1984 Endy Awards

These are the 1984 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. This is also a tie-in with our 1984 Year in Review episode of The George Sanders Show. Awards for many other years can be found in the Endy Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .

Best Picture:

1. Choose Me
2. Gremlins
3. Shanghai Blues
4. Stranger Than Paradise
5. Wheels on Meals

Best Director:

1. Alan Rudolph, Choose Me
2. Lau Kar-leung, The Eight-Diagram Pole Fighter
3. Tsui Hark, Shanghai Blues
4. Jim Jarmusch, Stranger than Paradise
5. Sammo Hung, Wheels on Meals

Best Actor:

1. Bill Murray, Ghostbusters
2. John Cassavetes, Love Streams
3. Robert DeNiro, Once Upon a Time in America
4. Jeff Bridges, Starman
5. David Byrne, Stop Making Sense

Best Actress:

1. Lesley Ann Warren, Choose Me
2. Gena Rowlands, Love Streams
3. Sylvia Chang, Shanghai Blues
4. Karen Allen, Starman
5. Eszter Balint, Stranger than Paradise

Supporting Actor:

1. M. Emmet Walsh, Blood Simple
2. Fred Gwynne, The Cotton Club
3. Rick Moranis, Ghostbusters
4. Pat Morita, The Karate Kid
5. Christopher Guest, This is Spinal Tap

Supporting Actress:

1. Mia Farrow, Broadway Danny Rose
2. Diane Lane, The Cotton Club
3. Phoebe Cates, Gremlins
4. Jennifer Connolly, Once Upon a Time in America
5. Sally Yeh, Shanghai Blues

Original Screenplay:

1. Alan Rudolph Choose Me
2. Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis, Ghostbusters
3. Chan Koon-chung, Szeto Cheuk-hon & Raymond To, Shanghai Blues
4. Jim Jarmusch, Stranger than Paradise
5. Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Sheareer & Rob Reiner, This is Spinal Tap

Adapted Screenplay:

1. Peter Shaffer, Amadeus
2. William Kennedy & Francis Ford Coppola, The Cotton Club
3. Fengcho, Love in a Fallen City
4. Hayao Miyazaki, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
5. Leonardo Benvenuti, Piero De Bernardi, Enrico Medioli, Franco Arcalli, Franco Ferini & Sergio Leone, Once Upon a Time in America

Non-English Language Film:

1. Boy Meets Girl (Leos Carax)
2. The Eight-Diagram Pole Fighter (Lau Kar-leung)
3. Shanghai Blues (Tsui Hark)
4. A Summer at Grandpa’s (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
5. Wheels on Meals (Sammo Hung)

Documentary Film:

1. Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme)
2. The Times of Harvey Milk (Rob Epstein)

Animated Film:

1. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Hayao Miyazaki)

Unseen Film:

1. Fear City (Abel Ferrara)
2. The Hit (Stephen Frears)
3. Secret Honor (Robert Altman)
4. Under the Volcano (John Huston)
5. Yellow Earth (Chen Kaige)

Film Editing:

1. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
2. Once Upon a Time in America
3. Shanghai Blues
4. Stop Making Sense
5. Wheels on Meals

Cinematography:

1. Choose Me
2. Once Upon a Time in America
3. Shanghai Blues
4. Stranger than Paradise
5. A Summer at Grandpa’s

Art Direction:

1. Amadeus
2. Dune
3. Once Upon a Time in America
4. Shanghai Blues
5. Streets of Fire

Costume Design:

1. Amadeus
2. Dune
3. Full Moon in Paris
4. Once Upon a Time in America
5. Wheels on Meals

Make-up:

1. Amadeus
2. Dune
3. Ghostbusters
4. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
5. The Terminator

Original Score:

1. Choose Me
2. Once Upon a Time in America
3. Purple Rain
4. Starman
5. This is Spinal Tap

Adapted Score:

1. Amadeus
2. The Cotton Club
3. Footloose
4. Stop Making Sense
5. Stranger than Paradise

Original Song:

1. “Axel F”, Harold Faltermeyer, Beverly Hills Cop
2. “Holding Out for a Hero”, Bonnie Tyler, Footloose
3. “Let’s Hear it for the Boy”, Deniece Williams, Footloose
4. “Purple Rain”, Prince, Purple Rain
5. “When Doves Cry”, Prince, Purple Rain

Sound:

1. Amadeus
2. Choose Me
5. The Cotton Club
4. Stop Making Sense
3. The Terminator

Sound Editing:

1. Dune
2. Ghostbusters
3. Gremlins
4. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
5. The Terminator

Visual Effects:

1. The Eight-Diagram Pole Fighter
2. Ghostbusters
3. Gremlins
4. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
5. The Terminator

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The Best Older Movies I Saw in 2014

An annual tradition here at The End, is a look at my favorite film discoveries of the year, any movie more than a few years old that I saw for the first time in 2014. Previous years include: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006. I watched 410 or so movies in 2014, roughly half of which qualify for this list. Here are 185 that I liked.

1. Shanghai Blues (Tsui Hark, 1984)
2. Ballet (Frederick Wiseman, 1995)
3. Kiki’s Delivery Service (Hayao Miyazaki, 1989)
4. They Live (John Carpenter, 1988)
5. Dishonored (Josef von Sternberg, 1931)
6. Choose Me (Alan Rudolph, 1984)
7. The Love Eterne (Li Han-hsiang, 1963)
8. French Cancan (Jean Renoir, 1954)
9. Love in the Time of Twilight (Tsui Hark, 1995) 

10. Kriemhild’s Revenge (Fritz Lang, 1924)

11. Sorcerer (William Friedkin, 1977)

12. Wavelength (Michael Snow, 1967)

13. Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme, 1984)

14. It’s Such a Beautiful Day (Don Hertzfeldt, 2012)

15. Renaldo and Clara (Bob Dylan, 1978)

16. Awaara (Raj Kapoor, 1951)

17. My Neighbors the Yamadas (Isao Takahata, 1999)

18. Two for the Road (Stanley Donen, 1967)

19. One from the Heart (Francis Ford Coppola, 1982)

20. Eat the Document (Bob Dylan, 1972)

21. Pitch Perfect (Jason Moore, 2012)

22. A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon (Tsui Hark, 1989)

23. The Enchanting Shadow (Li Han-hsiang, 1960)

24. Oxhide (Liu Jiayin, 2005)

25. Golden Chicken (Samson Chiu, 2002)

26. Chinese Odyssey 2002 (Jeffrey Lau, 2002)

27. Love in a Puff (Pang Ho-cheung, 2010)

28. High School (Frederick Wiseman, 1968)

29. Bye Bye Birdie (George Sidney, 1963)

30. The Doll (Ernst Lubitsch, 1919)

31. Napoleon (Abel Gance, 1927)

32. Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors (Hong Sangsoo, 2000)

33. Painted Faces (Alex Law, 1988)

34. Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (Allan Arkush, 1979)

35. The House of Mirth (Terrence Davies, 2000)

36. Siegfried (Fritz Lang, 1924)

37. Xiao Wu (Jia Zhangke, 1997)

38. Devils on the Doorstep (Jiang Wen, 2000)

39. Toute le mémoire du monde (Alain Resnais, 1956)

40. The Dream of the Red Chamber (Li Han-hsiang, 1977)

41. Videodrome (David Cronenberg, 1983)

42. The Cotton Club (Francis Ford Coppola, 1984)

43. Tom Jones (Tony Richardson, 1963)

44. Tartuffe (FW Murnau, 1925)

45. The Bingo Long Travelling All-Sars and Motor Kings (John Balham, 1976)

46. The Blade (Tsui Hark, 1995)

47. The Last Movie (Dennis Hopper, 1971)

48. The Shopaholics (Wai Ka-fai, 2006)

49. They All Laughed (Peter Bogdanovich, 1981)

50. Tai Chi Zero (Stephen Fung, 2012)

51. Ghosts of Mars (John Carpenter, 2001)
52. Little Man, What Now? (Frank Borzage, 1934)
53. Way of the Dragon (Bruce Lee, 1972)
54. Wuxia (Peter Chan, 2011)
55. Accident (Soi Cheang, 2009)
56. King of Comedy (Stephen Chow & Lee Lik-chi, 1999)
57. He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Father (Peter Chan, 1993)
58. Streets of Fire (Walter Hill, 1984)
59. The Bride with White Hair (Ronny Yu, 1993)
60. Furious (Tim Everitt & Tom Sartori, 1984)

61. Lola (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1981)
62. Isabella (Pang Ho-cheung, 2006)
63. The Golem (Carl Boese & Paul Wegener, 1920)
64. Sholay (Ramesh Sippy, 1975)
65. Ex (Heiward Mak, 2010)
66. Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (Andrew Lau, 2010)
67. Le pont des Arts (Eugène Green, 2004)
68. The Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry, 2011)
69. Motorway (Soi Cheang, 20120
70. SPL: Sha Po Lang (Wilson Yip, 2005)

71. Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (Edward Cline, 1941)
72. Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)
73. The American Dreamer (LM Kit Carson & Lawrence Schiller, 1971)
74. Golden Chicken 2 (Samson Chiu, 2003)
75. The Sun Also Rises (Jiang Wen, 2007)
76. Viva Las Vegas (George Sidney, 1964)
77. Mission to Mars (Brian DePalma, 2000)
78. Casa de Lava (Pedro Costa, 1994)
79. Love Battlefield (Soi Cheang, 2004)
80. Perhaps Love (Peter Chan, 2005)

81. Song of the Exile (Ann Hui, 1990)
82. The Legend is Born: Ip Man (Herman Yau, 2010)
83. Time and Tide (Tsui Hark, 2000)
84. Emperor of the North (Robert Aldrich, 1973)
85. The Lovers (Tsui Hark, 1994)
86. Coffy (Jack Hill, 1973)
87. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Hayao Miyazaki, 1984)
88. Dead End (Chang Cheh, 1969)
89. One Night in Mongkok (Derek Yee, 2004)
90. What’s Up, Doc? (Peter Bogdanovich, 1972)

91. Come and Get It (Howard Hawks and William Wyler, 1936)
92. Belfast, Maine (Frederick Wiseman, 1999)
93. Strike (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)
94. Fist of Fury (Lo Wei, 1972)
95. 20 30 40 (Sylvia Chang, 2004)
96. Une chambre en ville (Jacques Demy, 1982)
97. The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension (WD Richter, 1984)
98. The Fury (Brian DePalma, 1978)
99. Martial Club (Lau Kar-leung, 1981)
100. The Boxer from Shantung (Chang Cheh, 1972)

101. You Were Never Lovelier (William A. Seiter, 1942)
102. The Sugarland Express (Steven Spielberg, 1974)
103. Kiss of Death (Henry Hathaway, 1947)
104. Mrs. Miniver (William Wyler, 1942)
105. Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata, 1988)
106. Jade Goddess of Mercy (Ann Hui, 2003)
107. Piranha (Joe Dante, 1978)
108. Tempting Heart (Sylvia Chang, 1999)
109. Tai Chi Hero (Stephen Fung, 2012)
110. The Lady is the Boss (Lau Kar-leung, 1983)

111. You Shoot, I Shoot (Pang Ho-cheung, 2001)
112. Crazy Horse (Frederick Wiseman, 2011)
113. Toutes les nuits (Eugène Green, 2001)
114. Beyond the Great Wall (Li Han-hsiang, 1964)
115. Anna Magdalena (Yee Chung-man, 1998)
116. Knock Off (Tsui Hark, 1998)
117. Fantasia (Wai Ka-fai, 2004)
118. Creature from the Black Lagoon (Jack Arnold, 1954)
119. How to Marry a Millionaire (Jean Negulesco, 1953)
120. Liverpool (Lisandro Alonso, 2008)

121. The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (Ann Hui, 2006)
122. The Muppet Christmas Carol (Brian Henson, 1992)
123. The Valiant Ones (King Hu, 1975)
124. Painted Skin (King Hu, 1993)
125. Love in the Buff (Pang Ho-cheung, 2012)
126. The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978)
127. Christmas Holiday (Robert Siodmak, 1944)
128. The Road to Glory (Howard Hawks, 1936)
129. Seven Swords (Tsui Hark, 2005)
130. Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, 1986)

131. Flash Point (Wilson Yip, 2007)
132. Tiger on the Beat 2 (Lau Kar-leung, 1990)
133. Love Aaj Kal (Imtiaz Ali, 2009)
134. La Comédie-Française (Frederick Wiseman, 1996)
135. The Vanishing (George Sluizer, 1988)
136. The Longest Yard (Robert Aldrich, 1974)
137. Mad Max (George Miller, 1979)
138. Spiritual Boxer II (Lau Kar-leung, 1979)
139. Games Gamblers Play (Michael Hui, 1974)
140. The Life of Emile Zola (William Dieterle, 1937)

141. The Grass is Greener (Stanley Donen, 1960)
142. Full Alert (Ringo Lam, 1997)
143. Sophie’s Revenge (Eva Jin, 2009)
144. Anne of the Indies (Jacques Turner, 1951)
145. Drunken Master 3 (Lau Kar-leung, 1994)
146. Legend of a Fighter (Yuen Woo-ping, 1982)
147. The Greatest Show on Earth (Cecil B. DeMille, 1952)
148. Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1979)
149. A Moment of Romance (Benny Chan, 1990)
150. Phantom (FW Murnau, 1922)

151. Tiger Cage (Yuen Woo-ping, 1988)
152. Exodus (Pang Ho-cheung, 2007)
153. Double Team (Tsui Hark, 1997)
154. Zodiac Killers (Ann Hui, 1991)
155. Heroes Shed No Tears (John Woo, 1986)
156. Jiang Hu: The Triad Zone (Dante Lam, 2000)
157. Shaolin Temple 3: Martial Arts of Shaolin (Lau Kar-leung, 1986)
158. The Great Ziegfeld (Robert Z. Leonard, 1936)
159. Matewan (John Sayles, 1987)
160. The Body Snatcher (Robert Wise, 1945)

161. Cocktail (Herman Yau & Long Ching, 2006)
162. High Noon (Heiward Mak, 2008)
163. The Raid (Gareth Evans, 2011)
164. Harper (Jack Smight, 1966)
165. Indiscreet (Stanley Donen, 1958)
166. Ziegfeld Follies (Vincente Minnelli et al, 1945)
167. The Thomas Crown Affair (Norman Jewison, 1968)
168. The Dead and the Deadly (Wu Ma, 1982)
169. The Chinese Boxer (Jimmy Wang Yu, 1970)
170. Maurice (James Ivory, 1987)

171. Diva (Heiward Mak, 2012)
172. Ninja (Isaac Florentine, 2009)
173. I Dood It (Vincente Minnelli, 1943)
174. Summer Palace (Lou Ye, 2006)
175. Lovely to Look At (Melvyn LeRoy, 1952)
176. The Duel (Chang Cheh, 1971)
177. Symphonie diaganale (Viking Eggling, 1924)
178. Cover Girl (Charles Vidor, 1944)
179. The Pride of the Yankees (Sam Wood, 1942)
180. The Singing Thief (Chang Cheh, 1969)

181. The Magic Crystal (Wong Jing, 1986)
182. Dream of the Red Chamber (Bu Wancang, 1943)
183. Cat vs. Rat (Lau Kar-leung, 1982)
184. Tri-Star (Tsui Hark, 1996)
185. Revenge of the Nerds (Jeff Kanew, 1984)

A Top 50 Films of 2014, More or Less

As I did last year, I’m making a Best of the Year list following the conventional system for what counts as a 2014 film, mainly the nonsensical and ahistorical system that decrees that critics may only  consider movies to have existed once they have played for a week in a commercial venue in New York City. (This is the system that claims my favorite film of 2013 (La última película), which played for a week in Seattle in 2014, can only be considered a 2015 film because that is when it will finally get a New York release, probably). But alas, we all must bow to convention, however silly, every once in awhile.

My official 2014 list will come in a few months, right around Oscar-time, along with the 2014 Endy Awards and a special episode of The George Sanders Show. By that time I will have been able to see a number of my most-anticipated 2014 movies that haven’t yet been released here, including Inherent Vice, Selma and The Taking of Tiger Mountain Into the Woods (Tiger Mountain, which opens on December 24th in China, doesn’t open until January 2nd in New York, which means it’s a 2015 film by the New York standard. Thanks to Jaime Grijalba for the correction). Coming this week are our annual year-in-review episode of They Shot Pictures, as well as a look at the best films of 1984 on The George Sanders Show.

1. The Missing Picture (Rithy Panh)

2. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Isao Takahata)

3. National Gallery (Frederick Wiseman)

4. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2 (Johnnie To)

5. The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki)

6. Actress (Robert Greene)

7. The Immigrant (James Gray)

8. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)

9. Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (Stephen Chow & Derek Kwok)

10. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)

11. Stray Dogs (Tsai Ming-liang)

12. Adieu au langage (Jean-Luc Godard)

13. A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness (Ben Rivers & Ben Russell)

14. Gone Girl (David Fincher)

15. Obvious Child (Gillian Robespierre)

16. Listen Up Philip (Alex Ross Perry)

17. Pompeii (Paul WS Anderson)

18. Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer)

19. Lucy (Luc Besson)

20. Highway (Imtiaz Ali)

21. Boyhood (Richard Linklater)

22. Happy Christmas (Joe Swanberg)

23. Jersey Boys (Clint Eastwood)

24. The Golden Era (Ann Hui)

25. Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)

26. The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (Mami Sunada)

27. Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh)

28. Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho)

29. Winter Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)

30. The Raid 2 (Gareth Evans)

31. Aberdeen (Pang Ho-cheung)

32. The Babadook (Jennifer Kent)

33. Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman)

34. They Came Together (David Wain)

35. Night Moves (Kelly Reichardt)

And here are my favorite films of the year that aren’t eligible by this reckoning. The Best 2014 Films of 2015 (Hopefully):

1. Hill of Freedom (Hong Sangsoo)

2. The Midnight After (Fruit Chan)

3. Jauja (Lisandro Alonso)

4. Horse Money (Pedro Costa)

5. Uncertain Relationships Society (Heiward Mak)

6. Hit 2 Pass (Kurt Walker)

7. Journey to the West (Tsai Ming-liang)

8. La Sapienza (Eugène Green)

9. Welcome to New York (Abel Ferrara)

10. The Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)

11. Heaven Knows What (Ben & Joshua Safdie)

12. Ballet 422 (Jody Lee Lipes)

13. Black Coal, Thin Ice (Diao Yinan)

14. One Upon a Time in Shanghai (Wong Ching-po)

15. The Monkey King (Soi Cheang)

On Robert Greene’s Actress

I think I “related” to parts of Robert Greene’s non-fiction film in the way so many other people “related” to Boyhood, in that when we join her, stay-at-home mom Brandy Burre is very much looking to reestablish an identity for herself outside the home. This manifests itself as one of the main threads of the film’s story: her preparing to restart her acting career after a several years’ hiatus. That need for a creative outlet, for a definition of self that doesn’t revolve around one’s children (and the guilt inherit in that, a little voice telling you that not devoting yourself 100% to your children makes you a bad parent) is something I imagine every parent experiences, especially for those of us who abandon our careers for full-time parenthood. But also, more obliquely and alien to my own experience, this identity shift for Ms. Burre manifests itself in the collapse of her relationship with her partner Tim. This ultimately becomes the dominant storyline of the film: while Burre looks for jobs and gets her hair done and meets with friends, nothing really happens on the job front, but the relationship story unfolds dramatically in time as Tim gradually moves out of the house and we learn ever so little about what actually happened to break them up (both the proximate events and the emotions that underlied it).

But how much of what we see is actually true? Early in the film, during a standard documentary-style “confessional”, Burre says a line and then repeats it, with a different emphasis, as if in another take of a staged scene. This, along with her profession as an Actress, clues us in to be wary of the “actuality” of what we see, at odds with the documentary-style of the film (hand-held camera, live (in one instance rudely interrupted) sound, natural lighting). Some shots are clearly staged, notably a slow motion one of Burre washing dishes in a 1950s style red dress, an image referenced in the film’s poster (and echoed in the old movie posters that line Burre’s home, which are pointedly revealed to not belong to her). Other shots are very “movie” shots: ice breaking up on the Hudson River, a cut to an abstract orange and pale blue of a sunset during one of Burre’s interviews, a shot of her walking along an overpass, briefly recalling Millennium Mambo (a film with which it would make a great double feature) in its sheer movie-star gorgeousness. Half the film looks like “reality”, the other half like “cinema”.

Doubling down on the ontological riddle is the fact that Burre’s conflict is identity-based: she finds herself playing a role (housewife) which is unsatisfying to her. Throughout the film she will adopt a series of other “roles”: singer, yoga instructor, party hostess, wife, daughter, unfaithful spouse, “other” woman, abuse victim, none of which fully encapsulate who she truly is (and some of which are explained away as mistaken identities, as when her facial bruises are explained to be the result of a simple fall but which people assume are domestic violence. At least that’s what she tells us.) In the same way Burre can’t find a single role that defines “her” (though for the outside world “that woman who was on The Wire” seems to apply), we are left knowing that we are unable to understand her or her life.

An actor is a relatablity machine. They are the medium through which we experience scenarios, stories, worlds, lives, roles that are (usually but not always) unavailable to us in our everyday lives. Everything an actor does is a lie, and yet, if done in a certain way, the emotions they inspire seem real. Actress is not so much an investigation into Simulation as The Real (or Hyper-Real), as a riff on the unreliability of our understanding of the relationship between cinema and reality. Like a puzzle box with pieces missing, it asks more questions than it answers. It’s a documentary about a woman who is an actress and who may be acting for all or part of the time we see her on-screen. Does it make a difference if the story of her breakup is real or staged? Does it make a difference if her to-the-camera expressions of her emotions are real or performed? Is it possible for the camera to capture the core of a person? Can anybody every really know anyone?

This, I think, is how Actress escapes Boyhood‘s relatability problem (which, it should be said is more a matter of that film’s reception than anything inherent in the film itself). To the extent that much of the critical response to Richard Linklater’s film seemed to rest on the fact that viewers’ saw reflected on-screen their own life experiences, it worked as a kind of self-reinforcement, a form of flattery. I don’t feel affirmed by Burre’s identity crisis, but to the extent that she expresses on-screen a conflict I’ve felt in my own life, I feel complicit in it. By undermining a layer of verisimilitude, Greene encourages not identification but questioning, both of the film’s storyline and of our own relationship to the roles we play. We’re asked to both be emotionally moved by the character while at the same time acknowledging that she is an Actress and that what we are seeing is potentially fake (and just as potentially real). I’ve experienced some of what Burre expresses, but not all of it, do I relate to those things in the same way, do they have the same emotional impact on me? Boyhood tells a story that for many reflects certain aspects of their self, which is fine and good and many films, Actress among them, do the same thing. But Actress pushes further, challenging our understanding of what the self is, asking why we want to see ourselves in performances, as performers.

What I really want to know is: can I nominate Burre for a Best Actress award this year, or not?

1999 Endy Awards

These are the 1999 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Endy Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .

Best Picture:

1. Beau travail
2. Eyes Wide Shut
3. The Matrix
4. The Mission
5. My Neighbors the Yamadas

Best Director:

1. Claire Denis, Beau travail
2. Stanley Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut
3. Lilly & Lana Wachowski, The Matrix
4. Johnnie To, The Mission
5. Isao Takahata, My Neighbors the Yamadas

Best Actor:

1. Denis Levant, Beau travail
2. Forrest Whitaker, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
3. Stephen Chow, King of Comedy
4. Lau Ching-wan, Where a Good Man Goes
5. Sean Penn, Sweet and Lowdown

Levant will win again in 2012 for Holy Motors. Just missing out on nominations are Andy Lau for Running Out of Time, Eddie Murphy for Bowfinger, Russell Crowe for The Insider and Matthew Broderick for Election.

Best Actress:

1. Reese Witherspoon, Election
2. Zhang Ziyi, The Road Home
3. Samantha Morton, Sweet and Lowdown
4. Gigi Leung, Tempting Heart
5. Kirsten Dunst, The Virgin Suicides

Supporting Actor:

1. Sydney Pollack, Eyes Wide Shut
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Magnolia
3. Tom Cruise, Magnolia
4. Hugo Weaving, The Matrix
5. Anthony Wong, The Mission

Hoffman will win again in 2012 for The Master.

Supporting Actress:

1. Selma Blair, Cruel Intentions
2. Nicole Kidman, Eyes Wide Shut
3. Cate Blanchett, The Talented Mr. Ripley
4. Sylvia Chang, Tempting Heart
5. Ruby Wong, Where a Good Man Goes

Original Screenplay:

1. Jim Jarmusch, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
2. Paul Thomas Anderson, Magnolia
3. Lilly & Lana Wachowski, The Matrix
4. Sylvia Chang & Cat Kwan, Tempting Heart
5. Abbas Kiarostami, The Wind Will Carry Us

Adapted Screenplay:

1. Claire Denis & Jean-Pol Fargeau, Beau travail
2. Stanley Kubrick & Frederic Raphael, Eyes Wide Shut
3. Jim Uhls, Fight Club
4. Isao Takahata, My Neighbors the Yamadas
5. Trey Parker, Matt Stone & Pam Brady, South Park

I think this is the first year in which I like the nominees for Adapted Screenplay as whole more than the Original Screenplays. In the 21st Century, Adapted is kind of a wasteland, but all five of these are terrific.

Non-English Language Film:

1. Beau travail (Claire Denis)
2. The Mission (Johnnie To)
3. My Neighbors the Yamadas (Isao Takahata)
4. Running Out of Time (Johnnie To)
5. The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami)

Documentary Film:

1. Belfast, Maine (Frederick Wiseman)
2. Beyond the Mat (Barry W. Blaustein)
3. HHH: A Portrait of Hou Hsiao-hsien (Olivier Assayas)

Animated Film:

1. The Iron Giant (Brad Bird)
2. My Neighbors the Yamadas (Isao Takahata)
3. She and Her Cat (Makoto Shinkai)
4. South Park (Trey Parker)
5. Toy Story 2 (John Lasseter)

Is this the best year for animated features ever?

Unseen Film:

1. All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar)
2. Peppermint Candy (Lee Changdong)
3. Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay)
4. Rosetta (The Dardenne Brothers)
5. The Straight Story (David Lynch)

Some big names this year. I should watch more movies.

Film Editing:

1. Beau travail
2. Fight Club
3. Magnolia
4. The Matrix
5. The Mission

Cinematography:

1. Beau travail
2. Eyes Wide Shut
3. The Matrix
4. Time Regained
5. The Virgin Suicides

Tempting to go with Eyes Wide Shut just for the opening party sequence, but bullet time. Which is probably a visual effect, but whatever.

Art Direction:

1. Fight Club
2. The Matrix
3. The Phantom Menace
4. Time Regained
5. Topsy-Turvy

Costume Design:

1. Eyes Wide Shut
2. Galaxy Quest
3. The Matrix
4. The Phantom Menace
5. Topsy-Turvy

That dress Kidman wears to the Christmas party.

Make-up:

1. Existenz
2. The Matrix
3. The Mummy
4. The Phantom Menace
5. Topsy-Turvy

Original Score:

1. Beau travail
2. The Mission
3. The Phantom Menace
4. South Park
5. The Virgin Suicides

Adapted Score:

1. Eyes Wide Shut
2. Magnolia
3. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
4. Sweet and Lowdown
5. Topsy-Turvy

Shostakovich wins everything.

Original Song:

1. “Save Me”, Aimee Mann, Magnolia
2. “Theme from ‘The Mission'”, Chung Chi-wing, The Mission
3. “Blame Canada”, Trey Parker & Marc Shaiman, South Park
4. “What Would Brian Boitano Do?”, Trey Parker & Marc Shaiman, South Park
5. “Playground Love”, Air, The Virgin Suicides

Sound:

1. Bringing Out the Dead
2. Eyes Wide Shut
3. Fight Club
4. Magnolia
5. The Matrix

Sound Editing:

1. Fight Club
2. Magnolia
3. The Matrix
4. The Mummy
5. The Phantom Menace

Visual Effects:

1. Fight Club
2. Galaxy Quest
3. The Matrix
4. The Mummy
5. The Phantom Menace

Running Out of Karma: Pang Ho-cheung’s Aberdeen

Running Out of Karma is my on-going series on Johnnie To, Hong Kong and Chinese-language cinema. Here is an index.

Pang Ho-cheung’s ambitious family melodrama chronicles the intersecting lives of an all-star cast, at times grasping towards Magnolia and Yi yi but ultimately settling at an ending so unsatisfying one hopes it’s meant satirically. Which, knowing Pang, it very well might be. It’s an inverted cousin to Fruit Chan’s The Midnight After. Where Chan’s characters are haunted by an unknowable, unexplainable future, lost on the edge of an apocalypse, Pang’s are haunted by the past, manifesting itself in increasingly obvious and over-explained metaphors (a bomb shelter, an actual unearthed bombshell, a beached whale) and speeches. Chan’s film is rough, with jagged cuts and unpredictable shifts in tone and style, smashing comedy, horrific violence,  and eerie ghostliness together in an unwieldy expression of anxiety. But Pang’s camera glides through a sleekly modern Hong Kong, gorgeous images of light and color connecting the various characters to their city and to each other with a flowing seamlessness. It’s airlessly beautiful, Hong Kong as iPhone packaging.

The story of a father (Ng Man-tat) a Taoist priest in an absurd toupee, and his two children. Miriam Yeung is married to Eric Tsang. She’s convinced her dead mother never loved her, manifested as a returned-to-sender package of the paper she had burnt for her mother after her death (a Chinese tradition is the burning of paper money for the dead to use in the afterlife. Various Chinese rituals and traditions will be contrasted throughout the film with the ultra-modern environments of contemporary Hong Kong). Her husband, Tsang, is a doctor who is sleeping with his nurse. Yeung’s brother is Louis Koo, a motivational speaker who is married to Gigi Leung, an aging model and actress. Koo is convinced his daughter isn’t pretty enough, while Leung tries to navigate her unseemly professional world, where the line between actress/model and prostitute is increasingly thin. Interspersed throughout are marvelous dream sequences: a scale model of Hong Kong, used as pillow shots early in the film, becomes the literal stomping ground of the child’s pet lizard; Yeung one night finds herself in a Hong Kong made of paper, beckoned by a ringtone of the theme song to Alfred Hitchcock Presents  (Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette”) on a two-dimensional taxi ride.

In the end, everything comes together in a way that implies resolution: the family finally eats together (at a McDonald’s!), the music rises, people look happily at each other and the bright dawn of a new day. But weirdly, nothing is actually resolved in anything like a satisfactory manner. Miriam and Gigi give speeches (Gigi’s only to herself), Eric doesn’t change a thing and Louis decides that it’s OK if his daughter is ugly because she can always get plastic surgery. What? Is this simply Pang being dumb, misogynistic and/or sloppy? Trying to cover-up the deficiencies in his own screenplay with virtuosic displays of glossiness? Or is it a satire that lies so far beneath the surface as to become almost invisible? These terrible men don’t learn a thing and don’t change a bit. The women are slightly better off: at least Miriam is. Gigi might be even worse off than when the film started. Early on she stands up defiantly to a producer who implies that her only way of getting a role is by sleeping with the boss. In the end, she’s relieved when her husband agrees that plastic surgery is awesome so she doesn’t have to tell him about her own past beauty-enhancing medical interventions. She doesn’t confront the past that haunts her, it just kind of floats away.

The Midnight After has been for most of 2014 one of my favorite films of the year, its inexplicability and refusal to answer the questions it raises or explore the many facets and potentialities of its plot seems to me intentional and highly satisfying, an encapsulation of the limits of knowledge in a wildly entertaining genre film package. I don’t know if Aberdeen is good or not. In its over-determination and over-explanation, I find it more mysterious and incomplete a whole than Chan’s intentionally-fragmentary movie. Pang has made a movie that is stunningly, vibrantly, frustratingly dead.

This Week in Rankings

Since the last rankings update, we recorded and released the long-anticipated King Hu episode of They Shot Pictures, as well as a couple episodes of The George Sanders Show, one on Bob Dylan, one on Bollywood and one dedicated to Henri Langlois. The Dylan show featured our on-location report on Johnnie To’s latest, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2, which I also reviewed here. In other Running Out of Karma coverage, I wrote about Zhang Ziyi’s My Lucky Star and To’s own 1988 smash hit The Eighth Happiness.

These are the movies I’ve watched and rewatched over the last few weeks and where they place on my year-by-year rankings. Short reviews for most of these can be found over at letterboxd.

Hellzapoppin’ (HC Potter) – 4, 1941
Awaara (Raj Kapoor) – 3, 1951
Duck Amuck (Chuck Jones) – 4, 1953
Come Drink With Me (King Hu) – 9, 1966
Harper (Jack Smight) – 22, 1966

Eat the Document (Bob Dylan) – 9, 1972
The Fate of Lee Khan (King Hu) – 7, 1973
Sholay (Ramesh Sippy) – 5, 1975
Renaldo & Clara (Bob Dylan) – 4, 1978
Legend of the Mountain (King Hu) – 5, 1979

Project A (Jackie Chan) – 12, 1983
The Eighth Happiness (Johnnie To) – 17, 1988
The Day a Pig Fell into the Well (Hong Sangsoo) – 25, 1996
Young and Dangerous (Andrew Lau) – 33, 1996
Anna Magdalena (Yee Chung-man) – 15, 1998

The Power of Kangwon Province (Hong Sangsoo) – 18, 1998
Jiang Hu: The Triad Zone (Dante Lam) – 26, 2000
You Shoot, I Shoot (Pang Ho-cheung) – 22, 2001
Turn Left, Turn Right (Johnnie To) – 7, 2003
Masked and Anonymous (Larry Charles) – 21, 2003

One Night in Mongkok (Derek Yee) – 18, 2004
Flash Point (Wilson Yip) – 25, 2007
Exodus (Pang Ho-cheung) – 41, 2007
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (Johnnie To) – 7, 2011
Diva (Heiward Mak) – 57, 2012

Unbeatable (Dante Lam) – 36, 2013
My Lucky Star (Dennie Gordon) – 62, 2013
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2 (Johnnie To) – 5, 2014
Obvious Child (Gillian Robespierre) – 10, 2014

Happy Christmas (Joe Swanberg) – 16, 2014
Life Itself (Steve James) – 32, 2014
Too Many Cooks (Chris ‘Casper’ Kelly) – 38, 2014
The Monkey King (Soi Cheang) – 40, 2014