Spotlight on the Stars: Steve Carell

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For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to look at someone from the cast of the upcoming movie Foxcatcher. I had three incredibly talented men to choose from, but I ultimately went with Steve Carell, a talented comedic actor finally getting his time to shine dramatically. The man has been snubbed for Oscar attention before, but this very well could be the year that he finally breaks through and gets an Academy Award nomination. That would cement him not only as the A-list comedy star, but as a truly respected dramatic performer as well. As such, he’s a perfect candidate to shine a spotlight on today.

Carell first got his start on the small screen, showing up on television programs like The Dana Carvey Show, Over the Top, Watching Ellie, and of course The Daily Show. The latter was where he really made his initial mark, playing a correspondent. He then began to pop up on the big screen in supporting roles, notably with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy, Bruce Almighty (stealing scenes in both of those pictures), and the Woody Allen movie Melinda and Melinda, plus Bewitched as well. The groundwork was being put down for the man to really dive in to a starring role and when the opportunity came along, he didn’t disappoint.

He became a star with The 40 Year Old Virgin, a film he both co-wrote with Judd Apatow and starred in. Not only was it a critical and commercial hit, it launched Carell’s career in a big way. The movie got a small bit of awards buzz, with much of it centered on his acting/writing. It’s an absolutely hilarious and surprisingly touching comedy, a modern classic, in fact. That performance got Carell on the A-list, allowing him to attempt to do something different his next time out.

Carell then followed that up with Little Miss Sunshine, which damn near scored him a Best Supporting Actor nomination. For many, that announced him as someone who could really do more than just make you laugh. Often acting without dialogue, he crafted a sad character that you felt for in a big way. It was very strong work and his snub by the Academy is one that many feel is a particularly stinging one.

The other notable films in his filmography so far include the likes of Dan in Real Life, Date Night, Despicable Me, Dinner for Schmucks, Evan Almighty, Get Smart, Hope Springs, Horton Hears a Who!, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and The Way Way Back. There’s also the sequels Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and Despicable Me 2, as well as Crazy, Stupid, Love. and the recent release Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. There’s animation, comedy, drama, and dramedy, showing off more range than I think a lot of people realized he had in him. It’s all prep work for what’s to come next though.

This week, he delivers the best performance of his career in the aforementioned Foxcatcher. Playing disturbed millionaire Jon du Pont, Carell shows a powerful and often shocking side of himself that we’ve never seen before. The work is incredible and 100% worthy of all the acclaim it’s been receiving since the film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. He’s currently being campaigned for Best Actor, though there’s a small chance he ends up in the Best Supporting Actor category instead. Either way, he’s a major force and deserves heavy consideration regardless of where he’s placed. I’ll be talking more about the movie itself tomorrow, but it’s a big time contender, trust me there.

Overall, Carell is a talented actor who has now shown an ability to wow with his dramatic chops, in addition to the A-list comedic ones we already knew he had. Going forward, he’s going to display both of those talents in the upcoming Looney Toons related flick Acme and the awards vehicle Freeheld. Even if he somehow is snubbed for an Oscar citation this year, he won’t be out of the game long. Carell is an A-lister who will be feted by the Academy at some point. It’s just a question of when, not if.

Stay tuned for another look at an 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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