Thursday, March 21, 2013

You Anne Me by Caleb Warren

I love Mumford and Sons, right? I mean, everybody loves Mumford and Sons. They weren’t really on my radar, however, until “The Cave” and “White Blank Page” from their album Sigh No More starting taking off on Top 40 radio. I realize some people listened to them before this, and it severely annoys me when those people not only wear it as a badge of honor (which, on its own I would be fine with), but have to make sure everyone else knows that they knew about Mumford before all the hullabaloo. As if liking them first means that they somehow appreciate them on a deeper level around which the rest of us non-tastemakers can never hope to wrap our pretty little heads.
So excuse me while I do pretty much the same thing for a little while. One of my (and, mostly likely, your) favorite actresses is Anne Hathaway, and now she has an Academy Award that she absolutely deserves. But I liked her first, dogarnit, and I appreciate her more than you do.
Remember when she first showed up for most of us, in The Princess Diaries? That’s when I knew she would be a star. She was funny, dynamic, emotional, and pulled off a bunch of different sides to a (on paper) fairly simple character. She made what was basically the ultimate wish fulfillment fantasy a joy to watch, and it’s fitting that her big break came opposite Julie Andrews. If there’s any actress who can match Andrews’ class, poise, and grace, and still command some capable comedic timing and knack for physical humor, it’s my girl Anne.
Soon after Princess, she did two movies that seemed to solidify an image that no star wants to get stuck with: the good girl. The sweetheart. The virgin. Those movies were, of course, Ella Enchanted and the sequel no one asked for, Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement. Ella was fun, but nothing we hadn’t seen in the Shrek franchise, and Princess 2 was mostly an ill-advised snooze-fest (although hey, it introduced the world to Chris Pine, and the world is forever in its debt because of this). And yet in both films, Hathaway was a commanding star, and took no prisoners with her acting choices. She was fearless. Just look at the weird scene in Ella where Cary Elwes literally forces her to do the hokey pokey. (Which, c’mon, Cary, the hokey pokey isn’t fun if you have to force someone to participate.)
Annie’s next big venture was the critically acclaimed and religiously protested epic romance Brokeback Mountain, wherein she played one half of a marriage that her on-screen husband Jake Gyllenhaal, for story reasons, wasn’t really feeling. Now, I love Hathaway, but her appearances here smacked of trying a little too hard to break the image. Listen, we get that you want to shake Princess Mia off your back, but really? This was a little much. Maybe start with a dysfunctional family drama, Anne.
And lo and behold, she then did a dysfunctional family drama. Rachel Getting Married earned Anne her first Academy Award nomination, which she lost to Kate Winslet for The Reader (which I didn’t see, but Winslet’s Oscar before that was for Titanic, in which she was dreadful, so her track record isn't great on deserving these things). But Rachel did a better job than Brokeback of getting Anne away from the “Disney princess come to life” image.
Eagle-eyed readers will notice I’m skipping steps in Hathaway’s career. I have my reasons for this. One, it would take up too much space, and two, the less said about Love, and Other Drugs, the better. (Man, bad things seem to happen when she’s paired with Gyllenhaal. Let’s not let that happen again.)
When rumors started flying around that the character of Selina Kyle (known to the layman as “Catwoman”) would be included in The Dark Knight Rises, the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Saga, I’ll admit that even I didn’t think of Anne immediately. (I regret this now.) My predictions were more along the lines of Carrie-Anne Moss or Rosario Dawson. But once it was announced that my girl had won the part of Selina, I was in. I got visibly excited, and close friends can attest to the fact that I broke off a fake engagement because my fake intended was not pleased about the casting announcement. (Better I find out before the fake wedding than after; fake divorces are tedious.)
And pretty much everybody in their right mind agrees that Hathaway killed as Catwoman. (Pun!) When she appeared as a nervous, quiet catering girl, I got nervous and quiet. But then Batman comes in and accuses her of breaking into his safe. She immediately sheds the serving girl act like it’s a dress in the wrong size and gives a sultry and sarcastic, “Oops” that made my heart skip a beat. (Although I saw the movie at midnight, and was pretty hopped up on Redbull, so that could’ve been it too.)
And yet, after all that. After proving herself to be a capable actress over and over again, some people had the gall to be offended when Annie was cast as Fantine in Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of Les Miserables. The movie, of course, had its problems, but with one song, filmed almost entirely in a single, unbroken close-up shot of her withered, defeated face, Hathaway brought the world to tears. People were forced to either eat their earlier words about the casting, or, as is more comfortable for Americans, forget what they said about it all together and pretend they always held the correct viewpoint.
Anne has her Oscar now, and she deserves it. We all love her, and I’m so happy that she’s finally getting the recognition I always knew she deserved. But that doesn’t mean I’m not just a little bit territorial. She can be America’s Sweetheart, fine, but just remember that I was here first, America. I loved her first, and I’ll always appreciate her on a deeper level, around which you’ll never be able to wrap your pretty little heads.


  1. Excellent piece of writing, Caleb.

  2. I think you were wise to break off your fake wedding. And we should always blame Gyllenhaal for everything.