2001: A Popcorn Oddessy

As a less-than- monolithic year for film fades in the rearview mirror, we give you the annual SN&R Popcorn Awards

Rated 5.0

HAL couldn’t figure out what was up with the skein of flicks that constituted the multiplex fillers of 2001. He blew a processor and all his memory, then asked for blanched irony for breakfast. So we went to our dependable SN&R go-to movie guys, who came through with a list of the year’s more dubious achievements on film—the Popcorn Awards. Here they are:

Says who? award: To the woman in Sidewalks of New York, who questions the alleged open marriage of a horny married man (Stanley Tucci): “Is this an understanding between you and your wife, or you and your dick?”

Most memorable mutants award: To the Thumb Thumbs in Spy Kids, who have the stubby digit for both faceless head and limbs.

My brown bag lunch with Andre award: To the excellent Spring Forward, for its opinionated, philosophical exchanges between two New England Parks Department workers (Ned Beatty and Liev Schreiber).

Best cross-reference to a former NFL running back award: To the writer (Jason Lee) in Vanilla Sky, who ridicules his publisher (Tom Cruise) for denying his involvement in an assault on his wife: “You are in O.J. Land, man.”

Best Kodak moment award: To Memento, an extraordinary time-warp thriller in which a Polaroid snapshot of blood-splattered tiles is fanned in the air, gradually fades and gets sucked back into its camera.

Elvis is everywhere award: To the Balkan Muslim resistance fighter in Behind Enemy Lines, who sports the Pelvis’ trademark muttonchops, slick black hair, lip curl and latter-day paunch.

You’ve got male mail award: To the lecherous boss (Hugh Grant) in Bridget Jones’s Diary, for sending Bridget such e-mail messages as “P.S. Love your tits in that top.”

Swan song award: To percussionist Tito Puente, who passed away June 1, 2000, for his heaven-on-earth performance in the exhilarating, intimate Latin music tribute Calle 54.

Most deceptive title award: To The Deep End, in which a mother (Tilda Swinton) carts the corpse of her gay son’s lover across Lake Tahoe in a small aluminum boat and then dumps it in a shallow cove.

Snobby title change award: To the powers-that-be who changed the original United Kingdom title of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, apparently to appeal to audiences who prefer happy hour to tea time.

Will the real Best Foreign Language Film please stand up award: To Divided We Fall, the provocative, seriocomic Holocaust story that opened here in July after losing the Oscar to fellow nominee Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

How to sneak in a crotch shot award: To Renny Harlin, for having gorgeous Estella Warren perform a gratuitous solo water ballet in a Tokyo hotel pool in the PG-13-rated Driven.

Eau de testicles award: To the womanizing cable-show host (Dennis Farina) in Sidewalks of New York, who suggests that his producer (Edward Burns) “Put some cologne on your balls. Women love it. Makes them think you care.”

Geriatrics do it, too award: To Under the Sand, for portraying senior citizen nudity and sex with eroticism and dignity.

Paul is dead award: To Josie and the Pussycats, for its government-industry plot to weave subliminal messages into pop recordings.

Lassie is rolling over in her grave award: To Rob Schneider in The Animal, for sniffing out drugs hidden in a smuggler’s butt after receiving animal organ transplants.

So bad it’s almost good award: To John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars, an outer space horror-action-western that crossbreeds Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, Assault on Precinct 13 and 3:10 to Yuma into a new, perversely entertaining genre: spaghetti science fiction.

Chippendale’s aging Sisyphus award: To the court-martialed three-star general (Robert Redford) in The Last Castle, who takes off his shirt and moves rocks from one pile to another and back again.

Looked good on paper award: To The Musketeer, for attempting to merge classic swashbuckling with martial arts-fu.

Sixth Sense award: To The Others, an ultra-spooky ghost story that begins with a scream and ends with a jarring, creepy twist.

Kids don’t try this at home award: To Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man, for its hallucinatory underwater and aerial ballets, gravity-defying body mechanics and sensational tumbling act.

Packing on the pasta award: To Renée Zellweger, for adding 20 pounds to star in Bridget Jones’s Diary and Will Smith for gaining 35 pounds to star in Ali.

Mark Halverson

It was a dark and stormy night award for the worst dialogue of 2001: Spoken by Jack the Ripper in the Hughes Brothers’ From Hell: “Some day, men will look back and say I gave birth to the 20th century.”

The torch has passed to a new generation award: To Steven Spielberg, for bringing A.I.: Artificial Intelligence to the screen after the late Stanley Kubrick piddled around with it for 30 years.

Inspired casting award (tie): Jon Voight as Howard Cosell in Ali, Bob Hoskins as Nikita Khrushchev in Enemy at the Gates.

Uninspired casting award: Christian Bale as an illiterate Greek fisherman in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

Painful truth in advertising award: To writer Simon Beaufoy for wisely changing his credit on Blow Dry to “Based on a screenplay by … “

Cultural imperialism award: To Texan Renée Zellweger, for landing the quintessentially British lead in Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Good idea, bad movie award: To Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, with clashing armies and battling accents in the Mediterranean during World War II.

Bad idea, good movie award: To O, with Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles and Josh Hartnett in a retelling of Othello set in a high-tone prep school.

Best performance that will never get an Oscar nomination award: To Samuel L. Jackson as the crazed, homeless Sherlock Holmes in The Caveman’s Valentine. Runner-up: Geoffrey Rush as The Tailor of Panama.

Adam Sandler award for the worst performance by a Saturday Night Live alumnus: To Chris Kattan in Corky Romano. Runner-up: David Spade in Joe Dirt.

Most unnecessary sequel of 2001 award: To Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles.

Edsel award for the biggest flop of 2001, live action division: To the Warren Beatty-Diane Keaton comedy Town & Country (cost: $90 million; earnings: $6 million).

Edsel award for the biggest flop of 2001, animated division: To the sci-fi drama Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (cost: $137 million; earnings: $32 million).

Not worth the wait award: To Town & Country, which was filmed in 1998 and finally escaped into theaters (briefly) in 2001.

Worst imitation of Woody Allen award: To writer/director/star Josh Kornbluth, for the low-rent indie dud Haiku Tunnel.

It doesn’t take a Rumpelstiltskin award: To director Chris Columbus, who, with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, miraculously managed to turn gold into gold.

Golden recycler award for the best remake of 2001: To Tortilla Soup, for transferring Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman from Taiwan to Hispanic L.A.

Leaden vandal award for the worst remake of 2001: To Thir13en Ghosts, rehashing the William Castle potboiler of 1960, in the process turning junk into garbage.

Busby Berkeley award for helping keep the movie musical alive: To writer/producer/star John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Olivia Newton-John award for killing the musical deader than ever: To director Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge!

Incoherent but fascinating nonsense award: To David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, which was originally planned as a TV series.

Incoherent and irritating nonsense award: To director Louis C.K.'s Pootie Tang, from the Chris Rock cable TV series.

“Coincidence? Maybe” award: To Ghost World, where disaffected teen Thora Birch befriends lonely older nerd Steve Buscemi, and My First Mister, where disaffected teen Leelee Sobieski befriends lonely older nerd Albert Brooks.

Dear God, what’s happened to my career? award (female): To Embeth Davidtz in Thir13en Ghosts.

Dear God, what’s happened to my career? award (male): To Lee Majors in Out Cold.

What else is playing? award for the most uninviting movie title of 2001 (tie): To Dude, Where’s My Car and Not Another Teen Movie.

Second thoughts award: To Francis Ford Coppola, for Apocalypse Now Redux, the expanded version of his 1979 Vietnam War epic.

Jim Lane