Friday, 7 May 2010

Best Actor 1997: Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets

Jack Nicholson received his third Oscar from  his eleventh Oscar nomination for playing Melvin Udall in As Good As It Gets.
As Good As It Gets is an okay romantic comedy, which has its strange characters, its moments of comedy and its moments of heart. A problem I find in the film though is the initial material of the film does not exactly meets its conclusion perfectly. Part of this relates to Nicholson performance and his character.

Jack Nicholson is a very good actor but I have to say he started to rely on just his natural charisma in his later work, and a lot less on the genuine great actor of his earlier work. As good as it gets is mostly Nicholson doing his Nicholson routine, which works, but it is not exactly brilliant from Nicholson himself.

Nicholson starts out the film as a very grumpy individual, who doesn't like anyone and is rude to everyone. I do like how Nicholson handles all of these scenes. Every scene he talks down to someone or the way he avoids touching people on the street but still it just is not anything amazing. His interactions with everyone are good enough, with Kinnear and particularly with Hunt, but he could not sell me on his fear of Cuba Gooding Jr's character. This is fine work from Nicholson for sure here but yet it still is not amazing.

Later though Nicholson changes, and has the line of becoming a better man. As much as I do like his chemistry with Hunt, I do not think the script or Nicholson's performance earn the change. It is not so sudden that it feels completely artificial but rather forced a bit too much. His change with the relationship with her is only slightly off, my bigger problem comes from his relationship with Kinnear. His character just despises the guy and then their last scene he says basically how much he cares for him. That is not earned in the least, and I was completely artificial, and extremely forced.

This is a performance that I believe has its strengths and its weaknesses, and Its also a performance that I believe gets weaker as it goes along. His work with Hunt is strong and their chesmistry is good despite problems resulting from the script, but the characters other changes are completely unearned by Nicholson or the script. Nicholson still does a fine job overall, and the script is the part that hurts his performance the most. It still is an entertaing piece of work, that certainly has its strong moments, with the weak ones.


Anonymous said...

Seems about the proper rating.

dinasztie said...

I love this performance and Hunt's too. But I'm probably alone with my enthusiasm towards this movie.

Louis Morgan said...

Sage: I am glad we see eye to eye on this one.

Dinasztie: Well it's that second half that does not work for me.

joe burns said...

Probably the right ranking. Do you have the same feelings on Hunt?

Louis Morgan said...

She is one of those actresses I do not like that much, but I think she is fine in this. Plus her character is not forced to undergo artificial changes like Nicholson's, so the script is working better in her favor.

Fritz said...

I really love this movie and I think that Nicholson and Hunt were great! I'd give him probably 4 points.

Michael Patison said...

I agree pretty much completely. This is, in my opinion, by far James L. Brooks's worst film of his "critically acclaimed" phase spanning three films (Terms of Endearment (quite good), Broadcast News (his best), and As Good as It Gets (mediocre). Upon rewatching it, the film gets worse and worse. It failed to click with me when the changes happened and just fell away gradually after that. The performances are at least decent, with Hunts's being the best, followed by Nicholson and Kinnear. Nicholson indeed has a ridiculous character change that I'm not sure any actor could have pulled off flawlessly, and I never know what to make of Kinnear.