It snuck up on me. I wasn't a regular watcher of Roseanne or ER until he was gone from both shows. Almost every movie I saw him in back in the 90s was utter crap. (Anyone remember The Peacemaker?) One Fine Day was perhaps the most sexist movie I've ever seen, and Batman and Robin was certainly the worst film I've ever seen. (Here's my review of the latter which was on the Film Threat website back in the day.) I couldn't say that he was particularly bad in any of them (except for the Bat-tasrophe), and I liked him in the overrated From Dusk Till Dawn and the impressive Out of Sight. But I was also impressed by Jennifer Lopez in Out of Sight, and at look what she's done lately.
The crappy movies became fewer and I started noticing him in more impressive roles: The Thin Red Line, Three Kings, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Solaris. I didn't like Ocean's Eleven or The Perfect Storm, but he was good in both films. What really won me over was his putting his money and reputation behind good projects like Good Night and Good Luck and Syriana instead of just coasting by until they make Ocean's Seventy Seven and Ocean's Ninety Nine.
The Academy apparently agreed. Not that he wasn't great in Syriana, but I didn't think it was Oscar-winning work, and the Best Supporting Actor category has traditionally been a consolation prize or lifetime achievement award. Upon winning, Clooney gave what is probably the closest thing to the Platonic ideal of a perfect acceptance speech. No pointless, long list of thank yous, he makes some jokes, he praises his fellow nominees, and he gives a big middle finger to the right wing. What's not to love?
Wow. Wow. All right, so I'm not winning director.
It's the funny thing about winning an Academy Award, it will always be synonymous with your name from here on in. It will be Oscar winner, George Clooney. Sexiest Man Alive, 1997. Batman, died today in a freak accident at a -- Listen, I don't quite know how you compare art. You look at these performances this year, of these actors and unless we all did the same role, everybody put on a bat suit, and we'll all try that. Unless we all did the same role, I don't know how you compare it. They are stellar performances and wonderful work, and I'm honored, truly honored to be up here.
And finally, I would say that, you know, we are a little bit out of touch in Hollywood every once in a while. I think it's probably a good thing. We're the ones who talk about AIDS when it was just being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn't really popular. And we, you know, we bring up subjects. This Academy, this group of people, gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters. I'm proud to be a part of this Academy, proud to be part of this community, and proud to be out of touch. And I thank you so much for this.
Hollywood is far from ideal, and they have a lot to answer for. (*shakes angry fist*) But they have a lot to be proud of, and being progressive is one of those things. Gentleman's Agreement, Bad Day at Black Rock, To Kill a Mockingbird... Talking about things that no one wants to talk about is a proud Hollywood tradition, and it is not something they should be ashamed of. Instead of shying away from it, they should tell America - not with shrill voices like Barbra Striesand but with polite, eloquent ones like Clooney - that you're gonna get gay cowboys fucking on a mountain in Wyoming and you are going to like it, because there is nothing wrong with gay cowboys fucking on a mountain in Wyoming, and damn isn't that some impressive scenery up in the mountains in Wyoming.
What's next? Hopefully it's George Clooney for President.