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Awards Askew

CL's alternate movie prizes for 2002

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You've got your Oscars, you've got your Razzies (honoring the year's worst achievements), you've got your guild trophies, and you've got your critics' awards. Now sweep up all the offbeat categories that nobody else covers, and you've got CL's own alternate awards, honoring the various what-have-you's of the 2002 movie year. And now, without further ado...

Most Unexpected Trend: Helpful dead wives. Mel Gibson's Signs, Kevin Costner's Dragonfly and Richard Gere's The Mothman Prophecies all centered around widowers whose deceased spouses, in one way or another, reached out from beyond the grave to offer guidance to their emotionally floundering husbands.

Runners-up: "Tadpoling," the act of older women hooking up with men at least 10 years younger, was explored in Tadpole and Lovely & Amazing (the older woman-younger man dynamic was also seen, albeit less pronounced, in The Good Girl and Unfaithful); Robin Williams turning to the dark side in One Hour Photo, Insomnia and Death to Smoochy.

Most Expected Trend: Oscar-bait movies that come up empty-handed. Every year beginning in the fall, we get a handful of movies that position themselves as award contenders -- indeed, they often seem created solely for the purpose of winning prizes -- but that just as clearly (at least to everyone but the studios) are going to come up short. This past year's big "oops" title was Kevin Kline's The Emperor's Club, an obvious attempt to duplicate the success of Dead Poets Society; other fizzles (all worthwhile, though) included The Four Feathers, Moonlight Mile and White Oleander.

Runner-up: The continued pilfering of current TV shows (Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, The Wild Thornberrys Movie, Jackass: The Movie, etc.).

Best Triple Play: Steven Spielberg for Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can and the E.T. re-release (though we could have done without the altered scenes).

Strike Three, You're Out!: Eddie Murphy for The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy and Showtime; Robert De Niro for Analyze That, City By the Sea and Showtime; Adam Sandler for starring in Mr. Deeds, lending his voice to Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights and executive producing The Master of Disguise; Jennifer Lopez for Enough, Maid In Manhattan and dominating entertainment news with her tiresome Ben Affleck-related escapades.

Most Miscast: Fifty-year-old Roberto Benigni as the little wooden puppet boy in Pinocchio.

Runners-up: Harrison Ford as a Russian submarine commander in K-19: The Widowmaker; Mark Wahlberg in the Cary Grant role of a suave man of mystery in the Charade remake The Truth About Charlie.

Best 9/11-Related Film: 25th Hour. While most filmmakers have spent the last year-plus rushing to illogically remove all images of the World Trade Center from their movies and otherwise ignore the tragedy, Spike Lee tackled it head on, taking time out from his picture's central storyline to allow his characters to reflect on the event.

Runners-up: The Guys; Gangs of New York (for that final shot).

Worst 9/11-Related Film: Big Trouble. Originally scheduled to open in September 2001, this painfully unfunny Tim Allen comedy was held for release because its climax involved a hijacked plane in peril. The movie finally opened in April 2002, to withering reviews and horrendous box office ($7 million gross versus a $45 million budget).

Runner-up: Arnold Schwarzenegger's Collateral Damage, another 2001 holdover that tanked upon release.

Best Cameo Appearance: Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito in the opening moments of Austin Powers In Goldmember; the movie had nowhere to go but down after that.

Runners-up: Brad Pitt and Matt Damon as blink-and-you'll-miss-them game show contestants in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

Worst Cameo Appearance: Madonna as a sword instructor in Die Another Day.

Curse Of The Living Corpse: Woody Allen in Hollywood Ending. This time, the beautiful women whose characters found the 66-year-old irresistible were 36-year-old Tea Leoni, 33-year-old Debra Messing and 28-year-old Tiffani-Amber Thiessen.

Runner-up: Charlton Heston, whose addled brain finally caught up to his addled politics in the documentary Bowling for Columbine.

Best Guilty Pleasures: Undercover Brother; Reign of Fire.

Lamest Attempts At Guilty Pleasures: Eight Legged Freaks; The Scorpion King.

Best Scene Stealer In An Otherwise Bad Movie: Christopher Walken as a sharp detective in the feeble Macbeth update Scotland, PA.

Runners-up: Rhys Ifans as the wild man in Human Nature; John Turturro as a butler with a foot fetish in Mr. Deeds; Jeremy Davies as a twitchy astronaut in Solaris.

Worst Attempt At Scene-Stealing In A Bad Movie: Randy Quaid, trying mighty hard -- but to no avail -- as a horny robot in The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

Runners-up: Stanley Tucci shamelessly mugging as an uptight husband in Big Trouble; Tom Sizemore shamelessly mugging as an inept criminal in Big Trouble; Rupert Graves as a smarmy producer in Extreme Ops.

Best Performance By A Rap Artist: (tie) Eminem in 8 Mile and Mos Def in Brown Sugar.

Worst Performance By A Rap Artist: LL Cool J in Rollerball.

Best Marketing Campaign: IFC Films for My Big Fat Greek Wedding. This $5 million indie feature opened modestly in April, but IFC managed to keep it in theaters and allowed word of mouth to build; its box office surged during the summer and it remained in theaters well into 2003, resulting in a staggering gross of $240 million.

Runners-up: MGM for Bowling for Columbine; Columbia for Spider-Man; Miramax for Chicago.

Worst Marketing Campaign: Disney for Spirited Away. This animated masterpiece from Japan, one of the best-reviewed films of 2002, was purchased stateside by Disney, who then proceeded to ignore it while lavishing millions promoting its own mediocre in-house productions. While the studio's $140 million Treasure Planet was bombing in 3,227 theaters (final gross: $38 million), Spirited Away was never allowed to expand beyond a mere 150 theaters, resulting in a piddling $5 million take.

Runners-up: Universal for About a Boy; Focus Features for Far From Heaven; Miramax for Pinocchio.

Best Example Of Soulless Hollywood Moviemaking: Bad Company, which finds Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock whoring their way through the most generic action nonsense imaginable.

Runners-up: Men In Black II; Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever; Resident Evil; Analyze That.

Best "Hot-Button Issue" Movie: Minority Report (erosion of personal freedom and responsibility).

Runners-up: The Hours (women's self-worth); Bowling for Columbine (gun control).

Worst "Hot-Button Issue" Movie: Enough (spousal abuse).

Runners-up: The Rules of Attraction (college-age angst); John Q (America's health care crisis).

The Annie Hall Award For Best Date Movie: About a Boy.

Runners-up: Monsoon Wedding; My Big Fat Greek Wedding; Moonlight Mile.

The Last Tango In Paris Award For Best S&M Date Movie: Secretary.

Runners-up: Punch-Drunk Love; The Piano Teacher.

Best Ad Lines: "Music Was His Passion. Survival Was His Masterpiece." -- The Pianist. "Find Your Voice." -- 8 Mile. "They Came. They Thawed. They Conquered." -- Ice Age. "He's A Heartbeat Away From Catching The Killer." -- Blood Work. "Mothers. Daughters. The Never-Ending Story Of Good Vs. Evil." -- Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

Worst Ad Lines: "Evil Gets An Upgrade!" -- Jason X. "Doo Happens." -- Scooby-Doo. "Fate Has Found Its Hero." -- K-19: The Widowmaker. "Look Closer (Not That Close)." -- Sorority Boys. "How Long Could You Last?" -- 40 Days and 40 Nights.

Most Erroneous Ad Lines: "In Space, Everyone Can Hear You Laugh!" -- The Adventures of Pluto Nash; "Get Ready For An Unexpected Hit" -- Death to Smoochy

Most Humiliating Moments Not Worth Any Size Paycheck: Selma Blair, while performing fellatio on a boyfriend with a pierced penis, gets the protruding stud stuck behind her tonsils and must remain in that compromising position while people crowd into the room in The Sweetest Thing.

Runners-up: Selma Blair watching as a drycleaning employee licks the mysterious white stain on her dress (think Monica Lewinsky) in The Sweetest Thing; Cameron Diaz getting poked in the eye by a penis protruding through a hole in a restroom wall in (once again) The Sweetest Thing; Cuba Gooding Jr. doing his best to erase memories of his Oscar win by mugging and taking pratfalls throughout Snow Dogs; Matthew Perry sticking his entire arm up a cow's behind in Serving Sara; virginal college student Shannyn Sossamon getting screwed from behind by a drunken stranger who then proceeds to vomit on her back in The Rules of Attraction; Robert De Niro waving his "sausage" at middle-aged ladies in Analyze That; white-faced Morlock Jeremy Irons dressed up to look like a refugee from a Judas Priest concert in The Time Machine.

Logical Marquee Match-Ups: The Fast Runner and Catch Me If You Can; The Good Girl and Femme Fatale; 24 Hour Party People and 25th Hour; Secretary and Two Weeks Notice; Kissing Jessica Stein and Death to Smoochy; Insomnia and The Hours; Sunshine State and City By the Sea; and an unfolding epic: The Rules of Attraction, The Triumph of Love, The Ring, Monsoon Wedding, Human Nature, Unfaithful, Signs, Blood Work, Frailty, Die Another Day, Spirited Away, Trembling Before G-d and Far From Heaven.

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