Tag Archives: George Clooney

Those Golden Globe Jokes About George Were Hilarious, But Let’s Remember, He’s a Damn Fine Actor

Once again, the funniest joke of Sunday’s Golden Globe ceremony targeted Hollywood golden boy — or is that good, old boy? — George Clooney.

Mentioning the actor’s soon-to-be-awarded Lifetime Achievement honor, hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hilariously referenced Clooney’s wife, Amal Alamuddin.

“Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an advisor to Kofi Annan regarding Syria, and was elected to a three-person U.N. commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip. So tonight, her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award.”

As you may recall, Alamuddin’s hubby was also the butt of a priceless gag last year by Fey and Poehler, who described the movie “Gravity” as “the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.”

As one of Hollywood’s biggest, most beloved stars and, until recently, a confirmed bachelor with a taste for younger women, George is an easy target. Despite the fact that he’s celebrated as a humanitarian, perhaps his save-the-world credentials aren’t as impressive as his spouse’s.

But watching all those film clips during the Globes lifetime achievement presentation reminded me what a formidable actor he is — one who turned a hunky stint on “ER” into a remarkable, versatile, risk-taking career.

Equally adept at comedy, caper films and classy dramas, this is a guy who has made good choices about the movies he’s appeared in, with a few exceptions, of course. (Can he ever be forgiven for “Batman & Robin”? I don’t know. And honestly, “Monuments Men” wasn’t that bad, despite everyone’s constant ribbing about it.)

In recognition of George’s stellar career, here are 10 of his most memorable film roles.

Feel free to share your favorite Clooney classics.

George-Clooney-in-Out-of-Sight-george-clooney-23757867-1280-720

1. “Out of Sight,” 1998: Clooney’s famous charm is on full display as a smooth criminal in this underrated but slick Elmore Leonard adaptation. The actor shares an unlikely yet smoking hot chemistry with Jennifer Lopez as a U.S. Marshal who can’t resist him.

2. “Three Kings,” 1999: As a jaded Special Forces soldier in director David O. Russell’s satire of the Persian Gulf War, the actor indulges his passion for politics while showcasing his talent for irreverent humor.

3. “O, Brother, Where Art Thou?,” 2000: Dim-witted isn’t a quality you’d typically associate with Clooney, but the actor succeeds brilliantly in portraying a scheming prison escapee who isn’t as bright as he thinks he is in the Coen Brothers’ absurd take on “The Odyssey.”

4. “Ocean’s Eleven,” 2001: Clooney’s penchant for playing suave con artists — not to mention his generous leadership of ensemble casts — reaches its apex with the role of casino-swindling ringleader Danny Ocean in this playful remake.

5. “Good Night, and Good Luck,” 2005: After a rocky start to his directorial career with 2002’s “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” Clooney forges a place for himself, and partner Grant Heslov, behind the camera with this biopic of First Amendment champion Edward R. Murrow (David Straitharn). He reserves the memorable role of CBS president Fred Friendly for himself.

mclayph

6. “Michael Clayton,” 2007: Clooney may have won his first Oscar for his supporting role in 2005’s “Syriana,” but he should have taken home the trophy for this wrenching drama about a law firm fixer suffering from moral qualms. The film’s final shot, one long, unbroken take focusing on the actor’s face, reveals his gift for subtle expressiveness.

7. “Up in the Air,” 2009: In the role of a seasoned traveler who makes an unsavory living by firing people, Clooney’s sometimes smarmy smile proves an invaluable asset. As his romance with a fellow frequent flyer (Vera Farmiga) melts his character’s heart, George quietly succeeds in breaking ours.

8. “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” 2009: Unlike a lot of A-list actors, Clooney has mostly steered clear of voiceover work, but he made an exception for Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animal fable. He’s perfectly cast as a rapscallion of a carnivore/family man who moonlights as a chicken thief.

9. “The American,” 2010: Director Anton Corbijn’s thriller about a tormented assassin on the lamb in Italy didn’t receive a lot of attention, probably because of its extremely slow pace. But the film contains one of Clooney’s most internal and intriguing roles. In a film with little dialogue, the actor’s face almost solely communicates everything we need to know.

10. “The Descendants,” 2011: Clooney took home a much deserved second Oscar for perhaps his most unattractive role to date in Alexander Payne’s exquisitely awkward tragicomedy. Playing a clueless, cuckolded, grieving husband whose idyllic Hawaiian life is shattered by a family tragedy, the actor delivers one of his deepest performances and one of his best scenes — a heart-rending goodbye speech to his character’s comatose wife.

vlcsnap_2012_11_20_15h13m52s121_large

Photos: watchesinmovies.info, popcornreel.com, yts.re, http://www.fanpop.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Stop Grousing and Go See ‘Gravity’

This year’s Academy Awards race is one of the closest in recent memory with three of the nine films nominated for best picture in a tight heat. Oscar analysts agree that at the conclusion of Sunday’s ceremony, Hollywood’s most coveted prize will be presented to the producers of either “Gravity,” “12 Years a Slave” or “American Hustle.”

Entertainment Weekly, in its Oscar predictions issue, forecasts that 19% of the Academy vote will go to “Gravity,” with 18% for “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle” with 16% of the ballots. Last month, in a rare occurrence, “Gravity” and “12 Years” tied for the top prize at the Producers Guild Awards. The ceremony is usually a good predictor of Oscar outcomes.

For months, the three front-runners have generated considerable buzz. “Gravity” racked up an impressive $700 million at the global box office. “American Hustle” crossed the $200 million mark and even the harrowing “12 Years” drummed up $100 million in ticket sales. The fact remains, however, that many people have not bothered to head to the theater to see what all the fuss is about.

Of course, this isn’t unusual when it comes to the Oscars, a ceremony that is treated with reverence in Tinseltown but tends to elicit yawns from an indifferent general public. Unless it’s one of the few years in which a major blockbuster is nominated — “Avatar,” for instance, viewed by practically everyone on the planet — it’s common for best picture candidates to languish unseen.

But this time around, the front-runners are worthy of your time and attention. In a year of exceptional films, they are the best Hollywood had to offer — a visually innovative cosmic thriller; a brutally honest historical drama; and a shamelessly entertaining glitter-pile of 1970s glam.

Oddly enough, it is “Gravity” that seems to have encountered the most resistance from a certain segment of filmgoers. I’ve talked to a number of people who stubbornly turn up their noses at Alfonso Cuaron’s space odyssey. Perhaps their reticence stems from the film’s minimalist but epic premise. At first I couldn’t imagine what could possibly be so compelling about watching Sandra Bullock and George Clooney float around in outer space.

Still, the skepticism is baffling, considering what a taut nail-biter of a thriller the film is, not to mention its stunning visual achievements and emotional heft. If you’re lucky enough to find a place where you can still catch an IMAX screening of the movie, it will be one of the most suspenseful, immersive, uplifting and intense cinematic experiences of your life. The film was released Tuesday on Blu-ray, so you can watch it from the comfort of your couch, but you’ll be missing out. If ever a film demanded to be seen on the biggest screen possible — preferably in 3-D with a kick-ass sound system — this is it.

The story of a medical engineer adrift after her space shuttle is torn to shreds, “Gravity” features one of Bullock’s most fragile and moving performances. The film ingeniously registers on two levels – it’s one heck of a popcorn movie ride but it’s also packed with existential symbolism and musings on hope, rebirth and the significance of humanity in a terrifyingly infinite universe. It’s as deep or as shallow as you want it to be.

“American Hustle” is an easier sell. Directed by “Silver Linings Playbook” helmer David O. Russell and reuniting several members of that crowd-pleasing comedy-drama’s cast, “Hustle” is a trashy, over-the-top romp through 1970s sleaze and the most fun many of us had at the movies in 2013.

Nothing about the film is hard to love, from the gloriously kitschy period costumes and art direction, to the go-for-broke acting, to the twisty plot about a pair of con artists embroiled in a government sting operation. Bradley Cooper’s perm and Christian Bale’s comb-over may appear to steal the show, but it is the film’s leading ladies – both nominated for Oscars – who are the real stars. Amy Adams, as a chameleonic temptress looking for love, and Jennifer Lawrence, as an unstable, accident-prone housewife, deliver the most mesmerizing performances of their already accomplished careers.

“12 Years a Slave” is difficult to love, despite the fact that it is quite possibly the most authentic movie of its kind. While other films about America’s dirty, devastating past soft-pedal the indignities of slavery, director Steve McQueen lays them bare in merciless fashion, making for a film that is necessary, yet excruciating. After seeing it, my husband and I were silent the whole way home. There was literally nothing to say in the aftermath of so much shame and sadness.

McQueen specializes in depicting human depravity and desperation — he made a movie titled “Shame,” after all — and “12 Years” is his masterwork. It is brilliantly acted with performances so naked, it’s hard to look them in the eye — Chiwetel Ejiofor as the kidnapped Solomon Northup, Michael Fassbender as a lascivious slave owner and, most searing of all, Lupita Nyong’o as the tormented target of that slave owner’s twisted obsession.

Yes, “12 Years” is painful to watch, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it, even if you only watch it once. The film has profound and indispensable things to say about the insidious nature of racism.

There are great treasures to mine, great revelations to discover in Oscar’s favorite trio and time and opportunity to rectify what you’ve missed, long after the Oscars are over.

Why deprive yourself of greatness?

Philip Seymour Hoffman: The Man in the Beanie

One of my fondest memories of Philip Seymour Hoffman is the night he attended the 2009 Oscars. Like the other men at the ceremony, he was clad in the traditional tuxedo, except that his straw colored hair exploded wildly from beneath a black beanie. Brazenly disheveled, he looked a bit like Steve Zissou or someone who had wandered in off the street, ambushed George Clooney and stolen his suit.

I mean, who attends the Oscars in a beanie?

That is exactly the sort of actor Hoffman was – immune to vanity, deeply committed to melting into character, respected by his peers for his dedication and craft, but existing outside the shallow Hollywood circus that tends to consume more self conscious performers.

Hoffman died of a suspected drug overdose on Feb. 2, but he won’t be remembered for weird tabloid exploits or even for his struggles with addiction. Already, as we mourn his demise, we’re celebrating his work and the fact that when his name popped up in a film’s credits, you knew you were about to see something memorable. Even when the movie wasn’t all that great – “Along Came Polly” comes to mind – Hoffman was never less than electrifying.

Pasty and portly with a sardonic grin and a voice like pebbles rolling around in the surf, Hoffman was the rare character actor who could shoulder the weight of a lead role and make it look easy. After his 1991 debut in an episode of “Law & Order,” the native New Yorker made his name by embracing challenging and eccentric roles on the big screen and the stage.

His early work included small but significant parts in “Scent of a Woman,” “Twister,” “Boogie Nights” and “The Big Lebowski.” He was nominated for an Oscar on four occasions, winning in 2006 for “Capote,” the role that would come to define his career. He was most comfortable inhabiting the skin of lonely misfits (“Synecdoche, New York”), tortured souls (“Doubt”), unapologetic crackpots (“Charlie Wilson’s War”), clever schemers (“Mission: Impossible III,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”) and men as passionate as they were stubborn (“Moneyball”).

It’s nearly impossible to condense Hoffman’s sublime repertoire into a Top 5 list, but in honor of this great actor’s life and life’s work, I offer up a handful of the roles I will always look back on with fondness. They’ll remain worthy of repeat viewings for years to come.

 “Magnolia,” 1999: Hoffman first came onto my radar playing the compassionate nurse to Philip Baker Hall’s dying television producer in frequent collaborator Paul Thomas Anderson’s mesmerizing and perplexing magnus opus, a film that famously ends with a plague of frogs. I saw this movie alone in a nearly empty theater in Westwood and sobbed my way through most of it. It boasts a killer ensemble cast, including Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly and Tom Cruise in an eye opening role as a misogynistic motivational speaker, but it is Hoffman’s hushed performance that still haunts me.

“Almost Famous,” 2000: My hands-down favorite of Hoffman’s roles, the character of Lester Bangs is one for the ages. As the acerbic music critic who serves as mentor to Patrick Fugit’s budding rock writer in Cameron Crowe’s autobiographical coming-of-age story, the actor oozes wisdom and cool authority. If Fugit’s wide-eyed William is the heart of Crowe’s love letter to those who eat, breathe and live rock ‘n’ roll, Lester is the soul, mourning the passing of one of music’s great eras. His advice to young William — “Be honest and unmerciful” — delivered with Hoffman’s trademark blend of sarcasm and sadness, should be every journalist’s motto.

 “Capote,” 2005: Taking on the role of Truman Capote was a bold move for Hoffman. Given the “In Cold Blood” author’s distinctive voice and eccentric mannerisms, the part could have easily devolved into caricature. Hoffman’s performance is so layered and so human, he coaxes us into empathizing with this strange little man and the dark and conflicted impulses he wrestles with as he connects with a suspected killer. Shortly after the release of “Capote,” Toby Jones offered his take on the character and did a perfectly decent job, but the film seemed utterly superfluous after Hoffman had so fully inhabited the part.

“Charlie Wilson’s War,” 2007: Hoffman’s gift for milking madcap laughs is on full display in this Aaron Sorkin-scripted political comedy detailing the beginnings of the United States’ ill fated meddling in Afghanistan as the Cold War drew to a close. Playing eternally frustrated CIA chief Gust Avrakotos opposite Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, the actor sports a furry mustache and tinted aviator sunglasses and radiates hilarious intensity as he spouts some of Sorkin’s pithiest monologues. The role earned Hoffman an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.

 “The Master,” 2012: Paul Thomas Anderson’s most recent film is difficult to watch and many moviegoers found it even more difficult to love. It is, however, an excellent showcase for Hoffman’s unparalleled ability to tap into the charisma and power of ambitious, self deluded men. In the film’s showiest role, would-be disciple Freddie Quell, Joaquin Phoenix nabbed a nomination for the best actor Oscar, relegating his co-star to the supporting category, but Hoffman’s portrayal of a mysterious cult leader, inspired by Scientology creator L. Ron Hubbard, is essential to the film. It’s a towering performance and it reaches its zenith in a scene in which Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd pokes into the dark recesses of Freddie Quell’s personal life in an uncomfortably intimate psychological interrogation. Dodd’s methods may be absolute quakery but the moment reverberates with naked truth.