Best Original Score – 1972

Official Nominations: Limelight. Images. Napoleon And Samantha. The Poseidon Adventure. Sleuth. Cabaret. Lady Sings the Blues. Man of La Mancha.

Limelight won the Dramatic category this year – a bit of a nonsense given that the film was made and released twenty years earlier, so this is clearly a pat on the back win for Charlie Chaplin. It’s quite a lovely score, dreary and downbeat in places, exuberant and uplifting in others – deserving of a win and nomination in its own right, but not just because LA had to wait 20 years before seeing the film – you’re not the boss of the world LA. Images is an almost forgotten Robert Altman psychological horror movie with a score by John Williams – one which has a lot in common with Carpenter’s score for Halloween – lots of haunting piano melodies, creeping strings, and jump-scare percussion, a fantastic soundtrack which so few remember. Similarly, Napoleon And Samantha is a weird film which no-one remembers – Michael Douglas, Jodie Foster, and Johnny Whitaker have scary adventures with a pet lion, involving cougars and crazy people. It’s as weird and entertaining as it sounds, but the soundtrack is fairly by the numbers. John Williams strikes again with The Poseidon Adventure – a much larger scope soundtrack than his other nominee but not as powerful, even if it does have plenty of interesting tracks and moments, even a bit of funk. John Addison’s score for Sleuth is a lot of fun, playful and mysterious.

And so on to the adaptation round. Cabaret was the winner this time round – at least it strived to create new music for the movie which was not there on the screen. Unfortunately the era, style, and songs are not my thing and I can’t listen for long. Musicals man, even when they’re good, they’re crap. Lady Sings The Blues is a little better – better songs anyway, but still not something I would ever pick, while Man Of La Mancha is very old school – fine, but nothing out of the ordinary.

My Winner: Images

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My Nominations: Images. Aguirre, The Wrath Of God. Deliverance. The Final Comedown. The Getaway. The Godfather. The Last House On The Left. Last Tango In Paris. Silent Running. Super Fly. Way Of The Dragon.

An almost entirely different, and superior, list for me with only Images making it over. This was actually a good year for Scores, even on the official list, but as there are so many others which I felt were better or more notable, most of the officials get cut. Aguirre has a hymnal, soothing score, akin to stumbling upon the gates of Heaven, all wall of sound organs and voices, quite haunting and beautiful, reminiscent of Pink Floyd I’ve always found – even the later guitar tracks are very Floyd. Deliverance is of course famous for the dueling banjos scene and music – taken from a much earlier recording, but it also has some sparse blue grass sections, renditions of other older pieces, and some rare synth moments – it mostly sounds like a rollicking good time, betraying what happens on screen. The Final Comedown is another entry in the funk blues rock scores of the decades, this one less well known but just as groovy and accomplished as the bigger hits. The Getaway sees funk maestro Quincy Jones in a slower and more soulful mood while Silent Running has plenty of pastoral and percussive moments aside from the obvious Joan Baez tunes.

The Godfather has one of the most famous scores of all time, yet was controversially not nominated after it appeared that some of the pieces had popped up in earlier Rota scores. We know they make up the rules as they go along, and this was one particular piece of bullshit which I am rectifying – there’s no way this doesn’t get nominated. With more European flavor is Last Tango In Paris by Gato Barbieri, as sumptuous and regal and tragic as you could wish for. On the other side of the scale is The Last House On The Left which, when heard on its own sounds like some late evening hippy dream, with David Hess and Stephen Chapin using folk tones to lull us into disbelief, and jaunty, circus, chase music to counter the vicious and disturbing antics on screen. Superfly is notable for having a soundtrack that made more money than the film itself, Curtis Mayfield crafting a classic of the genre – not many instrumentals though, so does that break the (my) rules? Finally, one of my all time personal favourite soundtracks, but one which is superb all round by the great Joseph Koo.

My Winner: The Godfather

Let us know in the comments which film of 1972 had the best score!

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Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 1951

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Scrooge (UK)

9: Fourteen Hours (USA)

8: The Prowler (USA)

7: Quo Vadis (USA)

6: The Lavender Hill Mob (UK)

5: The Idiot (Japan)

4: The African Queen (UK/USA)

3: A Streetcar Named Desire (USA)

2: The Thing From Another World (USA)

1: Strangers On A Train (USA)

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Four (including the highest grossing)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Two

Let us know in the comments what you’re favourite film of 1951 is!

Jurassic Park

*Heavily edited version of an original from 2003

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I’m sure I’ve told the story before, but when I was young I wanted to be a paleontologist. Now, I didn’t actually care (much) about the whole digging up bones and hanging around museums… I assumed I would be more like Indiana Jones, arsing about unknown, long forgotten cities in search of relics and new specimens. I did read as many books about dinosaurs as I could get my hands on and I watched every dinosaur movie I could. As ropy as the effects always were, I was nevertheless enchanted by them and by the notion that these giant beasts ever existed.

In 1993 Spielberg brought tears to my eyes with the breathtaking effects, excellent set pieces, action, stunts, of Jurassic Park. His film broke records and set a new benchmark for special effects, but throw in a brilliant score, non stop traditional Spielberg fun, a great cast, a rip-roaring story and many immediately iconic images and we have one of the most exciting films ever. Speaking of those effects, they were truly revolutionary and many of them still look light years better than those of today which have a habit of appearing too rubbery and fake – in Jurassic Park you assume you are seeing a real dinosaur brought to life while today’s blockbusters make you feel you are staring at an effect.

For years, the esteemed Dr Hammond has been trying to make his dream come true – to bring back the most awesome creatures that have ever walked the earth – dinosaurs. Extinct for millions of years until now, when science has enabled us to bring back that which was once thought to be lost forever. Hammond and his team of experts have succeeded in not only creating life, but reversing extinction. His idea is to create a zoo for the animals which anyone can visit, but as these are wild and extremely dangerous creatures which cannot be trained or tamed, he needs feedback from other scientists and businessmen. He invites Dr Alan (Sam Neill) and Dr Ellie (Laura Dern) – paleontologists, and Jeff Goldblum – part philosopher, part scientist, part comedian. His young nephew and niece also come along, as well as the man who will be financing the park. Hammond shows them how he created the dinosaurs, leading to debates on morality etc but what everyone really wants is a trip around the park. So they go. Of course, things soon go wrong when Dennis, a man working for Hammond, decides to turn off the security in his attempt to steal samples for the black market. Soon the dinosaurs are loose, and the group is fighting for their lives.

Each character is brilliantly drawn, and well acted. The variety of creatures is wide, and they all leap off the screen as if from our imaginations. The action flows fluidly once it starts, and there are many tense and scary moments. The first T-Rex attack has become part of our culture, but the tree descent, Raptor kitchen and chase are all equally spectacular and get your heart racing. I love the idea of splitting the central group, meaning we get to see the relationships between Sam Neill and the kids growing, as well as the banter between Goldblum and Dern. The deaths are pretty gruesome, but hardly over the top, but some parents may find them too scary for kids.

Spielberg wisely keeps the science and morality to a minimum – it’s there, it’s briefly discussed, but we don’t get bogged down in the rhetoric, though the depth is appreciated. What matters is that Spielberg has created another masterpiece, the monster movie he wanted to make years before with Jaws, but didn’t have the budget or technology to do so. Make another one like this Spielberg, come on, we know you can.

Let us know in the comments how you feel Jurassic Park has held up especially in the light of Jurassic World!

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 1950

Greetings, Glancers! As promised (though a couple of days late due to excessive gallivanting), here is the first my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Les Enfants Terribles (France)

9: Outrage (USA)

8: Panic In The Streets (USA)

7: Gun Crazy (USA)

6: Winchester 73 (USA)

5: Rio Grande (USA)

4: Stage Fright (GB)

3: Cinderella (USA)

2: All About Eve (USA)

1: Rashomon (Japan)

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Two.

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: One (And it was the Winner)

Let us know in the comments what you’re favourite film of 1950 is!

Best Art Direction – 1972

Official Nominations: Cabaret. Lady Sings The Blues. The Poseidon Adventure. Travels With My Aunt. Young Winston.

You’d be forgiven for thinking The Godfather wasn’t released this year. Regardless, Cabaret was a cert to win this one. Lady Sings The Blues has no chance against it, neither does Young Winston, and Travels With My Aunt shouldn’t be here. The Poseidon Adventure is in with a shot here – it never would have been officially picked but as I prefer it to Cabaret and due to the scope and invention on display it gets my win.

Official Winner: The Poseidon Adventure

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My Nominations: The Poseidon Adventure. Cabaret. The Godfather. Last Tango In Paris. Silent Running. Sleuth. Solaris.

Only two of the official choices make it to my list, a list which rights a few wrongs. The Godfather is in – obviously, as is Last Tango In Paris. Also worthy of inclusion is Sleuth – any film which can turn a play mostly set in a single location into something extravagant is worth your attention. My final two picks fall under a loose ‘intelligent sci-fi’ sub-type, with Solaris and Silent Running both boasting great sets, design, and attention to detail. There’s only one winner for me though.

My Winner: The Godfather.

Let us know in the comments which film of 1972 you would give the Best Art Direction Oscar to!

Nightman’s Favourite Films By Year

 

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Greetings, Glancers! I really should have done this by now – it’s what movie bloggers do, right? You’re skimming through blogs, you find a site with a catchy name (not mine then), or one which is reviewing one of your favourite films, so you go to the home page and it’s all nicely laid out (again, not like mine). Reviews, About Me, My Favourite Films. Part of me wanted to hold back from doing this until I got further through my Oscars series because when it comes to My Nominations there will be some considerable crossover with my favourite movies, so spoilers all round. In the end though, more people are likely to click on a ‘My Favourite Movies’ list than the Oscars ones, and as I crave attention and get paid zero per click (100 times 0 pounds is a million pounds, right?), I’m going to give the people what they want.

So, coming up on the forthcoming Tuesdays will be me favourite movies per year. In most cases, I’m going to keep it to ten films per year, which will admittedly be very difficult in some years. The movies I will be listing should not be an indicator of quality – this is not my picks of the best movies of the given year, and in fact plenty of the movies in my Top 10s I admit are pretty terrible – doesn’t stop me loving them. What I will say is – the further back in time we go, the more likely it will be that my picks will mirror your standard Best Of list, purely because less movies were made back then versus now, and of those I will have seen fewer. By the time we reach the 80s you’ll be seeing fan favourites over critical favourites.

With regards to going back in time, I’ve decided to pick 1950 as my starting point – while I’ve seen plenty of movies from before then, my choices would be increasingly limited the further I’d go back, and I’d be both repeating too much what everyone chooses and you’d see the same directors and performers over and over. At the time of writing I’ve been adding my high level favourites by year in draft form, and I’ll soon begin cutting them down – there are a number of years starting from the 60s where I could easily have 15 and by the time we reach the 80s in most years I could have twenty picks. There will be at least two years where I will allow myself twenty films – purely because those years have an unusually high number of films I consider among my absolute favourites. Then, by the time we reach the 2000s, that number will likely drop off again as I’ll have either seen fewer movies – alternatively the number of foreign movies will likely increase as I continued to move away from Hollywood’s regurgitations.

Finally, I’m not going to go into any detail on why I chose what I chose – I’ll save that for later. The list will be purely in list form, so you don’t need to worry about me rambling on like I do. So that’s it – a few of my favourite things. You’ll know me a little more. You’ll think I’m that little bit stranger. You’ll wonder how one person could love so many Police Academy movies. Join the fun and let me know your favourites from each year – then I’ll know you’re a weirdo too.

PS – the random T2 pic at the top may or may not have any relevance to this post.