Yesterday afternoon, I had just finished my workout. It’s January, so I’m still doing that. I had some work to do because January also happens to be the busiest time of year for me. That’s when I got a message from Daffy Stardust. I have a big red phone under a glass cloche like Batman for just this sort of thing. When the Duck Phone rings, you drop everything and pick it up. He wanted to know if there was anything in the Movieline archives that would tie into today’s bracket game. He said his write-ups were focusing on supporting actors because he does that sort of thing instead of just looking at Box Office Mojo and Rotten Tomatoes like I generally do. He also let me know that I got the year wrong in yesterday’s weekly recap not once but twice. Towards the end of January, I am running on fumes. As it turns out, Movieline hadn’t talked to most of the people Daffy wanted to spotlight. But they did have this interview with Steve Zahn from April of 2010.
Notice I didn’t say it was from the April issue of 2010. That’s because by this point, the publisher had pulled the plug on the print magazine. A new owner attempted to relaunch Movieline as a website, but it didn’t last. Later, they switched to a YouTube channel which also failed. This interview with Steve Zahn comes at the beginning of Movieline’s brief second life as a website while the actor was appearing on the HBO series, Treme.
Well, here we are in our 1998 bracket final four! Are these the four best movies of 1998? Mehh…maybe not, but it looks like we’ve got a good chance at a championship round that will well represent how we feel about the movies of the year twenty years later. After a general review of the origins and reactions to each movie in the first round, followed by some inspection of the music involved in the second round, I’ll be covering some of the supporting performers who helped make these movies as deep and well-rounded as they are. These are the faces and voices that continue to pop up over and over again, but maybe never become full-fledged stars all on their own. As a modicum of consolation, we’ll be honoring four of them here at LeBlog over the next couple of days.
In the first of our semifinal matches we have an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard story facing an adaptation of an old Chinese legend. Both stories feature strong female characters who are in roles that are typically dominated by men. Let’s consider some of their supporting cast.
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Gerard Butler, who as you can possibly tell from the above photo is Scottish, is celebrating his 48th today. He studied law at the University of Glasgow and worked for a short time at an Edinburgh law firm, before beginning an acting career in a theatrical adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel Trainspotting (also the source for Danny Boyle’s film). He made his film debut in Mrs. Brown in 1997 and appeared in a bit part in Tomorrow Never Dies the same year.
Butler moved to Los Angeles a couple of years later and began getting starring roles in films in the early 2000s. Films like Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and The Phantom of the Opera were high-profile productions, but not financial successes; however, he had a breakthrough in 2007 when he starred as the historical character of King Leonidas of Sparta, in a film that very, very loosely retold some historical events.
Whoopi Goldberg turns 61 today. After appearing in an avant-garde film called Citizen: I’m Not Losing My Mind, I’m Giving it Away, she created a one-woman stage show, originally titled The Spook Show. Mike Nichols offered to produce it on Broadway, where it ran for several months. One person who saw it was none other than Steven Spielberg, who offered Goldberg the lead role in his adaptation of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.