Sexiest. Couple. Ever.

My Top 20:

  1. Out of Sight
  2. Shakespeare in Love
  3. Saving Private Ryan
  4. The Big Lebowski
  5. Gods and Monsters
  6. The Truman Show
  7. Ringu
  8. Pleasantville
  9. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  10. Dark City
  11. Rushmore
  12. The General
  13. Primary Colors
  14. A Simple Plan
  15. Bulworth
  16. Velvet Goldmine
  17. Still Crazy
  18. The Butcher Boy
  19. Without Limits
  20. Ronin

I should go on:  The next 10 films are Character, Live Flesh, The Thief, Men with Guns, Ma Vie en Rose, Kiki’s Delivery Service, The Thin Red Line, Elizabeth, A Bug’s Life and A Celebration.  Only one Foreign Film in the Top 20, but 7 in the next 10.  My four star films actually end with Pleasantville.  So, aside from having the weakest winner in 16 years (much as I like Out of Sight, it would have ranked 5th in 1997 and 6th in 1996), this is also the first film year in 12 years that doesn’t have at least 10 four star films.  But then, there is a great deal of nitpicking.  On a 100 point scale, I have a larger difference between my #8 and my #9 film than I do between my #9 film and my #24 film.  It is a film of few great films but tons (33 to be precise) very good films (***.5).  Based on a percentage of films I have seen from the film year (150), this has the lowest percentage of **** films since 1970, but the highest percentage of ***.5 films of any year.

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Saving Private Ryan
  • Best Director:  Steven Spielberg  (Saving Private Ryan)
  • Best Actor:  Ian McKellen  (Gods and Monsters)
  • Best Actress:  Cate Blanchett  (Elizabeth)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Billy Bob Thornton  (A Simple Plan  /  Primary Colors)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Kathy Bates  (Primary Colors)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Out of Sight
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Shakespeare in Love
  • Best Cinematography:  The Thin Red Line
  • Best Foreign Film:  Central Station  /  Life is Beautiful
  • Best Animated Film:  A Bug’s Life

note:  This is the only year other than 1974 where none of the consensus acting winners would win the Oscar.  It is the only year other than 1973 where only two of the big 8 consensus winners win the Oscar.

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Shakespeare in Love
  • Best Director:  Steven Spielberg  (Saving Private Ryan)
  • Best Actor:  Roberto Benigni  (Life is Beautiful)
  • Best Actress:  Gwyneth Paltrow  (Shakespeare in Love)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  James Coburn  (Affliction)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Judi Dench  (Shakespeare in Love)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Gods and Monsters
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Shakespeare in Love
  • Best Cinematography:  Saving Private Ryan
  • Best Foreign Film:  Life is Beautiful

Ignored by awards, loved by the rest of us.

Top 5 Films  (Top 1000):

  1. The Big Lebowski  –  #338
  2. The Thin Red Line  –  #632
  3. Rushmore  –  #642
  4. Flowers of Shanghai  –  #720
  5. Saving Private Ryan  –  #780

Top 5 Films  (1998 Best Picture Awards):

  1. Saving Private Ryan
  2. Shakespeare in Love
  3. Out of Sight
  4. Gods and Monsters
  5. Elizabeth

note:  After three out of four years where the five Oscar nominees were the top 5 films here, only three of them are.  It’s the first time since 1989 that only three Oscar nominees make this list and the first time since 1983 that two of the top 4 aren’t Oscar nominees.

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points):

  1. Shakespeare in Love  –  2196
  2. Saving Private Ryan  –  2159
  3. Elizabeth  –  1188
  4. The Truman Show  –  943
  5. Gods and Monsters  –  846
  6. Life is Beautiful  –  752
  7. The Thin Red Line  –  707
  8. Out of Sight  –  605
  9. A Simple Plan  –  541
  10. Primary Colors  –  472

note:  Shakespeare in Love wins by only 37 points – the smallest margin of victory since 1984.  Life is Beautiful sets a record for most awards points without any Golden Globe nominations.

Top 10 Films  (Domestic Box Office Gross):

  1. Saving Private Ryan  –  $216.54 mil
  2. Armageddon  –  $201.57 mil
  3. There’s Something About Mary  –  $176.48 mil
  4. A Bug’s Life  –  $162.79 mil
  5. The Waterboy  –  $161.49 mil
  6. Doctor Dolittle  –  $144.15 mil
  7. Rush Hour  –  $141.18 mil
  8. Deep Impact  –  $140.46 mil
  9. Godzilla  –  $136.31 mil
  10. Patch Adams  –  $135.02 mil

note:  A truly awful year.  Six of these films have Metacritic scores below 50.  I only rank three of them above **.5 stars.  I did see six of these in the theaters, but got paid overtime to see Armageddon, only went to see Waterboy to see the Phantom Menace trailer and have always been a sucker for Godzilla films.  Saving Private Ryan is the last film to win its year with less than $250 million.  I saw these 10 films in the theaters fewer times combined than I saw Star Wars in 1997 or Phantom Menace in 1999.

Amazing that it was the #1 film worldwide when it wasn't even the best "comet threatens to destroy the planet" film of the year.

Top 10 Films  (Worldwide Box Office Gross):

  1. Armageddon  –  $553.7 mil
  2. Saving Private Ryan  –  $481.8 mil
  3. Godzilla  –  $379.0 mil
  4. There’s Something About Mary  –  $369.9 mil
  5. A Bug’s Life  –  $363.4 mil
  6. Deep Impact  –  $349.5 mil
  7. Mulan  –  $304.3 mil
  8. Doctor Dolittle  –  $294.5 mil
  9. Shakespeare in Love  –  $289.3 mil
  10. Lethal Weapon 4  –  $285.4 mil

note:  Dropping Rush Hour and Waterboy for Mulan and Lethal Weapon 4 is a small improvement.  But dropping Patch Adams for Shakespeare in Love makes this list much better.  Waterboy makes 86.8% of its gross in the States, the highest figure of any movie grossing that much by quite a ways.  Shakespeare in Love has the highest international % (65.3), but it’s not particularly high.

AFI Top 100:

  • Saving Private Ryan  –  #71  (2007)

Ebert Great Films:

  • Dark City
  • The Big Lebowski

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture:  Saving Private Ryan
  • Best Director:  Steven Spielberg  (Saving Private Ryan)
  • Best Actor:  Ian McKellen  (Gods and Monsters)
  • Best Actress:  Cate Blanchett  (Elizabeth)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Donald Sutherland  (Without Limits)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Lynn Redgrave  (Gods and Monsters)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Gods and Monsters
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Men With Guns

The Best Supporting performance of the year and Bill Murray doesn't even get an Oscar nomination

Comedy:

  • Best Picture:  Out of Sight
  • Best Director:  Steven Soderbergh  (Out of Sight)
  • Best Actor:  George Clooney  (Out of Sight)
  • Best Actress:  Gwyneth Paltrow  (Shakespeare in Love)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Bill Murray  (Rushmore)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Judi Dench  (Shakespeare in Love)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Out of Sight
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Shakespeare in Love

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Out of Sight
  • Best Director:  Steven Spielberg  (Saving Private Ryan)
  • Best Actor:  Ian McKellen  (Gods and Monsters)
  • Best Actress:  Cate Blanchett  (Elizabeth)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Bill Murray  (Rushmore)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Judi Dench  (Shakespeare in Love)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Out of Sight
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Shakespeare in Love
  • Best Editing:  Out of Sight
  • Best Cinematography:  The Thin Red Line
  • Best Original Score:  Shakespeare in Love
  • Best Sound:  Saving Private Ryan
  • Best Art Direction:  Shakespeare in Love
  • Best Visual Effects:  Saving Private Ryan
  • Best Sound Effects Editing:  Saving Private Ryan
  • Best Costume Design:  Shakespeare in Love
  • Best Makeup:  Saving Private Ryan
  • Best Original Song:  “The Flame Still Burns” from Still Crazy
  • Best Foreign Film:  Ringu
  • Best Animated Film:  Kiki’s Delivery Service

The original and so, so, so, so, so much better

Top 5 Foreign Films:

  1. Ringu
  2. Run Lola Run
  3. The Celebration
  4. Life is Beautiful
  5. Sitcom

note:  Ringu, of course, wasn’t submitted to the Academy.  Run Lola Run and The Celebration were both submitted, and pathetically, not nominated.  Life is Beautiful won the Oscar.  Sitcom wasn’t submitted.  The only other eligible Foreign Film of the year that made my ***.5 cut-off was Central Station which was nominated.  Both Sitcom and Run Lola Run were big leaping off points for great young directors (Francois Ozon and Tom Tykwer).

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  The Big Lebowski
  • Best Line (comedic):  “They’ll only laugh at me.”  “That’s because you’re a clown!”  (David Hyde-Pierce and John Ratzenberger in A Bug’s Life)
  • Best Line (dramatic):  “Be thankful for your limits, Pre, they’re about as limitless as they get in this life. ”  (Donald Sutherland in Without Limits)
  • Best Opening:  Out of Sight
  • Best Ending:  Shakespeare in Love
  • Best Scene:  the dream sequence in The Big Lebowski
  • Best Use of a Song (comedic):  “Lookin Out My Back Door” in The Big Lebowski
  • Best Use of a Song (dramatic):  “Get Together” in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • Best Ensemble:  Shakespeare in Love
  • Funniest Film:  The Big Lebowski
  • Best Film Filmed in the Diner I Loved in College:  Zero Effect
  • Most Over-Rated Film:  Mulan
  • Most Pointless Film:  Psycho
  • Worst Film:  Lost in Space
  • Worst Sequel:  Major League: Back to the Minors
  • Worst Performance:  Audrey Timmonds in Godzilla
  • Worst Performance By a Good Actor:  Sean Connery in The Avengers
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love
  • Sexiest Performance:  Jennifer Lopez in Out of Sight
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Jennifer Love Hewitt in Can’t Hardly Wait
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  Orgazmo  /  BASEketball
  • Best Soundtrack:  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • Watch the Film, SKIP the Book:  Primary Colors
  • Read the Book, SKIP the Film:  Breakfast of Champions  /  Simon Birch
  • Star of the Year:  Ian McKellen  (Gods and Monsters, Apt Pupil)
  • Coolest Performance:  Antonio Banderas in The Mask of Zorro
  • Best Trailer:  Without Limits
  • Best Cameo:  Brett Favre in There’s Something About Mary
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  David Hyde-Pierce in A Bug’s Life

Film History:  The AFI releases its initial Top 100 Films list, with Citizen Kane at #1.  Titanic becomes the first film to cross the $500 million domestic mark and $1 billion worldwide.  Miramax wins Best Picture at the Oscars with Shakespeare in Love.  Michael Ovitz forms the Artists Management Group.  Lolita gets a theatrical run after premiering in the United States on Showtime.  Eternity and a Day wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes.  Slam wins the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.  Gods and Monsters wins Best Picture, Actor and Supporting Actress at the Independent Spirits.  The long delayed Superman Lives with Tim Burton directing and Nicholas Cage starring is put on hold.  Frank Sinatra dies on 14 May.  Akira Kurosawa dies on 7 September.  George Clooney, after several flops, becomes a movie star with Out of SightThe Big Lebowski is released to mixed reviews, almost no award attention and less than $20 million gross.

Academy Awards:  Shakespeare in Love ties for third all-time in nominations (13) and 12th all-time in points (585).  No film has had more points since and only two films have had as many nominations.  This means, of the top 12 films in Academy history (in points), four are from the nineties (Titanic, The English Patient, Dances with Wolves, Shakespeare in Love) while four are from the fifties (From Here to Eternity, Ben-Hur, On the Waterfront, All About Eve) – though all four of the fifties films are in the top 5.  The other four films are from 1939 (Gone with the Wind), 1942 (Mrs. Miniver), 1944 (Going My Way) and 1961 (West Side Story).  The seventies, eighties and aughts all have no films in the top 12.  Shakespeare in Love becomes the highest film (in points) without winning Best Director.  It becomes the first Best Picture winner to win both female acting Oscars since 1942.  It is also the fourth Best Picture winner in a row to not have won a critics award for Best Picture.  It becomes the first Best Picture winner from an independent.  After a stretch where the Best Picture winner was nominated for Best Actor eight out of nine years, for the second year in a row, the Best Picture winner has a lot of nominations, but not one for Best Actor, the same thing that will happen in 2002, the next time a Best Picture winner fails to earn a Best Actor nomination.  Life is Beautiful becomes the second film to get nominated for Best Picture and Foreign Film (like Z before it, it wins Foreign Film) and Roberto Benigni becomes the second person after Laurence Olivier to direct himself to an Oscar (though both were nominated and lost Best Director).  Elizabeth is the first Best Picture nominee in five years to get neither a Director or Screenplay nomination.  Gods and Monsters becomes only the third film in history (after The Bad and the Beautiful and Sling Blade) to win Best Adapted Screenplay without a Best Picture nomination.  For the first time, two South American films are nominated for Best Foreign Film and for only the second time only two European films are nominated.

This year is often denigrated because of Shakespeare in Love, but that’s ridiculous because it’s a great film.  And they got it right by giving the Oscar to Spielberg.  True, Gwyneth shouldn’t have won (Blanchett should have), but she was great.  James Coburn shouldn’t have won, but they didn’t even nominate Bill Murray or Donald Sutherland.  And, of course, Roberto Benigni shouldn’t have won and Ian McKellen has every right to be pissed about it, though at least he was nominated, unlike Jim Carrey (first Globe – Drama winner not nominated since 1965).  Just two years after giving the Coens an Oscar, the Academy fails to give The Big Lebowski a single nomination.  I don’t agree with more than 3 nominees in any category and in most I don’t agree with more than 2.  Best Original Song is the worst (see the whole entry below).  And you really thought Armageddon was more deserving of nominations in the two Sound categories than Ronin?  Really?

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Original Song for “When You Believe” from The Prince of Egypt
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  basically everything in the Best Original Song category
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Supporting Actor for Bill Murray in Rushmore
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Patch Adams
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  The Big Lebowski
  • Best Foreign Film Submitted But Not Nominated:  Run Lola Run
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Original Song
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Screenplay Adapted
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Best Director, Supporting Actress, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Cinematography, Original Comedic Score, Sound, Art Direction, Sound Effects Editing, Costume Design

Golden Globes:  Saving Private Ryan wins Picture – Drama and Director (out of five nominations).  But it also becomes the first film to win Picture and Director to not go on and win the Oscar since 1989.  Also, for the first time since 1989, all three Drama winners (Saving Private Ryan, Jim Carrey, Cate Blanchett) fail to win the Oscar.  Jim Carrey becomes the first Actor – Drama winner to not go on to receive an Oscar nomination since Omar Sharif in 1965.  Michael Caine, the winner of Actor – Comedy also fails to get Oscar nominated, the first time neither Globe winner is Oscar nominated since 1953.  Shakespeare in Love wins three (Picture – Comedy, Screenplay, Actress – Comedy) of its six nominations.  The Truman Show wins Actor – Drama and Supporting Actor while getting Picture – Drama, Director and Screenplay nominations; its 315 points are the most ever for a film not to end up with an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.  Also nominated for Picture and Director are Elizabeth and (amazingly) The Horse Whisperer.  The Globes are a very mixed bag this year, giving nominations to Patch Adams (Picture – Comedy, Actor – Comedy), Stepmom (Actress – Drama) and You’ve Got Mail (Actress – Comedy) while completely ignoring Out of Sight, The Big Lebowski and Pleasantville.  But, to the Globes credit, they give the only awards love to Without Limits (Supporting Actor), Men With Guns (Foreign Film), Happiness (Screenplay) and Still Crazy (Picture – Comedy, Song).

Awards:  No film would dominate the critics awards.  Saving Private Ryan would win three Best Picture awards (New York, LA, Chicago), but only the LA Film Critics would give it Best Director.  Out of Sight would win big in Boston (Picture, Director) and bigger from the National Society of Film Critics (Picture, Director, Screenplay) but go empty-handed from the other groups.  Gods and Monsters would win Best Actor from LA, Chicago and the National Board of Review, also winning the final Best Picture award from the latter group.  But while The Thin Red Line would win Best Director from New York and Chicago, the only other film to win more than two awards in any one category would be the three Best Supporting Actor Awards each for Billy Bob Thornton in A Simple Plan (LA, Boston, Chicago) and Bill Murray in Rushmore (New York, LA, NSFC).

Saving Private Ryan and Shakespeare in Love dominate the guilds.  They split the major awards, with Ryan winning the PGA and DGA and Shakespeare taking the SAG Ensemble and WGA.  Ryan ends up with more total awards (6 to 3) and more points (550 to 530), but Shakespeare dominates the SAG awards – setting a new record for nominations (5 – tied twice since) and points (265 – broken the next year).  It is still the only film to be nominated in all five SAG categories.  It would also be the first SAG Ensemble winner to go on to win Best Picture at the Oscars.  No other film would get more than 4 guild nominations, win more than 1 award or earn more than 215 points.  Only Life is Beautiful and Waking Ned Devine would earn both PGA and SAG Ensemble nominations and only The Truman Show (which would earn neither) would get both DGA and WGA nominations.  Out of Sight would win the other WGA award but only get an ACE to go along with it.  Gods and Monsters would earn PGA, Actor, Supporting Actress and WGA nominations but would win nothing.  Waking Ned Devine sets a record (which still stands) of 150 points from the guilds without receiving any points from any other groups.  Mulan would win the Annie over A Bug’s Life.  For the only time prior to 2005 the Supporting Actress lineup at SAG would match the Oscars, but Kathy Bates, while winning SAG would lose at the Oscars.  The DGA does what has happened only one other time in history (1977) – matching 5 for 5 with the Oscars without all 5 directors coming from Best Picture nominees.

Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love become two of the most successful films in BAFTA history.  Elizabeth earns 545 points, winning 6 (British Film, Actress, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Score, Makeup) out of 12 nominations (including Picture, Director and Screenplay).  Meanwhile, Shakespeare in Love only wins 3 (Picture, Supporting Actress, Editing), but ties the record set by Gandhi with 15 nominations and earns 540 points.  The Truman Show becomes the second film in a row (but the last to date) to win Director and Screenplay but not Picture (it earns 7 nominations overall).  Saving Private Ryan is the final Best Picture nominee and earns 10 nominations (including Director) but only wins Sound and Visual Effects.

All five eventual Oscar nominees are nominated at the Broadcast Film Critics Association, as well as A Simple Plan, Gods and Monsters, Pleasantville, Out of Sight and The Truman ShowSaving Private Ryan becomes the first film to win Picture and Director at the BFCA and also wins Score.  The only other films to win more than one award are A Simple Plan (Adapted Screenplay and Supporting Actor), Primary Colors (Supporting Actor – both awards were for Billy Bob Thornton and Supporting Actress) and The Prince of Egypt (Song, Animated Film – which it shares with A Bug’s Life).

Best Director:  Steven Spielberg easily wins his third Consensus Award.  He wins the DGA, Oscar, LAFC, Globe and BFCA (and the Nighthawk) and earns BAFTA and Satellite nominations.  Terrence Malick, who beats Spielberg at the Satellites and wins in New York and Chicago for The Thin Red Line (but loses at the Oscars and DGA) comes in second.  Peter Weir, who beats Spielberg at the BAFTAs for The Truman Show (but loses to him at the Globe, DGA and Oscars) comes in third.  John Madden comes in fourth, losing at the Oscars, DGA, BAFTA and Globes for Shakespeare in Love while Shekhar Kapur, who wins the NBR for Elizabeth (but loses at the BAFTAs, Globes and Satellites) comes in fifth.  Spielberg is easily my winner, while my nominees are Steven Soderbergh (BSFC winner for Out of Sight), the Coen Brothers (technically just Joel Coen, but come on, really) for The Big Lebowski, Bill Condon for Gods and Monsters and Weir.  My 6 through 10 are Hideo Nakata (Ringu), Malick, Madden, Kapur and Terry Gilliam (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas).

Best Adapted Screenplay:  Out of Sight wins the Nighthawk and the Consensus Award.  It also wins the WGA, NSFC and BSFC and earns an Oscar nom.  It’s followed by A Simple Plan (NBR, BFCA winner, Oscar, WGA nominee), Primary Colors (BAFTA winners, Oscar and WGA nominee) and Gods and Monsters (Oscar winner, WGA nominee).  The fifth spot is a four way tie between the rest of the assorted nominees: Oscar (The Thin Red Line), WGA (A Civil Action) and BAFTA (Little Voice and Hilary and Jackie).  The rest of my nominees are Gods and Monsters, Primary Colors, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Butcher Boy.  My 6 through 10 are Ringu, A Simple Plan, Character, Apt Pupil (a script I desperately wanted to write for a long time) and The General.  Interesting enough here, none of the Globe nominees are adapted for the first time since 1986.

Best Original Screenplay:  Shakespeare in Love is the most dominant winner in this category since Pulp Fiction.  Aside from winning the Consensus Award and the Nighthawk, it wins the Oscar, WGA, Globe, BFCA, NYFC and CFC (and also earns a BAFTA nom).  Second place is a tie between two films that lose to Shakespeare at the Oscars, WGA and Globes: The Truman Show (which wins the BAFTA) and Bulworth (which wins in LA).  The last two spots are Saving Private Ryan (Oscar, WGA, Globe noms) and Life is Beautiful (Oscar, BAFTA noms).  My own list is Shakespeare in Love, The Big Lebowski, Pleasantville (neither of which got anything for their brilliant original scripts), The Truman Show and Bulworth.  Sadly, this means that Rushmore finishes sixth in a strong year, followed by Live Flesh, Velvet Goldmine, Men with Guns and Zero Effect.

Best Actor:  Ian McKellen wins the LAFC, CFC, NBR and BFCA, as well as the Consensus and Nighthawk for his performance as James Whale in Gods and Monsters (he also gets SAG, Oscar and Globe nominations).  Nick Nolte comes in second with wins from the NYFC and NSFC and SAG, Oscar and Globe nominations for Affliction.  Yet, Roberto Benigni, rather ridiculously, would beat them both at SAG and the Oscars (and would win the BAFTA).  The final two slots would be Tom Hanks for Saving Private Ryan (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe noms) and Michael Caine for Little Voice (BAFTA nom, Globe – Comedy win).  My own list is McKellen, George Clooney (who got nothing for Out of Sight – it was like the awards groups couldn’t decide yet whether or not to take him seriously – but they would compound that by ignoring him the next year for Three Kings as well), Hanks, Brendan Gleeson for The General (BSFC winner) and Jim Carrey for The Truman Show (Globe – Drama winner).  My 6 through 10 are Nolte, Edward Norton for American History X (the first actor in five years to get an Oscar nomination without any precursors), Warren Beatty for Bulworth (Globe – Comedy nom), John Travolta for Primary Colors (Globe – Comedy nom) and Jeff Bridges for The Big Lebowski (just beating out Johnny Depp for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas).

the luminous and brilliant Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth - the best performance of 1998

Best Actress:  Cate Blanchett won the Chicago Film Critics Award, the BAFTA, Globe and BFCA (as well as the Consensus and the Nighthawk Award) for her brilliant performance in Elizabeth, though she lost at both SAG and the Oscars to Gwyneth.  Gwyneth comes in second in the Consensus and Nighthawk Awards and also earned the other Globe win and a BAFTA nom.  The rest of the Consensus nominees are Fernanda Montenegra for Central Station (LAFC, NBR winner, Oscar and Globe nominee), Emily Watson for Hilary and Jackie (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe noms) and Ally Sheedy for High Art (LAFC and NSFC wins).  The rest of my nominees somehow didn’t get anything: Emma Thompson for Primary Colors, Renee Zelwegger for One True Thing and Jennifer Lopez for Out of Sight.  My 6 through 10 are Samantha Morten (BSFC winner for Under My Skin), Gwyneth again (this time for Sliding Doors), Meryl Streep (SAG, Oscar and Globe nominee for One True Thing – but it was Zelwegger who gave the more impressive performance), Montenegra and Watson.

Best Supporting Actor:  It’s the year of multiple films.  Billy Bob Thornton wins the Consensus Award, winning in LA and Chicago and the BFCA while earning SAG, Oscar and Globe noms.  Though I think his better performance is in Primary Colors, all of the awards were for A Simple Plan, except the BFCA which gave him the award for both films.  Bill Murray finishes second, winning three critics awards (New York, tie with Thornton in LA, NSFC) and earns a Globe nom for Rushmore, but, ridiculously, is passed up by both SAG and the Oscars (the LA Critics also cite him for Wild Things).  The other three Consensus nominees are Geoffrey Rush (SAG, Oscar, Globe, BAFTA nominee for Shakespeare in Love and wins the BAFTA for Elizabeth), Ed Harris (Globe and NBR winner for The Truman Show and Oscar and BAFTA nominee, but, amazingly, not a SAG nominee) and Robert Duvall (SAG winner, Oscar and Globe nominee for A Civil Action).  It’s a bizarre year for the awards groups.  Five of the Globe nominees (there are six) are the Consensus nominees.  The only two other years since SAG began in 1994 this has happened is in 2000 and 2009, and in both of those years, the Globes agreed 5/5 with SAG and Oscar.  But here, it’s the Globe nominees that have a critical consensus while SAG nominee David Kelly for Waking Ned Devine doesn’t and SAG nominee and Oscar winner James Coburn (for Affliction) don’t.

On the other hand, I disagree with most of these.  My winner is Murray.  But my #2, Donald Sutherland for Without Limits, is that sixth Globe nominee, who got nothing else.  Harris and Rush are my next two nominees, but my final nominee is Billy Bob Thornton, for Primary Colors rather than A Simple Plan.  My 6 through 10 didn’t get a lot of critical adoration either: Ian McKellen for Apt Pupil (he was cited for this in his Best Actor award at the BFCA), John Goodman for his brilliant turn in The Big Lebowski, Jeff Daniels, for his subtle and strong performance in Pleasantville, Thornton again (this time for A Simple Plan) and Tom Wilkinson, for his dangerous financier in Shakespeare in Love.

Best Supporting Actress:  Kathy Bates wins the Consensus Award for Primary Colors, but there really isn’t much of a consensus.  She wins three awards (CFC, SAG, BFCA) and earns three noms (AA, BAFTA, Globe).  But Judi Dench also wins three awards (NSFC, Oscar, BAFTA) and earns SAG and Globe noms while Joan Allen also wins three awards for Pleasantville (LAFC, BSFC, tie with Bates at the BFCA).  Lynn Redgrave comes in fourth by winning the Globe and earning Oscar, SAG and BAFTA noms for Gods and Monsters while Brenda Blethyn comes in fifth for earning Oscar, SAG, BAFTA and Globe noms for Little Voice.  My own list is Dench, Bates, Lisa Kudrow (who won the NYFC for The Opposite of Sex), Allen and Julianne Moore, for her hilarious performance in The Big Lebowski.  My 6 through 10 are Redgrave, Oscar and SAG nominee Rachel Griffiths for Hilary and Jackie, Halle Berry for her sexy, under-appreciated performance in Bulworth, Blethyn and Toni Collette for her sexy, very under-appreciated performance in Velvet Goldmine.

Best Original Song:  Here are the five songs nominated at the Oscars for Best Original Song: “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from Armageddon, “The Prayer” from Quest for Camelot, “A Soft Place to Fall” from The Horse Whisperer, “That’ll Do” from Babe: Pig in the City and “When I Believe” from The Prince of Egypt, which won.  Other than the first song, which of course was sung by Aerosmith, I can’t remember any of them, because, in spite of Randy Newman writing the pig’s song, none of them are memorable in any way.  It’s not that the songs are bad.  It’s that their so boring and forgettable.  The Globes at least did a major step up by nominating the wonderful “The Flame Still Burns” from Still Crazy and “Uninvited” from City of Angels.  My own list would be the following five: “The Flame Still Burns“, “Uninvited, “He Got Game” from He Got Game, “Happiness” from Happiness” and “Baby’s on Fire” from Velvet Goldmine.  Not only are they a much better group of songs, really memorable songs, but they are also, for the most part, better used in the films.  Just watch that ending of Still Crazy, which has been building to an explosion, and watch how the song, which is absolutely wonderful, brings the film to wonderful closure.  While there are eligibility questions about “He Got Game” because of the sampling, that still leaves the other original songs from Velvet Goldmine, “Iris” from City of Angels, “Siren” from Great Expectations, the hilarious “Now You’re a Man” from Orgazmo and the title song from There’s Something About Mary.  All the Oscar nominations did this year was prove how bad (and boring) their music voters are.  It’s stunning that this group would nominate “Blame Canada” the next year (though they would give the Oscar to a terrible Phil Collins song).

This is the Prefontaine film you should see, though you probably haven't seen either of them

Under-appreciated Film of 1998:

Without Limits  (dir. Robert Towne)

Growing up a runner, Pre is a myth, a legend, a distant memory of a certain way of running, the great lost hope of American running.  If you didn’t grow up a runner, you probably don’t know who the hell Pre is, in spite of the fact that two different biopics about him were released in the space of a year.  You probably didn’t see either film because the two films combined to gross just over $1 million.  I went to see Without Limits on opening night in Oregon, the home state of Steve Prefontaine and the theater wasn’t even close to a quarter full.

I began to have some hopes that the awards season would bring people to the film.  It looked good at the start – Donald Sutherland won the little known Satellite Award and then finished in second place at the National Society of Film Critics and was nominated for a Golden Globe.  But he lost the Globe and the Oscars didn’t nominate him at all and then the film was gone.

Somehow Donald Sutherland never ends up on those lists when random bloggers who rarely ever write about film want to complain about the Academy Awards.  But he’s been a great actor for almost 50 years now, the star of M*A*S*H, Klute, Ordinary People before moving on to great supporting roles in JFK, Without Limits, Cold Mountain and Pride and Prejudice.  But he still has never been nominated for an Oscar.  And this is where the Academy really dropped the ball when it comes to Sutherland.

Donald Sutherland plays Bill Bowerman.  Don’t know who Bowerman is?  He’s a god in the track and field world, the man who created the waffle design that became the backbone of Nike, the legendary Oregon and U.S. Olympic coach.  He was the man who would seek the bridle the passions of a young Steve Prefontaine and help him to become a better runner.  At the heart of this film is the relationship between Bowerman and Pre (played very well by Billy Crudup – another actor who never really gets his due).  They are divided in a philosophical argument over how to run a race (and if this doesn’t seem particularly dramatic, well, watch the film and you’ll see how dramatic it can be).  Their arguments went through Pre’s time at Oregon and out into the wider world when they were together at Munich.

If you know your running history (or checked Wikipedia, or, imagine this, have seen the film), you know that Pre lost at Munich, falling back at the end of the race and finishing fourth.  Then, when preparing for Montreal, he died in a car crash and the great middle distance runner of our time was gone and there was to be no medals.  But between Munich and his death come the final battles with Bowerman, including a great scene outside the bar where Pre is working (one of the sub-plots is Pre’s battles with the AAU which kept him unable to earn money from running if he wanted to be able to compete in the Olympics again).  In that scene, we sense the frustration of the great coach at the talent he sees being wasted and he explains, in no uncertain terms what Pre’s potential is.  It is this potential, what they both know he is capable of in Montreal that adds extra depth to the tragedy of his untimely death.  There are athletes who are injured, but it is hard to find a comparable person in American sports who died with so much still to come.

Small films like this are never going to be big money-makers.  They depend on word of mouth, seeing one because you care about (like, for instance, you grew up a runner and you want to see the film about Pre) or awards.  Well, the Oscars chunked it by not nominating Sutherland for a performance that was better than any of the actual nominated performances.  So, you just have to depend on my word-of-mouth.

end note:  I noted the trailer up in the Nighthawk Notables.  This is one of my absolute favorite trailers.  It does exactly what a trailer should do – has some drama, some humor, edits it perfectly and uses great music behind it.  I hoped that the trailer would at least bring some people into the theater.

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