Monday, March 14, 2016

1981--The Year in Review

Another great year. Again, the top 30 films listed here are absolutely essential viewing (and proof that the 1970s are still going on, really). My top choice, Warren Beatty's Reds, has been a favorite of mine since its release, so I cannot abandon its sweeping romanticism and its epic peer at world history (plus its remarkable blending of the documentary and narrative styles of filmmaking; I love, too, how fiercely Beatty fought to get this difficult, extremely political yet massively tender movie made--and by a major capitalistic film outfit!). But Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot (which wouldn't hit US shores until 1983) comes REAL close to besting it with its crushing suspense and atmosphere, and its equally challenging worldview (which makes us actually root for the Nazis!). Then, Lumet’s Prince of the City, with its 200 speaking parts and its own oppressive tension, also hits big (it was a tight race between Treat Williams' lead and John Heard's snarling, eye-patched performance in Cutter's Way, but I had to go for the latter; still, I could not ignore Prince of the City's sweeping screenplay). World cinema was re-awakened with movies like Pixote, Coup de Torchon, Mephisto, Diva, Christiane F, Man of Iron, Beau Père, Montenegro and two from the extremely prolific Rainer Werner Fassbinder Lili Marleen and Lola. It's a landmark year for the burgeoning genres of fantasy, sci-fi and horror, with Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Road Warrior, An American Werewolf in London, Excalibur, Time Bandits, The Evil Dead, Escape from New York, Dragonslayer, Quest for Fire, Possession, Scanners, The Howling, Shock Treatment, Caveman, Strange Behavior, Outland, Looker, For Your Eyes Only, Clash of the Titans, Dead and Buried, Heavy Metal, and The Beyond (geez, this seems like Year Zero for the present obsession with these genres). Comedy, too, reaches deep importance with Modern Romance, Gregory’s Girl, Arthur, They All Laughed, S.O.B., Continental Divide, The Four Seasons, Polyester, Stripes, Neighbors, and, yes, even Mommie Dearest. But then there are so many dramatic films I love: Blow Out (my favorite De Palma), Pixote, Gallipoli, Ragtime, Smash Palace, Southern Comfort, Thief, Body Heat, Sharky's Machine, Raggedy Man, Chariots of Fire (the surprise winner of the Best Picture award, via the Academy), Whose Life Is It, Anyway?, Ticket to Heaven, and Ms. 45. I have to laud the best musical of the year, a highly unique vision from director and former choreographer Herbert Ross (and writer Dennis Potter) called Pennies From Heaven--one of the most daring movies of the decade. And, finally, and unbelievably (since it's an art that has been so important from the beginning of cinema, as I have detailed in past years), it's the first year the Academy gave an Oscar to makeup artists, and of course Rick Baker had to win the award for the primo of his many masterpiece efforts. Ahh, it's insane how much I adore the pictures from 1981. It seems like a really unique period for movie history--one that's still ringing strongly to the present. NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and are only occasionally reflective of the selections made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka The Oscars). When available, the nominee that actually won the Oscar will be highlighted in bold.

PICTURE: REDS (US, Warren Beatty) (2nd: Das Boot (West Germany, Wolfgang Petersen), followed by: Prince of the City (US, Sidney Lumet); Raiders of the Lost Ark (US, Steven Spielberg); Pennies from Heaven (US, Herbert Ross); Cutter’s Way (US, Ivan Passer); Modern Romance (US, Albert Brooks); Gregory’s Girl (UK, Bill Forsyth); Pixote (Brazil, Hector Babenco); Gallipoli (Australia, Peter Weir); My Dinner With André (US, Louis Malle); Vernon, Florida (US, Erroll Morris); The Road Warrior (Australia, George Miller); Blow Out (US, Brian de Palma); An American Werewolf in London (US/UK, John Landis); Excalibur (UK, John Boorman); Smash Palace (New Zealand, Roger Donaldson); Arthur (US, Steve Gordon); Southern Comfort (US, Walter Hill); Coup de Torchon (France, Bertrand Tavernier); Ragtime (US, Milos Forman); Mephisto (Hungary, Istvan Szabo); Time Bandits (UK, Terry Gilliam); The Evil Dead (US, Sam Raimi); Thief (US, Michael Mann); Body Heat (US, Lawrence Kasdan); Escape from New York (US, John Carpenter); The Decline of Western Civilization (US, Penelope Spheeris); Sharky's Machine (US, Burt Reynolds); They All Laughed (US, Peter Bogdanovich); Raggedy Man (US, Jack Fisk); Chariots of Fire (UK, Hugh Hudson); S.O.B. (US, Blake Edwards); Continental Divide (US, Michael Apted); Christiane F (West Germany, Uli Edel); Diva (France, Jean-Jacques Beineix); On Golden Pond (US, Mark Rydell); Dragonslayer (US, Matthew Robbins); Man of Iron (Poland, Andrzej Wajda); Whose Life Is It, Anyway? (US/Canada, John Badham); The Four Seasons (US, Alan Alda); Ticket to Heaven (Canada, Ralph L. Thomas); American Pop (US, Ralph Bakshi); Ms. 45 (US, Abel Ferrara); The Chosen (US, Jeremy Kagan); Brooklyn Bridge (US, Ken Burns); Quest for Fire (France/Canada/US, Jean-Jacques Annaud); The Day After Trinity (US, Jon Else); All Night Long (US, Jean-Claude Tramont); Soldier Girls (US, Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill); Nighthawks (US, Bruce Malmuth); Eye of the Needle (UK, Richard Marquand); The Postman Always Rings Twice (US, Bob Rafelson); Polyester (US, John Waters); Lili Marleen (West Germany, Rainer Werner Fassbinder); Possession (France/.West Germany, Andzedj Zulawski); Scanners (Canada, David Cronenberg); Stripes (US/Canada, Ivan Reitman); Neighbors (US, John G. Avildsen); Beau Père (France, Bertrand Blier); The Howling (US, Joe Dante); The French Lieutenant’s Woman (UK, Karel Reisz); True Confessions (US, Ulu Grosbard); Absence of Malice (US, Sydney Pollack); Montenegro (Sweden/UK, Dusan Makavejev); Shock Treatment (UK, Jim Sharman); First Monday in October (US, Ronald Neame); Taps (US, Harold Becker); Lola (West Germany, Rainer Werner Fassbinder); The Loveless (US, Kathryn Bigelow); Caveman (US, Carl Gottlieb); Circle of Two (Canada, Jules Dassin); Mommie Dearest (US, Frank Perry); The Fox and the Hound (US, Ted Berman and Richard Rich); Strange Behavior (US, Michael Laughlin); Road Games (Australia, Richard Franklin); Outland (US, Peter Hyams); Looker (US, Michael Crichton); For Your Eyes Only (UK, John Glen); Clash of the Titans (US/UK, Desmond Davis); Dead and Buried (US, Gary Sherman); Heavy Metal (Canada, Gerald Potterton); History of the World, Part I (US, Mel Brooks); Wolfen (US, Michael Wasleigh); Porky's (Canada, Bob Clark); Roar (US, Noel Marshall); The Beyond (Italy, Lucio Fulci); Evilspeak (US, Eric Weston))

ACTOR: John Heard, CUTTER'S WAY (2nd: Treat Williams, Prince of the City, followed by: Dudley Moore, Arthur; Albert Brooks, Modern Romance; Warren Beatty, Reds; Henry Fonda, On Golden Pond; Bruno Lawrence, Smash Palace; Nick Mancuso, Ticket to Heaven)

ACTRESS: Diane Keaton, REDS (2nd: Sissy Spacek, Raggedy Man, followed by: Kathleen Turner, Body Heat; Katherine Hepburn, On Golden Pond; Isabelle Huppert, Coup De Torchon; Meryl Streep, The French Lieutenant’s Woman; Kate Nelligan, Eye of the Needle)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: John Gielgud, ARTHUR (2nd: Christopher Walken, Pennies from Heaven, followed by: Jack Nicholson, Reds; Griffin Dunne, An American Werewolf in London; Howard E. Rollins Jr., Ragtime; Nicol Williamson, Excalibur; Robert Preston, S.O.B.; Eric Roberts, Raggedy Man) 

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Maureen Stapleton, REDS (2nd: Lisa Eichorn, Cutter’s Way, followed by: Jessica Harper, Pennies from Heaven; Elizabeth McGovern, Ragtime; Melinda Dillon, Absence of Malice; Kathryn Harrold, Modern Romance; Jane Fonda, On Golden Pond; Cathy Moriarty, Neighbors) 

DIRECTOR: Warren Beatty, REDS (2nd: Sidney Lumet, Prince of the City, followed by: Wolfgang Petersen, Das Boot; Steven Spielberg, Raiders of the Lost Ark; Brian De Palma, Blow Out; Hector Babenco, Pixote; Albert Brooks, Modern Romance; Bill Forsyth, Gregory's Girl)

NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: DAS BOOT (West Germany, Wolfgang Petersen) (2nd: Pixote (Brazil, Hector Babenco), followed by: Coup de Torchon (France, Bertrand Tavernier); Mephisto (Hungary, Istvan Szabo); Christiane F (West Germany, Uli Edel); Diva (France, Jean-Jacques Beineix); Man of Iron (Poland, Andrzej Wajda); Lili Marleen (West Germany, Rainer Werner Fassbinder); Beau Père (France, Bertrand Blier); Montenegro (Sweden/UK, Dusan Makavejev); Lola (West Germany, Rainer Werner Fassbinder))

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: VERNON, FLORIDA (US, Errol Morris) (2nd: The Decline of the Western Civilization (US, Penelope Spheeris), followed by: Brooklyn Bridge (US, Ken Burns); The Day After Trinity (US, Jon Else); Soldier Girls (UK/US, Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill))

ANIMATED FEATURE: AMERICAN POP (US, Ralph Bakshi) (2nd: The Fox and the Hound (US, Ted Berman and Richard Rich), followed by: Heavy Metal (Canada, Gerald Potterton))

LIVE ACTION SHORT: TANGO (Poland, Zbigniew Rybczynski) (2nd: L'Avant Dernier (France, Luc Besson), followed by: The Bunker of the Last Gunshots (France, Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet); Pikoo's Diary (India, Satyajit Ray))

ANIMATED SHORT: CRAC (Canada, Frederic Back) (2nd: The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin (Canada, Janet Perlman). followed by: Projekt (Czechoslovakia, Jiri Barta); The Garden of Earthly Delights (US, Stan Brakhage); E (USSR, Bretislav Pojar))

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Albert Brooks and Monica Johnson, MODERN ROMANCE (2nd: Steve Gordon, Arthur, followed by Lawrence Kasdan, Body Heat; Warren Beatty and Trevor Griffiths, Reds; Bill Forsyth, Gregory’s Girl; Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, My Dinner with Andre)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Jay Presson Allen and Sidney Lumet, PRINCE OF THE CITY (2nd: Jeffery Alan Fiskin, Cutter’s Way, followed by: Wolfgang Petersen, Das Boot; Dennis Potter, Pennies From Heaven; Michael Mann, Thief; Michael Weller, Ragtime)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Vittorio Storaro, REDS (2nd: Alex Thomson, Excalibur, followed by: Jost Vacano, Das Boot; Vilmos Zsigmond, Blow Out; Gordon Willis, Pennies From Heaven; Douglas Slocombe, Raiders of the Lost Ark)

ART DIRECTION: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, Das Boot, Pennies from Heaven, Reds, Excalibur, Ragtime

COSTUME DESIGN: EXCALIBUR, Pennies from Heaven, Reds, Ragtime, Chariots of Fire, The Road Warrior

EDITING: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, Das Boot, Reds, Blow Out, The Road Warrior, An American Werewolf in London 

SOUND: DAS BOOT, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Reds, The Road Warrior, Dragonslayer, Blow Out

ORIGINAL SCORE: John Williams, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (2nd: Vangelis, Chariots of Fire, followed by: Ry Cooder, Southern Comfort; Randy Newman, Ragtime; Dave Grusin, On Golden Pond; Colin Tully, Gregory's Girl)

ADAPTATION SCORE/SCORING OF A MUSICAL: Ralph Burns and Billy May, PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (2nd: Trevor Jones, Excalibur, followed by: Richard O'Brien, Shock Treatment)

ORIGINAL SONG: “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” from ARTHUR (Music and lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, Burt Bacharach, Christopher Cross and Peter Allen) (2nd: “In My Own Way” from Shock Treatment (Music and lyrics by Richard O‘Brien) followed by: “One More Hour” from Ragtime (Music and lyrics by Randy Newman); “For Your Eyes Only” from For Your Eyes Only (Music by Bill Conti, lyrics by Mick Leeson); “Dream Away” from Time Bandits (Music and lyrics by George Harrison); “Never Say Goodbye” from Continental Divide (Music by Michael Small, lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager); "Endless Love" from Endless Love (Music and lyrics by Lionel Richie); "Looker" from Looker (Music and lyrics by Barry DeVorzon and Mike Tower))

SPECIAL EFFECTS: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, Dragonslayer, Clash of the Titans

MAKEUP: AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, Quest for Fire (won in 1982), Heartbeeps, The Evil Dead, Mommie Dearest

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