1999 Leaman Awards - The Part-Time Critic

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

1999 Leaman Awards

*Last Updated 7/24//2022  

1999 Films Seen: 83
Number of Films with 'A' or 'A+': 2
Key Films Still to See: n/a

Brief Summary: Often hailed as one of the great years of all-time for its innovative and high quality films. I found it to be one of the weaker films of the 90's a couple of great films and perhaps the deepest roster of comedies for the decade.

Not a "best of" list or a "favorite" list - but a list of the films and sequences (action, drama, comedy, & musical) that I think represent the best the year had to offer. So think of it as a strange mixture of favorite, best, and defining. Once you get to the top ten films, it definitely becomes more defined as a Top Ten list of the year. The number one film is my favorite of the year. 

Honorable Mentions: Arlington Road, Dogma, Liberty Heights, October Sky

25. The Hurricane (B)
24. Notting Hill (B)
23. Three Kings (B)
22. eXistenZ (B)
21. The Green Mile (B)
20. The Thomas Crown Affair (B)
19. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (B)
18. The Iron Giant(B)
17. Ride with the Devil (B+)
16. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (B+)
15. Man on the Moon (B+)
14. Run Lola Run (B+)
13. American Beauty (B+)
12. Tarzan (B+)
11. The Big Kahuna (B+)

THE TOP TEN
10. Galaxy Quest (B+)
9. The Mummy (B+)
8. Office Space (B+)
7. The Blair Witch Project (B+)
6. Magnolia (A-)

5. Toy Story 2 (A-)

4. The Straight Story (A-)

3. The Matrix (A-)

2. The Insider (A)

1. The Sixth Sense (A)


FAVORITE ACTION SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
The Very Good:
  • "Dojo Fight: Morpheus vs. Neo" -The Matrix (Commentary)
  • "Hamunaptra Finale: Showdown with Imhotep" -The Mummy (Commentary)
The Great:
  • "Jackie Chan vs. Bradley Part 2: Warehouse Fight" -Gorgeous (Commentary)
  • "Lobby Shootout & Morpheus Rescue" -The Matrix (Commentary)
  • "Lightsaber Fight Finale: Duel of the Fates" -Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (Commentary)
  • "Tatooine Pod Racing" -Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (Commentary)
The Best: "Subway Fight: Agent Smith vs. Neo" -The Matrix (Commentary)
Commentary:  One reason this fight sequence is so great is that the film has been quietly building the anticipation of it the entire time and you weren't even quite aware of it. The opening scene of the film has Trinity running scared for her life from an agent despite her unique abilities. That tells us these agents shouldn't be messed with, even by the skilled. We witnessed Neo fight Morpheus and mostly lose until he kicked into that higher gear. We then saw Morpheus take on Agent Smith and get his butt handed to him. This tells us that Neo has no way of winning against smith unless he kicks in that higher gear. The last action sequence with Neo dodging bullets tells us that Neo might be ready, but we never know until he actually tries. Whew - that's a lot of buildup for what amounts to a fight between the hero and villain, but the amount of thoughtful design put into the story so that this fight scene would be a culminating choice and achievement for Neo as well as building up audience anticipation and expectation is a masterclass that deserves to be pointed out. The fight takes place in a subway where Trinity just got out using a pay phone, but Neo wasn't in time. He decides to stay and face Smith. They are at a standoff just like in an American Western but instead of just a quick draw, they run at each other and dive, firing away as the camera does another classic "bullet time" spin around our characters. They both hit the ground with empty chambers. It's the perfect action beat that embodies what the Wachowski's have done here - the running and firing dive is straight out of John Woo's glorious bloodshed playbook, but the slow motion bullet time delivery is the new addition that makes this unique to the franchises style. The two throw away their guns, resigned to fight it out, and we get some nice and forth fight beats between the two of them. Thankfully the fighting is done mostly by the actors, allowing us wide shots, seeing their faces and reactions in real time. I love the particular beat where an inside crescent kick takes out a part of Smith's glasses revealing a very perturbed agent, and one where Smith stops a punch by Neo only to have Neo extend his fingers hitting Smith in the throat. Smith gets the upperhand and holds Smith on the tracks in a headlock waiting for a train to arrive. Neo is able to escape and Smith instead gets run over. Neo then makes a run for an exit. I'll be honest, I don't like this ending at all. First, I've felt this sequence needed a few more fight beats - but that's maybe me just wanting more of a great thing. Second, and more importantly, I don't get how it makes sense for Neo. The whole point we've been building up to is that Neo believes he is the One and decides to face off against an agent. He made that decision, he was basically winning, and then he decides to run for an exit? Screenplay wise, I get it - the writers wanted Neo to only be able to kick into that higher gear when Trinity shared her love - but this delay just never quite works for me. I wish they would have found a way to incorporate the sentinels threatening everyone on the ship and Trinity's declaration of love with Neo's fight and defeat of Smith in the subway somehow. This is an iconic fight, but a couple of serious flaws force me to keep it from a clean 'A'.


FAVORITE DRAMATIC SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
*under construction
The Very Good:
  • "Final Moments of Lester Burnham's Life" -American Beauty 
  • "Cole Reveals He Sees Dead People" -The Sixth Sense

The Great:
  • "Phil Defines Character" -The Big Kahuna
  • "Morpheus' Decision: Red Pill or the Blue Pill" -The Matrix 
  • "Cole Tells His Mother About Grandma" -The Sixth Sense
  • "Alvin Tells the Stick Story to a Teen Runaway" -The Straight Story
  • "Veteran Stories in the Bar" -The Straight Story

The Best: 
Commentary: 


FAVORITE COMEDIC SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
*under construction

The Very Good:


The Great:
  •  

The Best: 
Commentary: 


FAVORITE MUSICAL SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
*under construction

The Very Good:
  •  

The Great:
  •  
The Best: "Son of Man" -Tarzan
Commentary: n/a

BEST DIRECTOR
Nominees:
  • David Lynch The Straight Story
  • Michael Mann The Insider
  • M. Night Shyamalan The Sixth Sense
  • Sam Mendes American Beauty
  • The Wachowski’s The Matrix
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE FILM ENSEMBLES
Nominees:
  • American Beauty
  • The Insider
  • Magnolia
  • The Matrix
  • Office Space
  • The Sixth Sense
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE MALE PERFORMANCES
Nominees:
  • Jim Carrey Man on the Moon
  • Gary Cole Office Space
  • Russell Crowe The Insider
  • Tom Cruise Magnolia
  • Danny DeVito The Big Kahuna
  • Richard Farnsworth The Straight Story
  • Laurence Fishburne The Matrix
  • Haley Joel Osment The Sixth Sense
  • Al Pacino The Insider
  • Kevin Spacey American Beauty
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE FEMALE PERFORMANCES
Nominees:
  • Annette Benning American Beauty
  • Toni Collette The Sixth Sense
  • Heather Donahue The Blair Witch Project
  • Catherine Keener Being John Malkovich
  • Julianne Moore Magnolia
  • Samantha Morton Sweet and Lowdown
  • Sarah Polley Go
  • Franka Potente Run Lola Run
  • Cecilia Roth All About My Mother
  • Sissy Spacek The Straight Story
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE SCREENPLAYS
(original or adapted)
Nominees:
  • American Beauty
  • The Big Kahuna
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • Election
  • The Insider
  • The Matrix 
  • Office Space
  • The Sixth Sense
  • Toy Story 2
  • The Virgin Suicides
Commentary: n/a


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
*No major documentaries seen this year
Nominees:
  • n/a
Commentary: n/a


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Nominees:
  • The Iron Giant
  • Tarzan
  • Toy Story 2
Commentary: n/a
BEST FILM EDITING
Nominees:
  • American Beauty
  • The Insider
  • Magnolia
  • The Matrix
  • Run Lola Run
  • The Sixth Sense
Commentary: n/a


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Nominees:
  • American Beauty
  • The Insider
  • The Matrix
  • The Sixth Sense
  • Snow Falling on Cedars
Commentary: n/a


BEST ART DIRECTION
Nominees:
  • Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
  • The Green Mile
  • The Matrix
  • The Mummy
  • Ride with the Devil
Commentary: n/a


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Nominees:
  • Galaxy Quest
  • The Matrix
  • The Mummy
  • Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
  • Wild Wild West
Commentary: n/a


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Nominees:
  • American Beauty
  • The Insider
  • The Matrix
  • The Mummy
  • Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
  • The Straight Story
Commentary: n/a


BEST SOUND DESIGN
Nominees:
  • The Insider
  • The Iron Giant
  • The Matrix
  • The Mummy
  • The Sixth Sense
  • Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Commentary: n/a


BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Nominees:
  • Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
  • The Matrix
  • The Mummy
  • Ride with the Devil
  • Sleepy Hollow
  • Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Commentary: n/a


BEST MAKE-UP & HAIR DESIGN
Nominees:
  • Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
  • eXistenZ
  • Galaxy Quest
  • The Mummy
  • Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Commentary: n/a

BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE
Nominees:
  • Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
  • Big Daddy
  • Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Commentary: n/a

MOST SURPRISING FILM
Nominees:
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • The Sixth Sense
  • The Straight Story
Commentary: n/a


MOST DISAPPOINTING FILM
Nominees:
  • The Iron Giant
  • Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
  • Wild Wild West
Commentary: n/a


MOST UNDERRATED FILM
Nominees:
  • The Big Kahuna
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • The Thomas Crown Affair
Commentary: n/a


MOST OVERRATED FILM
Nominees:
  • Being John Malkovich
  • Boys Don't Cry
  • Fight Club
Commentary: n/a 


WORST FILM
Nominees:
  • The 13th Warrior
  • House on Haunted Hill
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut 
Commentary: n/a 


BEST COMPILATION OF WORK

Performances/Accomplishments (that I saw anyways):
  • Kevin Spacey: American Beauty, The Big Kahuna
Commentary: n/a 


ERIC BANA AWARD
*Given for the best performance in a bad film (See 2004's Troy)

Nominees:
  •  
Commentary: n/a  


THE END!

"Alvin: I'd give each one of 'em a stick and, one for each one of 'em, then I'd say, 'You break that.' Course they could real easy. Then I'd say, 'Tie them sticks in a bundle and try to break that.' Course they couldn't. Then I'd say, "That bundle... that's family." -The Straight Story


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