Because when the world takes one step forward bangitout takes ten steps back.
Best Dumb Action Movie – Stallone: Assassins/Judge Dredd
So much dumb action, so little time. It would be "Fair Game" (Cindy Crawford!) to call Mortal Kombat, based on the early 90's video game phenomenon, the dumbest action movie of the year, but 1995 stood out representing something much more significant in the genre as it was the official end of Sly Stallone's blockbuster career. Judge Dredd, an over hyped, unspeakably bad comic book extravaganza co-starring Diane Lane (yikes) and Rob Schneider, and Assassins, with Julian Moore (yikes) and Antonio Banderas marked the swan songs of Stallone's considerable run. Assassins, interestingly, was written by the Wachowski brothers pre-Matrix. This year, Stallone announced to giggles everywhere, that Rocky 6 was in production.
Best Horror – Species
Forgive me for awarding this honor to Roger Donaldson's Species. I don't quite remember if this movie was good or bad, but there was something about it I liked.something I keep coming back to..what was it?…oh yeah – Natasha Henstridge.
Any old alien with sharp teeth, claws, and a razorblade tail can hack humans to bits, but it takes a special breed of alien to look like a supermodel and kill you with intercourse. Species actually had an excellent ensemble cast including Marge Helgenberger (CSI), Ben Kingsley, Forest Whitaker, Alfred Molina, and Michael Madsen. It was followed by a less riveting sequel in 1998. Director Donaldson recently released The Fastest Indian starring Anthony Hopkins. Interestingly, the young version of the female alien was played by Michelle Williams who went on to Dawson's Creek and appear in this year's Brokeback Mountain.
Best Movie to Watch on a Fast Day – Seven
What better way to remember our sins than to see them counted and depicted in gruesomely creative ways. Seven made your skin crawl, your mind race, and began moviegoers love affair with the original (and still best) Brad Pitt hook up, Gwyneth Paltrow. David Fincher's thriller is so severe and dark that it holds a special place in anyone's gut who has experienced its nightmare. The interplay between Brad and never better Morgan Freeman remains one of the best buddy cop duos in film history. With an as yet unspoiled Kevin Spacey as the soulless serial killer and that wicked ending, Seven provide a thoughtful diversion while curing any thoughts of gluttony. David Fincher is working on Zodiac starring a ton of people I never heard of.
Best Spawn of Boyz N The Hood – Clockers
The most obvious spawn is the satirical horror film Tales from the Hood, but that wouldn't be fair to the two true children of the Singleton's classic. Spike Lee's Clockers and the Hughes Brothers' Dead Presidents. Dead Presidents is remembered for that white face paint and featuring Chris Tucker before he blew up and then disappeared, but it's really a Vietnam movie more than anything else. Clockers, however is the better film, about a young pink yahoo swigging kid (Mekhi Phifer) growing up in the projects and the investigation of a shooting by police. Lee's next film is Inside Man starring Denzel and Jodie Foster. Phifer was on ER this year and had a role as a Muslim investigator on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Best Tom Cruise – Tom Sizemore
Whoa is me. Cruise took the year off. Even fellow Tom and Top Gun star, Tom Skerrit did nothing. We know Hanks had a banner year with Apollo 13 and Toy Story and Selleck did a movie called Broken Trust where he played a judge, but neither of those two do it for me like Maverick. The most interesting and eclectic Tom in 1995 was Sizemore working in both Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days (written by James Cameron just before Titanic struck) and Carl Franklin's Devil in a Blue Dress, both worth taking some time out to rediscover. Mr. Cruise, back in 1995, was still considered normal so there is no excuse for not having made a movie.but I'll let it slide because we Scientologists need to stick together.
Best Absurd Comedy – Billy Madison
To put you in the 1995 absurd comedy frame of mind, note that the Jerky Boys got their own movie. That said, it was the year of the breakout SNL star making it to the big screen. Both Adam Sandler's Billy Madison and Farley/Spade's Tommy Boy hit theatres and both provided endless laughs. Tommy Boy is surely the better movie and Farley was the most talented of the class, but Billy Madison is just plain absurd with the penguins and Norm McDonald's face.and so it wins. Sandler went on to make a half dozen absurd comedies including Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer. This year he managed a weak comedy in The Longest Yard. Farley died of an overdose in 1997 and Spade continues to work on Comedy Central's The Showbiz Show.
Best Independent – The Usual Suspects
I may regret this in ten years, but Bryan Singer's The Usual Suspects beats out Todd Haynes' Safe as the independent of the year. The twisty, turny caper ushered in the shocking revelation finale era where films are crafted only to dumbfound the audience in the final scene. Bryan (X-Men) Singer changed the way we watch movies by pulling a mind-blowing stunt as we finally learned the answer to the media blitz question: Who is Keyser Soze? The cast, including Oscar wining work by Kevin Spacey and some spectacularly imaginative stuff from then unknown Benicio Del Toro, was one of the coolest crews ever to pull off a job. Singer is working on Superman Returns due in 2006.
Best Date Movie – Toy Story
I admit that when it comes to date movies in the past I have been clueless so Clueless should be a no-brainer. Amy Heckerling's ode to Jane Austen and high school starring then red hot Alicia Silverstone (straight out of Aerosmith videos) had the class and cleverness to entertain both the guys and the girls. If I had to speak personally though, Toy Story has got to be right up there because my date for life, Amy, digs that befuddled, cuddly cute Pixar crew. Both movies prove timeless and entertaining, but Toy Story marks the beginning of the computer animation era for full length features and therefore is more relevant ten years later. Disney and Pixar worked together a few more times and the relationship bred success. They broke up in 2004. Silverstone has never lived up to her hype. She worked in this year's Beauty Shop.
Best Underrated Drama – Waterworld?
Can someone please give Kevin Costner a break. The guy makes every great movie in the late 80's and early 90's and we can't show him love when he attempts a spectacular post-apocalyptic adventure about a guy with gills who battles Dennis Hopper on the high seas. Waterworld suffered renowned controversy when director Kevin Reynolds bolted and the film went way over budget only to be critically hammered and sink at the box office. The problem was that audiences viewed it as an over the top actioner instead of the tender, cerebral human drama it truly was. Just kidding. This movie made me want to emulate Costner's Mariner and drink my urine, hold the filter.
Best Film – Braveheart
When I first moved into my YU apartment, before the cable was hooked up, all we had was a VCR and a monitor, and one VHS tape. But that was okay because that one VHS tape was Braveheart. Before Mel Gibson became a preacher, he directed this grandiose Scottish epic with himself as the lead., His vengeful blue faced warrior taking on the English army in the name of freedom inspired Yoni Henner to become frum. Some people like a juicy Angus steak, I prefer a juicy Angus McFadyen performance.
Worst Film – Die Hard with a Vengeance
This is an easy one. No, its not Cutthroat Island, a title that strikes fear into the hearts of studio-heads everywhere. The worst film of the year was the third installment in the until then PERFECT Die Hard series. The ridiculously corny name should have give it away. Why make a Die Hard movie in New York with John McClane running around with a cab driver partner (Sam Jackson) playing Simon Says? Why take every element of the series and trash them? Why take Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) out of the movie (as she was always John's best motivation in the first two for kicking ass)? Why disappoint everyone who rushed to the theatre on opening day? Because you want money and don't give a damn about the audience. Hans Gruber would be proud. No more table, indeed.