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hollywood's motto: reduce, reuse, recycle
why remaking a movie is a privilege, not a right
by sarah ficke (@DameMystery)

We've all heard about The Year Of the Sequel, but I've got a new one to offer: The Year of the Remake.

This year has seen, or will see, the remakes of The Manchurian Candidate, Dawn of the Dead, Walking Tall, The Punisher, and The Ladykillers, among others.

Now, I've got nothing against remaking movies. Did the first version suck horribly? Then by all means, go ahead and try to improve it. Did you think the original was great, but would be better as a musical? Write some tunes and hire a choreographer. Did they leave out your favorite parts of the story? Go ahead and put them back in, and god bless. Is there a message carried in the older film that needs to be heard today? Update the damn thing and get it out there!

But somewhere, you have to draw the line.

You should not remake older movies simply because they made a lot of money. Hollywood, I know this is a lot to ask. You’ve got to feed the SUVs, and I understand that. But please, don't insult our intelligence by, say, unwrapping a new version of Hitchcock's Psycho and telling us it's better because it's shiny and stars Anne Heche.

Sadly, that is just what Hollywood is prone to do.

Case in point. On May 6th, IMDB announced that a remake of Pride and Prejudice is in the works, starring Hollywood's newest golden darling, Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett, and with Brad Pitt as the producer's first choice to play Mr. Darcy.

This is a remake that should not happen.

And despite what you might be thinking, the biggest fault with it doesn't rest with Keira Knightley's over-hyped talent, or even with Brad Pitt taking on his first British period piece while trying to fill the snug breeches of Colin Firth. It is the timing. Why remake this movie now? For that matter, why remake this movie at all?

Let’s check with the criteria I listed above. Firstly, I somehow doubt that the producers are going into this project to highlight a message in the story. For all the meaning I find in the book, I'll admit that it is a romantic comedy that doesn't pack the political zing of Schindler's List.

Are they after a change in genre? Did some part of the story get left out of the other versions? Highly unlikely; just look at its film history. In 1940 the first version was made, starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson in an anachronistic corset. Since then, Austen’s comedy has been revived as a TV movie, and three times as a miniseries, most recently in 1995 starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in a five hour version that left no part of the story untold. The story was updated to the 21st century in 2003's Pride and Prejudice: a Latter Day Comedy, in which Elizabeth Bennet becomes a college student at Brigham Young University, and revamped again for this year's Bollywood film Bride and Prejudice by the director of Bend it Like Beckham. So unless they’re planning Pride and Prejudice: Singin’ Lizzy they’ve got nothing new going on.

That brings it down to my last criteria for remaking a movie: the other version sucks horribly. Now, while some impatient people would claim that five hours is too long to sit through, and some purists bristle at the idea of showing Mr. Darcy in a wet shirt or bathrobe, the overall reaction to the 1995 miniseries has proven, at least in my mind, that it did not suck. In scope, in viewer response (IMDB ranks it as third on their list of "Most popular titles in English by average vote"), in production values, and in marketing impact the miniseries fared as well as any theater movie, and far better than Hollywood’s tarted up Mansfield Park. Not to mention that it is credited with launching the career of Colin Firth.

And that brings me to another point: Colin Firth. Will there ever be another Mr. Darcy? Of course there will. Someday, but not now. Between the miniseries and his role as “Mark Darcy” in Bridget Jones’s Diary, a character based on Jane Austen’s hero, Firth has become synonymous with the name. In trying to replace the iconic brooding of Colin Firth with another actor, even as Firth is reprising his Mark Darcy role in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, the producers are shooting themselves in the collective foot. Or they would be, if they cared at all about the integrity of the movie business. Inside information tells me that they don't. What they do care about is money.

In purely monetary terms, the perverse logic of the producers is clear. The story itself is in the public domain, and therefore cheaper to make than a movie of Cheers. And while they could turn to one of the thousands of Regency romance novels in existence for the plot of their movie, it would then lack the prestige of Austen's name, even though chances are they'll strip the movie of the masterful touches that make the novel more than just another romantic comedy. Plus, Pride and Prejudice already has a fan base. So why not sell it again? Chances are the people who love the miniseries to go see the film -- just out of curiosity -- and whether they leave it liking it or not, their money has been spent. And what other vindication does Hollywood need?

According to that logic, it all works out. But I suspect that their logic is faulty. It has been less than 10 years since Firth and Ehle catapulted Jane Austen to her gentle superstardom. I hope that proximity combined with the new starlet/established hunk casting might be enough to keep every patron over the age of 21 at home and leave the theater to the giggling teens that were too young in ’95 to catch the fever.

Movie remakes are always skating on thin ice. Every time Harrison Ford stepped in front of the cameras for Sabrina he knew he was being compared to Humphrey Bogart, but at least Bogart was thirty-eight years dead by then, and the movie a distant classic. Pride and Prejudice, on the other hand, is still very much alive and ready to kick back at any new version that dares to take the screen.


Sarah Ficke will make sport for you, and laugh at you in her turn. She has channeled her obsession for books into a career as an English professor.

more about sarah ficke


jeff wilder
5.16.04 @ 11:40p

Well the original Punisher was connected to its comic book source in name only. So a remake made sense here, even if the result was less than spectacular.

But I agree with you overall Sarah. Hollywood needs to stop remaking movies that were decent already. Of all the remakes of recent years, the only one that improved on the original was Ocean's 11. And now they're running it into the ground with Ocean's 12. Other than that it's been dismal crap like that abomination they did with Psycho or 2000's pointless remake of Get Carter with Sylvester Stallone.

robert melos
5.21.04 @ 12:25a

Some of this may just be name stars who've finally got enough clout, and guts, to look at an old film and say, "I could do a better job than, oh, say, Clark Gable." And before you know it, George Clooney is Rhett Butler, and Kate Hudson is Scarlett O'Hara.

Seriously, Hollywood is desperate to save a buck. Rather than spend money on developing really good fresh material, the big wigs are taking old scripts, giving them a twist and pandering to the lowest common denominator.

PS. love the "trying to fill the snug breeches" line.

juli mccarthy
5.21.04 @ 12:26a

I noticed that they're even remaking made-for-TV movies these days. Helter Skelter, back in 1976, scared the pants off me. Steve Railsback utterly OWNED the role of Charles Manson. Just this past week they showed a remake with some twit as Charlie and BRUNO KIRBY as Bugliosi. I don't see the point.

The Stepford Wives? With Nicole Kidman? Ewww.

lisa r
5.21.04 @ 6:58a

Mr. Jennifer Anniston cannot, and will never, hold a candle to Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy or in any other role. Keira Knightley is doing psychedelic suppositories if she thinks she can come anywhere near Jennifer Ehle's portrayal as Elizabeth Bennett, too.

I agree with you completely on this subject, Sarah. You also left another major episode of chutzpah out--Steve Martin and Kevin Kline remaking "The Pink Panther". Who do they think they're kidding? Peter Sellers IS Inspector Clouseau....accept no substitutes.

I think the Rhett Butler reprisal will be a toss-up between Clooney and Cruise. Frankly, both would be wasting their time trying to fill Clark Gable's shoes.
I'm probably the only woman in the free world who watched "Top Gun" for the flight scenes and "Days of Thunder" for the racing action.


sandra thompson
5.21.04 @ 8:04a

It's not nice to say mean things about William Bradley Pitt, who plays the godlike Achilles even as we type. As much as I love Colin Firth and agree that he IS Mr. Darcy (for allus wimmins anyway) I'd love to see Brad play anything: phonebook readings, Floyd reprises, whatever. I've loved all the remakes of Wuthering Heights, and IMFO Olivier's was my least favourite. He gives good Mengele, though.

As for the rest of it, I think you are right on. Remakes are tacky usually, and that's the worst thing a southern belle can say about ANYthing.

erik myers
5.21.04 @ 8:14a

Psychedelic suppositories? Where do you get those?

I forgot about the Pink Panther remake. I think that my brain probably blocks it out every time I start to seriously contemplate it. It's wrong. Just as wrong as a Pride and Prejudice.

I'm a guy, and even I think it's a bad idea.

lisa r
5.21.04 @ 9:14a

Erik, you'll have to ask my 9th grade Latin teacher about the psychedelic suppositories...he's the one who indicated they exist.

sarah ficke
5.21.04 @ 10:26a

Tom Cruise is far too short to play Rhett Butler.

Sandra, I'll admit that Brad Pitt has acted well in many movies, but they were movies like Fight Club. If he wants to extend his repetoire to include British costume drama, more power to him, but he's picking a role that will automatically ensure him a lot of ridicule if he fails. Why not find a story that hasn't been done and tackle that?

meg n
5.21.04 @ 10:37a

I had no idea this was in the works - the very thought of a Pride and Prejudice remake is painful to me... 5 hours isn't too long (and anyway I can watch the good-parts version in under 3), and how could you possibly compare in the storytelling?

In general I'm happy to watch Brad Pitt, and I even think he's done some fine acting in a couple movies, but please, not as Mr. Darcy. I'm literally in pain here. Ow.

I keep waiting for the remake of The Philadelphia Story - or not waiting, since I can never figure out how they could possibly get the casting right.


mike julianelle
5.21.04 @ 10:43a

The Pink Panther remake is a horrible idea, yes.

And while Pitt sucks in Troy, he can be good, depending on the material, and I would watch a Floyd reprisal in a SECOND!

Noone overhypes Keira Knightley's talent, they never even mention talent. But they do UNDERhype her hottitude.

brian anderson
5.21.04 @ 10:48a

While it's a nasty thing to say about the Coen Bros., I'm hoping that the poor performance of The Ladykillers is enough to squelch the idea that's been floating around to remake Kind Hearts and Coronets with Robin Williams & Will Smith in the Alec Guinness & Dennis Price roles. As the original Ealing comedy is the pinnacle of dark humor, the idea of KH&C done by two actors who tend to play broad rather than pointed comedy seems like an awful, awful idea.

Of course, KH&C isn't as well-known in one of Hollywood's major markets (America), so they might be considering it a "distant classic" (as Sarah described Sabrina). But it's a bad idea all around: why bother trying to remake a cult favorite for mass consumption? You'll end up alienating the core fanbase, while if you're close enough to the original to make it worth a remake rather than a completely new script, the same properties that made the original a cult film will keep the remake from becoming a blockbuster.

The Manchurian Candidate, anyone?


mike julianelle
5.21.04 @ 10:52a

I worship the original Candidate, might be my favorite movie ever. And I AM gonna see the new one, tho I think it will suck. But I think the ideas and themes and plot of the movie can be remade, and aside from the original being so good, I don't think it's that bad an idea to revisit and contemporize. But Jonathan "I Suck Now" Demme shouldn't have been the one to do it. Plus, hearing the cast talk about how little they know of the first one is excruciating.

juli mccarthy
5.21.04 @ 10:52a

As the original Ealing comedy is the pinnacle of dark humor, the idea of KH&C done by two actors who tend to play broad rather than pointed comedy seems like an awful, awful idea.

Actually, I often like seeing different actors do the same role, with a few exceptions. When someone owns a role as thoroughly as, for example, Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch, or the aforementioned Steve Railsback as Charles Manson, it's trickier and people are less inclined to be charitable. But much of the time it's still worth seeing.

sarah ficke
5.21.04 @ 10:56a

That is true, but only if they bring integrity to the role. If a great actor wants to play Hamlet because he has his own vision about how the role should be played, then fine. But if the great actor is playing the role just because it's got name recognition then there's no point.

jael mchenry
5.21.04 @ 11:06a

Achh... achh... Ethan Hawke.

Anyway, shoot me if you like, but I think it's interesting to see some concepts reinterpreted through the ages. The new Manchurian Candidate sounds like it's that kind of re-envisioning. The Baz Luhrmann Romeo & Juliet. And yeah, sometimes there are terrible missteps, but do they really matter? The Truth About Charlie, however horrendous it was (and it was HORRendous), doesn't decrease my enjoyment of the original Charade.

I tell you what, I'd rather see a bad Pride and Prejudice than a good Uptown Girls.

brian anderson
5.21.04 @ 11:07a

That's a good point, Juli, and I'm willing to be convinced. I think a lot of actors have issues when another actor owns a role, and it tends to color their own version, with a result that seems less satisfying because it feels derivative. (Not to mention the fact that the fans keep comparing to the original.)

jael mchenry
5.21.04 @ 11:07a

And I'm glad they remade Bedazzled, even though it sucked, because if they hadn't, I never would have seen the original Bedazzled, which was amazing.

brian anderson
5.21.04 @ 11:15a

You fill me with inertia.

It's true, better a misstep than playing it safe, Jael. I think it comes down to intent, though: one of the reasons that remakes are popular in industry is because it's a proven commodity (you liked it once, you'll like it again!) that already has name recognition. If that's why the remake is being done, rather than trying to say something new with the same material, it's bound to be an artistic failure, even if it recreates the original. What's the Borges story where a modern author writes Don Quixote and the academics all swoon, because the same words mean something more in a different context?

mike julianelle
5.21.04 @ 11:18a

They are doing a Graduate sequel, with some convulted storyline about Jennifer Aniston discovering that the movie was based on her grandmother, Shirley Maclaine, and then having an affair with the elderly Kevin Costner. Every year Hollywood veers closer and closer to the beginning of The Player.

juli mccarthy
5.21.04 @ 11:20a

Ocean's 11 is a good example, here. I didn't see the original until after I'd seen the remake. And while I love the Rat Packers dearly, the original was really nothing more than a name showcase. The remake was a clever story with an infinitely more satisfying ending. And it was still a name showcase.

That said, I am slightly nervous about the forthcoming Ocean's 12.

russ carr
5.21.04 @ 11:45a

Ah, but see, Ocean's 12 is nothing but a funhouse ride. Do we care so much about the plot, sometimes? And I write this straight-faced as a very harsh movie critic. Ocean's 12 is nothing more than a vehicle for Movie Stars -- not necessarily Actors. I like Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, George Clooney. But do they have depth? Not so much. Still, Ocean's 12 will be smarter than most (Soul Plane, anyone?) comedies to come out this year. It will ooze style, give the pretty people a chance to do what they do best, toss off a couple of witty jokes, and then pack up and leave town.

mike julianelle
5.21.04 @ 11:50a

I agree with all of that, at least in regards to the Oceans movies. It's gloss. It's movie stars, basically playing themselves, movie stars, and having a good time. It shows, and the movies are fun. But I would argue that Damon has shown some depth. Ripley?

lisa r
5.21.04 @ 11:53a

Is it just me, or is the basic theme here "as fashion goes, so goes Hollywood"?

The fashionistas haven't managed anything truly original in years, and retro anything (no matter how bad it looked the first time around) is in. Then again, even when fashion manages to be original nowadays, it's still tacky.

I'd rather see a new original film with an unknown in the lead than a remake with a box-office draw doing their interpretation of a classic role. More importantly, hasn't anyone learned from Leonardo DiCaprio's "Man in the Iron Mask"? Leonardo DiCaprio in period costume still looked like Leonardo DiCaprio....when the actor's persona overtakes the character's persona, it's time to call it a day.

jael mchenry
5.21.04 @ 12:05p

I frickin' LOVE Ocean's 11. And there is much to be learned about moviemaking from Soderbergh's commentary. What makes a plot good or bad, anyway? The plot in Ocean's (the remake) was clever and twisty and fun. It's just as hard as, say, coming up with the idea for The Hours. If not harder.

russ carr
5.21.04 @ 12:11p

Maybe, Lisa, but I though Leo was good in Catch Me If You Can. It's rare for me to lose an actor in the movie around him; Tom Hanks is always Tom Hanks. In Iron Mask, Leo didn't have enough to do on his own, and he was severely outmatched with Byrne, Irons, Depardieu and Malkovich giving so much better. In Catch Me if You Can, Leo spent most of his scenes playing against non-entities. But consider how fast your eyes went to Martin Sheen during his few scenes...stealing away from Leo. Or when he played against Kathy Bates in Titanic. It's no contest.

russ carr
5.21.04 @ 12:16p

Jael: the point you raise about the plot reminds me of the short story compilation that McSweeney's did a year or two back, getting modern authors to actually write stories with plots, rather than just morose, soul-searching observations of characters' motivations. I think that is harder -- much harder! So in order to skip that work, studios either commission remakes, formulaic comedies or action flicks, or adaptations of morose, soul-searching observations of characters' motivations starring actresses who want to attempt to broaden their range (see: Kidman, Theron, et al).

mike julianelle
5.21.04 @ 12:17p

Leo was great in Catch Me. And I'm with you, Russ, I've never been able to forget I'm watching an actor, it's very very rare. I follow that stuff too much, I can't remove the person from the role, but I can acknowledge when someone comes closer to making me forget their presence.

But you're saying Sheen and Bates own Leo? I think he comes off kind of slight, but he has charisma and talent. He's barely even there against a heavyweight like Daniel Day-Lewis, but that wasn't all his fault.

russ carr
5.21.04 @ 12:29p

Own him? No. But each pulled my attention completely away from DiCaprio when they were in scenes together. Personally, I don't think Sheen is that great, but he still brought better chops to his brief part. DiCaprio just sorta shut up at that point, despite what should have been good scenes for him.

jael mchenry
5.21.04 @ 12:35p

So in order to skip that work, studios either commission remakes, formulaic comedies or action flicks, or adaptations of morose...

I see your point, but I differ slightly. There are great plots in remakes and terrible lazy plots in new stuff. (Ocean's 11 vs. Sweet Home Alabama.)

There is just as much work involved, on every level, in a remake. (Unless you're Gus Van Sant.) The only reason to remake an old film, or even adapt a book, is for the built-in audience.

lisa r
5.21.04 @ 12:37p

I look at the really good British actors, and you can see someone like Alan Rickman (Snape, for the HP fans) in 3 different roles and he never looks or acts the same. Colin Firth and Dame Judy Densch are the same way, and I don't think it's simply a matter of great costuming and makeup. I think it's a matter of those actors being able to totally immerse themselves in the role. For some reason today's American actors just don't seem to have that knack.

The only conclusion I can reach is that so many of the British actors seem to spend more time in the theater, where editing and camera angles aren't there to save a mediocre performance.

erik myers
5.21.04 @ 12:46p

That's because American actors are cast on looks rather than talent. Occasionally, you get lucky and the good looking ones are also talented.

russ carr
5.21.04 @ 12:46p

Point taken and volleyed back, Jael. I should have been more specific: remakes save the hassle of developing original stories. There is certainly work involved in refreshing the material, or putting a spin on it. But I still think that it pales against something original like Memento, or Pulp Fiction, where pretty much everything was novel.

mike julianelle
5.21.04 @ 1:09p

Please, when referring to Alan Rickman, refrain from using any character names EXCEPT "Hans." Let's be serious here. "Clay. Bill Clay" will also be accepted.

erik myers
5.21.04 @ 1:21p


lisa r
5.21.04 @ 1:55p

Oh, come on, Mike. He plays Severus Snape to perfection. If I hadn't read the credits, I'd have never known he was the same man who played Col. Christopher Brandon in "Sense and Sensibility". Role immersion. 'Nuff said.

sarah ficke
5.21.04 @ 2:25p

Gwynneth Paltrow does the same thing for me. Most of the time I forget that it's her I'm watching.

Jael and Russ: I think when it comes to remaking movies it's only as difficult as the director/screenwriter makes it. Yes, it can be just as hard to put new spin on an old movie as it is to come up with an original plot, but it can be just as easy as changing some dialogue to make it new and snappy and changing the set dressing, or coming up with one new gimmick to paste over the old stuff.

adam kraemer
5.21.04 @ 2:26p

I keep waiting for the remake of The Philadelphia Story - or not waiting, since I can never figure out how they could possibly get the casting right.
I can see Kate Mulgrew in Hepburn's role, for starters.

russ carr
5.21.04 @ 2:27p

Only if she reprises her hairbun from "Star Trek: Voyager."

A better casting suggestion? Martin Short in Hepburn's role.

sarah ficke
5.21.04 @ 2:30p

I've tried to cast that movie in my head several times, but I can't think of anything good. There isn't a Katherine Hepburn these days. There isn't even a Grace Kelley.

mike julianelle
5.21.04 @ 3:04p

Lisa, Rickman is a great actor, no denying it. But pretending he's as well known for Sense or Snape is malarkey. He is fantastic in Die Hard, enough so that on one list Ebert ranked him as the #2 or #3 movie villain of all time, behind Hal and maybe Vader. He's also fantastic in Prince of Thieves. I'm not trying to dis Rickman, I love him. i was mostly having fun, but Die Hard is a much better movie BY FAR than any of the 2 Potter's.

russ carr
5.21.04 @ 3:05p

Vader, maybe...but Hans Gruber has it all over HAL.

mike julianelle
5.21.04 @ 3:21p

Alas, Mr. Ebert did not see it that way, so he won't be joining us for the rest of his life.

adam kraemer
5.21.04 @ 3:23p

Please, when referring to Alan Rickman, refrain from using any character names EXCEPT "Hans." Let's be serious here. "Clay. Bill Clay" will also be accepted.

I'm also willing to accept Metatron.

mike julianelle
5.21.04 @ 3:39p

But only when he's bitching.

lisa r
5.21.04 @ 3:50p

Actually, my use of the two very diverse roles for Rickman was to point out British actor versatility and a willingness to become the character. Tom Cruise shows up for a shoot and no matter what they do to him, he's still Tom Cruise. I look at him onscreen, and I don't think "That's Maverick" or whatever the character du jour is...I think "That's Tom Cruise" for the entire movie. Again, I think it goes back to training in classical theater. Actors without it never quite seem to get the hang of becoming someone else, especially when it comes to historical drama or fantasy. Some of them quite simply can't act their way out of a paper bag.

mike julianelle
5.21.04 @ 4:05p

I don't think that's necessarily the actor's fault. If Rickman was an international superstar, you'd have a hard time not distinguishing him from his roles too. I think it makes acting much harder, if you have real pretensions toward it, which Cruise has, for the past 15 years, showed he does. I personally think Frank T.J. Mackey from Magnolia is his best role because it's against type and works against his persona. Plus it's hysterically written. "Later we'll discuss how to set jealousy traps."

jael mchenry
5.21.04 @ 4:07p

Because American actors are rarely cast for their skill, as someone pointed out before. Ah, it was Erik. Sometimes you luck out and get good-looking good actors (Edward Norton) but it's often not so.

I wonder myself how much the director affects the performance. After all, Soderbergh got an incredible performance out of Jennifer Lopez in Out of Sight. In her later stuff, why is she wooden? Because she's lazy, because she's lost the skill, or because the role didn't require sophisticated emotions, or just because the writing is bad?

brian anderson
5.21.04 @ 4:14p

On the director's influence and roles in which actors immerse themselves: how long did it take you to recognize Cameron Diaz in "Being John Malkovich"?

mike julianelle
5.21.04 @ 4:15p

It's all of those things. Plus, the editing. Never underestimate the editor's role, they can salvage nearly any performance by piecing any number of different takes together.

But yeah, it's no surprise that the people who are stars in America are the good looking ones, and the people who get the best roles are the stars. It's a business. But it does occassionally happen that a good character actor becomes a leading man of sorts, like Kevin Spacey, or Walken, or Buscemi (tho leading man is stretching it...lead role, maybe), or Hackman, or Hoffman...it's about as likely that a good looking guy has skills, like Newman, or Redford, or Cary Grant, or Sean Penn (good-looking?). But we are also very predisposed AGAINST stars being good actors, especially if they are a star first, like Pitt and Cruise. It's not impossible for them to get better and become good actors, we are all just so cynical (and jealous, prolly) that it's hard to acknowledge it if and when they do.

jael mchenry
5.21.04 @ 5:04p

Well, I don't know... certainly I can acknowledge that Cruise did an awesome job in Magnolia, for example. But I do think they have to play against type to receive some recognition for it. Whether or not Harrison Ford did a bang-up job acting in... what has he even been in lately? Random Hearts? We wouldn't notice, because it's the same old same old.

I do hate, though, that the Oscars are rewarding Women Who Make Themselves Ugly Or Have Some Other Sort of Transformation instead of really good performances. In that case, the makeup's doing the "acting."

mike julianelle
5.21.04 @ 5:18p

It's not just women. Look at the string of actors playing retards or drunks or anything else with easyily mimicked tics. Don't get me wrong, I think Bitch Cage in LLV is a phenomenal portrayal of a drunk, but give me an actor playing a normal guy with internal conflict, like Russell Crowe in The Insider, or even Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking, and I'm much more impressed.

jael mchenry
5.21.04 @ 6:08p

Last Five Best Actresses:
-Charlize "Monster" Theron
-Nicole "The Hours" Kidman
-Halle "Monster's Ball" Berry
-Julia "Erin Brockovich" Roberts
-Hilary "Boys Don't Cry" Swank

Last Five Best Actors:
-Sean "Mystic River" Penn
-Adrien "The Pianist" Brody
-Denzel "Training Day" Washington
-Russell "Gladiator" Crowe
-Kevin "American Beauty" Spacey

jeffrey walker
5.21.04 @ 7:13p

Many have discussed the absolute suckiness of Madonna's swept away. It not only failed to improve on the original Italian version, she actually made it worse. The original was a comment on Italian society; the remake... I don't know what that was supposed to be.

Sean Penn's best work was getting his wife; otherwise, he's an overactor.


dan gonzalez
5.21.04 @ 10:09p

Sean Penn's best work

Spicoli. But that wasn't really acting. Interesting that the last good dramatic performances from him or Tom Cruise were both in Taps.

On another note, the remake of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" wasn't bad, at least not like "Dawn of the Dead" was. Of course, "Dawn" didn't have Jessica Biel.


juli mccarthy
5.22.04 @ 10:43a

I disagree, Gonzo - Sean Penn is one of those actors who always plays himself (i.e. he never really disappears into a role) but he has done some very good work. Keanu Reeves, on the other hand... Reeves played a troubled teenager in The River's Edge and was amazing in the role at the time, but since then, he's pretty much played every character the same way.

I think this is why I much prefer character actors to leading men and women. You know, there are actors, and then there are stars. I'm trying to think of someone who is both, and I'm coming up blank here.

lisa r
5.22.04 @ 11:06a

You know, there are actors, and then there are stars.

Very profound, and very true. Britain produces more actors than stars. America produces more stars than actors.

sarah ficke
5.22.04 @ 10:19p

Sean Penn's best work was getting his wife; otherwise, he's an overactor.

I don't know. He was awfully good in Hurly-Burly, although I thought the movie was terrible.

dan gonzalez
5.22.04 @ 11:32p

I'll give ya Penn's acting, because I don't watch much of it because I find him annoying. E.G.: His turn in 'I Am Sam' was IMMENSELY annoying It completely ruined a movie already jeopardized by a thin, implausible plot. All that was left for me was a decent soundtrack. Maybe he's acting superbly, but just rubs me the wrong way. He had a great turn in 'Carlito's Way'. as I recall, and was not particularly annoying. Because it's hard for me to force myself to watch most films he's in, I guess I'm not the one who should be commenting on how well he's doing them.

mike julianelle
5.23.04 @ 1:44p

River's Edge is a great movie, and Keanu's best performance.

tracey kelley
5.23.04 @ 11:35p

I don't think character actors become stars in the traditional sense, because there's nothing to slap a label on. Take William H. Macy. He's capable and bankable, he can lead an ensemble, but he's not full "leading man"-able - yet.

Or Sam Rockwell. He's got it going on, but is he a leading man? No.

Hurly-Burly - shudder. Gawd, what awfulness.

I, too, love Ocean's, because I think it's much better than the original by not trying to be the original. And sometimes, it's nice to see everyone having a good time on something that's snappy and witty.

sarah ficke
6.30.04 @ 8:23a

And MSN chimes in on the topic a month late, as usual.

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