, our Face-Off showcased director Luc Besson’s two best movies going head-to-head as LA FEMME NIKITA
battled LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL
. You guys all weighed in and decided that Jean Reno playing a “cleaner” in 1994 was a little better than Jean Reno playing a “cleaner” in 1990.
With the release of PRISONERS this week, I decided to pit its star, Hugh Jackman, against somebody that would make this a pretty fun battle. After eliminating Cyclops and the lead singer from Midnight Oil as possible opponents, I finally settled on another actor from the land down under - Russell Crowe. It's a little confusing because although Jackman was born and raised in Australia, his parents are English and he was in the movie AUSTRALIA (originally slated to star Russell Crowe who was born in New Zealand) but all of this still gives me enough to go on to call this the battle of the Aussies.
Mr. Nice Guy
There are some guys and gals in the film industry that you just never hear one bad word about. Eddie Murphy is not one of them. On the other hand, George Clooney, Ron Howard and Meryl Streep are a few very good examples. Another actor who is always at the top of the “nice guy” list is Hugh Jackman. Look his name up on Google along with the word “nice” and you’ll drown in pages and pages of results. I usually get bored on weekends so I do that a lot. What I should probably be doing instead is getting involved in many, many charitable events and doing philanthropic work, two things that Hugh Jackman is actively involved in. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Hugh Jackman is better than me and also happens to be one of the coolest and genuinely nicest guys in Hollywood.
I’m not going to say that Russell Crowe is the biggest d*ck in Hollywood because he isn’t and besides, that title will always belong to Chevy Chase (although I’ll give Chevy a pass based solely on his performance in NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION
). For a few choice years in the early 2000s, Crowe was involved in many instances where his temper got the better of him (hey, a man’s gotta relax right?). He threw a phone at a hotel employee, got involved in a couple of fights and was never afraid of telling people off when they deserved it. Hell...he was even on Al-Qaeda’s shitlist for a while! The truth is, most of this stuff impresses me but unfortunately that isn’t enough for him to win in this category against that pussycat, Hugh Jackman.
One of the things Hugh Jackman is best known for is his ability to belt out a hell of a song. Jackman was nominated for an Olivier award in Britain for the stage play Oklahoma! and he later won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for the play The Boy from Oz (2004). Finally, he received his first Oscar nomination for playing Jean Valjean in the musical LES MISERABLES
. This movie also featured a singing Russell Crowe but he did not earn a nomination for his performance. When he isn’t too busy being the greatest, sweetest guy in the world or slicing up bad mutants with his claws, this guy sings...and he sings damn well!
I was looking over the Australian section of my record collection earlier and while skimming over my Men at Work, INXS and Crowded House albums I failed to find a copy of an album by Russell Crowe’s former band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts. Then I realized I hadn’t bought any because they never had any big hits or broke through in the mainstream. I don’t have any albums of his later bands either for the same reasons. There is no question Russell’s got the pipes to rock but we’re measuring overall success in this category and although Russell’s groups are all superior to Keanu Reeves’ Dogstar, it still isn’t enough for him to win against Hugh Jackman and his golden tones.
The only film that Hugh Jackman has starred in that was nominated for Best Picture was LES MISERABLES, a movie his opponent in this Face-Off also starred in. Still, his performance was so good in the film that it earned him his first ever Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Sadly, he was up against Daniel Day-Lewis last year who portrayed Abe Lincoln better than the actual Abe Lincoln portrayed his own self when he was alive. Hugh gets a few bonus points in this category because he hosted the Oscars in 2008 but that may not be enough to beat out Russell Crowe in this Oscar race.
Russell Crowe was nominated for Best Actor three years in a row (!) for his performances in the movies THE INSIDER
(2000) and A BEAUTIFUL MIND (2001). He won the Oscar for GLADIATOR which also won Best Picture, an honor A BEAUTIFUL MIND also picked up a year later. In total, Russell Crowe has starred in six movies that were up for Best Picture. He’s not a regular at the ceremonies like in the early years but with Oscar-friendly NOAH coming up in 2014 and his great start with the Academy Awards early in his career, Russell Crowe wins the golden boy easily in this category.
What makes a movie star? Usually it’s the combination of great acting, memorable roles, box-office success and choosing fantastic scripts. Hugh Jackman is an extremely talented actor with a great personality but he doesn’t really have that many memorable roles or moneymaking blockbusters outside of the X-Men/Wolverine movies. He’s a charming, good-looking, funny and likeable talent who is a bonafide movie star but the question I ask myself in this category is: Is he a bigger movie star than Russell Crowe is?
Russell Crowe has brilliantly portrayed real-life figures like John Nash (A BEAUTIFUL MIND), Jeffrey Wigand (THE INSIDER) and Jim Braddock (CINDERELLA MAN
) with honesty and strength as well as having the character and credibility to take on larger-than-life roles like Maximus (GLADIATOR
), Jor-El (MAN OF STEEL
), Robin Hood (ROBIN HOOD
) and the upcoming Noah (NOAH
He wins awards, chooses great scripts, he’s been in several blockbusters, has a volatile personality and he’s a good looking buck. It didn’t take long for Russell Crowe to become a worldwide movie star because he did everything the exact right way from the very start. Hugh Jackman is left eating the vegemite sandwich in this category as Russell Crowe edges him out for the win.
There probably isn’t a sexier superhero character for the ladies than Logan/Wolverine. The character oozes charm, machismo and sex every minute he’s on screen. Unfortunately the actor who portrays him is maybe a little too sweet, nice and musical to attract the ladies out there who like the bad boys. He’s also happily married which is great but the fact that women have no shot with him kind of hurts him a little here. It looks like the two categories that Jackman won in this Face-Off so far may end up costing him the ballgame.
Russell Crowe was a gladiator, sings in rock bands, beats people up and has had enough Hollywood romances and break-ups to convince me that he is the only one and true winner in this category.
Although this seemed like a close race, Russell Crowe dominated in the most important categories and the fact that he won without me once having to mention L.A. CONFIDENTIAL
or one of my guilty pleasures VIRTUOSITY
says a lot. The truth is this was a close race only because Hugh Jackman is such a goddamn nice guy and I would never in a million years have him lose in a blowout, no matter who he is up against.