Oscars Week: Everyone Loves a Comeback

This article is the final part of. . .

The Front Page: Oscars Week

“Time is the fire in which we burn.” This is a concept that is all too real for those of us in our forties and up who are looking to change their future by going back to school. For many of us, we are breaking old cycles or are just flat out tired of feeling like we are left behind or being rendered obsolete in an ever changing world. The decision to go back to school is different for us all, but one of the challenges that we face as a whole is that of time. Time lost, time needed, and the feeling of having only a fleeting amount of it.  This journey is daunting, and sometimes it’s easy to feel like we have lost our way, or that there might not be a place for you anymore.

“Ironically”, this very aspect is being displayed right before our very eyes in the world of Hollywood. On March 12th, the 95th  Academy Awards hits the airwaves and celebrates the best of cinema and its creators for their contributions to the art of film. This year we find ourselves with an unofficial theme: the comeback. Hollywood loves a redemption story, yet sometimes they don’t allow them to happen in real life. More often than not, people of a certain color, sex or identity are not given the parts that they would be perfect for; we constantly see actors playing out-of-age parts, whitewashing of charters, and casting parts based off of themselves yet not casting the person it’s based off of. It is fair to say that Hollywood takes more than it gives sometimes. Yet with all of this, Hollywood still loves a comeback. 

This year our “heroes” are of an older breed. We have artists such as Brendan Fraser, a once household name for many years whose rise to stardom was quick and white hot, yet this was not able to save him from sexual harassment at the hands of the powerful, who are able to abuse and strip actors of their dignity and careers. Like many before him, he struggled with the aftermath of sexual assault, this bringing more shame and an embarrassment due to his “leading man” status. It took the “Me Too” movement to shake him out of his depression and start the journey back into the light. With uncertainty of his future, he took the part that would land him in the spotlight – The Whale

Brendan Fraser. Photo by IMDB.

Michelle Yeoh was destined to be in the spotlight. From a young age she was fearless, from entering into beauty pageants to appease her mother, to joining a dance school in order to learn ballet. When an injury ended her career in dance, her spirit refused her to give up: by her mid-twenties, she was already proving herself among a community of peers in the Hong Kong movie industry, kicking butt next to superstars such as Jackie Chan in Supercop. This led to the casting of her as an ally to Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond in the action flick Tomorrow Never Dies, which was followed up by the Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Although her talent was undeniable in both films, the fact that Hollywood just wasn’t producing parts for her was shutting her out. As time progressed, she started to be forgotten, even to the point where she was told to “give up.” Yet her spirit could not, in fact, do that, and to her credit she was right. She takes the stage with fellow costar Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once, another actor whose talent was recognized early in life yet was sidelined by an industry that didn’t know what they had. Together they have been able to break these lines and take their well deserved moment in the sun with near-constant accolades, including a nomination for their respective acting categories at the Oscars this year.

Michelle Yeoh recently won best actress at the SAG Awards. Photo by Getty Images.
Photo by Vogue Magazine.

In the world of television we watch Jennifer Coolidge, whose long time contributions have led her to be one of Christopher Guest’s favorite character actors having co-starred in two of his more well loved movies (A Mighty Wind and Best in Show). Coolidge, being a working actor, never stopped creating content whose IMDB credits are quite long: it wasn’t until the smash hit Legally Blonde that Coolidge was once again launched into the limelight. Despite her iconic performance she fell into the trap that many professional women find themselves in: being replaced by a younger woman. Unfortunately, the Hollywood machine tends to favor the young and trendy, leaving Jennifer to have to audition for her own part that she originated, when Legally Blonde was adapted for Broadway in 2011. This all changed when she accepted the role of 2021’s White Lotus. This pandemic project was perfect to allow Coolidge’s quirkiness and sly wit to elevate the character of Tanya McQuoid, a performance so strong that she was written in to return in season 2, quite a feat for an ensemble anthology series. Patience and a knowledge of self has paid off with a landslide of awards for said performance both from peers to critics alike, making this 60-year-old a recognized contender. 

Yes, it does seem that Hollywood loves a good comeback but I think I know of somebody that loves one a little bit more… ourselves. For myself, the pandemic was a big realization. Like many others, I was tired of practicing what I loved and was passionate about, only to squander that time and energy by becoming a line cook: a good job, but not the profession that I sought. In the shutdown I was faced with an ugly fact– I was getting old. This experience is commonplace, yet it’s very unique for everyone. Unique in the fact that I, just like everyone on the planet, was given the gift of time. I decided that the time was right to take a risk. I was going back to school. Like so many others, I was going to take the plunge and invest in myself. If such risks were never taken then we wouldn’t have the likes of author L. Frank Baum, who did not reach the height of his career until age 40, when he penned the first book of the Wizard Of Oz series – a series that went on for fourteen novels, went on to be a Broadway play that ran for a staggering 293 performances, and gave birth to one of the film industry’s most iconic movies to date. We frequently think that we need to be successful when we’re young, yet all of these people have achieved their comeback or success later in life. If they can achieve success this late in life, why can’t we? I implore my readers with this final action: “You can still teach an old dog new tricks! Today is the day to take a risk: don’t be afraid to make your own comeback!” After all, everyone loves a comeback story.

This article is the final part of. . .

The Front Page: Oscars Week

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