Pairs proliferate in raft of coincidences
The doppelgang’s all here, as voters this have more than a few timely twosomes to choose from.
It’s not just little details, like the fact that there are two films with Julianne Moore as a frustrated 1950s housewife (“Far From Heaven” and “The Hours”) or a pair of Steven Spielberg movies, set four decades in the past and five decades in the future (“Catch Me If You Can” and “Minority Report,” respectively).
And it’s not just the duplication of titles, such as “8 Women,” “8 Mile” and “Eight Crazy Nights.”
No, it’s not just a few overlaps — it’s the fact that everything seems to have a doppelganger this year.
When was the last time you saw even one American film about Irish gangsters? This year, there are two: “Road to Perdition” and “Gangs of New York.”
There are a pair of too-many-words-for-the-marquee sequels in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.” And there are the twin classics illustrated, “Nicholas Nickleby” and “Pinocchio.”
Scribes on themselves
And there are two movies in the my-life-is-hard-and-I’d-like-to-tell-you-about-it category. In “Adaptation,” Charlie Kaufman wrote a screenplay in which the lead character is screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. However, Kaufman is kind of upstaged by the triple play in which Antwone Fisher writes about Antwone Fisher and, as a bonus, the film is titled “Antwone Fisher.”
But Kaufman gets extra points by inventing his own double, called Donald Kaufman, and giving him shared screenplay credit.
Since Gollum has schizophrenic arguments with himself in the new “Lord of the Rings,” audiences get two movies about split personalities this season, adding a surreal spin to this whole “awards double derby” thing.
Awards voters also are invited to inspect a pair of showbiz biographies. Hollywood has always liked films about real-life showbiz characters, from “The Great Ziegfeld” to “Yankee Doodle Dandy” to “Shakespeare in Love.” But this year, there are “Auto Focus” and “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” which tell the tales of, respectively, Bob Crane and Chuck Barris. In the past few years, we’ve seen onscreen celebrations of folk like Ed Wood and Andy Kaufman, but it’s a first to have two simultaneous biopics of men who are — well, how to put this delicately? — not exactly in the Pantheon of showbusiness legends.
Who’s next? Jennifer Lopez in a Charo biopic?
And then there are the directorial debuts, with Denzel Washington’s “Antwone,” George Clooney’s “Confessions” and Nicolas Cage’s “Sonny.” The three actors also do double duty by appearing in their films.
And while most directors put out a film every one or two years, this year there are a handful of helmers doing double time: Phillip Noyce, Steven Soderbergh and Spielberg.
Then there’s the title duplication: “Heaven” and “Far From Heaven”; “Spider” and “Spider-Man”; “8 Mile” and “Moonlight Mile”; “The Hours” and “25th Hour”; “The Piano Teacher” and “The Pianist”; “The Ring” and “The Lord of the Rings.”
It’s almost too much for a voter to consider. You can’t blame them if they think they’re voting for “My Big Fat Monsoon Wedding” or “Eight Crazy Women” or “About a Boy Schmidt.”
It’s what they call double jeopardy.