Clint Eastwood: Spotlight on the Stars

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For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to go old school and take a look at a classic A-lister, and that happens to be one Clint Eastwood. Depending on your age, he’s either a director who used to be an actor or a childhood icon who’s now become a rather iconic filmmaker. Few could have reinvented themselves the way that Eastwood has, with this weekend’s release of Jersey Boys highlighting his directing skills in a whole new light than really ever before. He’s tried to do it all in Hollywood, you have to tip your hat to him for that.

Eastwood has basically done it all in the business. He’s starred in franchises (the Dirty Harry series as well as The Man With No Name movies), acted in Best Picture winners, and directed them as well. Though one could legitimately make the claim that his best days in Hollywood are behind him, there was a time when he was basically the king of the industry. Two of his directorial efforts (both of which he starred in and received Best Actor nominations for) won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and he had a long run of his work being repeatedly embraced by Oscar voters. He has four competitive statues at home (for producing and directing Million Dollar Baby as well as producing and directing Unforgiven) and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to show for it.

If you take a look at his work, he’s shown how an actor with one specialty could become a filmmaker with a completely different one. He was never on Oscar’s radar as a western star and even when he moved to the director’s chair, it was in genre fare. Slowly but surely he kept improving his work, culminating in Unforgiven in the 90’s being the first time voters cited a film of his, along with his own performance as well. Since then, he’s dabbled in comedies (Space Cowboys), mysteries (Blood Work, Changeling), war epics (Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima), and even baity biopics (J. Edgar). Now he goes the musical route with Jersey Boys. You have to say this for Eastwood…he never sits on his hands (ironic, since he’s an accomplished piano player and musical composer as well, even getting a Golden Globe nomination for doing the score to Grace is Gone, which he was otherwise uninvolved in). He always has something new brewing for audiences.

Overall, Eastwood is a very interesting A-lister to look at. People have written entire books on his contributions to cinema, so I could only hope to scratch the surface with a few hundred words here, but I did want to highlight him a bit. I may not agree with him politically or always enjoy his movies anymore, but I can easily recognize his value to the industry. He’s a legend, plain and simple. As such, he deserves our respect. He’s one of our biggest and longest serving A-listers in the business.

Stay tuned for a look at another A-lister next week!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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