Most Unsung Performance, Male
Jim Broadbent, Art School Confidential. If Oscar had any clue, they’d hand the little golden man to Sir Jim for what amounts to one of the best portrayals of misanthropic despair ever caught on film. Hateful, mean, self-loathing, and yet, maniacally narcissistic, Broadbent’s Jimmy kills his inferiors as a means to acquire artistic inspiration, which, under the circumstances, seems eminently reasonable. One of the few roles that made me laugh like a hyena, and one I’ll treasure forever.
Most Unsung Performance, Female
Debbie Doebereiner, Bubble. Gesticulating madman? Easy. Wide-eyed schizophrenic burning through lines of coke? Piece of cake. But uninspiring, dull, and decidedly normal? Few can do it well, and in a film like this, it requires a complete unknown to give it any hint of credibility. Both devastating and pathetic, Debbie’s Martha is a typical, anonymous American lost in a sea of loneliness and pain, but as played, she’s wholly unique. There isn’t a single reason we should care about her, but I defy anyone to turn away.
Proof That There’s Life After Sixty
Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa & Charlotte Rampling, Heading South.
Evidence That If I’m Lucky, I Won’t Fucking Get There
Any number of the mind-raped lunatics being stacked like cordwood in Toronto’s Baycrest retirement community in Memory: for Max, Claire, Ida and Company.
Worst Fucking Performance, Male or Female
Christian Bale, Rescue Dawn. Given his reputation, Bale should have coasted through an actor’s dream: an imprisoned war hero takes to the jungle in the fight of his life. And yet, Bale is mannered, phony, and, from all appearances, a shit-faced retard. Delivering lines no human should endure (“You almost killed me, you idiot!”), Bale seems dropped in from another planet; the sort of place where method actors vomit all over their training and play it by ear.
Least Convincing Sex Symbol, Female
Hilary Swank, The Black Dahlia. As if encased in wax, two-time Oscar winner Swank would have us believe she’s a smoldering siren from the old school, but her horrific line delivery and glassy-eyed demeanor leave all but the demented permanently flaccid. Sure, she’s merely a pawn in Brian De Palma’s insipid disaster, but even he could not have intended this character to channel a cross-dressing mannequin with all the allure of Carol Channing in a hot tub.
Most Appalling Overall Year, Male or Female
Scarlett Johansson, Scoop & The Black Dahlia. Sure the babe’s got tits, but no worse actress currently resides on Planet Earth. She can’t do anger, or despair, or breathless, or even breathing, and to date, I’m not even sure she realizes she’s an actress. Every line from these twin disasters reeks of confusion, and as further evidence of Woody Allen’s decline, he’s now determined to cast her in everything he does from now on. Unfortunately, her star is now too bright to play a disemboweled corpse being consumed by maggots on some lonely, dusty road.
Sign That If God Exists, He’s An Insufferable Asshole
While trapped below the rubble of a collapsed tower in World Trade Center, Will Jimeno (Michael Pena) is given not first aid, a light meal, or even a crowbar by the Holy Fucking Messiah, but rather a fucking half-empty bottle of Evian. More to the point, instead of making sure the building didn’t fall to begin with, God waited until thousands were dead and this moronic fireman had no means of escape before playing mind games with ridiculous, surreal visions better left for tacky velvet paintings you’d find at a flea market.
And Yet, A Sign That God Does Exist
I didn’t see a single film this entire year with either Julia Roberts or Albert Finney.
Sexiest Performance, Male or Female
Meryl Streep, A Prairie Home Companion. Sure, she’s now old enough to be my mother, but each and every time she appeared on screen, I was struck with the overwhelming desire to tear this woman to pieces in savage acts of lust. Not only do her tits sizzle with middle-aged defiance, but her girlish innocence, sparked with a dash of world-weary resignation, allowed for Streep’s comic gifts to shine through as never before.
Proof That Even Bush-Bashing Gets Tiresome
At first blush, Death of a President appears to be a can’t-miss masterpiece. In this pseudo-documentary, taking place in late 2007, Bush is assassinated, leaving little but boredom and slight inconvenience in his wake. Clearly a fantasy piece for all easily aroused liberals, this rank disappointment proved only that ideologues of any stripe need more than visceral hatred to make a movie. Faced with a gimmick, the filmmakers folded and had nothing else to say.
Maybe The Apocalypse Is Upon Us
Ben Affleck is tolerable in Hollywoodland. A movie about Game Six of the 1986 World Series was boring. And Emilio Estevez (Bobby) isn’t a complete idiot.
Most Overrated Movie (tie)
The defenders of Little Miss Sunshine failed to notice that it stole a page from the Marx Brothers about halfway through, and while Babel is admirable filmmaking, it’s not quite worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize critics would have you believe.
Gods Made Mortal
With Volver, Pedro Almodovar proved once and for all that he too had a dull script tucked away in mothballs, while Werner Herzog seemed to lose his mind altogether with the wretched Rescue Dawn, a film not even George P. Cosmatos would have considered at the peak of his fascism. But Sean Penn making his shameless pandering in I Am Sam seem understated? Yep, that would be All the King’s Men.
Biggest Fucking Mistake, Non-Fiction
On its face, a documentary about cinematography (Cinematographer Style) sounds like one unending orgasm. Imagine my surprise when a decidedly visual art was reduced to 90 minutes of talking heads without a single clip or example to be found, reducing my love of the cinema to a nasty, bitter headache.
Biggest Fucking Mistake, Fiction
Kevin Macdonald’s The Last King of Scotland. When your subject is Idi Fucking Amin, one of history’s most ruthless madmen, don’t make your film about some foppish Scottish doctor and pretend we should care whether or not he lives, while hundreds of thousands of Africans are left to die.
Biggest Incentive To Begin Yoga
The opening scene of self-fellatio in Shortbus.
Biggest Overall Disappointment
Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima. After the underwhelming and overly sentimental Flags of Our Fathers, I had high hopes for Clint’s follow-up examination of the same battle from the other side. And while the new perspective was ballsy and unique, Eastwood proved once again that he’s too measured — and too sane — to make a truly great war movie. Instead of taking off, the film remains fixed to cinematic convention, offering nothing new save the obvious cliché that war is hell.
Most Unnecessary, Volume One
Douglas McGrath’s Infamous re-told the Truman Capote tale, only with less vigor and insight, and made us suffer through Peter Bogdanovich’s incessant preening.
Most Unnecessary, Volume Two
Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond. Yes, we know you’re noble. And a family man. And angry. Try on a new hat, chief.
Best Film For Liberals (tie)
Both Shut Up & Sing and This Film is Not Yet Rated. Two films that prove once again that there is no more valuable freedom than the freedom of expression.
Best Film For Conservatives
Gabriele Muccino’s The Pursuit of Happyness. Taxes ruin lives, the homeless choose their fate, and the American Dream is an expensive car and working on Wall Street.
Best Con-Job, Non-Fiction (tie)
Jim Jones convincing 900+ sentient human beings to kill themselves for a man with a bad haircut (Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple) and Ted Haggard convincing the world that his swishy ways and boyish grin were not indicative of an obsession with hard, throbbing cock (Jesus Camp).
Yeah, I Feel Guilty, But I Ain’t Changing (tie)
Both Who Killed the Electric Car? (the dependence on oil and need for fuel efficient vehicles) and Black Gold (globalization and the exploitation of coffee growers in Ethiopia).