Man at His Best

Opinion: Who Is The King Of Movie Comebacks?

From Oscar to Razzie to Oscar again.

BY Fin Carew | Mar 1, 2016 | Film & TV

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The Oscars just happened and I think we can all agree that my new category recommendation, “Most Consistent Critical Harangue”, being left out this year deprived me of my well-earned victory. I wasn’t the only one snubbed, of course. The Academy didn’t take heed of their previous mistake and failed to award The Lego Movie an apologetic Oscar for “Most Awesome Movie, OMG We’re So Sorry For Last Year, You Guys, For Realsies”. 

The Oscars are the ultimate awards for excellence in film, and while their reliability has come into question consistently (#OscarsSoWhite), this hasn’t dented their reputation. Meanwhile, the Razzies have consistently kept up since the ‘80s by drawing attention to those who deserve the wooden spoon of movie awards.

Although the Razzies aren’t especially reliable either (in 1980, Stanley Kubrick was nominated for Worst Director for The Shining), it’s fun to see garbage get acknowledged as well. For the artist, it should be taken as a challenge or constructive criticism. Two actors who haven’t learned from their mistakes were nominated for both a Razzie and an Oscar this year: Eddie Redmayne (Jupiter Ascending and The Danish Girl) and Rooney Mara (Pan and Carol). Not just actors either, as Simon Kinberg got an Oscar nomination for The Martian and a Razzie nomination for his Fantastic Four screenplay. 

But what about those who rose back up from our constricting, conceited public perception? Those whom we may even have forgotten that we once disliked? Does anyone remember Tom Hardy as Shinzon in Star Trek: Nemesis? No, because statistically you’ve never heard of it, but he was in it and wasn’t well received. It’s difficult to remember what he did before Bane; that’s how much respect he now commands. 

Sometimes, your comeback is about figuring out that you suck at your art before discovering your true talent. Take Sofia Coppola, nominated for two Worst Supporting Actress Razzies for The Godfather Part 3 and Star Wars: Episode 1. Since then, she’s won an Oscar for her screenplay, Lost in Translation. This comeback was less about how high she ended up, and more about how far she had to climb.

However, the actor whose up-and-down career is of most interest is Ben Affleck. Those of you who still bother with movies in the ‘90s will remember Good Will Hunting as the one that got Affleck his first Oscar. Then, between 1997 and 2009, he was nominated for eight Razzies, two of which he won. Out of nowhere, he was nominated for a Golden Globe for Hollywoodland, and then, as if he’d found his talent in an old box under his bed, came Argo. Winning at the Academy Awards, the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Affleck proved just how a comeback is supposed to work. The Razzies even went so far as to recognise him with the first “Razzie Redeemer Award” in 2015. Move over Stallone, Downey Jr. and Baldwin (Alec); this is how you do a comeback. 

First published in Esquire Singapore’s March 2016 issue.