Welp, the Oscar nominations have been announced, and it looks like Jennifer Aniston is going to have to try again if she wants people to start calling her “Academy Award nominee Jennifer Aniston.” (For what it’s worth, I am seeing “Cake,” her failed awards vessel, tomorrow night.)
A lot of people have hurled ridicule at Aniston for her formulaic rom-coms or her tabloid personality. Some of the vitriol resembles the phenomenon of “Hatha-hate,” the extreme and baseless revulsion towards Anne Hathaway. I have certainly been critical of some of her less than stellar roles like the ones in “Just Go With It” or “The Bounty Hunter.” For the latter title, I began my review with this sentence: “Have you ever watched a movie and wondered what could make an actor’s standards drop so low?”
But I have also noted Aniston’s slow move towards quality, such as her roles in “Horrible Bosses” and “We’re The Millers,” which are at least attempting to do something out of the ordinary. Moreover, I featured an Aniston title in my “F.I.L.M. of the Week” column that highlights lesser-known films: “Friends with Money,” a superb indie that should have provided her with more credibility as a respectable actress. (I thought I had written about “The Good Girl,” but I guess I did not.)
If I am just being honest, though, Aniston’s lasting impact for me consists of two scenes in two mediocre films, “The Break-Up” and “He’s Just Not That Into You.” For whatever reason, the illustrations her characters give of complex situations are infinitely reusable and applicable to daily life. Just ask anyone who knows me well, I have probably quoted one of these two scenes to them.
“I want you to want to do the dishes” works great when trying to explain that you desire a genuine gesture, not an empty one.
And “I just need you to stop being nice to me unless you’re going to marry me” works well for flaky, noncommittal people outside the realm of marriage and courtship.
I also love the line from “He’s Just Not That Into You” where Aniston is told by a friend, in a supposed gesture of comfort, “There are many people who never get married – look at Al Pacino, never been married, happy as a clam!” And Aniston, flabbergasted, responds, “Would I be Al Pacino in this scenario?” I also tend to feel like the Al Pacino in plenty of supposedly helpful illustrations about my life, though maybe that will change one day.