This Week in Rankings

The 2014 Oscars came and went since my last update, and I wrote a few things in relation to them: my predictions (turned out pretty well, though I missed on the biggest awards of the night), the 2014 (and 1998) Endy Awards, and a long Oscars-inspired editorial, the kind of thing I don’t write very often. I also continued my look at 21st Century history films with reviews of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator and Robin Hood.

Most of my writing has been over at Seattle Screen Scene, where I covered Valentine’s Day, Lady Snowblood, A Fuller Life, the Fists and Fury Series, Casablanca, Chimes at Midnight, Maps to the Stars, 12 Golden DucksBallet 422, Wild Tales, and Another Hitchcock Series.

Coming up over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be introducing a number of screenings at Seattle’s version of the big Hou Hsiao-hsien retrospective that’s been traveling the world in recent months. I’ll be at Boys from Fengkuei at Scarecrow Video and then all five of the shows at the Northwest Film Forum (Dust in the Wind, Flowers of Shanghai, A Time to Live A Time to Die, Millennium Mambo and Good Men Good Women). I haven’t watched or written much about Hou at all over the past few years, so I’ve been studying up lately. A few years ago, we did a They Shot Pictures episode on Hou (you can listen here), and around that time I wrote about Café Lumière and Good Men, Good Women, and collected some images from Flight of the Red Balloon.

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 or comments for most of them can be found on my letterboxd page.

Where Danger Lives (John Farrow) – 23, 1950
Doctor Zhivago (David Lean) – 23, 1965
Darling (John Schlesinger) – 27, 1965
Lady Snowblood (Toshiya Fujita) – 15, 1973
Farewell, My Lovely (Dick Richards) – 14, 1975

Christine (John Carpenter) – 9, 1983
Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann) – 1, 1992
Memoirs of an Invisible Man (John Carpenter) – 41, 1992
HHH: A Portrait of Hou Hsiao-hsien (Olivier Assayas) – 23, 1999
The Insider (Michael Mann) – 31, 1999

Gladiator (Ridley Scott) – 40, 2000
Ali (Michael Mann) – 11, 2001
The Power of Nightmares (Adam Curtis) – 10, 2004
Collateral (Michael Mann) – 13, 2004
Three Times (Hou Hsiao-hsien) – 2, 2005

Cigarette Burns (John Carpenter) – 26, 2005
The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom (Adam Curtis) – 8, 2007
Public Enemies (Michael Mann) – 10, 2009
Robin Hood (Ridley Scott) – 39, 2010
J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood) – 34, 2011

A Fuller Life (Samantha Fuller) – 28, 2013
The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann) – 55, 2013
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2 (Johnnie To) – 5, 2014
Tokyo Tribe (Sion Sono) – 20, 2014
The Last Five Years (Richard LaGravenese) – 36, 2014

Wild Tales (Damián Szifrón) – 37, 2014
Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg) – 45, 2014
The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland) – 47, 2014
The Iron Ministry (JP Sniadecki) – 49, 2014
Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy) – 52, 2014

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Alejandro González Iñárritu) – 58, 2014
Black Comedy (Wilson Chin) – 75, 2014
The Theory of Everything (James Marsh) – 76, 2014
Smog Journeys (Jia Zhangke) – 3, 2015

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1998 Endy Awards

These are the 1998 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. The Big Lebowski
2. Histoire(s) du cinema
3. The Last Days of Disco
4. Rushmore
5. The Thin Red Line

Best Director:

1. Joel & Ethan Coen, The Big Lebowski
2. Hou Hsiao-hsien, Flowers of Shanghai
3. Jean-Luc Godard, Histoire(s) du cinema
4. Wes Anderson, Rushmore
5. Terrence Malick, The Thin Red Line

Hard not to reward the Coens for their best work, but Godard’s massive Histoire(s) is one of the great directorial achievements of the decade, a project that is still ahead of its time more than 15 years after it was completed. Hou, Anderson and Malick all have Endys in their future: in 2007, 2009, and both 2005 and 2011, respectively. Somewhat surprisingly, this is the Coens’ first nomination. Odds are their next best shot at a win will come in 1990.

Best Actor:

1. Jeff Bridges, The Big Lebowski
2. George Clooney, Out of Sight
3. Tony Leung, The Longest Nite
4. Willem Dafoe, New Rose Hotel
5. Jason Schwartzman, Rushmore

Best Actress:

1. Takako Matsu, April Story
2. Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth
3. Rebecka Liljeberg, Fucking Åmål
4. Chloe Sevigny, The Last Days of Disco
5. Asia Argento, New Rose Hotel

Supporting Actor:

1. John Goodman, The Big Lebowski
2. Lau Ching-wan, The Longest Nite
3. Christopher Walken, New Rose Hotel
4. Bill Murray, Rushmore
5. Sean Penn, The Thin Red Line

Supporting Actress:

1. Carina Lau, Flowers of Shanghai
2. Michelle Reis, Flowers of Shanghai
3. Alexandra Dahlström, Fucking Åmål
4. Kate Beckinsale, The Last Days of Disco
5. Olivia Williams, Rushmore

Lau Ching-wan was the workhorse star of the early days of Milkyway Image, and this might be his best year. In addition to this nomination, he also starred in Expect the Unexpected, A Hero Never Dies and two other films in 1998 that I haven’t seen yet, Wong Jing’s Step into the Dark and Lee Chi-ngai’s Doctor Mack. He’ll be nominated for Best Actor in 1999 and 2007 and for Supporting Actor in 2002 and 2011. But John Goodman in Lebowski is unbeatable.

Original Screenplay:

1. Joel & Ethan Coen, The Big Lebowski
2. Jean-Luc Godard, Histoire(s) du cinema
3. Whit Stillman, The Last Days of Disco
4. Peter & Bobby Farrelly, Ed Decter & John Strauss, There’s Something About Mary
5. Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson, Rushmore

Adapted Screenplay:

1. Chu Tien-wen & Eileen Chang, Flowers of Shanghai
2. Abel Ferrara & Christ Zoist, New Rose Hotel
3. Scott Frank, Out of Sight
4. Elaine May, Primary Colors
5. Terrence Malick, The Thin Red Line

Non-English Language Film:

1. April Story (Shunji Iwai)
2. Expect the Unexpected (Patrick Yau)
3. Flowers of Shanghai (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
4. Fucking Åmål (Lukas Moodysson)
5. Histoire(s) du cinema (Jean-Luc Godard)

Expect the Unexpected was one of the early Milkyway Image films contentiously produced by Johnnie To for other directors. After four films in two years (The Longest Nite, The Odd One Dies and Where a Good Man Goes are the others), Yau and To never worked together again. Since breaking with Milkyway, Yau has apparently mostly been working in television.

Documentary Film:

1. Histoire(s) du cinema (Jean-Luc Godard)
2. Meeting People is Easy (Grant Gee)

Animated Film:

1. A Bug’s Life (John Lasseter)
2. Mulan (Tony Bancroft & Barry Cook)

Unseen Film:

1. Autumn Tale (Eric Rohmer)
2. Bird People in China (Takashi Miike)
3. Eternity and a Day (Theo Angelopoulos)
4. The Hole (Tsai Ming-liang)
5. Late August, Early September (Olivier Assayas)

Todd Haynes’s Velvet Goldmine just missed, mostly because I just feel bad that I’ve never seen any Angelopoulos.

Film Editing:

1. The Big Lebowski
2. He Got Game
3. Histoire(s) du cinema
4. New Rose Hotel
5. The Thin Red Line

Cinematography:

1. April Story
2. Flowers of Shanghai
3. New Rose Hotel
4. Saving Private Ryan
5. The Thin Red Line

Could have gone a lot of different directions with my fourth-place pick here, like He Got Game or Out of Sight or Pi or A Hero Never Dies or even Meet Joe Black or What Dreams May Come, but April Story is just about the prettiest-looking movie ever. And as disastrous as the impact of Saving Private Ryan has been on the action cinema of the last decade, it is an exceptionally well-shot film.

Art Direction:

1. The Big Lebowski
2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
3. Flowers of Shanghai
4. Pleasantville
5. Shakespeare in Love

Those lamps.

Costume Design:

1. The Big Lebowski
2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
3. Flowers of Shanghai
4. The Last Days of Disco
5. Rushmore

Make-up:

1. Elizabeth
2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
3. A Hero Never Dies
4. The Last Days of Disco
5. There’s Something About Mary

Original Score:

1. Flowers of Shanghai
2. Meet Joe Black
3. New Rose Hotel
4. There’s Something About Mary
5. The Thin Red Line

Adapted Score:

1. The Big Lebowski
2. He Got Game
3. The Last Days of Disco
4. There’s Something About Mary
5. The Thin Red Line

Sound:

1. Armageddon
2. Enemy of the State
3. Histoire(s) du cinema
4. Saving Private Ryan
5. The Thin Red Line

Sound Editing:

1. Armageddon
2. Enemy of the State
3. A Hero Never Dies
4. Saving Private Ryan
5. The Thin Red Line

Visual Effects:

1. Armageddon
2. Dark City
3. A Hero Never Dies
4. Pleasantville
5. What Dreams May Come