For those of you who are familiar with the awards scheme I decided upon last year, everything that I said to excuse myself from a Best/Worst list is applicable to this year as well. I just didn’t see enough garbage to make a Worst list—though I think I could have made a “Expect to See it on a Worst List” list based on the many horrendous trailers I saw this year—and ranking the good ones seems unfair since their virtues are usually along several different dimensions. OK, enough small talk: here come the 2002 Awards, in more or less the same categories as last year.
1. Best Movie (I’ve Seen This Year) Award: Talk to Her
Yes, I know I fawned over this one in my review, but I will say it again: how good is this guy?! Almodovar is in full flow in this funny-tender ode to two unconscious women and the men who watch over them. If you’re one of those people like me, who hate “concepts for the sake of concepts,” go see Talk to Her. It’s definitely a concept—the story sounds like something an overwrought college freshman might come up with—but that’s all the more reason to appreciate the talent of the director who can make this work.
2. The Almost Perfect Award: 25th Hour
Spike Lee, again, folks… This year he made a hilarious short about the “theft” of the 2000 presidential election, and he made 25th Hour, a perverse love letter to New York. Ed Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and the surprisingly good Barry Pepper look like they were born to play their parts. And the psychedelic nightclub sequence, as well as Norton’s graffiti-inspired monologue are pure genius. So why am I giving this one an “Almost Perfect.” Two words: the ending. Too much of a good thing, Spike, just too much of a good thing.
3. The I-Love-the-Movies Award: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Once again, the bespectacled British wizard wins the popularity contest. I loved the Howler, adored the Whomping Willow, and had a ball with the Weasleys flying car. Once again, the Quidditch match was too long, and there wasn’t really too much going on cinematically, but hey, that makes it about 99-1 in favor of a thumbs-up. I’ll take that any day when the likes of Kangaroo Jack are offered up as alternatives.
4. The Messing-With-Your-Mind Award:
Alas, there were no contenders this year. Even the normally dependable Polanski has gone mainstream. I saw some French and French-inspired stuff with great anticipation, but all of it ended up annoying me more than anything else.
5. The Unexpected Gem Award: Three Days of Rain
This one actually doesn’t even have a distributor yet, but it’s definitely the most wonderful surprise I have gotten this past year. A collection of Chekhov stories, bound together tightly by the unremitting rain and the slightly creepy voice of the disc jockey, this little movie mixes in tenderness, a bizarre sense of humor and a somewhat depressing undertone of the inevitable, to prove itself a extremely creditable translation of Chekhov, as well as a worthy successor to the likes of American Beauty.
6. The Worst Movie Award: The Ring
The usual disclaimer about the fact that I haven’t seen enough bad movies applies of course, but The Ring is a favorite for this award no matter what. If nothing else, the trailers were so promising! I also have a healthy respect for both Japanese filmmaking and their ideas about horror—watch Audition or one of Miike’s other movies if you want to drive yourself crazy—so I was doubly disappointed by this film. It made no sense, the cinematography had nothing to say for itself, and it had a ridiculously creepy child in it. Bad career move for Naomi Watts.
Parama Chaudhury is a graduate student, an ex-writing instructor and a budding freelance writer based in New York City.
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