swI have always been a proponent of the idea that I can separate what I think is brilliant from what I personally enjoy.  Let’s just look at 2015.  I think that Carol and The Revenant were the two best films of the year.  But if I’m going to sit and watch a movie from 2015, odds are it will be The Force Awakens (this is borne out by the fact that I’ve seen Carol twice, The Revenant all the way through once and The Force Awakens, at a modest count, 21 times complete plus the final 20 minutes about 15 more).

To that extent, I have finally culled together a list of my 100 Favorite Films, the ones I am most likely to sit still and watch, or at least not change the station if I come across them.  They’re not heavy Drama.  In fact, when I went through the genres, only one film on the entire list is one that I classify primarily as Drama (Casablanca).

It’s really hard to do this kind of list when you’ve seen as many films as I have (14,000+).  I put it together by going through year by year and adding films, and once I hit 100, knocking off the films at the bottom.  When I first read Veronica a list of 50 films, I then pointed out that those were the 50 I was about to delete because they didn’t make the list and she was stunned.  “But you love those films!” she pointed out.  “But I love the Top 100 even more,” I replied.  It was very, very tough.  Though they are easily two of the greatest directors of all-time if not the two greatest directors of all-time, not a single Kurosawa or Kubrick film ended up on the list.  There is no Bergman.  There is no David Lean.  The Ealing Comedies and the Hammer Horror, both of which I love so much I wrote about them only have one film each.  I did For Love of Film posts for James Bond (1 film) and Star Trek (2 films).  It’s really, really hard to narrow it all down. (more…)

One of cinema's great love stories. Along with a whole lot of other things. One of cinema's great films.

One of cinema’s great love stories. Along with a whole lot of other things. One of cinema’s great films.

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. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon  *
  2. Traffic  *
  3. Almost Famous  *
  4. O Brother Where Art Thou
  5. Wonder Boys
  6. Thirteen Days
  7. High Fidelity
  8. The Virgin Suicides
  9. Billy Elliot
  10. Best in Show

Analysis:  Gladiator wins the Consensus easily in spite of not winning any critics awards.  It became just the fifth film to win the Oscar, Globe and BAFTA without having won any critics awards (one of which was Lawrence of Arabia, which was released in a year where there was no NYFC awards due to a strike).  But, with addition of the PGA in 1989 and the BFCA in 1995, Gladiator becomes the first film to win all five awards groups without having won a single critics group, something that has only happened once since (Argo).  It’s my #65 film of the year.  Almost Famous comes in second at the Consensus without an Oscar nom which is a rarity, but nothing compared to what will happen the next year.  Erin Brockovich, my #50, is the fifth Consensus nominee.  It’s also the first film to ever go 0 for 5 with the Best Picture awards (nominations from all five awards groups and losing all five), something which 14 films have done since and which has become quite common since the Best Picture lineup at the Oscars was expanded.
There are only 11 **** films on the year (the other is Chicken Run), making this a much weaker year than many recent years.  The Top 20 is the lowest in five years and there won’t be a lower one again until 2008.  Nonetheless, this year has some of my absolute favorite films of all-time, including Crouching Tiger, Almost Famous, O Brother, Wonder Boys and High Fidelity.
The Oscar Score is 43.6, the lowest since 1968, which is a little deceptive.  It’s because films below ***.5 don’t earn any points, so to have three *** nominees, even if they are mid ***, really hurts with the Oscar Score. (more…)

The Top 100 Novels.

The Top 100 Novels.

Here it is.  My Top 100 Novels – the complete list.

The intro was here.  The second 100 can be found here.  Various statistics and trivia about the list can be found here.

Here is the list: (more…)

the great punch thrown to Hitler's face on the cover of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000) by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

  • Author:  Michael Chabon
  • Rank:  #34
  • Published:  2000
  • Publisher:  Random House
  • Pages:  639
  • First Line:  “In later years, holding forth to an interviewer or to an audience of aging fans at a comic book convention, Sam Clay liked to declare, apropos of his and Joe Kavalier’s greatest creation, that back when he was a boy, sealed and hog-tied inside the airtight vessel known as Brooklyn, New York, he had been haunted by dreams of Harry Houdini.”
  • Last Line:  “When Rosa and Joe picked it up they saw that Sammy had taken a pen and, bearing down, crossed out the name of the never-more-than-theoretical family that was printed above the address, and in its place written, sealed in a neat black rectangle, knotted by the stout cord of an ampersand, the words KAVALIER & CLAY.”
  • Acclaim:  Pulitzer Prize; National Book Critics Circle Finalist; PEN/Faulkner Finalist
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Film:  in production hell
  • First Read:  Fall, 2000 (more…)

me, several co-workers, a very tired Thomas and Michael Chabon at the signing for The Yiddish Policeman's Union

“No doubt all of this is not true remembrance but the ruinous work of nostalgia, which obliterates the past, and no doubt, as usual, I have exaggerated everything.”  (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, p. 297)

He isn’t just the writer of two of my favorite books.  He is the author of a Pulitzer Prize winning novel that I rank as the second best novel so far this century.  He is an accomplished author of literary fiction who has nonetheless veered off into genre after being established.  He is the only Pulitzer winner for Fiction to win either the Hugo or the Nebula for Best Novel and he won both for the same book.  He has allowed comic books and pulp fiction to influence and inform his work and remembered that many of the best short stories of last century were genre stories.  He has branched out and proven he can also write essays, comic books and even films.  He is Michael Chabon. (more…)

the first edition of Michael Chabon's marvelous Wonder Boys

Wonder Boys

  • Author:  Michael Chabon  (b. 1963)
  • Rank:  #49
  • Published:  1995
  • Publisher:  Villard Books
  • Pages:  368
  • First Line:  “The first real writer I ever knew was a man who did all of his work under the name of August Van Zorn.”
  • Last Line:  “The young men listen dutifully, for the most part, and from time to time some of them even take the trouble to go over to the college library, and dig up one or another of his novels, and crouch there, among the stacks, flipping impatiently through the pages, looking for the parts that sound true.”
  • ML Edition:  none
  • Film Version:  2000  (**** – dir. Curtis Hanson)
  • First Read:  January, 2000 (more…)
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichten (1942-2008)

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (1942-2008)

Don’t you ever just read for enjoyment? You can’t read Faulkner all the time! It’s too difficult, too depressing. You must unwind and relax a bit sometimes.

That’s the argument, anyway, and I hear it a lot. Of course I do. Like I said, there are plenty of books I love that wouldn’t necessarily make my top novels list. So to that end, I hereby present my 25 favorite novels to read, the ones I read over and over again. And there’s no Faulkner.

There is Michael Crichton, though. For a long time he was a very enjoyable author to read. I read Jurassic Park in high school, knowing that Spielberg was working on the film, and I not only loved it, it actually changed the way I view the world (seriously).

So, to the author of Jurassic Park, The Great Train Robbery, Sphere and The Andromeda Strain (all highly enjoyable), in honor of his untimely death yesterday, I dedicate my following list.

There are a few books that in the end, surprisingly didn’t make my list, some brilliant but damn enjoyable (Catch-22, 100 Years of Solitude, The Stranger), some more of a pleasure (The Big Sleep, Hound of the Baskervilles, The Golden Compass), some because I love the author but couldn’t pin down a specific book (Kurt Vonnegut, Christopher Moore), and, then, the Harry Potter series, because I just couldn’t figure out which one, yet didn’t want to put the whole series, because the last four books are so much better than the first three.