I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me | RecordCourier.com
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I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me

by Merrie Leininger

I love movies, and I can’t imagine a better job than getting paid to go to movies and write about them. Well, that’s probably not going to happen for me here at the R-C, but while everyone is talking about the Oscars, I figured I could do it, too.

All year long I wait for the last few weeks in December when usually the best movies of the year are released. This year, however, I was met by way too many of the three-hour, over-exposed type of movies with characters I didn’t care about.

Many of my favorite movies didn’t make the cut because they are comedies. I get deeply caught up in movies, and will carry a depressing movie around with me long after I walk out of the theater. Give me a feel-good movie any day. But as we all know, those are not the movies that generally get the Oscar nod.

This year, the best picture, without a doubt, was “American Beauty.” Although not a comedy, it had a wicked sense of humor, and the whole movie was visually amazing and wrapped me up into the story. Throughout the whole thing, I just kept thinking, “Wow!”

Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening represent what happens when two people promise to love and honor each other – and then don’t. Their depictions of their sad little lives deserved their Oscar nominations – heck, everyone in that movie deserved a nomination. However, first-time director Sam Mendes deserves the statue more than I can say. He told a beautiful story and made the most well-put together picture that I can remember seeing.

My runner-up pick for best movie is “The Sixth Sense.” I was entranced with this creepy movie and didn’t have a clue about the surprise ending. Little Haley Joel Osment and his on-screen mother, Toni Collette (previously fabulous as Muriel in “Muriel’s Wedding”), broke my heart when he told her his secret (“I see dead people”) and the message his dead grandma wanted him to deliver.

Even though he’s only 11, Osment gives the rest of the supporting actors a run for their money. However, I believe Michael Clarke Duncan will probably pick up the honor. His performance in “The Green Mile” as the unwilling carrier of a mysterious power was touching (but not as subtle and emotive as the wonderful, overlooked Tom Hanks).

Speaking of overlooked, my editor, Sheila, asked me to put in a good word for John Malkovich, who wasn’t nominated for his hilariously unexpected portrayal of himself in “Being John Malkovich.” We both were also big fans of a little-mentioned movie “Happy, Texas” which was one of the most fun movies out this year. Watch for it on video.

One of my favorite movies, which got no mention at the Oscars but won best comedy at the Golden Globes, was “Toy Story 2,” which was inventive and just as good as the first at bringing out the nostalgia for those playthings we all had as children.

Movies that came out early enough in the year so they are already on video and deserve repeated viewing are “Bowfinger,” in which Eddie Murphy plays two characters to hilarious results; “Iron Giant,” an animated feature about an unusual friendship and the things fear of the unknown can do to us; and “Cookie’s Fortune,” a great movie about a small southern town with the lesson that we’re all related to each other in some way (whether we want to be or not).

n Merrie Leininger is a staff writer and volunteer film critic for The Record-Courier.