Matt Damon burst onto the Hollywood scene when he and his friend Ben Affleck (whom you may also have heard of) came out of nowhere with a script they co-wrote and starred in: Good Will Hunting. One of the best Oscar moments in recent memory is the two of them going bezerk after winning Damon’s only Oscar to date for the film’s screenplay. Damon has gone on to be one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in The Bourne movies, Ocean’s trilogy, Saving Private Ryan, The Martian, Interstellar, and more than a dozen other huge hits. Post-The Martian, Damon has been in a bit of a slump, and it remains to be seen how much his career will be hurt by his ties to disgraced Hollywood mogul and sexual predator Harvey Weinstein (Damon has admitted he knew of Weinstein’s atrocities and did not come forward). On-screen, he’s one of the most versatile and talented actors of his generation. Time will tell what his sins of omission will do to his career going forward.
Ben Affleck has had a number of phases to his career in the 25 years plus he’s been in Hollywood. Starting out, Affleck and a number of young actors first gained notoriety in a number of Kevin Smith’s films (Mallrats, Chasing Amy, etc.) back when Kevin Smith actually made movies. Then he and his best friend Matt Damon had their Hollywood dream come true when their indie film, Good Will Hunting, in which they both wrote and starred, became one of the most critically acclaimed pictures of 1997 and the duo’s Oscar acceptance is one of the best of all-time. From there, Affleck entered a blockbuster phase that didn’t take. The scripts kept getting worse until he hit rock-bottom with Gigli, one of the most mocked films in recent memory.
Affleck, though, didn’t burn out. He started out as a writer, and he started picking quality scripts again. He also began directing, and he showed tremendous talent with Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and Argo. Currently, his career is intertwined with being the current Batman (at least for the moment), and while I may not be a huge fan of any of the films he’s been Batman in (funnily enough he played Superman first in 2006’s Hollywoodland), I like his take on the character, but I’m not certain where the DCEU goes with a Batman in his mid-to-late 40s. Whatever’s next, I think Affleck should get back behind the camera, pick projects that highlight his strengths as an actor (he’s not the strongest, but his overall knowledge of the process gives him an edge), and make the movies he wants to make. Getting sucked into commercial Hollywood blockbusters is what broke his career the first time; I’d hate to see it happen again.
Hard as it is to believe, this month marks three years since Robin Williams’ left us. Doing this blog, I write about a lot of celebrity deaths, but in the time that I’ve been doing it, and in my life really, the death of Robin Williams hit me like I’d lost a family member. Good times and bad, the man had a boundless joy running through him in such volume that you weren’t sure if it was going to actually make it to his mouth or go bursting out his ears. All that being said, his suicide didn’t surprise me, it just made me profoundly sad. People look at funny people like Robin and think how happy they must be, but humor doesn’t come from happiness; humor is the best bad way to cope with deep pain. The theory being that if you can’t escape your own demons and be happy yourself, maybe you can bring a smile to someone else’s face. I think Williams was happy when he was making others happy, but the need to be ON all the time and to do that must have been tremendously exhausting. I miss him, like I miss a friend gone on before, and this video from Goalcast which manages to take his graduation speech from Jack (NOT one of his better movies) and marry it to a beautiful montage of his career, is just beautiful. I think it’s the way he’d want to be remembered. Then if you find yourself tearing up after the first one, check out this interview with Craig Ferguson a few years before his death and you’ll remember the joy of just watching the man talk. We miss you Robin, and thank you.
Jeff Victor has done this wonderful piece on the late Robin Williams and prints can be bought at his website (link below) with part of the proceeds going to St. Jude’s.
“My tribute to the illustrious career of Robin Williams. Obviously, there are many, many more movies that could be included in this piece, but I tried to represent as many highlights as I could. This particular Evolution was quite emotional to draw. Williams’ work was so meaningful to me, and a big part of my childhood. His death is a loss for us all. I’m not very eloquent at eulogizing, so hopefully my art will speak for itself and remind you of the joy you felt watching his films.
“I am selling this piece as a print here, and for every copy I sell, I am donating $5.00 to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital, a charity Williams was very passionate about.”
Latest vs. Greatest looks at directors, actors, actresses, screenwriters and composers to assess the state of their career as it stands. We normally look back at the latest 10 movies the artist has done, rate them and then average them out to see where they stand today. Today, In Memorium of Robin Williams, we’re simply going to focus on his greatest movies. I had another person ready to go, but I think it will be more cathartic to simply look back on Williams’ triumphs and I think that will be the policy for any future profile of a person who has left us.
As details start to emerge as to how Robin Williams last hours were tragically spent, I still can’t comprehend the simple fact that he’s gone. I grew up with Mork. I started watching films around the same time his career began to explode. He was just a joy, whether he was playing a demented DJ in Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire or just sitting on a couch talking to Letterman. There were darker roles in guest spots on Homicide, Law & Order and in one of his best performances, One Hour Photo. Maybe for the extreme light to shine, an equal darkness was required. It seems to be that way for many comics.
I want to celebrate his best films, though, and just for a moment, step back from this awful reality and give us the perspective that time will eventually grant. This was a funny, flawed, stunningly talented, compassionate man. I always used to think to myself that it would be so weird to see that explosive energy eroded by age. I could never picture him as old. Maybe he couldn’t either. Continue reading Robin Williams’ Greatest 10 Movies→