Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1976: Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josey Wales

Clint Eastwood did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying the title character of The Outlaw Josey Wales.

The Outlaw Josey Wales is a compelling western about a confederate soldier who refuses to let the war end well after it is over.

Looking at the role at a glance might cause one to believe it to be simply a standard Eastwood western role, which in itself is nothing to scoff at as Eastwood usually gives good performances in such circumstances. Eastwood's "standard" roles started out as the more sardonic badass in the Dollars trilogy as well as a other westerns he appeared in. When he started directing these himself there began a shift and Eastwood started to become a bit darker of a figure in the film, although that original iteration wasn't wiped away all that quickly. This certainly can be seen in the character of Josey Wales who we follow in his attempted escape to Mexico after every other member of the confederate army has surrendered except him. During this time we are treated to some classic Eastwood quips along the way, and Eastwood delivers these flawlessly as per usual. The one about pullin' pistols or whistlin' Dixie is particularly smooth and impeccably executed. As usual as well Eastwood brings the dead pan humor into the line deliveries brilliantly, and most often with just his often rather hilarious reactions to anyone possibly buffoonery around him, it is all indeed some classic Eastwood.

To continue on this point Eastwood once again finds that particular way that only he can quite do. Eastwood has considerable charisma, and even charm, but it's all in his own way and on his own terms. A Eastwood performance never feels like it's purposefully trying to charm you, but nevertheless he just kinda does anyways. Eastwood does not make any exceptions for old Josey Wales in fact in this film in particular Eastwood makes no excuses for his character, and does not make an obvious attempts at an obvious likability really, which I will get to in more detail a little later on. Again though that Eastwood presence is so remarkable in the way carry every scene so effortlessly while being so minimalist at the same time. Eastwood is a master of this, and Eastwood as a director knows how to amplify it all the more as he always holds attention in every scene even when Wales might only have a single action. Eastwood is an actor who really does just so much with just a twitch of the eye, and of course this could not be more fitting to the character of Wales who is all about his rather simple actions or his few words just before he draws his guns.

Now being an Eastwood directed western the character is much darker than his earlier characters like the man with no name. Of course this is a requirement for the role of Josey Wales, given his past which I will be getting to soon. Eastwood though is outstanding though in the sheer viciousness he realizes in his character. The potential for violence for the man always feels possible, and it's quite interesting what Eastwood is able to accomplish with his performance. Eastwood creates much of the tension of the film with his performance, of course he creates all of it being the director as well, but he does so much as a performer. In his realization of Josey Wales's personal style he presents essentially a ticking time bomb in every scene where it appears that Josey might face someone, or even some when he might not. There's a calm insurance in Eastwood's work fitting for a man who's being killing for so long that now that's all that he really knows how to do. In this calmness though Eastwood realizes such an intensity by making death seemingly one of the few ways in which Josey knows how to end an a conversation with. Although he's our hero for the film, there is something chilling Eastwood finds in this method, particularly in one cold interaction with a bounty hunter with a case of temporary cold feet.

Now much of what I have written so far can be skewed as more typical Eastwood, although that should not be taken for granted considering the effectiveness of that to begin with as well as this is one of the very best example of it. Nevertheless this role is a bit different as opposed to many a Eastwood western hero we actually find out what compels Josey Wales to be such an efficient killer. The film opening Eastwood is terrific in presenting just an average optimistic man who in just a couple of minutes. What's even more amazing though is how affecting Eastwood actually is in making the quick deaths of Josey's family meaningful, as the grief he portrays is quite palatable, and there is never a question that it could lead Josey to become the bitter man we meet after the opening credits. We don't see the whole transformation, as we come back after the civil war is already over, but we do see the end result. Eastwood's characters tend to be sardonic and not really care about the men he kills, though with Wales Eastwood takes it a tad further through his portrayal of the character's personal vendetta. When he kills the men there is a particular powerful hate that Eastwood exudes, particularly in the uncaring way he mocks all his kills with a spit of messy tobacco where their corpses lie.

This is not Eastwood portraying a soulless killer by any means. Not only because he's the hero, but the most remarkable aspect of his work here is how emotional he makes the character actually. Of course this is in the emotion more becoming of killer which is hate, that Eastwood portrays as quite abundant, but that's not really who Wales in Eastwood's portrayal of him. During his journey to Mexico to escape the authorities there are people Wales connects with in more way than giving them an extra bit of lead. One of these relationships is with a younger rebel who happened to be part of a botched surrender, and goes some of the way with Josey. The boy is injured though and eventually succumbs to his wounds. Eastwood is incredible in the moment of the boy's death as Eastwood reveals perhaps the true Josey in that there is such sadness in the man, as one of his few friends have gone, and seems to suggest that the man's callousness is at least partially a facade. In that moment, and a few others where Josey is pressed to care, Eastwood is quite moving revealing a vulnerability in the man as though he needs to be such a sardonic killer or else he would simply break down crying from the memories of all that he's lost. Instead of the film ending in an arbitrary fashion of the outlaw merely getting away from his pursuers, Eastwood rather wonderfully reveals a return of the heart of the character by the end. Although it is clear that he will never be the same man he was in the opening scene, Eastwood earns the way a more outward returns to the man, and that death no longer seems to be the man's only belief in regards to life. This is a great performance by Eastwood as he brings depth and also a surprising amount of poignancy to his portrait of this hardened old west outlaw.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1976: David Carradine in Bound For Glory

David Carradine did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Woody Guthrie in Bound for Glory.

Bound For Glory is a beautifully shot and well told story of the early days of folk singer Woody Guthrie's career.

The nominees for best picture for 1976 were the winner Rocky, Network, Taxi Driver, and All The President's Men. Each of these films are now considered bonafide American classics (personal opinions aside), but of course there were five nominees the fifth being Bound For Glory which for has become the forgotten selection. Perhaps it is Bound For Glory rather low key style that has pushed it into obscurity or maybe that it stars a lesser known actor than those other films since the star is David Carradine. Carradine does have notoriety as more of a cult actor through his work on the television series Kung-Fu, and more recently in Kill Bill, which Kung-Fu likely contributed to him getting that part. There's no Kung-Fu of any kind to be found in Bound for Glory though, although interestingly enough this performance is not truly all that far from his Caine in Kung-Fu, particularly not in the early scenes of the film where it shows Woody just trying to get a read on what he should do for his life. This mostly depicts Woody as he goes about his Midwestern town, spending time playing guitar, visiting with other locals, his family or his girlfriend (Melinda Dillon).

In these scenes Carradine actually plays Woody as a bit of sage of the Midwest in his particular way he acts towards life. There is a certain otherworldly quality that Carradine is able to manage within his portrayal of Woody. It is not that he is above human or anything in anyway like that, but rather Carradine finds a grace in the simplicity of the man. There's one very memorable early on when Woody is told to give a woman wasting away a fortune. Carradine is brilliant in this scene as Woody is in no way giving the woman a fortune in reality, in fact he's not even really pretending to give her one rather just telling her things that are realistic truths. Even within these words though Carradine captures almost something mystical within the calm and reassuring way that Woody manages to break the woman out of her daze. Although in a way he is moving about in these early scenes Carradine does not play this as Caine from Kung-Fu. Carradine doesn't necessarily do an exact imitation of the real Woody Guthrie but more importantly he manages to capture the essence of his optimistic spirit through the easy going demeanor that Carradine establishes.

Naturally being a film about a musician there are more than a few musical performances by Carradine throughout the film. The film actually chooses to let these sequences play out in a particular subdued way. They are never there to exactly be the center of attention in any given scene. Carradine in turn does not over accentuate any moment of his performance, and in no way changes, not really even his voice, when he goes about playing a song. Carradine shows so well is that the songs of this fluidity about them in the way he performs and sings them. They are Woody's natural state of being really, and the way the song comes out always feels in an unrehearsed fashion. He might as well just continue speaking when he sings, not due to the manner of his singing, but rather because Carradine makes it actually as though that is when Woody is able to connect most with people around him. This ends up being Woody's calling, when his unique manner as a man prevents him from being able to find any sort of steady work otherwise. Woody then goes about taking to the road, and seeing what there is for him in the rest of America.

Along the way through America Woody sees many of the former farmers turned into poorly treated pickers who often try to make their way through the train yard, where they find a non too sympathetic group of company men. Carradine is very effective in being a reactionary presence as seeing their difficult lives and often brutal treatment seems to offer him a specific purpose. Carradine expresses well a loss in actually that sort of optimism he had before, and Carradine plays it as though really perhaps Woody knows nothing of the real plight of people. It is interesting portrayal because Carradine actually makes Woody more down to earth as the film progresses as he learns more about the world. This even when Woody begins to find success where Carradine makes the biggest impact through Woody's playing. It no longer seems as part of him in either way really. When performing what he wishes to perform Carradine brings a greater drive presenting an intriguing way the powerful passion that develops in Woody for the cause, that's still within his unassuming personality though nevertheless quite palatable. His performances though are also quite a bit different when he is forced to play his songs, but only his songs that are without any overt sort of social statement. Again Carradine is terrific because he does not compromise the way he has set up Woody, even though Woody is forced to go against his nature. Carradine creates the considerable discontent and distaste in Woody in a striking fashion, while still in a subtle way fitting his subtle man. The final act of the film does not exactly resolve everything for Woody as he is still stuck between worlds it seems through his growing success as a singer, and his desire to fight for the plight of the less fortunate. This might have felt far more arbitrary of an ending if it were not for Carradine's performance. He realizes so well the personal style and philosophy of Woody that is that of the drifter in both mind and body, who could never be set in one place because that's simply isn't who he is. Carradine gives strong work here giving a memorable and unique portrait of the folk singer.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1976: John Wayne in The Shootist

John Wayne did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying John Bernard "J.B." Books in The Shootist.

The Shootist is an interesting film about the last days of a famed gunfighter, although I don't believe it quite reaches the heights that seem possible from its central idea.

The last film of an actors career can sometimes be unmemorable in that it just is another film in their filmography like The Harder They Fall for Humphrey Bogart, it sometimes can be quite memorable for the wrong reasons like Bela Lugosi in Plan 9 From Outer Space where it is an unfortunate indication of where their career ended up, or it can seem like the right final showcase for their talent that seems like a final reflection on their career. Clark Gable had this with The Misfits, Burt Lancaster had this with Field of Dreams, but perhaps the most perfect example of this has to be John Wayne's last film being the Shootist. Wayne was always known best for his work in westerns, and it's fitting for that last film to be in that genre. This takes a step further than that since the central character is dying from cancer, unfortunately what Wayne would die of a few years after this film. Not only that but in a way the story of J.B. Books seems to be that of many a John Wayne character and in way this is both a sendoff for Wayne, and for all those various western heroes he played throughout his career.

Every time I've covered John Wayne outside of his Oscar nominations they've been for somewhat atypical performances for Wayne. The first being the Quiet Man as the romantic lead where he played a guy whose problems came from his refusal to fight, and the other being for The Searches where he was the lead in a western but as a much harder and colder man than usual. That is not the case with this film as J.B. Books feels like the end to a more typical John Wayne villain. The film has a certain dark edge to it, but it in itself isn't all that dark. Books's life is not that of William Munny from Unforgiven, Ryunosuke from The Sword of Doom, or even Wayne's own Ethan Edwards where the violence of the men was most often a result of their own selfishness or viciousness. It's made known that Books only kills people who break one of his few personal rules, and as well that he even spent time as a law man. This is not unlike the more typical Wayne character, and this is John Wayne style John Wayne performance. Of course in the war films and the westerns the effectiveness and strength of the typical Wayne could vary, sometimes it would work, sometimes less so, luckily The Shootist is the very best John Wayne John Wayne performance I've seen.

Wayne is especially on here to say the least as he just has this grander larger than life quality often what he seems to be striving for in his performances, and this is fitting quite well to the man of J.B. Books who is considered the living legend, the last great gunfighter. Wayne carries himself well with this in man as his whole stature and manner here feels that of such a man. Wayne's presence is in his usual way but stronger than in any other film as this sort of man. There just is something more remarkable here as Wayne brings something extra as though Books is not like those previous characters, but instead seemed to have been everyone meaning he's lived quite a life. There is a gracefulness evident here that seems indicative of his ways as a shootist. Whenever he does deal with someone with the gun Wayne plays these scenes perfectly by not giving any hesitation or fear in Books, instead he portrays Books as being basically a professional in the way he takes down any opponent. What Wayne does not put in though is any sort of sadism in Books as again this is a John Wayne type of character, and the film presents every man he kills as basically making the first move against him, although this is not to say that it's quite the simple within Wayne's performance.

I would not necessarily put John Wayne as one of the most charming actors of all time, that was never exactly part of his appeal, but here Wayne really is incredibly charming. It's an intriguing one though as Wayne again does not feel that different from his earlier similair performances, but it seems as though he learned from all those earlier work as he makes himself charming within the rough and tough sort of character. Wayne just seems to hit his mark every time in this film as his little bit of humor thrown in here or there in some of his banter in dealing with phonies or just other folk works especially well here. All the old Wayne tricks and touches are here, but Wayne makes them the best he's  Wayne has a generous amount of warmth in his performance here and his chemistry with Lauren Bacall as local inn keep named Bond is surprisingly effective. It's not romantic chemistry in this case, but rather just a honest feeling companionship that they develop. Wayne is wonderful in their more tender moments together as he shows quite clearly a love of life within in Books, and that the cancer that's killing him is no way a blessing, even with so many gunning for his life, rather Wayne shows he's a man who has enjoyed his time on earth even though it has not always been easy.

The film is not a depressing requiem as there is something very encouraging about Books right until his last scene in the film. There is that darker edge within there and this mostly comes from Wayne's own work. Although Wayne is quite moving in portraying that enjoyment of life in Books, that is not all there is when Bacall's character does press him a bit more on his life and what exactly it has lead to. In these moments Wayne is striking by revealing a deeper sorrow in the man as though when he is forced to truly reflect on things that all that he's done has not added up to enough. There is a powerful anguish in moments, and although in the end Books goes to face death head on, Wayne suggests a most definite fear of this when Books is at his lowest moments. The best moments of his performance is when he deals with Bond's son Gillom (Ron Howard) who idolizes the man. The younger man is eager to learn all the tricks from Books about gunfighter, and he's eager enough to shoot with him as well as tell him the truth that it's more about will and nerves than accuracy in a gunfight. What's outstanding about Wayne's work though is how he actually undercuts these words with his own delivery of them. He ends up being quite heartbreaking actually when he tells Gillom these things it is not pride that Wayne conveys rather he brings a considerable sadness in them as though Books himself is realizing that what's he's best at and what he's defined his life with is not something worth living for. This is a great performance by Wayne because he does not leave death as a one note. There is of course sadness in there in those moments of regrets, there's those glints of nostalgia, as well as the appreciate of what's still left there. What makes this truly special though is that John Wayne is also able to make it feel like one final hurrah for his whole career as a star, as almost everything that defined that is found here through his portrayal of J.B. Books, and not only that Wayne happens to make it the greatest iteration of that classic John Wayne persona.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1976: Gregory Peck in The Omen

Gregory Peck did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Robert Thorn in The Omen.

The Omen tells the story of a U.S. diplomat who receives a replacement for his son, unfortunately the boy appears to be the antichrist. It's a pretty good horror film, with an especially memorable score, although I don't think it quite gets under the skin the way The Exorcist did, the film this one is clearly trying to ape.

In the seventies many of the old time Hollywood actors find themselves in parts and films that were quite the far cry from their earlier films. This was certainly the case for Gregory Peck being in this film. Being in a film of this nature could easily lead such an actor to go BIG, which Peck would do two years later in The Boys From Brazil, although I must admit that I, and apparently everyone else, like that performance. That's not the case here for The Omen as Peck does not use it as an excuse to play into the rather extreme and in someways absurd tone of the story. Peck instead really downplays his part as the American diplomat in England who after the death of his son, apparently in childbirth, he is offered oddly a new one by a questionable priest. Peck's actually really quite good in providing just the honest emotions of the situations as he conveys Thorn's confusion over the request while realizing the certain emotional vulnerability in him at the time which makes him conducive to the strange request of the priest to take this other child as his own.

After this point he and his wife (Lee Remick) seem content enough with "their" child Damien this until some strange this start to occur starting at Damien's birthday party where his current Nanny hangs herself in front of the party claiming it was all for Damien. This scene sets up the point of much of Peck's performance in the film as Thorn is one of the many witnesses to the hanging. That being quite a very down to earth human reaction to the very bizarre occurrences that all seem to surround his adopted son in some way. Peck's very good in this scene in making the horror feel real through his own realistic reaction fitting a man who has just scene a woman hang herself apparently as a tribute for his son. This actually goes for every death in the film as Peck gives them a bit of extra weight past merely the shock factor by giving some humanity to them in addition to the shock factor. The majority of this comes from Peck who avoids falling into overacting and going in with some of the ridiculousness of the kills, but rather makes them far more horrifying by showing what a normal man's reaction would be to them.

Peck's performance though does go past simply giving something to the film's more extreme moments of violence. He also interestingly acts as one of the two straight men for the film, the other one being David Warner as a photographer whose photographs tell him more than he would like. The arc for Thorn begins when that same priest who gave him the baby now appears to him telling him that the child is in fact the antichrist and must be destroyed. Peck does well to begin as one would expect which is simply sheer disbelief and confusion over these revelations, as they seem to be complete nonsense. When the odd yet tragic events begins though things begin to change. Peck is very effective in portraying the gradual change in his character. As that initial confusion becomes more of a concerned puzzlement as problems continue to occur, to slowly something more as it is evident that it clearly has something to do with his "son". Peck manages to find just the right natural approach in this as it never feels as though Thorn is being unrealistically stubborn, or far too easily accepting of such otherworldly ideas.

What Peck does particularly well is keeping the revelations with the severe attachment that this involves the boy he has raised himself, and Peck carefully keeps this alive in a certain pressure in Thorn explaining what keeps him from accepting the truth the way Warner's character does. Certain things work their way to get Thorn to move back this though, when the violence begins hitting closer to home. Peck is really quite moving in just the quiet despair he reflects when Thorn is told some especially horrible news over the phone. Peck is able to attach this within Thorn to almost wholly accepting the truth of it all, but unfortunately there is one problem to solve it all he must kill the boy. I'll admit a slight sour point for me comes from soon after the news as I feel Peck overacts just a tad in portraying Thorn's rejection as just a bit much, to me it felt like Peck in Spellbound which is not a good thing. Thankfully Peck more than makes up for it in the climatic scene where he realizes the terrible conflict in Thorn that forms his hesitations but also his convictions as he attempts to commit the deed despite it seeming so unbelievable. This is a strong performance from Peck as he manages to ground the film by keeping a human element within it, while stopping it from becoming simply a fright show.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1976

And the Nominees Were Not:

John Wayne in The Shootist

Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josey Wales

Robert Redford in All The President's Men

David Carradine in Bound For Glory

Gregory Peck in The Omen

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1959: Results

5. Orson Welles in Compulsion - Welles gives a rather understated yet very effective portrayal of his passionate lawyer.

Best Scene: Wilk's final words to the killers.
4. James Mason in North By Northwest - Mason gives a wonderfully suave and effortlessly menacing depiction of a villain with class.

Best Scene: The auction.
3. Laurence Olivier in The Devil's Disciple - Olivier gives one of his most entertaining performance as his humorous and incisive portrayal of a soldier who's a true gentleman above all. 

Best Scene: The Trial
2. Stephen Boyd in Ben-Hur -  Although Boyd is great at being a smug and despicable villain, he creates a far more memorable portrayal through giving a greater depth to what motivates this man.

Best Scene: Messala after the race.
1. Joseph Schildkraut in The Diary of Anne Frank - I'll admit this is another year where I could easily switch one way or the other between the top two. At the moment though my win goes to Schildkraut's incredible work which so well realizes the warmth and optimism of his character making his final depiction of a broken man truly heartbreaking.

Best Scene: The Ending.
Overall Rank:
  1. Joseph Schildkraut in The Diary of Anne Frank
  2. Stephen Boyd in Ben-Hur
  3. George C. Scott in Anatomy of a Murder
  4. Laurence Olivier in The Devil's Disciple
  5. James Mason in North By Northwest
  6. Orson Welles in Compulsion
  7. Ben Gazzara in Anatomy of a Murder
  8. Jimmy O'Dea in Darby O'Gill and the Little People
  9. Martin Landau in North By Northwest
  10. Peter Sellers in I'm All Right Jack
  11. Peter Finch in The Nun's Story
  12. Burl Ives in Our Man in Havana
  13. Dean Martin in Rio Bravo
  14. Albert Rémy in The 400 Blows
  15. Hugh Griffith in Ben-Hur
  16. Arthur O'Connell in Anatomy of a Murder
  17. Robert Vaughn in The Young Philadelphians
  18. Richard Attenborough in I'm All Right Jack
  19. Kunie Tanaka in The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity
  20. Lou Jacobi in The Diary of Anne Frank
  21. Finlay Currie in Ben-Hur 
  22. E.G. Marshall in Compulsion
  23. Tony Randall in Pillow Talk
  24. Noel Coward in Our Man in Havana
  25. Donald Wolfit in Room At the Top 
  26. Andre Morrell in The Hound of the Baskervilles
  27. So Yamamura in The Human Condition I: No Greater Love
  28. Ed Wynn in The Diary of Anne Frank
  29. Anthony Quinn in Warlock 
  30. Jack Hawkins in Ben-Hur 
  31. Ernie Kovacs in Our Man in Havana
  32. Joe E. Brown in Some Like It Hot
  33. Christopher Lee in The Hound of the Baskervilles
  34. Terry-Thomas in I'm All Right Jack 
  35. Murray Hamilton in Anatomy of a Murder 
  36. Arthur O'Connell in Operation Petticoat 
  37. Keiji Sada in The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity
  38. Sean Connery in Darby O'Gill and the Little People
  39. Miles Malleson in I'm All Right Jack
  40. Walter Brennan in Rio Bravo
  41. Sam Jaffe in Ben-Hur
  42. John Williams in The Young Philadelphians
  43. Frank Thring in Ben-Hur
  44. Kieron Moore in Darby O'Gill and the Little People
  45. Leo G. Carroll in North By Northwest 
  46. Denis O'Dea in Darby O'Gill and the Little People
  47. Ward Bond in Rio Bravo 
  48. Dean Martin in Career
  49. Billy Dee Williams in The Last Angry Man
  50. Bill Thompson in Sleeping Beauty 
  51. Donald Pleasence in Look Back in Anger 
  52. Ralph Richardson in Our Man in Havana
  53. Donald Houston in Room At the Top
  54. Jack MacGowran in Darby O'Gill and the Little People
  55. Bill Shirley in Sleeping Beauty
  56. Adam West in The Young Philadelphians
  57. Harry Andrews in The Devil's Disciple 
  58. Brian Keith in The Young Philadelphians 
  59. Frank Gorshin in Warlock 
  60. Gary Raymond in Look Back in Anger
  61. Thayer Davis in Journey to the Center of the Earth
  62. Geoffrey Keen in The Scapegoat
  63. Orson Bean in Anatomy of a Murder
  64. Richard Deacon in The Young Philadelphians
  65. Peter Bull in The Scapegoat
  66. Nick Adams in Pillow Talk
  67. Joseph N. Welch in Anatomy of a Murder 
  68. George Raft in Some Like It Hot
  69. Frank McHugh in Career
  70. Pat Boone in Journey to the Center of the Earth
  71. Dick Sargent in Operation Petticoat  
  72. Dan O'Herlihy in Imitation of Life
  73. Luther Adler in The Last Angry Man
  74. Dean Jagger in The Nun's Story
  75. Richard Beymer in The Diary of Anne Frank 
  76. Robert Strauss in 4-D Man
  77. Douglas Spencer in The Diary of Anne Frank
  78. Robert Middleton in Career 
  79. John Gavin in The Imitation of Life
  80. Edgar Stehli in 4-D Man 
  81. Martin Milner in Compulsion 
  82. Ricky Nelson in Rio Bravo
  83. Peter Ronson in Journey to the Center of the Earth
  84. Criswell in Plan 9 From Outer Space
  85. Carl Anthony in Plan 9 From Outer Space
  86. Paul Marco in Plan 9 From Outer Space
  87. Tom Keene in Plan 9 From Outer Space
  88. Tor Johnson in Plan 9 From Outer Space
  89. Lyle Talbot in Plan 9 From Outer Space
  90. John Breckinridge in Plan From Outer Space
Next Year: 1976 Lead

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1959: Joseph Schildkraut in The Diary of Anne Frank

Joseph Schildkraut did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Otto Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank.

Joseph Schildkraut was not nominated for the film, despite Ed Wynn being nominated in the supporting category for the film, as he was likely positioned in the leading category, the category he was nominated for at the Globes. I would disagree with this placement since the focus, barring the bookends, focuses on Anne (Millie Perkins) with everyone else in the attic supporting her story. Schildkraut though certainly has a pivotal role as Anne's father. Chronologically speaking the earliest scenes we see Otto is when he, his family including his wife and two daughters, and another family enter a hidden attic in a factory where they will be hiding from possible Nazi deportation. Schildkraut exudes a proper dignity fitting for the description of Mr. Frank. Schilkraut carries himself simply with quite the likability in the role of Mr. Frank, and establishes a certain optimism in this first scene. Even though the two families are going into hiding, which involves not moving for several hours of the day, Schildkraut portrays Otto as having a particularly bright outlook as in his view this drastic measure will save his family from the Nazi regime.

Although Anne has a fairly cold relationship with her mother she has a far better relationship with her father. Schildkraut is terrific in helping to establish this so well with his performance. There is such a generous amount of warmth that he brings out, that feels all the more special in the somewhat timid way he expresses himself. Schildkraut portrays Otto as somewhat unassuming but always so very welcoming in his manner. This is particularly well reflected in his relationship with Anne as merely take the early scene where they wait out the work day the first time before they are allowed to move and actual live again. Schildkraut effortlessly depicts just how naturally loving Otto is towards his family and Anne. There is nothing even to be said about it as there is never but this in his eyes in any given moment, and Schildkraut is able to find this in such a wholly genuine way which is essential for his character. Schildkraut is great though because he makes it feel like such a real affection with Mr. Frank, as there is nothing overbearing or too forceful about. It is something that simply exists through Schildkraut's performance and he makes it abundantly easy to understand why Anne is so attached to him, over her mother.

The Diary of Anne Frank is a long film as it focuses on various moments and interactions with Anne and between the other people in the attic, which eventually added one more via Ed Wynn's Mr. Dussel. Although Anne is kept as a focal point the film focuses very much on the ensemble wherein lies a bit of a challenge in which to stay noticed without seeming to try forcibly to become the center of attention. It could be argued that a few of the other performers. Well this is opposed to the character of Otto as well as opposed to Joseph Schildkraut's performance. Schildkraut though he was one of those reprising his stage and had not made a theatrically released film in over ten years before appearing in this one gives a particularly reserved portrayal of Otto Frank. It's quite outstanding then that Schildkraut is never overshadowed in any scene, despite never once trying to actively steal any scene from any other actor in the film. If he's onscreen he manages to hold some attention through his particularly honest depiction of a man leaving through this situation with his family. In simply his silent reactions Schildkraut always adds some power to the proceedings because of how natural he is in every scene.

When a scene focuses closer on Otto Schildkraut makes the most of this as well. There is one particularly great moment where he comforts Anne after a nightmare. Schildkraut brings out the tenderness of Otto comforting his daughter in such a moving fashion, but within that he effective portrays the way Otto is attempting to coax Anne into being showing more love for mother. The love is never in doubt but Schildkraut is terrific in the way he does not let it be only that as in his eyes he manages to convey the disappointment still in his daughter for her problematic behavior. Otto is always the calm center of the attic, who always tries to find the most peaceful solution for everyone. In this point Schildkraut is great simply because he never feels any less than pure in his character's goodness. It always feels the truth. There is another particularly strong scene for him when the attic is breaking apart due to one of the occupants stealing from the rations. While everyone else is falling apart Schildkraut realizes only a true goodness in Otto's disbelief at the anger of the others, and once again that reassuring quality, although slightly weakened over time, that comes from the considerable optimism that never seems to leave the man.

This optimistic man is not he one we first meet in the film as it opens with Otto after the war as he makes his way back to the attic alone. Schildkraut in this scene shows a man without optimism, there have been time of suffering in the meekness, and cold way he approaches the building. He has suffered a great deal, and Schildkraut realizes this in the almost unbearable somberness just before the film jumps back as Otto begins to read his daughter's diary. Even though the time in the diary's timeline ends with one last moment of Schildkraut so well showing that perseverance in Otto as they are about to be arrested, this makes it all the more devastating when it cuts back to Schildkraut depicting Otto as almost a broken man. Schildkraut is so haunting as he lists off learning of the deaths of the people in the attic as the painful memories seem to inflict him with such sadness, until he reaches Anne. Although we are not shown any of the deaths of the others Schildkraut's performance makes every one keenly felt. Schildkraut is absolutely heartbreaking as he so quietly tells the story of how he found out that Anne also had died, because in his breaths the last moments of hope seems to go out of his voice as he seems to accept that he is all that remains from the once life filled place. Although I do think the film has some missteps along the way the power of the story is never lost in a large part due to Schildkraut's work. He creates that sense of loss by so well creating such a warm and loving portrayal of a devoted father, only to strip it away to a man whose seemed to have lost all faith in humanity.