Thursday, 29 July 2010

Best Actor 1984: Albert Finney in Under the Volcano

Albert Finney received his fourth Oscar nomination for portraying Geoffrey Firmin an alcoholic British consul in Mexico in Under the Volcano.

Under the Volcano is not a great film, but not an outright terrible film either, but one that really annoys me because it looks like it might go somewhere but it never does.

Albert Finney plays an extreme alcoholic here one who is always constantly drinking, and the film basically follows him as his drinking gets worse and worse along with his mental state. Albert Finney first off does not get into the negative things that can come from an Alcoholic behavior. Finney does not do overacting with strangely trying to go for laughs, and does try to internalize the pain of Firmin in this film. He does his best to show that his alcoholism is something that merely is something he cannot stop, and it is a disease for him. He never forces alcoholism of him it is just clearly has been part of him for a very long time. He internalizes the pain showing it very carefully making it work far more effectively. This part of his performance is very well handled since it is able to stay properly consistent throughout the film.

There is a fascinating part of his perfromance is that Albert Finney's Firmin is suppose to be seeing also sort of hallucinations but the film never shows them to the viewer therefore it is up to Finney to show them through his performance. He actually is able to accomplish this partially which is interesting. He does suggest that Firmin sees things that we the viewer or the other characters never see. He does this through small very well done indications which show his character's mental troubles perfectly. He is not perfectly consistent with this because the film does not always have his character properly consistent. He does not make us see what he sees, if he did that his performance would be amazing rather than just very good.

Finney I find is always strong in his performance and if the film was better I think he could have given a truly perfect performance, but it is not. Problems with the film result in some problems involving his performance. The problem is I did not feel the film really fully fleshed out his character making it so Finney was unable to do the same. It never fully developed his character's history well enough, I felt, leaving Finney to try and do everything which he is able to do.

His performance is sort of interesting though because even when the film requires him to do things that are strange or make little sense Finnney does try his best with them. Such as one scene about his own hell where Finney is incredibly strong in his speech even if this part of the story does not really come together with other parts of the film. Another great scene of his is when he is found face down in dirt by a fellow British man and they have a very British like conversation despite him being in the middle of the road because of his drinking. I liked how he should that Firmin kept his British ways even at a time like that, but again this character trait is only really in this scene and it fails to be consistent because of the film.  This really is a performance weakened by the film it is in, it is the best part of the film, but Finney is unable to fully overcome the problems the film makes for him, causing him to have scenes of great acting even they do not perfectly add up into one character.

Best Actor 1984: Jeff Bridges in Starman

Jeff Bridges received his third Oscar nomination for portraying Starman in the body Scott Hayden in Starman.

Starman is a profoundly boring film, one in which I could barely stand watching the first time I was it and had an even harder time this time. It is not interesting and it never entertaining.

Here is an oddity of an nomination, because this is such an oddity of a performance. People are not really ever nominated for non-human roles, Bridges may be the only one in the lead actor category. Bridges in this performance plays the alien Starman in a way that seems alien enough, I really am sure it is the way the director wanted it but it creates nothing in terms of cinematic magic. Bridges plays an outstandingly one dimensional character as the alien. There is nothing to him really, he is an alien but an alien who I guess only wishes to observe mankind.

Bridges does one thing and only one thing in this performance and that is speak it this almost monotone voice throughout. It is suppose to be an alien voice and it sound like it is, but it is also an incredibly dull voice. This is basically his whole performance, oh wait, he also makes the same emotionless face over and over again too, I almost forget. He does both consistently throughout the film never changing, even though his character is suppose to gain more humanity throughout, but this is not really shown is more of just said. He does not have chemistry with Karen Allen because he always stays with that dull unemotional behavior.

Now Bridges should merely have not been nominated for this role. It is too simple and uninteresting. He technically does plays the part as you would aspect some would should play the part but that is not a challenge. Bridges never shows a hint of his actual talent in this performance, and this simply is one of his dullest and most uninteresting performances. Maybe John Carpenter the director would have forced anyone to play the part this way, I do not know, but either way the performance just comes off as dull and completely uninspired.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Best Actor 1984

And the Nominees Were

Jeff Bridges in Starman

Albert Finney in Under The Volcano

F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus

Sam Waterston in The Killing Fields

Tom Hulce in Amadeus

Who do you Pick? What do you predict my ranking will be?

Best Supporting Actor 2003: Results

5. Benicio Del Toro in 21 Grams- Del Toro surprised me how little he did with his performance here and I never felt he made any sort of emotional connection ever in the film with this performance.

4. Djimon Hounsou in In America- Hounsou gives his usual two setting of performance, which is either speaking in a whisper or yelling wildly.
3. Alec Baldwin in The Cooler- Baldwin is completely competent throughout the film but what he does never makes much of an impact.
2. Tim Robbins in Mystic River-Robbins work never quite overcomes the surface posturing, yet there is some power found in the more subtle elements of his performance.
1. Ken Watanabe in The Last Samurai- A good performance that makes the strongest impact within the film, giving an entertaining yet moving portrayal of his charismatic leader.

Best Supporting Actor 2003: Benicio Del Toro in 21 Grams

Benicio Del Toro received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Jack Jordan a born again ex convict whose life turns for a worse after a tragic accident.

21 Grams I found to be a strange film, since it has many scenes that should be emotional but are oddly distant. It never becomes interesting or effective and the odd structure is unnecessary rather than effective.

Del Toro's performance I was surprised and found it to be completely disappointing. Like the film Del Toro's performance seems like something interesting and emotionally powerful but instead is oddly distant. Del Toro underplays his role, and if you read my reviews you probably know I really like subtle acting but here Del Toro is not subtle he merely is basically nothing most of the time. Most of the time he just has the same depressed face almost throughout the entire performance. I found he did nothing with his eyes or face int his performance. He just kept the same face almost throughout and really did nothing with it.

Del Toro is not terrible but he is never interesting in this performance. He really failed to resonate at all. I found his choices odd and that he was never fully able to make his character understandable. He never made me believe the way he acted toward his children so harshly, or really why he gives up on life. He never really made me understand the character's initial faith than loss of faith. He just mostly kept him with that one face that made him nothing to me. He has only one scene where he loses that face when he yells at one scene he is okay at this but he still adds no more complexity to the character. I think Del Toro and this character could have made a great performance but for some reason almost every thing in the film came off the same way so maybe it really was all the director's fault, I am not sure. Either way what is on screen never impressed me and merely left completely surprised with an actor who I usually find is far better than this.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Best Supporting Actor 2003: Tim Robbins in Mystic River

Tim Robbins won his Oscar from his first acting nomination for portraying Dave Boyle a Boston man who was traumatized as a child in Mystic River.

Tim Robbins has a few problems with his performance. One problem is that his voice he uses for the film is a bit odd. He does like a child's voice mixed in with the Boston accent that seems like a forced way to show the past of the character. This voice he uses is a mistake I believe but it does not ruin his performance. The other problem with his performance I feel is that some of his scenes I feel are the worst directed scenes by Clint Eastwood. Robbins plays very much into the overt acting that is featured heavily by too many members of the cast, particularity Sean Penn, which is ill-fitting against the gritty tone of the story. The performances of Kevin Bacon, and Laurence Fishburne reflect far closer to what should be the tone of the film.

Despite these hindrance of the starting Robbins doesn't give a entirely ineffective performance.. There is the overt and forced method of showing his character's mental trauma that is always there that keeps his performance at a certain distance. There is subtly to this performance as Robbins does show the man's problems through his eyes that show he always has been and  what he was as a child, and that everyday is a challenge to get by because of what happened to him. There is an internalization of this by Robbins that moves past the surface posturing at least to some extent. It leaves his performance still not as natural as it should be, but there is some needed naturalism in there.

Robbins carefully does bring at least more in portraying the other sides past that trauma even though that is always a constant factor. I find Robbins does do a great job in making Dave seem three dimensional since his only character trait is not the trauma, he is a fully rounded man, that is just one of his features not his whole being. Robbins does find some honesty there, even with his mannered accent, even in the overly directed vampire scene Robbins still stays very strong as Dave. His best scene I feel though is at the very end where he can barely comprehend his situation. Robbins handles this scene well by showing the fear and trauma of Dave. There are moments still of just too much, but there is some power found in there. It also helps that Sean Penn actually dials it back a bit even for that scene. Robbins's performance overall has weaknesses as it is part of the ACTING that infects the film with so many of the performers. He is the best of the ACTORS though as he does find more in there, even if the method still is a touch too obvious.

Best Supporting Actor 2003: Ken Watanabe in The Last Samurai

Ken Watanabe received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Katsumoto the head Samurai leading a rebellion against the modernization of Japan in The Last Samurai.

Ken Wantanabe I find is far more interesting in this performance then he really had to be. Katsumoto could have been played extremely one dimensional fashion or too stiffly, but Watanabe does not play him this way. Watanabe effectively shows that Katsumoto has a certain knowing about himself. He shows well that Katsumoto is in fact intelligent and knows his way of life is being lost, but that he still fins his way is the right way. He is effective because he does not show Katsumoto to be just a single minded warrior but one with his own thoughts and a sense of humor. He handles this well because he adds this to his character without making making his performance merely farce.

He does this by always being believable as the leader of the samurai and I found his screen presence here to be always very strong. I felt scenes with him in it were always better than other scenes, and that his last scene is very well handled by Watanabe making it strong as possible. But still a lot of what he is doing here is not overly amazing but rather standard going through the motions sort of acting required of the part during certain scenes. Even his greatest scenes are not the most amazing feats of acting either, but Watanabe though is always good in the film and tries his best to get more out of the character than perhaps even the script allowed for.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Best Supporting Actor 2003: Alec Baldwin in The Cooler

Alec Baldwin received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Casino owner Shelly Kaplow in The Cooler.

The Cooler I found to be a pretty standard film that never was particularly interesting or particularly entertaining. The ending scenes in did not work for me in particular.

Baldwin plays Shelly Kaplow who is tough no nonsense Casino boss who heavily believes in the Old Las Vegas and despises the modern one. Baldwin plays his character as that of a tough man who wants his business going the right way no matter what. Who keeps himself strict and tough almost completely throughout the film. He has the right command as the character and handles all of his scenes just as they should be. He is never particularly special as the boss but he acts as he should. He has just the right amount of anger and coldness to the way he reacts when someone is not doing exactly what he wants, not amazing, but he plays the part as it should be played.

Near the end of the film he begins to show a little bit more to his character, but only incredibly briefly. He shows well when he seems to have gone too far with having to keep his Cooler (William H. Macy) and finally starts to see some error in his ways. When he does do this he does not do an amazing job still but a good job, and does not make the slight change of his character seem forced. Still even with this his well done ending scenes he still keeps mostly the tough facade throughout and that is fine but his performance still is never  anything so special that it really needed to be awarded.

Best Supporting Actor 2003: Djimon Hounsou in In America

Djimon Hounsou received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Mateo a man with Aids who befriends his Irish immigrant neighbors in In America.

In America is a film I wanted to like more than ended up liking. It has several problems one being that it has a lot of ideas and themes but I never felt it really went very far with any of them.

Hounsou's role as Mateo is pretty simple actually. He has two types of scenes that are his complete performance. One type of scene are his yelling scenes, which he has to do I suppose since he is described as the yelling man in the film. He is fine for most of these scenes just yelling but that really is not any sort of accomplishment. The one scene that technically requires more from him is a scene where he is confronted by the Irish father. He really acts strangely in this scene when he yells he loves everybody. It rings false rather being effective, because Honsou simply over does it.

His other type of scenes are these quiet scenes, which I greatly preferred to his yelling ones. He talks quietly to the little girls of the Irish family quite tenderly. I think he did handle scenes well enough putting the right amount of tenderness and heart in these without over doing it. But still although he is fine in these scenes he is not really amazing in them either. His performance never really fully developed Mateo because he really was only yelling or talking tenderly, he probably should have employed a little more range in his performance to give more depth to his character.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Best Supporting Actor 2003

 And the Nominees Were:

Ken Watanabe in The Last Samurai

Alec Baldwin in The Cooler

Tim Robbins in Mystic River

Benicio Del Toro in 21 Grams

Djimon Hounsou in In America 

Who do you pick? What do you predict my ranking will be?

Best Actor 2003: Results

5. Ben Kingsley in The House of Sand and Fog- Kingsley stays far too stiff throughout his performance to ever create an effective or even at times believable character.

4. Sean Penn in Mystic River- Penn's is one over the top hammy work that overcompensates in basically every moment.
3. Jude Law in Cold Mountain- I was very close to giving the win to Law because his performance really is the most consistent. He is good throughout but I never felt he was required to do that much overall.

2. Bill Murray in Lost in Translation- The only performance in this year that does not do an accent is my choice in a very close margin with Law, and in a year where I did not fell strongly about a single performance. But my choice goes to Murray because when he being basically Murray that is something no one else can do anyways, and when he tries for more with the performance he does succeed very well.

1. Johnny Depp in The Pirates of the Carribbean - Depp gives an instantly iconic performance that's entertaining to watch, but here in the original incarnation contains an actual depth as well.

My Nominees:
 I can't really think of any performances I feel strongly about oh wait...

Tommy Wiseau in the room should have been the only nominee because no performance can stand next to this one.

Best Actor 2003: Johnny Depp in The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Johnny Depp received his first Oscar nomination for portraying pirate Captain Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Pirates of the Caribbean is a decent action film though there are indicators to how the series would  later go wrong.

Well here comes another one of my apology reviews, though I think for a different reason this time. I actually may not have re-watched the film when I did my initial review which would have been particularly problematic given that my view would have been infected by his lesser, though not wholly terrible turns, in the first two sequels to the film. His performances in those films though are more akin though to my initial assessment though where I focused mainly on his most overt mannerisms as Captain Jack. In those later two films he mostly reduced himself down to the elements that Sparrow was most readily known for, and he slowly became more of a caricature of the original Sparrow as the series went on. That did not though give proper credit to his initial performance by any measure though which goes far beyond those mannerisms. What Depp does though in terms of character creation though also should not be hand waved at any point though. 

His mannerisms are of course rather overt in his Keith Richards inspired style. His drunk walking manner and his britishish accent all establish a distinct style to his performance, and of course obviously succeeded in making his character one of the most iconic in the new millennium. What that does here though is a bit more than just make an original character he also offers an original presence to such a film. If Depp had been a more stale Pirate, the film itself could have been quite bland, but Depp goes for his risky approach which does payoff. What his approach amounts to is more than just a unique character though. Depp's original performance is quite different actually in that he sort of weaponizes Sparrow's style both in terms of within the film, and in terms of his performance. Depp does not always play Sparrow, as what he essentially became in the later sequels, although his accent, and physical style is always evident to some degree, they are not always to the extreme they would be in his reprises.

There is a specific method to Sparrow's madness in Depp's performance here. Depp actually utilizes this in a very clever fashion as he realizes this as a certain con in the way he plays him in any given scene. For example when he is with the British authorities this is when Depp goes to Sparrow's most ridiculous style, but here he is actually specifically showing Sparrow pretending to be the fool in order to make the British put their guard down around him. In his initial scene with Orlando Bloom's Will, Depp again though plays with the style of Sparrow, this time making himself purposefully unwieldy playing up the way Sparrow plays tricks to knock his opponent off guard. Depp is humorous to be sure and entertaining but it is rather notable the way he gives a purpose to this. This goes even further even in terms of facilitating the performances of Bloom and Keira Knightley as damsel in distress Elizabeth Swan. The two can be bland, and are bland, but here they are also better later on as Depp's unpredictability throws their performances off in a good way. They don't know what quite to do with him which makes for some fun moments as he gets a rise out of them, and it's a shame that this dynamic was rather lost in the sequels, perhaps they got a bit to used to him.

What Depp does here though is offer a pivotal bit of nuance to the character of Captain Jack, he's not just a clown. Depp actually sets up that facade well to realize moments where he's honestly a little menacing such as when he discusses their duel later on with Will. He threatens him and Depp alludes to another side to Sparrow that suggests he is indeed far more than he seems. Depp revealing more to Jack continues when they encounter Barbossa played by Geoffrey Rush the chief villain in this film. Depp reveals more of a hidden intelligence in his Jack showing always working the room switching his game from collaborator, clown, to real pirate as an elegant dance. Most importantly perhaps though is when the situation becomes dire, Depp finds an actual gravitas when it is absolutely needed, it's subtle but it's always there. He's particularly good in his meek reveal to Elizabeth of how he escaped the island, or when he finally shoots Barbossa. Depp reveals the real man beneath Sparrow's act in those moments. This is a terrific performance by him as he creates a three dimensional character in Captain Jack Sparrow, even if he would be diluted to a two dimensional one later on.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Best Actor 2003: Jude Law in Cold Mountain

Jude Law received his second Oscar nomination for portraying W. P. Inman a confederate deserter in the civil war in Cold Mountain.

Cold Mountain is a film that has some interesting moments but overall it is a bit of a confused effort partially due to its inability to keep a successful tone for the film.

Jude Law's performance as Inman is a rather interesting nomination because it is not showy in the least. The most showy thing Law does in the film is the fact he does a southern accent I suppose. He is actually fine with the accent because he does not overdo it unlike fellow cast members whose last name starts with a Z, it might be perfect but it is not distracting. But beside that Law never really has many "acting" scenes so to speak. There are not many scenes where he has to really control a scene with his performance instead he mostly reacts to what is going on around him.

I do not have a problem with that really because what he does do suits his purpose in the film well, because he acts as a guide through the Civil War South, someone that the viewer follows and experiences the stranger things with. He really has a mostly standard leading  man role and he does a fine job with it. He is always a fine presence throughout the film. He never does or needs to do anything overly amazing with his performance but he is good throughout.

He can always be watched plainly and keeps his story interesting enough to follow, but this is not the greatest lead performance ever. Law does not have the greatest screen presence ever but he has a fine presence. Law only really has one extremely emotional scene near the end and he does fine with it. His romantic chemistry with Kidman is fine.  Everything about his performance is fine. He never is great but he never is bad. A performance that completely serves its purpose and is never wrong.

Best Actor 2003: Bill Murray in Lost in Translation

Bill Murray received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Bob Harris an American Actor in Japan in Lost in Translation.

Lost in Translation is a film that it seems some people love and other people find rather boring, I myself go with the latter opinion.

Nominations like Bill Murray's here rather frustrate me, because of the idea of only nominating comedians when there not being comedic. They could not nominate him for what might be his best work in Groundhog's Day which is both funny and actually holds some dramatic weight, they can only nominate him for complete dramatics. This apparently is suppose to be a comedy but I never even sort of laughed at it. There was only one overt attempt at comedy from the film really and that failed miserably in my book. Anyways Murray is not allowed to use his real true comedic abilities and is forced to be quieter. But you know what I like Murray being a little louder and funnier. Not that he is exactly loud when being funny but he is being funny that's the point. Now that does not make his performance here bad here, I am just annoyed by that comedians can never be nominated for what they do best.

Bill Murray's performance here can be interpreted in two ways one way is a bit more negative in that he really is not acting and is giving almost a sleep walking performance or the other way is it is a brilliant portrait of extreme subtlety like none other ever seen. Well I myself I am in about the middle of these two thoughts. I do not think he is not acting at all but I do not think he is always being perfectly attuned in a brilliant performance either. I find he has both the criticism worthy parts of his performance and the praise worthy parts of his performance. I do not think he ever is lazy about his performance so much that he is not trying at all, but I do feel that a lot of his performance he really is just being Bill Murray. This though is not nothing since Murray himself is a nice presence that really cannot be imitated by anyone else. His rather relaxed charm really is something only Murray can do as well as he does.

There are also sections of the performance where he does more than just being himself which are limited but I feel still present in the performance. There are these short moments where he really shows really the history of Bob Harris. These are very well done because of the way Murray shows this very carefully a hidden regret in the character and a certain sadness reflected by his reactions to certain scenes. He does not do this all the time unfortunately and his performance would have been great if he had. Instead there is strength in his performance in some scenes, and when he his not brilliant he is just Murray which is good anyways. He never is never bad and works quite well with Scarlett Johansson. My only real problem with the performance was Murray could have been absolutely brilliant if he stayed with the character at all times, instead of just good.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Best Actor 2003: Ben Kingsley in The House of Sand and Fog

Ben Kingsley received his fourth Oscar nomination for portraying Colonel Massoud Amir Behrani an Iranian immigrant in America who becomes involved in a struggle involving ownership of a home in The House of Sand and Fog.

House of Sand and Fog is an okay film, but not one that I felt became really all that interesting.

Kingsley is fairly believable as an Iranian immigrant, and his accent is fine although not amazing. He does seem to be fine at being the character that is until the end though where his performance loses competency. He plays the part of Behrani fairly stiffly throughout the film. He never becomes that emotional and when he does he only becomes emotional for a very brief instance. Now it is fine for a character to be played stiffly as that can be merely how a character is but this does not quite work for Kingsley, because he is quite dull in this performance.

I found that Kingsley simply never became that interesting with this performance, and he could have been as stiff as he was if he tried to show something with little indicators which Kingsley never does or at least never does it particularly well. Even when he becomes angry with people in the film he never becomes that emotional but rather a still very restrained and stiff sort of anger that can seem a bit unnatural at times. Kingsley is not all bad though and there are few quiet scenes where he does much better, such as the scene where he speaks to his son after he slapped his wife. But even this scene is not amazing.

The biggest problem with his performance though in his big emotional scene at the end of the film. He still needlessly keeps the character stiff even when he becomes very emotional and that just comes off as false. Also in this scene I no longer really believed him as an Iranian immigrant because when he was praying in  
this scene he really seemed to be forcing it and came off as incredibly unnatural. Kingsley though is not all bad but, he fails in the key scenes and is a bit dull but most of the time he is okay just never very interesting.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Best Actor 2003: Sean Penn in Mystic River

Sean Penn won his first Oscar from his fourth nomination for portraying Jimmy Markum in Mystic River.

Mystic River is a decent enough film and is strong in many aspects but it has some problems involving a few scenes being too over the top and the plot being a little to convenient.

Sean Penn here plays Jimmy Markum a street smart Bostonian  who loses his daughter to a mysterious killer, and then goes to extreme measures to get to revenge for his daughter. Penn performance is not all bad as Markum so I will begin with the problems with the performance and though go to some of the strong moments later.

The major problem with his performance is any scene which he is required to show grief over his Daughter in the film. In every single scene involving this he goes over the top and unfortunately hams it up. He never sounds believable doing this to me instead it looks like look at me "I'm Acting". He never had the right style in theses scenes he always seems over the top no matter what. Every time he says "My Daughter" it just rings false to me.  Even later when he does these little facial gestures with his mouth he tries to be subtle in showing his grief but again he comes off as far too forced and actory. He basically is too calculated in these scenes and never seems to off the real raw emotions which he needs.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Best Actor 2003

And the Nominees Were:

Sean Penn in Mystic River

Jude Law in Cold Mountain

Bill Murray in Lost in Translation

Ben Kingsley in The House of Sand and Fog

Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl 

Who do you Pick? What do you predict my ranking will be?

Best Actor 1993: Results

5. Laurence Fishburne in What's Love Got to Do With It- Fishburne never finds anything to do with the fact that the script writes his character as basically one dimensional throughout the film.

4. Tom Hanks in Philadelphia- Hanks does have some good moments in the film but he also has many bad ones. Then in much of the film he is just underwhelming.

3. Anthony Hopkins in The Remains of the Day- Hopkins keeps his basic exact tone throughout the film, but he shows different undercurrents of the character very carefully.
2. Liam Neeson in Schindler's List- Neeson finds the right charisma as Schindler making everything Schindler does believable, and he finds the perfect way to show Schindler's change over the film making his change as effective as possible.
1. Daniel Day-Lewis in In the Name of the Father- Day-Lewis is very strong throughout the film, especially during scenes where he shares scenes with Pete Postlethewaite.
Deserving Performances:
Bill Murray in Groundhog's Day
Michael Douglas in Falling Down

Monday, 19 July 2010

Best Actor 1993: Daniel Day-Lewis in In the Name of the Father

Daniel Day-Lewis received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Gerry Conlon an Irish man wrongly accused of  being involved with an IRA bombing in In the Name of the Father.

In the Name of the Father is a pretty good film about a group of innocent Irish people being mistreated by the English police. I liked it because it did not focus only on the proving their innocence but also on the relationship between Gerry Conlon and his father (Pete Postlethwaite).

Gerry Conlon is Day-Lewis's second nomination character and his second Irish one and is again directed by Jim Sheridan but Conlon is a very different man than Christy Brown. Gerry Conlon begins in the film as a young man who basically has no direction in his life and is at odds with his proper father. Day-Lewis excels in the role and shows Conlon youth and foolishness as well as possible. Although many years older than the actual person, Day-Lewis is always believable as Conlon, he never seems to be too old and is always perfectly convincing in showing Conlon's youthful attitudes. His best scenes here though again are with Postlethwaite. Both actors shows a history between a father and son in there farewell scene when Gerry goes to England without either actor ever saying what it is completely. Both actors play off of each other perfectly, to create a true and honest relationship between the father and son.

After being arrested for an Ira bombing of an English pub Conlon undergoes an extreme illegal interrogation by the the English police. Conlon is constantly pestered into confessing through mental and physical torture. Day-Lewis is perfect here showing Conlon's pain in these scenes. He shows how his resistance to signing the confession is slowly broken down due to the constant torture. The scene itself is not quite perfect because it does not seem to last as long as it should and the passing of time is not perfectly established, but Day-Lewis is perfect in these scene. He completely shows Conlon's frustration and exhaustion, but still refusal to sign the confession. That is until one of the police officers tells Conlon he is going to kill his father. Day-Lewis handles his frightened break down without fault. A completely raw emotional scene that Day-Lewis makes as realistic and powerful as possible.

Afterward Conlon and his father are wrongly convicted and share a cell together. As I said in Postlethwaite's review, these scenes are the most powerful and to me the most important in the film. In these scenes the father and sons relationship slowly changes and Conlon himself changes from an aimless young man and slowly grows and learns well in prison. First Day-Lewis handles Conlon change meticulously, another performance that correctly shows the change over a period of time in a perfectly understated way. I particularly how Conlon is challenged to face with his father's views and the views of the actual Ira bomber who also ends up in the prison. He at first actively becomes involved with the Ira member but soon sees fault in his view and begins to lean toward his father's view. Day-Lewis is brilliant in encompassing the morality of the film, and again his change to his father's side is perfect understated brilliance.

The greatest scenes though are of Postlethwaite and Day-Lewis together. Their relationship develops into both of them slowly coming together and each having even greater care for each other. Neither is false or wrong in a single scene together. They know each other creating a portrait of a father and son that I feel is one of the strongest and most powerful seen in a film.  From their first cell scene together where they are at odds because Gerry always feels his father always sees something wrong with him. Gerry basically becomes crazed briefly because he cannot take it and Day-Lewis is emotional cries are well balanced by Postlethwaite's knowing reaction. Later they become closer in again in a perfectly attuned method and it leads to one final scene together. Both Day-Lewis and Postlethewaite show that the Conlon really have a bond as father and son, a bond that makes the next scene in the film all the more heartbreaking. The film works because of their relationship therefore it truly works because of Day-Lewis's and Postlethwaite's performance which never falter.

Best Actor 1993: Liam Neeson in Schindler's List

Liam Neeson received his first Oscar nomination for playing Oskar Schindler a business man who saves many Jewish people by giving them work in his factory in Schindler's List.

Schindler's list is incredibly well done film about the holocaust, with many brilliant and powerful scenes throughout the film.

Oskar Schindler begins in the film, as only a selfish person who only wishes to use Jews in his factory because they are basically slave labor for his factory, enabling him to make more money. Neeson plays Schindler with the right amount of intensity and strictness in the way he goes about his business. He properly keeps Schindler as just an exploiter at first and nothing else. He has the right coldness in his performance and does not play him as a hero in the least, which makes the rest of his performance all the more powerful.

In these early scenes though he also shows the charisma of Schindler. The inherit charisma that Schindler has is something small in the overall film but it is essential to part of the success of the film. Believing in Schindler's charisma allows one to believe that Schindler was capable of everything that he accomplishes in this film. Neeson's performance is essential in showing the great feat that Schindler accomplished in convincing all the Nazi officials, and tricking them. Neeson is completely up to the task and always the right type of charisma in this performance. A nice natural charisma that is always believable, making it so Schindler's abilities never seem forced or unrealistic in the least.

The best part of Neeson performance is the his method in showing Schindler's change over from a completely selfish man to a Saint. Neeson never shows his change as an instant difference in Schindler but rather a slow deliberate change that it correctly handled by Neeson. He shows Schindler changes with short looks and reactions that are never overt but rather fine and understated. He makes Schindler change completely natural and with the right amount of power. He shows that Schindler slowly sees how truly evil the Nazi's are and slowly realizes his greater importance. The slow change builds up to the his final scene in the film where Schindler has completely become a righteous man.

The final scene of Neeson's is an incredibly powerful scene where Schindler regrets his inability to save even more lives. The scene I find is heart breaking every time, Neeson shows Schindler's true regret with all the possible true emotion and power. He shows that there was true loss of life felt by Schindler, and that he could have done more. This scene is perfect and Neeson is at the center of it with his perfect portrayal of Schindler's regrets. Neeson creates Schindler into a vivid and memorable character because of his perfect charismatic performance along with his, incredibly powerful transition. Both parts of his performance are incredibly challenging but Neeson succeeds quite well.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Best Actor 1993: Anthony Hopkins in The Remains of the Day

Anthony Hopkins received his second Oscar nomination for portraying head butler James Stevens in The Remains of the Day.

Remains of the Day is a fine period piece, although it is never a particularly amazing movie and frankly can be quite boring at times.

Anthony Hopkins plays the lead butler in this film, and the butler is an extremely calm and unemotional character. The butler himself never has a big scene where he breaks down, or even a scene where he really shows any overt emotions. The butler always stays completely calm and controlled basically throughout the whole film. This is not a description of Hopkins performance as the butler but rather that the part of the butler would have been incredibly restrictive no matter who played him.

Hopkins in this performance always keeps almost through the film the same distinct way of speaking and face throughout the film. He plays the part just as it should be played despite how simple in some ways that part is. He always seems to be the butler perfectly attuned in his way of speaking and his completely perfect way of moving about. He is always just following orders, doing what needs to be done at the manor, and never striving from his duties and sensibilities. Hopkins never truly breaks from this therefore he mostly just needs to find the right tone for this performance, which Hopkins does very well.

There are a few scenes though where Hopkins very very carefully shows just a little more to the butler, never a show of emotion though but just a little more depth to the butler. He gives little physical indicators to some other thoughts of the butler, one can never tell what exactly but Hopkins does show with incredible understated subtlety that there is a little more to the butler. He never exactly says there is more but Hopkins shows that is something perfectly.

There is one scene though where the butler shows a different side to him that is quite interesting. He still keeps his manner and speaking but he changes to showing a little more confidence, and strength in his character. That is the scene where he talks at a bar about politics. Hopkins in very strong in this one scene showing that the butler does wish to be recognized a little more, and listened to. He still keeps his method of speaking and his manner but shows a little more overtly that the butler perhaps wanted a little more in life than he had. Hopkins is always consist in this performance, and finds the right tone throughout. The fact that his character is so restrained makes his performance seem a little underwhelming at times, but that is the way the character should have been played. Hopkins still though exceeds as much as possible in the short moments in the film that allows the butler to be more than just a perfect butler.