The Annual Oscar Picks And Pans

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - January 24, 2007
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Here come the Oscar nominations! You don’t love most of the movie critics? Neither do I. Movie criticism should be something we can understand, not auto-erotic word play.

I saw a local one of Deja Vu that said it’s a “cinematic collage of over-edited images, carnival-ride camera moves, fragmented visuals ad nauseum, all ladled over a moody sauce of music ...”

That meant the critic didn’t like it because it was jumpy with lousy camera shots and bad music. So why didn’t the critic say that?

2006 was a fantastic movie year for Honolulu. Mainly because so many of our flicks were 2005 releases: Brokeback Mountain, Match Point, Matadors, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Transamerica, The 3 Burials of Melquiades Estrada, The White Countess and The Proposition.

State of Mind, the only filmic look at life in North Korea, played in New York in August 2005 and made it here in February 2006, briefly, at the Academy of Arts.

Then there was the highly acclaimed The Fallen, about German, Italian and U.S. soldiers in Italy in World War II, made in 2004 but never shown here. M. Night Shyamalan kept plugging away at mediocrity. In 1999’s Sixth Sense, you wondered how the dead Bruce Willis ate in restaurants if he was invisible. In 2002’s Signs, creatures could fly here from space, but couldn’t work door handles. 2004’s Village asked how nobody knew cultists had set up shop next door in the woods. And Lady in the Water was plain bad. Shyamalan did have a creature eat a film critic. That was cool!

OK, here we go with my best-of/worst-of nominations:

Personal Fun Favorites: Inside Man, Spike Lee’s rise to the top as an A-list moviemaker. Makes us remember why we go to movies. Also Robert Altman’s Prairie Home Companion and that surprise hit Little Miss Sunshine.

Best Picture: United 93. No Hollywood stars. The FAA Control Center chief played himself. No dramatic liberties. No happy ending. Just great moviemaking.

Best Actor and Actress: Forest Whitaker. Every critic I admire has cited him for the performance of a lifetime in Last King of Scotland, which finally is playing in Honolulu. And it’s Meryl Streep as actress for back-to-back, knockout performances in Prairie Home Companion and The Devil Wears Prada.

Best Supporting Actor and Actress: Ian McKellen, who was Leigh Teabing in Da Vinci Code and Magneto in X Men. A critic called him “the only source of dramatic energy” in the first film and “a villain of near-Shakespearian stature” in the second.

No question about supporting actress. It’s newcomer Jennifer Hudson, who brought star power to the role of Effie White in Dreamgirls.

Best Ensemble Casting:

Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg and Martin Sheen in The Departed.

Funniest Movie: Borat. Unless you’re offended by jokes about body parts, bestiality, homosexuality, Pamela Anderson, the Confederacy, Jews, rodeos, hiphop or the Bushman. The gypsy villagers of the filming site at Glod (Mud), Romania, are suing for humiliation. However, Glod vice-mayor Petre Buzea says: “They got paid so I am sure they are happy. These gypsies will even kill their own father for money.”

Best Cinematography: Zhang Yimou’s colorful and exuberant Curse of the Golden Flower from China. Alas, also Gong Li’s worst acting job.

Best Surprise Package: Thanks For Smoking, with top-flight acting and exemplary comedy scripting. Loved it.

Worst Waste of My Time:

Mission Impossible III. What’s the Rabbit’s Foot and what was the caper? Huh? Who? And a guy running the jungle paths after a couple of arrows/spears through his mid-section in Apocalypto.

Worst Waste of Our Time:

Tristram Shandy. The producers should burn all evidence this egotistical romp ever existed.

Worst Waste Of Good Actor: Edward Norton in the worst-ending-of-the-year movie Down In The Valley.

Best Use Of a New Actor:

Daniel Craig as the best James Bond. Let’s have more Bond remakes with him and director Martin Campbell, who was arrested in female drag.

Silliest Script: Snakes On A Plane. The idea of snakes attacking passengers should have been picketed by the Snake Society and waved off by the actor Samuel L. Jackson.

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