Morgan Freeman

The 10 Actors Who NEED To Have Academy Awards

Certain actors just NEED to have Oscars. Be it due to their talent, charisma, the roles they play or their longevity, there comes a point in certain actor’s careers when it seems insane they don’t have an Oscar. Like Morgan Freeman before he won for Million Dollar Barfy; go back, didn’t you already THINK he had an Oscar? When you found out he didn’t, it surprised you, right? It’s MORGAN FREEMAN! Voice of God! Step-Granddaughter toucher! Oscarless? Insanity!

Certain actors not having Oscars just sounds wrong (not unlike certain actors HAVING them, ahem Mira Sorvino). Look, I know most awards mean nothing. The actual awards are easily purchased by deep-pocketed studios, desperate to boost the failing box office grosses of their “prestige” pictures. The show itself is nothing more then a poorly disguised commercial for whatever pop culture products need to be pushed near the air date. Actors only show up to pimp those pop culture products (all the more delicious as Award Season is in late Winter when all the truly horrendous movies get released, cough When In Rome, cough… oh, hello Kristen Bell… EVERYWHERE.).

But the Academy Awards mean something. Having an Oscar is important. Not just for the actors, but for us. We grow attached to our stars, and want to see them rewarded for their work. For whatever reason, we NEED them to have an Oscar, to validate what we know about things being good and things being recognized for being good. Which is why it is painful to know that the following ten actors don’t have one.

10 – John Malkovich
I’ve been studying film for fifteen years, and I have NO explanation for this. Really, John Malkovich hasn’t won an Oscar? Even though he played one of THE defining villains of the 90′s (In The Line Of Fire)? The man has a movie NAMED after him, for Pete’s sake! He’s easily one of the best character actors alive on planet Earth today, and there isn’t a person alive who doesn’t get fired up when he comes onscreen. But no Oscar? He deserves at least two for that fakakta accent from Rounders. “Paey dat mein hees mohney” I say, “Geev dat mein hees Ohhsker!”

9 – Sigourney Weaver
How many fantastic Sigourney Weaver performances can you name off the top of your head? I got to five before blink one. Aliens, Ghostbusters, Working Girl, Gorillas in the Mist, Galaxy Quest. Any coincidence that those are five all-time classics? I don’t think so. Weaver is the classic example of an actress that SEEMS to already be an Oscar winner. She’s been nominated three times, but no dice. Her Working Girl loss stings all the more because Geena Davis beat her. Geena? Davis? I love Charlie Baltimore as much as the next guy, but on her BEST day she isn’t even half a Weaver. Get away from her Oscar, you bitch!

(This is only slightly discounted because of Weaver’s indefensible performance in Avatar. The only thing even REMOTEly artificial in that movie was Sigourney’s acting.)

8 – Gary Oldman
There are a great many crazy things that happen in the world. Fergie just gave the best performance in Nine. The Jets may make the Super Bowl this year. George Bush. But right up at the tippy top has GOT to be the fact that Gary Oldman has NEVER been nominated for an Academy Award. Allow me to use the caps lock for better emphasis. GARY OLDMAN HAS NEVER BEEN NOMINATED FOR AN ACADEMY AWARD. The Professional, True Romance, JFK, The Fifth Element, The Contender, The Dark Knight… yeah, this guy doesn’t deserve one AT ALL. If I was running Hollywood, here would be my first order of business:

The Jay: Lacky, bring Gary Oldman an Academy Award.

Lacky: Which category, sir?

The Jay: EEEEVVVERRYOOOOOOOONNNE!

7 – Julianne Moore
She needs to have one so we can stop talking about how she doesn’t have one. Her Oscar Injustice campaign is even more self-righteous than Kate Winslet’s was, and that ain’t easy. Also? She should have won it for Boogie Nights. Kim Basinger deserved it more that year? For what, nearly ruining LA Confidential? No.

6 – Ralph Fiennes
His presence in a movie trailer practically REQUIRES that “Academy Award Winner Ralph Fiennes” graphic studios love to use so much (because it makes the movie seem better than it is). I personally think he’s never won because people are too afraid to mispronounce his name. If he just spelled it “Rafe” he’d have two Oscars by now, I’m telling you. Demi Moore agrees with me.

5 – Jeff Bridges
The Dude does not abide by his Oscarlessness. Thankfully, this atrocity will be rectified in about eight weeks. Who doesn’t love Jeff Bridges? Terrorists? Not likely, cause he played a kick ass one in Blown Away (not talking about the Two Coreys skinemax flick, I know, I’ve made that mistake before, too) (UPDATE: Oops, was just reminded that Bridges played the good guy in Blown Away. MAN those Coreys are distracting. Let’s go with Jeff’s villainous turn in The Vanishing, then, mmk? Mmk). He’s just SO likeable, SO endearing, SO GOOD, we are willing him to win this year. I love it when a long overdue actor is carried across the finish line by the adoring public. Even when it’s for a movie that is beneath them (see: Pacino, Al – Woman, Scent Of A). Also? There’s a better than good chance he accepts his Oscar totally baked out of his mind.

4 – Robert Downey Jr.
Jamie Foxx has an Oscar and Robert Downey Jr. does not. Which guy was the reason you forced yourself to stake awake through The Soloist, for? That’s what I thought. Also? It’s ROBERT DOWNEY JR. He’s the second greatest living actor in the world (see: #2 on this list)!!! Give him a damn Oscar, already! What does he have to do, act in blackface?

3 – Annette Benning
It wasn’t too hard coming up with men for this list, but the women were tough. The Academy is actually REALLY good at spreading the love around to all the A-list actresses. Cate, Nicole, Reese, Renee, Catherine, Kate, Julia, Meryl, Halle, Penelope, Helen, Angelina and Charlize all have one. Which makes Annette Benning not having one seem beyond dumb. Is it because she married Warren Beatty? Is she being punished for making The Siege? Somebody please give me a reason why Caroline Burnham is Oscar-less. Watch this clip:

That’s not one of the Best Actresses in Hollywood? Don’t you dare to lie me!

2 – Matt Damon
Matt Damon is the best actor working today. He is the best actor currently alive. These are the facts, and they are indisputable. Has Matt Damon EVER been ANYthing less than believable? Has he EVER not been fun to watch? Has he EVER not been the best thing in his movies? Tom Ripley, Jason Bourne, Linus Caldwell, Private Ryan, Will Hunting, Loki; I remember his character’s names! And those aren’t even his BEST performances! Courage Under Fire, The Departed, The Informant, Syrianna, Rounders and Stuck on You are equally good. Not to mention the time he made out with Grace Adler on the couch (‘Thanks for the tea. And aay.”). Matt Damon can do no wrong. And yet he can’t BUY an Oscar. I love me some Jeff Bridges. Stick It is my steez. And I am telling you: Matt Damon’s performance in The Informant was the best thing put to celluloid in 2009.

1 – Tom Cruise
Throw away everything you know about Tom Cruise’s personal life. Throw away the Katie Holmes, the Suri, the Scientology, the homosexuality rumors, the sham marriage to Nicole Kidman, the mis-aligned front teeth. Put it all in the trash (this is not me impersonating Clooney in Up in the Air, just btdubs). Now take a look at Tom Cruise. What do you see? You see the Greatest Movie Star in the History of Cinema, don’t you? That should be rewarded, shouldn’t it?

Tom Cruise doesn’t just carry movies, he IS movies. Paramount can’t even SHOW a movie script to someone until Tom Cruise has passed on it. His face is BUILT to be projected on 50-foot screens. His body is a perfect screen body: pigeon-chested, stout and malleable. His intensity is magnetic. Hell, his hair is a bigger movie star than Ryan Reynolds will EVER be. Tom Cruise was designed to be a Movie God. His brilliance and success was pre-ordained. And yet? He has never been rewarded for his work.

Jerry Maguire, Born on the Fourth of July, Magnolia, Rain Man, Vanilla Sky; ALL of those performances deserved Oscars. And if Sandra Bullock wins for The Blind Side, then Tom Cruise should have won for A Few Good Men. Want more? What was the funniest performance in 2009? Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder. #fact

Does anyone do blockbuster performances better? You don’t love Tom in Top Gun? He isn’t ANYthing but riveting in Minority Report? You’re telling me you have enough control over your body to LOOK AWAY from Tom in Mission: Impossible? No. You’re not saying those things. Because those are things no one says!

If George Clooney has an Oscar, Tom Cruise should have an Oscar. If Jack Nicholson has THREE, Tom deserves at least one. Nicolas Cage has an Oscar and he’s a crazy person. So why doesn’t Tom have one?

There will be a time, maybe fifteen years from now, when Tom Cruise disappears for 30 days and comes back with a movie. Something small, something personal. And he will be so good in it that we have no choice but to hand him the Academy Award for Best Actor. The standing ovation for that announcement will set endurance records. And we will all look back at his resume and wonder what took so damn long. He’s only been the Biggest Movie Star in the World for 40 years. He’s only TOM CRUISE.

I mean, isn’t that what the Academy Awards were invented for? So that we can give Tom Cruise an Oscar and everyone can be happy about it?

Here’s the thing: I’m a simple man with simple needs. I want things to be good, and I need people to love those things. These ten actors are good, and I want the Academy to start loving them. Because I will not live in a world where Hilary Swank has TWO Oscars, and these fantastic people have NONE. I won’t do it. I just won’t do it.

Bangarang!

(Follow me on Twitter @jasonamatthews)

Ben Affleck Is NOT A Tool, And I Can Prove It!

This is the fourth definition listed in the Urban Dictionary under the term “tool”:

Affleck Is My Boy!“A person, typically male, who says or does things that cause you to give them a ‘what-are-you-even-doing- here’ look. The ‘what-are-you-even-doing- here’ look is classified by a glare in the tool’s direction and is usually accompanied by muttering of how big of a tool they are. The tool is usually someone who is unwelcome but no one has the balls to tell them to get lost. The tool is always making comments that are out-of-place, out-of-line or just plain stupid. The tool is always trying too hard to fit in, and because of this, never will.?

Here is my definition of the term “tool”:

“Carson Daly”

Now, which of those definitions applies to Ben Affleck? I say neither.

People who watch Orlando Bloom act and find him to be bland have sufficient reason for feeling so. Fact is he’s bland; there is a void of charisma when he’s on screen. Low-minded people who think Keanu Reeves is a sucky actor could probably make a case that there have been a few bad performances in The One’s illustrious oeuvre (Dracula comes to mind). Britney detractors could form a solid argument on her lack of singing ability simply by having eyes, ears, taste and an aversion to Cheetos dust (the last one is harder than you’d think).

But where do people get off thinking Ben Affleck is a tool?

Affleck Is My Boy!Is he the best actor in Hollywood? No, far from it (though he has gotten good reviews before, hello Changing Lanes). Has he been involved in a completely annoying celebrity couple? Absolutely, but Bennifer was no more or less intolerable than Brangelina, Vaughniston, TomKat or Nick and Jessica. Has he made way too much money starring in a slew of crappy movies? I think Forces of Nature, Surviving Christmas, Paycheck, Man About Town, Bounce, Reindeer Games and Pearl Harbor speak for themselves. But has he really done ANYTHING worthy of lumping him in with Carson Daly, K-Fed, Criss Angel and any white guy out on the town in a striped shirt? I aim to prove he hasn’t.

It’s a hard climb to the top of “Ben Affleck is NOT a tool” Mountain, so let me get the biggest obstacle out of the way right now: Gigli.

Picture this: You’re a well-known talent in Hollywood. A producer comes to you and says “Hey guy, I have a movie for you. It’s a love story between you and Jennifer Lopez where you get to make out with her on set and watch her do yoga in booty shorts. But you’re also a gangster, so you’re gritty and tough and get to rough people up. We got Al Pacino coming in to yell at you in a scene and be creepy. And we’re flying in Christopher Walken to do one of his patented loopy speeches while you writhe on the floor in pain cause he just shot you. It’ll be just like that awesome scene in True Romance. Marty Brest is directing. He’s done Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run, and he got Pacino his only Oscar. Also, we’re gonna pay you TEN MILLION DOLLARS!” What do you say to that? You’re saying hell yes!

So Gigli is not his fault. He’s looking a lot less tool-y now, isn’t he?

Affleck Is My Boy!You can’t say he’s untalented. Despite what urban myths would say, he wrote an Academy Award-winning screenplay. That happened. He’s won several significant awards for acting. And his directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone” is getting filthy good reviews. I saw it and thought it was light years better than Mystic River (mostly because at no point in the movie did anyone melodrama into the camera “IS DAT MY DADER IN DERE????”). So the only real reason you could call him a tool is because of his relationship with J. Lo. Take that way (and I’ll explain why you can in just a minute) and the only mark is a few bad movies. If making a few bad movies makes you a tool than you can slap that label on George Clooney (The Peacemaker), Matt Damon (The Legend of Bagger Vance), Johnny Depp (Secret Window), Jude Law (his entire 2004 slate), and pretty much any male actor who’s toplined a few movies in his career.

Fact is Ben Affleck gets a bad wrap because he’s a fun, funny guy who dated one wrong girl, made a few bad movies and was a bit too omnipresent a few years back. I say he’s also made a slew of great movies, always makes me laugh on SNL, learned from his mistakes and settled down away from the tabloids with a nice girl and is well-liked by all his peers. For that and the following forty reasons, I think it’s preposterous to call my boy Affleck a tool. Let me prove it to you…

35 Reasons Why Ben Affleck Is NOT A Tool

1. The man has a very good chick stock portfolio. He sold high on Gwyneth, broke even on J.Lo and picked up a very dependable Jen Garner IRA. And he was never tempted by a risky celebritard-IPO (Britney, Lindsay, Paris, Brittany Murphy).

2. Created Project Greenlight as a way to develop new filmmakers. Not his fault that the contest winners sucked balls and their movies polluted theaters and DVD shelves worse than Forces of Nature. Although Gulager was fun to watch in a rubbernecking traffic accident kind of way.

3. Nominated for a Golden Globe for his role as George Reeves in Hollywoodland. Won the Best Actor Award at the Venice Film Festival for the same performance. Not to mention getting rave reviews for his work in Changing Lanes, Shakespeare in Love, Chasing Amy and Smoking Aces. So you all can shove it with that “crappy actor” nonsense. Have you ever thought it might not be him, but instead be the movie, or the director? I swear, Ben could be Keanu’s spiritual cousin.
Affleck Is My Boy!
4. Unlike, some other fake sports bigamists (ahem, unfunny Dane Cook), Affleck is actually a TRUE fan of his favorite sports team (the Red Sox, if you didn’t know).

5. Gave us the chance to see Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman chew scenery together in Gone Baby Gone. Gotta love that.

6. He’s not nearly as skeezy or douchebaggery as Colin Farrell, a guy who’s made just as many awful movies as the Fleck (Hart’s War, Ask The Dust, Miami Vice, Alexander, American Outlaws).

7. More on the point of acting, a person’s relative talent level is fairly fact based. Either he’s good or he isn’t. But that has no relation to his relative tool level, which is entirely subjective. So he not being great in a couple of movies has no bearing on his perception of being a tool. I don’t judge Carson Daly’s toolishness on his Last Call monologue. I judge his toolery on his poser black fingernails, his manorexia, his goofball name, his propensity for dating idiots (hey Tara Reid!), and the fact that, you know, he’s a tool.

8. Can speak extemporaneously on a wide-range of topics, which makes him light years ahead of most of his Hollywood generation, and a good portion of our government officials. And by “a good portion”, I mean our President.

9. Gave his kid a relatively normal name (“Violet”). It could have been worse. His Chasing Amy co-star Jason Lee named his kid “Pilot Inspektor”. Hell, his ex named her kid “Apple”.

10. Brought his Mom to the Oscars when he won for Good Will Hunting. That’s class, kids, c’mon!

11. Made a tightly-constructed, soulful, gripping detective movie starring a group of fantastic actors and never once called attention to his personal baggage in the process. In other words, is not Bret Ratner.

12. Harrison Ford signed off on Affleck replacing him in the Jack Ryan series. If he’s good enough for Han Solo and Indiana Jones, he’s good enough for me.

13. Why is he a tool because his head and face are kinda simian-esque? McConaughey has T-rex arms. Damon has a fratboy pig nose. Brad Pitt is notoriously smelly. Orlando Bloom is a chick. Keanu is grody to the max. But Affleck is a tool because he has a square jaw? I don’t get it.

14. Even if he DOES wear a hairpiece, who cares? So have Sean Connery, Burt Reynolds, and Bruce Willis, and those guys rule.

15. Like Brad, Matt, George, Matthew or Jude was gonna pull off the animal crackers scene in Armageddon, any better? He had to drag crackers across Liv Tyler’s pudge and make it look sexy. That’s a Herculean task. Laurence Olivier would have been flummoxed. Cary Grant would have called in a stunt double.
Affleck Is My Boy!
16. Campaigns excessively for the Democratic Party, but never once comes off like a Baldwinian hypocrite-twit. Spends time at phone banks doing voter registration, makes speeches at rally’s and works to diminish lobby-influence on politicians. Said this about his own political aspirations: “My fantasy is that someday I’m independently wealthy enough that I’m not beholden to anybody, so I can run for Congress on the grounds that everyday people — be they singers or poets or bankers or lawyers or teachers — should be in government.” That’s honest activism I can get behind.

17. And is an actual TRUE activist, not to mention a good sport.

18. Morgan Freeman likes him (and he’s God!). That’s enough for me.

19. The man may not have the most range, but he can pull off a speech. A couple more You Tube-worthy monologues and he might just be our next Alec Baldwin.

20. Deflected most of the Bennifer hatred by immediately dropping off the tabloid circuit the minute he cut ties with La Lopez. Makes you wonder how much of the Bennifer nonsense was J.Lo’s fault, and not his. After all, do you EVER read Ben and Jen Garner pieces in Us Weekly? (see, I told you I had a good reason for eliminating this foible)

21. And now shows contrition for the hoopla surrounding that relationship and the negative impact it had on his acting career. Contrition! Would a true tool show contrition? I don’t see K. Fed apologizing for Britney. Or Carson Daly apologizing for himself.
Affleck Is My Boy!
22. This is from a report of Ben Affleck at the debut of his wife, Jennifer Garner, on Broadway with Cyrano De Bergerac: “Ben Affleck fought back tears of pride as he jumped to his feet to give his actress wife Jennifer Garner a standing ovation at the close of her official first night on Broadway recently.” The man loves his celebrity wife. How often is that true. Did K-Fed ever cry tears of pride when “Toxic” came on the radio? Does Chris Martin get teary when he watches Gwyneth be bitchy onscreen? Did Ryan Phillipe ever go ballistic in support when Reese would win an award? OK, that last one happened, but only because he was drunk. And is an idiot.

23. Is a great sport about people making fun of him. Example 1: The SNL Mango “Ben Whoffleck” sketch. Example 2: South Park’s skewering of Bennifer: “Taco flavored kisses for my Ben!”

24. Is an open and generous supporter of his homosexual cousin Jason, and has done work for the organization “Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays”. That puts him ahead of Kevin Spacey in my book.

25. Is considered one of the most loyal actors in Hollywood; why else would he agree to do Jersey Girl?

26. Speaking of, can laugh at his own limitations: Apple Sauce, BITCH!

27. His directorial debut was a short film titled “I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her On A Meat Hook, and Now I Have A Three-Picture Deal At Disney”. C’mon, that’s just awesome!

28. Was named People Magazine’s 2002 Sexiest Man Alive. George Clooney’s won twice. So have Brad Pitt and Richard Gere. McConaughey and Damon both have one win. So why is Affleck the tool in the bunch? They’ve all done their share of shitty movies and dated their share of questionable women. At least Affleck has the good grace to seem bemused by the whole thing.

29. His work as Big Bad Donnie Bartalotti in the Boston Teens sketches on SNL. (“I would never zap your lady. For serious, bro!”)

30. If you’ve never heard him do an audio commentary before, remedy that ASAP. He makes sitting through Pearl Harbor a breeze. I particularly like his commentaries for Chasing Amy (“I put on a clinic and my skills are free.”) and Mallrats.

31. Sure he’s made some shitty movies, but hell, it’s not like he’s Nicolas Cage!

32. Just to insure that his stint in rehab for alcoholism would stick, Affleck had legendary abuser Charlie “Ma” Sheen drive him to rehab. The MaSheen behind the wheel would get me to quit drinking, let me tell you. Moreover, has not publicly relapsed like some other celebrities we know and love (ahem, Lindsay). (btw, can you imagine the stories MaSheen must have told him to help him quit drinking. I quote John Turturro from Mr. Deeds: “The hideousness of [MaSheen] will haunt my dreams forever”.)
Affleck Is My Boy!
33. Has realized his time as a bankable leading man have passed him, and wisely decided to do smaller roles in cool ensemble films. Affleck is much more tolerable and likeable in small doses. And with a handlebar mustache (see Aces, Smoking).

34. Started supporting the non-profit organization A-T Childrens Project after he befriended Joe Kindregan, a wheelchair-bound child diagnosed with ataxia-telangiectasia, a rare genetic disease that causes neurological deterioration. Goes above and beyond to improve Joe’s quality of life, including paying for medical bills, taking him to premieres, and sending his family on vacations. Affleck even lobbied Congress for increased research funding. We call Tom Cruise a hero for changing some schmoe’s tire. Affleck is changing this kid’s life. Let’s show some respect.

35. You gotta admit that, regardless of everything else, he was the bomb in Phantoms, yo!

Bangarang!

(Follow me on Twitter @jasonamatthews)

“Ride it, Lick it, Snort it, F-ck it!” And Other Celebrity Mottos

What a re-re!I love me a good motto. I love mottos even better when I can steal them from pop culture. Whether it’s Nicolas Cage’s “B.A.D. – Balls Attitude Direction” from Kiss of Death, “A.A. – Attitude Adjustment” from Rad, or my personal favorite “F.U.B.A.R.” from Tango and Cash, I like to yoink them all for my own personal abbreviated vocabulary. And I’m always on the lookout for a new one; which is why I was only too happy to see Britney Spears recently get in on the motto act.

In one her recent trips to court (for her kids, or her hit n’ runs, or her drug problems, or her communism or whatever), she inexplicably walked up to a reporter and yelled out “Ride, Lick it, Snort it, Fuck it!” and walked away. Now we could go on ad nauseum aover what possessed her to take focus away from her losing custody battle, her possibly getting her license suspended, her maybe getting jail time (which she probably should do at some point), to serve up some juicy grist for her trashy celebritard mill. But we’re not going to. Least of all because I promised not too, but mainly because, who cares? She’s retarded. And not in the mentally handicapped way, I mean she’s an idiot. You can’t put logic or reason behind the actions of an idiot. She dated Criss Angel, for chrissakes, how can we take anything she does seriously? We can’t. But what can do is laud her for awesome motto construction.

Those four words perfectly encapsulate her every waking moment, thereby making the motto a spot on phrase for the way she should live her life. For just one moment, she might have been the most clear, prescient celebrity in a three block radius (assuming Hasselhoff wasn’t around the corner getting drunk and spilling his Whopper Jr. everywhere.). If more celebrities took the time to create a motto about their particular brand of celebridom, it would go a long way to making us like them more. Not that that’s actually going to happen.

Since Britney (bitch!) is the only celebrity with the crazy stones to break themselves down motto-listically, I’ve taken the time to come up with some choice abbreviations for some of the biggest names in Hollywood. With any luck, they’ll be coked out of their minds at the county courthouse one day soon, yelling out the motto I created for them, and then retreating back inside to have their life ripped apart while they worry about when they’ll next get the chance to hit up Taco Bell. An internet humorist can dream…

Other Celebrity Motto’s (in Britney-specific format)

Lindsay Lohan: Drink it, Drug it, Rehab it, Repeat it!

Mel Gibson: Slur it, Jew it, Blame it, Sugartit it!

Tom Cruise: Ensnare it, Contract it, Publicize it, Fake it!

Angelina Jolie: Act it, Homewreck it, Adopt it, Pouty-Lip it!

Bruce Willis: Yippe it, Kay it, Yay it, Motherfucker it!

Keanu Reeves: Whoa it, whoa it, WHOA it, Whoa it?

Orlando Bloom: Act it, Bland it, Bore it, Snore it!

Jennifer Aniston: Oprah it, Vanity Fair it, People it, Milk it!

Ben Affleck: Date it, Act it, Fail it, Direct it!

Kiefer Sutherland: Scream it, Torture it, DUI it, Christmas Tree-Jump it!

David Hasselhoff: Hassel it, Hoff it, Drunk it, Record it!

Nicole Kidman: Curly it, Straighten it, Botox it, Shrill it!

Will Ferrell: Naked it, Baby Jesus it, Cowbell it, Burgundy Done it!

Michael Douglas: Lift it, Tuck it, Botox it, Zeta-Jones it!

Neil Patrick Harris: NPH it, Legen it, Wait it, DAIRY it!

Matthew McConaughey: Crunch it, Tan it, Lance it, Gylleenhall it!

Kiera Knightley: Lemonface it, Lionface it, Bitter Beer Face it, Bitch Face it!

Morgan Freeman: Narrate it, Gravitas it, Charisma it, God it!

Jennifer Lopez: Act it, Sing it, Spanish it, No One Likes it!

Scarlet Johansson: Lip It, Cleavage It, Blonde It, Is That It?

Bangarang!

Considering the Box Office Potential of The Bucket List Based Solely on the Poster

Col. Nathan Jessip vs. God

There are many proven scientific ways of determining a film’s box office potential. Star power, strength of schedule, cool title, total number of naked boobies, franchise potential, genre, the presence of a precocious boy who can see dead people, etc. My particular method of determining box office potential is rather simple: I look at the movie poster and decide based solely on the image, whether I want to see the movie or not. I take in all the factors (who’s in it, what studio, release date, et al), and weigh them appropriately, but when it comes down to it, if I like the poster I’m seeing the movie.

Jessica Alba and Paul Walker into bathing suits super-imposed over shots of the Caribbean and high speed boats? Yep, that’ll do. A giant, haunting close-up of Zhang Zi Yi’s Geisha-‘d face? Color The Jay intrigued. Kurt Russell holding two guns in the air while all of Chinatown explodes below him? That’s some Big Trouble The Jay can get into. Now on the other hand, The Rock in a football uniform holding a Pomeranian next to a girl in a tutu? Might not be up my alley. Jason Lee’s constipated face looking down at three CGI Shitmonks? Skip and Flame Online! And Ben Stiller getting stung by a jellyfish, while always enjoyable seeing him get humiliated and attacked by wild sea creatures, does nothing to make me want to see another entry in his long line of “hysterical yelling fits, but not in the awesome Al Pacino-way” films.

I’m a simple moviegoer. Show me a couple cool looks at some movie stars, drop a witty tagline, highlight with some nice colors and give me the info I need about the flick. That’s all you have to do to make a poster that will get me to see the movie.

Let’s take a look at the poster for the new Rob Reiner feel-good dramedy “The Bucket List” (quick plot summary: Jack and Morgan are dying, so they make a list of all the things they wanted to do before they die and set out to do them. In the process they become “good men”, as is necessary in any Jack Nicholson feel good movie.), and see if we can determine the movie’s box office potential.

Let’s start with what Jack brings to the table:

- Jack’s smiling face: + 8 million
- Jack in sunglasses: + 14 million
- Jack playing his age: + 10 million
- Jack looking mischievous: + 22 million
- Jack in an adult comedy without Helen Hunt: + The Jay’s eternal gratitude

Now let’s do Morgan Freeman:

- Morgan looking God-like: +5 million
- Morgan potentially narrating the movie: + 13 million
- Morgan in denim for all the ladies: + 9 million
- Morgan without Ashley Judd: + 17 million
- Morgan not standing next to Clint Eastwood: + Thank the dear lord baby Jesus!

Let’s Note The Detractions:

- Directed by Rob Reiner: – 7 million
- Co-Starring Rob Morrow: – 4 million (stick with the Krumholtz, Northern Exposure)
- Absence of younger-skewing girl hottie: – 14 million
- Remembering the last Rob Reiner adult dramedy was The Story Of Us: – 17 million

Add In The Intangibles:

- Blue Sky background that appeals to older people (aka the AARP Factor): + 10 million
- Combination of two exceedingly likeable actors: + 19 million
- Getting to hear Jack and Morgan’s voices together in the same scene: + 12 million
- Old Men re-gaining their youth is in vogue right now (hello, Wild Hogs): + 9 million
- The potential to do A Few Good Men quotes and Shawshank quotes at the same time: + OH YEAH!
- What’s a holiday season without a feel good Jack Nicholson movie? + 36 million
- Also, seriously, the poster is just fun to look at: + 7 million

And Come Up With A Final Analysis:

I once wrote this of the iconic As Good As It Gets Poster:

How can you look at this poster and not want to see this movie. It tells you absolutely nothing about the film, nor anything about Jack’s character, though none of that matters. As long as you have Jack’s giant head and laconic smile on your poster, the movie will be a hit.

Now add that to the awesomeness that is Morgan Freeman and this movie is destined to make buckets of money (pun intended). The trailer looks great, the poster is infectious fun and the release date is perfect for this kind of movie. If it does less than $150 million, the Golden Globe for Best Comedy and sleeper Oscar nods for Best Actor, Supporting Actor and Picture, somebody screwed up. It’s impossible to go wrong with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman having fun together. Who doesn’t want to see that? They could have a phone book read-off and it would still do $20 million opening weekend. And I bet the poster for that movie would be just as cool.

If you had any reservations about this movie’s worth, watch the trailer and tell me if there’s any chance you’re NOT seeing it:

Didn’t think so.

Bangarang!

The Dubious Box Office Achievement of Evan Almighty

Not sure I agree with your math there, Chief!Sometimes you can see something coming from a mile away and still be surprised when it hits you in the face.

A few weeks ago I noticed that Evan Almighty, Universal’s sequel-in-name-and-Morgan-Freeman-only to 2003’s mega hit Bruce Almighty, was inching towards the vaunted $100 million dollar mark at the domestic box office. The movie had flopped upon its initial release, causing enormous embarassment for Universal and sending the studio into another poor fiscal performance for the quarter. Despite the widespread denouncement of the film, crossing the century line at the box office would be a sign of moderate success for what is known as the most expensive live-action comedy ever made.

The number was too important for Universal (as well as all members of the production with performance bonuses in their contracts) not to hit it, so the achievement seemed a pretty foregone conclusion. The only problem was that the movie wasn’t making enough end of the run money to hit the number. And that’s when I knew that something fishy was about to happen.

Three days ago Evan Almighty crossed the $100 million dollar mark by grossing a dubiously high one day gross on its 13th weekend. Nobody in the press or online world picked up on it, but I did. And I’m gonna tell you all about it.

But first, a quick discourse on star contracts: built in to all contracts for above the line players and below the line decision makers (that being the director, exec and regular producers, and sometimes the writer) are performance escalators that pay out when the movie they’re making hits certain financial goals. Twenty million dollar opening weekend, hundred million dollars domestic, hundred million dollars international, one million DVD units sold, and so on. These bonuses are independent of the actual salary, so an actor or director or producer doesn’t need to do ANYTHING to get the money, so long as the movie does well. You make the movie, promote it like hell, hope people like it and wait for the easy money to roll in. Therefore it is of great interest for all creative players involved that a movie score at the box office and trigger the bonuses.

Keep telling us about your success.  Really, we're so happy for you!To give you an example of the money we are talking about, I once got to see the Van Helsing contract for character actor Kevin J. O’Conner. He was the sixth billed lead and barely recognizable to anyone that isn’t a die hard fan of Deep Rising and yet his bonus for Van Helsing hitting $100 million was something north of $150,000. That doubled if the film hit $150 million, and so on in increments of $50 million. Seeing as how Van Helsing opened to $50 million, grossed $120 domestic and $180 internationally, and moved more than six million units on home video, I’m guessing O’Conner’s escalators paid him out to the tune of $500k. Not too shabby for sitting on your ass and not answering to how exorable the movie turned out. So keep these relatively low numbers in mind as we start talking about the bigger names involved in Evan Almighty.

On the studio side, a film grossing $100 million is important for a variety of reasons. It’s a clearly-defined financial marker than can be conveyed as a success to financiers and stockholders. As well, and more importantly, the box office of a film directly affects the home video sales. Grossing certain box office numbers dictates the number of copies vendors will put in stores for retail and purchase. A movie that tanks cannot be expected to do big home video business because the retailers won’t support their volume needs, but a hugely successful movie is virtually guaranteed to succeed in home video because of the perceived customer demand gleamed from the box office take. Kevin Smith has talked at length in commentaries and interviews about how important it was for Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back to do at least $30 million because it meant he’d sell an extra $300k DVD’s. The math only goes north from there.

I’m gonna take you through a calendar of events surrounding Evan Almighty’s road to $100 million and let you decide for yourself if I’m just seeing things (all information can be found HERE):

6.22.07 – Evan Almighty opens to extremely high expectations. High production costs, reshoots and big salaries for stars Steve Carrell, Morgan Freeman, writer Steve Oedekerk and director Tom Shadyac drove the budget of the film to a reported $175 million, making it the most costly comedy in the history of cinema, even accounting for inflation. Universal, banking on the strength of the franchise’s original film and the audience goodwill of Steve Carell generated by the previous summer’s sleeper hit The 40 Year-Old Virgin, pushed the film hard, hoping the film would match Bruce Almighty’s $240 million box office gross, or at the very least, the industry accepted 30% sequel dip. So the realistic box office goal of the film was about $175 million, or roughly the exact amount of the production budget. International box office would recoup the marketing and distribution fees and with a hearty home video take the film would prove to be quite profitable. But that’s not what happened.

6.24.07 – Evan Almighty takes in $31 million in its opening frame, less than half of what Bruce Almighty took in its first weekend, and a good $15 million below industry expectation. The film is quickly labeled as a flop, and rightly so.

OMG, it's Red from The Shawshank Redemption!  Did things go bad in Zihuatanejo?

7.1.07 – By its tenth day in theaters, Evan Almighty has only grossed $60 million. By this point in its run, Bruce Almighty had taken in $137 million.

8.1.07 – The film has showed moderate legs, grossing $36 million for the month of July, to bring it’s total to $96 million. This is where I started to take notice.

8.28.07 – Evan Almighty crosses $99 million. At the rate it’s going it should theoretically cross $100 million dollars in about 17 days, or on September 13th.

9.13.07 – On the film’s 84th day of release, Evan is still languishing in sub-$100 million hell. It has only grossed $745,000 in the last 17 days. By this revised estimate, $100 million is still one week away. This is when I made the most prescient statement since I predicted that Heroes would be the breakout hit of last season, six months before it premiered. I remember looking at Evan’s numbers and thinking “I bet it crosses $100 million this weekend with a crazy, unexplainable bump in the numbers”. I will leave it to you to decide if I was right.

Friday 9.14.07 – Evan grosses $40,425 in 385 screens, a standard decline of 20% from the previous Friday, though notable in that the previous Friday’s numbers came from 120 fewer screens. Based on this formula, Evan could look to gross about $75,000 on Saturday, a 20% decrease from the previous weekend’s $94k.

Saturday 9.15.07 – Evan Almighty, in its 86th day of release, grosses $209,825 dollars! Does that number seem odd to you? Let me put that number into perspective.

- That total is 419% increase from the day before.

- It’s a 55% INCREASE from the previous Saturday, where as the Friday to Friday numbers DECREASED 20%.

- The last time Evan Almighty grossed more $200k in a single day was July 29th, 48 days before, when the film was playing on 700 MORE screens!

- The last Saturday Evan was in an equal number of screens was August 25th, the film’s 65th day of release, when the film took in $138k. That’s a 50% bump three weeks later. Um, hello?

Sheepish is the right look for this, Steve.  Good call!Sunday 9.16.07 – Evan Almighty grosses $44,275 to cross the $100 million mark. It is a 79% drop from the ginormous day before, but only a 35% drop from the previous Sunday, holding to traditional box office patterns. There is no evidence to explain the boost in ticket sales for Saturday, and Sunday’s grosses do little to support the theory that the day was nothing more than an aberration. Or was it?

I hold that that number was inflated on purpose. I can’t say which side was responsible for the boost, the creative team wanting their escalators or Universal wanting to say the film grossed $100 million and save some face, but I can firmly state that box office grosses for Evan Almighty were artificially inflated on Saturday, September 15th in a last ditch attempt to hit the century mark.

I’m not deploring the tactic, box office tampering has been going on for decades, and in the long run who really cares anyway; I take pause with the egregiously conspicuous way in which it went down. Slowly pump up the numbers for a couple days during the week so you can prove the film was tracking higher, and then evenly distribute the money across the entire weekend. Don’t let the film do the exact amount of business expected for a full week and then dump $130k on a single day!!! That’s how you get caught. It’s just a terrible way to perpetuate a harmless fraud. And a rather expensive way to meet your goals. Mathematically speaking, if you assume that the combined performance bonuses for the big four involved in Evan Almighty hitting the century mark (Carell, Freeman, Oedekerk, Shadyac) was $3.5 million, then someone spent $130,000 dollars to cost the production 37 times that amount! It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that some phone calls were made last week and a proverbial hat was passed around town, collection donations for the Evan Almighty emergency funds.

This piece of information might not be of interest to anyone, but I thought it was pretty fascinating to see the machinery of big business studio economics at work. And I thought it was apropos that a movie made only on the pretense of making money and not artistic achievement, solved their flagging box office problem by doing the exact opposite action of the intent of the film, yet repeating its pointless origin: they spent money to make money (which made them spend MORE money).

Congratulations to Evan Almighty for crossing the century mark at the box office; I hope all involved are having a good time opening their mail this week.

Bangarang!

Celebrity Tax Deductions

Paris HiltonIn honor of the most hectic day of the year for crazy, on-the-VT-edge postal workers (too soon?), I dug through the garbage bins of the Beverly Hills branch of H & R Block and found a slew of Celebrity Tax Forms. I’m ommitted a lot of the information (such as Paris Hilton listing her occupation as “princess”), but I will reveal some of the more, shall we say, ludicrous things that celebrities try to deduct on their taxes. You’d think for the all the money they make and free schwag they’re given that they wouldn’t need to even itemize their deductions, but apparently stars are just as stingy as us plebes.

Enjoy the list, and make sure to get that envelope post-dated. You do not want to end up sharing a cell with Joe Francis (I hear he cries himself to sleep, but that’s what happens when you have an extremely painful level 10 strain of genital herpes and no soul).

2006 Celebrity Tax Deductions:

Lindsay Lohan: $14,000 for crotch extinguishers

Helen Hunt: $9,000 for forehead wax (and it’s put to good use)

Simon Cowell: $3000 for super-tight, v-necked black t-shirts, and $5500 for being forced to fill out such a goddawful form (he wrote in the margin “What? Is? This? This form is cabaret. It’s the worst form I have ever filled out. Other door.”)

Matthew McConaughey: $62,420 for acting-enhancing supplements (note: this is code for “weed”)

Shia LaBeouf: $100,000 in unmarked, small denomination bills, used as bribery money to the head of DreamWorks Pictures.

Mel Gibson: $50,000 charitable donation to the Museum of Tolerance (I call shenanigans on this one. Attention IRS, this is tax fraud.)

Renee Zellweger: $5,000 for face scrunch upkeep (a job-related write-off)

Nicole Ritchie eating a hot dogNicole Richie: $7.50 for food-related costs (she went to In-N-Out one time in June last year)

Katie Holmes: No deductions, but did attach a Scientology Center-emblazoned post-it note that read “I’ll give you anything you want, just come save me. Please…”

James Caviziel: TOTAL WRITE-OFF (after all, he is the Jesus!)

Britney Spears: Audited for deducting $50,000 for “bikini waxes”. The IRS eventually dropped the audit, sent her $50 bucks, and told her to buy some underwear and never bother them again.

Jon Mayer: $1 Million US government-sanctioned payout for keeping Jessica Simpson out of the limelight (this is worth its weight in whiny white boy angst music gold)

Scarlet Johansson: $4,000,000 deduction for the time spent doing sexy photo shoots that resulted in 13 million “first sexual experiences” by our nation’s male children.

Morgan Freeman: $11,000 for narration-related expenses.

Keifer Sutherland: Deep into a drunken rage (otherwise known as Tuesday), Kiefer went straight down to the Federal office, shot 17 IRS agents, defused 6 nuclear weapons, and demanded a $1,000,000 tax refund. The IRS gave him $2,000,000 and backed away very slowly.

Barry Bonds: Attempted to deduct $700,000 in miscellaneous job related deductions. The IRS told him to go fuck himself and to “buy some bigger hats, roid head” (the IRS are Dodgers fans, as they should be).

Owen Wilson: $17050.22 for blonde shag upkeep, $26,540 for collected Butterscotch Stallion costs (mostly just more butterscotch)

Keanu ReevesEd Norton: $800 billion deduction for illegal, untested steroids to get into proper shape to play the Incredible Hulk. Apparently, as smart as he is, he didn’t realize the Hulk would be in CGI. Norton just assumed Eric Bana was that ripped (This isn’t so hard to believe).

Keanu Reeves: Deducted Eleventy Billion Dollars for entertainment services rendered.

Bangarang!

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Things Overheard: Picture This, Blockbuster Sucks & Steven Spielberg is 60

THINGS I’M MAKING FUN OF – A RED CARPET EDITION OF PICTURE THIS!

“I’m your HUGE Huckleberry. Is that pie? Cause I could totally go for pie while being your Huckleberry.”

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“Boy was I lucky my anti-aging cream came in time for this premiere. Who would have thought that the same orphans I’m adopting could also be used as pulp for my unholy Immortal Hotness potion.”

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“American Airlines announces it’s hiring of the hottest flight attendant EVER. In the event of a plane crash, please hope you are an empath. If so, please touch the flight attendant for safety.”

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“Hey honey, wanna hear me narrate? Oooh yeah, you like these dulcet tones? Why don’t you come march with my penguin?”

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“The new nose should keep Justin around a few more weeks. Maybe I should schedule a ham flap lift for the Spring. Surfing season is just around the corner…”

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“Good god, is that Jennifer Garner? Whose soul did she suck to get hot again? I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, Ben Affleck is a lucky, lucky man.”

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“Perfection.”

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“I must find Professor X before Magneto destroys Charlotte’s Web!”

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“I hope 50’s flak jacket has reinforcements. Looks like Sam didn’t get fed this morning.”

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“When did Angelina Jolie start dating a Joe Black?”

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“Lose five pounds of hair immediately, or get off my red carpet!”

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“Oh, you like that smile? You forgot how hot I am when I smile, didn’t you? Never forget how many times you whacked off to my nude scene in Mulholland Falls. NEVER!”

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“Physics!”

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THINGS I WILL BE APPEARING ON

Stay by your devices for instant messaging and internet porn this Thursday at 4pm, be they Mac or PC, as I guest host the live podcast “PopLoad” for NowInLa.com. It’s a pop culture show designed to drop a smelly wet one on the celeb shenanigans of the day. Basically, it’s like reading one of my posts out loud. The show is live, so if you want to ask me a question you can call in or text message. I’ll be premiering some stuff from this Friday’s Year in Film Awards post, and maybe even throwing out some trivia questions to the listeners. It’s gonna be fun.

If you miss the show I’m pretty sure you can download the episode afterwards. For more info on the show, click the banner on the sidebar or go through this LINK.

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THINGS I’M LISTENING TO

Here’s what’s kicking up dirt on my iPod these days.

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THINGS THAT PISS ME OFF ABOUT BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO

I went in to the worst video store EVER the other day to rent a few inane, distraction comedies (I needed something on in the background while I wrapped gifts, and wouldn’t you know it, Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson are absolutely perfect to ignore), perused the oddly spaced New Release wall – why was there an entire section set aside for Americn Pie 5, but only four copies of Brick? – and scored my Butterscotch Stallion fix, then braved the absurdly long line. I ignored the inexplicably slow service and sat patiently while the half asleep guy behind the counter ineffectually went about ringing me up. I drove all the way home, laid out the gifts and wrapping paper, went to put in the movie, only to find that the moron behind the counter forgot to take the security locks off of the tapes, so I couldn’t open either box!

So now I’m in a quandary. Do I get dressed and drive all the way back to Blockbuster just to get the locks pulled off, have a credit put on my account, throw some condescension at a minimum wage tape slag and then drive all the way back home, or do I just say screw it and watch TV instead?

Ten minutes later I was at the store.

I tell the guy he made the mistake, and his response? “Ah, my bad! I’m such a dumbass.” At least he owned up to it. I want a credit for the hassle and he tells me I have to ask for the manager. The manager (a hugemongous beyotch of a woman) makes me wait for nearly ten minutes (which wouldn’t be that big a deal, but I’m on crutches these days, so I only have one foot to stand on, and I’ve been putting it to use for the better part of a day), and when she finally deigns to help me she gives the shit eyes. Like I’m putting her out because her CSR is an idiot? In the immortal words of Erin Brockovich, bite my ass, Krispy Kreme! Don’t give me grief because you people suck at your monkey job; I’m not the thirty year-old working the late shift at a Sherman Oaks Blockbuster Video.

I don’t understand why the entire world hasn’t switched to Netflix, yet. Then again, I’m the same guy who’s astounded that the world rejected the Champagne Punch jellybean, so what do I know? However, I do know one thing: the next time I need a fix of inane Butterscotch Stallion jokery I’ll just pop in my well-worn copy of Zoolander on DVD and save myself the trouble (“You is talking loco and I like it!”).

Also…

Dear Blockbuster Video,

I hope Netflix socks you in the face like the crappy corporate suckhole you are.

Love,

The Jay

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THINGS ABOUT OSCAR

Now this is a campaign I can get behind.

Now if I can only get the Rocky Balboa “For Your Consideration…” campaign going.

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THINGS TO CLICK ON, SPORTS THEMED

- Dan Marino is nothing if not intense. Just too bad he didn’t bring that same passion to Ace Ventura, or he might have had some Oscar talk. Well, probably not, but it might have helped stop all the Razzie talk.

– If you enjoy shuddering at the thought of Chris Berman picking up chicks, today’s your lucky day. Expect “you’re with me, leather” to become a permanent reference here at TheJay.com.

(http://www.deadspin.com/sports/chris-berman/he-could-go-all-the-way-166410.php)

- Here’s my Holiday gift to all my wrestling fan readers out there. Here’s the entire match of Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant from the legendary Wrestlemania 3. Enjoy not getting any work done for the next ten minutes.

– This piece makes me hardcore pissed that HoopsTV.com folded. That was a sick sports blog, before blogs became the norm.

(http://freedarko.blogspot.com/2006/12/and-so-story-goes.html)

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THINGS ABOUT MY HEROES

Birthday wishes go out to Steven Spielberg, my all-time favorite director, who celebrated his 60th birthday on Monday. He may not always make the coolest movies, or even the smartest movies, but his movies are always exceedingly watchable, expertly made and laced with the type of magic seldom seen on-screen. In other words, he makes the best movies.

There isn’t a person in this country who doesn’t love at least one of his flicks, be it Jaws, Raiders, E.T., Jurassic Park, or one of the other twenty-one. His films touch our hearts, excite our minds and dazzle our eyes. He is responsible for millions of kids wanting to be film directors; and the conductor of an even higher number of childhood playtime fantasies. He was my first inspiration as a writer and budding director. And he remains my favorite creator of movie magic. Even when he makes a movie I don’t like ( like The Terminal) I still find great things in it, like the amazing airport set, which I got to walk through when I worked as an extra on the film (which means I might just love it because I’m visible in two shots of the movie).

To honor the bearded great one, here are ten Spielberg movie moments I love:

- Two moments stand out for me from Jaws: 1. The entire USS Indianapolis speech (“..thing about a shark. He’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes…”). 2. When the shark drags the first barrel underwater and Hooper loses him in a chase; I love the quiet moment when Quint stands on the end of the starboard walk ramp, holding his rifle and shaking his head, while the sun sets beautifully around him. It was a look that spoke volumes. We’re gonna need a bigger boat, indeed.

- The over the shoulder pull back to reveal the government base at Devil’s Mountain, in Close Encounters. The first use of what is now known as “The Spielberg Shot”. Often imitated, never topped, it is still the best way to do a reveal on film.

- The scenes of kids trick-or-treating in E.T. As a boy who grew up in The Valley, watching a movie about a young boy and his alien best friend who lived, essentially, around the corner from me (I used to play in the same park as Elliot), brought me countless fever dreams and daytime pretend adventures. The moon shot is still a stunning image, and easily makes for the best production company logo EVER.

- The climax in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when Indy is hanging off the ledge, desperately trying to reach the grail cup, while Henry tries to pull him to safety. Henry can’t get Indy’s attention, and their grip is starting to falter. Indy’s got mad glory in his eyes, but Henry realizes what’s truly important and gives Indy the lesson our intrepid archeologist has been looking for since we saw him run from the boulder in Raiders.

Henry: Indiana. Indiana, let it go.

That line gets me more than any other moment in the series. A perfect encapsulation of the life these men lead. Man alive, can Spielberg make a movie!

- The trailer over the cliff sequence in The Lost World. So well-choreographed and executed, it comes off like a Gene Kelly dance, as interpreted by Wes Craven. I love the look on Julianne Moore’s face when she realizes what’s about to happen. “Oh shit” never looked cooler on a girl.

- The epic 20 minute storming the beach scene in Saving Private Ryan, specifically the extended sequences done in silence as Tom, slightly deafened from a blast, takes in the violence happening all around him. Arguably the most realistic depiction of war ever committed to celluloid. And the fact that this film lost to a Gwyneth Paltrow romantic comedy makes me sick at both ends.

- The opening credits of Catch Me If You Can, with the Pink Panther-like animation and the John Williams jazz riff. It was a signal that we were not about to see a typical Steven Spielberg fantasy, but instead something far more playful and sophisticated. And it is easily my favorite Spielberg movie of the last ten years.

- “Oh, there you are, Peter!”

- The spider sequence in Minority Report. The creepy mechanical crawlers search the entire building looking for Tom Cruise’s John Anderton (the last time The Cruiser was effortlessly cool on-screen). They can’t detect Cruise because he’s lying motionless in an ice cold bathtub. The last spider is walking away when Cruise lets one tiny air bubble slip out of his mouth. And the spider hears it. The delicate double take of the CGI creature is so smooth, so graceful as to be almost unnoticeable. But let there be no mistake, it is a sly stroke of genius. And serves as yet another reminder why Spielberg uses CGI better than anyone else on the planet. Michael Bay better learn himself an education by next summer. A BIG FUCKING ROBOTS movie needs all the subtlety it can get.

- The first dinosaur reveal in Jurassic Park. Maybe the single best reveal shot of the last half decade. Ellie is going on and on about some indigenous wildlife and Grant turns her head to see what he was looking at and all we see are her eyes go wide. Ellie rises out of the jeep and then BAM, we cut to the most perfectly realized depiction of a prehistoric animal ever put on film. I can still see my Dad shaking in the theater, awestruck by what he was seeing. That’s the type of reaction Spielberg elicits in audiences. He leaves them awestruck; my favorite emotion to have while watching a movie.

And I thank him for giving that to me so many times. Happy Birthday, Sir. We honor you here at TheJay.com. May you continue to create wonder on the silver screen for many more years to come.
For an absolutely fantastic retrospective of Steven Spielberg’s career, CLICK HERE.

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Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good Bangarang!