Downey, Jenkins among EW’s Entertainers of the Year

Posted by · 3:36 pm · November 13th, 2008

It’s interesting to note that, in addition to citations for the respective casts of “The Dark Knight” and “Sex and the City: The Movie,” only five film actors made EW’s recently unveiled list of the 25 Entertainers of the Year. (Six if you count their #2 pick, Tina Fey — which I don’t.)

Perhaps it chimes in with the widespread feeling that 2008 isn’t a vintage year for cinema, perhaps the worlds of TV and music simply had more to offer, or perhaps I’m simply over-analysing. It’s curious to see arguably the year’s two most overexposed stars, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, absent from the list — make of that what you will.

Nevertheless, the list was topped by a movie star: Robert Downey, Jr. Even with the bumping of “The Soloist” from the 2008 slate, it’s difficult to deny what a great year he’s had — between “Iron Man” and “Tropic Thunder,” he really found his popular touch, and even the most elitist critic had a kind word for him. Whether or not that unlikely Oscar campaign for the latter film takes flight, he has, as EW aptly puts it, “pulled off one of the smartest second acts in showbiz history.”

Other names present on the list include Meryl Streep, James Franco and Elizabeth Banks — but the most surprising and delightful inclusion is Richard Jenkins. I can’t imagine that the humble 61 year-old character actor ever thought he’d appear on a list alongside the likes of Leona Lewis and The Jonas Brothers, but good for him. It’s an appropriate recognition for a year that saw him supplement a career performance in “The Visitor” with cunning appearances in two mainstream crowdpleasers. Here’s EW’s take:

Richard Jenkins has had a colorful career, but he never seemed like an actor who’d get interrupted during dinner. After growing up in De Kalb, Ill., he became one of those ubiquitous character actors whom only a few know by name: the gay federal agent in Flirting With Disaster, the psychiatrist in There’s Something About Mary, the deceased patriarch in HBO’s Six Feet Under, and on and on. This year, Jenkins played Will Ferrell’s stepdad in Step Brothers and a gym manager in Burn After Reading. Though Jenkins has worked with just about every big-name filmmaker and actor in Hollywood, The Visitor writer-director Tom McCarthy was still considered brave for elevating him to leading man. ”There was never a question about whether he could do this,” he says. ”Richard has proven himself.’

Indeed he has. That Best Actor nomination for “The Visitor” looks more and more likely to me.

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10 responses so far

  • 1 11-13-2008 at 3:45 pm

    Chad said...

    Entertainment Weekly is a joke, more akin to TV Guide and US Weekly than any kind of respectable film magazine.

  • 2 11-13-2008 at 3:49 pm

    Mr. F said...

    I watched “The Visitor” yesterday, and although I thought it was just good, Jenkins’ performance was outstanding. Hopefully he will get a nomination.

  • 3 11-13-2008 at 4:03 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Chad: Sure, EW is unabashedly populist (even if I wouldn’t personally call it a ‘joke’).

    That’s why I find it so interesting that Jenkins made their list.

  • 4 11-13-2008 at 4:10 pm

    Chad said...

    Yeah, I should have specified that my comment was a response to your bewilderment at only five film actors making the list. I would not mark that as a strike against 2008 but more as a strike against a staff of writers more eager to lap up TMZ than TCM.

  • 5 11-13-2008 at 4:18 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Are they impatient or something? Wouldn’t it make more sense to actually wait until the END OF THE YEAR to make such a list? I’m sure once everyone’s seen Winslet’s two huge movies, DiCaprio, Penn, Langella, and Rourke in giant positions of success, Hathaway in her breakout role, and Brolin and Hoffman continuing their winning streaks, the list would look A LOT different. This just seems entirely premature.

  • 6 11-13-2008 at 7:53 pm

    Ben said...

    While best actor could become real crowded if some upcoming contender films feature acclaimed performances, I do have a gut feeling Jenkins will get in.

    Perhaps releasing early in the year may help: in a rush of anticipated performances coming in the last month and a half, Jenkins has a performance that has really built a word of mouth following and people seem to be appreciating more and more as time goes on.

  • 7 11-13-2008 at 8:57 pm

    Zan said...

    I hope Jenkins gets in there because he deserves it. However, I think the Academy may cave to death-incarnate Clint Eastwood.

  • 8 11-14-2008 at 8:04 am

    Ivan said...

    Good for Richard Jenikns

    Would be great if some critics group named him best actor, a SAG nomination looks more than posible.

  • 9 11-14-2008 at 10:17 am

    R.J. said...

    The funny thing about this list is that its not who’s listed that bothers me but rather the rankings.

  • 10 11-14-2008 at 1:40 pm

    Graham said...

    Though she has quickly fallen out of short attention span-like awards speculators, Elizabeth Banks inclusion in that EW list is another reason not to write her off in the Best Supporting Actress race for her “Laura Bush”.

    “W.” was unquestionably a flawed film. And Brolin has rightly been getting the buzz for his “Bush”.

    But there’s a lot of love for Banks in the Hollywood acting circles and everyone is going to remember her “Laura Bush” come voting time.

    I’m just sayin’ …