I Was Robbed: Jim Carrey
By Daniel Pellegrino
December 7, 2009
Awards season is coming up, and in the next few week countless bloggers and columnists will be analyzing every move that is made in the game of nomination chess. I'd like to take this time to remind everyone of an overlooked performance from 2004. Jim Carrey's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ($34 million domestic) was released before the 2004 award season was under way on March 19th. Lack of a cohesive marketing campaign and promotion led moviegoers to believe there wasn't a whole lot to the film. Once released, people discovered a layered film that was romance and science fiction rolled into one.
A who's who of indie darlings like Mark Ruffalo and Tom Wilkinson flooded the supporting cast, while Kate Winslet took the lead with...Jim Carrey? That's right, rubber face himself plays Joel Barish, a man who enters a relationship with wild card Clementine Kruczynski, played by Winslet. As the story goes, Clementine decides to have her memory of current beau, Joel, completely erased. When Joel realizes that she had this procedure done, he too wants to wipe his memory of their love. During the procedure, Joel recalls their romance and fights to stop the process.
The story was anything but conventional. Written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) and Michael Gondry (Be Kind Rewind), who also directed, the film took the viewer on a crazy ride of time travel and meet-cutes. Winslet had proven herself a versatile actress, not to mention co-headlining the biggest film of all time (Titanic, with over $600 million domestically), but Carrey had only a couple dramatic roles under his belt (The Truman Show and Man on the Moon). Furthermore, his foray into drama had resulted in mixed box office success.
Looking at both The Truman Show ($125 million domestic) and Man on the Moon ($34 million domestic), you will see acting chops on display, but they are bit showier, more out-there performances. Both roles required a lot of energy as Carrey moved through the pages of the script. The Truman Show poster even sells the film with a smiling image of Carrey. Not to say they weren't great performances, but it wasn't until Eternal Sunshine that Carrey's brilliance as an actor is seen. Many people scoffed when the Academy snubbed his portrayal of Andy Kaufman in 1999, but it wasn't until the 2004 Academy Awards that I really took issue.