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Ten Best - 2001

     Today's Hollywood bites. I don't have the energy for the third straight year of railing against the machine for giving the public such a pathetic, shoddy bunch of films.

     Entertainment? Humbug! Only the multiplex pod people don't seem to have noticed.

     Are movies better than ever? Fifty years ago, 1951, Hollywood gave us, among thirty or forty decent pictures, these abiding classics: Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers On A Train, George Stevens's A Place In The Sun, Vincent Minnelli's An American In Paris, Christopher Nyby's and Howard Hawks's The Thing, Elia Kazan's Streetcar Named Desire, Billy Wilder's Ace In The Hole, Robert Wise's The Day The Earth Stood Still. What from the studios will be cherished in the year 2052?

     The envelope!

     BEST FILM - Richard Linklater's walking wonderland of a movie, Waking Life. Naysayers complain that some of the floating conversations sound like sophomoric dorm sessions, but I think that's Linklater's philosophy: to segue between the profound and the inane, the perceptive and the insane, and to find a kind of wonder in all places. The animation here is genuinely eye-popping (get ready for Waking Life to be mauled by industry pics, Shrek and Monsters, Inc., at the Oscars), and it's the only transcendant, visionary movie of 2001. (Transcendant moments: the frozen NYC of the future in A.I.)

     MOST UNDERRATED FILM - John Stockwell's Crazy/Beautiful, a box-office disaster, though the most moving, deeply felt film about adolescents in several years. The amazing Kirsten Dunst, shedding her chipper, chirpy affability, plays a wild, spoiled, rich girl whose indulgent, anything-goes swagger manages to hide her self-loathing and suicidal desires. She meets her match with a sweet young Mexican boy (Jay Hernandez) who is bussed to her school and who struggles to stay on track with everyone so that he can be selected for the Naval Academy. Their cross-cultural romance is the most touching of any in a film of the year 2001, and also the sexiest. Maybe it's true, as the rumor goes, that some of their grappling was left on the cutting-room floor. What remains in Crazy/Beautiful is strong, courageous, and extremely potent.

     THE REST OF THE TEN BEST: The Others, Apocalypse Now Redux, The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein (John Gianvito's feature is best Boston film of the year), In the Mood for Love (best foreign-language film), Fighter (best documentary), Lantana, The Circle, Startup.Com.

     AND THESE DISTINGUISHED RUNNERS-UP: Together, Faithless, Mulholland Dr., Southern Comfort, Ghost World, Code Unknown, Sexy Beast, Reconstruction (Irene Lusztig's film is the best Boston Documentary), Samia, Lisa Picard is Famous.

     AND THESE UNFAIRLY MALIGNED: Sidewalks of New York, Lost and Delirious, The Golden Bowl, Baise-Moi.

     BEST DIRECTOR: Wong Kar-Wai, In the Mood for Love. Runners-up: Richard Linklater, Waking Life and Tape; Ray Lawrence, Lantana; David Lynch, Mulholland Dr.;Terry Zwigoff, Ghost World.

     BEST NEWCOMER (ACTOR) - Scarlet Johansson, in Ghost World and An American Rhapsody.

     BEST NEWCOMER (DIRECTOR) - Marc Forster, who made two arresting indie features, Everything Put Together and The Monsters' Ball.

     BEST ACTOR - Denzel Washington, Training Day. Runners-Up: Tony Leung, In the Mood for Love; Mark Rylance, Intimacy; Haley Joel Osment, A.I. Artificial Intelligence; Jake Gyllenhaal, Donnie Darko.

     BEST ACTRESS - Kirsten Dunst, Crazy/Beautiful. Runners-Up: Maggie Cheung, In the Mood for Love; Lena Andre, Faithless, Thora Birch, Ghost World,; Laura Kirk, Lisa Picard is Famous.

     BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR - Stanley Tucci, Sidewalks of New York. Runners-Up: Jim Broadbent, Iris; Ben Kingsley, Sexy Beast; Steve Buscemi, Ghost World; Gerard Depardieu, The Closet.

     BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS-Kate Winslet, Iris. Runners-Up: Gwyneth Paltrow, The Royal Tenenbaums; Naomi Watts, Mulholland Drive; Brooke Smith, Series 7; Anais Reboux, Fat Girl.

     FILMS I WOULDN'T EVEN DUMP ON GILLIGAN'S ISLAND: Amelie, Bridget Jones' Diary, The Shipping News, The King Is Alive, Shallow Hal, Iron Ladies, Kate and Leopold, Legally Blonde, The Luzhin Defence, My First Mister, Under the Sun.

(December, 2001)


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