bernadetteWhere’d You Go, Bernadette

  • Author:  Maria Semple
  • Published:  2012
  • Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company
  • Pages:  326
  • First Lines:  “The first annoying thing is when I ask Dad what he thinks happened to Mom, he always says, ‘What’s important is for you to understand it’s not your fault.’”
  • Last Lines:  “Say yes.  And know I’m always, Mom.”
  • Film:  none
  • First Read:  Spring 2014

Old fashioned letter writing might be disappearing but the epistolary novel is still surviving.  In fact, the two novels over the last few years that I have enjoyed more than almost any other have both been epistolary novels.  (One of them, Dear Committee Members, is even still keeping letters alive, though not the kind of letters you necessarily want to read.)  Where’d You Go, Bernadette isn’t a complete epistolary novel – our valiant teenager, Bee, provides us with linking narratives that help explain some of the things.  But that’s necessary in this case, because she helps us sort through some of the e-mails, memos, faxes and vital documents that make up one of the funniest books of the last decade. (more…)

PULVER: Captain, this is Ensign Pulver. I just threw your palm trees overboard. Now what's all this crap about no movie tonight? (He throws the door open, banging it against the bulkhead, and is entering the CAPTAIN's cabin) Curtain.

PULVER: Captain, this is Ensign Pulver. I just threw your palm trees overboard. Now what’s all this crap about no movie tonight? (He throws the door open, banging it against the bulkhead, and is entering the CAPTAIN’s cabin) Curtain.

My Top 10:

  1. Mister Roberts
  2. East of Eden
  3. To Catch a Thief
  4. Picnic
  5. Bad Day at Black Rock
  6. The Man with the Golden Arm
  7. The Heart of the Matter
  8. Lady and the Tramp
  9. Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto
  10. Ugetsu

Note:  This year has one of the longest lists of this era, with several more mentioned down towards the bottom of the post. (more…)

JLA_200Justice League of America #200

  • Writer:  Gerry Conway
  • Artists:  listed below
  • Published:  March, 1982
  • Publisher:  DC Comics
  • Pages:  72
  • First Line:  “They came from space, seven glowing meteors containing seven alien claimants for another world’s throne.”
  • Last Line:  “Snapping?  Cripes, now he’s got me doing it!”
  • First Read:  Early 1984?

My comic collecting began a bit haphazardly.  There were a number of random comics that my brothers had from when we lived in New York that had somehow ended up in my room.  My brothers both collected comics, and I would read what they had so I didn’t yet feel the need to buy any myself (and all my money in the early 80’s was going towards either Star Wars figures or baseball cards).  The first comic I remember buying was All-Star Squadron #31 at a drugstore on the day after Christmas in 1983.  But my older brother Kelly was collecting both Avengers and Justice League of America, the two major team books of the comics world and I started to gravitate towards them.  I liked the idea of books that combined so many characters.  Unlike Fantastic Four (which my brother John would collect) and X-Men (which all three of us would eventually collect), books in which the teams consisted of characters who didn’t have their own comics (yes, it’s true, there was a time when Wolverine appeared only in X-Men), Avengers and JLA were like getting several comics for the price of one because they each had so many characters who each had their own books.  While Kelly would collect a lot of books moving forward, I immediately began looking back into the past.  I became interested in what came before.  I wanted the whole story.  I had never heard of something called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder back then. (more…)

We all got it comin, kid.

We all got it comin, kid.

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. Unforgiven  **
  2. The Crying Game  *
  3. The Player  *
  4. The Last of the Mohicans
  5. Howards End  *
  6. Reservoir Dogs
  7. Raise the Red Lantern
  8. Aladdin
  9. Flirting
  10. Singles

Analysis:  These are the only **** films.  There’s a four point drop from the #10 to the #11 film.  The #11 film is also an Oscar and Consensus nominee: A Few Good Men. (more…)

The wonderful opening narration of Sabrina has no corresponding scene in the original play.

The wonderful opening narration of Sabrina has no corresponding scene in the original play.

My Top 10:

  1. Sabrina
  2. Forbidden Games
  3. Hobson’s Choice
  4. The Country Girl
  5. A Star is Born
  6. Rear Window
  7. The Caine Mutiny
  8. Gate of Hell
  9. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  10. Beat the Devil

Note:  After the list topped out at seven last year, it’s back to a full 10 this year (with a few left over down at the bottom).
Note:  On the Waterfront would possibly today be considered adapted.  But I already decided to keep it in Original, if for no other reason then I’m not going to be able to track down the newspaper articles that inspired the film, making its inclusion here rather pointless, since I’ve already reviewed it.
Note:  This is the first year where full records exist at oscars.org.  That means from this year on, there might be a list at the very bottom of adaptations I haven’t seen.  These will be things I choose based on the original source, not by the quality of the film.  I have tried to find any film with a major literary work as a source (or by a major author). (more…)

Astute readers will realize I have used this picture before. Being astute, they will also realize it's the perfect image to encompass the only film to sweep the big 5 at the Oscars that deserved all five.

Astute readers will realize I have used this picture before. Being astute, they will also realize it’s the perfect image to encompass the only film to sweep the big 5 at the Oscars and the Nighthawks.

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

I’m listing the top 12 in the categories but only the top 5 earn Nighthawk nominations.  I’m going with 12 because most categories have at least that many, if not more on my list and they stay strong 12 deep.  In future years, it will probably even expand beyond 12.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. The Silence of the Lambs  **
  2. JFK  *
  3. Beauty and the Beast
  4. The Fisher King
  5. Boyz N the Hood
  6. Europa Europa
  7. The Commitments  *
  8. Grand Canyon
  9. Thelma & Louise
  10. Dead Again
  11. Homicide
  12. Barton Fink

Analysis:  All 12 of these films are **** as well as three others: The Killer, Truly Madly Deeply and City of Hope.  The Top 10 for this year are the third best to-date and the Top 20 are the best to-date (the rest of the Top 20 are Life is Sweet, Ju Dou, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Bugsy and La Femme Nikita).  The #6-10 films are the third best to-date and the #11-20 are the best in a single year so far (beaten out by the combined year of 1912-26).  Dead Again is the best #10 film since the combined year of 1912-26.
The Silence of the Lambs is the first Oscar winner I agree with since 1984.  It is also the first film to win four critics awards and go on to win the Oscar.  Even today, it is one of only four films to do that (Schindler’s List, No Country for Old Men, The Hurt Locker).  It is still in the Top 10 today of all critics winners with 1187 points and is one of only four films in history to earn at least 250 points from four different critics groups (GoodFellas, LA Confidential, The Social Network).
Since 2011, when I wrote my most recent review of JFK, I have had my view on what happened on November 22, 1963 changed considerably by reading all 1600+ pages of Vincent Bugliosi’s masterful Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, including going through a lot of the footnotes on the accompanying CD-ROM.  That Bugliosi’s book changed my mind about what happened on that day has not changed my mind about Stone’s film.  I think now what I thought then: “Stone isn’t really showing us an analysis of anything, no matter how many research notes he gives us.  He is using one particular case to explore history.”
This category earned a 71.8 Oscar Score, the highest in nine years. (more…)

Revisiting Childhood Movies Part XIX:

Silver Streak

  • The film is a lot better than the poster would make you think.

    The film is a lot better than the poster would make you think.

    Director:  Arthur Hiller

  • Writer:  Colin Higgins
  • Producer:  Edward K. Milkis  /  Thomas L. Miller
  • Stars:  Gene Wilder, Jill Clayburgh, Richard Pryor, Patrick McGoohan, Ned Beatty
  • Studio:  20th Century-Fox
  • Award Nominations:  Oscars – Sound; Globes – Actor – Comedy; WGA – Original Comedy
  • Length:  114 min
  • Genre:  Comedy
  • MPAA Rating:  PG
  • Release Date:  8 December 1976
  • Box Office Gross:  $51.07 mil
  • My Rating:  ***.5
  • My Rank:  #18 (year)
  • Nighthawk Globe Nominations:  Picture – Comedy, Original Screenplay – Comedy, Supporting Actor – Comedy
  • Nighthawk Notables:  Best Film to Watch Over and Over, Best Scene (stopping the train)
  • First Watched:  sometime on television
  • Number of Times Watched as a Kid:  more than 5

As a Kid:  There was a goofy television show in the early 80’s called The Fall Guy.  I don’t remember much of it, but I do remember the opening credits.  The song was called “The Unknown Stuntman” and it was actually sung by star Lee Majors (I think that’s how my family ended up watching it – we had been big fans of The Six Million Dollar Man).  It featured several stunts from movies, with the notion that this unknown stuntman that the show was about (played by Majors) had really been the person performing those stunts.  One of them involved a person on top of a train hitting a light switch and being dragged off the train (it’s just 20 seconds in). (more…)