Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.

1988: Bird (Clint Eastwood)

Clint Eastwood—as a director, not an actor—appears on this list three times. And even though I can’t say that any of his movies are desert island films for me, I do greatly admire both his formal and business approach. 

Formally, his work recalls some of my favorite early Hollywood films: They are well-told by a director who makes material, not style, his focus. As for business, he’s among the few directors with a system of delivering nearly a film a year.

I can’t say too much about Bird, as I haven’t seen it in many years. But I do remember feeling that it gave me a great sense of what it meant to be a jazz musician in the forties and fifties. It features remarkable performances from Forest Whitaker and Diane Venora and displays an extraordinary patience in the way that it allows its story to unfold. 

There’s nothing really flashy or cool here, but that doesn’t mean Eastwood isn’t conscious of film form. He just uses it sparingly and, as always, with great discipline.

What moviemakers can learn: It’s possible for a movie to be overproduced or overworked. Clint Eastwood is a master at avoiding this pitfall. People who work with him say that a day on one of his sets is a brisk eight hours, as he never does more than a few takes per shot. As a result, there’s something very vital and akin to real life in his work.

Other contenders for 1988: I still have some titles to see. These include: Mike Leigh’s High Hopes, Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ and Jean-Claude Brisseau’s De bruit et de fureur. From this year, I really like David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers. And my closest runner-up is Catherine Breillat’s 36 fillette.

After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work raising money for his next feature, Peril.