Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Actress Games

One of the weird aspects of my movie fandom is that I end up really attached to actresses whose career struggles affect me on a very personal level. Not that I'm actually harmed, but I just want them to succeed SO MUCH, and when they take roles that will obviously not help their careers progress (hey, Rachel McAdams in Sherlock Holmes; talkin' to you, Jennifer Garner in The Odd Life of Timothy Green), it makes me so frustrated! I've joked before about how I just want to sit down with them and discuss their choices. Anyway, tonight, I was hurricane-bored, so I went on IMDb to check out what some of these women will be up to next year and beyond and see what kind of headaches I'm in for. Some of their schedules fare better than others.

Rachel McAdams
Last Good Role: You probably have to go back to The Family Stone in 2005. Since then, she's had a lot of roles that probably looked good on paper: Iraq War vet coming home, from the director of The Illusionist (The Lucky Ones); the Kelly MacDonald role in the State of Play remake; I could even see how the lead role in Morning Glory might have looked like a mainstream crowd-pleaser.

Excuse-Making: In Rachel's defense, The Time-Traveler's Wife was a very popular novel; who knew it would be such a non-event of a movie? And even if you get offered the worst role in a Woody Allen movie, you probably have to take it. And actually, The Vow was very watchable and she got to be around a naked Channing Tatum a good bit.

Coming Up: Well, she's in the new Terrence Malick movie, To The Wonder, but even Malick fans are calling that one a slow, ponderous bridge too far. And the new Brian DePalma film, Passion, which is supposed to be AWFUL, so that's two strikes right there. But in 2013, she's got About Time, from writer/director Richard Curtis. Yes, it's another movie about a time-traveling hero, and sure, Curtis didn't exactly make a splash with Pirate Radio, BUT he gave us Love, Actually and thus bought himself a lifetime of credit. AND, she'll star opposite Domhnall Gleeson, who is set to break out any day now. And she's currently filming A Most Wanted Man with director Anton Corbijn, based on the John LeCarre novel. Now, the few people who saw Corbijn's The American really respected it, and LeCarre adaptations are super hot right now, so there's good hope for this one.

Reese Witherspoon
Last Good Role: I mean, an argument could be made that her last good role was when she won the Oscar for Walk the Line. Just Like Heaven and Four Christmases were crowd-pleasers that pleased no crowds; Rendition was a giant bomb; This Means War got massacred by critics; and not even Robert damn Pattinson could make Water for Elephants happen (plus, as I said before, don't set yourself up for teenage girls to call you "that older lady who doesn't deserve Rob").

Excuse-Making: Penelope is underrated and Reese's cameo in it is kind of fun; Monsters vs. Aliens was a good little movie, even if voice work doesn't count in a study like this. I'm one of the very few people who thought How Do You Know had redeeming qualities, though I admit that Reese didn't exactly blow the doors off anything in it.

Coming Up: Reese has her own production company, so she's attached to a BILLION projects -- including The Beard, where she plays a beard to a gay dude -- but I'm limiting this to just the ones listed on IMDb proper. The best looking of these is Devil's Knot, the first non-documentary film about the West Memphis Three, directed by Atom Egoyan (returning to the theme of small-town tragedy that worked out so well for him in The Sweet Hereafter). Reese plays the mother of one of the victims and married to Alessandro Nivola, whose character eventually becomes a suspect (though I think that happened after the book Devil's Knot was published, so no idea if the film touches that). Reese heads a really rather dynamite cast here, including personal pet faves Collette Wolf and Dane DeHaan. Really looking forward to this. Less excited for: Big Eyes where, yes, Reese Plays a famous painter, but it's from the writers of Agent Cody Banks and the writer/directors of Screwed (though, fine, they also wrote Man on the Moon and The People vs. Larry Flynt and Ed Wood; but Screwed! With Norm McDonald!); and Wish List, which (good news) is directed by Bridesmaids' Paul Feig, but (bad news) is about how "life changes for a thirtysomething career woman when a coin she threw in a magic fountain as a girl finally reaches the bottom." The less said about Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus the better.

Jennifer Garner
Last Good Role: Garner has the most recent good role of all three women here, but it was still five years ago when she was Oscar-worthy (YES) in Juno. Whoever was running that Oscar campaign for Searchlight should be ashamed that they didn't make a bigger push for her. Since then, it's been the hugely regrettable Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, which will probably serve as rock-bottom for all the puff pieces written about Matthew McConaughey's career at year-end. Then two spectacularly bad decisions in taking role of an unsympathetic love interest in Ricky Gervais's smug The Invention of Lying and an unsympathetic non-love-interest in the Arthur remake. Then there's The Odd Life of Timothy Green which ... yeah.

Excuse-Making: Full disclosure: I have yet to see Butter, currently available on Video On Demand, but it is lighting absolutely no one on fire. I am an apologist for Valentine's Day, and I think Garner is perhaps the best part of that not-so-terrible movie.

Coming Up: Nothing. NOTHING! It's the greatest tragedy in movies today. I don't know whether she's taking a break from acting to raise her little Affleck-spawn or if she's being exceedingly picky or what, but there is not one project in the works for her, at least according to IMDb. Compounding this is the fact that her husband is going to be at every award ceremony this winter for Argo, probably on track to win Best Director, and she's going to be there, on his arm ... with nothing to promote. No project to transfer that bounce in visibility to. I guess it's not too late to sign on to SOMETHING in the next two months. But time's a-wasting, girl! Get on this!


Nancy said...

I just refer to Juno as Jennifer Garner Is Breaking Your Heart. It could also be called Janney and Simmons Pith It Up, but Garner really is the standout of the movie. Give her something just for that scene in the mall!

Jen said...

Is Reese still attached to the movie adaptation of Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl"? I can see that being quite a role for her.

Anonymous said...

Did you see Jen G in the WIGS youtube short "Serena". It is amazing and oscar worthy! I kid you not - check it out. Iam sure you will agree. This is the kind of movie role she needs to do next. I Loved Serena!!