Saturday, 17 July 2010

Best Actor 1993: Tom Hanks in Philadelphia

Tom Hanks won an Oscar from his second nomination for portraying a Andrew Beckett lawyer with Aids in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia I find is a pretty poor film. It has extremely over the top close ups and with extremely heavy handed story telling.

Hanks is actually the co lead in the film as the gay lawyer who sues his own law firm for firing him for having aids. The other lead who has more screen time is Denzel Washington, who gives a pretty poor performance, acting far too over the top at times especially when the character says anti-gay things. Hanks has less time but his role is still of lead importance. Hanks I really dislike in my first viewing but he has improved just slightly for me.

I still believe Hanks is rather poor at the beginning of the film and any scenes that show flash backs of Andrew Beckett. In these scenes and these scenes only Hanks does a "gay" voice unfortunately. His voice he uses just seems odd and unnatural and an incredibly forced way to say "I'm playing a gay character." Now I really liked William Hurt's performance in Kiss of the Spider Woman and one could say Hurt did a used a similar technique, but Hurt always seemed realistic, Hanks always seems to be forcing it coming of as incredibly unnatural. Hanks never comes off as convincing in these early scenes and really overdoes it too much.

Now after he starts to show more visible signs of his Aids he does become a lot better in his performance. That is because he stops doing that voice which allows him to be a little more credible. Much of his performance is reduced to short unimpressive reaction shot though. A long time in the performance is just his basic reactions in court which are fine but nothing that really needs to be noted. As he gets sicker and sicker his make up becomes thicker and thicker and I felt Hanks mostly left it to the makeup to show his sickness. He makes some I'm sick faces but again nothing that impressive.

Most of his performance did leave me fully unimpressed except for two scenes which focuses heavily on Hanks. The first being his dramatic, overly dramatic really, speech about Opera. He handles the scene well even if the scene itself is a bit much Hanks does show some strength in his performance in this scene. I myself was not shaken by this scene but that was probably helped by the fact that I found the whole movie overdone anyways. Hanks still does a good job, and many people do find this scene powerful. I can see why even if I am not amazed by it myself. His other scene that was good was his court testimony. He does a very fine job here and I believe in this scene he himself shows his sickness well and for once in his performance does not leave it to the makeup. A performance that has a few good moments, was mostly unimpressive though, and at the beginning was sort of bad.


Sage Slowdive said...

A perfect 5 from me.

joe burns said...

Seems like you were a bit generous. But anyway, I need to rewatch his performance, since I liked it the first time, but I had problems with it while watching the last 45 minutes or so on TV.

Celso said...

I tought Denzel was far better than him. I don't get this performance, is so bland and boring!
Great writing!

Louis Morgan said...

Sage: You should really do a review of his performance, perhaps I am missing something.

Joe: Really a generous 2.5 I thought I was being hard on him. What would you give him Joe?

Celso: Thanks.

Zephyr said...

I would probably give him a 1. If I was feeling particularly generous. In my opinion this is the worst Oscar Best Actor win of all time.

dinasztie said...

I agree with you. Personally, I really dislike Hanks as an actor. He seems to be always "GIMME THAT DAMN OSCAR! GIMME! GIMME! GIMME! I'M PLAYING GAY AND I'M STRAIGHT AND I DIE IN THE END AND IT'S SO MOVING!" Same for Forrest Gump just replace the words between I'm playing and It's so moving. However, I must admit that I was impressed by his performance in Cast Away. Philadelphia is a very poor movie as you said, even though I thought it would be interesting. Sorry, I got a bit carried away, but I really don't like him. :-)

joe burns said...

I need to see his whole performance again, but right now, perhaps a two or three.