It is no shock of surprise to any of my close friends, and even those who barely know me, that I am in love with Russell Crowe. I consider him a god among men and I worship the ground he acts on. This may be a slight exaggeration, but seriously; it’s slight. Since his early acting years, he’s always been a force of nature. I remember watching his playful and sincere portrayal of ‘best friend’ Andy in PROOF and I was awestruck at his charm and charisma. It was a different side to the man I was used to seeing in heftier roles, like that of his Oscar winning vehicle GLADIATOR. There have been many faces to this brooding force. He’s been the fantastical love interest, the paranoid genius, the hotheaded policeman, the headstrong captain and my personal favorite; the psychotic Nazi. All around, he’s done it all and with sharpness one cannot ignore.
Yes, he is my favorite working actor.
It has been said that Crowe is staggering as of late. Some have noted that his recent film choices have been mediocre and have resulted in a dampening of his status as one of Hollywood’s more talented leading men. Since 2006, he’s lost some of the ‘Oscar Buzz’ that used to surround his name constantly. A GOOD YEAR was a bomb of sorts that was too light for many critics to rally behind. In 2007, he came back in a way with two Oscary films, but neither AMERICAN GANGSTER or 3:10 TO YUMA fared very well with Oscar or with the general public. In fact, they’ve been somewhat forgotten. And then he followed up that minor comeback with a few films that were considered middlebrow crowd pleasers. While I personally really enjoyed STATE OF PLAY, THE NEXT THREE DAYS and ROBIN HOOD, none of them made much of an impact with critics or awards bodies and many considered the films mediocre and beneath the talent involved.
The less said about BODY OF LIES, the better.
All this negative attention surrounding the good name of Russell Crowe has saddened me. There was a time, back in the early aughts, when I was certain Crowe would never release a film that didn’t garner him awards attention. He just had that beautiful way of carving out such grounded and earthy characters. That isn’t to say that he’s lacked that in his recent films. I consider his performances to be up to bar mostly, but the critical reception of his films and the obvious slump in their overall quality has been crushing.
But all of that is soon to change.
Yes, starting with this very year, Russell Crowe has a very strong lineup in store of his fans and I, for one, am extremely excited. I mean, we have an epic musical, a superhero movie, an adult centered fantasy film, a biblical epic, a Blaxploitation kung-fu movie and a crime thriller. On top of that, he’s working with some interesting directors. I’m most excited to see his take on NOAH with Darren Aronofsky. They seem like a beautiful pairing, to be honest. Aronofsky is certainly the type of director that is going to push the limits and in that regard push Crowe. Crowe’s friend and former Wu-Tang Clan rapper RZA is directing THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS, which is a kung-fu film that sounds really bizarre and yet has this air of ‘this could be epic’ floating around it. Sure, it could also be a disaster, but I’m intrigued to see Crowe push himself in such an odd way.
But, above all else, I’m just so happy he’s playing Javert in Tom Hooper’s LES MISERABLES. I mean, this is such a dynamic role and if Crowe nails this then I see him front and center for Oscar gold. Having seen the Broadway production twice, and having seen other versions numerous times, I can say that LES MISERABLES is probably my favorite stage production ever and I’ve been waiting for it to be handled the right way. The 1998 film doesn’t count, like at all. Judging from the teaser trailer; this is going to be amazing.
So, for those of you interested; here is Crowe’s lineup for 2012-2014 ATM.
And for the hell of it:
A Russell Crowe Top Ten: