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CrankyCritic®com Best of '95

What does Cranky look for? A solid story, well told. Great Acting. Watchable length -- as I've said, if a film is going to run three hours plus, it had better be worth sitting three hours plus for. One three hour plus made the "Best Film" list, with a footnote.

IF you feel like taking Cranky to task for any of the picks, all I ask is that you look for a review first. You may find better explanations of my reasoning there. If you still want to fire away, feel free. Cranky's reviews are tempered by the reactions of the paying audience with which I see the films, which includes those who might go ballistic.

'Course, if you want to say nice things, please do that to <g>.

OK, enough. Here's the list of my personal favorites for the year. ALL LISTINGS ARE ALPHABETICAL!! My "top of the list" choices follow, as do my Oscar predictions (do I live on a limb or what???):

BEST FILM
The American President
Apollo 13
Crimson Tide
Father of the Bride 2
Get Shorty
Sense and Sensibility
seven
Toy Story

If you feel like working, in the good sense, while watching the movie, add:

Georgia
Not so much a story of the self-destruction of one sister, as much as a viewing of the relationships between two sisters.  You've go to lay back and watch to fine performance build and play out the relationships, from rock start to solid finish.

Nixon
If only for Anthony Hopkins' mesmerizing performance. It's not the voice. It's not the look (neither of which are truly there). It's the physical *movements*. DL my review for explanation.

Richard III
Richard III is visually brilliant and full of fine performances. Setting Shakespeare's play about political machinations and murder into 1930s England -- historians still wonder how close the Kingdom came to falling into Facism -- is a brilliant touch. Storywise and in visuals. If you haven't read Shakespeare in 20 years, like Cranky, see OTHELLO first. Then go to town.

TOP OF CRANKY'S LIST:
A tie. IMHO, Toy Story is the best of the year. I say that not because I am an animation fiend (which I am), but because it is a solid movie. The story works on dramatic and psychological levels, says the ex-film student in me. The fiend in me loved the visual puns. He thinks that if an Oscar was given for Best Vocal Performance, Tom Hanks would nail another one. Really. Listen carefully.

Sharing top honors is Sense and Sensibility, an astoundingly good romance. It's important to note that Cranky doesn't like romances. Short of a small lag towards the end, I had no trouble sitting through this one. As I wrote, If I could date two women at the same time (haven't managed it yet...) I'd see it again. No problem. [And if you hate "Howard's End" type stuff, feel free to disregard

BEST FILM OSCAR to Sense and Sensibility. The wild card in all this used to be Leaving Las Vegas, now it's Dead . Critics are a fickle bunch.

BEST ACTOR
Laurence Fishburne - Othello
Tom Hanks - Apollo 13 [Toy Story]
Anthony Hopkins -- Nixon
John Travolta - Get Shorty
Ian McKellen -- Richard III
Sean Penn -- Dead Man Walking

TOP OF CRANKY'S LIST:
Yeah, yeah, six nominees instead of five.  It's my list. Travolta was tops until I saw Hopkins in "Nixon".  And that's where it stays. A Tom Hanks three-peat? It would be something. I don't expect it. But you know how I feel about Toy Story <vbg>. If I had to whittle down to five, despite my feeling that Oscar just wouldn't hand out two Shakespearian nods, I'd pull Tom Hanks off the list. [But Oscar would whittle McKellan]. Which is all irrelevant, 'cuz...

BEST ACTOR OSCAR -- Sean Penn.

BEST ACTRESS
Jennifer Jason Leigh - Georgia
Nicole Kidman - To Die For
Elizabeth Shue - Leaving Las Vegas
Sharon Stone - Casino
Emma Thompson - Sense and Sensibility
I have no idea how the Academy rules on this one so, as Jennifer Jason Leigh gets more screen time in Georgia, Mare Winningham is on my Supporting Actress list. For once, five strong female performances.  Bridges of Madison County put me to sleep. Literally. So you won't see Meryl Streep on this list (or Eastwood on the Best Director list, for that matter).  As for Susan Sarandon's fine performance in Dead Man Walking, to have your mind changed re: the death penalty because of someone who so obviously deserved it, IMO, doesn't ring true for me. DMW was *real* difficult to review, and I go into it more there.

TOP OF CRANKY'S LIST: Elizabeth Shue for Leaving Las Vegas.
Yes, I had major problems with the script, as reported. Yes, I only rated the film a middling $4.00. But Shue's performance has stayed with me and keeps coming back. It was *that* good. And that's good enough for me.

BEST ACTRESS OSCAR -- to Shue
That's a 50/50 shot. Thompson gets it if Sense sweeps. JJL could get it for career over Shue. For reasons which would label me a total cynic, it could go to Sarandon. But isn't it great to see a real contest in this category, for once?

BEST DIRECTOR
Ulu Grosbard - Georgia
Ron Howard - Apollo 13
Ang Lee - Sense & Sensibility
Spike Lee - Clockers
Rob Reiner - The American President

TOP OF CRANKY'S LIST:
Ron Howard, who didn't go overboard with sentimental shtick in Apollo 13. For all the flaws in Clockers my enthusiasm remains. Spike Lee let the actors build the characters beautifully and though the ending came rather quickly ("trite" is how other critics phrased it, I think), I enjoyed it. My guts tell me Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) will probably show on the Oscar noms, not Spike Lee. And Tim Robbins will probably replace Rob Reiner.

BEST DIRECTOR OSCAR --
Oy. I sat through tons of screenings with my fellow Directors Guild directors (the DGA award, which precedes the Oscars is usually a good indicator) and the best I can tell you is who *won't* get it. Scuse me while I flip a coin. Tim Robbins.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kevin Bacon - Apollo 13
Greg Kinnear - Sabrina
Delroy Lindo - Clockers
Patrick McGoohan - Braveheart
Brad Pitt - 12 Monkeys

TOP OF CRANKY'S LIST:
Patrick McGoohan for Braveheart, for making a bad guy so much fun to watch. After that, Brad Pitt (who has the time of his life in 12 Monkeys) and Delroy Lindo.  Lindo also appears in Get Shorty but his work in Clockers is well-rounded and less stereotyped. You may not see his name on any other list, but you should remember it.

SUPPORTING ACTOR OSCAR to Kevin Spacey for seven. Wild Card is Pitt.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Joan Allen - Nixon
Nancy Marchand - Sabrina
Mira Sorvino - Mighty Aphrodite
Mare Winningham - Georgia
Kate Winslet - Sense and Sensibility

TOP OF CRANKY'S LIST:
Mare Winningham for Georgia. She delivers a solid, substantial and subtly terrific performance.  (If both she and Jennifer Jason Leigh were up in Best Actress, I'd buck the trend and vote Winningham. This way I eat my cake and have it too.) It doesn't mean she'll win the Oscar, though.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS OSCAR to Mira Sorvino.

And quickly:
BEST SCREENPLAY: seven
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Sense and Sensibility

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.