CINEMA SIGNALS Alphabetic Review List

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. Academy Nominations, 2002:
(Green = reviewer's pick | Brown = Probable winner, if different)

Best Actor
Adrien Brody (The Pianist)
Nicolas Cage (Adaptation)
Michael Caine (The Quiet American)
Daniel Day-Lewis (The Gangs of New York)
Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt)
Reviewer's comment: If Jack Nicholson takes this award it'll be for his attempt to bring life to a completely boring script. Maybe he deserves it?

Best Supporting Actor
Chris Cooper (Adaptation)
Ed Harris (The Hours)
Paul Newman (Road to Perdition)
John C. Reilly (Chicago)
Christopher Walken (Catch Me If You Can)
Reviewer's comment: Christopher Walken did turn in a top performance. But Chris Cooper's overshadows the bunch.

Best Actress
Salma Hayek (Frida)
Nicole Kidman (The Hours)
Diane Lane (Unfaithful)
Julianne Moore (Far From Heaven)
Renee Zelwegger (Chicago)
Reviewer's comment: A difficult choice but if Kidman doesn't take it, I'd root for Diane Lane for an opportunity her work doesn't often provide her.

Best Supporting Actress
Kathy Bates (About Schmidt)
Julianne Moore (The Hours)
Queen Latifah (Chicago)
Meryl Streep (Adaptation)
Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago)
Reviewer's comment: This, on the other hand, is a ridiculous choice and makes us wish that when there aren't 5 oscar level performances in a particular year, the nomination list can be reduced only to those who delivered one. It's almost a sacrilege to offer up Kathy Bates' role in "About Schmidt" and Queen Latifah's in "Chicago" as worthy of nominations.

Best Picture
Gangs of New York
The Hours
Lord of the Ring: The Two Towers
The Pianist
Reviewer's comment: "Lord of the Rings" is a worthy candidate in this category; "The Pianist" richly deserves a nod; but "Chicago's" out and out entertainment with fewer flaws than all the rest makes it most deserving of the Oscar.

Best Cinematography
Dion Beebe ("Chicago")
Edward Lachman ("Far From Heaven")
Michael Ballhaus ("Gangs of New York")
Pawel Edelman ("The Pianist")
Conrad Hall ("Road to Perdition")
Reviewer's comment: The best cinematography of the year was in "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind", hands down. It probably wasn't nominated because it has performed badly at the boxoffice and in the attentions of the cinematography branch of the academy. Conrad Hall, a great cinematographer, died this year. He's the sentimental favorite and will probably prove to be the winner. That aside, all the nominations here are deserving, with the edge going to "Chicago".

Best Original Screenplay
Todd Haynes: Far From Heaven
Jay Cocks & others: Gangs of New York
Nia Vardalos: My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Pedro Almodovar: Talk To Her
Carlos and Alfonso Cuaron: Y Tu Mama Tambien
Reviewer's comment: Another bad selection. From a screenwriting standpoint, "Gangs of New York" is a disaster in desperate need of a re-write. "Greek Wedding" is formulaic simplicity; "Far From Heaven" is pretentious drivel. 'Nuff said?

Best Adapted Screenplay
Peter Hedges & others: About a Boy
Charlie Kaufman: Adaptation
Bill Condon: Chicago
David Hare: The Hours
Ronald Harwood: The Pianist
Reviewer's comment: My choice is for originality, so I'd wish for "Adaptation." "Chicago" is too good and too successful to take second place, however.

Best Animated Film
Ice Age
Lilo & Stich
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Spirited Away
Treasure Planet
Reviewer's comment: As someone who never took animated films seriously, no matter how sophisticated the technology, I've turned into a real fan. "The Lion King" first brought to me how affecting they can be and "Shrek" blew me away. Of this list, "Spirited Away" is sheer originality and mood -- an adventure in a faw away unreal world that captivates you as much as it does its heroine. "Lilo and Stitch" is a close second in its funny and touching turnaround of so devastatingly destructive a little creature as Stitch who falls into the web of love provided by an unquestioning little girl. Kudos. "Ice Age" is entertaining but almost a direct steal from the "Shrek" formulation of characters and relationships: The big strong slow moving central character, the unwanted sidekick with the jokes. The worst of this bunch, however, is "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron". The attempt to give human thoughts and feelings to horses is just too much anthropomorphism for me and far too pretentious. It is not entertaining.

Original Song
"I Move On" (CHICAGO)
"Lose Yourself" (8 MILE)
"Burn it Blue" (FRIDA)
"The Hands that Built America" (GANGS OF NEW YORK)
"Father and Daughter" (THE WILD THORNBERRYS MOVIE)
Reviewer's comment: Paul Simon's song "Father and Daughter" is not necessarily my favorite but the Hollywood buzz is so loud on this one that it's a probable winner. Somewhat amazing that they got such a great singer-songwriter for such an execrable movie. (These links will take you to to buy the soundtrack albums)

Back to the list of reviews

About the Academy Awards:
(Why they're the most important of all film awards)

Recommended for 2002:
The Pianist
The Hours
The Quiet American
Road to Perdition
White Oleander

Worthy of note:
Read My Lips
(French crime film noir with unexpected twists)
Talk To Her

Birthday Girl (Nicole Kidman)
(Low budget and buried but see her performance)
"Memento" (Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss)

Most memorable performance by a newcomer:
Maggie Gyllenhaal ("Secretary")

Best recent comedies:
Who Is Cletis Tout


Most stylish:
(and best cinematography)
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Our Sci-Fi awards:
Lord of the Rings II

Last year's Academy Awards:

Bright light films of 2001:
(All worthy of awards)
The Deep End
No Man's Land
Diamond Men
Bread and Tulips
Monster's Ball

Worthy of note:
The Man Who Wasn't There
(mystery-courtroom drama)
Spy Game
The Glass House
Domestic Disturbance
Along Came a Spider

Best comedies:
Legally Blond
Bridget Jones' Diary

Eccentric or Unusuals:
(as in off-beat)
The Royal Tenenbaums

Reviewer's favorites of 2000:
(5 nominations)
Finding Forrester
(0 nominations)

Our most popular reviews: Gladiator
(Over 4600 readers)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Sweet and Low Down

Most unusuals (2000): Dancer in the Dark

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
(Over 2,300 readers)

Most likely award contenders (2000):
Cast Away
You Can Count On Me

Most deserving award contenders (2000):
You Can Count On Me
Finding Forester
Dancer in the Dark
Cast Away
The Contender
Best comedies of 2000:
State and Main
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Miss Congeniality
Most obscure:
Mad about Mambo
Crime+Punishment in Suburbia
Most ignored for an interesting film:
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Best music scores:
Wonder Boys
(not reviewed)
O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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