Most Annoying Performance
Kevin Spacey – The Usual Suspects
Best Comedy Performance
Danny DeVito – Get Shorty
Best Ensemble Cast
Get Shorty – Danny DeVito, Dennis Farina, James Gandolfini, Gene Hackman, Delroy Lindo, David Paymer, Rene Russo, and John Travolta
WTF did I just see?
Most overrated movie
Notes from awards committee:
It was a glaring error for the Academy to award best picture to Braveheart over Ron Howard’s Apollo 13. The former is an overly violent Scot myth while the latter is a real life American hero story. The Best Picture Simpson is awarded to Apollo 13 for an unforgettable, intense film that celebrates the human spirit and American technological achievement. The Best Actor award goes to Tom Hanks as Astronaut Jim Lovell, in his best ever star performance. The highly successful Apollo program is the one achievement of the twentieth century that we can be sure will be in the history books a thousand years from now. In fairness to Braveheart, we acknowledge that the film single handedly boosted tourism in Scotland. I visited Scotland in 2022, and they still talk about Braveheart and Mel Gibson with deep affection.
Few actresses in the 1990s were better at creating an on-screen likeable character as Emma Thompson. And in Sense and Sensibility, with her portrayal of Elinor Dashwood, she exceeds herself. Elinor is the true heroine of the movie and Thompson puts a lot of heart into the role but never gets over emotional or unbelievable. She strikes the right balance in every scene.
Fun Surprises -
Get Shorty – Crime-comedy is a favorite genre mix here at House Clark, and this film is one of the best. The All-Star cast delivers in every scene with plenty of humor. This is one to re-watch.
Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion (BBC), and Pride and Prejudice (A&E) – are three Jane Austen screen adaptions that are some of the very best films of the year. All three period dramas are well worth watching; set design and costumes are very believable and accurate while the acting is practically perfect for most of the characters. And isn't that one of Austen's great hallmarks? Her ability to create characters one can believe and sympathize with on all levels? There is something irresistible in these British heritage films; they provide an interesting window to the Anglo-Saxon past for us to see bourgeois manners and country life of the Georgian Era. We see men and women at their best, better themselves, fall in love, strive, fail, pick themselves up and gallantly try again. A fascinating, ageless look at the human condition.
Toy Story - Behold the beginning of the age of Pixar. The rest, they say, is history, or at least movie history. The movie taps the age-old fear of being left out or replaced, and comes to life as toy cowboy, Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), panics when his owner becomes fascinated with a new toy: Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) space cadet. What ensues is a story full of droll humor and comical characters.
12 Monkeys - If you thought the 2020 corona virus lockdown was bad, trust us, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Compared to the future portrayed in 12 Monkeys, it was practically a utopia. This time travel, sci-fi film tells the story of the central character (Bruce Willis) walking a fine line between reality and insanity as he becomes lost in time.
To Die For - Nicole Kidman is stunning in a tight mini dress and stiletto heels as she launches her campaign to conquer the American TV industry, with a detour into murder and sex scandal. The details of the sordid plot are not worth going on about, but this is worth a rent to see terrific acting by Kidman, in her career best role. She brilliantly plays a woman with burning ambition, and a shocking knack for self-destruction.
While you Were Sleeping - Bill Pullman and Sandra Bullock are outstanding in this underrated movie. One of the best parts of this film is how realistically it portrays a large, close-knit American family who enjoy each other's company. How refreshing after seeing the dysfunctional families so often presented by the modern Hollywood cynics. A heartwarming story.
Nixon – Oliver Stone gives Richard Nixon's life story an element of truth and compassion. The film goes on over three hours, yet never becomes dull. Whether you like, dislike or are indifferent when it comes to President Nixon the person, "Nixon" the movie is an outstanding achievement by Stone. This is one of the more under-rated pictures of the 1990s.
Richard III – is a Shakespeare adaption that sets the same story ahead by 500 years to the 1930s. Even if you do not enjoy the Bard’s work, this version is worth watching for the powerhouse cast led by Ian McKellen as Richard III. The film is faithful to the famous Shakespeare stage version of King Richard III as a cruel, ruthless cutthroat. The original stage play was written nearly 100 years after the king was killed on the battlefield at Bosworth Field. Richard’s death marked the end of the Plantagenet dynasty that ruled England for over 300 years. Henry VII was crowned on the battlefield and began the Tudor dynasty. Mr. Shakespeare was careful to please his royal patrons especially the current Tudor Queen Elizabeth I. Just remember this play was an effective piece of pro-Tudor propaganda in 1591. As the old saying goes, “The winners get to write the history.”
Rob Roy – Set in Scotland, circa 1700, the production values of this period movie are excellent, and it also co-starred two of the most colorful villains I have ever seen: Archibald Cunningham (Tim Roth) and the Royal banker (Brain Cox). Between Roth and Cox, it is difficult to say who is the most evil and devious and dangerous. They team up to make life miserable for our hero, Rob Roy (Liam Neesen). The film is too long, but stick around for the sweeping camera shots of the lovely Scottish Highlands, and the crowd pleasing ending.
Shanghai Triad – Gong Li and director, Yimou Zhang, have teamed for a string of hits in the 1990s – this is one of them. The story of a gang boss in 1930s Shanghai and Bijou (Gong Li), his lovely, troublesome mistress is seen through the eyes of a small boy from the country. Bijou calls him bumpkin; it fits. Gong is lovely as ever and I approve the way Zhang shows the gangsters as pure evil as opposed the American penchant for displaying gangsters as cool dudes.
Heat - Cops and robbers, a long time Hollywood staple gets the all-star cast treatment here. In spite of all the high paid, all male talent, the hammered together story is a bit thin, as well as very predictable with the big shoot out, and the melodramatic Hollywood ending.
Strange Days – has some cool sci-fi twists and there is an interesting story somewhere to be found in this bloated mess of a movie with a mind numbing 2.5 hours run time. This is Kathryn Bigelow’s hate letter to the American police. In short, she falsifies the crime problem in LA to make it appear the fault of a couple crooked (white, of course) cops. Does Bigelow hate the cops or hate the truth about crime in urban America?
Leaving Las Vegas – is the definition of a forgettable “Downer” movie.