A great year for Japanese anime. In fact, I think the two best pictures of the year were both animated features from Japan—Grave of the Fireflies, Isao Takahata's wrenching story of a brother and sister orphaned by the Allies' relentless fire bombing at the tail end of World War II; and on the other end of the emotional spectrum, Hayao Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro, a magical tale about a girl and her not-so-imaginary imaginary friend.
If you don't know Miyazaki's work, you've really shortchanged yourself. His film Spirited Away deservedly won the first Oscar for best animated feature back when that category was introduced in 2002. In addition to Totoro and Spirited Away, check out any of the following: Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Porco Rosso, Ponyo ... actually, it's a pretty long list. You really can't go wrong with any Miyazaki.
It was also a great year for comedy—we got Bull Durham, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Beetlejuice, The Naked Gun, Big and my pick, A Fish Called Wanda. All of them are better than any film I have penciled in for best drama.
PICTURE (Drama) winner:Dangerous Liaisons (prod. Norma Heyman and Hank Moonjean)
PICTURE (Comedy/Musical) winner:A Fish Called Wanda (prod. Michael Shamberg)
Named for Katie-Bar-The-Door, the Katies are "alternate Oscars"—who should have been nominated, who should have won—but really they're just an excuse to write a history of the movies from the Silent Era to the present day.
To see a list of nominees and winners as well as links to my essays about them, click here.
Remember: There are no wrong answers, only movies you haven't seen yet.
The Silent Oscars
And don't forget to check out the Silent Oscars—my year-by-year choices for best picture, director and all four acting categories for the pre-Oscar years, 1902-1927.
Look at me—Joe College, with a touch of arthritis. Are my eyes really brown? Uh, no, they're green. Would we have the nerve to dive into the icy water and save a person from drowning? That's a key question. I, of course, can't swim, so I never have to face it. Say, haven't you anything better to do than to keep popping in here early every morning and asking a lot of fool questions?