In the Sundance heyday of the late ’90s, the ubiquity of Steve Buscemi was something that hip people — the sorts who knew his name and how to spell it, as opposed to the casual moviegoers who just felt a twitch of happy recognition at the appearance of that magnificently puffy gaze with its implication of a hangover (not merely enduring, but existential) — joked about over post-cinematheque maki rolls:
“Is it even possible to get an ‘art’ film green-lit without Steve Buscemi? It’s like there’s a secret law in the Hollywood Rule Book, the ‘Buscemi Proviso,’ which decrees that every script has to include a role for him. Dude is everywhere.”
“A theory, chum: Steve Buscemi is the physical embodiment of the green light. He's the human cigar that gets fired when the foreign financing drops into place.”
What was, and is, so annoying about such smug talk is that it trivializes the greatness of the most memorable, unconventionally charismatic, and intelligent character actor at work in film and television today. He's been funny (Reservoir Dogs) and he's been acerbic (Ghost World). In The Sopranos, as the trying-to-be-good Tony Blundetto, his portrayal of recidivism was as brilliant as it was upsetting. With his lead role as Atlantic City gangster Nucky Thompson (Boardwalk Empire), Buscemi has emerged as an antihero for the ages, noble and wicked and cool, and proved that he truly can play anything, even a star. And who else has appeared in so many Adam Sandler films (Billy Madison, The Wedding Singer, et al.) and escaped unscathed? Steve Buscemi is the little black dress of cinema, appropriate for any occasion.
Two weeks ago, Chelsea Fagan and I joined forces to discuss which Grammy nominees and winners were attainable/unattainable. The process was challenging, but at the end of the day, writing about Rihanna, Bruno Mars, and Adele isn't that difficult. We all have that Adele figure in our lives, everyone knows someone like Rihanna, and we all know how hard it is to shake a "Bruno Mars" from our friend circle. But the Oscars are a different beast. They are for adults, by adults. (FABA, if you will.) People with car loans and mortgages and pasts win and lose Oscars. This is one of the many reasons this was a more challenging task, but we did it, because that's what we do.
In the second installment of our "Celebrity Attainability Exercise in Futility," we tackle the Oscars and 10 of last night's most important figures.
1. Jean Dujardin, Best Actor, The Artist
Chelsea Fagan: I must take a moment to be a hipster here and say that some of us have been in love with Dujardin since Un gars, une fille all of 13 years ago. Some of us haven't just now hopped on the Ofthegarden train and realized how eminently unattainable he is in the past few weeks. That being said, the man is beyond adorable in every sense of the word, and has the comic timing/dashing good looks combination of an Old Hollywood star — one who you imagine might permanently smell of good Scotch, subtle cologne, and Cuban cigars. He dances, too. The man dances. If you were to meet him out, I guarantee you'd have a few stiff drinks and talk about how much better Paris is than New York, and you may trick yourself into thinking he's into it, too, but he'd leave you hanging right when you thought you had sealed the deal. He is a mirage of French charm.
Oh boy. In a year where Hollywood was already on extra-thin (and OK, fine, mildly complex) ice with its adulation of the "Why won't anyone think of the white people?" rewrite of history in The Help, the 84th Academy Awards were already going to be a bit of a potential racism minefield. But for that buildup, it's almost impressive that the producers of the show came so correct in the opening minutes of the telecast, barely missing a beat before marching confidently into a cluster bomb no one in the audience even realized might be there, announcing confidently in the show's opening montage, "For real, we might give a couple black people some Oscars tonight, but check this shit out: Billy Crystal in blackface."
As previously rumored, Billy Crystal has indeed been hired to replace Eddie Murphy as Oscars host, for his ninth go-around on the hosting carousel. After the news was confirmed, Billy tweeted “Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show.” Your 84th Academy Awards host, everyone! Grade: B- [Deadline]
Following the lead of his Tower Heist director Brett Ratner, Eddie Murphy has dropped out of his gig as host of next February's Oscars, leaving the Academy with just over three months to find a replacement. Who should they go with? We polled the Grantland staff and have a few suggestions.
Earlier in the month it was announced that Hollywood fauxteur/stubble enthusiast Brett Ratner would take on producing duties for the upcoming Academy Awards. This week came word that schticky Yankees fan Billy Crystal was interested in returning to the hosting job he abandoned eight years ago. For anyone who confidently assumed the Oscars could get no worse than this past year’s Franco-phile disaster, the following text messages — hacked using British ingenuity from Ratner’s iPhone — should lower your expectations well below sea level.