The Academy Awards supposedly represent the highest honor in acting and filmmaking. But I don’t get to vote on them, so they’re definitely not as cool as they could be. Each year, actors, actresses and films get the shaft from the academy. As a jaded fan of the film industry, I’ll set the record straight by giving my own awards and introducing a couple of categories to include films the Oscars tend to neglect.
Best Picture: “The Departed”
Martin Scorsese finally returns to the top of his game with the best movie of the year. The entire cast was incredible, from powerful lead performances from Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson to top-notch supporting turns from Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen. The rumors that Scorcese might turn the film into a trilogy are intriguing, despite the shortage of living characters at the end of the film. It’s his best film since “Goodfellas,” and it’s a welcome return to form. Honorable mention goes to “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Children of Men.”Best Actor: Matt Damon, “The DeparteD”
Almost anyone who appeared in “The Departed” deserves an award, but Damon’s performance went above and beyond. Just watch the elevator scene at the end of the movie. From now on, it should be mandatory for Damon to use his Boston accent in every role.
Best Actress: Ivana Baquero, “Pan’s Labyrinth”
Helen Mirren probably will win for her role in “The Queen,” but I didn’t see it, so she gets nothing. Baquero’s performance was the most memorable one I saw this year, even though I couldn’t understand what she was saying (the film is in Spanish). Honorable mention goes to Natalie Portman for “V for Vendetta.” It’s a shame critics forget movies simply because they aren’t released in November or December.
Best Animated Film: “A Scanner Darkly”
Richard Linklater’s flick proves animated films don’t have to aim toward the younger audience. Anyone who thinks “Happy Feet” deserves this award should be beaten with sticks. Just because a movie is pretty doesn’t mean it’s good.Best Comedic performance: Will Ferrell, “Stranger Than Fiction”
The Academy needs to adopt this category, because comedies traditionally get no respect. Steve Martin could have been rewarded for “The Jerk,” Jack Black for “School of Rock” and Jeff Bridges for “The Big Lebowski.” Will Ferrell delivered the the best performance of his career, save for maybe “Old School.” Honorable mention goes to Jeff Anderson for “Clerks 2,” Garrison Keillor for “A Prairie Home Companion” and, of course, Sacha Baron Cohen for “Borat.”
Best Sequel: “Clerks 2”
It’s rare to see a sequel that isn’t an obvious attempt to capitalize on the box-office revenue of its predecessor. “Clerks 2” checks in on Kevin Smith’s foul-mouthed Quick Stop cashiers 10 years later, and the result is not only the funniest film of the year but also one of the few sequels that doesn’t seem unnecessary. It sets the stage for the triumphant return of Jay and Silent Bob. Honorable mention goes to “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” It wasn’t spectacular, but it was entertaining, and Johnny Depp is at the top of his game. With a big-budget sequel, it’s hard to ask for much more.Best Action movie: “Casino Royale”
The Bond franchise went through its hair-metal stage with the last few films, but Daniel Craig’s first attempt put the series back in the right direction. Like “Batman Begins” proved in 2005, sometimes a series is beyond saving, and the best thing to do is to start over from the beginning.
Most Disappointing Movie: “Superman Returns”
Bryan Singer made one of the best comic book adaptations ever with “X-Men 2.” Why did a director capable of making an awesome action movie turn Superman’s triumphant return into a chick flick? I hope this doesn’t start a trend, because if “Transformers” or “Live Free and Die Hard” forget they’re supposed to be action movies, I might riot.
Worst Movie: “Happy Feet”
I’m a fairly happy person, so when an animated penguin movie forces me to contemplate suicide for two hours, you know it’s bad. Honorable mention goes to “The Break-Up.” Vince Vaughn always walks the line between amusing and jerk. This time he walked on the wrong side of the line.