Film Honors: 1995

My own personal choices for the year. They reflect not just necessarily what I think is the best or essential cinema, but perhaps resonate with me or inspire, both at the time, and still today. Other published Film Honors posts can be found at the menu at the top of the page.

Actress Support

*** Anne Bancroft (How to Make an American Quilt) ***
*** Ellen Burstyn (How to Make an American Quilt) ***
Gwyneth Paltrow (Se7en)
Mia Kirshner (Exotica)
Kate Winslet (Sense and Sensibility)

Screenwriting Original

Paul Auster (Smoke)
Dusan Kovacevic, Emir Kusturica (Underground)
Kim Krizan, Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise)
Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects)
*** Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en) ***

Screenwriting Adapted

William Broyles Jr., Al Reinert (Apollo 13)
Scott Frank (Get Shorty)
Tim Robbins (Dead Man Walking)
*** Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility) ***
David Webb Peoples, Janet Peoples (Twelve Monkeys)

Actor Lead

*** Robert De Niro (Heat) ***
Morgan Freeman (Se7en)
*** Al Pacino (Heat) ***
Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking)
Brad Pitt (Se7en)

Methodical, seamless, inch-perfect in execution. You could describe the dedication, the determination, the deliberation of those terrific characters in the same bright lights of the two legendary actors that portray them. Not just in Heat, but their entire careers to this point. Pacino’s Vincent Hanna is all too aware of his social and family life disintegrating once again around him as his discipline and hard-work is all thrown into his work as a police detective – unable to not give one hundred percent, affecting not just his home life, but his mental obsession with catching the criminals. In this case, De Niro’s Neil McCauley, who has a similar social technique, but keeps himself out of harm’s way as far as close, personal relations with other people are concerned. There’s subtlety, urgency, emotion, and a grand example on how to act, in both central performances. Unforgettable in every scene, let alone the one they share the same air.

Actor Support

Brad Pitt (12 Monkeys)
Ed Harris (Apollo 13)
Gary Sinise (Apollo 13)
Kevin Spacey (Se7en)
*** Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects) ***

Actress Lead

*** Julie Delpy (Before Sunrise) ***
Isabelle Huppert (La Cérémonie)
Nicole Kidman (To Die For)
Julianne Moore (Safe)
Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking)

jd

In the mid-nineties, at the birth of what has become Richard Linklater’s timeless love story trilogy, Julie Delpy was relishing in roles that spotlighted so authentically her irresistible charms and beauty, I’m talking physically, spiritually and through her quirky demeanor. Here in Before Sunrise you can feel the genuine nerves of Ethan Hawke’s Jesse bumbling first impressions on Delpy’s confident French girl Celine. Their romance blossoms through the adventure of seizing time and taking chances, and even as I re-watch this now I feel the butterflies of a smitten young man who really does not want to leave the lovely Celine on the train. Delpy’s naturalistic, alert performance is like a breath of fresh air, subtly funny and richly alluring from start to finish. The pretend phone conversation scene is a wonderfully engaging few minutes. So much depth of emotion to Celine at this stage, a magnetism, it is hard to imagine how you were not completely in love with Julie Delpy long before now.

Picture Editing

Braveheart
Exotica
Heat
*** Se7en ***
Underground

Cinematography

*** Darius Khondji (Se7en) ***
Matthew F. Leonetti (Strange Days)
Emmanuel Lubezki (A Little Princess)
Dante Spinotti (Heat)
John Toll (Braveheart)

Score Composing

Goran Bregovic (Underground)
*** James Horner (Braveheart) ***

Patrick Doyle (Sense and Sensibility)
Randy Newman (Toy Story)
Thomas Newman (How to Make an American Quilt)

James Horner’s Braveheart is certainly not just the most exhilarating, emotional film score of 1995, but one of the finest compositions of the decade. The music still lingers with us today, not just with it’s emotive use in commercials or TV shows, but the impact of the tones and melodies have on your senses and soul. Horner’s score for Apollo 13 the very same year was also brilliant, aiding significantly to the telling of a classic American story, but his Braveheart music shone through louder with its period and geographic specific pipes and strings. It’s a ground-breaking achievement in film music, and certainly one of the consistently excelling Horner’s best. And this is not a fleeting piece of work, the weighty music flows through pretty much the entirety of the picture – Mel Gibson owes a bagful of gratitude to Horner for steering voters towards handing him two Oscars. An always riveting, beautiful score, provoking all manner of feelings both while watching the film and listening to the music in isolation as it seems to dictate the beating of your own heart. Horner’s recent untimely death only makes this honor the more bittersweet and touching.

Directing

*** David Fincher (Se7en) ***
Mel Gibson (Braveheart)
Emir Kusturica (Underground)
Michael Mann (Heat)
Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects)

Motion Picture

Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater)
Braveheart (Mel Gibson)
Dead Man Walking (Tim Robbins)
*** Heat (Michael Mann) ***
Sense and Sensibility (Ang Lee)
*** Se7en (David Fincher) ***
Smoke (Wayne Wang, Paul Auster)
Toy Story (John Lasseter)
Underground (Emir Kusturica)
The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer)

MSDSEVE EC017

heat

Total domination. Two films, two huge, magnificent chunks of cinema. Crime is on the menu for both, but their respective masters (Mann and Fincher) offering two very different outlooks on the cat and the mouse. Both dark, brooding, bold, yet create an expansive new world, beautiful to look at in all its pain and prospects. Mann, an architect of cinema, demonstrates a color palette we hardly knew existed. His constructed narrative, often like natural paintings or rendered works of art, blends the sedate, scenic wonder, with compelling choreography and film-craft. Every inch of Heat soaks you up, and vice versa, invigorating the crime genre while providing a real cathartic method of story-telling. The performances are strong, solid depictions of characters we ought to despise, but engage with their plights, whether they be good or bad. And the action sequences are breath-taking, no holds barred film-making, Mann’s masterpiece is a superb, slick motion picture experience. As for Se7en, and it’s apparent devouring of the Film Honors here, go on and read the Masterpiece Memo just published in light of this post.

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