Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: Boogie Nights vs Jackie Brown
Here we are in our final four, so it’s nothing but the cream of the crop from here on, right? Well, that certainly the case in this particular contest. Both started the bracket among my favorite five overall in the game, so I’m pretty pleased to have to make the tough decision when I cast my vote. Both movies feature top notch artistry from their actors, directors, cinematographers, and designers. For our final four round I’m going to be featuring members of the casts, covering not just their work in the films in question, but also in some other notable appearances.
In the last matchup of our second round LeBlog’s readers selected The Fifth Element (a movie Lebeau has called “a sloppy mess”) to join Austin Powers, Boogie Nights, and Jackie Brown in our final four for 1997. Anybody want to share what their actual favorite four movies from the bracket were when it started?
First up is one of my favorite actors from my own adult lifetime. Perhaps the biggest reason Philip Seymour Hoffman developed into that for me is how he was so “stealth” about it. Before I had any idea who they guy was, I’d already seen him in movies like Leap of Faith and Scent of a Woman and Nobody’s Fool and Twister and the movie we’re (kind of) talking about right now, Boogie Nights, which featured this really painful scene.
It wasn’t until 1998’s The Big Lebowski and the following year’s The Talented Mr. Ripley that I started noticing that this same guy kept showing up in small, but memorable roles. As an actor who has spent most of his time on stage in these very same kinds of roles, this was strangely reinforcing, and when I showed up to see David Mamet’s State and Main in 2000 I was shocked to realize that this guy was actually the lead of the movie! “No wonder they’re selling it mostly based on a writer director best known for theatre” I thought to myself, “They’ve got an overweight supporting actor in the lead!”…and I was already a big fan of the guy.
Hoffman had literally pulled off the coup that every talented guy with an accountant’s physique dreams about. He could apparently show up in trash like Along Came Polly or cash a check in stuff like Patch Adams or Red Dragon without losing the credibility it took to grab challenging leads in art house flicks like Love Liza or Owning Mahowny. Just one year after showing up as a very sweaty player in a pick-up basketball game in that previously mentioned Ben Stiller/Jennifer Aniston rom com, Hoffman waltzed on screen as Truman bleeping Capote and won the freaking Oscar for it. What next? I’ve got an idea. I’ll totally sell out by playing the bad guy in a Mission Impossible sequel! AND IT WON’T HURT MY CREDIBILITY ONE BIT. And why? Because Hoffman never stopped taking those memorable supporting roles like in Charlie Wilson’s War and he never stopped appearing in interesting low budget movies like Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. Want me to play a mildly successful baseball coach for a few scenes? Absolutely. I’m gonna knock that mess outta the park. Hoffman was a hero to everybody who loves actors instead of movie stars. Then he managed to let addiction kill him. That sucked. But as far as I can tell, Hoffman never gave less than excellent to whatever project he was in. This guy will be a legend for decades to come.
Less well known in the long run was a very sneaky choice for an important role in Quentin Tarantino’s follow-up to Pulp Fiction. Robert Forster had been working steadily in television and film, but with only mild acclaim, for almost thirty years before the hottest young director on the scene handed him a career-defining part. He had started off pretty strong, with his film debut coming in a John Huston film and not long afterwards playing the lead in the counterculture classic Medium Cool. But his star never really took off, and he pretty quickly receded into supporting parts in genre films, perhaps most notably in Disney’s Star Wars exploitation film The Black Hole. Unbeknownst to myself, I first saw him in the Chuck Norris/Lee Marvin actioner The Delta Force, in which the son of parents of Italian and Irish descent played a Lebanese terrorist who hi-jacks a plane. I’m going to have to add a second video here because you’ve got to see this. Forster is the main terrorist in the white suit.
In case you didn’t notice, the plane’s passenger list is stocked with a pile of character actors who have seen better days like Martin Balsam, George Kennedy, Shelly Winters, Joey Bishop, Lainie Kazan, and Susan Strasberg. You’d think a terrorist would know better than to mess with that crowd. Clearly at least some of them are going to get rescued.
Within a decade Forster had fallen into mostly B features like Maniac Cop III and guest appearances on “Jake and the Fat Man.” He had read for Tarantino’s first big movie, Reservoir Dogs, and had felt like he’d done really well, but hadn’t been cast. It was only through a chance encounter five years later in a restaurant that he reconnected with the director who told him he was working on an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch and encouraged him to read it. Six months later, Tarantino walked into the same place and handed Forster the script to Jackie Brown. He went on to cast the veteran actor as bail bondsman Max Cherry, a role Forster would turn into an unexpected Oscar nomination.
Check out that very subtle smile as Max sees the parts fall into place. Forster was smooth as silk in this movie. And after grabbing a few more supporting parts in high profile movies, Forster again became simply what he always was: a good working actor. Which is really the dream at its most basic, isn’t it?
So whose movie is going to move on to the final? Vote here and then tell us what you’re thinking in the comments section!
Posted on January 30, 2017, in Awards, bracket game, Movies, Nostalgia, Oscars, poll and tagged 1997, boogie nights, jackie brown, philip seymour hoffman, Robert Forster. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.