Either your browser's javascript has been disabled or it needs an update! Please re-enable your javascript program or update your browser to view this page as designed. Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2001 Banner! "Gladiator" takes Best Picture. Julia Roberts honored--and downright giddy--with First Oscar.
It's the last Academy Awards to be broadcast from the LA Shrine Auditorium. And, at "only" 3 hours, while not being the longest Oscars' broadcast, it was full of funny and delightful moments.

Host Steve Martin was very funny and perfectly at ease. A couple of lines that stand out in my fading memory are "Save your applause...until it's for me" and ..."gay poet, crazed artist, a shipwrecked victim, a roman gladiator....but enough about me!" He got a little dig in to Julia Roberts, something to the effect of, "ever since you got caller ID, you're never home."

A particularly touching momenty for me was when they went live remote to Colombo, Sri Lanka so that Sir Arthur C. CLarke could announce the nominees and winner of Best Adapted Screenplay. Clarke, at 83 and in obviously frail health, reflected as he said "....as for one who, with Stanley Kubrick, wrote the Best Adapted Screenplay that was never nominated...", referring, of course, to the milestone "2001: A Space Odyssey", the movie created by him and Kubrick. Very poignant moment. The basic theme of the night, in fact, was very "2001"-ish. Appropriate in that Hollywood way. The winner of the category was Stephen Gaghan for "Traffic".

I've never been a super-big fan of Julia Roberts. Offscreen, she always came off to me as a spoiled brat who wanted everyone to beg her for her attention. Well OK, EVERYONE in Hollywood is like that, but there's that whole business with how she abandoned her family after she got rich and famous. All that aside, I could not HELP but be giddy along with her as she displayed unbelievable excitement over winning the Oscar for Best Actress ("Erin Brockovich"). (I almost never comment on actress's dresses, but I LOVED her dress.) So many jaded Hollywood types--usually male--sort of strut around like they expected the Oscar (except Russell Crowe--more on him in a sec), it was refreshing to see Julia honestly bubbling over--even giving the offstage "stickman" (timekeeper?) guff about hurrying her speech.

The obvious "upset" of the night (if I may borrow a sports term) was Marcia Gay Harden winning Best Supporting Actress for "Pollock". The odds-on favorite--even here at PCR--was Kate Hudson for "Almost Famous". Goes to show, the Academy is still full of surprises. (More dress talk, I'm sorry. Harden was in a stunning crimson Rudolph Duke gown that made her feel "like a movie star". Well, Miss Harden, you are. And an Oscar-winner at that. Congratulations.)

Russell Crowe brought some genuine class and astonishment to the proceedings as he apparently did not expect to win Best Actor (for "Gladiator"). He thanked director Ridley Scott ("...the one bloke I owe all this to") and encouraged young people starting out "on the downside of advantage.....it's possible." Great moment.

The following table represents the final Academy Award winners and our picks. I say "we" facetiously, because I "recused myself" from voting due to minimal movie attendance in 2000. I did, however, enter 4 measley votes and only got one right! The correct predictions are highlighted in red.
Best Picture:
Best Actor:
Russell Crowe, "Gladiator"
Tom Hanks, "Cast Away"Ed Harris, "Pollock"
Best Actress:
Julia Roberts, "Erin Brockovich"
Julia Roberts, "Erin Brockovich"Julia Roberts, "Erin Brockovich"
Best Supporting Actor:
Benicio Del Toro, "Traffic"
Benecio Del Toro, "Traffic"Joaquin Phoenix, "Gladiator"
Best Supporting Actress:
Marcia Gay Harden, "Pollock"
Kate Hudson, "Almost Famous"Kate Hudson, "Almost Famous"
Best Director:
Steven Soderbergh, "Traffic"
Ang Lee, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"Ridley Scott, "Gladiator"
Best Foreign Film:
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
"Crouchng Tiger, Hidden Dragon""Couching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
Best Screenplay (adapted)
Stephen Gaghan, "Traffic"
Best Screenplay (original)
Cameron Crowe, "Almost Famous"
"Almost Famous""Almost Famous"
Art Direction:
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon""Gladiator"
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon""Gladiator"
No vote"The Perfect Storm"
Sound Editing:
No vote"U-571"
Original Score:
Tan Dun, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon""The Patriot"
Original Song:
Bob Dylan, "Things Have Changed" (from "Wonderboys")
Bob Dylan, "Things Have Changed""A Love Before Time", Jorge Calandrelli, Tan Dun, James Schamus ("Crouching Tiger")
Costume Design:
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
Documentary Feature:
"Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport"
No vote"Into the Arms of Strangers:Stories of the Kindertransport"
Documentary Short Subject:
"Big Mama"
No vote"On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom"
Film Editing:
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon""Almost Famous"
Best Makeup:
Rick Baker and Gail Ryan, "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas"
"The Grinch Who Stole Christmas""The Cell"
Animated Short Film:
"Father and Daughter"
No vote"Father and Daughter" (The Periwig Maker)
Live-action Short Film:
"Quiero Ser (I Want To Be...)"
No vote"One Day Crossing"
Best Visual Effects:
"The Perfect Storm""The Perfect Storm"
Nolan here: to recount my last issue's micro-predictions, I had "The Perfect Storm" winning for Best Visual Effects or Sound Editing, it won neither. I predicted Tom Hanks would win Best Actor for Cast Away...he did not. I thought "The Patriot" had a wonderful chance at best costumes or sound. Neither one won. One coup de grace: I predicted "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" would win for Best Makeup and I was right. WooHoo! It was good to see Rick Baker accept his one-millionth Academy Award.

Deadguy's Dementia
Up-to-the-minute horror/sci-fi movie news.
   Matrix 2 is set for a Christmas 2002 release, and Matrix 3 is tentatively set for summer 2003.. so we gotta' keep waiting and hope we don't forget what the first one's about.. I HATE crap like that... I guess these two were dependent upon the success of the first one.. I wish they'd come out with novels or something to keep the interest stirred.. I really liked the first one.. but how long is it supposed to linger with me before the next movie? It was an immersible reality that I would love to explore further.
   Uhh...Nolan's gonna' hate me for this...but uhh...what the hell was the actresses name that played Trinity? (Umm...all I can think of is something like Claire-Anne Moss.---N)
   (UPDATE 4-1-01: CARRIE-Anne Moss.---N)

   I managed to get ahold of an interview that an unnamed source had with her.. apparently she's in the next two movies and is really "pumped" about it. She also claims to like how her character develops. She's sworn to secrecy on the plot details though..
   Like.. uhh.. hello? Gee.. why would anyone be interested in playing a major super-hero type character, alongside a few major Hollywood names, within a very successful movie? Man.. that would hella' suck! Just IMAGINE what damage that could do your future career! Throw in thousands of marriage proposals from love-struck fans.. God, how your ego must PLUMMET!

   According to press release from production company Alcon Entertainment, Robin Williams has been signed on kinda' to co-star in "Insomnia" with Al Pacino and Hilary Swank. In this remake of a 1997 Norwegian thriller about a policeman (Pacino) who mistakenly kills his partner during the hunt for a murderer. Williams will be playing the killer, who blackmails the Pacino character. Or at least that's MY best understanding of it.. "Insomnia" is currently in pre-production, with filming to begin on April 16 in Vancouver, Canada.
   Uhh.. Al Pacino as a cop? ok.. I can see that...but uh....Williams the murderer..? He's good,.. hell, he's great.. but can Mork really pull off murder? He's nice and hairy and stuff, but will that make him a monster? I guess if anyone can pull this off, Robin will. I'm ALMOST surprised that they didn't cast these two in opposite roles.. but isn't that the trend these days? Gritty good guys seem to be the ONLY good guys these days...
   Let's see...famous gritty good guys:

  • Gritty Arnold in "Kindergarten Cop".
  • Gritty Dirty Harry, in any movie.
  • Gritty Charles Bronson wishing for any death.
  • Gritty Bruce Willis in any action movie where he's the good guy.
  • Gritty Stallone in "Rambo"...(Or at least he was SUPPOSED to be gritty.. he always just kinda' seemed kinda' dopey to me.. I know he's supposed to be pretty smart and stuff in real life, but I wish he wasn't so "slack-faced" looking.. makes him look like a dumb animal or something..)
   Vs.. clean good guys?:
  • Superman...(shudder) I guess this has to be considered an action flick. He's a goody- goody silly kinda' clean.. nice role model, but it's easy to be a goody-little-two-shoes when you can fly around all bullet-proof and stuff and beat the hell out of naughty people any time you want to.
  • Batman? naw.. he's a psychopath.. not really a "non-gritty hero" (Bonus Trivia: 50 points for the correct answer: Why did the original Batman run around without any real sort of armor and have a great big yellow emblem square in the middle of his chest AND run after badguys that carried guns?.. (shush, Nolan! I know you know this one! :) He WANTED someone to shoot him there and take his life! The honest truth! That makes him gritty in my book, if nothing else does.
  • James Bond...good clean guy...though that's just cuz' he's English... and because he wants to attract the sexy chicks, not the quick whore that the guys up top seem to be hollering for.. (despite what the scripts SAY their characters are looking for).
   It would appear that the most successful franchises are the clean good guys? So.. you can be a clean good guy if ya' got the stuff to back it up...kinda' like that Western TV show, RAWHIDE, where the intro narration always said ".. strong enough to be gentle." Personally, I've never cared much for the action heroes that have a million things going for them. SURE, they've got weaknesses that get exploited for the purpose of the plot, but I believe that it's a person's ability to overcome adversity DESPITE their weaknesses that make them heroic.
   I think James Bond is also cool, clean, and collected simply because he's got poison darts and stuff that he can shoot out of his watch.. how could you stay all grim and stuff if you're not only ALLOWED to kill folks, but you get to do it with all the cool exploding things hidden in toothpaste and stuff..
Holy hell.. went WAY off-topic there... What the hell is this movie about anyhow? Oh well.. While I've been writing this, I'm reminded of a quotation that Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in "End of Days" fired off at Al Pacino's SATAN character: "Evil? You're EVIL?! You're nothing but a CHOIR BOY compared to me!" (that crap SLAYS ME!)

Anaconda 2: Gee.. no plot details are out.. I wonder if it features another boat that goes deeper into the Amazon than it should, providing tasty little treats for a very big snake... Production is scheduled to start in late 2001 or mid-2002. Apparently, the first movie was a smash hit. I dunno' I skipped it entirely because the previews and behind-the-scenes stuff showed some REALLY cheesy snake footage. I do my best to suspend disbelief, but a mechanical snake, or a CGI (Computer Graphic Image) (Or Computer Generated Imagery.---Know-it-all-Nolan) snake that moves like it's a Chinese dragon in a Chinese New Year parade is NOT going to fill me with fear.
The first Anaconda movie was budgeted for $35 million and ended-up with a nice 65+ million dollars.. Surprisingly, 65 million dollars isn't considered a great amount in the box-office business, but when you compare it to the outlay of $35 million.. it's a pretty sweet deal.

Hmm.. I can only imagine how Nolan's movie, "The Horror Writer", would have done with a $35 million budget to work with? Robin Williams MAY have done a better Mike Randall, I doubt that Kane Hodder (Jason on Friday the 13th) could do a better monster arm with voice included! (Forgive the inside jokes, ladies and gentlemen. Mike "Deadguy" Scott played both Mike Randall AND did his own stunts as the monster in my production last year. This video has not yet been released to the public outside of public access TV. Yes, $35 million would have been nice.---N)

There WAS going to be two ED GEIN movies that were both being worked on by two different companies: Overseas Film Group, and Unapix. It's about time someone used the story in a movie. The true story is credited as being the inspiration for: "Psycho". Plainfield, Wisconsin was fifty miles away from where ("Psycho" author) Robert Bloch lived. Bloch publicly stated he was inspired by, and loosely based "Psycho" on, the story of Ed Gein.
"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" -This was taken far more accurately from the life of Ed Gein, although director Tobe Hooper invented a whole family to be responsible for the heinous crimes that, in reality, were the work of just one man.
"The Silence of the Lambs"....Thomas Harris, author of "The Silence of the Lambs" and "Hannibal", based Buffalo Bill, the serial killer Clarice Starling is trying to catch in the first book, on Ed Gein.
Not to mention a LOT of other movies that won't admit to it like these did...(it also inspired quite a few heavy metal tunes).

For those of you who didn't already know:
   The year is 1957---Ed Gein was a farmer living in isolation near a small Wisconsin town following the death of his mother. His obsession with corpses led him to desecrate the graves of women recently dead, using the bodies for cannibalism, sexual purposes, and more. ("More", as in self-learned dissection.---read-'em-all-Nolan) Eventually, his desires increased to where he found it necessary to start killing local women as well. (This guy must have been GREAT at parties, I'm sure..)
   Well.. disappointingly enough.. Unapix filed for bankruptcy in mid-2000, so one of the movies disappeared. Luckily, Overseas Film Group managed to finish filming the movie near the end of 2000, and it actually screened in October in the Stirges Film Festival in Spain (where it got "top kudos" according to the local press). It also screened in December of the same year at Harry Knowles' "Butt-Numb-a-Thon" in Austin, Texas.
   So what happened after that? It's coming to theaters VERY SOON!
Holy hell.. this thing will make ZILLIONS!

There's a trailer available on the movie's internet site, but you'll have to contact Nolan, and he has to personally KNOW you, and know your old enough, before he passes on the site to you due to some of the images displayed on the site. They're EXTREMELY adult in nature. (Heh, heh, yeeeaaah, Ed and I go way back...---N) I can't seem to locate an MPAA rating, but just from two or three of the images displayed, I think it'll have to be NC-17. "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" received an R-rating (after HUGE amounts of scene-cutting and re-editing) but if it were released now, it'd be an NC-17 for sure.

Personally, I'll be camping in line for this one, THAT's for sure...

"Deadguys' Dementia" is ©2001 by Mike Scott. Deadguy@email.msn.com

This was forwarded to me by Corey Castellano:
Sony/Columbia's "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within"
is likely to send a chilling message to actors that they, too, can be replaced by computers, the London Daily Mirror indicated today (Thursday, 3-22-01). The $65-million movie, it noted, is the first to completely replace human actors with computer-generated ones. Japanese producer Jun Aida told the Mirror: "Recreating the natural human facial expressions was the most difficult aspect. ... No one has done this before, so we couldn't hire anyone to show us how. We had to put an extensive amount of effort into developing it." In its report about the film, which is scheduled to open in the U.S. on July 13, the Mirror quoted an unnamed Hollywood insider as saying that the advent of computer-generated actors has been "a worry for all those second-division stars who behave like spoilt brats and piss everyone off. A lot of directors are going to fall in love with these computer actors because they're cheap and reliable."
And I was alerted to this by Steve Beasley:
Oscar-nominated actress, Miss Ann Southern
, who many baby-boomers may remember as the voice of the 1928 Porter in "My Mother, The Car", a 1960s short-lived TV series with the dubious distinction of being referred to as one of the worst sitcoms of all time, died this week at the age of 92 of apparent heart failure. She starred in many popular movies ("Maisie" comedy films of the 40s) before the brief move to television. "My Mother, The Car", a comedy in which the spirit of a deceased woman is reincarnated as an old jalopy, also starred Jerry Van Dyke as her son, Dave Crabtree, and Avery Schreiber as ruthless antique car collector, Captain Bernard Manzini. (Note to fellow boomer-fans: I can still sing the theme song, but I only remember the words to the last verse.---Nolan)
And I found this myself on the 'net:
CHICAGO (March 26) - Bozo the Clown, who goofed off on a Chicago television stage for 40 years, will bow out and make way for a modern version of the carrot-topped character, the creators of the show said on Friday. Chicago's version of the small-scale circus, featuring Bozo and various sidekicks such as Cooky and Oliver O. Oliver, debuted on Chicago's WGN-TV in 1960 and later aired nationally via WGN-TV's cable channel. The show has now stopped production and will air its last special on Aug. 26, WGN-TV said. Bozo, which original creator Alan Livingston introduced on children's records in the 1940s, was later syndicated for television, and shows were produced in 183 cities around the world. Since its first appearance on TV in 1949 (a then short-lived series), more than 200 actors were trained to play Bozo, though only two donned the make-up in Chicago, including the late Bob Bell who played the clown for 23 years and Larry Harmon (of Larry Harmon Productions™), who has played Bozo for 28 years.

Cast Away      Movie review by Brandon Herring
* * * ½  out of * * * *
Starring: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy, Christopher Noth, Lari White.
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Running Time: 143 minutes
Rated PG-13: intense action, some violence/gore.

Director Robert Zemeckis may as well be the next "genius". He gave even the not-so-great "Death Becomes Her" a touch to make it enjoyable and entertaining, and it even won an Academy Award for it's astonishing special effects. Earlier in 2000, Zemeckis brought us the clever and scary "What Lies Beneath". Now for the holiday season of 2000, "Cast Away", another pairing of Zemeckis and actor Tom Hanks. Behold, we have a new 'great' movie to add to my top 10 of 2000 list.

Tom Hanks plays FedEx executive Chuck Noland, who is in Europe with his "recruits" teaching them how to become faster FedEx employees. He promises the love of his life Kelly Frears (Helen Hunt) that he will return to her, and does, but is quickly called back into work. While boarding the plane, he mutters the words "I'll be right back" and boards the doomed flight. His plane takes a quick nosedive towards the ocean below, and Chuck survives and is washed along a shore on a nearby island. Not sure what to do, or where he is, he panics but soon starts to adapt to island life. Now he must try to survive on the island, as well as not give up hope to get back to his life...and his love Kelly.

An amazing story of not only survival and love, but also as a character study we get to know who Chuck Noland really is, and what he wants in life. His love for Kelly Frears is so strong that I was hoping, and praying he was going to make it back home. Of course if you have seen the trailer for the movie, you know what happens, and if you haven't then I guess you will have to watch the movie to find out.

Tom Hanks, who has starred in several great movies (Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump, and even Big), has come to be possibly my favorite actor of the century, if not all time. He won an Oscar for his brilliant work as a man with AIDS, fired because he was gay, in "Philadelphia". Hanks' memorable character of the sweet Forrest Gump in "Forrest Gump" shows he can give great performances. "Cast Away" is no let down. Once Tom Hanks graces the screen, he becomes Chuck Noland and becomes a survivor on the island. Spending almost an hour-and-a-half on the screen by himself, it is absolutely mind-blowing how we are so absorbed by him on this island, that the time flies by. This may be Tom Hanks' best performance of his career, and with an Oscar Nomination on his heels, he certainly deserves it. Helen Hunt who starred in the awful "Dr. T & The Women", the funny "What Women Want", and pain-inducing "Pay it Forward" plays Kelly Frears, the love of Chuck's life. Even though she is given maybe twenty minutes of screen time total, what she has is fantastic and what she does with it is amazing. A scene towards the end of the movie is so touching, that a tear came to my eye and my heart started to beat fast. Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt definitely have that screen formula, they make a great couple.

Talking before about Robert Zemeckis and his genius direction, "Cast Away" is no exception, with some of the island scenes being beautifully shot, the locations being absolutely marvelous I was quite impressed. While not having the nifty camera shots "What Lies Beneath" had, and you have to admit there was some cool shots, "Cast Away" relies more on the study of Chuck and his survival. The script by William Broyles Jr. is in it's own way mind-blowing because of the fact for almost an hour-and-a-half as mentioned before, Tom Hanks is alone in the movie on the island with only a few lines of dialogue said.

"Cast Away" has a place on my top 10 list of 2000, it's a nearly flawless character study of a man who has to rely on himself to survive. Some people may try to compare this to the new phenomena "Survivor", but since that show has several people, and "Cast Away" has one person...it is quite hard to even begin to compare. The ending is something to be questioned, and like most of Zemeckis' endings, it can be taken in anyway the viewer wants. "Cast Away" is not just a great film, but a great example of how Hollywood still has the ability to make good movies.
Reviewed by Brandon Herring 3-11-01, ©2001.

See also: my review of "Cast Away" in PCR  issue #41.  I also gave it a big "thumbs up!"---Nolan

Letters to the Editor
Mike's Rant     by Michael A. Smith
Hello gang! How 'bout dem Oscars? Let's review:

First I must congratulate Steve Martin for being an incredible host! His opening monologue was great, and most of his one liners were right on. Personal fave: Steve thinking "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was something Siegfried and Roy did on vacation. I'm sure special thanks to Bruce Villanch for that one! Boo to Russell Crowe, who apparently left his sense of humor back in Australia. Crowe made up for his surliness by giving one of the best acceptance speeches I have ever heard. He genuinely did not expect to win and was completely caught off guard. Like Nolan, I, too, am not that big of a Julia Roberts fan. Besides getting someone I detested fired, she has done nothing for me either personally or on screen! But, like Crowe, her speech was genuine and sincere. Wish she had found the time to thank her brother, Eric. FYI reference Nolan's notes: the "stickman" she was referring to was orchestra conductor Bill Conti, who was repeatedly raising his baton to start the music and was rebuffed by Julia Roberts. Also, Arthur C. Clarke stated that the academy never got to hear the "greatest acceptance speech ever written." While the screenplay he and Stanley Kubrick wrote for "2001: A Space Odyssey" was nominated, they lost the award to Waldo Salt for "Midnight Cowboy." (Woops! I stand corrected. UPDATE: 3-29-01...Steve Beasley wrote to inform me we're BOTH wrong, Mike. Clarke said, "...the greatest acceptance speech NEVER written." Between all three of us, we got the scenario nailed!---Nolan)

Happy to see that once again, in the words of Kevin Spacey, "I rule!" As the winner, and still champion, of the annual Oscar poll, I promise to never tarnish the crown which now sits upon my head. I did not vote in the short subject, documentary and animated categories as I had not seen any of the films. (Congratulations, Mike! You da man.----N)

Congrats to everyone connected with the film, "Battlefield Earth." With the exception of Worse Actress, you swept this years Golden Raspberry awards for worst achievement in film this past year. Among your many awards were: Worse Picture, Director (Roger Christianson), Actor (John Travolta), Supporting Actress (Kelly Preston), Supporting Actor (Barry Pepper), Screenplay and, my personal favorite, Worse Screen Couple (John Travolta and ANYONE sharing the screen with him!). Worse actress went to perennial winner Madonna, for "The Next Best Thing."

Animation pioneer William Hannah, who with partner Joseph Barbera created such classic cartoon characters as Fred Flintstone, Yogi Bear and Tom and Jerry died this past Thursday at age 90. Cause of death was not disclosed. As many of his creations were a major part of my childhood: Huckleberry Hound, Scooby-Doo, the Jetsons and those mentioned above, it was very sad to hear of Mr. Hannah's passing. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Violet, who was at his bedside when he passed on.
   Norma MacMillan, who provided the voice for animated characters from Casper the Ghost to the bendable Gumby to Sweet Polly Purebred, died Friday from a heart attack in Vancouver, Canada. She was 79.
   Adolph "Al" Lewis, who invented the staple of many a diet, Slim Jims, died recently in Boca Raton, Florida. He was 89. In the 1940's, he and partner Joseph Cherry concocted a small, ready to eat dried meat product. No word as to if his last words were, "Eat Me".
   I would also like to humbly add to the list Oscar-nominated cinematographer JOHN ALONZO who died mid-March at 66. He was known as one of Hollywood's most thorough cameramen with a gifted eye for light and color. Among his works are "Chinatown", Scarface", Star Trek: Generations" and special material for "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".---Nolan.

Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of  Nolan B. Canova, ©2001