The King’s Speech

Post 73- Character Actors…ASSEMBLE!

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Over the past few years a lot of buzz has been building over the heavily anticipated Joss Whedon-directed Avengers movie. The film stars all of the recent movie-incarnation Marvel superheroes: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). It also stars S.H.I.E.L.D agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). Yes. Cobie Smulders.

The trend in super-hero movies these days is to cast well respected character actors (actors who play exceedingly eccentric or unusual characters) as the major villain. In Iron Man it was Jeff Bridges, in The Incredible Hulk it was William Hurt and Tim Roth, in the new Spider-Man it’s Rhys Ifans and brilliant In Treatment actor Irfan Khan, in Green Lantern it’s Peter Sarsgaard, in Batman Begins it was Liam Neeson. The better the villain, the better the hero.

Since The Avengers are arguably (no disrespect to the Justice League) the ultimate superhero team, the villains they fight must be the ultimate villains. After all, one  Avengers mantra is that they “fight the foes no single superhero can withstand.” I’m not sure who the Avengers are fighting in this new film. I believe it has not been released yet. However, the original comics have story lines featuring Thor’s Loki using the Hulk as a weapon, as well as a group known as the Masters of Evil. Which brings me to my main point. Which amazing character actors out there (who haven’t already portrayed big villains—leaving out Steve Buscemi, Gary Oldman, John Malkovich, etc.) would be believable as formidable opponents to Robert Downey Jr. and his team? Which actors are so badass and, following the recent trend, character-y, that you would believe that they could only be defeated by a team of the greatest superheroes alive? Who are the Avengers of character actors? Here are my picks:

Timothy Spall– What a weird looking guy. He has the market on menacing, mousy underlings (see: Harry Potter, Enchanted, Sweeney Todd) but has the chops to give you Winston Churchill (The Kings Speech), and Rosencrantz (Hamlet). I could see him as the rotund Puff Adder.

The Soup Nazi– To be honest, I didn’t even bother looking up his name, because that’s who he is. He’s the Soup Nazi. Forever and ever. He even appeared in an episode of Scrubs as The Soup Nazi. Can you name me another actor who appeared on one episode of a sitcom and turned it into a career? (Robin Williams starring as Mork on Happy Days doesn’t count.) Who does he play? Nazi scientist Baron Zemo, of course!

Stephen Toblowsky– This guy has done it all. Most recently appearing as former Glee coach/drug dealer Sandy Ryerson on Glee, he has made a career of playing irritating business types (see: Groundhog’s Day) and lite comic villains (see: Garfield). He would make an excellent super villain and would annoy the hell out of Captain America with his pompous attitude. Let him be evil genius, Immortus.

Wallace Shawn– This guy deserves the chance to strut his stuff on a mammoth scale. He excels at playing the nebishy, brainy nerds (see: Clueless, The Princess Bride.) But boy does he do that well. Watching him torture his perfect foil, Thor, using logic games, and just watching him divulge his evil plans to a held-captive Iron Man, would be delectable. Definitely Egghead.

Matt Walsh– Let’s get a little comedy into this Avengers movie! In the past decade, Upright Citizen’s Brigade founding member Matt Walsh has “secretly” appeared in every comedy film/television show released in the past 10 years, playing the loud, obnoxious oddball. (See: The Hangover, Children’s Hospital, I Love You, Man, Step Brothers). Obviously, he’d play the juggling Oddball.

Christopher Lloyd– Hollywood loves a comeback, and it’s about time that Christopher Lloyd return to his rightful place as the go-to eccentric. Let him give younger audiences a taste of what he showed us in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Pagemaster. He would rock the socks off as a super villain bent on destroying the world and driving Jeremy Renner insane. Let him play the dichotomously brilliant and destructive Mr. Hyde.

Conchata Farrell– Conchata is the take no guff, sarcastic, confident big ol lady best known for her roles in Two and a Half Men, Mr. Deeds and Erin Brockovich. A powerful woman who won’t take Robert Downey Jr’s sass or succumb to Chris Evans’ charm, she’ll play The Executioner.

Mickey Jones– He’s the big biker guy you’ve seen in everything from Total Recall to Lizzie McGuire. The man has more than paid his dues to the biz and is ready for more than just showing up in a bar fight. He can pull off The Wrecker.

Tommy “Tiny” Lister– With his one line as the huge prisoner on the boat in The Dark Knight (“Give it to me, and I’ll do what ya’ll shoulda did ten minutes ago.”) I knew that I wanted to see more of this guy. So let’s see more of him! Make him Thunderball!

Maggie Wheeler– Better known as the most annoying girlfriend ever—Janice from Friends—her siren call gives her more than enough credibility to destroy Scarlett Johansson and keep even the Hulk at bay. She’s definitely Man-Killer!

Until Tomorrow–

Post 64-Colin Comes In Firth (now who has the speech impediment?)

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Hi readers! Right out of the gate I want to let you know that in the coming weeks I will begin making some upgrades to this blog. Most changes will be minor (formatting, etc.) but the biggest change is that I will be trying to post more frequently, which means I will write more concise bi/tri-weekly posts instead of having one gigantic post every two and a half weeks. I am very excited about this, so please, if you have an RSS feed or a Google Reader account, add me to your list!

Ok–on with the show!

Like most of America, I was very disappointed by last night’s Oscar ceremony. Overall I found it dull, tedious, unbelievably unfunny, uncomfortable at times, and anti-climactic. But I tried to live blog/tweet through it all. So here it is–I present to you my live OSCAR BLOG!

7:27- Source Code = Groundhog day + more explosions

Picks in advance: Best Picture- King’s Speech

Best Actor- Firth

Best Actress- Portman

Best Supporting Actor- Bale

Best Supporting Actress- Leo

Director- Fincher

7:32- Opening video reminds me of MTV Movie Awards. Bringing in Alec Baldwin is clutch, but why bring in last year’s lesser funny Oscar host?

7:33- Dreidel!

7:33 So far not very funny though. And why does Anne Hathaway adopt an accent in every “movie” but Franco doesnt? She clearly wants this more than he does.

Pretty lazy opening overall. This sucks.

What does Back to the Future have to do with anything? Why not.

7:36- I don’t think I laughed once during this whole opening. Does not bode well for the future

7:38- Very pithy banter. Really stupid jokes. REALLY STUPID JOKES. I wonder what jokes they threw out?

7:40- Is James Franco going to murmur every line?

7:40 – Have we decided that comedians need to host the Oscars again?

7:42- Tom Hanks hasn’t won an Oscar in 16 years. Like Meryl Streep, he’s due.

7:44- I predict Alice In Wonderland for art direction—I WIN!

7:45- Tim Burton not nearly as happy that his movie won. He looks like a Basset Hound

7:46- Now he’s a happy Burton. Dating Tim Burton was the best thing that ever happened to Helena Bonham Carter’s career.

7:52- Nice pimp cane Kirk. But who’s idea was it to have him actually present an award. No one is going to know who wins!

7:55- Kirk Douglas is going off script! STOP GOING OFF SCRIPT! THIS IS SO UNCOMFORTABLE!

7:56- You know who feels the worst about Kirk Douglas? Catherine Zeta Jones. That’s what she has to look forward to in 20 years.

7:57- Melissa Leo wins! Nice surprised face.  But you’re taking way too much time! You had so much time to practice this speech why are you so obnoxiously gracious?  Way too over the top for me. Why are you using his cane to walk off stage? What is all this nonsense!

8:00- Timberlake and Mila Kunilingus’ banter is so awful. Hey! At least he improvised a joke- You know! I think he should host next year.

8:07- John Lasseter is one of the richest people in the world and I bet he spends all of his money on toys. Toys and Hawaiian shirts.

8:13- Penelope Cruz had big boobs before. But now she has “I just had a baby boobs.” Who’s hotter: her or Sofia Vergara? I can’t decide!!!!!!

8:14 Did Brolin and Bardem plan to wear the same tux?

8:19- David Seidler better have a great fucking speech. Really peaked late as a writer. His last movie was 2009’s TV Movie Kung Fu Killer starring David Carradine. Also wrote Warner Bros animated non-classic Quest for Camelot.

8:27 I want to know what sketch they decided to take out so we could hear Anne Hathaway sing a 30 second bitch slap to Hugh Jackman? Is she auditioning for her high school musical? What’s going on here!

8:47- Way to ruin the ending of True Grit oscars!

8:50- That guy must have worked hard to make the choo choo sounds in Unstoppable!

8:58- Rick Baker has a GORGEOUS mane. Reminds me of Lucius Malfoy’s. Love that The Wolfman won an oscar while True Grit and The Kids are Alright wont.

9:03- Fun fact Randy Newman is 1/19 in Oscars wins.

9:11 Laziest comedy writing ever. Made out with Anne Hathaway….in a MOVIE! HAHAHAHAHA! Franco is so ironic. What happened to Bruce Vilanch!

9:16- Strangers No More winner looks like the guy who ran your AV club in high school. At least he gives a fun speech.

9:16- Oscar autotune was most creative thing they’ve done so far.

9:29- “Please come back!”- The Audience to Billy Crystal

10:04- Biggest mistake of the night. David Fincher totally deserved that. Hollywood must really hate him because there’s really nothing special about the way The King’s Speech was directed.

10:06- Way too much Celine Dion tonight. No one likes her. The Oscars really jumped the shark.

10:20: Finally! Presenters with charisma! Bullock and Bridges were great.

THAT’S AS FAR AS I GOT. I was really bored and had nothing more to say. But hey! There’s always next year!

Day 62-I hope that Method Man teaches method acting to meth addicts

Awards season is upon us! Horray? I’m not sure how to react these days during the frenzy that is Awards season. I like movies and I like competition, so one would think that I would enjoy this special time of year. But in fact, recently it has been nothing but a huge bore to me. It’s fun to debate the merits of one movie and/or performance versus another but that is just one small benefit to enduring a season of awarding what is increasingly becoming the same people/movies over and over again. Every year there are clear frontrunners, (these past few years more than ever), who pretty much win every award (Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild, Golden Globes, National Council of the Arts of Movies and Cinema and Stuff etc.) up to the Oscars with few surprises. This year most “pundits” will tell you the FINAL FOUR will most likely going to be Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. Done. They’ve won every award so far, why not the Oscar? Truthfully, I feel bad for all the other nominees who have had to sit through countless painful award shows knowing that there is no chance of them winning and having to listen to what’s more or less the same acceptance speech with some small iterations. BORING. The Best Picture/Best Director races are a bit up in the air (GEORGE CLOOOONEY) with Social Network winning all the earlier awards and The Kings Speech heating up as of late. But it promises to be a crazy campaign. The absurdity is that people like to vote for whatever seems to be hot, which means the person who has the most momentum, which means the person with the best PR department who can convince the masses that it’s their year (ie. last year was TOTALLY SANDRA BULLOCK’S YEAR!) So honestly, take the winners with a grain of salt. The Oscars don’t really matter. No one can tell me that Crash was really the best movie of 2005.

The whole reason the Oscars were invented was to have an awards show that could garner up press and make more money for the films and the film industry. That’s still what it’s for. Do you think anyone would have seen The King’s Speech if it had not been touted as an “award winner?” The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences makes a lot of money from the telecast, and the higher its ratings the more money it will make. They expanded the Best Picture category from 5 to 10 so they could include not just the good small films, but the films that were popular and thus would get more people to watch the show. That’s why a manipulative, feel-good, sentimental B movie, which happened to make like $250 million, like The Blind Side, will get nominated for Best Picture. THEREFORE–Oscars are a little about rewarding great art but a lot about money.  Also why they brought in two handsome actors to host the show this year as opposed to the standard funny comedians who spend the evening telling inside jokes.

Assorted Thoughts of This Years Awards Crop:

1- I don’t know what Best Picture means. Does it mean the most important film? The one that people will look back and remember 50 years from now? The one with the best overall writing, directing, acting etc. etc? I don’t know, but taking all those intangibles in mind I really hope The Social Network wins Best Picture. Not only is it a great story with a great script, direction, acting etc, but it’s the film this year that I was the most excited about. The one I had to see opening night (I was more excited about this than Inception. For reals). It didn’t disappoint as it was the most exciting, suspenseful movie of the year, even though I knew the ending beforehand. I know I’m biased because I’m of the Facebook generation, but I really think this movie hit on a lot of today’s cultural nerve. How often do we feel that movies are relevant anymore?

THE FOLLOWING IS MORE OF WHY I LOVE THE SOCIAL NETWORK, TAKEN FROM AN EMAIL I WROTE TO READER DANIEL “PATTON OSWALT IS THE GUY” ARKIN:

I feel like The Social Network is the first all around solid, classic “movie” we’ve seen in a while. It’s not a period piece, so it didn’t rely on that bullshit, it’s not a “action movie” so it didn’t rely on that bullshit, it’s not a war movie, or a quirky love story, so it didn’t rely on that. It’s not an “underdog story” so it didn’t rely on that. No father/son family drama bullshit either.  It was almost devoid of all “award winning movie” cliches which is so awesome. (Except for the writing equations on a window scene.) Just an awesome script with clear characters, motivations, interesting plots, no clear cut hero or villain. And its not an “indie movie.” Its a big studio movie with a great story. It reminds me of like dustin hoffman movies from the 70s (Like All The President’s Men or something). Just a great movie with great actors/directors/writing.

I’m going to add to this that I hope TSN wins because Hollywood just doesn’t make movies like this anymore. They make tiny budgeted indies or huge blockbusters. No in between. Those options provide the least amount of risk. If you’re going to spend $60 million, why not spend $150 million and make it a can’t miss product-based movie (ie. GI Joe)? Or why spend $60 million if you can spend $15 million and gross the same amount at the Box Office? Every year a small-budget, British cast, period piece like The Kings Speech comes out. I hope The Social Network proved that you can make a successful (in both prestige and $) medium budget movie if you have in place a great writer and director. 

2. It’s so hard to choose between best performances. Would you watch Colin Firth wedged between two boulders for 2 hours? I wouldn’t either, and I don’t think he would be able to pull it off. So why is his performance better? I dont know. It was good. Very good. But with all of these films you are comparing apples and oranges.

3. And besides, the only awards show that really matters is the Kids Choice Awards. Where kids rule!

Enough Oscar Talk. I’m sorry if you didn’t care about any of this. I’ll try and make it up to you with some Glee-derived humor.

Will Schuester is best-known as the musical director of Nude Erections. Excuse me, I mean New Directions. For reasons simultaneously altruistic and creepy (see screencap–right), this–that is, being a glee director–is his passion. Yet Will Scheuster only became the director a year ago. He had been a teacher long before that. What kind of teacher? A Spanish teacher. Which leads me to ask a few questions. 1. If this Will Scheuster character loves being a glee director so much, why did he wait 10 years into his career to start? If singing was his favorite part of high school and the reason the pilot gives for him wanting to become a teacher, then why has he been teaching Spanish? Clearly a man as passionate as Will would only do what he was passionate about, which leads me to think that he must be also have been passionate about Spanish. If this is true, then why haven’t we seen any Spanish or Latino culture permeate through Nude Erections? Why isn’t Santana the lead singer? Why aren’t they singing any Santana? Why does it seem like Will barely even knows Spanish? But there’s more. If Will loves being a teacher simply because he can give advice to students, then was he mentoring kids before? Did he just ditch these other kids when he heard Finn knocked up Quinn? How is he such a good singer/dancer if those skills in him had been lying dormant for 10 years? What was Will doing from ages 21-31? I need to know. If you have any ideas (I’m looking at you CARA) the please let me know.

While these questions are certainly perplexing, they are minuscule in comparison the the ones brought up by the following facebook ad that came up on my page:  “Click ‘Like’ and catch an exclusive, free Matthew Morrison show on 1/29, the first of his solo career, brought to you by Oscar Mayer!”

First I laughed. Then I thought. Then I laughed some more. TOO….MANY….JOKES. Here are some of them:

1- Let’s get a wiener to sell our wieners! or Let’s find the biggest wiener on television…

2-Clearly Matthew Morrison is compensating for something.

3-The same kids who’s parents don’t have time to pack them lunches and therefore have to give them lunchables are the same ones who find solace from their miserable lives in GLEE!

4- Way to pander to the gay market Oscar Mayer.

5- Matthew Morrison loves wieners.

6- Matthew Morrison’s acting is really bologna.

7- Is Glee a Wiener-mobile?

Can you think of more?

Until Tomorrow—

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