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Special Edition
Summer '99 in Review

Opening Commentary: For those unacquainted with the Hollywood system, there are unwritten rules about the seasons. Winter/Fall is where the studios release most of their award worthy film (usually dramas), Summer is the time for big budget high-grossing films (usually action/adventures), and Spring is the dumping point for the films that are unreleasable in the other months (usually comedies). There are exceptions to the rules of course (the Coen Brothers prefer a Spring release; Patch Adams made its bow in the Winter) but for the most part, the studios follow these rules. Much has happened over the course of the Summer, including a change in the number one film, twice.  Luckily the number of high school proms went down this season, though I still saw a few (Get Real, American Pie).  I had more recommendations this Summer than during the Spring (46% as compared to 35%), but the year still seems rather lackluster.  Maybe the large number of big name directors with films this Fall will change that.  As before I shall take a look at the season in the body of the article and then a big overview of all the films in order of worth in the Blatant Opinion section (keep in mind only Summer films are eligible for accolades).


Action films fared a little better this season than they did in the Spring.  I only gave three recommendations at that time, only one of which was a strong recommendation (The Matrix).  Over the last four months, four films have received recommendations, and three of them were strong (eXistenZ, The Blair Witch Project, Arlington Road).  And one must keep in mind that foreign language film top Run Lola Run could be considered an action film.  This is not to say that there has been anything near a freedom from bad action films this Summer.  Of the 18 films that I considered action films (I made some stretches like The Blair Witch Project and Tarzan), a staggering 14 were below par.  Some were just marginally bad like Star Wars:  Episode I -- The Phantom Menace, The Haunting, and In Too Deep, but most were unbelievably awful like The Mummy, The 13th Warrior, and Deep Blue Sea.  Then there were the two atrocities:  Universal Soldier:  The Return and The Astronaut's Wife.

Best: eXistenZ followed by The Blair Witch Project
Worst: The Astronaut's Wife edging out Universal Soldier: The Return


There were six recommended dramas this Spring and they were, for the most part, better than all the dramas I saw last Spring.  Unfortunately, there were eight bad dramas this season, but at least half of them were just marginal thumbs down.  The two top dramas were better than most everything this Summer.  Eyes Wide Shut, of course, finished off the season as the only film to get the A+ rating.  That is not too weird considering that I rarely give an A+ in any given year (one year I did not even give one).  The Kubrick film was five times better than anything else this year so far and is well situated at the number one spot.  The bad dramas, besides the four that were marginal, were pretty awful.  I'd dare say that dramas do not get much worse than The Loss of Sexual Innocence, especially considering its director.  Dramas might not have been on top form this Summer, but at least there were more good ones than the three from the Spring.

Best: Eyes Wide Shut followed by The Red Violin
Worst: The Loss of Sexual Innocence edging out A Dog of Flanders


As always, the pickings of documentaries were slim this season.  Like the Spring, I saw only one documentary, the Star Trek insight Trekkies.  During the Spring I had The Last Days to sing praises of, a passionate and beautiful documentary, but with this season, Trekkies is too care free and campy to be considered for a position such as "Best" of the genre.  It is still a recommended film from me, but nothing near The Last Days.

Best: Trekkies
Worst: Trekkies

Foreign Language Film

Once again I get to jump for joy over some foreign films.  Last season, there were only two films entered into consideration, one good (The Harmonists), one bad (Tango).  This season I've been treated to five foreign films, and not a bad one in the bunch.  The one that ranks the lowest on my list is the B/*** out of 4 rated The School of Flesh, a very good film and better than 50 English language films that I saw this Summer.

Best: Run Lola Run followed by The Dreamlife of Angels
Worst: There wasn't a bad foreign film this Summer


The litmus test for a good comedy is whether or not you are still quoting jokes in the days, weeks, months after you saw it.  Thanks to some truly ingenious and original comedies, I have had quite a list of lasting jokes.  Whether it be "Ray!" (Bowfinger), "Don't Cry Out Loud" (Drop Dead Gorgeous), or every minute of South Park:  Bigger, Longer & Uncut, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself this Summer.  Even some of the other genres had laughably bad films (Wild Wild West).  I think that I was so unequipped for so many good comedies that I've noticed that many are underrated by myself (why a B for South Park?  a B- for Drop Dead Gorgeous?).  Not all of the recommended comedies were of the sophomoric humor that one would get from those films aforementioned.  I was quite the fan of the sophisticated An Ideal Husband, as well as the animated and incredibly underappreciated The Iron Giant.  Of the three major genres, this is the only one that had more recommendations than non-recommendations (15 to 14).  Of course those 14 bad films were mostly really bad.  Films like The Love Letter, Dudley Do-Right, and Detroit Rock City cause me to cringe at thoughts of them.  No matter how many Detroit Rock City's there were, the season was still marked and noteworthy for Election.

Best: Election followed by An Ideal Husband
Worst: Detroit Rock City edging out Trippin'


I'm simply going to reuse the categories from the annual Golden Brando awards while adding a worse category for each (hence no Ed Wood Humanitarian award this time around).

Best Sound Effects Editing: Run Lola Run
Worst: The Astronaut's Wife
Best Visual Effects: eXistenZ
Worst: Detroit Rock City
Best Original Song: "La Resistance Medley" (South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut)
Worst: "Deepest Bluest" (Deep Blue Sea)
Best Sound: Run Lola Run
Worst: Detroit Rock City
Best Comedic Score: South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (Trey Parker & Marc Shaiman)
Worst: Detroit Rock City
Best Dramatic Score: The Red Violin (John Corigliano)
Worst: Universal Soldier: The Return
Best Film Editing: Run Lola Run
Worst: Detroit Rock City
Best Makeup: eXistenZ
Worst: Detroit Rock City
Best Cinematography: Three Seasons
Worst: Detroit Rock City
Best Costume Design: The Red Violin
Worst: Detroit Rock City
Best Art Direction: The Red Violin
Worst: Detroit Rock City
Best Supporting Actor: Sydney Pollack (Eyes Wide Shut)
Worst: Michael Jai White (Universal Soldier: The Return)
Best Supporting Actress: Nicole Kidman (Eyes Wide Shut)
Worst: Donna Murphy (The Astronaut's Wife)
Best Actor: Lopsang (Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl)
Worst: Edward Furlong (Detroit Rock City)
Best Actress: Élodie Bouchez (The Dreamlife of Angels)
Worst: Heidi Schanz (Universal Soldier: The Return)
Best Comedic Acting Ensemble: Election
Worst: Detroit Rock City
Best Dramatic Acting Ensemble: Eyes Wide Shut
Worst: Universal Soldier: The Return
Best Original Screenplay: Election
Worst: Detroit Rock City
Best Adapted Screenplay: Eyes Wide Shut
Worst: The 13th Warrior
Best Director: Stanley Kubrick (Eyes Wide Shut)
Worst: Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City)
Best Picture: Eyes Wide Shut
Worst: Detroit Rock City

Blatant Opinion:
As the dust clears, 67 1999 films were seen for the first time between May 1 and July 31.  In addition are multiple viewings like five of Eyes Wide Shut, six of South Park:  Bigger, Longer & Uncut, as well as getting to see a certain 1972 Best Picture winner in the theatre.  So here it is, the complete listing of 1999 Summer films with ratings:

1 Eyes Wide Shut ( A+ / **** )
2 eXistenZ ( A / **** )
3 Run Lola Run ( A- / ***1/2 )
4 Red Violin, The ( A- / ***1/2 )
5 Election ( A- / ***1/2 )
6 Blair Witch Project, The ( A- / ***1/2 )
7 Dreamlife of Angels, The ( B+ / ***1/2 )
8 Ideal Husband, An ( B+ / ***1/2 )
9 Arlington Road ( B+ / ***1/2 )
10 Bowfinger ( B+ / ***1/2 )
11 Iron Giant, The ( B+ / ***1/2 )
12 South Park:  Bigger, Longer & Uncut ( B / *** )
13 Three Seasons ( B / *** )
14 Winslow Boy, The ( B / *** )
15 Get Real ( B / *** )
16 Xiu Xiu:  The Sent Down Girl ( B / *** )
17 School of Flesh, The ( B / *** )
18 Muse, The ( B / *** )
19 Castle, The ( B / *** )
20 Hideous Kinky ( B / *** )
21 Desert Blue ( B / *** )
22 Sixth Sense, The ( B- / *** )
23 Drop Dead Gorgeous ( B- / *** )
24 S.L.C. Punk! ( B- / *** )
25 This Is My Father ( B- / *** )
26 Austin Powers:  The Spy Who Shagged Me ( B- / *** )
27 Notting Hill ( B- / *** )
28 Trekkies ( B- / *** )
29 Dick ( B- / *** )
30 Dill Scallion ( B- / *** )
31 Tarzan ( B- / *** )


32 General's Daughter, The ( C+ / **1/2 )
33 Star Wars:  Episode I -- The Phantom Menace ( C+ / **1/2 )
34 Summer of Sam ( C+ / **1/2 )
35 Instinct ( C+ / **1/2 )
36 Brokedown Palace ( C+ / **1/2 )
37 Stir of Echoes ( C / ** )
38 Mystery Men ( C / ** )
39 Haunting, The ( C / ** )
40 Midsummer Night's Dream, A ( C / ** )
41 In Too Deep ( C / ** )
42 Wood, The ( C / ** )
43 American Pie ( C / ** )
44 Tea With Mussolini ( C / ** )
45 Lake Placid ( C- / ** )
46 Mickey Blue Eyes ( C- / ** )
47 Thomas Crown Affair, The ( C- / ** )
48 Besieged ( C- / ** )
49 Big Daddy ( C- / ** )
50 Wild Wild West ( C- / ** )
51 13th Warrior, The ( D+ / *1/2 )
52 Inspector Gadget ( D+ / *1/2 )
53 Thirteenth Floor, The ( D+ / *1/2 )
54 Runaway Bride ( D+ / *1/2 )
55 Dog of Flanders, A ( D+ / *1/2 )
56 Muppets From Space ( D+ / *1/2 )
57 Mummy, The ( D / * )
58 Loss of Sexual Innocence, The ( D / * )
59 Dudley Do-Right ( D / * )
60 Teaching Mrs. Tingle ( D / * )
61 Love Letter, The ( D / * )
62 Deep Blue Sea ( D- / 1/2 )
63 Black Mask ( D- / 1/2 )
64 Trippin' ( F / NO STARS )
65 Universal Soldier:  The Return ( F / NO STARS )
66 Astronaut's Wife, The ( F / NO STARS )
67 Detroit Rock City ( F / NO STARS )

Analysis by:
David Perry