Internet Baseball Awards

Finding myself up to my ears in Bravo’s West Wing Season 6 marathon, I just managed to sneak my votes in the Internet Baseball Awards in under the deadline, which is 11:00 tonight on the Baseball Prospectus website. (UPDATE: Voting has been extended through Friday, there’s a link on the right of the page). Here’s how I voted:

AL MVP:

Alex Rodriguez
David Ortiz
Mike Young
Manny Ramirez
Gary Sheffield
Travis Hafner
Mark Teixeira
Johnny Damon
Jason Giambi
Brian Roberts

AL Cy Young:

Johan Santana
Mark Buehrle
Bartolo Colon
Mariano Rivera
Roy Halladay

AL Rookie Of The Year:

Huston Street
Joe Blanton
Felix Hernandez

AL Manager Of The Year:

Eric Wedge
Mike Scioscia
Joe Torre

NL MVP:

Albert Pujols
Derrek Lee
Jason Bay
Roger Clemens
Jeff Kent
Morgan Ensberg
Brian Giles
Chris Carpenter
Miguel Cabrera
Carlos Delgado

NL Cy Young:

Roger Clemens
Chris Carpenter
Dontrelle Willis
Andy Pettitte
Pedro Martinez

NL Rookie Of The Year

Zach Duke
Ryan Howard
Jeff Francoeur

NL Manager Of The Year:

Bobby Cox
Frank Robinson
Tony LaRussa

Movies Of The Year: 1989

Lots of bad movies in 1989, as apparently I’d watch anything that happened to have a theatrical release. Still, some pretty good ones at the top.

55. Police Academy 6: City Under Seige
54. Who’s Harry Crumb?
53. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
52. K-9
51. We’re No Angels
50. Troop Beverly Hills
49. The Wizard
48. The Karate Kid Part III
47. Fletch Lives
46. See No Evil, Hear No Evil
45. Turner & Hooch
44. Sex, Lies And Videotape
43. Uncle Buck
42. The Gods Must Be Crazy II
41. Her Alibi
40. Ghostbusters II
39. Three Fugitives
38. The Dream Team
37. Family Business
36. Driving Miss Daisy
35. The Little Mermaid
34. Look Who’s Talking
33. Honey, I Shrunk The Kids
32. The Burbs
31. Parenthood
30. Wekend At Bernie’s
29. My Left Foot
28. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
27. Lethal Weapon 2
26. Back To The Future Part II
25. UHF
24. Steel Magnolias
23. Wallace & Grommit: A Grand Day Out
22. Lonesome Dove
21. License To Kill
20. Major League
19. Valmont
18. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
17. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
16. Field Of Dreams

15. Mystery Train – Weird little Jim Jarmusch movie, and yes, that is redundant. Japanese tourists who prefer Carl Perkins to Elvis, Steve Buscemi, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Joe Strummer congregate in a Memphis hotel. A trio of simultaneous stories, all centered around the hotel. A gem.

14. Fabulous Baker Boys – A very cool movie. Great performances from both of the Bridges brothers, and of course, Michelle Pfeiffer. Cool characters, cool music, cool dialogue, cool directing. The writer-director Steven Kloves hasn;t directed anything else of note, but he did write Wonder Boys and the first four Harry Potter movies.

13. Drugstore Cowboy – Gus Van Sant’s first movie is probably still his best, though I haven’t seen any of his post-Psycho ultra-minimalist films. Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch are drug addicts who travel around committing crimes. Then Dillon goes straight and meets William S. Burroughs. Somewhere along the line, they meet Heather Graham (fresh from her outstanding performance in 1988’s License To Drive). Not as weird as My Own Private Idaho, which helps make it a lot more compelling.

12. Say Anything – Cameron Crowe’s debut film as a director. I think it’s a bit overrated. The simple fact is that every scene that revolves around John Cusak’s Lloyd Dobler is outstanding, but the subplot about Ione Skye’s father’s legal troubles just is not that interesting. John Mahoney’s good as the dad, it’s just that this should be a movie about Lloyd, a truly classic character and performance. Lili Taylor is also good as Lloyd’s Ducky. I was never a big Ione Skye fan. Lloyd could have done better.

11. Dead Poets Society – Everyone loved this movie at the time, but it really can’t rate any higher than this on anything more than nostalgia. Ethan Hawke’s character is underdeveloped, Robin Williams lapses too often into stand-up, the whole plotline of Robert Sean Leonard killing himself because Red Foreman won’t let him be an actor (a thinly disguised allegory for “he’s gay! gasp!”) is just plain silly, not to mention Williams getting fired over it. The actors are all very good though, I still think Knox Overstreeet’s plotline is the best part of the movie, and you really can’t help being a sucker for all the melodrama: the classroom scenes with Hawke and Williams, especially the last one, are great. But profound it is not, unless you happen to be in the 7th grade.

10. The Abyss – The best James Cameron movie set in or on the water. Crew of an undersea research center (think SeaLab 2020) gets lost because of a hurricane. As they try to repair their station and get back to the surface, Marine Michael Biehn (in another great performance for him in a Cameron movie) goes nuts and decides to set off some nukes. Then they discover the aliens. Great stuff. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio does a decent ripoff of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley character, but Ed Harris is the star of the movie for me. One of my favorite of his performances. Chris Elliott also stars. See the long version, without a doubt.

9. Batman – Important film, to be sure, but definitely overrated. Kim Basinger is truly awful, Jack Nicholson comes perilously close to going too far over the top, and did anyone ever really think Michael Keaton was a good Batman? Anyone? Making the Joker into the guy who killed Batman’s parents was lame. Still, a great looking movie, even if it is mostly a Blade Runner rip-off.

8. Heathers – Greater than any John Hughes teen comedy, to be sure. It’s been often imitated over the last 15 years, but only Election has come close to matching it’s high school black comedy nastiness. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater kill off a bunch of popular kids, first by accident, then out of psychosis. Great fun. Best line: “I love my dead gay son!”

7. Roger & Me – Even the people who irrationally hate Michael Moore have to respect this movie. It’s not my favorite of his, I think he comes to close to outright mockery of the poor victims of General Motors, when the people he should be targeting are the rich people, not the folks just trying to survive. But still, it revolutionized non-fiction film, a revolution which is still ongoing, as you can tell by the reaction to his last two films (How can it be a documentary?? It has an Opinion! ).

6. The Killer – The first really great John Woo film (that I’ve seen) stars the great Chow Yun-Fat as a hitman who accidentally blinds a woman in a shoot out and tries to make amends but gets double-crossed by his boss and ends up teamed up with the cop who’s been pursuing him (Danny Lee). Woo explored the same themes a couple years later in the superior Hard-Boiled, but that film’s more epic in scope. The Killer is still a big flashy John Woo action movie, but the story is simpler, there’s less action, and there’s more work in developing at least Chow’s character. Still better than 99% of American action movies from the 80s. Style goes a long way.

5. When Harry Met Sally – A little dated perhaps, or maybe I’ve just seen it too many times. One of my favorite romantic comedies, though I still can’t accept Billy Crystal as a romantic lead (which was probably Sally’s real problem anyway). Meg Ryan’s terrific, much better than she was on Charles In Charge. Whatever happened to her, anyway? Ever since Courage Under Fire, she’s been in some terrible movies.

4. Glory – One of the better war movies ever made. Mathew Broderick is decent, Cary Elwes is pretty bad, but Denzel Washington, Andre Braugher and especially Morgan Freeman are outstanding. Washington won the Oscar, but I actually think Freeman gave the better performance. It wasn’t as flashy, but he’s the center of the movie, the emotional core. Watching this movie again a few months ago, I was shocked by how clear it was that they all knew they were going to die. How, in fact, their ultimate goal was to get themselves killed in battle. I always thought the end was unhappy, futility of war and all that. But it isn’t. They prove their point by willingly marching to certain death (hence the title). Wars are weird.

3. Crimes And Misdemeanors – Woody Allen barely misses having yet another #2 film of the year. This one’s two seperate stories that come together at the end. The crime part follows Martin Landau as he has Anjelica Huston, who he was having an affair with, murdered. The misdemeanor part is Allen fighting with Alan Alda over MIa Farrow. Each half is pretty good, though I prefer the funny part, but the movie becomes great in the final scene where Landau and Allen meet at a party. Probably the best of Allen’s ‘serious’ films, though it’s close with Hannah And Her Sisters, a superficially similar film.

2. Henry V – My favorite Shakespeare movie (not counting adaptations like Throne Of Blood, Ran or Chimes At Midnight) is also kenneth Branagh’s directorial debut. I don’t much like Branagh as an actor generally, but he’s great in this movie. He gets both the war-king Henry and the comic wooing-Henry exactly right. Having Derek Jacobi play the theatre-specific role of the Chorus in the movie version is weird but still works. The battle scenes are terrific, especially the Agincourt battle and it’s aftermath. The movie would have been great if it ended at Agincourt, but instead we get an extended coda of Henry attempting to convince the King of France’s daughter (Emma Thompson) to marry him. Thompson’s very funny and the two of them work great together. Also stars Ian Holm, Paul Scofield, Brian Blessed and Christian Bale.

1. Do The Right Thing – My pick as the best movie of the 1980s. Great cast featuring Spike Lee, Rosie Perez, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, John Turturro, John Savage, Giancarlo Esposito and Samuel L. Jackson. You can tell a lot about a person by their reaction to this film. I wonder if the folks who think the film is racist and white-hating have actually bothered to watch it. Or are they just so desperate to beat back the infringements on their power over the previous 30 years that they’ll leap at any chance they get to put someone like Spike Lee in his place? The film’s message was apparently too subtle: there’s no such thing as the right thing, so what do you do then? Formally speaking, the film is great as well, and really, for me, the politics of the film is a secondary concern. it’s a great film because it’s a great film, first and foremost. That I happen to agree with it’s political point of view is a secondary manner. In fact, I generally don’t like political films that have to say what I already know and agree with; they bore me. The economy with which Lee depicts the neighborhood, sets up so many different characters and makes them all unique an memorable is extraordinary. Few films convey such a strong sense of place and weather as this one. It’s the hottest day of the year, and it really does feel like it. This is a masterpiece that seems to have been forgotten by history or marginalized as a mere political statement and unfairly maligned by reactionaries who either haven’t seen the film or didn’t bother paying attention to it. Now, as for Spike Lee’s view of women. . . .

Some big Unseen movies this year. Cinema Paradiso is next up in my Netflix queue:

Cinema Paradiso
The Decalogue
Born On The Fouth Of July
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
Sea Of Love
Road House
Dead Calm
Meet The Feebles
Kiki’s Delivery Service
Jesus Of Montreal
Casualties Of War
Always
Great Balls Of Fire
Erik The Viking
Tango And Cash
The War Of The Roses
Black Rain
Lean On Me
Lock Up
New York Stories
Kickboxer

Movies Of The Year: 1988

1988’s an off-year, no really great movies, though there are some very good ones.

50. Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach
49. My Stepmother Is An Alien
48. Caddyshack II
47. Action Jackson
46. The Dead Pool
45. Cocktail
44. Short Circuit 2
43. Rambo III
42. Crocodile Dundee II
41. Red Heat
40. Big Business
39. The Great Outdoors
38. The Presidio
37. Funny Farm
36. Beaches
35. The Seventh Sign
34. Biloxi Blues
33. Twins
32. Working Girl
31. Shoot To Kill
30. Mississippi Burning
29. Big
28. Scrooged
27. Young Guns
26. Hairspray
25. License To Drive
24. Alien Nation
23. Gorillas In The Mist
22. Coming To America
21. Talk Radio
20. The Accused
19. Frantic
18. The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen
17. Rain Man
16. The Thin Blue Line

15. Midnight Run – A good, if overrated movie. Frankly, I’ve always found it a little boring. A good performance by DeNiro, but Charles Grodin gets on my nerves.

14. Who Framed Roger Rabbitt – Warner Brothers cartoons were always better than Disney. It’s a shame they don’t make shorts like that anymore. The second best Robert Zemekis movie, after Back To The Future.

13. Akira – A good, very influential anime, but I’ve never loved it as much as a lot of other people do. I find it unmemorable. It’s a lot like Blade Runner in that it looks great, I can respect it, I can hardly remember anything about it and what I can remember, frustrates me.

12. Willow – It’s a Ron Howard movie. That means it’s good, but not particularly great. All his movies are like that. I haven’t seen this in years, so I imagine the effects are pretty dated. But there’s a great performance by Val Kilmer and some cool action sequences.

11. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Very simple con artist comedy highlighted by great performances by Steve Martin, Michael Caine and Glenne Headly. Another movie that seems to have grown overrated over time simply by virtue of not having any really big flaws.

10. The Milagro Beanfield War – A remember watching a Siskel & Ebert episode when I was a kid and seeing this movie reviewed. I remember quite clearly that it looked like a very serious, dark, boring drama. For that reason, I avoided watching it for years and years. One day, forced to watch it, I discovered that I was remembering a different movie all together. This is a very bright, even whimsical little gem of a movie. I’ve only seen 3 of the 7 movies Robert Redford has directed (Quiz Show and Ordinary People are the others) but they’re all great.

9. A Fish Called Wanda – I have no idea why this gets the raves it does. Sure, its funny, but not hysterically so. Yeah, the performances are all pretty good, but that isn’t exactly a surprise coming from this cast. It’s a good movie, that’s for sure. But one of the best comedies of all-time? No way. Inexplicably the recipient of a Best Director Oscar nomination for Charles Crichton, who directed his first movie in 1944.

8. Stand And Deliever – The best of the great teachers genre of movies, generally an unremarkable group. A great performance by Edward James Olmos, a great actor who seems to have trouble finding great roles. He’s been really good on the new Battlestar Galactica series.

7. Beetlejuice – I imagine the special effects and scenery chewing by Michael Keaton and Catherine O’Hara don’t really stand up over time, but Winona Ryder’s performance is iconic. This film is one of the few times Geena Davis doesn’t really annoy me. I can’t believe people think she should play the President. Alec Baldwin also stars and is alright.

6. The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad – Without a doubt the funniest movie of the year, Wanda fans regardless. Creepy seeing OJ Simpson in a movie. It’s not as good as Airplane! or Hot Shots, but still a classic.

5. Eight Men Out – The second best baseball movie of the year, but one of the best of all-time nonetheless. More historically accurate than most movies, it’s a little sappy in that it makes you think these players were treated unfairly, a very debatable claim. It would have been nice for Sayles to dramatize the ‘they got what they deserved” side of the issue, at least a little. Maybe something from Christy Mathewson (the great and universally respected Hall Of Fame former pitcher who was one of the reporters who suspected the fix) or Eddie Collins, arguably the greatest second baseman of all-time and one of the clean Sox, he’s depicted as nothing but a jerk in the movie. Anyway, the period detail is outstanding, and the cast is great. John Cusak really stands out, but David Strathairn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Rooker, DB Sweeney, John Mahoney, Charlie Sheen, Studs Terkel, John Sayles, and Michael Lerner.

4. Die Hard – Without a doubt one of the best action movies of all-time. There’s a reason why movies are still defined in reference to it. Classic performances from Alan Rickman and Bruce Willis. I never did get why he didn’t put his shoes on right away though. great string of movies for John McTiernan: Predator, Die Hard, Hunt For Red October. Then he did Medicine Man and totally fell apart.

3. The Last Temptation Of Christ – The movie that the philistine right thinks The Passion Of the Christ is. This is a sincerely devout and thought provoking film that deserved absolutely none of the criticism it received from moronic religious groups that didn’t even bother to watch the movie or the book it’s based on before protesting it. Willem Defoe is great in the lead role. Harry dean Stanton is a terrific John the Baptist. the weird cast also includes Barbara Hershey as Mary Magdalene, David Bowie as Pontius Pilate, John Lurie as James, Irvin Kershner as Zebedee and Ileana Douglas as an extra. The problem for me is Harvey Keitel. As much as I like him and think he’s a great actor, I simply can’t by him as a believable Judas. It’s the one flaw that keeps this from being a true classic. Scorsese’s movie makes you think, Gibson’s makes you feel nauseous (unless you get a masochistic thrill out of it).

2. Bull Durham – The best baseball movie ever may not even be about baseball at all. Or rather, it’s definitely about baseball, but it’s about life also. But baseball’s about life too, so this is the movie that most accurately captures baseball in its totality. Which makes it the best baseball movie of all-time. Classic performances from the three leads, which made all three of them stars. Infinitely rewatchable.

1. Dangerous Liaisons – 1988 was apparently a good year for movies about sex. This one is also highlighted by three terrific performances and a remarkably funny script. In addition to John Malkovich, Glenn Close and Michelle Pfeiffer’s great lead performances, Keanu Reeves is remarkable appropriate in his role, Swoozie Kurtz is pretty good and Uma Thurman is quite memorable. My favorite of the three versions of the story I’ve seen, it’s the one that best gets the balance of vicious comedy and sincere drama. Valmont is too serious and Cruel Intentions too campy, this one gets it just right. A great looking movie, and I don’t just mean the actresses. I had a theory for awhile that Glenn Close’s character isn’t just pure evil, but is also a proto-feminist hero, her motivation stems from her desire to get revenge on all the men who have wronged her. I don’t know if I totally believe that, and it certainly isn’t necessary to enjoy the movie.

Not a lot of great Unseen movie this year, as far as I know:

As Tears Go By
Hotel Terminus
The Big Blue
Grave Of The Fireflies
My Neighbor Totoro
Bloodsport
They Live
The Unbearable Lightness Of Being
Tequila Sunrise
Dead Ringers
Earth Girls Are Easy
The Accidental Tourist
Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown
Mystic Pizza
Colors
Tucker: The Man And His Dream
DOA
Running On Empty
Another Woman
Bright Lights, Big City
Torch Song Trilogy
Young Einstein
I’m Gonna Get You Sucka
Tetsuo: The Ironman

Movie Round-Up

Been watching a lot of movies lately, as the baseball season has ended and I’m trying to clear space on the tivo for Bravo’s rerunning of the whole last season of The West Wing next week.

The Shop Around The Corner – Very good romantic comedy that’s more about the Shop than the Romantic Comedy. I imagine the remake, You’ve Got Mail, was dreadful largely because it failed to focus on the environment and the supporting characters, but I’d have to watch it to find out and that isn’t going to happen. A great, low-key performance from Jimmy Stewart, who was in the midst of a great string of performances (Mr. Smith in ’39 and this movie and The Philadelphia Story in ’40).

A History Of Violence – One of the best movies of the year thus far, and the best David Cronenberg movie I’ve seen. People seem to either love it or hate it. It’s a lot more complex than the haters seem to think it is. My working theory is that it’s about repression, how it’s both good and bad, which seems to be one of the major issues Cronenberg likes to deal with. great performances by Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello, and I think the son was on The OC last week.

Serenity – About what I expected it to be, which given the hype and how much I liked the series, is about all I could hope for. I think it worked better as a series, but that’s just because it was conceived as one. I imagine you’d like it without having seen any of the episodes first, but not as much as if you had, which you should because they’re great.

The Battle Of Algiers – Good, almost eerily relevant. Sad to think that our method of combating terrorism have not evolved since the 1950s (kill a bunch of people and torture the rest). Very effective use of the neo-realist/cinema verité style to create a real documentary feel to the film. Jean Martin is great as the Jack Bauer-esque paratrooper Colonel who implements the torture policy to eliminate the terrorist networks.

Black Narcissus – Another great Powell and Pressburger film about nuns who move into a Himalayan castle and all go a little insane. Great performances from Deborah Kerr as the leader of the nuns and Kathleen Byron as the craziest nun of all. Great looking, like all Powell and Pressburger movies. They topped it a year later with The Red Shoes, but not by much.

Fear And Loathing In The Killing Fields

Just finished watching Salvador, a movie I’ve wanted to see for a long time and has been saved on the tivo for at least a month now. I’ve certainly missed the non-crazy Oliver Stone. This was released in February of 1986, and Stone also had Platoon released in december that same year. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any director who’s had two films this good come out in the same year. I’d rank it right now as the number 5 film of that year, just behind Aliens.

James Woods stars as a Hunter S. Thompson-esque photojournalist named Richard Boyle who drags his DJ buddy (james Belushi, who does not ruin the movie) to El Salvador to get drunk, smoke pot and try to get a job taking pictures of the revolution. No one will hire him because he’s either too drunk, too dishonest or too leftist to be relied on to take pictures of the various atrocities committed by right-wing death squads, left-wing guerillas or the American military-intelligence ‘advisors’. It’s by far the best performance I’ve seen Woods give. He’s like Sam Waterston’s Sydney Schanberg (from The Killing Fields, who Boyle mentions several times, claiming to have been “The Last Man In Cambodia” while Schanberg was in New York celebrating his Pulitzer) except he’s more like a real human being than a walking, preaching conscience-machine. What Stone, Woods and Boyle (who co-wrote the film with Stone, based on his own experiences) tap into is the same thing Thompson did in the best of his work: use the crazy sex, drugs and alcohol stuff to hook the viewer/reader into the story, then hit them with the overwhelming truth of their message without them noticing that you’ve turned all serious. The point is that happened in El Salvador was bad enough to sober up Dr. Gonzo.

Another thing I loved about this movie was the depiction of the photojournalists at work. John Savage plays John Cassady, a journalist based on John Hoagland, about whom you can read at this site and who took the above photo, and watching him and Woods at work is fascinating. Not just the way they drunkenly stagger through the war zones, or the way they constantly have their cameras out, ready for The Big Picture to need to be taken at any moment, or even the way they use their cameras as their only defense against the death squads that would probably enjoy killing them (Cassady and Boyle routinely get out of trouble by offering to photograph the petty fascists threatening their lives, offering to make them famous in exchange for not getting murdered). The climax of the film, when Woods and Savage are running through an all-out battle between the guerillas and the US-supported government troops is remarkable. In the 20 years since, I don’t know that I’ve seen a battle sequence as good as this. It’s as good as anything in Saving Private Ryan, and much more compelling.

The movie almost loses it when Woods gives his big speech to the US military and CIA representatives about how wrong they are for supporting the death squads. A later Oliver Stone would give in to his need to preach and this would turn cheesy and ineffective, as Sam Waterston’s speech is at the end of The Killing Fields. But this pre-JFK Stone was still feisty. He actually gives the military guy an argument I hadn’t heard before: that letting the peasant rebels take over is exactly what the US did in Cambodia, and those peasants turned into the Khmer Rouge and killed millions of people. It isn’t a particularly compelling argument, but at least it’s something. And it gives Boyle a chance to refute that argument, which only makes his indictment of our government that much stronger. Instead of preaching, Boyle argues. Roland Joffé, in the Killing Fields, doesn’t allow the US the benefit of making even a specious argument in its own defense. Instead, we get Sam Waterston’s righteous indignation. The ultimate effect on the audience is totally different: The Killing Fields makes you feel depressed and guilty, Salvador makes you angry. That’s what the left needs, as much now as ever.

Movies Of The Year: 1987

I’ve seen 54 movies from 1987. That’s more than one per week for an entire year. Yikes. I saw numbers 48 and 50 in the theatre. As a double feature. I miss double features.

54. Superman IV: The Quest For Peace
53. Teen Wolf Too
52. Masters Of The Universe
50. Back To The Beach
49. Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol
48. Summer School
47. Ernest Goes To Camp
46. Allan Quartermain And The Lost City Of Gold
45. Baby Boom
44. Harry And The Hendersons
43. Mannequin
42. Project X
41. Batteries Not Included
40. The Running Man
39. Stakeout
38. The Lost Boys
37. Fatal Attraction
36. A Better Tomorrow II
35. Suspect
34. Three Men And A Baby
33. Beverly Hills Cop II
32. Innerspace
31. No Way Out
30. Babette’s Feast
29. Less Than Zero
28. Spaceballs
27. La Bamba
26. Adventures In Babysitting
25. Good Morning, Vietnam
24. The Secret Of My Success
23. Dragnet
22. The Living Daylights
21. Roxanne
20. Lethal Weapon
19. Dirty Dancing
18. Predator
17. RoboCop
16. Planes, Trains And Automobiles

15. Some Kind Of Wonderful – The least well-known John Hughes high school movie of the 80s is one of my favorites. Much better than his similarly-themed Pretty In Pink. Eric Stoltz stars as the Molly Ringwold character. Lea Thompson as Andrew McCarthy and Mary Stuart Masterson plays the Ducky.

14. Ishtar – I know that there are people in the world, who aren’t related to me, who like this movie. It was just ahead of it’s time. Now, when a serious actor like Robert DeNiro is one of the most reliable dumb-comedy draws in Hollywood, Beatty and Hoffman wouldn’t be pilloried for starring in a silly musical about two hilariously bad singer-songwriters.

13. Radio Days – A little Woody Allen movie, but a good one. In the 80s he seems to had a string of perfect little comedy dramas (Broadway Danny Rose, The Purple Rose Of Cairo, Zelig, Radio Days) sandwiched around the epic Hannah And Her Sisters. Not ambitious at all, but well done and entertaining.

12. Throw Mama From The Train – A very odd dark comedy about a couple of bad writers, Hitchcock movies, and the villainous mom from The Goonies. Gets a little too sappy towards the middle, but that’s balanced by the greatness of the immortal line “The night was moist.”

11. Moonstruck – Surprisingly good. Both the movie and Cher. I didn’t like it as much the second time I watched it, but it’s still pretty good. Nicolas Cage is great though as the one-armed, opera-loving baker who steals his brother’s fiancée.

10. Wall Street – Very overrated film notable really for only three things: Michael Douglas’s speech about greed, while overplayed, is still really good; the end of Charlie Sheen’s career as a serious actor (he’s really bad here, after being pretty good in Platoon; a remarkable scene between Charlie and Martin Sheen towards the end of the film, when Martin realizes that his son has become everything he’s always hated. Martin: good. Charlie: bad.

9. The Untouchables – Another overrated movie that nonetheless has some very good elements. Disliking Brian DePalma, I like to ascribe all the elements of this movie that I like to David Mamet, who wrote the screenplay before DePalma took over and butchered it. I believe Mamet’s even disowned it. The good parts: Sean Connery, of course. Kevin Costner and Andy Garcia and Robert DeNiro are also all good. The bad parts: this is a movie about how the government are heros for ignoring the Bill Of Rights to kill and capture people who violate a law that no one, not even the agents of that government, think is just. Eliot Ness is a hero to people who think orders must always be followed, regardless of their morality. To put it bluntly: this movie is fascist. The worst part is DePalma’s cooptation of the Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin. In Eisenstein’s film, the baby rolling perilously down the steps was about the inhumanity of the murderous government agents attempting to put down public protest. DePalma takes this great humanist image and uses it to make a hero of said murderous government agents. Despicable.

8. Wings Of Desire – I’ve an odd reaction to this film since I actually saw its sequel (Far Away, So Close) first. I can’t say I liked either of the first two Wim Wenders movies I saw (Until The End Of The World was the other), frankly, they confused the hell out of me. So, when I finally saw this one, I was delighted to see that it actually made sense and was enjoyable. It’s a sweet little movie about an angel who wants to be human. It’s fun, it’s romantic and it won;t make you hate Germans.

7. Evil Dead II – A great improvement on the original, as should be expected since Sam Raimi actually had a budget for this one. It’s more of a remake of the first than a sequel, really. There’s really nothing like the Evil Dead movies in cinema. Even something like Shaun Of The Dead isn’t nearly as crazy or funny. A classic that should be seen by every film fan.

6. The Last Emperor – Bernardo Bertolucci’s great epic about the life of Pu Yi, an through him, China throughout the 20th Century. It’s a great looking, big-looking movie, but it’s the scenes of Pu Yi’s reeducation by the Communists that are my favorite. John Lone is really terrific playing a man who was raised to think he was a god who is forced to realize that he really is weak, incompetent and useless. See the longer version (every version is long) it’s much better.

5. Raising Arizona – Neither the Coen brothers weirdest nor funniest movie, yet still of the the funniest weird movies ever. Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter are great as the baby-napping husband and wife. The immortal Randall “Tex” Cobb is iconic as the bounty hunter hired to get the baby back. Coen regulars John Goodman and Frances McDormand also star.

4. Full Metal Jacket – I have to admit that while I’ve seen the first half of this movie many times, I’ve only made it through to the end once. And that was in class (my professor claimed that this was the best movie about teaching ever. When asked to pick a film for a teacher’s retreat group to watch, he showed them this. I don’t think they got it). The first half is so amazing, so powerful and ends so abruptly, that the cut to part two was always way too jarring for me to deal with. It’s important to realize, though, that that’s the effect Kubrick was going for. Making the audience uncomfortable is what war movies are supposed to do. Not just horrify you, but confuse, disorient and anger you. the first half of the movie is about dehumanizing people, the second is about dropping dehumans into chaos. Great acting from mathew Modine, Vincent D’Onofrio and R. Lee Ermy. Adam Baldwin from Firefly also stars. Apparently, he’s not one of those Baldwins.

3. Empire Of The Sun – My favorite ‘serious’ Spielberg movie. I don’t know if I like it quite as much as Jaws or Raiders Of The Lost Ark, but it’s a heck of a lot better than Saving Private Ryan or The Color Purple (Schindler’s List is problematic. More on that in 1993). Christian Bale plays a bratty little rich kid who gets separated from his parents when the Japanese take over Shanghai in World War II. He hooks up with John Malkovich and Joe Pantoliano and grows up during the war living in various prison camps. It’s a basic coming of age story, from a director who’s made a lot of coming of age stories, but Spielberg’s at the top of his game here. It’s got that same visual style that’s so unfairly pretty, great acting from the two leads (Bale’s great at being annoying, and Malkovich is, well, Malkovich), and just the right amount of cheesy emotion.

2. Broadcast News – The second Holly Hunter movie in my top five, this is also her best movie, and one of the best romantic comedies of all-time. Hunter’s amazing in the lead role as a network news producer who cares about everything more than anybody else. William Hurt is good as the proto-mimbo anchorman. And Albert Brooks is hilarious as the brainy reporter with perspiration problems. Manages to be not especially insightful while also being prescient about the future of news as “infotainment”, it works a lot better as a tragic romantic comedy that as a political statement. By far the best James L. Brooks movie, and the only one that doesn’t feel like an overlong episode of Family Ties or something.

1. The Princess Bride – If this wasn’t number one, I might find myself without a place to live anymore. But it is certainly deserving regardless of any matrimonial obligations. William Goldman’s masterpiece has got it all: great acting, romance, comedy, sports, pirates, a giant, you name it. I don’t think there’s anyone in my generation who does not love this movie. Consider it our Gone With The Wind, our It’s A Wonderful Life, our Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. The book is very good too. Not better, or worse, but also good. Can’t say I ever liked the title though. I didn’t see it until it was on video because of the title. i just thought it sounded lame. Of course, when I finally did see it on video, I ended up watching it over and over again all that night and many many times after that. You see, titles are important.

Nothing too awful in the Unseen for this year. Matewan is the most embarrassing, and it’s in the queue:

Matewan
The Witches Of Eastwick
House Of Games
Over The Top
Straight To Hell
Chinese Ghost Story
Hope And Glory
Au Revoir Les Enfants
Pelle The Conqueror
Hamburger Hill
Hellraiser
Someone To Watch Over Me
Cry Freedom
Bad Taste
Who’s That Girl
Baghdad Cafe
Tin Men
Barfly
Maurice
Eddie Murphy Raw

Geek Love

Time magazine’s website’s got a joint interview with Joss Whedon and Neil Gaiman that’s moderately interesting. Whedon’s hyping Serenity, which hopefully we’ll get to see on Tuesday. Gaiman’s got a new book coming out and a movie, Mirrormask, that he did with the Jim Hensen Company. I don’t think that’s opened in Seattle yet.

A History Of Violence did pretty decent business tonight. I’m going to try to watch it Monday night.