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2006 Bellview Awards--The Mid-Year Edition!



I'm down a bit this year on the home video front (40 VCUs, explained below), but I'm on par at 60 theater flicks through six months this year, so I've got some work to do in the second half!  Films this year haven't hooked me quite as much as in years past; part of the problem here has been my insistence on seeing more mainstream films this year, but also the quality of work by established actors in average-to-below-average films (such as the normally reliable Michael Douglas in "The Sentinel", or the normally reliable Tom Hanks in "The Da Vinci Code").  The second half doesn't appear to be blowout material, but don't you worry--with "Snakes on a Plane", a new Bond and "World Trade Center" on the way, there are chances for redemption over the latter half of the year.

Enjoy the mid-year awards, and drop me a line to let me know what you think!

Video Composite Units--this number combines films and TV shows that I have watched by breaking them down into total hours.  For standalone films, those count as one VCU; for TV content, they are broken down into total minutes so that they fall within a 90-to-120-minute range and then are referred to as a unit.  For example, the first season of "Deadwood" had 12 60-minute episodes, so that breaks down into 6 VCUs, since it is 12 hours of footage.

Best Flick--"Nacho Libre"

This was REALLY tough this year, 1) because no film this year has been perfect for me, and 2) I only thought a few films so far have truly been great.  Of those, I still laugh every time I think about that one fat woman that chases Esqueleto through that tunnel at the house party during the follow-up to "Napoleon Dynamite"

  1. "The Lost City"

  2. "Something New"

  3. "American Dreamz"

  4. "Akeelah and the Bee"

Best Actress--Ellen Page, "Hard Candy"

As much as I hate this character throughout the film, there's no denying that the work is excellent; I'm guessing about 90% of you never saw this film, so rent it on DVD stat

  1. Meryl Streep, "The Devil Wears Prada."  It's a one-note bitch boss character but the best always seem to bring that extra je ne sais quoi to the table; no surprises here!

  2. Keke Palmer, "Akeelah and the Bee."  In that rarefied air of kid actors that are good and don't annoy the shit out of you, Palmer is the goods in this "Spellbound"-like drama

  3. Mandy Moore, "American Dreamz."  Sure, she's basically playing herself, but backing up her work in "Saved!", I think Moore has actual talent

  4. Natalie Portman, "V for Vendetta."  You're right, I didn't like the movie, but I still can't blame that on Portman, whose work here borders on insane given her effort level in a film that I thought dogged it from the jump

Best Actor--Jack Black, "Nacho Libre"

I normally don't love him either, but there's no denying that the energy he brings to a role like a half-Mexican priest-wrestler wannabe is a big boost and he was damn near born to play this role

  1. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "Brick."  The machine-gun-quick dialogue steeped in 1940s noir is something to behold, and while all of the characters in the film are spouting it, none do it better than Gordon-Levitt

  2. Casey Affleck, "Lonesome Jim."  His work here almost puts you to sleep, but then you realize that's who this character is; I'm not ready to say an Affleck guy can act, but in this particular movie, the work is sharp

  3. Brandon Routh, "Superman Returns."  Look, whether he's playing Superman, or Christopher Reeve-as-Superman, I still don't know, but he's damn near perfect for this part

  4. I honestly can't find five strong male performances that I thought were top-notch this year (I don't include movies that came out last year that I saw this year in these categories).  So many disappointments!

Best Supporting Actress--Jodie Foster, "Inside Man"

One of the surprise successes this year, Foster's shady character is fierce, but she can also credit her talent plus looking better on film than maybe ever, which is saying something

  1. Lucy Liu, "Lucky Number Slevin."  For the first time in a film, I really bought Liu as an accessible female, one that might be...well, cute!  Her interplay with the character played by Josh Hartnett is actually pretty good!

  2. Mary Steenburgen, "Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing & Charm School."  Her dance instructor character is hilarious; too bad the majority of this film is a drag

  3. Vera Farmiga, "Running Scared."  In what has to be the most senselessly-violent, over-the-top adult film of the year, Farmiga's role as the wife of grunt Paul Walker was actually pretty entertaining, including her take on what to do about pedophiles

  4. Again, acting is REALLY down this year; the bit parts for females that are more interesting than "scared wife" or "concerned best friend" continue to suffer

Best Supporting Actor--Mark Boone, Jr., "Lonesome Jim"

Maybe the funniest single scene in the film or any other this year (see below) belongs to Boone, who is magnificent in his five minutes of screen time

  1. Philip Seymour Hoffman, "M:I-3."  Big-budget mainstream or not, Hoffman is great as the bad guy here, and he's better than advertised playing his own version of evil

  2. Tony Yalda, "American Dreamz."  As Omer's hilariously over-the-top gay cousin, his half-dozen scenes all come off with laughs in a film already heavy on bit parts

  3. Rob Lowe, "Thank You for Smoking."  Again, a five-minute part, but can anyone forget his standing-around-in-kimono moment?

  4. Mos Def, "16 Blocks."  In a movie that deserved to suck, the rapper/actor/poet/all-everything is great and at times downright annoying as the mumbling key witness that Bruce Willis's character has to protect

Biggest Fucking Piece of Shit (tie)--"Adam & Steve" and "Ultraviolet"

I honestly couldn't decide which of these Hard Vice-quality films was worse, the former (if this is the best gay cinema has to offer, gay-themed films are in a WORLD of hurt) or the latter (maybe the single worst action film that will come out this year).  "Adam & Steve" was funded independently, and maybe that's the more surprising of the two films Yac and I commented throughout, it's the one with the potential for an upside if someone with any talent had directed it.  "Ultraviolet" just flat-out blows

Ten Great Scenes of the First Half of 2006 (not necessarily in order, and it will be changed before the end of the year!):

  1. "Hard Candy"--you know what!

  2. "Caché"--the suicide scene...whoa!

  3. "Lonesome Jim"--Evil: "How's that weed?"  Jim: "Strong, man!"  Evil: "Yeah...I put some crack in it!"

  4. "Nacho Libre"--the song, "Encarnacion", that Nacho sings to Esqueleto before their last match

  5. "American Dreamz"--"IT'S JUST...A BASS LINE!!!"

  6. "The Pink Panther"--Clouseau's English lessons, when he is trying to pronounce the word "hamburger"

  7. "Date Movie"--when the black stuntman takes over for Julia (Alyson Hannigan, who is a white woman) during a staged shot near the end of the film.  Still don't know if this gag was intentional or not, but it IS hilarious

  8. "V for Vendetta"--the end action sequence

  9. "Silent Hill"--when Anna (Tanya Allen) gets her skin pulled off by Pyramid Head

  10. "Scary Movie 4"--CatBoy's dialogue with Cindy (Anna Faris) using only Japanese companies

Best Thing I Watched on DVD--anything by Sidney Lumet

I watched four Lumet films this year:  "Fail-Safe", "Network", "The Verdict" and "12 Angry Men."  All were perfect, and all exemplify what I love about Lumet's films--he does a TON with almost nothing.  By that, I mean all he did was assemble some of the greatest performers of our time, like Newman, or Fonda, or Matthau, or Duvall, or Dunaway, and he just puts them in a room and magic seems to happen every time!  Nothing characterizes this more than "12 Angry Men", which takes place in literally one room for almost its entire running time, but damn, the drama this situation creates is as good as anything I've ever seen.  He is certainly an all-time legend but one I had never really invested time in before this year, but I'm glad I have scoped out the work.


Click here to see all of the films of 2006 reviewed and rated.  Since movies go from theater to DVD kicky-fast these days, many of these flicks are already out on video.  Have a good one...


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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09