Thursday, April 3, 2014

The End Of Another Decade

I have now completed another decade, as well as some films from the recent year and finally get to the biggest debate of our lifetime, which was the best film of 1980?  But for now, let's jump into what I've seen as I inch that much closer to five hundred films.

One Foot In Heaven (1941) - The Methodist's Going My Way.  Alright no one has ever said that before, but I think it fits.  A bio-pic about a Canadian minister traveling the United States building churches and spreading the gospel.  Well acted by Fredric March, it's an enjoyable film but a bit preachy, but it did have a council of clergymen as advisers for the film, so that is to be expected.

And this closes out 1941, as well as the entire decade.  I will rank the top ten films in another post and after that one all seventy films in another.  But for the year that has been closed out, Citizen Kane was robbed of it's great honor of being the best picture for that year.  Second would be How Green Was My Valley because it was a great film.  It's just not better than Citizen Kane.  Third is The Maltese Falcon since it is such a good film noir movie.  Fourth is Blossoms In The Dust another great film and closely followed by Sergeant York another classic.  For sixth is Hold Back The Dawn a well done romantic drama.  Seventh goes to Here Comes Mr. Jordan a nice film that just edged out Suspicion a good Hitchcock film that is eight.  Ninth would be One Foot In Heaven and tenth is The Little Foxes, not that it was a bad movie, just someone had to finish last.  Overall a great year for movies.

The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929) - Not so much a movie as more of a clip show of famous acts under contract with MGM.  Full of comedy bits, dramatic skits, songs, dancing and fanfare, it's a movie that took a vaudeville type of show and put it on film.  It's entertaining but more interesting to watch a film from this era, not too many films from the 1920's still around and even less get shown.

This being the third film I've seen for this year, it ranks third.  Not that it was bad, but it's not really a movie.  The Broadway Melody is still the top runner with In Old Arizona still second.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) - Although I did see this before the Oscars were announced, I knew it wasn't going to win best picture.  A good Scorsese film, but not in his superb class of movies.  Done in a similiar way to Goodfellas, it covers the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort in the late 80's and the 90's in Wall Street.  As someone who interned back in the late 80's in the financial district, there was a lot that I remembered from watching this film, there was a good deal of accuracy in the mood of that era.  Great acting from Leonardo DiCarpio who didn't win an Oscar, but was real close in my opinion.  Rather long and some editing could have helped, but overall a really good film that deservied to be nominated.

This is the sixth film I saw of nine.  It would fall in before Nebraska and after Dallas Buyers Club for fifth.  Even though it didn't take home any Oscars, it is one of the five best of the year, doubt it would fall lower.

Philomena (2013) - The 490th film I have seen.  Another bio-pic about a woman who tries to find her child that she gave up for adoption against her will in the 1950's after hiding the secret for fifty years.  She ends up traveling to America with a reporter who is writing up her story as she tries to track down her son.  A rather good film, not too long, somewhat simple, but much better than I though it would be.

And this is the seventh film for the year, leaving only two left.  Pretty rare for me to see so many films before the best picture was announced, but winning those contests at my local movie theater has paid off.  This film would rank right after The Wolf of Wall Street and in front of Nebraska to be sixth, pushing Nebraska back to seventh.

Tess (1980) - An adaptation of Tess of the d'Urbervilles that just isn't worth watching.  It goes on forever, the story is painful to watch, as well as most of the acting.  Nice cinematography, but not much could save this film.  Even if you had a different director than the unhuman animal who did direct it, still couldn't make this a watchable film.

But putting this horrible film aside, comes the big moment.  Which film was the best film of 1980?  I'll build the suspense and count backwards.  Sixth was Tess (I know only five films were nominated, hang in there), fifth was blank because watching a wall for 186 minutes is more enjoyable than that time spent watching Tess.  Fourth is Coal Miner's Daughter, a very good film but couldn't compete with the top films.  Third, to no surprise is The Elephant Man a very good film.  It now comes down to Ordinary People and Raging Bull.

A few things will have to be compared here to determine which was better.  As for the director Robert Redford won, but are you going to say he's a better director than Martin Scorsese?  Call that one a draw.  For the actor it's Donald Sutherland against Robert De Niro, no contest since De Niro won that easily.  For the actress Mary Tyler Moore was better than any actress in Raging Bull.  Supporting Actor is a challenge between Joe Pesci and Timothy Hutton.  Judd Hursch was nominated too and Timothy Hutton still won, advantage Ordinary People.  Ordinary People did win adaopted screen play, Raging Bull won best editing.  Seeing how it's still somewhat tied, the tiebreaker will have to be the technical items like sound, cinematography, costume design.  That Raging Bull is the clear winner.  And while Ordinary People is still a great film, Raging Bull is considered a modern day classic, always getting ranked in top movie lists.

So the second best film of 1980 was Ordinary People.  The best film of the year, and the best of the decade, which was robbed of an Oscar, Raging Bull.

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