E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
An Officer and a Gentleman
I like 1982 as a year in film. I stand by earlier comments that June of 1982 is the greatest single month of science fiction and horror film ever. To that end, Poltergeist is a film that I think should have been considered here. Videodrome probably doesn’t really belong here, but I like it quite a bit, so I’m adding it. I might also consider El Norte as a possibility, even though that’s still one of the most depressing movies I’ve ever seen. The film that really belongs in this list, though, is Fitzcarraldo.
Weeding through the Nominees
5: An Officer and a Gentleman is a pretty good movie, but I like it mostly for Lou Gossett Jr. The screenplay is honestly nothing that special. There aren’t any real surprises in where this movie goes or how it gets there. Even the first time I saw it nothing surprised me that much. Sure, the ending is cute and Lou Gossett kills the role. But it doesn’t deserve to be in the company of the nominees.
4: Spielberg was attached to two movies released in June of 1982. E.T. was by far the more successful of the two but Poltergeist is the much better film. E.T. gets maudlin and sappy, and goes far too quickly and easily to Spielberg’s early career go-to pair of absentee fathers and evil government conspiracy. There are good points to this film, but there simply aren’t enough of those good points to get it where it needs to be.
3: The problem with Gandhi is that it’s far too indulgent. This is a grand story told on a grand scale but it’s also a movie that has few charms the second time around. In all likelihood, it won because it was Gandhi’s year. I’m not particularly surprised by it winning. I’m just a little disappointed that the Academy took the obvious easy way out here rather than looking a little deeper. Gandhi isn’t a terrible choice; it’s just not the best choice, even with what we’re presented.
2: It’s evident that Tootsie is a film that I like better than almost everyone who reads this site. I stand by the idea that this is a very good and smart screenplay. There are plenty of things here that are genuinely funny and some that are specifically heartfelt and honest. I like this screenplay quite a bit, and a great deal of that comes through in the performances. That’s especially true of Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray. More Bill Murray, and it might take the top position.
1: Of the five movies we’re given here, I’m going with Diner. I went into this only knowing that at some level it was sort of The Big Chill in a different vein. That does this movie a huge disservice. The dialogue is what makes the film work, and the dialogue is about is good as you’ll find from this decade. Limited to the nominees, it’s the one I’d pick. But I’m not limited to the nominees here, so my vote goes elsewhere.
It’s Fitzcarraldo all the way. Feel free to disagree with me on this, but Fitzcarraldo was such an insane undertaking and it all still works so well that I can’t in good conscience go anywhere else with this award. It should have been nominated and once nominated it should have won. (And before you say anything, Das Boot was based on a novel.)