Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Name Game

Stray thoughts:

-- Things you notice only after the fact: I was privileged to meet Charles Fleischer and Stephen Tobolowsky at Saturday's FX International (hear Davey and Uncle Marty interview them by clicking a little further down this page). Both of them recently played characters named "Bob." In Zodiac, Fleischer is the rather frightening Bob Vaughn, and on "Heroes," Tobolowsky plays the rather frightening Bob Bishop.

Also, if you listen to my introduction of Stephen Tobolowsky, you'll hear me mention several credits of his: "Heroes," Groundhog Day, Single White Female, and Radioland Murders. I didn't plan to get an interview with him going into the show and indeed, I actually caught him on the fly when he graciously gave us the few minutes he had between scheduled events. So why did those particular credits spring to mind?

Well, "Heroes" was obvious. And when I mentioned it, he was kind of looking out in the distance, probably a little weary of hearing about it at this sci-fi geek fest. His most familiar movie role for most people is probably Groundhog Day, so that was obvious, too. Then Single White Female came to me, and I realize thinking back that it's because of the names. In Groundhog Day, he plays Ned Ryerson. In Single White Female, he plays Mitch Myerson.

The human mind in action.

Then I brought up Radioland Murders which is little seen, but I loved it and always considered it a signature piece for Mr. Tobolowsky. By the time I got to that one, he was looking directly at me and beaming.

So, connections, connections. Do they mean anything? Probably not, but I enjoy them.

-- The SAG (Screen Actors Guild) awards were announced this past week and they often indicate who is the front runner for the Academy Award acting categories. Daniel Day-Lewis won for his towering work in There Will Be Blood and it would be truly shocking if he doesn't walk away from Oscar night owning a little gold, bald man.

Julie Christie won for Away From Her. It's an excellent performance and she has had a legendary career, but I didn't think it was even the best performance in her own movie. Gordon Pinsent plays her husband in that movie and does the bulk of the heavy emotional lifting, and does it superbly.

Like Day-Lewis, Javier Bardem looks like a shoo-in for his Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. And rightly so; it's an iconic role that will be watched and referenced for years.

Finally, Ruby Dee took home the SAG award as Supporting Actress for American Gangster. She's another magnificent actress with a brilliant career, but like Julie Christie, she isn't even doing the best work in her movie. Russell Crowe turns in the best performance there as a cop who's a little too honest for his own good.

So will SAG honors translate into Oscar gold? If there's actually an Oscars this year, we'll find out.

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