Best of 1983

1983 marked the fourth year of Mark Rowland and Patrick McGilligan’s wonderful film poll.  50 film critics were polled across the nation, and Terms of Endearment edged out Fanny & Alexander.

Unfortunately, the number of lists were only included in the top 10 films, but the films ranked 12-19 were mentioned, which I assume are in order of rank.

19. Gandhi


“[Of] importance is the possibility that the film will bring Gandhi to the attention of a lot of people around the world for the first time, not as a saint but as a self-searching, sometimes fallible human being with a sense of humor as well as of history.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times

18. Heart Like a Wheel


“This charming movie further expanded the roles allotted to women, chronicling the career of Muldowney (splendidly played by Bonnie Badelia), the only race driver (male or female) to have won three times the National Hot Rod Association World Championship” – Emanuel Levy,

17. Testament


“The film’s emotional impact is draining and long lasting without showing close-ups of the initial blast with evaporating bodies and mass destruction.” – John A. Nesbit,

16. The Return of Martin Guerre


“Like ”La Nuit de Varennes,” ”The Return of Martin Guerre” is a period film that, without seeming effort, speaks to our moment.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times

15. Yentl


“Streisand knows her way in front of and behind the camera, but does she have to hog it all? Why cast the magnificent Mandy Patinkin and not let him sing?” – Bob Bloom, Journal and Courier

14. The Year of Living Dangerously


“Weir and his crew expertly recreate the squalor, poverty, noise, heat and emotion of the pressure cooker that was Indonesia in 1965.” – Variety

13. Under Fire


“This is the kind of movie that almost always feels phony, but “Under Fire” feels real.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

12. The King of Comedy


“It’s very funny, and it ends on a high note that was, for me, both a total surprise and completely satisfying. Yet it’s also bristly, sometimes manic to the edge of lunacy and, along the way, terrifying.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times

10. Betrayal (14 lists)


“Though I didn’t see the stage production when it was done on Broadway in 1980, this ”Betrayal” is a riveting film that proceeds through the interlocking love lives of three special friends.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times

10. Never Cry Wolf (14 lists)


“The film is still memorable for its compassion, commitment, and unexpected humor, qualities that go a long way toward tempering the ecological didacticism of the screenplay.” – Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

9. The Night of the Shooting Stars (16 lists)


“Although it spins in circles for too long before its climactic wheat-field shoot out, no other Taviani brothers film so vividly captures the prevailing ethos of their life’s work: “Living may be tragic,” Vittorio once said, “but life isn’t.”” – Dave Ehrlich, Time Out

7. The Big Chill (23 lists)

Les copains d'abord

“The performances represent ensemble playing of an order Hollywood films seldom have time for, with the screenplay providing each character with at least one big scene.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times

7. The Right Stuff (23 lists)


“That the writer-director, Philip Kaufman, is able to get so much into a little more than three hours is impressive. That he also has organized this material into one of the best recent American movies is astonishing.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

5. Tender Mercies (25 lists)


“Aussie director Beresford makes an impressive American debut with this rural Texas based saga of the recovery and redemption of an alcoholic and abusive country singer, splendidly played by Robert Duvall in an Oscar-winning performance.” – Emanuel Levy,

5. Zelig (25 lists)


“The comedy tends to the smirk-inducing rather than the laugh-out-loud, and the second half wanders somewhat, but Zelig is a strong contender for Allen’s most fascinating film.” – Tom Huddleston, Time Out

4. Local Hero (28 lists)


“Forsyth cannot quite tease out of his characters the kind of strange sublety that Powell and Pressburger delivered, but it is enough that he and producer David Puttnam succeed in making you realise just how badly this kind of film has been missed.” – Time Out

3. Silkwood (30 lists)


“Extraordinary portrayals of everyday people characterize the contribution of director Mike Nichols’ talented diverse cast. Once again, Nichols justifies his past plaudits for bringing the best out of his players.” Duane Byrge, Hollywood Reporter

2. Fanny & Alexander (34 lists)


“It is very much, and in the best way, an old man’s movie, the work of an artist resigned to life’s mystery, full of wonder at the passage of time, full of forgiveness for past wrongs, and full of understanding.” – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

1. Terms of Endearment (39 lists)


“The most remarkable achievement of Terms of Endearment, which is filled with great achievements, is its ability to find the balance between the funny and the sad, between moments of deep truth and other moments of high ridiculousness.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times