Official Nominations: Begin The Beguine. Alsino And The Condor. Clean Slate. Flight Of The Eagle. Private Life.
Not the most thrilling line-up this year, although Spain picked up their first win with Begin The Beguine. It’s fine, you don’t need to ever see it, but it’s a story you’ve seen any number of times before following a man returning home to reconnect with his past. There’s a political background, there’s the added twist of the guy being sick, but it’s par for the course. Alsino And The Condor is the best of the bunch, a coming of age war story set in Nicuragua as the US becomes involved in the Sandanista/Contra conflict. Dean Stockwell stars as an American Military pilot while Alan Esquival is the titular Alsino, a boy who believes he can fly but who is increasingly horrified by the war and violence on all sides.
Clean Slate is a little longer than it needs to be, an adaptation of an American Hard-Boiled Crime novel, transposed to a small African town. It’s funny, violent, but ultimately bleak, emboldened by the great Philippe Noiret and Isabelle Huppert. Flight Of The Eagle similarly features a familiar face in Max Von Sydow, starring in the biographical tale of three men attempting to reach the North Pole in a hot air balloon. You can guess how that went. Finally, Private Life is your typical Soviet drama – a man forced to re-evaluate his life and position after being forced to retire.
My Winner: Alsino And The Condor
My Nominations: Alsino And The Condor. Flight Of The Eagle. Gandhi. The Dark Crystal. The Wall. Passion. Tenebrae. The Year Of Living Dangerously.
I carry two over from the official list, and add a bunch of my own picks. Gandhi. It’s an English film. It won Best Picture. Of course it should be here. In fact, Great Britain makes up the bulk of my picks, with The Dark Crystal’s unique story and vision taking up a deserved spot and The Wall with its excellent music and iconic imagery grabbing another.
We hop over the Channel to France and Jean Luc Godard’s Passion, the story of a director’s struggles in creating an obscure Art film. That’s what Godard does. I’m not remotely the most qualified person to discuss Art, but I’m fairly literate when it comes to Film – while much of this was lost on me, the central themes of creation and the balancing of the love of creating versus physical human love with another person, are handled with Godard’s usual intense lens, and it’s bolstered a strong lead in Radziwilowicz and support from Isabelle Huppert. It’s pleasingly swift too.
Tenebrae is Argento’s follow up to Inferno, offering a more traditional Giallo but with plenty of his trademark artistry. It lacks the complexity of his previous couple of films, but his experiences in making those films honed his knife mystery story telling skills and could be called his best straight slasher. Of course, it’s clinical, garish, and super violent – but that’s what we expect from Argento.
Finally, Australia’s The Year Of Living Dangerously has a taste of neo-noir, a dashing of war intrigue, but is of course a taut romance. You don’t get many of those these days – it’s all Rom Coms or Tragedies. Weaver is great, Gibson is great, Hunt won the Oscar. Great film.
My Winner: The Wall
Let us know your winner in the comments!