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And here we are in the second round of our 1997 movie bracket! The format for this round will be a little different than last round’s trailer and catch-all observations on the films and the people who made them. Over the next four days I’ll be featuring individual scenes from the competing films, discussing how they are written and shot and how they are reflective of the movies as a whole. While this will certainly say something about the films, I want to remind everyone involved that you are voting for the movie as a whole and not the featured scene.
Oh, by the way, SPOILERS!
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.
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Today’s match pairs two rising stars against each other at the moments when their careers took shape. Robin Williams and Mel Gibson were among Hollywood’s most sought-after leading men. And they can both trace their A-list status back to the movies they headlined in 1987. Gibson costarred opposite Danny Glover in the buddy-cop movie that defined the genre. And Williams received his first-ever Oscar nomination for playing a zany army DJ for the Armed Forces Radio Service during the Vietnam Conflict.
Circa the start of the 21st century, Josh Hartnett was thought to be the Next Big Thing. Michael Bay’s big budget historical drama, Pearl Harbor, was supposed to establish the teen heartthrob as a bonafide movie star. It didn’t quite work out that way. Hartnett’s career floundered to the point where he essentially walked away from it all and became a What the Hell Happened subject. Since then, the birthday boy has enjoyed a nice little comeback on Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.
I had a couple of complaints that “Friend Like Me” wasn’t included in our poll, so I’m guessing that the votes that would have gone to that fun song ended up going to this hilarious one. The late Robin Williams practically dominates Aladdin with his rapid fire character-changing style which is featured so well here in “Prince Ali,” as his Genie follows up on one of Aladdin’s wishes by marching him into the palace as a wildly wealthy and attractive prince. The “prince” part is important because it makes him qualified to marry Princess Jasmine in the eyes of her Father, the Sultan of Agrabah.
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Last night, I came home from work. It was a Monday which is never the best day of the week. We had to take the girls up to school for an open house. It was not fun, but it had to be done. When I got home, I got on my computer to check social media. The first message I see hit me in the gut. It simply read “RIP Robin Williams”. My immediate reaction was skepticism. Since I write about celebrities, I’ve seen my share of dead celebrity hoaxes. Hopefully this would turn out to be one of them. I quickly checked a reliable news source and confirmed that one of my childhood idols was in fact dead.
At times like this, words always fail. I obviously didn’t know Robin Williams, so my loss is not a personal one. But I grew up with him. When I was a kid, Mork and Mindy was my favorite show. I dressed as Mork for Halloween one year. I even wore the plastic mask which recreated Williams’ distinctive smile and wild hair. As I grew up I followed him into stand-up and movies. For a time, Williams was one of the most dynamic and interesting actors in Hollywood.
Much digital ink is being spilled today eulogizing Robin Williams. We have all read moving stories and tributes from the people whose lives he touched. I don’t have much more to contribute to this mass outpouring of emotion. Instead, I wanted to talk about the disease that claimed Williams’ life; depression.
Note: This article was written prior to Robin Williams’ death on August 11, 2014. At present, Williams’ death is believed to be suicide. The purpose of this article is to review Williams’ career as an entertainer. My sympathy goes out to Williams’ friends and family. I am personally saddened by his passing. I will update this article as information becomes available. In the meanwhile, please view this as a celebration of William’s work.
At the peak of his career, Robin Williams was one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood. He made the extremely rare transition from comedian to dramatic actor. What’s more, he was able to alternate between popular comedies and dramatic roles while winning awards for both. But eventually, Williams’ popularity waned. While Williams remains busy, his last starring role in a mainstream movie was in 2009.
What the hell happened?
As I indicated in my previous post and in the comments section that came with it, I went into this project fully expecting to prefer the film comedies I would have to choose from as I moved back into my younger days. Is this a bias based on personal tastes? Is it a generational bias that we would see repeated reliably if we polled thousands of people of different ages? Or are there really certain eras for different art forms that are simply of a higher quality than others?
As we roll back into my young adulthood in the 1990s, my guess is that it’s a little bit of all of the above.
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