Friday, March 5, 2010

Career achievement

his is the fourth entry in a week of Oscar-themed posts.

As I have written about before -- back in January for one film, several times this week for the other -- I was not a big fan of either Crazy Heart or The Blind Side.

But when Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock win their Oscars this weekend, I will still celebrate it as an acknowledgement of their years of fine service to the movie industry.

It seems astonishing that Jeff Bridges has never won an Oscar, because he's always doing good work. He's one of those actors who can't be ruined by a bad director. I'm 36 years old, and for people in my generation, Bridges has been a constant in films we loved, in hits ranging from Tron to The Big Lebowski. But Bridges has also been exceptionally quirky, doing good work in movies that may not have been the most mainstream, which failed heroically when they did in fact fail.

Sandra Bullock is a relative newcomer compared to Bridges, but she's been around, as I was reminded recently in Entertainment Weekly, for 20 years as well. Can it really be that long? And though she's never been nominated for an Oscar, she has always been America's sweetheart, someone who seemed like she deserved to have a box office hit eventually. This year, she had two major ones, and what seemed like a tragically unusual career, in which she kept getting cast despite a notable lack of critical and popular hits, finally seems redeemed.

So when Jeff Bridges accepts his trophy this Sunday, I won't be thinking about Bad Blake and Crazy Heart. Instead, I'll be thinking about president Jackson Evans from The Contender and his shark-steak sandwich. I'll be thinking of Z, the retired surfing great who also happens to be a penguin, in the animated Surf's Up. I'll be thinking about Max Klein, the airplane crash survivor in Fearless. And of course I'll be thinking about The Dude.

And when Sandra Bullock accepts her trophy this Sunday, I won't be thinking about Leigh Anne Tuohy and The Blind Side. Instead, I'll be thinking about Gracie Heart from the surprisingly likeable Miss Congeniality movies, with her infectious snort laugh. I'll be thinking of Gwen Cummings, the lovable alcoholic from 28 Days. I'll be thinking of rigid magazine editor Margaret Tate from The Proposal, which I actually thought was pretty darn good. And of course I'll be thinking of Speed's Annie Porter, the commuter with the suspended license who saves an entire busload of Angelenos, which remains one of the most charming, most love-at-first-sight introductions of a new talent I have ever seen at the movies.

Congratulations, Jeff and Sandra. You've earned it.

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