Interesting fact: Did you know that Hollywood actors age? It’s true. And it isn’t always a pretty sight. Actors who once duked it out cinematically for awards and prestige early in life later now seem to engage in a bitter battle for mediocrity--or worse. (Remember when Francis Ford Coppola called out three of our greatest for being wealthy and lazy?) With several male acting titans of the previous generation having new movies in theaters recently, it seems like a good time to check in on what we like to call “The Battle of Who Could Care Less.” Just know that in this contest there are no winners. We all lose.
The Evidence: Little Fockers, Last Chance Harvey, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Stranger Than Fiction, I Heart Huckabees, Finding Neverland, Runaway Jury
The Argument: It’s hard to know what to make of Dustin Hoffman these days. His name is no longer a sure sign of quality and his recent films have been incredibly hit or miss. That could be because his movie choices at this point appear random and meaningless, but perhaps there’s just not much of a market for a notoriously difficult, unsexy-vampire looking, non-box office draw. So maybe he doesn’t care as much as he used to, or maybe he just needs a new agent. It’s hard to say. But I wouldn’t totally rule out another Oscar nomination at some point.
The Verdict: Still Cares--We Think
The Evidence: How Do You Know, The Bucket List, The Departed, Something’s Gotta Give, Anger Management, About Schmidt, The Pledge
The Argument: Has appeared in some pretty good films over the past 10 years (as well as some clunkers), but these days has been more well known for sitting courtside at Laker games, thereby giving us ample opportunity to play the ever popular game “Daughter or Date?”. The fact that he still appears to be interested in working with quality filmmakers is encouraging, and he is definitely still capable of doing good work if he feels like it. But he doesn’t seem to feel like it all that frequently. When you’ve got three Oscars and you’re the reigning Coolest Human Being Alive what is there really left to accomplish anyway?
The Verdict: Cares When He Feels Like It
Robert De Niro
The Evidence: Little Fockers, Stone, Everybody’s Fine, Righteous Kill, What Just Happened, Stardust, Hide and Seek, Bridge of San Luis Rey, Godsend, City by the Sea, Showtime
The Argument: Don’t lie. You’re not entirely sure I didn’t make up one of those titles, are you? Nope, those are all actual names of actual movies that got actual theatrical releases actually starring Robert De Niro in just the last eight years alone. The man who used to be legendary for his preparation and commitment now appears to prepare for and commit to only two things: sleepwalking and endorsing his paychecks. It’s sad to see Mr. “Are you talking to me?” be reduced to Mr. “No really, are you talking to me, because I didn’t bother to read the script.” On the bright side, if you are planning to make a movie, and plan on paying actors to show up in it, then Robert De Niro is totally available. Very, very available.
The Verdict: Threw In the Towel a Lonnng Time Ago
The Evidence: Righteous Kill, 88 Minutes, Two for the Money, The Merchant of Venice, Gigli, S1m0ne, Insomnia, People I Know
The Argument: Unfortunately when Pacino finally won his Best Actor Oscar for Scent of a Woman, instead of taking the award to mean “Oops we screwed up by never giving you this award before so here take this one,” he took it to mean “We love your shticky scenery chewing!” Since then he’s given performances so unhinged that his work in Scarface looks subtle and restrained by comparison. I mean, have you SEEN The Devil’s Advocate recently? And the hammier his acting gets the more crazy the man himself seems to become. He hasn’t made a public appearance in at least ten years in which he hasn’t seemed drunk or heavily medicated. Who would have guessed that a man most famous for playing Marlon Brando’s son would one day turn into…well…later-day Marlon Brando.
The Verdict: Is Insane
The Evidence: Morning Glory, Extraordinary Measures, Crossing Over, Indiana Jones 4, Firewall, Hollywood Homicide, K-19: The Widowmaker
The Argument: His movies from 1977-1997 were pretty damn awesome, which makes everything that has happened since all the more shocking and depressing. Here’s a brief overview of his past 15 years: started wearing an earring, accepted equal billing to Josh Hartnett, aged quicker than any human being in recorded history, starred in a movie that often gets confused for a Jim Belushi franchise, in said movie played a Russian submarine commander and didn’t bother to start learning a Russian accent until the night before filming began (I’m assuming), had a lobotomy (somewhat less of an assumption), delivered this line reading, made your doddering senile old grandfather seem lucid by comparison, married Calista Flockheart…I could go on but it would be too painful. I never thought I would say this, but thank God I didn’t grow up to be like Indiana Jones.
The Verdict: “Where Am I? What’s My Name? [Mumbles Gibberish.]”
Who wins THIS battle? Tell us below.