Monday, June 26, 2017

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1980 Top Ten

After 65 films, 10 Oscar categories, and five re-castings, I am ready to divvy out the awards for due time. The nominees tomorrow, the awards later on in the week.

Until then, my personal top ten of the year. The complete list of films screened follows at the end. How many have you seen?

American Gigolo
Dir/Scr: Paul Schrader
Cin: John Bailey

Neon noir with a special hatred for Beverly Hills, a place where the wealthy surround themselves with beauty, until it becomes inconvenient. The clothes, the sets, the attitude, all influenced how we see this decade. Genuine suspense, and a strong and sexy performance from Richard Gere at its center.

The remaining nine, after the jump...
Dir: Stuart Rosenberg
Scr: W.D. Richter, story by Richter and Arthur Ross, suggested by the book Accomplices to the Crime: The Arkansas Prison Scandal by Thomas O. Murton and Joe Hyams 
Cin: Bruno Nuytten

A socially-conscious moral lesson from Robert Redford, but few do it better. A great balance between righteous indignation and entertainment, with a plot that gives you just enough of a taste of hope to really bring you down. Unseen brutality scares more than what's portrayed.

Dir/Scr: William Friedkin, based on the novel by Gerald Walker
Cin: James A. Contner

Sleazy noir with a rare curiosity not just for queer culture, but for its underground, a unique window into a place that can be both sinister and truly freeing. The sex is dangerous, the murders are gruesome, and the closet is deadly. Sound design like no other, the squeak and bend of leather and rubber just as chilling as the knife plunging down...

Dir: Akira Kurosawa
Scr: Masato Ide/Kurosawa
Cin: Takao Saitô/Shôji Ueda

A 'dentity crisis where honor and nobility can be learned, where blood alone does not decide the potential of a man, where the negligence of a father and the fury of a son can doom an entire kingdom. Stunningly photographed and designed, but you knew that already.

Mad Max
Dir: George Miller
Scr: James McCausland & George Miller
Cin: David Eggby

Whenever I hear Brian May's theme music, I want to cruise down the street dispensing justice; luckily, I don't drive.

My Brilliant Career
Dir: Gillian Armstrong
Scr: Eleanor Witcombe, based on the novel by Miles Franklin
Cin: Donald McAlpine

Hilarious and inspiring feminist work, with a star-making performance by Judy Davis at its center. Based on a novel from the early 20th century, yet surprisingly modern in tone and theme, as the teenage Sybylla moves through romances and high-ish society without sacrificing her pride or independence. It is possible to make a movie addressing women's issues without keening - I guess having a predominately female ATL helps with POV.

Nine to Five
Dir: Colin Higgins
Scr: Colin Higgins and Patricia Resnick, story by Resnick
Cin: Reynaldo Villalobos

Speaking of women's issues sans keening... A movie that gets deep laughs and revels in silliness, all while taking on the patriarchy with intelligence, energy, and wit? That's a hell of a way to make a living. You wonder why there weren't more movies teaming up Fonda, Parton and Tomlin - when is Dolly coming to Grace and Frankie?

Raging Bull
Dir: Martin Scorsese
Scr: Mardik Martin and Paul Schrader, based on the book by Jake La Motta with Joseph Carter and Peter Savage
Cin: Michael Chapman

Raw. Real. Exquisite.

The Shining
Dir/Scr: Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel by Stephen King
Cin: John Alcott

Jaw-dropping, mind-fucking horror. Shelley Duvall gives one of the genre's great performances, authentic terror that brings you right into the nightmare alongside her. Meticulous sets, off-kilter music choices add to the delirium. A real sense of place and eerie-ness.

Dir: Robert Greenwald
Scr: Richard Christian Danus and Marc Reid Rubel
Cin: Victor J. Kemper

Great songs, exhilarating musical numbers, from the merging of styles in "Dancin'" to the single take of "Suspended in Time". Gene Kelly proves yet again why he's a legend, while Olivia Newton-John...well, you truly believe she comes from a world that is not our own. A guaranteed good time, every time.

What's in your top ten of 1980?

The complete list of films screened:

Altered States
American Gigolo
The Apple
Battle Beyond the Stars
The Big Red One
The Blue Lagoon
The Blues Brothers
Breaker Morant
Can't Stop the Music
The Changeling
Coal Miner's Daughter
The Competition
Dressed to Kill
The Elephant Man
The Empire Strikes Back
Flash Gordon
The Fog
The Formula
Friday the 13th
The Great Santini
Guyana: Cult of the Damned
Happy Birthday, Gemini
Honeysuckle Rose
The Idolmaker
Inside Moves
The Jazz Singer
The Long Riders
Mad Max
Melvin and Howard
The Mirror Crack'd
Mon oncle d'Amérique
Motel Hell
My Brilliant Career
Nine to Five
The Ninth Configuration
Ordinary People
Private Benjamin
Prom Night
Raging Bull
Raise the Titanic
Saturn 3
The Shining
Somewhere in Time
Stardust Memories
Stir Crazy
The Stunt Man
Terror Train
Urban Cowboy
The Visitor

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