Goodman’s Oscar Shot Is Probably Toast

Before last night I had John Goodman pegged for an almost certain Best Supporting Actor nomination because of two highly likable, big-sell performances — a swaggering, self-amused drug dealer in Flight (his second entrance has audiences cheering) and as amiable makeup artist John Chambers (a real guy who died in ’01) in Argo. Plus he plays a highly sympathetic Atlanta Braves front-office guy who cares a good deal for Clint Eastwood‘s aging scout in Trouble With The Curve. Plus he’s lost all that weight. At least a nomination, right?

John Goodman

Then I read a 10.26 interview with Goodman by The Guardian‘s Xan Brooks, and it persuaded me that while Goodman might get nominated because he’s always been a gifted actor and the industry knows this, he won’t take the prize. Because as Brooks’ piece indicates, he doesn’t have the temperament to play the chit-chat bullshit interview games you have to submit to in order to win. He doesn’t have that politician gene.

This isn’t to suggest in the least that Brooks is a bullshit chit-chat interviewer. He’s not. He’s one of the more thoughtful and intelligent guys out there, or so it seems to me, but the aloof and somber-toned Goodman couldn’t be bothered to get the conversational ball rolling with Brooks, and if he can’t relax and schmooze a bit with one of the good guys how is Goodman going to fare with all the shallow Ryan Seacrest guys? As well as schmooze and joke with the Academy rank and filers? That’s why I think he’s done.

Brooks vs. Goodman excerpt #1: “It is perhaps unfair to expect an actor to put on a show when the cameras aren’t rolling. But after barely five minutes, I’m floundering, rattling through the questions, desperately attempting to snag his interest. Forgive the preconceptions: I walked in to meet a warm, funny, abundantly gifted actor whose work I’ve loved for years. Instead, this feels like dinner with Grendel.”

Brooks vs. Goodman excerpt #2: “But that’s the thing about this business, [Goodman] shrugs. You can never predict which film will take off and which one will bomb. ‘If I could do that, I wouldn’t be sitting in this room,” he says. ‘I’d be at a desk the size of a football pitch. Barking orders, or having someone else bark ‘em for me. One thing’s for sure: I wouldn’t be sitting here with you, my friend.'”

Brooks vs. Goodman excerpt #2: “‘[Drinking] was getting to be too much,’ he tells me. ‘It was 30 years of a disease that was taking its toll on everyone around me and it had got to the point where, every time I did it, it was becoming more and more debilitating. It was life or death. It was time to stop.’

“Was the alcohol affecting his work? ‘Yes, it certainly was.’

“In what respect? ‘Erm,’ he says. ‘Temperament. Memory. Depression.’

“All at once [Goodman] swivels on the couch and stares off at the wall. He is silent for the longest time. His jaw is set, his colour is rising. Finally, he speaks: ‘This is not something I want to chat about to sell a fucking movie. You understand? I don’t know what you do. I’m sorry, I’m very tired. It seems a little cheap to me.’

“OK, I say. I’m sorry if I’ve offended you. ‘It’s not your fault, it’s the process,’ he says. ‘I can’t just waltz in here and talk about the movie, I have to dredge up some very unpleasant things and it’s just not worth it. What’s the fucking point?'”

Wells Commentary: Goodman’s comments about “the process” and the vague humiliation in which a non-drinking actor is urged to talk about his failings when he was drinking are sympathetic and spot-on, but Brooks is only asking Goodman to discuss matters that he would normally bring up if he was speaking in front of an AA meeting. And the line about how discussing alcoholic dependency “seems a little cheap to me” implies that Brooks is being cheap by asking him about the ravages of booze. That’s not a fair or accurate thing to say.

Goodman’s a cool guy, but he just doesn’t get it. He’s a world-class actor who has many more mountains to climb, but he’s not cut out for the awards circuit. And that’s fine. The Best Supporting Actor Oscar will probably go to Silver Linings Playbook‘s Robert De Niro. Why? Because Lincoln‘s Tommy Lee Jones or The Master‘s Phillip Seymour Hoffman also don’t have the temperament for an Oscar campaign.

  • Mr.x

    It’s a shame, he’s so good. Always liked his performance in ‘Sea of Love’.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Goodman made Sea of Love that much better. In those four or five scenes he gave it an honest, regular-guy grounding. And what I’ve written here isn’t a “shame.” It just indicates that he won’t win. Not a tragedy. And let’s not forget Mad Man Mundt.

  • Anony-mouse

    “But Brooks is only asking Goodman to discuss matters that he would normally bring up if he was speaking in front of an AA meeting”

    Uh…. you do know one of those As stands for Anonymous, right? Its not going to be published nationally. Goodman is a treasure, and fuck the increasingly obsolete “awards circuit”. He’s had great performances in great movies this year, why’s he gotta confess his sins to a bunch of parasites to sell them?

    Argo is a little overrated, though.

  • Eloi Wrath

    Xan Brooks is a buffoon.

  • Sams

    Then again, there was Mo’nique who didn’t play but swept all the awards just the same.

    But surely Goodman knew he was sitting for an in-depth interview. He could have said his past drinking problem was off-limits right at the start if really didn’t want it brought up, but he was willing to talk about it at first and then just flipped the switch. And it’s not like he’s being singled out. All lead actors go through the same thing.

  • Mark

    The cheapness refers to indulging in the question, not the question

  • Great Scott

    What a relief. I thought you were going to tell us he had come out of the closet as a Rightie.

  • moviesquad

    Sure, Goodman’s hilarious in Flight, and the audiences cheer his second entrance since they need something, anything to add some levity to the movie which turns into a death march between his first and second appearances.

    Of course, his character totally doesn’t fit in the movie, and it stretches all the limits of believability, but I understand why they dropped him in there since the audiences probably would have completely fled without him. Flight has no idea what it’s trying to be, so it tries to be a bunch of things and none of them well.

  • Jesse Crall

    It has to be a bitch to dredge up personal details to a mass audience. We can talk about the price of fame and millions but still, privacy and time have no price and Goodman probably doesn’t get much of either when he has to waltz in front of various journos. Not blaming the journos, that’s their job, but I can understand why Goodman’s so tetchy.

    His Esquire interview in a recent issue read fine.

  • cyanic

    What a relief. I thought you were going to tell us he had come out of the closet as a Rightie.

    You know I thought the same thing. I was prepared to be crushed.

  • kdoucette

    Jeff – what do you think has been Goodman’s best shot at an Oscar nod – Sea of Love, Barton Fink or Flight?

  • Manitoba

    Somehow Xan Brooks got a pretty good story out of the tricky dance that is the celebrity film promotion interview.
    Goodman,actually, comes off quite well in the end. Brooks even contacts Roseanne Barr,who speaks of Goodman’s qualities as a deep, sensitive,giving human being and actor who keeps getting better with age.
    I kept thinking about how the late Robert Mitchum could sometimes be a great interview and storyteller. Yet other times when he had trouble playing the game, everyone from Larry King to the wonderfujl Robert Osborne,recalled struggling to get much out of Mitchum on some days.
    I suspect Goodman on any day is an easier interview than Mitchum on a bad day.

  • Krillian

    Seems to be a trend that the older you get, the less likely you are to suffer fools.

  • patches23

    Donny was a good bowler. And a good man. He was one of us. He was a man who loved the outdoors. And bowling. And as a surfer he explored the beaches of Southern California, from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo. And up to Pismo. He died, he died as so many young men of his generation, before his time. In your wisdom, Lord, you took him. As you took so many bright flowering young men at Khe Sanh, at Langdok, at Hill 364. These young men gave their lives. And so would Donny. Donny, who loved bowling. And so, Theodore Donald Karabotsos, in accordance with what we think your dying wishes might well have been, we commit your final mortal remains to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean, which you loved so well. Good night, sweet prince.

  • Thunder Redux

    A producer I know who worked with him on a film says he really blows hot and cold, one minute he’s your best friend and super cool dude to be around, next minute he’s cold and aloof and acts like he doesn’t really know you. He said it was very weird, and constant, to the point that you just stayed away from the guy cause you never knew which “Goodman” you would get.

    That said, He’s a great actor, just an oddball, like a lot of the good ones.

    “I’ll show you the life of the mind!”

  • Storm Serge

    That picture looked like some obama tirade screen-grabbed from Fox News. Whew.

  • Hollis Mulwray

    Goodman deserved supporting actor for “Lebowski”. There is no way that character existed entirely on the page.

  • Glenn Kenny

    “A producer I know”=”A producer whose car I parked a couple of times”

    FTFY, Duluoz.

  • Jesse Crall

    @Hollis: And even if his character WAS performed exactly as written, he nailed it. The timing of “Shut the f- When do we play?!” gets me every time I watch Lebowski.


  • RoyBatty Returns

    “Plus he’s lost all that weight.”

    Cue Dos XX announcer voice:

    He is…. the most shallow man on the internet.

  • I thought Wells might pick this interview up [not that there was much of an interview there]. Most BTL comment at the Guardian mirrored what’s here; below one was best, I thought:

    Never seen the point of showing up to do the interview of you’re going to act like a shit. It’s the closest creative types to having to do work that may not enjoy – y’know, like the rest of us idiots – and they can’t even manage to do that with any grace.

    Pretty hard to come back on.

    P/S Eloi, what’s your beef with Xan Brooks?

  • Thunder Redux

    Oh Glenn, keep reporting on the people you wish you were.

    Keep reviewing the movies you wish you were a part of.

    Keep on keeping on, you miserable fucking hack.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Duluoz’s laid-back, I’m-rubber-you’re-glue responses to slights are an integral part of why he’s such a successful Hollywood…nonentity.

    Thanks for the encouragement. I hope we meet someday. You’ll be glad to know I’m usually an excellent tipper.

    I will stop now because it’s just TOO EASY

  • Thunder Redux

    Keep patting yourself on the back Glenn, you need the encouragement.

    And critics wonder why no one in Hollywood respects or takes them seriously. You guys are parasites, begging for crumbs from the people you wish you were. You guys are like girls who go into PR, except without the hard work or nice tits.

    But please, by all means, keep making a living off of what other people toil at.

    See, people like Glenn HAVE TO believe people like me are liars, fakes, phonies and frauds. The mere notion of a repellant creature such as myself, and a conservative no less, making a decent living as a screenwriter so curdles their brains they’re reduced to spasms of rage they mistake for wit. They wanted to work in film, couldn’t make it happen, so instead suck at the teat and star fuck all day as a salve for their wounded ego.

    Problem is, the truth exists whether you choose to believe it or not.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Credits or it didn’t happen, Duluoz. (Cuz it didn’t happen and it’s not going to happen.)

    Like I said: I look forward to meeting you.

  • Luke Y. Thompson

    “Because Lincoln’s Tommy Lee Jones or The Master’s Phillip Seymour Hoffman also don’t have the temperament for an Oscar campaign. ”

    What the huh?

    Did they win their existing Oscars by magic?

  • Thunder Redux

    No, Glenn, you get nothing. I have seen friends lose work once people suspected they were conservative.

    And we have met, you’re even uglier in person. You’re a disgusting human being who creates NOTHING.

    And I think, deep down, you know this, which is why you put on this front.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Lemme get this straight, Duluoz: you basically live a lie, hiding your true beliefs from everyone you personally interact with, while maintaining an alias and a Facebook page on which you post nothing but racist memes about Obama smoking pot. You come on this site and you piss on pretty much every movie that’s under discussion, you make ad hominem japes at guys who clearly have more talent and more money than you. Either that or “witty” observations on the physical attractiveness of random women in movies Your observations are invariably trite and unpleasant without even a thimbleful of wit or verbal invention (which lack, I allow, would not necessarily hurt your career as a screenwriter) and all hinge on your supposed superiority to everyone else who posts here.

    But I’m the disgusting human being who creates nothing.

    I must be feeling particularly emboldened because normally I find you more than a little scary. I think you’re a genuinely unhinged person with some very bad potential.

    What were the circumstances of our meeting? Surely you can reveal that without outing yourself. Go on.

  • Thunder Redux

    Oh, Glenn, you are just too adorable for words.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Oh yeah, and that one last thing: your default riposte to all evidence of what a fraud you are is to trot out the equally tired “how cute” or variation thereof. That you don’t get bored with it, or yourself, is palpable evidence of your general aridity.

  • Gussie Finknottle

    “See, people like Glenn HAVE TO believe people like me are liars, fakes, phonies and frauds.”

    “No, Glenn, you get nothing. I have seen friends lose work once people suspected they were conservative.”

    Glenn, you can save your energy, he does a good enough job of undermining himself.

  • JBM…

    No, Glenn, you get nothing. I have seen friends lose work once people suspected they were conservative.

    Like registered Republican Craig Mazin, whose conservative views cost him the chance to write not one, but two HANGOVER sequels…

    …oh wait, no they didn’t.

  • Cadavra

    To get back on topic: Bogart famously said, “All I owe the public is a good performance.” Goodman apparently subscribes to this theory, but is being a trouper and helping to support the film even though he’d rather not. There are actors who are good at playing this game–Clooney, Hanks, Will Smith–and others who aren’t–Ford, Costner, K-Stew. Alcoholism is not a subject to be treated casually, and I think Goodman reacted as well as he could under such circumstances.

  • loving
  • Kamal Sarik