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Nick's Pics
Nick Nicholson
Film & Home Entertainment Critic
 

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time phone number.
 
Year in review edition - 2006 in review  

With 2006 now completely under wraps, I am in the unenviable position of ranking the best and worst of the year in film. Over the course of this year, I have seen over one hundred and ten different movies, many of which I have thankfully long-since forgotten about. I would have to admit, however, this has been a good year for films. I have seen actors really surprise me by pushing the envelope such as Forrest Whitacker in The Last King of Scotland. Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum, where actors really scrape the bottom of the barrel as Robin Williams did in Man of the Year. As the multitude of award shows begin to hit the airwaves this next week, you will have the opportunity to see and hear information about films you both have seen and never heard of. When the opportunity arises, check out some of these movies and see how they rate with you. I am anxious to see what 2007 cinema masterpieces have in store, but until then, here is my list, ranked in order, of The Best and Worst of 2006. Until next time, have fun at the movies and try not to eat too much popcorn!

Best Pictures:

1. The Departed

2. Apocalypto

3. Dreamgirls

4. Little Miss Sunshine

5. United 93

6. Borat

7. Thank You for Smoking

8. Letters from Iwo Jima

9. Little Children

10. The Devil Wears Prada


Best Actors:

1. Will Smith - The Pursuit of Happyness

2. Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland

3. Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed

4. Ryan Gosling - Half Nelson

5. Peter O’Toole - Venus


Best Actress:

1. Meryl Streep - The Devil Wears Prada

2. Helen Mirren - The Queen

3. Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal

4. Kate Winslet - Little Children

5. Penelope Cruz - Volver


The Worst Films of 2005

1. The Wicker Man

2. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

3. My Super Ex-Girlfriend

4. Santa Claus Three

5. Hoot


DVD Picks

LIGHTSPEED - Anchor Bay

After an accident, a government agent gains the ability of super-speed and goes after an old friend turned Nemesis. This film could be titled “The Flash 2” with all its similarities. This is the classic “grade B-”superhero film made for TV. There is no way that this film would have survived in the movies. The acting is horrible and the story is lame. Lee Majors must really be hungry to accept this role. Nicole Eggert was the one redeeming factor in the show. Face it...she is hot! I would rather watch a worthwhile series like The Flash or the Batman films than sit through this stuff. I know that there are budget cuts with TV movies, but this is crazy. Don’t waste your money on this one.

TRACKS - Paramoung

A soldier (Dennis Hopper) returns from Vietnam on special assignment, accompanying the body of his friend by train to California for burial. During the trip, he falls in love with a gentle college student. But their relationship is shattered by his flashbacks to combat. There have been so many Vietnam War films in the last twenty years and after a while, they all look about the same. Tracks is one of those movies that you see once and that is about all. Hopper plays the confused and paranoid Vietnam Vet who is trying to make sense out of the war as he escorts the body of one of his friends’ home for burial. Hopper eventually falls in love with a college girl with every intention of moving past his mental instabilities. Unfortunately, his flashbacks get in the way and things eventually go sour. This is a story that is too real and makes you want to reach out and help Hopper. One can never know unless you had been there! Stockwell’s character adds greatly to the plot and lovely Taryn Power heats up the screen. This is a total symbolic and political film with all of the trimmings. The DVD is presented in Widescreen format with Dolby Digital sound. Extras include commentary with writer/director Henry Jaglom and Dennis Hopper.

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE:

The Beginning - New Line

The producers behind the successful 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre return to deliver this startling prequel, which details the beginnings of the Hewitt clan and exposes their psychotic idea of family fun. For the first time, audiences will learn what led to the origin of Leatherface, perhaps the most iconic horror character of all time. If you are into violence and gore, this picture is for you.

SNAKES ON A PLANE - New Line

Samuel L. Jackson stars as Nelville Flynn, an FBI agent escorting a witness (Nathan Phillips) on a flight to Los Angeles. Phillips is supposed to testify against an evil mobster, but the details really aren’t important, and the filmmakers are smart enough to focus on what counts: a variety pack of poisonous snakes is released mid-flight. To make matters worse, the snakes are crazed and violent because of pheromones, leading to the truly classic Samuel L. Jackson line, “Great. Snakes on crack.” With the notable exception of Jackson, most of the cast couldn’t act its way out of an airplane barf bag, but that’s probably for the best, as good performances would only serve as a distraction from the snakes--who have no trouble springing out of luggage compartments, toilets, and even mouths. The script is full of punch lines, some intentional and others not, but the movie expertly treads the line between spoof and sincere B-movie, and fans of both genres should be thoroughly satisfied. Check this out.

LADY IN THE WATER - Warner

Paul Giamatti is Cleveland Heep, the depressed caretaker of an apartment complex in suburban Philadelphia called the Cove--a location from which the film virtually never strays. He tends the homes of a host of loveable eccentrics, including Jeffrey Wright as a single dad, Sarita Choudhury and the director himself as brother-and-sister roommates, Bob Balaban as a cynical film critic, and Cindy Cheung as a college girl Cleveland befriends. When Cleveland is pulled from the pool by a mysterious young woman (Bryce Dallas Howard) after a nasty bump on the head, he quickly discovers her true identity as a narf, one of an ancient race of water beings whose attempts at communication with humans have long ago ceased. As Cleveland attempts to return her to her world, uncovering the intricacies of the story from which she emerged and protecting her from the beasts that seek to thwart her, she helps him and many of the other residents find their true purpose in life, reaffirming the meaning it holds for them. This isn’t M. Night Shyamalan’s finest work, but it isn’t his worst, either. Fine acting and an above average story make for a film you should definately see to judge for yourself.

Nick be reached at Nick@filmlords.com

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