1984: A Blockbuster Year

“My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” Ronald Reagan brought that oops moment to the world as he tested a microphone before a radio address; later that November Regan won a landslide re-election. That was the peak of the Reagan era. That was 1984.

1984 was, indeed, an unforgettable year!Mary Lou Retton won gymnastic gold and American hearts at the L.A. Olympics. The reining Miss America, Vanessa Williams, was stripped of her title because of a nude photo spread in Penthouse magazine. Madonna became everyone’s “boy toy” with her “Like a Virgin” performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. Marvin Gaye was killed by his father; Bernie Goetz gunned down four muggers in the NYC subway; millions starved in Ethiopia; and Bob Geldoff responded with “Do They Know it’s Christmas Time.” Thousands died in the Union Carbide Corporation disaster in Bhopal, India; and Clara Peller asked, “Where’s the Beef?” Cindy Lauper proclaimed that “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”; Prince let us know what it sounds like “When Doves Cry”; and Tina Turner made a big comeback and asked, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Clearly, 1984 was a year of big news, big events, and, thanks to the number one TV show, Dynasty, really of big shoulder pads! But as the ashes of have long since settled, it’s ’84’s hit movies that remain with us and have stood the test of time.

Besides being the year that introduced the first PG-13 movie, (Red Dawn), 1984 was the birth year for a number of hit features that spawned numerous sequels: The Terminator, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, Beverly Hills Cop, and Police Academy. Comedies were probably the most notable feature of ’84. While the year didn’t produce any great American Film Institute darlings as weighty as Citizen Kane, it did, however, release an impressive number of comedies that are still fresh and still freakin’ funny today. Already mentioned are Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, and Police Academy; but also there are All of Me, This is Spinal Tap, Splash, Revenge of the Nerds, and Romancing the Stone.

1984 didn’t just release blockbusters that kept bottom line obsessed studio heads filled with coke and lap dancing blonds, it also saw the release of some lesser known films that have endured to become classics, films such as Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America; Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas; Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise. And the cult classics such as John Sayles The Brother from Another Planet, and the NYC cult horror flick C.H.U.D.

1984 saw Regan era teen angst approach its peak, while the John Hughes’ teen classic, Sixteen Candles, solidified Molly Ringwald as the ’80s’ ginger teen queen and—along with Weird Science that same year—shot Anthony Michael Hall to geek teen stardom, as its new nerd on the rise. The Karate Kid taught us to “Wax on, Wax off,” and A Nightmare on Elm Street introduced slasher fans to a terrifying new evil villain, Freddy Krueger, who entered our nightmares and has remained with us nine sequels later. Not only did teen anxiety influence cinema, but also the collective unease of the Cold War, as 1984 released a cinematic Soviet Union invasion of the U.S.A. in cinematographer and director John Milius’s Red Dawn. The first film to receive a PG-13 rating, Red Dawn was perhaps a bit unbelievable but cathartic, and filled with up-and-coming young stars (Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, and Charlie Sheen); it was a definite reaction to the Cold War anxieties of the 1980s.

 
Sixteen Candles, Molly Ringwald

1984 was a year of movies filled with classic pop music in such films such as Prince’s Purple Rain, which produced an enduring soundtrack that still holds up today. The concert film Stop Making Sense featured the Talking Heads and was directed by a relative newcomer, Jonathan Demme. Beat Street and Breakin’ capitalized on the popularity of break dancing, and Footloose danced into theaters with its MTV look and a soundtrack that garnered six Billboard magazine top 40 hits. Footloose was promoted again and again; each subsequent music video featured clips from the film, and ultimately kept those bottom-line-obsessed studio heads “Dancing in the Sheets,” and laid the foundation for Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

In celebration of that most unforgettable year, I have listed my twenty essential movies of 1984, films that have endured, some that are well crafted, some that capture the spirit of the ’80s—thirty-year-old movies that make us think, sing, dance, scream and, above all else, laugh out loud!
—John David West

David’s 20 Essential Movies of 1984

Ghostbusters

Paris, Texas

Amadeus

The Killing Fields

Once Upon a Time in America

Stop Making Sense


The Terminator

 

This Is Spinal Tap

Beverly Hills Cop


The Karate Kid


Sixteen Candles



Footloose


A Nightmare on Elm Street


Stranger Than Paradise


Purple Rain
Starman


Gremlins


Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom


The Muppets Take Manhattan


Police Academy

 

 

Click here from more movies from 1984 at IMDB, it’s amazing!

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Throwback Thursday Oscar Edition: Who Should Have Won?

Carry and Oscar

The Academy Award is the most coveted award in the film industry.  When one receives this award, it translates to more parts, more fame, and bragging rights that for one year, “I was the best.”  Or not.  Since its inception, the Academy Awards have been known to be a bit of a popularity contest.  This is not to say that it doesn’t get it right sometimes (Vivien Leigh winning for Best Actress in Gone with the Wind, Schindler’s List winning Best Picture, etc.). However, the Oscar prognosticators spend time analyzing the awards and looking to see who the Academy deems the most popular for that year, but not necessarily the best.  There are classic Oscar missteps that have been addressed by many (see Shakespeare in Love winning for Best Picture instead of Saving Private Ryan or How Green was My Valley winning Best Picture over Citizen Kane).  For this Throwback Thursday, managing editor John David West and awards season guru Ariadne Ansbro look back at some of the lesser known Oscar mistakes and tell you who they think should have won.

 

1950 Best Actress
From top left: Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday, Bette Davis in All About Eve, and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd.

1950 Best Actress

Judy Holliday, Born Yesterday

Anne Baxter, All About Eve

Bette Davis, All About Eve

Eleanor Parker, Caged

Gloria Swanson, Sunset Blvd.

Ari’s pick: This is a tough one for me.  Judy Holliday was excellent at playing the dizzy blond Billie Dawn who starts to receive an education in Born Yesterday, but she was not even in the same league as Bette Davis or Gloria Swanson. Pitting Davis and Swanson against each other in career defining roles is an almost impossible choice.  However, I am paid to make impossible choices, so I would have to say that the winner that year should have been Bette Davis.  Her performance in All About Eve was the stuff of legends.  Can you imagine anyone else saying, “Fasten your seatbelts.  It’s going to be a bumpy night.”?

David’s pick: Judy Holliday?  Holliday is solid as Billie Dawn, the same role she played on Broadway, but let’s have a reality check here: Bette Davis in All About Eve and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd. Choosing between those two is unfair (like Meryl Streep and Jessica Lange in 1982)—and that’s probably why Holliday won. They cancelled each other out. Since life is unfair, I’m going to make a choice and say that the 1950 Best Actress should have gone to Gloria Swanson for her larger than life performance in Sunset Blvd. Her movie icon status was solidified when she said, “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

 

1959 Best Actor
Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur and Jack Lemmon in Some Like it Hot

1959 Best Actor

Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur

Jack Lemmon, Some Like it Hot

James Stewart, Anatomy of a Murder

Laurence Harvey, Room at the Top

Paul Muni, The Last Angry Man

Ari’s pick: I am going to start by saying one of the most unpopular things I could ever say: I don’t like Ben-Hur.  This does not mean that I cannot see past my dislike for a film, yet see the brilliance in a performance (i.e. Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia, don’t hate me).  However, Charlton Heston played Charlton Heston.  He was the exact same tough guy that he played in every movie before, and all of the Bible epics he did after.  Laurence Harvey was wonderful in Room at the Top.  I generally think that Harvey is an actor who is largely forgotten about, mostly due to his untimely death at age 45.  James Stewart really played against type in Anatomy of a Murder as a slightly dubious defense attorney who defends a man accused of murder.  In the end, I have to go with Jack Lemmon in Some Like it Hot.  There are so many great things in this film, but Lemmon is a true stand out.  Sadly, Oscar is not big on honoring comedic performances.  

David’s pick: I have to confess, I’m not familiar with many in this category and not a fan of the tediously long Ben-Hur. My choice is Jack Lemmon in Some Like it Hot for his comic performance as a musician who is forced to dress as a woman in order to hide from the mob. It’s a solid iconic comic performance in one of cinemas great classic comedies. 

 

 

1962 Best Actress
Patty Duke in The Miracle Worker and Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate

1962 Best Supporting Actress

Patty Duke, The Miracle Worker

Angela Lansbury, The Manchurian Candidate

Mary Badham, To Kill a Mockingbird

Shirley Knight, Sweet Bird of Youth

Thelma Ritter, Birdman of Alcatraz

Ari’s pick: Patty Duke won an Oscar for her role as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker.  This film was poised to pick up acting Oscars for both Duke and Anne Bancroft in the lead actress category, as the Oscars love to reward people for playing real people and characters who must overcome some sort of physical or mental disability (check and check).  The problem is that years later, the performance that stands out the most in this category is Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate.  These days it is hard to think of Lansbury playing someone so diabolical.  Lansbury’s performance is so memorable that AFI named her portrayal of Mrs. John Iselin as one of the 50 best villains of all time.  

David’s pick: Of all the fine supporting performances in 1962, it’s Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate, who should have won for her performance as the cold and calculating, communist agent who is part of a plot to brainwash her son to commit murder. Yes, that’s right, our beloved Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote played an evil communist operative. It’s an unforgettable performance that still holds up today. It’s a damn shame that Lansbury was overlooked for her most deserving Oscar.

 

1985 Best Actress
Geraldine Page in A Trip to Bountiful and Whoppi Goldberg in The Color Purple

 

1985 Best Actress

Geraldine Page, A Trip to Bountiful

Anne Bancroft, Agnes of God

Jessica Lange, Sweet Dreams

Meryl Streep, Out of Africa

Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple

Ari’s pick: Over the years, the Academy has given out awards to actors for their body of work instead of their individual performance in the film for which they are nominated.  For example, Henry Fonda for On Golden Pond and Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart.  Both are fine performances, but no one would say that those were necessarily the “best” performances of their careers.  Geraldine Page’s win in 1985 is much the same.  She had been nominated seven times prior to this win and, as it turned out, didn’t have much longer to live (she died in 1987).  So the Academy felt that it was her time.  I don’t.  Whoopi Goldberg should have won for The Color Purple.   She was perfect as a woman trapped due to her circumstance, who eventually learns to find her voice.  The Color Purple was nominated for 11 Oscars, and didn’t win any.  What a shame.

David’s pick: This is a tough one for me because I’m pretty happy with Geraldine Page, but I have to admit that her Best Actress win does kind of feel like a lifetime achievement award. Streep and Lange are fantastic, and I was almost ready to go with Lange as Patsy Cline. But I have to go with Whoopi Goldberg for her breakout performance in The Color Purple. She was the most authentic and heartbreaking thing in a film that tended to be a bit stagy, over the top, and even silly; Goldberg kept it real.

 

 

1993 Best Sup Actor
Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive and Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List

1993 Best Supporting Actor

Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive

Leonardo DiCaprio, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

Ralph Fiennes, Schindler’s List

John Malkovich, In the Line of Fire

Pete Postlethwaite, In the Name of the Father

Ari’s pick: This is a great category.  Each of these performances were so intricate and mesmerizing that they are all memorable.  However, there was one that was better than all the rest: Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List.  In life, most people are not all good or all evil; everyone has nuance.  Fiennes plays Amon Goeth as an evil, conniving, murderous bastard, but he also shows a human side to him.  Fiennes was asked about how he could play Goeth as a human being and not as a mustache twirling villain.  He said, “I mean, I could make a judgment myself privately, this is a terrible, evil, horrific man. But the job was to portray the man, the human being. There’s a sort of banality, that everydayness, that I think was important.”  The best scene that illustrates this is when he attempts to show a human side and does not immediately punish a Jewish worker for not getting the stains off his bathtub.  Watch it here.

David’s pick: 1993 was a great year at the Oscar, and this category is a difficult one. There’s not one clunker here. But Tommy Lee Jones Oscar for The Fugitive feels like he won for one of those big performances that inspires Academy voters to award more for career achievement than a specific performance. Without a doubt the Oscar should have gone to Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List as Amon Goeth, a Nazi concentration camp commandant. His portrayal of Amon was not just a two-dimensional evil Nazi that’s a pleasure to hate, but rather he played him with depth and complexity, which adds a level of tension and intensity.

MoviefiedNYC‘s Ten Best Movies of 2017

Here it is, better late than never, MoviefiedNYC‘s Ten Best Movies of 2017. It was not a banner year for great movies but once the last quarter arrived, September through December ultimately redeemed 2017 and proved to be an ok year at the movies!        Here are the Ten Best of 2017 as seen by John David West:

1. Dunkirk


Witnessing Christopher Nolan’s latest experiment with time was initially frustrating, but ultimately mind-blowing. It was a unique cinematic experience making for a refreshing departure from the sappy Hollywood war film—or any predictable narrative, plot-driven movie. Nolan takes viewers through a turning point of WWII with an immersive experience on land, sea, and air, revealing the soldiers’ confusion, fear, and drive to survive. Their experience is the viewer’s experience and is historic and important from a cinematic perspective. Hans Zimmer’s score is equally effective as are incredible visuals by Hoyte Van Hoytema (Interstellar).

2. The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro is at the top of his game with this beautifully conceived fairytale for adults. With exquisite art direction, fluid cinematography by Dan Laustsen, a dreamy score by Alexandre Desplat (The Tree of Life), and a strong performance by Sally Hawkins; the world that del Turo has created makes this film stand out as one of the most unique movies of 2017. One can’t help but think of the 1955 classic B-movie, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, but this m/animal has more depth and love. And there’s a Good versus Evil element, with Good represented by characters on the margins of society.

3. Phantom Thread


Director Paul Thomas Anderson delivers a quiet mood piece that is beautifully styled, and artistically stylized. It’s lovely to look at, thanks to Anderson’s careful attention to detail in every shot. The cinematography—by Anderson himself—brings viewers in close contact with the fabric and feel of dresses as the characters make them. The score by Jonny Greenwood equally matches the lush visual textures seen on screen. This is a film involving three people: dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), and Reynolds’ lover, Alma (Vicky Krieps). All actors are as exquisite as the other elements of this film and delicately funny.

4. Call Me by Your Name

Is this the annual pretentious film appealing only to lovers of high art, beauty, language, and the finer things in life that elevate us? Those elements are all there in a multi-linguistic script that is balanced and restrained, thanks to Luca Guadagnino’s measured direction. The film’s elements are indeed beautiful (the “Somewhere in northern Italy” location, the actors, and the soundtrack), but above all, the film’s subject is universally relatable. No matter whom you love, the pain of love and loss sticks with you long after the film’s credits end—and what’s portrayed behind those final credits makes the film devastating and unforgettable.

5. I, Tonya

Movie snobs beware, Tonya Harding is the subject of a narrative film and it’s funny and campy, it winks at its audience in a faux documentary style, it’s a tragic comedy about a comically tragic event, and it’s damn good. When I first heard about I, Tonya, I thought, “oh hell yes, this will be a hoot to watch,” a hoot in the campy Lifetime movie sense—certainly not in the Academy Award level sense! Margo Robbie kills it as Tonya. We are with her—elevated with joy—when she triple axels her way to the top of the podium at the US Championships, and we feel the pain of a too harsh sentencing when she’s stripped of her US figure skating rights and never allowed to skate again. One can’t help but think, “Jesus, at least let her skate in an animal suit in Ice Capades; she’s not a child molester or a drug kingpin—it’s just ice-skating after all!” Allison Janney also kills as Tonya’s monstrous mother. For a film about a kooky moment in sports history that centers on a bunch of foolhardy “Boobs,” it’s impressive how moving I, Tanya is.

6. Get Out

get-out 2

Jordan Peele brilliantly takes the anxiety felt by American minorities and submerges it into a thriller to capture today’s racial tension. This multilayered horror, sometimes-comedy draws on the ever-present U.S. issues of black and white racial tensions and the legacies of American slavery. Peele makes us question where all the racists suddenly came from when Trump became President, folks who were previously silenced and muzzled by political correctness. Get Out is not only a good horror film—a difficult achievement in itself—it’s a film that will be remembered as an important movie that reflects the time in which it was made.

7. Florida Project

Florida Project 2

Sean Baker’s latest social-realistic film introduces viewers to another set of enigmatic characters who live on the fringe of society. Halley (Bria Vinaite) and her daughter (Brooklynn Prince) survive on the edge of homelessness in a motel called the Magic Castle, near Disney World. The exterior of the motel is a vibrant cheap purple, and this creates a delightfully colorful world in contrast to occupants’ poverty, but at the same time reflects the children’s joyous summertime play. The film easily brings back memories of those days of childhood wonder, regardless of one’s economic status or what neighborhood you grew up in. Their world contrasts sharply to Disney’s with its pricy fun far out of financial reach to many. Too obvious a metaphor? Perhaps, but watching these characters live makes the film remarkable.  Florida Project doesn’t have a deeply complicated plot and the mother doesn’t have a traditional character arc whereby she learns and grows—she’s a tragic figure. Above all Brooklynn Prince, whose naturalness infuses Florida Project with energy and charm, makes you want to keep watching her—and everyone—live and behave in their world.

8. Faces Places

Faces Places 5

At 89 years old Agnès Varda—a legend of the French New Wave—is still making movies, and this time she’s found sweet perfection as she teams up with 35 year old photographer, JR. Together they make for the most unlikely duo to entertain audiences in years. Faces Places is a road movie that travels through rural France and shows us the extraordinary beauty of seemingly ordinary people. And the movie may make a historic stamp on cinema when the father of the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard, makes the mother of the French New Wave cry—he doesn’t even appear in the movie and yet Goddard is still affecting cinema.

9. Good Time

Good Time 1

Who is that scruffy skinny actor so full of energy? Why it’s Robert Pattinson! He plays the worst brother a sibling could be cursed with, especially one who is mentally disabled. After a bank robbery that goes really bad, Connie’s (Robert Pattinson younger brother Nick (Benny Safdie one-half of the film’s brother directors) ends up in prison. Good Time has been compared to Martin Scorsese’s 1985 Tribeca odyssey After Hours. The comparison is certainly fair, only this NYC odyssey pushes it to full-throttle taking viewers in a rapid fire pace through Manhattan and God knows which borough of New York City.

10. mother!

mother! 2

Without a doubt mother! is the most polarizing film of the year. It pissed a lot of people off, made others laugh, and inspired endless “WTF” text messages upon its release. Once the allegory is clear, mother! sends your mind spinning. It’s an apocalyptic, biblical tale that layers on elements of war, invasion, and climate change, resulting in an experience that is disturbing, maddening, and sits with you for days. Michelle Pfeiffer delivers one of her best performances in years, and Jennifer Lawrence (this year’s Razzie nominee for worst actress), is well cast in one of her best role since Winter’s Bone.

Honorable Mention:

Blade Runner 21. Bladerunner 2049
2. Lady Bird
3. Coco
4. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
5. Mudbound

Top 5 New York City Movies from the ’70s

In response to this summer’s “New York in the 70s” film festival at Film Forum, MovefiedNYC decided to repost our first list, the “Top Five NYC Movies from the ’70s.”  The choice for our first list was obvious; it had to come from our own backyard, a place and time—now perhaps mythological—of unrelenting creativity, expression, and guts.  A town broke, dangerous, black-and-white and obscured by sweat and steam: New York City in 1970’s, the place that made our love for film like a beginning buzz (from one too many cocktails) that turned into a continuous intoxication.  -JDW & MD

John David’s Top Five 1970s NYC

Broadway, high fashion, yellow cabs, prostitutes, and neurotic intellectuals who romanticize their lives in black ‘n’ white. These are some of the images that helped form my Top Five New York City movies from the 1970s.

 1. Taxi Driver (1976)

Like the bankrupt city on edge, ready to crack under the pressure of urban decay, sleaze and political distrustTaxi Driver’s Travis Bickle, paranoid and alienated from society, looks at himself in the mirror and asks, “Are you talking to me?” Is he having fun or is Scorsese speaking what’s on the viewer’s mind? Thirty-six years later we’re still imitating DeNiro’s line. This movie has all the grit of the ’70s gritty city. Taxi Driver plays like an indexical sign that proves to us today that the mythological gritty 1970s New York City did exist.

 2. Manhattan (1979)

Every now and then I find myself in one of those “Wow-I-Love-This-City” moments. Woody Allen shares those same feelings in his 1979 film Manhattan.  The city is a character that we along with Allen romanticize. Annie Hall seemed like the obvious choice, but then Manhattan stepped up, as if to say, “Really? Let’s get serious, I have New York City shot in black-and-white, widescreen Panavision aspect ratio (2.35:1) with a nine-minute montage of New York City set to George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue!” Yes, OK, Manhattan, you win: all that and that iconic 4 A.M. shot in front of the Queensborough Bridge secure Manhattan on my list.

 3. All That Jazz (1979)

Fosse submerges his autobiographical self into the character of Joe Gideon, a hyper-sexed, director/choreographer who pops Dexedrine, screws sexy dancers, neglects his loved ones, chain smokes (even in the shower) and works himself to a perfectly choreographed death. It’s the ’70s: the Me decade, cynical and all about Fosse. The opening audition scene set to George Benson’s “On Broadway” captures the desire, joy and disappointment every dancer feels who wants to be on Broadway. 

4. Klute (1971)

New York City as it enters a decade on the brink of a meltdown. Jane Fonda plays a call girl who is complex, vulnerable, and lacks that ever-expected heart of gold. Besides Fonda’s brilliant performance, what makes this film memorable is a shot from inside a stark, corporate office on the upper floor of a high-rise. Through floor-to-ceiling windows, we see the two towers of the World Trade Center under construction. A financially powerful man sits at his desk, diminished against the multiple cranes high in the air, constructing the tallest buildings in the world. The image takes on new meaning when one realizes that the mass of construction outside the window will someday fall to a heap of destruction that will affect us all. 

5. Eyesof Laura Mars (1978)

1970s disco-fashion juxtaposed against ’70s New York City grit. Ultra glamorous Fay Dunaway is Laura Mars, a fashion photographer who wields a Nikon camera to photograph sexy models in stylized violent murder settings: Columbus Circle ablaze with overturned cars on fire as glossy girls wearing lingerie and fur coats pull each other’s hair. The violence is thrust right back at Laura when a serial killer turns her photos into real murders.  The character of Laura doubles as the camera when she witnesses the murders through the killer’s eyes, while they are happening, through her own eyes.  The film’s director, Irvin Kershner, turns the movie’s view of violence on the audience: are we looking at the eyes or are the eyes looking at us?

Myrna’s Top Five 1970’s NYC

NYC as it was in the ’70s. Sex, drugs, street gangs, disco divas, politicians, the homeless, celebrities, musicians, hookers, and some major attitude. So many great films to choose from; it is almost impossible to leave any of them off this list. I went with my gut, what I liked: candy over substance most times. I took a deep breath, wrote down five titles and never looked back.

 1. The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1974)

“Respect My Ass!”  screams Mel, and I do. Neil Simon’s slice of New York city life—once again like in The Out of Towners, not a very nice place—in Prisoner of Second Avenue is rich in its mundane everyday quality, shrouded in genuine humor delivered brilliantly by the cast. The pounding New York City heat wave is so palpable it is a character in the film. The Prisoner of Second Avenue shows us witty New Yorkers on the verge of, and breaking down in, their urban habitat, pacing back and forth, drowning in the ever—relentless noise—wrapped in a high rise box.

2. The French Connection (1971)

“Doyle fights dirty and he plays rough, but that’s ok because Doyle is a good cop” —growls the trailer.  Let’s be honest: New York looks better in grit than any other city, and The French Connection’s grimy realism and downbeat ending are refreshing. Popeye Doyle—not your classic hero—violent, racist and mean-spirited. His dedication to his job, just short of dangerous obsession—a New Yorker! The film’s high point, a high-speed car chase with Doyle tailing an elevated train, was one of the most exciting screen moments of its day. The French Connection gives me the visceral charge that keeps me addicted to New York.

 3. Shaft (1971) 

I can not ignore the blaxploitation genre when talking about the New York of the 1970s. Shaft full of mood, attitude and fashion. Brought the world—the Harlem-dude look of feather-hat, platform boots and silver-top cane—what delicious eye candy! The theme song also unforgettable . Shaft took us all over the city; he lived in the Village, worked in Times Square and cruised up and down 125th Street.  Can you dig it?  

4. Saturday Night Fever (1977)

John Travolta strutting down the streets of Brooklyn to his dead end job changed the world as we knew it. No one ever walked down the street the same way again. He escapes to the local disco, where he is/was King and dreams for a better life in Manhattan. Don’t we all? Fever is dripping with a  gritty sense of the ’70s economic malaise that plagued New York. Dance numbers, the Bee Gees soundtrack and Travolta’s white-suited presence all set in the city of dreams. “They had me at hello” 

5. All That Jazz (1979)
“It’s showtime!” Director and choreographer Bob Fosse takes a Felliniesque look at the life of a driven entertainer (some say his own life)—Joe Gideon. The ultimate work-and-pleasure aholic. All That Jazz shows the merciless price you pay to be an entertainer, taking us from realistic dance numbers to extravagant flights of cinematic fancy with Gideon as our guide; he meditates on his life, his women and his death. A ll That Jazz is a  fiercely personal personal film. Roy Scheider’s brilliant performance as Joe Gideon leaves me wanting for more every time.

 

1984: A Blockbuster Year

“My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” Ronald Reagan brought that oops moment to the world as he tested a microphone before a radio address; later that November Regan won a landslide re-election. That was the peak of the Reagan era. That was 1984.

1984 was, indeed, an unforgettable year!Mary Lou Retton won gymnastic gold and American hearts at the L.A. Olympics. The reining Miss America, Vanessa Williams, was stripped of her title because of a nude photo spread in Penthouse magazine. Madonna became everyone’s “boy toy” with her “Like a Virgin” performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. Marvin Gaye was killed by his father; Bernie Goetz gunned down four muggers in the NYC subway; millions starved in Ethiopia; and Bob Geldoff responded with “Do They Know it’s Christmas Time.” Thousands died in the Union Carbide Corporation disaster in Bhopal, India; and Clara Peller asked, “Where’s the Beef?” Cindy Lauper proclaimed that “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”; Prince let us know what it sounds like “When Doves Cry”; and Tina Turner made a big comeback and asked, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Clearly, 1984 was a year of big news, big events, and, thanks to the number one TV show, Dynasty, really of big shoulder pads! But as the ashes of have long since settled, it’s ’84’s hit movies that remain with us and have stood the test of time.

Besides being the year that introduced the first PG-13 movie, (Red Dawn), 1984 was the birth year for a number of hit features that spawned numerous sequels: The Terminator, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, Beverly Hills Cop, and Police Academy. Comedies were probably the most notable feature of ’84. While the year didn’t produce any great American Film Institute darlings as weighty as Citizen Kane, it did, however, release an impressive number of comedies that are still fresh and still freakin’ funny today. Already mentioned are Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, and Police Academy; but also there are All of Me, This is Spinal Tap, Splash, Revenge of the Nerds, and Romancing the Stone.

1984 didn’t just release blockbusters that kept bottom line obsessed studio heads filled with coke and lap dancing blonds, it also saw the release of some lesser known films that have endured to become classics, films such as Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America; Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas; Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise. And the cult classics such as John Sayles The Brother from Another Planet, and the NYC cult horror flick C.H.U.D.

1984 saw Regan era teen angst approach its peak, while the John Hughes’ teen classic, Sixteen Candles, solidified Molly Ringwald as the ’80s’ ginger teen queen and—along with Weird Science that same year—shot Anthony Michael Hall to geek teen stardom, as its new nerd on the rise. The Karate Kid taught us to “Wax on, Wax off,” and A Nightmare on Elm Street introduced slasher fans to a terrifying new evil villain, Freddy Krueger, who entered our nightmares and has remained with us nine sequels later. Not only did teen anxiety influence cinema, but also the collective unease of the Cold War, as 1984 released a cinematic Soviet Union invasion of the U.S.A. in cinematographer and director John Milius’s Red Dawn. The first film to receive a PG-13 rating, Red Dawn was perhaps a bit unbelievable but cathartic, and filled with up-and-coming young stars (Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, and Charlie Sheen); it was a definite reaction to the Cold War anxieties of the 1980s.

 
Sixteen Candles, Molly Ringwald

1984 was a year of movies filled with classic pop music in such films such as Prince’s Purple Rain, which produced an enduring soundtrack that still holds up today. The concert film Stop Making Sense featured the Talking Heads and was directed by a relative newcomer, Jonathan Demme. Beat Street and Breakin’ capitalized on the popularity of break dancing, and Footloose danced into theaters with its MTV look and a soundtrack that garnered six Billboard magazine top 40 hits. Footloose was promoted again and again; each subsequent music video featured clips from the film, and ultimately kept those bottom-line-obsessed studio heads “Dancing in the Sheets,” and laid the foundation for Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

In celebration of that most unforgettable year, I have listed my twenty essential movies of 1984, films that have endured, some that are well crafted, some that capture the spirit of the ’80s—thirty-year-old movies that make us think, sing, dance, scream and, above all else, laugh out loud!
—John David West

David’s 20 Essential Movies of 1984

Ghostbusters

Paris, Texas

Amadeus

The Killing Fields

Once Upon a Time in America

Stop Making Sense


The Terminator

 

This Is Spinal Tap

Beverly Hills Cop


The Karate Kid


Sixteen Candles



Footloose


A Nightmare on Elm Street


Stranger Than Paradise


Purple Rain
Starman


Gremlins


Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom


The Muppets Take Manhattan


Police Academy

 

 

Click here from more movies from 1984 at IMDB, it’s amazing!

MoviefiedNYC’s Top 10 movies of 2016

John David West’s Top 10 Films of 2016

10. Hacksaw Ridge

hacksaw-ridge-1Mel Gibson (yep Mad Mel is back) and Hacksaw Ridge proves to be a better venture than his previous outings. The film is sometimes a little schmaltzy with the typical Hollywood, man against all odds, American glory, and pious, good-versus-evil sentimentality, but in actuality it’s kind of refreshing. This is the true story of Desmond Doss (played by Andrew Garfield) in one of his best performances to date. Doss is a Seventh-day Adventist, who—as a conscientious objector—joined the military and refused to carry a gun into battle.  Doss’s refusal to participate in violence starkly contrasts the war-torn images Gibson’s puts on the screen. They are brutally violent, limbs are blown apart before our eyes and rats feast on dead soldiers. Is it too much? Perhaps not. War is far more brutal than anything we can watch on the big screen in the safety of our cozy seats. At this point, I am quite weary of the “based on a true story” marketing that seems to give so many films a certain level of cachet, but in the case of Hacksaw Ridge, the true story of Desmond Doss’s selflessness is rather refreshing to see a unique World War II story.

9. O.J.: Made in America

o-j-made-in-america-1This gargantuan documentary by Ezra Edelman runs a staggering 464 minutes—well over seven hours. Its length—and the fact that it never becomes dull or tedious despite it—solidifies that the O.J Simpson story may best represent America’s obsession with celebrity, media, violence, the criminal justice system, and our complex, ongoing issues with race relations.

8. Fences

fences-1August Wilsons’ Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play features career high performances by Viola Davis and Denzel Washington. This play to screen adaptation may disappoint audiences who crave action and more locations than simply a backyard and living room, but it’s the simple set that doesn’t interfere with Wilson’s beautiful linguistic music along with Washington and Davis’ passion.

7. Tony Erdmann

tony-erdmann-1Another film that brings some much-needed originality to this year’s batch of movies. A German comedy that doesn’t try too hard to be funny – it’s comical when it needs to be and touching when the time is right. What’s most satisfying about Toni Erdman is how surprisingly gratifying of a film it is – just wait for the birthday brunch that becomes absurdly funny and oddly relatable. It’s a clever comment on the ridiculousness of corporate conformity and a need to perform well for the team.

6. 13th

13thNot only is Ava DuVernay’s documentary about the U.S. prison system a sobering essay on institutionalized racism in the U.S, but is also a study – through the 13th Amendment of the Constitution – of how it was allowed to thrive. The films success lies in its accessiblity whilst never being preachy. This is with out a doubt a movie that everyone should see.

5. Arrival

Amy Adams, Arrival
Amy Adams, Arrival

Adapted from the book, Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang, Arrival ponders some tough questions, in the words of its director Denis Villeneuve: “What would happen if you knew how and when you will die? What will your relationship with life and love, your family, and friends, and with your society be?  By being more in relationship with death, in an intimate way with the nature of life and its subtleties, it would bring us more humility.” We all need that human humility today, more than ever. As one of the smarter films of 2016, and with an intelligent performance by Amy Adams, Arrival is one last year’s films that deserves a second viewing.

4. The Salesman

the-salesman1Asghar Farhadi‘s realistic thriller The Salesman opens like a disaster film as an apartment building appears to collapse as its residents are forced to flee. After this disruptive event the films settles into Farhadi’s typical exploration of domestic life as the film’s central characters, a married couple, played brilliantly by Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti are forced to find an alternative apartment to live in. The Salesman is ultimately about more intimate matters than a physical disaster as their lives are dramatically changed by a violent event in their new apartment. Farhadi carefully and quietly spins the domestic drama into naturalistic revenge thriller that takes you for the ride inside the heads of its lead characters.

3. The Lobster

lobsterThe Lobster is one of the most unique films of 2016. Set in the near future, it takes an absurdist angle to explore what it means to be single. In this gray futuristic story, the uncoupled are arrested and transferred to The Hotel, where they must find a mate and fall in love within 45 days or they will be forever transformed into an animal of their choosing. Written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, who brought us the Oscar nominated Dogtooth (2011). This is his first English language film, and he’s just as compelling and disturbing in English as he is in Greek. This time he has a few big screen names from Hollywood’s John C. Reilly, to across the Atlantic with England’s Rachel Weisz, France’s Léa Seydoux and middle-aged, pudgy Irish Colin Farrell in a very strong yet understated performance. These actors are all doing great ensemble work in a movie whose title begs the most important question – “what animal would you choose?”

2. Moonlight

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Moonlight is quite possibly a perfect acting movie – its ensemble of actors don’t miss a beat. While Mahershala Ali is getting all the—well deserved—attention for his performance as the neighborhood drug dealer who provides a young boy a home away from his abusive home—a stable life, if you will.  But the critically-overshadowed performance of Ashton Sanders as the bullied and questioning teenage Chiron is one of the most moving of the film.  Naomie Harris (Skyfall) as Chiron’s crack addict mother is one of the year’s most compelling performances. With the film’s visually delightful cinematography and a beautiful script, Moonlight does not miss a step under the brilliant direction of Barry Jenkins. 

1. Manchester by the Sea

manchester-seaFew directors are able to make a film that successfully blurs the line between tragedy and comedy, while also maintaining a tone that is unquestionably dramatic. It helps that the film is set during an overcast snowy New England winter; that its set in a working class environment; and has an score that features some heavy pieces, including Albinoni’s classic funeral hit, “Adagio in G Minor.” Director and writer Kenneth Lonergan has seamlessly blended the dramatic with the comic,  through his direction of his well-crafted script. You don’t walk away confused about you just watched—it’s a definitely a drama, a devastating drama, with many moments that capture the clumsiness that bring humor to daily life. Affleck is the conflicted center of this film and gives a career-high performance that is a case study of quiet restraint, and subtle emotional depth. This is an honest performance that is successful for it’s nuanced and controlled quality, yet it’s not dull or boring—it’s authentic. Michelle Williams as Lee’s ex-wife delivers one of her most powerful performances in years. Manchester by the Sea, with its strong cast, mature writing, masterful direction, and a score that—despite coming dangerously close to overpowering the film—effectively enhances the over all tone. Manchester By The Sea is one of 2016’s best films and my number one.

 A few more:  

singstreet2
Sing Street (Dir. John Carney)

Sing Street

Elle

Lion

Loving

The Handmaiden 

Paterson

LaLa Land

Ten Best [Film and TV] Actresses of All Time

The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, found at GALECA.or and @DorianAwards, announced its members’ collective picks for the organization’s latest “Ten Best” list: GALECA’s Ten Best Actresses of All Time.

The 160-plus members of GALECA, a nonprofit group comprised of professional film and TV critics and entertainment journalists in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., were each asked to name their 10 choices for the finest female actors throughout the history of film and television, without ranking the stars. The actresses with the most mentions are noted below alphabetically (text by GALECA member Dana Piccoli). Note: Actresses who did not make the top 10 here but came closest among the 100 or so listed by members include Joan Crawford, Judi Dench, Sally Field, Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn, Nicole Kidman, Jessica Lange, Helen Mirren, Elizabeth Taylor and Kate Winslet.

The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association’s Ten Best Actresses of All Time (again, in alphabetical order) are:

Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca (1942)

The Swedish star is best known to your average Joe as misty-eyed Ilsa in Casablanca, but Bergman devotees know that she starred in many more, including a trio of Hitchcock films and George Cukor’s stellar thriller Gaslight. Bergman is also responsible for another gift to cinema: her daughter, actress Isabella Rossellini.

Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchette, Elizabeth (1997)

Whether she’s playing a tortured 16th-century monarch or having clandestine glove lunches in 1952, Cate Blanchett radiates. She’s the kind of actress that demands your attention, and you gratefully give it. She’s picked up a host of Oscar and/or Golden Globe nominations (and a few wins) for her stunning performances in such modern classics as Elizabeth, Blue Jasmine and Carol (the latter two also earned her GALECA Dorian Awards).

Bette Davis

Bette Davis, The Little Foxes 1941

The grande dame of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Bette Davis commanded attention with her striking visage and powerful performances in films like All About Eve, The Little Foxes and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (Davis’ off-camera battles with costar Joan Crawford in the latter fuel the upcoming TV series Feud). But from the get-go, she was blazing trails as one of filmdom’s most distinct, eye-expressive actresses.

Viola Davis

viola-davis
Viola Davis, Doubt (2008)

Bette’s not the only Ms. Davis to stand out on the screen (big or small). This Juilliard-trained powerhouse has shown there’s no role she can’t conquer, winning two Tonys, two Oscar nominations (for Doubt and The Help) and, finally, like Stanwyck, an Emmy. That parade of awards will only keep growing as she lends her trademark thoughtfulness to more juicy roles like her current one as Annalise Keating in TV’s How to Get Away With Murder.

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda, Klute (1971)

Fonda (a GALECA Timeless Star career-achievement honoree) may have come from Hollywood royalty, but she’s been paving her own way with intelligence and subversive wit since the sixties. Be it in the daring crime thriller Klute, feminist office comedy 9 to 5 to or gray-haired sitcom Grace and Frankie, Fonda is a nervy, magnetic presence. And few actresses have such a knack for shedding light on important issues with her brave performances. Witness her Oscar-winning turn in Coming Home.

Katharine Hepburn

katharine-hepburn
Katherine Hepburn, The Lion in Winter (1968)

Few actresses, or actors, have the sort of self-possessed presence that came so naturally to Kate Hepburn. Even after her early success in was deemed a flash in the pan by the 1940s, she showed that talent and a hell of a lot of moxie can’t be quashed. Hepburn picked up three of her four Oscars later in life (see On Golden Pond), working until the age of 87. Her dedication to her art and her iconoclastic personal style translate to indelible.

Isabelle Huppert

Isabelle Huppert, The Piano Teacher (2001)

The French-born Cannes’ darling Huppert has been making waves in the film industry for over 40 years now, with no signs of slowing down. Her haunting performance in 2001’s The Piano Teacher may be her best known work in the U.S., but the BAFTA- and Cesar-winning chameleon has over 50 films under her belt, a testament to her status as one of the world’s most spectacularly natural acting talents. See her cast a spell in the current drama Elle.

Julianne Moore

julianne-moore
Julianne Moore, Boogie Nights (1997)

Moore has the makings of a modern legend. She landed on the radar with her high of a performance in 1997’s Boogie Nights and she’s been building a noticeably meaty list of credits ever since. Her subtle and natural style has made her a household name and a favorite during Academy Awards season (and she won a GALECA Dorian Award for Still Alice). While Moore is usually cast in dramas like the heart-wrenching The End of the Affair, her comedic timing in The Big Lebowski is proof she has the chops to do it all.

Barbara Stanwyck

barbara-stanwyck-3
Barbara Stanwyck, Babyface (1933)

The stunningly “real” Stanwyck rose from a childhood filled with poverty and strife to become one of early Hollywood’s most dynamic actresses. The former Ziegfeld Follies dancer elicited tears in Stella Dallas, mesmerized in the noir classic Double Indemnity and delighted in the screwball comedy The Lady Eve. “Missy” later turned heads in television, winning three Emmys, including one for her gutsy performance in The Thorn Birds.

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep, Sophie’s Choice (1982)

Enigmatic, brilliant, timeless. Meryl Streep’s career is as varied as can be, with Oscar-winning performances in The Iron Lady(which also earned her GALECA’s Dorian Award), Sophie’s Choice and Kramer vs. Kramer to fun frolics in films like Mamma Mia and The Devil Wears Prada. Streep completely loses herself in her roles, making her not only fascinating, but (shhh) GALECA’s number-one Best Actress of All Time.

ABOUT GALECA

The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA) sponsors the Dorian Awards, annually honoring movies and TV programs of all types, not just “gay.” GALECA’s membership consists of more than 160 professional critics, journalists and editors who cover the worlds of film and/or TV on for legitimate media outlets — from mainstream to LGBTQ-centric — in the United States, Canada and the U.K. More information may be found at galeca.org.