Sunday, January 17, 2010

Guest Blogger, Beth McArthur

Friday, January 15, 2010

Team Jeff or Team Colin?

For those of you waking up in cold sweats, madly humming "Somebody Else", and driving your friends buggy with obsessive musings on the Jeff Bridges versus Colin Firth Best Actor of 2009 dilemma, take heart. You are not alone. The bags under my eyes are heavier than Mariah Carey's weekend totes. For days, I've agonized over this predicament at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 am. Call me a kook. That's just how I am. I embrace movies and fairness with equal fervour. The outcome of this thespian horse race matters to me.

The trouble is, both men are excellent. Both performances raise the status of the men's films to "Ooooh, baby!" from merely "Oh yeah."

I saw Firth's movie, A Single Man, first. Throughout, my heart bled buckets at his repressed, anguished performance as a grieving gay college professor. Afterwards, I sobbed for 45 minutes until globs of black mascara dotted my ultra suede loveseat. With hand on heart, I declared to friends, family, co-workers and complete strangers in movie line-ups that Firth would surely win the Oscar. But then, it struck me. Doesn't Firth always seem stricken in his movie and television roles? He was stricken in Pride and Prejudice. He was stricken in Bridget Jones's Diary. Was his performance here that great a stretch, acting-wise, after all? Maybe he looks stricken when he's buying toilet paper.

Then I saw Crazy Heart, a riveting character study about a drunken, brilliant, sensitive country singer played by an irrepressible Bridges. I chortled, held my breath, gasped, tapped my toes, wanted to run my fingers through his character's Kris Kristofferson-y hair as much as I wanted to flee from his puke spittle. I now felt 100% certain that Bridges was the guy to beat. He sang the songs himself, man. His character felt more real than Firth's somehow. His lovable loser was more recognizable, more tangible. You could sense his flabby, physical heft. You could smell this dude. Firth, on the other hand, seemed pristine: a Ken doll slowly crumbling.

The Golden Globe is one award that might go to Colin instead of Jeff at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's big wing ding this Sunday, January 17. That's because the 49-year-old Firth's a Brit and foreign journalists are voters. But the Oscar will likely go to Jeff in March. The guy's as American as apple pie.

It was after almost a week of angst that I finally realized for me it all boils down to: who will most appreciate an Oscar? Which man will be happier, and look happier, to win an Academy Award? And which man's win will delight the gleaming audience to the rafters? The answer to all these questions is, of course, Jeff Bridges.

I want to see Jeff Bridges's big handsome, 60-year-old face light up, his cheeks dimple, and those crinkly baby blues sparkle. I want to see an extreme close-up of beautiful Susan Geston, Bridges's wife of over 30 years, crying in the audience, followed by a slow pan to brother Beau, also weeping. I want Jeff to thank his late father Lloyd Bridges in his Oscar acceptance speech. I want Jeff to say "far out" or "right on" for the boomers watching. I want the entire Kodak Theater audience to rise as one to celebrate this American son, a man who's given and given and given, goddamnit, to movie goers and TV audiences for over 40 years without once donning a reindeer sweater.


Update as of January 16th: Jeff Bridges won the Critics Choice Award for Best Actor the evening of January 15th. He will host the Grammys 2010 on January 31st.

Of course, the lovely irony is that Robert Duvall, who won a much-deserved Oscar for his role as a broken, alcoholic country singer in the great Horton Foote story, Tender Mercies, is co-starring in Bridges' new film.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

David, Bridges will present at the Grammys, not host as was previously noted in news stories. I should have double and triplechecked my sources. Sorry.