Friday, February 27, 2015

Villainous scenery chewing by 2014 Oscar winners

When Jean Dujardin won best actor for his performance in 2011's The Artist, he made a really funny video about the opportunities that were being presented to him now that he had been so anointed. It was a compilation of his auditions for villainous roles in various upcoming Hollywood blockbusters, among them Mission Impossible 5, Bridesmaids 2, We Bought a Zoo Too, and Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer 2. (From Larry Crowne 2: "Larry Crowne? More like Larry Drown!" To get the rest you have to watch.)

Well, it appears that this year's acting winners have gotten a head start on things.

In one of those serendipitous turns, I went to the movies the night after I watched the Oscars, and who did I see? Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore, masticating the sets and props like it was the last role they ever planned to take.

Now, I am certain of the colossal failure of Redmayne's effort, having seen an entire movie of it (Jupiter Ascending). In this movie, Redmayne is the Billy Corgan of bad villainous actors. You know, like the Smashing Pumpkins frontman, he has a soft voice and a LOUD voice. He talks in the soft voice -- accurately described by Josh Larsen of Filmspotting as sounding like he swallowed a carton cigarettes -- for most of the movie. It's the big, screaming voice -- used sparingly, but pictured above -- that people will be imitating when this movie shows up on bad movie double features for decades to come. It's Redmayne's natural fey quality whipped up into an hysterical hissy fit.

Moore's work remains to be seen, at least here in Australia, where Seventh Son has yet to be unleashed on the world. But the trailer, which I saw before Jupiter Ascending, promises wonderful things. We don't get to see the exact nature of her overacting, and I seriously doubt it can be as committed as Redmayne's. But we do see her breaking chains, summoning winged demons, issuing ominous commands and purring seductions toward corruption. It's going to be hammy alright.

More than a reminder that there's a fine line between great and awful, these roles really remind us that actors work. The idea that that golden bald man on the pedestal significantly changes the equation for them is rooted in falsehood.

Sure, they took the roles before they knew they would win Oscars, but they might as well take them afterward as well. After all, if you're going to parody the hand that feeds you and be selective, you might just end up like Jean Dujardin. Since that Oscar win, the only Hollywood movies in which Dujardin has actually appeared are The Wolf of Wall Street and The Monuments Men. Having still not seen Marty Scorsese's three-hour epic, I don't know the size of his role, but I can tell you that he probably wishes he was in even less of The Monuments Men than he was. (Dujardin has been in French movies, but those don't "count," right?)

So scream your brains out, Eddie Redmayne. The next Stephen Hawking may be a long time coming.

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