Best Cast – 1983

My Nominations: Yellowbeard. Uncommon Valor. Terms Of Endearment. Trading Places. Scarface. Rumble Fish. The Outsiders. The Osterman Weekend. Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. The Right Stuff. The Big Chill.

We close out another year of Oscars coverage with another category which really should be part of the official ceremony. Yellowbeard is one of those films which seems like it could never have happened, probably shouldn’t have happened, and remains a curio which always prompts amazement that it exists at all. A who’s who of British talent, originally the plan was for it to be a Sam Peckinpah and Keith Moon vehicle, but instead became a Pirate movie featuring (takes a breath) an uncredited David Bowie, Spike Milligan, Graham Chapman, Peter Cook, Peter Boyle, Cheech & Chong, Marty Feldman, John Cleese, James Mason, Madeline Kahn, Susannah York, Nigel Planer, and Eric Idle. And others – you get the idea. It’s not very good, but it’s great to see the group of performers together.

Uncommon Valor is another one of those ‘Vets return to Vietnam’ movies which were all the rage for a few years, and features an interesting mix of established stars, martial artists, and new faces – Gene Hackman, Patrick Swayze, Fred Ward, Robert Stack, Randall Cobb, Kwan Hi Lim, Jane Kaczmarek, Michael Dudikoff, and Reb Brown. Even though it’s an action movie, it’s quite downbeat. Terms Of Endearment – it’s overrated in my books, but it excels in its casting and performances. Trading Places couples peak Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd with Jamie Lee Curtis trying her hand at comedy alongside stalwarts Denholm Elliott, Don Ameche, Ralph Bellamy. Scarface is inevitable – Pacino, Pfeiffer, Bauer, Loggia, Mastrantonio, and F Murray Abraham.

The Outsiders and Rumble Fish both have crazy casts – I’m not going to type out all the names, but they’re both a who’s who of future stars. The Osterman Weekend isn’t a film we’ve talked about so far – it was something of a critical and commercial failure, but given the source material, director, and calibre of cast it’s definitely worth your time. It’s a rather messy conspiracy thriller where you’re not quite sure what’s going on, the characters aren’t sure who to trust, and nobody is very likeable – yet it stars Burt Lancaster, Dennis Hopper, Rutger Hauer, John Hurt, Helen Shaver, Meg Foster, Chris Sarandon, and Craig T Nelson.

Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence is one of the better acted ensemble films in my list – David Bowie, Takeshi Kitano, Tom Conti, and Ryuichi Sakamoto are all great, while Eureka is another which deserves a wider re-appraisal, featuring Rutger Hauer (again), Gene Hackman (again), Mickey Rourke (again), Joe Pesci, Joe Spinell, Theresa Russell, and Jane Lapotaire. We don’t need to cover The Right Stuff again, but it should be here if this were an official category, as would The Big Chill. 

I’m a bit stumped on this one, and I’d likely pick a different winner if asked again tomorrow.

My Winner: The Outsiders.

The Outsiders is now a musical. ‹ Literary Hub

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Nightman’s Least Favourite Movies Of 1983!

Greetings, Glancers! It’s 1983 – the year I was born. Don’t dox me. As well as the unfortunate error of me being unleashed upon the world, there was also a bunch of terrible movies. Here are a few.


Look, Christine is by no means a bad movie. It’s more that – when you mix my favourite Director with my favourite Author, you expect the result to be the greatest thing ever made. Christine is merely fine – good effects, okay performances, rubbish soundtrack – but it feels like a blip in Carpenter’s peerless run. I like it, but it’s not as good as I want and hope it to be.

Educating Rita

English movie comedies, especially in the 80s, are not my thing. They all follow a close formula and they were (and are) not as appealing to me as what was coming out of the US in the same decade, or as what England was producing on the small screen. Educating Rita is better than most, but there’s a very limited enjoyment I can get from this as a piece of entertainment.

Jaws 3-D

The Jaws series gets a bad rap. The original is one of the best films ever made – any sequel would struggle to match it. Jaws 2 is a very good film and remains the second best shark movie of all time. The third and fourth movies are genuinely awful. I’ve seen 3D multiple times, and while the 3D stuff is dated and laughable now, it’s just such a step down in quality. It looks cheap, the performances and characters are bland, and the story is muddled – a shame because I loved the idea of the shark in a water park idea.

The Keep

When I was first getting into movies as a ‘serious’ thing, not just as a viewer for entertainment but as someone who wanted to understand the movie-making process and who the people who made movies are, I had my go to list of directors, writers, and performers. When you make such a list, if there are names who made films before you were born or at a time before you took movies seriously, chances are there’s at least one film on that list which sounds like a hidden gem which you must track down at all costs because it sounds like just the sort of thing you’ll love. For me and John Carpenter, that was Body Bags. For me and Michael Mann, it was The Keep. Maybe I hyped the film up too much in my own mind, but how could a film directed by the guy who made Heat, a Horror film about Nazi’s being besieged by an ancient supernatural force in a castle straight out of Dracula possibly be bad?

The film is a mess. As it currently stands. Somewhere out there, rumour has it that there is both a 2 hour plus, and a 3 hour plus version of the film. Now, those could simply drag out the torture, or they could fill in the holes in the story so that the thing makes sense and becomes scary/interesting. We may never know.

Never Say Never Again

We can all agree that Die Another Day is the nadir when it comes to Bond movie, but the unofficial Never Say Never Again comes quite close. Basically a remake of Thunderball updated for the 80s with a sexier actress and a more geriatric Connery, the selling point was of course that Connery was playing 007 again. Even with the talent involved, it somehow feels cheaper than the mainstream Bond series, and there’s just less of everything which makes me love those films. It’s a shame Basinger never made it over to the main series, and I would have liked see Atkinson appear there too, even though he’s not great in this.


I mean, credit to Streisand for making the thing, but it’s just not my kind of thing. Too much singing, too much theatre… just too much.

Let us know your least favourite movies of 1983 in the comments!

Best Stuntwork – 1983

My Nominations: Return Of The Jedi. Octopussy. Blue Thunder. Lone Wolf McQuade. Project A. 

We’re back with one of my favourite categories to talk about, because it’s not an official category and it feels less like I’m repeating myself. Jedi obviously gets a nomination – it’s still an action movie at its core, and between the climactic battle, the speeder bike and Ewok fun on Endor, and the opening excitement with Jabba, Fett, and pals, the stunt work is a treat. If there’s a Bond release, it’s always going to appear on this list. Octopussy is one of the more bland, least memorable Bond films but even with a lackluster story and characters, there’s still some standout action moments – a pre-credits car chase with bikes and an airplane are among the film’s best moments along with the aerial work in the end. 

While we’re on the topic of aerial work, we have to nominate Blue Thunder. A film about a pair of cops using a new-fangled helicopter to take down bad guys in LA, you would expect some tense action, and you’d be right. Lone Wolf McQuade deserves a shout out – not only because Carradine and Norris mostly performed their own stunts, but because it’s something of a more old-fashioned action movie compared to the extravagance of the other nominations and the excess which was just around the corner in the decade. Project A is a Jackie Chan and Hong Kong classic – everything you want for a Chinese Period action movie, with some of Chan’s most eye-opening/eye-closing stunts. 

No room for Uncommon Valor or Zu Warriors, unfortunately.

My Winner: Project A

Jackie Chan on Project A, the martial arts film that set a creative  template for his decades of show business success | South China Morning Post

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Art Direction – 1983

Official Nominations: Fanny & Alexander. Return Of The Jedi. The Right Stuff. Terms Of Endearment. WarGames.

The most interesting inclusion here is probably WarGames – it’s cool that it’s here, and it’s deserved, but it’s interesting because it’s not the sort of thing that The Academy ever pays attention to. Elsewhere, Fanny & Alexander was the winner. It’s a worthy winner, but it’s a 1982 film so doesn’t make my list. Terms Of Endearment gets an inevitable and unnecessary nomination. The Right Stuff should have been a front runner here, but there’s no question that Return Of The Jedi is my winner.

My Winner: Return Of The Jedi

My Favorite Scene: The Gang at Jabba's Palace |

My Nominations: Return Of The Jedi. The Right Stuff. Wargames. Liquid Sky. The Hunger. The Keep. Videodrome.

Any number of alternate films could have made it to my list, but I’m trying to be more selective these days. Apologies to Scarface and Flashdance. The Keep is not a film I’m very fond of, but its visuals are the one thing which make it memorable. Liquid Sky deserves to be remembered for its visuals and more, while The Hunger looks gorgeous from start to finish. Finally, Videodrome is one of the more visually unique films of an era which had a lot of breakthrough sci-fi films and also deserved an official nomination.

My Winner: Return Of The Jedi.

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Writing (Adapted) – 1983

Official Nominations: Terms Of Endearment. Betrayal. The Dresser. Educating Rita. Reuben, Reuben.

My Winner: Terms Of Endearment.

I’m not sure there are any films I would personally nominate here. There’s no doubting that Terms Of Endearment is a faithful and successful adaptation and is probably the film I enjoy most out of these. Betrayal is a British Harold Pinter adaptation with a bit of a reverse narrative structure which is innovative for its time. But the film feels very theatrical and the subject matter isn’t overly interesting to me. There have been many stories over the years similar to The Dresser – an employee basically keeping a star’s life from unravelling – and again these types of stories are usually only interesting to me if there is a unique hook. Educating Rita is another British film which I didn’t enjoy growing up, but have a respect for now, but still it isn’t anything I would nominated. Finally, Reuben Reuben is a little too snide and self-congratulatory for me to nominate, even if it is sometimes funny and has some underheard, quotable dialogue.

Terms of Endearment (1983) directed by James L. Brooks • Reviews, film + cast • Letterboxd

My Nominations: Eureka. The Fourth Man. The Outsiders. Rumble Fish. The Right Stuff. Scarface.

An entirely different list from me, and a few films I’ve missed out. Eureka is one of those films which, looking back, seems like it would have been the sort of thing which The Academy would have celebrated. It made no money, received no nominations, and disappeared without a trace – a shame because of how good it is, its director, and its cast. It would make a solid double feature with Scarface, so similar are their stories of greed, power, and the impact on individuals and families, though it lacks the latter’s iconic one-liners.

Two solid adaptations presented by Coppola in Rumble Fish and The Outsiders based on novels by different authors but which have a lot of intertextual similarities. The Right Stuff seems like the glaring omission from The Academy perspective, given the amount of acclaim the film received, while The Fourth Man doubles down on the horror and religious elements of the novel.

My Winner: Scarface.

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Writing (Original) – 1983

Official Nominations: Tender Mercies. The Big Chill. Fanny & Alexander. Silkwood. WarGames.

Not the most exciting list of films this year, but lets always applaud originality where we can. Tender Mercies picked up the win this year, the tale of an alcoholic cowboy turning his life around thanks to the love of a good woman. It’s more nuanced than the standard sort of fare you expect from the simple synopsis. The Big Chill is this year’s hangout movie, following on from Diner. It’s another of those ‘ensemble old friends get together after years apart’ movies, but it’s one of the best. Fanny & Alexander is 1982 and can be ignored, Silkwood probably shouldn’t be here either given that it’s essentially an adaptation of the Silkwood book, while WarGames may be the only truly original screenplay here predicting the role technology and computers would play in warfare in the decades to come.

My Winner: The Big Chill.

How Lawrence Kasdan Truly Feels About The Idea Of A Big Chill Sequel

My Nominations: The Big Chill. WarGames. Return Of The Jedi. Brainstorm. The Man With Two Brains. Trading Places. Videodrome.

Two make it over to my list to join a variety of comedies and Sci-fi films. Return Of The Jedi is that rare beast – a satisfying end to a trilogy. Even as it ties off all our loose ends and answers all our questions, it still introduces new characters, worlds, and ideas to enrich the universe and gives us some more iconic pieces of dialogue. Brainstorm gets another nomination for me for its creativity and ideas, while The Man With Two Brains is a fun idea making fun of other tropes and cliches which have existed in Cinema for many decades. Trading Places was one of those movies which could only be made in the 80s – the environment of Reagan politics, greed, and Capitalism becoming the real American Dream was set up for a story like this, and you had a cast who could authentically pull the humour off. Finally, if it’s creativity and originality you’re looking for in a screenplay, looks no further than Videodrome. It may border on incomprehensible, but its strokes are broad enough that we are pulled in on a first watch and enticed to uncover additional hidden delights on subsequent viewings.

My Winner: Videodrome.

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Supporting Actress – 1983

Official Nominations: Linda Hunt. Cher. Glenn Close. Amy Irving. Alfre Woodward.

Linda Hunt picked up a deserving win this year – except for the fact that The Year Of Living Dangerously was a 1982 movie and therefore she’s not in for my consideration. Cher picked up her first nomination as Karen Silkwood’s roommate in Silkwood – it wasn’t her first performance, but it was certainly her first serious role and her breakthrough as an actress. Glenn Close is always good and may be the standout actress in The Big Chill, while Amy Irving received the pre-requisite Musical Acting nomination for Yentl. Finally, Alfre Woodward received her first and so far only Oscar nomination for Cross Creek. 

My Winner: Cher

Silkwood (1983)

My Nominations: Cher. Glenn Close. Meg Tilly. Louise Fletcher. Susan Sarandon. Barbara Hershey. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

Only Cher and Close make it over to my personal list. From The Big Chill, joining Close, is Meg Tilly as the younger newbie of the group. Louise Fletcher perhaps should have made my Best Actress list instead as she is a lead within the cast of Brainstorm. It’s arguably her best performance, although most people will understandably point to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. The sad fact is that a film called Brainstorm would never be allowed anywhere near The Oscars.

Elsewhere, Susan Sarandon is a standout alongside Bowie and Deneuve in The Hunger, Barbara Hershey deserves a nod alongside all the men in The Right Stuff, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is the sole innocent voice in the midst of all the chaos and debauchery in Scarface. 

My Winner: Louise Fletcher

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Supporting Actor – 1983

Official Nominations: Jack Nicholson. Charles Durning. John Lithgow. Sam Shepard. Rip Torn.

A curious list of names this year, with Jack Nicholson picking up another win and a host of respected industry performers if not necessarily household names. Jack won for Terms Of Endearment, understandable because it’s him and because it’s good, but it feels more like a recognition for the recent performances he was not nominated for and the sheer success of the film. His co-star John Lithgow plays ‘the other man’ and is somewhat more straight than what he’s typically known for.

The rest of our nominees have sadly since passed away, starting with Charles Durning who stars as the blundering Gestapo leader in the little seen remake To Be Or Not To Be. It’s a silly, fun movie with a great cast, but the nomination feels out of place given the other names who missed out. Sam Shepard receives the sole acting nomination for The Right Stuff – something of an oversight – while Rip Torn seems like something of a veteran nomination too for Cross Creek. A nice but mostly forgettable film with a few good performances.

My Winner: Sam Shepard.

The Look and the Voice: On Sam Shepard's Definitive Performance in "The  Right Stuff" | Features | Roger Ebert

My Nominations: Jeff Goldblum. C Thomas Howell. Sam Shepard. Ed Harris. Mickey Rourke. Steven Bauer.

An almost entirely different line-up for me, with only Shepard’s Chuck Yeager making it over to my list. Joining him is Ed Harris as John Glenn, one more of any number of performers deserving of a nomination in The Right Stuff. From Best Picture nominee The Big Chill comes Jeff Goldbum – he plays the celebrity journalist Michael but you could just as easily pick Tom Berenger. Similarly, from The Outsiders you could pick anyone but I’ve gone for C. Thomas Howell and for Rumble Fish, Mickey Rourke.

My winner though, obviously out-shadowed by Al Pacino, is Steven Bauer as Montana’s best friend Manny who is just as excitable but less unhinged than his partner in crime.

My Winner: Steven Bauer.

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Visual Effects – 1983

My Nominations: Brainstorm. Christine. The Keep. Krull. Return Of The Jedi. Videodrome.

An interesting selection this year, where innovation threatens to take the award away from the blockbuster. Brainstorm was the film which broke Douglas Trumball. Natalie Wood’s death, the production problems, financial disputes, Trumball’s original plans for his visuals being cast aside all led to him giving up on directing. While some of the effects are hokey now, other parts still hold up well and remain inventive and exciting. The Keep was always a style over substance exercise for me which never works as a coherent whole and whose parts offer little more than mild interest. Yet, it looks striking in places and some of the effects work is decent for the time, even if the technology was not quite ready for the intent.

Krull is one of the better Star Wars clones of the era and had decent visual effects for the time, but those have not held up as well as some of my other nominees. Christine has some neat effects showing the crushing and re-assembling of the titular killer car, while Videodrome expands on its visceral make-up work with some stellar trickery. But in terms of sheer size and quality, I think we can agree that Return Of The Jedi is the winner this year. You could argue that it doesn’t do much differently from the previous two movies of the series, but there’s a clear improvement in the dogfights and landscapes before we even talk about the scope.

My Winner: Return Of The Jedi

Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi |

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Actress – 1983

Official Nominations: Shirley Maclaine. Meryl Streep. Jane Alexander. Julie Walters. Debra Winter.

A very, very Oscars category this year. We have four time losing nominee Shirley Maclaine getting her win at the fifth and final attempt, beating out former winner Meryl Streep and former nominees Julie Walters, Jane Alexander, and Debra Winger. With this calibre, you know each of the performances is good even if I’m not personally a huge fan of any of the related films. The only film I ever feel the need to re-watch is Testament, because I’m a glutton for pain. But Alexander is very good in this little known film as the mother trying to keep her family alive in the aftermath of a nuke.

My Winner: Jane Alexander

Testament (1983) | Smith's Verdict

My Nominations: Dee Wallace. Renee Soutendijk. Bonnie Bedelia. Debbie Harry. Jane Alexander.

Anybody reading this knows how I feel about Horror and that Horror is consistently overlooked by The Academy. Me nominating Horror movies is partly trying to address that imbalance, and partly because I feel the choices are fully merited. Dee Wallace is great in Cujo as the cheating Mom who is trapped with her car in the sun by a rabid dog. The performance just verges on being as over the top as the story itself, and in a stronger year I probably wouldn’t have her here.

The Academy has also been less than forthcoming with regards to foreign films outside of the Best Foreign Feature category, a shame given there have been so many worthy picks over the years in so many categories. My vision of The Oscars is one which is focused on the best in World Cinema, rather than 90% Hollywood. No matter. This year, The Fourth Man was one of the best films and Renee Soutendijk is sultry and ambiguous as the potential femme fatale.

Biographies meanwhile, are a stalwart of The Academy and you’re almost guaranteed to get a nomination if you play a significant, famous real life figure. Bonnie Bedelia unfortunately played someone whose impact was large, but was in a sport no-one cars about – drag racing. She’s good, even if the film isn’t the best in the world.

Debbie Harry makes a potent vixen, a near object in Videodrome who appears both as passive and controlling. It’s powerful stuff for someone known more for her music. Jane Alexander makes it over to my list too.

My Winner: Renee Soutendijk.

Let us know your winner in the comments!