom for Daniel Day-Lewis (his fifth this decade) and he is up to 375 Drama points and enters the Top 10.

  • oscar-and-lucinda-1997-via-fanpopBest Actress
  1. Cate Blanchett  (Oscar and Lucinda)
  2. Helena Bonham-Carter  (The Wings of the Dove)
  3. Judi Dench  (Mrs. Brown)
  4. Joan Allen  (The Ice Storm)
  5. Julie Christie  (Afterglow)

Analysis:  This is the first Drama nom for Cate Blanchett.  It’s the second nom for Judi Dench, the third for Helena Bonham-Carter and Julie Christie and the third in a row for Joan Allen.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Kevin Spacey  (L.A. Confidential)
  2. Burt Reynolds  (Boogie Nights)
  3. Robin Williams  (Good Will Hunting)
  4. Anthony Hopkins  (Amistad)
  5. James Cromwell  (L.A. Confidential)

Analysis:  The best Top 5 in five years.
It’s the first Drama noms for Robin Williams and James Cromwell.  It’s the second Drama nom for Burt Reynolds, 25 years after his first.  It’s the second nom (and win) for Kevin Spacey.  It’s the 10th nom for Anthony Hopkins (his sixth this decade) and he’s up to 400 Drama points and is up to 6th place.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Julianne Moore  (Boogie Nights)
  2. Sigourney Weaver  (The Ice Storm)
  3. Sarah Polley  (The Sweet Hereafter)
  4. Judy Davis  (Absolute Power)
  5. Anne Heche  (Donnie Brasco)

Analysis:  These are the only Drama noms for Sarah Polley and Anne Heche.  It’s the second for Julianne Moore, the fifth for Judy Davis and Sigourney Weaver.

  • L.A. Confidential  (360)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actor
  • Boogie Nights  (265)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Sweet Hereafter  (235)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Ice Storm  (235)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Amistad  (165)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • Oscar and Lucinda  (145)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • Good Will Hunting  (105)
    • Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor
  • The Wings of the Dove  (75)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actress
  • Eve’s Bayou  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Ponette  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • The Boxer  (35)
    • Actor
  • Afterglow  (35)
    • Actress
  • Mrs. Brown  (35)
    • Actress
  • Absolute Power  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • Donnie Brasco  (30)
    • Supporting Actress

Analysis:  The major categories, as a whole, are the best to-date, just barely beating out 1989 and 1993.  The Drama categories as a whole are the second best to-date, behind only 1993.

Best Drama Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • The Fifth Element

Analysis:  A second Sci-Fi film in a row.  They often end up here because of a lack of strong acting.  My #13 film of the year and my #9 Drama.

Comedy / Musical:

  • Best Picture
  1. Jackie Brown
  2. Grosse Pointe Blank
  3. The Full Monty
  4. Chasing Amy
  5. Deconstructing Harry

Analysis:  Only the first four are ****.  The other ***.5 Comedies, in order are: Waiting for Guffman, Ma Vie en Rose, Wag the Dog, As Good as It Gets, Men in Black, In and Out and Underground.

  • Best Director
  1. Quentin Tarantino  (Jackie Brown)
  2. Peter Cattaneo  (The Full Monty)
  3. George Armitage  (Grosse Pointe Blank)
  4. James L. Brooks  (As Good as It Gets)
  5. Barry Levinson  (Wag the Dog)

Analysis:  These are the only Comedy nominations for Peter Cattaneo and George Armitage, whose careers outside these two films are pretty mediocre.  It’s the first Comedy nomination for Quentin Tarantino, and in spite of how funny his scripts can be, it’s still his only one as of 2016.  It’s the second Comedy noms for Barry Levinson and James L. Brooks.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Jackie Brown
  2. Wag the Dog
  3. Underground
  4. The Van
  5. Men in Black

Analysis:  Quentin Tarantino makes his only “Comedy” and wins the writing award.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Grosse Pointe Blank
  2. The Full Monty
  3. Deconstructing Harry
  4. Chasing Amy
  5. Waiting for Guffman

Analysis:  Kevin Smith earns his second Comedy writing nom.  Woody Allen, on the other hand, is now up to 1040 points and is in first place by 200 points.  It’s his fourth consecutive nomination, the second time he had a Comedy streak this long.

  • asgoodBest Actor:
  1. Jack Nicholson  (As Good as It Gets)
  2. Dustin Hoffman  (Wag the Dog)
  3. John Cusack  (Grosse Pointe Blank)
  4. Robert Carlyle  (The Full Monty)
  5. Samuel L. Jackson  (Jackie Brown)

Analysis:  It’s the only Comedy nom for Robert Carlyle.  It’s the first for Samuel L. Jackson.  It’s the second nom for John Cusack.  It’s only the third Comedy nom for Jack Nicholson but his second win.  It’s the fourth Comedy nom for Dustin Hoffman.

  • Best Actress
  1. Helen Hunt  (As Good as It Gets)
  2. Pamela Grier  (Jackie Brown)
  3. Katrin Cartlidge  (Career Girls)
  4. Minnie Driver  (Grosse Pointe Blank)
  5. Judy Davis  (Children of the Revolution)

Analysis:  These are the only Comedy noms for Pamela Grier and Katrin Cartlidge.  It’s the second nom for Minnie Driver, the second for Helen Hunt and the fourth for Judy Davis.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Robert Forster  (Jackie Brown)
  2. Tom Wilkinson  (The Full Monty)
  3. Greg Kinnear  (As Good as It Gets)
  4. Rupert Everett  (My Best Friend’s Wedding)
  5. Tom Selleck  (In and Out)

Analysis:  These are the only Comedy noms for Robert Forster, Tom Wilkinson, Greg Kinnear and Tom Selleck.  It’s the first for Rupert Everett.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Joan Cusack  (In and Out)
  2. Anne Heche  (Wag the Dog)
  3. Judy Davis  (Deconstructing Harry)
  4. Cate Blanchett  (The Wedding Party)
  5. Joan Cusack  (Grosse Pointe Blank)

Analysis:  This is the only Comedy nom for Anne Heche.  It’s the first for Cate Blanchett.  It’s the first and second for Joan Cusack.  It’s the fifth for Judy Davis (who earned her fourth above) and she goes up to 190 points and into the Top 10 for Comedy points.

  • Jackie Brown  (400)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor
  • Grosse Pointe Blank  (275)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress
  • As Good as It Gets  (215)
    • Original Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor
  • The Full Monty  (200)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor
  • Wag the Dog  (150)
    • Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Deconstructing Harry  (120)
    • Picture, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actress
  • Chasing Amy  (90)
    • Picture, Original Screenplay
  • In and Out  (90)
    • Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Van  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • Men in Black  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • Underground  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • Waiting for Guffman  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • Career Girls  (35)
    • Actress
  • Children of the Revolution  (35)
    • Actress
  • My Best Friend’s Wedding  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • The Wedding Party  (30)
    • Supporting Actress

Analysis:  There are three more films than the year before, namely because of all the films earning just one nomination.

Best Comedy Not Nominated for any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Ma Vie en Rose

Analysis:  My #7 Comedy and my #19 film of the year, both of which are high for this position.  But none of the acting made it and it was up against a very strong Original Screenplay Top 5.  You have to go all the way down to my #13 Comedy (#35 overall) for another Comedy not nominated (Brassed Off).  I saw this originally for a Queer Theory class I took in grad school (a class it was perfect for).

Roundup for the Year in Film:

Eligible Films I Have Seen:  185

By Stars:

  • ****:  12
  • ***.5:  19
  • ***:  84
  • **.5:  33
  • **:  22
  • *.5:  6
  • *:  5
  • .5:  4
  • 0:  0
  • Average Film Score for the Year, out of 100:  62.37

Analysis:  The average goes up over two points for the highest average since 1973.  That’s because the 30 fewer films have no fewer **** or ***.5 films but have far fewer ** and * films.  Only 20% of the films are ** or worse, the lowest since 1991.

My Year at the Theater

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

  • Crash  –  Released originally in 1996, but Oscar eligible in this year, I would see it a couple of months in as a double-feature at a theater in Portland that no longer exists with Lost Highway.  I have always referred to it as “the Arquette sisters act fucked up about sex double feature)”.  I hated this film with a fierce passion.
  • Fierce Creatures  –  It was weird to have a film I was looking forward to opening in January and not be a holdover from the year before.  That’s because this long delayed quasi-sequel to A Fish Called Wanda was rather disappointing.  It wasn’t bad, but given the talent involved and the first film, it wasn’t nearly as good as it should have been.  Kari and I went to see this when it opened.  One definitely amusing bit was that in Wanda, Michael Palin had the stutter and couldn’t finish a sentence and here he never shuts up.
  • Star Wars (Special Edition)  –  Good lord was I waiting for this.  As I wrote in 1996, I had seen the trailer before Twelfth Night and it was awesome.  Yes, I was annoyed that Greedo shot first, but other than that, I was really impressed by what was done for this re-release and I was glad to see the Jabba scenes re-inserted, as I had read them in the original comics (when Jabba was portrayed as human).  The only thing I wish they had added were the original Biggs scenes, but given the way they mess up the narrative and Luke’s first entrance, I very much understand not including them.  I saw this, I think, five or six times.
  • Absolute Power  –  As I said above, an under-appreciated Eastwood film with some very good performances all around, especially Eastwood, Ed Harris (maybe his most under-appreciated performance) and Judy Davis.
  • The Empire Strikes Back (Special Edition)  –  My favorite of the Special Edition versions because of what they do with the backgrounds in Cloud City and the addition of the new Wampa shot.  I think I saw this three times.
  • Lost Highway  –  As mentioned above, I saw this sometime in early March by myself at a theater in Portland.  I rather liked this film – it was messed up in that uniquely David Lynch way.  Plus the soundtrack was pretty awesome.
  • lukeReturn of the Jedi (Special Edition)  –  I was one of the first 50 people in line for this in Forest Grove, so I got the special Luke Skywalker figure that was given away.  I think I only saw this once in the theater.  I’m ambivalent about the ending because I actually like the quasi-song from the original release, but I also liked the new music that John Williams wrote for the ending.
  • The Devil’s Own  –  I was a huge Harrison Ford fan growing up; he was absolutely my favorite actor.  Which is why I went to see this even though I loathed Brad Pitt.  This was the last film for director Alan J. Pakula who was killed in a car accident the next year and legendary cinematographer Gordon Willis.  It’s a deeply flawed film.  Had a nice song from Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer of the Cranberries.
  • The Saint  –  Oh, this piece of shit.  I had never seen the original show, so I don’t know why I was interested in seeing this.  It was simply awful and it proved that Elizabeth Shue’s performance in Leaving Las Vegas was the exception.
  • Grosse Pointe Blank  –  The trailer for this had looked hilarious and so a bunch of us went to see it.  I very distinctly remember my friend Dane was there and that George was there because at the end when “Blister in the Sun” plays, Dane and I were singing it at top volume and it made George leave the second the credits came in (because of us singing, not because of the song).  Still love this film, one of my absolute favorites.  I saw it at least one more time in Tigard just before leaving Oregon in August when I went to see Chasing Amy but the film broke, so I saw this instead and wouldn’t see Chasing Amy until it came out on video.  So, yes, of the first three Kevin Smith films, I only saw Mallrats in the theaters.
  • The Fifth Element  –  This was visionary and I’m still bummed it wasn’t nominated for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars.  I distinctly remember seeing this with Kari because it was the last movie we would see together for two years, as she would graduate and I wouldn’t see her again for over a year and half after this.
  • Con Air  –  By the time this opened, I was living by myself in the tiny town of Banks, Oregon.  But George was still around, so it’s possible I went to see this with him.  What a piece of crap.
  • Hercules  –  I remember seeing this by myself on opening night after work at the daycare, which wouldn’t have been until after Batman and Robin (it’s here on the list because of when it opened in LA).  The Disney Renaissance was officially dead.  I hated this film, simply hated it.  Hated the songs, hated the story, hated what they did with the myth.  The only good thing about it was James Woods.
  • Batman and Robin  –  I also saw this by myself on opening night.  I had high hopes that Clooney would work as Batman, but, no matter how much I love him as an actor, he didn’t work.  Still, I lay the bulk of the blame of Joel Schumacher and Akiva Goldsman and I will punch them in the face if I ever meet them.  Bringing in Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl wasn’t a bad idea, but casting Arnold as Mr Freeze (with the worst puns ever) was an apocalyptic idea.
  • Men in Black  –  This is one film that is definitely out of order for when I saw it.  It opened in July but I wouldn’t see it until November (see Starship Troopers).
  • Air Force One  –  The last film I saw in Oregon before moving to Phoenix, I’m pretty sure I saw this with George.  Again, Harrison Ford, so I wasn’t missing it.  It was solid but not much better than that.  1997 just wasn’t a great time during the summer for movies.  Broken Arrow had scared me off John Woo, so I missed Face/Off.  I didn’t care about Lost World.  I wasn’t dating, so why see My Best Friend’s Wedding?  Contact looked boring.  There was just very little to move me to go to the theater by myself.  Then I started grad school and moved to Phoenix.
  • The Full Monty  –  Ah, the art house film that sticks around.  This was released in August.  But I would see it the first time at Thanksgiving, back in Orange with my high school friends and this was the film we decided on seeing together (and loved it).  At Christmas, home with my parents and sisters, we couldn’t agree on a film (I refused Titanic, my sisters refused Deconstructing Harry), so we compromised on this even though I had already seen it.  We all loved it.
  • In & Out  –  Once I was in Tempe, there was a Harkins Theater (the one mentioned by Kayce here) just a couple of blocks from my condo and so I didn’t want to go to the movies if I had to drive.  So, if a film didn’t open there, I, with a couple of exceptions, didn’t see it when I was in Phoenix.  I saw this on opening weekend, I think, the day after I saw L.A. Confidential (which opened the same weekend).  Quite good, especially the line “I’m gay.”  “No you’re not, you’re a tramp.”
  • L.A. Confidential  –  Loved it from the second I saw it.  Should have cut the final scene, but loved it.  Saw it opening day at the Harkins in Tempe.
  • Boogie Nights  –  I wanted to see this, but it didn’t open at the Harkins and I didn’t want to have to go find a theater somewhere.  So, I didn’t see this until after I moved back to Portland in December (actually I didn’t see it until January at the Cine Magic on Hawthorne which I am stunned to discover still exists).  I thought this was great when I first saw it, but every time I see it, it seems better.
  • A Life Less Ordinary  –  Now this did open at the Harkins and I was glad because it was the same director / star team that had made Trainspotting, one of my all-time favorite films.  This film was deeply flawed but had some very good moments to it.
  • Starship Troopers  –  I don’t know how box office works when it’s a double feature, which films gets the money.  My first of two excursions beyond the Harkins theater was when I went to a drive-in on the other side of the Salt River to see what I call the “evil bug” double feature, and in both films they actually call the creatures “bugs”.  So, yes, I saw this as a double feature with Men in Black.  Hated this – still hate it and don’t agree with those who claim it’s a satire.  Terrible film with some of the worst acting in film history.  Men in Black, however, was great fun.
  • Anastasia  –  This did open at the Harkins and I guess I was hoping that if Disney was falling off, some other studio would pick up the slack.  But, though it was okay (the best Animated Film of the year), it never raised itself above mid ***.
  • Alien Resurrection  –  I spent Thanksgiving in California at my brother Kelly’s house in Lake Forest.  While I would go see The Full Monty in Orange the day after, on Thanksgiving itself, before dinner, Kelly and I went to go see this at some theater in Lake Forest because our sister Alison and Kelly’s wife wouldn’t go with us.  Deeply flawed but interesting nonetheless.
  • Good Will Hunting  –  This opened in limited engagements in early December, but I’m fairly certain I saw it when it opened in Portland.  I might have dragged George and Mary to it, since I was back in Portland by then.  In fact, I believe it was the first film I saw at the new Regal theater on TV Highway in Aloha which had opened while I was in Phoenix.  It would become one of my go-to theaters for the next several years.
  • Scream 2  –  I moved back to Portland at the end of the semester for a variety of reasons (mostly financial).  On the way, I spent a night at George’s grandmother’s house in Clear Lake, CA.  Since I had seen Scream on video while in Tempe (which scared the crap out of me, partially because, during that opening scene, George called me and the phone ringing made me jump), I dragged George to this at the local theater in Clear Lake.  Not as good as the first, but still enjoyable.
  • Amistad  –  Now we’re really getting out of order.  This opened before I left Tempe (the same day as Scream 2) and I saw it opening day at the Harkins.  Thought it was great.  Still think so.
  • Deconstructing Harry  –  I wanted to see this at Christmas but my sisters wouldn’t.  So I went myself sometime in the next few days after I got back before I found a job.
  • Titanic  –  Even though I had resisted seeing this at Christmas, I knew before then that my awards obsession would force me to see it (it opened the same day as the Globe nominations and it earned 8 noms, the most since 1991).  I finally saw it and it was what I thought – a badly written silly melodrama romance with great visuals.  I actually saw it a second time in the theater during the summer of 1998 when I was working at a group home and got paid to take my residents to it – an easy way to kill three hours of work.
  • Tomorrow Never Dies  –  I saw this sometime after I got back to Portland (it opened the day I left Clear Lake and drove back to Portland), I think by myself, as George was in California.
  • As Good as It Gets  –  Now we’re back way out of order again.  This was the other exception to seeing films at the Harkins.  There was a special sneak preview of this at a new theater (with stadium seating! a big deal in 1997) which I think is the AMC Ahwatukee 24.  So, even though this didn’t open until 23 December, I saw it before I left Arizona on 17 December.  I loved it when I first saw it but my passion for it has cooled a bit.
  • Jackie Brown  –  I was really excited about this and still love it.  It’s a great example of Tarantino’s brilliant writing.  I think I might have seen it by myself, but it’s possible I dragged George to it.
  • The Postman  –  I’m fairly certain I dragged George to this, but I might have been forced to see it by myself.  A huge flop for Kevin Costner, but I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as most people do.
  • Wag the Dog  –  I saw this after it opened wide in January, I think with George, I think in Forest Grove.  Very smart film.
  • The Boxer  –  I sure as hell wasn’t going to miss Daniel Day-Lewis in a Jim Sheridan film.  Day-Lewis is good and Emily Watson is good but the film itself has some serious flaws.  Not nearly as good as I hoped it would be, especially since, like In the Name of the Father, it had been nominated for several major Globes.
  • Oscar and Lucinda  –  This was the surprise film.  There was a special sneak preview showing of it somewhere in Portland.  I was back hanging with Jamie again after moving back to Portland and he and I went to see this.  We got a free poster with admission (which I still have).  I was excited because it had Ralph Fiennes and he had easily, over the previous few years, become one of my favorite actors.  What I didn’t know about at the time was Cate Blanchett.  Oh my god, Cate Blanchett.  Little did I know I was about to discover my favorite actress of all-time and the winner of a shitload of Nighthawk Awards.  It opened so small (it never played in more than 65 theaters) and with so little fanfare that it wasn’t until it earned an Oscar nom for Costume Design that I was even certain it was eligible for the Oscars that year.

Endnote:  That’s a drop of 17 films from the year before.  These things happen when, 1 – you’re no longer in college and you have to go to work during the day, 2 – you’re not dating anymore and 3 – you’re now living in a new city where you don’t know anybody.
I did see all five Best Picture nominees (of course) and 8 of my eventual Top 12 in the theaters (and tried to see Chasing Amy).

Oscar-Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • none

Oscar Quality:

Best Picture:  It’s a big drop from the year before, going down from #11 to #27.  That’s because of two films that don’t make the Top 300 (As Good as It Gets – #308, Titanic – #354).  But the five films average 87.2, almost **** and L.A. Confidential actually makes the Top 20.  The Directors made a much better choice and if The Sweet Hereafter had been a Picture nominee instead of As Good as It Gets, this year would rank 10th instead of 27th.

The Winners:  The average winner ranks 7.65 among all films, although that drops to 5.89 if you take out Picture (Titanic is my #41 for the year).  Among the nominees, it’s 2.30, which isn’t great, but isn’t terrible either.  You might think that’s all a set-up for a dig at Titanic, since it won 11 Oscars.  But only four of those Oscars are bad choices (Picture, Director, Editing, Song).  Three of them were the right choice (Sound, Sound Editing, Costume Design) and another was the best choice (Visual Effects).  And the other three weren’t bad choices at all.  In fact, one of the worst Oscars of the year was one of the two awarded to the best film of the year: Supporting Actress.  Overall, this is actually a significantly better year than either 1994 or 1995.

The Nominees:  The Tech scores are very strong (77.8, the best in five years), but would have been much better if not for the abysmal score in Editing (35.0).  The Acting is solid (82.2 overall), with three of the categories above 80, but not phenomenal as none of the categories score above 90.  Because Titanic isn’t nominated for Screenplay, the major categories score a solid 74.4, better than the two previous years.  Overall, the score is also brought down by scores below 50 in both Song (48.4) and Foreign Film (43.8), so it’s a 75.8 overall, still the best in four years.

Golden Globe Best Picture – Comedy / Musical:  What the Globes did wrong is obvious when you look at the Best Actress nominees.  There they are – Jackie Brown and Chasing Amy, my #1 and #4 Comedies of the year, and they’re both nominated for Actress but not Picture.  Now, the Globes didn’t do terribly – they nominated a **** film (The Full Monty) and three ***.5 films (As Good as It Gets, Men in Black, Wag the Dog), but the last nominee was My Best Friend’s Wedding, and that’s just a silly romantic comedy.  That’s not even mentioning Grosse Pointe Blank, which they passed over in all three Comedy categories (for Liar Liar in Actor?  Really?).

Top 5 Films of the Year:

1  –  L.A. Confidential  (reviewed here)

It just keeps getting better every time I see it.

It just keeps getting better every time I see it.

2  –  Boogie Nights  (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

All P. T. Anderson wanted to be when he grew up was Robert Altman.  Nothing much to hope for.  Except he not only did it, but he surpassed the legend that he idolized.  It actually began with Hard Eight, his first film, but that film, while good, only showed the potential that was there, in both his direction and his writing.  This film, well this film exploded on screens and showed that this was a force to be reckoned with.

Look at what the film does in its opening moments.  With a nod towards Orson Welles and his brilliant opening to Touch of Evil, we get a long shot that stays in focus and gives us almost all the important characters that we will meet in the film.  We get the idea of the hedonism of the Valley in 1977, of the way the people love to preen and party.  We understand what is important when Amber Waves asks Roller Girl if there is something wrong down there.  It turns out Roller Girl just needs to pee, but for Waves and her friend Jackie, they are interested in Roller Girl’s sexual health.  After all, she’s cute, she’s got a hell of a body and they’re thinking of putting her in one of their films.  But of course a film needs a star and the shot tracks once more across the club and then moves in tight and things slow up just a little bit and we’ve got our star.

This wasn’t Mark Wahlberg’s first film acting, but it was the film that established that he could potentially be a star.  It showed that he had charisma on screen and if he could work with the right director, like he is here, then he could really go someplace.  In some ways it’s the film about the actor, but not really.  And luckily Wahlberg would find other directors that could also make good use of him (Marty, especially) because Adam Sandler looked like he could finally break through with some real acting after working with Anderson and then went right back to making complete shit.

But, as good as Wahlberg unexpectedly is, this isn’t really about a star.  It’s about Altman’s big thing – an ensemble.  There are seven names on the top of the movie poster to the right, six of whom are introduced in that opening shot.  But also in the film are Luis Guzman (also in the opening shot), Philip Baker Hall (who had been the star of Hard Eight), Philip Seymour Hoffman, Melora Walters and Alfred Molina.

Oh, Alfred Molina.  His first film role was one of the first films I ever saw in a theater, Raiders of the Lost Ark, not that I would know who he was for another 20 years.  He had been flying mostly under the radar for a long time by 1997.  He would only feature in one scene in Boogie Nights, but boy is it a memorable one.  He plays a drug dealer that Wahlberg and Reilly have come to rip off (by selling baking soda as cocaine) but the third member of the group wants to steal the dealer’s money.  Before we even get to that, we have the most memorable film version of “Jessie’s Girl” that we can imagine and then all hell breaks lose.  When you look at how fluidly Molina moves into the mania of the song and then goes completely nuts, and especially when you compare that to the much more restrained scene he has in Anderson’s Magnolia, it’s a wonder how such a talented went unheralded for so long.

Boogie Nights is a breathtaking work of film.  It is an epic story with a large cast of characters but not only do we not lose sight of who they are, we actually see how they all develop.  It was proof that Anderson’s emergence wasn’t just a new voice, but a writer-director who was on a par with Tarantino in both categories.  The film is long, but never feels it because it so vibrantly alive, with the performances (I still can’t believe that Julianne Moore lost to Kim Basinger), with the magnificent cinematography and art direction, with the masterful use of music, and most especially, with Anderson’s direction and writing.  If Boogie Nights did not explode all over the cultural landscape in the same way that Pulp Fiction did perhaps it’s because people are so much more likely to welcome in the extreme violence of a Crime film than the unbridled sexuality of a film about the porn industry.

The choices we make when faced with horrible pain don't necessarily bring release.

The choices we make when faced with horrible pain don’t necessarily bring release.

3  –  The Sweet Hereafter  (dir. Atom Egoyan)

Lawyers are people too.  It may sound like a joke, or might like sound like something easy for me to say since my sister and brother-in-law are both lawyers.  But it’s something to remember.  We are all of us, human.

A small town in Canada has been engrossed in tragedy.  A bus has gone down the side of a hill after going through a guardrail and many of the town’s young children are now dead.  The town reels from it as any town would from such an event.  But we only learn about this slowly.  The film unfolds the information to us in pieces, stray visions of a smashed bus, people talking about the event, images of the kids before the accident, of the love the poor bus driver, Dolores, had for her job.  Then it starts to sink in, what Lin-Manuel Miranda described as “There are moments that the words don’t reach / There is suffering too terrible to name / You hold your child as tight as you can / And push away the unimaginable.”  And then the lawyer arrives.

The lawyer would be easy to paint as a pathetic opportunist, a man out to make money from an unspeakable tragedy.  Yet, we meet the lawyer and we see what goes on in his own life.  We see him attempt to communicate with his own daughter as she calls him from dirty pay phones in lonely places, asking him for money so she can get more drugs.  He has lost his child to something other than death and there has been no compensation.  He feels like someone should be made to pay when something like this happens.  There must have been something that caused this, he reasons.  Maybe the bus had a problem.  Perhaps the guardrail was faulty.  Someone high up, someone with money should give these people something to get them through in their time of loss.  He wants to do this and he wants to help these people.  More importantly, he genuinely believes he is helping these people.

This all works because of the incredible performance from Ian Holm.  Holm had long been one of the best character actors at work in Britain, with work as a villain (his great work in Alien or his work as Himmler in the TV movie Holocaust), doing Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck, Polonius in Hamlet) or Pinter (The Homecoming), earning an Oscar nomination (Chariots of Fire), would win the Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor for his amazing work in 1985 (Wetherby, Dreamchild, Dance with a Strange, Brazil) and even doing Tolkien (he is Frodo in the deservedly lauded 1981 radio production, some two decades before he would play Bilbo on film).  But, as he would note, this was his first real lead film role.  It is also his best performance on film and that is saying quite a lot.  He moves through this film in pain at what is going on in his life, but also trying to get these people through his pain.  The most remarkable of his encounters will be with the young survivor of the accident, played very well by Sarah Polley, and by the man who believes she should not cooperate, the man who watched his kids die, played, again very well, by Bruce Greenwood.

What happens at the end, which Greenwood influences, but which comes down to a moment of Polley testifying before she interacts with Holm, is remarkable.  Holm’s lawyer thinks he can bring a measure of peace to these people through money.  Polley’s crippled teenager, damaged in body and in soul, thanks to revelations we have seen about her family, believes in what Greenwood has told her: that they need to move beyond this tragedy and have it all be done with.  So she testifies with words she believes are the best things that can be said.

This film was almost passed over by everybody.  It earned two major Oscar nominations (Director, Adapted Screenplay), which is why I didn’t choose it as my under-appreciated film when I did my Year in Film.  But it is massively under-appreciated.  Atom Egoyan’s career has been up an down, with some major misfires amidst some very good work but this is his masterpiece.

The best film of the 90's to fail to earn a single Oscar nomination.

The best film of the 90’s to fail to earn a single Oscar nomination.

4  –  The Ice Storm  (dir. Ang Lee)

Ang Lee was a rising star, no question.  He had made two critically acclaimed films in his native Taiwan that had actually crossed over into art house hits (The Wedding Banquet, Eat Drink Man Woman).  Then he made Sense and Sensibility and won the Consensus Award for Best Director even if the Oscar voters were too stupid to nominate him and thus blowing his film’s chances for Best Picture as well.  So, after films in his native language and taking on Jane Austen, what would be next?  Well, Nixon-era Connecticut it turns out.

There are hallmarks of the time.  There are the clothes and the manners, drinks before dinner, a party where the men put their keys in the jar and the women pull out a key and go home with whichever man belongs to those keys.  There are the events out in the wide world – Nixon talking on television, much to the disgust of one teenager.  But all of this, while fantastically designed (both the sets and the costumes, as well as the feel) is just set-up.  In the end, this film is about relationships.

I don’t necessarily mean sexual relationships, whether they be married or not (or, married to other people), or even relationships between family members, although those will all be extremely important.  What I am talking about is the way that people interact with other people.  The way a woman might interact with a reverend she runs into at a book sale whose flock she decided not to join.  She will also run into him at the key party where he explains “Sometimes the shepherd needs the comfort of the sheep.”  Not exactly what someone who was considering joining your flock wants to hear.

This film understands the way that people talk to each other.  It understands adults who are having an affair (“Ben, you’re boring me. I have a husband. I don’t have a need for another one.”).  It understands the way a father might talk to his sixteen year old son, who has already moved far beyond this conversation (“On the self-abuse front – and this is important – I don’t think it’s advisable to do it in the shower. It wastes water and electricity.”).  It understands how a sixteen year old boy would try to impress a sixteen year old girl by talking up the author she mentioned and trying to seem really smart.  It understands how a rebellious teenager might try to lash out when asked to do even such a simple thing as saying grace at Thanksgiving dinner (“Dear Lord, thank you for this Thanksgiving holiday. And for all the material possessions we have and enjoy. And for letting us white people kill all the Indians and steal their tribal lands. And stuff ourselves like pigs, even though children in Asia are being napalmed.”).  Most of all, it understands the way that families function and we get that in a wonderful voice-over that opens the film (“That was the meaning of the Fantastic Four: that a family is like your own personal anti-matter. Your family is the void you emerge from, and the place you return to when you die. And that’s the paradox – the closer you’re drawn back in, the deeper into the void you go.”).  The screenplay of this film is simply incredible and it’s astounding that it wasn’t nominated for an Oscar.  In some ways, it was the perfect follow-up for a director who had just worked on Jane Austen – you’ve still got society trying to interact with itself while following a number of arbitrary rules.

This film is exquisitely made.  I mean that when I talk about the performances, from possibly the best lead performance of Kevin Kline’s performance, to a surprise lead performance for Joan Allen, who was in the midst of a phenomenal run of supporting performances in Nixon, The Crucible and Pleasantville, to one of the best performances in Sigourney Weaver’s career (and that’s saying something).  I mean it when I talk about the way the dialogue is written, especially in the scenes between young Paul and Wendy Hood, siblings who have developed their own cadence for communicating that includes both of them referring to the other as Charles.  I mean the heart-breaking, gut-wrenching scene of a downed power line snapping through the air before coming down in a fateful, fatal crash.  I mean the painful final shot of a grown man breaking down in tears while sitting in the car with his family.

I complained above that the awards groups mostly missed the boat on The Sweet Hereafter.  It was a brilliant film and was almost completely over-looked until the Oscars threw it two very important bones that made it much prominent.  But The Ice Storm, while it got a bit more awards attention (a Globe nom, WGA nom, a BAFTA win and another nom) was completely ignored by the Oscars.  Don’t make the same mistake the Oscars did, because you should appreciate how brilliant this film is.

5  –  Jackie Brown  (reviewed here)

The Razzies:  The Razzies love to take a dig at Kevin Costner.  Now, I won’t defend The Postman because long stretches of it are boring and it’s badly written.  But I think it’s well directed and it’s an interesting idea of a film, even if the execution has issues.  I rate it at **.5, which is almost certainly higher than most people.  I just don’t see it as such a bad film as everyone else does and certainly not as the Razzie winner.  That’s especially true since the other four Razzie nominees are my 3rd worst film (Anaconda), 4th worst (Fire Down Below), 5th worst (Speed 2: Cruise Control) and 8th worst (Batman and Robin).  If you really think The Postman is a worse film than all of those, then go ahead, but I think that’s ridiculous, just like I think it’s ridiculous to nominate it when there are films like The Pest or The Saint or Spawn or U-Turn.

5 Worst Films  (#1 being the worst):

  1. Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie
  2. The Pest
  3. Anaconda
  4. Fire Down Below
  5. Speed 2: Cruise Control

note:  Only the first four films are .5.  The last is *.  I should point that my 6th worst film (The Saint) and my 8th worst film (Batman and Robin) were both films that I had the bad sense to see in the theater.
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: Air Bud, An American Werewolf in Paris, The Beautician and the Beast, Beverly Hills Ninja, Father’s Day, Flubber, Fools Rush In, Home Alone 3, The Jackal, Jungle 2 Jungle, Mchale’s Navy, Mr. Magoo, Mortal Kombat Annihilation, Out to Sea, The Relic, Steel, That Darn Cat, Vegas Vacation and Volcano.  I should point out that one of the times I met Bruce Campbell, he said that he would turn his back and we could just yell out the movie that we wanted our money back for.  Several people yelled out Mchale’s Navy.

Too old to have any nostalgia for it. Too shitty for me to have any pity on it.

Too old to have any nostalgia for it. Too crappy for me to have any pity on it.

Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie  (dir. David Winning / Shuki Levy)

On a distant planet, a wizard named Lerigot is being hunted by Divatox; an intergalactic space pirate, who seeks his golden key in order to traverse an inter-dimensional gateway and enter into matrimony with Maligore, a demon who promises to grant her great riches and power. Lerigot escapes Divatox’s forces and travels to Earth in search of Zordon and his friend Alpha 5, but lands in Africa instead. Weakened by the sun’s ultraviolet rays, Lerigot meets a pack of common chimpanzees and wanders off with them. Meanwhile, Divatox sets off for Earth in pursuit.

That is the opening paragraph of the plot description, straight from Wikipedia.  Does that tell you enough about this film that you don’t need to see it?  Well, it’s possible you are of that group that come of age when the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were a thing and if so, you have my pity.  Nothing I have ever seen has ever given me the slightest suggestion that the television show was worth watching.  I am stunned that there is a new film coming out and if I hadn’t seen a trailer in the theater before Dr. Strange I wouldn’t have believed it.

The terribleness of this film could be written off as “hey, it’s a kids movie made from a kids television show.”  Yes, but there are lots of such movies and they aren’t as terrible as this one.  Why?  Well, first of all, they usually aren’t as ridiculous as this one when it comes to the plot.  Second of all, they usually at least have some measure of special effects but this one appears to have bottomed out when it came to the budget.  I mean, clearly they didn’t even have enough money left to dress the villainess.  That’s a joke, of course.  Now, I am all for skimpy clothing when the time is appropriate.  Wonder Woman’s outfit in the new films is crazy sexy and that’s fine.  But this film is designed for little kids.  So why have a buxom villainess in a skirt and a top that shows all her cleavage?  Is it just in there in the hopes that some fathers might have be forced to watch this movie and there has to be something in it to appeal to them?  Because certainly it isn’t the plot, which is basically nonsensical.  It isn’t the acting because that word doesn’t even belong when it comes to this film.  Certainly it wasn’t the technical aspects as the makeup is pathetic, the costumes are appalling and nothing about this film looks like it was made with any standards of quality.

So, again, if you grew up with the Power Rangers and they spark some nostalgia in you, well then, you have my pity.  But I can’t imagine that even you can defend the quality of this film.


  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:   L.A. Confidential  /  Boogie Nights  (11)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:   L.A. Confidential  (7)
  • Most Nighthawk:   L.A. Confidential  (550)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Award:  Starship Troopers
  • 2nd Place Award:  Boogie Nights  (Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction)
  • 6th Place Award:  Amistad  (Picture, Director, Makeup)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Nominations:   The Ice Storm  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Awards:   L.A. Confidential  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Points:   L.A. Confidential  (360)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Drama Award:  Mrs. Brown
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Nominations:   Jackie Brown  /  Grosse Pointe Blank  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Awards:   Jackie Brown  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Points:   Jackie Brown  (400)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Comedy Award:  My Best Friend’s Wedding

Note:  * means a Nighthawk record up to this point; ** ties a Nighthawk record.
Note:  This is a rare year in which the 2nd Place Award goes to a film in which it loses all those awards to my #1 film.  If not for L.A. Confidential, Boogie Nights would have 8 Nighthawk Awards and 575 points.

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  (725)
  • Foreign Film:  Akira Kurosawa  (600)

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

  • Drama:  89 (29)  –  Boogie Nights  (65.1)
  • Foreign:  50  –  Ma Vie en Rose  (63.9)
  • Comedy:  40 (10)  –  Grosse Pointe Blank  (67.7)
  • Kids:  9 (2)  –  Anastasia  (51)
  • Action:  9 (1)  –  Face/Off  (41.6)
  • Crime:  8 (2)  –  Jackie Brown  (68.6)
  • Suspense:  8  –  Absolute Power  (49.9)
  • Sci-Fi:  7 (1)  –  The Fifth Element  (62.4)
  • Horror:  5  –  Scream 2  (45.4)
  • Mystery:  3  –  L.A. Confidential  (67.7)
  • Fantasy:  3 (3)  –  End of Evangelion  (45.7)
  • Musical:  2 (1)  –  Selena  (68.5)
  • War:  1 (1)  –  Capitaine Conan  (70)
  • Adventure:  1  –  Kull the Conqueror  (46)
  • Western:  0

Analysis:  Dramas account for over 48% of all the films, the most since 1949.  The non-genre films (Drama / Comedy / Musical) account for 70.81% of the films, the most since 1952, even though there are only 2 Musicals.  The 7 Sci-Fi films are the most since 1985.  The Comedy average of 67.7 is the highest since 1973.  The Crime average is the highest since 1990.  The Foreign average is the lowest since 1986 and second lowest since 1978.  The Kids average is the lowest since 1987.
After a 22 year gap between Mystery winners from 1974 to 1996, a second Mystery in a row wins the Nighthawk (the 5th overall), making Mystery the fifth genre to win 5 Nighthawks (joining Drama, Comedy, War and Crime).  For the fifth time this decade, only one Comedy is in the Top 10.  For the second year in a row there are no Foreign films in the Top 10, the first time this has happened since 1944-45.

Studio Note:  Miramax again leads the way, this time with 17 films and they average a very solid 72.29.  Warners is in second place with 14 while Fox (12) is the only other studio in double digits.  The major studios take a tumble, accounting for slightly less than a third of all the films I have seen.  There are only 8 Columbia films (lowest since 1991) and only 5 Universal films (lowest since 1974).
None of the majors average above a 65 but only MGM and Warners fall below 60 and they are both in the 50’s.
Fox does manage to score 3 Top 10 films, more than all the other majors combined (1 each for Warners and Disney), but they are all from Fox Searchlight, the new independent arm of Fox (The Ice Storm, Oscar and Lucinda, The Full Monty).  Miramax does score two Top 10 films (Jackie Brown, Good Will Hunting) as well as #11 (The Wings of the Dove) and #12 (Chasing Amy).  But it is Warner Bros that wins its astounding 12th Nighthawk at a point where no other studio has more than seven.

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

  1. Anastasia  (***, Bluth, 20th Century-Fox)
  2. End of Evangelion  (***, Anno, Toei)
  3. Cats Don’t Dance  (***, Dindal, Warner Bros)
  4. Lapitch, the Little Shoemaker  (**.5, Blazekovic, Croatia Film)
  5. The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain  (**.5, Rich, Legacy)
  6. Aaron’s Magic Village  (**.5, Kaminski, Avalanche Releasing)
  7. Macross Plus  (**.5, Kawamori, Manga Entertainment)
  8. Hercules  (**, Clements / Musker, Disney)
  9. Pippi Longstocking  (**, Smith, Legacy)
  10. A Chinese Ghost Story  (**, Chan, Golden Harvest)
  11. Conspirators of Pleasure  (*.5, Svankmajer, Zeitgeist Films)

Note:  Only three of these films were actually Oscar eligible (Anastasia, Cats Don’t Dance, Hercules).  Four of them are listed at oscars.org but weren’t on the Academy’s eligible films list (The Swan Princess, Aaron’s Magic Village, Pippi Longstocking, Conspirators of Pleasure).  The other four aren’t even listed at oscars.org, though Lapitch was Croatian submission for Best Foreign Film.
Don Bluth finally makes a good film again, for the first time since the 80’s, and it’s the best Animated Film of the year, but it’s still only a mid-range *** and that’s not good enough to earn my award, so for the last time, there is no winner.

56 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):

  • Aaron’s Magic Village  (Kaminski, Germany)
  • Abre Los Ojos  (Amenabar, Spain)
  • Artemisia  (Merlet, France)
  • Ashes from Paradise  (Pineyro, Argentina)  *
  • Bandit  (Turgol, Turkey)  *
  • Bandits  (Von Garnier, Germany)
  • The Best Man  (Avati, Italy)  *
  • Beyond Silence  (Link, Germany)  **
  • Buud Yam  (Kabore, Burkina Faso)
  • The Castle  (Haneke, Austria)
  • Character  (Van Diem, Netherlands)  ***
  • A Chinese Ghost Story  (Chan, Hong Kong)
  • The City  (Riker, USA)
  • Daughter 2  (Yukol, Thailand)  *
  • Death on a Full Moon Day  (Vithanage, Sri Lanka)
  • The Debt  (Buenaventua, Colombia)  *
  • Deep Crimson  (Ripstein, Mexico)  *
  • Destiny  (Chahine, Egypt)  *
  • The Eel  (Imamura, Japan)
  • End of Evangelion  (Anno, Japan)
  • Fireworks  (Kitano, Japan)
  • For Ever Mozart  (Godard, Switzerland)  *
  • Four Days in September  (Barreto, Brazil)  **
  • A Friend of the Deceased  (Krishtofovich, Ukraine)  *
  • Funny Games  (Haneke, Austria)
  • Gabbeh  (Makhmalbaf, Iran)  *
  • Gadjo dilo  (Gatlif, France)
  • Gypsy Magic  (Popov, Macedonia)  *
  • Happy Together  (Wong, Hong Kong)
  • The Harmonists  (Vilsmaier, Germany)
  • Insomnia  (Skjoldbjærg, Sweden)
  • Journey to the Beginning of the World  (de Oliveira, Portugal)  *
  • Junk Mail  (Sletaune, Norway)  *
  • Lapitch, the Little Shoemaker  (Blazekovic, Croatia)  *
  • The Life of Jesus  (Dumont, France)
  • Live Flesh  (Almodovar, Spain)
  • Lucie Abrac  (Berri, France)
  • Ma Vie en Rose  (Berliner, Belgium)  *
  • Men with Guns  (Sayles, USA)
  • The Mirror  (Panahi, Iran)
  • On Guard  (De Broca, France)
  • Ossos  (Costa, Portugal)
  • Paljas  (Heyns, South Africa)  *
  • Perfect Blue  (Kon, Japan)
  • Pick a Card  (Shles, Israel)  *
  • Princess Mononoke  (Miyazaki, Japan)  *
  • Same Old Song  (Resnais, France)
  • Secrets of the Heart  (Aremndariz, Spain)  **
  • See the Sea  (Ozon, France)
  • Taste of Cherry  (Kiarostami, Iran)
  • Tetsuo II: Body Hammer  (Tsukamoto, Japan)
  • The Thief  (Chukrai, Russia)  **
  • Western  (Poirier, France)  *
  • Winter Sleepers  (Tykwer, Germany)
  • The Witman Boys  (Szasz, Hungary)  *
  • Women  (Teles, Luxembourg)  *

Note:  I have my first films from Sri Lanka, Luxembourg and Ukraine.  I have my first film from South Africa in eight years and my first from Thailand in seven years.  I have two US films for the first time, both in Spanish.  I have two films from Austria for the first time since 1980 (both from the same director).  For the first time since 1986 I don’t have any films from Taiwan.  I have three films from Iran, beginning a stretch of seven straight years with multiple films.  For the first time since 1983 I don’t have a Polish film (see below).  For the first time since 1985, I don’t have a film from China.  The Hong Kong passion has dimmed, as I only have two films for the first time since 1990.  I have 5 films from Germany, the most since reunification (I had 7 West German films in 1981).  I don’t have any film from India for the first time since 1961.  I only have 1 film from Italy for the first time since 1987.  France is in first place, as usual, with 8 films, followed by Japan with 6; they will finish 1-2 every year through 2004.  In spite of having no Indian films, I have 3 Musicals for the first time since 1983.  But there are only 5 Comedies, however, the fewest in eight years.

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

  • Austria:  The Unfish  (dir. Dornhelm)
  • Canada:  Cosmos  (dir. Alleyn, etc.)
  • Cuba:  Amor Vertical  (dir. Sotto Diaz)
  • Czech Republic:  A Forgotten Light  (dir.  Michalek)
  • Democratic Republic of Congo:  Macadam Tribu  (dir.  Laplaine)
  • Denmark:  Barbara  (dir.  Malmros)
  • Finland:  The Collector  (dir.  Mantila)
  • Greece:  Slaughter of the Cock  (dir.  Pantzis)
  • Iceland:  Blossi/810551  (dir.  Kemp)
  • India:  Guru  (dir.  Anchal)
  • The Philippines:  Milagros  (dir. Diaz-Abaya)
  • Poland:  Love Stories  (dir.  Stuhr)
  • Slovakia:  Orbis Pictus  (dir.  Sulik)
  • Slovenia:  Outsider  (dir. Kosak)
  • Sweden:  Tic Tac  (dir. Alfredson)
  • Taiwan:  Yours and Mine  (dir. Wang)
  • Venezuela:  One Life & Two Trials  (dir. Arvelo)
  • Yugoslavia:  Three Summer Days  (dir. Vukomanovic)

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 a dreadful 26 for 44 (59%), only the second time I have failed to reach 60%.
The number of submissions is up by five from the year before even though eight countries don’t submit that did the year before (Georgia, Romania, Hong Kong, Australia, Vietnam, Albania, Belarus, Algeria).  That means there are 13 countries in this year that weren’t in the year before, including three first-time submitters (Congo, Luxembourg, Ukraine).  Six countries are back after a one-year gap (Portugal, Slovakia, Venezuela, Iran, Thailand, Greece) and four countries are back after longer gaps (Macedonia, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa).
This is my only miss from the Congo because it’s the only time they submit and my fourth from Slovakia (all four of their submissions to this point).  It’s the first time I am missing Poland, in their 33rd submission.  It’s my first miss from Venezuela, second (Cuba, Czech Republic, Serbia, Slovenia), fourth (India, Philippines), sixth (Greece), seventh (Finland), ninth (Taiwan), 10th (Canada), 11th (Sweden), 12th (Iceland), 14th (Austria) and my fucking 23rd (damn it Denmark!)

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

  • Man of Ashes  (1986)
  • Bad Boy Bubby  (1993)
  • Knocks at My Door  (1994)
  • Angel Baby  (1995)
  • Female Perversions  (1995)
  • Guantanamera  (1995)
  • Macross Plus  (1995)
  • Notes from Underground  (1995)
  • Other Voices, Other Rooms  (1995)
  • Ulysses’ Gaze  (1995)
  • Underground  (1995)
  • Zero Kelvin  (1995)
  • At Full Gallop  (1996)
  • Beaumarchais, The Scoundrel  (1996)
  • Box of Moonlight  (1996)
  • Brassed Off  (1996)
  • Capitaine Conan  (1996)
  • A Chef in Love  (1996)
  • Children of the Revolution  (1996)
  • Chronicle of a Disappearance  (1996)
  • Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day  (1996)
  • Conspirators of Pleasure  (1996)
  • Cosi  (1996)
  • Crash  (1996)
  • The Delta  (1996)
  • The Eighth Day  (1996)
  • Fire  (1996)
  • Hamsun  (1996)
  • Irma Vep  (1996)
  • Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love  (1996)
  • Kolya  (1996)
  • L’Appartement  (1996)
  • The Last Time I Committed Suicide  (1996)
  • Lilies  (1996)
  • Love Serenade  (1996)
  • Madame Butterfly  (1996)
  • My Sexual Life  (1996)
  • The Pillow Book  (1996)
  • Ponette  (1996)
  • Prisoner of the Mountains  (1996)
  • La Promesse  (1996)
  • Saint Clara  (1996)
  • Salut Cousin!  (1996)
  • Schizopolis  (1996)
  • Shall We Dance  (1996)
  • Suburbia  (1996)
  • The Van  (1996)
  • Waiting for Guffman  (1996)
  • The Watermelon Woman  (1996)
  • The Wind in the Willows  (1996)

Note:  These 50 films average a 63.6.  There are a few ***.5 films (Waiting for Guffman, Ponette, La Promesse, Underground), they basically don’t have an effect on the awards.

Films That Weren’t Eligible at the Oscars:

  • Aaron’s Magic Village
  • Angel Baby
  • Bad Boy Bubby
  • Beaumarchais, The Scoundrel
  • Captaine Conan
  • A Chef in Love
  • Chronicle of a Disappearance
  • Color of a Brisk & Leaping Day
  • Conspirators of Pleasure
  • Critical Care
  • The Delta
  • The Eighth Day
  • Fire
  • For Ever Mozart
  • Gray’s Anatomy
  • Guantanamera
  • Hamsun
  • Irma Vep
  • Knocks at My Door
  • Kolya
  • The Last Time I Committed Suicide
  • Ma Vie en Rose
  • Madame Butterfly
  • Notes from Underground
  • Other Voices, Other Rooms
  • The Pillow Book
  • Pippi Longstocking
  • Prisoner of the Mountains
  • La Promesse
  • Saint Clara
  • Salut Cousin!
  • Schizopolis
  • Shall We Dance?
  • Sunday
  • The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain
  • Ulysses’ Gaze
  • The Watermelon Woman
  • The Wind in the Willows
  • Year of the Horse
  • Zero Kelvin

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:

  • Ashes from Paradise
  • At Full Gallop
  • Bandit
  • The Blackout
  • Buud Yam
  • A Chinese Ghost Story
  • Daughter 2
  • Death on a Full Moon Day
  • End of Evangelion
  • Face
  • L’Appartement
  • Lapitch, the Little Shoemaker
  • Macross Plus
  • Man of Ashes
  • My Sexual Life
  • Ossos
  • Pick a Card
  • Secrets of the Heart
  • The Wedding Party
  • Women

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:

  • 24 7  (1998)
  • An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn  (1998)
  • Artemisia  (1998)
  • The Best Man  (1998)
  • Beyond Silence  (1998)
  • The Borrowers  (1998)
  • The Butcher Boy  (1998)
  • Character  (1998)
  • Cube  (1998)
  • The Eel  (1998)
  • Fireworks  (1998)
  • Four Days in September  (1998)
  • A Friend of the Deceased  (1998)
  • Gadjo Dilo  (1998)
  • Henry Fool  (1998)
  • I Went Down  (1998)
  • Insomnia  (1998)
  • Journey to the Beginning of the World  (1998)
  • Junk Mail  (1998)
  • Lawn Dogs  (1998)
  • The Life of Jesus  (1998)
  • Live Flesh  (1998)
  • Lolita  (1998)
  • Men with Guns  (1998)
  • Mrs. Dalloway  (1998)
  • Nil by Mouth  (1998)
  • Regeneration  (1998)
  • See the Sea  (1998)
  • Taste of Cherry  (1998)
  • The Thief  (1998)
  • Under the Skin  (1998)
  • Western  (1998)
  • Wilde  (1998)
  • Abre Los Ojos  (1999)
  • Bandits  (1999)
  • The Castle  (1999)
  • The City  (1999)
  • Destiny  (1999)
  • Funny Games  (1999)
  • The Harmonists  (1999)
  • Lucie Abrac  (1999)
  • The Mirror  (1999)
  • My Son the Fanatic  (1999)
  • Perfect Blue  (1999)
  • Princess Mononoke  (1999)
  • Same Old Song  (1999)
  • Croupier  (2000)
  • Fever Pitch  (2000)
  • Left Luggage  (2000)
  • Winter Sleepers  (2000)
  • Amy  (2001)
  • On Guard  (2002)
  • The Castle  (2007)

Note:  These 53 films average a 67.6, even including Funny Games and Burn Hollywood Burn (without them, they average 70.0).  That’s because there are two **** films (Princess Mononoke, Insomnia) and several ***.5 films (Abre Los Ojos, The Butcher Boy, Character, Live Flesh, Men with Guns, The Thief, Winter Sleepers, My Son the Fanatic, Beyond Silence, Perfect Blue).  Several of the Nighthawk Awards would be affected if these films were included, most notably Best Animated Film which would have a winner (Mononoke) and another nominee (Perfect Blue) as opposed to being empty.
I am aware that there are two films called The Castle on this list.  The one eligible in 1999 is an Australian Comedy directed by Rob Sitch.  The one eligible in 2007 is Michael Haneke’s adaptation of the Kafka novel.