Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The 1981 Fisti Awards

[Images May Be Enlarged By Clicking on Them]

1981.  Oscar was a weird one this year.  Fawning all over old people's uncontrollable shaking by a pond and political unrest and then awarding top honors of the night to a movie exploring religious themes under the guise of a sports movie ("I'm a runner!")...I'd call that a shock.  It's funny though, because I actually really like the eventual Oscar winner, Chariots of Fire, but it doesn't even snag a single nomination from me.  This year is too tight.  I'm a little all over the place this year myself, and I'm sure that a lot of my choices are going to be viewed as odd, especially when you realize that my Best Picture winner this year doesn't win any other award.  This year is just so good though, and despite snagging nominations in a slew of categories (my Best Picture winner has a total of 11 nominations) I'm not of the mindset that a Best Picture winner has to win more awards to validate it's BIG win.  That end prize is a prize that is almost entirely separate from every other prize, for it's the one award that says all of those other aspects came together in the perfect way, not that each aspect on it's own was the best.  So just because it doesn't win for it's direction, screenplay, acting or technicals doesn't mean those aspects didn't fit together perfectly (I mean it does snag noms in all those categories, and it's honestly my runner-up in many of them).  But the Fistis this year are strange in that no single film wins more than 2 awards, and only 3 films reach that height.  Yup, consider the wealth spread!

With that said, I present to you the Fisti Awards of 1981!

Award's Tally

[2 Wins]


[1 Win]

American Werewolf in London
Atlantic City
Blow Out
The Chosen
The Fox and the Hound
Pennies from Heaven
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Time Bandits


  1. Glad to see Possesion get some mentions! I have Diva, Modern Romance, and Pennies From Heaven on my watchlist. Dinner With Andre is well-written, but to me a very draining watch, I should check it out with subtitles next time :)

    My top 10 of 1981:
    1. Blow Out (Brian De Palma)
    2. For Your Eyes Only (John Glen)
    3. Das Boot (Wolfgang Petersen)
    4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg)
    5. Christiane F (Uli Edel)
    6. Body Heat (Lawrence Kasdan)
    7. Possession (Andrzej Zulawski)
    8. An American Werewolf in London (John Landis)
    8. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (George Miller)
    10. The Beyond (Lucio Fulci)

    1. Possession is such a crazy trip, but it's so well done and just plain intoxicating to watch. I can see why you would think that about My Dinner with Andre. I love it, but it can be trying.

      I need to see some from you Top Ten, namely Mad Max 2 and The Beyond.

      Hope you get to see Diva, Modern Romance and Pennies from Heaven soon. All three are great films!

  2. Since I am ready for bed I am not taking it all in but still loving what you picked especially mentioning my 2 favourite-Excalibur and Time Bandits. I am so not into Reds not the French Lieutenant's Woman (yawn). I have wanted to see Mephisto. I would have given best song to Mel Brooks because it is so brilliant

    1. I liked, but didn't love The French Lieutenant's Woman. Reds is underrated, I think, by many who consider it stuffy Oscar bait. It's beautifully made, sweeping even, and Keaton is remarkable.

      Mephisto is tremendous.

  3. I really like Chariots of Fire too, but wow, there are tons of great stuff that are worth nominating that year. I LOVE Raiders, that’d get a ton of noms from me too.

    Wait, Dame Mirren vs Dame Smith, oh my!! That’d be tough to choose, I love both of them so much! I didn’t even know Dame Maggie was in a film called Quartet as she did one recently, directed by Dustin Hoffman.

    1. Raiders truly is the epitome of all that movies are supposed to be!

      Mirren and Smith are outstanding this year. Yeah, I kind of love how Smith has stared in two VERY DIFFERENT movies with the same title.

  4. To me 1981 was a thin year, except in Best Actor, but I am missing a few films-Modern Romance, My Dinner with Andre and a couple of others.

    Atlantic City
    Blow Out
    Pennies from Heaven
    Raiders of the Lost Ark-Winner
    Goodness we're pretty far apart. Pennies is a very inventive film but it's relentless gloom wore me out. I thought both Lola and Quartet were okay but wasn't crazy about them. I'll have to give Diva another look, I think my expectations were too high, it took me forever to track it down and then I liked it but wasn't blown away. I'll never understand how the extraordinarily dull Chariots of Fire beat Raiders, or anything else for that matter. I love the mythic sweep of Excalibur but no movie was better or more fun this year than Raiders.

    John Boorman-Excalibur
    Brian De Palma-Blow Out
    Louis Malle-Atlantic City
    Steven Spielberg-Raiders of the Lost Ark-Winner
    Peter Weir-Gallipoli
    Well we share one common choice! Spielberg has made many fine films but this one showed more than any of the others he understood how to make a film work, move and be entertaining all at the same time and better than any other film in contention to me.

    Sean Connery-Outland
    Richard Dreyfuss-Who's Life Is It Anyway?
    Harrison Ford-Raiders of the Lost Ark-Winner
    John Heard-Cutter's Way
    John Travolta-Blow Out
    Other worthy work: Mel Gibson-Gallipoli, Bob Hoskins-The Long Good Friday, Burt Lancaster-Atlantic City, Steve Martin-Pennies from Heaven and Treat Williams-Prince of the City

    I've yet to see Mephisto but Brandauer is a great actor so I'm sure he's brilliant. There was a ton of excellent work in lead actor but no matter how well Spielberg directed Raiders without Ford's full bodied work, and charisma, the trip wouldn't have been half as much fun.

    Faye Dunaway-Mommie Dearest
    Diane Keaton-Reds
    Susan Sarandon-Atlantic City
    Barbara Sukowa-Lola
    Kathleen Turner-Body Heat-Winner
    I love Adjani but haven't seen Possession yet, I really should get to it since Josh chose her in his CinSpec awards too. I also have to catch up with the Fanny Ardant film.

    I know Dunaway's work is reviled by many and wrecked her career but it is a full on almost Kabuki performance that is fearless in its audacity, the picture surrounding her and her director let her down but she fully committed to the role. While I was impressed with Sukowa's performance I didn't care for the film it was contained in. I've always thought of Sarandon as the lead in Atlantic City though her screen time skirts that line with supporting and Diane Keaton is terrific in the endless Reds. Kathleen Turner would still be my pick though giving the kind of noir performance that Stanwyck, Greer or Grahame could have given if code restrictions had been slackened at the time.

    1. Mephisto is a marvelously done biopic, and Brandauer gives a towering performance, one of the best every put to film.

      Adjani is insane in Possession, which is insane as a film. It's not for everyone...borderline macabre horror and truly bonkers and yet crafted so well, effectively terrifying and there is not a single performance I've ever seen like Adjani.

      I'm intrigued by this Who's Life is it Anyway?...

    2. It a shame that Who's Life is it Anyway? has sort of been forgotten. The play was a huge success when it premiered and the film did respectable business on release with strong reviews for the whole cast especially Dreyfuss, ironic since he was such a hophead at the time that he says he can't remember making the film now. There was also limited run Broadway revival with Mary Tyler Moore that won her a Tony.

      It is grim and so like They Shoot Horses, Don't They? doesn't lend itself to easy or frequent viewing which might explain the lack of attention.

    3. Well not I'm really intrigued, considering that I just saw, and really loved, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?...

  5. Supporting Actor:
    John Gielgud-Arthur
    Bill Hunter-Gallipoli
    Sean Penn-Taps
    Rod Steiger-The Chosen
    Nicol Williamson-Excalibur-Winner
    Steiger is very strong in Chosen and a worthy winner. You know I love Alan Bates but his film just did nothing for me, a similar situation with Adorf's film.

    Gielgud was terrific in Arthur but in all the sweeping mysticism of Excalibur no one was having more fun than Williamson or giving the audience more pleasure, it's one of my all time favorite performances.

    Supporting Actress:
    Karen Allen-Raiders of the Lost Ark-Winner
    Ava Gardner-The Priest of Love
    Christine Lahti-Whose Life Is It Anyway?
    Helen Mirren-Excalibur
    Frances Sternhagen-Outland
    We both have Helen Mirren just for different films, she's excellent in Friday I just love her Morgana a little more. I have Susan in lead and your other three picks are wonderful pieces of work.

    I love to find good work in a bad movie and Ava Gardner's work in the otherwise wretched Priest of Love is that film's only redeeming feature. Christine Lahti's gives a beautiful reading of Dreyfuss's conflicted physician in Whose Life. Helen Mirren's flashy performance almost matches Nicol Williamson's in Excalibur and I love Sternhagen's crabby but resourceful doctor in Outland. But Karen Allen's spunky, resourceful Marion makes the picture almost as much as Ford's Indiana, too bad she was never in the sequels.

    1. Love that you love Steiger. I was not a fan of Excalibur as a whole, and found that Mirren was, in my eyes, the only acting performance worthy of note. I know that a lot of people champion Williamson, but I just didn't care for him.

  6. The 70s and 80s are probably my least-watched decades of film but I just have to say: KUDOS for including Possession in so many categories. It's such a mesmerizing piece of work. Zulawski works in such a heightened aesthetic register and Adjani's performance is probably more in tune with that than any other performance he directed (although if you haven't L'important c'est d'aimer yet, you should, because Romy Schneider is outstanding in it). That scene in the subway is EXHAUSTING, and thrilling, and compulsively watchable (to think this was the exact same year as Dunaway in Mommie Dearest - what a year for OTT crazy actress performances!). And then consider that she pulled double duty, also performing the completely different part of the kid's school teacher. Wow. It's probably one of the greatest performances of all time. The film's cinematography, editing, score, and production design are all stellar, too.

    1. Yeah, Possession is a complete trip, so messy and insanely over the top and yet completely workable because all its facets fit together with such commitment. I'm glad to see it has passionate fans.

      I will need to check out L'important c'est d'aimer soon!

      I've been filling out my 80's films lately, so expect to see more 80's Fisti Awards coming soon :-D

  7. We agree on so much this year! Glad to see we still have the same acting winners, and I love that you only give Pennies from Heaven Best Picture. (I came close to doing that with 42nd Street, but I also gave it Editing.) Plus, I'm SO here for Raiders of the Lost Ark getting 8 noms!!

    1. Raiders picked up a slew of noms this go was one of those films I didn't mean to snub in the manner that I snubbed it when I posted my original awards.

  8. Best Picture
    An American Werewolf In London*
    Blow Out
    Southern Comfort
    Escape From New York
    Prince of the City
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    The Beyond
    The Evil Dead

    Best Director
    Brian DePalma, Blow Out*
    Walter Hill, Southern Comfort
    Sidney Lumet, Prince of the City
    Louis Malle, My Dinner With Andre
    Steven Spielberg, Raiders of the Lost Ark

    Best Actor: Bob Hoskins, The Long Good Friday
    Best Actress: Isabelle Adjani, Possession (no one else comes close)
    Best Supporting Actor: Robert Prosky, Thief
    Best Supporting Actress: ??? (haven't seen enough)
    Best Original Screenplay: Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, My Dinner With Andre
    Best Adapted Screenplay: (haven't seen enough)
    Original Score: Andrzej Korsinki, Possession or Bernstein for Werewolf In London
    Best Cinematography: Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Best Film Editing: Paul Hirsch, Blow Out
    Art Direction: Time Bandits
    Makeup: An American Werewolf In London
    Visual Effects: Raiders of the Lost Ark

    1. Yeah, the films on your list are very male-centric, but you have seen The Long Good Friday, so Mirren could be your winner for now! She's my runner-up.

      You're so right about Adjani. It's a performance that is so out in front. Love the tie in Score...those are brilliant scores.

  9. I was hoping you'd give Raiders best pic, but I'll take the nom. Also looking for a nom from Body Heat. At least you showed Kathleen Turner some love. I've only seen a few of your other noms. Watched a lot of popcorn flicks that year, myself.

    1. Raiders is a great flick, but there is something about Pennies from Heaven that I absolutely adore. Raiders is somewhere between 2-4 for me, depending on the day. Lola and Diva are kind of perfect, in my eyes, and flirt with the same placements.

      Body Heat was tacky fun, for sure, and Turner was just brilliant.