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

(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: Adrian Brody, THE PIANIST (2nd: Nicholas Cage, Adaptation, followed by: Jack Nicholson, About Schmidt; Timothy Spall, All or Nothing; 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

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.

(2nd: Donnie Darko (US, Richard Kelly; note: 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)
Monsters Inc. (US, Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, and David Silverman)
Time Out (France, Laurent Cantet)
The Royal Tenenbaums (US, Wes Anderson)
Lantana (Australia, Ray Lawrence)
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (US, Steven Spielberg)
Spirited Away (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki)
Series 7: The Contenders (US, Daniel Minahan)
The Man Who Wasn’t There (US, Joel Coen)
Enigma (UK, Michael Apted)
Conspiracy (US/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: Ian McKellen, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, followed by: 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)


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))


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.

(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 aka Yi Yi (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 Coen 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