Most Annoying Performance
CHRIS TUCKER as RUBY RHOD – The Fifth Element
Best Comedy Performance
Jim Carrey – Liar Liar
Best Ensemble Cast
L.A. Confidential – Kim Basinger, James Cromwell, Russell Crowe, Danny DeVito, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, and David Strathairn
WTF did I just see?
Most overrated movie
The Fifth Element
Notes from awards committee:
In a surprising change of pace, House Clark agreed with three out of five best picture nominees, AND the Best Picture - Titanic. This is the year the Titanic won 11 Oscars. Yes, eleven. Some dismiss this film as a mere chick flick, but there is no denying the amazing box office success here and the big screen visual impact. Also it is part of the human deep psyche to be fascinated by a catastrophe due to excess human hubris. And we have to admire writer/director James Cameron for his profound understanding of a teenage brat and puppy love. Put it altogether and you are in the Billion $ movie club. (Update June 2023 – The Titanic is front page news again! A submersible taking five tourists to view the wreckage of the Titanic imploded, killing all passengers instantly.)
Fun Surprises -
L.A. Confidential – is a modern film-noir classic with the most exciting good cop, bad cop theme you will find anywhere. Add to this, production values that are American films' forte and you have a 1990’s masterpiece. The film has interesting character studies, a gripping plot, and strong performances by an all-star cast. Kevin Spacey as Detective Jack Vincennes delivers a charismatic performance, and Kim Basinger is at the top of her game playing a sexy call girl with plenty of je ne sais quoi. Both Kevin and Kim are presented Simpson awards for Best Acting.
Rough Riders - In 1898 Theodore Roosevelt forms a volunteer cavalry regiment to fight in the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt’s Rough Riders become part of an American army sent to invade the Spanish colony of Cuba. This is a well-acted, rare look at the Spanish American War with plenty of action and visual impact. The Battle of San Juan Hill is the highlight. There are many military history mistakes in the film, but it gets the heart and spirit of the time correct. It was a short and glorious war for the U.S.
As Good as it Gets – peddles the notion that love can cure OCD; not a chance. Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt make an odd couple; what with Jack being 26 years her senior, it is an awkward romance. Aside from the farfetched story, the acting is solid in this low energy, Oscar-bait movie.
Chinese Box – is set during the Red Chinese takeover of Hong Kong in 1997 (upon expiration of the 100 year British lease). This is an allegorical, slow burn of a movie that uses the political backdrop to frame a love story between Jeremy Irons and Chinese star, Li Gong. The semi-documentary film style excels as fascinating history - capturing on film a time and place during a key cultural turning point of a world famous city.
Game - Be ready to suspend disbelief (again and again) for one of the most fanciful movie stories of all time. Michael Douglas is a natural at playing an uptight Investment banker (I'm guessing he researched the role by watching his last 10 movies) and presents a most unlikable protagonist while Sean Penn is cast as his nutcase kid brother, another natural role fit for an actor. The movie starts off a little slow, but has an action packed second half with the Investment banker performing one incredible stunt after another as he plays a Game that went too far, for too long. So bad; it is good (one of our highest honors.)
Wag the Dog - By sheer dumb luck, this political sex-scandal flick hit the theaters just before news broke about the Bill Clinton - Monica Lewinsky scandal in January 1998. So we have here a clever satire of the American political system with enough realism to make it plausible.
Jackie Brown – is recommended for adults with reservations, mostly due to a career best performance by Pam Grier, but beware, this flick seems to go out of its way to be vulgar and offensive. A particularly vile scene is one where DeNiro’s character guns down unarmed Bridget Fonda. Most adults have an inner voice reminding us, “It’s only a movie.” But the negative impact on our kids should not be underestimated.
Good Will Hunting – The premise of the story is highly questionable – the linking of antisocial behavior and mathematical genius is taken for granted as though it is a gospel truth. When Therapist Robin Williams sits down with patient, Matt Damon, for one of his long monologues, we are reminded again of the Psychiatrist as Savior trope, so beloved by Hollywood. More like a TV movie with a barrage of F-bombs. Not the most cinematic experience.
Boogie Nights 1997 – A collection of weird characters, mostly rejects from polite society and their own families; reach for success in the porn biz. A seedy, depressing, low-class film.
Amistad – is a big budget, well-crafted Spielberg film about an obscure historical event in 1839 when 55 captive Africans on their way to slavery in Cuba stage a violent uprising, and ultimately stand trial for their actions in American courts. Film critics and Spielberg fans were disappointed – instead of fluid storytelling and fast pace action, we see 150+ minutes of low energy, ponderous, talky courtroom drama. There are touches of genius; the opening scene is remarkable for intensity and chaotic fighting, as one might expect during a slave insurrection on a Spanish slave trading vessel.
The Fifth Element – This sci-fi film was ruined by Ruby Rhod - the comic relief from hell. For no logical reason, an extremely annoying and whining character, Ruby Rhod, follows the hero around for a very lengthy portion of the movie. He screams bad lines in rapid fire. He is shockingly not funny.