Pickle Relish, Jupiter & The Best Pictures From 1928 to 1988: Pantries, Planets and Pictures — Enjoy The Flight

Now are the times of momentous, memorable and truly exciting events.

The Dallas Quilt Show was only a couple of weeks past.

Here is a favorite from the showing:









This quilt is entitled “Five Ninety Two” and it was done by Mary Beth McCormack of Keller, Texas. (You can take and share pictures but you have to attribute the quilts.) I like this one because it is an old “Pickle Relish” design pattern, and I like and have canned pickles on a farm. Quilt patterns are like that. Stuff around the farm, family and house. Other patterns are “Log Cabin” and “Wedding Rings.” I am sure there are many more, and I am sure many are as down-home as this one.

But not all.

Here is a mini-quilt from this year’s auction for charity:









Not your traditional quilt, right? Yep, that is Jupiter, the fifth planet from the sun in our solar system; and appropriately, this little quilt is entitled “Fifth From The Sun.” It was quilted by Daphne Huffman of Dallas, Texas. If you look closely, you can see the word “five” quilted in a number of languages (I counted five: French, Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian). And of course, you can see the great Red Spot giant storm on the surface of the monstrous planet. And what are those floating balls in front? You got it: the first four moons of Jupiter discovered in 1610 by Galileo peering through his telescope and named by him: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Today, upwards of 69 moons of Jupiter have been sighted and a number of those have yet to be named. So submit your suggestions, and your choice may be emblazoned in the sky and your orb remembered on a quilt somewhere over the rainbow, way up high.

There is much that can be seen and found in a simple quilt.

Perhaps not momentous, but surely memorable.

Now it is the time for something momentous, memorable and exciting. Now is the time to remember and list the best Best Pictures of the first sixty (60) Best Pictures (1928 – 1988) – as viewed, rated and ranked by our EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy audience. I promised I would do this, and I now share with you the listing of our top Oscar-winning films of the first 60 years of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Fanfare please. Focus your telescopes below:

1. Ben Hur (1959)

2. It Happened One Night (1933-34)

3. The Sound of Music (1965)

4. Gone with the Wind (1939)

5. Casablanca (1943)

6. My Fair Lady (1964)

7. On the Waterfront (1954)

8. Going My Way (1944)

9. The Godfather (1972)

10. Mrs. Miniver (1942)

11. The Bridge over the River Kwai (1957)

12. Gandhi (1982)

Many of you would ply the skyways and probe the planets for bounty such as this. Now you have it in your grasp. And a bonus. You get twelve (12) because the last three tied for the #10 position.

If I may, a word or two going away as we fly back to the real universe. Would this list be different for a different group? Yes, of course, perhaps. This is ethnofamilymovieography, a new and trailblazing area of study. Part of the study is to appreciate, as the lead ethnographer, the elements at play in the selection of the best Best Pictures as utilized by this particular community of viewers and by others, including the Academy voters. It appears at this stage in our study that there are three predominant elements in the evaluation of a best picture: 1) entertainment value; 2) artistic value; and 3) political value. More, of course, needs to be said about all three; but at this stage, it can be recognized that these elemental values may vary in appreciation and application between groups of viewers and the voters of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Here we truly ascend to the outer reaches of our solar system. Suffice for now to have attained the 60-picture level and to have shared with each of you the results of this ongoing study.

May you enjoy your own flights of fancy and may you find in this listing a new map for your adventures.

See you next with #61 “The Rain Man” and #62 “Driving Miss Daisy.”

Until then, have a blast, watch out for the moons, and have a truly momentous, memorable and exciting time.

Astronaut Jim . . . on . . . the . . . way


Spring, Sprung, Sayings And The Shows Continue: Best Pictures #58 “Out of Africa” (1985), #59 “Platoon” (1986), and #60 “The Last Emperor” (1987)


Spring is about to “sprung.”

Here is the first dandelion:









The word “Dandelion’ derives from the French “dent-de-lion” meaning lion’s tooth, and as you can see the flower has many not particularly ferocious teeth — but they are a bright yellow. Every part of the dent-de-lion is edible. The wild flower also has herbal uses, which is probably why it received free passage on the Mayflower with the pilgrims to the new world. Bees love dandelions — the blooms are some of the first sources of pollen to the buzzing bands of insects in the awakening spring. To the USA lawn culture aficionados, the dandelion is often viewed as a weed. The bright, welcoming little flowers are so much more; and the yellow teeth make a very passable and memorable dandelion wine. You must try a glass when you are out visiting the countryside in the new spring.

Today, we stand over the little flower and wave a welcome farewell to winter. Yes, I had the flu twice — in October and again in February. And, yes, February was the wettest month ever in the meteorological history of Texas. We had fourteen inches of rain the last two weeks of the month. Two days from now, we may hit 80 degrees Fahrenheit (about 27 Celsius). Stuff is getting better everyday. With the receding rain and ascending sun, we now approach the budding, blooming and bursting time of our young year. Spring is very welcome, very welcome indeed.

Stuff is getting better.

On Thursdays, I attend an early-morning men’s study group. I watch, talk and listen. There is one among us who has a natural gift for words. I don’t think he knows this, but he does. He drops lines as flowers drop petals. They are little gifts. Today, it was: “You KNOW where to go back to.” A budding of universal truth in a few consonants and vowels. We all do KNOW where we have found the calm joy of remembrance. Sometimes it helps to do just that and go back to where we know and remember.

And sometimes it helps to study just that together: to be part of a company and to study ourselves and what we are doing from the inside so that we can document and savor the calm joy of the remembrance of what we did, saw and experienced later. . . . That is ethnofamilymovieography, the just emerging branching of ethnography that we are now doing and have been doing for 60 movies together — with you reading reports of some of those films here on this website.

EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy is a family of viewers watching and studying themselves and the Best Pictures together from the inside and reporting out the results to a broader audience and to themselves.

Now we are up to the 60th Best Picture awarded the Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. We started two years ago and we will next be viewing “The Last Emperor,” the  winner for 1987. From 1928 to 1987, members of our company have joined together to squint through the dark at the moving pictures, cogitate their meanings and our reactions, survey the results in the rising house lights, and wander home wondering what we did, are doing and will do. That’s ethnofamilymoviegraphy at work.

“The Shape of Water” won the 90th Oscar for Best Picture among the movies released in 2017. That is our target, our finish point, to have viewed and reviewed the first 90 Best Pictures. We are two-thirds of the way to that goal.

The last two movies in the seriatim were #58 “Out of Africa” (1985) and #59 “Platoon” (1986). For our study, “Out of Africa” ranked #33 of the first 58 Best Pictures; and “Platoon” ranked fourth from the bottom of the first 59 Best Pictures. That’s not the whole story. It’s just the beginning. We hope to move on and learn more. Tonight is #60 “The Last Emperor” (1987). That’s where we are.

There is a simple joy in knowing and remembering where we were and knowing we can go back there.

Next time, we will go back and share a simple snapshot of the top and bottom of our survey results for the first 60 Best Pictures.

It is one thing we can do, fleeting like the first wildflower. It may have little meaning in itself, but perhaps it does herald something more to come. It is somewhere we know we can go back to.

As we hope you do with us at the next post.

Thank you,

Grandpa Jim


The Gong Show (1976), Terms of Endearment (1983), Amadeus (1984) & The Postman (1997): “Stuff is getting better” — “Like an old gray cat,” Jerry Jeff Walker (1972)

“Stuff is getting better, stuff is getting better everyday.”

Kevin Costner as the “The Postman” says that for Richard Starkey, the President of the Restored United States, in the 1997 film about a future gone haywire with a wanderer spouting Shakespeare for a bowl of soup and a bunch of kids delivering the mail to set things right. It is a good film.

“Stuff is getting better.”

Christmas was a blur, January was Israel and Jordan, and February was the flu.

Back in 1976, they had a show that gonged acts when they were really bad. The flu felt like The Gong Show that wouldn’t stop gonging.

But, “Stuff is getting better.”

With Holidays, travel and flu, only two Best Picture showings survived the hiatus.

“Term of Endearment” won the Oscar for Best Picture among the films released in 1983. Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson are an unlikely duo, but somehow they work well together. Shirley received the Best Actress award; and Jack, despite or perhaps because of his devilish behavior, took the Best Supporting Actor trophy.

The film is set in my former hometown, Houston, Texas, but without the humidity. You can do that at the movies.

At the movies, our EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy audience had this to say about the show:

A funny, entertaining, well-acted, sad show about a aging widow, a dying daughter, the daughter’s loser husband and the mother’s ridiculous astronaut next door; the morality is lousy, the timing superb, the interactions farsical, the acting excellent, and the outcomes somehow unsettlingly inevitable; with an average EthnoFamiyMovieOgraphy audience rating of 8.38, the film ranks at #19 of the first 56 Best Pictures viewed to date, defying all odds, obstacles and outcomes to end quite nicely — as only the movies can.

Yes, Jack Nicholson plays a retired astronaut. You gotta see it to believe it.

With that, the single word for the film is: Inevitable.

I guess it is, as only the movies can be.

That was the single show that snuck under the door for January.

In February, only one has crept in — so far. “Like an old gray cat in winter, keeping’ close to the wall.” As Jerry Jeff Walker sings so well in the 1972 tune “That Old Time Felling,” you never know what will happen next.

Salieri didn’t. Antonio Salieri is the Court Composer to the Emperor in Vienna when a giggling Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart romps under the table as his, Mozart’s, music plays divinely in the other room. Salieri, played by F. Murray Abraham, spends the rest of the movie plotting the early demise of the naive and unsuspecting “Wolfy” so that he, Salieri, might acquire fame and fortune for himself. Which he does not. Mozart dies a sad and untimely early death but his music lives on and on and on, while Salieri ages badly and wheels madly into oblivion, his wooden tunes to be lost forever if it were not for this movie.

As course and odd as it sounds, this movie is — but so well played . . . and so very sad. Despite the quirkiness of its actors’ portrayals, “Amadeus” was acknowledged to be the Best Picture of the shows of 1984, and Mr. Abraham received the Best Actor nod for a very deserving performance by an actor of a very undeserving character.

What more can be said?

The EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy audience had this to say:

For the movie “Amadeus,” three words predominate: music, acting and sad; Mozart’s music is grandly presented, but the excellently acted portrayals of his life are so sad — to the point of being depressing; the aging child prodigy is destroyed by the callous abuses and petty jealousies of those surrounding and stifling his genius; the film, despite the exuberances of its score, is difficult to watch, ending prematurely in a pauper’s grave, as a gravely unhappy, if appreciative, audience skulks back in the rain, sighing a 7.86 rating and leaving the show at #35 of the first 57 Best Pictures — the movie and the artist deserve more.

And, the one word for the show: Jealousy

Which sounds like a Grade B movie.

Perhaps that is why the film did not perform so well. I don’t know. I do know there is more to the movies than meets the eye.

Until the next show, “Stuff is getting better.”

Thank you for reading,

Grandpa Jim


Three Films — From Chicago to Paris to India: Ordinary People (1980), Chariots of Fire (1981) & Gandhi (1982)

Life has been ordinary. I had the flu, and “Yes” I did have the flu shot. We ran into snow in Minnesota and ran back to Texas and warmer weather. Halloween had its cadre of costumed candy-seekers. Thanksgiving arrived with welcome relatives and plenteous foodstuffs. The Christmas lights are up on the house, the street is alive with Santa, elves and snowpersons, and the first freeze is expected soon. Yes, life has been ordinary and busy. It has been difficult to schedule Best Picture showings and even more difficult to return to you with the results of those filmings. I apologize and I am sorry, but sometimes the ordinary can be quite extraordinary.

So here we are with the results from the Best Pictures for 1980, 1981 and 1982.

As a scene set, I will note that for each movie a survey is completed by each member of the EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy audience. As part of that survey, the viewer is requested to rank the film from 1 (low) to 10 (high) and to write out their likes and dislikes for the film. For each of these three shows, a summary sentence was prepared reflecting those likes and dislikes, and a single word was chosen for the film. In addition, the combined average ranking for the movie is tabulated and compared against the other Best Pictures viewed to date.

“Ordinary People” is not ordinary. Set in suburban Chicago, Illinois, USA, in what I would call the 1970’s, the show tracks a father, mother and younger son who has made a suicide attempt after the accidental death of the older son. Though their setting is fairly well to do economically, the family members are distant and apart.

“This is a very sad movie about a teenage boy recovering from a suicide attempt; the family is emotionally disrupted and does not recover as a family; wonderfully acted by son (Timothy Hutton – Best Supporting Actor Oscar), son’s girlfriend (Elizabeth McGovern), psychiatrist (Judd Hirsch – nominee for Best Supporting Actor), father (Donald Sutherland) and mother (Mary Tyler Moore – nominee for Best Actress), everyone liked the acting and no one liked the acted character of the mother (sad hat’s off to Mary Tyler Moore); the growing relationship between son and girl friend, the recovering relationship with the father and the healing relationship of the psychiatrist are the upbeat parts of the show, but they are not enough to save the audience from an emotionally draining experience and an unresolved ending; when the final credits played, the film managed only a 7.73 average rating, placing it #34 down the list of the first 53 Best Pictures.”

That’s the summary sentence for Best Picture #53. My high school English teacher required 100-word sentences and I still have that bug. I notice no mention of the older son in these words. That bothers me. I think the show is meant to bother its viewers. The single word for the show is “suicide.”

“Chariots of Fire” centers around the 1924 Olympics in Paris, France, and follows members of the British track team as they prepare for, journey to, compete in, return from and live on after those Olympics. The Americans are there as a counterpoint to add conflict and tension, but the show is for the British and they do marvelously. The summary sentence is:

“This film was most liked for its main message: Put God first, honor Him and He will honor you; next liked were the teamwork, hard work, friendship and comradery evidenced among and between the runners — they lifted each other up even when they were racing against each other; cinematography, music and costumes followed closely as additional big likes of the audience; the major dislike was the difficult to understand English and Scottish accents of the actors while a few viewers singled out the discrimination practiced against the Jewish competitor; overall there were few dislikes, the positive, uplifting, inspiring story won out, and the average rating of 8.87 places the film tied at #12 of the first 54 Best Pictures from 1928 to 1981, a very commendable showing for a very entertaining show.”

An extraordinary show of extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstances behaving in an extraordinary fashion. For all of that, there is a quite ordinary element. The single word for the show tracks that: “comradery.”

In India, there are many sayings. One of those is a single word, the name of one very ordinary extraordinary man, the name “Gandhi.” The 55th Best Picture released in 1982 attempts to tell the story of that life and opens with these words, “No man’s life can be encompassed in one telling.” From there, it attempts the telling, and “Yes” it is too long, but the telling despite its length is that of marvelous person presented by a marvelous actor in a film reflecting the momentous events of its time.

“This is Gandhi’s movie, the man and the actor; Ben Kingsley won Best Actor for his portrayal of the man, and the man presented was instrumental in securing the independence of India from the English — together they become one in the film and they were the most liked aspect of the show for the EFMO audience; curiously, this movie depicting the very successful non-violent protests instituted by its lead character was most disliked for the violence portrayed, the English who largely perpetuated that violence, and the hopelessness and helplessness of the violent ending in a divided country where one might say nothing had really changed; nevertheless, the likes won out and the movie achieved a 9.00 average ranking, placing it tied at #10 of first fifty-five Best Pictures; on top of that, everyone retrieved the person they were angry with from the cold bare hillside (only the 10th time this has happened), thereby securing the film’s high and virtuous stature among the Best Pictures screened to date.”

One of the survey questions places you angry with another person and considering leaving that individual on a cold bare hillside or retrieving the rascal to the comfort of a warm cabin. After viewing this show, it asks, which way would this movie influence you to act? To his credit, after watching Gandhi no one left that unruly personage out in the cold. Such can be the power of a single name. And, the single word for the show: “non-violence.”

Enough, there you have three films for three years in three different places. From Chicago to Paris to India, we find no one is ever really ordinary. And that is as it should be — quite extraordinary.

Thank you for reading,

Grandpa Jim

“Kramer vs. Kramer,” The 1979 52nd Best Picture: The Movies Of The 1970’s And The Storms Of 2017 — There Is Hope

Transitions can be rough, and the transition from the summer of 2017 to the fall of 2017 has been just that: horrible hurricanes, devastating flooding, terrible earthquakes, property destroyed and lives lost. The last weeks have been very challenging for so many and very sad for all of us. We thank God for the responders, the selfless and unselfish people, who have done so much for so many. Thank you.

It is difficult to predict the future: the weather and our personal lives

It can happen that someone doesn’t notice that things aren’t going well until they aren’t and it’s too late to stop what’s going to happen and then it gets even worse.

Ted didn’t notice. Ted is a young father, an advertising executive in busy New York, and a workaholic. He’s having a great day, one of his very best days ever, when the storm hits and his life comes crashing down. His wife, Joanna, can’t take him any longer. She walks out, into the hall and leaves Ted with their 8-year old son, Billy, as the elevator door closes. Ted looks around for support and finds a demanding and uncaring boss who fires him and a recently divorced gossip of a neighbor buried under the weight of her own grief. Ted has no one but Billy, and Billy has no one but Ted. The father and son are their only responders. Isolated in the wreck of their lives, they struggle and fight and laugh and somehow manage to stay standing together. Despite insurmountable odds and recurrent obstacles, they somehow manage to survive and grow closer. At show’s end, the elevator door closes on Joanna who leaves father and son to their new-made relationship.

It’s just a show. “Kramer vs. Kramer” is a film, a movie that won the Best Picture for 1979. Dustin Hoffman plays Ted, Meryl Streep plays Joanna, and Justin Henry plays Billy. It’s not real. What it portrays is.

Storms hit and they hurt, and then it’s not about what the storm did, it’s about what the people do — in the movies and in real life.

The 1970’s had some great movies: Patton, The French Connection, The Godfather, The Sting, The Godfather Part II, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Rocky, Annie Hall, The Deer Hunter, and Kramer vs. Kramer. Of all those very good movies, our EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy audience rated Kramer vs. Kramer #3 behind The Godfather and Rocky. Why?

The summary sentence derived from the like and dislikes is this:

Most liked the acting of father Ted (Dustin Hoffman), mother Joanna (Meryl Streep) and young son Billy (Justin Henry), while most disliked the uncomfortable topic of the mother leaving her child, the portrayal of divorce in today’s society, the uncaring attitudes of the attorneys and the overall unfairness of the judicial system; the father-son relationship is the focus of this film and the story of that growing and often humorous relationship is what makes the movie and holds the audience.

It’s real, it’s timely, it hurts, and it leaves you with hope for the future.

To all those who suffer the storms of life: Stay Standing.

There is hope — at the movies and in real life.

Stay Standing. We are with you.

There is hope.


Grandpa Jim


Terrifying & Shocking: The End of Summer, Hurricane Harvey & “The Deer Hunter” — Best Picture #51 (1978)

The end of summer can seem terrifying for those returning to school from the protections of the long safe time away. Yet the new school year with its new faces and places can be an exciting and inviting time — when it can. . . .

Hurricane Harvey threw a wrench in the plans of many on the Gulf Coasts of Texas and Louisiana. The schools in Houston have yet to open. For some, the recovery will be long and difficult. My old house is under water and may be for months. Relatives and friends have been rescued by boat and truck. Many have lost much of what they owned.

When I talked to Houston earlier today, I was told 90% of the town and the people are back in business — if not yet in school, but 100% of the community is in shock. The 90% must carry on and help the 10% who cannot. The town will carry on. The city will recover. Still a sense of worrisome guilt, quiet foreboding and deep grief accompanies those externally unscathed survivors as they commute to work, read the morning papers, do their jobs and then go to the shelters after work to help their friends.

It seems an odd time for us to carry on with the Best Pictures. Over 250 miles away, we saw only little rain and no flooding. Perhaps it is a tribute to the “family” in EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy (EFMO) that the group met together to review the next film in the list of award-winning pictures. You may recall that the EFMO group started with the 1928 Best Picture and is now at the 1978 film, the 51st movie to receive the Oscar for Best Picture.

“The Deer Hunter” is an American tragedy. The story starts in a small town in Pennsylvania where young friends celebrate the wedding of two of their number, after which the boys in the crowd escape in the cool morning for a final deer hunt together in the mountains. Three of the young men then jump to the conflict in Vietnam where they are imprisoned, tortured, escape and are separated. In the final act of the film, two of the three companions return home. One does not. The two survivor and their friends are diminished, damaged and undone by what has happened. In shock, they sit and sing a final song as the movie leaves them and the audience each to recover in their own ways. A terrifying and shocking film, it is a film of everyday life, because everyday life can be terrifying and shocking.

One of the questions on the post-show survey asks each viewer to circle the primary color they associate with the film: RED  YELLOW  BLUE? For The Deer Hunter, most circled RED. The next question asks the watcher to circle the work relationship they associate with the movie: BOSS  PEER  SUBORDINATE? Most circled PEER. This is a show of close friends, PEERs, who are fiercely loyal to each other and willing to show their love for one another in the face of great suffering, personal sacrifice and common tribulation. The circumstances are bleak and for some RED was sadly the color encountered.

At the end of this show, there was a deep silence in the room. No one spoke as the survey sheets were handed out. No one spoke as they wrote their answers. In the kitchen after, friends helped each other as friends do; and friends helped each other to their cars and off into the dark night, because that is the way of friends.

On the bottom of the EFMO survey sheet, the final question asks the person to identify something they LIKE and something they DISLIKE about the film. I am the only one who sees all the sheets, and it is my job to take the LIKEs and DISLIKEs and to the best I can to summarize those entries into a single sentence. Here is that sentence for “The Deer Hunter.”

“The music, acting and actors were the big ‘likes’ — Robert De Niro was singled out among the group of friends followed from home, to Vietnam and back home again; and even though the story was variously viewed as sad, depressing, disturbing, disjointed and convoluted, and the ending far fetched, some thought the film in its ways true to life and an accurate if not beautiful rendition of the times and the difficulties of the Vietnam conflict; this is a story of the tragedies of war and the physical, mental, emotional and psychological carnage left behind that ordinary people must face into the rest of their lives; and, as such, this is a film not so much to be enjoyed as to to be endured in shocked silence.”

In the face of terrifying circumstances, sometimes we are asked to endure in shocked silence and carry on as best we can by helping one another, because this is the way of friends.

You are and have friends,

Grandpa Jim




Rocky Meets Annie Hall: The 49th (1976) And 50th (1977) Best Pictures — Fiction, Science And Beyond!!!

The dog days are upon us. Friends visit, kids swim and the heat is unremitting Texas summer. We sigh for time to reflect and apologize for the time it has taken to get back to you with the results from the EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy (EFMO) surveys of our two most recent Best Pictures: “Rocky” and “Annie Hall.”

By way of background, “Rocky” was voted the 49th Best Picture by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) from among the films produced in 1976. In this movie, Sylvester Stallone plays Rocky Balboa, “The Italian Stallion,” a young fighter whose career has dead-ended before it began. Rocky’s been demoted at his gym, can’t get a date with Adrian at the pet store and is too goodhearted to be a bad guy. His life is over, until he gets the “chance.” That chance is the film Stallone conceived, wrote in part, helped direct, and acted for The Stallion and himself — as the names reflect (only one vowel separates Stallone and The Stallion) and the sequels attest (there are total of seven Rocky movies to this year, 2017).

Our EFMO audience gave Rocky an 8.41 average rating out of 10. This places Stallone and The Stallion at #19 of the first 49 Best Pictures. This is a very commendable showing, and I feel it reflects the film’s wide audience appeal, inherent good manners and basic audience connectivity — despite the violence of the show’s epic finale and fight.

Of the EFMO survey questions, Rocky scored a perfect “Retrieve” for the question that: After watching the show, would you chose to leave that person with whom you are angry on the cold bare hillside or rescue him or her to the comfort of a warm cabin? Immediately after viewing Rocky, no one voted “Leave.” Everyone voted “Retrieve!” Only 7 other of the first 49 Best Pictures were so uplifting to receive zero leave votes: Cavalcade (1933), It Happened One Night (1934), You Can’t Take It With You (1938), Going My Way (1944), My Fair Lady (1964), The Sound of Music (1965) and The Sting (1973). With these films, Rocky (1976) is a wonderfully entertaining film of wide audience appeal.

I fear not so “Annie Hall.” Annie garnered the 50th Best Picture Oscar from among the films released in 1977. In so doing, the AMPAS voters passed on “Star Wars!” An exclamation point is, I think, appropriate here — considering that Star Wars was the biggest winner in the other Oscar categories, and time has proven Star Wars to be clearly the most widely entertaining show of 1977.

Who then is Annie Hall and what on earth happened?

Annie Hall is Diane Keaton and the show “Annie Hall” was written for Diane Keaton in the character of Annie Hall by Woody Allen, who plays himself as the neurologically disturbed comedian Alvy Singer, who acts very much like himself, Woody Allen, who both Woody and Alvy try for 93 minutes of steam of consciousness showtime to understand what happened to their romantic relationship with Diane, I mean Annie. Having said that, you begin to see the imbedded and confused humor that drives the picture and the intergalactic forces at play in the eyes of the AMPAS voters as they try to watch and understand the clearly alien antics of Woody, I mean Alvy. Stop here and think of open mic night in the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine with Woody-Alvy stepping to the microphone and stuttering a deadpan joke about the Emperor’s clothing that leaves the audience firing their lasers at each other in tears of laughter as half fall silently to the floor. You get the picture and it is truly a bizarre one, but the unusual craft of the show was clearly appealing to the voting craftsman of the Academy.

One must give Diane Keaton credit for an absolutely marvelous acting job which deservedly merited the 1977 Oscar for Best Actress. It might be said she was the only one who understood what Woody said, and for that she truly deserved the best actress award.

Woody Allen was chosen the Best Director over George Lucas (Star Wars) and Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters of the Third Kind). It could be observed that the movie Annie Hall may have been recognized by the Academy voters as the best science fiction film of the year. From that perspective, Woody may be truly deserving of best director. Here it may be soothing to remember the sonorous lilts of Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes as they play in the background behind Alvy.

How did our AMPAS voters survey the film?

On two EFMO questions, Annie Hall set the record for most votes received. One question asks whether the message of the film is still relevant today? A record number of viewers answered “NO!” Another question asks if this movie were a panhandler approaching your car at the intersection how much money would you hand through the window: NONE  $10  $1,000,000  MORE? Immediately after viewing the show, a record number of surveyors answered “NONE!” Overall, our EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy audience gave Annie Hall an average rating of 4.62 out of 10, placing Annie near the bottom at #47 of the first 50 Best Pictures reviewed.

Admittedly some of our EFMO audience had never seen Annie Hall or any other Woody Allen movie. On the other hand, a few of the audience admitted to being Woody Allen fans and a few not so. Still one wonders: Would Star Wars have done any better with our EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy reviewers? Perhaps not. You know not everyone likes science fiction.

See you next time with the Best Picture of 1978, #51 on our list and counting.

Grandpa Jim