Thursday, December 20, 2012

Five Oscars that should be taken back by force

Some people finally get an Academy Award at the end of a long career, as recognition for good work that has never been honored. (That would be Alan Arkin, who won for "Little Miss Sunshine" at 72.) And some get an Academy Award early and spend the rest of their careers making you wonder what voters were thinking in the first place. This blog post is about them. And I'm going to be a nice guy and leave Cuba Gooding Jr. off the list, because he's too easy a target..

Adrien Brody -- After winning for "The Pianist" in 2002, a year when all four other nominees were more memorable (well, maybe not Nicolas Cage), he played leading roles in overblown duds ("King Kong," "The Village") and has settled back into work as a character actor in movies hardly anybody sees ("Detachment," "Predators"). Brody, the ultimate one-shot wonder, will next play Flirty Harry in "InAPPropriate Comedy.".

Nicolas Cage -- Speaking of The Rolling Cheeseball, he now careens from starring parts in junk ("Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance") to blah roles in franchises that can't be re-written to exclude him (the upcoming "National Treasure 3" and "Kick-Ass 2"). Nowadays, he rarely even shows the manic energy that earned him the nickname "Nicolas Rage," and he NEVER shows the depths that won him the 1995 Oscar for "Leaving Las Vegas."

Mel Gibson -- Speaking of 1995, that was the year Gibson won as director for "Braveheart." You can debate whether it was the best-directed film that year (I'd put "Babe" above it), but what has he directed since then? The violent, one-note "Passion of the Christ," the incomprehensible "Apocalypto" and...nothing. There may BE a good director somewhere inside Gibson's head, but we're probably never going to find out.

Christopher McQuarrie -- "The Usual Suspects" remains one of the cleverest thrillers I've seen and justly won best original screenplay for 1995. I looked forward intently to the things he would do next. And they were: "The Way of the Gun," some TV and the dreadful "The Tourist." Otherwise, he has mostly nestled in Tom Cruise's pocket, from "Valkyrie" and "Jack Reacher" to the proposed "Top Gun 2" and "Mission: Impossible 5." Zzzzzzz.

Renee Zellweger -- The supporting actress category offers many people who didn't live up to potential, from Mira Sorvino to Marcia Gay Harden. But I'm going with Big Z, who won the 2003 award for her Granny Clampett knock-off in "Cold Mountain." Except for animation ("Shark's Tale," "Monsters vs. Aliens") and the first "Bridget Jones' Diary," Zellweger and her movies have consistently redefined "mediocrity" over the last decade.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can agree with most of your comments, with the exception of "Apocalypto". "Incomprehensible"? That's all you have to say about it? Gibson went WAY outside the normal boundaries on this one and made a movie no one else would attempt. And, in my opinion (everybody has one), he succeeded.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all but the slam on Mel Gibson. Mel's issues are his temper and drinking problems. If he didn't have those issues he would have been ALLOWED to direct many more movies that would have likely been great. I personally loved Apocalypto because it used the native language - and the action was great. Movies like that are so rare...

Anonymous said...

I think we have to includ Gwynneth here. 13 years later, and I'm still wondering how she won an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love when her competition was the oft undersung Cate Blanchett who was fabulous in Elizabeth.

Anonymous said...

How about Kate Hudson?.She acts the same in every movie.

Lawrence Toppman said...

Sorry, I forgot about the relentlessly dull Kate Hudson. She's tied with Cuba Gooding Jr., though, on the easy target list.

And I am not slamming Mel Gibson as a person. (I even wrote a blog post earlier this year saying that we needed to separate the man from the artist.) I just think "Apocalypto," which did indeed go way outside the box -- and gets props for that -- makes no doggone sense.

Anonymous said...

Shakespeare In Love beating Saving Private Ryan was ridiculous...

Anonymous said...

Kate Hudson never won an Oscar, did she?

Anonymous said...

So the criteria is "what have you done since" rather than did they deserve it at the time? The latter would have been a more interesting approach, LT. The New York Jets won a super bowl once, but haven't done much since. Doesn't mean they didn't earn it that one year.

Andy said...

My wife and I were talking the other night about actors who have been type-cast to play a certain type of role. One actor who hasn't been type-cast, but seems to be playing the EXACT... SAME... CHARACTER... (if it's even a character anymore) in every movie in the last 10-15 years is Tom Cruise. I admit I like some of his older movies but jeeze it seems like every year or so now its like...oh yay...another stupid Tom Cruise action movie where he's playing a bad a$$...but he's not very "bad". It's just Tom Cruise saying his lines with that stupid little half smirk on his face. But yet, we keep going to see them.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your entire premise. Oscars are given each year for achievement in film that year. Except for the honorary lifetime achievement awards, they should not be given as recognition for a great career (then you get Martin Landau’s performance as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood beating out Samuel L. Jackson’s performance as Jules in Pulp Fiction). Nor should Oscars be viewed as a prediction of great things to come. The Grammys and CMAs (among others) cover the latter concept with their Best New Artist Awards. There is no equivalent that I know of at the Oscars. By comparison, should Harper Lee have her Pulitzer Prize “taken back by force?” After all, she hasn’t published a thing since To Kill A Mockingbird?

PS – Kate Hudson never won an Oscar. She should have in 2000 for Almost Famous, but she lost out to Marcia Gay Harden. Nothing Kate Hudson has done since can convince me that her performance in Almost Famous was anything less than brilliant.

Scootsmom said...

Did you forget Adam Sandler? After the golf movie (I forget the title) he went waaaaay downhill.

Anonymous said...

Mostly agree. Except that Apocalypto is incomprehensible. That was a good movie. Very different and original compared to most movies these days. Other than that, I can agree with.

Anonymous said...

Renee Zellweger had maybe two lines in "Monsters vs. Aliens". You're REALLY going to count that?

Garth Vader said...

I agree with 12:24. Either LT should change the name of the article to "Five Oscar Flashes-In-The-Pan" or he should write a new article listing awards that The Academy probably wishes it could claw back ("How Green Was My Valley" over "Citizen Kane" and "The Maltese Falcon", "I Just Called To Say I Love You" over "Purple Rain").