by Julian Spivey
“America’s Sweetheart” is a term that is typically given to a female celebrity that is generally beloved by the majority of the American public.
A long time ago Marilyn Monroe was “America’s Sweetheart.” More recently actresses like Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock have been given that honor. The term has sort of become synonymous with chick flicks because women have generally been in charge of choosing who becomes “America’s Sweetheart.” You know it’s true. Women absolutely love Roberts and Bullock … guys, not as much. Why should women choose “America’s Sweetheart”? Us guys aren’t out there picking “Sexiest Man Alive.” But, if we were it sure as Hell wouldn’t have been Bradley Cooper. Come on, ladies, this was Ryan Gosling’s year.
So, it’s time for a guy to decide who “America’s Sweetheart” is. The only problem is I’m having a hard time choosing between two well-deserving individuals: Emma Stone and Zooey Deschanel.
What’s not to love about Emma Stone? She’s probably the funniest actress in the business right now with her witty, sarcastic humor and perfect comedic timing. She’s only been on the movie scene for about four years after debuting in 2007’s “Superbad” and has already got quite the impressive resume. In fact, her filmography reads like a list of many of the best comedies of the last few years with “Superbad,” “Zombieland,” “Easy A” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” Her skills will surely have her as one of Hollywood’s go-to-actresses of the next decade. Not only is she incredibly funny, but she also proved this summer that she can do drama very well with “The Help,” which is one of the best films of 2011. Her talents will be on display again next year in the summer blockbuster “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which re-imagines the comic book character on film.
Not only are Stone’s talents to be considered when determining whether she should be “America’s Sweetheart,” but she also happens to be cute as a button (that’s the G-rated version), which let’s face it, does matter. It’s really her beautiful red hair, her amazing smile and light-blue eyes that you will get lost in.
There’s no doubt that Stone is pretty worthy, but does Deschanel have her beat?
Deschanel has been on the scene for a full decade now, but really came to the forefront in 2009’s lovely film “(500) Days of Summer” and especially this fall on Fox’s new comedy series “New Girl,” where she plays lovable nerd Jess Day, who’s character has essentially created the new word, “adorkable.”
Deschanel is the kind of actress who knows she’s adorable and plays that off to a T, as her character’s zany antics on “New Girl” really thrive because of her cute factor. She certainly rivals Stone when it comes to a perfect mixture of cute and funny.
However, there is one more thing that might possibly set Deschanel apart … she sings like a bird. Her group She & Him has released two studio albums and a recent Christmas album, all of which have garnered numerous rave reviews by critics. Deschanel’s singing style is unlike any other singer in today’s age as she sounds like she belongs in the ‘60s, which adds once again to her cuteness factor.
So, the case has been made for both Stone and Deschanel. Who is the new “America’s Sweetheart”? Honestly, I still can’t choose, so I guess that really means that both Stone and Deschanel are America’s sweethearts.
by Julian Spivey
It might seem unlikely or even impossible for a film to be both heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time, but that’s exactly what you get with Alexander Payne’s newest release “The Descendants.”
“The Descendants” follows the busy and currently tragic life of Matt King, played by George Clooney in one of his best roles, if not his best role, to date, who is a descendant of one of Hawaii’s first white, land-owning families and thus, along with his relatives, owns a good portion of Hawaiian land, which is worth a pretty good fortune. One of the plotlines in the film is whether or not Matt will give the OK to sell off this land, which is an emotional and difficult task on its own, but is compounded by the fact that his wife is in a coma from a boat accident and she’s not going to make it. And, if all of that isn’t enough, shortly into the movie Matt finds out that his wife was having an affair before her accident. That’s not even it, Matt also has two daughters who he must learn to raise, the oldest of which is quite the troublemaker.
As you can tell, all of this is quite a burden placed upon Clooney’s character, but you never for one moment doubt the authenticity of his performance. His truly Oscar-worthy type stuff and Clooney is a lock for one of the five nomination slots and could be an early frontrunner. Clooney always seems at his best playing these type of honest to life, burdened men. He did it very well in Jason Reitman’s 2009 flick “Up in the Air,” as well, though that film was certainly not as heavy as this one.
Despite, being a heavy film filled with heavy themes and topics, there is a good portion of humor thrown in about to somewhat soften it a little and give the film a quirkiness that really works, and from what I hear is a staple in some of Payne’s other films like “Sideways” and “About Schmidt,” which I have unfortunately not previously seen. Despite the funny bits place throughout the film I wouldn’t for a moment refer to “The Descendants” as a comedy, as a lot of the funny bits come out of reactions to serious situations, for instance the way Clooney’s character runs frantically in flip-flops to a friend’s house when he hears his wife was cheating on him to find out if it’s indeed accurate.
Another highlight of this film is the performance by newcomer Shailene Woodley who plays King’s oldest daughter, Alexandra, who is a troubled teen that the Kings had sent to boarding school to straighten up. One of the best scenes of the film is the pool scene that comes shortly after Matt picks her up from the school and he has to inform her that her mother, who she wasn’t that close with, is going to die. Woodley’s reactions and acting during this scene are likely on their own merit to earn Woodley an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress in her major film debut. She’s already been nominated for a Golden Globe.
The heartwarming aspects of “The Descendants” are the bond that you see forming between Clooney and his two daughters, Alexandra and the much younger Scottie, played by Amara Miller. The crescendo of this coming in the film’s final scene as the credits role where Matt and his daughters effectively begin their new life together. There isn’t a bit of dialogue, as the three sit on the couch with a bowl of ice cream watching TV, but you can feel the love. It’s a special scene that’s a perfect end for a special movie.
“The Descendants” is easily one of the best films of 2011 and a virtual lock for a best picture Oscar nomination. The film is an hour and 55 minutes and rated R for language.