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From the first wretched movie of January to the last wretched Oscar wannabe flick of December, Cranky keeps a list locked away in his computer of the performances that he wants to remember, come the end of the year when he ploughs through 40 films in less than 30 days and kind of loses his mind. It's kind of like Santa Claus, the list, the pressure, the deadlines, and so here you have it . . . .

The Best Performances of 1998

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©Lions Gate Entertainment

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©Miramax Films

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©New Line Cinema

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courtesy SCTV

Ian McKellen

Gods and Monsters

Gwyneth Paltrow

Shakespeare in Love

Jeff Daniels
Supporting Actor


Catherine O'Hara
Supporting Actress

Home Fries

I don't care about his proclivities or those of the character he plays. Ian McKellen's performance is just out and out better than anything I've seen this year. That includes Nick Nolte in Affliction (he was better in Thin Red Line) and runner up John Travolta (in Primary Colors and A Civil Action). JT's gonna hate that. Guess that means Travolta's invite to go camping will be called off. Between Sliding Doors and this film, Paltrow has shown that she is a lot more than Brad Pitt's ex-girlfriend. Her performances are as sweet and sexy and funny and romantic as you can get. Just the kind of girl any breeder like me would want. If Cranky went with bleak and depressing characters, as other year end lists do, he'd runner up Helena Bonham Carter, whose role as a woman with ALS in Theory of Flight is remarkably full of heart and humor. You could flip a coin and pick any of the actors listed below and come out ahead. William H. Macy continues to deliver great performances (as he did in Psycho and A Civil Action). Tony Shalhoub will get a statue sooner or later (he, too, great in A Civil Action). Cranky went with Jeff Daniels 'cuz I'm 40 and alone and identify with his Pleasantville character more than I should admit. Brendan Fraser (Gods and Monsters) is the runner up. Here's the truth of the matter: all critics talk to each other, especially in December. For the last two weeks, Cranky's kept hearing the same two words: Home Fries. No one else has had the balls to put it into print so I will. I made this call when I saw the flick last April and stand by it. O'Hara is creepy and evil and nasty -- everything statue givers like to see in a performance. That she's in a romantic comedy will probably kill her chances.

And, alphabetically:

Jim Carrey
(The Truman Show)

Kieran Culkin
(The Mighty)

Robert Downey Jr.
(Two Girls and a Guy)

Joseph Fiennes
(Shakespeare in Love)

John Hurt
(Love and Death on Long Island)

Jason Patric
(Your Friends & Neighbors)

John Travolta
(A Civil Action)

And, alphabetically:

Helena Bonham Carter
(Theory of Flight)

Jane Horrocks
(Little Voice)

Christina Ricci
(Opposite of Sex)

Emma Thompson
(Primary Colors)

And, alphabetically:

Michael Caine
(Little Voice)

Brendan Fraser
(Gods and Monsters)

Ed Harris
(The Truman Show)

William H. Macy

Edward Norton

Tony Shalhoub
(The Siege)

Billy Bob Thornton
(Primary Colors)

Jon Voight
(The General)

And, alphabetically:

Joan Allen

Kathy Bates
(Primary Colors)

Brenda Blethyn
(Little Voice)

Melanie Griffith
(Another Day In Paradise)

Sinead O'Connor
(The Butcher Boy)

Oscar to Travolta if McKellen doesn't win Oscar to Gwyneth Paltrow 'cuz I say so. Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth)has a shot 'cuz Oscar loves this kind of flick and the perfs in it. Oscar to Ed Harris. Even though he dropped 30 pounds and looks like hell, Billy Bob won last year.

Oscar to Kathy Bates, though it's a twisted enough idea to reward Sinead O'Connor (who tore up a picture of the Pope on national TV) for playing the Virgin Mary.

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