And here we are at the top of my list of the best films of 1992, at least at the time of our broadcast. As I note in the write-up, my on air cohort and I agreed on the title that deserved to be called the top cinematic offering of that year. In fact, that was remarkably commonplace through the years. Basically every time we talked about top films of any given year on the radio, we were in complete agreement about the #1 position, a trends that persisted at least a couple years past the end of the show. I can hang a asterisk on that streak, however. At the time this episode aired, I hadn’t yet seen Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game, which took its time getting to my small, Midwestern college town. Though I never announced it in any official space back then, that film supplanted The Player at the top of my list. For the record, here’s my top ten, straight from the radio script:
I stand by that assessment of Single White Female, by the way. Anyway, here’s what I wrote about the film that, at the time, was my pick for best of the year.
#1 — THE PLAYER
All of the film we have talked about tonight stood out for some particular reason, but no film can claim to succeed on as many levels as the film that tops our individual lists of the best of 1992. It is a crafty mystery built around a collection of threatening postcards. It is a blistering comedy that features some of the most sharp-edged dialogue of the year. It is a unique romance about a man set off-balance by a stunning, creative woman who initially shuns all of the excesses he thrives on. It is an insightful study of office politics, and the way a person reacts when their job security is threatened by a young, bright up-and-comer. And it is a scathing indictment of the business that spawned it, at attack on the lowbrow mentality of Hollywood studios that helps explain why so many of the films cranked out this past year stood as disappointments. Written by Michael Tolin, directed by Robert Altman, and featuring another attention-getting performance by Tim Robbins, THE PLAYER stands as the best film of 1992. No other film was so thoroughly engrossing from beginning to end, and no other film sticks in the mind as effectively as this springtime release. Robbins plays the studio executive who is fighting for his job and dodging death threats, and Greta Scacchi is great as the woman he falls for. Fred Ward stands out as a surly security guard, Whoopi Goldberg shines as a suspicious police detective, and Peter Gallagher is sensational as the fast-rising newcomer to the studio executive’s boardroom. THE PLAYER skillfully attacks the business of making movies, where the ultimate dream of studio executives is to eliminate the creative talent behind films and use the headlines of a newspaper to create star vehicles. It’s lucky for us that that particular dream hasn’t become a reality. It’s creative people like Altman, Tolkin, and Robbins that insure high quality entertainment. Together, by making THE PLAYER, they’ve brought forth the highest quality film entertainment of 1992.