December 12, 1992 -- This has not been a banner year for motion pictures. With a few notable exceptions, most of the films I have seen this year have been mediocre. I haven't seen all of the movies made this year. The most notable film (by reputation) that I haven't seen is ``Malcolm X.'' Following is a list of the best movies I have seen this year.
1. The best film of the year, unfortunately, only played in local theaters one day, but it probably will be available on videotape soon if it isn't already available. It was director Robert Altman's fabulous ``The Player.''
Starring Tim Robbins, who also starred in the critically acclaimed ``Bob Roberts,'' this film mercilessly skewers Hollywood. It is the only film I saw this year which took any artistic chances and showed a shred of originality.
2. “Unforgiven,” a high-concept western directed by, and starring, Clint Eastwood is long on both drama and style.
3. ``Last of the Mohicans,'' based on the James Fennimore Cooper book is my choice for the second-best film of the year. Starring Daniel Day Lewis, who has the profile of a young Charleton Heston, it was a rousing adventure story, a great love story and it featured breath-taking North Carolina scenery.
4. ``Husbands and Wives,'' Woody Allen's last film starring himself and Mia Farrow bore a haunting resemblance to the real-life troubled relationship between those two people. It is one of Woody's best films.
5. ``A Few Good Men,'' the courtroom drama starring Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise and Demi Moore, is my pick for the fourth best film of the year. It certainly has the best acting performances of any movie this year, but suffered from a predictable plot and a performance by Demi Moore which didn't quite measure up to the rest of the high-powered cast.
6. ``Aladdin'' is another classic Disney feature length cartoon which ranks with some of the best work that Disney studios has done. While not quite as good as last year's Academy-Award nominated ``Beauty and the Beast,'' the animation is splendid, Robin Williams is hilarious and the story is solid.
7. ``A League of Their Own'' was the sixth best picture and featured strong performances all around and a great story that was both funny and heartwarming.
8. ``Under Siege'' was the best pure action film of the year, with a great performance by Tommy Lee Jones as a ex-CIA operative who hijacks a battleship in order to steal weapons.
9. ``Bram Stoker's Dracula'' was the eighth-best film of 1992 with strong performances by Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder. The story was well-told with some bits of historic fact thrown in for good measure. Director Francis Ford Coppola and his son Roman produced some memorable screen images in what I thought was the best-ever version of the often-filmed story.
10. ``A River Runs Through It'' was another fine directoral effort by Robert Redford, who directed the academy-award winning ``Ordinary People.'' Redford also did the narration in the film, which had the best use of language of any film of the year.
Honorable Mention: ``Patriot Games,'' starring Harrison Ford, is another highly successful film version of a Tom Clancy book. I thought it was about as good as ``Hunt for Red October.'' It was a rousing adventure story with a great performance by Ford. Look for him in the next Clancy-inspired film.