I’ve been a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detail-oriented detective Sherlock Holmes for as long as I can remember. As a young child I devoured the stories and as recently as last week was watching a classic 1944 Holmes movie, The Scarlet Claw, starring Basil Rathbone as the eponymous detective and Nigel Bruce as his bumbling medical sidekick John Watson. I also greatly enjoyed the BBC series of Holmes stories that starred Jeremy Brett as the detective and David Burke as Dr. Watson.
Films are dreams, whether the director is aiming for hyper-realism or whether we’re allowed to fly through the odd, the dreamy, the troubling of their imagination. Director Rob Marshall recognizes this and his Nine is a sexy, engaging, stylish and enlightening journey through the imaginative life of Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his many loves.
Those three mischievous CG chipmunks are back in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel though their “parent” and guardian Dave (Jason Lee) is surprisingly absent from this sequel, getting a total of about ten minutes of screen time. The boys guardian is supposed to be Aunt Jackie (Kathryn Joosten) but she has even less screen time, just enough to have a pratfall and then remain offscreen (and out of mind) in the hospital recovering for the rest of the film. Instead, her slacker video-game-addict grandson Toby (Zachary Levi) moves into Dave’s house to theoretically take care of the chipmunks, Alvin (voice of Justin Long), Theodore (voice of Jesse McCartney) and Simon (voice of Matthew Gray Gubler) while actually ignoring them completely.
Avatar is a movie about manifest destiny and second thoughts, a sweeping epic retelling of a classic theme about a soldier “going native” as he learns that the enemy isn’t a faceless monster, but an intelligent race. The most obvious parallel is Dances with Wolves, but director James Cameron has taken the basic storyline and created a visual masterpiece that’s almost a perfect sci-fi film.
Alright, readers, before I publish my own list, let’s get some conversation going. Think back on the last ten years of cinema and come up with your top few films from that era!
“GLADIATOR,” “Chocolat,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Erin Brockovich,” “Traffic”
RUSSELL CROWE in “Gladiator,” Javier Bardem in “Before Night Falls,” Tom Hanks in “Cast Away,” Ed Harris in “Pollock,” Geoffrey Rush in “Quills”
JULIA ROBERTS in “Erin Brockovich,” Joan Allen in “The Contender,” Juliette Binoche in “Chocolat,” Ellen Burstyn in “Requiem for a Dream,” Laura Linney in “You Can Count On Me”
BENICIO DEL TORO in “Traffic,” Jeff Bridges in “The Contender,” Willem Dafoe in “Shadow of the Vampire,” Albert Finney in “Erin Brockovich,” Joaquin Phoenix in “Gladiator”
MARCIA GAY HARDEN in “Pollock,” Judi Dench in “Chocolat,” ” Kate Hudson in “Almost Famous,” Frances McDormand in “Almost Famous,” Julie Walters in “Billy Elliot”
STEVEN SODERBERGH for “Traffic,” Stephen Daldry for “Billy Elliot,” Ang Lee for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” Steven Soderbergh for “Erin Brockovich,” Ridley Scott for “Gladiator”
“A BEAUTIFUL MIND,” “Gosford Park,” “In the Bedroom,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” “Moulin Rouge”
Animated Feature Film:
“SHREK,” “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius”, “Monsters, Inc.”
DENZEL WASHINGTON in “Training Day,” Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind,” Sean Penn in “I Am Sam,” Will Smith in “Ali,” Tom Wilkinson in “In the Bedroom”
HALLE BERRY in “Monster’s Ball,” Judi Dench in “Iris,” Nicole Kidman in “Moulin Rouge,” Sissy Spacek in “In the Bedroom,” Renee Zellwegger in “Bridget Jones’s Diary”
JIM BROADBENT in “Iris,” Ethan Hawke in “Training Day,” Ben Kingsley in “Sexy Beast,” Ian McKellen in “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” Jon Voight in “Ali”
JENNIFER CONNELLY in “A Beautiful Mind,” Helen Mirren in “Gosford Park,” Maggie Smith in “Gosford Park,” Marisa Tomei in “In the Bedroom,” Kate Winslet in “Iris”
RON HOWARD for “A Beautiful Mind,” Ridley Scott for “Black Hawk Down,” Robert Altman for “Gosford Park,” Peter Jackson for “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” David Lynch for “Mulholland Drive”
“CHICAGO,” “Gangs of New York,” “The Hours,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” “The Pianist”
Animated Feature Film:
“SPIRITED AWAY,” “Ice Age,” “Lilo & Stitch,” “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” “Treasure Planet”
ADRIEN BRODY in “The Pianist,” Nicolas Cage in “Adaptation,” Michael Caine in “The Quiet American,” Daniel Day-Lewis in “Gangs of New York,” Jack Nicholson in “About Schmidt”
NICOLE KIDMAN in “The Hours,” Salma Hayek in “Frida,” Diane Lane in “Unfaithful,” Julianne Moore in “Far from Heaven,” Renee Zellweger in “Chicago”
CHRIS COOPER in “Adaptation,” Ed Harris in “The Hours,” Paul Newman in “Road to Perdition,” John C. Reilly in “Chicago,” Christopher Walken in “Catch Me If You Can”
CATHERINE ZETA-JONES in “Chicago,” “Kathy Bates in “About Schmidt,” Julianne Moore in “The Hours,” Queen Latifah for “Chicago,” Meryl Streep in “Adaptation”
ROMAN POLANSKI for “The Pianist,” Rob Marshall for “Chicago,” Martin Scorsese for “Gangs of New York,” Stephen Daldry for “The Hours,” Pedro Almodovar for “Talk to Her”
When I was a kid, I used to think that business travel must be fabulous, a life of glamor punctuated by new cities, fancy hotels and anything you’d like to eat, each and every meal. Then I started to travel and realized just how exhausting and disheartening it is, how it can suck the life out of you and leave you restless both on the road and at home.