Moving forward with our epic podcast of the Bests of the Decade, Sunrise Tippeconnie and myself attempt to tackle the category of actors. It’s the twenty-first century, we’ve decided to do away with the term actress and bring men an women under one big comfy “actor” blanket. Still, we’re not so progressive that we don’t look on the achievements of men and women separately. Listen in as we discuss some of the best performances of the last ten years. From relative unknowns at the outset of the aughts, like Philip Seymour Hoffman, coming into their own, to aging actors finding new footing in their golden years, like Dustin Hoffman, it truly has been an exciting decade for cinema acting. We go through a lot of the top roles, but of course we miss a few. Check it out for our full thoughts, and click through to see the bests as picked by your very own candler blog.
In 1999, it would have been safe to say that ER’s George Clooney would never find a way to make the jump from television star to movie star. After all, he was part of Batman’s ruination. However, looking back on the last ten years, it’s hard to imagine a Hollywood without him. By a long-shot, the 2000s have been dominated and defined by nearly every move the Cloon has made.
After deftly proving his comedic abilities in 2000’s O Brother, Where Art Thou?, he redefined the homage role as Danny Ocean (once Sinatra’s shoes) in Ocean’s Eleven and the subsequent sequels. This is probably the role he will be remembered for: a tough and tested smart aleck whose suit is as sharp as his wit. The comparisons to Cary Grant are becoming clearer on every outing, but make no mistake, Mr. Clooney is the embodiment of the modern male. The more flawed the role, the more he shines. Just look at his recent work as the title role in Michael Clayton, or as the zany filanderer Harry Pfarrer in the Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading. These are roles that are very specific to masculinity in the aughts, and yet they are somehow timeless. No other actor has been able to excel at expounding on our moment so consistently.
And this doesn’t even take into account his offscreen endeavors. It should be noted that he is growing into one of Hollywood’s most prolific producers, taking chances on films where others shy away. He makes very smart decisions, knowing when to throw his celebrity behind a project without looking like an Oscar chaser, which he already has anyway. Plus, he has found a nice balance with the media between his philanthropic work and very private personal life. His colleagues get snapped and lampooned as he slinks on past. However, it is George Clooney’s phenomenal work this decade that makes him an obvious choice for Best Actor of the Decade.
Cate Blanchett has pulled off the impossible this decade. She has made herself into a leading lady while consistently fulfilling the role of character actor. Almost chameleonlike from film to film, she keeps coming back to surprise us on nearly every outing. Her most memorable role this decade was as Katherine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, a role that is so simple to get wrong that many other actresses would never attempt it. What she brought to the film was both an awareness of our impressionistic expectations and an originality that built a woman even stronger than the Hepburn in our mind’s eye.
She also reprised her role as Queen Elizabeth in 2007’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age and played perhaps the most accurate incarnation of Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There. She was also quite amazingly evil in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It really is her character work that she is measured by, but that’s not all she has done this decade. Her quirky deadpan was spot on in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and the emotional depth to her role in Babel is unmatched in an actress of her generation. Truly, imagining the 2000s without her is like imagining it without movies. We can only hope for great things in the decade to come.