Saturday, June 15, 2024

Sylvester Stallone May Finally Win Oscar for Playing Rocky Balboa in “Creed”


I told you in October 2014 that “Fruitvale Station” director Ryan Coogler was going to make “Creed.” I also told you first last year that the great Phylicia Rashad would play Michael B. Jordan’s step mother.

Two weeks ago I ran into “Rocky” producer Irwin Winkler at Michael’s, and he told me that Sylvester Stallone would be nominated for Best Supporting actor in “Creed.” What he didn’t say was that Stallone might very well win.

Stallone won nominated for Best Actor for playing “Rocky” in 1977. (Peter Finch won for “Network.”) He has never been nominated since then. But his work is so good now as the boxing coach for Jordan’s Adonis Creed, Stallone is very likely to sweep in and surprise everyone. (This would be bad news for the many other potential nominees from “Spotlight” and other films.)

“Creed” is a total hit, a must see movie for Thanksgiving weekend. Coogler is 29 years old and this is second movie, after the wonderful “Fruitvale Station.” Not only has be brought Jordan over from that film, but he’s incorporated Stallone, Rashad, and a terrific cast in a movie that feels deceptively like comfort food but is really haute cuisine.

Not to say past “Rocky” movies haven’t been considered good cinema. Stallone always surprises, and his last– “Rocky Balboa” in 2006– reinvented the series.

But where to go next? Luckily, Coogler had an idea about Apollo Creed’s son wanting to fight, and needing Rocky to pull it off. Winkler and Stallone went for it. And luckily again, Michael B. Jordan — who before “Fruitvale” was a teen actor on the famed soap “All My Children”–was just right for the assignment. Jordan is a star. And Coogler manages to walk the line between caring for a “superhero” legacy, and being an auteur. His pacing is his own, and very unlike a big studio sequel. He’s made a very good film.

“Creed” also introduces Tessa Thompson as Adonis’s pretty and talented girlfriend, Bianca. She will remind you of Lauryn Hill from 20 years ago.

Stallone has had a long and varied career, inventing Rambo as well as Rocky. They are each American icons, no matter how you slice it. Rocky is obviously the beloved one, and his enduring persona has endured for 40 years. In “Creed,” Stallone plays him without any mugging or some of the tics that afflicted Rocky in the later movies. He’s unadorned, unsentimental, and fully engaging. He deserves all accolades.

PS Nice nod to Teddy Pendergrass, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, who sing “Wake Up Everybody” on Rocky’s iPod.

As I also told you last week, “Creed” is already set for a sequel. Can’t wait.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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