Sunday, November 10, 2002

Jack Nicholson is a great actor, but I am not sure he quite deserves to become the first man to win four acting Oscars. (Katherine Hepburn won four on the female side of the draw).

That said, About Schmidt is a film I am very much looking forward to seeing. Director Alexander Payne's previous film Election is one of the (mostly) overlooked gems of recent years: a marvellous satire on both politics and that social group that David Brooks was later to refer to as the Organization Kid . Payne also managed to realise that Matthew Broderick can be perfectly cast playing morally dubious (or at least morally shop worn) characters. Keneth Lonergan got this perhaps even better in You Can Count on Me. Both directors took Broderick's Ferris Bueller persona and retained some of it while playing against it. Hitchcock was better than anyone at this type of casting: his use of Jimmy Stewart to play apparent everyman types but in fact slightly weird and kinky characters in Vertigo and Rear Window was brilliant. (If Tom Hanks is the new Jimmy Stewart, then someone really needs to cast him in something interesting like this, too. And no, Sam Mendes does not count. In The Road to Perdition Hanks is just playing a fairly ordinary Hanks type, who happens to work for the mob).

In any event, I doubt they will give Nicholson another Oscar just yet, however good is the performance. Perhaps what might be called the "Meryl Streep factor" might come into play here. After Streep had won twice, the academy didn't feel the need to award her any more oscars, although she has continued to be nominated endlessly. Of course, there is another factor, which is that if a very famous actor who won some oscars years and years ago looks about to die, he or she might win another one. (See Katherine Hepburn, or Ingrid Bergman for that matter). Meryl Streep may get one of these, but not for a few years yet. And Nicholson last won an Oscar in 1998, so he doesn't qualify on the "years and years ago" test.

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