The Best Cinema Of The Year
Wednesday - January 06, 2010
You’ve no doubt noticed that most of my Academy Awards picks over the years are not the Oscar winners. Lucky I choose investments for my family better than movies and actors for gold statuettes.
I’ve no argument with teenie bopper flicks like New Moon or special effects breakthroughs like 2012 and Avatar. Or super-duperfun movies like Zombieland.
But I’m always looking for insight into the human condition and actors who go outside their skins to be somebody other than “the actor.” Why does France have the actress Yolande Moreau (Seraphine, at the Doris Duke Theatre) who’s as good as or better than any of ours and we don’t know her name?
We’ve generally gone low-brow commercial with the same box-office stars recycled. Five crappy movies to one good. But the crappy sell as America’s taste declines. Too bad Ayn Rand isn’t alive. She’d be pleased to see “college-infected parasites of society” losing ground.
And how I wish the Academy Awards would drop those snoozer awards (set design, costumes) on TV night and just give us best movie, director, actors ... and pau!
My polemic shot, here are my 2009 picks.
Best Picture: The Hurt Locker. Remarkable script, photography and best direction by Kathy Bigelow. Memorable performance by little-known actor Jeremy Renner. I am tempted by Precious. But Hurt Locker is the best.
Best Actors Male and Female: No question. Cristoph Walz as the Nazi colonel in Inglourious Basterds. Mo’Nique as the over-the-top mother Mary in Precious. No reason either should be limited to second-banana nominations in a “supporting” role. They stole those movies from the supposed “stars.”
Best Supporting Actors Male and Female: Slim pickings. Maybe Fred Melamed as the wife-usurper Sy Ableman in the idosyncratic Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man. Maybe Anna Kenrick as a comedic business executive in Up In The Air. Not much enthusiasm for anyone in this category this year.
Best Documentary: The September Issue. Great idea! How Vogue magazine’s most important annual issue gets made and sold to advertisers, and how out of touch the mag is with ordinary women.
Best Crime Action Flick: Critics panned Pelham 123 but it was sublime photography and great output by John Travolta.
Best Vampire Movie: Let The Right One In. From Norway. It put Twilight and New Moon to shame.
Hype Trumps Substance: The Watchmen. Anybody who watched that dog twice surely has a fried brain.
Best Horror Flick: Drag Me To Hell. Now that’s how to make a horror flick! Best since Carrie.
Best Effort But Worst Effort: Earth, which had magnificent photography but a sappy script (forests are feminine?) and snooze-inducing narration by James Earl Jones.
Huge thanks to Consolidated Theatres for bringing all those indie and foreign films to its Kahala multi-plex.
The favorite movies of my adult lifetime? Probably Blood Simple, The Usual Suspects, Being There, A Fish Named Wanda and Chinatown.
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