Thursday, June 30, 2016

1993--The Year in Review

Steven Spielberg waited a long time for his Oscar recognition. He wasn't even nominated for his breakthrough film, Jaws, and had to suffer losses over much-loved hits like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. The Extraterrestrial, The Color Purple (nominated for 11 Oscars but NOT for Best Director), and Empire of the Sun (ignored in almost all categories). But with his adaptation of Thomas Keneally's account of German WWII profiteer Oskar Schindler's hesitantly heroic endeavor to rescue his Jewish workforce from the Nazi ovens, Spielberg was all but guaranteed 1993's highest acclaim. The piece is flawed in its final, overbearing moments, yet it's obviously the year's bravest, most intensely stunning film. The director worked here without storyboards for the first time (and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski's striking black-and-white photography marked the beginning of their ongoing collaboration); these new elements notably enlivened his already accomplished but sometimes too schematic filmmaking. Though this was a remarkable cinematic year that included superlative efforts by directors James Ivory, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Martin Scorsese, Mike Leigh, Ross McElwee, Robert Altman, Richard Linklater, Peter Weir, Steven Soderburgh, and Jane Campion, there was no way that any other than Schindler's List was going to come out on top. However, I do think the Academy was slightly too generous to the film, and so I've spread the love out a bit to include other supreme work, including a second top spot for Anthony Hopkins for his magnificent portrayal of an emotionally clueless butler in James Ivory's The Remains of the Day. But I'm thrilled to give then-newcomer Ralph Fiennes the recognition he deserved for his portrayal of the venal Nazi commandant Amon Goetz, righting one of the few awards that Spielberg's masterpiece did not finally capture. Still, this marks the second year in a row that I agree with the Academy's choices (this year, in 12 out of 24 instances). 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. 

(2nd: Time Indefinite (US, Ross McElwee)
followed by: The Remains of the Day (UK, James Ivory)
Three Colors: Blue (Poland/France, Krzysztof Kieslowski)
The Age of Innocence (US, Martin Scorsese)
Naked (UK, Mike Leigh)
Short Cuts (US, Robert Altman)
Dazed and Confused (US, Richard Linklater)
Groundhog Day (US, Harold Ramis)
Fearless (US, Peter Weir)
Silverlake Life: The View From Here (US, Peter Friedman and Tom Joslin)
King of the Hill (US, Steven Soderburgh)
Menace II Society (US, Allen Hughes and Albert Hughes)
Clean, Shaven (US, Lodge Kerrigan)
Falling Down (US, Joel Schumacher)
The Piano (New Zealand, Jane Campion)
Ruby in Paradise (US, Victor Nunez)
The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (France/Germany/UK/Belgium, Ray Muller)
Latcho Drom (France, Tony Gatlif)
Stalingrad (Germany, Josef Vilsmaier)
Farewell My Concubine (China, Chen Kaige)
Sonatine (Japan, Takeshi Kitano)
True Romance (US, Tony Scott)
The Fugitive (US, Andrew Davis)
A Perfect World (US, Clint Eastwood)
Barbarians at the Gate (US, Glenn Jordan)
Manhattan Murder Mystery (US, Woody Allen)
The War Room (US, D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus)
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (US, Lasse Hallstrom)
The Cement Garden (UK, Andrew Birkin)
Little Buddha (Italy/France/UK, Bernardo Bertolucci)
Caro Diario (Italy, Nanni Moretti)
The Scent of Green Papaya (France/Vietnam, Tran Ahn Hung)
Cronos (Mexico, Guillermo Del Toro)
Three Colors: White (Poland/France, Krzysztof Kieslowski)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (US, Henry Selick)
In The Line of Fire (US, Wolfgang Petersen)
Carlito's Way (US, Brian De Palma)
Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (Canada, Francois Girard)
Matinee (US, Joe Dante)
Much Ado About Nothing (UK/US, Kenneth Branaugh)
And The Band Played On (US, Roger Spottiswoode)
Gettysburg (US, Ronald Maxwell)
The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (UK, Dave Borthwick)
The Wedding Banquet (Taiwan/US, Ang Lee)
The Firm (US, Sydney Pollack)
A Dangerous Woman (US, Stephen Gyllenhaal)
Kalifornia (US, Dominic Sena)
The Positively True Story of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (US, Michael Richie)
This Boy's Life (US, Michael Caton-Jones)
Shadowlands (UK, Richard Attenbourough)
Germinal (France, Claude Berri)
Six Degrees of Separation (US, Fred Schepisi)
The Ballad of Little Jo (US, Maggie Greenwald)
Philadelphia (US, Jonathan Demme)
Dave (US, Gary Ross)
Sankofa (UK/Germany/Burkina Faso/Ghana, Haile Germina)
Searching for Bobby Fisher (US, Steve Zaillian)
What's Love Got to Do With It? (US, Brian Gibson)
The Secret Garden (US, Agnieszka Holland)
Tombstone (US, George Pan Cosmotos)
Red Rock West (US, John Dahl)
A Bronx Tale (US, Robert De Niro)
Rudy (US, David Anspaugh)
Jurassic Park (US, Steven Spielberg)
Fire in the Sky (US, Robert Lieberman)
In The Name of the Father (Ireland/UK/US, Jim Sheridan)
Sleepless in Seattle (US, Nora Ephron)
Faraway, So Close (Germany, Wim Wenders)
Fear of a Black Hat (US, Rusty Cundieff)
Romeo is Bleeding (UK, Peter Medak)
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (US, Gus Van Sant)
Blue (UK, Derek Jarman)) 

ACTOR: Anthony Hopkins, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY (2nd: David Thewlis, Naked, followed by: Jeff Bridges, Fearless; Michael Douglas, Falling Down; Liam Neeson, Schindler’s List; Bill Murray, Groundhog Day; Tom Hanks, Philadelphia; Clint Eastwood, In The Line of Fire; Kevin Costner, A Perfect World)

ACTRESS: Juliette Binoche, THREE COLORS: BLUE (2nd: Holly Hunter, The Piano, followed by: Emma Thompson, The Remains of the Day; Patricia Arquette, True Romance; Ashley Judd, Ruby in Paradise; Debra Winger, Shadowlands; Stockard Channing, Six Degrees of Separation; Angela Bassett, What’s Love Got to Do With It?; Holly Hunter, The Positively True Story of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Ralph Fiennes, SCHINDLER‘S LIST (2nd: Leonardo DiCaprio, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, followed by: Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive; John Malkovich, In The Line of Fire; Sean Penn, Carlito's Way; Matthew McConaughey, Dazed and Confused; Jeff Daniels, Gettysburg; Tim Robbins, Short Cuts; John Goodman, Matinee)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anna Paquin, THE PIANO (2nd: Annie Ross, Short Cuts, followed by: Rosie Perez, Fearless; Winona Ryder, The Age of Innocence; Julianne Moore, Short Cuts; Embeth Davidz, Schindler’s List; Katrin Cartlidge, Naked; Miriam Margoyles, The Age of Innocence; Darlene Cates, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?) 

DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg, SCHINDLER’S LIST (2nd: Krzysztof Kieslowski, Three Colors: Blue, followed by: Ross McElwee, Time Indefinite; Mike Leigh, Naked; James Ivory, The Remains of the Day; Robert Altman, Short Cuts; Martin Scorsese, The Age of Innocence; Richard Linklater, Dazed and Confused; Peter Weir, Fearless; Steven Soderburgh, King of the Hill) 

NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: THREE COLORS: BLUE (Poland/France, Krzysztof Kieslowski) (2nd: Stalingrad (Germany, Josef Vilsmaier); Farewell My Concubine (China, Chen Kaige); Sonatine (Japan, Takeshi Kitano); Caro Diario (Italy, Nanni Moretti); The Scent of Green Papaya (France/Vietnam, Tran Ahn Hung); Cronos (Mexico, Guillermo Del Toro); Three Colors: White (Poland/France, Krzysztof Kieslowski); The Wedding Banquet (Taiwan/US, Ang Lee); Germinal (France, Claude Berri); Sankofa (UK/Germany/Burkina Faso/Ghana, Haile Germina)) 

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: TIME INDEFINITE (US, Ross McElwee) (2nd: Silverlake Life: The View From Here (US, Peter Friedman and Tom Joslin), followed by: The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl (France/Germany/UK/Belgium, Ray Muller); Latcho Drom (France, Tony Gatlif); The War Room (US, Chris Hedgedus and D.A. Pennebaker)) 

ANIMATED FEATURE: THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (US, Henry Selick) (2nd: The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (UK, Dave Borthwick)) 

ANIMATED SHORT: THE WRONG TROUSERS (UK, Nick Park) (2nd: The Mighty River (Canada, Frederic Back), followed by: Anamorphosis, or: De Artificiali Perspectiva (UK, Stephen Quay and Timothy Quay); Blindscape (US, Stephen Palmer); Human Behavior (France, Michel Gondry)

LIVE ACTION SHORT: BLOOD TIES: THE LIFE AND WORK OF SALLY MANN (US, Steven Cantor) (2nd: Le Batteur du Bolero (France, Patrick Leconte), followed by: Black Rider (Germany, Pepe Danquart); Jeremy (US, Chris Cuffaro); Cigarettes & Coffee (US, Paul Thomas Anderson))

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Harold Ramis and Danny Rubin, GROUNDHOG DAY (2nd: Mike Leigh, Naked, followed by: Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz, Three Colors: BlueJane Campion, The PianoQuentin Tarantino, True Romance) 

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY (2nd: Robert Altman and Frank Barhydt, Short Cuts, followed by: Martin Scorsese and Jay Cocks, The Age of Innocence; Steven Zallian, Schindler’s List; Steven Soderburgh, King of the Hill) 

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Janusz Kaminski, SCHINDLER’S LIST (2nd: Michael Ballhaus, The Age of Innocence, followed by: Slawomir Idziak, Three Colors: Blue; Tony Pierce-Roberts, The Remains of the Day; Conrad Hall, Searching for Bobby Fischer) 

ART DIRECTION: THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, Schindler’s List, The Remains of the Day, Little Buddha, King of the Hill 

COSTUME DESIGN: THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, Schindler’s List, The Piano, The Remains of the Day, King of the Hill 

FILM EDITING: SCHINDLER'S LIST, Short Cuts, The Fugitive, Groundhog Day, Falling Down 

SOUND: JURASSIC PARK, Schindler’s List, The Fugitive, Three Colors: Blue, Stalingrad 

SOUND EFFECTS: JURASSIC PARK, The Fugitive, Cliffhanger 

ORIGINAL SCORE: Zbigniew Preisner, THREE COLORS: BLUE (2nd: Elmer Bernstein, The Age of Innocence, followed by: John Williams, Schindler’s List; Richard Robbins, The Remains of the Day; Dave Grusin, The Firm) 


ORIGINAL SONG: “Streets of Philadelphia” from PHILADELPHIA (Music and lyrics by Bruce Springsteen) (2nd: “Philadelphia” from Philadelphia (Music and lyrics by Neil Young), followed by: “Stay” from Faraway, So Close (Music and lyrics by Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen); "Jack‘s Lament“ from The Nightmare Before Christmas (Music and lyrics by Danny Elfman); “Faraway, So Close” from Faraway, So Close (Music and lyrics by Nick Cave); “Oogie Boogie’s Song” from The Nightmare Before Christmas (Music and lyrics by Danny Elfman)) 


MAKEUP: MRS. DOUBTFIRE, The Age of Innocence, Schindler's List

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

1992--The Year in Review

Man, this is a year in which my choices aligned with the Academy almost right down the line--14 out of 24 categories, in fact. Strangely, I recall a dream I had in the summer of '92 in which I was flipping through the pages of Variety and came across an ad for Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven which touted its eight Oscar nominations--the exact number it eventually received. It's the only time I've had a dream like that. I also correctly predicted, upon its March US release, the win for Marisa Tomei and her superb comedic performance in My Cousin Vinny (which was later drubbed by a ridiculous controversy positing that Jack Palance misread her name off the envelope, which not only insulted Tomei's deserving performance, but also the aging Palance's reading ability). 1992 is not a great year for movies, but you have to admire the top fifteen films or so (Reservoir Dogs, The Long Day Closes. and Glengarry Glen Ross chief among them). And I love that Clint Eastwood finally got his due as a director, producer, and actor--that's 1992's major victory. James Ivory's shining adaptation of E.M. Forster's Howards End came close to besting this bunch (and it ends up doing pretty well in the final tally, with Emma Thompson's lead performance and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's screenplay emerging up top). But, honestly, nothing could come close to Eastwood's elegant and brutal western, which screamed out "Instant Classic" upon its release. I'm also thrilled with Mike Leigh's short film A Sense of History, made in collaboration with actor/co-screenwriter Jim Broadbent, which I urge anyone who loves movies to take a look at here. About the only major category in which I disagreed with the Academy in 1992 was Best Actor; out of guilt for not recognizing any of the actor's previous performances, the Academy lauded Al Pacino's excruciating and scenery-masticating performance in Scent of a Woman, while the REAL superlative lead male performance of the year came with Denzel Washington's show as Malcolm X in Spike Lee's slightly flawed biopic (and it was a real close contest here, with Harvey Keitel's memorable freak-out Bad Lieutenant nearly victorious). A final comment: this is absolutely the worst year for Best Song; not being a real rabid fan of Aladdin, I had to search hard for a preferable victor. 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. 

(2nd: Howards End (UK, James Ivory)
followed by: The Long Day Closes (UK, Terence Davies)
Glengarry Glen Ross (US, James Foley)
Reservoir Dogs (US, Quentin Tarantino)
The Crying Game (UK, Neil Jordan)
Hard Boiled (Hong Kong, John Woo)
A Midnight Clear (US, Keith Gordon)
Brothers Keeper (US, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky)
Bad Lieutenant (US, Abel Ferrara)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (US, David Lynch)
My Cousin Vinny (US, Jonathan Lynn)
Passion Fish (US, John Sayles)
Baraka (US, Ron Fricke)
Malcolm X (US, Spike Lee)
The Player (US, Robert Altman)
Life and Nothing More (Iran, Abbas Kiarostami)
Lessons of Darkness (France/Germany, Werner Herzog)
Visions of Light (US, Arnold Glassman, Todd McCarthy and Stuart Samuels)
Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (US, Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick)
Romper Stomper (Australia, Geoffrey Wright)
Map of the Human Heart (US, Vincent Ward)
Deep Cover (US, Bill Duke)
Under Siege (US, Andrew Davis)
Raising Cain (US, Brian De Palma)
Husbands and Wives (US, Woody Allen)
One False Move (US, Carl Franklin)
Lorenzo's Oil (US, George Miller)
Bitter Moon (France/UK/US. Roman Polanski)
Innocent Blood (US, John Landis)
American Heart (US, Martin Bell)
El Mariachi (US/Mexico, Robert Rodriguez)
Army of Darkness (US, Sam Raimi)
Gas, Food, Lodging (US, Allison Anders)
Of Mice and Men (US, Gary Sinise)
Death Becomes Her (US, Robert Zemeckis)
The Last of the Mohicans (US, Michael Mann)
In The Soup (US, Alexandre Rockwell)
A River Runs Through It (US, Robert Redford)
Noises Off! (US, Peter Bogdanovich)
Aladdin (US, John Musker and Ron Clements)
The Story of Qiu Ju (China, Zhang Yimou)
Indochine (France, Regis Wargnier)
Orlando (UK, Sally Potter)
The Waterdance (US, Neal Jimenez and Michael Steinberg)
Aileen Wuernos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (UK, Nick Broomfield)
Bebe's Kids (US, Bruce Smith)
Strictly Ballroom (Australia, Baz Luhrmann)
The Lover (France/UK, Jean-Jacques Annaud)
Damage (UK/France, Louis Malle)
The Tune (US, Bill Plympton)
Olivier, Olivier (France, Agnieszka Holland)
Leap of Faith (US, Richard Pearce)
Savage Nights (France/Italy, Cyril Collard)
Singles (US, Cameron Crowe)
Porco Rosso (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki)
Man Bites Dog (Belgium, Rémy Belvaux and André Bonzel)
Dead Alive (New Zealand, Peter Jackson)
A Few Good Men (US, Rob Reiner)
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (US, Francis Ford Coppola)
Hero (US, Stephen Frears)
Sister Act (US, Emile Ardalino)
Scent of a Woman (US, Martin Brest)
Basic Instinct (US, Paul Verhoeven)
A League of Their Own (US, Penny Marshall)
Alien 3 (US, David Fincher)
Batman Returns (US, Tim Burton)
Chaplin (UK, Richard Attenborough)
Hoffa (US, Danny De Vito))

ACTOR: Denzel Washington, MALCOLM X (2nd: Harvey Keitel, Bad Lieutenant, followed by: Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven; Stephen Rea, The Crying Game; Jack Lemmon, Glengarry Glen Ross; Russell Crowe, Romper Stomper; Harvey Keitel, Reservoir Dogs; John Lithgow, Raising Cain)

ACTRESS: Emma Thompson, HOWARDS END (2nd: Sheryl Lee, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, followed by: Michelle Pfeiffer, Batman Returns; Mary McDonnell, Passion Fish; Catherine Deneuve, Indochine; Gong Li, The Story of Qui Ju; Susan Sarandon, Lorenzo's Oil; Romane Bohringer, Savage Nights)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Gene Hackman, UNFORGIVEN (2nd: Tim Roth, Reservoir Dogs, followed by: Alec Baldwin, Glengarry Glen Ross; Jaye Davidson, The Crying Game; Al Pacino, Glengarry Glen Ross; Steve Buscemi, Reservoir Dogs; Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men; Fred Gwynne, My Cousin Vinny)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Marisa Tomei, MY COUSIN VINNY (2nd: Vanessa Redgrave, Howards End, followed by: Judy Davis, Husbands and Wives; Helena Bonham Carter, Howards End; Alfre Woodard, Passion Fish; Miranda Richardson, Damage; Miranda Richardson, The Crying Game; Juliette Lewis, Husbands and Wives)

DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood, UNFORGIVEN (2nd: James Ivory, Howards End, followed by: Terrence Davies, The Long Day Closes; Neil Jordan, The Crying Game; Quentin Tarantino, Reservoir Dogs; James Foley, Glengarry Glen Ross; John Woo, Hard Boiled; Keith Gordon, A Midnight Clear)

NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: HARD BOILED (Hong Kong, John Woo) (2nd: Life and Nothing More (Iran, Abbas Kiarostami), followed by: El Mariachi (US/Mexico, Robert Rodriguez); The Story of Qiu Ju (China, Zhang Yimou); Indochine (France, Regis Wargnier); Olivier, Olivier (France, Agnieszka Holland); Savage Nights (France/Italy, Cyril Collard); Porco Rosso (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki); Man Bites Dog (Belgium, Rémy Belvaux and André Bonzel))

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: BROTHERS KEEPER (US, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky) (2nd: Baraka (US, Ron Fricke), followed by: Lessons of Darkness (France/Germany, Werner Herzog); Visions of Light (US, Arnold Glassman, Todd McCarthy and Stuart Samuels); Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (US, Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick); Aileen Wuernos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (UK, Nick Broomfield))

ANIMATED FEATURE: ALADDIN (US, John Musker and Ron Clements) (2nd: The Tune (US, Bill Plympton), followed by: Porco Rosso (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki); Bebe's Kids (US, Bruce Smith))

ANIMATED SHORT: MONA LISA DESCENDING A STAIRCASE (US, Joan C. Gratz) (2nd: La Course a l'Abime (Switzerland, George Schwizgebel); The Dream of a Ridiculous Man (Russia, Alexandr Petrov); Still Nacht III: Tales from the Vienna Woods (UK, Stephen Quay and Timothy Quay))

LIVE ACTION SHORT: A SENSE OF HISTORY (UK, Mike Leigh) (2nd: Rispondetemi (Canada, Lea Pool), followed by: Smells Like Teen Spirit (US, Samuel Bayer); Swan Song (UK, Kenneth Branaugh); Pets or Meat: The Return to Flint (US, Michael Moore);

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: David Webb Peoples, UNFORGIVEN (2nd: Neil Jordan, The Crying Game, followed by: Terrence Davies, The Long Day Closes; Quentin Tarantino, Reservoir Dogs; John Sayles, Passion Fish)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, HOWARDS END (2nd: David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross, followed by: Michael Tolkin, The Player; Keith Gordon, A Midnight Clear; Horton Foote, Of Mice and Men)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Phillippe Rousselot, A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT (2nd: Tony Pierce-Roberts, Howards End, followed by: Jack Green, Unforgiven; Robert Fraisse, The Lover; Michael Coulter, The Long Day Closes)

ART DIRECTION: HOWARDS END, Unforgiven, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Orlando, Toys

COSTUME DESIGN: BRAM STOKER‘S DRACULA, Howards End, Malcolm X, Toys, Orlando

FILM EDITING: UNFORGIVEN, Hard Boiled, Howards End, Glengarry Glen Ross, Under Siege

SOUND: TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME, Unforgiven, Under Siege, Hard Boiled, The Last of the Mohicans

SOUND EFFECTS: UNFORGIVEN, Under Siege, Hard Boiled 

ORIGINAL SCORE: Richard Robbins, HOWARDS END (2nd: Lennie Niehaus and Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven, followed by: Wojciech Kilar, Bram Stoker's Dracula; Mark Isham, A River Runs Through It; John Barry, Chaplin)

ADAPTED OR SONG SCORE: Alan Menken, Aladdin (won as Original Score) (2nd: Robert Kraft, The Mambo Kings) 

ORIGINAL SONG: "She Would Die for Love" from TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (Music by Angelo Badalamenti, lyrics by David Lynch); (2nd: "Friend Like Me" from Aladdin (Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman), followed by: "A Whole New World" from Aladdin (Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Tim Rice); "Beautiful Maria of My Soul" from The Mambo Kings (Music by Robert Kraft, lyrics by Artie Glimcher))


MAKEUP: BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, Death Becomes Her. Batman Returns