Tuesday, June 10, 2008

You don't have to be an A student to be an A-List Star Part 1: The Men

Ah nothing like basking in the afterglow of a reference like three people will get in the title.

This past week's Entertainment Weekly (#997 June 13, 2008) featured a cover-story about their picks for the next Hollywood A-listers. As my friend Etan pointed out at the Academy Awards several years ago we're well into the beginning of a transitional period where the big stars of yesterday; the DeNiros, Pacino, Nicholsons and Fords (or what have you) are giving way to the Seymour Hoffmans, the Crowes, the Phoenixs and so on. So now ET is making some predictions about the names you'll be seeing above the title in coming the years and here are my thoughts about them.
Dwayne Johnson-Having officially (and seamlessly) retired his "Rock" moniker Johnson seems primed to really tackle the worlds of action, comedy and hopefully drama. Even back in his wrestling days the Rock was one of the most charismatic and articulate of brawlers (I've been a fan for a long time). I've maintained that ever since he got into movies that had the Rock been around in the 80's he would've been the most successful of all his action peers and subsequently become one of the biggest stars in the world. He's ten times more charismatic and amusing than Schwarzenegger, Segal, Van Damme or any of those guys. Also the guy is sexy. Yeah that's right, I said it. Johnson has not been in the best movies but he never gives less than 100% in them and I still maintain that the Rundown is one of the better pure action films of the twenty first century. Johnson has had his first major success in The Game Plan (which I skipped because I saw the movie for free in a three minute nugglet known as a trailer) so now he's going to be in family films for a bit (hence the forthcoming Escape from Witch Mountain, I guess he plays the mountain). Johnson's appearance in Southland Tales wasn't enough to save the film but it showed me that he doesn't always have to be the tough guy and that he's willing to do unconventional material. I have high hopes for his work in Get Smart (a movie I'll be writing about with great enthusiasm shortly). If he can get a little more selective in his scripts and stretch once in a while he could be like no performer we've seen before.
Is he A-List?: Not quite yet, but if Get Smart does well (and no reason it shouldn't) then he's well on his way.
Shia LaBeouf-LaBEOUF! In two disappointing hours LaBeouf went from beinga decent young actor to my favorite thing about the new Indiana Jones movie. Breathing more life into Harrison Ford then any other actor on screen, the new Spielberg wunder-kid has real presence and two huge potential franchises under his belt. I like this kid, but I'd like to see him in some indie (not to be confused with Indy) films. I don't mean Hitchcock retreads but a Fox Searchlight sort of thing.
Is he A-List? material: Very close, but he needs to do a quality film where he is the main attraction, not an energy cube.
Seth Rogen-At the moment he can do no wrong. His projects always feel fun, cutting edge and tend to be hilarious. I've heard that he doesn't have much of a presence in Kung-Fu Panda but then again the movie is hardly his to own. Pineapple Express looks sensational and both Rogen and Gordon Green are benefiting from each-others company. Zak & Miri looks cute and Monsters versus Aliens sounds incredible. Then there's the Green Hornet that he and friend and co-writer Evan Goldberg wrote. Rogen is constantly making cool, exciting creative choices, I just hope he doesn't neuter himself like Will Ferrell was doing for a while there.
Is he A-List material?: Yes and has been since 40 Year Old Virgin as far as I'm concerned.
Robert Downey Jr.-He's the elder statesman of this list but he definitely belongs on it. He's straightened out his life AND he looks poised to make 2008 the summer of Downey. Let's see, a colosally successful on all accounts franchise (Iron Man)? Check. Fun, edgy looking comedy he looks poised to steal from more accomplished comedy co-stars (Tropic Thunder)? Check. Schlocky sounding awards bait ready for the fall (The Soloist)? Check. Just stay clean and keep being awesome.
Is he A-List material?: If you look up A-List in the dictionary do you know what you see? A picture of Robert Downey Jr? No, the definition of the word a-list, idiot.
James McAvoy-I love him in press conferences and award shows where he seems fun and impish and playful. His movies are a bit of a mixed bag though. I like him in Atonement but he mostly just walks around looking dour. Last King of Scotland was good to him but in the eyes of the public that's Forest Whitakers movie. I'll see Wanted but I'm going to be pretty pissy through it because it looks NOTHING like the comic. As of right now the movie that best shows off what he can do is Starter for 10, but like three people saw it. Maybe he should try to hook up with the Apatow guys or another comedy clique.
Is he A-List material?: Not for another three or four successful movies at least.
Michael Cera: I talked a lot about what makes Cera great a few posts ago. I think that right now if you're an even remotely media savvy person between the ages of 15-28 you love this guy. His upcoming film slate looks pitch-perfect.
Is he A-List material?: Unquestionably. I hope he has a very sexy time.

Well that's it for the men. Tomorrow (or Thursday) I'll write up my thoughts on the women (and hopefully have a review up of Kung-Fu Panda). Stay awesome.

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