Top Ten 1989

1. sex, lies and videotape
2. Crimes and Misdemeanors
3. Do The Right Thing
4. Common Threads: Stories From The Quilt
5. Jesus of Montreal
6. Driving Miss Daisy
7. When Harry Met Sally…
8. Drugstore Cowboy
9. Henry V
10. For All Mankind


The trouble with starting a movement is that your efforts are underappreciated at the time that they occur. Steven Soderbergh’s debut film sex, lies and videotape was definitely feted in 1989, winning the Palme D’Or and scoring an Oscar nomination for writing, but the kind of creepy yet irresistibly sexy work that James Spader brings to the lead role was the kind of acting that failed to register and wouldn’t be more celebrated until years later.

Honour Roll: Kenneth Branagh, Henry V; Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot; Morgan Freeman, Driving Miss Daisy; Robin Williams,Dead Poets Society


Call it Old Lady Nostalgia if you will, but Jessica Tandy as the titular octogenarian of Driving Miss Daisy is is the kind of domineering, perfectly pitched exploration of character that can only be the result of years of experience on stage and screen. Her unabashedly ordering Morgan Freeman about for two hours is the least sentimental acting by an old lady since Lillian Gish sat on her front porch with a rifle waiting for Robert Mitchum to mess with her, and it gets no sappier when she finally reveals to him that he’s her best friend.

Honour Roll:  Andie MacDowell, sex, lies and videotape; Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, The Abyss; Michelle Pfeiffer, The Fabulous Baker Boys; Meg Ryan, When Harry Met Sally…


The most fascinating performance by a male actor (other than Spader) in 1989 is the moral conundrum that settles upon the troubled brow and energetic eyes of Martin Landau in Woody Allen’s most polished film Crimes And Misdemeanors. He struggles with concepts of right and wrong and is truly tortured by them, but he never reveals his hand and, like most people, eventually finds ways to go to a good night’s sleep without trouble.

Honour Roll:  Danny Aiello, Do The Right Thing; Dan Aykroyd,Driving Miss Daisy; Marlon Brando, A Dry White Season; Denzel Washington, Glory


Anjelica Huston had a host of good roles following her win for Prizzi’s Honour in 1985, and two of the best of them came in 1989. She’s hilariously sassy as the Holocaust survivor who is reunited with her husband, only to find that he has already remarried, in Enemies, A Love Story. Opposite to that she displays a terrifying level of dangerous, unsteady vulnerability in Crimes And Misdemeanors as a woman whose need to be legitimized by Martin Landau causes him to want to deal with his problems in a permanent manner. She’s one of the richest actors ever to appear in movies and her level of versatility displays itself amply in the many roles she’s played.

Honour Roll: Laura San Giacomo, sex, lies and videotape; Lena Olin, Enemies, A Love Story; Julia Roberts, Steel Magnolias; Dianne Wiest, Parenthood


Woody Allen, Crimes And Misdemeanors

Honour Roll:  Denys Arcand, Jesus Of Montreal; Bruce Beresford, Driving Miss Daisy; Kenneth Branagh, Henry V; Jim Sheridan, My Left Foot