The Man of 2012, Part I: Bale vs. Gosling

Christian Bale arguably had his best year yet in 2011, but 2011 was not the Year of Bale.  Yes, he had many amazing moments, including (but not limited to) winning an Academy Award for his performance in The Fighter, winning a Golden Globe for the same thing, and actually receiving another thirty awards throughout the the first half of 2011.  For many non-Bale fans, this was a pivotal moment: he went from “the Batman guy” or “the guy who yelled at people during Terminator” to “the guy winning all those awards for that boxing movie” or “Did you know that guy is from England?”

That was the first half of his year.  The second half of 2011 involved a) the release of the poster and trailer for Flowers of War b) the release of the teaser trailer, full trailer, and prologue for The Dark Knight Rises c) more and more rumors regarding The Dark Knight Rises and d) a viral video that could balance out the negative opinion of Bale created by his Terminator meltdown.

One of the many great images from The Flowers of War.

All of this–the Oscar, the Batman rumors, the scuffle with the Chinese government–should be enough for Bale to hog the spotlight, but there are a few reasons this has not happened.  First of all, Bale wasn’t actually in any films released in 2011.  The Fighter is a 2010 film and Flowers of War hasn’t been released in the United States yet.  Secondly, Bale is quite possibly the least buzzed-about aspect of The Dark Knight Rises.  Why?  Because he appears to be the easiest variable to anticipate.  There are far more enigmatic questions swirling around, such as: What will Catwoman be like?  Is she good or evil?  Is Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing Robin or Nightwing or neither?  Is Marion Cottilard once again within a dream within a dream?  Is Tom Hardy going to break Batman’s back?  Is Liam Neeson actually in this?

But more importantly, the reason that Bale is not a center of conversation (other than in his web-obsession communities such as is that there are more interesting men in the spotlight right now.  Specifically, there is one man consuming the American public eye in such a way that there may be no room for Bale.  This man is: Ryan Gosling.

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Bale and Arnold in Terminator Forever

While another Teminator film should seem like the most inevitable possibility ever, there are a number of issues that seem to be holding it up.  Little issues such as bankruptcy, lawsuits, a political scandal of some sort revolving around Mr. Schwarzenegger, and Bale’s shouting incident that occurred during the filming of Terminator Salvation.

WHAT ARE YOU? (Remember that part?)

Terminator Salvation has not been discussed much here, in part because it’s unfortunately simply not enough of a Bale film.  Bale as John Connor mostly plays second fiddle to Sam Worthington as the murderer who got turned into a Terminator by Marla Singer and then lived underground for twenty years and then crawled out after a bomb went off or something, without knowing that he was a Terminator.  Seriously, wasn’t that the plot?

The unfortunate reality of the latest Terminator is that it wasn’t enough of a Bale-Out.  Not dark enough, not gritty enough, and not Bale enough.  It’s hard to exactly reboot the Terminator franchise when the films seem to each be a reboot of the last one, as every time the events of each Terminator movie somehow change both the past and the present of the Terminator universe, from the date of Judgement Day constantly shifting to John Connor always being portrayed by a different actor to John Connor sending a guy back in time to protect his mother and then conceive John Connor, who is chosen to do this mission because John Connor knows that the guy will become his father.  Or something.

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Bale Can’t Fail

In honor of the awards being showered upon Christian Bale–and the awards yet to be showered upon him–it is time to re-invigorate this web-log that has sadly sat neglected for the last year. Mr. Bale has proven within the last year (and it has sadly been a year and a day since I last posted on here) that he is truly, without a doubt, the greatest actor that has ever graced this earth.

You might ask yourself, or your peers, or me, “what makes Christian Bale the greatest actor ever?”

Allow me to explain: He can take any film, film franchise, novel, or true story, and bring with him a passion and talent that will turn it into a completely new work.

See the following examples for films or tales that lacked true prestige before Bale stormed in and turned them into works of genius.

Little Women, 1994

Little Womenhad been adapted for the screen four times before 1994, beginning with back-to-back silent versions in 1917 and 1918. The novel was first published (in two volumes) in 1868 and 1869. Not to mention the numerous stage adaptations, comic books, and fan fiction novellas spawned by the novel. But everyone agrees that nothing compares to the 1994 adaptation. Which is the first time Christian Bale’s name was attached. Of course it’s not a coincidence.

Pocahantas, 1995, and The New World, 2005

In 1995, Bale was cast in a role that could unfortunately barely contain his talent, when he lent his voice to “Thomas” in Disney’s Pocahantas. While his turn as the inexperienced young explorer left audiences tearful and critics begging for more, it was clear that the role was too small for him. Which is the entire reason for the first (and, thus far, only) time that Bale did a Bale-Out of one of his own films, remaking the 90-minute Pocahantas into the 150-minute The New World, in which the character of Thomas was traded for John Rolfe. Both prove that Bale will outshine his cast-mates, regardless of whether they are cartoons or the guy from Phonebooth.
Shaft, 2000

Everyone knows Shaft, whether it’s from the 1971 novel, the Richard Roundtree trilogy, or the Isaac Hayes song. But no one can forget the definitive 2000 version of Shaft, in which Bale proves that everyone should be thankful he is not one of those actors who always gets typecast as the good guy. In Shaft, Bale has a chance to shine as a racist, charismatic murderer (a character type he will portray several times more), proving he can be a villain that you really enjoy watching get gunned down at the end by an old woman. It also entirely fits within the definition of a Bale-Out, as it is not a remake of the original Shaft,but is rather a sequel, as Samuel L. Jackson is playing John Shaft’s nephew, John Shaft. Critics and audiences are still anxiously awaiting the second and third films of the new millenium’s Shaft trilogy.Of course, the other Bale-Outs in Bale’s catalogue are almost too obvious to mention. What would Batman be without Christian Bale? He nailed a role at which Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney all failed. As for Terminator, everyone now knows that the previous films had too much time travel and not enough shouting. In I’m Not There, he showed up Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, and that kid with the guitar in history’s greatest Bob Dylan impression contest.Truly, the attention being granted to Bale in 2011 is only the beginning. And I assure you, “What Should Bale Do?” is back, ready to hypothesize about what novel, film, trilogy, or true story Bale has to bring to the screen next.