1982 Ten Best Movies

fanny3If I hadn’t seen the full 312-minute version of Fanny and Alexander, my #1 and #2 for 1982 might have been flipped, but the Criterion DVD set was the convincer here. Bergman’s epic memory-film is amazing for its blend of exactly-remembered realistic detail and its slightly fantastical sense of fairy tale come to life. The longer cut goes more deeply into the world of theater, but its single most vital “new” scene involves Fanny and Alexander with their father at night, as he gives the childen an entire lifetime’s worth of education about storytelling magic by spinning an impromptu piece of fiction about a single chair.

The runner-up is also largely about children: E.T., which has so much wonder and delight in it that people often don’t realize how rigorously, scrupulously directed it is. Spielberg had a big summer in ’82: Poltergeist also came out, directed by Tobe Hooper but largely credited to Spielberg even at the time. Those movies were big for me at the time (Fanny wouldn’t be out in the U.S. until ’83) but I was also in thrall to the tactile urgency of Robert Towne’s first film as director, Personal Best, a hugely unusual story involving that sure-fire Hollywood box-office formula, lesbian track stars who are denied the Olympics because of the 1980 boycott. It’s a tender, cheerfully randy, even-handed film. Love the pop-music soundtrack, too. Patrice Donnelly, a real-life athlete, owns the movie in the way only a screen natural can.

The time-space continuum keeps messing with movie-memory; just as F&A is in the personal memory bank for ’83, so 1982 includes fond memories of The Road Warrior, one of the movies of the summer. But IMDb reveals it was released in 1981 in Australia, so damn.

The ten best of 1982:

1. Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman)

2. E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg)

3. Le Beau Mariage (Eric Rohmer)

4. Moonlighting (Jerzy Skolimowski)

5. Personal Best (Robert Towne)

6. Gregory’s Girl (Bill Forsyth)

7. Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper)

8. Diner (Barry Levinson)

9. Victor/Victoria (Blake Edwards)

10. The Draughtsman’s Contract (Peter Greenaway)

Le Beau Mariage is “just another Rohmer,” except that it’s very quietly one of his best, with the ability to devastate in a single moment of forgetfulness. And Moonlighting is a classic that not enough people know about, very Polish despite being in English, with a terrific Jeremy Irons performance.

Missing in action: Blade Runner, a movie I never bought. I know it ‘s influential, and the power of the art direction and Rutger Hauer’s big speech are undeniable, but it’s muddle-headed. Someday Carpenter’s The Thing will climb up on the top ten, but I haven’t seen it in a while and never got over my initial disappointment. Some really good mainstream pictures that year: The World According to Garp, The Verdict, Tootsie, Star Trek II. Fassbinder ended his career with a couple of movies (Veronika Voss, Querelle) that indicated exhaustion, however interesting they were. Underrated: Jan Troell’s Flight of the Eagle, a really fine arctic-exploration saga. That year’s Oscar-winner was Gandhi. And, of course, there was Summer Lovers.

My Amazon editorial review of the Criterion F&A here.

Next week: 1962.

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