Welcome to another edition of Flixist’s A-Z feature, giving you the run down on quintessential films, directors, actors, and trends, presented in a form that you’ve been comfortable with since your days in kindergarten.
Jesse Eisenberg (E) hasn’t been around for long, especially compared to other contenders for this year’s Best Actor title (Jeff Bridges is 51; Robert Duvall, 79) but he is swiftly becoming a recognized face and name among young actors. I first saw E in the shortlived Fox dramedy, Get Real, which also launched the career of a young Anne Hathaway (not a contender for H, in my books). His curly hair and slightly nasal delivery were the same, but no one would guess that a decade later, E would be a serious contender for an Academy Award. However that seems to be the case with the buzz developing around his performance in David Fincher’s The Social Network.
E has created a reserved but smart-allecky persona that served him well in Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale and Zombieland but was never so well suited to a role than his portrayal of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. The 27-year-old actor may be having a hard time with the attention his performance is receiving considering his well-documented anxieties. While promoting 2009’s Zombieland,E told Movieline, “I’m so shocked every time I get into a movie. And then after the movie is done I think I’ve totally failed and ruined this interesting movie. The movie comes out and I’m just embarrassed about myself in it.”
Well, E will have to convince himself otherwise, because the National Board of Review has already named him as 2010’s Best Actor, as well as giving The Social Network Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay awards. An Oscar may not be far behind for E, who next can be heard in Rio, as the voice of a lovestruck macaw, and seen in 30 Minutes or Less, an action-comedy with Danny McBride and Aziz Ansari. With Zombieland 2 on the horizon, E is on a trajectory that banks on his awkward, mild manneredness, as evidenced by past and future comedy credits. An Oscar could change everything.
So, here is the part where I establish the rule about articles (‘the’ and ‘a’) that precede titles, because I need to in order for my next entry to pass. Mmmm…smell the beta. The rule is: they don’t count. Now we can move on to F!
The Fighter (F) is not only this year’s Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby, Wrestler, Cinderella Man equivalent in the eyes of the Academy but the vehicle of one of the most talked about performances of the year, which just happens to be in a supporting role. Christian Bale plays Dickie Eklund, screw-up older brother and coach to Mark Wahlberg’s Mickey Ward, the amateur fighter with one last shot at the big time. The film is based on the professional career of Ward and his close, but often strained relationship with the drug addicted Eklund.
F has been five years in the making with Walhberg at the center of a carousel of changing Dickies and directors, that saw Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Darren Aronofsky depart. When the ride stopped, an impressive cast and crew had joined the project, including David O. Russell, who also directed Wahlberg in Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees; former Academy Award nominees Amy Adams (Junebug) and Melissa Leo (Frozen River); and Bale, who critics have lauded as the this year’s top performer by Rock Band standards. Not bad for a second alternate. The critical predictions are proving to be true. The National Board of Review also awarded Bale the prize for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, as well as acknowledged F as one of top films of the year.
As executive producer, Walhberg has worked hard to ensure that F gets the coveted Best Picture nod, from his own intensive weight training to perfect his boxing physique, both his and Bale’s shadowing of the real life boxing brothers, and in working with Russell on shot-by-shot recreations of Micky Ward’s boxing matches, relying on the original camera technology and HBO crew used to film Ward’s events. A labour of love, F certainly seems destined for a Best Picture nomination, but faces stiff competition from other contender’s including Aronofsky‘s Black Swan. Should the latter win, look for the camera to show Walhberg wincing at the painful memory of the good times when Aronofsky belonged to his project and not some sissy ballet movie.
Greta Gerwig (G) is an even fresher face than young Eisenberg at 26 years-old, with not a single big studio movie to her credit. This acting-writing-directing wunderkind has cut her teeth on a slew of collaborative independent films — including Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007) and Nights and Weekends(2008) — but the recent interest in G has only to do with one performance: her role as Florence Marr in Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg.
G stands accused of stealing scenes from the film’s star, Ben Stiller, by none other than the New York Times, which, based on her performance, predicted that G “may well be the definitive screen actress of her generation.” Not bad for an actress whose only other notable credit is last year’s The House of the Devil, in which she played the protagonist’s hilarious best friend and was frankly the most memorable part of the movie for me. Don’t get me wrong, the film itself was great, but I was left struck by G‘s ease and charisma and felt that it helped elevate the low-budget horror to another level of quality.
Despite knowing so little of the actress, I wasn’t surprised to see G‘s name turn up on nomination lists this year, including the Gotham Awards short list for Breakthrough Performance, and the Spirit Awards short list for Best Female Lead. However, with Annette Bening and Natalie Portman to contend with, it seems unlikely that G would take home the prize for Best Actress at this year’s Academy Awards. At the very least, an Oscar nomination will ensure that G gets more parts like Greenberg‘s Florence Marr, and less of the supporting roles we see coming up for the actress, which includes Ivan Reitman’s No Strings Attached and the Arthur remake starring Russell Brand. Here at Flixist, we’ve already heard a rumour that Baumbach wants G back for another project. As it shall be for fellow bright young thing, Winter’s Bone‘s Jennifer Lawrence, the future for G looks promising and filled with the sort of tasty roles other actresses will envy. And who knows what other delights the writer-director will produce as her and the industry become more acquainted.[via Movieline; via New York Times]