Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Top 5 Movie Guide: Jeff Goldblum

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we turn our attentions to Jeff Goldblum, star of this weekend's 3D re-release of 1993's "Jurassic Park". Goldblum was raised in Pittsburgh, PA, but moved to New York City when he was 17 to pursue an acting career. He trained at the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse, and soon after began his career on the stage. His first film roles came in the late-1970's in films like "Annie Hall" (1977) and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1978). While his roles were extremely limited, his unique delivery of dialogue made a notable impression with critics. His big breakout came in 1983, however, when he appeared in Lawrence Kasdan's (writer, "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "Return of the Jedi") "The Big Chill".


With the success of "The Big Chill" both financially and critically (13th-highest grossing film of 1983; nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Picture), Goldblum became an 80's mainstay. He continued his success throughout the decade with such films as "Into the Night" (1985), "The Fly" (1986), and "Earth Girls Are Easy" (1988) - the latter two of which he co-starred along with former wife, Geena Davis.

Goldblum ventured more into mainstream stardom in the 90's appearing in two of the highest grossing films of the decade, "Jurassic Park" (1993) and "Independence Day" (1996). He later went on to star in Steven Spielberg's sequel, "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" (1997), this time taking the solo lead in the franchise installment. By the end of the decade, Goldblum's star had faded. Still a known and respected Hollywood actor, he's struggled to find the same success he saw earlier in his career. He now appears mostly in television productions.

While Goldblum has never received an Academy Award nomination for his acting, he does actually have a nomination to his name. In 1996, he was nominated for his live-action short film, "Little Surprises" (the award went to "Lieberman in Love").

For our generation, Goldblum has to be one of the more recognizable actors out there; for younger people today, many might not even know who he is (which is unfortunate). Whichever group you might fall into, check out our picks below, detailing some of our favorite films he's appeared in over his career!


Alex Schopp -
I've always really enjoyed Goldblum's work and wish he'd get back in some bigger pictures again.

     1. Jurassic Park (1993)

I'll keep trying to get this movie enshrined any chance I get!
     2. The Big Chill (1983)
Is he my favorite character in this movie? Oh, who am I kidding, they're all my favorite! I recently re-watched this movie (our William Hurt list gave me a hankering to revisit), and it seriously gets better every time I watch it. As an adult, this may be the film that made me want to make movies. Everything about it is exactly what I want to do. Someday for fun I'd love to do a commentary for this film. It's just perfect.
     3. The Fly (1986)
While this movie is more focused on Goldblum than either of the two above, this film never felt any way relatable to me. Still some great sci-fi though with plenty of amazing practical effects.
     4. Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)
My guess is most of you never saw this film. Go watch it now and be amazed by what's happening. It hasn't held up incredibly well, but it's still one of the most unique alien movies I've ever seen.
     5. Independence Day (1996)
Jeff Goldblum is the best part about this movie. Overall, I still enjoy the film enough, but it continues to impress me less and less as the years go by. Still, since we're focusing on Goldblum specifically here, it's definitely worth mentioning. I hope he has a good role in Emmerich's sequel(s) - I'd really enjoy seeing this character on screen again.

Ben Foutch -
Goldblum brings a unique presence to the screen. He isn't taken very seriously by many, probably because of his eccentric qualities, but I've always thought he delivers natural and thoughtful performances.

     1. Jurassic Park (1993)

Goldblum supplies his usual oddball charm, lending both comic relief and a subtle intensity to his portrayal of the "rockstar" mathematician.
     2. The Fly (1986)
Probably Cronenberg's most accessible film, though like most of his work, is still quite graphic. Gotta love those practical effects.
     3. The Big Chill (1983)
Goldblum is sort of the odd man out in the ensemble and even though there is plenty of humor from the other characters, he is definitely the comic relief. He doesn't disappoint.
     4. Deep Cover (1992)
His transformation from a fragile pushover to a power-hungry killer is quite chilling.
     5. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
A surprisingly smart movie wrapped in a cheesy sci-fi package.

Derek Clem -

     1. Jurassic Park (1993)

I love his character so much that I named my plant "Dr. Ian Malcolm". Easily my favorite scientist on the dinosaur tour.
     2. Independence Day (1996)
His character always kind of reminds me of my dad. They aren't that similar really, but when watching the movie all I can think of is my dad - especially when he says "Must go faster!" Yet in "Jurassic Park" when he says "Must go faster!" it doesn't remind me of my dad at all.
     3. The Fly (1986)
I'm always amazed that he was able to make me feel sad for such a disgusting creature. Puke!
     4. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
I love this movie because it's Dr. Ian Malcolm centric, but at the same time he's less enjoyable because his character was so traumatized by what happened in the first movie. But don't get me wrong, he's still enjoyable and makes plenty of jokes, it's just in a different way than in the first movie.
     5. The Big Chill (1983)
For as great as this movie is I'm surprised I have to place it so low. Sometimes I wish this movie would have won Best Picture at the Oscars in 1983, my birth year.

Nathan Hinds -
Is there another actor who can do so much with so little screen time? Two movies of his almost made my list with him either being in only one scene or where he almost never says anything ("Annie Hall" & "Nashville").

     1. Jurassic Park (1993)

This might be the biggest movie of my childhood. It needs no explanation for why it's here. It's perfect.
     2. Independence Day (1996)
This movie was the perfect summer blockbuster. I'm worried about how the planned sequel will go. I would've left this one alone.
     3. Powder (1995)
This feels like a Tim Burton type story without Tim Burton directing.
     4. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
I normally don't use multiple films from the same series but I already cheated and threw in a couple of honorable mentions in my description, so that can offset this. Plus, I still thought this was a great movie, and Goldblum does a great job taking over as the sole lead in the film.
     5. The Big Chill (1983)
This didn't make the cut for Hurt's list we did last week, but I got around to using it this time. It's nowhere near as high up for me as it is for Alex, but it's still a great film about lifelong friends reconnecting. The whole cast definitely has a great chemistry.

Tracy Allison -
I think you might be able to tell that I like Jeff Goldblum. My top two selections basically tied for first place. It was nearly impossible for me to turn in this list because #1 and #2 were so hard to choose. Ultimately, nostalgia played a hand in my final choice.

     1. Jurassic Park (1993)

I saw this movie on the big screen again recently and man, did the audience love Goldblum. When he was injured and lying down with his shirt off, nobody could handle it. Everyone laughed. I think it had to do with the fact that twenty years ago is a long time in the movie world and that scene with an actor like him wouldn't exist today. I can’t quite explain it. See for yourself here. Just beware, your eyes can’t unsee this, but let’s be honest – would you ever want them to? P.S. I love "Jurassic Park". I would be a different person without it.
     2. The Big Chill (1983)
This is one of my all-time favorites. It’s one of those movies that doesn't have a lot of action, but you can’t seem to look away and you probably don’t want to. I've mentioned this in a recent post, but all of the men in this movie are simply phenomenal. This movie is the one in which I stopped seeing Goldblum through the same lens that I had as a child, when I only saw him as the semi-annoying dork of a movie and started seeing him as the beautiful man he is. He is a little smarmy in this movie, but this group of friends is extremely likable, faults and all.
     3. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
As usual, Wes Anderson rounds up a group of quirky and lovable actors for his colorful, interesting fare. This movie looks phenomenal and I was pleasantly surprised that Goldblum showed up here as Bill Murray’s “nemesis” even though he doesn't have a huge role.
     4. Independence Day (1996)
This movie is etched in the fabric of my childhood. It has a lot of exactly what you're looking for as a child. Alien invasions, cool spaceship scenes, an epic president, nerdy scientists, etc. This movie was a favorite of most of the kids that I knew and I love the trio of Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Pullman. They all brought something different to the table.
     5. The Switch (2010)
I rented this movie randomly, thinking that it would be a fairly lame romantic comedy. It turned out to have a killer soundtrack and a lot more heart than I expected. I don’t know how well it will hold up, but it did surprise me in a good way. I love when that happens. Goldblum serves as a random and welcome addition to this interesting cast.

There we have it, folks. Overall, eleven different films got a mention above, five in multiple variety. And while two films did manage all five lists this week, the first film we must highlight is "Jurassic Park". The film earned the #1 spot on all five lists above, becoming the fifth film to enter the Slackers Shrine, and the first since the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy was enshrined last November! The film was a staple of all of our childhoods, and everything from the effects to the construction of the film continues to hold up pretty well today, even 20-years later. It seems only fitting that the film getting enshrined this week is the same one (re)releasing this weekend, inspiring this list altogether. This is a worthy addition to an already impressive lineup of films which have already been immortalized on this site.

Coming in close behind this week was "The Big Chill". The film also appeared on every list above, earning an average rank of about "3". This film isn't nearly as "exciting" as some of the other titles above, but this well-crafted character dramedy is sure to appease most movie fans if they decide to give it a chance.

Three other films received multiple picks, though all in different amounts. "Independence Day" was the only film to appear on four lists, "The Fly" on three, and "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" on two. The first thing that stands out is the amount of sci-fi in that group - and all by some esteemed directors (Roland Emmerich, David Cronenberg, and Steven Spielberg, respectively). If you're a fan of the genre (or if you're just looking to get better acquainted with it), these are all great films to help you along.

As always, we hope that each of these selections helps you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films that Jeff Goldblum has provided over the years, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!