Annal: 1986 Edgar Allan Poe Award® for Best Motion Picture

Results of the Edgar Allan Poe Award® in the year 1986.

Film:Witness (1985)

Witness

Peter Weir

When Samuel (Lukas Haas), a young Amish boy traveling with his mother Rachel (Kelly McGillis), witnesses the murder of a police officer in a public restroom, he and his mother become the temporary wards of John Book (Harrison Ford), a detective who’s been assigned to solve the crime. After suspect lineups and mug-shot books yield nothing, Samuel, in the most memorable scene of the film, recognizes the murderer as a narcotics agent whose picture he sees in the precinct. Once Book realizes that the police chief is in on it, too, he whisks Samuel and Rachel back…

Film:Blood Simple

Blood Simple

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

The debut film of director Joel Coen and his brother-producer Ethan Coen, 1983’s Blood Simple is grisly comic noir that marries the feverish toughness of pulp thrillers with the ghoulishness of even pulpier horror. (Imagine the novels of Jim Thompson somehow fused with the comic tabloid Weird Tales, and you get the idea.) The story concerns a Texas bar owner (Dan Hedaya) who hires a seedy private detective (M. Emmett Walsh) to follow his cheating wife (Frances McDormand in her first film appearance), and then kill her and her lover (John Getz). The…

Film:Fletch (1985)

Fletch

Michael Ritchie

Gregory McDonald’s lightweight mystery novel about an undercover newspaper reporter cracking a police drug ring is transformed by screenwriter Andrew Bergman (Blazing Saddles, and writer/director of The Freshman and Honeymoon in Vegas) into a fairly sarcastic and occasionally very funny Chevy Chase vehicle. Enjoyment of the film pivots on whether you find Chase’s flippant, smart-ass brand of verbal humor funny, or merely egocentric. If you don’t like Chase, there’s really no one else worth watching (Geena Davis is sadly underused). Chase…

Film:The Hit

The Hit

Stephen Frears

This memorable drama helped bring British director Stephen Frears back from the limited opportunities of television (where he spent 13 years after making his promising debut feature, Gumshoe) and into the ranks of world-class filmmakers. Driven by the self-confident charisma of Terence Stamp, the vicious charm of John Hurt, and a fascinating debut performance by Tim Roth, The Hit concerns a criminal informant (Stamp) on ice for the past decade in Spain. Found out by the mobster who wants revenge on him, Stamp’s character is apprehended by a pair of…

Film:Jagged Edge

Jagged Edge

Richard Marquand

Before screenwriter Joe Eszterhas wrote the ridiculous Showgirls, he crafted some entertaining if porous thrillers along the lines of the 1985 Jagged Edge, a taut mystery about an attorney (Glenn Close) who defends a newspaper publisher (Jeff Bridges) accused of murder. The fact that Close’s character falls for him is more convenient than plausible, but it is a necessary emotional bridge for Eszterhas and the late director Richard Marquand (Eye of the Needle) to build toward a powerful finale. Scary, fun as courtroom dramas go, the film is…

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