By Jonathan Kiefer
Yo, mid-’80s me!
Where’s the beef? Greetings from the year 2010.
Don’t worry. I’m not writing to warn you about some relentless cyborg death-drone coming back through time to wreak havoc on your world because the machines have taken over. It’s true that the machines have taken over, but we’re actually pretty cool with it. And we even elected the death-drone as the governor of California.
No, arguably it’s the director of The Terminator, James Cameron, who’s more out of control these days. I don’t even know how to describe to you what he’s up to now: It’s called Avatar, and it’s gonna win big on March 7 at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. To put it in language you’ll understand: Who really wants to have their minds blown by oversized Smurfs? Well, this guy, obviously. He’s a major hoser. It’s been like this since he became the king of the world.
Anyway, the occasion of this year’s Oscars has put me in a reflective mood, and I’ve been thinking about how things have changed since the time when I—er, when you were just starting to really get into movies.
I won’t lie to you. There have been some hardships since then. I can’t go into too much detail because no man should know too much about his own destiny. I don’t doubt that right now you’re feeling like you’ll be chubby and lonely and awkward forever. I can tell you that you definitely will be for at least another 25 years. But after that, who knows? Anyway, one thing that’s cool about your 30s is that you’ll be going to the movies all the time, for free.
Now, maybe you think being a dork who goes to the movies too much is no way to become an adult. And maybe you’re right. But then again, it sure worked pretty well for this one guy named Quentin Tarantino, now one of the most famous directors in the world, who got eight nominations this year for a film whose title he didn’t even bother to spell correctly. It’s called Inglourious Basterds and, if it doesn’t win big, it should at least score for one supporting actor you haven’t heard of—and neither had I until now—named Christoph Waltz.
What I’m saying is: Dream big, my self, because anything is possible. In fact, all the stuff you’re into right now—cartoons and story-books (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline), Star Trek, Transformers, hovering motherships (District 9), good guys against Nazis (Basterds), hellacious graphic violence (various), feel-good football (The Blind Side)—has become major award-fodder in 2010 Hollywood.
It’s not all peachy, though, as this one documentary called The Cove makes clear. Mankind has a much less pleasant relationship with dolphins than Roy Scheider did back in 2010.
Oh, but at least that tough older babe (Helen Mirren) who played the Russian space cadet is now playing another Russian space cadet, in a drama about Leo Tolstoy (The Last Station) that I’m sure you wouldn’t like.
Yeah, some things haven’t changed. We still have lots of British people: eager schoolgirls (An Education), swooning poets (Bright Star), mad bureaucrats (In the Loop), reigning royals (The Young Victoria) and at least one very sad professor (A Single Man), all decked out as usual with fancy clothes and fancy language. And we still have Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia).
But dude, don’t worry. The future, 2010 in particular, is way sci-fi. Big time! And cartoons nowadays are totally tubular. And if you’re sick of Vietnam War movies, cheer up. By now, we’ve got a whole new war, and it’s a doozy! (Hence the title of The Hurt Locker. It’s a nine-time nominated film and possible best picture from our possible best director Kathryn Bigelow.)
Dirty Harry—er, Clint Eastwood—is also an important director now, and he really wants us all to know, with Invictus, that he’s not a racist. Which reminds me: I don’t want to freak you out, but I feel obligated to tell you that what you’ve been learning from The Cosby Show about how black families live in New York City is not entirely accurate. Things are a lot different for the Huxtables in Brooklyn Heights than they are for the Joneses in Harlem. (Just ask Precious’ probable best supporting actress Mo’Nique.)
I tell you, me of 25-some-odd years ago, it’s been a pretty wild ride. Do you remember that guy George Clooney from The Facts of Life? No, of course you don’t. But he’s a huge movie star now (and possibly this year’s best actor in Up in the Air). And if somebody had told me when I was you that the guy who directed Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman) would one day have a kid (Jason Reitman) who made a movie with that The Facts of Life guy and got six nominations for it (best adapted screenplay being Up in the Air’s most likely win), well, I don’t know what I’d say. What are you saying right now?
You probably don’t remember Lou Grant from Lou Grant either. Either way, he’s now a cartoon man who floats away in a balloon house in the almost-certain best animated feature Up. It’s so crazy.
But I mean, if the dude from Knots Landing, Alec Baldwin by name, can co-host the Academy Awards with Steve Martin, well then why shouldn’t Woody Harrelson from Cheers be in the running for an Oscar (as best supporting actor in The Messenger)? After all, he’s been nominated before. Yes, I am serious.
And the Starman from Starman, Jeff Bridges? Him too. Again. He’s been nominated a bunch of times by now. We think this might be his year for best actor for Crazy Heart. See? Good things do come to those who get old.
OK, man. I gotta book.