Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: As Good as It Gets vs Good Will Hunting
In this top portion of our 1997 movies bracket game we’re focusing mostly on those films of the year which garnered a lot of critical and awards season attention. In some cases this also means that we’re reliving those moments when people we didn’t really know at the time took that next step and became actual movie stars. It’s a never ending process in the entertainment industry: the “next big thing.” Sometimes it’s a dream that actually pans out with an honest to God A-list career and sometimes we look back and realize that was their one big project. Sometimes it’s something in between.
But before we get to today’s contest, there’s a big bit of news right out of the gate. Number one seed Titanic has already been taken down. Perhaps I over-estimated its overall appeal based on its phenomenon status at the time of its release and its multiple Oscar wins. Or maybe I underestimated the movie that took it down, Boogie Nights. Either way, this bracket is now wide open. Anything can happen. Let’s get to it.
When As Good As It Gets hit movie theaters in 1997, Jack Nicholson was of course already established as one of the most famous film actors in the world, but much of the rest of the movie’s cast was made up of up-and-comers of one degree or another. Let’s take a look at who’s on the list. Jack’s leading lady here was Helen Hunt, who had only recently started getting big film roles after spending most of two decades as a child and TV actor, with a few secondary roles in mildly successful movies along the way. Despite her Oscar win for As Good As It Gets, she never really succeeded in grabbing lead roles with any consistency long term. This ends up being her one real big screen success (yes, there was Twister, but nobody showed up there to see the actors). Greg Kinnear was another performer who appeared to have a promising future, with mercurial good looks and charm and a willingness to take on complicated parts. Unfortunately, he appears to have been typecast in smarmy roles which relegated him to supporting roles and a slow but sure decline in profile. Cuba Gooding Jr’s relatively small role in As Good As It Gets was a bit of a surprise to audiences when it was released because the high-energy supporting performer had just become a star the previous year with his Oscar-winning turn in Jerry Maguire. As it turns out, this would be one of the better choices of roles Gooding would make from here on out, as embarrassing clunkers like Chill Factor, Boat Trip, Snow Dogs, and Norbit made his name less appealing to have on your movie’s poster. Largely due to the career trajectories of its supporting cast, As Good As It Gets tends to look very much like a product of its time today.
The story is a little different when you consider Good Will Hunting. In Nicholson’s place as the established star was Robin Williams, who had been an A-lister for about a decade and already had won multiple Grammys, Emmys, and Golden Globes, including one for his voice over work on 1992’s Aladdin. It would have been unthinkable when he took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1997 that his star would fade rather quickly over the following few years. On the other hand, some of the relatively unknown young actors who populated the rest of the film had their biggest years still ahead of them. Lead Matt Damon has succeeded in maintaining a strong career on the backs of the Jason Bourne and Ocean’s heist movies, even getting two more acting nominations from the Oscars in recent years for Invictus and The Martian. I know somebody who counts Damon as their very favorite actor. His fellow screenwriter and pal Ben Affleck has survived some notorious flops to retain star status, and has even become an accomplished director and producer, winning an Academy Award in 2013 for Argo and recently becoming the new Batman in what have thus far been terrible movies including the DC super hero. His kid brother Casey, who had a small role in Good Will Hunting has also managed to eke out a pretty steady string of film appearances over the years and is widely considered one of the leading candidates for winning Best Actor at this year’s Oscars ceremony for his work in Manchester By the Sea. A little less high profile has been the career of Will’s love interest Minnie Driver. 1997 appears to have been the peak of her career, with not only Good Will Hunting, but Grosse Pointe Blank released that year. Her most famous role after that seems to be voicing Jane Porter in Disney’s animated version of Tarzan in 1999. She has recently begun appearing in the ABC TV show “Speechless,” which has been picked up for another season.
Let us know what you think. Which of these award-winning films best represents 1997? Vote here and comment below if you like!
Posted on January 19, 2017, in Awards, bracket game, Movies, Oscars, poll, trailers and tagged as good as it gets, Ben Affleck, cuba gooding jr, Good Will Hunting, greg kinnear, helen hunt, jack nicholson, matt damon, Minnie Driver, Robin Williams. Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.