Jeff Bridges does his best W.C. Fields opposite border collie Devon in HBO's otherwise unwatchable "A Dog Year," directed by George LaVooJeff Bridges has appeared in 65 feature films to date and has four Oscar nominations to his credit. Therefore, according to logic, to say that he's underappreciated or overlooked makes no sense at all, right?
So why exactly do I feel he's underappreciated and overlooked?
Perhaps, just perhaps, it's because, like the actors of whom he is so reminiscent - Robert Mitchum and Sterling Hayden - Bridges is a character actor/leading man hybrid. And hybrids have this tendency to confuse studio executives and the public alike, sneaking in under the radar with killer performances that only critics and buffs seem to "get."
The leading man roles now in his past, Bridges has relaxed his way into an eclectic assortment of roles in a compelling array of movie choices. He's worked on eccentric projects for eccentric filmmakers (Terry Gilliam's "Tideland" and Larry Charles' "Masked and Anonymous"), cult films (Michael Traeger's "The Amateurs," aka "The Moguls"), blockbusters (Jon Favreau's "Iron Man"), art films (Tod Williams' "The Door in the Floor"), teen flicks (Jessica Bendinger's "Stick It") and mainstream Oscar bait (Gary Ross' "Seabiscuit"). I'm impressed but I've a hunch that, in Hollywood, such careeer crisscrossing is considered social suicide.
And like Mitchum and Hayden, Bridges is something of an adjustable wrench as an actor. Most recently, he turned in a suitably disagreeable performance in a disgreeable HBO movie, "A Dog Year" (based on one of Jon Katz's dog books). He played the role of a toxic writer the only way it could be played - as if he'd rather not be in the film. Strangely, it worked.
I imagine Mitchum or Hayden in the same exact cranky performance.