Back in March when I wrote a piece about the Best-Actress Contenders of 2009, I included Angelina Jolie in my five shot-in-the-dark nominees. And if the buzz coming out of Cannes is any indication (Variety, Hollywood Reporter, LA Times, Emanuel Levy) the adopt-a-baby crazy hottie is starting to make me look good.
Clint Eastwood and Jolie are in Cannes promoting The Changeling (or The Exchange ... nobody seems to know what the hell its called). The consensus seems to be that Jolie (so strong in A Mighty Heart last year) is very, very good, and Eastwood -- at the ripe old age of 167 -- delivers another strong piece of affecting work that is as powerful as it is complex.
At this stage, you'd have to consider Jolie a pretty formidable Oscar contender. It doesn't surprise me that she reportedly gives a great performance. She's an underrated actress who can be successful in a variety of genres (it wasn't really her fault that the Lara Croft movies were garbage). Eastwood is a reputable guy -- an Academy guy. He's got sick pull with the people who decides these things, and Jolie has her share of the young demographic. No word on how well she does with uneducated white voters because we're still crunching those numbers. (Yup, we're now tracking the Oscar contenders the same way the pundits are tracking the nauseatingly long Democratic race.)
And how about Clint Eastwood? He isn't human. Many directors lose their edge in their elder years, but not this guy. And he's beyond his elder years. He's in his Yoda years. Yet his films are real pieces of work -- bold, even. I wasn't a huge fan of Flags of Our Fathers but I thought it was an interesting failure. Letters From Iwo Jima was a sad but beautiful eulogy of doomed Japanese soldiers. Million Dollar Baby and Mystic River are real cinematic triumphs of varying degrees. They're dangerous, raw with power and both very entertaining despite their dark subject matter.
The Changeling (or The Exchange) promises to add to his strong streak of films. And Mrs. Brad Pitt looks to reap the benefits, and maybe, finally, garner legitimate respect. Let's just hope she doesn't decide on a third Lara Croft adventure. It would be her Norbit.
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Dre writes three times a week for Film.com. Email him!