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Film Critics Agree: 1987 Was a Good, Bad Year

January 24, 1988|PAT McGILLIGAN and MARK ROWLAND | McGilligan, a senior editor of Playgirl magazine, lives in Milwaukee. Mark Rowland, West Coast editor for Musician magazine, lives in L.A. They have conducted this survey for Calendar for the last seven years

The only real brouhaha of the year was over the smash "Fatal Attraction," which managed to turn up on 14 best votes against a sprinkling of scathing worst comments: "It was the year's most talked-about movie," decided Eleanor Ringel of the Atlanta (Ga.) Constitution, "and no one . . . was quite sure why."

In lieu of many hot controversies, critics were forced to manufacture one out of their own juices.

Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune singled out, as one of the bright spots of year, the fact that "Robby Benson didn't make a film." People magazine offered an "honorable mention" laurel to Richard Gere "who for the first time in years didn't make a terrible movie, which is to say he didn't make any movie at all."

Certain scribes let off steam by gratuitously insulting certain other scribes--quite the developing trend--which, at the least, Robby Benson and Richard Gere ought to be happy about.

"Critic Rex Reed . . . said he would quit if they made 'Police Academy 5,' " noted Desmond Ryan of the Philadelphia Inquirer "(The film makers are) obliging and we all hope Rex is a man of his word."

One of the joys of the annual best list ritual are the arcane, indulgent, sometimes puzzling choices, of which there is never any shortage.

Some "odd fellows" for the year (the only people to pick these films):

"Making Mr. Right" (Susan Stark, Detroit News).

"Surrender" (Lou Sedrone, Baltimore Evening Sun).

"Evil Dead 2" (Michael Healy, L.A. Daily News).

"Benji the Hunted" (Michael H. Price, Fort Worth Star-Telegram).

"Best Seller" (Tony Frazier, the Daily Oklahoman).

The New York Times' Vincent Canby probably raised a few eyebrows by rapturously praising Les Blank's "Gap-Toothed Women" as a film "in which women discuss the slight space they have between their two upper front teeth, and how that space has affected their perceptions of life."

"A must for any student of human nature," Canby raved.

Duane Byrge of the Hollywood Reporter weighed in with "Surf Nazis Must Die" on his "best" list. "It wasn't about much of anything," Byrge granted. "It was refreshing to find a 'small film' that wasn't sensitive or thoughtful or way too long. Better yet, you don't have to worry about sitting next to people who sip cappuccino at this movie."

This list is compiled from 100 newspaper and magazine critics' Top 10 Lists. The numbers refer to the number of critics' lists on which the film appears.

Consensus Top 10

No. of Lists 1. "Broadcast News" 61 2. "Hope and Glory" 53 3. "My Life as a Dog" 45 4. "Full Metal Jacket" 44 5. Tie, "Jean de Florette" 38 and "Radio Days" 38 7. "Roxanne" 34 8. Tie, "River's Edge" 30 and "Tin Men" 30 10. "The Last Emperor" 29

At least 20 lists: "Raising Arizona" 28, "Empire of the Sun" 26, "The Untouchables" 25, "The Dead" 22, "Platoon" 22, "Manon of the Spring" 22, "Tampopo" 20. Consensus Worst

1. "The Sicilian"

2. Tie, "Leonard Part 6" and "Over the Top"

4. "Jaws IV: The Revenge"

5. "Who's That Girl"

6. "Ishtar"

7. Tie, "Beyond Therapy" and "Mannequin"

9. Tie, "Straight to Hell" and "Million Dollar Mystery"

10. "Fatal Beauty"

Dishonorable mention: "A Prayer for the Dying," "Superman IV" and "Spaceballs."

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