Friday, 31 December 2010

Best Actor 1965

And the Nominees Were:

Richard Burton in The Spy Who Came in From The Cold

Oskar Werner in Ship of Fools

Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou

Rod Steiger in The Pawnbroker

Laurence Olivier in Othello

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Best Actor 1982: Results

5. Jack Lemmon in Missing- Lemmon has a few moments of strong emotional impact, but the script calls for very little of him most of the time. Also I felt there was a lack in a natural flow in his performance.
4. Peter O'Toole in My Favorite Year- Peter O'Toole is good, and charming as a washed up movie star. His performance is not incredible but it is a nice funny and entertaining performance by O'Toole.
3. Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie- An incredibly enjoyable performance by Hoffman here. He makes sure every joke hits home with his terrific comedic timing. He makes the film also believable despite playing a man playing woman. Many scenes could have come off as just odd, by Hoffman makes them humorous, and also adds even more with the oddly poignant transformation caused by being a woman for awhile.
2. Ben Kingsley in Gandhi- Kingsley is quite good in the challenging role of Gandhi. He always seems completely authentic as Gandhi, in every scene and at every age. I never once doubted him as Gandhi, which is a spectacular achievement by Kingsley.
1. Paul Newman in The Verdict- Newman gives a full portrait of a man from being tired and broken down, but slowly growing toward a redemption of sorts. I personally finds this performance to be an outstanding and powerful performance which is incredibly true and authentic. A heartbreaking performance which may not have the technical challenges of Kingsley and Hoffman's characters, but Newman is the who made Galvin a truly empathetic man to me which is something a performance rarely does for me, but this one did completely.
Deserving Performances:
I decided to change other deserving performances since rewriting the performances in my ranking in my nominees is rather redundant. For the deserving performances this year I cannot think of any but I am open to suggestions.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Best Actor 1982: Paul Newman in The Verdict

Paul Newman received his sixth Oscar nomination for portraying Frank Galvin in The Verdict.

I think the Verdict is a very well done court room drama, and personal character study, that I thought was a very emotionally effective film.

Frank Galvin is a incredibly downtrodden Lawyer who is at the bottom of the barrel, he has an office which is a mess, he lacks clients and work, the biggest social event in his life is making the jokes at the bar, heck he cannot do well at pinball. Paul Newman could not be more pathetic and anything but charming or suave here. Nothing like the old Newman image seen in something like Cool Hand Luke.

Newman looks aged, and even his eyes do not even look blue in this film they look like tired old eyes of a tired old man. That is to say I think he is incredible in these early moments as Frank Galvin as just a tired man drifting through life. Newman creates a truly sad portrait of a broken man particularly in his early moments trying to get work by offering legal work to the family of the recently deceased at the individual's funeral, sleeping on the floor of his office, waking up with his hangover, Newman shows Galvin own defeat without fault.

Frank Galvin is given a case by his friend (Jack Warden) that will give him some sort of chance to rehabilitate himself. Galvin initially takes the case seeing at a way to make a fairly quick buck. The case though is a malpractice lawsuit against doctors in a Catholic Hospital who caused  a woman to go into a permanent coma by using the wrong anesthetic while she was giving birth. The case though clearly effects Galvin, and he clearly starts to see as much more.

The start of this is shown in a very quiet moment where Galvin takes pictures of his client for evidence. Newman is absolutely stunning for me in this scene, his quiet expression and reaction clearly deeply effects Galvin, no words instead is all in Newman's reaction. Galvin is given an offer by the Church to avoid a trial, but avoid any justice to the doctors at fault. Newman again outstanding showing how much Galvin is truly effected on a deep level by this case. Galvin's need for justice in this case, is something deeply within something he needs to be able really be a descent person again, this again is not really spoken all that much but is made emotionally true, and incredibly clear by Newman.

Galvin though becomes less tired and slowly gains more confidence as the trial becomes closer. Galvin does not instantly become confidant as a lawyer and a person but Newman slowly portrays a growing strength in the character. He never becomes obviously charming in Newman's old way, but there is a quiet hint to his old charm in a great scene again by Newman in a scene where he picks up a  Laura(Charlotte Rampling). He talks finally with an amount of confidence, not a lot but a little showing Galvin's growth. He also shows this in court, his first days he pauses, and shows a lack of strength, but slowly gains his old abilities once more.

Galvin case though is not easy do to a hostile judge (Milo O'Shea) and an overly competent, corrupt, and confidant opposing lawyer (James Mason) who goes at great lengths to undermine Galvin's case. Newman makes Galvin simply empathetic for me as he struggles to find justice for his client and find his own redemption through the challenges. I thought an especially powerfully scene was when he loses his key expert witness. His sense of a sort of abandonment, and again losing hope, and his confidence once more. An especially striking scene is his moment of defeat where he states his failure to Laura in a heartbreaking scene.

Galvin though finds a witness and still attempts to desperately win the case. Newman made me personally feel Galvin's own desperation, and strive for some sort of justice. I feel Newman's performance simply is that powerful. I felt every single one of his win and loses both in and out of the court room. Newman is to me as authentic as one can be, and as truly powerful as a performance can be. I thought especially in his pivotal speech at the end of the film. His speech is so quiet, honest, and powerful. It is in ways a small speech, not say Atticus Finch's speech in To Kill a Mockingbird, but just a strong if not stronger because Newman makes the speech heartfelt, and a deeply soulful speech that made me not for a second question the outcome of the film. An outcome of the film made powerful, and completely deserved because of Newman's performance.

Best Actor 1982: Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie

Dustin Hoffman received his fifth Oscar nomination for portraying Micheal Dorsey/Dorothy Micheals in Tootsie.

 Tootsie is actually a very enjoyable comedy, which utilizes its situation for all of the comedy it can get basically.

Dustin Hoffman does not play two characters in this film, but plays one man Micheal Dorsey an actor who pretends to be a woman Dorothy Michaels to get an acting job on a soap opera. He first is the struggling actor Micheal who works hard on his art, but perhaps is a little too difficult about it preventing him from getting work as an actor. His early scenes are energetic although the weakest part of his performance as Michael Dorsey, as all by himself, really is not that interesting of a character actually.

Hoffman though really does shine as Dorothy. Although the viewer is obviously instantly in on the fact that it is Hoffman as the women, but Hoffman is fully believable anyways. His voice, is just about perfect with his southern accent, and the way he changes the way he walks, and stands is all brilliantly handled by Hoffman. I never had a doubt that any of the characters would at all believe him to be a woman. This actually is a fairly a big challenge since after all he actually does not wear that much to look like a woman, but Hoffman due to the way he carries himself as a woman both physically and through his voice Dorothy Micheals is simply a very convincing woman.

Hoffman though performance is not only a technical achievement though but is a thoroughly entertaining performance. In just about every scene he finds the right humor with Dorothy, and Micheal, in the double life. Hoffman is clearly working with a funny script but his timing is exceptionally good in this role. The jokes many of them are technically obvious jokes for the situation he is in, but the film and Hoffman really get the most out of them. He is simply hilarious with this performance, that is just a delight to watch. Comedy is always hard to describe why it is funny without over description, so I will just say that what Hoffman does is funny, every situation Dorothy/Micheal get into Hoffman does his best to make them funny, which he succeeds with incredibly well.

The performance actually always stays funny which is something I like but that does not mean his performance is at all simply. He shows a transformation in turning into a better man as Micheal by being a woman, which is strange but well incredibly well handled by Hoffman making it very natural and not at all forced of a transition for the character. Hoffman naturalism in this bizarre role is actually what makes every odd moment in the movie, somehow authentic and funny as well. I would say this is especially true about his "romantic" moments with Jessica Lange and Charles Durning. These scenes are over the top situations technically, but Hoffman makes them somehow play realistically and of course humorously, which is an amazing achievement since the scenes really could have gone all wrong, but instead they go all right.

I would say his best single moment is the reveal scene in the soap opera. This alone shows the brilliance of Hoffman's performance. This scene is both incredibly funny but also has the sentimental ending to his speech which Hoffman portrays wonderfully without taking away the humor from the scene nor does he make that part of the speech at all forced. This scene is just like Hoffman's performance mixing his performance as the man and the woman brilliantly and hilariously but also with the little more to the performance.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Best Actor 1982: Peter O'Toole in My Favorite Year

Peter O'Toole received his seventh Oscar nomination for portraying washed up movie star Alan Swann in My Favorite Year.
My Favorite Year is unfortunately not that funny of a comedy the lead that is not O'Toole gets rather annoying, but there still is O'Toole to make the film enjoyable enough.

Peter O'Toole plays Alan Swann a Erroll Flynn esque movie star who is past his prime and allows his vices to get the best of him quite easily. Peter O'Toole as soon he walks on seem right for the part of Swann. He has the right cocky swagger even when he drunk, the right swagger of a over the top movie star. I like the fashion in which he played Swann as a drunk which is colorful since it is a comedy, but I do not think he over did it. I think his drunken mannerisms worked well, and he really did derive a good amount of humor from Swann's drunkenness.

Alan Swann when he is not drunk is looking for women. O'Toole really walks a careful line with Swann here, because Swann could very easily of been a completely obnoxious character, or seemed a little too slimy. But under O'Toole care Swann comes off a charming even if slimy man that simply is interesting to and rather entertaining to watch. I think he is entertaining to watch in just about every scene he tries to be so, the only problem is the film fails to focus on him enough, and spends a little too much time perhaps with the writer who looks after him played rather impressively by Mark Lynn-Baker, since O'Toole really is the film.

Swann has more than simply his entertaining antics though and has a little more to his character. A lack of a relationship with an estranged daughter that he finds trouble confronting. O'Toole adds the right poignancy to these quiet moments of Swann's without making these scenes seem disconnected with his scenes of antics. I will say the majority of his performance are his antics which are most entertaining at the end when he gets stage fright. O'Toole shows Swann anxiety with a nice amount of humor and delivers the "I'm not and actor, I'm a movie star line" as well as possible. He rounds out his performance with showing the swashbuckler actor part of Swann rather comically at the end, making O'Toole performance a nice comedic turn even if not amazing by any standards. 

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Best Actor 1982: Ben Kingsley in Gandhi

Ben Kingsley won his Oscar from his first nomination for portraying Mohatma Gandhi in Gandhi.

Gandhi I think is a fairly simple biography that really does just follow the man through his life events. I personally prefer a little more. I can read a book on  a completely straight and positive biography, I think there is something lacking in terms of cinematic quality of the film for me anyways. It is not bad, but I actually would rather read a biography of Gandhi than watch the film.

Ben Kingsley portrays Gandhi, and he seemed to have been the perfect choice for Gandhi. I never doubted his portrayal for a single moment as Gandhi. I never thought he was portraying the part in a false or unrealisitc fashion. He always just simply seems to be Gandhi no matter what phase of his life from his young days as a lawyer to his final days. He always seems to be Gandhi, which is quite a feat in itself due to notoriety of Gandhi. It would easy to see faults in his portrayal but he simply has none in being completely Gandhi as a man. At every age he is just as believable, his voice changes adjustments are always completely natural and always are true, also his body language is equally correct. All of his motions from the way he sits and lies, stands in an inward fashion and holds his neck, all seem accurate to the man, and never seem to be calculated Kingsley part just natural.

The portrayal of Gandhi is actually rather complicated early on showing a different side from the usual popular view of Gandhi. A little different side where Kingsley really excels in the role, because the somewhat rougher side and very different side of Gandhi from the man he becomes is well shown by Kingsley because he shows this other aspect of Gandhi showing more to the man without making who he eventually becomes a unnatural transition. Kingsley makes two scenes incredibly interesting showing more depth of Gandhi in his first scene when he does not wish to give up his seat, his reactions are perfectly shown by Kingsley, than later when he wishes to force his wife to clean the toilets. Again it shows a rougher side of Gandhi, and Kingsley handles the scene perfectly.

After his initial scenes though Kingsley becomes the well known image of Gandhi. The guy who knows precisely who is what he stands for, and only wants freedom and peace. The transition to this Gandhi is a rather fast one, I will say, but Kingsley handles it well so it is not at all disconcerting or sudden. Gandhi does mostly just does move for peace and freedom in India for the rest of the film through his speeches, marches, and hunger strikes. Kingsley is incredibly good actually, even if Gandhi becomes a somewhat simple although not a one dimensional character.

Kingsley throughout the rest of the film has this certain quiet power and passion in every way. Much of his performance actually is in small very small, and very poignant reactions shown through the face of Gandhi. He never is loud, but incredibly powerful which is a truly amazing achievement by Kingsley. The role is an incredible challenge even if it seems somewhat simple on the outside due to Gandhi being presented completely positive for most the film. Gandhi is a larger than life figure, and a well known figure, Kingsley is able to be both without visible effort which is what makes this a great character.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Best Actor 1982: Jack Lemmon in Missing

Jack Lemmon received his eighth and final Oscar nomination for portraying Ed Horman in Missing.

Missing although could be an interesting story, but something is well missing. Maybe it is the foregone conclusion, or the repetition of the majority of film of just looking being lied to and not finding him.

Jack Lemmon role of Ed Horman is only to do a few things unfortunately, which may be part of the film's problems. Horman shows up desperately searching for the whereabouts for his Charlie. He does this with his daughter in-law Beth (Sissy Spacek). Horman does this he looks for his son with Beth, fights with her due to her and his son's values and attitudes about the world and governments. The changes consist of this, Horman grows more and more disillusioned with the government as well, becomes more frustrated with the lies of his own government and Chile's government.  He also, as his search becomes more hopeless, becomes closer with his daughter in law.

Lemmon's performance is limited though due to how limited Horman's actions are. The main searching part of standing around and listening to others becomes repetitive, and Lemmon certainly cannot make it very interesting. I will say Lemmon's reactions are always authentic feeling, and realistic. He is always properly frustrated and disappointed at just about everything, but these reactions simply do not result in all that much. Horman simply never comes alive as an interesting character. He is a function of the plot really. The film is unfortunately only really about American involvement with the Coup and the search for Charlie itself. It could have really gotten into the character of Ed and Beth but it really doesn't.

Lemmon does his best with the role despite Ed Horman being oddly unimportant to the film itself. The relationship between he and Beth, and he and his son is there but not given the right pull. Lemmon does have the right passion in showing Ed's want to find his son, and Ed's change to growing more disillusioned is well handled by Lemmon even if it is not exactly compelling due to the film. I will say he does have some emotionally strong moments such as the stadium scene where he really is terrific, and when he learns of the final truth about his son. Those scenes are absolutely brilliantly played by Lemmon but unfortunately on a whole they do not do enough to save the overall character's treatment by the film itself, which I feel does take a back seat to the plot.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Best Actor 1982

And the Nominees Were:

Peter O'Toole in My Favorite Year

Paul Newman in The Verdict

Ben Kingsley in Gandhi 

Jack Lemmon in Missing

Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie

Friday, 17 December 2010

Best Actor 1945: Results

5. Cornel Wilde in A Song To Remember- Wilde performance is just a dull boring performance lacking in any redeeming factors.
4. Bing Crosby in The Bells of St. Mary's- I will admit Bing certainly smiles a lot but does little past that. He sings, and smiles that is it.
3. Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh- Kelly does his usual thing here, some like it, I don't really.
2. Gregory Peck in The Keys of the Kingdom- Gregory Peck gives a nice charming performance as a Priest, who stays interesting and effective to watch throughout the film.
1. Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend- No doubt about this one Milland by far gives the best performance, in a harrowing, and very effective turn as an alcoholic writer. His performance is exceptionally effective, and shows incredibly realistic performance of a man who is just about over the edge.
Deserving Performances:
Cornel Wilde in Leave Her to Heaven

Best Actor 1945: Gregory Peck in The Keys of the Kingdom

Gregory Peck received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Father Francis Chisholm in The Keys of the Kingdom.

The Keys of the Kingdom is a well made and quite affecting film for me anyways about a priest and his years in China as a missionary.

Gregory Peck, I am glad to say due to the other non winners of this year, actually gives a very good performance. Peck stays strong throughout the film, and stays as an especially interesting man to watch as he starts as a young man. Peck early on is properly charming, and just give a very nice watchable performance. He is interesting to follow throughout the film, as a young man. Peck gives just an interesting performance in which can be followed through the story of the Priest.

I really liked his performance as just a nice charming man, Peck shows how an almost entirely good guy performance does not need to be either dull or boring. Peck makes the priest a likable and enjoyable character watch. He lacks any deep problems, and is a very principled man. He though does become slowly more and more principled as the film goes on. As he grows more and more in tune with the Chinese people he is around. Peck although playing a nice character does not make him an simple man, even if he is a man of simple tastes.

Peck stays an interesting guide throughout the priest trials and tribulations as his time as the missionary. He is humorous and very heartwarming in the good moments of his time in China. His relationship's with the local people are made very sweet by Peck. Peck also holds the right strength and power in his moments of showing his passion for his work, and his protection and defense of the local people he cares for. Peck is also incredibly strong in the moments of hardship the priest must face such as the violence in China and the losses of his friends. Peck again is terrific, and very strong. Peck ages very well creating a very poignant portrait of a man, making hi final farewell in the film a truly heartfelt moment.

Best Actor 1945: Cornel Wilde in A Song To Remember

Cornel Wilde received his only Oscar nomination for portraying composer and pianist Frederic Chopin in A Song To Remember.

A Song to Remember is a incredibly dull and boring movie, that fails to capture anything about Chopin's life in any interesting fashion, also it fails to really shows his genius as a composer in any way.

Cornel Wilde's performance is much like the film very dull and boring. Part of the film he just stands around being told what to do by his mentor played by Paul Muni. His performance suggests nothing of an actual genius, and he makes Chopin a very boring and uninteresting man. Well I suppose perhaps I should not blame him entirely since the film writes Chopin in such as simple way, but Wilde adds nothing that the script failed to add. He plays the piano mostly and listens a lot to what other people say, anything. His reactions though are not even interesting when listening.

He does act out when hearing about the Russians or seeing Russians, and has to show his hatred for them. He still does nothing special when he lashes out at them either. I was really surprise by how overly dull Wilde performance is in this movie. Every aspect of his performance is dull and boring, just as the character is dull and boring. There is not really much to say about this performance because the character is so underwritten, and utterly dull. Also Wilde is a  incorrectly nominated too, because he is infinitely better in Leave Her to Heaven from the same year. 

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Best Actor 1945: Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend

Ray Milland won an Oscar from his only nomination for portraying alcoholic writer Don Birnam in The Lost Weekend.

The Lost Weekend is an effective film about a single alcoholic, and his struggle. It is not quite perfect, but it certainly very well written, and quite well directed.

Ray Milland is quite interesting as Don Birnam in that despite playing an alcoholic writer he never exactly becomes drunk. He becomes slightly slurred, but he never really fully becomes drunk due to the fact that he has been drinking for so long and so hard. Milland does not play Birnam's alcoholism as just a problem Birnam has but an innate condition and disease that he struggles with. The alcoholism is not only his need for a drink but also his need to cover up a lack of confidence. Milland completely makes Don's problems completely authentic and realistic, and all the more difficult to watch due to Milland honest performance.

Milland never overacts once in this performance which is amazing due to the difficulty of the part. Milland as I said does not really do any drunk scenes exactly, but he does his long length of time as withdraws from a lack of alcohol. His long extended time here is brilliant, because Milland slowly shows the symptoms of withdrawal which grow as his time of not having a drink continues to increase. His frustration, panic, and pain are all exceptionally well shown by Milland, too well shown because how downright realistic he is in both the symptoms themselves, and showing the slow way his withdrawal deteriorates both his health and his mind.

The most heartbreaking and effective moments of his performance are how Milland makes Birnam such a real person, and such a desperate and problematic person. There is not a bit of acting in Milland's whole performance shown on screen. Every moment of his performance is completely honest and effective. I completely believed in this guy Don Birnam who simply cannot get over his lack of confidence, his writer's block and his drinking problem. Don Birnam depression, and sadness, are made truly heartbreaking because of how Birnam is made a completely true person by Milland.

Milland performance is essential to this film, and it is he who makes the film a success. He holds interest and attention throughout the film. He makes Don's struggle one that becomes very personal, and it is with this that he makes the film as compelling at it is. Milland makes every scene believable and authentic, even when there is a risk against it. Think about the scene with the bat, it could have potentially been too much, but Milland frightened reaction is completely authentic the scene completely succeeds. The film has its strength because Milland's performance simply is so honest, so powerful and so heartbreaking. With the wrong actor the film could have been too melodramatic, too boring, unauthentic, but Milland avoids all that giving a fantastic performance.

Best Actor 1945: Gene Kelly in Achors Aweigh

Gene Kelly received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Navy Sailor Joseph Brady in Anchors Aweigh.

Anchors Aweigh is a sailor musical, which I got tired of very quickly. I did like one scene though, and that is the cartoon dance sequence. That scene is quite good, but the rest of the film  I just get bored by rather quickly.

Gene Kelly is never an actor exactly in which people praise for his acting skill. He is the type who mostly plays the same type of character. The dancing singing semi romantic guy. Kelly is an actor who generally relied on his his skills as a dancer rather than a thespian. This means pretty much means, since this performance is not really any different than any of his other performance the liking of Kelly depends on how much you like him usually in terms of his charisma and such.

I never have found myself liking Kelly that much as an actor. I get annoyed by his voice when I hear it too much as I do in this film. I can understand that some may find he has fine charisma and screen presence though, even though I just really do not like his style myself. Yes I do think he dances well, and sings alright, but overall his performance just is not anything special in terms of any actual acting. He does his thing in this movie as he did in most of his movies, which is fine, but just does not amaze me all that much.

Best Actor 1945: Bing Crosby in The Bells of St. Mary's

Bing Crosby received his second Oscar nomination for portraying once again Father O'Malley in The Bells of St. Mary's.

I actually do not hate Going My Way, in fact one facet of it I enjoy quite a bit. The Bells of St. Mary's though is very plodding and rather dull. I do not mind films which just seek to be pleasant but this one did not work. Also how did they honestly think Henry Travers could play a villain?

Bing Crosby's performance is not a performance there really can be said all that much about. He sings well I guess as he usually does but that is not an acting performance. He mostly just looks and smiles in this performance. Even when he tries to change someone's mind about something he just tells them smiling in his usual way. There really is not all that much to his performance and O'Malley's character is rather strange in this film actually. For example he really undercuts the Sisters for no reason many times, and why exactly did he praise the bully for beating up the kid exactly? O'Malley is rather odd with his imperfectness in this one that does not work, and I think the just about perfect guy in Going My Way works much better.

Crosby actually stays in the background a lot of the time, and the little good cheer that is in the film is mostly brought by Ingrid Bergman as the Mother Superior Sister Benedict. Her performance is not anything amazing but it really shows how little Crosby does in his entire performance. He just smiles, or sings that is it, except perhaps his final goodbye to Sister Benedict at the very end of the film. He actually has some emotion in that scene rather than just relaxed happiness of the rest of his performance. That one scene, well not even a scene more of a moment is not much but at least it is something, unlike the rest of his performance, this really is the sleepwalking style of performance.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Best Actor 1945

And the Nominees were:

Gregory Peck in Keys of the Kingdom

Bing Crosby in Bells of Saint Mary's

Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend

Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh

Cornel Wilde in A Song to Remember

Is this the biggest one horse race in this category or will it be someone else? Oh and I guess this is my Christmas edition due to Bells of Saint Mary's.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Best Actor 1956: Results

5. Yul Brynner in The King and I- Brynner gives a odd performance that is strange in almost every aspect, his acting, his chemistry with Deborah Kerr, his singing, the only thing that is not strange is his dancing I guess.
4. Rock Hudson in Giant- Hudson gives a good performance throughout Giant. His character is a steadfast character, but Hudson is interesting to watch and makes himself interesting despite the simple nature of his  character sometimes.
3. James Dean in Giant- Dean is incredibly good in the first half of his performance making the most out of his character, in a compelling performance that only Dean could give. His second shorter half as the rich oil man, does not quite work for me. He was slimy I suppose but I was not convinced at all by the character later. Hudson and Taylor aged properly but I actually think Dean was incapable of really aging.
2. 1. Laurence Olivier in Richard III, and Kirk Douglas in Lust For Life- Good prediction Dinastzie These top two performers are both absolutely brilliant. They both take incredibly complicated and challenging characters and bring them to life brilliantly. They excel in everything facet of their performance, both use their whole physical presence to fully realize their character. Douglas's Van Gogh, and Olivier's Richard III are both perfect performance the two could not swap roles both are perfect for the roles and in the roles. I think both are equal roles, and performances, neither tops the other in any aspect they both brilliant, how could these two performances lose to Brynner is beyond me. If I was forced to vote for one I would go with Douglas because I have already voted for Olivier twice. But by strange Oscar logic I should get one best actor tie since there was one tie in the field.
Deserving Performances:
John Wayne in The Searchers

Best Actor 1956: Kirk Douglas in Lust For Life

Kirk Douglas received his third Oscar nomination for portraying troubled artist Vincent Van Gogh in Lust For Life.

Lust for Life is an effective and interesting biography of the troubled artist, I particularly liked the look of the film which reflected the art of Van Gogh quite well.

Kirk Douglas seemed to be the perfect cast for Van Gogh as soon as you see him in this film. He simply looks like him in this movie. He has the right face, and body type that fits Van Gogh perfectly.  Douglas from the opening scene though also shows Van Gogh's strange form of constant depression at all times no matter what in his life. Douglas rightly shows a constant pain in his face even if he is not saying anything, there is clearly always something harming him from the inside, even if outwardly he does attempt to hide it at times.

His constant struggle with pain though is quite interesting though because as the title says he does have a Lust for Life. The Lust is shown through his devotion to his painting, but also his need and want to understand the common man. His passion for the people is incredibly well shown by Douglas who shows a certain in happiness in being able to watch and paint these particular people, even if he always shows a pain behind that happiness that never goes away. His most principal pain being his lack of friends and his inability to be comfortable with his surrounding.

Douglas is so painfully forceful in his performance as Gogh that it is sometimes hard to watch. He desires certain things so much, his intensity is so extreme that it cannot be ignored. Douglas makes Gogh pain so real that it is hard to take, because Douglas strikes the right emotional note. He especially does this in his scenes where he lusts after his cousin. His intensity, and raw that makes the scenes in a very interesting way painful to watch. Douglas is downright chilling especially when he puts his hand over a candle flame. Douglas makes Gogh's pain, and frustrations all too real all the time.

Douglas' performance is sad complicated work that makes Van Gogh a very vivid man. He combines all of Van Gogh's complex emotions brilliantly. His want for some companionship, but also his anger when challenged about anything about himself. He never makes Van Gogh as simple man in anyway. He is always a man in a sad state, even with his brilliance well shown even if he is not fully even aware of his own talent. It is a complex complicated performance, one in which he fully utilizes his whole body to suggest Van Gogh lusts, pains, and hopes. A challenging character Van Gogh is and Douglas is more than equal to the task.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Best Actor 1956: Laurence Olivier in Richard III

Laurence Olivier received his fifth acting nomination for portraying the titular character in Richard III.

I think is a terrific Shakespearean film by Laurence Olivier, possibly even better than his also terrific Henry V. 

Laurence Olivier is simply one of the best Shakespearean actors, and he proves it once again in this performance of a rather different Shakespearean character. I first of all love what he looks like in this film. His elongated nose, his hump, that bizarre hair, I think it all adds to the oddness of Richard III as a character. A challenge of all performances of Shakespeare is the ability to properly handle and the ability to properly convey the language. As I said in Henry V's performance Olivier perfectly excels with the language. He makes it completely natural and native to be said by him, and he never at all seems for a second uncomfortable with any single speech he makes.

Laurence Olivier does not only speak the language impeccably but he also always does his best to help the non Shakespearean trained audience understand it in both his direction, and his means of conveying this in his speech. Olivier never just reads the lines but is always certain to convey all the emotions along with what the long passages of speech or dialogue. I was quite interested in his performance because Richard III is so incredibly different than Henry V. They are both Kings but become Kings in different ways, and almost everything else is different about them too. Olivier though is just as believable as the deformed Richard as he was as the normal Henry V.

Olivier is an actor I like best when he relaxes a little bit which he does in the devious role as Richard. Richard could be portrayed as an overly serious villain, but Olivier does something that prevents this and that is how he talks directly to the audience during his scheming speeches. He makes Richard interestingly playful, and I thought actually a fun villain to watch despite how severe his crimes can be. Laurence Olivier I found to be especially entertaining and effective throughout the film with his sly manner of moving around, and his constant scheming with his knowing face at all times.

Olivier creates a fascinating character with Richard who is always interesting to watch in any scene even when he is not the focus, or the man speaking in the scene. Olivier always keeps his presence known and always stays fascinating. He also is incredibly believable as Richard despite the complete bizarre nature of the character. I bought not only the characters evil and intent but also the ability of the character to perform his schemes in both in terms of the killing of his relatives, and his schemes involving the bed of women he desires even women who he has severely hurt. I completely believed the seduction of Lady Anne, which may be hard to take, but Olivier has a very strange charm as Richard.

Olivier's whole performance is brilliant but a few small moments I think truly showed his exceptional ability as Richard. One being his scene with his two nephews. He fakes the nice uncle for a point that is properly creepy but equally convincing at being able to have a facade. Olivier though is equally chilling when the true Richard is revealed when one of Richard's nephews unfortunately mentions his shoulder. His look he gives he gives the nephew is perfectly chilling. Olivier best scene may be Richard's final ones before his fateful battle. First being confronted by those he had killed or caused to die in a dream. Olivier brilliantly shows a pain showing the slightest concise, but he sheds guilt quickly with his odd speech before the battle almost an evil parody of Henry V's big speech. Finally his final moments on the field are simply perfect, as Richard loses everything quickly, and finally his brilliantly directed and acted death scene. Another great Shakespearean performance from Lord Olivier.

Best Actor 1956: James Dean in Giant

James Dean received his second and final posthumous Oscar nomination for portraying Jett Rink in Giant.

James Dean's is always a phenomenon considering he has only three films, and his acting style is so bizarre, yet he is a icon and his style is adored by many. Dean in Giant actually is a supporting player, and is not the lead. There are long passages where he is completely absent, and much of the time he is just the man slinking around in the background. Dean has his trademark mannerisms and looking at the ground constantly. He though has less I think than in East of Eden, and I do think he did utilize his mannerisms to create a character.

In East of Eden his mannerisms suggested a young man uncomfortable with just about everything. Here I feel he does properly use his mannerisms this time to convey himself as a loner in the early moments most assuredly well. He is uncomfortable with his surroundings and employer. He shows a hidden sense of hatred of his character, and his hidden motives quite well. I think he is actually interesting early on, and not distracting with his little slinking in the background always. He does convey everything and more for his character of Rink, and I think his intensity and style of his performance works perfectly early on.

Later though after he becomes rich his performance changes. I do like his one scene where he announces his soon to be riches in his fantastic style. His performance though becomes very limited in terms of screen time, occasionally popping in and out very quickly. I never really believed him at all as the older rich oil man. Dean's aging was not at all convincing even though Elizabeth Taylor's and Rock Hudson's were. I thought he was slimey enough but that was about it. He was suppose to have some sort of charm I think but he doesn't and I really did not believe Dean at all as the oil man. He was perfect for Rink at the beginning but by the end he seemed to become miscast. I do not know if any other actor could have been as interesting at the beginning  but I do think many could have been better than the second half of his performance.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Best Actor 1956: Rock Hudson in Giant

Rock Hudson received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Bick Benedict in Giant.

Giant is actually a very interesting film. I did not care for it too much the first time I saw it but I will say that I was not really paying enough attention to really appreciate it.

Rock Hudson's performance here is not anything special but it is not at all bad. I think this is due to the character of Bick Benedict. Bick is not all that complicated of a character. He is in many ways the typical rancher man. He wants to keep his family business well, and wants to live his life. I felt Hudson was actually entirely believable as the rancher, I though his accent was fine, and I had no problem with what he did with the character.

Bick as a character though really requires little from the actor, and his whole character seems to be reactionary in many ways to those around him. He stays steadfast with most of his beliefs and thoughts and is reacted upon by his sister, his wife, his children, and his rival of sort Jett (James Dean). He reacts mostly in constrained anger when the others do what disappoints him and angers him. I think Hudson's reactions are fine, and make sense for the character. He is always believable I think in the role, his performance is not really flawed I think at all. Bick just is a reactive character most of the time, and never very complex.

I think he handles the aging of the character well, and shows his frustrations well enough. I think he works well with Elizabeth Taylor well, and I think they have a the right naturalism in their scenes together.  I thought they worked together like a real married couple, and I though he was equally naturally with all the children as well. He even works well with Dean, and I find his steadfast method of acting works along fairly well with Dean eccentric method. Bick I do not think is a lacking character, he does not need to be that complicated to serve his purpose. Bick serves his purpose as does Hudson. Not amazing by anything means but I though he was perfectly fine in the role.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Best Actor 1956: Yul Brynner in The King and I

Yul Brynner won his Oscar from his only nomination for portraying the King Mongkut of Siam in The King and I.

The King and I is a weird musical to say the least, in both its story, and its odd pacing and tonal shifts. Especially involving the subplot about the King and one of his brides that gets rather dark at the end.

Brynner's performance as the King is an odd story of extreme success.  He won this Oscar and a Tony for his performance, and he portrayed the King over 4000 times on stage. I guess there must be something about his performance here that struck many people incredibly well even if in terms of normal acting it seems rather odd to me anyways. His performance is strange in his semi comic way of acting throughout the film. He tells people what to do with his snap, and his strange way of speaking in this movie, no I do not mean his accent. His whole style of speaking is strange, and I never say anything all that interesting about his performance it was just simply odd.

His chemistry with Deborah Kerr is odd, the way the King carries himself around his court is very odd. The way he talks with his children, his wives, or when he talks to Kerr is bizarre. I have no idea what he was doing in the performance, all I know is it does not work. He does not really have presence, or all that much charisma in his performance, nor does he make the King either interesting or entertaining. His singing is also very odd too, I suppose his dancing is not really odd but that is about it. I actually do like Brynner as an actor in other films besides this, but this film his performance oddly theatrical. I suppose he knew what he was doing though since he won an Oscar for it, but I think he was in fact much better in both Anastasia, and especially the Ten Commandments both from the same year.