2000 Bellview Awards
You know what is funny? I saw more than 60
movies in theaters this year and that won't even be a fourth of the
total number of American releases for 2000. I've got a long way to
go in 2001!
So, to get on with it...I only have five
awards, so at least I am brief!
Biggest Surprise--"Road Trip"
As I mentioned this summer, I hate Tom
Green. I mean, HATE Tom Green. When I first saw the preview for
this movie, I swore that I would never see simply because he is in
it. But, Seann William Scott, of "American Pie", was in it and I
like him...so, I broke and went to see this movie. And...wow.
Sure, there is some pretty sick stuff in this movie, and the acting
is kind of weak, but it is so damned funny that if you haven't gone
to see this one already, you need to go check it out at the video
store. And, from what my brother has told me, this one does well
the second and third time around, too.
A close second place goes to
which caught everybody by surprise and has three or four
fall-out-of-your-seat funny sequences but is not as strong overall
as "Road Trip."
I love blaxploitation films and I normally
love blaxploitation rip-offs or comedies...the best, of course,
being "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka", my pick for the funniest film
ever. But, when Samuel L. Jackson decided to play a 2000 version of
Shaft (actually, John Shaft's nephew in the movie), I was torn
between excitement and fear. This could be one cool movie...I mean,
it IS Sam Jackson...and, it could rip my heart off by ruining my
image of what the original "Shaft" meant to me and, from what I have
read, black culture. Well, let's just say it did more of the
latter. Sure, the plot is f***ing ridiculous, but the action is
even worse still. It is not quite a parody, but it is not quite a
drama either. This leads to some overly violent scenes, Toni
Collette (nominated *just last year* for an Oscar for her role in
"The Sixth Sense") and Christian Bale acting poorly and some of the
most ridiculous aim ever witnessed in a motion picture. If you get
the chance, watch the 2000 version of "Shaft" only to watch how many
shots Jackson fires *without missing.* I have never, in my life,
seen the hero of a movie hit his target so many times without
missing. Even the old Shaft missed every so often...come ON!! Do
yourself a favor and, if you have not already seen the original,
rent the 1971 classic. Better and funnier than this trash.
Honorable mention: The Affleck/Theron
heist film "Reindeer Games" and
"Fantasia 2000." The former was
directed by "Ronin"-man John Frankenheimer and has no laughs and
little action, while "Fantasia 2000" mixes some spectacular musical
sequences with a couple that fall absolutely flat. "Fantasia" is my
favorite animated film, so my hopes were high for the sequel and
they missed out.
The Movie I Wished I Had Rated
Differently--"Gone in 60 Seconds"
This Nicolas Cage/Angelina Jolie heist film
features some pretty cool cars, and that is it. Another overblown
production from the house of Bruckheimer (producer of all of the
following: "Top Gun", "Days of Thunder", "Bad Boys", "Crimson
Tide", "Armageddon", etc. etc. etc.), this one has only a couple of
laughs, almost no action (a staple of all Bruckheimer films), no
sex, and nothing redeeming. I think I also paid full price for this
movie. I gave it a Matinee at the time but I have to admit that it
is closer to a Rental.
The Best Movie Nobody Saw--"The Way of the
If you blinked, you missed this film...it
was only out for about two weeks. "The Way of the Gun" stars Ryan
Philippe ("Cruel Intentions", "54") and Benicio Del Toro ("The Usual
Suspects", the upcoming
"Traffic") as small-time criminals who take
a hostage and want cash in exchange for her return. But, there is
more to it than that and I am still not sure why no one went to see
this film. It was written by the same guy that wrote the script for
"The Usual Suspects" and it has Taye Diggs...could you ask for much
more? Note: the gunfire in this movie is often deafening, at least
if you were able to see it in a theater. Lots of folks die the hard
The only suspense with this one was
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" would top
"Gladiator", and it was not even close. I was talking to a friend
of mine recently who told me that he hadn't gone to see a movie in
months. I asked him why and he said that there hadn't been any
movies he had seen previews for that really gave him the feeling
that the movie was larger than life; movie events that took him to
another time or place intrigued him more than anything else, since
most movies these days are about modern-day situations and
dialogue-heavy scripts bog them down to regularity.
The beauty of "Gladiator" is its absolute
hugeness. As a spectacle, just witness its glorious opening
sequence, with thousands of fire-tipped arrows lighting the sky.
Or, the first gladiator battle at the coliseum in Rome. The amazing
overhead shots of Rome and the emperor's palace. The rousing score
by Hans Zimmer (yep, he came up with the "Miami Vice" theme, too!).
I saw this film on opening night at the Uptown in DC, and if you
have been to that theater, you can imagine how cool it was to see
Russell Crowe take down other gladiators on that ginormous screen.
Even when I first saw it, I loved the characters and its
surprisingly deep storyline...but, those battle scenes and special
effects make this the kind of film best absorbed in a movie theater,
and that is what it's all about, right? It doesn't hurt that
Crowe--and, even better, Joaquin Phoenix as evil Commodus--give
spectacular performances and I fully expect "Gladiator" to win Best
Picture at the Oscars. I think "Gladiator" is a bit better than "Braveheart"
in terms of its acting and its story, and I think that is good
precedent for its chances. And, you know how people usually
disagree about a movie and how much they liked it? Well, much like
my favorite movie from last year, "The Matrix," I haven't talked to
a single person yet that did not like "Gladiator." Some folks
didn't love it, but all agreed that it is an above-average film.
The only sure-fire bet of 2000.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard