Winners & Losers Of The Year (2006) – Part Six

With only 3 and a half weeks to go before the arrival of the new year, let’s continue reminiscing about the year 2006 by offering more winners and losers.
Winner:  Martin Scorsese
The man who has given us great movies like Goodfellas and The Last Temptation Of Christ returned in 2006 to unveil his second consecutive hundred million dollar hit.  The Departed has a dream cast:  2-time Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio, 3-time Oscar winner Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Anderson, Oscar winner Matt Damon, Martin Sheen, Oscar nominee Alec Baldwin.  It was one of the best reviewed films of the year.  (A 92% fresh rating, according to Rotten Tomatoes.)  It has so far earned over 200 million worldwide and just today, it received 2 prestigious honours from The National Board Of Review.  Scorsese won for Best Director and The Departed was named one of the 10 best movies of the year.  Expect more awards to be bestowed on this Italian-American master, and his film, as we edge closer and closer to the self-congratulatory industry awards season.  2 years after the success of his 2004 hit, The Aviator, Scorsese is on the biggest roll of his life.  Will he finally wrap his hands around an Oscar next year?
Loser:  O.J. Simpson
He once was a respected football great, a likeable figure in the broadcasting booth and a funny supporting player in those very silly Naked Gun movies.  Then, he became the luckiest double murderer in America where the stiffest punishment for his dispicable crimes has only been a multi-million dollar fine and worldwide condemnation.  But in 2006, doing business with Orienthal James Simpson became worse than acquitting him.
When it became public that Simpson had signed a lucrative book deal and had taped an exclusive interview with Fox for the sole purpose of explaining how he could have killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, the nice waiter who just wanted to return a pair of glasses to her house, the collective response was nothing short of outrage.  The projects, both entitled If I Did It, were doomed from the start.  The Goldman family, always the best advocates for their murdered daughter, went on CNN to hammer away at O.J., Fox and Judith Regan, the controversial publisher who had initiated the projects, she says, in order to extract a confession out of the former Buffalo Bill.  Few were buying that argument.
The Goldmans pleaded with the public to not buy the book or see the show.  Nothing changed until a dozen or so Fox affiliates announced that they would not air the broadcast.  Finally, Rupert Murdoch, the Australian owner of Fox, who once called respected reporter Christiane Amanpour “a war slut”, saw the writing on the wall and killed the projects, but the story didn’t end there.  The Goldmans and Denise Brown claimed that Fox offered them money before the cancellation which they interpreted as an attempt to keep them quiet.  (They didn’t take the cash.) 
For his part, O.J. claims that he agreed to do the book and TV interview to give his kids some money.  In my view, realizing that his fame is finally fading, that his best years are behind him and his opportunities are few and far between, he understood that the only way he could get back into the public eye was to figure out a way to admit culpability without actually saying he was guilty.  The “If I Did It” premise was the inevitable result.  With the possibility of the interview being leaked onto YouTube and rare, undestroyed copies of the book circulating among the morbidly curious, we may yet find out what he had to say about his crimes.  One thing’s for sure, though.  Everybody is now officially sick of him.
Winner:  Al Gore
The most surprising movie star of the year.  For 30 years, this former US Senator and Vice President has been investigating environmental issues, most specifically, global warming.  After the disastrous and highly contentious 2000 Presidential election, he put together a slide presentation of his findings and started showing off what he learned to whoever would listen.  Earlier this summer, a documentary called An Inconvenient Truth, which features the liberal Democrat delivering one of his presentations, surfaced in theatres and much to everyone’s surprise, it has been a major success.  (It was recently named Best Documentary by The National Board Of Review.)
Despite transparent attempts by suspect parties to discredit the film (which includes a ragtag group of conservative editorialists and columnists, paid hacks, and representatives of the gas and oil industries), the film received rave reviews.  (It has a 93% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes.)  A number of prominent scientists have endorsed the movie’s scientific facts and the film has made almost 40 million worldwide, a terrific result for a documentary.  Recently issued on DVD in a special, environmentally friendly package, it is likely to be under many a tree this Christmas.  In a year filled with acclaimed documentaries, An Inconvenient Truth seems the surest bet to take home the Oscar next year.
Loser: Wayne Gretzky
This one hurts a little.  I became an Edmonton Oiler fan in 1983 primarily because The Great One was on the team.  (Long after he was stupidly traded, I remain loyal.)  But 2006 is one year I’m sure he’d like to forget.
First, there was the gambling scandal involving his buddy, Rick Tocchet, and his wife, Janet.  Although Wayne has never been seriously considered a suspect (contrary to Toronto Sun sports writer Steve Simmons’ baseless accusations which he has yet to apologize for), the story became an enormous headache for him heading into the 2006 Winter Olympics.  After winning the gold medal in 2002, Team Canada was expected to repeat.  It didn’t happen.  (They didn’t even place third.  They finished way out of the medals.)  Many blamed the scandal and Gretzky’s presence for the team’s poor performance.  Whatever the reason, Gretzky received endless amounts of criticism for the disaster.
And if that weren’t enough, his NHL team, The Phoenix Coyotes, have performed abysmally in the last two seasons.  They missed the playoffs last year and at the rate they’re currently going, they’ll be out of contention this season, as well.  It has to be said.  If Wayne Gretzky wasn’t the coach of The Coyotes (and also co-owner), he would’ve already been replaced.  Unless he has a master plan to turn this team into a contender, it’s time to step aside and hire someone who can.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, December 7, 2006
12:54 a.m.
Published in: on December 7, 2006 at 1:01 am  Leave a Comment  

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