So which of her two fine 2001 performances does Nicole Kidman favor in the current award derbies? Is it Moulin Rouge or The Others?
On Sunday night at the Golden Globes, Kidman will be the ultimate diplomat. Instead of sitting at one studio table or another — 20th Century-Fox for Moulin Rouge or Dimension/Miramax for The Others — Nicole will sit at her own table, an island of neutrality. Her likely companions, for at least part of the evening, will be her two best friends, Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Mind) and Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive).
The three Aussie pals go back almost 20 years from their salad days Down Under. Nicole told me recently that she's thrilled they've all made it in Hollywood. Despite the tabloid nonsense, she and Crowe are just mates, pals, buds, nothing romantic — ever. Same for her relationship with Moulin Rouge co-star Ewan McGregor.
But what to do about choosing one of those films to endorse over the other? Nicole won't do it. So far, Moulin Rouge looks like the certain choice, at least of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. They know something about Moulin Rouge that we Americans haven't figured out yet. The movie has turned both Nicole and McGregor into pop stars.
In Australia, McGregor and Kidman have a huge hit with "Come What May," the theme song from the movie. In Britain, Nicole and U.K. pop superstar Robbie Williams have been No. 1 for weeks with their remake of the Nancy Sinatra/Frank Sinatra chestnut "Something Stupid."
"Robbie just saw the movie and called me up," Nicole told me. "I didn't know him and I thought the whole thing was crazy. I can't believe we're No. 1. But he did it."
If you liked Being John Malkovich — and I count myself among those who did very, very much — then Human Nature will be right up your alley.
Michel Gondry's direction of Charlie Kaufman's latest script premiered here last night. Gondry has directed a lot of Björk videos and is French. Kaufman wrote the Malkovich script. So you can imagine the results.
Human Nature, which premiered at some festivals last year and will be released by Fine Line in early spring, is very funny and very weird. Rhys Ifans, the tall, lanky actor from Notting Hill and who is currently in The Shipping News, plays a man raised by apes in the jungle. It's a long story, but his father was an ape, so Rhys was whisked away from his mother and brought up in the animal world.
Tim Robbins, as a repressed scientist who teaches table manners to mice, and Patricia Arquette as his hirsute partner, find Ifans and bring him back to captivity, where they try to train him to live in civilization. The fourth member of this romantic rectangle is actress Mirando Otto, who alternately befriends both men.
Human Nature is so completely 'out there' that there's hardly a way to describe it. It's delicious and twisted, and Ifans completely steals the show with an outrageous performance that will be talked about at award season next year and never ever forgotten.
Arquette, who spends a lot of the movie covered in shaving cream, is sexy and bizarre and courageous for shedding all ego and just giving in to Gondry's crazy requests. Robbins, who's always interesting to watch, gives his best comic showing ever as he plays straight man to some of the strangest stuff you will ever see on screen. He's terrific.
Gondry and Kaufman's movie won't be for everyone, but it's movies like this that give hope for the future. Like Cherish, The Good Girl and some other Sundance offerings this season, Nature picks a rhythm and never gets off the groove until the end.
Is Casey Affleck cursed by being Ben's younger brother? In my review of the pretentious Gerry, I referred to Casey as the Affleck sibling several times. Not fair, declared his fans. And they were right. I've really enjoyed Casey's work in Committed with Heather Graham, and more recently in Ocean's Eleven.
Casey has an easygoing sense of humor that sets him apart on screen, and in Gerry he gets the most out of the little there is to do. He also has the one great dramatic moment in the otherwise boring film. So let's give Casey his due. He's just as heavy as his brother.
Matthew McConaughey turned up at Sundance last night for a screening of his 13 Conversations About One Thing. Matt and Alan Arkin are part of an all-star cast in this impressionistic, depressing version of Magnolia.
McConaughey is obviously trying to retool his career a little bit. In Conversations he plays it straight and comes off well. He told me before the movie started that he's not been in Austin, Texas, lately, the site of his famous naked bongo-playing incident.
"I'm in West Texas a lot," he said, which is like Siberia. Come on back, Matt — all is forgiven!
The parties continue unabated in all sizes and shapes here at Sundance, although the really big ones — held out in Deer Valley at houses sponsored by the likes of Motorola, Chrysler, Reebok, In Style magazine and others — tend to be nightmarish affairs that start out with the best intentions. At the Creative Coalition's shindig, I ran into actress Sharon Lawrence, who was almost crushed by the crowd around her.
At Café Terigo on Main Street, Premiere magazine held its annual gathering for filmmakers. Philip Seymour Hoffman showed up; he's in Love Liza, written by his brother Gordy. Phil gives an outstanding performance that's gotten the festival talking.
Casts of most of the other films showed up for the Premiere party, along with documentary maker Barbara Kopple, actor Josh Brolin, producer/director Jon Avnet and Bai Ling, Robin Tunney from Cherish, Rhys Ifans and the always party-ready John Waters.
Yesterday's annual Entertainment Weekly lunch at 350 Main Street also produced the lion's share of actors, directors and producers who were in town, including Nick Stahl of In the Bedroom fame, who has managed to stay out of the limelight while his film heads toward Oscar nominations.