And now we have our usual Thursday program. From now on Thursdays will be known as List Thursdays. Again, there isn’t some sort of hidden pun. Just couldn’t find a more suitable day. Basically, I will try and make a list that will tie in with a new release somehow, so let’s begin.
With my list of the top films of 2011, I discussed the peculiar film Martha Marcy May Marlene: A terrible story about a troubled teenager that is to forever live her life scarred after her experience in an abusive cult. Without going too much into it (and you’ll see why), actress Elizabeth Olsen was essentially made into a new, rising talent in the film world and her prowess has only begun. Her newest film Silent House opens this weekend, and that got me to thinking. How many other times have we experienced a breakthrough like this, where a sibling of a famous celebrity comes from out of nowhere and puts the world at a standstill?
Here is my list of the top five sibling breakthroughs in the film world.
NOTE: I want to stick to 1) just siblings (not parents, children, relatives, etc.) and 2) a sibling that had to overcome a “running start”. For instance, Jake and Maggie Gylenhaall and Joan and John Cusack kind of started off together, so one wasn’t ahead of the other necessarily (both Jake and Maggie gained much notice from Donnie Darko, for instance).
5. Elizabeth Olsen
Breakthrough Film: Martha Marcy May Marlene
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were seen as both the smiling faces of our youth and the bleeding eardrums of our adulthood. They represented the innocence in all of our households we wish we had in Full House, and they represented whatever annoying trend was going about in their films. Basically, they were the twin, female versions of Macaulay Culkin: Children promoted for easy money. They struggled to keep their acting careers up when they became adults, so instead they learned from what they knew best and became clever saleswomen. They have lines for everything: Clothes, makeup, cocaine, you name it (I’m kidding, jeez). This gave their overlooked sister Elizabeth a chance to make a name for herself, and she did in last year’s film. In fact, some journalists were a bit outraged that she didn’t earn an Oscar nomination. Her performance was risky and a huge surprise, and did it ever pay off.
Has she run out of steam yet? Way too early to tell. She’s already got a number of films lined up, never mind her next film Silent House that comes out tomorrow. She has a total of three films in 2012 already. I think we have yet to see what this new talent can do.
4. Tony Scott
Breakthrough Film: True Romance
Hey, I didn’t say this list was just about acting siblings, right?
Ridley Scott is easily one of the biggest directors of our generation. He’s released two of the best science fiction films of all time (Alien and Blade Runner), and he continues to make films that range from decent to downright fantastic (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, etc) for the most part (I can forgive him for Robin Hood). Tony Scott, Ridley’s brother, hasn’t had as groundbreaking of a career. He’s released many questionable films. For instance, Man on Fire could have been good, but the ending hour of nothing but none stop, mindless violence really is underwhelming when it comes to plot and story. That’s the problem, though. Tony works best with a good script. Enter Tarantino’s screenplay that Tony Scott directed: True Romance. While the film may be carried mostly by Tarantino’s script, Scott’s direction definitely gave the script a different spin and it was refreshing to see how a world Tarantino creates can be interpreted differently. True Romance is still a solid film with your usual Tarantinoian cast full of huge names and great performances.
Has he run out of steam yet? Good question. Again, he’s directed many boring or unexciting films, but I feel that he’s not as big of an auteur as his brother is; He just directs whatever is given to him and how he feels it should appeal to the writer. However, he did direct Unstoppable, which ended up being surprisingly pretty good. If you asked me before this film came out, I would have said his career’s done. Now, we will have to see.
3. Peter Fonda
Breakthrough Film: Easy Rider
Henry Fonda is one of the ultimate acting icons, so it’s no surprise that his children would want to be a part of the acting world with him. Jane Fonda is a household name even to this day. When her career started, she was just as big as she is now, getting nominations left right and center. Peter was also acting but he wasn’t getting nearly as many roles as his sister. Did he lack the same talent and charisma? Talent wise, I’d actually say they are both very good. I wouldn’t attack his charisma either. I think the best explanation for his slow start would be his breakthrough film: Easy Rider. Peter wrote and starred in the film, where he played a free spirited biker alongside Dennis Hopper (of whom directed the film). Along with the memorable music and classic scenes (including the controversial drug sequences), Easy Rider brought Peter the recognition he deserved, and he was even nominated for his screenplay. His father may have been the face of pure and innocent America, but his son was now America’s badass.
Has he run out of steam yet? Well, he’s into his later years of his life and only how has his work gotten a bit sparse. Until 2009, though, he was starring in many films, including some where his acting talents were recognized (even as late as the 90’s). I wouldn’t say that he has run out of steam, rather that he has gone the way of his breakthrough role and has decided to take things easy now that he’s helped carry on his father’s legacy along with his sister.
2. Casey Affleck
Breakthrough Film: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
This entry’s a bit peculiar because Casey was in many films before his breakthrough role in Jesse James (screw it, I’m not typing out the entire film name every time). Was he a household name? Not really. His brother Ben was, however. We all know Ben Affleck: The guy that got famous because he helped write Good Will Hunting. I feel that Ben gets a lot of flack but at the same time he doesn’t deserve as much as he gets. Sure, he’s a pretty bad actor, but his work behind the camera has been nothing but pretty damn good so far (I haven’t seen the show Push, Nevada, so I can’t comment on that). 2007 was the year Casey finally broke out of his shell in two films that would finally jump start his career: Gone, Baby, Gone and Jesse James. In the former, his brother Ben wrote and directed it and Casey played the dominant lead. In Jesse James, however, we see a depth that no Affleck has shown us before. We see curiosity mixed with jealousy, rage mixed with uncertainty. We see a childhood dream crushed and melted into revenge, and Casey was the reason why with his fiery performance. Gone, Baby, Gone may have helped, but Jesse James was what put Casey on top of the world.
Has he run out of steam yet? That’s the weird part. He’s kind of disappeared again, save for his failed directorial experiment I’m Still Here. He’s due to be in four films between 2012 and 2013, so that may put him back on the map, but for now he’s not really taking advantage of the boost he had back in 2007. We’ll see how this one plays out.
1. Warren Beatty
Breakthrough Role: Bonnie and Clyde
Who doesn’t know Shirley MacLaine? She’s been a star since the 50’s and has starred in many memorable films, including a large amount of comedies. In the acting world, she really made it. So really, who doesn’t know her? Well, do you know her full name? You may or you may not, I don’t know I can’t read your mind. Her full name is Shirley MacLaine Beatty. Now that you can see the connection between her and the boss himself Warren Beatty, let’s talk about his origin. Sadly he wasn’t a big star in the 50’s. He was in a few roles in the early 60’s, but nothing too memorable. That is until he decided to produce the film Bonnie and Clyde. Maybe he’ll find more work as a producer, right? Well, they couldn’t find a good enough Clyde Barrow so naturally he decided to produce and act in the film. This dual role of cinematic participation not only sparked his career, but it gave him a love for multi tasking. He’s become a tour-de-force in many areas in the film world, as he’s had acclaim for his acting, his writing, his directing and his production work, earning four nominations and one win at the Academy Awards. He’s had much control on films like Heaven Can Wait, Bugsy, Bulworth and the stunning epic Reds (which you should seriously check out, as it is one of the best epics of the 80’s).
Has he run out of steam yet? Like Peter, Warren’s reaching the later stages of his life. Oddly enough, after a number of years without a role in a film of any sort, he’s reportedly going to be playing Howard Hughes in what could be Christopher Nolan’s next film. Even if he didn’t have this role, does he need steam? He’s plowed through the film world since the 60’s and has every right to kick his feet up and never work again. The guy deserves it.