1993 Endy Awards

These are the 1993 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Endy Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .

Best Picture:

1. The Age of Innocence
2. Dazed and Confused
3. Iron Monkey
4. The Puppetmaster
5. Three Colors: Blue

Best Director:

1. Martin Scorsese, The Age of Innocence
2. Richard Linklater, Dazed and Confused
3. Tsui Hark, Green Snake
4. Hou Hsiao-hsien, The Puppetmaster
5. Krzysztof Kieślowski, Three Colors: Blue

Linklater’s chronicle of the last day of school/first night of summer of a bygone era grows as it recedes in the memory. 20 years ago it was a goofy bit of comic nostalgia, an excuse to laugh at 70s fashions and the importance of Aerosmith. But the older I get, the better it gets. But I just recently watched The Age of Innocence again, and it’s now my favorite Martin Scorsese movie and I’m giving it the Endy here. This is Scorsese’s first directing nomination, but surely not his last. It’s Hou’s sixth nomination.

Best Actor:

1. Daniel Day-Lewis, The Age of Innocence
2. Bill Murray, Groundhog Day
3. Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Last Action Hero
4. Anthony Hopkins, Shadowlands
5. Jet Li, The Tai Chi Master

Best Actress:

1. Brigitte Lin, The East is Red
2. Maggie Cheung, Green Snake
3. Holly Hunter, The Piano
4. Stockard Channing, Six Degrees of Separation
5. Juliette Binoche, Three Colors: Blue

This is Murray’s fourth nomination (third in Best Actor) and his first win. Binoche won previously in 2007 and 2010. This is Cheung’s fifth nomination (fourth in Best Actress) with no wins as yet.

Supporting Actor:

1. John Goodman, Matinee
2. Larenz Tate, Menace II Society
3. Li Tien-lu, The Puppetmaster
4. Will Smith, Six Degrees of Separation
5. Val Kilmer, Tombstone

Also receiving votes: Harvey Keitel (The Piano), Tony Leung Ka-fai (He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Father), Dennis Hopper (True Romance), Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List), Sean Penn (Carlito’s Way), Matthew McConaughey (Dazed and Confused), John Malkovich (In the Line of Fire), and Kevin Costner (A Perfect World). This is the best selection of Supporting Actors I’ve seen in the course of handing out the Endys. Of course I’m giving the award to the guy who’s playing himself.

Supporting Actress:

1. Christina Ricci, Addams Family Values
2. Winona Ryder, The Age of Innocence
3. Josephine Siao, Fong Sai-yuk
4. Joey Wang, Green Snake
5. Emma Thompson, Much Ado About Nothing

The Supporting Actress group this year is not as good, but still has a pair of all-time great performances. Josephine Siao, with the best supporting performance in a kung fu comedy ever, just edges out Ryder’s career-best performance.

Original Screenplay:

1. Richard Linlater, Dazed and Confused
2. Danny Rubin & Harold Ramis, Groundhog Day
3. Jane Campion, The Piano
4. Chu Tien-wen & Wu Nien-jen, The Puppetmaster
5. Krzysztof Kieślowski & Krzysztof Piesiewicz, Three Colors: Blue

Adapted Screenplay:

1. Jay Cocks & Martin Scorsese, The Age of Innocence
2. Lillian Lee & Tsui Hark, Green Snake
3. Steven Zaillian, Searching for Bobby Fischer
4. John Guare, Six Degrees of Separation
5. Robert Altman & Frank Barhydt, Short Cuts

Non-English Language Film:

1. Green Snake (Tsui Hark)
2. Iron Monkey (Yuen Woo-ping)
3. Sonatine (Takeshi Kitano)
4. The Puppetmaster (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
5. Three Colors: Blue (Krzysztof Kieślowski)

Three Colors: Blue was the first art film I ever saw that made me want to watch and rewatch it until I took it all in and felt I really understood what was happening and why. As such, it’s probably overrated in my memory. I can’t tell and I don’t care: these are my fake movie awards.

Non-Fiction Film:

1. Latcho Drom (Tony Gatlif)
2. The War Room (Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker)

Animated Film:

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick)
2. Ninja Scroll (Yoshiaki Kawajiri)

Unseen Film:

1. Blue (Derek Jarman)
2. The Blue Kite (Tian Zhuangzhuang)
3. Farewell My Concubine (Chen Kaige)
4. Naked (Mike Leigh)
5. 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould (François Girard)

Also receiving votes: Stalingrad (Joseph Vilsmaier), Madadayo (Akira Kurosawa), Surviving Desire (Hal Hartley), The Scent of Green Papaya (Tran Anh Hung), Smoking/No Smoking (Alain Resnais), Caro diario (Nanni Moretti), Fearless (Peter Weir), and M. Butterfly (David Cronenberg).
ironmonkey_poster

Film Editing:

1. The Age of Innocence
2. Dazed and Confused
3. The Piano
4. The Puppetmaster
5. Three Colors: Blue

Those dissolves.

Cinematography:

1. The Age of Innocence
2. Green Snake
3. The Piano
4. Schindler’s List
5. Three Colors: Blue

Art Direction:

1. The Age of Innocence
2. Green Snake
3. Matinee
4. The Piano
5. The Puppetmaster

Costume Design:

1. The Age of Innocence
2. The Eagle Shooting Heroes
3. Green Snake
4. The Heroic Trio
5. Matinee

Mant vs. Maggie Cheung. Mant wins.

Make-up:

1. Army of Darkness
2. The Bride with White Hair
3. The Eagle-Shooting Heroes
4. Executioners
5. Matinee

Original Score:

1. Jurassic Park
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
3. The Piano
4. Schindler’s List
5. Three Colors: Blue

Adapted Score:

1. Coneheads
2. Dazed and Confused
3. Judgement Night
4. Matinee
5. True Romance

Sound:

1. Jurassic Park
2. The Piano
3. The Puppetmaster
4. Schindler’s List
5. Three Colors: Blue

Sound Editing:

1. Gettysburg
2. Jurassic Park
3. The Last Action Hero
4. Schindler’s List
5. True Romance

Visual Effects:

1. Army of Darkness
2. Green Snake
3. Jurassic Park
4. Kung Fu Cult Master
5. Matinee

1995 Endy Awards

These are the 1995 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Endy Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .

Best Picture:

1. Ballet
2. Dead Man
3. Fallen Angels
4. Good Men, Good Women
5. Whisper of the Heart

Best Director:

1. Jim Jarmusch, Dead Man
2. Wong Kar-wai, Fallen Angels
3. Hou Hsiao-hsien, Good Men, Good Women
4. Tsui Hark, Love in the Time of Twilight
5. Yoshifumi Kondō, Whisper of the Heart

Very close race for the top prize this year, as Good Men, Good Women might be Hou Hsiao-hsien’s best movie. But Dead Man is simply one of my all-time favorite films. We discussed it way back on Episode 2 of The George Sanders Show.

Best Actor:

1. Johnny Depp, Dead Man
2. Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fallen Angels
3. Robert DeNiro, Heat
4. Colin Firth, Pride & Prejudice
5. Morgan Freeman, Se7en

This is DeNiro’s first Endy nomination, but I suspect it won’t be his last. Depp previously won for 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean. Firth’s performance is deservedly considered definitive. For those who say it a performance in a TV miniseries and not a film, I say “Pffffbbbbtt.”

Also receiving votes: Ralph Fiennes (Strange Days), Leslie Cheung (The Chinese Feast), Denzel Washington (Devil in a Blue Dress and Crimson Tide), Ian McKellen (Richard III), Stephen Chow (A Chinese Odyssey), Chris Farley (Tommy Boy) and Lau Ching-wan (Loving You).

Best Actress:

1. Alicia Silverstone, Clueless
2. Annie Shizuka Inoh, Good Men, Good Women
3. Parker Posey, Party Girl
4. Jennifer Ehle, Pride & Prejudice
5. Nicole Kidman, To Die For

Also receiving votes: Julienne Moore (Safe), Charlie Yeung (Love in the Time of Twilight), Julie Delpy (Before Sunrise), Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility), Lili Taylor (The Addiction), Catherine Keener (Living in Oblivion), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Georgia), Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking) and Elizabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas).

Supporting Actor:

1. Kenny Bee, The Chinese Feast
2. Gary Farmer, Dead Man
3. Don Cheadle, Devil in a Blue Dress
4. Chris Eigeman, Kicking and Screaming
5. Ciarán Hinds, Persuasion

Supporting Actress:

1. Christine Taylor, The Brady Bunch Movie
2. Charlie Yeung, Fallen Angels
3. Chloë Sevigny, Kids
4. Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite
5. Gina Gershon, Showgirls

Farmer is an obvious pick, of course. In Supporting Actress, this is one of the rare times when the Oscars and I agree on an acting winner. Sorvino really is quite wonderful, it’s a shame she never got another role half this good again.

Original Screenplay:

1. Jim Jarmusch, Dead Man
2. Wong Kar-wai, Fallen Angels
3. Noah Baumbach, Kicking and Screaming
4. Tsui Hark & Sharon Hui, Love in the Time of Twilight
5. Daisy von Scherler Meyer & Harry Birckmeyer, Party Girl

If the screenplay consisted of nothing other than “Stupid fucking white man” it’d probably still win the Endy.

Adapted Screenplay:

1. Amy Heckerling, Clueless
2. Chu Tien-wen, Good Men, Good Women
3. Andrew Davies, Pride & Prejudice
4. Emma Thompson, Sense & Sensibility
5. Hayao Miyazaki, Whisper of the Heart

That’s right: three Jane Austen adaptations. There’s a fourth that just missed a nomination as well. There was something in the air in 1995. But the Endy goes to Chu Tien-wen, who previously won in 1997 for Flowers of Shanghai.

Non-English Language Film:

1. The Blade (Tsui Hark)
2. Fallen Angels (Wong Kar-wai)
3. Good Men, Good Women (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
4. Love in the Time of Twilight (Tsui Hark)
5. Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondō)

Just missing is Pedro Costa’s Casa de Lava, which also just missed out in Original Screenplay and Film Editing.

Documentary Film:

1. Ballet (Frederick Wiseman)
2. The Celluloid Closet (Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman)
3. Unzipped (Douglas Keeve)

This is Wiseman’s second win and eighth nomination. He won in 2014 for National Gallery.

Animated Film:

1. Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii)
2. Toy Story (John Lasseter)

Unseen Film:

1. La Cérémonie (Claude Chabrol)
2. Love Letter (Shunji Iwai)
3. Mabarosi (Koreeda Hirokazu)
4. Underground (Emir Kusturica)
5. The White Balloon (Jafar Panahi)

Also receiving votes: Ulysses’s Gaze (Theo Angelopolous), La Haine (Mathieu Kassovitz), Cyclo (Tran Anh Hung), The Flower of My Secret (Pedro Almodóvar), and Village of the Damned (John Carpenter).

Film Editing:

1. The Blade
2. Dead Man
3. Fallen Angels
4. Good Men, Good Women
5. Heat

Tsui Hark reaches the apotheosis of the fast-cutting action movie, a full decade before Hollywood begins to (badly) imitate the style.

Cinematography:

1. The Blade
2. Casa de Lava
3. Dead Man
4. Fallen Angels
5. Good Men, Good Women

What can I say? I’m a sucker for fish-eyes.

Also receiving votes: Seven, Dead Presidents, Strange Days, City of Lost Children, Heat, Nixon, Shanghai Triad, Ballet, Sense and Sensibility.

Art Direction:

1. The Blade
2. Casino
3. City of Lost Children
4. Dead Man
5. Pride & Prejudice

Costume Design:

1. The Blade
2. Casino
3. A Chinese Odyssey
4. Dead Man
5. Sense & Sensibility

Everything Sharon Stone wears.

Make-up:

1. The Blade
2. Casino
3. City of Lost Children
4. A Chinese Odyssey
5. Species

Original Score:

1. City of Lost Children
2. Dead Man
3. Friday
4. Toy Story
5. Whisper of the Heart

Adapted Score:

1. Clueless
2. Dead Presidents
3. Devil in a Blue Dress
4. Kicking and Screaming
5. Kids

If it was “Adapted Song” this would easily go to Whisper of the Heart, as it is, “Country Roads” is almost enough to get it nominated in both categories.

Sound:

1. Casino
2. Dead Man
3. Good Men, Good Women
4. Heat
5. Seven

That telephone ringing.

Sound Editing:

1. The Blade
2. Braveheart
3. Crimson Tide
4. GoldenEye
5. Heat

Visual Effects:

1. Apollo 13
2. Babe
3. A Chinese Odyssey
4. Love in the Time of Twilight
5. Species

That’ll do, pig.

SIFF 2015 Index

This is an index of my coverage of the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival. The reviews are all at Seattle Screen Scene, the brief comments are on letterboxd.

Reviews:

Temporary Family (Cheuk Wan-chi, 2014) – May 14, 2015
Snow on the Blades (Setsurô Wakamatsu, 2014) – May 14, 2015
Results (Andrew Bujalski, 2015) – May 18, 2015
Back to the Soil (Bill Morrison, 2014) – May 18, 2015
Beyond Zero 1914-1918 (Bill Morrison, 2014) – May 18, 2015

Natural History (James Benning, 2014) – May 18, 2015
The Coffin in the Mountain (Xin Yukun, 2014) – May 22, 2015
Haemoo (Shim Sungbo, 2014) – May 22, 2015
The Color of Pomegranates (Segei Parajanov, 1968) – May 22, 2015
A Hard Day (Kim Seonghoon, 2014) – May 22, 2015

Overheard 3 (Alan Mak & Felix Chong, 2014) – May 29, 2015
Dreams Rewired (Manu Luksch, Thomas Tode & Martin Reinhart) – May 29, 2015
The Apu Trilogy (Satyajit Ray, 1955-59) – May 29, 2015
Mistress America (Noah Baumbach, 2015) – May 29, 2015
Unexpected (Kris Swanberg, 2015) – May 29, 2015

A Matter of Interpretation (Lee Kwangkuk, 2014) – May 29, 2015
Dearest (Peter Chan, 2014) – May 29, 2015

Brief Comments:

When Marnie Was There (Hiromasa Yonebayashi, 2014) – May 05, 2015
Virtuosity (Christopher Wilkinson, 2014) – May 10, 2015
The Royal Road (Jenni Olson, 2015) – May 30, 2015
Phoenix (Christian Petzold, 2014) – May 31, 2015
The Teacher’s Diary (Nithiwat Tharathorn, 2014) – Jun 01, 2015

Saved from the Flames (Compilation hosted by Serge Bromberg) – Jun 02, 2015
Cave of the Spider-Women (Dan Duyu, 1927) – Jun 03, 2015
Cave of the Silken Web (Ho Meng-hua, 1967) – Jun 03, 2015
Eden (Mia Hansen-Løve, 2014) – Jun 04, 2015
¡Que viva México! (Sergei Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov, 1932) – Jun 07, 2015

Podcast:

The George Sanders Show Episode 62: SIFF Recap

1996 Endy Awards

These are the 1996 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Endy Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .

Best Picture:

1. Big Night
2. Comrades, Almost a Love Story
3. Goodbye South, Goodbye
4. Irma Vep
5. Mahjong

Best Director:

1. Peter Chan, Comrades, Almost a Love Story
2. Anthony Minghella, The English Patient
3. Edward Yang, Mahjong
4. Olivier Assayas, Irma Vep
5. Danny Boyle, Trainspotting

Like with Boogie Nights in 1997 and Pulp Fiction in 1994, the exuberance of Trainspotting defines for me a stage of cinephilia, when I first began to really believe in the joy of making cinema. The Assayas film is a more refined expressions of that same drive, while the Chan and Minghella are sublime examples of more traditional romantic forms. But the Endy this year goes to Edward Yang, for what I consider to be his finest film.

Best Actor:

1. Stanley Tucci, Big Night
2. Anthony Wong, Ebola Syndrome
3. Ralph Fiennes, The English Patient
4. Philip Baker Hall, Hard Eight
5. Christopher Guest, Waiting for Guffman

Fiennes will eventually win in 2014 for The Grand Budapest Hotel. Anthony Wong gets nominated for the two sleaziest performances of the year, edging out Hall for the lead acting Endy.

Best Actress:

1. Maggie Cheung, Comrades, Almost a Love Story
2. Frances McDormand, Fargo
3. Lili Taylor, I Shot Andy Warhol
4. Maggie Cheung, Irma Vep
5. Josephine Siao, Stage Door

Disaster as Maggie Cheung becomes the first actor to be nominated twice in the same category in one year, only to split the vote and allow Frances McDormand to sneak away with the Endy. One of the biggest upsets in Endy history. Nicole Kidman, Gina Gershon and Michelle Yeoh just miss out on nominations for Portrait of a Lady, Bound and The Stunt Woman, respectively.

Supporting Actor:

1. Tony Shaloub, Big Night
2. Owen Wilson, Bottle Rocket
3. Vince Vaughn, Swingers
4. Francis Ng, Young & Dangerous
5. Anthony Wong, Young & Dangerous 2

Supporting Actress:

1. Jennifer Tilly, Bound
2. Juliette Binoche, The English Patient
3. Virginie Ledoyen, Mahjong
4. Sylvia Sidney, Mars Attacks!
5. Shu Qi, Viva Erotica

Binoche will win Best Actress in 2007 (Flight of the Red Balloon) and 2010 (Certified Copy).

Original Screenplay:

1. Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson, Bottle Rocket
2. Ivy Ho, Comrades, Almost a Love Story
3. Olivier Assayas, Irma Vep
4. Edward Yang, Mahjong
5. Derek Yee, Law Chi-leung & Bosco Lam, Viva Erotica

Adapted Screenplay:

1. Anthony Minghella, The English Patient
2. Jonathan Gems, Mars Attacks!
3. David Koepp & Robert Towne, Mission: Impossible
4. Laura Jones, Portrait of a Lady
5. John Hodge, Trainspotting

Non-English Language Film:

1. Comrades, Almost a Love Story (Peter Chan)
2. Goodbye South, Goodbye (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
3. Irma Vep (Olivier Assayas)
4. Mahjong (Edward Yang)
5. Viva Erotica (Derek Yee)

Documentary Film:

1. La Comédie-Française (Frederick Wiseman)
2. Get on the Bus (Spike Lee)
3. Hype! (Doug Pray)
4. The Typewriter, the Rifle & the Movie Camera (Adam Simon)
5. When We Were Kings (Leon Gast)

The is the second year to feature a film about Samuel Fuller in the Best Documentary category, after 2013’s A Fuller Life.

Animated Film:

1. Beavis & Butthead Do America (Mike Judge)
2. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise)

Unseen Film:

1. A Moment of Innocence (Mohsen Makhmalbaf)
2. The Pillow Book (Peter Greenaway)
3. La Promesse (The Dardennes)
4. A Summer’s Tale (Eric Rohmer)

Also receiving votes: Breaking the Waves (Lars von Trier), Crash (David Cronenberg), Evita (Alan Parker), Forbidden City Cop (Stephen Chow), Kansas City (Robert Altman), Escape from LA (John Carpenter), and Gabbeh (Mohsen Makhmalbaf).

Film Editing:

1. Comrades, Almost a Love Story
2. The English Patient
3. Irma Vep
4. Romeo + Juliet
5. Trainspotting

Cinematography:

1. Bound
2. Goodbye South, Goodbye
3. Irma Vep
4. Mahjong
5. Romeo + Juliet

Art Direction:

1. The English Patient
2. Portrait of a Lady
3. Romeo + Juliet
4. Shanghai Grand
5. Trainspotting

Costume Design:

1. Irma Vep
2. Kingpin
3. Mars Attacks!
4. Romeo + Juliet
5. Trainspotting

Claire Danes with wings.

Make-up:

1. The English Patient
2. From Dusk til Dawn
3. Kingpin
4. Mars Attacks!
5. Romeo + Juliet

Farrelly grotesquerie at its best.

Original Score:

1. Comrades, Almost a Love Story
2. The English Patient
3. Goodbye South, Goodbye
4. Irma Vep
5. That Thing You Do!

Adapted Score:

1. Basquiat
2. Comrades, Almost a Love Story
3. Romeo + Juliet
4. Swingers
5. Trainspotting

Very tough category this year. Swingers rode a wave of swing dance/Rat Pack revivalism, so that’s obviously out. Tough to pass over the New Wave/Punk hits and The Cardigans, but I have to go with the Teresa Teng tribute that is Comrades.

Sound:

1. Big Night
2. Comrades, Almost a Love Story
3. The English Patient
4. Irma Vep
5. Trainspotting

The sound of scrambling eggs.

Sound Editing:

1. The Frighteners
2. Independence Day
3. Mission: Impossible
4. The Rock
5. Twister

Visual Effects:

1. The Frighteners
2. From Dusk til Dawn
3. Independence Day
4. Trainspotting
5. Twister

mj-1996-poster-1

1997 Endy Awards

These are the 1997 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Endy Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. And the Endy goes to. . .

Best Picture:

1. Boogie Nights
2. Jackie Brown
3. Lost Highway
4. Taste of Cherry
5. Too Many Ways To Be No. 1

Best Director:

1. Paul Thomas Anderson, Boogie Nights
2. Quentin Tarantino, Jackie Brown
3. David Lynch, Lost Highway
4. Abbas Kiarostami, Taste of Cherry
5. Wai Ka-fai, Too Many Ways To Be No. 1

Honestly I’m afraid to go back and rewatch Boogie Nights. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, a film that defined the youthful exuberance and openness of the early stages of cinephilia for me in my younger days. I’d hate to go back and find it to be less than the thrill I got walking into the theatre right at the start of that opening tracking shot. Lynch will win Best Director in 2001 for Mulholland Dr., Kiarostami will be nominated again in 2010 and 2012. Wai will win for co-directing Running on Karma in 2003. This is Tarantino’s first nomination for directing, he will have been nominated for Original Screenplay in 2009.

Best Actor:

1. Leslie Cheung, Happy Together
2. Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Happy Together
3. Thomas Jay Ryan, Henry Fool
4. Leonardo DiCaprio, Titanic
5. Wang Hongwei, Xiao Wu

Best Actress:

1. Joey Lauren Adams, Chasing Amy
2. Pam Grier, Jackie Brown
3. Patricia Arquette, Lost Highway
4. Mina Mohammad Khani, The Mirror
5. Kate Winslet, Titanic

I’m arguing back and forth on whether this should go to Cheung or Leung, they’re both so good. Giving it to Cheung knowing that both will have more chances at the Endy as we move backward in time. Leung will be nominated another four times between 1997 and 2004, winning in 2000 for In the Mood for Love.

Supporting Actor:

1. John C. Reilly, Boogie Nights
2. Chris Tucker, The Fifth Element
3. Robert DeNiro, Jackie Brown
4. Robert Forster, Jackie Brown
5. Russell Crowe, LA Confidential

Supporting Actress:

1. Julianne Moore, Boogie Nights
2. Minnie Driver, Grosse Pointe Blank
3. Parker Posey, Henry Fool
4. Bridget Fonda, Jackie Brown
5. Sarah Polley, The Sweet Hereafter

You could fill out two or three supporting actor categories with the cast of Boogie Nights, Jackie Brown and LA Confidential. 1997 was a great year for ensembles. Moore just missed a nomination for The Big Lebowski in 1998, so this might be a bit of a make-up award for her.

Original Screenplay:

1. Paul Thomas Anderson, Boogie Nights
2. David Lynch & Barry Gifford, Lost Highway
3. Jafar Panahi, The Mirror
4. Abbas Kiarostami, Taste of Cherry
5. Matt Chow, Szeto Kam-yuen & Wai Ka-fai, Too Many Ways To Be No. 1

Adapted Screenplay:

1. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Cure
2. James Schamus, The Ice Storm
3. Quentin Tarantino, Jackie Brown
4. Atom Egoyan, The Sweet Hereafter
5. George Toles, Twilight of the Ice Nymphs

As is often the case, adapted screenplay, outside of the winner and the Kurosawa, is a wasteland. There’s probably another 5-10 original screenplays deserving of nomination.

Non-English Language Film:

1. Happy Together (Wong Kar-wai)
2. The Mirror (Jafar Panahi)
3. Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami)
4. Too Many Ways To Be No. 1 (Wai Ka-fai)
5. Xiao Wu (Jia Zhangke)

Hard to imagine two films more different in style than the Kiarostami and Wai films.

Documentary Film:

1. Fast, Cheap and Out of Control (Errol Morris)

Morris picks up his first (but surely not the last) Endy with the only doc I’ve seen from this year.

Animated Film:

1. End of Evangelion (Hideaki Anno & Kazuya Tsurumaki)
2. Evangelion: Death and Rebirth (Hideaki Anno, Kazuya Tsurumaki & Masayuki)
3. Perfect Blue (Satoshi Kon)
4. Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki)

Unseen Film:

1. Destiny (Youssef Chahine)
2. Made in Hong Kong (Fruit Chan)
3. Same Old Song (Alain Resnais)

Film Editing:

1. Boogie Nights
2. Happy Together
3. Kundun
4. Lost Highway
5. Too Many Ways to Be No. 1

Cinematography:

1. Boogie Nights
2. Happy Together
3. The River
4. Titanic
5. Too Many Ways to Be No. 1

Really tempted to give the award to Too Many Ways… just because of the upside-down fight sequence. But this has to go to Titanic.

Art Direction:

1. Boogie Nights
2. The Fifth Element
3. Starship Troopers
4. Titanic
5. Twilight of the Ice Nymphs

Costume Design:

1. Boogie Nights
2. The Fifth Element
3. The Ice Storm
4. Starship Troopers
5. Titanic

Don Cheadle’s King Tut outfit.

Make-up:

1. Boogie Nights
2. The Fifth Element
3. Kundun
4. Men in Black
5. Titanic

Not only because of Milla Jovovich’s hair. Other stuff too.

Original Score:

1. Kundun
2. LA Confidential
3. Princess Mononoke
4. Starship Troopers
5. Titanic

Score, not song. The song is terrible, the score is good.

Adapted Score:

1. Boogie Nights
2. Grosse Pointe Blank
3. Happy Together
4. The Ice Storm
5. Jackie Brown

The Delfonics in an upset!

Sound:

1. Boogie Nights
2. Lost Highway
3. The Mirror
4. The River
5. Xiao Wu

The sound design in Jia Zhangke’s debut is extraordinary, the noises and chaos of the rapidly modernizing city intruding on and dominating every aspect of the young pickpocket’s life.

Sound Editing:

1. Face/Off
2. The Lost Word: Jurassic Park
3. Men in Black
4. Starship Troopers
5. Titanic

Visual Effects:

1. Lifeline
2. Men in Black
3. Starship Troopers
4. Titanic
5. Twilight of the Ice Nymphs

On King Arthur

This 2004 film directed by Antoine Fuqua from a screenplay by David Franzoni is not just ahistorical in a run of the mill anachronistic or “hey things didn’t happen like that” kind of way. That stuff is kind of annoying but it’s mostly harmless. All histories, filmed or otherwise, are necessarily approximations of the truth. But this is antihistorical, it falsifies history in such a way as to not only make its audience dumber about the past, but in service of a nefarious agenda regarding the present.

Arthur is situated as the leader of a small band of Roman cavalry stationed at Hadrian’s Wall in the late 5th century, at the time Rome pulled out from Britannia in the wake of Germanic and Gothic incursions throughout the Western Empire. His men, anachronistically called “knights” (knights won’t actually become a thing for another 500 years or so, after the Norman conquest; this is an example of an acceptable anachronism, especially since the Arthurian legends, composed in the age of chivalry, have already imposed knighthood on the historical story (if there was one, more about that later)) are Sarmatians, drafted into Imperial service as part of a 3rd Century surrender agreement between their people and the Empire (not historical: the Sarmatians remained a power in the Ukraine and Balkan regions through the end of the Western Empire, though there is a theory that the Arthurian legends are influenced by or even sourced in, similar Sarmatian stories (notably one about a lady with a sword in a lake), the influence purported to have come from a community of Sarmatian veterans in Lancashire). Arthur himself is not Sarmation, but is half-British and half-Roman, having been raised by the renowned Christian theologian Pelagius (though probably of British or Irish origin, Pelagius nonetheless spent most of his life far south of where Arthur would have lived, also he died some 50 years before the events of the film take place and the film is wrong about almost every aspect of his life and beliefs).

Warring factions on the island include: the Romano-British, those native Celtic Britons that had been Romanized over three centuries of occupation; the Woads, led by the mysterious Merlin, these are non-Romanized Britons at war with the Empire, the name and their appearance recalls the Picts, the Celts who lived North of the Wall in Scotland (the Scoti likely were Irish Celts who migrated from Ulster to Western Scotland, at this time though the Picts were the dominant group in the area), though these Woads seem to operate freely on both sides of the Wall rather than be separated by it from the Empire, which was of course the main purpose of the Wall; the Saxons, Germanic invaders led by Cerdic and his son Cynric who land in Scotland and march South to take over the lands of the withdrawing Romans. This is inane geographically: the Saxons invade North of the Wall, which is not only ahistorical but incredibly dumb – rather than invade the South of England, they apparently travelled all the way north by boat simply to land on the opposite side of the most impressive defensive fortification in the Western Empire. The historical Saxons of course landed on the South and South-Eastern coasts of Britain, an area then known as the “Saxon Shore”, Saxon raids on the Empire had been so frequent from the 3rd Century on that there was a whole Roman command dedicated to discouraging them, you can even still find Roman forts on the Saxon Shore today. And it’s inane historically: Cerdic was an actual person, as was his son. They were the founders of the Kingdom of the West Saxons, known as Wessex (note: West Saxons, not “guys who invaded Scotland for no reason”). Their line of descendants, cut short in the film because, as the villains, they both get killed, is the line of the British monarchy, a more or less direct descent from Cerdic to Alfred the Great to William the Conquerer, Henry VIII, and the present Elizabeth II. So not only does this film put the West Saxons in the North, it kills off the entire history of English royalty.

So what have we got here other than a tangled mess of misremembered history? If we posit that no film can be a true depiction of history, and that the task of historical fiction is to use the past as raw material for the telling of a story, one that tells us as much, if not more, about our present than it does our past, in effect broadening our myopic modern concerns with the weight and perspective of lost time (whether fanciful or factual), then what does this nonsense film accomplish? For any act of historical fiction that deviates from historical fact, there must be a reason. Usually this amounts to story expediency, minor historical details are modified to make for a more compelling narrative, as is the case in, say, The Lion in Winter, which depicts a family gathering of the Plantagenet nobility that likely never took place but that nonetheless sets an effective the stage for exploring the actual conflicts and interactions within that remarkable family. So to what end is history mangled in King Arthur? It’s hard to read it as anything other than an apologia for neo-conservatisim and a justification for the Iraq War. Released in 2004, at the height of that propagandistic time, we have the story of a powerful garrison stationed in a faraway land, banding together for no reason other than fellowship and duty, to protect one group of freedom-loving primitives from another, more aggressive band. King Arthur was written by David Franzoni, the man also responsible for the historical farce that is Gladiator, which asserts that by overthrowing the decadent and fascistic dictatorship of the cruel Roman Emperor Commodus, a group of high-minded nobles and warriors will (did) bring freedom (that word again) to the backwards peoples of the Empire, which is, of course, the opposite of what actually happened in Rome (and Iraq, so far at least). Reportedly Franzoni is at work on two different historical fictions set in China, one a Yang Kwei-fei adaptation, the other set amongst 19th century pirates. I, for one, am very afraid.

This is the opposite of the narrative the Arthurian legends, if they are in fact sourced in history (which is highly debatable), represent. Tradition holds that the historical Arthur was one of the leaders of a band of Romano-British left behind after the Empire abandoned the island. In the wake of that withdrawal, Saxon immigration (which had been on-going for a century or so) to the island intensified. This was not necessarily in an invasion: one tradition holds that as groups of Romano-British warred amongst themselves, a band of Saxons were invited over as mercenaries and took a liking to the place, setting up their own space and gradually expanding outwards. There’s even strong evidence that what happened wasn’t so much a full scale migration followed by genocide and population replacement (as is implied by Cerdic preventing a Saxon rape because of a Hitlerian vision of the purity of Saxon blood: in fact, there’s some evidence that the historical Cerdic was at least part-Celtic), but rather a cultural shift as the same Britons that had centuries earlier adopted Roman culture simply added Saxon culture to their existing identity (as these same people would later do with Viking and Norman influence – the English are nothing if not adaptable). But anyway, there were a series of battles fought as the various boundaries between Celtic (Welsh, Pict, Cornish), Romano-British and Germanic groups vied for control of the former Imperial lands throughout the 5th and 6th centuries. One of those leaders may have been Arthur (some identify him with the general Ambrosius Aurelianus, who won a decisive battle against the Saxons sometime in the fifth century that might have been at Mons Badonicus (Baden Hill), the site of the fictional Arthur’s greatest victory). Arthur isn’t mentioned in any contemporary historical accounts (of which there are very few), but from his earliest mentions is identified with the British resistance against the Saxons. The later Arthurian stories, popularized in France in the late middle ages come out of a different tradition entirely and this is the source of much of the chivalric lore surrounding the modern narrative (Guinevere and Lancelot and the grail quest, etc).

So both the film and the history have tell story of a valiant defense against a foreign invader, so far, so good. But Franzoni makes two major deviations. The first is in asserting that Arthur’s band is foreign, rather than a native resistance, as it would have been historically. There’s no other reason for this than to draw a parallel to the United States’s mission in the Middle East. A film valorizing a native defense against a foreign invasion would send the wrong message in the midst of an American invasion of a foreign nation. This is the nefarious deviation. The second deviation is the geographical nonsense. This is less evil than it is stupid, but possibly even more dangerous. Franzoni has taken a handful of historical actualities and jumbled them together in such a way as to seem plausible, but are actually false. Cerdic and Cynric were actual people, Hadrian’s Wall is an actual thing. There’s just enough fact in the story to lend the propaganda the patina of truth – an obvious fantasy is no danger because few are likely to believe it, but just as I wonder how many people think the death of Commodus brought about a resurrection of the Roman Republic, I worry how many lies about the past people who see this film will come to believe (not many probably: thankfully the movie didn’t have much of an audience and is largely forgotten today). There might be a reason to relocate the invasion North to the Wall, it being a much more dramatic location than the Kentish coastline, the decision to do so is more a matter of privileging dramatic effect over basic logic and common sense. For example, it requires the placing of a massive, defenseless Roman estate North of the Wall, the innocent occupants of which must be evacuated by our hero knights – obviously no such estate would exist: the whole point of the Wall was to keep the Romans on the South side and the Celts on the North. But there’s no story reason for Franzoni to name his villains after the founders of the English royal dynasty, why do so other than to adopt the appearance of actuality? And just what is the implication here? Could it be that not only is Franzoni working to justify the invasion of Iraq, but he’s also advocating for an American overthrow of the United Kingdom? Probably yes.