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???):
The American President
Father of the Bride 2
Sense and Sensibility
If you feel like working, in the good sense, while watching the
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.
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 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.
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.
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,
BEST ACTOR OSCAR -- Sean Penn.
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?
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
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.
BEST SCREENPLAY: seven
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Sense and Sensibility