That Was The Year, That Was
So long, 2001 - gosh, we hardly knew ya. But what kind of a year was it in the cinema? Well, the Hollywood studios had
their biggest ever summer takings, even though this year's crop of blockbusters was a particularly indifferent bunch of
sequels, remakes and adaptations for the most part. A few foreign movies, even subtitled ones, also managed to break
through to popular success. A very promising sign for the future of world cinema (although this may have been a freak
occurrence provoked by fears of the now-averted actor's strike in America).
There hasn't been a big, zeitgeist defining smash hit movie like Titanic or Gladiator this year (though I
may be speaking slightly too soon given that both Harry Potter and Fellowship of the Ring are still packing
'em in), but there've been plenty of good films out there (plenty of turkeys, too). The British film industry lurched from flop to
disaster, pretty much business as usual there, and as usual everyone had their own ideas as to how to fix things - more
government aid, less government aid, more American-style scripts, fewer American-style scripts... stuck in a moment we
can't get out of, I'm afraid.
Enough generalisations. Time for the inaugural 24 Lies A Second Awards, or Lassies. To be eligible for a
Lassie a film had to be showing in a British cinema in 2001 (and I had to be there watching it). So, without further ado...
Biggest Disappointment of 2001: ...was pretty much a one horse race. Or should I say one chimp race. The
new Planet of the Apes was a real knuckledragger, and a genuine insult to the audience's intelligence.
Most Pleasant Surprise of 2001: Well, several films I turned up to fearing the worst turned out to be rather
good: A Knight's Tale for one, and AI for another. But the Lassie goes to - a shock result - Jurassic Park
III, with stolid old Sam Neill proving a much more appropriate hero for this sort of yarn than Jeff 'Mr Quirky' Goldblum.
A second sequel as good as the original? Almost unheard of. Bravo.
Worst Accents in a Serious Film: A special award to virtually the entire cast of the otherwise-laudable
Enemy at the Gates for their portrayals of the surprisingly Cockney defenders of Stalingrad. Just when things
seemed like they couldn't possibly get any sillier, in came Bob Hoskins as Kruschev. Startling. (Rachel Weisz's bottom nearly
received its own 'Best Support' Lassie, but that would just have been tacky.)
Best (Bad) Actor: Surprisingly, no qualifying performances by Gary Oldman this year, but it seems appropriate
that several of the contenders seemed to be doing impersonations of him. One of these was the eventual Lassie winner,
Tcheky Karyo, for his truly diabolical villain in Kiss of the Dragon. No line underplayed, no scenery unchewed.
Best Actor: This nearly went to Samuel L Jackson for his portrayal of Mr Glass in the sublime
Unbreakable, but I felt he had to be penalised for having anything to do with The 51st State. And so the
Lassie goes to Ian McKellen for his performance as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. So there.
Worst Film of 2001: There were late challenges by Original Sin (a Jolie bad show) and 51st
State but the Lassie must go to the near-comprehensively dismal Pearl Harbor (even the title is spelt wrong).
Ten minutes in I was praying for the Japanese to start bombing the base. Or, failing that, the cinema. We must salute the
producers for ensuring that the name Pearl Harbor is now synonymous with not one but two famous disasters.
Best Film of 2001: Bubbling under here were (amongst many) Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Jay And
Silent Bob Strike Back (yes, really), and The Others. But the top three, in reverse order, were...
At number three, an incredibly naturalistic, believable and moving take on a potent American folk-myth, driven by two
very strong performances by Bruce Willis and Samuel L Jackson - M Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable.
At number two, a collaboration of sorts between two of the most important filmmakers of recent times: Kubrick and
Spielberg's AI. Probably not as good as I originally claimed it was, but still a remarkable, fiercely ambitious film.
And the Lassie for Best Picture goes to... you guessed it. Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, simply for the
scale of its achievement. The unfilmable has been filmed, brilliantly, and I suspect the best is yet to come.
Feel free to complain (and I suspect you will). Next year should be an interesting one. Releases I'm particularly looking
forward to are Attack of the Clones, The Two Towers, From Hell, Spider-Man, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
and The Matrix Reloaded. Rest assured that, God willing, I'll still be here writing about them whether you like it or