As Good as It Gets
Ah, but it was a pleasure to sink into this comfy romantic comedy featuring a cantankerous Jack Nicholson and saintly-though-winningly-acerbic Helen Hunt. The movie is a happy reminder that when director-cowriter James L. Brooks is in top form, that’s as good as it gets.
Playing a low-level, loyal-to-a-fault Mob guy, Al Pacino attained an almost epic grandeur in this year’s best gangster film. And Johnny Depp was nearly his match as the undercover FBI agent whom Pacino, to his regret, befriends.
Despite a plot as nutty as a Snickers bar, full-throttle performances by John Travolta and Nicolas Cage and gloriously baroque action scenes by Hong Kong master John Woo made this thriller one of the summer’s true treats.
In the Company of Men
It may have lacked name stars and was clearly shot on the cheap, but this twisted tale about a couple of nasty, manipulative male executives who court a young deaf woman, intending to dump her, had both male and female viewers squirming mightily.
The Ice Storm
Chilly scenes of winter, indeed. Director Ang Lee and his superior ensemble cast, headed by Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver, served up a remarkably observant film about swinging ’70s suburbanites who wind up sadder rather than wiser.
Another Chinatown! Darn close, and that’s not a comparison made lightly. A tangled tale of good and bad cops, prostitutes, tabloid reporters and murder in ’50s L.A., this was one film that truly exceeded its advance hype.
Men in Black
For sheer, goofy summer fun, there was no beating this wholly original sci-fi comedy from director Barry Sonnenfeld about federal agents battling extraterrestrials, including a giant alien cockroach in New York City. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith rule.
Shall We Dance?
Cha, cha, cha. A bittersweet comedy from Japan about a middle-aged, married businessman who secretly signs up for dance lessons, this lovely film could inspire even the biggest grump to consider learning to mambo.
This sweeping romantic epic about the 1912 disaster proved eminently seaworthy. Despite its 3-hour, 14-minute running time, the spectacular special effects and touching performances by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet were enough to melt even the most cynical iceberg.
Wag the Dog
Short and hilariously to the point, director Barry Levinson’s 105-minute jewel of a political satire gave Dustin Hoffman room to vroom with his dead-on turn as an egomaniacal Hollywood producer.