SF in film and TV
There are at least as many various awards for films as there are for science fiction, and one of them focuses specifically on films as realizations of books: the Scripter Award, presented by the University of Southern California (USC). This year's winner was Steven Zaillian for his screen adaptation of Jonathan Harr's novel, A Civil Action. Other nominees the 11th annual awards were Elaine May's Primary Colors (adapting the novel by ''Anonymous'' Joe Klein), Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line (from James Jones' novel), Bill Condon's Gods and Monsters (adapting Christopher Bram's Father of Frankenstein), and Scott B. Smith's adaptation of his own novel as A Simple Plan.
An article in the Saturday, January 9th New York Times describes the politics and contrariness that went into the National Society of Film Critics' choice of Out of Sight as best picture of 1998. Film critics groups typically debate their choices through multiple ballots and open voting, and the National Society of Film Critics in particular takes pleasure in challenging conventional wisdom -- which this year meant not voting for Saving Private Ryan. The group delibately waits until after the New York and Los Angeles critics groups have announced their choices, and is well of aware of its possible influence on Oscar voting, or at least publicity. Said one member, ''If people resent Spielberg because he has every resource in the world at his disposal and still ends up making middlebrow movies, they'll want to use the award to give recognition to someone else.''
The Chicago Film Critics Association does things differently from the other critics groups: it announces a full ballot of nominations, five in each of various categories, as a prelude to announcing the winners at a benefit ceremony open to the public. Among the nominations announced January 19th, The Truman Show tied with The Thin Red Line for the most by any film, with 5 each. The Peter Weir film is cited in the categories for best picture, best actor (Jim Carrey), best director, best screenplay (Andrew Niccol), and best original score (Burkhard Dallwitz).
(Thu 21 Jan 99)
SF Films Among Best, Worst of 1998
Film Critics' Top Ten Lists
(Next most frequently cited are Todd Solondz's Happiness with 10 mentions on 18 lists; Neil Jordan's The Butcher Boy with 9; Sam Raimi's A Simple Plan with 8; Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight and Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line with 7 each; and Don Roos' The Opposite of Sex with 6.)
Top Ten Lists surveyed include those from Roger Ebert, Gene Siskel, and critics for Time, Entertainment Weekly, People, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, CNN, Rolling Stone, Premiere, and the webzines Salon and Slate.
Other SF films cited on year-end lists include Alex Proyas' Dark City, which remarkably is ranked in first place by Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert, who comments:
The best film of 1998 was also one of the more obscure. It opened without a compelling campaign, and was yanked before it could find an audience. Now, on video, it's beginning to build a reputation that may eventually link it with ''Blade Runner,'' another slow starter that gained cult status.
Fellow Chicago critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel both include on their lists Gary Ross' Pleasantville (in 2nd and 3rd places respectively), a film cited by only one other reviewer (CNN's).
Gods and Monsters, the film biography of Frankenstein-director James Whale (based on novel by Christopher Bram), appears on 5 of the 18 Top Ten Lists. Babe: Pig in the City is on 3 lists (including both Siskel's and Ebert's), and the Cinderella fantasy Ever After is on 1 list (Rita Kempley's in Washington Post). The animated insect films Antz and A Bug's Life are frequently cited honorable mentions, as is Darren Aronofky's Pi.
Critics Groups' Awards
The San Diego Film Critics also recognized Peter Howitt's original screenplay for Sliding Doors. Howitt previously won the European Film Award for the same work (see story below).
Golden Globe Nominations
The Truman Show received nominations for best picture (drama) and for Andrew Niccol's screenplay, as well as for director Peter Weir, actor Jim Carrey, supporting actor Ed Harris, and score composers Burkhard Dallwitz and Philip Glass.
Gods and Monsters also was nominated in the best picture (drama) category, along with stars Ian McKellen and Lynn Redgrave in the acting categories. In the television categories (the Golden Globes span both film and TV), The X-Files was nominated for best drama series, while stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny both received nominations for their acting.
And the Worst
(Thu 17 Dec 98, amended Fri 18 Dec 98, amended Tue 29 Dec 98, amended Thu 21 Jan 99)
European Film Awards Honor SF
The British film Sliding Doors, written and directed by Peter Howitt and starring Gwyneth Paltrow, follows a single character in two parallel time lines. It was released earlier this year in the US and is currently available on videotape. The American film The Truman Show, written by Andrew Niccol, directed by Peter Weir, and starring Jim Carrey, was a substantial summer hit and was well-received by critics. In the Oscar buzz already beginning in Hollywood, The Truman Show is seen as a possible best picture nominee.
The European Film Award for best film went to the Italian-language Life Is Beautiful (La Vita è Bella). The awards ceremony will be broadcast December 15th on cable's Sundance Channel.
(Tue 8 Dec 98)
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