Monthly Archives: January 2016
As January comes to a close, we’re winding down our annual look at the year in movies from twenty years prior. Today, we’ll reveal the final four movies in our competition and start choosing the two finalists.
Twenty years ago, Pamela Anderson Lee was starring in the biggest TV show in the world. She was about to make her bid for the big screen with the comic book adaptation, Barb Wire. She was also making tabloid headlines with her sexcapades with her husband, rocker Tommy Lee.
In the January 1996 issue of Movieline, the former Playboy Playmate and then-current Baywatch Babe discussed various topics most of which involve costumes or nudity.
I’m going to keep today’s write-up really quick today so I can spend some time on other things. You guys would rather have more Razzies and WTHH articles than hearing me drone on about Danny Boyle and the Coen Brothers, right? Feel free to discuss their careers as well as Fargo and Trainspotting in the comments section. That’s where all the action is anyway.
Due to the nature of this bracket game, the round two match-ups can feel a little random. Perhaps none more so than today’s. What do Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Birdcage have in common? They are both based on French source material. Hunchback obviously is based on Victor Hugo’s famous novel and Birdcage is a remake of the French farce, La Cage aux Folles. And while it may not be immediately apparent, both movies have similar themes. In The Birdcage a gay couple pretends to be straight to help their son fit into his fiancée’s family. In Hunchback, an outsider sings of his desire to be “Out there” which many have interpreted as having a homosexual subtext.
Admittedly a stretch, but you try finding commonalities between these two movies!
As we get into the second round of our 1996 bracket game, the pairings are a little less organic than they were in the first round. There really isn’t another movie in the bracket game that would make for a natural match with the horror-comedy, Scream. But I can’t think of anything it might have in common with the Oscar-nominated rom-com, Jerry Maguire. Good thing I was able to find a picture of Tom Cruise looking like Ghostface!
The Golden Raspberries started off as an informal joke. Something for a publicist and his friends to do after the Oscars had ended. Over time, it has become and enduring and irreverent tradition. In theory, The Razzies poke fun at the worst movies of the year. But like any awards ceremony, the Razzies frequently make the wrong call. We’re going back and looking at the history of the Golden Raspberry Awards one year at a time.
The sixteenth annual Razzies nominated the movies of 1995. Toy Story and Batman Forever were the highest-grossing movies that year. Braveheart won Best Picture and Mel Gibson took home the Best Director statue. Nicholas Cage won Best Actor for Leaving Las Vegas and Mira Sorvino won Best Supporting Actress for playing a prostitute in Mighty Aphrodite. The Razzies were more interested in strippers than prostitutes as Showgirls dominated the awards.
I hope you enjoyed our brief foray into the quirky independent comedies of 1996. Because as we move into round two, we’re shifting gears. Try not to get whiplash as we transition from arthouse fare to mainstream big-budget blow-em-ups! Neither of today’s movies have much to say about the human condition save maybe for the fact that we like it when things blow up and Will Smith quips about it. But while these movies may not be great (or even good), we still have an epic showdown between two of the most popular directors in Hollywood. So what if they are hacks?
We’re down to the final match of the first round of our 1996 bracket game. It started off with the two biggest movies of the year and now it’s down to two of the year’s low-budget indie comedies. In the past, I have defended the nineties as a good decade for movies. But if I were basing my opinion of the decade on 1996, I’d probably feel otherwise. As a whole, 1996 was an off year. But one of the things that made the 90’s so good overall was the independent film movement in general and Miramax in particular. The folks at Miramax proved to be skilled at finding little arthouse movies that didn’t costs tens of millions of dollars and marketing them to mainstream audiences. Over the course of the decade, other studios wanted a piece of that action making the nineties an excellent time for lovers of eccentric comedies.
So far, our look back at the movies of 1996 has focused primarily on the year’s blockbusters. Not surprisingly perhaps, most of the movies haven’t been that great. A lot of times, good movies aren’t popular and popular movies aren’t good. As we get down to the final matches of round one, we’re going to look at some of the smaller movies. Hopefully we’ll find a few memorable releases in that bunch.
Over the last few years, Jessica Lange staged a career comeback on TV. But as far back as 1990, it looked like Lange’s movie career was in trouble. After a promising start (not counting the King Kong remake), Lange won an Oscar for her supporting role in Tootsie and then watched as her follow-ups died at the box office. In the January 1990 issue of Movieline magazine, Lange talked about her flagging career, working with her husband and which movie was the worst experience she had ever had.
I think we’ve established that 1996 was an off year for Hollywood in terms of quality. With a then record-breaking 15 movies grossing over $100 million dollars, it was a pretty spectacular year at the box office. But very few of those movies are held in high regard twenty years later. Among those $100 million dollar hits were two comedy remakes which hold up reasonably well today.
Twenty years ago, the world of animation was going through a transitional period. Toy Story, the first-ever feature film animated by computers, had been released the year before. Jeffrey Katzenberg, the controversial head of Disney studios, had been chased out of the company by his former mentor, CEO Michael Eisner. Katzenberg set up shop at Dreamworks where he formed his own animation studio to compete with his former employer. It was a good time to be an animator. Everyone was still chasing the box office success of The Lion King and rival studios were paying big money to poach talent from the Mouse House.
In today’s bracket, we’re taking a look at two slightly dark children’s films released by Disney a year of change.
Recently, the eighty-six year-old actor appeared in the latest Star Wars blockbuster. In 1990, Max von Sydow was a mere sixty years old and recently nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in Pelle the Conqueror. In this interview with Movieline magazine from January 1990, von Sydow discusses his collaboration with Ingmar Bergman, why he agreed to the reviled Exorcist sequel, and lesser movies like Dune and Flash Gordon.