Sunday, May 15, 2016

1989--The Year in Review

Spike Lee had good reason to be peeved in 1989. His monumentally moving and extremely controversial Do The Right Thing commanded discussion amongst film lovers, and the media, all throughout the year, but ended up garnering only two Oscar nominations: one for his incisive original script and another for Danny Aiello's searing performance as a prideful pizzeria owner who watches his neighborhood and family business suffer through a particularly hot and contested Brooklyn day. Critics, too, seemed behind the times, with only the Los Angeles group deeming it Best Picture. But it's now clear there was no movie of the period which had more to say about where we were then and, indeed, where we are now. I bet there's no 1989 movie, outside of Tim Burton's game-changing megahit Batman or maybe the crowd-pleasing Field of Dreams, that's seriously viewed more often these days. Lee commanded a large and dedicated crew working on location in the borough's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, where Lee had partially spent his childhood. As a result, the film--more than any other in this notable year--had a passionate grasp on its place and time, and still stands as a remarkably frank document of the racial divides that still tear at the United States' populace. For my part, the only films that came close to its strength were Gus Van Sant's haunting portrait of heroin addiction Drugstore Cowboy (starring a dynamic Matt Dillon) and Woody Allen's supreme look at misdeeds both major and slight, suitably titled Crimes and Misdemeanors. But Lee had to suffer through a year where a more forgivingly old-fashioned view of the racial divide, called Driving Miss Daisy, sparked the attention of the Academy, winning Best Picture (without even a nomination for its Australian director Bruce Beresford) and Best Actress for its aging star Jessica Tandy (who was superb in the film). Even Do The Right Thing's opening song, the bracing "Fight the Power" by NYC rap group Public Enemy, was ignored by the Academy, who clearly weren't able to process the song's (or the film's) stinging insights. Here, I do what I can to fight that power. I should say here that I left two great TV miniseries out of the running here: the UK's narcotics-chain epic Traffik and the US's western opus Lonesome Dove. If I were more inclusive, they'd be in the conversation here, but I really see them more as TV products rather than as cinema. 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: DO THE RIGHT THING (US, Spike Lee) (2nd: Drugstore Cowboy (US, Gus Van Sant), followed by: Crimes and Misdemeanors (US, Woody Allen); Mystery Train (US, Jim Jarmusch); Henry V (UK, Kenneth Branagh); Sex, Lies and Videotape (US, Steven Soderbergh); Jesus of Montreal (Canada, Denys Arcand); The Seventh Continent (Austria, Michael Haneke); Field of Dreams (US, Phil Alden Robinson); The Abyss (US, James Cameron); For All Mankind (US, Al Reinert); My Left Foot (UK/Ireland, Jim Sheridan); Born on the Fourth of July (US, Oliver Stone); The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (UK, Peter Greenaway); Black Rain (Japan, Shohei Imamura); Sidewalk Stories (US, Charles Lane); Life and Nothing But (France, Bertrand Tavernier); Glory (US, Edward Zwick); Let It Ride (US, Joe Pytka); How to Get in Advertising (US, Bruce Robinson); Parenthood (US. Ron Howard); Sweetie (Australia, Jane Campion); Enemies, a Love Story (US, Paul Mazursky); The Nasty Girl (West Germany, Michael Verhoeven); Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (US, Steven Spielberg); Say Anything (US, Cameron Crowe); True Love (US, Nancy Savoca); Parents (US, Bob Balaban); The Match Factory Girl (Finland, Aki Kaurismäki); The Fabulous Baker Boys (US, Steve Kloves); Roger and Me (US, Michael Moore); Driving Miss Daisy (US, Bruce Beresford); The Little Mermaid (US, John Musker and Ron Clements); The Killer (Hong Kong, John Woo); The Tall Guy (UK, Mel Smith); Batman (US, Tim Burton); Apartment Zero (UK/Argentina, Martin Donovan); Heathers (US, Michael Lehmann); Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Japan, Shinya Tsukamoto); My Twentieth Century (Hungary, Ildekó Enyedi); Last Exit to Brooklyn (West Germany/US, Uli Edel); Eat a Bowl of Tea (US, Wayne Wang); Lethal Weapon 2 (US, Richard Donner); Dead Calm (Australia, Philip Noyce); Chameleon Street (US, Wendell B. Harris Jr.); Violent Cop (Japan, Takeshi Kitano); Kiki’s Delivery Service (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki); Longtime Companion (US, Norman Rene); The Big Picture (US, Christopher Guest); Santa Sangre (Mexico, Alejandro Jodorowsky); New York Stories (US, Martin Scorsese, Francis Coppola and Woody Allen); Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (US, Rob Epstein and Jeffery Friedman); Blaze (US, Ron Shelton); When Harry Met Sally… (US, Rob Reiner); Breaking In (US, Bill Forsyth); Jacknife (US, David Hugh Jones); Casualties of War (US, Brian de Palma); Licence to Kill (UK, John Glen); Great Balls of Fire (US, Jim McBride); Sea of Love (US, Harold Becker); Johnny Handsome (US, Walter Hill); The Unbelievable Truth (US, Hal Hartley); Scandal (UK, Michael Caton-Jones); Valmont (US, Milos Forman); The 'Burbs (US, Joe Dante); Meet the Feebles (New Zealand, Peter Jackson); Dead Poets Society (US, Peter Weir); UHF (US, Jay Levey); Shag (US, Zelda Barron); Lean on Me (US, John G. Avildsen); Back to the Future Part II (US, Robert Zemeckis); Weekend at Bernie's (US, Ted Kotcheff); Road House (US, Rowdy Herrington))



ACTOR: Matt Dillon, DRUGSTORE COWBOY (2nd: Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot, followed by: Kenneth Branagh, Henry V; Morgan Freeman, Driving Miss Daisy; Tom Cruise, Born on the Forth of July; James Spader, Sex, Lies and Videotape; Charles Lane, Sidewalk Stories; Richard Dreyfuss, Let It Ride)


ACTRESS: Jessica Tandy, DRIVING MISS DAISY (2nd: Michelle Pfieffer, The Fabulous Baker Boys, followed by: Andie McDowell, Sex, Lies and Videotape; Annabella Sciorra, True Love; Meg Ryan, When Harry Met Sally; Lena Stolze, The Nasty Girl; Helen Mirren, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover; Winona Ryder, Heathers)



SUPPORTING ACTOR: Danny Aiello, DO THE RIGHT THING (2nd: Martin Landau, Crimes and Misdemeanors, followed by: Ossie Davis, Do The Right Thing; Denzel Washington, Glory; John Mahoney, Say Anything; Hugh O’Conor, My Left Foot; James Earl Jones, Field of Dreams; Alan Alda, Crimes and Misdemeanors)



SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jennifer Jason Leigh, LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN (2nd: Kelly Lynch, Drugstore Cowboy, followed by: Anjelica Huston, Enemies, a Love Story; Lena Olin, Enemies, a Love Story; Rosie Perez, Do The Right Thing; Brenda Fricker, My Left Foot; Ruby Dee, Do The Right Thing; Laura San Giacomo, Sex, Lies and Videotape)



DIRECTOR: Spike Lee, DO THE RIGHT THING (2nd: Woody Allen, Crimes and Misdemeanors, followed by: Gus Van Sant, Drugstore Cowboy; Jim Jarmusch, Mystery Train; Kenneth Branagh, Henry V; Steven Soderburgh, Sex, Lies and Videotape; Peter Greenaway, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover; Denys Arcand, Jesus of Montreal)



NON ENGLISH-LANGUAGE FILM: JESUS OF MONTREAL (Canada, Denys Arcand) (2nd: The Seventh Continent (Austria, Michael Haneke), followed by: Black Rain (Japan, Shohei Imamura); Life and Nothing But (France, Bertrand Tavernier); The Nasty Girl (West Germany, Michael Verhoeven); The Match Factory Girl (Finland, Aki Kaurismäki); The Killer (Hong Kong, John Woo); Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Japan, Shinya Tsukamoto); My Twentieth Century (Hungary, Ildekó Enyedi); Violent Cop (Japan, Takeshi Kitano); Kiki’s Delivery Service (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki); Santa Sangre (Mexico, Alejandro Jodorowsky))



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: FOR ALL MANKIND (US, Al Reinert) (2nd: Roger and Me (US, Michael Moore), followed by: Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (US, Rob Epstein and Jeffery Friedman))


ANIMATED FEATURE: THE LITTLE MERMAID (US, Ron Clements and Jon Musker) (2nd: Kiki’s Delivery Service (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki))



ANIMATED SHORT: CREATURE COMFORTS (UK, Nick Park) (won in 1991) (2nd: A Grand Day Out (UK, Nick Park), followed by: Balance (West Germany, Christoph Lauenstein and Wolfgang Lauenstein); The Club of the Discarded (Czechoslovakia, Jiri Barta); The Hill Farm (UK, Mark Baker))



LIVE ACTION SHORT: ELEPHANT (UK, Alan Clarke) (2nd: This Note's For You (US, Julien Temple), followed by: The Lunch Date (US, Adam Davidson))



ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Spike Lee, DO THE RIGHT THING (2nd: Woody Allen, Crimes and Misdemeanors, followed by: Steven Soderburgh, Sex, Lies and Videotape; Jim Jarmusch, Mystery Train; Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, Parenthood)



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Gus Van Sant and Daniel Yost, DRUGSTORE COWBOY (2nd: Phil Alden Robinson, Field of Dreams, followed by: Shane Connaughton and Jim Sheridan, My Left Foot; Oliver Stone and Ron Kovic, Born on the Forth of July; Nancy Dowd, Let It Ride)


CINEMATOGRAPHY: Ernest Dickerson, DO THE RIGHT THING (2nd: Michael Ballhaus, The Fabulous Baker Boys, followed by: Mikael Solomon, The Abyss; Takashi Kawamata, Black Rain; Freddie Francis, Glory)

ART DIRECTION: BATMAN, The Abyss, Do The Right Thing, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Glory

COSTUME DESIGN: HENRY V, Valmont, Driving Miss Daisy, Batman, Great Balls of Fire



EDITING: DO THE RIGHT THING, The Abyss, Born on the Fourth of July, Drugstore Cowboy, Crimes and Misdemeanors



SOUND: THE ABYSS, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Glory, Born on the Forth of July, Field of Dreams

SOUND EFFECTS: THE ABYSS, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Glory



ORIGINAL SCORE: James Horner, FIELD OF DREAMS (2nd: Bill Lee, Do the Right Thing, followed by: Danny Elfman, Batman; Hans Zimmer, Driving Miss Daisy; James Horner, Glory)



ADAPTATION SCORE/SCORING OF A MUSICAL: Alan Menken, THE LITTLE MERMAID (won as Original Score) (2nd: Dave Grusin, The Fabulous Baker Boys)



ORIGINAL SONG: “Fight The Power” from DO THE RIGHT THING (Music and lyrics by Carlton Ridenhour, Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee and Eric Sadler) (2nd: “Cheer Down” from Lethal Weapon 2 (Music by George Harrison, lyrics by George Harrison and Tom Petty), followed by: “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid (Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman); “I Love to See You Smile” from Parenthood (Music and lyrics by Randy Newman); "Kiss the Girl" from The Little Mermaid (Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman))



VISUAL EFFECTS: THE ABYSS, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Tetsuo: The Iron Man



MAKEUP: BATMAN, Driving Miss Daisy, Johnny Handsome

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