49 LISTS | 2 TOP SPOTS Ron Howard | 117 mins | Comedy/Drama/Sci-Fi Don Ameche | Wilford Brimley | Hume Cronyn
“Ron Howard’s bravura combination of comedy, adventure and science fiction. “Cocoon” offers Don Ameche in the most sensational role of his 50-year career and gives equally glittering opportunities to Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Steve Guttenberg, Brian Dennehy and others.” – Scott Cain, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
9. OUT OF AFRICA
73 LISTS | 5 TOP SPOTS Sydney Pollack | 161 mins | Biography/Drama/Romance Meryl Streep | Robert Redford | Klaus Maria Brandauer
“Some critics have commented on this film’s dignity in a condescending manner. (Perhaps they would have been happier had it included a few eye-gougings?) At any rate, the thrill-seekers among you needn’t worry; Out of Africa is a good deal livelier than last year’s prestigious travelogue-with-drama, A Passage to India.
Robert Redford also has taken some heat for his slightly mannered portrayal of the great white hunter. Yet the role was written as more mythical figure than human; under the circumstances, Redford played the part the only way it could be played. In any event, the film belongs to Meryl Streep, who gives a performance of scope and urgency. I don’t automatically rave about Streep, whose technique has shown once too often in the past. But she captivated me in Out of Africa.
Under Sydney Pollack’s tasteful yet showmanly direction, the film succeeds as both an epic adventure and an intimate love story between two proud, independent people. And the passion between Streep and Redford is convincing and dizzying. Isak Dinesen, the tough but gallant writer whose beautiful prose inspired the movie (and who is played by Streep in the film), probably would be pleased. At least for the most part.” – Philip Wuntch, Dallas Morning News
8. THE COLOR PURPLE
78 LISTS | 16 TOP SPOTS Steven Spielberg | 154 mins | Drama Danny Glover | Whoopi Goldberg | Oprah Winfrey
“Steven Spielberg’s triumphant return to adult moviemaking – adapting Alice Walker’s controversial, semi-autobiographical novel about rural black life in the early 1900s – featured the single most overwhelming emotional experience offered by American movies in 1985. While occasionally overwrought, the pictures raw power was not to be denied: the performances included one of the most exciting screen debuts of the ‘80s (Whoopi Goldberg’s), as well as memorable works by several other actors.
If 1984’s “A Soldier’s Story” signaled a new maturity in Hollywood’s approach to black material, “The Color Purple” marked another significant benchmark in the industry’s painfully slow progress toward a more honest depiction of black American experience on the screen.” – David Baron, New Orleans Times-Picayune
7. AFTER HOURS
79 LISTS | 0 TOP SPOTS Martin Scorsese | 97 mins | Comedy/Crime/Drama Griffin Dunne | Rosanna Arquette | Verna Bloom
“There is but one God in Heaven, and Martin Scorsese is His Anointed One. For the last fifteen years, Scorsese’s dark morality plays have made an indelible impression on the American consciousness. In “After Hours,” he replaced some of his harshness with tense, hair-trigger black comedy. Many thanks to Scorsese, writer Joseph Minion, and the fine cast, including Griffin Dunne as the harried yuppie, and Rosanna Arquette, Teri Garr, and Catherine O’Hara as three of the weirdo blondes who give him opportunities for both sin and redemption.” – Bernie Hyland, Daily Northwestern
85 LISTS | 15 TOP SPOTS Akira Kurosawa | 162 mins | Action/Drama Tatsuya Nakadai | Akira Terao | Jinpachi Nezu
“Choosing it as “No. 1” in this year of the videocassette explosion is a particular pleasure because “Ran” (meaning “Chaos”) is not the kind of film that you will ever want to see on a videocassette at home.
“Ran” is epic moviemaking of a style that uses every cinematic device to its fullest and, typical of Kurosawa, to its most subtle power. For every massive battle scene there is a scene of aural and visual quiet, as the characters reflect upon themselves or each other.
And in the spirit of a film full of contrasts, “Ran” is both profound and a whole lot of fun.
“Ran” could be the last film to be made by the great Japanese director Kurosawa, who is 75 and half-blind. Best known for his samurai epics, Kurosawa has made another great one with “Ran,” based in part upon his interpretation of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.”
Instead of unruly daughters, however, the lord of “Ran” is confronted with quarreling sons and a vicious daughter-in-law who carve up his disintegrating empire, leaving the great man to walk, literally, among the ruins of his world, as we contemplate what is eternal and what is ephemeral.
A full review of “Ran” will appear in Wednesday’s Tribune. But if nothing else is communicated here, let it be that the film is not highbrow; it is a rousing, epic piece of moviemaking–the most expensive film ever made in Japan–filled with unforgettable characters who are both larger than life and just as petty.” – Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune
5. BACK TO THE FUTURE
84 LISTS | 4 TOP SPOTS Robert Zemeckis | 116 mins | Adventure/Comedy/Sci-Fi Michael J. Fox | Christopher Lloyd | Lea Thompson
“Though it couldn’t be more different tone or content, “Back to the Future” is another less-than-perfect film. But its clever premise and stylish execution make it stand out in a truly mediocre year. Sure, it’s basically popcorn fodder, but when you look at the summer’s endless list of excruciating teen comedies you can appreciate the craftsmanship of director Bob Zemeckis, who cowrote the film with Bob Gale.
For those who have spent the year in a cave, Michael J. Fox plays a contemporary teen-ager who’s transported back to the year 1955. Circumstances force him to play matchmaker for his parents, but in a neat, Oedipal twist his mother has the hots for Fox instead.” – Lou Lumenick, The Record
4. KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN
86 LISTS | 4 TOP SPOTS Hector Babenco | 120 mins | Drama William Hurt | Raul Julia | Sônia Braga
“William Hurt may win most of this year’s acting honors as the flamboyant homosexual lost in fantasies spawned by B- grade 1940s movies, but Raul Julia is no less effective as the macho revolutionary who shares an Argentine prison cell with him and comes to realize that they are more alike than either would have imagined. Manuel Puig’s celebrated 1976 novel yields a Brazilian movie that is exquisitely crafted.” – Roy Proctor, Richmond Times-Dispatch
92 LISTS | 5 TOP SPOTS Peter Weir | 112 mins | Crime/Drama/Romance Harrison Ford | Kelly McGillis | Lukas Haas
“Combining elements of two time-honored Hollywood staples – the good old-fashioned thriller and the good old-fashioned romance – “Witness” offers a compelling examination of the collision between two worlds: violent 20th-century America and the pastoral, pacifist Amish society that has remained virtually unchanged for two centuries.
Australian director Peter Weir makes a notable American debut, enhancing a scrupulously balanced script with stunning visuals that reveal each new environment through the eyes of its explorer. And Weir has performers equal to the movie’s multi-leveled challenges: luminous, ethereal Kelly McGillis; and that two-fisted throwback to our believed movie heroes of yore, Harrison Ford. Ford moves beyond his well-known, winning presence to create an intense, understated but wholly persuasive character, one who demonstrates once and for all Ford’s on-screen authority and range.” – Carol Cling, Las Vegas Journal-Review
2. THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO
113 LISTS | 3 TOP SPOTS Woody Allen | 82 mins | Comedy/Fantasy/Romance Mia Farrow | Jeff Daniels | Danny Aiello
“Genius is a word randomly and usually inaccurately bandied about in the movie industry, but once in a while it applies. Steven Spielberg probably qualifies. Woody Allen undoubtedly does, which “The Purple Rose of Cairo” re-emphasizes. The concept, of course, is dazzling, no surprise since there are no better screenwriters than Allen, a lovely fantasy of what might happen if characters in a movie-within-a-movie became characters in the movie-without-a-movie. It’s not as confusing as it sounds. What it is, though, is delightful, even without Allen the actor. Allen the writer and director are enough to guarantee quality. There’s also another terrific performance by Mia Farrow, who continues to blossom under Allen’s tutelage.” – Bill Hagen, San Diego Evening Tribune
1. PRIZZI’S HONOR
123 LISTS | 11 TOP SPOTS John Huston | 130 mins | Comedy/Crime/Drama Jack Nicholson | Kathleen Turner | Robert Loggia
“Not for simple folk, John Huston’s best black comedy since “The Maltese Falcon” is about a Mafia family in which the top gun (Jack Nicholson) first seems a dumb Palooka, then a fool for love, and finally a rather terrific prince of darkness. It’s a witty film, pointedly cynical yet never crass, and Richard Condon’s audacious script was worked out like a serpentine dance by Huston and the crack cast: Nicholson near his peak, Anjelica Huston at hers, Robert Loggia, Kathleen Turner and William Hickey as the creepy don, delivering the line of the year, “Have a cookie, my dear.”” – David Elliott, San Diego Union-Tribune
|2||The Purple Rose of Cairo||113||3||5.0||62%||3%||35||0||56%||0%|
|4||Kiss of the Spider Woman||86||4||4.7||47%||4%||29||2||46%||5%|
|5||Back to the Future||84||4||5.3||46%||4%||19||1||30%||3%|
|8||The Color Purple||78||16||3.3||42%||15%||23||6||37%||16%|
|9||Out of Africa||73||5||5.2||40%||5%||16||1||25%||3%|
|13||Lost in America||42||0||5.2||23%||0%||19||0||30%||0%|
|14||The Official Story||41||2||4.7||22%||2%||20||1||32%||3%|
|17||Desperately Seeking Susan||33||0||7.5||18%||0%||13||0||21%||0%|
|18||The Emerald Forest||29||0||5.9||16%||0%||8||0||13%||0%|
|20||The Trip to Bountiful||20||0||6.5||11%||0%||6||0||10%||0%|
|22||The Breakfast Club||18||1||5.4||10%||1%||3||0||5%||0%|
|23||The Shooting Party||15||0||6.3||8%||0%||5||0||8%||0%|
|26||Twice in a Lifetime||14||0||5.3||8%||0%||8||0||13%||0%|
|29||The Falcon and the Snowman||13||0||6.3||7%||0%||4||0||6%||0%|
|29||Pee Wee's Big Adventure||13||0||7.1||7%||0%||5||0||8%||0%|
|31||Dance With a Stranger||12||0||6.3||7%||0%||5||0||8%||0%|
|35||When Father Was Away on Business||12||0||5.7||6%||0%||6||0||10%||0%|
|36||Agnes of God||11||0||5.9||6%||0%||2||0||3%||0%|
|36||Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome||11||0||6.7||6%||0%||7||0||11%||0%|
|38||The Sure Thing||10||0||8.3||5%||0%||2||0||3%||0%|
|38||Young Sherlock Holmes||10||0||8.0||5%||0%||1||0||2%||0%|
Lists Included 183 | Top Critics’ Lists Included 63
L Total number of lists where the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year
AR Average position on ranked top 10 lists
#1 Total number of lists where the film was selected as the best film of the year
L% Percentage of total lists where the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year
#1% Percentage of mentions where the film was selected as the best film of the year
TCL Number of times that the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL1 Number of times that the film was selected as the best film of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL% Percentage of times that the film was selected as one of the top 10 films of the year on top critics’ lists
TCL1% Percentage of lists where the film was selected as the best film of the year on top critics’ lists