Wednesday, September 28, 2016

2002--The Year in Review

2002 now feels like a signpost to a downturn in film quality. Even amongst my top ten, I feel a needling lack of real adoration for most of the titles--few of them are spirited as such. But I was convinced of the worth of my top pick--Far From Heaven, Todd Hayne's autumnal, visually rich love letter to Douglas Sirk melodramas--after repeated reviewings clued me into its wise, firm yet somehow gentile commentary on present-day bigotry, misunderstanding and outreach. I find myself moved so deeply by this empathetic film, led by Julianne Moore in a delicate performance that tips its bonnet to 50s-era acting while seasoning it ever so slightly with modern nuances (along with the film's almost Technicolor look, the supporting performances from Dennis Haysbert, Dennis Quaid, and Patricia Clarkson are major pluses; the same goes for its lush score by Elmer Bernstein). Initially, I was pulling for Aleksandr Sokurov's Russian Ark, a dazzling, seemingly impossible one-shot tour through Russian history via a rambling jaunt through the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersberg, but I realize it has a certain inevitable chilliness about it so I had to go another way (though, I'm sure if you happen to be Russian, it's a more remarkable achievement). Still, on a visual and emotional level alone, it's an unforgettable work.

Mike Leigh's All or Nothing was a possibility, but it's an unrelentingly depressing tale--even more so than your average Leigh film--requiring nearly intolerable patience from its audience. Still, it might be the film with the year's best acting, led by Leigh regular Timothy Spall as an overweight London cab driver whose family is falling apart before his lidded eyes (I still find it astonishing that the young man who plays his detached, hateful son is James Corden, now a superstar on American TV). And, for Supporting Actor, I was compelled to give the top spot to a still unsung character actor, Noah Taylor, who delivered a searing portrait of the young Adolph Hitler as a failed artist looking for his voice. As for Supporting Actress, it was a forgone conclusion that Catherine Zeta Jones would land on top with her well-toned vamp Velma Kelly in Rob Marshall's heavily-Bob Fosse-influenced adaptation of Fosse's hit stage musical Chicago (its major asset is that it gets the Fosse touch down right, and for that reason alone, I was happy to see it win Best Picture). There are a lot of movie I like this year--Brazilian street crime story City of God, Spielberg's immensely entertaining Catch Me If You Can, The Pianist (which surprised at the Oscars that year, winning for it screenplay, Roman Polanski direction and for Adrian Brody's daring lead), P.T. Anderson's nearly psychedelic Punch-Drunk Love, Spike Lee's stark post-9/11 character study 25th Hour, Spike Jonze's mindbending metafest Adaptation, and Jim Sheridan's achingly moving immigrant drama In America. But I'd be lying if I said these were movies for the ages (though I'd recommend them all, and more on the following list). Say what you will, but this is an off year, folks. 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: FAR FROM HEAVEN (US, Todd Haynes) (2nd: Russian Ark (Russia/Germany, Aleksandr Sokurov), followed by: All or Nothing (UK, Mike Leigh); City of God (Brazil, Fernando Meirelles); Catch Me If You Can (US, Steven Spielberg); The Pianist (France/Poland/Germany/ UK, Roman Polanski); Chicago (US, Rob Marshall); Punch-Drunk Love (US, Paul Thomas Anderson); 25th Hour (US, Spike Lee); Adaptation (US, Spike Jonze); To Be or To Have (France, Nicolas Philibert); In America (US, Jim Sheridan); Max (US, Menno Meyjes); Femme Fatale (US, Brian De Palma); 8 Women (France, Francois Ozon); Signs (US, M. Night Shymalan); Spider (Canada/UK, David Cronenberg); Bus 174 (Brazil, Jose Padilha); Talk to Her (Spain, Pedro Almodóvar); About Schmidt (US, Alexander Payne); The Hours (US/UK, Stephen Daldry); Dirty Pretty Things (UK, Stephen Frears); Minority Report (US, Steven Spielberg); The Son (France, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne); The Good Girl (US, Miguel Arteta); Morvern Callar (UK, Lynne Ramsay); Stevie (US, Steve James); Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election (US, Richard R. Perez and Joan Sekler); Broadway: The Golden Age (US, Rick McKay); The Magdalene Sisters (Ireland, Peter Mullan); Bloody Sunday (UK/Ireland, Paul Greengrass); Road to Perdition (US, Sam Mendes); Cremaster 2 (US, Matthew Barney); Spellbound (US, Jeffrey Blitz); Hero (China, Zhang Yimou); Phone Booth (US, Joel Schumacher); The Gathering Storm (US/UK, Richard Loncraine); Demonlover (France, Olivier Assayas); 8 Mile (US, Curtis Hanson); The Weather Underground (US, Sam Green and Bill Siegel); Unfaithful (US, Adrian Lyne); Gangs of New York (US, Martin Scorsese); Changing Lanes (US, Roger Mitchell); Good Humor: The Movie (US, Stephen Neave); Champion Blues (US, Alethea Rodgers); Rabbit Proof Fence (Australia, Philip Noyce); Hukkle (Hungary, Gyorgy Palfi); Frailty (US, Bill Paxton); Freida (US, Julie Taymor); Whale Rider (New Zealand, Niki Caro); The Kid Stays in the Picture (US, Nanette Burstein and Bret Morgan); Insomnia (US, Christopher Nolan); One Hour Photo (US, Mark Romanek); About a Boy (US, Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz); Respiro (Italy, Emanuele Crialese); 28 Days Later (UK, Danny Boyle); Secretary (US, Steven Shainberg); Solaris (US, Steven Soderburgh); Bowling for Columbine (US, Michael Moore); Lilo and Stitch (US, Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders); The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (US/New Zealand, Peter Jackson); Lost in La Mancha (UK/US, Terry Gilliam); Sunshine State (US, John Sayles); Bubba Ho-Tep (US, Don Coscarelli); Narc (US, Joe Carnahan); Spider-Man (US, Sam Raimi); The Quiet American (US, Philip Noyce); 24-Hour Party People (UK, Michael Winterbottom); Igby Goes Down (US, Burr Steers); Ice Age (US, Chris Wedge); Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (US, George Clooney); Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (US/UK, Chris Columbus); Irreversible (France, Gaspar Noé))

ACTOR: Timothy Spall, ALL OR NOTHING (2nd: Nicholas Cage, Adaptation, followed by: Jack Nicholson, About SchmidtAdrian Brody, The Pianist; Ralph Fiennes, Spider; Daniel Day-Lewis, Gangs of New York; Edward Norton, 25th Hour; Leonardo DiCaprio, Catch Me If You Can)

ACTRESS: Julianne Moore, FAR FROM HEAVEN (2nd: Leslie Manville, All or Nothing, followed by: Jennifer Aniston, The Good Girl; Diane Lane, Unfaithful; Samantha Morton, In America; Samantha Morton, Morvern Callar; Nicole Kidman, The Hours; Renee Zellweger, Chicago)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Noah Taylor, MAX (2nd: Chris Cooper, Adaptation, followed by: Christopher Walken, Catch Me If You Can; Dennis Haysbert, Far From Heaven; Ed Harris, The Hours; Dennis Quaid, Far From Heaven; Djimon Honsou, In America; John C. Reilly, Chicago)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Catherine Zeta Jones, CHICAGO (2nd: Sara Bolger, In America, followed by: Julianne Moore, The Hours; Meryl Streep, Adaptation; Ludivine Sagnier, 8 Women; Amy Adams, Catch Me If You Can; Kathy Bates, About Schmidt; Zooey Deschanel, The Good Girl)

DIRECTOR: Todd Haynes, FAR FROM HEAVEN (2nd: Aleksandr Sokurov, Russian Ark, followed by: Mike Leigh, All or Nothing; Fernando Meirelles, City of God; Steven Spielberg, Catch Me If You Can; Roman Polanski, The Pianist; Paul Thomas Anderson, Punch-Drunk Love; Spike Lee, 25th Hour)

NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: RUSSIAN ARK (Russia, Aleksandr Sokurov) (2nd: City of God (Brazil, Fernando Meirelles); To Be or To Have (France, Nicolas Philibert); 8 Women (France, Francois Ozon); Bus 174 (Brazil, Jose Padilha); Talk to Her (Spain, Pedro Almodóvar); The Son (France, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne); Hero (China, Zhang Yimou); Demonlover (France, Olivier Assayas); Hukkle (Hungary, Gyorgy Palfi); Respiro (Italy, Emanuele Crialese))

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: TO BE AND TO HAVE (France, Nicholas Philibert) (2nd: Bus 174 (Brazil, Felipe Lacerda and Jose Padilha), followed by: Stevie (US, Steve James); Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election (US, Richard R. Perez and Joan Sekler); Broadway: The Golden Age (US, Rick McKay); Spellbound (US, Jeffery Blitz); The Weather Underground (US, Sam Green and Bill Siegel); Champion Blues (US, Alethea Rodgers); The Kid Stays in the Picture (US, Nanette Burstein and Bret Morgan); Bowling for Columbine (US, Michael Moore); Lost in La Mancha (UK/US, Terry Gilliam))

ANIMATED FEATURE: LILO AND STITCH (US, Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders) (2nd: Ice Age (US, Chris Wedge))

LIVE ACTION SHORT: BORN IN BEIRUT (Lebanon, Liliane Matta) (2nd: Fater (US, Danny Meltzer), followed by: Twin Towers (US, Bill Guttentag and Robert David Port; won as Best Documentary Short); That Fateful Day (US, Eric Forrest); All Power to Imagination (Russia, Mehdi Zizi))

ANIMATED SHORT: ABLUTION (US, Eric Patrick) (2nd: Friction (Germany, Robert Ellmann), followed by: Das Rad (Germany, Chris Stenner, Arvid Uibel, and Heidi Wittlinger))

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Jim Sheridan, Naomi Sheridan, and Kirsten Sheridan, IN AMERICA (2nd: Mike Leigh, All or Nothing, followed by: Todd Haynes, Far From Heaven; Pedro Almodovar, Talk to Her; Steven Knight, Dirty Pretty Things)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Charlie (and Donald?) Kaufman, ADAPTATION (2nd: Ronald Harwood, The Pianist, followed by: Jeff Nathanson, Catch Me If You Can; David Benioff, 25th Hour; Braulio Mantovani, City of God)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Ed Lachman, FAR FROM HEAVEN (2nd: Tilman Butler, Russian Ark, followed by: Conrad Hall, Road to Perdition; Dion Beebe, Chicago; Robert Elswit, Punch-Drunk Love)

ART DIRECTION: GANGS OF NEW YORK, Far From Heaven, Chicago, Solaris, Minority Report

COSTUME DESIGN: RUSSIAN ARK, Far From Heaven, Gangs of New York, Chicago, 8 Women 

FILM EDITING: CHICAGO, City of God, Catch Me If You Can, The Pianist, Adaptation

SOUND: CHICAGO, Minority Report, Gangs of New York, Road to Perdition, Signs


ORIGINAL SCORE: Elmer Bernstein, FAR FROM HEAVEN (2nd: John Williams, Catch Me If You Can, followed by: Philip Glass, The Hours; Elliott Goldenthal, Frida; James Newton Howard, Signs)

ADAPTATION SCORE/SCORING OF A MUSICAL: Danny Elfman, Doug Besterman and Steve Bartek, CHICAGO (2nd: Amelie de Chassey, 8 Women)

ORIGINAL SONG: “Time Enough For Tears“ from IN AMERICA (Music and lyrics by Bono, Gavin Friday, and Maurice Seezer) (2nd: “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile (Music by Eminem, Jeff Bass and Luis Resto, lyrics by Eminem), followed by: "Father and Daughter" from The Wild Thornberrys Movie (Music and lyrics by Paul Simon); “Burn It Blue” from Frida (Music by Elliott Goldenthal, lyrics by Julie Taymor); “Pour Ne Pas Vivre Seul“ from 8 Women (Music and lyrics by Daniel Faure))


MAKEUP: RUSSIAN ARK, Chicago, Gangs of New York

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