By • Dec 1st, 2002 •

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Anyone who wants a shot at Victoria Alexander after reading her review of LORD OF THE RINGS II will have to come through me first. I was more disappointed than if I had despised it – that at least would have involved passion – but I just thought it was a bore. I’ve never seen a series nosedive so quickly from grace. Almost everything I loved about the first installment was disappointing the second time around. Even the breathtaking vistas of New Zealand, which brought me to places I’d never dreamed of, and sold the fantasy story without resorting to constant matte shots, became an exercise in masturbation in part two, foolish zoom-ins to travelogue vistas that felt all too familiar. And those trees… Weren’t they smart enough to cut that scene out of THE WIZARD OF OZ sixty years ago? When you are warned, you must listen.

FIR editor poses with Brett Ratner, who appeared at the screening of his RED DRAGON.

The NBR has put out its awards list, and an exciting and daring list it is. You just know that Michael Caine and Jack Nicholson had to have been considered. But what an NBR chess move, as in years past with GODS AND MONSTERS and Halle Berry to name a few. Campbell Scott! This is an organization that champions the independent, the newcomers, the unrecognized, as well as the stalwarts of the industry. Very proud to be a part of it at times like this. So George C’s son gets the big one for ROGER DODGER. It’s a tough performance to sit through, but it’s solid and deserving.

NBR Screening Group Organizers Carol Rapoport, Bob Policastra and a theatrically gesturing Lois Ballon pose with Burr Steers (Gore Vidal’s cousin), director of IGBY GOES DOWN, and Kieron Culkin, the film’s star.

This was a phenomenal year to be screening films with the NBR. At over a third of the screenings, directors or actors showed up to chat with us. In some cases, as with Adrian Brody, or friendly, self-effacing Brett Ratner, so much light was shed on the film we’d just seen, that whether we loved the film or not, it felt like we’d been through the ultimate screening experience. Sometimes we had the whole creative team spread out before us like a smorgasbord, as with ADAPTATION, when who should saunter down to the front of the Columbia Tristar screening room but Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze. An excess of riches.

Steven Spielberg chats with NBR members Richard Hess and Stephen Flack at his screening of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.

Spielberg showed up for the screening of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. He complimented the Board for throwing a great awards ceremony last year, remembering the bizarre Career Achievement speech by Jon Voight, who spent his podium time praising Al Pacino, who’d just presented the award to him. It’s true everyone loves our show. And this year it’s at Tavern on the Green again, on Tuesday evening, January 14th. The Career Achievement Award goes to Christopher Plummer (did you see NICHOLAS NICKLEBY? I think it’s the best thing he’s ever done. Or one of the top three.) Others receiving special awards in their fields include George Lucas, Conrad Hall, and Elmer Bernstein. You really should come. There’s no awards ceremony quite like it, and eight tables are already gone.

Also up on the site is the annual Xmas DVD stocking stuffer list. This year I was mindful of the country’s belt tightening, and so boxed sets and individual discs are listed, to give shoppers an option based on their current finances. Either choice will be highly recommended, only the price will be different.

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