Monday, January 25, 2016

MALE ON MONDAY: A Hero in Thrall to the Oscar Gods...

Or rather, Heidi Rice has a look at some of the roles nominated for Best Actor Oscar this year (and just one of the BAME performances that should have got a nod!) and asks, What Kind of Romance Hero would he make?

I'm a film buff ninja. I used to make a living at being a film buff ninja... So I think I'm well placed to say mostly, the Oscars are not necessarily a judge of the best acting performances of the year, or even the best films. And given the current outrage at the lack of BAME nominations in the performance categories, I think I'm fairly correct in saying that the nominations and the awards themselves tend to reflect the sympathies/demographics of the Academy membership as much as they reflect the quality of the performances.. But all political ranting aside, the Oscars are still kind of fascinating for providing a little snapshot of male roles in film last year... So I'm going to pluck the roles nominated this year (and one that I think should have been - because hey, this is my blog and I'll be as diverse as I like), and ask the crucial question: Could this guy be a romance hero?

Hugh Glass in The Revenant: Wow, this is one seriously badass guy. After getting savaged by a massive grizzly bear (twice) he manages to crawl his way across miles of frozen tundra, fending off marauding Pawnee, starvation, gangrene and hyperthermia en route all so he can gut a half-scalped and completely incomprehensible Tom Hardy for murdering his son. Fair enough, frankly! Hero material? Hell yeah. This guy makes the toughest Navy SEAL look like a total pussy. Okay, his wet leather trousers, rotting flesh and dodgy teeth probably reek to high heaven, (not to mention that he eats a heck of a lot of raw fish and buffalo meat - I don't even want to think about what that did to his body odours) but to add to his accomplishments he keeps having heartbreakingly tender dreams of his dead wife. And he's played by Leo DiCaprio at the top of his game... Case closed.

Steve Jobs in, err, Steve Jobs: Well, we've got the Fass in the title role, so already we're onto a winner. The beauty of Steve Jobs - the super-alpha computer nerd - is that he's a delightfully complex guy with a traumatic childhood secret... A wounded bad boy kind of hero then, who is a bit of an anti-hero (aka a dick) on occasion - especially when it comes to dealing with the mother of his child... But give the film time and he totally grows on you. What we have here is a fiercely intelligent and creative guy, whose intuitive understanding of how people use computers makes him a game changer, but who cannot express his feelings. Watching his halting attempts to connect with his daughter, who he loves but doesn't have the ability to show he loves, is absolutely gut-wrenching at times... And all that brilliant fast-fire dialogue. Yup, this is your deeply flawed alpha billionaire to a tee who also happens to look a lot more like Michael Fassbender than the real Steve Jobs (result).

Major Marquis Warren in The Hateful Eight: That voice, that coat, that cynical charisma, that scary cool attitude to extreme violence... Okay, maybe Samuel L Jackson's ex-union soldier isn't everyone's idea of romance hero material, because, hey, this is a Quentin Tarantino movie (i.e.: There Will Be Blood and lots of it), but of all the eight people that get trapped together in a snowbound cabin on the American frontier he is soooo the one who I would gravitate towards. He is the focal point of the movie, the man in charge of the whodunnit plot (his monologue on stew making is to die for - literally), he has a very big gun and knows how to use it and while he's nasty mean at times, he's not the nastiest of the characters by any stretch of the imagination. Let's just say, he has huge potential as a romance anti-hero (if this romance had lots and lots of blood in it).

Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo: Dalton is an actual guy, one of the Hollywood Ten who was blacklisted for a large part of his career for once being a member of the communist party, or rather refusing to rat out his mates... He stood up for his constitutional rights at a heinous time in American politics when witch hunts were back in fashion 200-years after Salem. But most important of all... He wrote the script for Roman Holiday - you know, Audrey Hepburn's runaway princess on the back of a moped with Gregory Peck, in 1950s Rome. I rest my case, Bryan Cranston's Dalton Trumbo isn't just a romance hero (in the truest sense of the word) he ought to be inducted into the romance hall of fame - and there isn't a whiff of crystal meth in sight, so it's all good.

Mark Watney in The Martian: Okay, first off, the best thing about this possible hero is he's NOT green... Because he's not actually a Martian at all, he's just your regular astronaut who is capable of surviving on Mars. Already I'm thinking - resourceful, optimistic, determined, never say die kind of guy... Tick, tick, tick. But probably the best thing about good ole Mark is that he is so fricking witty and cool in the face of extreme adversity (something I will admit that Leo's Hugh did lack a little bit on occasion). And when he does lose his cool and start to freak out at the challenges which face him - which are of pretty heroic proportions (have you ever tried to grow potatoes on an alien planet?) - he never loses his smarts. And he has all of Matt Damon's adorable regular joe fabulousness to boot. What a guy. I'm picking him as my hero next time I get stranded on Mars. Totally.

Eine Weggener/Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl: So this is the one film role up for nomination this year where we don't have the potential for a romance hero, but that's simply because this is a film with a heroine not a hero. Lili Elbe - the woman forced to inhabit a man's body (ably supplied by Eddie Redmayne). But when we're talking about heroic qualities  Eine/Lili's transgender pioneer has it in spades  - bravery, determination, courage, guts, etc, etc. She is heroic in any sense of the word - and the love story at the heart of the drama, about the devoted relationship between Lili and Eine's wife Gerda (Alicia Vikaner, who I have such a girl crush on at the moment) seals the deal.

So what did you think of these characters? Are there others you've seen this year and thought - wow I could so read/write a romance novel with them as the hero? This film buff ninja-cum-romance junkie wants to know. Because you can never have too much inspiration.

Heidi has two books out in February: One smoking' hot Bad Boy novella with Tule, Daring the Bad Boy, and her first and long awaited (by her anyway) women's fiction novel, So Now You're Back, from Mira UK... If you want to know more about Heidi or her books, go like her new Facebook author page.

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