What do Eddie Murphy, Bette Midler, Paul Newman, and Angie Dickinson have in common? No, they all haven't been at the same party at Brett Ratner's house. They are all winners of a Golden Globe. No, Murphy didn't get one for Pluto Nash he got one in 1982 as the New Star of the Year. The what now?
The Hollywood Foreign Press Agency started giving out the Most Promising Newcomer award in 1948, four years after their inception, to the person they thought was going to be hottest new thing to take Hollywood. The first winners were Richard Widmark and Lois Maxwell, people your grandparents might not even remember. From 1954 to 1965 the award was given out to three to four men and women who the European journalists thought were going to take the world by storm. In 1966 the award switched again and went to an actor and actress for a specific movie and, possibly because so many newcomers didn't show any promise, was renamed. The first winners were Robert Redford for Inside Daisy Clover (I'm sure he was!) and Elizabeth Hartman for A Patch of Blue.
Those first winners highlight exactly the problem with this specific category: more often than not the winners wound up being duds. Sure Robert Redford is one of the biggest stars in the world but Elizabeth Hartman? Let's look at 1969 Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey were given a pair of trophies for their portrayal of Romeo & Juliet. Whiting retired from films by the mid-'70s and Hussey went on to star in some crappy horror films and then become a crazy agorophobic who had a hard time leaving the house. These are your New Stars of the Year, ladies in gentleman.
By 1983 the Globes were sick of giving this award to turkeys and gave out the final salutes in the category to Ben Kinglsey and Sandahl Bergman. All in all, the awards have a pretty lousy track record. Of the 59 actors and 58 actresses given the honor, I count only 17 actors (Richard Burton, Anthony Perkins, Paul Newman, James Garner, George Hamilton, Warren Beatty, Terence Stamp, Peter O'Tool, Omar Sharif, Albert Finney, Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, James Earl Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eddie Murphy, and Ben Kingsley) and 14 actresses (Shirley MacLaine, Natalie Wood, Jayne Mansfield, Sandra Dee, Angie Dickinson, Jane Fonda, Ann-Margret, Patty Duke, Mia Farrow, Tatum O'Neal, Jessica Walter, Diana Ross, Jessica Lange, and Bette Midler) who achieved any sort of lasting modicum of celebrity (gauged by, well, whether or not I know who the heck they are). That's a 28% and 24% success rate predicting the promisenessness of newcomers. You have better odds playing Scratch-a-Millions from your local lottery system.
I reached out to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for a comment on why the category was struck from the record and if they ever hope to bring it back. They didn't return my request for comment. They're probably still embarrassed about just how lousy their crystal ball is.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images]
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Heaven. Hell. Us humans in the middle. It's all very complicated. But John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) seems to have a handle on it. Born with a gift he says no human should ever have he has the ability to see what he calls "half-breeds"--angels and demons that walk the earth in human skin (and apparently there are a lot of them). Of course the horror of it is too much to bear and Constantine tries to take his own life. But he fails. Now having been to hell and back again quite literally Constantine is marked as an attempted suicide with a temporary lease on life. He patrols the earthly border between heaven and hell acting as an exorcist of sorts. Of course the guy isn't doing it because he feels empathy for the human race or anything. It's for purely selfish reasons. He hopes that if he sends the devil's foot soldiers back to the depths he'll gain some kind of redemption a free get-out-of-jail card so to speak. Constantine's attitude changes however when a skeptical police detective Angela (Rachel Weisz) enlists his help in solving the mysterious death of her beloved twin sister. They end up uncovering a twisted master plan brewing between the demons and angels which could bring about a catastrophic series of otherworldly events. Perfect.
John Constantine is a little like The Matrix's Neo--an ultra-cool but tormented man of little words with a sardonic fatalistic outlook on life who kicks a myriad of nasty-looking demons (instead of a myriad of nasty-looking machines) back from whence they came. Yes Reeves has done this before but that's because he's good at it. You can't blame him for sticking with something that works. Weisz also holds her own as the devoutly religious Angela who nonetheless has a hard time believing there are actual angels and demons running around among us. That is of course until she spends about 10 minutes with Constantine and sees just how real they are. As far as the rest of the humans in the film Shia LaBeouf (Holes) does a nice comical turn as Constantine's sidekick and protégé while Djimon Hounsou (In America) works his voodoo mojo as a witch doctor who has a long-standing if strained relationship with Constantine. The not-so-human counterparts are equally intriguing. Peter Stormare (Fargo) delivers a somewhat over-the-top but devilishly eccentric performance as Satan. Tilda Swinton (The Deep End) dons the wings of the arch-angel Gabriel to whom Constantine is always asking for a reprieve but who has got her own agenda.
Based on the DC Comics/Vertigo comic-book Hellblazer Constantine is demonic eye candy. Obviously inspired by the many music videos he's helmed in the past director Francis Lawrence making his feature film debut paints a pretty dark and moody world with shadowy wet rat-infested (or cockroach-infested) corners that hide the horrific demon half-breeds as well as all other kinds of terrible baddies. Then when we get into Hades itself where the demons and seplavites--a sub-genre of the damned who are sightless mindless soul eaters--prowl it's an apocalyptic landscape. Lovely place. Unfortunately the script isn't nearly as stimulating. It must be an arduous task adapting a series of comic books so to his credit screenwriter Kevin Brodbin does do a nice job introducing us to Constantine and his world. But Brodbin seems to have incorporated too much. As the action escalates more and more plot points and characters are thrown in complicating matters. By the time the long-winded climax is over you're exhausted.
Richard Riddick (Vin Diesel) has a really bad rep and with good reason: Five years ago convicted killer Riddick escaped the galaxy's law enforcement during a botched interplanetary prison transfer and has been on the lam ever since. As The Chronicles of Riddick picks up our antagonist finds his relative freedom has been compromised when mercenaries out for the $1 million bounty on his head discover his location and hunt him down. Riddick escapes their clutches steals their ship and sets off for Planet Helion to find Imam (Keith David) the Muslim cleric he rescued in Pitch Black and the only person who could have squealed his location to authorities. But while Riddick's hunch about Imam are correct the cleric has a reason for luring the mammoth murderer out of hiding: Helion is falling to unholy armies of Necromongers--warriors who conquer by force in the vein of Star Trek's Borg. Of course Riddick doesn't give a damn about the Helions or their plight--until he gets wind that the Necromogers want to kill him because of an old prophecy that foresees their end at Riddick's hands. Like it or not Riddick is left with no other choice but to battle the Necromongers.
The character of Riddick is unquestionably what made Pitch Black one of the most sequel-worthy sci-fi films in years. And Riddick would not have been one of sci-fi's most intoxicating characters if it weren't for Diesel. Like his Dominic Toretto in the 2001 actioner The Fast and the Furious Riddick is a villain of few words but when he speaks his carefully chosen words have impact--even if the dialogue is at times overly theatrical. Riddick is the perfect antihero; a cold-blooded and indifferent being who somehow evokes more compassion than the film's so-called good guys. Joining Riddick are some recurring characters including David as Imam but Riddick benefits the most from the addition of some new characters particularly Colm Feore as Lord Marshal the Necromonger leader whose goal is to rid the universe of all human life. Feore channeling nuggets of Julius Caesar into his role makes for one of Riddick's most thrilling foes. Another prominent addition to the cast is Judi Dench who has a surprisingly small role as Aereon an Elemental captured by the Necromongers and used for her special powers including ESP.
Writer/director David Twohy took his horror pic Pitch Black which gained a cult following since it was released four years ago and managed to successfully turn it into an sci-fi actioner of epic proportions. Everything is grander here which is almost a given considering Twohy shot Pitch Black on a dime in Australia using colored filters. In Riddick the director distinguishes the film's different environments--the Necros' mothership Crematoria's cavernous prison and Helion--using warm to cool tones that are dazzling yet more subtle than its predecessor. The CGI effects get a little gamey at times but production designer Holger Gross' gargantuan sets are impressive and help craft Twohy's otherworldly vision into a plausible one. And although Twohy jumps genres from Pitch Black to its sequel his storyline evolves logically from the original premise. But while moviegoers unfamiliar with Pitch Black will be able to follow the story easily enough they may have a difficult time grasping what makes Riddick such a big deal; the film explains the legend but never fully captures its quintessence. This could hurt Riddick's chances to broaden its Pitch Black fan base.