One of the most influential, successful stars in Hollywood is also — luckily for fans of innovative filmmaking — not afraid to take risks. Though he has starred in the kind of huge, slick hits that have established him as a dashing leading man, his tastes have always veered more political, more satirical. In THE PERFECT STORM — airing Sunday at 10P on Sundance Channel — Clooney is the captain of a Massachusetts fishing boat desperately holding onto a dying industry who goes out for one more big catch with a hurricane and two other massive weather events bearing down. But nothing could capsize this megastar’s compellingly diverse, endlessly entertaining body of work. It was hard to whittle it down, but here are five of our very favorite Clooney indie roles.
It’s been a tough year for George Clooney. First, his wife ended up in a coma. Then he found out she was cheating on him with Shaggy from Scooby-Doo…oh, wait. That was just a movie. Right. Anyway, George Clooney just got arrested in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, DC.
Before we get going, you need to know that this post contains monstrously huge plot spoilers for THE IDES OF MARCH. We’re not joking — scroll down at your peril.
The trouble is, it’s kind of hard to talk about THE IDES OF MARCH (out today on DVD, it was nominated but totally — unfairly — shut out at the Golden Globes on Sunday night) without spoiling the plot, because one of the major story lines — which is nowhere in any of the trailers, for once — is meant to be a huge crazy surprise.
George Clooney is occupying a number of screens this Fall. Whether peering at us from the other half of TIME Magazine in the IDES OF MARCH poster or literally running through the trailer of Alexander Payne’s forthcoming THE DESCENDANTS, he seems to be everywhere you look, and since he’s pretty much the sexiest middle-aged guy around, I don’t think anyone’s complaining. He’s definitely the sexiest major leading man who used be only be a television actor. (I’m kidding! I know, I know, TV is all that.) But is his trajectory absolutely unique?
George Glooney stars in two of the majorest motion pictures to hit theaters this Fall, and while the films couldn’t be more different (a family drama and a political thriller), they do have one thing in common: George Clooney gets screwed. In THE IDES OF MARCH, which opens on October 7th, Clooney plays an upright presidential candidate whose press secretary, played by Ryan Gosling, turns against him right before the Ohio primaries, threatening his entire campaign. Does the aptly chosen title ring a bell to anyone? The phrase was made popular by Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, and refers to the date that Caesar was killed, or rather assassinated, when he was stabbed (23 times) to death in the Roman Senate by a group of conspirators and fellow politicians. The trailer for IDES OF MARCH doesn’t include any such scene, but while political backstabbing may have become less bloody, it’s not any less treacherous.
The season of grossout comedies and screechy animated romps is spewing to an end as we brace ourselves for the period when actual quality films might come out of the darkness. And these films know they’re quality.
In fact, the releases from now till December 31 have been aggressively devised to win Oscars and will be prestigiously rammed down our throats until someone votes for them!
The top choices:
* Ages ago, George Clooney went from TV star to Oscar bait, and his new one will hardly stop his pedigree parade from marching on. It’s The Ides of March, directed by Clooney (who costars with Ryan Gosling), and seeing as it examines dirty politics from the inside, it couldn’t be any more tawdrily topical. Opens October 7
* Leonardo DiCaprio gets a star role—and hopefully some nice gowns—as FBI head J. Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar. It doesn’t take an investigator to smell Oscar potential here. October 21
If challenged to do so, you’d likely have no trouble coming up with a short list of eco-celebs: Ed Begley, Jr., Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Woody Harrelson, and, oh yeah, Robert Redford may all to come to mind. But Fabio? Yep, the Italian superhunk who’s graced the covers of many a romance novel, and pitched butter substitutes, is adding his look (if not his voice) to a green cause: electric vehicles.
What’s immediately striking about the George Clooney vehicle, THE AMERICAN, is not, in fact, George Clooney but the bleak, frigid, snow-covered Swedish landscape, followed soon after by the also bleak, washed-out landscape of small town Italy. Clooney, who produced and stars, is as cute and scruffy as ever, even in the drabbest of wardrobes, but with little dialogue and even less character development the setting becomes the film’s major player.
Joan and Melissa Rivers (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
Post Oscar hangovers are never fun… Trust. I’ve been covering them for 10 years! But this year was different. Not so bad. Even though – let’s be honest, seven days into a nine day journey, you are ready to run for the hill. And by hills, I mean Appalachian, Eastern Hills. Except for the fact that I came back from Rainy LA to monsoon-y New York. I mean… Okay, okay. I got two good days of beautiful Spring weather before my boots were soaked and once again I had to forsake fashion for Tretorn rain galoshes.
From left to right: Josh Sapan (Rainbow Media), Martin Katz (Prospero Pictures), Lynne Kirby (Sundance Channel), Sir Elton John, Evan Shapiro (IFC/SUN), Mala Chapple (Sundance Channel) Sarah Barnett (Sundance Channel) and David Furnish.
I usually have a rule: If you love someone’s work NEVER meet them. Seriously – I’ve suffered too many disappointments over the years. And really – if you know someone’s a walking septic tank – how can you enjoy their work afterwards? It’s like Pearl Cleage wrote in Mad At Miles, “How can you celebrate a genius in the face of a monster?” But this week has proven the rule wrong. Twice. First Danny, now Elton John.
Last night, Rainbow Media and the Sundance Channel held a big dinner at the Stein Erickson Lodge and my Tiny Dancer was there (he executive produced SPECTACLE ELVIS COSTELLO WITH… along with David Furnish) with hubby David Furnish – who once came to my 30th birthday party with Cornelia Guest at the Sunset Tower. He didn’t remember, but who cares? I got the pics to prove it!
As we brace for awards season, I buckled up and went to see UP IN THE AIR, on the lips of many-a-critic as contender for Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor. So why did I find it so … airy? As in, without much substance?
And I’ll readily admit, I like some smooth Clooney romance just as much as the other guy, and Vera Farmiga is a great partner for George in a little heated hub-bub. (Although nothing, but nothing, tops Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, in Soderbergh’s OUT OF SIGHT.) AIR does have some great elements – sharp dialogue, snappy performances, and an organic, surprising twist that plays beautifully – so what’s the problem?
For years, Tom O’Neil’s Gold Derby has been the cyber watercooler to gather around and catch the buzz about who’s a shoo-in to get nominated–unless their film tanks, they come out with a sex tape, or someone better comes along.
I happen to be one of the professional prognosticators who give their educated guesses to the site’s Buzzmeter section, and though I don’t actually know much of anything about the inner workings of Hollywood, neither do a lot of the Oscar voters, so that works out just perfectly!
This year, I’m betting my grandmother’s life on the fact that the supporting trophies will step to the dark side and go to Christoph Waltz for INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS and Mo’Nique for PRECIOUS, even if the latter seems to have actively campaigned to lose the award.
Other categories have been harder to predict because when Gold Derby first asked for our lists in November—ranked in order of likelihood, mind you–some of the films hadn’t even screened yet. But again, that totally works out. Some movies like NINE happen to have an Oscar glow around them (not to mention a huge push) from the second they’re announced, and that usually stays with them even after people see the finished product and deem it a three.
Amid the loneliness and isolation of an increasingly digital world, Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) seems to be the only one equipped with an suitable personal philosophy. Instead of lamenting the loss of real human connection, he embraces it, maintaining only limited ties with his family and his co-workers. In fact, he doesn’t even seem to have any friends; he is satisfied just being around people. Yet as much as he rejects the emotional baggage any real relationship requires, he is still a victim of his own humanity and his own inherent need for others – to not be alone. In his job, for example, he flies all over the country for most of the year firing employees at downsizing companies. Ironically, the only thing he seems to relish more than the hubbub of constant travel is his ability to connect to people, to let them down easy. Yes, he may be firing them, but he prides himself by doing it with a certain degree of humanity.
Finally, a film that lives up to the hype. Not only is FANTASTIC MR. FOX thrilling to simply look at, I think even hard-core Roald Dahl fans will appreciate the liberties Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach (SQUID AND THE WHALE, MARGOT AT THE WEDDING) took with the story. While it’s not clear what they invented and what they took from Dahl’s original notes, the events in the book occupy the middle of the film with added backstory in the beginning and a more involved and complete ending.
The United States was never going to develop a force of psychic spies until they heard the Russians were, or at least that’s the jump in logic we must accept in order to believe THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS. Enter Jeff Bridges, perfectly cast as Bill Django, equal parts military intelligence, paranormal researcher and daisy-wielding hippie. Django, armed only with several hemp necklaces and a long ponytail, is the commanding officer of The Earth Army, a select group of US soldiers whose specialties include yoga, remote viewing and the ability to stare a goat to death.