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Best of the old year and the years before

Category: Phantom of the Opera News
Article Date: December 28, 2004 | Publication: Hollywood Reporter | Author: Robert Osborne

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The best (new) movie I saw this year: "Bad Education," Pedro Almodovar's finest so far and a tale Hitchcock would have delighted telling if he were alive, still functioning and still feisty in 2004. ... The best performances: Javier Bardem, Jamie Foxx, Imelda Staunton, Julie Christie, Gael Garcia Bernal, Annette Bening. ... Speaking of Bening: Does anyone remember the first movie version of "Being Julia"? It was called "Adorable Julia," a French-Austrian co-production, released in the United States in 1964 (after a Cannes premiere in 1962) and starred Lilli Palmer in the title role, Charles Boyer as the husband and Jean Sorel as the b.f. It's a thoroughly delightful film and worth checking out if you get the chance. ... The biggest question mark: Why have so many critics been trashing "The Phantom of the Opera"? It might not be spooky a la the Lon Chaney silent version, but I can't imagine Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicalized version being brought to the screen with any more finesse, beauty or sex appeal than this newest chandelier-dropper possesses. Further, the man behind the mask, Gerard Butler, seems a worthy candidate for James Bond consideration. ... The year's most enjoyable documentary: Rick McKay's "Broadway: The Golden Years," a labor of love that took five years and unrelenting determination to complete, done by McKay on a shoestring budget and many maxed-out credit cards, but the result is a much more effective summation of the lure that Broadway has for performers than that elephantine PBS miniseries that also debuted this year. ... Most underrated film: "A Home at the End of the World," which should be spliced onto the end of every print of "Alexander" to show what a really effective actor Colin Farrell can be. ... Best sequel: "The Bourne Supremacy," the film that officially added the designation "star" to Matt Damon's moniker, also a movie that's twice as good as its 2002 predecessor. ... Most misleading ad campaign: the ad art for "A Very Long Engagement," which makes the film look as if it's a pastoral French love story, whereas the actual movie contains more bodies being blown up, maimed and/or mutilated than any other big-screener this year. ... Best new movie book on the shelves: "In the Picture: Production Stills From the TCM Archives," not the biggest film book of the year (pound for pound, "Vanity Fair's Oscar Party" weighs considerably more) but a refreshing new look at such favorite classic films as "The Dirty Dozen," "The Wizard of Oz," "North by Northwest," "Citizen Kane," et al. "Picture's" 143 photographs show cameras, crews and often directors at work while now-famous scenes are being filmed, illustrating the magic of the movies and how many people it takes to make even a simple scene happen. It also reminds us all that, hey, Bogie and Bergman weren't anywhere near alone when they were having their "private" moment at the finish of "Casablanca" and that there was more than just a Wicked Witch with her eye on Judy Garland when she was dancing down that Yellow Brick Road. It's a book I have a special interest in because I wrote the foreword, but this is one I'd be wildly enthused about regardless. ... Now, on to 2005 (and The Hollywood Reporter's 75th anniversary!) and a great, healthy year for all.


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