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Another Memorable Year for Movie Lovers
by Jon Schuller

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If you ask a wine connoisseur about a certain wine, or vintage, invariably they'll talk about the "year." Where the grapes came from, where the vineyard was and what the winery was are all vital bits of information. But the year is crucial to gathering all the facts. The 2006 film, A Good Year, starring Russell Crowe, tells the story of a brilliant London stock market whiz inheriting a vineyard in France from his uncle. The movie's title is about much more than the wine it produces. Like wine, the movies also have "years": some good, some bad and some simply great. For me to distill an entire year into a column is a tall order. I simply attempt to give you, Dear Reader, a taste – like a tantalizing wine-tasting session - so that you can decide, on your own, which films made a certain year better than others. 30 years ago, in the 1980s, there were many events at home and overseas that got our attention. Politics, inventions, science, personalities, music and art all vied for constant awareness. Just as we witness today, instantaneously, it was sometimes difficult to separate people from events; to decide what was worth learning more about or not at all. Movies, of course, are a constant in every year all around the world. How movie-makers could create something that was not only entertaining, but thought-provoking, is and was a true artistic challenge. Just like 2016, 1986 saw its fair share of dumb, pointless movies, making us wonder where the money came from to make them and how much was lost after the films flopped on their face. But there were many motion pictures that were created and became instant classics and made their actors household names. Today, I want to feature some of the winners, the truly memorable films from 1986, that we are still watching and enjoying 30 years later.

Worldwide, in 1986, 263 films were released. Besides the U.S.A., movies from Japan, France, Hong Kong, Spain, Italy, India and Germany, were created. At the risk of sounding biased, I find the landmark films coming from America. Here
are the top 10 money-makers for 1986:
1.Top Gun Paramount Pictures$176,781,728
2."Crocodile" Dundee Paramount Pictures$174,803,506
3.PlatoonOrion Pictures$138,530,565
4.The Karate Kid, Part II Columbia Pictures$115,103,979
5.Star Trek IV: The Voyage HomeParamount Pictures$109,713,132
6.Back to School Orion Pictures$91,258,000
7.Aliens 20th Century Fox$86,160,248
8.The Golden ChildParamount Pictures$79,817,937
9.Ruthless People Touchstone Pictures$71,624,879
10.Ferris Bueller's Day Off Paramount Pictures$70,136,169

The 1987 Academy Awards, Golden Globes and the BAFTA Awards went to:
Best Film:Platoon
Best Director:Oliver StonePlatoon
Best Actor:Bob HoskinsMona Lisa
Paul Hogan "Crocodile" Dundee Paul Newman The Color of Money
Best Actress: Sissy Spacek Crimes of the Heart Maggie Smith, A Room with a View Marlee Matlin Children of a Lesser God
Best Supporting Actor: Tom Berenger Platoon Ray McAnally The Mission Michael Caine Hannah and Her Sisters

Best Supporting Actress: Maggie Smith, A Room with a View Judi Dench, A Room with a View Dianne Wiest, Hannah and Her Sisters

The highest grossing pictures, with the exception of Crocodile Dundee, received no awards. The variety and differences between all of these movies is again an indication of how wide and deep the creativity of films can be and the talents that bring them all to life. So, like a wine tasting expert, let's sip and savor a few of the films that typified 1986 and how many are still being watched and discussed 30 years later.

Paul Newman reprised his role as "Fast Eddie" Felson, the pool-shooter from the classic, The Hustler (1961), in The Color of Money, co-starring
Tom Cruise (Vincent) and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Carmen), directed by Martin Scorsese. Eddie comes out of retirement to help coach and guide the upstart Cruise, whose ego is so large it will hurt him. Eddie's reputation as the best pool player is also on the line as he slowly realizes he's still "got it." Eddie arranges games where Vincent intentionally loses. Vincent doesn't like this. Eventually Eddie and Vincent will meet at the Atlantic City 9-ball pool tournament. Eddie wins but Vincent has conned him. Eddie vows to beat him again with no scams as he declares "I'm back."
Another mini-classic from 1986 is Nothing in Common, from director, Garry Marshall, starring Tom Hanks, Jackie Gleason as Max and Eva Marie Saint as Lorraine. Tom plays David Basner, an up-and-coming Chicago ad executive, who is surprised after a vacation that his parents are splitting up after 36 years of marriage. He must now change his lifestyle and look after his father, who's just lost his job and has health problems; he must also attempt to sooth his mother's nervous system. David's own problems need attention – like a major ad campaign at work – but he's becoming more involved with his father and eventually discovers that Max's diabetes has caused gangrene in his toes. Regardless of the consequences to his job and the major client, David accompanies his father to the hospital and gets him home. Hector Elizondo (as Charlie Vargas) assures David his job is safe in a touching scene at the office. Tom Hanks' talents for serious roles were given a full view in this movie.

One of my favorite films from 1986 is Running Scared, a police action-comedy, starring Billy Crystal as Chicago detective, Danny Costanzo and Gregory Hines as his partner, Ray Hughes. They are unorthodox and inventive in their police work, but get results and arrests. They've decided to retire to Key West and open a bar. One more
case to be closed in Chicago and they are gone. They are on the trail of wannabe-bigshot named Julio Gonzalez (Jimmy Smits) and have "convinced" a small-time hustler, Snake (Joe Pantoliano) to wear a wire so the detectives can arrest Gonzales when a weapons deal goes down. Unfortunately, Snake is smarter than he lets on and gets Ray and Danny on to a ship where the deal with Gonzales is about to happen. Guns are drawn and it looks like our heroes are about to die. Two undercover cops save Ray and Danny, Snake is shot and Gonzales is captured. At the station, Captain Logan (Dan Hedaya) tells them that they must take time off because their work during the bust was sloppy and most of the bad guys escaped. Danny and Ray go to Key West where it's warm and beautiful (as well as the females they meet); they do buy a bar and decide to quit the force, collect their retirement pay and move to Florida. Returning to frigid Chicago, Ray and Danny are advised again by Captain Logan that Gonzales made bail and they must take the two young detectives (who saved them) under their wing and teach them everything they know. They capture a large cocaine shipment but Gonzales takes Danny's ex-wife Anna (Darlanne Fluegel) hostage. They must exchange the drugs for her. In a high-rise building shoot-out, Danny and Ray save Anna, and their two new protégés, Anthony and Frank, as Gonzales dies. The film ends as our heroes decide to stay put. The film is fun and the action is fast. Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal were a perfectly cast pair who are believable; serious right alongside comic.

A few more memorable 1986 films to mention:
Hannah and Her Sisters
Children of a Lesser God
Little Shop of Horrors
Top Gun
The Mission
Legal Eagles

We see all sides of life, all types of lifestyles and people and the constant highs and lows everyone encounters no matter where they live. 1986 is one of those years in which slices of life are made with surgical precision and care. Take some time out and re-visit these movies. You won't be sorry.

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Cinema Savant
Every other Thursday

My views on an eclectic mix of films and personalties, past and present; emotional interpretations; some laughs, some cries.

Other Columns
Other columns by Jon Schuller:

Have You Been Spying On Me Lately? For How Long?

But Can She Act? That's What I Want to Know

They're Not the Same People They Used To Be

Time Does Fly When We Watch Movies

Before Minimum or Maximum, There Was Only Prison

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Jon Schuller
I am a former New Jersey native, living in Charlotte, N.C. for almost 30 years. I am a lifelong movie lover with lots of movie trivia knowledge and soundtracks in my CD collection. I enjoy sharing my love of films with everyone and have so many fond memories growing up in darkened movie theaters. I have been married 50 years (as of December 22, 2018) and we both share a passion for film (and each other of course).

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Jon Schuller by clicking here.

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