The Night Circus

  • Author:  Erin Morgenstern
  • Published:  2011
  • Publisher:  Doubleday
  • Pages:  387
  • First Line:  “The circus arrives without warning.”
  • Last Lines:  “You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.”
  • Film Version:  none yet
  • First Read:  Spring 2011

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The Song of Achilles

  • Author:  Madeline Miller
  • Published:  2012
  • Publisher:  HarperCollins
  • Pages:  378
  • First Line:  “My father was a king and the son of kings.”
  • Last Lines:  “In the darkness, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk.  Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood like a hundred golden urns pouring out of the sun.”
  • Acclaim:  Orange Prize for Fiction
  • Film Version:  none
  • First Read:  Spring 2018 / Spring 2020

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Astonishing X-Men

(4 volumes or two larger volumes or one omnibus)

  • Author:  Joss Whedon
  • Artist:  John Cassaday
  • Published:  2004-2007
  • Publisher:  Marvel Comics
  • Pages:  656
  • First Line:  “Mommy is screaming.”
  • Last Lines:  “You take what you can get.  Cause it’s here, and then gone.”
  • Film Version:  none, although elements from the first volume were used in X-Men: The Last Stand
  • First Read:  Winter 2006 and then ongoing until it ended

Back in 2007, I wrote a piece entitled “Whedon, You Stupid Bastard” with the intention of sending it to one of a couple of websites that I occasionally contributed pieces to, but in the end, I didn’t.  But I still have the piece sitting on my computer and parts of the piece below are straight from that piece (the parts in red), written back when things in my life were a lot different. (more…)

“There was a hush, and all turned their eyes on Frodo. He was shaken by a sudden shame and fear; and he felt a great reluctance to reveal the Ring, and a loathing of its touch. He wished he was far away. The Ring gleamed and flickered as he held it up before them in his trembling hand.” (p 240-241)

My Top 10

  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  2. In the Bedroom
  3. Ghost World
  4. Vanilla Sky
  5. Last Orders
  6. Shrek
  7. Ocean’s Eleven
  8. A.I.
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  10. The Pledge

note:  Not a great Top 5 or Top 10.  It’s another of those years which is balanced by a fantastic group of original scripts (Amelie, Memento, Gosford Park, Monster’s Ball, Amores Perros, Royal Tenenbaums, Others, Man Who Wasn’t There).  My #11 (Black Hawk Down), 13 (Iris) and 14 (Bridget Jones) are reviewed down below because of nominations while the rest of my list (which reached 19) is down at the bottom. (more…)

“I would rather be a ghost, drifting by your side as a condemned soul, than enter heaven without you.” Because the book has never been translated, I have no idea if that brilliant line exists there in any way.

My Top 10

  1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  2. Traffic
  3. Wonder Boys
  4. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  5. High Fidelity
  6. Thirteen Days
  7. The Virgin Suicides
  8. Quills
  9. The Claim
  10. Aimee and Jaguar

note:  A truly fantastic Top 7 though it drops a bit after that.  My list continues down below though my #18 (Chocolat) and #19 (All the Pretty Horses) aren’t on that list because they’re reviewed as nominees. (more…)

“So I said, I love him and I’ll do anything if you make him alive. I said very slowly, I’ll give him up for ever, only let him be alive with a chance, and I pressed and pressed and I could feel the skin break, and I said, People can love without seeing each other, can’t they they, they love You all their lives without seeing You, and then he came in at the door, and he was alive, and I thought now the agony of being without him starts, and I wished he was safely back dead again under the door.” (p 95)

My Top 10

  1. The End of the Affair
  2. Eyes Wide Shut
  3. Toy Story 2
  4. The Talented Mr. Ripley
  5. The Insider
  6. Election
  7. Metroland
  8. Felicia’s Journey
  9. My Son the Fanatic
  10. The Cider House Rules

note:  A solid Top 5 but not so much for the Top 10.  But of course that’s balanced, as if often is, by a truly incredible original group of original scripts (American Beauty, Magnolia, Being John Malkovich, Three Kings, Topsy Turvy, Sixth Sense, Sweet and Lowdown, Following, Run Lola Run, Princess Mononoke, Abre Los Ojos).  This list is a bit different from the Nighthawk Awards because I saw Metroland since then and Fight Club dropped a bit when I re-watched it for the project – I still reviewed it because I had already gone through the effort of writing it, so it’s down at the bottom.  The rest of my list is shorter than usual and Fight Club (#11) is reviewed below as are my #16 (An Ideal Husband) and #17 (October Sky) because of award nominations. (more…)

“He didn’t move.  Not until the elevator door began to close.  Then raised his hand.  He did – Karen positive now it was Foley – raised his hand to her as the door closed.”  (p 148)

My Top 10

  1. Out of Sight
  2. Gods and Monsters
  3. Primary Colors
  4. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  5. Ringu
  6. Live Flesh
  7. A Simple Plan
  8. The Butcher Boy
  9. Character
  10. Apt Pupil

note:  A very strong Top 4 but then it starts to fall off badly.  The full list is long, though, and is listed down at the bottom except for my #16 (Little Voice) which is reviewed because of its BAFTA nomination. (more…)

A primer on great screenwriting: using characters as they existed in the book but doing what you have to do to compress the story and get it to come out right on scene. In other words, there is no scene like this in the book.

My Top 10

  1. L.A. Confidential
  2. The Sweet Hereafter
  3. The Ice Storm
  4. Jackie Brown
  5. Oscar and Lucinda
  6. The Wings of the Dove
  7. Wag the Dog
  8. Donnie Brasco
  9. Absolute Power
  10. The Winter Guest

note:  A great Top 5 and very good Top 10.  My list continues down at the bottom.

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His Dark Materials

  1. The Golden Compass (Northern Lights)
  2. The Subtle Knife
  3. The Amber Spyglass
  • Author:  Philip Pullman
  • Published:  1995  /  1997  /  2000
  • Publisher:  Scholastic
  • Pages:  300  /  400  /  518
  • First Line:  “Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen.”
  • Last Lines:  “’The Republic of Heaven,’ said Lyra.”
  • Acclaim:  Carnegie Medal (Northern Lights), Whitbread Book of the Year (Amber Spyglass); Big Read #3
  • Film Version:  2007 (The Golden Compass – ***.5); 2019 (tv series)
  • First Read:  mid 2007

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“Then Renton was hit by a wave of shock which threatened to knock him incoherent.  A girl came into the room.  As he watched her, a coldness came over him.  She was the double of Dianne, but this girl looked barely secondary school age.  It took him a few seconds to realize that it was Dianne.”  (p 145)

My Top 10

  1. Trainspotting
  2. The English Patient
  3. The Crucible
  4. Cold Comfort Farm
  5. Emma
  6. Hamlet
  7. The Birdcage
  8. Romeo + Juliet
  9. Mother Night
  10. Star Trek: First Contact

note:  A fantastic Top 5 and a strong Top 10 with a few more listed down at the bottom.  A rare year in that it’s also fantastic for Original Screenplay.  This year has the highest average score for the two Screenplay awards in history. (more…)