“I would rather be a ghost, drifting by your side as a condemned soul, than enter heaven without you.” Because the book has never been translated, I have no idea if that brilliant line exists there in any way.

My Top 10

  1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  2. Traffic
  3. Wonder Boys
  4. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  5. High Fidelity
  6. Thirteen Days
  7. The Virgin Suicides
  8. Quills
  9. The Claim
  10. Aimee and Jaguar

note:  A truly fantastic Top 7 though it drops a bit after that.  My list continues down below though my #18 (Chocolat) and #19 (All the Pretty Horses) aren’t on that list because they’re reviewed as nominees.

Consensus Nominees:

  1. Traffic  (368 pts)
  2. Wonder Boys  (224 pts)
  3. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon  (120 pts)
  4. Chocolat  (120 pts)
  5. O, Brother Where Art Thou?  (80 pts)
  6. High Fidelity  (80 pts)

note:  Traffic is the first adapted screenplay to sweep the five awards groups.  It’s also the only film through 2019 to sweep all five without winning a critics award.

Oscar Nominees  (Best Screenplay – Based on Material from Another Medium):

  • Traffic
  • Chocolat
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  • Wonder Boys


  • Traffic
  • Chocolat
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • High Fidelity
  • Wonder Boys

Golden Globes:

  • Traffic
  • Quills
  • Wonder Boys

Nominees that are Original:  Almost Famous, You Can Count on Me


  • Traffic
  • Chocolat
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • High Fidelity
  • Wonder Boys
  • East is East  (1999)
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?  (nominated as Original)


  • Traffic


  • Wonder Boys


  • All the Pretty Horses

My Top 10




Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

The Film:

I knew that I would love this film long before I ever saw it.  I discussed some of that in the full review of the film that I wrote here.  I was invested enough in seeing it that I drove three hours to see it rather than wait two more weeks.  And I was well rewarded with the best film of the decade, one of the greatest films of all-time, a film that is almost everything (except a Musical) at once.  Parasite has finally knocked down the notion that a Foreign Film can’t win Best Picture at the Oscars but there’s no question that this is the film that should have set that standard.  It’s also noteworthy that it’s still, 20 years after it was released, the highest grossing Foreign Film in the U.S. by over a 2 to 1 margin.

The Source:

卧虎藏龙 by Wang Dulu  (1942)

It’s bizarre and considerably annoying that this novel has still never been translated into English.  I feel like it would have done well enough when the film came out that it could have justified a translation.  However, I don’t read Chinese, so I have obviously never read the original novel.

The Adaptation:

The best I can go with is that this is loosely adapted according to Wikipedia.

The Credits:

Directed by Ang Lee.  Screenplay by Wang Hui Ling and James Schamus and Tsai Kuo Jung.  Based on the Book by Wang Du Lu.
note:  These are from the end credits.  Only the title is in the opening credits.


The Film:

I have already reviewed this film as one of the Best Picture nominees.  It’s rather stunning that it didn’t win Best Picture – it won the other four Oscars it was nominated for including Director and Adapted Screenplay (the first to win both but not Picture since 1951) and it was a more than solid box office hit as well.  It’s a masterful film, a brilliantly handled multiple storyline of drugs in America, how they get here, what the government does to stop them and how it all gets down to those who use them.  Easily one of the best films of the year, probably the best film Soderbergh has made and a far far better film than Gladiator which actually won Picture.

The Source:

Traffik, written by Simon Moore, directed by Alistair Reed  (1989)

This was widely acclaimed when it first aired in Britain in 1989.  This was a fascinating look at the drug trade told through three different storylines.  One storyline is set in Pakistan, where the drugs are grown, the next in Hamburg, where they are manufactured to be exported to Britain and one in Britain where we deal with an important government minister whose daughter is a heroin addict.  It’s very well told, well acted and always fascinating, never lagging even though it’s some six hours (six hour long episodes).

The Adaptation:

The film takes the bare bones from the original six hour production and finds ways to make it slimmer, to fit into a film length rather than one for a series.  Of course, it makes a big change, moving the actions from Britain to the U.S., also changing the other two storylines (the one about those who grow the drugs in Pakistan becomes about a cop in Mexico struggling with how to do the right thing and the Hamburg storyline is moved, fairly intact, to San Diego).  There are a number of moments in the film that come almost straight from the original series (like the moment when the daughter, in a drug haze, gets a shot of heroin in her foot after having fled rehab).  The San Diego storyline focuses much more on the DEA agents fighting against the drug importer than in the original.  It’s amazing to watch the original and see how much of it makes it quite intact to the film in spite of the change in countries and you find yourself surprised that so much can be in the film when it’s less than half the length of the series.

The Credits:

Directed by Steven Soderbergh.  Screenplay by Stephen Gaghan.  Based on “Traffik” created by Simon Moore, originally produced by Carnival Films for Channel 4 Television (U.K.).
note:  There are no opening credits other than the title.

Wonder Boys

The Film:

I have already reviewed this film because the novel is one of my Top 100 of all-time.  However, I would have reviewed the film anyway as one of the Top 5 films of the year.  I should probably also mention that it’s one my 100 Favorite Films of All-Time as well.  This is a fantastic film, brilliantly acted from all involved, with brilliant dialogue that shines at every turn and the actual feel of a college writing program.

The Source:

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon  (1995)

I have, of course, already reviewed this novel because it ranks at #49 all-time (and you can find the film review there as well).  I am a big fan of the author as well as you can find from the link above.  This is a book I desperately wished I had written and fits into a couple of ideas I thought of teaching as classes (along with Russo and Irving, Chabon’s characters are usually missing a father and it goes with several other “Academic” novels like The Dean’s December, The Human Stain and Straight Man).  It has wonderful (and believable) characters, takes you places you couldn’t have imagined, makes you remember again the thrill of writing and has fantastic dialogue.  I’m so glad I had the time to read the book after seeing the trailer but before seeing the film to know that I was correct in my pre-determined love for both.

The Adaptation:

This is a fascinating adaptation in the ways that it’s both incredibly faithful and incredibly un-faithful all at the same time.  Almost the entire first half of the film, for instance, comes basically straight off the page with the vast majority of the dialogue appearing untouched on the screen though some of them are just the touch of Kloves (“They’re Mrs. Gaskell’s hobby.”  “I thought you were Mrs. Gaskell’s hobby.”).  You find yourself so moved by how faithful the first half is that you miss that a lot of the characters don’t match their physical descriptions in the book (Terry looks nothing Downey, Grady is supposed to be fat, Hannah is supposed to be blonde).  Then there is the trip out to see his wife which is almost nothing like the book except that Grady abandons James to his parents.  Then most of what follows, with the exception of the fate of the jacket goes back to being really faithful.  Overall, it’s a great job of tailoring the story to fit the needs of a film and you feel like you’ve seen the whole book and you read it and you’re surprised that it’s not and you’re pleased with both results.  I know I am.  I know Chabon is.

The Credits:

Directed by Curtis Hanson.  Based upon the Novel by Michael Chabon.  Screenplay by Steve Kloves.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The Film:

“Damn, we’re in a tight spot.”  If those words don’t make you think of this film immediately then you need to be watching it again.  If those words don’t make you laugh then there might be no hope for you.  This was the third year in a row where George Clooney had given one of the best performances of the year in one of the best films of the year and neither his performance nor the film had earned Oscar nominations (it would take until 2005 before that would start happening).  It’s a brilliantly original film, partially in the way that it’s not original, doing exactly what Joyce did, and taking the broad swaths of one of the most famous and enduring stories in human history and making it modern in a completely original way.  You don’t have to know The Odyssey for the film to be brilliant (the brothers themselves had supposedly never read it) but it adds an extra layer of humor throughout if you are familiar with it.  It’s also noteworthy for one of the most surprisingly brilliant soundtracks in all of film history, filled with the kind of music I never thought I would enjoy, yet I can’t stop playing it two decades later.  I would write more but I reviewed this film over a decade ago now.

The Source:

Ὀδύσσεια by Homer  (ca. 700 B.C.)

If you have never at least somewhat studied The Odyssey, the poem that may or may not have been written by a poet who may or may not have been called Homer and who may have lived in one of a couple of different centuries well over 2000 years ago, then I hope you don’t have a university education because I would think poorly of it.  It’s not even a question of what you majored in.  At my own school, Pacific, Culture and Civilization (later changed to Freshman Seminar) was required of all students and this was one of the required texts.

I have never really taken to The Odyssey, mostly because I am not personally a fan of epic poetry – the style itself I find pushes it away for me, not just for this, but also things like Beowulf and The Song of Roland.  But the story of Odysseus is a masterful one, full of epic adventures and feats and so, when transformed into a different media, I am all in favor of it.  I’ve seen parts of it adapted into novels, films, comic books, television shows and the like and they’re always enjoyable and give new visionary concepts of how to look at all of these events.

If you are willing to dive into the epic of all epic poems, I recommend what I did, and going with the Robert Fitzgerald translation.  There are versions that turn the whole thing into prose rather than verse but I actually find I take to those worse than I do the verse.

The Adaptation:

The film, of course, only takes some of the bare bones of the story and adapts them into the 1937 setting, making the sirens three women who sing to the men while washing clothes in the river or the cyclops a one-eyed Klansman or the way that Penelope (Penny in the film) has been courted while Ulysses has been gone.  It brings in other ideas as well (Tommy is based on a real blues musician while Pappy O’Daniel is based on a real governor (of Texas)).

The Credits:

Directed by Joel Coen.  Written by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen.  Based Upon “The Odyssey” by Homer.

High Fidelity

The Film:

I have already reviewed this film when I wrote my review of the book (see below).  Even aside from pointing to the review I can point out that it’s brilliantly written and edited, that is one of my all-time favorite trailers, is on my list of Top 100 Favorite Films, is one of the first films I saw on a date with Veronica and says something about our relationship, especially seeing as how Rob Gordon is one of the film characters who most resembles me, right down to the notion that I don’t want to live in the fantasy anymore.  Absolutely one of the greatest films for music, not just for the soundtrack itself (which is brilliant) but for how well each song is used, from the first second right down to the end credits.  And yes, I am aware that there is a new series starring the daughter of one the actresses in this film and no I haven’t seen it though it looks worth seeing.

The Source:

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

As mentioned above, I have already reviewed the book.  That’s not because it was a Top 100 novel; I love the novel (and the film) and I reviewed it as one of the Great Read series.

The Adaptation:

Like Wonder Boys (which it shares many similarities with in relation to my life), this is both a very faithful adaptation and a not faithful at all adaptation (like changing Rob Fleming to Rob Gordon).  For one thing, of course, it moves everything from London to Chicago which affects not only the location but also the language in the film and some of the characteristics of the characters as well.  But for all of that, it is also really faithful as many scenes come straight from the book or are perfectly inspired by the book (like how in the book Rob wishes his life could be like a Bruce Springsteen song and he does the same thing here but Springsteen himself actually talks to Rob).  The most perfect casting, of course, is that of Jack Black who perfectly embodies the character of Barry.  Nick Hornby himself commented, “I never expected it to be so faithful. At times it appears to be a film in which John Cusack reads my book.”

The Credits:

Directed by Stephen Frears.  Screenplay by D.V. DeVincentis & Steve Pink & John Cusack and Scott Rosenberg.  Based on the book by Nick Hornby.
note:  The title is the only thing in the opening credits.  But that’s okay because it has one of my favorite end credits sequence of any scene.

Thirteen Days

The Film:

I have actually already reviewed this film as the under-appreciated film of the year.  In a sense, I feel I have also under-appreciated it because it lands in sixth place for Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay.  But I at least have it on my lists and it earns other nominations (including winning Supporting Actor in a tough race over Philip Seymour Hoffman, Benicio del Toro and Robert Downey Jr).  It’s a great film, one that really makes you feel the weight of its history (I make clear why in the review).  It’s not a perfect representation of history (see below) but it’s pretty damn good, it’s well-made on every level and it’s entertaining as well.  Plus, and this was entirely a side benefit for me personally, it was a New Line film and attached to it in the theater was the first theatrical trailer for The Fellowship of the Ring, a year before its release.

The Source:

The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis, ed. Ernest R. May & Philip D. Zelikow  (1997)

It’s interesting that this film would use the title for Bobby Kennedy’s book about the Cuban Missile Crisis (put together before his death but published afterwards) but would not actually be based on it.  RFK used some of the transcripts that are the basis for this book when he wrote his book but there were also things that were still classified that he could not write about at the time that were revealed after the release of this book, almost 30 years after RFK died.  This is a transcription from actual recordings made in the White House during those thirteen days and are a valuable historical document about an important and dangerous time in U.S. and world history.

The Adaptation:

As almost anything you read about the film will point out, the least historical aspect of the film (and so, obviously not in line with what is in the historical transcripts as printed in the book) is that Kenny O’Donnell had almost nothing to do with the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Almost everything we see Costner’s character do either didn’t happen, or, for the most part, involved Ted Sorensen instead.  Many of the people involved have noted that it is basically Sorensen is all over the book and O’Donnell only appears on four pages pretty much backs that up.  But the other major part of the film that deviates, at least from the book itself, is that the book only covers conversations that were recorded in the White House (that’s where the recording system was).  Any event shown in the film that isn’t in the White House (and also that means it has to be inside) is either dramatization by the filmmakers or they must have gotten from some other source.  But there are also a lot of moments in the film that come almost straight from the transcripts.

The Credits:

Directed by Roger Donaldson.  Written by David Self.  Based on the Book “The Kennedy Tapes – Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis”, edited by Ernest R. May and Philip D. Zelikow, published by Harvard University Press.
note:  Bizarrely, the source credit is only near the end of the end credits in small print.

The Virgin Suicides

The Film:

I have already reviewed this film when I covered it for my piece on Sofia Coppola as a great director.  The irony there is that as of right now, Coppola wouldn’t make the next list simply because I have upped the minimum films required (she’s one short at the moment).  But this really is a great film, one of the best directorial debuts this century, one that showed that Coppola was an assured director and writer, an accomplished storyteller, both visually and verbally.  What’s perhaps even more remarkable is that she does it with a cast of actors that, for the most part, isn’t that accomplished, even all these years later, with only Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett finding stardom from the young actors involved.

The Source:

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenedis  (1993)

As I commented in my original piece on the film, Coppola is a slow filmmaker (20 years and only six films) but Eugenedis is an even slower writer.  He still hadn’t published his second novel when this film was made, seven years after the book was released, he had just published his third book when I wrote that piece back in 2011 and he still doesn’t have a fourth.

Eugenedis is interesting because there probably isn’t a writer who I think is as talented as he is, whose books I have all read multiple times, that I still would say that I don’t particularly like his work.  He’s good with story and character and yet there is something that pushes me away every time I read these books.

This first novel is all about memory, about looking back at someone who captivated you when you were young and that you were never able to get over.  In this case, given what happens to those girls, it’s not surprising that the male narrator and his friends would have become so captivated.  There is a beautiful poetry to the final line of the book (“It didn’t matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn’t heard us calling, still do not hear us, up here in the tree house, with our thinning hair and soft bellies, calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide, which is deeper than death, and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together.”) that reminds me of the end of one of the poems I liked the most that I read in college, a poem called “Dream Lover” by Mark DeFoe which ended “Call me, call me collect across the years / The yearbook’s wrong.  I’m sure that one perfect dance, / in your perfect dress, after my perfect game, / we were elected king and queen of something.”  Coppola understood this when she wanted to adapt the book; this book is about how and why we remember, what calls to us across the years when we have moved on and only memory can help us make sense of what went before.

The Adaptation:

Coppola does a magnificent job of bringing the book to life faithfully, even allowing for a narrator that could make use of the powerful narrative in the book.  The only scene that stuck out to me reading it this time after having just watched it again is that in the book, the fence that Cecilia falls upon to kill herself is removed by the neighborhood with Mr. Lisbon not having anything to do with the removal while in the film, he’s part of the group out there removing it.  Overall, it’s a fantastically faithful adaptation.

The Credits:

Written and Directed by Sofia Coppola.  Based upon the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides.


The Film:

Quills has always fit into that Leaving Las Vegas kind of realm – well made, very well acted, well written, but difficult to watch and the kind of film you don’t really want to go back to.  It is too decidedly unpleasant to want to bear it multiple times.  I saw it first in the theater after it won Best Picture from the NBR, kicking off the awards season that year.  I thought it was a film I would never watch again, but this project brought it back to me and I remembered both what was so well-done about the film and what made it so difficult to get through.

Quills is the story of the Marquis de Sade, his imprisonment in Charenton Asylum and his pushback against the censorship which kept him there.  Or is it really?  It is more a story of a man who is so determined to offend every person that he can, to live life so outrageously that society has no other choice but to lock him up, then deny him his rights, then cut out his tongue, then eventually push him to the madness that it is assumed he already has.  Is it a story of censorship that simply finds its measure in one of the most outrageous men who ever lived?

There are easily ways to compare it to different aspects of today’s society (the filmmakers admitted that the Starr Report factored into some of the decisions in the film).  We have all the allegorical pieces that we need – a man so filled with the desire to offend (Geoffrey Rush in what might be his greatest performance as the Marquis), the innocent who is intrigued by all of this offense but does not allow herself to be touched with it beyond a surface level (Kate Winslet, in another of her so many wonderful performances – there has never been another actress who so manages to embrace sexuality and innocence at the same time), the man who is offended beyond any belief, who pushes away any chance for happiness in his need to control what can not be controlled (Michael Caine, in a performance that’s a bit over the top, but is still good) and the man who keeps hoping that all of this can be brought into a different level of control, that if society can not control this, then perhaps the guidance of god can be used to bring things under control (Joaquin Phoenix in the role that he much more deserved to be Oscar nominated for rather than the horrible performance he gave in Gladiator which he did earn an Oscar nomination for).

The Source:

Quills by Doug Wright  (1995)

Quills is a fascinating play, one with a fantastic role at its center in the Marquis de Sade.  His lines are rich with irony and humor, as well as pushing the line of what is tolerable, not only in a polite society, but in any society.  It is a very talky play, one without a lot of action and with a lot of short scenes.  There are 25 scenes in all, broken into two acts and none of them last very long.  While some plays read very well (Shakespeare, of course, as well as Miller), this play I really think would do better for being heard on stage, because I want to have someone in that role of de Sade, spitting out these lines with alternating nasty humor, bitter irony and pure spiteful venom.

The Adaptaton:

One of the key differences is obvious right from the start of the film.  I don’t mean that the play is opened up, although it is considerably opened up, with a lot of small scenes set away from the asylum that weren’t in the original play.  I mean the prominence of Maddy as our entrance into this world of insanity and carnality.  In the film, she appears very early, establishing her connection in getting de Sade’s works out of the asylum to be published.  She is presented as a woman who is interested in sexuality, but, unlike the Marquis, not ruled by it.  But in the play, she doesn’t even appear until the fourth scene.  Indeed, while she is one of the most prominent characters in the film, she only appears in a handful of the 25 scenes in the play and in one of those she appears as a ghost.

Wright (who is both the playwright and the screenwriter) also moves things around in time from how he structured the play (since much of this is an allegory rather than based upon actual events in de Sade’s life, he is much more at liberty to do so).  In the play, Royer-Collard is already married and in charge of Charenton when the play begins, having a discussion with his architect, a character who won’t appear until 40 minutes into the movie.

I do feel I must point out that my favorite line from the film, “Don’t flatter yourself, Marquis.  You’re not the Antichrist.  You’re nothing but a malcontent who knows how to spell,” is not in the original play.

The Credits:

Directed by Philip Kaufman.  Screenplay by Doug Wright.  Based Upon His Play.

The Claim

The Film:

A really good adaptation of a really good novel can do a lot of different things.  They might take a faithful approach and give you much of the novel on-screen (Clockwork Orange, for example).  Or, they might pare things down and give you a version that’s faithful to the characters but changes many specific notions (The Cider House Rules).  Or, you can do what other films have done, including this one, and take the framework of the situation and adapt it to a different time and place.  After all, it is often said that great stories are universal, which means you can take those stories and tell them in different ways.  For instance, while the time is pretty similar, here we have Thomas Hardy’s brilliant novel that’s part of his Wessex stories and manages to transplant it to the American West.

This was the first film that I really noticed Michael Winterbottom as a director.  It wasn’t the first film I had seen by him – indeed, I had seen Jude, his previous (more faithful) Thomas Hardy adaptation in the theater back in 1996.  But this one had such an incredible look to it, reminding me of McCabe & Mrs. Miller in the desolation of the snow and the mountains in an isolated town in the world where the railroad might be coming through.  It also showed his effortlessness with getting good performances out of actors even when putting them in bigger roles than they had been in before.  We have Peter Mullan as the mayor of this town that is trying to survive, Wes Bentley as the railroad engineer who might bring it prosperity, Milla Jovovich as Mullan’s lover and the town’s madame and Natassja Kinski and Sarah Polley as the wife and daughter he never thought he would see again returning to his life.  All of them are solid (the most surprising is Jovovich) in a world beset with snow and candlelight, in a world that is dark and bright all at the same time.

The credit “inspired by” is most apt when it comes to this film.  With only the bare bones (see below), Winterbottom and his constant collaborator, Frank Cottrell Boyce make a film that is much more akin to McCabe than it is to Polanski’s Tess.  This is a film about a man who is unable to outrun his mistakes.  Not only do they come back to haunt him, but when faced with the chance to make things right, he makes wrong decision after wrong decision (though he makes one right one).  Mullan, after his time as the man who offered heroin to the gang in Trainspotting, seems perfect for a man who can’t outrun the weight of his past.  And this bleak land is so unforgiving you can understand why, like with the Hardy novel, there’s no finding a happy ending at the end of it.

This isn’t a great film (I have it as high ***.5) and for some people it will definitely be too slow and seem too long even though it only runs 120 minutes.  But it is well acted, very well directed, has magnificent cinematography that makes great use of the setting and a fantastic under-appreciated score from Michael Nyman that really makes you feel the full weight of all of Mullan’s decisions as he tries desperately to hold together this town he has built.

The Source:

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Tom Hardy  (1886)

This is the middle of Hardy’s great novels, coming almost a decade after The Return of the Native and several years before his last two masterpieces Jude and Tess.  It is one of the Wessex novels, this amazing fertile ground of the southwestern corner of England that Hardy created and filled with fascinating (and doomed) characters.

This is primarily the story of Michael Henchard, a Jean Valjean like character.  Indeed, if you only read the first two parts of Les Mis and just saw the mess of a man who makes mistakes, repents of them, tries to fix them only to find it is too late and then years later rises to become mayor of a prosperous town only to find it fall to pieces when someone from his past comes across him that also involves what to do with the future of a daughter you would think that the two books are very similar but of course this novel then descends into Hardy’s naturalism that ends well for no one while Hugo’s novel goes on for another 800 pages.

Any way it works, this is a great novel (rated in my Top 200) and while it might not be a novel for everyone, you should read at least one Hardy novel in your lifetime just to see his mastery of narrative and language and this novel could be considered less bleak than Jude or Tess.

The Adaptation:

As I mentioned, this film only uses the bare bones of the original novel, taking the framework and moving it from Wessex to the American West and instead of a rival grain merchant, the main other male in the story is the engineer who will decide where the railroad is going to be.  Indeed, almost all the specifics are quite different in the film (the current love isn’t a madame in the book, the other husband doesn’t return) but you can still see the ideas from Hardy’s novel shining through and it does hew to Hardy’s naturalism in the bleak ending.

The Credits:

Directed by Michael Winterbottom.  Screenplay by Frank Cottrell Boyce.  Inspired by the novel “The Mayor of Casterbridge” by Thomas Hardy.

Aimée and Jaguar

The Film:

When you live for today with the thought that there might be no tomorrow, sometimes you bring tragedy to those who are desperately trying to survive today so that they can reach tomorrow.  That’s the case with Aimee, or Lilly Wust, a young, attractive woman who happens to be married to a Nazi, which isn’t so strange so we’re in the midst of the second world war and this film takes place in Berlin.  But she attracts the eye of Felice.  The problem is that Felice is a lesbian and Lilly has really attracted her eye.  Or maybe the problem is that Felice is a Jew and Lilly is, after all, married to a Nazi soldier.  Or maybe the problem is that this is Berlin in 1943 and that isn’t the setting for any story that will have a happy ending.

I’m not in love with the poster.  I think it gives the wrong idea of Lilly.  She wears glasses, she’s a bit shy, she’s a housewife.  The woman who is standing there with the cigarette dangling from her mouth, that’s the woman towards the end of the affair, the one who is so afraid that life could end at any moment that she will cling to anything in front of her that offers a chance of happiness, even if that happiness is precisely what could bring everything crashing down.

The two women meet, in part, through Lilly’s housemaid.  The problem there is that the housemaid, Ilse, has been sleeping with Felice.  But Felice is the type of person who lives boldly and goes after what she wants, which is part of how, as a lesbian Jew in Berlin in 1943 she has managed to make it this far alive.  What comes out of it is not just passion, not just lust, but a love that sweeps over both women and goes beyond any thought of reason or even survival.  There are chances to escape but there are also chances to keep things going and sometimes we make mistakes because we can’t think beyond the moment.

This isn’t a great film but it’s a very good film told well with good acting from both leads and being very good is enough in a weaker year to slide into the Top 10 for Adapted Screenplay and in an even weaker category in an even weaker year (1999) land it in second place for Foreign Film on my list (granted, a very long way below All About My Mother).  It’s the kind of painful film when you watch it and hope the characters can do the smart thing and then you see how much love has taken over them and you know it’s a true story and it is, after all, Berlin, 1943, and you know no happy ending can possibly be found.

The Source:

Aimee & Jaguar: A Love Story, Berlin 1943 by Erica Fischer  (1994)

I’m at a little bit of a loss as to what to list as the title.  I generally use the original title of a piece in the language using the language in which it was originally published.  But, while copyright pages often list that original title, in this case, it doesn’t.  So that’s the title on the copy sitting next to me.

It’s a short book about the brief love affair that entangled these two lives as told, almost 50 years later by Lilly herself (who survived the war and a lot of hardships after the war) to Erica Fischer.  It’s a good book but it’s likely to just depress you because, like with the film, you know there’s really only one possible outcome.

The Adaptation:

The film really only takes the framework of their story.  Almost all of the details in the film are changed from what happened in real life (and in the book).  There are a few moments that are very real (the final scene on the beach before they are caught is faithful depicted in the film and the clothing is much like in real life, matching the photographs in the book (including the front cover)) but there are fairly few and far between.  Even the framework isn’t real (unless it somehow happened after the book was published).  It’s a heavily changed, but given that the general real events are all true, not heavily fictionalized version of the real story.

The Credits:

Regie: Max Färberböck.  Drehbuch: Max Färberböck und Rona Munro.  nach dem Buch von Erica Fischer.

Consensus Nominees



The Film:

This film has already been reviewed because the Academy buckled to Miramax’s pressure and marketing gods and ended up nominating it for Best Picture over Almost Famous.  If there are people who do actually think this is a better film than Almost Famous then they need to have their heads examined for traumatic brain injury.  It’s a harmless film, a nice, charming romantic comedy (and I almost wrote “that actually pairs up an older female” until realizing that Johnny Depp is actually a year older than Juliette Binoche) but it really shouldn’t have been in the Oscar race at all.

The Source:

Chocolat: a novel by Joanne Harris  (1999)

This is very much like the film – a decent little charming bit of fun that doesn’t strive to be anything more.  It’s not bad but it’s got some similarities to Like Water for Chocolate without being nearly as good.

The Adaptation:

It’s pretty much a faithful adaptation of the novel, though, it’s an odd choice to adapt the film with a voiceover narration by a character who’s not a first person narrator in the book when there are actually multiple first person narrators in the book.

The Credits:

Directed by Lasse Hallström.  Based on the novel by Joanne Harris.  Screenplay by Robert Nelson Jacobs.

NBR Winner


All the Pretty Horses

The Film:

As was made clear in my review of Sling Blade, it was Billy Bob Thornton’s writing that really made me hate that film (and hate it even more given the scripts he won the Oscar over).  Here, it is not Thornton (who isn’t the screenwriter this time – just the director) to blame for the flaws in the film that make just a decent movie out of what was a really good book, the first (and best) part of an epic trilogy that slotted into Cormac McCarthy’s career between his two masterpieces (Blood Meridian and No Country for Old Men).  This time the blame falls directly on Harvey Weinstein.  Weinstein may have championed a lot of small films over the years and released a lot of films that others wouldn’t have (and gotten them much more visibility) but he was also notorious for fucking with filmmakers and cutting out what they had done to make their films great (aside from his other serious issues).  So, what was originally a three hour epic that showed a dying way of life with a (supposedly, and I’ll take that on faith from Matt Damon since I can’t hear it for myself) haunting score by Daniel Lanois and made it into just another Western with a typical Hollywood score.

Except that this is still a good film, in spite of what some of the reviewers might have you think (the reviews weren’t all that good which is ironic given the NBR award).  This is the dying of the west, but not in the manner of a post-modern Western like the late 60’s gave us.  No, this is about John Grady Cole, who enjoys the ranch life that he lives on his grandfather’s ranch but he’s just 16 and when the grandfather dies, his mother sells the ranch and Cole suddenly needs to look elsewhere.  It’s the late 40’s and there’s not much of this life left, at least north of the Rio Grande, so he leaves Texas behind and heads off to Mexico to keep the way of life alive that he loves so much.  He doesn’t anticipate what he might find there, like a youngster who may or may not be a thief and a murderer but is definitely a liar and a problem, or the most beautiful woman he will ever see who will so entrance him at first sight that he keeps trying to turn around on his horse and continue to look after her as she passes him by.

Thornton gives us a slow, pondering film because that’s what it was supposed to be.  We get beautiful shots of the vistas, we get some thoughtful moments as Cole reflects on what he has left behind and what gets left behind for him when he finds himself thrown in jail for supposedly being a horse thief and all the horrors that he endures while in that cell before being rescued in the last way he would have thought or even wished.

This isn’t a great or even a very good film but we can see what it could have been and perhaps someday we will see what it was originally meant to be.  But it is a solid adaptation of a really good novel and proof that Thornton really did have a sure hand at directing, especially if it didn’t involve his own damn character.

The Source:

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy  (1992)

Now that both Philip Roth and Toni Morrison have died, there is a very good case to be made that McCarthy is America’s greatest living writer (and there are a lot of people who would have argued in favor of that even while Roth and Morrison were still alive).  He had already established himself as one of the best writers alive with Blood Meridian several years before this book began the Border Trilogy (this is the story of John Grady Cole, the second book has a different protagonist and the third book makes use of both of them), a very good trilogy that covers the area along the U.S. – Mexico border as the Western way of life was dying out.

I will warn anyone who wants to read this (and you should) that it is not an easy read.  Even at just over 300 pages it takes a while to read it.  McCarthy uses a modernist style in the manner of Faulkner and Morrison and compounds it by not using quotation marks to signify dialogue which means at times you are into dialogue without realizing it.  On the other hand, you also get paragraphs like this (on page 59, but I simply opened the book at random):

Days to come they rode through the mountains and they crossed at a barren winggap and sat the horses among the rocks and looked out over the country to the south where the last shadows were running over the land before the wind and the sun to the west lay blood red among the shelving clouds and the distant cordilleras ranged down the terminals of the sky to fade from pale to pale of blue and then to nothing at all.

And yes, that is both a paragraph and a single sentence.  This is what I’m talking about what McCarthy’s style.

The Adaptation:

For all of the cuts to the film, not only is the film almost straight from the book (most of the dialogue is verbatim) but even the vast majority of the book ends up on the screen.  There are very few changes (there isn’t a man among the group that takes the captain that was in the jail, for instance, of that there is a bit more after the end of the film in the book about how Cole’s father died while he was away).

The Credits:

directed by Billy Bob Thornton.  based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy.  screenplay by Ted Tally.

BAFTA nominee


East is East

The Film:

A man left Pakistan just before the Partition and came to England.  He then married an English woman and opened a fish and chips shop.  In England, he had several children and now, in 1970, they are reaching adulthood and it is time for him to start marrying them off.

That’s how he thinks about it, anyway.  He’s played by Om Puri (one of the Indian stars most recognizable outside of India because of his presence in a number of British films over the last three decades) as a stern authoritarian.  He’s going to rule his children’s lives, damn it, and it doesn’t matter who he has to hurt to get his way (literally – his wife is played through much of the closing part of the film with a horrible bruise from where he has hit her for interfering).  But times are changing, not just because of the times themselves, but also because he has raised his kids in England and what he thinks is a proper life for them is not necessarily what his kids think.  They like the English life and some of them even like the English girls, though they know full well that would basically kill their father.

This is a comedy that has been done at other times using other cultures, but the story is basically the same.  There is some fresh humor in that this isn’t really a culture clash that has been explored nearly as much as some others (it has been at least explored before – My Beautiful Laundrette explores the culture differences) and there is a strong performance from Om Puri in its center.  In the end, though, it doesn’t really rise up enough above what we would expect from such a story to make it any better than a mid-range ***.

The Source:

East is East by Ayub Khan-Din  (1996)

This is an interesting play, on the one level, because, as I said about the film, it explores a cultural difference that I’m not that familiar with.  On the other hand, as I also said above, on many levels it doesn’t actually rise above what so many other plays and films and novels have already done with such a cultural clash and in the end, it just left me a bit disappointed.

The Adaptation:

When I am comparing a play to a film, I like to sit and try to read the play while the film is going on.  Since a play has the same format structure as a film script, if they follow closely enough, it’s easily done (with Shakespeare, you usually just have to figure out which lines to skip).  But I was a bit lost when I started trying to do that with this play and that’s because there’s a good fifteen minutes added on to the beginning of the film before you reach the opening of the play.  That’s not a case of things being moved around.  These are genuinely new scenes that help open things up before we get to the main action of the play.  Since Khan-Din wrote both, you can easily view this as a chance for him to explore, in a longer format, what he had already explored on stage.


Directed by Damien O’Donnell.  Screenplay by Ayub Khan-Din.  Based on his play.

Other Screenplays on My List Outside My Top 10

(in descending order of how I rank the script)

note:  As with every year from 1989 to 2005, you can find more about every film I saw in the theater on the Nighthawk Awards.

  • Winter Sleepers  –  Made before Run Lola Run but released in the States after that film, this one shows more of Tykwer’s writing ability.  Based on the novel Expanse of Spirit by Anne-Françoise Pyszora.  Mid ***.5.
  • Jesus’ Son  –  Without Limits, with Billy Crudup used the Velvet Underground in the film.  Almost Famous mentions Reed.  And here we have Crudup starring in a film with a title pulled from VU’s best song.  Good (high ***) film made from a good collection of stories by Denis Johnson.
  • Madadayo  –  Kurosawa’s last film, the Japanese Oscar submission for 1993.  Based on writings by Hyakken Uchida.  Mid ***.5.
  • X-Men  –  Finally, Marvel brings their best selling comic series of the previous twenty years to the big screen and it’s very solid (high ***.5).  As a big fan of Cyclops, I would prefer not to see him pushed aside in favor of Wolverine but it is what it is.
  • Before Night Falls  –  Solid (high ***) biopic of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas based on his autobiography and a documentary made about him.  The film that helped establish Javier Bardem as a known actor in the States.
  • Fever Pitch  –  The original 1997 version of Nick Hornby’s memoir though he fictionalized aspects for the film.  Not the stupid 2005 version that I refuse to watch that changes the country and the sport.  High ***.

Other Adaptations

(in descending order of how good the film is)

note:  This list is a lot shorter than the year before (more than 25 fewer films).

  • Criminal Lovers  –  Francois Ozon’s second film, before 8 Women and Swimming Pool would make him more well-known.  Actually based on three different poems by three different poets.
  • The Wind Will Carry Us  –  Well-regarded Iranian film from Abbas Kiarostami.  Because the title is from a poem, I suspect that oscars.org considered it based on the poem but it seems like it’s original.
  • Water Drops on Burning Rocks  –  Ozon’s third film and the first of three with Ludivine Sagnier.  Based on a play by Fassbinder.
  • The Visit  –  Based on a play by Kosmond Russell and nominated for several Indie Spirit awards.
  • Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai  –  My life would be so much easier if the oscars.org database was still around.  They listed this as adapted, perhaps because it kind of follows the book Hagakure.  Or maybe because of its similarity to Melville’s Le Samourai.  Either way, one of Jarmusch’s better films.
  • The Emperor’s New Groove  –  Another strange one.  Perhaps because it was originally the film Kingdom of the Sun and that project fell apart and was adapted into this one.  Either way, all the scenes with Kronk are awesome and everything without him is pretty weak.  This brings us to mid ***.
  • Werckmeister Harmoniak  –  Bela Tarr’s epic which many hold to be a much higher film than where I have it.  Based on the novel The Melancholy of Resistance.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie  –  This was originally a manga series than a wonderful anime series (which Veronica was very devoted to) before this film (which takes place between the first and second seasons).  This doesn’t quite have the same magic as the series but is still quite enjoyable.
  • Pan Tadeusz  –  Film from esteemed Polish director Andrzej Wajda based on a 19th Century Polish poem.
  • The Perfect Storm  –  Well known for being Charles Barkley’s favorite movie and how every time he watches it he hopes they’ll make it out alive.  Based on the best-selling non-fiction book by Sebastian Junger and of course based on real events.  Good effects and solid acting.  The picture on the right is from the memorial to lost sailors in Gloucester, MA (which we visited in Feb 2008) and those lost on the Andrea Gail are listed under 1991.
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost  –  Branagh returns to Shakespeare in an odd way, filling in the light story with 30’s songs.  I wish he would do Shakespeare more often but this is his weakest effort.
  • Mission: Impossible 2  –  The first film on this part of the list that I saw in the theater.  Unlike say 1998, there are not a lot of adapted films that don’t make my list above that I saw in the theater.  A solid sequel with good action scenes and, because it’s John Woo, doves and men with two guns pointed sideways.
  • Up at the Villa  –  Sean Penn and Kristin Scott Thomas make an odd pairing in this adaptation of the Somerset Maugham novel.
  • The Beach  –  I give this film a bit of leeway in spite of some story problems because it’s got Leo, it’s got Virginie Ledoyen (the answer to the question, what if Natalie Portman were French?), it’s directed by Danny Boyle and my friend Tavis is in a shot early in the film (when Leo is at the embassy in Bangkok).  Based on the novel by Alex Garland.
  • Angels of the Universe  –  Icelandic film based on the novel by Einar Mar Gudmundsson.
  • Time Regained  –  Chilean director Raul Ruiz makes a film in France, adapting the final volume of Proust’s work.
  • The Big Kahuna  –  Based on the play Hospitality Suite by Roger Rueff this was a big favorite of my college roommate because it starred two of his favorite actors (Spacey, De Vito).
  • Beau Travail  –  Loose French adaptation of Melville’s Billy Budd, this is one of the films from the first few years of the century that a lot of critics think is brilliant and I think is good but over-rated.  This actually brings us down to low ***.
  • Pola X  –  Okay, two French Melville adaptations in a row.  That’s a little weird.  This one is based on Pierre.
  • Such a Long Journey  –  The book, by Rohinton Mistry, is quite good.  The film, a Canadian production, is just okay.
  • Waking the Dead  –  Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly star in the adaptation of Spencer Smith’s novel.
  • Joe Gould’s Secret  –  Joe Gould may or may not have written the epic story of our history but Howard A. Rodman did write about him in The New Yorker and it would eventually become this film.  It was actually, for a long time, easier to find the Modern Library edition with this movie cover than the actual movie itself.
  • Dinosaur  –  The old oscars.org listed this as adapted perhaps because of the number of iterations from the original screen story to the eventual finished film (well over a decade).  Good opening to the Disney Animated film but it drops off significantly after that.
  • The Last September  –  This adaptation of the Elizabeth Bowen novel is full of future Harry Potter actors (Gambon, Smith, Tennant).
  • Orfeu  –  The Brazilian Oscar submission from 1999.  Based on the play by Vinicius de Moraes.
  • Boesman and Lena  –  Second film version of the play by South African playwright Athol Fugard.  This is, for the most part, a two-person film with Danny Glover and Angela Bassett.
  • The Tigger Movie  –  Only the second movie so far that I saw in the theater, one of my first dates with Veronica.  A weak outing for the Pooh characters but it does have some good moments (Eeyore: “I’m sinking.  No one will miss me.”).  Since I am Tigger, I hate to give myself just **.5 but I have to be honest about its quality.
  • Proof of Life  –  Russell Crowe’s reputation takes a hit and Meg Ryan’s marriage takes a much bigger hit in this mediocre adaptation of a Vanity Fair article and a book by Thomas Hargrove.
  • The House of Mirth  –  While I refuse to believe that there’s anything worthwhile to be found in Ethan Frome, I feel like I maybe should give this Wharton novel another chance since I love Age of Innocence.  Gillian Anderson stars in this mediocre adaptation of a novel I had to read my Sophomore year of college.
  • Bossa Nova  –  Amy Irving stars in a Brazil set Rom Com based on short stories by Sergio Sant’Anna.  Down to mid **.5.
  • Praise  –  Australian film based on the novel by Andrew McGahan.
  • Pollock  –  Typical “great artist but lousy human being” movie.  Except I hate Pollock’s art.  I understand his importance but greatly dispute his quality.  Good acting from Harris and Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden.  Harden was the most surprising Oscar winner in the category since Marisa Tomei, only having a NYFC win before the Oscar win and there hasn’t been anyone even remotely as surprising since.
  • Shaft  –  Actually better than the original which people over-rate but still not all that good.  Jackson was perfect casting though.
  • Once in the Life  –  Laurence Fishburne does it all, writing (from his own play even), directing and starring.  I just wish he had done it all better.
  • American Psycho  –  I finally got rid of the novel after my last re-reading.  I still appreciate the humor but I felt like I wouldn’t read it again.  The film has a bravura performance from Christian Bale but is a bit too much to take.  Having him on my side in liking Genesis does not win my wife over.
  • Battle Royale  –  Perhaps even more disturbing than American Psycho is this, the original Hunger Games, in which high school students fight to the death.  Based on the best-selling novel by Koushun Takami.
  • The Legend of Bagger Vance  –  I was new to Powells when the novel by Steven Pressfield came across my desk and since the film looked like Oscar bait from Redford, I read the book.  The book was no better or any less pandering than the film.
  • Scream 3  –  The first was really good, the second was pretty good, this one was not very good.  Sadly, there is a fourth to come in the 2011 post.
  • Digimon: The Movie  –  Is there a difference between this and Pokemon?  If so, I don’t care and I don’t want any comments telling me about it.
  • Ringu 0: Basudei  –  It has its origin in a short story by the author of the original novel but they still should have left it at just the one brilliant film and not bothered with this prequel or any sequels.
  • Taboo  –  Japanese film about homosexuality.  Based on the novel by Ryotaro Shiba.
  • Under Suspicion  –  Muddled Suspense film with Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman based on a French film and a British novel.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas  –  The Makeup is great but they should have just left the story alone with the original television animated special.  A mess of a film with an uninteresting story and too much mugging from Jim Carrey.  That this film made more than Crouching Tiger, Almost Famous, Wonder Boys, Thirteen Days and Virgin Suicides put together just depresses me.  Now we’re at low **.5.
  • Animal Factory  –  Crime film based on the novel by Eddie Bunker.
  • Left Luggage  –  A 1997 Dutch film based on the book by Carl Friedman.
  • The Fantasticks  –  The Off-Broadway Musical ran forever (over 17,000) shows but no one bothered to see the film version and it made less than $50,000.
  • X: The Movie  –  Feature film Anime version of the manga series that would also later be a television series.
  • Rugrats in Paris  –  The Nickelodeon show gets a second film.
  • My Dog Skip  –  A boy and his dog based on an autobiographical novel.  Even if it was original it wouldn’t have been original.
  • The Ninth Gate  –  The book (The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte) is actually really worth reading – a fun Mystery.  But Polanski’s film version is just kind of a mess.
  • Charlie’s Angels  –  Just the third film I saw in the theater on this list and I’m not sure why because I’m not a fan of the actresses and I had never seen the original television series.  Must have been Veronica (and the sequel we saw because it was what she chose to go to on her birthday so that was definitely Veronica).
  • Sailor Moon R: The Movie  –  Did they think the outfits could distract from the weaknesses in the story-telling?  Yes they did and they were somewhat right.  But this is a high ** film.
  • Pay It Forward  –  The fourth film in the theater on the list.  We were actually moved when we saw it and it was later that I realized how bad it really was with a horrible manipulative ending.  Based on the novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.
  • Taxi 2  –  The French Action Comedy gets a sequel which is better than four years later when it gets a remake.
  • Meet the Parents  –  Missed when the list was originally posted and noticed by F.T. (why he looked for it, I don’t know).  I hate this kind of awkward Ben Stiller Comedy and realizing it’s based on a French film (oddly, the old oscars.org must have missed it as well) doesn’t make it any less awkward or make it actually funny.  It would be one of the biggest box office hits of the year but the even worse sequel is the third highest grossing Comedy of all-time (not adjusting for inflation) which is even more depressing.
  • Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists  –  An original story but Sinbad is not an original character.  Computer generated mo-cap for the animation and it shows.  With this film we are already at mid **.
  • Brown’s Requiem  –  Based on one of James Ellroy’s novels (before he really got good with the L.A. Quartet).
  • Requiem for a Dream  –  The “Requiem” films in a row is a coincidence, especially since they’re not in a row on the full list (original films Circus and Groove come between them).  Another over-rated film from the early part of the century.  Yes, Burstyn is very good and the score is brilliant (and I didn’t even realize that until it started getting used in trailers for other films – namely Two Towers) and Aronofsky can direct.  But this film is a narrative mess and just painful to watch.  Based on the novel by Hubert Selby Jr.
  • Urbania  –  Small Indie Drama based on the play by Daniel Reitz.
  • I Dreamed of Africa  –  Kim Basinger takes on her first post-Oscar role and it’s a massive dud.  Based on the autobiographical novel by Kuki Gallmann.  Now we’ve reached low **.
  • Next Friday  –  Not very funny sequel to Friday.
  • Thomas and the Magic Railroad  –  The Kids television series (and book series) gets a feature length film and Ebert couldn’t cope with mouths that didn’t move.  It does slightly better with me but I watched the show a lot because Thomas, after all, is the cheeky one.
  • Where the Heart Is  –  Oprah’s Book Club selection (by Billie Letts) becomes schmaltzy film.  Natalie Portman plays a pregnant teenager abandoned in a Wallmart which didn’t stop her from appearing shapely with tight jeans on the poster.
  • Pokemon The Movie 2000  –  Another Pokemon movie.  There will be more and I still won’t care.
  • The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle  –  Poor moose and squirrel finally get a feature film and it’s this terrible crap.  Robert De Niro’s most embarrassing performance.
  • The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps  –  The first one wasn’t bad but Eddie Murphy became convinced that the multiple roles and the makeup was why it was good.  That kind of thinking leads to Norbit.
  • Hamlet  –  If you don’t understand why I want to punch Ethan Hawke in the face just watch his horrible performance in this modern day version of the world’s greatest play.  It’s not all his fault as even good actors get dragged down (Bill Murray).  The play is so badly cut that unless you are very familiar with Hamlet none of the action in the film makes any sense.  We’re now into *.5 films.  You know how much you have to fuck up to make a *.5 Shakespeare film?
  • Bedazzled  –  The best thing you can say about this remake of the 1967 film is that at least this version doesn’t have Dudley Moore.
  • Eye of the Beholder  –  It was a 1980 novel from Marc Behm then a 1983 French film and here it’s a dud of a Suspense film with Ashley Judd and Ewan McGregor.
  • Gone in 60 Seconds  –  Not the worst $100 million grosser of the year (that would be Big Momma’s House which is original) but at low *.5 still pretty bad.  A remake of the 1974 film.
  • Crime and Punishment in Suburbia  –  More crap contemporary versions of classics as this takes on Dostoevsky.  Now we’re into * films.
  • The Ladies Man  –  Stop making SNL skits into movies.  Just stop.  They suck.
  • Get Carter  –  Oh good, another remake.  The Michael Caine version is a cult classic and much beloved in Britain.  This Sly Stone remake is just crap and bombed.  Down to mid *.
  • Godzilla vs Megaguirus  –  The 25th Godzilla film and the second in the Millennium series.
  • The Little Vampire  –  The kid was fine in Jerry Maguire.  They should not have let him make this film.  Based on a children’s book series.
  • Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2  –  Another Horror film that didn’t need a sequel but whose box office success pretty much demanded one.
  • Urban Legends: The Final Cut  –  Another Horror film that didn’t need a sequel but whose box office success pretty much demanded one.  Low *.
  • The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas  –  Mark Addy (Game of Thrones) and Jane Krakowski (30 Rock, Kimmy Schmidt) would redeem their awfulness in this unnecessary and terrible sequel through great television.  Stephen Baldwin has simply become a worse performer and person.
  • 102 Dalmations  –  If you make the mistake of watching this, remember that this terrible sequel earned an Oscar nomination for Costume Design while O Brother didn’t.
  • Hanging Up  –  Diane Keaton directs Delia Ephron’s novel but it’s just awful.
  • Dracula 2000  –  Surprisingly not the crappiest franchise film with 2000 in the title.  After his performance in this film as Dracula no one should have ever given Gerard Butler another acting job.
  • Highlander: Endgame  –  We’re into .5 films with this worthless entry in the franchise.  I can’t be bothered to see how many films that is now because I didn’t care after the first one.
  • Godzilla 2000  –  The second reboot and the start of the Millennium series is unfortunately a disaster.  Luckily the sequels won’t be quite this bad as is obvious since the next one is higher on this same list.
  • Dungeons & Dragons  –  The debate is whether Sean Connery’s performance in The Avengers or Jeremy Irons’ performance in this film is the worst performance ever given by a former Oscar winner.  I vote for the former but there is a good case to be made here.  Based on the game though don’t blame the game for this crap.
  • Bless the Child  –  Maybe Basinger should have just retired after her Oscar.  This combined with her performance above earned her a Razzie nom.  Based on the novel by Cathy Cash Spellman.
  • Battlefield Earth  –  I work upstairs from the Edward E. Marsh Golden Age of Science Fiction Library which means anytime I go downstairs I have to be reminded of this awful film (which is ironic since at the time I am posting this, I haven’t been in to work for over a week and won’t be back in likely until at least May thanks to COVID-19).  When I was really into Sci-Fi I considered reading the book which can’t possibly be worse than Hubbard’s Dianetics but then this film came out and any desire to read the book disappeared.  As the worst film of the year (and a good case for the worst film so far this century) it’s fully reviewed here.

Adaptations of Notable Works I Haven’t Seen

  • none

The highest grossing Adapted film I haven’t seen from 2000 is Hamara Dil Aapke Pas Hai (#244, $392,076), a Bollywood Musical that’s a remake of another Indian (though non-Bollywood) Musical.  There are a whopping 13 original films above it, the highest of which is Whipped (#161, $4.1 mil), at the moment the highest grossing film I haven’t seen from 1992 to 2000.