The Noughties in Hollywood: New Faces and Falls From Graces

And so another decade comes to a close. Culturally, the noughties (the ’00s? The 2000s? A whole decade’s gone past, and we’ve still not come up with a non-awkward name for it) might be remembered for the advent of the iPod, the mobile phone and the decade that kids forgot how to write wtht abrvting evrythng. But film-wise, there’s oh so much more to feast on, my friends. So come with us down memory lane as we recall the snakes-and-ladders ups and downs of Hollywood’s movers and shakers from 2000-2010. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll exclaim, “Oh yeah, I remember that guy!” It’s good family fun for all, starting in the category of…

Blockbuster Hero

Fall From Grace: Leonardo DiCaprio
Poor Leo. He was going great guns at the end of the ’90s – you don’t need much more than a swag of edgy roles, a starring part in a James Cameron epic and a gaggle of teenage fans to stand you in good stead for becoming Hollywood’s next big thing. But DiCaprio’s career wasn’t exactly Y2K compatible – his next much-hyped role, in the screen adaptation of Alex Garland’s The Beach, was panned by critics. Thus followed a good few years of getting fat, hanging out in sleazy Hollywood nightclubs and dating models. Not a bad lifestyle, of course, but if you want to maintain credibility as a serious actor, it’s probably not the best way to go. His truly abysmal South African accent in 2006’s Blood Diamond was the final nail in the coffin.


New Face: Johnny Depp
Okay, he’s not new to the world of film by any means, but Depp’s bankability went up a thousand per cent in the noughties thanks to his turn as eccentric pirate Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Carribean franchise. The final two films in the trilogy may have been shamelessly commercial cash-ins, but it didn’t diminish the charm of Depp’s vibrant, swaggering character, for which he famously drew inspiration from rocker Keith Richards. Unlike some of his illustrious co-stars (hello, Orlando Bloom), Depp has gone from strength to strength since Pirates, picking great, meaty roles in the likes of Finding Neverland, Public Enemies and the upcoming Tim Burton remake of Alice in Wonderland.

Teen Queen


Fall From Grace: Kirsten Dunst
A good mix of fluffy teen comedies and more serious roles in The Virgin Suicides and Crazy Beautiful had Dunst rated amongst the most in-demand young starlets going into the new millennium. She hit her peak with the first film in the Spider-Man franchise in 2002, but a slew of forgettable roles in mediocre rom-coms like Wimbledon and How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, along with starring in the seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time Sofia Coppola flop Marie Antoinette ensured we were all going, “Kirsten who?” by the end of the decade. For now, the Keiras and Natalies of the world have certainly left her in their dust.


New Face: Anne Hathaway
The porcelain-skinned Hathaway ensured she had the future moviegoing public onside from the get-go with her role as a geeky princess in 2001’s adolescent fairytale The Princess Diaries and its sequel. As her audience grew up to be a little more discerning, so did Hathaway, with breakthrough roles in Brokeback Mountain and The Devil Wears Prada, and her haunting turn in 2008’s Rachel Getting Married was nothing short of Oscar-worthy (the Academy agreed, nominating her in the following year). Hathaway will continue to ascend Hollywood’s ladder-‘o-cash in the ’10s with her upcoming role as the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland.

Court Jester


Fall From Grace: Ben Stiller
Believe it or not, there was a time when Ben Stiller was actually funny. (If you don’t believe us, watch some mid-’90s Saturday Night Live or the brilliant but underrated Heavyweights). He was verging into cheeseball territory at the beginning of the noughties with Zoolander, but he had a fantastic support cast of SNL greats to stop the film being truly unfunny (including Will Ferrell and Owen Wilson at their pre-full-of-themselves best). For those who enjoy cringey, “Christ, he’s not REALLY going to try and milk a cat, is he?”-type comedy, Meet the Parents might have tickled some funny bones, but let’s be honest, no-one enjoyed Meet the Fockers. Nowadays, Stiller is languishing in lazy paycheque obscurity, his recent releases including works of cinematic genius like Night at the Museum 2 and Merry Madagascar.


New Face: Seth Rogen
As far away from the clichéd, corny and typical aspects of comedy as you can get, Rogen’s brand of off-the-cuff humour won the hearts and minds of rom-com viewers everywhere with his breakout role in Knocked Up (despite the obvious fact Katherine Heigl was way out of his league). Frat-comedy king Judd Apatow realised he was onto a good thing with this one, and Rogen went on to continued success in Superbad and Funny People. Rogen’s sudden popularity is perhaps due to the fact he doesn’t try too hard to be anyone but himself, a character we all recognise – that slightly overweight, slightly insecure guy with an overdeveloped sense of the sarcastic. Plus he’s got a talent for fast-firing improv scenes to rival Vince Vaughn.

Big-Budget Leading Lady


Fall From Grace: Julia Roberts
By the end of the ’90s, Roberts had shamelessly stolen Meg Ryan’s sappy romance crown. Her gangly, big-toothed charm won us over in Pretty Woman, then there was the unprecedented success that was Notting Hill (whoever thought of teaming the symbol of charmingly goofy America, Roberts, with that of charmingly goofy England, Hugh Grant, is no doubt still chuckling smugly to themselves as they blow their nose on hundred-dollar notes). She started the noughties off pretty soundly with Erin Brockovich, but then came a dull role in Ocean’s Eleven, a duller role in Mona Lisa Smile, and suddenly everyone was trying to remember whether she could actually act. Nowadays, she’s pretty much retired to a life of popping out oddly-named children from that obscure cameraman with the bitter ex-wife.


New Face: Penelope Cruz
Cruz first came to Hollywood’s attention as the other woman in one of its most prominent marriage break-ups, which, as Angelina Jolie will attest, is a pretty damn good way to increase your net pay for a film. She stood strong through the name-calling and proved herself a damn sight better actress than plastic-faced Nicole Kidman, with standout roles in Volver and Vicky Christina Barcelona that played on her feisty Latino woman persona (but with enough vulnerability in there to avoid cliche). Her hypnotic mix of Spanish spirit and inner neuroses are once again on display in this month’s Nine, and we predict even bigger things for this thinking man’s sex symbol in 2010.

Think we’ve been too cruel or not cruel enough to the last decade’s leading names? Or is there someone we’ve completely missed out on in our state of post-festive season mulled wine and mince pie withdrawal? Give us your thoughts, or we’ll force you to watch Night At the Museum 2 on repeat for the rest of the winter. Well, maybe not, but you get the idea.

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