Friday, June 6, 2008

Images of Zooey Deschanel

Zooey Deschanel has to be one of the most underrated and underused young actresses today. She has starred in various movies that ranges from the most independent to the most mainstream, but strangely, she has failed to garner the attention or accolades that her lesser contemporaries has received. My best guess is that her lack of accolades may be associated with the fact that she does not always choose to be part of a potential critic's darling. But what makes her role choices interesting is that it seems that she chooses roles that she personally seems to be passionate about, no matter how silly or weird the film or the role might be. She is not acting to solely make money or win awards and that is a rare quality in today's box-office obsessed film industry.

Deschanel first caught my eye as Patrick Fugit's rock-and-roll loving sister in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. Apart from being incredibly gorgeous, there was something about her that was amazingly magnetic. When her face filled the screen with those great, blue eyes and convinced her little brother that he is going to be cool someday, I believed her every word.

Several years later, she delivered a gloriously bewitching performance opposite Paul Schneider in David Gordon Green's lyrical All the Real Girls. The film had a triumphant script to start with, full of the painful and joyous obstacles of young love, but the heart of the film was the development of Deschanel's character. For Deschanel's character to go from a sweet small-town girl to a mature but confused young woman was fantastic to behold. Deschanel nailed the part by making it her own. I cannot bear to imagine any other actress in the role.

Aside from being a great up-and-coming actress, she has a beautiful voice that was rather unknown until she did some singing in the 2003 Christmas film, Elf. Her indie rock band, She & Him (with M. Ward), released an album earlier this year, optimistically titled Volume One. (It is a truly fantastic album, so I urge everyone to check it out.) Deschanel is also part of If All the Stars Were Pretty Babies with fellow actress Samantha Shelton, a cabaret act that often performs around the Los Angeles area.

Deschanel is a woman of endless talents. But I miss the days where she really transformed herself into her roles. Has anyone noticed that she looks exactly the same in all her roles now? Hairstyle, make-up, etc.? That wasn't always the case in the past...

She rocked the black eyeliner look in Mumford.

As the memorable big sister in Almost Famous.

Looking casual in Big Trouble.

She rocked the black eyeliner look in Manic (again) in the promo images, but her innocent hairstyle here is rather fitting.

She looked a bit like Amy Adams in The New Guy. I remember that I wanted the main character to end up with her instead of that one popular girl...

She was adorable in retail store employee attire in The Good Girl.

She was blonde and wore the cheerful department store elf attire in Elf. Despite their age difference, Deschanel and Will Ferrell had surprisingly believable romantic chemistry. No kidding.

She was simply charming as the girl-next-door in All the Real Girls. Deschanel even sported two different hairstyles in the film. By the way, the movie itself is beautifully photographed.

She looked extremely young in Abandon for some reason.

"She's Got Issues" and "Idiot Boyfriend" music videos, respectively. She acquired a completely different "look" for both roles.

Basically, her early career was filled with various of transformations. She was like a young female Gary Oldman or Johnny Depp but somewhere down the road, it seemed like either her or her directors decided that she must look long-haired and brunette for every single movie she participates in. Not that I'm complaining much since Deschanel looks fabulous and has the talent to back it up, but I miss the chameleon part of her.

But it is great to see that Deschanel's career is flourishing. 2007's critically-acclaimed festival darling, The Go-Getter is finally getting a limited release and M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening will be hitting the theaters this summer (I'm going to cross my fingers and hope it doesn't suck too much). Later this year, Deschanel has several projects lined up, more prominently in the independent film, Gigantic, and a Jim Carrey comedy vehicle, Yes Man.


  1. I ADORE Zooey Deschanel! She's so beautiful and underrated and I really wish she'd get more credit for her work. Have you seen the Sci-Fi channel's adaptation of The Wizard of Oz with her in it? She's fab but the show itself was a little iffy. I like her sister Emily too, Bones is great.

  2. Kayleigh, I've been thinking about getting Tin Man on DVD since I don't have the Sci-Fi channel. I mean,it's Zooey Deschanel AND Richard Dreyfuss in the same mini series! I've heard some negative things about the adaptation but I'm willing to give it a try.

    I've seen several episodes and Bones and thought it was pretty entertaining. Emily and David Boreanaz have great chemistry together.

  3. My favourite performance of hers is as "Reese" in Winter Passing. It's also the best she has given.

    Thank you for applauding my contenders for Best Actor =)

  4. I had never heard her name up until now, but what's even more weird is that I haven't seen any of the films mentioned here (and there are a lot!) I should seriously get myself involved at some point.

    So many films to see, so little time...

  5. Barry, I've been wanting to see Winter Passing for a while. I actually enjoy seeing Will Ferrell in a more serious role, like Stranger Than Fiction. Seeing that I did love Deschanel and Ferrell's chemistry in Elf, I've been rather curious about the movie.

    Anil, definitely check out some of Zooey Deschanel's films. I strongly recommend Almost Famous (she has a small supporting role in that) and All the Real Girls.

  6. Her band (She & him) played at the SF oyster festival the other day. I missed the show but I heard it was "worth the price of admission" - a comment accompanied by an approving and slightly dramatic nod.

  7. Alex, I'm glad to hear that your friend enjoyed the performance. I would have loved to have seen it! And I don't live very far from SF either. Too bad I missed it.

  8. SHE. IS. GOD.


    Seriously, if she were to get any more awesome, the universe would break. I LOVE HER.

    So this post made me happy, Marcy. :)

  9. I'm happy to hear from another fellow Zooey fan, J.D. She is really too awesome. I love her as much as you do J.D., but I hope to see her in more challenging roles in the future.

  10. Oh, me too. And fame. That wouldn't be too bad either. ;)

    She was great in TAoJJbtCRF - but she's in it for, like, only three minutes, and all she does is sing with giant feather-fans and look insanely beautiful while consoling Bob.

    That movie and it's women... *sigh*

  11. J.D., I've seen several screencaps of Zooey in TAoJJbtCRF and she really looks gorgeous. But she sings in the movie?! Oh, now it's a must-watch for me.

  12. She's GORGEOUS in it. It's not hard to make her eyes look insanely blue, but only Roger Deakins can do what Roger Deakins does best. And her voice is wonderful, which was also featured in Bridge to Terabithia last year.

    But be warned Marcy, she doesn't come in until close to the 2 and a half hour mark...

  13. Yeah, I've heard TAoJJbtCRF is rather slow and is a pain to sit through if the whole Terrence Malick style isn't your thing. But I'm willing to give that film a try, just for Zooey and also, to fuel my curiosity regarding Casey Affleck's supposedly wonderful performance in the film.

  14. I wouldn't watch Jesse James if your sole intention was to watch Zooey. It's 2 hours, 40 minutes long and she's only in the final 10 minutes. It's an utterly amazingf film and I thouroughly recommend it to all though just because it's amazing.

  15. ... and Casey Affleck gave one of the greatest performances of my lifetime, easily. Yup.

  16. She's great in All the Real Girls. YOU didn't mention the above-average kids film Bridge to Terebithia, so I will. Watching her, with those giant peepers, I always think that she would have been perfect for the Silent Era. Born a century too late.

  17. K, Zooey would have been the perfect silent-era film actress. Those eyes! But she wouldn't be able to showcase her terrific singing voice in a silent film, so part of me is grateful that she was born in this century :)

  18. I absolutely love Zooey! I've been a fan of her in 8 years - and I'm 15. More than half my life :)
    This blog is excellent!
    I don't know if you knew this, but Zooey actually refuses to dye her hair. After Elf, she got really tired of constantly dying her hair, so she simply refused to dye her hair from that point on. That's why she wore a wig during the reording of "Once upon a mattress"!
    - sorry for my english, it's not my native language :)

  19. Interesting, Linn. Although I do prefer Zooey as a brunette, I liked how she changed her looks for all her roles back in the day. I'll miss that about her.

    Thanks for the generous compliment, Linn! I'm flattered :)

  20. what a great blog! marcy, you are so right about zooey, and we do need to do something about the hair. i just saw a 'yes man' trailer, and it looked like fake hair - a reverse fall. she has such a pretty face, why is she hiding? 'real girls' will always be the zooeymovie for me, and there were some - like 'tin man' - that would have been nothing. without her
    btw, i found the link to your blog on 'the nature of zooey deschanel' web site message board.

  21. Davey, it's pretty cool that a member linked to my blog. I'm a member of the board but I haven't been there for a while.

    Thanks for the compliments, though!

    I think Zooey looks cute with whatever hairstyle she sports, but sometimes, I'd much rather see her change it up a bit for her roles. I miss those days. But whatever makes her happy...

  22. i can't say i remember you from the message board. i've been on it since the end of '04, almost 4 years...unbelievable. of course now it is only a shadow of what it was. i would say, please come back, but you already seem to have more on your plate than i can imqagine. are you planning to be a film critic...marcy in the balcony?

  23. Richard, I'm usually a spectator on most forums :)

    I'm not sure if I want to make a career out of film criticism. There are countless film bloggers out there who are infinitely more talented than I am. But blogging about film is a fun enough hobby. I mean, it beats drugs, right? (Maybe not? Haha, I wouldn't know.)

  24. it isn't fair to be just a spectator - it's not a football game. if you've got something to contribute, or even if,like me, you have very little to contribute, the only thing that keeps a message board going is participatio n. of course, you probably get a pass because of the good work you do on your blog. and even if your blog is not the best, it sure impressed the hell out of me.

  25. Richard, you've got a point there. I really should participate and keep the forum alive when I have the time.

    Aww, thanks. You flatter me.

  26. marcy - i saw a movie the other nite on cable called 'havoc'. it made me think of you as it was about a group of insanely bored and over-priveleged kids from pac. pali. who decide to go slumming. it was a small indie, but well done, i thought, and starred anne hathaway, who is always worth watching.
    check it out.

  27. i didn't mean to imply you were over-priveledged. i hope i did not offend.

  28. Zooey is some indie rock star? named ben Gibbard.,
    how does zooey gibbard sound? i don't think i like it...oiy weh!

  29. Richard - This is interesting news! I just looked up Ben Gibbard--apparently he's the lead singer for Death Cab For Cutie. He's not my type, but I do wish the newly-engaged couple the very best.

  30. he sure ain't my type either! she seems to like sort of nerdy, wimpy types. maybe she is a dominatrix!

  31. LOL!

    Interesting observation, Richard!

    I actually thought Zooey looked pretty darn adorable standing next to Jason Schwartzman. He has the whole nerd vibe going on (probably because of those glasses from Rushmore that I so fondly remember him in) but there is a certain likability factor about him.

    Ben Gibbard is a entirely different kind of nerd, though. I've listened to bits and pieces of Death Cab for Cutie's music and it's okay...but it's not nearly as good as the wonders that She & Him creates.

  32. i will admit that jason was good as a kid in 'rushmore', but the fact that zooey looks adorable next to him does not say anything positive about him. i might look adorable next to not...but you probably would. anyway, but just because zooey is engaged doesn't mean she has to marry the guy. remember gwyneth - wasn't she engaged a couple of times - ben afflack and brad Pitt?
    i have a dvd of 'the happening', but am reluctant to watch it. i really don't want to see her in another bad movie.

  33. I was just saying that Zooey and Jason Schwartzman were a cute couple. That said, there are many positive things about Schwartzman. He's a good actor and singer. Perhaps the nepotism helped, but he does have talent.

    Yeah, she doesn't necessarily have to marry the guy, but if she does, I wish them the very best. Speaking of Gwyneth Paltrow, she married a musician in the end.

    Eh, yeah, The Happening looks pretty bad...I want to see it but at the same time I uh...don't.

  34. you know, zooey poved she can act in 'real girls' and 'manic', two of my favorite movies. i am not a cryer, but the car scene at the end of 'real girls' really got to me, maybe more than any other movie i can recall. i played it over and over, and memorized the dialog.
    we know what she can do - aren't there any decent scripts out there?

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  36. you certainly hit the nail on the head - bravo!