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Single Men, Serious Men: Why It's a Banner Year for the Guy-in-Crisis Movie

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A few days ago we gave George Clooney's Up in the Air a hearty man-hug for bringing back an American film genre that seemed, for a while, to have gotten the permanent Hollywood pink slip: the dude-in-a-spiritual crisis flick. And with today's Golden Globe nominations, it's starting to look as though Crisis Man is riding the crest of a full-on career resurgence: Among the acting nominations you'll find Colin Firth grappling with lost love and mortality in A Single Man, end-of-Sixties suburbanite Michael Stuhlbarg watching his life fall apart in A Serious Man, beaten-down country singer Jeff Bridges trying to patch his life back together in Crazy Heart, and Daniel Day-Lewis suffering (with, yes, supreme Italian cool) through creative ennui while ping-ponging between women in Nine. Is it any accident that these performances are drawing in audiences and accolades during a period of savage unemployment, malaise, and widespread professional destabilization? You tell us.

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