Look for Kevin Costner's remarkable "Dances With Wolves" to be the front-runner in the Oscar race next year - for both best picture and best director.

And, for once, my pick for the best movie of 1990 is going to go right along with what will likely be the consensus of the Academy Awards.On the other hand, I'm still out of step with moviegoers - you won't find "Ghost" or "Pretty Woman" or "Total Recall" among my choices.

Yes, it's time once again for that annual movie-critic ritual, compiling best and worst lists. Or, rather, favorite and least-favorite lists.

Having gone over the more than 200 American movies that came through Salt Lake City in 1990, it was a surprise to find that only eight received top-of-the-line, four-star reviews - and half of those were 1989 movies we didn't get until early this year. In addition, only 15 films received 31/2 stars.

There were a couple of old, re-issued U.S. films and three foreign-language pictures that also struck me as superb pictures - but I try to keep the main best-of-the-year list to new American movies. (It was a temptation to say the best film of 1990 was the 50-year-old "Fantasia" - but I used that line last year at this time, saying the best film of 1989 was "Lawrence of Arabia." Alas, the more things change, the more they stay the same.)

Granted, these are personal estimations, and you may disagree - but out of the nearly 250 that came to town last year, that seems a dishearteningly low percentage of exceptional films.

As usual, it was difficult to choose the "best" because pickings were so slim, and it was hard to choose the "worst" because there were so many worthy candidates.

But, for what it's worth, here are my subjective choices for the 1990 movies I can't wait to see again, as well as those I hope I never see again - even so much as a glimpse while channel-flipping late at night:


1. Dances With Wolves - Kevin Costner's great outdoor epic was certainly the most satisfying film of the year, with all the excitement, romance, humor and nobility any one film could possibly hold.

2. Edward Scissorhands - Though flawed by a minor character's violent downfall, this enchanting fable is the sweetest movie to come along in many years.

3. Avalon - Gentle, episodic, heartwarming story of 50 years in the life of one immigrant family.

4. GoodFellas - Despite stomach-churning violence and over-the-top profanity, Martin Scorsese's true mob story is undeniably chilling.

5. Reversal of Fortune - Surprisingly funny, insightful examination of the Claus von Bulow controversy.

6. Presumed Innocent - Riveting suspense and a very involving story, topped only by exquisite performances, especially Bonnie Bedelia.

7. Glory - Excellent epic Civil War story about the first black fighting regiment, graphically depicting the peculiar brutality of that war. (Salt Lake theaters got this 1989 film on Feb. 16 of this year).

8. Henry V - Kenneth Branagh's brilliant, surprisingly accessible adaptation of Shakespeare's classic was another grand 1989 entry. (March 2.)

9. Driving Miss Daisy - Fabulous performances marked the best-picture Oscar winner, with Jessica Tandy as best actress. (Jan. 12.)

10. My Left Foot - Daniel Day Lewis received a well-earned Oscar as writer/artist Christy Brown, born with cerebral palsy, in this moving and inspirational film. (Feb. 23.)

Runners-up included "I Love You to Death," "The Freshman," "The Hunt for Red October," "Born on the Fourth of July," "Joe Versus the Volcano," "A Shock to the System," "Miller's Crossing," "Memphis Belle," "Arachnophobia" and "The Rescuers Down Under."


1. The Adventures of Ford Fairlane - Andrew Dice Clay's starring debut opened amid controversy and died a quick, most-deserved death.

2. Forbidden Dance/Lambada - Two idiotic lambada dance movies that opened the same day and closed the next week, riding the crest of an imagined craze.

3. Desperate Hours - Dreadful remake, made in Salt Lake City, with Mickey Rourke in the Bogart role.

4. Another 48HRS. - Lame action-comedy sequel, proving once again that lightning seldom strikes twice.

5. Spaced Invaders - Silly kiddie sci-fi comedy that bored even the youngest moviegoers.

6. Revenge - Kevin Costner's 1990 misstep, an ugly, violent film.

7. Loose Cannons - A comedy-thriller teaming Gene Hackman and Dan Aykroyd, which is neither funny or thrilling.

8. Look Who's Talking Too - An awful sequel that may finally cause this movie series to shut up.

9. Repossessed - Another unfunny comedy, a spoof/sequel to "The Exorcist," with Linda Blair spinning her head and throwing up.

10. Wild Orchid - Mickey Rourke again, proving that all sex and no story makes cinema a dull entertainment.

Runners-up include . . . far too many to name.FOREIGN FILMS

The top foreign-language movies of the year were "Cinema Paradiso," "Black Rain," "Monsieur Hire," "Akira Kurosawa's Dreams," "Camille Claudel," "Reinette and Mirabelle," "King of Hearts," "The Pornographers," "The Story of Women" and "Shadow of the Raven."


Top documentaries were "For All Mankind," "Weapons of the Spirit," "To Protect Mother Earth," "Berkeley in the '60s" and "Roger & Me."

- AS FOR ALL THOSE movies you're reading about in national publications and wondering why they aren't here, it's the same story every year at this time: To qualify for Oscars, films have to have a commercial run in Los Angeles for at least one week before the end of the year.

But, to sidestep the Christmas movie glut, many won't open in the hinterlands - including Salt Lake City - until sometime in January, February or March.

The best of what I've seen in advance: "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge," "Hamlet," "Green Card" and "The Grifters."

The worst of what I've seen in advance: "The Sheltering Sky."

And the most interesting-looking of those I've not seen yet: "Awakenings," "Alice," "Cyrano de Bergerac," "Come See the Paradise," "The Field" and "The Long Walk Home."