Robert De Niro’s Best Of The 1980’s

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By the time 1980 hit, Robert De Niro was a true star in Hollywood, in every sense of the word. He had multiple Academy Award nominations under his belt. He had teamed up with Martin Scorsese and started a legendary partnership. Some of his greatest success was yet to come.

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5. Once Upon A Time In America
De Niro was at a point in his career where working on projects he wanted to and working with anyone he wanted was no doubt his choice. De Niro was the first person cast in Sergio Leone’s final film. He had enough clout to have input on many aspects of the film, including his fellow cast members. It would receive mixed reviews, but as time went on it has become a more respected and even definitive film.

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4. The King Of Comedy
A rather dark comedy directed by, once again, Martin Scorsese, makes for another great De Niro performance. His portrayal of Rupert Pupkin is torturous and almost painful. A comedian who so desperately wants in on show business he stalks his idol, late night talk show host, played by iconic funny man Jerry Lewis. De Niro’s methods were in full swing and his ability to draw out great performances from fellow cast mates really came through.

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3. The Untouchables
Having made a name for himself playing mafia gangsters and gangster types lead Brian De Palma to cast him as the most notorious gangster of all time, Al Capone. Being as method of an actor as possible, he became Capone right down to the underwear. He would again receive an Oscar nomination for a spot on portrayal.

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2. Midnight Run
A more straight up comedy, Midnight Run was a popular a more of a box office success than the 3 previous film. De Niro proved he could play straight up comedy alongside other great comedic actors, including his co-star, Charles Grodin. It is unmistakable that De Niro put his whole talents in the film, adding to the character and really making it his own. It is still a popular film and often showed movie all over TV and there is no doubt in my mind that De Niro has quite a bit to do with that.

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1.Raging Bull
The Scorsese/ De Niro teaming would prove its most prolific to date when Scorsese would come out of his comfort zone with a sports film, all at the urging of De Niro. De Niro is even often credited with saving Scorsese’s life by visiting him in the hospital after a cocaine overdose. By urging him to make the film and get back to work is what brought him straight. It would prove valuable on all fronts as De Niro would win a best actor Academy Award and the film would go down in history as one of Scorsese’s best and one of the best of all time.

John Hawkes Is A Face You Know

Five and a half years ago I wrote about the character actor John Hawkes and how his talents had gone largely unknown to mainstream movie fans. His career has since blossomed more so but he is still a name you should know, therefore, I am reposting this piece.

It is not uncommon for an actor to experience success later in his career unlike he’s ever experienced. The hard part of dealing with the progress is maintaining the artistic integrity they have carried with them all along. The big Hollywood machine is easy to get wrapped up in. John Hawkes is a perfect example of one who has been able to maintain all of this while experiencing great success. He is indeed a master of his craft and acts for the love of the art and desire to expand his abilities.

John Hawkes grew up in rural Minnesota, far from any hotbed of acting and filmmaking. Undeterred he would eventually move to Austin, Texas to pursue acting and musical career. In 1985 Hawkes landed his first film role in the very forgettable Future-Kill. But then he was off and running.

Over the next 25 years, he would amass over 100 film and television credits. With various roles, he would eventually make a name for himself in the independent film world. With minor roles in bigger movies such as Congo and From Dusk Till Dawn, he was slowly starting to become a recognizable face. But it wouldn’t be until 15 years after his film career began that he would land the role that would have people recognizing his work in the big blockbuster hit, The Perfect Storm. His work ethic and dedication to the project would soon be his defining mark.

In 2004 he landed the role that would be one of the proudest projects on his resume. David Milch cast him in his new HBO series, the western drama, Deadwood. Starring as Sol Star, the Jewish business owner of the gold mining camp, he would show his real talents on every end of the spectrum.

Fresh off the conclusion of Deadwood he would take a critical role in Ridley Scott’s latest film, American Gangster. The chance to star with such Hollywood heavyweights such as Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington, Hawkes would show that he could more than hold his own.

Continuing to work very steadily, Hawkes landed his most significant role in the independent thriller, Winter’s Bone as the uncle of breakout star Jennifer Lawrence. Winter’s Bone would bring Lawrence and Hawkes Academy Award nominations and bring them to the fore of actors everyone needs to take notice.

Shortly after Winter’s Bone, Hawkes would star as deranged cult leader Patrick alongside another breakout star Elizabeth Olsen in the very chilling Martha Marcy May Marlene.
John Hawkes is poised to garner his second Oscar nomination for his portrayal of  Mark O’Brien, the real-life story of a man in an iron lung who is determined to lose his virginity at the age of 36 with the help of professional sex surrogate.

Never being afraid to tackle any role no matter the subject matter or how odd it may seem on the surface, Hawkes will always lay his best on the screen and use his experience to better his ability. He is an actors actor who works for the love of the art and not for the perks that come with it. Well respected and much loved his respect among his peers Hawkes will always be one to give his best for the sake of the project and self.

James Gandolfini’s Film Career Remembered

It has been just over five years when on Wednesday, June 19, 2013, the entertainment and acting world lost a true giant when James Gandolfini succumbed to a massive heart attack and fell asleep in death. Gandolfini will forever be remembered as Tony Soprano on one of the greatest television shows of all time, and his character may be one of the best as well. The role of Tony Soprano was superbly written and thought out. Despite his remarkable role of Tony Soprano, James Gandolfini films were to ones to be remembered as well.

While being remembered as Tony Soprano is an extraordinary legacy to have, it is also a little bit sad that some people will never know what a terrific actor Gandolfini was. Tony Soprano is a crucial example of how great he was but only looking at his other work shows how good he was as Tony. I’ve decided to take a look at some of my favorite Gandolfini roles and some of his most diverse.

5. The Mexican 2001 (Winston Baldry)

Winston is a hitman, and that is close to the Soprano character, but Winston has a twist, he’s gay. He not only is gay, but he also has a conscience and doubts about his way of life. He brought a humanity to the character that was desperately needed. It was the character that stood out and made the movie better than it was.

4. Welcome To The Rileys 2010 (Doug Riley)

Doug Riley is stuck in a 30-year marriage with a wife who has never gotten over the loss of their 15-year-old daughter, and while Doug has become numb to his life as well, he begins to show signs of breaking out. On a business trip to New Orleans, he unexpectedly gets hooked up with a 16-year-old prostitute and starts to help change her life. This character is so complicated on the inside while being bland on the outside and near emotionless. He does a beautiful job letting his inner self-come through a little bit at a time.

3. Zero Dark Thirty 2012 (C.I.A. Director)

James Gandolfini in Columbia Pictures’ gripping new thriller directed by Kathryn Bigelow, ZERO DARK THIRTY.

There isn’t much more opposite of the head of a mafia crime family than the head of the C.I.A. Therefore when he played the Director in the award-winning film about the ten-year hunt for Osama Bin Laden his brief time on film had to make an impact. The few words he spoke resonated and gave credibility to different characters and where they stood and what empowered them. Usually, when a more prominent name actor is cast in a smaller role, it is because the expertise is needed despite the size of the part. His skill was just what that character and film needed and got.

2. All The Kings Men 2006 (Tiny Duffy)

When I said that being C.I.A. Director was as opposite as you could get, I meant it, but playing a crooked southern politician in 1950’s Louisiana is just about as different. Tiny Duffy is a corrupt man working with significant politicians to help swing an election but when it doesn’t go their way he is forced to join the man trying to bring them down, and he has all but become his lap dog. With a pretty decent southern accent, he could play the character with the confidence of Tony Soprano until it was needed for him to be brought down to the low level and he filled those shoes just as well.

1. Cinema Verite 2011 (Craig Gilbert)

Gandolfini returned to HBO for this film which did well at the Golden Globes and various festivals. Craig Gilbert was a real-life person who was a television producer who is credited with creating what is now known as reality TV. He had the idea to follow a seemingly average family, and when the cameras come, the normal goes away. He struggles with the morality of what he is doing and trying to keep his feelings for the wife and mother of the family, in check.

Gandolfini will be much missed, and it is safe to assume now that a Sopranos movie is not going to happen. So as we reflect on his career and the things he did, remember these words from The Sopranos theme song: “ She said, you’re one in a million. You got to learn to shine.” Shine he did.

Woody Harrelson Became The Biggest Star After Cheers Went Off The Air

Without question one of the most popular, if not the most popular sitcom of the 1980’s was Cheers. Making stars out of Ted Danson, Shelly Long, Kirstie Alley and of course Woody Harrelson. Cheers was wildly popular and consistently good despite significant cast member changes and additions. Cheers called final call in 1993 leaving the cast to make new paths for themselves and would let us see who would be remembered for their character and who would blaze a bold new trail. Woody Harrelson was in waiting amongst the cast of the popular sitcom. It was Woody Harrelson’s career after Cheers that is the biggest story.

Harrelson was a definite wild card when he was cast to replace the extremely popular Nicolas Colasanto who played the beloved “Coach” after he passed away. Woody was thrust into what could have been an impossible situation. Replaces loved man and character with an unknown actor whose new style had many similarities to Coach. Woody couldn’t have done any better! As the years went on, he fit right in with the cast of characters and proved to be the right choice. The unknown with Woody and his role when the show ended was, would he be typecast as the dimwitted Woody Boyd? Harrelson with a determination and series of acting choices, would not let that happen.

While taking roles towards the end of Cheers in movies like White Men Can’t Jump, and Indecent Proposal audiences were able to notice that, maybe there is more to Woody  Harrelson after Cheers, as an actor than previously thought. But still, audiences weren’t sold. Taking the role of Pepper Lewis in The Cowboy Way alongside Kiefer Sutherland seemed to be more what audiences expected. It would be two months later when Oliver Stone released his highly controversial Natural Born Killers that Woody would make people stand up and take notice. The sadistic character of Mickey Knox was the polar opposite of the innocent, mild-mannered Woody Boyd. With his shaved head and evil look, he was starting down a path that would leave Cheers far in the past.

Never abandoning his comedic roots with such films as Kingpin and Edtv and even the critically panned Play It To The Bone, it would be his dramatic work that would define his post Cheers career. He received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of the highly controversial public figure and often condemned pornographer, Larry Flynt in Milos Forman’s The People vs. Larry Flynt.

Woody has always made a concentrated effort to stay diverse and open when it comes to film choices and never abandon his comedy talents and roots. With roles in the hysterical Will Ferrell basketball spoof Semi-Pro to the next year being in the powerful post-Iraq war drama, The Messenger for which he again received an Oscar nomination and showed that his dramatic ability is on par with the best actors in Hollywood and his comedic talents are on the same level.

Woody’s latest few movies continue on the tremendous eclectic path he has carved for himself with the great, gutshot movie Rampart alongside the HBO political drama Game Change for which it would be no surprise if he were garnered with various nominations including the Golden Globe. He is most recently in the blockbuster movie The Hunger Games in which he initially seemed out of place but made the character his own to the point he became an excellent choice.

Since this article was written just over six years ago, Harrelson has since been nominated for another Academy Award for his role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. He was also nominated for two Golden Globes in that time period adding to his many accolades.

Woody will continue to awe and entertain with laughter and tears. He has become a safe bet in Hollywood without being typecast like was initially feared. He without a doubt has emerged as the most talented actor and most successful of the Cheers alumni, with all due respect to Kelsey Grammar whose success as Frasier is quite impressive but doesn’t contain the range and ability that Woody has shown.