1990 Leaman Awards - The Part-Time Critic

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

1990 Leaman Awards

*Last Updated 9/19/2022  

1990 Films Seen: 45
Number of Films with A or A+ Grade: 0
Key Films Still to See: n/a

Brief Summary: 1990 provides some good (but flawed) films and is severely lacking in great animated films. 

Not a "best of" list or a "favorite" list - but a list of the films and sequences (action, drama, comedy, & musical) that I think represent the best the year had to offer. So think of it as a strange mixture of favorite, best, and defining. Once you get to the top ten films, it definitely becomes more defined as a Top Ten list of the year. The number one film is my favorite of the year. 

Honorable Mentions: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

15. Hamlet (B)
14. Dick Tracy (B)
13. The Godfather Part 3 (B)
12. Back to the Future Part 3 (B)
11. Hunt for Red October, The (B)

THE TOP TEN
10. Presumed Innocent (B): An engaging and intelligent courtroom drama starring Harrison Ford with enough twists and turns to keep it juicy, but with enough insights about the justice system to keep it thoughtful. The performances are very good, especially Raul Julia as the defense attorney and Harrison Ford’s enigmatic lead that allows all sorts of conclusions to be drawn. I may not have liked one or two of the twists, but I can’t deny it still remained a compelling watch.

9. Die Hard 2 (B)
8. Reversal of Fortune (B)
7. Home Alone (B)
6. Awakenings (B) 

5. Misery (B+)

4. Miller's Crossing (B+) 

3. Total Recall (B+)

2. Dances with Wolves (B+): An excellent revisionist Western that works so well for most of its running time. After becoming an accidental hero in the Civil War (beginning the revisionist theme of the film), John Dunbar is able to choose his future military posting. After a memorable stop-off with his insane superior officer, another hint that this film is set to demystify the era, Dunbar heads across the American West with his provisions to his post in South Dakota. The following sequences of an isolated Dunbar embracing his new solitary life at the outpost are the best sequences of the entire film to me. I loved watching him repair Fort Sedgewick, making friends with local wildlife (where the name Dances with Wolves comes from), and starting relationships with the territory Lakota Sioux Indians. The highlight of his relationship with the Sioux is the incredible buffalo hunt sequence. As the relationship grows with the Indians, the biggest revisionist aspirations take shape – the Sioux Indians are primarily peaceful and friendly. There's no problem with this in concept, but for a film that takes the history seriously, portraying the Sioux this one sided is an odd choice. There is some complexity given to them, but it’s clear they are the good guys. By the time the end of the film comes into view, the revisionism becomes too heavy handed for me. For instance, the Pawnee Indians and US Cavalry are painted as unthinking villains (with practically zero shades) while the Sioux and Dunbar are the only enlightened ones to see the peace. For a movie that gets so many details right, this oversimplification is really jarring and tough to take. This film works so well for about two thirds of its runtime, gets so much of the details correct (a sweeping romantic score, beautiful real life locations, taking seriously the Indian roles, etc), that the comically villainous US Cavalry in the final act of the film and the revisionist axe begin to overshadow it. For more on the best Westerns ever made, click HERE.

1. Goodfellas (A-)


FAVORITE ACTION SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
*A pretty barren year for strong action sequences
The Very Good:
  • "Hologram Deception/Starting the Reactor" -Total Recall
  • "Taking On His Wife...Or Is He?" -Total Recall
The Great:
  • n/a 
The Best: "Casper Attempts to Assassinate Leo to Danny Boy" -Miller's Crossing 
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE DRAMATIC SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
The Very Good:
  • “Leonard awakens, sees his mom, and greets everyone” -Awakenings
  • “Leaving the Past: Getting the Train Up to Speed” -Back to the Future Part III
  • “Dances with Wolves leaves the Village & Win in His Hair Says Goodbye” –Dances with Wolves
  • “Finale: Michael Corleone dies old and alone with nothing but memories” -The Godfather Part III
  • “Home Finale: The Wet Bandits vs. Kevin McAllister” -Home Alone
  • “Tom can’t take out Bernie at Miller’s Crossing” –Miller’s Crossing
  • “Racing to get back into his wheelchair before Annie returns” -Misery
  • “Local Sheriff checks the house finishing at the basement” -Misery
  • “Your'e still at Rekall, this is all a dream, take the pill” –Total Recall
The Great:
  • “Funny How?” -Goodfellas
  • “Entering the Copacabana through the Back Entrance” -Goodfellas
  • “Annie Commits the Hobbling” -Misery
  • "Cross-Examination of the Coroner Brings a Surprise" -Presumed Innocent
The Best: "Lows of a Buffalo Massacre & Highs of a Buffalo Hunt" -Dances with Wolves 
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE COMEDIC SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
Not a category I kept good track of - One of the toughest TBH
The Very Good:
  • n/a 
The Great:
  • n/a
The Best: n/a


FAVORITE MUSICAL SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
The Very Good:
  • “Mother and Daughter Sing Back to Back Songs” -Postcards from the Edge
The Great:
  • n/a 
The Best: “A Sicilian Song Brings Back Nostalgic Memories” -The Godfather Part III
Commentary: n/a
BEST DIRECTOR
Nominees:  
  • Joel Coen Miller's Crossing
  • Kevin Costner Dances with Wolves
  • Rob Reiner Misery
  • Martin Scorsese Goodfellas
  • Paul Verhoeven Total Recall
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE FILM ENSEMBLE
Nominees:  
  • Awakenings
  • Goodfellas
  • The Grifters
  • Miller's Crossing
  • Misery
Commentary: n/a


BEST MALE PERFORMANCES
Nominees:  
  • James Caan Misery
  • Kevin Costner Dances with Wolves
  • Robert DeNiro Awakenings
  • Jeremy Irons Reversal of Fortune
  • Raul Julia Presumed Innocent
  • Ray Liotta Goodfellas
  • Joe Pesci Goodfellas
  • Dennis Quaid Postcards from the Edge
  • Ron Silver Reversal of Fortune
  • John Turturro Miller's Crossing
  • Robin Williams Awakenings
Commentary: n/a


BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCES
Nominees:  
  • Kathy Bates Misery
  • Annette Bening The Grifters
  • Lorraine Bracco Goodfellas
  • Glen Close Reversal of Fortune
  • Whoopi Goldberg Ghost
  • Angelica Huston The Grifters
  • Shirley MacLaine Postcards from the Edge
  • Mary McDonnell Dances with Wolves
  • Julia Roberts Pretty Woman
  • Meryl Streep Postcards from the Edge
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE SCREENPLAY
(original or adapted)
Nominees:  
  • Awakenings
  • Dances with Wolves
  • Ghost
  • Goodfellas
  • Home Alone
  • Miller's Crossing
  • Misery
  • Presumed Innocent
  • Pretty Woman
  • Total Recall
Commentary: n/a


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
*No eligible documentaries viewed
Nominees:  n/a


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Nominees:  
  • The Rescuers Down Under
Commentary: n/a

BEST FILM EDITING
Nominees: 
  • Ghost
  • Goodfellas
  • Miller's Crossing
  • Misery
  • Total Recall
Commentary: n/a


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Nominees: 
  • Dances with Wolves
  • The Godfather Part III
  • Goodfellas
  • Miller's Crossing
  • Misery
Commentary: n/a


BEST ART DIRECTION
Nominees: 
  • Dances with Wolves
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Goodfellas
  • Miller's Crossing
  • Total Recall
Commentary: n/a


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Nominees: 
  • Back to the Future Part 3
  • Die Hard 2
  • Ghost
  • The Hunt for Red October
  • Total Recall
Commentary: n/a


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Nominees: 
  • Back to the Future Part 3
  • Dances with Wolves
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Ghost
  • Home Alone
  • Presumed Innocent
Commentary: n/a


BEST SOUND DESIGN
Nominees: 
  • Back to the Future Part 3
  • Dances with Wolves
  • Goodfellas
  • Miller's Crossing
  • Total Recall
Commentary: n/a


BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Nominees: 
  • Dances with Wolves
  • Dick Tracy
  • Goodfellas
  • Miller's Crossing
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Commentary: n/a


BEST MAKE-UP & HAIR DESIGN
Nominees: 
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Dances with Wolves
  • Dick Tracy
  • Goodfellas
  • Total Recall
Commentary: n/a

MOST UNDERRATED FILM
Nominees: 
  • Die Hard 2
  • Marked for Death
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Commentary: n/a


MOST OVERRATED FILM
Nominees:
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Flatliners
  • Pretty Woman
Commentary: n/a


WORST FILM
Nominees:
  • Child's Play 2
  • Flatliners
  • Rocky IV
Commentary: n/a


"Henry Hill: [narrating] For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster. To me that was better than being president of the United States. To be a gangster was to own the world." -Goodfellas


THE END!


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