Wednesday, September 21, 2016

2001--The Year in Review

In that most of my top ten films are decked with a multitude of challenging roles for women, 2001 begs to be seen as the second consecutive year in which female-driven stories are at the forefront. And it's David Lynch's stubbornly complex reworking of a scuttled TV series, Mulholland Dr., that commanded the imaginations of the most assured movie lovers that year. It's an extremely divisive work that confounds and disgusts many who've seen it. No matter. It's remains a masterpiece--maybe Lynch's best--that treats the eye to a detailed dissection of the dream process while hoodwinking us with a Nancy Drew-like mystery that turns vicious and downtrodden. Its main player is Naomi Watts, the Australian actress (and best friend to competitor Nicole Kidman) who, in her breakthrough role, fooled us into thinking her a cheery dolt when she's actually a full-blown artisan. I've never experienced such a mid-film turnaround on a performance as I did here, and I find more and more to admire about it with each repeat viewing.

There are many 2001 films to which I experienced a powerful emotional response: Richard Kelly's jolting debut Donnie Darko sank me with stinging tears every time I watched it (his subsequent films have been radically disappointing), while Baz Luhrmann's epic musical Moulin Rouge!, Todd Field's small-scoped revenge drama In the Bedroom and John Cameron Mitchell's rocking adaptation of his stage hit Hedwig and the Angry Inch all got my heart racing. Spielberg's adaptation of a once-Kubrick spearheaded sci-fi tale, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, also pierced my soul, though I despised its most misguided, Spielberg-indulgent moments. Michael Haneke stunned us with a typically (for him) stormy and blood-dotted character piece featuring a never-better Isabelle Huppert (who, to date, has yet to receive an Oscar nomination--a crime). And the Documentary prize-winner, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade's Murder on a Sunday Morning stands as an infuriating retelling of injustices that have become sickeningly common in America. Gosford Park became the Altman movie that everyone adores (with its complexly satiric scripting and Helen Mirren's sternly damaged housekeeper), while Terry Zwigoff's Ghost World emerged as an ageless cult film and arguably the best comic-book-derived cinematic work as it provided the world's abject losers with a dose of tough love (and the treasured Steve Buscemi with his most apt role). With all the other fine movies available here, I still can't figure out why the hell the Academy handed Best Picture to Ron Howard's generally abysmal A Beautiful Mind. I can only surmise they really liked Apollo 13. Still, all in all, a terrific year for movies, if not for the Academy. NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and are only occasionally reflective of the selections made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka The Oscars). When available, the nominee that actually won the Oscar will be highlighted in bold.



PICTURE: MULHOLLAND DR. (US, David Lynch) (2nd: Donnie Darko (US, Richard Kelly; note: this is for the original version and not the Director's Cut), followed by: Gosford Park (UK/US, Robert Altman); Moulin Rouge! (Australia/US, Baz Luhrmann); In the Bedroom (US, Todd Field); The Piano Teacher (France, Michael Haneke); Ghost World (US, Terry Zwigoff); Y Tu Mama También (Mexico, Alfonso Cuaron); Hedwig and the Angry Inch (US, John Cameron Mitchell); A.I. Artificial Intelligence (US, Steven Spielberg); Time Out (France, Laurent Cantet); The Royal Tenenbaums (US, Wes Anderson); Lantana (Australia, Ray Lawrence); Spirited Away (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki); Monsters Inc. (US, Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, and David Silverman); Series 7: The Contenders (US, Daniel Minahan); The Man Who Wasn’t There (US, Joel Coen); Enigma (UK, Michael Apted); Conspiracy (UK, Frank Pierson); Murder on a Sunday Morning (France/US, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade); Domestic Violence (US, Frederick Wiseman); Winged Migration (France/Italy, Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud and Michel Dubats); Lovely and Amazing (US, Nicole Holofcener); The Son’s Room (Italy, Nanni Moretti); No Man’s Land (Bosnia, Danis Tanovic); The Deep End (US, Scott McGeehee and David Siegel); Buffalo Soldiers (US, Gregor Jordan); Waiting for Godot (UK, Michael Lindsay-Hogg); War Photographer (Switzerland, Christian Frei); Amelie (France, Jean-Pierre Jeunet); The Tailor of Panama (US/Ireland, John Boorman); Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (UK, Jan Harlan); Wet Hot American Summer (US, David Wain); The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (US/New Zealand, Peter Jackson); The Cat’s Meow (US, Peter Bogdanovich); The Devil’s Backbone (Spain, Guillermo del Toro); Va Savoir (France, Jacques Rivette); Wit (US, Mike Nichols); Session 9 (US, Brad Anderson); The Lady and the Duke (France, Eric Rohmer); Frailty (US, Bill Paxton); Zoolander (US, Ben Stiller); Intacto (Spain, Juan Carlos Fresnodillo); Lagaan (India, Ashutosh Gowariker); The Believer (US, Henry Bean); The Others (US, Alejandro Amenábar); Ali (US, Michael Mann); Heist (US, David Mamet); The Emperor’s New Clothes (UK, Alan Taylor); Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (US, Jill Sprecher); Hell House (US, George Ratliff); Training Day (US, Antoine Fuqua); Waking Life (US, Richard Linklater); Crazy/Beautiful (US, John Stockwell); The Grey Zone (US, Tim Blake Nelson); Elling (Norway, Petter Næss); Daddy and Them (US, Billy Bob Thornton); Iris (UK, Richard Eyre); Monster’s Ball (US, Marc Forster); Shaolin Soccer (Hong Kong/China, Stephen Chow); L.I.E. (US, Michael Cuesta); A Beautiful Mind (US, Ron Howard); Home Movie (US, Chris Price); Dogtown and Z-Boys (US, Stacy Peralta); How High (US, Jesse Dylan); Sugar and Spice (US, Francine McDougall); From Hell (US, Albert Hughes and Allan Hughes); Legally Blonde (US, Robert Luketic); Last Orders (UK, Fred Schepisi); Spy Kids (US, Robert Rodriguez); The Princess Diaries (US, Garry Marshall); Pootie Tang (US, Louis CK); Bully (US, Larry Clark); Tape (US, Richard Linklater); Bridget Jones' Diary (US/UK, Sharon Maguire); Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (US/UK, Chris Columbus); Shrek (US, Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson); Pearl Harbor (US, Michael Bay))


 
ACTOR: John Cameron Mitchell, HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (2nd: Tom Wilkinson, In The Bedroom, followed by: Gene Hackman, The Royal Tenenbaums; Ryan Gosling, The Believer; Denzel Washington, Training Day; Will Smith, Ali; Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge!; Haley Joel Osment, A.I. Artificial Intelligence)



ACTRESS: Naomi Watts, MULHOLLAND DR. (2nd: Isabelle Huppert, The Piano Teacher, followed by: Sissy Spacek, In The Bedroom; Nicole Kidman, Moulin Rouge!; Thora Birch, Ghost WorldHalle Berry, Monster’s Ball; Maribel Verdu, Y Tu Mama Tambien; Emma Thompson, Wit)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Steve Buscemi, GHOST WORLD (2nd: Ben Kingsley, Sexy Beast, followed by: Ian McKellen, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; Jim Broadbent, Iris; Jude Law, A.I. Artificial Intelligence; Brian Cox, L.I.E.; Paul Rudd, Wet Hot American Summer; Alan Arkin, Thirteen Conversations About One Thing)


SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Helen Mirren, GOSFORD PARK (2nd: Brooke Smith, Series 7: The Contenders, followed by: Marisa Tomei, In The Bedroom; Laura Elena Harring, Mulholland Dr.; Maggie Smith, Gosford Park; Beth Grant, Donnie Darko; Emily Mortimer, Lovely and Amazing; Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind)

DIRECTOR: David Lynch, MULHOLLAND DR. (2nd: Richard Kelly, Donnie Darko, followed by: Michael Haneke, The Piano Teacher; Robert Altman, Gosford Park; Todd Field, In The Bedroom; Baz Luhrmann, Moulin Rouge!; Alfonso Cuaron, Y Tu Mama Tambien; Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down)

NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: THE PIANO TEACHER (France, Michael Haneke) (2nd: Y Tu Mama También (Mexico, Alfonso Cuaron), followed by: Time Out (France, Laurent Cantet); Spirited Away (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki); The Son’s Room (Italy, Nanni Moretti); No Man’s Land (Bosnia, Danis Tanovic); Amelie (France, Jean-Pierre Jeunet); The Devil’s Backbone (Spain, Guillermo del Toro); Va Savoir (France, Jacques Rivette); The Lady and the Duke (France, Eric Rohmer); Intacto (Spain, Juan Carlos Fresnodillo); Shaolin Soccer (Hong Kong/China, Stephen Chow); Elling (Norway, Petter Næss))

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: MURDER ON A SUNDAY MORNING (France/US, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade) (2nd: Domestic Violence (US, Frederick Wiseman), followed by: Winged Migration (France/Italy, Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud and Michel Dubats); War Photographer (Switzerland, Christian Frei); Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (UK, Jan Harlan);  Hell House (US, George Ratliff); Home Movie (US, Chris Price); Dogtown and Z-Boys (US, Stacy Peralta))



ANIMATED FEATURE: SPIRITED AWAY (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki) (2nd: Monsters Inc. (US, Pete Docter, David Silverman and Lee Unkrich), followed by: Waking Life (US, Richard Linklater))

ANIMATED SHORT: GIVE UP YER AUL SINS (Ireland, Cathal Gaffney) (2nd: Japanese Myths (US, Eric Forrest), followed by: Lovesong (US, Stan Brakhage); Fifty Percent Gray (Ireland, Ruairi Robinson))



LIVE ACTION SHORT: THANKSGIVING (US, Alex R. Johnson) (2nd: And I Will Not Leave You Until I Die (Poland, Maciaj Ademek); Incidental Park Zones and You (Canada, John Marriott); The Accountant (US, Ray McKinnon); Copy Shop (Austria, Virgil Widrich))

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Julian Fellowes, GOSFORD PARK (2nd: Richard Kelly, Donnie Darko, followed by: Loring Mandel, Conspiracy; Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson, The Royal Tenenbaums; David Lynch, Mulholland Dr.)



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff, GHOST WORLD (2nd: Todd Field, Robert Festinger and Andre Dubus, In The Bedroom, followed by: Ian Watson and Steven Spielberg, A.I. Artificial Intelligence; Michael Haneke, The Piano Teacher; Andrew Bovell, Lantana)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Roger Deakins, THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE (2nd: Donald McAlpine, Moulin Rouge!, followed by: Bruno Delbonnel, Amelie; Slawomir Idziak, Black Hawk Down; Andrew Lesnie, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)

ART DIRECTION: MOULIN ROUGE!, Gosford Park, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Amelie, The Royal Tenenbaums

COSTUME DESIGN: MOULIN ROUGE!, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Gosford Park, The Royal Tenenbaums 



FILM EDITING: BLACK HAWK DOWN, Moulin Rouge!, Mulholland Dr., Donnie Darko, Series 7: The Contenders

SOUND: BLACK HAWK DOWN, Monsters Inc., Moulin Rouge!, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, A.I. Artificial Intelligence 

SOUND EFFECTS: BLACK HAWK DOWN, Monsters Inc., The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 



ORIGINAL SCORE: John Williams, A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2nd: Patrick Doyle, Gosford Park, followed by: Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; Angelo Badalamenti, Mulholland Dr.; Michael Andrews, Donnie Darko)



ADAPTATION SCORE/SCORING OF A MUSICAL: Stephen Trask, HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (2nd: Craig Armstrong, Moulin Rouge!)



ORIGINAL SONG: "One Day I’ll Fly Away" from MOULIN ROUGE! (Music and lyrics by Will Jennings and Joe Sample) (2nd: “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge! (Music and lyrics by David Baerwald), followed by: “Vanilla Sky” from Vanilla Sky (Music and lyrics by Paul McCartney); “If I Didn’t Have You” from Monsters Inc. (Music and lyrics by Randy Newman); "Until" from Kate and Leopold (Music and lyrics by Sting))

SPECIAL EFFECTS: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Moulin Rouge! 

MAKEUP: PLANET OF THE APES, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Hedwig and The Angry Inch

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

2000--The Year in Review

This was a heavy year—lots of VERY depressing movies in my top ten spots (only A One and a A Two and O Brother Where Art Thou provide relief). It was a great year for international cinema and for an explosion of fine documentaries (the best, by a mile, was ignored even though it was by a widely-regarded master). As for Best Picture, even in the last moments before posting this overview, I was struggling to choose between my top two films. I’ve watched them both endlessly, and while the one I’ve gone with--Terrence Davies' devastating adaptation of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth--kills me with its emotional power, visual acuity, literary chops and detailed acting prowess (and for being arguably the crowning achievement of its author’s long career), my second film, Kenneth Lonergan's You Can Count On Me, surprises and warms me with its evocatively honest simplicity (and for being the low-keyed but stunning directorial debut of a noted screenwriter and playwright). And then you have that genius from Hong Kong complicating things with his immensely affecting, gorgeously crafted love story called In The Mood for Love. All in all, it was a year refreshingly dominated by female-driven narratives--a state of affairs we've rarely seen since so, with that thought, I had to go with The House of Mirth, the movie that, above all others, has let me in on the journey that women have taken towards equality--a journey that's yet been completed. 

I was originally going to go with Mark Ruffalo for Best Actor--he's extraordinary in Lonergan's movie as Laura Linney's aching, cynical drifter of a brother. But I decided to go with an actor I've largely ignored in the past, simply because Tom Hanks really gets physically and emotionally attuned to his tortured character in Robert Zemeckis' Cast Away; that overwhelming feeling we have for Wilson, the doomed volleyball, is all up to him. I had a similar internal battle over Gillian Anderson's desperate but headstrong socialite Lily Bart in The House of Mirth and Bjork's preternatural show as a wronged, nearly blind mother in Lars Von Trier's Dancer in the Dark. There's a hair's breadth between their performance qualities, and on another day I might find for Bjork, but today she comes up just slightly short in the details, while I continually find Anderson's range remarkable in delivering her role's challenging talk and motivations. In the supporting performances, Benicio Del Toro's dedicated lawman in Soderburgh's Traffic is a clear leader, but I had difficulty in the Supporting Actress race, eventually finding for a performance that most might overlook, but which provides a few of Davies' film's most crushing moments. As for Best Director, that was a true battle, but I couldn't ignore the effusive efforts of the director I finally chose, in a rare split from Best Picture. One thing's for sure: I'm overjoyed to give the Best Animated Short award to Don Hertzfeld's Rejected, a movie that introduced us to this rock-star-level filmmaker's uniquely untethered style (which has still, as yet, been rewarded by the Academy). As for the eventual Oscar winner, Ridley Scott's Gladiator--well, I have difficulty explaining that all these years later, even if it's not a movie I abjectly dislike (though I'm sure Russell Crowe's Best Actor award is a make-up for the denial of his striking work in Michael Mann's The Insider). NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and are only occasionally reflective of the selections made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka The Oscars). When available, the nominee that actually won the Oscar will be highlighted in bold.



PICTURE: THE HOUSE OF MIRTH (UK, Terrence Davies) (2nd: You Can Count on Me (US, Kenneth Lonergan), followed by: In the Mood for Love (Hong Kong, Wong Kar-Wai); Requiem for a Dream (US, Darren Aronofsky); Dancer in the Dark (Denmark, Lars Von Trier); Amores Perros (Mexico, Aléjandro González Iñarritu); Traffic (US, Steven Soderbergh); A One and a Two (Taiwan, Edward Yang); Memento (US, Christopher Nolan); O Brother Where Art Thou? (US, Joel Coen); Chuck and Buck (US, Miguel Arteta); The Gleaners and I (France, Agnes Varda); Wonder Boys (US, Curtis Hanson); Waking the Dead (US, Keith Gordon); The Sea That Thinks (Netherlands, Gert de Graff); Cast Away (US, Robert Zemeckis); Unbreakable (US, M. Night Shyamalan); Sound and Fury (US, Josh Aronson); Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (US, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky); George Washington (US, David Gordon Green); La Commune (Paris 1871) (France/UK, Peter Watkins); Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Hong Kong, Ang Lee); Mysterious Object at Noon (Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul); Songs from the Second Floor (Sweden, Roy Andersson); Shadow of the Vampire (US, E. Elias Merhige); Bring It On (US, Peyton Reed); Almost Famous (US, Cameron Crowe); Sexy Beast (UK, Jonathan Glazer); Under the Sand (France, François Ozon); Chicken Run (UK/US, Nick Park and Peter Lord); Pollock (US, Ed Harris); Together (Sweden, Lukas Moodysson); The Whole Nine Yards (US, Jonathan Lynn); Boiler Room (US, Ben Younger); Thirteen Days (US, Roger Donaldson); Erin Brockovich (US, Steven Soderbergh); The Pledge (US, Sean Penn); Tigerland (US, Joel Schumacher); Best in Show (US, Christopher Guest); Scottsboro: An American Tragedy (US, Daniel Anker and Barak Goodman); Paragraph 175 (US, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Freeman); Gladiator (US, Ridley Scott); Before Night Falls (US, Julian Schnabel); Billy Elliot (UK, Stephen Daldry); High Fidelity (US, Stephen Frears); The Contender (US, Rod Lurie); Duets (US, Bruce Paltrow); Frequency (US, Gregory Hoblit); Dark Days (US, Marc Singer); The Filth and the Fury (UK, Julian Temple); Girlfight (US, Karyn Kusama); Songcatcher (US, Maggie Greenwald); Malèna (Italy, Giuseppe Tornatore); My Dog Skip (US, Jay Russell); Benjamin Smoke (US, Jem Cohen and Peter Sillen), Naked States (US, Arlene Donnelly); The Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack (US, Aiyana Elliott); Quills (US, Philip Kaufman); X-Men (US, Bryan Singer); American Psycho (US, Mary Harron); Battle Royale (Japan, Kenji Fukasaku); Baise Moi! (France, Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi))


 
ACTOR: Tom Hanks, CAST AWAY (2nd: Mark Ruffalo, You Can Count on Me, followed by: Ed Harris, Pollock; Mike White, Chuck and Buck; George Clooney, O Brother Where Art Thou?; Tony Leung, In The Mood for Love; Jack Nicholson, The Pledge; Javier Bardem, Before Night Falls; Guy Pearce, Memento)


ACTRESS: Gillian Anderson, THE HOUSE OF MIRTH (2nd: Bjork, Dancer in the Dark, followed by: Ellen Burstyn, Requiem for a Dream; Laura Linney, You Can Count on Me; Charlotte Rampling, Under the Sand; Joan Allen, The Contender; Jennifer Connelly, Waking the Dead; Maggie Cheung, In The Mood for Love; Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich)



SUPPORTING ACTOR: Benicio Del Toro, TRAFFIC (2nd: Ben Kingsley, Sexy Beast, followed by: Willem Dafoe, Shadow of the Vampire; Emilio Echevarria, Amores Perros; Joaquin Phoenix, Gladiator; Bruce Greenwood, Thirteen Days; Chris Weitz, Chuck and Buck; Jeff Bridges, The Contender; Matthew Broderick, You Can Count On Me)


SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jodhi May, THE HOUSE OF MIRTH (2nd: Laura Linney, The House of Mirth, followed by: Catherine Deneuve, Dancer in the Dark; Amanda Peet, The Whole Nine Yards; Ziyi Zhang, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Catherine Zeta Jones, Traffic; Kate Hudson, Almost Famous; Frances McDormand, Almost Famous; Lupe Ontiveros, Chuck and Buck)



DIRECTOR: Wong Kar-Wai, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2nd: Darren Aronofsky, Requiem for a Dream, followed by: Terrence Davies, The House of Mirth; Kenneth Lonergan, You Can Count on Me; Edward Yang, A One and a Two; Lars Von Trier, Dancer in the Dark; Steven Soderburgh, Traffic; Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Amores Perros; Christopher Nolan, Memento)


NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (Hong Kong, Wong Kar-Wai) (2nd: Amores Perros (Mexico, Aléjandro González Iñarritu), followed by: A One and a Two (Taiwan, Edward Yang); The Sea That Thinks (Netherlands, Gert de Graff); The Gleaners and I (France, Agnès Varda); La Commune (Paris 1871) (France/UK, Peter Watkins); Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Hong Kong, Ang Lee); Mysterious Object at Noon (Thailand, Apichatpong Weerasethakul); Songs from the Second Floor (Sweden, Roy Andersson); Under the Sand (France, François Ozon); Together (Sweden, Lukas Moodysson); Malèna (Italy, Giuseppe Tornatore))



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: THE GLEANERS AND I (France, Agnes Varda) (2nd: Sound and Fury (US, Josh Aronson), followed by: Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (US, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky); Scottsboro: An American Tragedy (US, Daniel Anker and Barak Goodman); Paragraph 175 (US, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Freeman); Dark Days (US, Marc Singer); The Filth and the Fury (UK, Julian Temple); Benjamin Smoke (US, Jem Cohen and Peter Sillen), Naked States (US, Arlene Donnelly); The Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack (US, Aiyana Elliott))


ANIMATED FEATURE: CHICKEN RUN (UK, Nick Park and Peter Lord)



ANIMATED SHORT: REJECTED (US, Don Hertzfeld) (2nd: Father and Daughter (UK/Belgium/Netherlands, Michael Dudok de Wit), followed by: For The Birds (US, Ralph Eggleston))



LIVE ACTION SHORT: THE MAN ON LINCOLN'S NOSE (US, Daniel Raim) (2nd: Weapon of Choice (US, Spike Jonze), followed by: The Heart of the World (Canada, Guy Maddin); Camera (Canada, David Cronenberg); Forklift Driver Klaus (Germany, Stefan Prehn and Jorg Wagner))



ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Kenneth Lonergan, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME (2nd: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, Memento, followed by: Guillermo Arriaga, Amores Perros; Edward Yang, A One and a Two; M. Night Shyamalan, Unbreakable)



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Terrence Davies, THE HOUSE OF MIRTH (2nd: Stephen Gaghan, Traffic, followed by: Joel and Ethan Coen, O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Hubert Selby Jr. and Darren Aronofsky, Requiem for a Dream; Steve Kloves, Wonder Boys)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Christopher Doyle, Pung-Leung Kwan and Mark Lee Ping-bin, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2nd: Peter Pau, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, followed by: Matthew Libatique, Requiem for a Dream; Robby Muller, Dancer in the Dark; Roger Deakins, O Brother Where Art Thou?)


ART DIRECTION: THE HOUSE OF MIRTH, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, In The Mood for Love, Gladiator, O Brother Where Art Thou?  



COSTUME DESIGN: IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, The House of Mirth, Quills, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Gladiator



FILM EDITING: MEMENTO, Requiem for a Dream, Traffic, Amores Perros, Dancer in the Dark



SOUND: CAST AWAY, Gladiator, Requiem for a Dream, X-Men, Traffic



SOUND EFFECTS: GLADIATOR, Cast Away, The Perfect Storm



ORIGINAL SONG: “Things Have Changed” from WONDER BOYS (Music and lyrics by Bob Dylan) (2nd: “I’ve Seen It All” from Dancer in the Dark (Music and lyrics by Bjork, Sjon Sigurdsson and Lars Von Trier), followed by: “When Love Is New“ from Songcatcher (Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton); “We Are Cheerleaders“ from Bring It On (Music by Christophe Beck, lyrics by Jessica Bendinger); “In The Musicals” from Dancer in the Dark (Music and lyrics by Bjork, Sjon Sigurdsson, Mark Bell and Lars Von Trier); “Amores Perros” from Amores Perros (Music and lyrics by Fermin IV Caballero Elizondo, Patricio Chapa Elizalde, and Antonio Hernández))



ORIGINAL SCORE: Clint Mansell, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (2nd: Tan Dun, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, followed by: Cliff Martinez, Traffic; James Newton Howard, Unbreakable; DJ Shadow, Dark Days)



ADAPTATION SCORE/SCORING OF A MUSICAL: T-Bone Burnett, O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU (2nd: Bjork, Dancer in the Dark)


SPECIAL EFFECTS: GLADIATOR, The Perfect Storm, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon


MAKEUP: SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE, Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cell

Thursday, August 25, 2016

1999--The Year in Review

Some time ago, I launched a series on this site called The 9 Years, calling attention to the final years of each decade as, possibly, the most cinematically fruitful of their times. Though 2009 disappointed me in this regard, I still think that the last year of the 20th Century's filmic decades constituted the most valuable of their periods due to an almost subliminal call for its filmmakers to underline their previous works, or to at least make a mark on the decade. The famed movie year 1939 was a bear to overcome in quality, yet 1969 and 1979 did so quite surely. But 1999 is indubitably in the running for the greatest movie year ever. It took a long time for me to decide which film from this fantastic year should come out on top--I really had to review all the top 20. But, finally, I could not settle on anything other than Paul Thomas Anderson's effusively emotional, mindbending omnibus Magnolia, which feels like it encapsulates the entire 20th Century in its three-hour running time. It lushly calls back to previous decades while perfectly encapsulating that point where we, frankly, still remain. Its cast is an Altmanesque collection of the era's finest actors, backed by a wave of powerful, image-driven feeling that still is nearly unprecedented. It stands as gold medal to Mr. Anderson, a newly-minted master of filmmaking.

This is such a landmark year that I had to expand my nominations lists to include everything I thought was worthy, including: Topsy-Turvy, Mike Leigh's effervescent look at Gilbert and Sullivan's building of their chief work The Mikado; Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick's divisive but as yet misunderstood inspection of the deceit incipient in marriage; Alexander Payne's Election, a slyly insightful dissection of political play commanded by Reese Witherspoon's searing lead; three of the finest animated films ever made in Toy Story 2, The Iron Giant, and South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut; The Matrix, the Wachowski's gateway smash into a digitally-driven filmworld; David Fincher's bold and unflinching social critique Fight Club; The Insider, Michael Mann's tense, thriller-like audit of the tobacco lobby's legacy; Pedro Almodovar's masterpiece of gender-bending drama All About My Mother; Richard Sandler's brilliant and largely undiscovered The Gods of Times Square, a searching document of faith draped over a sketch of a valued world destination's transformation; Mike Judge's surprise video hit Office Space, which redefined modern worklife in depressing but wonderfully comedic ways; the eventual Oscar winner American Beauty, an exactingly wrought suburban drama that's fallen in popular estimation while remaining stark and insightful; David Lynch's stunningly restrained yet decidedly dark Disney production The Straight Story, with its supreme lead performance by Richard Farnsworth; Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich which, armed with an adventurous Charlie Kaufman screenplay, shattered the rules on where film could venture; American Movie, Chris Price's raucous peeling away of the popular desire for fame and success; The Talented Mr. Ripley, Anthony Minghella's gapingly eerie remake of the already brilliant Purple Noon; an edgy, brutally comedic look at the US involvement in the Middle East named Three Kings; and Werner Herzog's My Best Fiend, a familial assessment of his connection to his famously wild collaborator Klaus Kinski. And, in all of this, I'm not even touching on a third of the remarkable works that make 1999 so astounding. It was a truly incredible year, with prodigious, hysterical, moving things around every corner. We can only hope we'll see its like again. NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and are only occasionally reflective of the selections made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka The Oscars). When available, the nominee that actually won the Oscar will be highlighted in bold.


PICTURE: MAGNOLIA (US, Paul Thomas Anderson) (2nd: Topsy Turvy (UK, Mike Leigh), followed by: The Insider (US, Michael Mann); Eyes Wide Shut (US, Stanley Kubrick); Election (US, Alexander Payne); The Iron Giant (US, Brad Bird); All About My Mother (Spain, Pedro Almodóvar); The Matrix (US, Larry Wachowski and Andy Wachowski); The Gods of Times Square (US, Richard Sandler); The Straight Story (US, David Lynch); Office Space (US, Mike Judge); Toy Story 2 (US, Ash Brannon and John Lasseter); American Movie (US, Chris Smith); The Talented Mr. Ripley (US, Anthony Minghella); Three Kings (US, David O. Russell); Fight Club (US, David Fincher); My Best Fiend (Germany, Werner Herzog); American Beauty (US, Sam Mendes); Being John Malkovich (US, Spike Jonze); Kikujiro (Japan, Takeshi Kitano); Public Housing (US, Frederick Wiseman); South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (US, Trey Parker); Galaxy Quest (US, Dean Parisot); Rosetta (Belgium/France, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne); Ratcatcher (UK, Lynne Ramsay); Buena Vista Social Club (Germany/US/UK/France/Cuba, Wim Wenders); Titus (US, Julie Taymor); The Limey (US, Steven Soderbergh); The Wind Will Carry Us (Iran, Abbas Kiarostami); Limbo (US, John Sayles); Mystery Men (US, Kinka Usher); eXistenZ (Canada, David Cronenberg); The End of the Affair (UK/US, Neil Jordan); My Voyage to Italy (US/Italy, Martin Scorsese); The Virgin Suicides (US, Sofia Coppola); Beau Travail (France, Claire Denis); L’Humanité (France, Bruno Dumont); The War Zone (UK, Tim Roth); Sweet and Lowdown (US, Woody Allen); Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (US, Errol Morris); The Color of Paradise (Iran, Majid Majidi); The Last Days (US, James Moll); Cremaster 2 (US, Matthew Barney); One Day in September (Switzerland/ Germany/UK, Kevin Macdonald); Bringing Out the Dead (US, Martin Scorsese); The Winslow Boy (US, David Mamet); Genghis Blues (US, Roko Belic); The Girl on the Bridge (France, Patrice Leconte); Go (US, Doug Liman); Bowfinger (US, Frank Oz); Audition (Japan, Takashi Miike); Boys Don’t Cry (US, Kimberley Peirce); The Blair Witch Project (US, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez); A Map of the World (US, Scott Elliott); Dick (US, Andrew Fleming); Cookie's Fortune (US, Robert Altman); October Sky (US, Joe Johnston); The Cider House Rules (US, Lasse Hallström); Judy Berlin (US, Eric Mendelsohn); The Sixth Sense (US, M. Night Shyamalan); Mansfield Park (UK, Patricia Rozema); An Ideal Husband (UK/US, Oliver Parker); Ghost Dog: The Way o f the Samurai (US, Jim Jarmusch); Wisconsin Death Trip (UK/US, James Marsh); Aimee and Jaguar (Germany, Max Farberbock); Cradle Will Rock (US, Tim Robbins); Mifune (Denmark/Sweden, Søren Kragh-Jacobsen); Felicia's Journey (Canada/UK, Atom Egoyan); Three Seasons (Vietnam/US, Tony Bui); A Walk on the Moon (US, Tony Goldwyn); Jesus' Son (US/Canada, Alison Maclean); Life (US, John Landis); Fantasia 2000 (US, James Algar, Gaetan Brizzi, Paul Brizzi, et al); Guinevere (US, Audrey Wells); Dogma (US, Kevin Smith); Ride With the Devil (US, Ang Lee); 10 Things I Hate About You (US, Gil Junger); The Ninth Gate (Spain/France/US, Roman Polanski); American Pie (US, Paul Weitz); Romance (France, Catherine Breillat))



ACTOR: Richard Farnsworth, THE STRAIGHT STORY (2nd: Russell Crowe, The Insider, followed by: Matt Damon, The Talented Mr. Ripley; Kevin Spacey, American Beauty; Terrence Stamp, The Limey; Jim Broadbent, Topsy-Turvy; Al Pacino, The Insider; Matthew Broderick, Election; Ray Winstone, The War Zone; Sean Penn, Sweet and Lowdown)



ACTRESS: Reese Witherspoon, ELECTION (2nd: Annette Bening, American Beauty, followed by: Nicole Kidman, Eyes Wide Shut; Cecelia Roth, All About My Mother; Julianne Moore, The End of the Affair; Hillary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry; Sigourney Weaver, A Map of the World; Diane Lane, A Walk on the Moon; Edie Falco, Judy Berlin; Janet McTeer, Tumbleweeds)



SUPPORTING ACTOR: Tom Cruise, MAGNOLIA (2nd: John C. Reilly, Magnolia, followed by: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Magnolia; Harry Lennix, Titus; Christopher Plummer, The Insider; John Malkovich, Being John Malkovich; Alan Rickman, Galaxy Quest; Timothy Spall, Topsy-Turvy; Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense; Sam Rockwell, Galaxy Quest)


SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Melora Walters, MAGNOLIA (2nd: Julianne Moore, Magnolia, followed by: Leslie Manville, Topsy-Turvy; Catherine Keener, Being John Malkovich; Samantha Morton, Sweet and Lowdown; Chloe Sevigny, Boys Don’t Cry; Janeane Garafalo, Mystery Men; Sissy Spacek, The Straight Story; Helena Bonham Carter, Fight Club; Toni Collette, The Sixth Sense)



DIRECTOR: Paul Thomas Anderson, MAGNOLIA (2nd: Mike Leigh, Topsy-Turvy, followed by: Stanley Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut; Michael Mann, The Insider; Richard Sandler, The Gods of Times Square; Alexander Payne, Election; Pedro Almodovar, All About My Mother; Brad Bird, The Iron Giant; David Lynch, The Straight Story; Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich)



NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (Spain, Pedro Almodóvar) (2nd: My Best Fiend (Germany, Werner Herzog), followed by: Kikujiro (Japan, Takeshi Kitano); Rosetta (Belgium/France, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne); Buena Vista Social Club (Germany/US/UK/France/Cuba, Wim Wenders); The Wind Will Carry Us (Iran, Abbas Kiarostami); Beau Travail (France, Claire Denis); L’Humanité (France, Bruno Dumont); The Color of Paradise (Iran, Majid Majidi); The Girl on the Bridge (France, Patrice Leconte); Audition (Japan, Takashi Miike); Aimee and Jaguar (Germany, Max Farberbock); Mifune (Denmark/Sweden, Søren Kragh-Jacobsen))



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: THE GODS OF TIMES SQUARE (US, Richard Sandler) (2nd: American Movie (US, Chris Smith), followed by: My Best Fiend (Germany, Werner Herzog); Public Housing (US, Frederick Wiseman); Buena Vista Social Club (Germany/US/UK/France/Cuba, Wim Wenders); My Voyage to Italy (US/Italy, Martin Scorsese); Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (US, Errol Morris); The Last Days (US, James Moll); One Day in September (Switzerland/ Germany/UK, Kevin Macdonald); Genghis Blues (US, Roko Belic); Wisconsin Death Trip (UK/US, James Marsh))



ANIMATED FEATURE: THE IRON GIANT (US, Brad Bird) (2nd: Toy Story 2 (US, John Lasseter), followed by: South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (US, Trey Parker and Matt Stone))



ANIMATED SHORT: THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA (Russia, Aleksandr Petrov) (2nd: My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts (Canada/Norway, Torill Kove), followed by: When the Day Breaks (Canada, Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby); 3 Misses (Netherlands, Paul Driessen)



LIVE ACTION SHORT: GEORGE LUCAS IN LOVE (US, Joe Nussbaum) (2nd: All is Full of Love (UK, Chris Cunningham), followed by: My Mother Dreams the Satan's Disciples in New York (US, Barbara Schock); Chrono-Perambulator (Ireland, Damian O'Donnell))



ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Paul Thomas Anderson, MAGNOLIA (2nd: Mike Leigh, Topsy-Turvy, followed by: Charlie Kaufman, Being John Malkovich; John Ridley and David O. Russell, Three Kings; Pedro Almodovar, All About My Mother; David Howard and Robert Gordon, Galaxy Quest; Alan Ball, American Beauty; John Roach and Mary Sweeney, The Straight Story; John Sayles, Limbo; Steve Martin, Bowfinger)



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, ELECTION (2nd: Mike Judge, Office Space, followed by: Eric Roth and Michael Mann, The Insider; Anthony Minghella, The Talented Mr. Ripley; Tim McCanlies and Brad Bird, The Iron Giant; Jim Uhls, Fight Club; John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Ash Brannon, Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsiao, Doug Chamberlin and Chris Webb, Toy Story 2; Stanley Kubrick and Frederic Raphael, Eyes Wide Shut; Matt Stone and Trey Parker, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut; John Irving, The Cider House Rules)



CINEMATOGRAPHY: Conrad Hall, AMERICAN BEAUTY (2nd: Larry Smith, Eyes Wide Shut, followed by: Freddie Francis, The Straight Story; Robert Elswit, Magnolia; Newton Thomas Sigel, Three Kings; Richard Sandler, The Gods of Times Square; Bill Pope, The Matrix; Dante Spinotti, The Insider; Luciano Tavoli, Titus; Dick Pope, Topsy-Turvy)



ART DIRECTION: TOPSY-TURVY, The Matrix, Titus, Eyes Wide Shut, Mystery Men, Sleepy Hollow 

COSTUME DESIGN: TOPSY-TURVY, Titus, Mystery Men, Sleepy Hollow, William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sweet and Lowdown



FILM EDITING: THE MATRIX, Magnolia, The Insider, Fight Club, The Gods of Times Square, Three Kings

SOUND: THE MATRIX, Magnolia, The Insider, Fight Club, Toy Story 2, The Iron Giant

SOUND EFFECTS: THE MATRIX, Fight Club, The Iron Giant



ORIGINAL SCORE: Thomas Newman, AMERICAN BEAUTY (2nd: Angelo Badalamenti, The Straight Story, followed by: Pieter Bourke and Lisa Gerrard, The Insider; Gabriel Yared, The Talented Mr. Ripley; Jon Brion, Magnolia; Carter Burwell, Being John Malkovich; Randy Newman; Toy Story 2; Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel, The Virgin Suicides; Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman, Ravenous; Michael Kamen, The Iron Giant)



ADAPTATION SCORE/SCORING OF A MUSICAL: Gary Yershon, TOPSY-TURVY (2nd: Marc Shaiman and Trey Parker, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut) 





ORIGINAL SONG: (TIE) “When She Loved Me” from TOY STORY 2 (Music and lyrics by Randy Newman) and “Save Me” from MAGNOLIA (Music and lyrics by Aimee Mann) (2nd: “I Can Change” from South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (Music and lyrics by Trey Parker), followed by: “Wise Up” from Magnolia (Music and lyrics by Aimee Mann); “Beautiful Stranger” from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (Music and lyrics by Madonna and William Orbit); “Uncle Fucka” from South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (Music and lyrics by Trey Parker); "You'll Be in My Heart" from Tarzan (Music and lyrics by Phil Collins))


SPECIAL EFFECTS: THE MATRIX, Fight Club, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Stuart Little, Magnolia


MAKEUP: TOPSY-TURVY, Titus, eXistenZ, Galaxy Quest, Life