Most Annoying Performance
JULIA ROBERTS – Pretty Woman
Best Comedy Duo
Arnold Schwarzenegger & Pamela Reed in Kindergarten Cop
Best Ensemble Cast
Miller’s Crossing – Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, John Turturro, Marcia Gay Harden, Jon Polito, J.E. Freeman, and Steve Buscemi.
WTF did I just see?
(Tie) Joe versus the Volcano and Wild at Heart
Most overrated movie
Dancing With Wolves
Best juvenile performance
Macaulay Culkin – Home Alone
Notes from awards committee:
The year 1990 was a banner year for the movies with plenty of fun surprises. But the year was not without disappointments with some over-hyped, silly films. For instance, it was an Academy blunder to award Best Picture to the nonsensical, revisionist western Dances with Wolves. I agree with one critic who wrote, “Costner has feathers in his hair and feathers in his head.” In fact none of the Academy Best Picture nominees made the House Clark top five films for the year. You could say that 1990 was glutted with gangster films, with GoodFellas (pure gangster porn with an exhausting runtime) and Godfather 3 garnering most of the attention, but it was the Coen Brothers Miller’s Crossing that was not only the best gangster film but also the best picture of the year. The movie captures the atmosphere of the Roaring '20's when the Irish mob ran the show in NYC. Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne) is a cipher – he’s the smartest gangster in town, and knows all the angles, but is befuddled when he stares into the abyss of a personal crisis. He seeks redemption, but at what cost?
The Best Actor Simpson is awarded to Jeremy Irons for his flawless performance in Reversal of Fortune. Irons morphs himself into Claus Von Bulow, an aristocratic man accused of attempted murder of his wealthy wife. Mr. Irons has, without question, created one of the most brilliantly layered characterizations to ever grace the screen; a cold and aloof, yet somehow sympathetic man in the center of a legal storm. Anjelica Huston wins the best actress award for her performance in Grifters as Lilly. She takes the Femme Fatale role to another level in the Film Noir genre. She is a bit over the top but always entertaining.
Fun Surprises –
Reversal of Fortune - The heart of this film is the two outstanding performances by Jeremy Irons and Ron Silver. The legal jibber jabber and brief courtroom scenes are important but mostly background noise. The movie itself is pure entertainment; it doesn’t try to preach a message that the rich are bad people, nor does it bias the story one way or another. What it does is show a complex story which in real life was fascinating, and one that the mud slinger tabloids just couldn’t resist.
The Hunt for Red October – This is one of the better Cold War thrillers, and the beginning of the Jack Ryan franchise that is still sputtering along today. For a pure and simple and unfaltering Chase Plot, HFRO is tough be beat. Few people guessed that by December 1991, the Soviet Union would cease to exist; thereby, ending the Cold War.
Narrow Margin – Anne Archer and Gene Hackman team up and play cat-and-mouse with hired killers on a Western Canadian passenger train. This B-movie is enhanced by a top-shelf cast, a tight script, and first rate action scenes with plenty of suspense. Best train movie since the 1985 Runaway Train.
Kindergarten Cop - My kids loved this movie. I lost count how many times we watched it. This is a buddy cop flick with a combination of humor, lots of cute kids, romance, and a touch of violence. The star of the film, Arnold Schwarzenegger, shows a surprisingly good flair for comedy as the soft hearted, tough undercover detective. This might be Arnold's most likable role, and he had the best lines in an excellent script. Pam Reed is very good as Arnold’s cop partner.
Miami Blues – The movie is an unusual, quirky piece of work with excellent performances by Alec Baldwin, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Fred Ward. Baldwin, as Junior, is creepy, unnerving, and a criminal to the bottom of his pitch black heart. JJL (as Susie) is naïve, gullible and trusting. Her child-like, deadpan delivery in a soft Southern accent is priceless, and adds a welcome comic touch to an otherwise dark and very sad tale about two lost souls. You'll rarely see screen chemistry as good as this.
After Dark, My Sweet – An unstable group of kidnappers snatch the young son of a rich family, and their hapless plan goes completely wrong. The film has a slow, deliberate pace and takes plenty of time to unspool the simple plot. The style of the film is nothing special, but it is the highly pessimistic storyline that lands you squarely into Noirsville. If you want a happy ending; look elsewhere.
The Hot Spot – TV star Don Johnson is surprisingly good as he tries to keep one step ahead of the law. The atmosphere, casting, setting, and plot fit together like a clever puzzle. For those who enjoy some sleaze in their crime movies, this film is sexy without being crude. Virginia Madsen steams up the film with her portrayal of a gold-digger vixen, and Jennifer Connelly is perfect as the innocent girl with a shady past.
Home Alone - Macaulay Culkin, age 8, was crowned a child superstar after his crowd pleasing portrayal of Kevin McAllister who is accidentally left at home by his parents when the family flies to Paris for Christmas holiday. Plenty of slapsticky fun ensues until Mom gets back. HA crushed at the box office.
Joe Versus the Volcano – Before he became king of Hollywood, Tom Hanks starred in several successful light comedies; this film is one of those. It's smartly produced and written, wonderfully acted, and very weird! Meg Ryan plays all three female leads and also did the voice of the flight attendant. Multiple roles in a movie are tricky, but Meg pulls it off with remarkable skill and grace.
Grifters – is my choice for the best 90’s film noir – mean, seedy, edgy, hardboiled and intricate. The three main characters (Lilly, Roy and Myra) are not likeable people, yet fun to watch as they scheme and maneuver though con jobs and a twisted love triangle. Anjelica Huston’s performance as Lilly is captivating. She is seductive, smart, and tough as nails. She is also the absentee mother of Roy, her bastard son from a teenage tryst. Add sexy Myra (Anette Benning) to the pot and the mixture gets explosive.
Ghost – The year’s box office king was propelled by a supernatural enhanced love story. Whoopi Goldberg adds the necessary comic relief as Psychic Oda Mae Brown, and Sam (Swayze) is still the nicest NYC investment banker in film history. Demi Moore is in her prime with a cute pixie haircut.
Dances with Wolves is a silly kid’s daydream of being an Indian. When Dunbar (Kevin Costner) has become a Sioux named Dances with Wolves, he writes in his journal that he knows for the first time who he really is. He is no more an Indian than his horse.
The Two Jakes – is a weak sequel to Chinatown that missed about everything I loved in the original. Jack Nicholson reprises his role as Jake Gittes, and also directs the movie. Jack fails miserably as a director with a confusing story and deadly slow pace. The villain (Harvey Keitel) strangely transitions into a tragic hero in a cringey sentimental scene of unspeakable fakeness.
Pretty Woman – is a sexless sex comedy so horrible, I do not know where to begin. This flick is a Cinderella story, but Cinderella in this movie is a street walker with an obnoxious air of self-satisfaction, and the charming prince is a foppish idiot. Once this movie starts going downhill, there is no stopping it. A vastly overrated flick with an improbable love story that is so ridiculous it shatters suspension of disbelief with a sledge hammer. Add to that zero romantic chemistry.