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Best Films - 1995

The Usual Suspects
A mysterious con job that seems to be a cover for something ominously more dangerous forms the basis for director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie’s complex suspense thriller The Usual Suspects. Had the film been released after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, pundits would be describing it as the inevitable artistic offspring of The New World Disorder. But since this is a 1995 film, they’ll have to come up with some other kind of pat sociocultural significance for it.

That said, The Usual Suspects does eerily predict the pervasive early 21st-century feeling that something truly horrible is about to happen. In the film, the culprit is apparently a semi-mystical master of evil - a certain Keyser Söze - who, like today’s current terrorist leaders, seems to be as powerful as he is elusive. Ultimately, however, neither events nor people are quite what they seem to be - just as it so often happens in real life. The ensemble cast, led by Gabriel Byrne and Kevin Spacey, is almost uniformly flawless. I emphasize the “almost” because it is Spacey’s central performance that is the one off-key note in the film. Despite this crucial bit of miscasting, The Usual Suspects remains the most gripping thriller I’ve seen.

 

FILM
The Usual Suspects
Antonia / Antonia’s Line
Carrington
Dead Man Walking
La Flor de mi secreto / The Flower of My Secret
Le Hussard sur le toit / The Horseman on the Roof
Last Summer in the Hamptons
Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud / Nelly and Mr. Arnaud
De Vliegende Hollander / The Flying Dutchman
Yao a yao yao dao waipo qiao / Shanghai Triad

NON-FICTION
The Celluloid Closet (d: Robert Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman)
Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood (d: Kevin Brownlow and David Gill)
Le Jardin oublié: La vie et l’oeuvre d’Alice Guy-Blaché / The Lost Garden (d: Josée Beaudet)

DIRECTOR
Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects)
Pedro Almodóvar (La Flor de mi secreto / The Flower of My Secret)
Marleen Gorris (Antonia / Antonia’s Line)
Christopher Hampton (Carrington)
Michael Mann (Heat)
Jean-Paul Rappeneau (Le Hussard sur le toit / The Horseman on the Roof)
Claude Sautet (Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud / Nelly and Mr. Arnaud)
Jos Stelling (De Vliegende Hollander / The Flying Dutchman)
Gus Van Sant (To Die For)
Zhang Yimou (Yao a yao yao dao waipo qiao / Shanghai Triad)

ACTOR
Jonathan Pryce (Carrington)
Kenneth Branagh (Othello)
Robert De Niro (Heat)
Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland’s Opus)
Olivier Martinez (Le Hussard sur le toit / The Horseman on the Roof)
Al Pacino (Heat)
Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking)
Michel Serrault (Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud / Nelly and Mr. Arnaud)

ACTRESS
Emma Thompson (Carrington)
Victoria Abril (Gazon maudit / French Twist)
Emanuelle Béart (Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud / Nelly and Mr. Arnaud)
Victoria Foyt (Last Summer in the Hamptons)
Holly Hunter (Copycat)
Nicole Kidman (To Die For)
Gong Li (Yao a yao yao dao waipo qiao / Shanghai Triad)
Marisa Paredes (La Flor de mi secreto / The Flower of My Secret)
Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking)
Willeke van Ammelrooy (Antonia / Antonia’s Line)

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Nino Manfredi (De Vliegende Hollander / The Flying Dutchman)
Stephen Baldwin (The Usual Suspects)
Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects)
Harry Connick, Jr. (Copycat)
Benicio Del Toro (The Usual Suspects)
Matt Dillon (To Die For)
Adrian Dunbar (Richard III)
Chazz Palminteri (The Usual Suspects)
Joaquin Phoenix (To Die For)
Wang Xiaoxiao (Yao a yao yao dao waipo qiao / Shanghai Triad)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Angela Bassett (Waiting to Exhale)
Veerle Dobbelaere (De Vliegende Hollander / The Flying Dutchman)
Els dottermans (Antonia / Antonia’s Line)
Illeana Douglas (To Die For)
Irène Jacob (Othello)
Viveca Lindfors (Last Summer in the Hamptons)
Diana Scarwid (The Neon Bible)

SCREENPLAY
Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects)
Pedro Almodóvar (La Flor de mi secreto / The Flower of My Secret)
Bi Feliyu (Yao a yao yao dao waipo qiao / Shanghai Triad)
Marleen Gorris (Antonia / Antonia’s Line)
Christopher Hampton (Carrington)
Buck Henry (To Die For)
Henry Jaglom & Victoria Foyt (Last Summer in the Hamptons)
Tim Robbins (Dead Man Walking)
Claude Sautet, Jacques Fieschi & Yves Ulmann (Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud / Nelly and Mr. Arnaud)
Jos Stelling & Hans Heesen (De Vliegende Hollander / The Flying Dutchman)

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Newton Thomas Sigel (The Usual Suspects)
Thierry Arbogast (Le Hussard sur le toit / The Horseman on the Roof)
Michael Coulter (The Neon Bible)
Goert Giltaij (De Vliegende Hollander / The Flying Dutchman)
Denis Lenoir (Carrington)
Andrew Lesnie (Babe)
Sven Nykvist (Kristin Lavransdatter)
Willy Stassen (Antonia / Antonia’s Line)
Lu Yue (Yao a yao yao dao waipo qiao / Shanghai Triad)
Bernard Zitzermann (Angels and Insects)

ORIGINAL SCORE
Carl Davis (Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood)
Carter Burwell (The Celluloid Closet)
Elliot Goldenthal (Heat)
Zhang Guangtian (Yao a yao yao dao waipo qiao / Shanghai Triad)
Charlie Mole (Othello)
Michael Nyman (Carrington)
John Ottman (The Usual Suspects)
Nicola Piovani (De Vliegende Hollander / The Flying Dutchman)
Philippe Sarde (Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud / Nelly and Mr. Arnaud)
Ilona Sekacz (Antonia / Antonia’s Line)

 

 

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