Wednesday, 29 December 2010

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.


joe burns said...

Wonderful review! I'm hoping he'll win.

What did you think of Lange and Garr?

Sage Slowdive said...

I agree, it's wonderful, but I don't think it's perfect. Love the movie though.

dinasztie said...

Fingers crossed for Hoffman, but Newman will get your vote. I just feel it.

I love Hoffman and the movie. I'm biased, but I think it's still brilliant.

Brandon (Twister) said...

I really enjoyed the movie as well as Hoffman's performance which for me surpasses a mere stunt. But I simply don't get the heavy disdain for Lange's beautiful work as Julie. She generates so many wonderful complexities into a simple character without ever weighing down her actual performance. But Garr? I found it be a shrill and thin performance of a shallow role and her appeal is lost on me. Lange provides Tootsie with it's emotional heart and soul and neither the film nor Hoffman's performance would have worked without her.

Louis Morgan said...

Joe: Thank you Joe. I thought Lange actually was fine in her role. She was not amazing but fine. Garr I thought was rather enjoyable, and I would choose her over Lange for my vote.

Dinastzie: We will see on that soon, I'll try to get to Newman before next year.

Twister: I thought Lange was indeed fine, but I think both the film and Hoffman's performance would have worked without her performance.

Brandon (Twister) said...

See I don't agree though. Without Lange the film would have lost it's balance and warmth and the ending wouldn't have worked either. A light, genuine, delicate touch that anchors the narrative far more than anyone else in the film does.

Louis Morgan said...

Well all I can say is I disagree. I thought she was in fact fine, but another fine actress could have also done the same job equally well I feel. I feel her character was important but certainly Hoffman's mattered far more.

Malcolm said...

Hooray! Hoffman for the win!

He basically gives a human being that we understand. He's no psychopath, but he does that because he wants to prove his skills as an actor and wants to do that because he simply needs money.