Palm Springs Film Festival boards the Bruce Dern express
If Oscars were awarded purely on the basis of who wants it the most, Bruce Dern would be a tough man to beat this year. The 77-year-old veteran's first and last Oscar nomination came 35 years ago for "Coming Home," and he's seemingly revelling in the greatest amount of critical and media attention he's had since then, or perhaps ever.
I've lost count of the number of interviews and profiles I've seen this past week alone on the "Nebraska" star, who has never had much of a reputation for playing the industry game. But getting that Oscar nomination for what may be his last big-screen lead in a project of this pedigree evidently means something to him, and he's willing to do the necessary legwork to secure it. It remains to be seen how much the precursors will help him along next month, but he already has that Best Actor prize at Cannes to highlight on his campaign ads.
Now he has something else. We're not talking Cannes levels of prestige, but the Palm Springs Film Festival has become a key pit stop on the Oscar track for many an acting hopeful -- Matthew McConaughey and Sandra Bullock have already been confirmed as honorees at the festival's awards gala, and now Dern is joining them with a Career Achievement Award.
Fest chairman Harold Metzner's statement begins: “Bruce Dern is truly a one-of-a-kind performer. His skill at capturing the essence of a character, no matter how complex or unorthodox, is unique and unparalleled." He goes on to celebrate his work as "Bloody Mama," "Coming Home" and "Nebraska," though it could as easily mention his excellent Tom Buchanan in the 1974 adaptation of "The Great Gatsby" (which earned him a Golden Globe nod), Jack Nicholson's "Drive, He Said," Walter Hill's "The Driver," or his shouldering of Douglas Trumbull's landmark sci-fi "Silent Running." Times have obviously been leaner since then, but "Monster" and "Django Unchained" are among the more distinguished films he's popped up in this century.
All of which is to say, ambivalent as I am about Dern's "Nebraska" campaign -- he gives a fine, suitably ornery performance, but the poignancy of his casting is required to fill in a lot of blanks -- an award in recognition of his career, however blighted with B-movies (coming soon: "Coffin Baby!") it may be, is easier to get behind. In accepting the award, he follows such recent recipients as Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Sally Field and Clint Eastwood. It will be presented on the Palm Springs awards gala on January 4.
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
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