“I wish my life was a non-stop Hollywood movie show, a fantasy world of celluloid heroes and villains.”
-The Kinks (Celluloid Heroes)
Thanks to the extensive DVD collection at the library, I’m catching up on the TV shows I missed. Currently I’m binge watching Game of Thrones. I just finished seasons one and two and I’ve learned quite a few things. One is that this show really is as good as people said it was. Two is that they’re not afraid to kill off the main characters, unlike old TV shows like Star Trek, where you knew that many of the crew might be killed, but Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and “Bones” McCoy would still be alive at the end of each episode. And three, everybody hates King Joffrey.
It came as no surprise to me that Jack Gleeson, who portrays the sadistic young king, won the People’s Choice Award for Best TV Villain. We love our movie heroes, but the actors we love to hate are the ones who win the acting awards. This is something I learned back in 1971 when I first saw the movie Bonnie and Clyde. Even though they were bank robbers, Bonnie and Clyde were the charismatic stars of the movie. We hated to see them gunned down at the end of the picture. Clyde’s sister-in-law, played by Estelle Parsons, was the one we hated. She whined constantly, and everybody in the movie theatre would have gladly watched her get riddled with bullets instead. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Remember Kathy Bates in Misery? She made Nurse Ratched look like Florence Nightingale. Everyone who saw Misery remembers the scene where Kathy smashed James Caan’s ankles with a sledge hammer. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Louise Fletcher, by the way, also won a Best Actress for her portrayal of the previously mentioned Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Charlize Theron won the Academy Award for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wournos in Monster. I’d have to look it up, but I’d guess that the make-up artist who turned the beautiful South African actress into a Monster must have won an award, too. Speaking of monsters, Frederic March won the Academy Award back in 1931 for his dual role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Presidential monsters also get their recognition. Frank Langella, who can do a trick with his eyes that scares the bejesus out of me, was nominated for Best Actor for portraying Richard Nixon. Daniel Day-Lewis won the Academy Award for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln. I know that Lincoln is up there on Mount Rushmore as, supposedly, one of our greatest Presidents, but I, personally, consider him a monster. Yes, he abolished slavery, but at the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives. Plus, history books fail to tell the story of how more than a million slaves died from hunger, disease, and neglect soon after they were freed. Don’t take my word for it. Read Sick from Freedom by the historian Jim Downs.
Fictional Presidents can also be good monsters. Donald Sutherland was superb as President Snow, the tormenter of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.
Rooney Mara was nominated for the Academy Award for her performance as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Of course, she wasn’t a monster. She just appeared to be one. Read the books. She’s one of my favorite female characters in literature. She even tops Katniss Everdeen, who was portrayed in the Hunger Games by another Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence. Rooney Mara, as her name suggests, is the paternal granddaughter of Wellington Mara and the maternal great-granddaughter of Art Rooney, Sr. Good thing she wasn’t a boy or I’m sure her family would have pushed her into football.
Michael Keaton can play the good guy or the bad guy and be terrific. He’s lovable in Mr. Mom and downright terrifying in Pacific Heights. Marlon Brando won the Academy Award for The Godfather. Sure, he was very likable, but, after all, he did play the head of a Mafia family. Michael Douglas won for personifying greed in Wall Street. Anthony Hopkins won for his portrayal of serial killer Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs.
This list of bad boys and girls who thrilled us on screen goes on and on. The mountains are more impressive because of the valleys, and heroes are more impressive because of the villains they faced. So, hail King Joffrey for making Game of Thrones more interesting, but I sure can’t wait until I get to the episode where they kill you off.
Peace & Love, and all of the above,