List: Best Film Scores #40-21

MV5BNDAzMjZhYTQtZjQxMC00ODE4LWIxYzEtMjljNWRjODAxZjY0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjUxODE0MDY@._V1_  Max Steiner: #70: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948); #37 Casablanca (1942); #25 Now, Voyager (1942)

Thursdays in June I’m giving my picks for the greatest movies scores of all time. 3 weeks ago, I listed #100-81, then #80-61 and last week #60-41. Now, here is the list for #40-21. Listen to all scores from #100-21 here.

40. Franz Waxman, Sunset Blvd. (1950)

39. Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

38. John Williams, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

37. Max Steiner, Casablanca (1942)

36. John Williams, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

35. Duke Ellington, Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

34. John Barry, Dr. No (1964)

33. Carter Burwell, Fargo (1996)

32. Richard Rodney Bennett, Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

31. John Williams, Jurassic Park (1993)

30. Roy Webb, Notorious (1946)

29. Mikos Theodorakis, Zorba the Greek (1964)

28. Nino Rota, 8 1/2 (1963)

27. Patrick Doyle, Sense and Sensibility (1995)

26. Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2003)

25. Max Steiner, Now, Voyager (1942)

24. Bernard Herrmann, Citizen Kane (1941)

23. John Williams, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

22. Dave Grusin, On Golden Pond (1981)

21. Herbert Stothart, The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Best Film Scores #80-61

MV5BMjY5MTgzMTQ1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNDg3OTcz._V1_.jpgJohn Williams, #98: Superman, #97: Jaws, #72: Home Alone

Last week, I started posting my list of the best film scores ever made. You can see the first list of scores #100-81 here. Click on my Youtube playlist here to listen to all the film scores posted so far. Here’s #80-61.

80. Philip Glass, The Illusionist (2006)

79. Leonard Bernstein, On the Waterfront (1954)

78. John Barry, The Lion in Winter (1968)

77. Dario Marianelli, Atonement (2008)

76. Hans Zimmer, Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

75. Bronislau Kaper, Lili (1953)

74. Miklós Rózsa, The Lost Weekend (1945)

73. Rachel Portman, Emma (1996)

72. John Williams, Home Alone (1990)

71. Dimitri Tiomkin, The Alamo (1960)

70. Max Steiner, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

69. Ernest Gold, Exodus (1960)

68. Justin Hurwitz, La La Land (2016)

67. Anne Dudley, The Full Monty (1997)

66. Jerry Goldsmith, Chinatown (1974)

65. Henry Mancini, Hatari (1962)

64. Marvin Hamlisch, Take the Money and Run (1969)

63. Lalo Schifrin, Bullitt (1968)

62. Michael Giacchino, Inside Out (2016)

61. Ennio Morricone, Once upon a Time in the West (1968)

Best Film Scores #100-81

Every Thursday in June, I will post a list of my picks for the best film scores of all time, twenty at a time. Here’s the first installment. You can listen to all the scores here.

MV5BMTU4MTU0ODA0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTk1Njk3MjE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,664,1000_AL_.jpgPictured: Danny Elfmann (#100 Batman & #85 Edward Scissorhands)

100. Danny Elfman, Batman (1989)

99. Michael Giacchino, Up (2009)

98. John Williams, Superman (1978)

97. John Williams, Jaws (1975)

96. Elmer Bernstein, The World of Henry Orient (1964)

95. Bernard Hermann, The Trouble with Harry (1955)

94. Hans Zimmer, Rain Man (1988)

93. Christopher Gunning, La vie en rose (2007)

92. Carmine Coppola, The Black Stallion (1979)

91. Adolph Deutsch, The Apartment (1960)

90. Dario Marianelli, Pride and Prejudice (2005)

89. Bernard Hermann, The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

88. Carter Burwell, Carol (2015)

87. Woody Allen, Sleeper (1973)

86. Henry Gregson-Williams, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)

85. Danny Elfmann, Edward Scissorhands (1990)

84. Dan Rohmer & Behn Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

83. Jerome Moross, The Big Country (1958)

82. Michel Legrand, The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

81. Elliot Goldenthal, Frida (2002)

Cannes Film Festival 2000-2016

Throughout May I’ve been looking at every year of the Cannes Film Festival. Now that this year’s festival is complete, here is my last list of rankings of films I’ve seen that screened in competition for each year of the Cannes Film Festival.



4. Nurse Betty (USA) D

3. Yiyi: A One and a Two (Taiwan) C+

2. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (USA) A

1. Dancer in the Dark (Denmark) A Palm d’Or Winner




4. The Anniversary Party (USA) D

3. The Man Who Wasn’t There (USA) A

2. Shrek (USA) A

1. Moulin Rouge (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: The Son’s Room (Italy)




3. About Schmidt (USA) C+

2. Punch-Drunk Love (USA) A-

1. Bowling for Columbine (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: The Pianist (Poland)




4. The Barbarian Invasions (Canada) C

3. The Triplets of Belleville (France) A

2. Mystic River (USA) A

1. American Splendor (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: Elephant (USA)




3. Shrek 2 (USA) B-

2. The Ladykillers (USA) B-

1. The Motorcycle Diaries (Argentina) A-

Palm d’Or: Farenheit 9/11



Palm d’Or: The Child (Belgium)



2. Babel (USA) C+

1. The Wind that Shakes the Barley (UK) C+ Palm d’Or Winner



1. No Country for Old Men (USA) B-

Palm d’Or: 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (Poland)



3. Wendy and Lucy (USA) A-

2. Changeling (USA) A+

1. The Class (France) A+ Palm d’Or Winner



4. Precious (USA) B

3. Taking Woodstock (USA) A-

2. Up (USA) A+

1. Inglourious Basterds (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: The White Ribbon (Austria)



Palm d’Or: Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand)




6. Footnote (Israel) C+

5. We Have a Pope (Italy) A

4. Take Shelter (USA) A

3. The Kid with a Bike (Belgium) A

2. The Tree of Life (USA) A+ Palm d’Or

1. The Artist (France) A+




5. Renoir (France) C

4. Amour (Austria) B- Palm d’Or Winner

3. Moonrise Kingdom (USA) A-

2. Ernest & Celestine (France) A

1. Beasts of the Southern Wild (USA) A+




4. The Past (France) A

3. Nebraska (USA) A+

2. Inside Llewyn Davis (USA) A+

1. Fruitvale Station (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: Blue Is the Warmest Color (Greece)




2. Foxcatcher (USA) A-

1. Timbuktu (Mauritania) A-

Palm d’Or: Winter Sleep (Turkey)




5. The Assassin (Taiwan) C

4. Mustang (France) B

3. The Lobster (Greece) B

2. Amy (UK) B+

1. Carol (USA) A

Palm d’Or: Dheepan (France)



1. Captain Fantastic (USA) B-

Palm d’Or: I, Daniel Blake (UK)

Cannes Film Festival 1983-1999

Here’s my third list of films screened at the annual Cannes Film Festival. For the festivals held from 1983-1999 I rank the films I’ve seen that screened in competition and give a grade for each of them.



2. The King of Comedy (USA) D-

1. The Meaning of Life (UK) A

Palm d’Or: The Ballad of Narayama (Japan)



I haven’t seen any films that screened in 1984.

Palm d’Or: Paris, Texas (West Germany)




2. Mask (USA) F

1. The Kiss of the Spider Woman (Brazil/USA) A-

Palm d’Or: When Father Was Away on Business (Yugoslavia)



1. The Mission (UK) C+ Palm d’Or Winner




1. Babette’s Feast (Denmark) A+

Palm d’Or: Under the Sun of Satan (France)



Palm d’Or: Pelle the Conqueror (Denmark)




2. Sex, Lies, and Videotape (USA) A Palm d’Or Winner

1. Do the Right Thing (USA) A+




1. Cyrano de Bergerac (France) A

Palm d’Or: Wild at Heart (USA)




1. Barton Fink (USA) A+ Palm d’Or Winner




5. Of Mice and Men (USA) B-

4. A Stranger among Us (USA) B

3. Strictly Ballroom (Australia) A

2. Howards End (UK) A

1. The Player (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: The Best Intentions (Sweden)




1. Much ado about Nothing (UK) A

Palm d’Or: TIE between Farewell My Concubine (China) & The Piano (New Zealand)




2. The Hudsucker Proxy (USA) A

1,  Pulp Fiction (USA) A+ Palm d’Or Winner




4. Angels and Insects (UK) B-

3. Carrington (UK) B-

2. The Madness of King George (UK) A

1. Ed Wood (USA) A+

Palm d’Or: Underground (Serbia)




2. Secrets and Lies (UK) A+ Palm d’Or Winner

1. Fargo (USA) A+




3. Happy Together (Hong Kong) C

2. L.A. Confidential (USA) A-

1. The Sweet Hereafter (Canada) A+

Palm d’Or: TIE between The Eel (Japan) & Taste of Cherry (Iran)



1. Life Is Beautiful (Italy) B+

Palm d’Or: Eternity and a Day (France)




1. The Straight Story (USA)A+

Palm d’Or: Rosetta (Belgium)

Captains Courageous (1937)


Some of the most bizarre “news” from the White House was published last week, informing us that our president gets two scoops of ice cream while each member of his staff gets only one. Of course nobody should be surprised to hear of more evidence that Donald Trump has the mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual constitution of a 10-year-old bully, but it it surprising to me just me how much he is like Harvey, the 10-year-old played by Freddie Bartholomew in Victor Fleming’s wonderful adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Captains Courageous.

Harvey demands his way and is successful enough in his entitled manipulation to usually get his way no matter how much distress it causes others. He stays successful in his narcissistic ventures because of his money. As long as he’s given lots of money, he believes he can buy his way to anything he wants, and he often does. He bribes, he tricks, he schemes. He always has to be right, best, first. Sounds very familiar, right?

The good thing about 10-years, as opposed to a 70-year-old president, is that they are impressionable. Harvey was as unlikable as any child could be. As a result of one of his schemes to try to prove himself superior to others, he accidentally goes overboard on a cruise ship. He is rescued by a Portuguese fisherman named Manuel played by Spencer Tracy in the best performance of his career. Harvey is the way he is because nobody ever taught him differently or modeled anything different for him. His mother died when he was an infant, and his father left him with lots of money while attending to his business matters. The private school he went to didn’t know what to do with him as nobody there was capable of fulfilling the parental roles he needed most. But then came Manuel.

Manuel was the first person to recognize Harvey for what he was (spoiled, entitled, obnoxious, and completely lost within a world all his own where he could buy his way into or our of anything) and to treat him accordingly. This is exactly what Harvey needed and what helped him become a decent human being. Manuel is quickly and easily annoyed by Harvey as anyone would be, but this doesn’t stop him from loving Harvey. He becomes the father Harvey needs. He shows Harvey how to live in reality, how to work for what he needs and what he wants, and how to find real contentment. He demonstrates both his own contentment and Harvey’s lack of contentment in how he loves people, in how he works, in his deep passion for fishing, music, and other things that Harvey doesn’t understand. Most of all, he shows this contentment in how he communicates his faith in and love for God to Harvey. The Christianity lived in Captains Courageous is never the cheesy, lifeless, self-centered so-called Christianity of the TBN/Joel Osteen variety that has more in common with Harvey (before Manuel) and Mr. Trump than with Manuel. It is a life of sacrifice and suffering mixed with great joy and hope that make the sacrifice and suffering worthwhile. It is what allows Harvey accept love, to give love, and to become a good person.

Also directed by Victor Fleming: The Wizard of Oz (1939)

The Films of Tom Hanks

MV5BMTcyMjY4NDYxM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODMxNTAwMjI@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_With the release of The Circle this weekend, here are my thoughts on every Tom Hanks movie I’ve seen with grades given to his performance in each movie, not to the movie itself.


Splash (1984) C-


I’m not really sure if Tom Hanks is bad in one of the earliest starring roles of his career or if the mermaid romance fantasy is just so idiotic that it left nothing for him work with. But Splash is one of un-funniest comedies ever made and could not help show anyone as a good actor.


Bachelor Party (1984) C-


Except for the mermaid part, ditto to what I said about Splash.


Every Time We Say Goodbye (1986) B

MV5BZGU5MTYwZTQtM2Y0Ni00MjQ2LTg4Y2MtYTgyMDJhYzMwMWNmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjk3NTUyOTc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_ A typical romance offering nothing that wasn’t already tired in the 1940s except for Tom Hanks’ first dramatic performance that showed the world he’s much more than the not very funny star of the sitcom “Bosom Buddies” and the two terrible movies above. He has a compassionate warmth that transcends all the cliches that mar this movie that would be completely pointless without Tom Hank’s gentle, touching performance.


Big (1988) A+


After 10 years of being known as a comedic actor, Tom Hanks finally gave his first funny performance in Penny Marshall’s Big, which was also his first masterful acting and his first of five Oscar nominations for acting. Playing a 12-year-old boy in an adult body, he uses so much empathy to display the real struggles and insecurities of adolescence. He never plays anything for laughs but lets the hilarious screenplay do that work for him, and the result is one of the funniest and most touching movies ever made.


A League of Their Own (C-)


We all know that “there’s no crying in baseball,” but whether uttering that line or being otherwise abusive, this movie’s version of the real-life coach Jimmy Dugan is a stereotypical movie alcoholic with no nuance, no life, just one big cliche. Whether that’s the fault of the screenwriters or Tom Hanks, I don’t know, but his results weren’t good either way.


Sleepless in Seattle (1993) C


The movie that began Tom Hanks’ “every man” image involved a very boring “every man” in a romantic comedy so full of gimmicks and insincere nostalgia, that there’s really only one thing memorable (in a good way anyways) about this movie and if I remember correctly Tom Hanks wasn’t even in that scene, when many male characters are together crying and sniveling over The Dirty Dozen.


Philadelphia (1993) A+


His first of two consecutive wins as the Best Lead Actor at the Academy Awards, watching his character’s health fade as he slowly succumbs to AIDS is one of the saddest, most believable, and most sympathetic performances of film history.


Forrest Gump (1994) A+


Not even that greatness in Philadelphia could prepare the world for how much greatness Tom Hanks had yet to show. His performance in Forrest Gump is probably one of the ten best acting performances ever. Every second, we feel such deep emotion though he rarely conveys that emotion. The performance isn’t great just because of the character he’s playing and the difficulties involved with that but because he, as an actor, takes the audience into the world as his character experiences it. We walk (or run) in Forrest’s shoes because Tom Hanks has gifted us with the ability to do so.


Apollo 13 (1995) B


Reunited with Gary Sinese who shined in Forrest Gump, this time it’s mostly Gary Sinese’s time to shine. All the actors do well, but only Gary Sinese is masterful.


Toy Story (1995) A


Woody is a character that only Tom Hanks could play. His voice brings all the right tones for Woody’s heroic, but scared cowboy, and especially paired with Tim Allen’s Buzz Lightyear, he is half of one of the movies’ all-time great duos.


That Thing You Do (1996) B-


Playing the producer for a one-hit-wonder band, Tom Hanks doesn’t have much to do acting-wise in the movie, but he also produced it, directed it, wrote its screenplay, and wrote one of its songs. It’s a charming movie that he deserves all the credit for, even though he didn’t give himself much a role to work with.


Saving Private Ryan (1998) C-


I may be alone in the world on this one, but instead of making a usual war movie full of killing people, Spielberg made a movie about trying to save one person, and killing many others in process, in the end making a very normal, average war movie in the name of something extraordinary. Tom Hanks’ performance is another ordinary part of that, nothing at all special, actually quite boring. But he got his fourth Oscar nomination for it.


You’ve Got Mail (1998) B+


As a romantic comedy, You’ve Got Mail couldn’t be more different than Sleepless in Seattle, even though it’s a remake of a 1940s movie just as full of cliched un-funny, insincere cutesiness as Sleepless in Seattle, Ernst Lubitsch’s The Shop around the Corner. Updating the movie into the 1990s computer age, You’ve Got Mail combines an attack against big business in America with a hate-love relationship that follows the conventions of the Hollywood romantic comedy but is never bound to them. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan have real chemistry here that they didn’t even hint at in Sleepless.


Toy Story 2 (1999) A


There’s nothing to say here that I didn’t already with the first film in the franchise.


The Green Mile (B+)


Though outshine by the acting of Michael Clarke Duncan, Michael Jeter, and Graham Greene, Tom Hanks has a few brilliant moments when dealing with the pain, shame, and unanswered questions of being involved with many executions.


Cast Away (2000) C+


I need to give him credit for playing a character this isolated, but that doesn’t take away from how boring this movie, and ultimately his performance in it, is.


Catch Me If You Can (2002) B


This is Leo’s movie, plain and simple. Tom Hanks is good, but every actor in this movie has the purpose of helping Leo shine.


The Terminal (2004) B


With a great accent and a mysterious, funny persona, Tom Hanks has many moments of technical greatness, but with a meandering script that never lets us know what this movie actually wants to be about, it’s difficult to see how great Tom Hanks really can be.


The Polar Express (2004) A+

MV5BMjI0OTM5MzA4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTkzMzU2MzE@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,755_AL_.jpgPlaying several characters in The Polar Express, we can always tell it’s Tom Hanks, but his tone reflects all the differences necessary between the various characters he plays. This surpasses all of his great voice work in the Toy Story franchise.


Toy Story 3 (2009) D


The second Toy Story movie was a touching film about getting old, the third was about being over the hill and narrowly escaping death in Woody and Buzz’s case and in the case of a few others. Most of the toys didn’t fare that well as find out in the movie’s opening scene. Toy Story 3 is the most unnecessarily dark and depressing movie I’ve ever seen. Tom Hanks embodies this and does not bring any of the likability that made Woody so great in the first two movies. At least Buzz has a great moment when turned into Spanish mode, but that’s the only thing worthwhile about this very bleak movie supposedly for the entertainment of children.


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011) A-

MV5BMTExOTQzMTg4MTZeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDk3MjQ0MTc@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Seen only in flashback after his death on 9/11/01, Oskar (the son of Tom Hanks’ character) believes that his father is the only one who understands him. Oskar has a form of autism and Tom Hanks does an excellent job of navigating the inner life of a father who does whatever it takes to show that he can think like his son and relate to his son. The movie belongs to Thomas Horn (the child actor who played Oskar), and Tom Hanks’ role is small, but it is so warm and so bright, it is one of the high points of his “every man” career.


Captain Phillips (2013) A+


Subject to torture and constant threat at the hands of a hijacker on his ship, Captain Richard Phillips is the most physical role Tom Hanks has ever played. We can feel his physical pain through the fear and torment so tangibly shown in his face and in his voice in every scene of this tense and powerful thriller.


Saving Mr. Banks (2013) A


Tom Hanks’ transformation into Walt Disney is magical because he makes us believe that he believes in the magic of Mary Poppins. As he fights for the rights to make the movie, the relationship that has to be forged with author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) gives Tom Hanks an opportunity to show great balance in playing a larger-than-life persona but allowing Emma Thompson to be even bigger, bolder, and an even better fighter.


Bridge of Spies (2015) A


Much like his great work in Saving Mr. Banks, Tom Hanks again plays a balancing act where he has play a strong, professional lawyer fighting the biggest case of his life, the fight for the American belief that everyone has the right to a fair trial. But he has to let Mark Rylance, who plays his client that nobody involved in the case (and very possibly Tom Hanks’ character himself) believes, shine even brighter.