Most Annoying Performance
CUBA GOODING – Jerry Maguire
Best Comedy Performance
Flirting with Disaster – Ben Stiller
Best Ensemble Cast
2 Days in the Valley – James Spader, Jeff Daniels, Eric Stoltz, Charlize Theron, and Teri Hatcher.
WTF did I just see?
Omega Doom & American Strays (tie)
Most overrated movie
The English Patient
Best juvenile performance
Mara Wilson in Matilda
Notes from awards committee:
The best motion picture of the year was Fargo which was snubbed for the Oscar in favor of the stunningly boring English Patient. In Fargo, a pack of liars, fuck-ups and cold-blooded killers deliver chaos to Middle America. There is not an ounce of criminal glorification here. Frances McDormand, as pregnant Police Chief Marge, saves the day and the film, with a backbone of decent humanity along with some old fashion police work and straight shooting. In fact she’s almost too good to believe. But the Coen Brothers tight and fast-paced storytelling and bleak wintry setting propels this crime film into the winner’s circle.
In a year with several great female performances, Gwyneth Paltrow wins the Best Actress award. She sparkles in Emma, as young Miss Woodhouse, who is the posh and clever queen of matchmakers in her own lovely, little patch of Georgian England. There was an unwritten rule saying that only a woman with the last name Streep can master the art of playing a British lady character on the big screen. Yet Gwyneth Paltrow, an LA born girl, shattered that myth with her brilliant performance in Emma.
Fun Surprises -
Flirting with Disaster – This is like an old Hollywood screwball comedy, with a wise message – Be careful playing Tarzan in the family tree; you risk finding a rotten branch. A successful screwball comedy is most dependent on rapidity, and Ben Stiller excels as a clueless innocent (idiot?), plunging pell-mell into one madcap scene after another. Ben captures the Best Actor award for his comical and believable character.
Emma - Director/co-writer Douglas McGrath brings Jane Austin’s Georgian England to life with colorful characters and stunning visuals of the lush English countryside scenery, pretty girls in jutting hats and Empire-waist dresses to match, candle light-filled Georgian interiors, and fine horses galore. The film is funny and insightful and maybe, after all, Austen's world isn't as different from our own modern times as we'd like to think.
Independence Day - is a fun popcorn flick that revived the alien invasion theme in 1996, and just killed at the box office. No one, not even Steven Spielberg, directs big action sequences as well as Roland Emmerich, and he is especially great at directing disaster flicks; it is his gift even though he annoys every film critic on Earth.
Bound – I was expecting lesbian hijinks, and instead got a suspense thriller of unbearable tension.
Freeway - In this modern day version of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale, Kiefer Sutherland is the big bad wolf, and Reese Witherspoon is the damsel in distress. She is awesome; pure TPT – wicked and fun.
Tin Cup – Golf is not the crux of the matter here; the unique characters are well presented. TC is a thoughtful romantic comedy with a great ending true to character. The film has entered the Golfing lexicon. When faced with a long shot over a water hazard to the green; the savvy golfer will bravely (or foolishly) announce, “I’m going for the Tin Cup”.
Two Days in the Valley - covers a 48 hour period, as a group of people find themselves drawn together by a murder. There’s a great cast here, with James Spader who’s brilliant as ever, and Danny Aiello leading the line as a pair of hitmen. They’re backed by solid B-actors and hot babes Charlize Theron, and Teri Hatcher. It does plenty to distinguish itself above most crime dramas.
Mission Impossible - As a loyal fan of the original 1960s television series, I was eager to see this film on the big screen. MI keeps the vintage theme song but differs in acceptable ways. Who doesn't love the theme song? It gets your blood pulsing instantly. Tom Cruise et al, has created a highly successful version in which he seems poised to continue for some time to come. As usual the IMF has all the best toys to trick and deceive the bad guys and there is no stopping them on land or sea. A successful reboot by Director Brian De Palma.
Omega Doom - In the dystopian future, Rutger Hauer quick draws against militaristic robots in cowboy gunfighter style face-offs that are oddly out of place. Even more non sequitur are his bursts of bad poetry. On a positive note, the girl robots had an interesting look and style; especially Tina Cotè playing Black Heart. Years later, Trinity in The Matrix pirates her style.
From Dusk Till Dawn - The Gecko brothers have that unmistakable flair and style of born losers who never fail to have the black cat of Bad Luck as a constant companion. The Gecko boys are evil to the core and go on a crime spree with armed robbery, murder and kidnapping. Then we hop in the RV with new friends and off we go to Mexico to a biker bar for more fun and games and a few vampires. What could go wrong?
Ghost and the Darkness – The British grandees in London concoct an ambitious plan to cross the African continent with a railroad, but it is brought to a screeching halt by two giant man-eating lions. The scenes with the killer lions are so realistic and scary; I decided to cancel my safari hunt.
The English Patient – has expert cinematography that I enjoyed, especially the desert scenes. However, midway through, the story bogs down into a tawdry adulterous affair between Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas. Fiennes, Thomas and Willem Dafoe all played unlikeable characters. Once again, we see an example of a modern-day movie that Academy Awards voted "Picture of the Year" and most of the public disliked.
Jerry Maguire – was confused about plot; is it a sports story or a romance story? It failed at both. Cuba Gooding plays an obnoxious jock; his locker room speeches with fast jibber jabber, F-bombs and shouting “Show me the Money” were crude and disgusting. Vastly overrated.