Ray’s 2002 Movie Awards
2002 will certainly not go down in my diary as a banner movie year. There were a few bright spots, but very little to get really passionate about. Except for the remake of Swept Away, and “burning hatred” and “outraged bafflement” aren’t the kind of passions I’m talking about.
I hate having to explain this, but YEAH, an asterisk denotes the winner in a category.
THE BEST FILMS OF 2002
1. Spirited Away. This spectacular film from Japanese anime genius Hayao Miyazaki was the most transporting, transcendental moviegoing experience of 2002. It tells the story of a little girl whose family stumbles into what appears to be abandoned amusement park, but which is actually a gateway into a fantastic world populated by spirits. The movie is gorgeous, thrilling, moving, scary, and funny.
2. Chicago. I would have never believed that a movie this good would have ever been made of the much-beloved 1975 Kander and Ebb / Bob Fosse musical. The real stars of the movie are Rob Marshall, the director, and Bill Condon, who wrote the adaptation (without the aid of a phantom twin brother, even!).
3. The Pianist. I’m not sure quite how he did it, but Roman Polanski made a movie about the Holocaust in Poland that stands on its own despite the towering shadow of Schindler’s List. Adrien Brody is spectacular as a young musician whose family is torn apart after the establishment of the Warsaw ghetto. His true story of is remarkable not for its depiction of heroism, but of the almost surreal accident that survival can be.
4. The Quiet American. This beautiful movie practically makes you smell Saigon. Michael Caine is stunning as a world-weary reporter trying to make sense of the new American presence in Indochina.
5. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The magnificent trilogy continues.
6. About Schmidt. What a revelation: A major star (not an over-the-hill star) doing a film that’s actually about aging. Nicholson is simply magnificent in this wry, spare, and moving journey of a retired insurance man’s first steps into old age.
7. Secretary. You’ve got to love a peppy, heart-warming movie about sexual liberation and sado-masochism. James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal are brilliant as an employer and employee who learn to work through their personal baggage with a walk on the wild side. Fun for the whole family!
8. Signs. I consistently admire M. Night Shymalan’s films for their clarity of purpose. Though the previews prompted many moviegoers to expect an alien-invasion blockbuster, Signs was anything but that. Instead, it was a quiet, intense, narrowly-focused drama with the terrifying premise: What would you do if it looked like the aliens were invading your family’s farm, TONIGHT? Even though I don’t like Mel Gibson, he and the rest of the cast are quite effective in creating hair-raising tension.
9. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. A surprisingly funny, smart, entertaining and even moving picture about Chuck Barris and his double life. Who cares if it’s true or not?
10. Rabbit-Proof Fence. This stunning movie tells the disturbing story of Australia’s policy of kidnapping half-breed children in the outback. A simple story of great emotional power.
Honorable Mention: The Hours, Minority Report, Moonlight Mile, Roger Dodger, Tully, Monsoon Wedding, Frida, Kissing Jessica Stein, One Hour Photo, Barbership, , Drumline, Antwone Fisher, Possession, Igby Goes Down, The Ring, The Man From Elysian Fields, Catch Me If You Can, Autofocus
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Y Tu Mama Tambien
*Talk to Her
The Crime of Father Amaro
The Kid Stays in the Picture
*Bowling for Columbine
Standing In the Shadows of Motown
*Adrien Brody, The Pianist
Sam Rockwell, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Greg Kinnear, Autofocus
Michael Caine, The Quiet American
Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York
Honorable Mention: James Spaker in Secretary, Kieran Culkin in Igby Goes Down, Jake Gyllenhaal in Moonlight Mile, Robin Williams in One Hour Photo, Andy Garcia in The Man From Elysian Fields, Campbell Scott in Roger Dodger, Derek Luke in Antwone Fisher
*Julianne Moore, Far From Heaven
Jennifer Aniston, The Good Girl
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Secretary
Salma Hayek, Frida
Nicole Kidman, The Hours
Honorable Mention: Michelle Pfeiffer in White Oleander
*Robin Wright Penn, White Oleander
Toni Colette, The Hours
Susan Sarandon, Moonlight Mile
Kathy Bates, About Schmidt
Meryl Streep, The Hours
Honorable Mention: Samantha Morton in Minority Report, Amanda Peet in Igby Goes Down, Novella Nelson in Antwone Fisher, Christina Applegate in The Sweetest Thing.
MOST OVERRATED SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Queen Latifah who was perfectly good, but certainly not great, in Chicago.
Eddie Izzard, The Cat’s Meow
Dustin Hoffman, Moonlight Mile
Willem Dafoe, Autofocus
*Chris Cooper, Adaptation
Mick Jagger, The Man From Elysian Fields
Honorable Mention: Bob Burrus in Tully, Naseeruddin Shah in Monsoon Wedding, Cedric the Entertainer in Barbershop
Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
*Rob Marshall, Chicago
Pedro Almodovar, Talk to Her
Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away
Roman Polanski, The Pianist
ART DIRECTION/PRODUCTION DESIGN
*Far From Heaven
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Catch Me If You Can
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Catch Me If You Can
*John Williams, Catch Me If You Can (Who knew this Important Movie Composer still had surprises up his sleeve? His jazzy Mancini-esque riffs really helped the movie.
Cliff Martinez, Solaris
Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Jeff Dana, The Kid Stays in the Picture
OKAY, IT WAS CLEVER, BUT IT WAS SO DAMN SMUG IT JUST PISSED ME OFF
MOST DISAPPOINTING MOVIES OF 2002
Blood Work. Why would Clint Eastwood want to make a two-hour episode of Mannix?
Naqoyqatsi. Koyaanisqatsi was fantastic, its sequel Powaqqatsi had an incredible Philip Glass score, but the third installment in Godfrey Reggio’s visually existentialist trilogy is just a big fat bore.
MOST OVERRATED MOVIE OF 2002
The deadly Gangs of New York. Now that Martin Scorcese’s got it out of his system, I hope he next decides to make a a movie that’s actually entertaining.
SMART CAREER MOVES
Amanda Peet, doing interesting work in small roles, like Igby Goes Down.
Adam Sandler, for making a non-Adam Sandler movie (Punch-Drunk Love). Sure, the movie was all but unwatchable, but he was good in it, and it’s going to help him reposition himself in Hollywood. Thank God, because if you’re like me, you’re tired of worried about Adam Sandler’s well-being.
OKAY, TIME TO TAKE A LITTLE VACATION
John C. Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I don’t care how good both of you are, let’s give someone else a turn for god’s sake.
IS IT TOO EARLY TO GIVE HER A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD?
The divine, indispensible, ultra-fabulous Reese Witherspoon.
TIME TO TAKE OFF THE SHIRT, KILLER. KEEPING IT ON IS NEVER GOING TO MAKE YOU CARY GRANT
SCARIEST MOVIE IN A LONG TIME
COOLEST MASS DEATH SCENE
GOODBYE, MR. HOLLAND’S DEAD POET’S SOCIETY OPUS AWARD
The Emperor’s Club. How many times are they going to make this movie?
WAS HOPING IT WOULD BE AS GOOD AS FIRST CONTACT, BUT IT WAS ONLY AS GOOD AS INSURRECTION:
Star Trek: Nemesis
OH, WAS THAT RELEASED THIS YEAR? YAWN.
Star Wars Episode 2: The Clone Wars
MOST MISUNDERSTOOD AND UNDERAPPRECIATED
Death to Smoochy. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a home run. But it was dark and funny and nothing LIKE the disaster everyone declared it to be.
Possession. I was sorry and surprised that everyone ignored Neil LaBute’s lovely version of A.S. Byatt’s hugely successful novel about parallel love stories set in the English literary world. Sure, most antiquarian scholars don’t look like Gwynneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart, but hey, it’s the movies. The movie was sort of “The French Lieutenant’s Woman Lite,” and what’s wrong with that?
Who is Cletis Tout? A fun little trifle starring Christian Slater.
25th Hour. Poor Spike Lee can’t get any respect. This was a terrific, heartfelt, beautifully acted movie.
The Cat’s Meow. Why didn’t people enjoy this charming, speculative trifle about one of Hollywood’s most notorious scandals as much as I did?
BRAVO TO NEIL LABUTE FOR FINALLY ALLOWING HIS PERRENIAL STAR AARON ECKHART TO LOOK HIS RIDICULOUSLY ATTRACTIVE BEST
BEST CREDITS SEQUENCES
The retro graphics of Autofocus were terrific.
The shadow-box effect of the Nicholas Nickelby opening were sweet.
*But the combination of the zippy retro animations and John Williams’ Mancini-esque, playful jazzy score at the beginning of Catch Me If You Can reminded us of how fun credits could actually be.
This actually provides a nice seque into:
MOST PRETENTIOUS NEW MOVIE TREND
I can live with the “Title only, all other credits at the end” thing. But several movies this year took this idea one pretentious step too far: They eliminated even mentioning the TITLE of the film until the end! This is just precious and stupid behavior, folks, and the producers of Punch-Drunk Love, The Man From Elysian Fields, Solaris, Gangs of New York, and several other films, need to get over themselves in a hurry.
VERY FUNNY MOMENTS
All the women in the ladies room grope Christina Applegate’s fake boobs in The Sweetest Thing
Margaret Cho’s opening joke in Notorious C.H.O. (cannot be repeated here!!).
Cedric the Entertainer’s now notorious rant about African American sacred cows in Barbershop
“I’m just taking a wild guess that the phrase that’s going through your head right now is ‘Community Property.’” Reese Witherspoon gets her estranged husband’s attention by selling all of his belongings in Sweet Home Alabama
“Is this now?” Pre-cog Samantha Morton wrestles with the idea of real time in Minority Report.
“My mother was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I know everyone says that about their mothers, but in my case it was true.” Alison Lohman describes her mother, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, in White Oleander.
Road to Perdition
MOST ADMIRABLE STUDIO ACTIONS
The suits at Miramax for actually hiring the right guy to make Chicago: an actual Broadway musical choreographer/director. Imagine!
The suits at MGM for standing firm behind Barbarshop despite the RIDICULOUS attacks it received by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
BOY WAS THIS YEAR SHORT ON LAUGHS
BEST COMA RAPE MOVIE IN A REALLY LONG TIME
Talk to Her
BEST HEARTWARMING S&M COMEDY EVER
MOST AMAZING MOMENT IN A MOVIE IN 2002
Michael Moore actually shames K-Mart into removing ammunitions from their store shelves.
CAN WE PLEASE SEE SOME MORE OF
Thandie Newton, James Spader, Jeff Goldblum, Diane Keaton, Ethan Embry, Sam Rockwell, Jennifer Coolidge, Franka Potente, Jesse Bradford, Gabriel Union, Derek Luke, Nick Chinlund.
WHAT THE HELL WAS WITH THAT?
What the hell was that cave in Gangs of New York?
MOST UNNECCESSARY REMAKE
BEST TRADITIONAL DISNEY ANIMATED MOVIE IN A LONG TIME
Lilo and Stitch
STUPID, PREDICTABLE, I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT
SMARTEST “GAY” MOVIE IN A VERY LONG TIME
Kissing Jessica Stein
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