2003 Milk Plus Droogies

Best Picture
Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Director
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Actor (tie)
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean

Best Actor (tie)
Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

Best Actress
Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Supporting Actor
David Hyde Pierce, Down With Love

Best Supporting Actress
Miranda Richardson, Spider

Best Screenplay
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

Best Foreign Film

Best Cinematography
Harris Savides, Gerry

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McBain Recommends
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Top 20 List
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The Blog:
Friday, August 02, 2002
Da' Roundup

Misery and Dolores Claibourne: Both are solid King films. Both have solid performances by Bates. Than why was I so bored by them? There is nothing wrong with the filmmaking, the direction is more than competent. The cinematography is great. I think that King's horror fiction is just, well, dumb. There is no sense of greater theme beyond the story at hand. They are ghost yarns without much soul. I had put off seeing these films for years and now I feel like I was missing nothing.

The Bad News Bears: Hadn't seen it in years and guess what? It is still the greatest sports movie ever made. Walter Matthau does some of the best comic work around and creates a character more memorable than his odd Oscar. This is a film I look forward to watching with my own children someday. This viewing brought a new perspective on the Tatum O'Neil character. She is a strangely sad figure, too mature and sexy for her age, and knowing how her real life plays out later lends a tragedy to the Bears pitcher.

Signs: The best movie of 2002 so far. Terrifying and touching at the same time. I gasped with fear and nearly cried. Shyamalan coaxes the ghost of Hitchcock out of the air and sits him at the table with Spielberg's gift for the visual story. Doesn't have the brilliant philosophical implications of Unbreakable but contains all the suspense of The Sixth Sense with a special flavor of platonic love. I don't want to give anything away, so I would have a hard time describing my reservations about the film. Ultimately, Shyamalan has done well aping Hitchcock and Spielberg and this film confirms him in my mind as the successor to both.

The Outlaw Josey Whales and Escape From Alcatraz: Part of my Blood Work preperation. TOJW is a film every bit as good as Eastwood's masterpiece Unforgiven. Same level of societal criticism and same level of atmospheric action. As harsh as I am of Eastwood's failures, I want to make clear my joy at his successes. Alcatraz is a lesser work, containing all the building blocks of Shawshank (a fact I hadn't known until now), but didn't have the extra umph to really get me involved. The characters are a bit cold, it is all too workman like.

Jacob's Ladder: Maybe in the generation of Fight Club, The Sixth Sense, and The Others I am jaded, but the outcome of this film was obvious from the beginning. It is still a fun ride. If you took Fatal Attraction and Platoon and add a set of balls this is what you get. Themes of death should be terrifying and this is one of the few films around to take that to heart. The modern male nightmare is often depicted as a ho-hum minor setback, but in this case Lyne isn't afraid to scare us.

Conspiracy: What if the perpetrator of the Holocaust wasn't some diabolically evil man? What if he was just a single minded civil servant, an amazing paper pusher who didn't seem to have time to think about the implications of the bureaucracy he masterminded? Can human beings get together in a board room and just decide to exterminate a race? It is a surreal experience to watch Kenneth Branagh's perfect Aryan and his paper pusher Stanley Tucci hold a power meeting about wiping out the Jews, railroading those few Germans left with any remnant of a conscience. It is surreal and worth the hour and a half.