1988 in Review

One Notable Film from 1988

Grave of the Fireflies is an amazing and draining movie that’s hard to watch more than once; My Neighbor Totoro is pure charm; however, since I recently highlighted a Studio Ghibli film in 1984, I decided to go in a different and talk about a film by one of my personal favorite filmmakers: it’s Errol Morris’ classic documentary, The Thin Blue Line.

It tells the story of Randall Adams, a hitchhiker who hoped in a (unbeknownst to him, stolen) car that ended up getting pulled over by cops for the headlights being off at night, and one of the men in the car ended up murdering an officer. Adams was charged with murder despite there being far more evidence pointing to the 16 year-old driver being the killer, likely because Adams was an adult and could be charged with the death penalty whereas the driver could not. Adams was convicted, but due in large part to this film’s searing indictment of the investigation and prosecutorial misconduct, he was released from prison after serving for 12 years. Morris’s documentary was one of the first to look at the seedy underbelly of the justice system, and in a way few have investigated since-not from a racial aspect, but from a vengeance perspective: the idea that someone “needs to pay” for a heinous crime, even if there are serious doubts about the guilt of the person the police has presented to the jury. This is why the prosecution will always emphasize how grisly the nature of the crime was in a murder case-even though it has nothing to do with whether the person is innocent or guilty, it’s an attempt to convince the jury that there needs to be retribution and if they find not guilty, then it’s likely no one will pay for this heinous act.

Despite it getting immediate acclaim and now being considered one of the greatest documentaries of all-time, it was not nominated for an Academy Award because it contained a couple of reenactment scenes; yeah, the Oscars can be stupid about these kinds of things a lot of the time, and the Academy changed policy as a result of its non-inclusion. Morris would eventually get his due in 2003, when he won an Oscar for his equally excellent The Fog of War: Eleven Lesson from the Life of Robert S. McNamara.

Other Notable Films from 1988

Stand and Deliver

A Fish Called Wanda

Distant Voices, Still Lives

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Die Hard




Bull Durham

Cinema Paradiso

Grave of the Fireflies

My Neighbor Totoro

The Naked Gun

They Live

1988 Nominees in Review

Working Girl: B

Rain Man: B (Won Best Picture)

Dangerous Liaisons: B

The Accidental Tourist: C

Mississippi Burning: C-

I wouldn’t have had a problem with Rain Man, Working Girl or Dangerous Liaisons winning Best Picture, as they’re all of similar quality, although in very different ways, with Working Girl being the most consistent but having the least exceptional qualities, to Rain Man which hit the highest highs in different departments, but was the most uneven. Regardless, nothing stood out to me as exceptional in 1988’s field, and the other two nominees weren’t movies I wouldn’t ever have an inclination to watch again.

To close out the decade, we’ve got the following slate of films: This film’s star was actually born only a day away from making the film’s title accurate; Liam Neeson was originally cast in the lead, which would have made for a very different movie than the one we got starring Robin Williams; One of only two movies since 1933 that won Best Picture despite not getting nominated for Best Director; Burt Lancaster’s final film; and the first appearance of “Daniel-Day Lewis, crazy method actor”, this time resulting in two broken ribs and people having to feed him during production.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s