It's Academy Award night again, and like most Oscar viewers, we remember that the foreplay is destined to be more satisfying than the actual show itself... I fear for me, this is especially true this year. Although incredibly talented, I just don't enjoy Neil Patrick Harris and his self congratulatory looks and smug mugging. I am thinking a big production number, some jokes about the Sony Hack, Kanye West, Ben Affleck's penis and even a pasts it's prime Bill Cosby joke. Hopefully Harris will make a fool out of me and do something original, but Ellen Degenerous set a high bar last year.
When searching for an image of Harris to include, I loved stumbling upon the image above. What an interesting threesome to be photographed together from 2012. Harris voiced the 'mirror' in A Snow White Christmas at The Pasadena Playhouse in California. Along with Harris the cast included Lucy Ewing herself, actress Charlene Tilton, and soon to be pop sensation Ariana Grande. A fun, but completely random trio of performers. Mirror Mirror on the wall, whose the best Oscar host of them all?
Every year, FH readers know I do a 'nominations' list featuring the best skin scenes I can find from each the nominee's. This year, every Oscar nominee, with the exception of Bradley Cooper, was also nominated for a Golden Globe. If you missed my naked salute to the Globes, check it out HERE: and see all the nominee's including a few (David Oyelowo & Jake Gyllenhaal) whom I would have included in the list of best actors.
Although I am rooting for Eddie Redmayne, Golden Globe snubbed Cooper indeed put in a powerful performance in American Sniper. Although I respect the strength of Cooper's performance, I really didn't like most ( especially the middle) of Sniper. I think the reason people either loved, or had issues with the Clint Eastwood directed drama, comes down to the editing and the change of focus of how much time Eastwood gave pieces of his film.
To me, the most powerful parts of the film were the beginning, and especially the end. The middle went on far too long and began to feel a bit gratuitous as yet another child was heard crying and put in harms way. I am sure some will think I am missing the point, and that the middle was necessary to show the audience how brutal and never ending it was. I get this, but also believe that I, and everyone, should have gotten that early in the movie after the first killings of the mother and son. I think if Eastwood had cut about 20 minutes from the middle, and given a bit more time to the pain and trauma Chris Kyle endured once he was home, I may have felt it more worthy of the acclaim the film is getting. War is hell, but there were times in the middle, I felt the movie morphed into a video game with the point and focus of Chris's ordeal being lost in the maze of special effects, smoke, gunfire and kills.
Cooper in Bending All The Rules (2002)
So sit back and enjoy my Oscar foreplay with the following Academy Award themed posts!
For me, one of the most powerful films of 2014 was Still Alice. Smaller in scope than American Sniper or The Theory Of Everything, it's emotional core, thanks mostly to Juianne Moore, resonated much more deeply to me. Julianne is one of my favorite actress's and although my blog is clearly male focused, Julianne has been a part of many FH features, including piece in The Woman I Love series.
Julianne is clearly the front runner for best actress, any other choice I would see as an upset. Although I am rooting for Julianne to win, and believe her the best of the five nominated actress's, Still Alice isn't my favorite, nor to me, her best performance. I am still haunted by Moore in Far From Heaven and The Hours. The scene in which Alice gives her speech at the alzheimer's conference was one of the most powerful scenes of any film this year. Although she was beyond brilliant, taking on such a complex role, one in which different stages of a disease had to be portrayed, meant there were a few uneven moments. I am not sure any actress's could have glided through the film though any smoother than Julianne managed to do.
In addition to Julianne, the film had a wonderful performance from Kristen Stewart, an actress I was at one time committed to disliking. This is the second film in which Stewart impressed me (the first being On The Road) Julianne and Kristen were surrounded by a stellar supporting cast including Kate Bosworth and a quartet of male actors whom, give it is FH, I am spotlighting below.
Each of the actors portray supporting roles, yet had small moments to shine without taking away from the film's core focus of Alice's discovery and mind altering journey. Alec Baldwin, who has had the tenancy to steal focus, was beautifully subtle and quiet with his performace. Each of the four supporting actors also have roots in television that I thought rather interesting. Some, like Seth Gillian's are current, (The Walking Dead) but some, like Baldwin's, go back to the 1980's. Here is my pictorial salute to the men of Still Alice, and their most well known television roles.
Alec Baldwin as John Howland
Alec in Knots Landing
Seth Gilliam as Frederic Johnson
Seth in The Walking Dead
Seth in Oz
Shane McRae as Charlie Howland-Jones
Below: Shane in the play, Killers and Other Family
'I know I'm not some matinée, but I think we're sold this bill of goods by the media, which says that only the most beautiful and dashing people can become movie stars. So when someone like me sneaks in, they have to redo the calculations.'
John C. Reilly
A term to describe film or theatre stars who are adored to the point of adulation by their fans.
Matinée Idol may be an old fashion term, but then again so is movie star. Today, film stars seem to all want to be called 'actors,' even though many don't really have the qualifications to earn that title or term. 'Matinée Idols' or movie stars, to me describe those actors, bigger than life. Suave and sexy, with ability to attract the attention and lust from both women and men alike. They are put in heroic situations and big romances that led audiences to be swept up in not just the stories, not just their roles, but the appearance and the mystic that surrounded the individual actors lives.
This years Academy Award nominee's are all worthy, great actors in great roles. Steve Carell, Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne, nor Bradley Cooper or Benedict Cumberbatch could be called a Matinée Idol. Their roles and stories are not ones that swept us up nor had us dreaming or fantasizing. They all put in skilled and thoughtful performances, four of which based on real stories of real men. Their roles and these films are not ones that an audience would use to escape into the land of make believe on a rainy Saturday afternoon at movie at their local Cineplex.
Actors don't seem to be allowed to be frivolous any longer. They could at one time, they could have fun, they could snarl, grin and almost wink at the camera, at their audience. Frivolity seems today reserved for reality and soap opera stars. On the big screen, except for the odd comedy, one must be stoic and serious. I am not sure we will ever see another Matinée Idol, not like we have known, any hint of it seems to be squashed and frowned upon. Channing Tatum might have been a good candidate, but even Magic Mike, a film that should have been a great popcorn movie, was bogged down with serious elements that were shoved into what should have been a fun, light and sexy movie.
Tom Cruise was a Matinée Idol, one of the last and has in many ways paid the price for it. Although his career had a few serious roles, particularly early on, his fame is now being delicately held together by big budget, yet unsatisfying and quickly forgettable action films. This combined with his personal life have made it pretty much impossible to see Cruise on film as anything but Tom Cruise. Character, or any actual acting abilities have become pretty much irrelevant. Instead, high concept ideas, big openings, special effects and foreign box office are at the core of the career he is holding tightly on to.
Brad Pitt however remains one of the last actors to earn, and maintain the title of Matinée Idols. Pitt is both a movie star and a respected actor. Pitt has had a slew of movies from Legends Of The Fall through Troy that have swept us up, he has had huge romances on screen, and even bigger ones off all while holding our interest and keeping us wanting to see his films.
Beginning in the late 80's on tv shows like Dallas and Growing Pains, Pitt was quickly swooped into the movies in small films and small roles until one, Thelma and Louise made him an instant movie star.
Below: On Dallas with Shalane McCall (1988)
Pitt is the rare modern idol, who is respected for all he gives on screen, and off with his passion to support and help others. His choices as not just an actor, but as a producer as well. Although, unlike Cruise, Pitt can take a role in a serious film ,like last years Fury (below) he maintains that matinée idol aura, one that doesn't overcome or overshadow his performances the way so many other actors who had the title allowed it to do.
Thelma & Lousie (1991)
In addition to his talent, and incredible good looks, Pitt maintains a certain mystic that alludes so many other actors. Forr the most part, he keeps his private life private. No Youtube couch jumping clips of Pitt. Although stories of his romances with Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie have sold millions of magazines, Pitt himself has said very little about his private life, keeping a distance from the talk and entertainment shows that pedal private lives for profit.
Legends Of The Fall (1994)
There could be others matinée idols to come in the future, but I think the 80's and early 90's was the beginning of the end of the movie star and the death of the Matinée Idol. Brad Pitt was a great closing act for the genre and it will be interesting to see who if anyone, might resurrect the title in the future.
I am sure I am not the only one who remembers those Sex In Cinema features in Playboy Magazine at the end of every year. Two of four pages of nude scenes from the previous year. Growing up in the eighties, it was really the only way to have a permanent visual, a literal reminder one could keep and hide with the other pictures that were carefully cut, clipped and saved in a safe place. Playboy was of course more focused on the women of the big screen, but from time to time male nudity also slid in.
I often think all those actors pre 1980's who signed nudity clauses in their contracts about what exactly could be shown, and for how, and then slid off their undies for their nude scene. Before the Internet, before DVD or even VHS, actors could pretty much be assured their nude scene would be viewed only by those who went to the movie theatre to see it. Even if their film eventually landed on television, any glimpses of their goods would carefully edited out. Technology has pretty much made those nudity contracts null and void. Even if they didn't intend their penises to be seen, viewers have capped and lightened and freeze framed every hint of skin. Things were exposed that were never intended to be memorialized in pixels and saved in desktop folders and on web pages and blogs.
Technology has most likely prevented and encouraged many actors from taking it all off. Internet comments tend to flow (although not on FH...) swiftly to the negative. Any actor who exposes his penis is especially primed for comments and about it's size and those who suspect it has been digitally enhanced. That may have been why Jamie Dornan keep his mostly in his pants in 50 Shades Of Grey (above) and why so many think Ben Affleck had a wee bit of digital dick enhancement in Gone Girl. (below)
Ben Affleck in Gone Girl
I tend to believe that most of what I see is real. I may be very but the entire point of going to the movies is suspending belief, so little Ben is as big and alive to me as Godzilla or Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy. Little, or maybe more on point, long Ben, was one of the highlights of male nudity in film this past year. Here are are a few other other Academy Award connected scenes of male nudity on film from last year.
Edward Norton in Birdman
Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher
Below: Oscar nominated Still Alice star Julianne Moore had another role last year in David Cronenberg's Maps To The Stars. In this scene, Moore has a threesome with the delicious Jonathan Watton sandwiched in the middle.