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Yes, There Are Two Paths You Can Go By… February 8, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.

A Quick Word to Forest, Leo, Peter, Ryan and Big Willie Style:

One of you will be hoisting your very first Oscar in just a few weeks. You will watch several hours of awards that mean little more than a 5th grade citizenship medal, then sit patiently as everyone’s names are called, all while putting on your surprised face when you win. We will then sit through your speech as you thank the teacher, the family member, the artist or the spiritual deity who inspired you (or in Peter O’Toole’s case, a rambling speech about what he had for breakfast and how much crap he has in his Depends.) And then it all changes. You are an Oscar Winner. From that day forward, every thing you do, every crappy film you may star in from here on out, the marquee will say ‘Starring Oscar Winner Blah Blah Blah.”

One part of that sentence however should never enter your vocabulary again. And that is the words “crappy movie.” They call it the Oscar Curse. They all say that once you win an Oscar, you career drops faster than a John Candy EKG. They throw more offers at you than a girl in a tube top gets when she hangs down by the pier during Fleet Week. And it’s just for the winners. Everybody else in your nominated peer group will smile, probably down one too many martinis at the Vanity Fair party, and wake up the next morning with the same career they had before. The Curse doesn’t apply to nominees: An Oscar nomination is like an STD at a frathouse – hang around long enough and you’ll get one eventually. Heck, Mark Wahlberg is nominated this year (though he did make me wonder if I should wear my pants low to show off my underwear for a good part of the nineties, so that might not be a fluke.) It’s the winners who falter.

The Cuba Gooding Jr. story should be stapled firmly to the back of every Oscar. It is the modern day equivalent of the scary story they tell you in middle school about the “scary house on the hill.” But his taking of Boat Trip, Snow Dogs and his cameo in Rat Race were just another casualty on the road to fame (Times like this I wish I had that booming Behind the Music voice.) But he is not alone. Halle Berry to Catwoman. (didn’t see it..have taste.) Anna Paquin in Fly Away Home (didn’t see it – have a penis and was not twelve years old.) Reese Witherspoon in Just Like Heaven (didn’t see it – see previous excuse.) The Oscar Curse is almost expected. Which is way I now ask each of you to instead do one thing…look to Tom

No, not that one. This one.

For all the Cubas and the Halles and lest we forget about the Juliette Binoches (I think I gave her two bucks on the subway today), there are very few Toms. Tom Hanks should write a book on how to survive the Oscar curse. He should sit down every winner from here on out. He should actually be waiting offstage as soon as the speech is over like Slugworth was in Willy Wonka and whisper in their ears as soon as they saunter behind the frilly gold curtain or whatever they use this year. Don’t think he’s that great, huh? Look at this.

He got his bad movies out of the way early. Sure, he was the go to man for the “Wacky romantic comedy with an outlandish twist” for much of the eighties (Splash, Big, Man with One Red Shoe) but some of his films were just that: outlandish. Heck, the man’s first line in a film was “Anybody want a Goober?” That isn’t exactly a stellar beginning.
Then came Philadelphia and everything changed. Instantly, any comedic script with a juicy part was his for the having. After his Oscar, the man could have adapted See Spot Run and we all would have gone to seen it. But just that. Because the street cred of an Oscar win lasts for one movie. And Tom knew this. So he followed it up with Gump and he wins again. He chose the role that was right for him, not for his pocket (though I still bet he made some cash for that one.) So now he has two Oscars…he’s proven his worth. Bring on the crap right. Nope, he played the sympathetic astronaut. He played the castaway. Each film showed that even with success, you still have to know who you are as both an actor and what works. He could have played the superhero, the lovestruck captain of a boat or the guy who travels across Alaska with some dogs and James Coburn (I didn’t forget about him sucking after his Oscar…the man is dead…have some respect). But he made a concerted effort to actually read the dearth of scripts that came across his desk. And he probably used his Oscars as paperweights to hold them down, just as a reminder.

Sure, he used some of his clout to direct his first film. And truly, That Thing You Do didn’t. Was the one story his heart was burning to tell and that is why he hasn’t tried it again since? No, he realized that maybe directing and writing wasn’t his thing. Maybe, just maybe, Oscar clout is just that – clout. And clout can disappear as soon as somebody else has more than you. He failed, he picked himself back up and he got a few more nominations. Maybe his other dream was to rock a mullet for a few months, thus explaining The Da Vinci Code. But the movie did make millions around the world. Even Babe Ruth struck out 40 percent of the time. But Ruth was bigger than everyone else around him. And so is Hanks. He could have used his newfound power to make whatever he wanted and faded away. But he picks and chooses. And he makes good choices. That’s why he is the success story. And that’s why he should be the model one of the five of you takes after. And you all can.

If you win. The losers can continue to make crap until they get lucky again. Because nobody remembers the losers. They only remember the winners. Until they inevitably become losers.

Can somebody please tell F. Murray Abraham to bring my car around please?



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