“It’s Good to Be George Clooney”

If they gave out Oscars for being a bon vivant, the best raconteur or guy-you'd-most-like-to-have-at-your-next-dinner party, then George Clooney would be a shoo-in. I could listen to him talk for hours. He's intelligent, charming, self-effacing and very, very funny. He's also not hard on the eyes. I enjoy his films immensely. He makes smart choices and if he can't find a movie from someone else that he wants to do, he and his producing partner, Grant Heslov, will write their own. Then he gets his friends to help out.I've never heard or read a single negative anecdote told by actors who've worked with him and his private life and behavior don't make the tabloids for anything other than the fact that he's a serial monogamist.
 
He also puts his celebrity to good use, which is a better reason to admire the man  than the way he looks in a tux. There is no question his interest in the crisis in Darfur has shone a light on a region of the world that no one was paying attention to, despite the fact that another holocaust was happening under our noses. He's by no means the only activist to highlight what's happening in the Sudan (Sam Childers aka "The Machine Gun Preacher" may have been there longer and is more hands on, but until recently not many had ever heard of Sam or his work) nor is he the only celebrity attempting to put their fame to good use (ie Angelina Jolie or Madonna) but, I think the fact that he's so well regarded in general means attention will be paid.   

He's a great guy and everyone loves him.

The problem I have is with George Clooney, Academy Award nominee for Best Actor. I enjoyed The Descendants both times I saw it, but when I walked out the second time, my opinion hadn't changed from the first. It's a good movie. It's well written and it's well acted, which is what we should expect when we buy a ticket. We should not be so surprised when we come upon quality that it's immediately given front runner status for Awards Season. There is a lot to like in that film, most notably, in my opinion is the discovery of Shailene Woodley. She's just twenty years old and has a great career ahead of her if she continues to make smart choices. (For the record I don't consider her performance awards worthy either, even though she was touted for Best Supporting Actress early on.) Nor do I think this was Clooney's best work, a phrase being bandied about more and more as we get into the final stretch before Oscar night.

I would suggest that he was better in Michael Clayton (for which he was nominated but lost out to Daniel Day Lewis for There Will Be Blood). I suggest that he was better as Archie Gates in Three Kings, Jack Foley in Out of Sight or even as Everett in O Brother, Where Art Thou? all of which were made when it was still possible for him to disappear into a character. Now, whenever I see him on screen, I rarely see anything other than George Clooney. He's too famous to completely disappear into a role. (Something I dread happening to all of my favorite actors, the ones the world has suddenly caught on to like Michael Fassbender and Tom Hardy. It's already happened to a large extent to Gerard Butler.) In the clip below, Clooney mentions how, in his later years, Spencer Tracy always played some version of Spencer Tracy, but "you couldn't take your eyes off of him." That's how I feel about Clooney. 

I am very happy his script for Ides of March was nominated. More than the performances (and Clooney was very good, make no mistake. So were Gosling, Wood, Tomei, Hoffman and Giamatti for that matter), the words were the star, just as they were when it was a play. I love the story he told "The Hollywood Reporter about how restless he is and how he wakes up five times a night and it was during one of these sleepless nights that he wrote a particularly memorable line of dialogue from Ides of March. (Arguably the most memorable) "I woke up and sat down and wrote the whole scene in the kitchen between Ryan and myself: 'You want to be president…You can start a war, you can lie, you can cheat, you can bankrupt the country, but you can't fuck the interns.'" 
Speaking of that venerable publication, Gorgeous George is on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter next week and he invited the photographer and journalist into his home for the interview.  Below is a video clip of the photo shoot. (This is by the way, the 2nd time this awards season that Clooney has allowed cameras to film him in his private domain. The first was for CBS News' "Person to Person" with Charlie Rose and Lara Logan. The seventeen minute video can be found at the link. If he were anyone other than George Clooney, one might say he was lobbying hard for that Oscar. But because he IS George Clooney, it's easier to give him the benefit of the doubt. He just wanted to invite us all in for a chat.

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