like Santa Clause, we keep a list. We check it twice. And when the Oscar
wannabee crunch hits in November/December -- 40 films in 20 days --
we wonder if all the pain killers are having detrimental effects on
our mental processes, fade out, snap back and go, naah...
we did notice, beginning around last March, was that every movie we
sat through had at least one scene of a man urinating. or vomiting.
sometimes both. Given the amount of time it takes to get a film made,
we figure that it goes back to Elisabeth Shue sitting on the potty in
Leaving Las Vegas. It hadn't been seen before. Neither had anyone shown
guys, well . . . that about sums up the year. A piss poor year for movies.
had a top ten movies and a top ten films list and when we crunched 'em down into
one list, it came out an even split between serious films and warm fuzzies (alphabetically):
Almost Famous; Billy Elliot; The Claim; Erin Brockovich; Frequency; Gladiator;
Quills; Saving Grace; 13 Days; Traffic. The best popcorn flicks: Jackie Chan's
Legend of Drunken Master; Charlie's Angels, Gone in 60 Seconds, X-Men
honorable mention to: American Psycho; Bamboozled; Ghost Dog; O Brother
Where Art Thou?; Requiem for a Dream; Shadow of the Vampire, Two Family
we sat down with our scratch pads of notable and/or disastrous films
endured in the year 2000, two things stood out immediately. We've got
at least two "winners" who stand out for great work in at
least two (or more) movies this year. One is a director. The other an
Director x 2
Soderbergh delivered one of the best movies of the year back in
February, Erin Brockovich. A great real life story that
left audiences feeling empowered and glad to have seen it. What
we wrote then holds even now. If Erin had been ready for the 1999
deadlines, it would have scored a statue for star Julia Roberts
and an easy nomination for Best Picture. It would have been enough
to stop there, but Soderbergh paired a dynamite cast with a great,
serious script and delivered Traffic. Every actor worth
their salt put their egos on hold for this movie, one of the best
of the year. When one man delivers two "Best Of" titles,
there's no real competition.
these directors came close: Cameron Crowe for Almost Famous;
Philip Kaufman for Quills; Ang Lee for Crouching Tiger,
Hidden Dragon and Michael Winterbottom for The Claim.
Best Actor (Quills)
choice had a lot to do with the actor's effect on the overall
movie. One potential Oscar nominee was spectacular all by himself
on an island, but that's an acting exercise, not an overall best
performance. Rush, gave us a battle of both psychological and
physical wills in Quills, as the Marquis de Sade in his last days
versus Michael Caine as the captor determined to break his spirit
however possible. There is humor and pathos in the iron fist in
a velvet glove performance.
And close behind: Kevin Costner in 13 Days; Russell Crowe
Forest Whitaker in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai; Michael
Douglas in Wonder Boys; George Clooney in O Brother
Where Art Thou?; Tom Hanks in Cast Away
Best Actress (Requiem for a Dream)
is no way you will come out of Requiem for a Dream humming a happy
tune. Burstyn's role, as an elderly woman who gets hooked on speed
so she can drop a few pounds to fit into a dress, is a heartbreaker.
For the first time in years, there was a real battle.
And close behind:
Joan Allen in The Contender; Gillian Anderson in House
of Mirth; Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich; Renee Zellweger
in Nurse Betty
Supporting Actor x 3
case the supporting actor is supposed to set up a base to let the principals kick
some royal booty, as Joaquin Phoenix did for Geoffrey Rush in Quills. Then you
get the performances where not only does the actor do the job, he also leaves
you walking out of the theater remembering his name. That was the case in Gladiator,
with Phoenix playing the sniveling backstabbing Emperor Commodus. Finally you
get the occasional movie where the supporting actors outshine the principals,
which was the case with The Yards, Phoenix' best performance of the three.
of note: James Caan in The Yards; Willem Dafoe in Shadow
of the Vampire; Albert Finney in Erin Brockovich; Philip
Seymour Hoffman in Almost Famous; Gary Oldman in The
Supporting Actress (Almost Famous)
and possessive mom faces the day when the bird must leave the
nest. "And don't do drugs" is as much a demand for control
as an expression of a mother's love.
Ditto for: Faye
Dunaway in The Yards; Kate Hudson in Almost Famous;
Madeline Kahn in Judy Berlin; Kate Winslet in Quills
(Johnny Depp) was flat out awful; Battlefield
(John Travolta) was campy enough that it will find a home
at midnight; Duets
(Gwyneth Paltrow) as we warned, gave us a song that will
never stop playing on soft rock radio and not much more PLUS a special
award to the unfortunate choices of actress Kim Basinger
Dreamed of Africa and
Bless The Child
by Toby Emmerich was the most perfect SF script in years.
Not a single continuity flaw and still mesmerizing even when you
knew what had to happen at the end; Almost
Famous by Cameron Crowe, considering that
we started working in rock radio in the 1970s, perfectly got that
era while telling a fun story; Erin
Brockovich by Susannah Grant made us want
to cheer; Quills by Doug
Wright dripped with irony; Traffic
by Stephen Gaghan ran multiple stories side by side, seamlessly.