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

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