Not exactly a "meet cute". More of a "meet dirty, smelly and cramped".

Not exactly a “meet cute”. More of a “meet dirty, smelly and cramped”.

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

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

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Out of Sight  *
  2. Shakespeare in Love  *
  3. Saving Private Ryan  **
  4. The Big Lebowski
  5. Gods and Monsters  *
  6. The Truman Show
  7. Ringu
  8. Pleasantville
  9. Insomnia
  10. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Analysis:  Only the top 9 are ****.  As is discussed down below, this is not a strong year for great films but it is a very strong year for very good films.
With Out of Sight (NSFC, BSFC wins, BFCA nom) and Gods and Monsters (NBR win, Globe, PGA, BFCA noms) in instead of The Thin Red Line and Life is Beautiful, the Consensus nominees are a lot better than the Oscar nominees.
Out of Sight is a great film, but let’s be fair.  It would have finished 6th in 1996 and fifth in 1997.  The most recent year where it even would have finished second is 1988.  In spite of that, this Top 5 is one point better than 1995.

  • stephen-spielbergBest Director
  1. Steven Spielberg  (Saving Private Ryan)  **
  2. Steven Soderbergh  (Out of Sight)
  3. Joel Coen  (The Big Lebowski)
  4. Bill Condon  (Gods and Monsters)
  5. Peter Weir  (The Truman Show)  *
  6. John Madden  (Shakespeare in Love)  *
  7. Hideo Nakata  (Ringu)
  8. John Frankenheimer  (Ronin)
  9. Terrence Malick  (The Thin Red Line)  *
  10. Terry Gilliam  (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)

Analysis:  Aside from the points system, I also have a scaled points system which gives points for all Top 20 finishes in my Best Director category.  I bring that up this year because Spielberg, with 90 more points, leapfrogs all the way from 11th place all-time to 5th place all-time, surpassing Fritz Lang, John Huston, John Ford, William Wyler, Stanley Kubrick and David Lean.
This is the only nomination for Bill Condon.  It’s the first nomination for Steven Soderbergh.  It’s the third for Peter Weir, though his first in 17 years.  It’s the fourth for Joel Coen.  It’s the seventh nom for Spielberg, but it’s his fifth win and he’s up to 540 points and ties Kubrick for fourth place.
This is also Spielberg’s eight Consensus nomination and his third win.  This gives him 495 points as a Consensus Director and he moves out of a tie with John Ford, William Wyler, Fred Zinneman and David Lean and takes over 1st place all-time by himself.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Out of Sight  **
  2. Gods and Monsters  *
  3. Primary Colors  *
  4. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  5. The Butcher Boy
  6. Live Flesh
  7. Ringu
  8. A Simple Plan  *
  9. The Celebration
  10. Character

Analysis:  The script for Gods and Monsters is wonderful, but good lord it was a surprise Oscar winner.  It was only the second film since 1961 to win the Oscar without winning any other award (wouldn’t happen again until 2009).  It finishes in 4th place at the Consensus, still the lowest Oscar winner and one of only four Oscar winners not to finish first or second.  Out of Sight is the first WGA winner not to win the Oscar since 1992 but it’s the start of the two groups disagreeing four times in six years.
Neil Jordan earns his third writing Nighthawk nom.
I have read Out of Sight (which I read just after the film came out), Fear and Loathing (a Top 100 novel) and Character (which I have already read for my Adapted Screenplay project).

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Shakespeare in Love  **
  2. The Big Lebowski
  3. Pleasantville
  4. The Truman Show  *
  5. Rushmore
  6. Bulworth  *
  7. Insomnia
  8. The Opposite of Sex
  9. Men with Guns
  10. Happiness

Analysis:  Shakespeare in Love wins the Consensus by a mile and is the first Original script to win the Oscar, WGA and Globe since 1991.
Wes Anderson earns his first Nighthawk nom.  The Coen Brothers earn their fifth.  Neither got anything from the awards groups which is ridiculous.

  • Best Actor:
  1. Ian McKellen  (Gods and Monsters)  **
  2. George Clooney  (Out of Sight)
  3. Tom Hanks  (Saving Private Ryan)  *
  4. Jeff Bridges  (The Big Lebowski)
  5. Jim Carrey  (The Truman Show)
  6. Nick Nolte  (Affliction)  *
  7. Warren Beatty  (Bulworth)
  8. John Travolta  (Primary Colors)
  9. Brendan Gleason  (The General)
  10. Edward Norton  (American History X)

Analysis:  These are the first nominations for George Clooney, Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey.  It’s the second nom for Jeff Bridges.  It’s the third nom (and first win) for Ian McKellen.
I know it’s a really tough year, but for Clooney and Bridges to earn nothing and for Carrey to only win the Globe and earn nothing else is just ridiculous.

  • Best Actress
  1. Cate Blanchett  (Elizabeth)  **
  2. Gwyneth Paltrow  (Shakespeare in Love)  *
  3. Emma Thompson  (Primary Colors)
  4. Jennifer Lopez  (Out of Sight)
  5. Renee Zellweger  (One True Thing)
  6. Samantha Morton  (Under the Skin)
  7. Gwyneth Paltrow  (Sliding Doors)
  8. Emily Watson  (Hilary and Jackie)  *
  9. Fernanda Montenegra  (Central Station)  *
  10. Meryl Streep  (One True Thing)

Analysis:  This is the weakest Top 5 since 1992.
This is the only Nighthawk nom for Jennifer Lopez.  It’s the first nom for Renee Zellweger.  It’s the second nom for Gwyneth Paltrow.  It’s also the second nom for Cate Blanchett, but it’s her second win as well.  It’s the seventh nom for Emma Thompson in just eight years; she moves up to 345 points and into 6th place all-time.  Her 345 points in the decade crushes any previous actress in any decade.

  • murray-rushmoreBest Supporting Actor:
  1. Bill Murray  (Rushmore)  *
  2. Donald Sutherland  (Without Limits)
  3. Ed Harris  (The Truman Show)  *
  4. Geoffrey Rush  (Shakespeare in Love)  *
  5. Billy Bob Thornton  (Primary Colors)  **
  6. John Goodman  (The Big Lebowski)
  7. Ian McKellen  (Apt Pupil)
  8. Jeff Daniels  (Pleasantville)
  9. James Coburn  (Affliction)
  10. Billy Bob Thornton  (A Simple Plan)  **

Analysis:  This is, surprisingly, the only Nighthawk nom for Ed Harris.  It’s not that I don’t think he’s a very good actor, it’s just that he often falls in the #6-10 spots, just missing out on nominations.  It’s the first nominations for Bill Murray, Geoffrey Rush and Billy Bob Thornton.  It’s the second nomination for Donald Sutherland.
With neither of my top two earning Oscar noms, the Oscar Score is 76.3, which is the lowest in this category since 1985.
Most of the awards for Thornton that lead to his Consensus win (LAFC, CFC, BFCA wins, SAG, Oscar, Globe noms) were for A Simple Plan but I actually was more impressed with his performance in Primary Colors.  Murray actually won more critics awards (NYFC, NSFC tie with Thornton in LA) but only received a Globe nom from the awards groups.
There wasn’t a lot of consensus.  Seven different actors won awards and the five awards groups went to five different actors: Oscar (Coburn), SAG (Robert Duvall for A Civil Action, my #14), BAFTA (Rush), Globe (Harris) and BFCA (Thornton for both films).  And yet, my #1 and 2 won none of those awards.  James Coburn is the only Oscar winner in the history of this category not to earn a Consensus nom; that’s only partially because of his low Consensus score (he also received a SAG nom), but also because more awards lead to more points for other actors.  His score is the lowest for an Oscar winner post-1985.

  • denchBest Supporting Actress:
  1. Judi Dench  (Shakespeare in Love)  *
  2. Kathy Bates  (Primary Colors)  **
  3. Julianne Moore  (The Big Lebowski)
  4. Lisa Kudrow  (The Opposite of Sex)
  5. Joan Allen  (Pleasantville)  *
  6. Lynn Redgrave  (Gods and Monsters)  *
  7. Rachel Griffiths  (Hilary and Jackie)
  8. Brenda Blethyn  (Little Voice)  *
  9. Halle Berry  (Bulworth)
  10. Toni Collette  (Velvet Goldmine)

Analysis:  This is the weakest Top 5 in four years.
The Oscar Score is a fantastic 93.5, the best in this category since 1989.
This is the only Nighthawk nom for Lisa Kudrow.  It’s the second nom for Kathy Bates and Julianne Moore.  It’s the third nom for Judi Dench.  It’s the fourth nom (in a row) for Joan Allen.

  • Best Editing:
  1. Out of Sight
  2. Saving Private Ryan
  3. Shakespeare in Love
  4. The Big Lebowski
  5. Gods and Monsters
  6. Ronin
  7. Ringu
  8. Pleasantville
  9. The General
  10. The Truman Show

Analysis:  Saving Private Ryan was a good choice by the Academy but the editing of Out of Sight is so amazing and so important to how the film works, that it takes my #1 spot.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. Saving Private Ryan  *
  2. The Thin Red Line  **
  3. Out of Sight
  4. The Big Lebowski
  5. Elizabeth  *
  6. Gods and Monsters
  7. Ronin
  8. Shakespeare in Love  *
  9. Dark City
  10. The General

Analysis:  Roger Deakins (Lebowski) earns his fifth nomination of the decade.  Janusz Kaminski earns a second straight nom and wins his second Nighthawk, all working with Spielberg.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. Shakespeare in Love
  2. Gods and Monsters
  3. Saving Private Ryan
  4. Kiki’s Delivery Service
  5. Apt Pupil
  6. Ringu
  7. Beloved
  8. Pleasantville
  9. The Mask of Zorro
  10. Dark City

Analysis:  Joe Hisaishi earns his first of back-to-back noms composing for Hayao Miyazaki.  Carter Burwell earns his third nom.  John Williams goes up to 750 points and now has over double as many points any other composer except Max Steiner.
The Oscar Score is 67.7, which is the lowest in this category in five years.
I should point out that Shakespeare in Love won Comedy Score in the last year of the category while Life is Beautiful actually won Score (which means the Oscars though it wasn’t a Comedy?).  It’s the first winner since 1980 not to make my Top 10.

  • Best Sound:
  1. Saving Private Ryan
  2. Ronin
  3. The Thin Red Line
  4. Out of Sight
  5. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  6. Velvet Goldmine
  7. Deep Impact
  8. Gods and Monsters
  9. The Truman Show
  10. The Big Lebowski

Analysis:  Was there ever an easier Oscar choice?

  • shakespeare-adBest Art Direction:
  1. Shakespeare in Love
  2. Elizabeth
  3. Velvet Goldmine
  4. The Big Lebowski
  5. Gods and Monsters
  6. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  7. Dark City
  8. Pleasantville
  9. Out of Sight
  10. The Truman Show

Analysis:  This one, on the other hand, is a really tough choice, as is Costume Design.  The top two are both really impressive.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  2. Deep Impact
  3. Saving Private Ryan
  4. Mighty Joe Young
  5. Dark City
  6. Armageddon
  7. Babe: Pig in the City
  8. Ronin
  9. Ringu
  10. What Dreams May Come

Analysis:  With the Oscars passing up Fear and Loathing, the Oscar Score is 64.7, which would be decent in some categories, but in this category is the lowest since 1975.  What Dreams May Come, at #10, is the lowest ranked Oscar winner in the history of this category and is only the second winner ever not to be in my Top 5.
The films in green were the semi-finalists.  I feel the Visual Effects branch really blew this one – the other semi-finalists were Small Soldiers, Godzilla and The Truman Show.  Deep Impact, with its wave, didn’t make the semis while Armageddon was Oscar nominated.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. Saving Private Ryan
  2. Ronin
  3. The Thin Red Line
  4. Deep Impact
  5. Dark City
  6. The Mask of Zorro
  7. Armageddon
  8. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  9. Mighty Joe Young
  10. Babe: Pig in the City

Analysis:  Again, a very very easy win to choose.  A little surprised the Oscars didn’t nominate The Thin Red Line and I’m appalled that they didn’t nominate Ronin, especially since both were semi-finalists (in green).  But the other two semis were Godzilla and Lethal Weapon 4.

  • elizabeth-costumesBest Costume Design:
  1. Elizabeth
  2. Shakespeare in Love
  3. Dangerous Beauty
  4. Velvet Goldmine
  5. Gods and Monsters
  6. The Mask of Zorro
  7. Beloved
  8. Wilde
  9. Cousin Bette
  10. Pleasantville

Analysis:  The Oscar Score is an excellent 91.7, which is lower than the year before but still the second highest in this category since 1974.

  • Best Makeup
  1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  2. Velvet Goldmine
  3. Saving Private Ryan
  4. Shakespeare in Love
  5. Elizabeth
  6. Pleasantville
  7. Beloved
  8. Dark City
  9. The Thin Red Line
  10. Ronin

Analysis:  This is the best Top 5 to-date and it won’t be surpassed until 2005.
The Oscars got this mostly right, with an Oscar Score of 91.3, which is the highest since it became a competitive category.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. “The Flame Still Burns”  (Still Crazy)
  2. He Got Game”  (He Got Game)
  3. Uninvited”  (City of Angels)
  4. Iris”  (City of Angels)
  5. Happiness”  (Happiness)
  6. There’s Something About Mary”  (There’s Something About Mary)
  7. Now You’re a Man”  (Orgazmo)
  8. I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You”  (The Mask of Zorro)
  9. All Over the World”  (Still Crazy)
  10. Kiki’s Delivery Service”  (Kiki’s Delivery Service)

Analysis:  Oscars.org lists songs from different films.  This year it lists 81 songs from 41 different films.  I have seen 31 of those films, accounting for 65 songs (every film with more than two songs except City at Peace).  This has required some re-calculating, as apparently the songs from Velvet Goldmine weren’t original, which has really changed this list.  The songs from Still Crazy also weren’t mentioned and neither were “He Got Game” (questionable eligibility because of the use of sampling) and “Now You’re a Man” while Kiki isn’t even listed at oscars.org.  Nonetheless, this is my list.  I also don’t include any songs from Cannibal! The Musical, although it is tempting and certainly “Shpadoinkle Day” and “Hang the Bastard” and probably “Let’s Build a Snowman” would make the Top 10 if I did include them.
This is the best Top 5 in five years.  But the Oscars ignored all that, so the Oscar Score is a dismal 17.6, the lowest since 1972.
“He Got Game” and “Uninvited” are both magnificent songs, but “The Flame Still Burns” is not just a great song, but also works so brilliantly within the context of the film.  I can’t count how many times I have listened to it over the last several years (well, iTunes can and it says it’s 56, but that doesn’t count listening to it on my work computer or on cd).

  • kikiBest Animated Film:
  1. Kiki’s Delivery Service
  2. A Bug’s Life  **

Analysis:  Hayao Miyazaki wins his third Nighthawk (and earns his fifth nom) and faces off against Pixar (triumphantly) for the first time.  He will beat them again in 1999.  John Lassetter earns his second nomination.  Miyazaki has started catching up to the classic Disney directors (who had no competition in this category); his 160 points ties Wolfgang Reitherman for third place and he still trails Clyde Geronomi (who he will catch in 2009) and Hamilton Luske (who he will catch and pass in 2013 with his final film).
The only other times after this that Pixar will earn a nomination but fail to win will be against Ghibli (1999), Aardman (2006), Ghibli again (2013) and then Disney (2016).

  • RING, (aka RINGU), Japanese poster art, 1998. ©DreamWorks Home EntertainmentBest Foreign Film:
  1. Ringu
  2. Run Lola Run
  3. The Celebration  *
  4. Sitcom
  5. Show Me Love
  6. Central Station  **
  7. Life is Beautiful  **

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

Analysis:  In a rare tie, Life is Beautiful (Oscar, BFCA, CFC wins, BAFTA nom) and Central Station (Globe, BAFTA, NBR wins, Oscar nom) share the Consensus win.  The Celebration is just behind them both with NYFC and LAFC wins and Globe and BAFTA noms.  There won’t be another year where there are three films that finish so close together.
The Oscar Score is a terrible 22.2, the lowest since 1982.  It should be obvious it would be terrible with three films in my Top 5 that were submitted but not nominated.
Denmark earns its first nomination in 11 years, partially because I have actually seen the Danish submission (thank f’ing god).  Germany, with its lowest number of films I have seen in seven years, also has its first nomination in seven years and the first of three straight.  Japan wins for the second year in a row.  France begins a streak of eleven straight years with a nomination.
All of the directors are first-time nominees, although Francois Ozon and Tom Tykwer both will be nominees again before long.
The Top 5 is 20 points weaker than the year before but 18 points better than 1996.  In fact, except for #2, every spot on the list is weaker than the year before but stronger than 1996.

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.

  • Shakespeare in Love  (395)
    • Picture, Original Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup
  • Out of Sight   (390)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Sound
  • Saving Private Ryan  (385)
    • Picture, Director, Actor, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Gods and Monsters  (290)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Editing, Original Score, Art Direction, Costume Design
  • The Big Lebowski  (270)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction
  • Elizabeth  (155)
    • Actress, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup
  • The Truman Show  (150)
    • Original Screenplay, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor
  • Primary Colors  (135)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas  (120)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Sound, Visual Effects, Makeup
  • Rushmore  (100)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service  (85)
    • Original Score, Animated Film, Foreign Film (1989)
  • Pleasantville  (70)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actress
  • The Thin Red Line  (65)
    • Cinematography, Sound, Sound Editing
  • Velvet Goldmine  (45)
    • Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup
  • The Butcher Boy  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • Ronin  (40)
    • Sound, Sound Editing
  • Dark City  (40)
    • Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Deep Impact  (40)
    • Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Ringu  (40)
    • Foreign Film
  • One True Thing  (35)
    • Actress
  • Without Limits  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • The Opposite of Sex  (30)
    • Supporting Actress
  • Apt Pupil  (25)
    • Original Score
  • Mighty Joe Young  (20)
    • Visual Effects
  • Still Crazy  (20)
    • Original Song
  • City of Angels  (20)
    • Original Song, Original Song
  • A Bug’s Life  (20)
    • Animated Film
  • Insomnia  (20)
    • Foreign Film  (1997)
  • Live Flesh  (20)
    • Foreign Film  (1997)
  • Character  (20)
    • Foreign Film  (1997)
  • The Celebration  (20)
    • Foreign Film
  • The Other Side of Sunday  (20)
    • Foreign Film (1996)
  • Dangerous Beauty  (15)
    • Costume Design
  • Happiness  (10)
    • Original Song
  • He Got Game  (10)
    • Original Song

Analysis:  There are seven more films than the year before (there are also seven more total nominations, namely because of Foreign Film eligibility).  It’s the second time in three years that the Best Picture winner doesn’t come in first in points but with several dominant films on the way, that won’t happen again until 2005.

Best Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • The General

Analysis:  My #14 film, a high level ***.5 film.  It does best in Actor and Editing (9th place in each).

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

  • Zero Effect

Analysis:  The only ***.5 film not to earn a Top 10, its one Top 20 finish is #14 for Original Screenplay.  I talk much more about it down under the Film I Saw in the Theater.

Biggest Awards Film Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Awards:

  • Life is Beautiful

Analysis:  A film I have already reviewed.  It earns some awards for Best Foreign Film but did the best at the Oscars where it also won Best Original Score and, astoundingly, Best Actor.  Overall, it won 7 awards among 17 nominations, though I wasn’t the only one to completely pass it over as the Globes also gave it no recognition.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture
  1. Saving Private Ryan
  2. Gods and Monsters
  3. Ringu
  4. Pleasantville
  5. Insomnia

Analysis:  All five films are **** but there are no other **** Drama films.  The ***.5 films, in order are (and get ready, because there are a lot): Ronin, The General, Character, Live Flesh, A Simple Plan, Without Limits, Dark City, Men with Guns, The Thief, The Thin Red Line, Cairo Station, Elizabeth, The Celebration, Affliction, Happiness, Beyond Silence, Apt Pupil, La Separation and Central Station.  But, instead of any of those, the Globes nominated The Horse Whisperer.
Saving Private Ryan is the weakest winner in this category since 1988.  Gods and Monsters is the weakest #2 since 1987.  Insomnia is the weakest #5 since 1984.  The Top 5 is the weakest since 1984.  It’s the first time since 1985 there aren’t more than five **** films.

  • Best Director
  1. Steven Spielberg  (Saving Private Ryan)
  2. Bill Condon  (Gods and Monsters)
  3. Hideo Nakata  (Ringu)
  4. John Frankenheimer  (Ronin)
  5. Terrence Malick  (The Thin Red Line)

Analysis:  These are the only Drama noms for Bill Condon, Hideo Nakata, John Frankenheimer and, surprisingly, even Terrence Malick.  Spielberg, of course, is doing a bit better.  He earns his 8th Drama nom and his 4th win.  He’s in a four way tie for 2nd place all-time at 540 points with Wyler, Lean and Bergman.
This is the weakest Top 5 in 10 years.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Gods and Monsters
  2. Live Flesh
  3. Ringu
  4. A Simple Plan
  5. The Celebration

Analysis:  Pedro Almodovar earns his first Drama writing nom.
This is the weakest Top 5 since 1983.  I am willing to bet that no one else would have this Top 5 list.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Pleasantville
  2. Insomnia
  3. Men with Guns
  4. Happiness
  5. Saving Private Ryan

Analysis:  John Sayles earns his fifth Drama writing nom.
This is the weakest Top 5 since 1984.

  • gods-and-monsters-11Best Actor:
  1. Ian McKellen  (Gods and Monsters)
  2. Tom Hanks  (Saving Private Ryan)
  3. Nick Nolte  (Affliction)
  4. Brendan Gleeson  (The General)
  5. Edward Norton  (American History X)

Analysis:  This is the only Drama nom for Brendan Gleeson.  It’s the first nom for Tom Hanks, the second for Nick Nolte and Ian McKellen and the third for Edward Norton.
The Globe winner was Jim Carrey, who I have listed in Comedy.

  • cate-elizabethBest Actress
  1. Cate Blanchett  (Elizabeth)
  2. Renee Zellweger  (One True Thing)
  3. Samantha Morton  (Under the Skin)
  4. Gwyneth Paltrow  (Sliding Doors)
  5. Emily Watson  (Hilary and Jackie)

Analysis:  This is the weakest Top 5 in six years.
This is the only Drama nom for Gwyneth Paltrow.  It’s the first Drama noms for Renee Zellweger and Samantha Morton.  It’s the second nom for Emily Watson.  It’s only the second nom for Cate Blanchett but it’s already her second win.
The Globes really had some ridiculous nominations this year.  They nominated Susan Sarandon here for Stepmom.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Donald Sutherland  (Without Limits)
  2. Ian McKellen  (Apt Pupil)
  3. Jeff Daniels  (Pleasantville)
  4. James Coburn  (Affliction)
  5. Billy Bob Thornton  (A Simple Plan)

Analysis:  This is the weakest Top 5 in four years.
This is the only Nighthawk Drama nom for James Coburn.  It’s the first nom for Billy Bob Thornton.  It’s the second for Jeff Daniels (his first in 15 years).  It’s the third for Ian McKellen (his second is above).  It’s also the third for Donald Sutherland but his first since 1973.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Joan Allen  (Pleasantville)
  2. Lynn Redgrave  (Gods and Monsters)
  3. Rachel Griffiths  (Hilary and Jackie)
  4. Cynthia Stevenson  (Happiness)
  5. Anna Paquin  (Hurlyburly)

Analysis:  This is the weakest Top 5 since 1982.
These are the only Drama noms for Lynn Redgrave, Rachel Griffiths and Cynthia Stevenson.  It’s the second nom for Anna Paquin.  It’s the fourth nom (in a row) for Joan Allen.

  • Gods and Monsters  (275)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Saving Private Ryan  (265)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor
  • Pleasantville  (220)
    • Picture, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Ringu  (135)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay
  • Insomnia  (90)
    • Picture, Original Screenplay
  • A Simple Plan  (70)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • Happiness  (70)
    • Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Elizabeth  (70)
    • Actress
  • Affliction  (65)
    • Actor, Supporting Actor
  • Hilary and Jackie  (65)
    • Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Without Limits  (60)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Ronin  (45)
    • Director
  • The Thin Red Line  (45)
    • Director
  • Live Flesh  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • The Celebration  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay
  • Men with Guns  (40)
    • Original Screenplay
  • The General  (35)
    • Actor
  • American History X  (35)
    • Actor
  • One True Thing  (35)
    • Actress
  • Under the Skin  (35)
    • Actress
  • Sliding Doors  (35)
    • Actress
  • Apt Pupil  (30)
    • Supporting Actor
  • Hurlyburly  (30)
    • Supporting Actress

Analysis:  An astounding eight more films than the year before because of the massive number of films with only one nomination, including two for Director (a rarity in Drama).  Only having three films with more than three nominations is also really rare.  It’s also a sign that the Comedy films are actually much stronger in this year.  It’s also extremely rare to not have a single Drama break 300 points.  The acting in the Drama categories are the weakest, as a whole, since 1987.  The major categories are even worse, the lowest since 1984.  All the Drama categories, as a whole, are the weakest since 1984 and the second lowest since 1978.  The winners, as a whole, are the weakest since 1987.

Best Drama Not Nominated for Any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Character

Analysis:  My #17 film of the year and my #8 Drama.  It just misses out on Adapted Screenplay, finishing 6th.

Comedy / Musical:

  • Best Picture
  1. Out of Sight
  2. Shakespeare in Love
  3. The Big Lebowski
  4. The Truman Show
  5. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Analysis:  Only the first four films are ****.  There are several more ***.5 films: Rushmore, Primary Colors, Bulworth, Still Crazy, The Butcher Boy, Velvet Goldmine, Kiki’s Delivery Service, A Bug’s Life, The Opposite of Sex, The Other Side of Sunday, The Mask of Zorro, Life is Beautiful and Zero Effect.
It’s the second year in a row that the Best Picture – Comedy winner is an Elmore Leonard adaptation with Michael Keaton in it.
This Top 5 is tied for the 6th best to-date.  It would be higher if not for the five point drop from #4 to #6.  The only years to this point with a better #4 film than The Truman Show are 1940 (Pinocchio) and 1964 (My Fair Lady).
The Truman Show was nominated as a Drama.

  • Best Director
  1. Steven Soderbergh  (Out of Sight)
  2. Joel Coen  (The Big Lebowski)
  3. Peter Weir  (The Truman Show)
  4. John Madden  (Shakespeare in Love)
  5. Terry Gilliam  (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)

Analysis:  These are the only Comedy noms for Steven Soderbergh, Peter Weir and John Madden.  It’s the fifth nomination for Joel Coen who is up to 225 points and nearing the Top 10.  It’s also the fifth nom for Terry Gilliam, but since he has two wins, he’s up to 315 points and moves into a tie for 6th place with Fellini.
The Top 5 ties 1996 for the best to-date.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Out of Sight
  2. Primary Colors
  3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  4. The Butcher Boy
  5. Little Voice

Analysis:  This Top 5 is the second best since 1964 and the third best since 1940.

  • Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Shakespeare in Love
  2. The Big Lebowski
  3. The Truman Show
  4. Rushmore
  5. Bulworth

Analysis:  Wes Anderson earns his first Comedy writing nom; he will earn a lot more.  The Coens earn their fourth Comedy writing noms.  For the first time since 1993, Woody Allen doesn’t earn a nomination in this category.
The Top 5 ties 1994 and 1996 for the best to-date.

  • out1Best Actor:
  1. George Clooney  (Out of Sight)
  2. Jeff Bridges  (The Big Lebowski)
  3. Jim Carrey  (The Truman Show)
  4. Warren Beatty  (Bulworth)
  5. John Travolta  (Primary Colors)

Analysis:  This is the best Top 5 in this category to-date by a long way, crushing the Top 5 from 1964.  When you can’t fit in the likes of  Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love), Johnny Depp (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) and the Globe winner Michael Caine (Little Voice), you know you have a strong group.  But the Globes went with Robin Williams in that piece of schmaltzy crap Patch Adams rather than Clooney, Bridges, Fiennes or Depp.
This is the first Comedy nom for George Clooney and Jim Carrey.  It’s the third for Jeff Bridges and Warren Beatty (though the first for Beatty since 1978) and the fourth for John Travolta.
Jim Carrey actually won the Globe in Drama.  But, he would fail to earn an Oscar nomination, the first actor to do so since 1965 and one of only four ever.  In fact, Carrey wouldn’t earn any other plaudits which is just ridiculous that Benigni won the Oscar but Carrey was ignored.

  • gwynethBest Actress
  1. Gwyneth Paltrow  (Shakespeare in Love)
  2. Emma Thompson  (Primary Colors)
  3. Jennifer Lopez  (Out of Sight)
  4. Jane Horrocks  (Little Voice)
  5. Christina Ricci  (The Opposite of Sex)

Analysis:  This is the second best Top 5 to-date, behind only 1996.
These are the only Comedy noms for Jennifer Lopez and Christina Ricci.  It’s the second nom for Jane Horrocks and Gwyneth Paltrow.  It’s the third nom for Emma Thompson.
Okay, I can understand the Globes nominating Cameron Diaz for There’s Something About Mary, especially since they love them their stars.  But to nominate Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail over Thompson or Lopez?  That’s just insane.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Bill Murray  (Rushmore)
  2. Ed Harris  (The Truman Show)
  3. Geoffrey Rush  (Shakespeare in Love)
  4. Billy Bob Thornton  (Primary Colors)
  5. John Goodman  (The Big Lebowski)

Analysis:  This is the best Top 5 in this category to-date by several points, beating out 1987.
These are the first Comedy noms for Ed Harris and Billy Bob Thornton.  It’s the second for John Goodman and Geoffrey Rush.  It’s the fifth for Billy Murray and his second win, which puts him at 230 points and he bumps Gene Wilder out of the Top 10 in Comedy points.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Judi Dench  (Shakespeare in Love)
  2. Kathy Bates  (Primary Colors)
  3. Julianne Moore  (The Big Lebowski)
  4. Lisa Kudrow  (The Opposite of Sex)
  5. Brenda Blethyn  (Little Voice)

Analysis:  This is the best Top 5 in this category to-date.
These are the only Comedy noms for Lisa Kudrow and Brenda Blethyn.  It’s the first Comedy nom for Judi Dench.  It’s the second nom for Kathy Bates and Julianne Moore.

  • Out of Sight  (375)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress
  • Shakespeare in Love  (335)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Big Lebowski  (230)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • The Truman Show  (200)
    • Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor
  • Primary Colors  (170)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas  (135)
    • Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay
  • Little Voice  (90)
    • Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress
  • Rushmore  (100)
    • Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor
  • Bulworth  (75)
    • Original Screenplay, Actor
  • The Opposite of Sex  (65)
    • Actress, Supporting Actress
  • The Butcher Boy  (40)
    • Adapted Screenplay

Analysis:  There are five fewer films than the year before.  There are only eleven films, which might be a record low for a year in which all eight categories are completely full.  While the Drama categories have their weakest acting in over a decade, the acting here crushes the previous high (set in 1996) and while the major categories are slightly lower than 1996, the overall Comedy scores are the highest to-date and won’t be beaten for at least a decade (if at all).

Best Comedy Not Nominated for any Nighthawk Golden Globes:

  • Still Crazy

Analysis:  My #16 film for the year and my #9 Comedy.  That makes it the rare film in this category that is actually better than the corresponding film in Drama.  A very good film with a good script and solid supporting performances but this year is just too stacked for it to break into the Top 5 anywhere.

Roundup for the Year in Film:

Eligible Films I Have Seen:  226

By Stars:

  • ****:  9
  • ***.5:  33
  • ***:  96
  • **.5:  36
  • **:  30
  • *.5:  8
  • *:  10
  • .5:  3
  • 0:  1
  • Average Film Score for the Year, out of 100:  61.37

Analysis:  The average goes down exactly one point.  The **** films drop into single digits for the first time in eight years and as a percentage of films (3.98%) are the lowest since 1984.  That is made up for partially by the big increase in ***.5 films (a new high, and percentage wise (14.60%), the third highest to-date).  But the bottom films (** and below) once again account for over 20% of the total films.

My Year at the Theater

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

  • You have no idea how many times I sat in this booth in college. Hell, I have no idea how many times I sat in this booth in college.

    You have no idea how many times I sat in this booth in college. Hell, I have no idea how many times I sat in this booth in college.

    Zero Effect  –  Certainly no theater was anxiously expecting this in the way that the Forest Theater in Forest Grove was (where I saw this on opening day).  That’s because it was basically next door to Ford’s, a diner that used to exist in Forest Grove and where a critical scene in Zero Effect was filmed in 1997 (before I left for Phoenix).  Ford’s was where I went to eat in college.  It was rare to have a week go by when I didn’t go in for a coffee shake and either a BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato) or a tuna melt.  It crushed me when it was sold in 1999 and became a variety of different eating establishments.  I don’t know what it is today, but in my mind it will always be Ford’s.  That wasn’t my only connection to this film either.  It was directed by Jake Kasdan, who would eventually follow me around (he would direct Orange County, a film about the county where I grew up and had a scene filmed at CalTech, which was supposed to be Stanford, but as my brother went to CalTech, I recognized it instantly and it would star Colin Hanks, who went to Chapman University, where my father and mother worked from 1981 to 1992 and would later direct Sex Tape and film a scene in Tisch Library at Tufts University about 20 feet from where I was sitting at the time) and it would star Ryan O’Neal, who once beat up my dad when my dad was in 7th grade and O’Neal was in 9th at Paul Revere Junior High and was trying to impress some girl.  I maintain that Zero Effect is an under-appreciated film and has by far the best performance of Bill Pullman’s career.

  • The Big Lebowski  –  I was dating again by this time, so Kelly and I went to see this together but I don’t remember where.  I do remember loving it.  Still love it because it’s hilarious.
  • The Man in the Iron Mask  –  I think Kelly and I saw this late in its release at the small second run theater in Tigard which I’m fairly certain is no longer there.  Great cast.  Mediocre execution.  Also bizarre to to have the four French musketeers played by an Irishman, an Englishman, an American and a Frenchman.
  • Grease  –  This was an outing I remember well, a triple-date (or, a group outing, if you prefer) at the Forest 7.  I remember that George and Mary were there because we had a trailer for The Mask of Zorro and 2/3 of the way through the trailer, George yelled out “Now I’ve seen the whole movie!”  Now, to be fair, George was right, but also to be fair, it made me really want to see the film (and I liked it a lot and own it).  I also remember that Amy and Mark were there because I was excited by the trailer we saw for Godzilla (with no reason, as it turned out, when the film was released).  After the film, I remember Amy and I debating the merits of a film that doesn’t take itself seriously (like Godzilla films, which I generally like) as opposed to Grease, which I saw as a film trying to take itself seriously and derided for it (Grease is a solid film but I don’t think it’s great and Amy was really lauding it).  Still, it was a fun time for a group of friends.  I was there with Kelly of course.
  • Lost in Space  –  Oh good lord, why did Kelly and I go see this?  Actually, that’s true of a lot of the next several films.  I saw some really really bad films in the theater in 1998.  I haven’t even ever seen the show, so why would I endure this?  I suppose because this looked better than Mercury Rising (untrue) and because I enjoy Sci-Fi films more than thrillers.
  • Major League: Back to the Minors  –  Maybe Kelly and I weren’t fated to last if I would skip the romantic City of Angels with the kick-ass soundtrack (which I bought) in favor of the crappy baseball comedy.  But, I objected to remaking Wings of Desire and I had enjoyed the first Major League.  Not only was this no Major League, it wasn’t even Major League II.  Another of many films I saw in the theater this year and have never seen again.
  • Tarzan and the Lost City  –  The third film to meet that last description.  Again, I like Adventure films and I have a fondness for Tarzan as a character.  Since I hated Casper Van Dien in Starship Troopers, it really was all about it being a Tarzan film.  Unfortunately, it’s a really crappy Tarzan film.
  • He Got Game  –  I remember this weekend because of writing in to the Oregonian.  It was a terrible paper and had a terrible film reviewer but that wasn’t enough to have me write in and object.  But, when on the same day, he called Ray Allen a point guard in his review of He Got Game (he was a shooting guard) and called Les Miserables an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical (it’s a Boublil-Schonberg musical), I felt the need to object that if he couldn’t review movies well, could he at least get his facts straight.  I was really excited about both films.  This Spike Lee film about basketball, especially one starring a player I loved (I was always a big Ray Allen fan and loved it when he came to the Celtics) I looked forward to and I was impressed with Allen and Denzel was great of course, but the film itself never raised itself above mid ***.  But damn the Public Enemy song is fantastic.
  • Les Miserables  –  As for this?  Well, even if I would have to wait another 14 years for the musical to make it to film, I am always good for any adaptation of Les Mis.  And I adored Claire Danes and thought Liam Neeson was a great choice for Valjean.  But they cram too much stuff in and Geoffrey Rush was in full ham mode for Javert, so again, it never rises above ***.  It’s possible that Kelly and I saw both films on opening day, but I’m guessing at least one of them we saw on the Saturday, especially since she would have had class (although I was unemployed by this point, so I had spare time).
  • Bulworth  –  Memorial Day was a big weekend.  This film opened limited the week before, but went wide over Memorial Day weekend.  It was probably the third of the three films I saw though.  I remember seeing it at the Regal in Aloha with Kelly and being really impressed.
  • Godzilla  –  Though I was looking forward to this, I probably saw this second because Fear and Loathing would have been my first priority.  This turned out to be complete crap with the worst performance ever by a lead female.  Terrible film.  Saw this with Kelly, George and Mary, I think.
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas  –  I think I saw this with Kelly.  I was looking really forward to it and was not disappointed.  Johnny Depp was everything I hoped for in this film.
  • The Truman Show  –  I think I probably saw A Perfect Murder first (they both opened the same day).  I was leery of this because I didn’t like Jim Carrey and wasn’t sure he could make the transition to a more serious role.  I was really, really wrong.  I love him in films like this, Man in the Moon and Eternal Sunshine.  Hate his crap like Ace Ventura and Dumb & Dumber.
  • A Perfect Murder  –  I think I was intrigued because I had seen the original Hitchcock film and because I have a thing for Gwyneth.  But it was very disappointing and I haven’t seen it since, even though I didn’t know who Viggo was back then.
  • Can’t Hardly Wait  –  I have never seen an episode of Party of 5 (though I think my sister Alison watched it) but the females intrigued me.  Lacey Chabert had been quite cute in Lost in Space, Neve Campbell was hot in Scream and now it was time for Jennifer Love Hewitt to look ridiculously hot and prove that she wasn’t much of an actress either.  I suppose that’s my excuse for seeing this.  Or maybe I can blame it on Kelly.  It’s not terrible and is a lot better than a lot of films I saw in 1998.  I actually have seen this film again because Veronica has the soundtrack but had never seen the film, so several years ago I made her watch it.
  • The X-Files  –  In college, I never watched The X-Files even though I thought Gillian Anderson was crazy hot.  The only two shows I kept watching regularly through college were The Simpsons and Seinfeld.  I started watching X-Files regularly when I lived in Phoenix, because I could then taunt my old roommate Jonathan because I would be done watching it before it would air in Portland and I would call him and drop hints.  But I actually got really into it and started renting back episodes, so by the time the film came out, I was caught up.  By the time this film came out, I was working at a group home and a co-worker of mine and I took our residents to go see it.  Fun film, but pointless if you weren’t really into the show and it went a bit off the deep end at the end.
  • Mulan  –  This opened the same day as The X-Files.  I remember going to see this with Kelly and pretty much deciding I was done with Disney.  I found Eddie Murphy really annoying and thought some of the animation was really beautiful (especially the attack in the snow) but didn’t think much of the story and thought the songs were completely forgettable.  Still one of the lowest ranked Disney films on my list.
  • Out of Sight  –  This film opened in 4th place and didn’t even make the Top 50 for the year in box office.  That’s because people are idiots.  Could they not cope with a crime film that wasn’t big on action and was sexy as can be without any nudity?  Did they not realize that this was George Clooney’s star-making turn, finally establishing him, after a few false starts, as a force to be reckoned with?  Or are they just idiots?  Either way, I saw this opening weekend (I think I didn’t see it opening day because of work) and loved it from the start.
  • Armageddon  –  I know exactly when I saw this because I like to joke that it was the best movie I have ever seen in the theater for the money.  That money was the time and a half rate I was paid to sit through it on the 4th of July, taking the group home residents.  Hey, it’s long and dumb and ridiculous, but, with trailers, it was almost three hours of time for which I got paid time and a half and I didn’t even have to pay for my admission, so I was okay with that.
  • The Mask of Zorro  –  George may have decided he had already seen the whole film, but I was excited and I ended up dragging Kelly to this and really enjoying it.  Of course, on my father’s side, my family goes back in California to 1781, so there’s a familial interest in the story as well.  By this point, Kelly and I were engaged, so we were basically seeing every film together.
  • Saving Private Ryan  –  I think we saw this on opening day or the day after.  Brilliant direction, but after the first half-hour (which is almost too much to bear), the story keeps the film from really being an all-time great.  Still, from the second I saw it, I knew Spielberg had his second Oscar in the bag.
  • Lolita  –  This finally opened (it had originally been released outside the States in 1997).  I don’t think I had read the book yet at this point (I think I read it after it ended up on the Modern Library List which was later in the year) but I had seen the original film and the controversy over this one made me intrigued.
  • BASEketball  –  I, along with several other friends, all discovered South Park at the same time, just after it started airing.  So, in the summer of 1998, with the first brilliant season over, there was no way I was going to miss the movie from its creators.  It’s very mixed – there are some very funny scenes that nail the whole sports culture and there is a lot of stuff that is just crass and dumb.  But I give props to Bob Costas and Al Michaels, both of whom I have always liked, for willing to poke so much fun at themselves.  I remember going to see this with Kelly and Carol (who I was living with at the time).
  • Snake Eyes  –  Brian de Palma runs very hot and cold for me.  This one was very cold – a great opening shot couldn’t cover up for this movie being simply terrible.
  • The Avengers  –  But hey, Snake Eyes was better than this.  I had never seen the original television show (and wouldn’t until a few months ago, although Veronica and I have found ourselves loving almost every episode we watch) but it had Ralph Fiennes and so I didn’t want to miss it.  So what is the real problem here?  Fiennes does his role quite well, Uma Thurman looks great in black leather.  Is it that Sean Connery delivers possibly the worst performance ever from a good actor?  Is it that the plot is so stupid?  Either way, this film was a complete disaster.
  • Rounders  –  The first serious film of the fall.  It was from director John Dahl (The Last Seduction) and was starring two big rising stars – Matt Damon and Edward Norton.  Yet, it never really quite made it past mid ***.  Good, but not good enough.
  • Simon Birch  –  This opened the same day as Rounders and I might have seen it first.  If you’ve been reading my novel as it posts (you haven’t – the stats on the posts bear that out), you know that one of the characters is a huge John Irving fan.  He gets that from me (he gets a lot of things from me).  Between 1994 (when I first read Garp) and 1998 (when this film and A Widow for One Year were released) was when I was seriously into Irving.  The problems of this film, an adaptation of Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, were widely known.  They had dropped most of the book because you couldn’t have Owen grow up, but they changed so much that Irving asked them to change the title and character names.  I saw it anyway, but it’s really mostly a mess.
  • Without Limits  –  I wrote about this is my Year in Film as the under-appreciated film of the year.  I saw it, dragging Kelly, I think in Tigard.  It opened wider in Oregon because Pre was from there.  It’s really good, especially for Sutherland’s performance.
  • One True Thing  –  Yes, on the same weekend that Rush Hour was the big film, I chose to go see One True Thing, the chick flick Oscar bait.  And I don’t regret it.  I still have never seen Rush Hour (I can’t stand Chris Tucker), but this film was well-made.  Renee Zellweger was adorable and very good in Jerry Maguire, but she was great here (I actually thought she was better than Meryl Streep, who got the Oscar nom) and for a stretch (through 2003), she was one of the best actresses around.
  • Ronin  –  I was all over this.  A very under-appreciated film (it earned no Oscar noms, in spite of amazing sound work) with possibly the greatest car chase scene in film history (and another of the greatest as well).  A very good thriller with a great cast.
  • Antz  –  This was the start of DreamWorks animation, in a film that rivaled Pixar’s A Bug’s Life, but made it to the screens first.  Sadly, it wasn’t as good, with some good moments of humor, but just a mid-range *** overall.
  • Apt Pupil  –  Aside from a lot of crappy films this year, I saw a lot of films that weren’t the weekend box office champs.  This film opened in ninth place but I was really looking forward to it and I might have waited until the Saturday to see it, because that was my 24th birthday.  Like a lot of people my age, I read Different Seasons for the first time in 1986 or 1987 after seeing Stand by Me.  And, like everyone I knew that read it, I loved the first three stories and hated the last one.  Well, I was also always a writer and I read about writing scripts very early on.  I wrote several complete scripts in college and I started several more, including some adapted screenplays.  Those included the other two great stories in Different Seasons: “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” (which I was retitling Hope Springs Eternal, the title for that section of the book) and “Apt Pupil”, which I had titled Jungleland, with the intention of starting the film with the Springsteen song (which I think Stephen King would have found appropriate, as he used the last verse of the song as an epigraph for The Stand.  Those scripts never got finished, because the movies got made (without me).  That this was being made, complete with Ian McKellen (who I was already loving after Richard III and Cold Comfort Farm, long before he was even cast as either Gandalf or Magneto) and was from the director of The Usual Suspects, so I was ready and willing.  The film isn’t great, but McKellen is and it is quite under-appreciated.
  • The Wizard of Oz  –  Of course I went to see this when it opened in theaters again in the fall of 1998.  It is quite possibly the greatest film ever made.  If it opened again, I would see it again.  If you ever get a chance to see it on the big screen, you need to do so.
  • The Waterboy  –  Why did I see this one?  Oh, that’s easy.  I can even tell you when and where I saw it – the Friday night of its second weekend at the Lloyd Cinemas.  Why?  Because it was one of two films where you could see the trailer for Phantom Menace and the other was Meet Joe Black.  Suffer through an hour of half of purported Adam Sandler comedy or over two and a half hours of Brad Pitt trying to be a serious actor?  I think I made the right choice.  The place was packed and several people left as soon as the trailer finished, presumably to go see a different movie, because there were signs that there would be no refunds for Waterboy or Meet Joe Black.  When they got up to leave, my friend Mark turned to me and said “They must not know they’re showing the trailer again after the movie.”  Which was true.  We stuck around after the credits to see the trailer again.  As for the film, which I saw with Mark, Theresa, George, Mary and Kelly on the same night when I finally gave Kelly an engagement ring?  It’s crap.  I laughed really hard once – when Lawrence Taylor tells the kids not to do drugs.
  • Elizabeth  –  I believe I saw this on November 20, the Friday of its expansion.  I saw it at the brand new theater, the Century at Eastgate, on 82nd Ave in Portland.  I had grown up with Century Theaters in Southern California, had worked at one briefly in 1994 and my best friend John worked at one for years and his aunt was a regional manager for them.  This was the first (and until 2004, the only) Century theater in the Portland area and Kelly and I went all the way out to see Elizabeth there when it opened.  However, because it was on the other side of Portland, I wouldn’t go back for three more years, until Shrek came out.  After that, it would become my go-to theater for big releases and Veronica and I went there a lot.
  • Gods and Monsters  –  I believe I saw this when it first opened in Portland.  I had become a huge fan of McKellen, thanks to Richard III, Cold Comfort Farm and Apt Pupil and by this time I think I still didn’t know he would be Magneto or Gandalf.  Loved the film.  Still do.
  • Enemy of the State  –  Kelly and I went to this, possibly with George and Mary.  Serviceable and forgettable.
  • Celebrity  –  I was big on seeing this, trying to get Kelly into Woody Allen, but this wasn’t much of a help.  I don’t think I’ve seen it since.  Branagh is clearly the Woody Allen stand-in and it’s one of his weaker performances.
  • A Bug’s Life  –  Pixar’s second film is still one of their weaker outings.  The film is ***.5, but I still think the best think about it is the short the preceded it, “Geri’s Game”, which kick started the run of really great Pixar shorts which continues through to today.  It’s not my favorite of the Pixar shorts, but it’s close.
  • Star Trek: Insurrection  –  Kelly was into Star Trek, so I had no problem convincing her to go see this with me.  It was not good, as is made clear in my review.
  • Shakespeare in Love  –  Once we hit December, we were having financial issues, and so I saw very few films until May (this will also be reflected in the start of this list for 1999).  So, when I was given a Regal gift certificate for Christmas, I used it sparingly.  On Christmas Day, this opened in Portland (it had been out in LA and New York for a couple of weeks) and Kelly and I went to go see it.  I loved it from the first minute and still maintain that is the best of the five Oscar nominees.
  • Rushmore  –  We didn’t see another film in the theater until February, when this film, which I had been waiting for for months (it had won three critics awards for Bill Murray’s performance back in December) finally opened (it had a limited LA run to qualify for the Oscars and then basically disappeared from the box office until it opened in 103 theaters on February 5).  I had saved the gift certificate that whole time.  Unlike most years, because of finances, and crappy films early in 1999, there is no overlap with the 1999 films.  This was the last film from 1998 I saw in the theater and I wouldn’t see my first 1999 film until the end of February.

Endnote:  That’s an increase of 6 films from the year before.  Partially it’s because I was dating again, partially it’s because I was less discerning for a while with what films I would see (god, I saw some crappy films in the theater this year), but mostly it was the move back to Portland and having a lot more people to see films with.  I was also unemployed for three separate stretches, which meant I didn’t have to worry about work getting in the way.  But the last one caused a lot of financial problems, which is why I saw so few of the big awards films at the end of the year (and missed out on two Best Picture nominees, the first I hadn’t seen in the theater since 1992) and will also be reflected in the first several months of 1999.  Sadly, I saw as many of the Razzie Worst Picture nominees in the theater as I saw Oscar nominees for Best Picture.

Oscar-Nominated Films I Have Not Seen:

  • none

Oscar Quality:

Best Picture:  This year drops 10 spots, down to #37 overall, the second lowest finish since 1988 but higher than each of the next two years.  If the Academy had gone with the Consensus Top 5 (nominating Out of Sight and Gods and Monsters instead of The Thin Red Line and Life is Beautiful) this year would rank 7th all-time.  It’s not a bad year – indeed, this is the first time since 1993 that every nominee is at least ***.5.  The real problem is twofold – that three of the nominees are lower ***.5 which puts them in #297-338 for their ranks and that there aren’t any really great films, with not a single Top 100 film for the first time since 1988.  There won’t be another year without a Top 100 nominee until 2009.

The Winners:  Among the nominees, the winners are strong, averaging 1.85.  In 10 categories, the Academy made the best choice and it was especially good among the major categories, averaging 1.25.  In only three cases did the Academy make the worst choice (Actor, Visual Effects, Makeup) and in the last two, those are categories with only three nominees so it doesn’t hurt as much.  Among all films, the average winner ranks at 5.45, which is the best since 1993.  That’s mainly because it’s the first time since 1993 when no winner places outside the Top 35 in its category, although Actor (#33) is close.  There are also double digit placements for the winner in Original Score (#13), Visual Effects (#10) and Original Song (#14).  The acting is bad, because of Actor (11.25, worst to-date), but the major categories balance that out with a 1.50, tied with several years for second best to-date.  In eight categories I agreed with the Oscar choice (Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Comedy Score, Art Direction, Sound, Sound Editing) and in five others they made the second best choice (Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Editing, Costume Design).  That’s 65% of the categories where they made the best or second best choice, the most since 1991.

The Nominees:  The nominees don’t do terribly in any large groups, but they are just weak enough to be the second worst of the decade as a whole, with an Oscar Score of 73.0.  The major categories earn a 70.0, with a low of 54.3 in Picture but a high of 81.8 in Adapted Screenplay.  The acting is a solid 84.4, higher than the last two years with only Supporting Actor (76.3) falling below 80 but only Supporting Actress (93.5) clearing 90.  The Tech categories are a very solid 76.9, with nothing below 61.5 while both Costume Design and Makeup clear 90.  But it’s the last two categories, which aren’t part of the above groups that help bring down the year as Original Song tanks (17.6) and Foreign Film is also terrible (22.2).

Golden Globe Best Picture – Comedy / Musical:  In some years, I will talk about how the Globes missed an obvious film and nominated a weak film instead and what rank the year would be if I substituted.  That’s not even necessary for this year.  It’s true the Globes botched things a bit.  They nominated one great film (Shakespeare in Love), two high ***.5 films (Bulworth, Still Crazy), one low ***.5 film (The Mask of Zorro) and one mid-range *** film (There’s Something About Mary).  That’s good enough for 13th all-time, which is pretty damn good.  If you take out There’s Something About Mary and put in something like Out of Sight (which they passed over entirely, which only makes sense if they thought it was a Drama, since Clooney and Lopez were much better than most of the Comedy acting nominees) or The Big Lebowski (no noms) or The Truman Show (nominated as a Drama) or Rushmore (S Actor nom only) or Primary Colors (Actor, but not Picture, and Emma Thompson was passed over for Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail) this becomes a great year, which makes sense, because as I talk about above, this is one of the great years all-time for Comedies.  However, the Globes didn’t nominate five films.  They nominated six.  And the sixth was Patch Adams.  That sixth nominee drops this year from 13th all-time (out of 66) down to 30th.  You don’t even have to substitute any of the other good films they passed up, like Little Voice (winner of Actor and nominated for Actress) or The Opposite of Sex (nominated for Actress).  This year is so amazingly stacked and they threw in a sixth nominee and it was Patch Adams.  That’s just terrible.  In a category that has included Doctor Dolittle, Mamma Mia, Paint Your Wagon and The Tourist, it is the worst nominee of all-time.

Top 5 Films of the Year:

1  –  Out of Sight  (reviewed here)

2  –  Shakespeare in Love  (reviewed here)

3  –  Saving Private Ryan  (reviewed here)

Oh, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. How stupid your voters are sometimes.

Oh, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. How stupid your voters are sometimes.

4  –  The Big Lebowski  (dir. Joel Coen)

The Coens are who they are and that’s fantastic.  I think there is a considerable chance that when I do my 3.0 list of the Top 100 Directors they will have moved into the Top 5, sitting there with Scorsese, Spielberg, Kubrick and Kurosawa.  They have their own sense of humor and are absolutely not afraid to return to it.  After a career that had already seen them make two of the greatest films to earn zero Oscar nominations (Blood Simple, Miller’s Crossing), they had finally broken through and won Oscars for Fargo.  So what did they do?  They made The Big Lebowski, yet another of the Top 100 films to earn no Oscar nominations.  That wouldn’t stop them either.  They would follow up their multiple Oscars for No Country for Old Men with the wildly hilarious Burn After Reading and after the critical smash (and Oscar un-appreciated but at least earning some noms) Inside Llewyn Davis with the yet another tale about a Clooney idiot in Hail, Caesar!  If you get the Coens, like I do, then they are almost always a delight (I felt the need to add the word almost because of The Ladykillers, the only Coen film to not earn at least ***.5 from me).  Compare that to Roger Ebert, who clearly didn’t get them, with sub *** reviews for Raising Arizona, O Brother Where Art Thou and Intolerable Cruelty.  And yet, he gave **** to Lebowski.

This film is an inspired bit of lunacy, which is probably easy for anyone to see given what a massive cult film it has become.  It came out in March without making much of a wave.  It was only the fourth biggest opening film of its weekend and it would barely make more in its entire run than U.S. Marshals, which opened the same day, made in its opening weekend.  It was ignored by all the awards groups, earning a measly three acting nominations from the fairly new Golden Satellite Awards and that was only because at that time the Satellites still had separate Comedy and Drama categories for every acting category (which I think was a good idea and was, in fact, the impetus for my splitting my own awards through to the supporting roles and screenplays).  Yet, it is one of the biggest cultural milestones of a decade in which most people didn’t see it or acknowledge it.

So what is it about this film that speaks to people?  Is it the slacker bowler who kind of bumbles through life, writing a check for $.69 (which, six years after leaving Southern California, made me homesick, as we used to go grocery shopping at Ralph’s every week)?  Is it the child molesting bowler who warns everyone not to fuck with the Jesus in an outlandish performance that is a reminder that the Coens have made more good use of John Turturro than almost all other directors combined?  Is it the bizarre fat man who is constantly yelling “Shut the fuck up, Donnie!”?  Is it poor Donnie, played by Steve Buscemi, whose remains in Coen Brothers films kept getting smaller?  Is it the bizarre but hilarious dream sequence in which a gorgeous redhead actress, who should have won the Oscar the year before this, shows up dressed as a valkyrie?  Or the way she rolls on the bed to increase conception, forcing Lebowski to spit up his White Russian?  That drink by the way, made me less nostalgic – it is very similar to a mudslide, and consumption of nine of those without anything to eat on New Year’s Eve of 1995 almost killed me and I wasn’t able to drink Kahlúa again for well over a decade.  Or maybe it’s everything Julianne Moore says in the film, pronounced with the air of someone who always knows what she’s talking about and is almost the smartest person in the room.  Or just the fantastic performances all around, from Bridges’ epic laid-back former hippie, to Moore, to Goodman’s deranged Walter (“This is not Vietnam!  There are rules!”), to the great wealth of other actors, like Buscemi, like the deadpan narration from Sam Elliot, to the nervous, awkward performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman, to Coen regular Jon Polito, who was one of the people who didn’t survive the horrific year of death that was 2016.

This movie has everything we could want to be entertained.  It has fantastic performances.  It has a magnificent script that has embedded itself into popular culture even if most of those people didn’t have the good sense to go see it in the theater.  It has a wonderful soundtrack, most notably the moment when the Creedence (that did survive the car being stolen) is playing and the Dude tries to toss his roach out the window only to have it end in disaster, a moment so perfectly put together and so hilarious that it’s one of those scenes that is funny every time you watch it, no matter how many times you have seen it.  Then there is the conclusion, with the remains of poor Donnie blowing in the wind.  There are few movies like this, that are so well made, yet so incredibly funny no matter how many times you’ve seen it, that you feel the need to watch it over and over again.

Ian McKellen gives the performance that should have won him his first Oscar.

Ian McKellen gives the performance that should have won him his first Oscar.

5  –  Gods and Monsters  (dir. Bill Condon)

Starting to move on from his reputation as just a star, in 1986 and 1988, Tom Cruise played opposite an established star in what turned to out to be Oscar winning roles for Paul Newman and Dustin Hoffman.  Then, in 1989, Cruise earned his first Oscar nomination and made the transition from being not only a star, but also a serious actor.  In the mid-90’s, Brendan Fraser was a goofy star who hadn’t really shown any acting chops.  But in 1998, and then again in 2002, he would play a similar role to Cruise’s two roles.  He would play the other lead (and do a solid job in both films) opposite two men who easily deserved to win Oscars for their performances: Ian McKellen and Michael Caine.  Fraser didn’t then take the next step and he never became the next Cruise, but there was still something in these two films that showed Fraser had the potential to do more.

I would understand if you would think this film would irritate me.  At times I get really annoyed at various liberties taken by supposed “true stories”.  But the filmmakers never claimed that they were presenting a true story.  They always acknowledged that the Brendan Fraser was fictional and that while James Whale really did turn up dead in his swimming pool under somewhat mysterious circumstances (only mysterious because his longtime companion kept the suicide note under wraps for another 30 years), the story they were telling was made up.  It was simply a way at looking at a variety of things, including the director James Whale, his career as a man who had fought in the Great War and then went on to Hollywood making some very interesting films while also being gay (and the things that meant at the time), as well as what it meant by the time of the fifties, when a filmmaker like Whale had been basically forgotten.  It worked because the script was so well written and the film was so well directed.  Oh, and of course it worked because Ian McKellen gave an absolutely amazing performance that absolutely deserved to win the Oscar and it’s really kind of appalling that that clown Roberto Benigni won the Oscar instead.

Brendan Fraser kinds of serve as our introduction into this world.  He’s like the companion on Doctor Who – he’s the everyman whose eyes allow us to see into this world.  It is a world of gods and monsters, just like the line says in Bride of Frankenstein (if nothing else, and there is a lot else, this film really helped revive the critical appreciation of Whale’s career as a director and is probably part of the reason that he made my Top 100 list), only while that line in the film is referring to supernatural entities, here it’s the world of the rich and famous, the gods who make our dreams come true on the silver screen and the monsters that they can often turn out to be in person.  Fraser works as our straight man for the film, not because he is a straight man who becomes, first a gardener, and then later, a confidant, for a gay man, but because he’s an ordinary working class guy who suddenly finds himself thrust into this fancy life.  When he walks into a Hollywood reception he feels out of place and so would most people.  In fact, I would feel most at ease at a party like that standing next to someone like Whale watching him make catty comments about everyone around us (with the exception that I don’t care who’s straight or gay).  Fraser is able to hold his own and for a guy who was the star of George of the Jungle, that was a big thing to be able to do when work opposite someone who played MacBeth to Judi Dench’s Lady MacBeth (if you haven’t seen their RSC performance, you should).

One last thing to remember about this film is how well it is made.  I’m not just talking about McKellen’s performance (which is amazing) or Condon’s script (which, in a big surprise, won the Oscar), but across the board.  This film earns four Nighthawk nominations below the line (Editing, Score, Art Direction, Costume Design) and comes in 6th place in Cinematography and 8th place in Sound.  But, of its eighteen nominations among all awards groups, its single mention below the line was a critics award for its Score.  It’s a fabulous film, from top to bottom, and more importantly, from that first minute, all the way until that great ending of Fraser out in the rain, putting his arms up and getting lost in his memories, wandering about in that same way that so many of us have walked after watching one of Whale’s brilliant Frankenstein films.

The Razzies:  Well, first of all, I have only seen four of the nominees because I wasn’t able to get hold of Spice World (actually, to be fair, I could pay to watch it on YouTube and I don’t want to denigrate that service because there are lots of movies out there I really can’t get hold of and would gladly to pay to watch, but this isn’t one of them).  Of the four nominees, two of them I have as low ** (Armageddon, Godzilla), one of them as * (The Avengers) and the other, which I had never seen until watching the Razzie nominees, is the winner, An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn and this one the Razzies got exactly right because I give it zero stars.  It’s embarrassing to admit that I saw three of these films in the theater, as many Razzie nominees as I saw in the theater from 1990-1997 combined and as many as I’ve seen in the theater from 1999-2015 combined.  I do object to the Razzies passing over such shit as Lost in Space or Mercury Rising or Patch Adams (which seems made for the Razzies), but their choices weren’t bad and you could easily make the argument that at **, I have Godzilla rated too high.

5 Worst Films  (#1 being the worst):

  1. An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn
  2. Very Bad Things
  3. Wrongfully Accused
  4. Jack Frost
  5. Lost in Space

note:  The first film is a zero star film.  The next three are .5.  The last is *.
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: Golden Receiver, Barney’s Great Adventure – The Movie, Bride of Chucky, Dirty Work, Doctor Dolittle, Firestorm, Halloween: H20, Hard Rain, Holy Man, Hope Floats, Meet the Deedles, My Giant, A Night at the Roxbury (well, I’ve seen part of it and it made me want to burn my ears off), Phantoms (Yo, Affleck!  Phantoms is the bomb!), Species, Spice World.  By the way – don’t take the list as definitive – to make this list, I go to the Oscar eligibility list and look at the films I haven’t seen – many of them are so unmemorable I don’t remember what they are.  These are just the ones that I haven’t seen and caught my eye as looking particularly crappy.

So they made a film about a crappy film and it turns out to be crappy. Maybe they should have quit while they were ahead.

So they made a film about a crappy film and it turns out to be crappy. Maybe they should have quit while they were ahead.

An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn  (dir. Arthur Hiller)

I wrote a novel once which had two characters having an argument and one of them says to the other “Don’t be grotesque.  We’re not in Ohio.”  It’s a literary joke about the novel Winesburg, Ohio.  I didn’t expect that most people would get it, but it didn’t matter if they didn’t get it.  I wasn’t exactly trying to market the book to a large audience (or to any audience – I write for me).  Besides, it’s not like I made it the central premise of the book or put it in the title.  Which brings us to this idiotic concept for a film.

The idea behind this film has to do with the name Alan Smithee.  It’s a name that was coined in 1969 by the Directors Guild of America as an acceptable pseudonym when a director wished to have his name removed from a film (DGA rules require a director be credited for a film).  That was common knowledge long before this film was released in 1998, provided your person with that common knowledge was a film buff.  If they weren’t, odds are almost certain they had never heard about the pseudonym.  So, first problem, your film’s central premise (and title) is based around a bit of detailed film knowledge.  Not a good idea.  But then we get into the actual concept.  The idea is that a film director has his vision compromised so he wants to take his name off the film, but his name actually is Alan Smithee, so the DGA won’t let him change it to anything else.  Which is idiotic, of course, because if any director was named Alan Smithee, the DGA would have immediately changed the rule – the whole point of the rule was that it was a generic sounding name that was not actually in use, so it’s use as a pseudonym would not constitute a problem.  So, the already idiotic plot concept is already pointless.  But that didn’t stop the filmmakers from going ahead with this idea.

The first filmmaker in question here is Arthur Hiller.  Hiller was a mostly pretty mediocre director.  He directed 32 films, of which I have seen 29.  Of those 29, only seven rank at *** or above and his two best films (by far) are mostly the products of great scripts rather than any talent in Hiller’s direction (The Americanization of Emily, The Hospital).  Of all the directors ever nominated for an Oscar (Hiller was nominated for Love Story, which defies belief) he is one of the few whose average film is a ** film and it’s still at ** even if I give him a mulligan and take out this film, which earns zero stars.  Here he directs as if he is lost.  The film is a mockumentary but it doesn’t seem to know quite what it is mocking and it mostly seems to mock itself.  We get famous stars who supposedly star in the terrible film by the poor director Smithee and they all look as if they don’t know what to do on camera.  But, then things took a more ridiculous turn when Hiller declared that his vision for the film was compromised (what vision?) and that he would take his name off the film and use the Alan Smithee pseudonym.  Which brings us to the real creative force behind this creatively bankrupt endeavor.

Joe Eszterhas made his name writing bad scripts that were somehow successful for films like Flashdance and Blue Thunder.  In a series of films in the 80’s, he wrote roles for women that made them seem strong but in actuality showed them to be lead astray.  The problem was that in performances from Glenn Close (Jagged Edge), Debra Winger (Betrayed) and Jessica Lange (Oscar nominated in Music Box), they gave performances that were strong and made the scripts look better than they were.  Then he got paid a ridiculous amount of money for the script to Basic Instinct when the real key to the film was getting a strong, sexy performance from Sharon Stone and the attendant attention the film got when she was willing to go panty-less on film.  That lead to the overvaluing of his writing and the utter shit of the next few years, with films like Sliver, Jade and Showgirls, before he decided to make and produce this film and show that he wasn’t any good as a writer and that maybe people should learn that.  Hollywood finally seemed to get that message, as the only script of his that has been produced in the almost 20 years since was back in his native Hungary.  With him gone, I can focus my screenwriter hatred from here on out on Akiva Goldsman (if you fuck up Dark Tower, I’m coming for you with a rubber hose!).

Points:

  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:   Shakespeare in Love  /  Saving Private Ryan  (10)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:   Shakespeare in Love  /  Saving Private Ryan  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Points:   Shakespeare in Love  (395)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Award:  Deep Impact
  • 2nd Place Award:  Shakespeare in Love  (Picture, Actress, Costume Design)
  • 6th Place Award:  Gods and Monsters  (Supporting Actress, Cinematography)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Nominations:  Gods and Monsters  (5)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Awards:  Gods and Monsters  /  Saving Private Ryan  /  Pleasantville  (2)
  • Most Nighthawk Drama Points:  Gods and Monsters  (275)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Drama Award:  Hilary and Jackie
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Nominations:   Shakespeare in Love  /  The Big Lebowski  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Awards:   Out of Sight  (4)
  • Most Nighthawk Comedy Points:   Out of Sight  (375)
  • Worst Film Nominated for a Nighthawk Comedy Award:  Little Voice

Note:  * means a Nighthawk record up to this point; ** ties a Nighthawk record.

Progressive Leaders:

  • Most Nighthawk Nominations:  The Wizard of Oz  /  The Godfather  (18)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards:  The Wizard of Oz  /  Bonnie and Clyde  (14)
  • Most Nighthawk Points:  Bonnie and Clyde  (865)
  • Most Nighthawk Awards without winning Best Picture:  Frankenstein  /  The Magnificent Ambersons  /  Tom Jones  (6)
  • Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Best Picture Nomination:  Yojimbo  (11)
  • Most Nighthawk Nominations without a Nighthawk Award:  Throne of Blood (13)
  • Actor:  Jack Nicholson  (500)
  • Actress:  Katharine Hepburn  (560)
  • Director:   Akira Kurosawa  (765)
  • Writer:  Ingmar Bergman  (1040)
  • Cinematographer:  Sven Nykvist  (325)
  • Composer:  John Williams  (725)
  • Foreign Film:  Akira Kurosawa  (600)

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

  • Drama:  98 (36)  –  Gods and Monsters  (66.4)
  • Foreign:  57  –  Ringu  (68.9)
  • Comedy:  46 (9)  –  Shakespeare in Love  (59)
  • Kids:  14 (1)  –  Kiki’s Delivery Service  (52.9)
  • Crime:  11 (4)  –  Out of Sight  (64.4)
  • Suspense:  11 (1)  –  Insomnia  (52.3)
  • Action:  9 (3)  –  Ronin  (51.3)
  • Sci-Fi:  9 (1)  –  Dark City  (51.2)
  • Horror:  8 (1)  –  Ringu  (48.3)
  • Musical:  6 (1)  –  Still Crazy  (65.5)
  • Mystery:  4  –  Zero Effect  (72.3)
  • Adventure:  4 (1)  –  The Mask of Zorro  (52.3)
  • War:  2  –  Saving Private Ryan  (88.5)
  • Fantasy:  2  –  Pleasantville  (69.5)
  • Western:  1  –  The Hi-Lo Country  (69)

Analysis:  Foreign films account for just over 25% of the films, the lowest since 1989.  The 98 Dramas are a new high, although they account for a significantly smaller percentage of the films than the previous year.  The 14 Kids films tie for the most to this date.  The 6 Musicals are the most in six years.  The 9 Sci-Fi films are the most since 1984.  The 11 Suspense films are the most since 1987.
The Drama films have their highest average since 1983.  The Foreign films have their highest average since 1982.
Out of Sight is the first crime film in eight years and the sixth overall to win the Nighthawk.  There is only one Drama in the Top 10 for the first time since 1977.  Saving Private Ryan is the first War film in the Top 10 since 1991 (also the first Top 20 film since 1991).  There are 8 Comedies in the Top 20, the most since 1988 and tied for the most since 1936.  There are only 4 Dramas in the Top 20, the fewest since 1984.

Studio Note:  Miramax is again the champion, with 18 films, followed by 17 each for Disney and Warner Bros.  Lionsgate comes into its own this year, with 9 films, including Gods and Monsters.  This is the final year (at least for a while) for Tristar Pictures, with 6 last films.  It’s the first year of a long string where Sony Pictures Classics has more than 10 films (12).  The major studios account for just over a third of the films.  The Warners films are particularly terrible, dropping all the way down to 44.65, the worst average in their history, with five films at * or below (Tarzan and the Lost City, The Avengers, Major League: Back to the Minors, Jack Frost, Wrongfully Accused).
Even with all their films, Miramax still only has one in the Top 20 (Shakespeare in Love).  Only three films in the Top 10 come from the major studios, including The Truman Show, the first Top 10 film from Paramount since 1991.  What is perhaps more surprising is the two Top 20 films from MGM (Ronin and Live Flesh), as many as they had from 1983-1997 combined.  Universal wins the Nighthawk, its first since 1993 and it becomes the fourth studio to win seven Nighthawks, joining Warners, Paramount and Columbia, although Universal hasn’t won again since.

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

  1. Kiki’s Delivery Service  (***.5, Miyazaki, Ghibli (Toei))
  2. A Bug’s Life  (***.5, Lassetter, Pixar (Disney))
  3. Antz  (***, Johnson / Darnell, Dreamworks)
  4. The Prince of Egypt  (***, Chapman / Hickner, Dreamworks)
  5. I Married a Strange Person  (**.5, Plympton, Lionsgate)
  6. Quest for Camelot  (**.5, Du Chau, Warner Bros)
  7. The Rugrats Movie  (**.5, Kovalyov / Virgien, Paramount)
  8. Mulan  (**, Bancroft / Cook, Disney)
  9. The Mighty Kong  (*.5, Simon, Legacy)
  10. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Raindeer: The Movie  (*, Kowalchuk, Legacy)
  11. A Rat’s Tale  (*, Huse, Legacy)

Note:  None of the bottom three films was Oscar eligible, though they are listed at oscars.org.  Kiki wasn’t even listed.  This is the last time until 2006 that Disney will only distribute two animated films.  The 11 films is also the lowest total from here forward.

47 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):

  • The Adopted Son  (Abdyaklydov, Kyrgyzstan)  *
  • After Life  (Koreeda, Japan)
  • The Apple  (Makhmalbaf, Iran)
  • Autumn Tale  (Rohmer, France)
  • Baise-moi  (Despentes, France)
  • The Barber of Siberia  (Mikhalkov, Russia)  *
  • Begging for Love  (Hirayama, Japan)  *
  • Cabaret Balkan  (Paskaljevic, Serbia)  *
  • The Celebration  (Vinterberg, Denmark)  *
  • Central Station  (Salles, Brazil)  **
  • Chance or Coincidence  (Lelouch, France)
  • Children of Heaven  (Majidi, Iran)  **
  • Circus Palestine  (Halfon, Israel)
  • The Dinner Game  (Veber, France)
  • The Dream Life of Angels  (Zonca, France)  *
  • Eternity and a Day  (Angelopoulos, Greece)  *
  • Flowers of Shanghai  (Hou, Taiwan)  *
  • Genghis Khan  (Fu  /  Mai)  *
  • Goodbye, 20th Century!  (Popovski, Macedonia)  *
  • The Grandfather  (Spain, Luis Garci)  **
  • Gypsy Lore  (Gyongyossy, Hungary)  *
  • Heroes without a Cause  (Ortiz, Puerto Rico)  *
  • In the Navel of the Sea  (Diaz-Abaya, Philippines)  *
  • Inquietude  (de Oliveira, Portugal)  *
  • Jeanne and the Perfect Guy  (Ducastel, France)
  • Kirikou and the Sorceress  (Ocelot, France)
  • L’Ennui  (Kahn, France)
  • Late August, Early September  (Assayas, France)
  • Leaf on a Pillow  (Hakim, Indonesia)  *
  • The Legend of 1900  (Tornatore, Italy)
  • Life is Beautiful  (Benigni, Italy)  ***
  • Made in Hong Kong  (Chan, Hong Kong)  *
  • Next Stop Paradise  (Pintilie, Romania)  *
  • The Polish Bride  (Traidia, Netherlands)  *
  • The Red Violin  (Girard, Canada)
  • Ringu  (Nakata, Japan)
  • Rivers of Babylon  (Balco, Slovakia)  *
  • The Rose Seller  (Gaviria, Colombia)  *
  • Run Lola Run  (Tykwer, Germany)  *
  • Show Me Love  (Moodysson, Sweden)  *
  • Sitcom  (Ozon, France)
  • A Spell  (Carrera, Mexico)  *
  • Tango  (Saura, Argentina)  **
  • War in the Highlands  (Reusser, Switzerland)  *
  • West Beirut  (Doueiri, Lebanon)  *
  • Who is Running?  (Thailand, Chun)  *
  • Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl  (Chen, China)

Note:  The 47 films are the fewest since 1987, which is ironic since the 32 films I have seen that were submitted for Best Foreign Film is higher than every year since 1987 except one.  I won’t have anywhere close to this few films after this year, partially thanks to the massive increase in later years in Oscar submitting countries.  France leads the way with 10 films (as usual).  Japan is next with 3 films, the fewest for the #2 country since 1990.
I have my first films from Kyrgyzstan and Slovakia.  I have my first film from Lebanon in 20 years, partially because they submit to the Oscars for the first time in 20 years.  I have my first film from Indonesia in nine years.  I only have 1 film from Hong Kong for the first time since 1986.  I only have 1 film from Germany for the first time since 1991.  Because I am missing the Indian Oscar submission for the second straight year, I don’t have any films from India for the second straight year, the first time I have had back-to-back years without any Indian films since 1946-47.
Over two-thirds of these films are Dramas, with Comedy (5) and Crime (2) the only other genres with multiple films.

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

  • Austria:  The Inheritors  (dir. Ruzowitzky)
  • Belgium:  Rosie  (dir. Toye)
  • Canada:  August 32nd on Earth  (dir. Villeneuve)
  • Croatia:  Transatlantic  (dir. Juran)
  • Czech Republic:  Sekal Has to Die  (dir.  Michalek)
  • Finland:  A Summer by the River  (dir.  Polonen)
  • Iceland:  Count Me Out  (dir.  Kristinsson)
  • India:  Jeans  (dir.  Shankar)
  • Luxembourg:  Back in Trouble  (dir. Bausch)
  • Morocco:  Mektoub  (dir.  Ayouch)
  • Norway:  Only Clouds Move the Stars  (dir.  Lian)
  • Venezuela:  Rizo  (dir. Sosa Pietri)
  • United Kingdom:  Cameleons  (dir. Sherlock)

note:  At this point I am making a concerted effort to see as many submitted films as I can.  The full list can be found here.  This year I am a dreadful 32 for 45 (71%), my best in four years.
The number of submissions is up by one, for the second highest total to-date.  There are, as usual, several countries that don’t submit this year that did the year before: Poland (the only years it doesn’t submit post-1984), Cuba, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, Slovenia, Ukraine, Congo (which hasn’t ever submitted again).  But brand new this year is Kyrgyzstan and returning after long absences are Lebanon (first time since 1978) and Morocco (first time since 1977).  Back after shorter absences are Indonesia, United Kingdom, Puerto Rico and China while back after only a year off are Hong Kong and Romania.
Of the countries I am missing, most were also missing in 1997, including Venezuela, Finland, Iceland, Austria, India (the only time I am missing consecutive Indian films), Canada and the Czech Republic (with even the same director).  Otherwise, it’s my first miss from Luxembourg, my second from Croatia and my sixth from Norway, but Belgium is a massive repeat offender (at this point I am just 9 for 23 with Belgium but thankfully will see 14 of their next 16).

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

  • Cairo Station  (1958)
  • The Dupes  (1973)
  • Police Story  (1984)
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service  (1989)
  • Violent Cop  (1989)
  • Nargess  (1992)
  • Sonatine  (1993)
  • Le Separation  (1994)
  • Fallen Angels  (1995)
  • Un Air de famille  (1996)
  • Carla’s Song  (1996)
  • Comrades: Almost a Love Story  (1996)
  • Hard Core Logo  (1996)
  • The Leading Man  (1996)
  • Mother and Son  (1996)
  • The Other Side of Sunday  (1996)
  • Pretty Village, Pretty Flame  (1996)
  • The Son of Gascogne  (1996)
  • Tieta of Agreste  (1996)
  • 24 7  (1997)
  • An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn  (1997)
  • Artemisia  (1997)
  • The Best Man  (1997)
  • Beyond Silence  (1997)
  • The Borrowers  (1997)
  • The Butcher Boy  (1997)
  • Character  (1997)
  • Cube  (1997)
  • The Eel  (1997)
  • Fireworks  (1997)
  • Four Days in September  (1997)
  • A Friend of the Deceased  (1997)
  • Gadjo Dilo  (1997)
  • Henry Fool  (1997)
  • I Went Down  (1997)
  • Insomnia  (1997)
  • Journey to the Beginning of the World  (1997)
  • Junk Mail  (1997)
  • Lawn Dogs  (1997)
  • The Life of Jesus  (1997)
  • Live Flesh  (1997)
  • Lolita  (1997)
  • Men with Guns  (1997)
  • Mrs. Dalloway  (1997)
  • Nil by Mouth  (1997)
  • Regeneration  (1997)
  • See the Sea  (1997)
  • Taste of Cherry  (1997)
  • The Thief  (1997)
  • Under the Skin  (1997)
  • Western  (1997)
  • Wilde  (1997)

Note:  These 52 films average a 67.1, although that goes up to 68.4 if you take out Burn Hollywood Burn.  There are a lot of ***.5 films on this list, but the only ones that really affect the Nighthawks are The Butcher Boy,which earns an Adapted Screenplay nom, and Kiki’s Delivery Service, which earns an Original Score nom but also wins Best Animated Film, snagging a Nighthawk away from Pixar.

Films That Weren’t Eligible at the Oscars:

  • 24 7
  • The Best Man
  • Beyond Silence
  • Cannibal! The Musical
  • Character
  • Comrades: Almost a Love Story
  • The Eel
  • Fallen Angels
  • Fireworks
  • Four Days in September
  • A Friend of the Deceased
  • Gadjo Dilo
  • Hard Core Logo
  • Insomnia
  • Junk Mail
  • Knock Off
  • The Leading Man
  • Love is the Devil
  • Nargess
  • The Night Flier
  • Orgazmo
  • Pretty Village, Pretty Flame
  • A Rat’s Tale
  • Safe Men
  • See the Sea
  • Le Separation
  • Son of Gascogne
  • Sonatine
  • Taste of Cherry
  • The Thief
  • Tieta of Agreste
  • Un Air de famille
  • Voyage to the Beginning of the World
  • Western

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.
One film not listed here is only because I don’t count it: Forgotten Silver.  It’s a rather funny, rather inspired television film (which is why I don’t count it) made by Peter Jackson that seems like a documentary until you discover, afterwards, that everything in it is a lie.

Films Not Listed at Oscars.org:

  • The Barber of Siberia
  • Begging for Love
  • Cairo Station
  • Chance or Coincidence
  • Circus Palestine
  • Curtain Call
  • The Dupes
  • Flowers of Shanghai
  • Genghis Khan
  • Goodbye, 20th Century!
  • In the Navel of the Sea
  • Inquietude
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Leaf on a Pillow
  • Made in Hong Kong
  • Next Stop Paradise
  • The Other Side of Sunday
  • Police Story
  • The Polish Bride
  • Ringu
  • Rivers of Babylon
  • The Rose Seller
  • A Spell
  • Summer of the Monkeys
  • Violent Cop
  • Who is Running?

Note:  I use the list at Oscars.org for deciding which year films are eligible in and this is probably the last time I can bother to mention it, because apparently the Academy has taken the site down.  I don’t know why and they have not responded to my e-mail request.  Hopefully it will go back up at some point, but for now, at least I have the information saved in my spreadsheets.  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:

  • After Life  (1999)
  • The Apple  (1999)
  • Autumn Tale  (1999)
  • B.Monkey  (1999)
  • Besieged  (1999)
  • Cabaret Balkan  (1999)
  • Children of Heaven  (1999)
  • The Dinner Game  (1999)
  • The Dream Life of Angels  (1999)
  • Eternity and a Day  (1999)
  • Following  (1999)
  • Goodbye Lover  (1999)
  • The Grandfather  (1999)
  • Gypsy Lore  (1999)
  • Jeanne and the Perfect Guy  (1999)
  • L’Ennui  (1999)
  • Late August, Early September  (1999)
  • The Legend of 1900  (1999)
  • Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels  (1999)
  • My Name is Joe  (1999)
  • The Red Violin  (1999)
  • Run Lola Run  (1999)
  • Show Me Love  (1999)
  • West Beirut  (1999)
  • Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl  (1999)
  • The Adopted Son  (2000)
  • Claire Dolan  (2000)
  • Kirikou and the Sorceress  (2000)
  • Orphans  (2000)
  • Sitcom  (2000)
  • Baie-moi  (2001)
  • Spriggan  (2001)
  • Heroes without a Cause  (2010)

Note:  These 33 films average a 67.7.  The main two films that would affect the awards are Run Lola Run and Following, the only two **** films, though there are a few low-level ***.5 films (Lock Stock, Show Me Love, Sitcom).

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