dir: Franklin J. Schaffner (Patton - won)
scr: Norman Steinberg, based on the novel by Anne Piper
Oscar Nominee: Best Original Song ("If We Were In Love")
Intolerable married opera tenor courts hot blonde throat specialist over an interminable two-week period. A charmless movie with nothing to offer. Bleached look, stale gags, unbelievable romance.
More after the jump...
dir: Norman Jewison (In the Heat of the Night, Fiddler on the Roof, Moonstruck)
scr: Valerie Curtin & Barry Levinson
Oscar Nominee: Best Original Song ("How Do You Keep the Music Playing?")
Partners in love and work wed and meet each other's parents - with hilarious results. It's true! Smart banter, realistic relationships, great chemistry all around. As a two-hour examination of "You don't just marry them, you marry their family," it manages to keep things fresh and familiar.
dir: Alan Parker (Midnight Express, Mississippi Burning)
scr: Roger Waters, based upon the album
Big screen adaptation of the iconic album about...? Impressively shot and designed, with some interesting ideas about the specter of The War over generations of English people and the inescapable confinement of depression, as well as a haunting rerecording of "Mother". As good as all that is, they're not enough to sustain interest in this repetitive wank of a film.
dir: Tony Richardson (Tom Jones - won)
scr: Deric Washburn & Walon Green & David Freeman
Border guard faces corruption and existential suffocation. Takes its time, and while the various threads don't necessarily make for a full tapestry (the women are little more than symbols and plot devices), it allows Jack Nicholson to deliver a subdued performance, one of his best.
dir: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
scr: Terry Hayes & George Miller with Brian Hannant
Mad Max searches for fuel, fights baddies in future wasteland. Shocking in its reinvention and continuation of the previous film, as it expands the mythology, ups the violence, explosions, and costumed villainy, but confines the action to a 20-mile radius. Thrilling!
dir: George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting - won)
scr: Steve Tesich, based on the novel by John Irving
Oscar Nominee: Best Supporting Actor (John Lithgow), Best Supporting Actress (Glenn Close)
The life of writer T.S. Garp, son of a radical feminist author. It's fine, meandering pleasantly, though the last ten minutes feel rushed and some events would seem to call for more attention than they receive. Lithgow and Close genuinely provide electricity in their scenes (no shade to Robin Williams or the underappreciated Mary Beth Hurt), a testament to both their characters and performances.
dir: Hal Ashby (Coming Home)
scr: Al Schwartz and Jon Voight
Down-on-their-luck gamblers head to Vegas to turn their luck around. Feels mostly improvised. On the plus side, that makes for a believable chemistry between Jon Voight and Burt Young, the latter quietly stealing the movie. On the minus, there's a real sense of "Where are we going?" throughout. And I don't know that that's ever satisfactorily answered.
dir: Taylor Hackford (Ray)
scr: Douglas Day Stewart
Oscar Winner: Best Supporting Actor (Louis Gossett, Jr.), Best Original Song ("Up Where We Belong")
Oscar Nominee: Best Actress (Debra Winger), Best Original Screenplay, Best Score, Best Film Editing
Genuinely cares about its hero and the supporting cast, allowing for complex, frustrating people with real lives outside the narrative - but it's also so full that some parts feel truncated (poor Robert Loggia!) while others suddenly take up a huge chunk of time (oh, David Keith!). Great performances from all involved. (Fun fact: Hackford was nominated at the DGA Awards)
dir/scr: Barry Levinson (Rain Man - won, Bugsy)
Oscar Nominee: Best Original Screenplay
A very cozy, digestible film, even if it is about a bunch of assholes - ah, but their our assholes, and you have to give Levinson credit for nailing the chemistry and comfort of time spent with people you've known and loved your whole life, sticking together for better and worse. Sneaks up on ya.
dir/scr: Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot), based on the novel by Lothar G. Buchheim
Oscar Nominee: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Sound, Best Sound Editing
The exploits of a German submarine crew during World War II. Claustrophobic drama, taut even in the 3.5-hour Director's Cut. Earned the hell out of that cinematography nomination.