Thursday, 30 September 2010

Best Actor 1939: James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

James Stewart received his first Oscar nomination for portraying recently selected Junior Senator Jefferson Smith in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. 

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington is a film I enjoy, although it is odd in it has scenes that are a little too hokey such as the scene where he goes around looking at the monuments, but at the same time it has rather dark scenes were the men of the political machines are literally attacking children. Still I do like it anyways, and I find the final scenes of the film are what makes it work.

James Stewart plays Jefferson Smith an old fashioned, well meaning,  upright citizen, and a head of a  local chapter of a fill in for the boy scouts called the boy rangers. He is chosen as the man to fill in for a senator who suddenly died, because political machinists headed by Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold) believe he will just be too simple to see through their schemes, and will be easy to manipulate. I really like Stewart's enthusiasm in his early scenes as Smith, Stewart really is simply perfect for the part as Jefferson Smith. He is perfectly the man he plays, and truly is an actor who was perfectly cast. I actually also liked Stewart because for me he is one actor who can play down the sometimes corny nature of scenes incredibly well. This is because for me I do not think he ever plays it unnaturally and can help even incredibly forced scenes feel much more natural.

He goes along to Washington and is pressured, bothered by many aspects of the Washington scene, but also intrigued by Democracy in action. I think handles the mix of emotions very well. I like his downright honest enthusiasm to see the monuments, and to be an actual United States Senator. He also when meeting the women of Washington, Stewart has the perfect awkward aw shucks. It is the usual Stewart romantic lead reactions, and actions, I do really enjoy them when they add to part of his overall performance. I think a particularly strong scene showing the usual Stewart charm that only Stewart ever had was when he is writing his Bill for a special camp for his Boy Rangers with his secretary Saunders (Jean Arthur). The way Stewart maneuvers himself in this scene is just perfect in that perfect Stewart way that I enjoy a whole lot.

His strongest scenes though is when he introduces his bill. He first introduces his bill, and Stewart is simply great in his manner of Smith's nervousness. But his bill causes him to see find out about a dark side of Washington involving a political machine. Smith is about to be rejected from the Senate on trumped up charged. Stewart's early enthusiasm is properly drained out in these scenes that really show that Smith can barely comprehend that such people could be so bad, and that his Senior Senator (Claude Raines) really was just a stooge the whole time. To prevent from being kicked out Smith starts a filibuster in an attempt to prove his innocence and to reveal the political machine in control. This final part of his performance is what makes it so memorable. Stewart is simply brilliant in his scenes of moving along and along trying to fight for his right, and slowly becoming more and more tired. Stewart is masterful in my opinion, especially in his brilliant final speech that holds true power, that is needed for the ending to succeed which I believe it does very well. I find this performance has the right amount of power, and charm throughout that supports the idea that 1939 is one of if not the greatest year in film.

Best Actor 1939: Robert Donat in Goobye, Mr. Chips

Robert Donat won his Oscar from his second and final Oscar nomination for portraying school teacher Arthur Chipping in Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips is a very nice film about a school teacher, and his life with his students, his wife, and the outside world.

Robert Donat's win is never really maligned, but sometimes but it usually not described as the proper winner, probably by many who have not seen his performance. Donat's performance is one of wide scope since it starts at Chip's first day as a school teacher as a young man to his last days of school as a old head master. One big challenge of his performance is the aging of the character, which Donat handles masterfully. I never doubted him for a second, as he aged from younger years to a very old man. A big challenge for any actor since they can either under do the age, or over do it, but Donat nails Chipping at every single age without absolutely no fault. He makes the character's age also make his performance even more effective, he really shows a man as he goes through his life and it is rather amazing.

  He also shows how Chips grows a teacher equally well. He is fantastic as him in his first day, when he is the new school master, and has great troubles with the boys. His awkwardness, and inability is truly well shown by Donat. Later though as time goes on he commands the class room with far more power, and Donat shows Chips has grown greater confidence and control over his room and the students. It is truly a fantastic display of how the man grows in his career. As he becomes more and more attuned with the school, Donat perfectly shows how Chips simply becomes more and more naturalistic in his ways as a teacher and later as the head master.

Donat has another task of having Chips slowly grows as a person. He begins as a rather introverted man who tries to keep to himself, and only tries to seek friendship in incredibly small ways.
Donat though shows his growth as a person incredibly well when he meets his future wife Katherine (Greer Garson). I really like Donat's chemistry with Garson it is just right, since he still stays shy, but Donat allows just the right amount of life and love come from him that really works well. After they marry his wife also makes Chips a slightly more outgoing man so much that he actually makes a joke in his class. Donat never makes it so Chip completely becomes no longer shy, but he adds the right amount of new found liveliness that rings true.

Every single part of Donat's performance works incredibly well, and the scenes of him in the most dramatic scenes are no different. Chips must deal with many tragic events during his life, and Donat brilliantly handles these sequences because he never makes any big dramatic gestures. Instead he internalizes Chips anguish and sadness. Donat because he does this he keeps Chips as a consistent man, and also I found the way he handled the sequences to be truly effective since he used his facial expressions and eyes so perfectly. Overall Donat's performance really is simply great work, it is fantastic piece of acting, and when I watched his performance I really felt I saw a man going through his life which I believe shows the strength of his work here.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Best Actor 1939: Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights

Laurence Olivier received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.

Wuthering Heights is a rather dramatic film, although it is a bit  melodramatic, I did in fact find it interesting anyways. I can't describe precisely why, but I certainly did not mind watching it.

Laurence Olivier I will admit, is an actor I enjoy watching a whole lot, especially when he gets a role completely right. He is an actor though that I enjoy most though when he relaxes a bit. Now this does not mean his character has to be a relaxed fellow, but just a character Olivier plays around a little with, and is not just intense the whole time. Heathcliff is an Archetype of a character. The Archetype of the dramatic romantic man, who does anything to try to gain his true love. This stops Olivier from really relaxing in this role, which stops his performance from being an Olivier performance I really enjoy, but this does not stop his performance from being a good if not great one.

Some have described his performance as over the top, and even hammy, but I disagree. See Heathcliff, is a role written incredibly broadly. His emotions in the film are written to be shown this way, his dialogue, and character prevent the character from being played entirely subtly. Olivier has to deal with the big emotions of the character throughout the film, and does not become hammy despite the nature of the character, which quite an achievement. Olivier conveys his emotions certainly through his superb voice, but he never forgets to internalize Heathcliff's feelings through his face, and eyes which always convey emotions in this performance.

 Olivier is just great throughout his performance from his beginning where Heathcliff is a hard working young man being mistreated by the brother of his Adoptive family. Also being mistreated by the rich people in his community being called Gypsy rubbish. Heathcliff though also continues to pursue Kathy (Merle Oberon) his childhood sweetheart who he continues to love, and she continues to love him. She though only shows that secretly at times in order to be intune with the proper way for the community.

Olivier is perfect in these early scenes showing enthusiasm with Oberon when she still shows him love. Oberon and Olivier have an interesting chemistry in this film, since apparently they hated each other during filming. They actually do well together though, even if strangely. They show the mutual love when they need but they really work when Olivier shows love but Oberon stays cold. Olivier is perfect in these scenes especially in his sadness when she talks down to him as a servant and is truly saddened by it. Also when he overhears her talking down to him, his reaction really is made heartbreaking by Olivier.

Later though Olivier is just as effective when Heathcliff comes back to Wuthering Heights after he leaves for a long while in distress. Heathcliff returns though now rich and owning Wuthering Heights by undercutting his cruel adoptive brother. Heathcliff now has become a cold man, and Olivier is simply great at showing the changed Heathcliff. He is effectively chilling in the way he stands and looks, showing how the life has been taken out of him. Olivier is particularly chilling when he tells his adoptive brother to shoot him, and how he cruelly commands over the man who had done the same to him. Heathcliff has not lost all of his heart though and does show it in key scenes showing he still loves Kathy. Olivier really is perfect in these scenes especially in the last scene together. He plays it really well showing how Heathcliff hid the emotions all along, and really making these scenes as natural and powerful as possible. Olivier's entire performance is truly great, never allowing the somewhat simple nature of his character to make his performance simple. Another great performance from Lord Olivier.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Best Actor 1939: Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind

Clark Gable received his third and final Oscar nomination for portraying Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind.

 Gone With The Wind is an incredibly strong epic. It is a long movie, that is actually worth watching the whole. It has a few problems but overall it really is a truly great and grandiose film experience.

Clark Gable performance is certainly is an iconic performance, just about everything about him is a truly iconic performance. Now an iconic performance does not automatically mean a good one or a great one, it can merely be the idea or image of the performance. But there is one thing for sure when speaking of the character there seems that only that person could have ever really be thought as that character.

Clark Gable just is Rhett Butler, and Rhett is Gable. As soon as he appears, he is the character there is no doubt, he just simply is the part. Everything about him only ever insures him as Rhett Butler. I never for a moment in the film questioned him in the part which aided the making his performance as a truly iconic one. His performance as Rhett is one that is essential to the film, and Gable is a character of great impact of the film. This all begins with his initial entrance at the bottom of the stair case looking up at Scarlett (Vivien Leigh). His single look here begins the ease of performance Gable has with this performance. He says nothing but Gable has already suggested more than enough of Butler. Gable look is absolutely perfect there is no question to that look it is as Scarlett describes it, being able to see through her clothes.

For about a third of the film Rhett really does not continuously appear in scenes in comes in and out of the film. Every time though he appears he certainly makes a strong impact, this partially in the way Rhett is written but more fully due to Gable incredibly powerful presence. Gable's presence here is like none other, his natural charisma and strength are never more visible and as strong than as Rhett. Every single moment Gable is on screen his personality is simply magnetic. He always stands out in a scene and always a perfect command in them. Such as his first scene where he questions the abilities of the southern gentlemen to win against the North. He shows Rhett is a man who always has command over his situation. He makes Rhett into a man who knows what he wants and how to get it, and a man who shall not be forgotten, and is not forgotten ever in the film.

Now the most important factor of his performance though that really makes it legendary are his scenes with Vivien Leigh. Vivien Leigh's performance is an astounding performance, one of true brilliance, and Gable being able to stand up along with Leigh performance is a true feat there. Both of the two work wonderfully together. They both are completely in tune with their characters and in each other to make their scenes together scenes of cinematic greatness. I really like Gable way of dealing with Leigh and the way she deals back toward him. They simply could not be better, and both are absolutely brilliantly in showing these two characters who sees things the way they are even if they are of low character at times. They are fantastic in the way they tear at each other down to their true selves. These "romantic" scenes together are fascinating because they really are not tender, but in many ways harsh, yet they still hold tremendous power, because of Leigh and Gable are truly great together.

Gable finally consistently appears in the final fourth of the film, after Rhett marries Scarlett. Gable got along perfectly before that point, excelling as Rhett, while Rhett was always able to stay away partially and never truly become involved with the troublesome Scarlet. Rhett when he does become even more deeply involved with Scarlet including to having a daughter together, Rhett finds great troubles with this relationship, and this really puts Gable performance to the test. Gable is more than up to the task, though and gives truly emotionally honest portrayal as Rhett. He shows Rhett desire to love Scarlet but also his sadness and regret due to her inability to shake her own selfishness. Gable is simply perfect in all of these scenes, and especially the final scene where Scarlet goes to Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) for the last time. His exit and final line delivery are mark of not only an iconic performance, but also of a truly great legendary performance.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Best Actor 1939: Mickey Rooney in Babes in Arms

Mickey Rooney received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Mickey Moran in Babes in Arms.

Babes in Arms is an okay musical film, with a pretty standard plot, and with musical numbers that either hit or miss.

Mickey Rooney plays Mickey Moran a young second generation vaudeville performer who is trying to find success as an entertainer by making a show with the second generation performers. Rooney's character here is the type that he played many times in his younger years. The musical performer of the young man who has the dream to be a big success. His character is not exactly that complicated of a person but then again he hardly needs to be. 

Rooney just plays Moran in the way that he should be played which is with a whole lot of energy. Rooney really does not stop moving in this performance, and does infuse the right type of energy into the role.  He certainly never seems to be bored while playing the part,  and that does work well for his character. He is always singing, moving or doing something, with Moran, which seems to say that Rooney certainly is working to making his performance as enjoyable as possible. He certainly tries everything in this performance to be entertaining, whether it is singing, dancing, or even trying for comedy with imitations such as when he imitates Co-Nominee Clark Gable.

Rooney I have to give credit here for always keeping a passion in his performance for every scene. He never slows down in this performance. He is always trying for something, I must say he does not always succeed, but in a film like that I am glad he is trying to put that sort of energy into the mix. He never ever falls completely flat, nor does he become really annoying, which he certainly could have become. His performance certainly does succeed in a functional sort of way, in that the performance is not a truly great performance, as either a musical/comedy performance, or as a dramatic performance after all the most dramatic scene he has is his impassioned speech about wanting to be an entertainer, but for the film, this performance could not really be better. It is a performance for clear entertainment purposes, and succeeds on that level fairly well, and it simply serves its function as it should.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Best Actor 1939

And The Nominees Were:

James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights 

 Robert Donat in Goodbye, Mr. Chips

 Mickey Rooney in Babes in Arms

Clark Gable in Gone With The Wind

So will it be one of the three screen legends, the then young star, or the actor who should be far better remembered than he is?

Friday, 24 September 2010

Best Supporting Actor 1968: Results

5. Daniel Massey in Star!- Massey does a slight Noel Coward imitation, and that is it. The film he is in is downright terrible, and he does not rise above that material.

4. Jack Wild in Oliver!- Jack Wild I feel does certainly fully fit the role of the Artful Dodger. Now the role is not that much, but Wild handles it well enough.
3. Seymour Cassel in Faces- A realistically handled and played performance, that works incredibly well in Faces, he adds a good amount to the film, and he an Lynn Carlin work perfectly together.

2. Gene Wilder in The Producers- A performance I will admit may not be for everyone, and it all contingent on whether or not you find his antics funny, which I did.

1. Jack Albertson in The Subject Was Roses- Albertson is truly great as the father of a small dysfunctional family. His performance really contains some truly great acting, and creates a very fascinating character.
Deserving Performances:
Jason Robards in Once Upon a Time in the West
Timothy Dalton in A Lion in Winter

Best Supporting Actor 1968: Jack Albertson in The Subject Was Roses

Jack Albertson won an Oscar from his only nomination for portraying John Clearly in The Subject Was Roses.

The Subject was Roses is a decent film about that usual type of Oscar nominated family, a dysfunctional one. It is not great, and it has some problems, but it also has strong acting, and some very interesting moments.

Jack Albertson's win here is rather interesting, because it usually is well praised, but rarely talked about, I would probably attribute that to the film being somewhat difficult to find. His performance here is most certainly not supporting, it is lead, all the main players are leading Martin Sheen as the son, Jack Albertson as the father and Patricia Neal as the mother, not a single one is supporting in the least. The most supporting a characters get are two people they briefly talk to in a night club, and the extras I suppose. Something interesting about it is technically he could have traded places with Ron Moody in Oliver since Albertson is far more a lead in his film, than Moody is in his.

John Clearly is a stern father, who certainly wants things his way, even his way is rather selfish, the fascinating part about the character, and Albertson's performance is that he is not at all simplistic despite how these character can sometimes be portrayed. Albertson really just works well in the role, always acting appropriately stern as if this is something that John, has done and always must do. Albertson perfectly shows his directness and his way of always wanting a certain amount of control over his situation and family. Albertson though does not always show him in this single light and it is amazing how well Albertson shows the depth of this man.

I particularly found it interesting how Albertson perfectly shows the different sides throughout the film, and how he acts differently when he just with his wife at the beginning of the film. Where they immediately bicker about their different ways of dealing with their sons. It is fascinating how both actors in their first scene together clearly show a long history between them, without really even saying all that much about their history. Albertson and Neal simply create the right amount of knowing and distance from each other that works incredibly well. In fact all three of the actors work perfectly together to show them together like a true family. Albertson though is the most complex in this in that John Clearly is the one who tries to hide some of his though and emotions, and tries to be a different person when he is with his son, with his wife or when he is alone.

I like how well Albertson brilliantly shows the way his character's mixed emotions about his son, and wife. It is fascinating the way he seems to love both of them in actuality but has some inherit hatred for them too. Albertson handles the complex nature of a character like this well, he never switches obviously from hating to loving, but rather carefully combines the emotions to create a truly fascinating character. I think his best scenes are when he shows Clearly in his happier moments. I particular think he is truly great in the night club scene. Albertson is just brilliant especially in his brief singing scene. He does so much in these scenes when he talks about his love for his wife, but also tries to hide the fact that he is unfaithful. Then later when he truly desires his wife, but she rejects him, the switch from his love to hate, is truly great acting from Albertson.

Now criticism could be leveled against this performance, that it is too theatrical and loud, but I would disagree. His loudness comes from his attempts to always be strict not from over acting, and Albertson does not over act, and in fact gives a brilliantly subtle performance despite the fact that his character is not a quiet character. Albertson always uses both his voice, and facial expressions to great effect. I though in particular scenes where he listened and did not talk. Especially his first scene where he admires his army jacket, and even stronger his powerful reaction to when his son says he loves him. Albertson is never dull in this performance, or underacting, he never stops telling us more about his character, and I find due to Albertson his performance itself is far more complete than the actual film.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Best Supporting Actor 1968: Gene Wilder in The Producers

Gene Wilder received his only acting Oscar nomination for portraying Leo Bloom in The Producers. 

The Producers I find to be a very enjoyable comedy, where there are plenty of jokes that find their mark very well.

Gene Wilder plays Leo Bloom a nervous accountant who ends up working with a has been Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) to produce a play they want to fail that way they can embezzle the funds given by the share holders of the profits for the play. Wilder begins the film as a very worried and nervous accountant, and I find he is just hilariously perfect in his first scene. He plays Bloom's nervousness just to perfection in my opinion. Now a performance like his could get old quickly but I never feel his does at all. I find he is just finds the perfect tone in this scene, to maximize hilarity caused by his performance. I just like everything he does the way he gets red and flails around when his blue blanket is taken away, and I especially like just the little things he does such as when he shakes his head up and down when Max asks if he hurt his feeling, just perfect for me. 

I do believe Wilder adds a lot to his performance, even more than just the jokes, which is all he technically needed to do. I really like how he shows how Bloom is a man who never really had any respect, and really enjoys finally being like by someone. It really works for me, he never forgets the comedy. He always puts the right manic energy into these scenes when he really gets to let loose especially in the "I'm Leo Bloom" scene. I feel his performance just simply works as well as it could. He works very well with Zero Mostel and I find they play off each other very well in every scene, especially in the first scene where they are more adverse to each other. They work well though still throughout and I was actually surprised that they made an honest friendship in such a crazy comedy.

My only real problem with the performance, and it really is not a problem exactly, that is he and Mostel really are pushed off into the background for many scenes of the film. I feel that they do not let themselves stay quiet but they merely properly allow the other more obvious comedy bits to be performed such as Kenneth Mars as the ex-nazi or the play "Springtime for Hitler". They properly step aside and let those people and scenes be funny on their own. That is not to say that they still do not still add to scenes, they certainly do, they simply are not the focus of the comedy. That is how the film work until the end of the film.

Again the comedy comes back to The Producers, and once again Wilder shines in his scenes, and tries and succeeds quite well to be very amusing. I really found it amusing when he crazily fought with Max and called him fatty fat fat, and then Wilder brilliantly stated later to Max that he was sorry for calling him fatty fat fat. I just think his performance is great, especially his ending speech where Bloom both gives a funny speech but an oddly heartfelt speech about how Max. The speech could have not worked at all, in fact this whole performance could have not worked at all, but I find that Wilder did find the perfect way of playing his character, and succeeded completely.Yes he was not always "on" but when he needed to be he was completely up to the task.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Best Supporting Actor 1968: Daniel Massey in Star!

Daniel Massey received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Noel Coward in Star!.

Star! is a very bad film about the career of British performer Gertrude Lawrence played by Julie Andrews. There is nothing special about it, the characters are very dull, and the film just goes on and on.

Daniel Massey plays fellow performer, and playwright Noel Coward who is her friend, who makes remarks that are supposed to be witty about her life and career, with his distinct voice, and his distinct way of holding his cigarette. I say this since that is all there really is to his performance. Massey just stands and talks in his imitation of Coward. He is not bad exactly but there is nothing else to his character. Just remarks that are intended to be witty that is about it. In one scene he acts out anger because he is playing a character in a play but that still is not much. He adds nothing what so ever to add complexity to the character as he is in the script who is written so simply. Massey gives an incredibly forgettable performance, he technically is not that bad really, but I have trouble saying that he was good either. Perhaps if Coward was given any depth in the script his performance could have been something but that simply is not the case.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Best Supporting Actor 1968: Seymour Cassel in Faces

Seymour Cassel received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Chet in Faces.

Faces is certainly an interesting film, although I found the part of the film focusing on Lynn Carlin was far more interesting than when she is not on screen.

Luckily for Cassel he is only on the screen in scenes with Carlin. Cassel's Chet meets Carlin's Maria as she goes out with her friends to a bar, after she was left by her husband (John Marley). Cassel performance as with almost all of the other performers in the film is incredibly realistic. With Cassel here there is no obvious "acting" to be seen despite the fact that his character is one of the least just normal performance. There is never a hint of falseness with his performance which is needed which allows him to work very well with Carlin's performance which is as truly honest as a performance really can be.

Chet is a young hippie who goes home with Maria and her friends where they talk about various things at
at her home. Cassel is really great here as Chet always completely truthful in his performance, and always adding as much to his performance as possibly. His external delivery is already spot on perfect but Cassel shows much internally with his eyes that is just wonderful. As Chet speaks to the women, than later to just Maria, you really learn about him, no such much because of the dialogue, although that is part of it but more so because of how much effort Cassel honestly puts in to the role and adds to it. He shows so much of Chet in such a short time that it really is pretty amazing. All of his scenes are great even if they are brief. His especially strong scene is his last scene with Carlin. Both actors just create such a truthful, and honest scene together, their efforts make their final scene one I shall remember for awhile. A very strong performance, a performance of simplicity, and realism at some of its finest.

Best Supporting Actor 1968: Jack Wild in Oliver!

Jack Wild received his only Oscar nomination for portraying the Artful Dodger in Oliver!.

The Artful Dodger is the lead of Fagin's (Ron Moody) boys who pick pocket for him and stay at his place. The Artful Dodger is a memorable character of Dickens' more for his image I would say than the character himself. For the look I think Wild has the perfect look for Dodger, especially Dodger in the musical where the character is far lighter. He does completely look like the Dodger with his blue coat, dirty face, big hat, and to Wild's credit the right expressions that work perfectly for Dodger, with all of his sly grins and such. 

I certainly like his performance as Dodger, and do think he is the proper personification of the character. He just seems like Dodger to me. He does one thing very well which is he does steal all of his scenes away from Oliver (Mark Lester) making him far more interesting than the main character, although that does largely come from Oliver being a dullard of a character, and made even duller by Mark Lester's portrayal of him. He does not steal the scenes though away from Ron Moody therefore he does not qualify as a true scene stealer. Wild certainly has the right energy for the part that does work well for all his numbers, which he sings properly well with the right energy with his peculiar way of moving around in those scenes that work well enough.

Is there anything special about his characterization of Dodger, no, such as in the more dramatic scenes all he does is make the same surprised face as the rest of the boys, but he certainly is right for the part. He handles the part well, and his performance did leave a good impression on me at the end of the film. I do like all that he does in the film, he is not amazing but is truly completely right for the role, and plays it completely as this should be played in this film. I must admit I really liked his performance the first time I watched the film, but for some reason my admiration has waned, even though it still certainly exists, I particularly did like his last scene where he and Fagin dance off into the distance, they certainly both do have a good exit, and in fact their exit seemed to be a more fitting end to the film than that the brief last scene of Oliver's. Jack Wild's performance is not great but he certainly kept Dodger's memorability and possibly added to it in a small way.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Best Supporting Actor 1968

Gene Wilder in The Producers

Daniel Massey in Star!

Jack Albertson in The Subject Was Roses

Jack Wild in Oliver!

Seymour Cassel in Faces

This year looks like it could be quite interesting. What do you think? Who is your pick and prediction?

Friday, 17 September 2010

Lead Ranking 100 Nominees

Now with a total of hundred nominees reviewed with a total 21 years, without the two years I have done which lacked five nominated or at least five see-able performances. 


1. F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus (1984)
2. James Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
3. Giancarlo Giannini in Seven Beauties (1976)
4. Peter O'Toole in The Lion in Winter (1968)
5. Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot (1989)
6. Peter Finch in Network (1976)
7. Laurence Olivier in Sleuth (1972)  
8. Ernest Borgnine in Marty (1955)
9. Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote (2005)
10. Clark Gable in It Happened One Night (1934)
11. Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver (1976)
12. Spencer Tracy in A Bad Day At Black (1955)
13. Anthony Quinn in Zorba the Greek (1964)
14. Peter O'Toole in Becket (1964)
15. Art Carney in Harry and Tonto (1974)
16. Jack Nicholson in Chinatown (1974)
17. William Hurt in Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)
18. Liam Neeson in Schindler's List (1993)
19. Al Pacino in The Godfather Part 2 (1974)
20. Rod Steiger in The Heat of the Night (1967)
21. James Dean in East of Eden (1955)
22. Richard Burton in Becket (1964)
23. Michael Caine in Sleuth (1972)
24. Tom Wilkinson in In The Bedroom (2001)
25. Laurence Olivier in Henry V (1946)
26. Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove (1964)
27. Marlon Brando in The Godfather (1972)
28. Walter Huston The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
29. Robert Duvall in The Apostle (1997)
30. Emil Jannings in The Last Command (1928)
31. Walter Huston in Dodsworth (1936)
32. David Niven in Separate Tables (1958)
33. Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (1967)
34. Tom Hulce in Amadeus (1984)
35. William Powell in The Thin Man (1934)
36. Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain (2005)
37. Daniel Day-Lewis in In the Name of the Father (1993)
38. Cary Grant in Penny Serenade (1941)
39. Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind (2001)
40. Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
41. Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke (1967)
42. Peter Fonda in Ulee's Gold (1997)
43. Alan Bates in The Fixer (1968)
44. Albert Finney in Under The Volcano (1984)
45. Tony Curtis in The Defiant Ones (1958)
46. Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (1941)
47. Sam Waterson in The Killing Fields (1984)
48. Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones (1958)
49. Peter O'Toole in The Ruling Class (1972)
50. Paul Newman in A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
51. William Holden in Network (1976)
52. William Powell in My Man Godfrey (1936)
53. Cliff Robertson in Charly (1968)
54. Kenneth Branagh in Henry V (1989)
55. Dustin Hoffman in Lenny (1974)
56. Gary Cooper in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
57. Fredric March in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
58. Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
59. Anthony Hopkins in The Remains of the Day (1993)
60. Bill Murray in Lost in Translation (2003)
61. Jude Law in Cold Mountain (2003)
62. Ron Moody in Oliver! (1968)
63. Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady (1964)
64. James Cagney in Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
65. David Straithairn in Good Night and Good Luck (2005)
66. Harrison Ford in Witness (1985)
67. Sean Penn in Mystic River (2003)
68. Spencer Tracy in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)
69. Alan Arkin in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968)
70. Charlie Chaplin in The Circus (1928)
71. Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets (1997)
72. Dustin Hoffman in Wag the Dog (1997)
73. Paul Muni in The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936)
74. Albert Finney in Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
75. Spencer Tracy in San Francisco (1936)
76. Johnny Depp in The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
77. Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line (2005)
78. Paul Winfield in Sounder (1972)
79. Frank Sinatra in The Man With the Golden Arm (1955)
80. Tom Hanks in Philadelphia (1993)
81. Gregory Peck in The Yearling (1946)
82. James Garner Murphy's Romance (1985)
83. Robert Montgomery in Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)
84. Sylvester Stallone in Rocky (1976)
85. Frank Morgan in The Affairs of Cellini (1934)
86. Ben Kingsley in The House of Sand and Fog (2003)
87. Jon Voight Runaway Train (1985)
88. Denzel Washington in Training Day (2001)
89. Laurence Fishburne in What's Love Got To Do With It (1993)
90. Spencer Tracy in The Old Man and The Sea (1958)
91. Jack Nicholson in Prizzi's Honor (1985)
92. Larry Parks in The Jolson Story (1946)  
93. Terrence Howard in Hustle and Flow (2005)
94. Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting (1997)
95. Robin William in Dead Poet's Society (1989)
96.Tom Cruise in Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
97. Jeff Bridges in Star Man (1984)
98. Gary Cooper in Sergeant York (1941)
99. Will Smith in Ali (2001)
100. Sean Penn in I Am Sam (2001)

Some Random Trivia so far
Most Lead Wins: Walter Huston with 2
Most Losses without win: Spencer Tracy with 5
Most Reviewed Performer: Spencer Tracy
Biggest Differences in Scores for different performances: Spencer Tracy and Jack Nicholson 2 to 5
Best Average: Laurence Olivier with 5
Worst Average: Sean Penn with 2.25
Best Real Winner: F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus
Worst Real Winner: Gary Cooper in Sergeant York
Lowest of My Winners: Bill Murray in Lost in Translation
Best Entrance by Nominee: Walter Huston in The Devil and Daniel Webster, Runner up Laurence Olivier in Henry V
Strangest Character: Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove
Favorite Film: Amadeus
Most Pleasant Surprise: Giancarlo Giannini in Seven Beauties
Biggest Disappointment: Jack Nicholson in Prizzi's Honor
Most 2nd places: William Powell

Here is a video I made of my winners.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Best Actor 1955: Results

5. Frank Sinatra in The Man with Golden Arm- Sinatra I will admit tries hard to do a good job here, but he never really succeeds. It is a challenging role which he does not meet the challenge.
4. James Cagney in Love Me or Leave Me- This is not a challenging role really, and Cagney plays it as well as possible. He is properly mean as the rather simple gangster, it is not much of a character but Cagney does a fine job with it.
3. James Dean in East of Eden- Mr. Mannerisms himself certainly has a lot of mannerism in his fairly over the top performance, now I probably would not let anyone else get away with a performance like this but something about Dean and the character of Cal make it work.
2. Spencer Tracy in A Bad Day at Black- Probably his best work, Tracy is brilliant here in a completely understated role. He has a magnetic presence in this film, and somehow controls the scenes even though he only ever raises his voice once.
1. Ernest Borgnine in Marty- Borgnine is just brilliant as Marty. He gives a very realistic and heartfelt of performance. He is brilliant at showing all of who Marty his from his frustrations, to the real joy he has when he finally finds love. Simply a great performance.
Deserving Performances:
Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter

Best Actor 1955: Ernest Borgnine in Marty

Ernest Borgnine won an Oscar from his only nomination for portraying a lonely butcher Marty Piletti in Marty.

Marty I found to be quite enjoyable romantic film that I felt really had a sense of place in the Italian neighborhood in New York City, and simply had a nice story with some strong performances.

Ernest Borgnine before this role was only ever cast as a heavy, which he did play very effectively especially in From Here to Eternity and A Bad Day At Black. He excelled quite well in these fairly simple, abrasive roles, as Marty Borgnine plays a very different role, that of a very simple butcher with rather low self-esteem. Marty is a decent guy who really tries to be nice to everyone, but he he fails to find romance.

Marty is just a normal and guy, no extreme psycho drama, here just a pleasant man, and Borgnine shows that you can bring out a great performance even out of just a character who really is a pretty normal person. Borgnine begins in the film as just a normal guy, and Borgnine adds a certain realism to the film, and his performance, since not for a second did I question that he was Marty, he just was the part instantly. I like how he shows Marty go through his daily routine at the butcher shop, and then later hanging out with his rather thin headed friend Angie (Joe Mantell). He is just great showing  his normal routine of Marty, how he somewhat passively goes through the motions of the day, clearly having done them for awhile and clearly bit tired of them too.

Borgnine perfectly shows the lonely disposition of the man in these early scenes. One scene he calls a potential romantic interest, but is quickly turned down. Borgnine is perfect at showing Marty's anxiousness at first, and his shy way of talking, then he truly effective in his very honestly sad reaction to being turned down once again.  An even more powerful scene comes from his talk with his mother at the dinner table. Borgnine is brilliant in this scene, as Marty talks about himself, and his inability to find any one to like him. Marty frustrations, anger, sadness about his situation, are made absolutely powerful by Borgnine, especially in the way he says the "fat ugly man" line. Borgnine simply could not be better in showing all of Marty hangups which all shown so well in this one scene.

Marty later goes to a dance which he really had no interest in but was coaxed in to it. Marty happens to come across a school teacher Clara Snyder (Betsy Blair) who was left by her blind date. Borgnine really simply lights up the screen in the scene where he first meets her. The way he can't stop talking to her, because he finds someone who actually likes him for once. He is perfect in showing Marty downright uncontrollable enthusiasm with meeting her, and the way he tries to keep her happy at the same time. The way he keeps talking being perfectly amazed at his situation, but also always asking to make sure she is still fine with him. Borgnine and Blair work perfectly together because neither forget the certain aspects of the character. They do not instantly become perfect romantics. He does not act as he really has been on a lot dates and shows the right uneasiness and enthusiasm to the situation, and Blaire still stays properly shy.

Borgnine than brings her home, and after awhile he tries to get once kiss out of her, but she does not let him. Borgnine is again absolutely great in showing how Marty just wants to stop his loneliness and her slight rejection which more of comes from her shyness, causes Marty frustrations to come out once again. Later though when he takes her home, and is told that he should call her guaranteeing another date. Borgnine shows the truly happy Marty as well as possible. But Marty chances at true love are challenged by his friends and mother who do not like Clara.I like one more time Marty going into his usual routine of loneliness and boredom. Marty though finally forgets all that, saying he can't take it anymore and calls her. Borgnine is absolutely brilliant bringing Marty to this final moment. His performance is simply a brilliant natural performance. He shows everything there was to Marty and I really felt I met someone when I met Borgnine as Marty. That is a truly great performance.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Best Actor 1955: James Dean in East of Eden

James Eden received his first posthumous Oscar nomination for portraying Caleb "Cal" Trask in East of Eden.

East is an okay film, although as an adaptation of the novel it is extremely truncated and some of the characters are poorly reduced especially the mother of Cal and Aron.

James Dean is simply one of the most mannered actors ever. He never stops doing his mannerisms ever through the film. He is moving around in his weird ways. Walking oddly, and looking at the ground constantly for no foreseeable reason, sitting in his own way on the train. He most certainly is over the top as Cal with the way he almost acts like a worm during time in the film. Something very interesting about that is that most actors who would give this sort of performance I and probably many others would not let the actor get away with it. Saying that the actor is just going over the top, and plays the role oddly.

But there is just something about Dean that lets him get away with it. Dean had some sort of certain charisma about him that enabled him to get away with his mannerisms. He some how despite the oddity of everything he does seems natural coming out of him. Still over the top but from Dean somehow it works. A reason perhaps why it works is that the character himself is suppose to be an outcast. Cal is not really suppose to get along with anyone despite seeking an acceptance of some sort, despite believing that he himself is bad. He particularity tries to gain acceptance from his distant father Adam (Raymond Massey), but finds they have trouble connecting. Dean's mannered performance certainly comes into conflict with Massey's much more to the point type of acting, but that actually  adds to their relationship showing a clear disconnection from each other.

Dean I must say is fascinating from beginning to end in the film.  Yes what he does seems odd, and strange at all times, but it does work well. His portrait of the angst ridden young man really is a perfect portrait, because of Dean. Yes it is because of his odd mannerisms, because they just add well to his performance. Odd for sure but I never felt they exactly seemed forced. Somehow Dean finds the way that his strange actions do add to his performance. They make Cal a memorable character and a full realized one. He has his mannerisms but Dean still does not forget to add a certain subtlety to his performance. Not a whole lot but enough so it is not always just over the top. But his over the top scenes do add the power of his performance. Such as when he tries to embrace his father after his father rejects his gift. Many scenes are strong just merely because of Dean performance even if it over the top. Due to Dean this film has one aspect that certainly is hard to forget.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Best Actor 1955: Frank Sinatra in The Man With the Golden Arm

Frank Sinatra received his second and final Oscar nomination for portraying Frankie Machine in The Man With the Golden Arm.

The Man with the Golden Arm is a film that has some good moments but it is a bit dull at other times, and it bit too repetitive.

Frank Sinatra plays here a heroin addict who has kicked the habit and wants to become a drummer, but finds that getting away from the drugs is harder than he would have expected. Apparently Sinatra commented that this performance would have been more deserving of an Oscar than his one in From Here to Eternity. I will agree that this performance is better than that one but that this one would not have been deserving either. Sinatra here begins the film as Frankie as he tries to make something of himself. Sinatra is okay at best in these standard scenes, of the guy who hangs out in the wrong places. The problem with these early scenes is that his performance just merely is not that interested. It is not that bad it just is a bit boring at times, he really does not make his character into anything special.

Later though Frankie finds he will have bigger problems when he falls back into his heroine habit. Sinatra is okay showing his depression as he goes back into the habit but he never is that good. He has some big scenes involving him going cold turkey to get off the drugs. These scenes would be challenging for any actor and Sinatra really does not succeed but he does not fail completely. I am glad that he does not overact these scenes at all, he tries to just portray them realistically. But Sinatra does come off as a bit false, I can see he is clearly trying hard to play the scene realistically, he does not overdo it, but he never comes off as a man really going cold turkey.

Sinatra really never has a great scene in this film, his best scene is his last scene with Eleanor Parker. He still is not amazing but again he does a fine job showing how the character has grown from his experiences. Overall though his performance is sometimes a bit dull, and only okay at best. He tries his best with the difficult scenes but never fully succeeds with them. I want to say that I do not hate Sinatra as an actor completely. I think he was very good in Von Ryan's Express and great in The Manchurian Candidate. I think he tries hard here he just does not succeed. I really wish he had been great and I was hoping this performance was going to be like his in The Manchurian Candidate but unfortunately it just is not.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Best Actor 1955: Spencer Tracy in A Bad Day At Black Rock

Spencer Tracy received his fifth Oscar nomination for portraying a one armed war veteran John J. Macreedy in A Bad Day At Black Rock.

A Bad Day At Black Rock is a very strong film in my opinion. Telling a suspenseful story of a stranger who comes into an isolated town looking for a Japanese man. The film moves along incredibly well, its acting, cinematography, and direction are all incredibly well handled. It was not nominated for best picture, but I would certainly have given John Sturges the win for best director.

If you have been reading my reviews I am sure you noticed I have not the biggest fan when it comes to Tracy's nominated performances. But still I always said I did not hate all of his performances or really him as an actor because of some of his non nominated performances, and this performance. Here is the performance which shows the Spencer Tracy that is always talked about.

Tracy gives a mostly quiet performance here as the mysterious John J. Macreedy a mysterious man who does not receive much of a welcome into the isolated town of Black Rock.  Tracy stays pretty withdrawn throughout his performance, and this begins when he first gets off the train. He always stays very unassuming, walking in an introverted way and never really standing up straight precisely. He walks along in a specific man that suggests a tired man who keeps to himself well, even though now he is looking for someone. Tracy is just perfect in the way he begins to ask around about a Japanese man he is looking for and gets less than friendly answers. Tracy carries himself perfectly letting us know enough about his character but still keeping a mystery about him that is incredibly effective.

I love the particular scenes where he shows the hidden strength of the character that is so subtly shown by Tracy. Especially strong scenes are when he questions the local King pin (Robert Ryan) about what exactly happened to the man. He is sitting down looking at the ground at times, only saying a few words, yet Tracy is just magnetic in this scene, as he tears apart the other man's lies, and reveals the man's hidden side. Every inflection in his voice, and the way he moves around even though he stays in the same spot is just brilliantly handled by Tracy. Another strong scene is when he stands toe to toe with another local tough (played by Co-Nominee Ernest Borgnine). Again Tracy is perfect in his quiet way of breaking down the man's threats and showing him for the stupid man he is.

 His power in all of these scenes are amazing because Tracy is so quiet and withdrawn, he actually does not say that much but the little he says is as powerful as possible. There is only one scene where he really raises his voice and that is an all important scene where he can finally find out the truth about the man he is looking for. The way Tracy questions the guilty and the compliant is excellent. The way he dissects about everyone in the two is perfect and believable even with how withdrawn he always remains. The greatest part of his performance though I believe is what he shows about his character. Not very much is said about Macreedy, but Tracy very carefully gives little hints to who he really is. He never blurts it out loud but I felt I really met the man due to Tracy's brilliant hints he displayed very carefully throughout his performance.  Here is the great Tracy performance, the one that should be talked about, where he does all that is said about him. He never seems like he really is acting but gives a truly great performance.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Best Actor 1955: James Cagney in Love Me or Leave Me

James Cagney received his third and final Oscar nomination for portraying gangster Martin Snyder in Love me or Leave Me.

Love Me or Leave Me is an okay film about a wannabe singer Ruth Etting  (Doris Day) whose career is helped by Martin "The Gimp" Snyder through his gangster connections, but after awhile as Martin gains more control over her, the more Etting wants to get out.

Cagney was not a stranger to gangsters, having played them all the time throughout his career. His voice, his shape, his face just always worked well for the part. Snyder here is not the most violent gangster he played, or the most evil, in fact this is almost a lighter gangster for him, well until later in the film when the tone of the film becomes  darker.

Something interesting about this gangster is that Snyder is that he is called "the gimp" therefore Cagney always walks with a limp. For Cagney I feel is a huge hindrance. That is because Cagney is such a physical actor in most of his performances. Cagney usually uses his whole body and his physical motions quite effectively in his performances, here he cannot do that due to the limp that the character has. Now this is not a huge problem since most performances from most actors do not contain such physicality, but still when Cagney does not do it, it feels like he is hindered.

Cagney's role here is a bit simple as the gangster. He as written is not too complicated. He is an easily irritated gangster who wants things one way his way. His character does not really change all that much through the film except getting more jealous and attempting to be more controlling. I must say Cagney does fit the part there is no doubt about that. He just looks and feels the part throughout the film. He has the right way of acting tough, and talking out of the side of his mouth, as he yells. His level of meanness is basically consistent throughout the film, except in one scene where he won't take no for an answer anymore from Ruth. Cagney actually in that scene is rather chilling. Most of the time though he is a pretty lightweight meanie, since the film tries to be that way most of the time.

Cagney shows the controlling nature of Marty very well, and certainly is always believable with his hair trigger into anger. Cagney does make it believable that Marty can get things done the way he is and can influence Ruth the way he does especially in a scene where he will not let her blow him off as she had done several times before. He gives Marty the right confidence and demeanor, with the right pathetic nature. The part though overall is not that much because Snyder is mostly just perpetual in his anger except for the very last scene of the film. I feel Cagney tries to add more from than in the words of the film showing some ambition in the character through his face, but still that is limited by the film. His biggest scene where he changes a little is the final scene where Marty must swallow his pride finally. Cagney is just fine in this scene just as he is in the role. He never is amazing, and a part like this seems pretty easy for Cagney, but still Cagney certainly fulfills the requirements of the limited role.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Best Actor 1955

And The Nominees Were:

Spencer Tracy in A Bad Day At Black Rock

James Dean in East of Eden

Ernest Borgnine in Marty

Frank Sinatra in The Man With The Golden Arm

James Cagney in Love Me Or Leave Me

Friday, 10 September 2010

Best Supporting Actor 1953: Results

5. Frank Sinatra in From Here To Eternity- Frank Sinatra is only ever obnoxious as Angelo Maggio. He is just annoying in most of the early scenes than in his final scenes he overacts massively.
4. Brandon De Wilde in Shane- Brandon De Wilde is a dull presence in the film, and every single line and reactions only take away from the film. He is suppose to be the heart in the film but fails miserably to ever be authentic.
3. Eddie Albert in Roman Holiday- Albert technically does nothing wrong in his role, and does not take away from the film, but he basically is always just in the background taking pictures that is all.
2. Robert Strauss in Stalag 17- He is funny enough as the two man Pow comedy team, and he does not let his jokes actually interfere with more serious sections of the film, since he does not overplay his role.
1.  Jack Palance in Shane- The role he plays it not much but Palance puts the right amount of menace in his role as the villainous gunman. He is never required to all that much but everything he does do is as well handled as possible.
Deserving Performances:
Otto Preminger in Stalag 17
Ernest Borgnine in From Here to Eternity
John Gielgud in Julius Caesar
Jay Robinson in The Robe