Renaissance Online Magazine Column

FEBRUARY 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 2



An Apologia for Old Books

The Matrix: smartest movie of the year

The Sopranos: hits all the right notes


At a Glance


Best Motion Picture - Drama
American Beauty

Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Hilary Swank, "Boys Don't Cry"

Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Denzel Washington, "The Hurricane"

Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical
Toy Story 2

Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical
Janet McTeer, "Tumbleweeds"

Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical
Jim Carrey, "Man on the Moon"

Best Foreign Language Film
All About My Mother (Spain)

Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
Angelina Jolie, "Girl, Interrupted"

Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Tom Cruise, "Magnolia"

Best Director - Motion Picture
Sam Mendes, "American Beauty"

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Alan Ball, "American Beauty"

Best TV-Series - Drama
The Sopranos

Best Actress in a TV-Series - Drama
Edie Falco, "The Sopranos"

Best Actor in a TV-Series - Drama
James Gandolfini, "The Sopranos"

Best TV-Series - Comedy or Musical
Sex And The City

Best Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy or Musical
Sarah Jessica Parker, "Sex and the City"

Best Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy or Musical
Michael J. Fox, "Spin City"

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television
RKO 281

Best Supporting Actress - Television
Nancy Marchand, "The Sopranos"

Best Supporting Actor - Television
Peter Fonda, "The Passion of Ayn Rand"

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Golden Globes, or is it Calf?


In many ways, The Golden Globes provide equalization. No, not in the form of Edward Woodward righting the societal wrongs of urban New York while driving around in a 12-cylinder Jaguar, but more in the spirit of recognizing films that both you, and the guy pumping your gas at Shell, liked and paid money to see in a theater.

Often the Academy Awards will give everything but the centerpieces and toilet-seat covers to a film like The English Patient, while quality films in the same year (like Michael Mann's Heat) are ignored. Any film where scary Willem Dafoe loses his thumbs is usually creepy enough to retain my interest, but in the end, English Patient was a foo-foo chick-flick. The Globes sometimes correct this mistake.

The Matrix, one of the high points of water-cooler discussion this past year, was completely ignored. Omitting a nomination for Laurence Fishburne's excellent performance is a crime the Academy likely will repeat, but the Golden Globes is a place where a guy like Fish should get his due. Also, the Wachowski's Matrix screenplay was excellent, and worthy of at least a nod. Sixth Sense deserved more than just a screenplay nomination, as well.

(Like most critics, I haven't seen all of the films and shows nominated for the Globes, but a communications degree from a small liberal-arts college entitles me to speak authoritatively and with conviction about the results.)

One of the Golden Globes' merits is the recognition of fine work from our television networks. Somehow this year HBO almost swept the Globes thanks to Sex in the City and The Sopranos. Both of these shows call 13 episodes a season, while conventional networks bang out a per-capita of at least 21. I'm sure Ron Popeil pumps out 13 infomercials a year. If he gets Lorraine Bracco to hock the Sock Steamer, is he eligible for a Globe?

Because I was nice to the cable guy and offered him some coffee while he was pulling coax cable through my basement, I had free HBO for a year. I've seen five or six Sex and the City episodes, and yes, the writing is sharp. Yes, Kim Cattrall was pretty hot in Police Academy when I was like, eleven, but is this show really funnier than The Simpsons? No. That's a crime against humanity. The sole redemption of Sex in the City is steady employment for Chris Noth, formerly Detective Logan on Law & Order. Noth's like your three-speed blender. You don't use him much, but you like having him around, and if it disappeared, you'd be pissed.

In case you didn't know, Sex in the City is pretty raunchy compared to 7th Heaven or most of the stuff on the Pax Network. Sex and English Patient appeal to similar demographics. If you pee sitting down, you like it, or so it seems. Most of my female co-workers refer to this show as if it is the full encapsulation of their lives. Conversely, Sex Patient in the English City is something I might be interested in and only if Dafoe loses his thumbs again.

I've endured one episode of The Sopranos, and can't understand the hype. HBO has dumped a lot of cash into promoting this show, and as a result the Foreign Press may have felt obliged to recognize it. James Gandolfini plays Tony Soprano. From my 50 minutes on the couch, I could see Gandolfini's range consists of being pissed off and squinting. Abe Vigoda perfected this line of method acting in Barney Miller. Realizing that Tony Soprano is no Fish was easy. I had to ask myself, is The Sopranos really the best drama on TV? Is it an accomplishment to be edgy and controversial without censors or Colgate toothpaste sponsorship? No.

I think best drama should go to Diagnosis Murder, a concept that sucked back when it was called Quincy. Seeing Dick Van Dyke move under his own power is intriguing, but this show has been on forever and for some reason never gets cancelled. It must be a better drama than (as a non-viewer) I can see from a surface level. It's even syndicated at this point. People pay to advertise on old episodes of Diagnosis Murder. I'm baffled. Logically speaking, given these criteria, it must be very good. Give it a statue. Then, kill it by throwing large rocks at all persons involved.

Some legitimate Equalizer-esque surprise redemptions included Toy Story 2 for Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical. That movie killed me. I didn't see Hilary Swank (Best Actress-Drama) in Boys Don't Cry, but a friend told me she was pretty riveting as Steve Sander's single-mom girlfriend in Beverly Hills 90210, so it sounds like she's paid her dues. Actually, increasing the visibility of films like Boys Don't Cry is just cool, and what's admirable about the Globes. Multiple nominations for The Insider and The Straight Story would make Edward Woodward proud.

Several awards were a lock since the nomination announcements. The direction of American Beauty by Sam Mendes was superb. That film entertained and shocked me. Alan Ball's screenplay was also fantastic, and worthy of the award it received. There's a lot of truth in American Beauty, which is why it freaked out a lot of people. Kevin Spacey being passed over for Best Actor surprised me, but I'm sure Denzel is great in The Hurricane. Michael J. Fox's award for his work in Spin City is justified. In defiance of Parkinson's, he remains a sharp and accomplished physical comedian. Fox shines on the small screen. His departure from the show is for the right reasons, but he will be missed.

Are the Golden Globes losing their edge? To embody the tone of the evening, Harrison Ford presented the Best Picture-Drama award, and man, was he lucid. He looked like Peter O'Toole at the Guinness factory. I'll admit, I suffer from some mid-range hearing loss, but I'd swear he called a film "The Inshider" and at the end of the broadcast conveyed appreciation by saying, "Shank you."

Harry, Random Hearts looked bad, but don't self-medicate before the Globes! Do Indy 4. Break the Sabrina streak before someone gets hurt. Take my advice, please! In the end, you'll shank me.

DAN SULLIVAN is the staff technology writer for Renaissance Online Magazine.

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