‘Everyone loves a comeback story’ – that old adage that rings true throughout all entertainment, sports and media. But of course the most distinctive and popularised is that of the comeback movie. Whether it be a director returning to their roots, a franchise reinvigorated or a troubled actor finding their place amongst the stars again – film lovers and critics alike find a certain new adoration and pride for the ‘comeback kid’ when it all comes to fruition.
Without question, this can trace back as far as the 1970’s. But in recent memory there have been some standouts that not only won me over, but redefined careers.
5. Bill Murray (‘Rushmore’)
After possibly one of his greatest films ever, ‘Groundhog Day’. Murray’s form fell flat through a gauntlet of comedy misfires. But he found his second calling in the form of young filmmaker Wes Anderson in 1998. Co-starring in his second feature ‘Rushmore’ as rich tycoon ‘Herman Blume’. Garnering an entire new audience to the King of deadpan delivery. Additionally, he starred opposite Scarlett Johansson in the rather lovely ‘Lost In Translation’, further cementing his return to form. Subsequently, Murray has featured in some capacity in all of Anderson’s subsequent works and continues to be one of the all-time greatest workers in the business.
4. Ben Affleck (‘Gone Baby Gone’)
Before 2007, Affleck couldn’t shake off the gremlins that were plaguing him since the less than favourable reactions to Hollywood turkeys like ‘Gigli’, ‘Jersey Girl’ & ‘Daredevil’ (although I will argue that the director’s cut of the latter being an honestly decent film). After a string of average movies, Affleck took to the director’s chair.
He co-wrote the screenplay and directed the adaptation of the detective novel, ‘Gone Baby Gone’, triumphantly crafting an engrossing and prodding mystery thriller filled with great direction of tension, drama and acting. Affleck now appears to have moved away from that Matt Damon-sized shadow that had been cast over him for sometime. Becoming one of the most respected and impressive new directors of the last decade.
He continued hitting home runs across the board with his 2010 film ‘The Town’, which he also starred and the multi-Academy Award winning ‘Argo’. Which everyone loves.
Of course you do.
3. Josh Brolin (‘No Country For Old Men’)
Josh Brolin is an interesting guy. While being an extremely talented & versatile actor, he never had been able to lose that ‘Goonies’ annotation that had latched onto him since the 80’s.
In 2007, (opposite Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem) starring as man on the run ‘Llewelyn Moss’ in the Coen’s masterful modern Western ‘No Country For Old Men’ gave him the massive boost he deservedly received.
Brolin is now enjoying a plethora of notable roles. Including turns in ‘Milk’, ‘True Grit’, a rather awesome one in ‘Men In Black 3’, ‘W.’ and ‘Inherent Vice’. Before the release of Marvel’s ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ last year. Josh was cast in a multiple picture deal as ‘Thanos’, considered to be one of the greatest comic book antagonists of all time.
2. Robert Downey Jr. (‘Iron Man’)
RDJ’s story is the ultimate comeback story. Falling prey to addiction in the 90’s up until the early 2000’s. He successfully recovered and went on to star in ‘The Singing Detective’ and delivered well-received performances in the comedy crime film ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’, as well as one of my favourites in David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’.
Downey’s casting as genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist ‘Tony Stark’ aka ‘Iron Man’ for Marvel Studios has redefined what anyone would consider a Hollywood comeback. His casting was not only a great move by the studio, as the actor effortlessly declares on screen that he was born to portray the character. But also for the man himself.
As the ‘poster boy’ somewhat, he has helped the studio achieve record breaking numbers in the box office and is one of the most overwhelmingly adored figures at the heart of the franchise at the fresh age of 49. You know who he is.
1. Michael Keaton (‘Birdman’)
It’s one thing to make a comeback, it’s another to make one in an Academy Award winning movie. Yet it’s another to make one in a narrative that perhaps parallels that of your own career to an extent.
I’m not going to detail what Mr Keaton had been upto since his Batman days. All I will say is – bravo. One of the most heavily debated movies of the last few years is ‘Birdman’, which scooped the top honours at this year’s Oscars. Keaton unfortunately lost to Eddie Redmayne for the Best Actor gong, which I really felt was a travesty. Not taking away anything from Redmayne’s performance. I just felt ‘The Theory Of Everything’ was purely made to win awards based on its biopic nature. The other brewing argument that surged the internet was whether ‘Boyhood’ or ‘Birdman’ were the more deserving of the Best Film Award.
While being a truly good piece of filmmaking, and certainly a labour of love of director Richard Linklater. For me, ‘Boyhood’ and its scoping of American life narrative didn’t break new grounds in what I love to see in film. Inarritu’s movie is as ambitious as it is gloriously compelling. Keaton being the driving force behind it.
Fly high, my friend.