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The Third Annual Alties

Autumn Whitehurst

Posted 2/25/2004

Harvey Weinstein is pissed, so the rumor mill says. While film nerds and Oscar die-hards marvel at a slate of Academy Award nominations featuring an unusually high number of apt, interesting, and pleasantly surprising nods, the Miramax mahout is allegedly feeling snubbed because the company's anointed award bait, the overheated Civil War epic Cold Mountain, had to make do with a mere eight nominations, only one of them in a "Big Five" category (Jude Law, for Best Actor). While it's entirely possible that Weinstein's legendary wooing of Academy types on behalf of his films may have helped make this year's nominations more interesting overall (we thought we were the only ones who saw Best Director nominee Fernando Meirelles' Miramax-distributed City of God, much less loved it), the notion that eight noms stands for a travesty of justice in some Hollywood version of reality leaves the kind of sour taste we've come to associate with these august awards.

So while this year's better-than-usual crop of nominated films means that we're actually looking forward to the Feb. 29 broadcast more than usual, we couldn't resist a third installment of our annual fake Oscars--laurels the Academy has overlooked and honors so dubious that we don't bother striking statuettes. City Paper staffers and contributors Blake de Pastino, Lee Gardner, Ian Grey, Eric Allen Hatch, Bret McCabe, Wendy Ward, and Gabriel Wardell put their heads together and came up with the following slate. And for the record, we're not that crazy about Cold Mountain either.

Best Comedy: Bad Santa. Notable nominee: Lost in Translation.

Best Sci-Fi/Horror/Fantasy Movie: (tie) Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 28 Days Later.

Best Kids Movie: Finding Nemo.

Most Overrated Movie: American Splendor. Ian Grey: "Unsuspected hordes of comics fans who are also film reviewers allow passion to get in the way of reason." Notable nominees: Mystic River, Lost in Translation, Spider.

Best Movie That Worked Much Better as a Trailer: Cabin Fever.

Best Ensemble: A Mighty Wind.

Steepest Cast Quality/Movie Quality Ratio: Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci, and Alfre Woodard in The Core.

Best Actor Forced to Do Crap in a Hollywood Movie: Damian Lewis in Dreamcatcher. Lee Gardner: "Imagine being asked to embody a malevolent parasitic extraterrestrial that bursts out of people's assholes by doing a jaunty British accent straight outta P.G. Wodehouse. Talk about a tale of horror." Notable nominee: Colin Firth in What a Girl Wants. Bret McCabe: "'OK, you're going to put on these leather pants, look at yourself in the mirror, and then spaz out like a cat in heat.'"

Best Actress Forced to Do Crap in a Hollywood Movie: Queen Latifah in Bringing Down the House. McCabe: "Everybody saw you sear the screen in Chicago--you don't need to be starring in a no-brow comedy that has you unironically saying things like, 'I kicked it off the heezy and bounced, fo' real, tho'.' Especially when you're its executive producer." Notable nominee: Cate Blanchett in The Missing.

Best Performance by an Actor Who's Not Taken Seriously as an Actor: Kurt Russell in Dark Blue. Notable nominees: Hayden Christensen in Shattered Glass, Bruce Campbell in Bubba Ho-Tep.

Best Performance by an Actress Who's Not Taken Seriously as an Actress: Amanda Peet in Identity.

Best Performance by an Artificial Life Form: Demi Moore in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.

Best On-Screen Freakiness: Crispin Glover channeling Crispin Glover in Willard.

Best Gratuitous Nudity: Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give McCabe: "Liberal-arts college guys have been waiting to see Annie Hall naked for years." Notable nominee: Ludivine Sagnier, Charlotte Rampling, and Jean-Marie Lamour in Swimming Pool. Eric Allen Hatch: "You can always count on the French."

Worst Gratuitous Nudity: Chloe Hunter in Spun. McCabe: "OK, we get it--speed is a horrible drug that makes people do some horrible things. Did we really need to tape Hunter's mouth and eyes shut, tie her naked and spread eagle on a bed, and then linger on her as she thrashed around to know you're so not kidding?"

Best Graceful Aging On-Screen: Jennifer Connelly in Hulk and House of Sand and Fog. Grey: "Considering she was, like, 15 in her first starring role (1985's Creepers), it's fair to say she has weathered the cruel years pretty well."

Best Ungraceful Aging On-Screen: Kirk and Michael Douglas in It Runs in the Family. McCabe: "What runs in the family? Because it sure as hell isn't dignity."

Best Completely Inexplicable Accent: Apple-pie American John Cusack as a German art dealer surrounded by people speaking English with thick German accents in Max.

Best Obviously Fake Hair: Hope Davis in American Splendor.

Best Obviously Fake Facial Hair: Dylan McDermott in Wonderland

Best Performance by Hair in a Supporting Role: Sean Penn's ever-evolving 'do in Mystic River.

Best Ensemble Hair: (tie) Down With Love, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Best Line: "Are you a Mexi-can, or a Mexi-can't?" --Johnny Depp's Agent Sands in Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Notable nominee: "Those of you lucky enough to have your lives take them with you. However, leave the limbs you've lost. Those belong to me now." --Uma Thurman's the Bride, Kill Bill: Volume 1.

Worst Line: "Burn rubber, not your soul." --Laurence Fishburne's Smoke in Biker Boyz. Notable nominee: "He opened me like a flower of pain, and it felt good." --Halle Berry's Miranda Grey, Gothika.

Best Death Scene: Vivica A. Fox getting knifed through her Cocoa Blasters in Kill Bill: Volume 1. Notable nominee: Kelly Hu getting pumped full of liquid metal in X2: X-Men United.

Worst Death Scene: that guy getting his head bashed to mush with a fire extinguisher in one long take in Irreversible

Best What-He-Always-Does: Seth Green in The Italian Job.

Best What-She-Always-Does: Patricia Clarkson elegantly supporting ensembles in The Station Agent, Pieces of April, The Safety of Objects, and All the Real Girls.

Worst What-He-Always-Does: Dustin Hoffman in Confidence. Blake de Pastino: "In 10 scenery-chewing minutes, Hoffman played a socially retarded, sexually unfocused strip club owner as equal parts Rain Man and Ben from The Graduate."

Worst What-She-Always-Does: Dakota Fanning in The Cat in the Hat and Uptown Girls. McCabe: "She's 10 years old, and already I feel like I can't get away from her."

Best Career Move: Ellen DeGeneres does Dory in Finding Nemo. McCabe: "By eliminating her image from the screen, she reminded people that her sexuality is the most 'alternative' thing about her comedy--otherwise, she's as 1950s America as Lucille Ball."

Worst Career Move: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez date.

Best Embarrassingly Unsuccessful Comeback: David Spade in Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.

Worst Buffy the Vampire Slayer Star Crossover to the Big Screen: (tie) Eliza Dushku in Wrong Turn, Emma Caulfield in Darkness Falls.

Best Teenage Moment That Got It Right: the entirety of All the Real Girls. Notable nominee: Mandy Moore almost getting gangbanged by drugged-out hippies during a European rave in Chasing Liberty.

Best Use of Pop Music in a Motion Picture: The School of Rock. Notable nominee: Lost in Translation. Gardner: "Forget the extra cool soundtrack for a sec--without Bill Murray's already legendary karaoke scene, the film literally wouldn't be the same."

Best Car Wreck (Actual): the opening pileup in Final Destination 2.

Best Car Wreck (Metaphorical): The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Best Eye Candy: Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Notable nominee: Kill Bill: Volume 1.

Best Guilty Pleasure: The Core. Grey: "The best dumb '50s sci-fi B movie made, since, well, the '50s." Notable nominees: Dreamcatcher, S.W.A.T.

Best Dogme Film Since The Idiots: Open Hearts.

Best Picture That's Likely to Be Better When It Starts Playing Saturday Afternoons on TNT: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

Best Movie That's Actually a TV Movie of the Week: The Bread, My Sweet.

Best Movie That's Actually an After-School Special: Bend It Like Beckham. Notable nominee: Thirteen.

Best Picture That Made No Sense but Was Good Anyway: Hulk.

Best Complete and Utter Bullshit: Masked and Anonymous. Hatch: "What a mess. I'm so glad it got made."

Best Marketing Plan Masquerading as Motion Picture: The Cat in the Hat (unanimous decision).

Best Issue of Vogue Magazine Masquerading as a Movie: Mona Lisa Smile.

Best White Zombie Video Masquerading as a Movie: House of 1000 Corpses.

Best Didn't Somebody Already Make This Before?: The Last Samurai.

Best Anti-War Movie Hollywood Tried (Half-Heartedly) to Market as Something Other Than an Anti-War Movie: Buffalo Soldiers.

Best Gay Couple (Hollywood Version): Dominic Monaghan's Merry and Billy Boyd's Pippin in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Best Gay Couple (Tom of Finland Version): Paul Bettany's Dr. Stephen Maturin and Russell Crowe's Capt. Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

Best Titles to Transmogrify Into Porn Titles: School of Rock, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Bend It Like Beckham, Better Luck Tomorrow, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, Head of State, The Italian Job, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Matchstick Men, Something's Gotta Give, Terminator 3: Rise of Machines, Tupac: Resurrection, 21 Grams, Underworld.

Best Titles That Already Sound Like Porn Titles: Alex and Emma, All the Real Girls, Bad Boys II, Bubba Ho-Tep, Brother Bear, Dirty Pretty Things, A Guy Thing, From Justin to Kelly, Girls Will Be Girls, Grind, Holes, The Human Stain, In the Cut, A Man Apart, Masked and Anonymous, Marci X, Stuck on You, Whale Rider, What a Girl Wants.

Outstanding Achievement in Tokenism: Demi Moore (born 1962) in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.

Outstanding Achievement in Revisionist History by a Feature Film: Max. Gabriel Wardell: "It turns out a mugging prevented an art dealer from buying something from Hitler, thereby thwarting his art career and leading to his ultimate destiny as ruthless dictator and tyrant." Notable nominee: Cold Mountain. Grey: "Lordy, but bein' white during the Civil War was tough."

The Joel Schumacher Director's Cup for Material Squandering: Len Wiseman, for somehow making vampires fighting werewolves unexciting in Underworld.

Best Black Guy Played by a White Guy Who's Supposed to Be a Black Guy Passing for White: Anthony Hopkins in The Human Stain.

Best Black Guy Playing a White Guy Who's Supposed to Be a White Guy Passing for White: (tie) Ossie Davis (as JFK) in Bubba Ho-Tep, Bernie Mac (as Bill Murray) in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.

The Green Mile Award for the Magical Black Man Who Can Help White People With His Powers but Is Unable to Better His Own Situation (Presented in Honor of Spike Lee): Djimon Hounsou in In America.

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