Tuesday, January 14, 2020


#1 The Last Emperor

The young emperor prepares to greet his subjects
in the opening scene of The Last Emperor

Lastemperoritis-The inability to finish a list of movies you want to see because you never seem to be in the mood to watch a three-hour film about a toddler that becomes emperor of China.

"What interests Bertolucci-who by now had emerged as far more the child of Freud than of Marx-was the indecision, the passivity, the powerlessness of Pu Ti. And by far the most beautiful passages of the film are those of his sexual education and later humiliation, as a figure so pampered that he hardly has identity, let alone character."-David Thomson, Have You Seen...


The Last Emperor is Bernardo Bertolucci's epic which covers roughly fifty years of China in the twentieth century is undeniably beautiful to look at. The story of the young emperor trapped by his own title and then set out into the world as a commoner and eventually a prisoner has appeal, too. It has a Lawrence of Arabia flavor to it which had to appeal to Academy voters. It even had Peter O'Toole-Lawrence himself as the only prominent Westerner in the cast! There were some slow parts, so I can't say I was riveted from beginning to end, but I think this one could have easily been an entry in the 1001 book....And it only took me thirty-two years to get around to seeing it!

1987 Best Picture Nominees
The Last Emperor
Broadcast News
Fatal Attraction
Hope and Glory

The Last Emperor and Hope and Glory were the only two films nominated for Best Picture this year that didn't make the 1001 book.

The Last Emperor famously won all nine categories which it was nominated, including Best Director (Bertolucci) and Best Screenplay (Mark Peploe and Bertolucci) and Best Original Score (Three artists, including Talking Head David Byrne). It received no acting nominations.

Well, I've seen them all now. Ninety-some odd films that have won Best Picture. I'm working on watching the major contenders for next month's Academy Awards, we'll see how that goes.

John Lone and Joan Chen in The Last Emperor

Oscar Best Picture winners

1927-28: Wings and Sunrise

1928-29: The Broadway Melody
1929-30: All Quiet on the Western Front
1930-31: Cimarron
1931-32: Grand Hotel
1932-33: Cavalcade
1934: It Happened One Night
1935: Mutiny on the Bounty
1936: The Great Ziegfeld
1937: The Life of Emile Zola
1938: You Can’t Take It with You
1939: Gone with the Wind
1940: Rebecca
1941: How Green Was My Valley
1942: Mrs. Miniver
1943: Casablanca
1944: Going My Way
1945: The Lost Weekend
1946: The Best Years of Our Lives
1947: Gentleman’s Agreement
1948: Hamlet
1949: All the King’s Men
1950: All About Eve
1951: An American in Paris
1952: The Greatest Show on Earth
1953: From Here to Eternity
1954: On the Waterfront
1955: Marty
1956: Around the World in 80 Days
1957: The Bridge on the River Kwai
1958: Gigi
1959: Ben-Hur
1960: The Apartment
1961: West Side Story
1962: Lawrence of Arabia
1963: Tom Jones
1964: My Fair Lady
1965: The Sound of Music
1966: A Man for All Seasons
1967: In the Heat of the Night
1968: Oliver!
1969: Midnight Cowboy
1970: Patton
1971: The French Connection
1972: The Godfather
1973: The Sting
1974: The Godfather: Part II
1975: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
1976: Rocky
1977: Annie Hall
1978: The Deer Hunter
1979: Kramer vs. Kramer
1980: Ordinary People
1981: Chariots of Fire
1982: Gandhi
1983: Terms of Endearment
1984: Amadeus
1985: Out of Africa
1986: Platoon
1987: The Last Emperor
1988: Rain Man
1989: Driving Miss Daisy
1990: Dances with Wolves
1991: The Silence of the Lambs
1992: Unforgiven
1993: Schindler’s List
1994: Forrest Gump
1995: Braveheart
1996: The English Patient
1997: Titanic
1998: Shakespeare in Love
1999: American Beauty
2000: Gladiator
2001: A Beautiful Mind
2002: Chicago
2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004: Million Dollar Baby
2005: Crash
2006: The Departed
2007: No Country for Old Men
2008: Slumdog Millionaire
2009: The Hurt Locker
2010: The King’s Speech
2011: The Artist
2012: Argo
2013: 12 Years a Slave
2014: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
2015: Spotlight
2016: Moonlight
2017: The Shape of Water
2018: Green Book

2019: Ford v Ferarri? The Irishman? Jojo Rabbit?
Joker? Little Women? Marriage Story? 
1917? Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood? Parasite?
(We'll find out this year's winner on February 9th)


  1. Congratulations on finishing up! It's gratifying and also relieving in its way. I know when I finished up a couple years ago and waded my way through those last few I'd been putting off (in my case The Deer Hunter, Slumdog Millionaire and Schindler's List) I was glad I didn't have to make it a point to see something I normally wouldn't. I will say though that while I can't say I enjoyed Schindler's List it was an excellent film...the other two not so much.

    As far as this one goes I hated it but some of that is tempered by my experience with it. I was managing a movie theatre when it was out and it played endlessly, there was a problem with the projector and the film caught fire! So not a pleasant memory but even before that I thought it was a breathtakingly beautiful bore. Joan Chen was good from what I recall.

    1. That is really true that your reactions to a film can be influenced by outside factors. When we saw the Tim Burton Planet of the Apes there was no sound for the first twenty minutes! It didn't help that that movies was a disappointment regardless.