A number of filmmakers enjoyed significant commercial and/or esthetic breakthroughs: Taylor Hackford on "An Officer and a Gentleman," Ron Howard on "Night Shift," Richard Benjamin on "My Favorite Year," Tim Hunter on "Tex," Amy Heckerling on "Ridgemont High," Steven Spielberg on "E.T.," Jeremy Paul Kagan on "The Chosen," Jean-Claude Beineix on "Diva," Robert Towne on "Personal Best," Barry Levinson on "Diner," Caleb Deschanel on "The Escape Artist" and the transposed Australian director Fred Schepisi on his first American project, the defiantly unfashionable but stirring new Western "Barbarosa," rescued from obscurity by the timely support of Washington area moviegoers.

It's just as well these individuals were asserting themselves, because a number of once-reliable names continued to backslide: Francis Coppola on the negligible "One from the Heart," Arthur Penn on "Four Friends," Woody Allen on "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy," Paul Mazursky on "Tempest," Robert Benton on "Still of the Night" and, doubly depressing, Blake Edwards on "Victor, Victoria" (the year's most overrated trifle) and "Trail of the Pink Panther" and Clint Eastwood on "Firefox" and "Honkytonk Man." Sidney Lumet seemed to recuperate on the frivolous theatrical murder mystery "Deathtrap," only to relapse on the "serious" courtroom fiasco "The Verdict," while the British director Alan Parker canceled out his exemplary work on the domestic scenes of "Shoot the Moon" with a return to his ghastliest imitation-Ken Russell style in the elegantly titled rock abomination "Pink Floyd The Wall."

And Robert Altman became the comeback director of the year for "Come Back to the 5 & Dime."