The idea for this blog-a-thon (which turned out to be NOT a blog-a-thon) came from seeing a man at church who looked like Jake Gyllenhaal. Seriously. He looked like he could be his twin. I was taken aback for a minute because I honestly thought he WAS Jake Gyllenhaal and then I saw the wife and kids and thought “no, it couldn’t be” and then I started laughing because, with where his career has gone in recent years, it would make sense. I then decided that my next post on the site was going to be entitled “What the hell happened to Jake Gyllenhaal’s career?” and then that soon evolved into the blog-a-thon I initiated last month.
So, I guess it goes without saying that my initial subject for this blog-a-thon was going to be Jake Gyllenhaal. Because of the fact that only one person participated, I’m actually going to talk about a few actors.
I’ll start with Jake, since he was the inspiration.
Back at the beginning of Jake’s career, around the early 00’s, I was instantly smitten. The wide-eyed wonderment that overtook his persona in films like ‘Donnie Darko’ was entrancing. You couldn’t help but be completely sucked into his performances. He maintained that ‘void in the eyes’ style of performance for a while, using it to his advantage in films like ‘The Good Girl’ and ‘Moonlight Mile’. In ‘Moonlight Mile’ especially, he managed to color that ‘void’ with a genuine progression of emotion and fully fleshed out this man’s grief and guilt to perfection. I’d say that by 2005, Jake Gyllenhaal was one to watch out for.
Then 2005 struck and his world flipped upside down, in a very good way.
In 2005, Jake Gyllenhaal became an Oscar nominee. He starred in three critically acclaimed films (to varying degrees) and turned in three diverse and well-rounded performances in ‘Brokeback Mountain’, ‘Proof’ and ‘Jarhead’. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ because a cultural phenomenon and earned Gyllenhaal the Oscar nomination (albeit in the wrong category) and ignited his career. Sure, people knew who he was before he uttered that famous line (“I wish I knew how to quit you”) but it was after the promotional tour for ‘Brokeback Mountain’ that Gyllenhaal became a STAR. I personally preferred his performance in ‘Jarhead’ to the one in ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (he was great, but outshone and a tad unsure in scenes), but I can’t fault the recognition he received for his performance.
It’s safe to say that as 2005 ended, Gyllenhall’s career was set to explode.
It merely fizzled.
Now this isn’t to say that he’s turned in BAD performances or starred in BAD films. I mean, he followed up 2005 with ‘Zodiac’ in 2006. Still, the greatness that was ‘Zodiac’ had nothing to do with Jake’s performance, which was sleepy at best. The supporting cast was far more interesting. Then he tackled some baity films on paper that turned out to be anything but. ‘Rendition’ was a mess of a film, but I will admit that Gyllenhaal’s performance in the film was pretty great. It’s just a sad thing that the film itself was a disaster of sorts. It did him no favors. Remaking ‘Brothers’ was also a poor move, especially since it failed to even make a splash. ‘Source Code’ was fun, but it didn’t do his career any favors. It wasn’t strong enough. It wasn’t bold enough. It was interesting to a degree, and opened to rather shockingly good reviews, but no one is talking about it anymore.
That’s the problem, no one is talking about his career anymore. We’ve all moved on. He was such a hot commodity seven years ago, but since then he’s only made seven films and no one really talks about any of them.
Well, except for this one…but for all the wrong reasons.
So, for this, I ask; “WHAT THE HELL?!?!”
In thinking of the blog-a-thon and the actors and or actresses that some may pick to elaborate on, one that instantly jumped into my head was Kathleen Turner. He string of 80’s films is such a ridiculously brilliant string, it’s hard to see the sharp transition from sexpot to laughingstock. I mean, she went from this:
But it’s more than that. I mean, Turner may only have one Oscar nomination (for ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’) but I’d personally nominate her a slew of times in the 80’s. ‘Body Heat’, ‘Romancing the Stone’, ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’ and ‘The War of the Roses’ should have all netted her Oscar attention, and the rest of her ‘decade’ was just as exciting. She was better than Geena Davis in ‘The Accidental Tourist’, she was better than Anjelica Huston in ‘Prizzi’s Honor’. She used her alluring vocals to expert precision in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’. I mean, there is not a single actor I can think of (outside of maybe DeNiro in the 70’s) who had a decade of work THIS STRONG!
Sadly, when that decade was over so was her career. I don’t know what happened, but something did (food, depression) and next thing you know, she’s the butt of jokes and starring alongside Owen Wilson in a movie about a dog (where she has a bit cameo as a gross looking dog trainer).
So now she’s doing television work and staring on Broadway, so maybe her career is on the upswing, but judging from the jumpstart to her career, it is sad and depression to see what she became shortly after her promise faded.
To all of this I ask; WHAT THE HELL!!!???
Last, we’ll talk about Johnny Depp. Depp is an interesting case because he became a ‘what the hell’ before he got the Oscar nomination. I mean, he was amazing in the 90’s, back before Oscar wanted to take notice of him. Where was Oscar in 1993, when he was mending hearts with such delightful honesty in ‘Benny & Joon’? Where was Oscar in 1994, when he was blazing through ‘Ed Wood’ with such charisma and charm and undeniable comedic energy? Where was Oscar in 1997, when he was simmering under the skin with stunning character development in ‘Donnie Brasco’?
They were absent.
When did Oscar choose to show up? In 2003, when he created a ‘character’ (one he hasn’t been able to leave behind) and for some reason they think he’s amazing now. I’m sorry, but Johnny Depp became rather boring when the 90’s ended, and since 2003 he’s constantly tried to one-up his own obnoxiousness. Yes, he was rather inspired to a degree in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, but it seems like he’s played a variation of Jack Sparrow in a lot of his films since, especially when he works with Burton. They are a disastrous pair (and they worked so well together in the past) and really should be separated. Depp’s performances in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Sweeney Todd’ are borderline horrendous (‘Alice’ is an atrocity of epic proportions), and his deadpan take on films like ‘Public Enemies’ and ‘From Hell’ do nothing for his charming persona. I mean, even in a film like ‘Chocolat’, where he is supposed to be dripping with sexual chemistry, he put me to sleep.
The fact remains that Depp is passed his prime. I mean, I don’t know a single person who isn’t tired of him by now.
So, yeah…WHAT THE HELL!?!!?!?!?!!???
Thank you Josh for participating. Here is a link to his write up on Kate Hudson.