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Pop Off: One-hit wonders of Hollywood

Staff Writer

Published: Monday, October 14, 2013

Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 22:10

In music, the term “one hit wonder” is applied to any artist whose entire career is distinguished by a single song; which brought them to the forefront of the industry, many labeling them as a rising star; only to quickly descend into obscurity. However through ironic coincidence or contrast with the rest of their unspectacular careers; their one spark of success tends to be universally beloved and appraised. The same concept is present in movies. Here are several figures fondly remembered for only a single film.

Kate Hudson: She rose to fame after an endearing performance as a rock groupie in “Almost Famous,” which includes a scene where she performs a minimalist dance to Cat Stevens’ “The Wind” that’s nothing short of enchanting. She even earned an Oscar nomination. Unfortunately, she made a mistake actresses in their 20s are prone to, starring in a slew of awful romantic comedies: “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “Le Divorce,” “Bride Wars.” One charmless performance after another, and by the end of the decade all of her buzz had fizzled out.

The Hughes Brothers: Allen and Albert Hughes made their directorial debut with the raw and relentless “Menace II Society,” the best of the urban black films made in the early 1990s. Only 21 at the time of its release, the brothers had shown the ability to turn amateur direction techniques into a powerful cultural portrait. Their next film, “Dead Presidents” was met with mixed reviews, and since they have worked sparingly and without the thematic significance of their first features. Their last collaborative film was the adequate “Book of Eli” and Allen Hughes directed the solid “Broken City” which was released in January of this year. However after their astonishing debut, few would have expected their careers to be where they are today.

Jaye Davidson: He made his motion picture in debut in Neil Jordan’s “The Crying Game,” which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Although he should have won, given how difficult his role was and how no other actor could have filled it. Regrettably, given the corkscrew plot of “The Crying Game” and that Davidson’s role itself is a pivotal twist, there’s little I can say about it. Afterwards, he had an antagonistic in “Stargate” but then retired from acting to continue his career in fashion. While I respect his decision, he was an excellent young talent who was erased off the map far too quickly.

Mark Hamill: I include Hamill on this list very reluctantly, given the circumstances he has had a successful career, but he is the prototypical one hit wonder. It goes without saying, he was Luke Skywalker, the protagonist of maybe the most culturally significant trilogy of movies made in the latter half of the 20th century. What happened? He was a victim of typecasting; unable to land roles outside of the genre. It’s not at all his fault, it happened to almost every science fiction star. Why do you think the cast of “Star Trek” made six movies, because they couldn’t get work elsewhere. However, Hamill has had an extensive and respectable career as a voice actor, including roles in “Batman: The Animated Series,” the English dub of “Castle in the Sky” and “Regular Show.”

Richard Kelly: Director of the 2001 surreal thriller “Donnie Darko,” Kelly demonstrated an excellent ability to combine suburban teenage drama with mind-bending metaphorical ambiguity. “Donnie Darko” remains one of the most cerebral and puzzling films ever made, the questions it fails to answer never dampening its quality. His follow up film “Southland Tales,” a would be social satire was bogged down was overflowing pretentiousness as Kelly failed to translate his message to the audience. His next feature was the average and quickly dismissed “The Box.” His next film “Amicus,” a true crime and legal story is set to debut next year. It appears to the sprawling story appropriate for Kelly’s direction, but if he fails to deliver; well, you know what they say about three strikes. 

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