' ' Cinema Romantico: Actors I Was Most Happy to See in Oppenheimer

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Actors I Was Most Happy to See in Oppenheimer

No, not them.

Finally finished the Barbenheimer double feature even if it took me, like, you know, five weeks instead of two days, and long after the viral phenomenon reached fever pitch, meaning my critical judgements are well past their expiration date. And anyway, critical judgements? Ew. Gross. Haven’t you heard, we critics are “old news” according to MovieTok which, and bear with me here, fellow old-timers, are people who review movies, not critique them, underlined, via the short form video platform TikTok that yutes consult most mornings like you, me, us, middle-age fossils used to consult the morning papers. And though the MovieTokkers position themselves as a kind of vanguard, and so does The New York Times profile where I read about them, vanguard suggests “a group of people leading the way in new developments or ideas” and as best I could tell, save for the platform itself, these self-proclaimed positive reinforcers sound like old news themselves, the same sort of semi-corporate shills that were paramount during the long gone age of Hollywood’s studio system, myopic cheerleaders as opposed to those viewing art as something to consider, to wrestle with. My young Monet-hating friend at The Met in February, apparently not the hope for the future I had thought, would be so disappointed in her mindless peers. (Disclaimer: me, myself, I love Monet, but I adored my young Monet-hating friend for having an opinion.) This all seems to suggest a future art world akin to a future food and beverage world where every restaurant is Taco Bell and everyone is happy about it because no one knows you can get, say, the ocean trout wrapped in puff pastry, and while that disheartens me, like a lot of things these days, it’s also making me more comfortable with the thought of my eventual death. 

Woah. Got dark. Welcome to the party, pal. Anyway. What was I trying to say? Right. Yes. I gave “Barbie” a positive notice on Monday and should follow up with my “Oppenheimer” review today except…my “Oppenheimer” review is going to be negative. Sorry, kids.  And so, I can’t offer a compliment sandwich, a la my MovieTok adversary Megan Cruz, where “negative opinions” as the NYT helpfully explains, are “preceded and followed by more positive remarks.” But I can offer a compliment amuse-bouche, a small savory compliment served before I harsh everybody’s buzz. Because if nothing else, Christopher Nolan filled his cast so far to the brim, that the biggest thrill for me was seeing unexpected people appear in smaller roles. 

Actors I Was Most Happy to See in Oppenheimer

1. Olivia Thirlby. I’m not a betting man, never have and never will be, and among the many reasons why is that had I been a betting man, I would have bet back during the late aughts that Olivia Thirlby was going to be a star. Oh, not a Julia Roberts kind of star maybe, more like a star in the arthouse galaxy, but an actor to be reckoned with, so to speak, nonetheless. But it never seemed to happen. To wit, the first Google question when you enter Thirlby’s name into the search bar is literally What Happened to Olivia Thirlby? They don’t know and I don’t know either; sometimes gravity just doesn’t collapse, and your star isn’t born. Maybe she didn’t even want it which, hey, I would respect. True, she’s not in “Oppenheimer” much and when she is, Nolan is not really providing any space for her to give a performance. She is merely representing; she could have just hung a Lilli Horning placard around her neck. Still, when I saw her, I internally gasped. And I externally gasped when I consulted her IMDb profile afterwards and realized she is in another 2023 joint opposite...

2. David Krumholtz. Once, long ago, at an annual Hollywood Meeting, I made a motion to enact a rule wherein every movie produced in Hollywood or a by a Hollywood-adjacent independent studio would be required to cast at least one person who was also in “Slums of Beverly Hills.” (This could also be accomplished if Hollywood would enact one of my other proposed rules and simply cast Marisa Tomei in everything.) My motion was dismissed 2,447-0. Christopher Nolan, though, bless his heart, honors my proposed rule in theory by casting Krumholtz, who repeatedly turns up to imbue an often cold, clinical movie with warmth.

3. Harry Groener. Graduating from Mayor of Sunnydale to Democratic Senator from the great state of Wyoming.

4. Scott Grimes. Christopher Nolan recently revealed his adoration for Will Ferrell’s “Talladega Nights,” one of the greatest movies ever made, which just goes to show that even if Nolan’s movies are not always to my taste, he is a man with great taste, nevertheless. And seeing Scott Grimes show up in Oppenheimer, I couldn’t help but wonder if Nolan has a soft spot for “Critters” too.

5. Michael Angarano. Love it when the “Snow Angels” band gets back together. See Also: #1

So many moments lost in time, like tears in rain.

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