For many film lovers, 2020 has been a year of catching up: on franchises, on directors’ filmographies, on historical gaps and top 100s. But for some Letterboxd members, the year indoors has been an opportunity to hyper-focus on a single actor and their work.
Jeremiah Lambert is on a Bacon Fest, Naked Airplane has embarked on a wild ride through the works of De Niro, Hackman, Hoffman, Nicholson and Pacino. Joey is preparing for next year’s centennial of The Kid by churning through Charlie Chaplin’s catalog (with David Robinson’s biography Chaplin: His Life and Art in hand). A quick Twitter survey found others churning through a performer selection as wide-ranging as Burt Lancaster, Parker Posey, Maggie Smith, Nicolas Cage, Cary Grant, Kevin Costner, Robin Williams, Adèle Haenel, Alan Arkin, Sam Rockwell and a Seth Rogen thirst project.
It can be a bumpy journey. In one performer’s oeuvre the quality will range widely, the genres too. But the rewards are many in a close study of craft, and there are revelations, whether it’s that Australia’s Miranda Otto deserves more recognition, or it’s “the total acceptance, lack of judgment, and vulnerability with which Alan Arkin has played so many of his flawed and wonderful characters”.