Sunday, October 17, 2010

'70s cinema: the new wave stars and their modern-day counterparts (PART 1)

As The Godfather, Annie Hall, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest that came before them, I decided to take a gander at the new decade's counterparts of the American new wave's stars of the '70s. Feel free to scrutinize to your heart's desire in the comments, but here are my humble choices...

Jack Nicholson to Jeremy Renner - Making a name for himself as a snarky hoodlum in movies like Easy Rider (1969), Five Easy Pieces (1971), and Carnal Knowledge (1971), Nicholson found himself one of the broadest performers of his generation. His R.P. McMurphy in Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Jack Torrance in The Shining (1980) are clear-cut evidence of that. And Renner has eked out a similar career through his beginnings - he played bad boys in North Country (2005) and The Hurt Locker (2009), and his most recent turn in The Town (2010) had the broad choices found in an iconic Nicholson role.
Most Desired Remake - Jeremy Renner in The Shining

Jane Fonda to Rebecca Hall - After her kitschy beginnings in Barbarella (1968), Fonda went on to become the edgy performer who led Klute (1971) and They Shoot Horses Don't They? (1969), eventually becoming the critical darling (despite her political slants) garnering accolades for her work in Julia (1977) and Coming Home (1978). Hall got a big start early on thanks to her expert turn in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008). And, following some small roles in prestige pics such as Frost/Nixon (2008) and Red Riding (2009), she's gone on to some major roles in buzzy flicks such as The Town (2010).
Most Desired Remake - Rebecca Hall in Barefoot in the Park

Robert de Niro to Leonardo DiCaprio - Gaining early traction as the 1970s quintessential tough guy, de Niro has Martin Scorsese to thank for his early success, in essence. From Mean Streets (1973) to his star (and Oscar-winning) turn as young Don Corleone in The Godfather, Part II (1974) to his arguably most important roles in Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980), de Niro played best with Scorsese and other '70s visionary Francis Ford Coppola. In perhaps a too-obvious comparison, DiCaprio has taken a similar path. After some humble beginnings as a child star, Scorsese, too, helped him gain his cred as a leading man in Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), and particularly 2006's The Departed.
Most Desired Remake - Leonardo DiCaprio in The Deer Hunter

Dustin Hoffman to Emile Hirsch - Hoffman obviously made his mark late in the '60s with The Graduate (1967) and Midnight Cowboy (1969), so by the 1970s, he was a full-fledged movie star. With an incredibly diverse career for such a distinctly atypical actor, Hoffman was perhaps best loved as flawed heroes in Lenny (1974) and Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and full-on thriller heroes in All the President's Men (1976) and Marathon Man (1976). As an actor of equally unusual skills, Hirsch went edgy like Hoffman in the beginning, taking roles in The Secret Lives of Altar Boys (2002) and Imaginary Heroes (2004). But Hirsch channeled his Hoffman Oscar cred with a supporting turn in Milk (2008) and his mesmerizing role in Into the Wild (2007).
Most Desired Remake - Emile Hirsch in The Graduate

Ellen Burstyn to Maggie Gyllenhaal - Critical darling Burstyn made a name for herself from playing careworn ladies, often with hellish children - enter The Exorcist (1973). And this was years before her now best-known role in Requiem for a Dream (2000). From The Last Picture Show (1971) to Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), she rocked the bob and the over-worked gal to a tee. Then there's Gyllenhaal, who, though she's had her fair share of glamour roles in Mona Lisa Smile (2003) and The Dark Knight (2008), her best work has come from her scrappier, bob-headed turns in fare such as Happy Endings (2005), Sherrybaby (2006), and of course Secretary (2002).
Most Desired Remake - Maggie Gyllenhaal in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore


Unknown said...

This is quite interesting, Renner and Leo especially, although I really think Maggie is way overrated.

Simon said...

Let's not forget, both Renner and Nicholsan started relatively late in their careers. That's my contribution, anways.


interesting comparisons but i must take issue with the "humble" beginnings of LEONARDO DICAPRIO. He was getting "best of his generation" style press when he was but a teenager. He was a big big deal long before Scorsese adopted him ;)

Luke said...

Jose: Yeah, I was sort of surprised when I thought about it how similar the paths of Renner and Nicholson were - it was really his heavy-accented and heavily facial performance in The Town that sort of triggered the thought.

Simon: Yes, and they both have/had that way of "don't even..." in their demeanor. Love it. :)

Nathaniel: Ah, the misuse of sarcasm. It seems I misplaced my mind as well as my stash of quotation marks. I sort of meant "humble" as a joke, considering he had an Oscar nomination (and that uber illustrious stint on Growing Pains) under his belt. My mistake. :)

Andrew K. said...

I have to take offense to the Jane Fonda / Rebecca Hall parallel. I don't know why, Rebecca Hall annoys me. I'll go completely left field and suggest Scarlett Johansson or Natalie Portman instead because when Jane started out no one thought she'd be big - just a pretty face...sort of like Jessica Lange actually...hmmm.