The Great Performances: 2005

Posted by · 5:07 pm · December 18th, 2009

2005 was the year of Heath Ledger’s beautiful, moving performance in “Brokeback Mountain,” which I saw for the first time in Toronto.  It instantly became the talk of the festival, and the film became the one to beat for the Academy Award. Ledger was astonishing as the taciturn cowboy who is more surprised than anybody […]

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The Great Performances: 2000

Posted by · 7:14 pm · November 13th, 2009

Michael Douglas was robbed. The already Oscar-christened actor gave a career-best performance in 2000 in Curtis Hanson’s “Wonder Boys,” but he got no love from the Academy. Worse, his performance was easily among the five best of the year and won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Actor prize. That having been said, I […]

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The Great Performances: 1998

Posted by · 2:03 pm · October 30th, 2009

For all my bitching about Roberto Benigni winning Best Actor in 1998 for his incessant mugging in “Life is Beautiful,” I was also thrilled the Academy watched enough films and paid enough attention to realize that Edward Norton was deserving for his magnetic turn as a neo-Nazi who sees the light in “American History X.” […]

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The Great Performances: 1997

Posted by · 8:03 am · October 23rd, 2009

1997 was a great year for actors, but a tough year for Oscar; how do you choose when there are so many deserving nominees? It’s that age-old issue that some award-worthy performances are going to be left out, which though unfair and sad, is very much part of the Academy Awards and frankly what makes […]

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The Great Performances: 1996

Posted by · 10:15 am · October 16th, 2009

1996 was an odd year, a year when the independent cinema dominated the weak product emerging out of Hollywood. I am going to confess right off the top of this article (as I have numerous times before) that I was not a fan of “The English Patient,” which for me remains one of the most […]

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The Great Performances: 1995

Posted by · 4:06 pm · October 10th, 2009

Based on some of the comments I received last week regarding my article on great acting, I took the suggestion of a young lady and am kicking off a series of articles, one per week, that will explore the best performances ofeach year, beginning today with 1995.  So let’s go back and work our way […]

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What does early (and excessive) Oscar hype do to a film’s chances?

Posted by · 3:31 pm · September 20th, 2008

In 1996, a fall movie preview of Entertainment Weekly arrived in my mailbox, the cast of “The Crucible” staring back at me on the cover, making clear to me this was going to be THE film of the fall. There were rumors floating within the industry that the film, based on the Arthur Miller play, […]

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Will ‘W.’ hold a candle to ‘Nixon?’

Posted by · 9:26 am · August 26th, 2008

With Lionsgate Films’ “W.” on the horizon, we are reminded of the last film Oliver Stone made about an American President: “Nixon,” a critically praised and Oscar nominated work that was the exact opposite of what most thought it would be. An angry child of the 1960s, having chronicled Vietnam on screen (some say definitively), […]

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