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Cover Story: Exposure

The Over/Under Games of 2001

By TT Clinkscales · December 20th, 2001 · Cover Story
  Robert Redford in Spy Games
Robert Redford in Spy Games

Come and play the hot new movie trivia game: Over/Under. It's on the verge of replacing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon in the living rooms of the movie intelligentsia. Over/Under is fast-paced and constantly changing because it's about predicting Hollywood winners and losers. For armchair producers who crave a real show-biz career, acquiring a knack for Over/Under is step one towards getting out of the spectator seats and into a back-lot bungalow.

Gene Hackman should be playing on the Actors Seniors Tour or damned near ready to join the Hall of Fame. Give the him credit for sidestepping Hollywood's mandatory retirement policy. Granted, when Hackman is good -- Heist and The Royal Tenenbaums -- you almost forgive him for schlock like Heartbreakers and Behind Enemy Lines. Based on my math, Hackman made two movies too many in 2001.

A message for Golden Boy Robert Redford: Please, just fade away. I could stand living with my memories of the times you left behind, Bob. The Last Castle must have seemed tailored for you on paper, but the execution left a lot to be desired. Spy Game? That was just a diversionary tactic. Director Tony Scott's jumpy camera work was supposed to distract the eye from that craggy landscape you now carry on your shoulders.

Maybe it's time for you to get out of the bright lights.

Leelee Sobieski is obviously glad to be out from under the child labor laws. If I say more, I know I'll be running the risk of seeming crass and vindictive because she's such a clever Jodie Foster-inspired, hard-working actress. Of course, Jodie never peddled junk bonds like The Glass House, Joyride and My First Mister. For Sobieski's sake, let's hope these are just youthful indiscretions.

Penelope Cruz is on the slippery slope of fame. I could stand seeing her without that "cruising" Tomcat boyfriend. The soapy publicity makes it hard to talk about Cruz's work. The fact is Cruz hasn't found a role here in the States to take our minds off the personal details that she's gorgeous, breaking up marriages and starring in the same film in English (Vanilla Sky) and Spanish (Abre los ojos). I suppose we're really waiting for Cruz to star in a French film opposite Gérard Depardieu. Then she'll leave Tommy boy for him and return stateside to star in the film's Hollywood remake, complete with new beau, Ben Affleck.

Woody Allen is over-exposed. I don't care if he only appeared in one movie this year. When it's something like The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, once is too often. Call Allen any nickname of your choosing -- Woodman, Woodster or Wood -- the fact is that he needs to take a rest. I would be OK if Allen chose not to offer anything else up again. Let us try to remember the times when his name was something more than a punch line from Saturday Night Live.

Nicole Kidman suffers from the stigma of being the late Mrs. Tom Cruise. Otherwise, her work wouldn't merit inclusion among the overexposed. Still, you have to respect a woman who finagles a whole episode of Oprah to discuss her personal life, which was supposed to be about her movie Moulin Rouge. Then again, Oprah could have spent more time talking about The Others, which worked as a sedative for me more than a moody who's-a-ghost story. Maybe that's why I've got her on the list. Not the Tom thing. Glad I figured that one out.

After years of being Mr. Over-Exposed, Robin Williams finally takes a well-needed sabbatical. Attentive ears will recall the voice work he did in A.I. I almost forgot about that performance, but it was perfect. One and done for the year. Still, I have no fear that Williams will be back on the over-exposed list again next year.

Daniel Day-Lewis is proof positive that the Federal Witness Protection Program works. Just when the man is scheduled to make an appearance -- poof! -- he goes back underground faster than a cagey groundhog sweating his shadow. The man's making like Salman Rushdie, but who did he offend? All he's ever done is become a great actor. I would vouch for him if he needed me to.

Benicio del Toro. There's only a snatch of him in the Brit gangster flick Snatch, and if you blink, you miss him in Ken Loach's union drama Bread and Roses. Don't lie to yourself. You know you don't remember him. Come on, you probably never even saw the movies. That's why he's on this list. Benicio delivered a low-pro year after snagging a Golden statue for Traffic.

Jodie Foster had her name mentioned above, but this is where she lives. Everything about her is on the down low. But there's another factor. I struggled to list just one woman in the underexposed list, which shows you how tough women's roles are in Hollywood. Not much has changed. Just about every talented actress is underexposed. This is how it's always been. ©



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