Friday, June 26, 2020

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The 1992 Retro Hollmann Awards, Day One

The awarding of the 1992 Retro Hollmann Awards begins! Reference the Top Ten, check out the full list of nominees, then sit back and enjoy as we cover the first nine categories, including Director, Original Screenplay, and Score, and beginning with....

Best Actress 
Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

2. Emma Thompson in Howards End; 3. Winona Ryder in Bram Stoker's Dracula; 4. Robin Givens in Boomerang; 5. Halle Berry in Boomerang

Goodness, was there anything left of Sheryl Lee after shooting? Every muscle in her body from her feet to her face gets a workout, stretched and tensed to the extreme, her anguished scream the sound of a tortured soul. Laura Palmer is someone who's been surviving, but the strain is becoming too great to bear; she finds no way out, fears her friends will get pulled further down with her. Lee plays agony hauntingly - she leaves wounds. But it wouldn't be so effective had she not shown us Laura's genuine love for the people she cares about, the fun-loving Laura, the Laura with a future. An exhausting, exquisite performance.

In second, Thompson's Margaret Schlagel is modern, but not anachronistic. In third, Ryder's Mina Murray is a perfectly stylized, breathy, secretly horny ingenue. In fourth, Givens' Jacqueline Broyer is effortlessly funny, sexy, professional. In fifth, Berry's Angela Lewis is the genuine article: just because she's humble doesn't mean she's shy or lacks confidence...just the opposite.

Best Film Editing
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Nicholas C. Smith / Glen Scantlebury / Anne Goursaud

2. Unforgiven; 3. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me; 4. Candyman; 5. Reservoir Dogs

Bram Stoker's Dracula is just so kooky! Yet so committed is it to its horny dreamscape - a nightmare you don't mind having - that it crosses over into true beauty. Fear and desire rise together, a pounding, orgasmic rhythm that takes its characters and audience to breathless emotional highs. I feel like I need a cigarette after every scene!

In second, Unforgiven's death march. In third, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me's mounting danger and hysteria. In fourth, Candyman's dreamy, simultaneous unraveling and magnetism. In fifth, Reservoir Dogs' beautifully builds and destroys a heist gang,

Best Score

1. Bram Stoker's Dracula
Wojciech Kilar

2. Candyman
Philip Glass

3. The Lover
Gabriel Yared

4. Aladdin
Alan Menken

5. Juice
Hank Shocklee & The Bomb Squad

Best Actor

Denzel Washington as Malcolm X
Malcolm X

2. Eddie Murphy in Boomerang; 3. Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant; 4. Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker's Dracula; 5. Michael Caine in The Muppet Christmas Carol

I had a lot to say about Denzel Washington's Malcolm X while discussing the Best Actor nominees of 1992. what else is there to say? This is what acting is all about, surely, giving yourself over completely to a role, neither losing your audience or resorting to mere mimicry. This comes from the inside out -  from his shout in solitary confinement and the flexibility of his dance moves, to the confident signals at the hospital and the solemnity of his prayers.

In second, Murphy's Marcus Graham is sexy, stylish, hilarious, and redeemable. In third, Keitel's LT charts the roller coaster of his highs and comedowns. In fourth, Oldman's Dracula is both romantic hero and Gothic monster, oddly human. In fifth, Caine's Ebenezer Scrooge shares the screen with his puppet co-stars without compromising the character's sincerity.

Best Sound

Bram Stoker's Dracula
Leslie Shatz, re-recording mixer / sound designer
Tom C. McCarthy / David E. Stone, supervising sound editors
Aaron Rochin / Dennis S. Sands / B. Tennyson Sebastian III / Marian Wallace, re-recording mixers

2. Raise the Red Lantern; 3. Malcolm X; 4. Lorenzo's Oil; 5. The Player

Oh my goodness, Bram Stoker's Dracula is constantly working. Maybe it's the mix of its score, maybe it's the isolated dialogue, maybe it's the shear brilliance of decapitations, the chorus of screams, the animal growl behind the Count's dialogue (and, occasionally, transitional inserts), but goddam does this film give you a sonic environment.

In second, Raise the Red Lantern's opera performances and staccato echo of foot massages. In third, Malcolm X's mix of speeches, editing of gunshots when there's none to be seen, mix and edit of marches. In fourth, Lorenzo's Oil hushed conversations and relentless whirring of the machines keeping Lorenzo alive. In fifth, The Player's clever mixing taking us from Hollywood gossip and deals to blackmail and conspiracy.

Best Visual Effects

Death Becomes Her
Alec Gillis / Tom Woodruff, Jr., special body effects designer and creator
Michael Lantieri, special effects supervisor
Ken Ralston, visual effects supervisor
Bruce Vecchitto, visual effects optical photography supervisor

2. Bram Stoker's Dracula; 3. Alien 3; 4. The Muppet Christmas Carol; 5. The Lawnmower Man

Death Becomes Her is unimpeachable in its effects work. Meryl Streep's twisted head, the shotgun hole in Goldie Hawn, their living corpses bouncing and splitting across the steps, only to land in time for some pithy dialogue, and all of it holds up! Kooky, side-splitting, wonderful work.

In second, Bram Stoker's Dracula's absolutely bonkers in-camera effects. In third, Alien 3 gives us the alien. In fourth, The Muppet Christmas Carol flies, shrinks characters, and conjures ghosts. In fifth, The Lawnmower Man's VR horrors.

Best Director

Francis Ford Coppola
Bram Stoker's Dracula

2. Spike Lee for Malcolm X; 3. Julie Dash for Daughters of the Dust; 4. Reginald Hudlin for Boomerang; 5. James Ivory for Howards End

Some films you think, oh, that's clearly a strong writer and a director not getting in the way. Other movies, every frame is so thoughtfully interpreted, it must be the perfect example of auteur theory. Bram Stoker's Dracula is the latter, a vision so totally and completely its director's, it's hard to believe there are other writers, cinematographers, designers credited. Sexy and scary, it's one of Coppola's most human achievements.

In second, Spike Lee's epic narrative. In third, Julie Dash's uniquely spiritual vision. In fourth, Reginald Hudlin's expert rom-com instincts. In fifth, James Ivory's understated perfection.

Best Production Design

Bram Stoker's Dracula
Thomas E. Sanders, production design
Andrew Precht, art direction
Garrett Lewis, set decoration

2. Raise the Red Lantern; 3. Candyman; 4. Shadows and Fog; 5. Toys

When I think of Bram Stoker's Dracula, I think of that awesome castle, impossibly shaped like a silhouette of the count himself. I think of the brides' four-poster bed with the mirror. I think of the asylum with its chamber for Dr. Seward on the premises. I think of Mina's study in the conservatory. I think of Lucy in her boudoir, her luxurious rooms and glass casket. I think of the sets, is what I'm saying, these glorious sets.

In second, Raise the Red Lantern's, er, red lanterns illuminating an upper-middle-class home. In third, Candyman's murals and penthouses. In fourth, Shadows and Fog's minimalist take on German Expressionism. In fifth, Toys' impossible, impractical, imaginative universe.

Best Original Screenplay
Barry W. Blaustein & David Sheffield
story by Eddie Murphy

2. In the Soup; 3. Unforgiven; 4. Daughters of the Dust; 5. Lorenzo's Oil

This is what a genuine adult rom-com should be: big laughs, realistic conflict sans broad hijinks, real conversations about sex, aging, masculinity, art, professionalism, race, community. I love the evolution of Marcus's relationships with Jacqueline and Angela. I love the entire Thanksgiving sequence with Gerard's randy, stylish, frank parents. I love when the men are talking about women while eating, working out, shopping. I love everything!

In second, In the Soup has great fun and a surprisingly big heart. In third, Unforgiven indicts the American West through one man's struggle of his soul. In fourth, Daughters of the Dust seamlessly brings together past, present, future, dreams, realities, ghosts, the living, elderly, unborn. In fifth, Lorenzo's Oil makes scientific discovery so human.

Tomorrow, the Supporting Acting categories, Cinematography, and more, including...Best Picture of the Year!

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Unknown said...

Your Love for Boomerang is ..... Nice, but SERIOUSLY !! Acting , Screenplay ?? The Screenplay was the Problem in this film - and Eddie Murphy was on low energy the entire movie - just going through the motions - Robin Givens ? Did you watch the Movie Lol
Only Characters I enjoyed was David Alan Grier - He is very good and Halle Berry as well
Supporting Cast is very Enjoyable, especially Geoffrey Holder, Grace Jones, John Witherspoon and Bebe Drake
But as a whole, I easily give this movie 2.5 Stars

Walter L. Hollmann said...

What's wrong with the screenplay?