Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jeff Bridges the Gap Between the Big and Little Screens

This coming Sunday, the 82nd Academy Awards will be presented. Jeff Bridges is the sentimental favorite for Best Actor, for his role as has-been country singer "Bad Blake" in Crazy Heart. Hollywood scuttlebutt indicates that Bridges is finally going to take home Oscar (Bridges has been nominated for an Academy Award four times previously but has always come up empty). Perhaps Bridges is the most deserving nominee—I don't know; I haven't yet seen the film—or perhaps he'll win because his impressive and unrewarded body of work will push him over the top.

But even if Jeff Bridges walks away empty once again, as he did for The Last Picture Show, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Starman, and The Contender, Bridges should receive a Special Oscar for Best Celebrity Spokesperson. In recent years, he's become the ubiquitous television voice for Hyundai, Duracell, Ameriquest Mortgage Company, and Baptist Memorial Hospitals in Memphis, among other corporations. His rich, friendly, easily identifiable tone soothes the viewer while evoking images of "The Dude," Preston Tucker, and the befuddled Starman...and soon, the viewer finds himself daydreaming of sipping White Russians, driving some super-car of the future, and making out with Karen Allen. By then, the viewer is ready to buy whatever Bridges is hawking—which makes him the perfect pitch man.

Perhaps no other film actor has parlayed his or her film resumé into such a successful voiceover career...unless you count Jenna Jameson's work in Family Guy and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

And if that's not enough to send Jeff Bridges home with a golden statuette, then the Academy should toss him one for playing a character named "Jack" no less than eight times in his career:

• Jack McKee (Rancho Deluxe)
• Jack Prescott (King Kong)
• Jack Forrester (Jagged Edge)
• Jack Baker (The Fabulous Baker Boys)
• Jack Lucas (The Fisher King)
• Jack Kelson (American Heart)
• Jack Warrick (The Muse)
• President Jackson Evans (The Contender)

...certainly a cinematic achievement never to be equaled, unless Dustin Hoffman quickly makes a Rocky-esque franchise out of Little Big Man...

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