The last couple of years must have been dire for .
In 2011, the five time Oscar nominated actor and former king of the box office reached the low point of his career. Probably. The problem with Hanks is you’ll never (well, the writer of these lines certainly doesn't) know because he is so damned likeable – one never wants to admit that it goes downhill for the star.
But two years ago it did - probably. His second outing as a director, Larry Crowne, made a lamentable $32 million - and that despite Hanks' starring front and center and the participation of America's (ex-?) sweetheart . The dramedy also received a pretty bad beating from the critics (35 % on rotten tomatoes).
The reception of Larry Crowne very much put into question the star power of the two-time Academy Award winning actor, who had a jaw-dropping series of hits in the 1990s and the beginning of the 21st century.
A supporting role in the sentimental post-9/11 drama Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and multiple, pretty bizarre parts in Cloud Atlas didn’t exactly help.
Therefore one may ask: will we see Tom Hanks suffer the fate of (Paranoia, Cowboys & Aliens, Ender's Game) and be relegated to supporting roles at the side of younger leading man in forgettable blockbusters?
The answers seems to be a resounding no.
Next Friday sees the release of the high seas hostage thriller Captain Phillips, directed by the infallible , and starring Hanks in the title role.
While the movie received mostly raves when it opened The New York Film Festival, it’s actually the few dissenting, negative reviews that tell you how good the film and Hanks performance are.
This one for instance:
Considered on its most obvious merits, “Captain Phillips” – which opened the New York Film Festival on Friday night — is an intense and claustrophobic maritime adventure, much of it set not on the open sea but inside a sealed lifeboat that resembles a small submarine, or a floating coffin. It may well earn Tom Hanks the Oscar nomination he’s so clearly striving for, in depicting the almost Christ-like suffering of the eponymous Capt. Rich Phillips, a taciturn New Englander who is taken hostage by Somali pirates after a 2009 hijacking goes awry. But not far below the surface “Captain Phillips” is also an unpleasant and uncomfortable experience, a film that’s not entirely happy with itself.
Salon critic Andrew O’Salhir himself seems to be not entirely happy with the viewing experience he had, desperately searching for reasons to not like the film. But that is another discussion...
The movie in all probability will be a hit, critically as well financially. Even more probable are the hosannas sung for Hanks' performance – especially for the last ten minutes which apparently are something of a career high for the actor.
Marc Mahon writes:
Throughout, Hanks does his typically professional job, ever the upright, quick-thinking, deceptively ordinary hero. In the movie’s final scenes, though, he goes to a place as intense and real as he ever has on screen. It’s enough to wash away the memory of the two-time Oscar winner’s often bland likability and re-establish him as one of the most talented stars in the business.
But Captain Philips won't be the only movie of 2013 to earn Hanks stellar notices (and possibly one of'em Oscar nominations).
Saving Mr. Banks, which will be released on December 13, offers the actor the juicy role of Hollywood legend Walt Disney. The behind-the-scenes Hollywood drama centers on the struggle to get a movie adaptation of the beloved children's book Mary Poppins made.
While the protagonist of the movie clearly is obstinate novelist P.L. Travers (), the role of Disney should be right up Hanks’ alley. As written (we played a bit of peek-a-boo with the screenplay), Disney is a mischievous, savvy businessman who hides his mushy heart behind a façade of overfriendly gloss.
If the movie doesn’t turn out too sentimental (the potential for that certainly is there too), it should result in a couple of Oscar nominations and one more characterization in the pantheon of great Hanks’ performances.
And there are certainly a few of them. Perhaps that’s what will keep Hanks right at the top of the actor food chain until the very end of his career.
Even in his less successful pictures, he tends to deliver memorable performances. One of my favorite Hanks’ moments is in the forgettable The Ladykillers, one of the few mediocre movies the Coen Brothers ever made.
Yet, the actor absolutely kills it – by ordering waffles.
What’s your favorite Tom Hanks performance? Or, better: what’s your favorite Hanks moment? Tell us below!