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 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)


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

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

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