Under the Circuit: Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell
Born: May 31st, 1976
Place: Castleknock, Dublin, Ireland
Major Awards and Citations: Boston Society of Film Critics (2000): Won Best Actor for ‘Tigerland’
British Independent Film Awards (2008): Nominee for Best Actor for ‘In Bruges’
Empire Awards U.K. (2003): Nominee for Best Actor for ‘Minority Report’
Golden Globe Awards (2009): Won Best Actor in a Leading Role- Musical or Comedy for ‘In Bruges’
London Critics Circle Film Awards (2002): Won Newcomer of the Year for ‘Tigerland’
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards (2010): Won Best Actor for ‘Ondine’

Oscar Snubs: ‘Tigerland’ (2000) and ‘In Bruges’ (2008)

Colin Farrell is one of those actors that only occasionally shows off his true potential.  In the right role, he’s outstanding, but when miscast or caught in something rather mediocre, he lowers himself to the occasion instead of rising to it.  Still, he’s given more than a few excellent performances, more than enough to warrant his inclusion as the newest alumnus in the Under the Circuit series here at The Awards Circuit. Farrell is also a Golden Globe winner, something many of the previous subjects in this series can’t claim.  Here’s someone, who as you’ll see, runs the gamut in Hollywood in terms of projects, and he’s a guy that I’m confident has his best days still  to come.  With that said, let’s dive right in and go Under the Circuit with Colin Farrell!

The first time I noticed Colin Farrell was in a small part in 1999’s ‘The War Zone’.  Tim Roth’s devastating drama about incest doesn’t have a huge part for Farrell, but he’s solid in the supporting role.  He had a presence even then though, something that would serve him well when he hit the scene in a major way the next year with ‘Tigerland’ (2000).  A gritty war drama that focuses more on training camp and the soldiers themselves, Farrell was outstanding in the lead role.  His first major part and introduction to American audiences included Oscar buzz for him.  That ultimately didn’t pan out despite some precursor attention, but he was the next big thing in show business.  Sadly, that didn’t particularly suit him, as you’ll see now.

With projects being offered to him left and right, Colin Farrell made his first big budget role a less than memorable one in 2001’s ‘American Outlaws’.  2002 was a mixed bag for him after that, with the mediocre ‘Hart’s War’ (which butchered a great novel), the gimmicky but not bad thriller ‘Phone Booth’ (which re-united him with his ‘Tigerland’ director Joel Schumaker), and a supporting turn in Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi flick ‘Minority Report’.  That last role was indicative of Farrell being capable of choosing good projects, and being good in them, but also showed that he’s very hit or miss otherwise.  Next up would be his busiest year, but would it be his best?  Hint…no.

2003 saw five Farrell films come out, and none of them were especially noteworthy.  There were supporting turns in ‘Intermission’ and ‘Veronica Guerin’, a super-villain role in ‘Daredevil’, and star vehicles in ‘The Recruit’ and ‘S.W.A.T.’.  Colin Farrell was clearly experimenting with being an action star, but still keeping a foot in the indie waters that he came from.  This is not an unusual technique, but most are able to do it slightly more effectively.  Still, I never saw Farrell be bad in anything.  He was just stuck with the wrong projects.  This was of course until Oliver Stone came along the next year.

‘Alexander’ was such a mess, with Farrell so miscast and ineffective in the role, it was hard not to think less of him.  Stone made a terrible film that just cried out for distain.  Luckily for Farrell, he also had an indie drama by the name of ‘A Home at the End of the World’ save 2004 from being a total cinematic abortion.  The funny thing was, Farrell seemed to notice this, since his next two projects were a real funny guest spot on ‘Scrubs’ and a big role in Terrence Malick’s ‘The New World’.  If 2004 was a low for Colin Farrell, 2005 showed that he wasn’t dead yet.

2006 on the other hand, as well as 2007, didn’t give Farrell fans much to cheer about.  He had a well respected but little seen indie flick (Ask the Dust), a big budget remake (Miami Vice), and one of Woody Allen’s least successful movies (Cassandra’s Dream).  Farrell seemed to be picking his projects somewhat poorly.  Everything was about to change for him, though.

‘In Bruges’ (2008) was meant to be a small Irish comedy, but it really made a dent in the 2008 Oscar season, drumming up Oscar buzz for Colin Farrell in a big bad way.  He ultimately missed out, but he was rewarded with a Golden Globe for his performance.  More importantly, people saw Farrell do career best work and show that he still had that talent we saw back in ‘Tigerland’.  It was a massively entertaining movie with a tip top performance from him.  After that came a bigger profile again, along with the release of the long delayed cop drama ‘Pride and Glory’, as well as partially taking over for the deceased Heath Ledger in ‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’.  There was also the barely seen drama ‘Triage’, the criminally under seen fantasy drama ‘Ondine’, which featured another excellent Farrell performance, and a great supporting turn (plus singing) in the Oscar winner ‘Crazy Heart’.  I think it’s safe to say at this point that Colin Farrell was back.

Last year he did a nice job in the would be Oscar player ‘The Way Back’, and this year he gave two very entertaining comedic performances in the comedy ‘Horrible Bosses’ and the remake ‘Fright Night’.  He chewed the scenery in a really fun way with both, and that takes us to where we are now.

This week we have the opening of the delayed Oscar hopeful ‘London Boulevard’.  Will this be the one to finally get Farrell nominated?  My gut says no, but next year may be his best shot since ‘In Bruges’.  He has another remake coming, yes (Total Recall), but he also has a second collaboration with ‘In Bruges’ writer/director Martin McDonagh.  That film is the ensemble comedy ‘Seven Psychopaths’.  This one could definitely get him back in the Oscar season conversation, and he definitely deserves it when he’s on.

Colin Farrell is, as you can see, someone who has his best days ahead of him by virtue of picking his projects slightly better of late.  When he’s careless in his selections, it shows, and his work suffers.  When he works with real artists, great things happen.  Here’s hoping that more great things happen for him soon!

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