Monday, February 26, 2007
Oscars 2: A Star is Born.
Jennifer Hudson is on her way.
DREAMS DO COME TRUE. Yes, there were a lot of foreign ladies in beautiful glamorous dresses on display (Cate Blanchette, Kate Winslet, and Helen Mirren come to mind), but the brightest star of the evening was the newest, ingenue Jennifer Hudson. Asked by an ABC correspondent if her Best Supporting Actress Oscar had "sunk in" yet, she replied charmingly that she'd only just gotten used to being cast in the movie Dream Girls, so the answer was "No."
We'd like to help out, because you can never start planning too early for a glorious future on top of the Hollywood "A" list. Especially if you're a woman. When men win an Oscar, their mailboxes are immediately inundated with a tsunami of the best scripts penned by the most talented screenwriters in the world, and they're forced to start making important pictures that can alter the course of history -- or at least a few weird voting blocs in the next national election. All that sitting on the couch reading brilliantly significant scripts can be hazardous to one's health. That's why Jack Nicholson is almost as humungous as Marlon Brando now and why Tom Hanks got so portly there for a while. It's what we call a log in the water, and it's something much to be avoided.
Fortunately, though, actresses who win the Oscar have an alternate route that's a lot more satisfying for everybody involved. It's a route so well established that it's becoming a kind of tradition. They can forego all the dreary important scripts and star in big-budget blockbusters as comic book super-heroines instead. Which pleases all the men no end, and makes all the women jealous, spiteful, and secretly adoring. Take a look at recent precedents:
Angelina Jolie, from Girl Interrupted to Tomb Raider I and II
Halle Berry, from Monster's Ball to X-Men I, II, and III and Catwoman
Charlize Theron, from Monster to Aeon Flux.
Where did it all start? Some say one thing, and some say another. There are those who give credit to: Michelle Pfeiffer, who went from her Oscar-nominated roles in The Fabulous Baker Boys to the Catwoman role in Batman 2 or 3; Uma Thurman, who transitioned from an Oscar nomination for Pulp Fiction to Poison Ivy in Batman 3 or 4 and thence to My Super Ex-Girlfriend; or to bona fide Oscar winner Jessica Lange, who did a highly costumed and sometimes bare-breasted turn in Titus, which though not technically a comic book role was as close as you can get to one in a movie version of Shakespeare's worst play. There are even a few diehard film historians (you know how backwards they get in their pontificating) who credit 9-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda with pioneering the trend by playing Barbarella when she was just the wastrel daughter of an Oscar winning actor.
But it doesn't really matter how it started. What does matter is that it's a way to get great big paychecks without tearing your soul apart with a lot of painful method-acting. If you can sit back contentedly in that makeup chair for a few hours, you can still make a big bang on the silver screen, which means big bucks in the bank. What's more, it's a hell of a lot easier on movie audiences, too, because they don't have to suffer through agonizing acting ordeals like, say, Leaving Las Vegas.
Speaking of which -- and just to show you how acceptable the comic book route has become -- guess who else is picking up on the advantages of playing characters who talk in speech balloons:
Nicholas Cage, from Leaving Las Vegas to Ghost Rider
Obviously Cage, who's the nephew of film great Francis Ford Coppola, was smart enough to realize that he doesn't want a case of Brando lardbutt contracted by reading scripts written in words of more than one syllable, either.
The sad thing is that this career option has only been open so far to women (mostly) who can fit into a Size 4 super-heroine costume. That's why it's time for another breakthrough performer to make her mark. We believe Jennifer Hudson has the beauty and charisma to be the first full-figured woman super-hero.
Jennifer Hudson. Ready to be a SUPERstar.
We're not as up on comic books as we probably should be, but we're sure the geniuses in Hollywood can come up with a fitting premise, maybe SuperWoman (forget Supergirl) or The Calico-Catwoman. Think of the doors you could open for other talented practitioners of your craft.
All right. We admit it. We're trying to find a candidate to crash through the superhero plausibility barrier. Does anyone realize that it's been almost 20 years since Jack Nicholson played a comic book character in Batman I? Except for all his intervening roles, of course. But that's not the point. In all those other roles, he hasn't worn any masks or tights or capes or utility belts, and we want the superhero world to be open at last to crumbling old white guys who would otherwise bore us to death with the kinds of movies made by crumbling old white guys. You know the ones we mean. Where the crumbling old white guys are such wry and witty old bastards that women 25 or 40 years younger find them irresistibly attractive. Which is far more ludicrous than a comic book movie starring Jack Nicholson as Jabba-the-Hut-Man, Harrison Ford as Liniment-Man, or Sean Connery as Super-Scot.
There's got to be something to do with all these ancient leading men still being cast as romantic protagonists by ancient producers who think the Baby Boom will last forever. Contrary to the nonsensical delusion perpetuated by Hollywood, most old guys really do know that beautiful young women prefer men who are only a bit older than they are and could dandle an infant on their knee without making a doctor's appointment immediately afterwards. The celluloid transmutation of the Dirty Old Man into mesmerizing heart-throb is more embarrassing than appealing. If you could help help us with that, Jennifer, there are a lot of old white guys who'd be eternally in your debt.
Besides, we're the only ones -- apart from every black guy we know -- who don't think women have to be starving sticks with disproportionately big breasts to be beautiful. We really would come to see your new blockbuster SuperMama. And we'd even buy the giant-sized popcorn Jerry Seinfeld doesn't think we should pay $10 for.