Other Notable Films from 1982
Fanny and Alexander: Nominated for 6 Oscars (winning four) in 1983 after being released internationally in 1982, this was Ingmar Bergman’s last great effort and if you watch the complete version, is one of the longest movies ever made at 5 hours, 12 minutes; the “short” version is a mere 3 hours and 8 minutes. It’s quite haunting (both figuratively and literally) and features some of the best child acting you’ll ever see (from the title characters). Named as the 16th greatest film of all-time on the last Sight and Sound Directors Poll.
Blade Runner: Upon its original release, it received a mixed reception from critics with some saying it was all visual sizzle and no steak and some saying it was slow. However, it immediately gained a cult audience who saw it as the sci-fi classic as it was, and this only grew after the very well-received director’s cut was released in 1991 with Harrison Ford’s narration removed and a completely different ending. Besides the vision of the future that was endlessly copied by everyone for the rest of the decade (in both the U.S. and Japan), it also asked great questions about how technology may change our perception of what is human, and it featured excellent performances from Ford and Rutger Hauer. In the National Film Registry.
The Thing: My favorite John Carpenter film and on the Mount Rushmore of movie remakes (from 1951’s The Thing from Another World); it was actually released on the very same day as Blade Runner, which probably hurt the box office of both (that, and neither got very good reviews). First, it has some of the best special effects ever, with amazing creature designs and tons of creativity and the kind of visceral flair you never see these days with computer effects. Second, it does a wonderful job of getting across the isolation of the characters in the arctic, as well as suspense from one of the best scenes in any sci-fi movie (the blood testing scene).
Conan the Barbarian: The movie made a star out of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was previous known best as a bodybuilder and for the documentary Pumping Iron, and I really can’t imagine anyone else as Conan-it was the role he was born to play; I also can’t imagine anyone other than John Milius at the helm, as he was one of the great macho directors of all time and a legendary character in his own right. The other thing I would highlight is the score from Basil Poledouris, which is one of the best of all-time and one of the worst Oscar snubs of all-time in my opinion-it oozes manliness and power, yet gives the movie way more class than other sword and sandal films. He sadly never received an Oscar nomination for any of his work (which also included Robocop and its fantastic theme, The Hunt for Red October and Starship Troopers) before his death in 2006 at age 61 from cancer.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Pretty much universally considered the best Star Trek movie, it saved the series after the lackluster reaction to the first film (which resulted in creator Gene Roddenberry essentially being taken off all future projects). It is far more action-oriented than its predecessor and has a memorable and compelling villain-Ricardo Montalban, reprising his role as Khan from the series, who is cunning and ruthless, but his arrogance proves to be his downfall; oddly enough, Khan and Captain Kirk never actually share a face-to-face scene with each other in the film though. The famous ending packs a lot of emotional impact and is a fantastic sendoff, although this is lessened somewhat knowing what happens in the sequels.
Tron: Yes, this really might have been the best year ever for sci-fi and fantasy films. While not a great film, this was another milestone for sci-fi films because of its computer-generated special effects which were cutting edge at the time. While a box office disappointment at the time, it has since become a cult classic and many years later got a mediocre remake that is only remembered for Olivia Wilde being really attractive in it.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High: One of the most famous teen comedies of the 80s, and one where almost everyone was an unknown, from stars Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold and Phoebe Cates, to bit-parts for Nicholas Cage, Forrest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz and Anthony Edwards, and the film debuts of its director Amy Heckerling (Clueless, Look Who’s Talking) and screenwriter Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky, Say Anything…). In the National Film Registry.
1982 Nominees in Review
E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial: A-
The Verdict: B-
Gandhi: C+ (Won Best Picture)
A second straight year where the Best Picture winner was, in my opinion, the weakest of the nominees, although Gandhi is definitely superior to Chariots of Fire. E.T. and Tootsie aren’t the kind of movies that win Best Picture (which is why I’m surprised the latter of those got nominated instead of Oscar Bait incarnate Sophie’s Choice, which was nominated for 5 Oscars, winning Best Actress for Meryl Streep), but among the others, I thought Missing was the best of the best of the lot and had a lot going for it until the end where it sort of petered out for me.
For 1983: Kevin Costner in an early role was supposed to play the man whose death kicks off the events of the whole movie, but all his scenes actually showing him were cut; two of the earliest examples of movies that made zero dent at the box office getting Best Picture nominees on the strength of their critical acclaim-they finished #78 and #100 for 1983; this film was released around the same time one of its subjects was running for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President-it did not help him; and James L. Brooks won three Oscars for a single movie, as producer, director and writer.