Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Best Supporting Actor 1954: Edmond O'Brien in The Barefoot Contessa

Edmond O'Brien won an Oscar from his first nomination for portraying Oscar Muldoon in The Barefoot Contessa.

The Barefoot Contessa is a bare and unpleasant film that tells the story of a Spanish dancer, that does not result in very much interest for me. 

Edmond O'Brien plays Oscar Muldoon who is a sweaty, yes man and promoter. O'Brien's character is not exactly one of extreme depth or really all that interesting. He just has to do these little things where he shows he is spineless to his rich boss, and to show a sort of charisma when he is trying to convince someone of something or do his promoting. O'Brien is fine at this but he never really seems that convincing, but that is not exactly all his fault.

He probably should have been a little more charismatic with the sweaty slimey nature of the character hidden. Instead he tries to do both at once resulting in a performance that does not quite work. But it is not his fault since the film describes him as slimey therefore the film really was not purposeful not being subtle in showing his character. His performance though is technically fine again it is a supporting nominee who accomplishes everything really required for him to do, but in the end it does not seem to be all that much. The film never helps him since his character really is not very well done or interesting, and O'Brien merely tries his best with what he has. He never is great, and perhaps someone could have done something more with the character, but O'Brien does what he can with his character.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Best Supporting Actor 1954: Tom Tully in The Caine Mutiny

Tom Tully received his only Oscar nomination for playing the original captain of the Caine Commander DeVriess in the Caine Mutiny.

Tully gives a very brief performance as the Caine commander before it is taken over by the on edge Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart). He really does very little in his time and does not leave much of an impression on the film. He is just gives a incredibly relaxed performance as the Captain. It is not very interesting, or entertaining, but rather just there.  He gives the new men a little bit of hard time, and shows that he likes his men, but it really is a nothing of a performance. He never does anything more than his incredibly small part requires. He does sort of give less though. He possibly could have done something with his small part but he does not. The commander could have been a little bit more of a character than Tully ever makes him.

Tom Tully's performance is one that really begs the question, why was it nominated. This is not just because of his performance but because of the other performances in the film. Fred Macmurray, Jose Ferrer and Van Johnson were far superior in the same film. Tully was barely in the film and did absolutely nothing  to make himself stand out. He plays the commander as relaxed and that is it. It works okay for what he needs to do but it really is something that any half way decent actor could have done very easily. 

Best Supporting Actor 1954

And the Nominees were:

Rod Steiger in On the Waterfront

Lee J. Cobb in On the Waterfront

Karl Malden in On the Waterfront

Edmond O'Brien in The Barefoot Contessa

Tom Tully in The Caine Mutiny

Who do you Pick? Who do you Predict?

Monday, 28 June 2010

Best Supporting Actor 1976: Results

5. Burt Young in Rocky- Young gets the job done as Adrien's brother. Although the job only involves acting jerky, which he does well enough but that is not really all that much.
 
4. Ned Beatty in Network- Beatty has one scene basically in Network and gets to yell for awhile. His yelling though is just not as well done as the rest of the cast's and his yelling seems a little unnatural.

3. Jason Robards in All the President's Men- Robards again gets the job done and does everything that is required of his role.
2. Burgess Meredith in Rocky- Meredith is very effective as Mickey and creates a memorable character, and he has one emotional scene where he is truly great.
1. Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man- Olivier is brilliant and creates an incredibly villain with his performance Dr. Szell. He never over plays the part and gives an incredibly effective performance.
Deserving Performances:
Hal Holbrook in All the President's Men
 Carl Weathers in Rocky

Best Supporting Actor 1976: Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man

Laurence Olivier received his ninth acting Oscar nomination, and his only one for Supporting Actor for portraying Dr. Christian Szell in Marathon Man.

Marathon Man is a rather strange thriller, that has some strong moments, is thrilling at times, but the plot never becomes entirely compelling.

Laurence Olivier plays Dr. Christian Szell, a Nazi dentist, who is clearly based on the real life Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele. Olivier is probably the best part of Marathon Man, and his performance creates a very memorable villain in Dr. Szell. Olivier gives an incredibly interesting performance, one reason is because he never goes over the top. Playing a Nazi Dentist it would have been incredibly easy to go over the top but Olivier never does despite the strange role he has. His accent uses is very effective as an incredibly quiet German accent that he does. He never sounds stereotypical, and the accent works perfectly.

Olivier is only ever subtle, and understated as Szell making his performance far more effective and disturbing than if he went over the top. He almost always stays quiet in the role, making everything he does always a little more intense, since it is not obvious what he is going to do. He plays Szell certainly as an evil man, but still a man. He does not play as some monster, but as an old man who happens to pure evil. Olivier is always effective because of this. Every scene he is in becomes interesting because of him. The scene where he tortures Babe (Dustin Hoffman) would not be nearly as chilling if it were not because of Olivier's perfect way of speaking in these scenes. Is it safe would not be as memorable as it is if it were not for the way Olivier speaks it. His delivery is so perfectly chilling, since he always understates it. He never yells is it safe, but just coldly states it creating far more effective scene.

 Olivier is in full control throughout the performance. Every movement and gesture he makes is always finely attuned and helps his performance. Even though it obviously is acting he never seems to be doing so. All his movements all work for the character and merely add to performance even more so. Olivier shows the joy of his performance in this performance. Even though he is playing a despicable character, Olivier always shows the proper amount of life in the character. He shows that Szell know who he is and enjoys it. Szell is not a purely one note villain and I believe a strong reason for that because of Olivier's brilliant performance. Olivier never falters from when Szell knows all and is in command to when he loses his power just right at the end creating a satisfying conclusion to the character. Another great performance from the great Olivier. 

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Best Supporting Actor 1976: Jason Robards in All the President's Men

Jason Robards won his first Oscar from his first Oscar nomination for portraying editor of the Washington Post Ben Bradlee in All the President's Men.

All the President's men is a fascinating film that follows reporters Woodward and Bernstein as they uncover secrets about the Watergate break in and find connects to the White House.

Robards plays the chief editor who comes in and out of the story, and is another performance from this year who has very limited screen time. Robards does actually seem like Ben Bradlee and carries the right quality throughout the film. He always commands the right presence as Bradlee, and never fails to seem like he really is the head of a newspaper. Having said that he never really makes that much of an impression on the film itself.

It is not one of those performances you really remember every second of. He is never dull but Robards knows his character's importance and really does what he needs to no more no less. His role though is purely functionary. He requires a little bit of energy but not a whole lot. He gives the right amount of support to Hoffman and Redford and technically he is the definition of a supporting performance here. There is only really a one scene that revolve around him completely, the one scene where he tells them about his own experiences as a reporter. Robards does a fine job scene with this one just as he does every other scene. He never really stands out nor is the part that challenging, but Robards always does exactly what he needs to do. Robards never tries to steal scenes nor does does he really becomes forgotten completely.  He gives a good performance though because of this fact. Not an amazing performance but certainly a good one which completely serves its function. 

Friday, 25 June 2010

Best Supporting Actor 1976: Burgess Meredith in Rocky

Burgess Meredith received his second and final Oscar nomination for playing Mickey Goldmill the crusty old manager in Rocky.

Meredith plays what became probably his best known role as Mickey in Rocky. His line delivery being continually parodied in various shows, other movies and commercials. An interesting thing though is that the meat of his performance is not really related to this. Yes Meredith is good in the trainer parts telling Rocky to do this and do that. Meredith does put the right amount of energy into theses scenes and his presence does make the final fight better. Telling Rock to get him all that really is made effective because of Meredith.

The greater part of Meredith's performance is when he actually is not even Rocky's manager. He has one good scene and one great scene before he becomes Rocky's manager. The good one is where he chews Rocky out for being a collector for a loan shark. Here Meredith puts in the right amount of anger and intensity in the scene to give it the right strength, and passion.

The great scene of his performance though involves his visit to Rocky where he tries to persuade Rocky to allow him to be his manager. Meredith is pitch perfect in this scene, showing both Mickey want to help Rocky's future and his own laments about his own troubled boxing path. Meredith really strikes the right emotional chord here. When he is talking about how he had nails punched through his own mouth as a boxer, and how he never achieved what he thought he could. Then the best part is when Rocky closes the door on him, and he pleads with Rocky. Meredith is great in this scene putting all the emotional power into the scene making it probably the best scene in the film. Meredith gives overall a memorable performance, and a great one in this scene which alone makes his nomination deserving.

Best Supporting Actor 1976: Ned Beatty in Network

Ned Beatty received his only Oscar nomination for playing chairman of the UBS board Arthur Jensen in Network.
Ned Beatty is an incredibly short nominee, and is only in two scenes. In the first scene he basically says thank you to Robert Duvall's character. Beatty does this well enough I suppose. Then his other scene is where he tells Howard Beale (Peter Finch) the true nature of the world. Beatty's whole performance is this scene. It certainly is a showy scene for him, and he gets his chance to yell back at chronic yeller Howard Beale.

Beatty goes over the top in the scene for sure. He really yells a lot about how everything is equal to money and that the individual has not value. He yells for a little bit than quiets for a moment saying are you getting this to Beale. Beatty is fine in this scene although, not brilliant. The scene works but I really give most of the credit to Finch for his perfect reactionary face.

Beatty just plainly cannot yell as well as Finch does. His yelling does seem to be slightly unnatural, where Finch's seems like a force of nature. Beatty's yelling though is still effective. He is not bad in the role, but I do think he could have been better, and I do feel in his one special scene where he gets to yell so much the scene is still stolen from him.A performance that gets the job done, but again not much more than that.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Best Supporting Actor 1976: Burt Young in Rocky

Burt Young received his only Oscar nomination for playing Pauly in Rocky.

Pauly is Adrien's loud, and obnoxious brother. Young is cast in his usual type as the low working class guy. He is given more to do than in many of his roles though, but still not that much. He mostly goes around the film acting like a jerk to either Adrien or Rocky, although he does this well enough it really is nothing very special.

He goes around the film just yelling at people and make jerky remarks, and Young does this with the right amount of jerkiness but then again it is pretty easy to act like just some jerk. He does have one moment where he does something else, and that is where Adrien yells at him back finally. Young does do a fine job of showing the actual pathetic nature of the bully but still it really is not anything special. His character really lacks a lot of development, and Young actually does not really do anything wrong in the role. It is just a role that requires very little of him. It is just an actor doing his usual type, there is nothing special about it, it is not bad, but not anything that really required any awarding.

Best Supporting Actor 1976

And the Nominees Were:

Burt Young in Rocky

Jason Robards in All The President's Men

Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man

Ned Beatty in Network

Burgess Meredith in Rocky

 Since Sage just finished Supporting Actress for this year, Joe did Best Actress recently, and I just finished Best Actor I thought I would close the year with Supporting Actor to a take a short break from lead actor. And as usual who do you pick? Who do you Predict?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Best Actor 1976: Results

5. Sylvester Stallone in Rocky- Stallone simply is Rocky and makes for an endearing hero for us to root for.
4. William Holden in Network- Holden is effective in the film and is one of most human part of it, I just wish he had a little more to do.
3. Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver- De Niro gives an effective portrayal of his character's troubled state.
2.Giancarlo Giannini in Seven Beauties- He is just perfect in a bizarre role, and someone makes his lowlife of a character likable. He never falters once with his complicated character.
1. Peter Finch in Network- Finch here is brilliant every time he is on screen and energizes his film every time he appears. He makes Howard Beale the most memorable part of a very memorable film.

Best Actor 1976: Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver

Robert De Niro received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver.

Taxi Driver is a portrait of a man off balance, and an examination of violence.

Robert De Niro plays Travis Bickle, an insomniac war veteran who spends his nights in New York City during one of lowest period. Travis Bickle is a fascinating and strange character that certainly must have been a difficult character to play. One that could have been too mysterious, too crazy, or too bizaare but is not in the hands of Robert De Niro. Robert De Niro always has a perfect naturalism in the role of Bickle despite how odd Bickle can be at times in the film.

De Niro is effective because Bickle could have been played as just a psycho, but instead De Niro plays the character rather calmly. He never goes over the top at all, and always shows Bickle to be a man, just a man who has sort of lost touch with reality. He never exploits Travis and that is why his performance works so well. He brings the audience into his mind because he does not seem hostile at first. De Niro succeeds throughout the performance because he takes this approach.

De Niro is ggiid in every scene in this film It is interesting because he shows that Travis just does not exactly know how to behave correctly, and that his moral view is just strange. De Niro makes this strangeness to the character work, and seem natural despite the oddness. The way he tries to be romantic with Betsy(Cybil Shepard) is perfect. He is always at the just the right uneasiness in these scenes. De Niro makes it clear that he is trying but that he just cannot behave correctly. He doesn't know that people do not go to pornographic films normally, he just cannot comprehend why Betsy had a problem with it.

Another interesting part of the performance and character is the strange morality. A man who has two goals in the film, one insane and evil, the other technically noble and good although still off in some way. De Niro somehow shows that this is possible in the man, and he shows as naturally as possible. Bickle merely is that way, he will at one moment want to kill and innocent man although later want to kill guilty man to save a young girl. De Niro makes it all comes together and makes Bickle seem completely real, and out of that makes a memorable performance.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Best Actor 1976: Peter Finch in Network

Peter Finch posthumously won his Oscar from his second and final Oscar nomination for playing Howard Beale.

Finch is the other best actor nominee from Network and both he and Holden are leads in my book. Both have sections of the film where they are absent, but they both have lead importance.

Peter Finch's performance is essential to the film, since the character of Howard Beale is the best part of the film, and the changes of his character move the film along. It is interesting how Beale moves along through the course of the film and that Finch actually does not stay as the same throughout the film. At first he is just a tired and disappointed News Anchor who was fired do to his low rating. Finch plays him here as a normal man who is merely tired of the world. He still does that in his second broadcast where he continues his way. I like these early scenes because they show Beale as just a man and Finch is perfect at that. His scenes with Holden still show him to be human.

His humanity though seems to vanish when a strange voice talks to him at night. He suddenly has found himself chosen to spread a message to people through television. At this point Beale has gone loco. He no longer really is ever again human, and the much of the rest of the performance are the speeches he makes to the people. Now these speeches are essential to the film and the most memorable scenes in my opinion and they depend completely on Finch to succeed. Finch succeeds full though and puts the right amount of force, power and madness into every speech that he gives. Everyone is made memorable because of the energy Finch puts into them. Whether it is the Mad as Hell, or the You are Real speeches. Finch completely succeeds at making both as clear and powerful as they need to be.

Beale though with his push for the individual is not looked upon well by the corporate heads. One in particular played by Ned Beatty wants him to understand that the individual does not matter. This scene where he yells and speaks to Beale about this is fascinating. Not just because what is being said but because of Finch who sort of steals the scene from Beatty without saying a word. Beale's quiet face is masterfully done by Finch who slowly changes just brilliantly well he is being spoken to. Finch does so much here without saying a word it is incredible. It also shows that Finch is not just over the top and loud in this performance but has this brilliant quiet moment too. After this Finch has his pessimistic speeches which he correctly infuses the right energy although the message is far more depressing than his earlier speeches.

Overall this performance is just brilliant from Finch. His win was not a sympathy win since he fully deserved to win for this astounding performance. Despite the downright craziness of his character Finch never plays Beale, in a wrong way. Somehow he makes Beale seem realistic in his own particular way even in the face of non realism involving some of the plot elements around him. Finch is technically over the top but Finch never seems to be saying look at me, but rather look at Howard Beale, the crazy prophet. A completely perfect performance that creates a fascinating and character, and is the most memorable part of a memorable film.

Best Actor 1976: William Holden in Network

William Holden received his third and final Oscar nomination for portraying Max Schumacher in Network.

Network is a very interesting film, and is incredibly well done in certain aspects. There are a few problems I have in the film, some of the things are a little too hard to believe, and the aspects involving the communist and terrorist groups kind of went from satire to farce.

William Holden plays Max Schumacher, an aged news president who does not like the changing way of the network, and is one of the few normalish people in the film. The only person who is truly human is Schumacher's wife, but Schumacher is closest to a normal human after her. Holden therefore does not constantly go over the top, and instead Holden is one of the few performance in the film that is mostly understated. He does a fine job of internalizing his feelings at times, although still letting the audience know them, without yelling, although he does that too.

Holden gives mostly a reactionary role. He always is reacting to basically the craziness of almost all  the other character. Holden though does speak out on occasion and he does this well. He always shows that Schumacher really cannot stand the new nature of people, and the loss of humanity of the people. His last two speeches to Fay Dunaway's character are brilliant done by Holden and these scenes are the strongest moments in his performance. The way Holden really uses his own age and face to show that Schumacher sees that he is closer to being dead than alive is completely brilliant on his part, on the fact that Sideny Lumet used that too. His performance certainly is strong, and good, but I did feel his role was a bit limited in some ways.

 He  seemed slightly limited in that he had  either one type of reaction of sad disbelief or the other of yelling back about his older age or about the lack of humanity in people. But these two reactions are always correct when he does them. I do not have a single problem with Holden's performance though, and he certainly was strong throughout the film. I do not think Holden does a single thing wrong in this performance, but I did feel he could have done a lot more if he was given more screen time and more to do. His character had a purpose and Holden served it but in the end his role did become a bit thankless at time since he went away completely from the films at times, and stopped being involved with the network at all.  I wish he had one more scene with Howard Beale, or with Frank Hackett to be involved with the network more time, but Holden still is always good in the film, and still gives a strong performance.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Best Actor 1976: Giancarlo Giannini in Seven Beauties

Giancarlo Giannini received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Pasqualino Frafuso in the Italian film Seven Beauties.

Seven Beauties is a very strange film, yet it is incredibly fascinating. It story is odd, and most of the direction is too yet it is fascinating to watch even it is rather difficult to at times.

Giancarlo Giannini's performance is a rather strange thing like the film. He plays Pasqualino Frafuso who  is not a good man at all. In fact he is mostly a very bad man, and when he is better he is not very good. Not that he is a villain but he rather is just an oddity of a person. A character that even the greatest actor would have to struggle with I imagine. Giannini though never seems to have trouble with this role even at the oddest and strangest parts of it. He always seems to have a naturalness in the role despite how odd the role can become.

Giannini gives a masterful performance always striking the exact note that is needed for everything his character does no matter what. His performance is always fascinating and his character undergoes extreme changes each which he meets perfectly. His character shown before World War II in Italy as a man concerned with his family's honor, despite having none of it himself. In these scenes it is  fascinating the way he plays the character with this cocky stride, despite the pathetic nature of the character. Giannini perfectly shows in a perfect understatement that although Pasqualino thinks he is "cool" and acts that way he is not at all. He is especially great in a scene where he threatens a man all too well with a gun but then shoots before he wanted to, and his face of surprise and upset is too perfect.

Later though he no longer can be cool precisely since he ends up in a concentration camp since he deserted from the Italian army. He no longer is as confidant and shows a powerful portrait of a man who does not wish to die, and will do anything not to die, even that means trying to seduce the female commandant of the camp. The scenes of his efforts are particularly astounding in the fact they seem believable because of Giannini's unbelievable performance. The way he attempts the seduction then deals with the commandant are all too perfectly played in scenes of incredible oddness. Giannini somehow never strikes a wrong note in these scenes despite how easy it would have been.

Every thing about this performance is special, and some how Giannini makes the viewer sympathize and like his character at all despite how despicable his character is. He still has a certain charm to his performance in all his scenes even when he is doing the most horrible things. It is fascinating how he gives both a loud performance than never goes over the top despite being so strange, and at the same time an incredibly subtle portrayal. Giannini does both wonderfully in this performance. He conveys so much with his mannerisms and voice, and just with his eyes. His eyes and face are perfectly used especially in the two last scenes where the worst comes to worst. His eyes are astoundingly powerful at all times especially in the final scene. He shows the true story of this odd man with just his eyes, in the last look at himself. Giannini's performance is just as the film is strange, but powerful and always brilliant.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Best Actor 1976: Sylvester Stallone in Rocky

Sylvester Stallone received his first acting Oscar nomination for his most famous role Rocky Balboa in Rocky.

Although Rocky is constantly maligned today, but I do enjoy the film myself.

Stallone is someone today who most people would think would have never ever been nominated for an Oscar. But he was and that was not the feeling at the time at all. He was heavily praised for this performance even being compared to Marlon Brando, but I image they just did not know him well enough yet.

Stallone is a performance that I do not hate in fact I enjoy his performance to a degree, although I cannot defend it exactly as great acting, though it certainly works for the character of Rocky. Stallone is good and seems dim witted enough as Rocky. I think is fine as the hard headed boxer persona, but he has obvious problems when it comes to doing more than this. He is fine when he is just acting stupid and trying to attempt to stand up for himself.

Although I'll say they overwork the way she's made up Stallone does strike up some chemistry with Talia Shire as Adrian. It is a simple though effective sort of way as the two people broken in a certain way comes together. Stallone does well to portray Rocky's slowness as almost a way of being able to easily deal with her own shyness, since he's a man who frankly does not mind waiting, and knows exactly how it is that he should maneuver around her. When Adrian breaks out of her shell there is a genuine warmth and sweetness when they are together that work well.

Stallone perhaps later on proved he was not Marlon Brando as he did not prove to have a great deal of range later on. Nevertheless Stallone simply is Rocky for a reason. You can't see anyone else in his role as the certain personality of the man is definitely well realized by Stallone and he makes a truly endearing character out of this. You want him to succeed and perhaps it might not be a great performance, it is a good one that is perhaps too often derided.

Best Actor 1976

And the Nominees Were:
Giancarlo Giannini in Seven Beauties

William Holden in Network

Sylvester Stallone in Rocky

Peter Finch in Network

Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver 


Who is your Pick? Who do you predict I will Pick?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Best Actor 1946: Results

5. Larry Parks in The Jolson Story- Larry Parks is okay and does what he needs to do, but that is very little.
4. Gregory Peck in The Yearling- Peck gives a nice performance, despite struggling with the old timey dialect he is given. Not much but okay.

3. Fredric March in The Best Years of Our Lives- March gives a very strong performance in many moments of this film, even when he is regulated to the background, although he also overacts when his character is drunk.
2. Laurence Olivier in Henry V- Olivier is great throughout the film as Henry V, He always carries himself as perfectly as possible, and reads the old words with as much power as possible.
1. James Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life- Stewart gives a great performance as George Bailey, incorporating almost everything great about his on screen persona into this single fantastic performance.
Deserving Performances:
Dana Andrews in The Best Years of Our Lives

Best Actor 1946: Laurence Olivier in Henry V

Laurence Olivier received his third acting nomination for playing King Henry V in Shakespeare's Henry V.

Henry V is a very well made adaptation directed by Laurence Olivier. He sets up the film very well by starting in the Globe theater then moving on to the more traditional film version. Yes there are scenes clearly on sets but Olivier directs them very well despite this hindrance. Making the language understandable with the right power.

Laurence Olivier is the first actor to be nominated for portraying Henry V, Kenneth Branagh would late do it in 1989. Comparing the two performances, allows one to see how good Olivier is and how almost incomparable he was as a Shakespearean actor. Olivier speaks the sometimes troublesome words with the best sort of naturalism. He never is ever theatrical acting at all something Branagh had trouble with throughout his performance. Olivier is just correct as Henry all the way through his performance.

Olivier always has the right dignity and grace in the role as Henry. He never overacts being to seem to be a King, but rather merely feels as if he is one. He carries himself in just the right manner that he might as well be Henry. All his motions and just the way he wears his crown fit the part perfectly. Olivier was clearly an actor who knew himself since he solely was responsible for this performance. He never let himself seem wrong ever, and is always correct in this performance, something Branagh did not do when Branagh directed himself.

 Olivier uses his great voice well in this performance. He always puts the right power and effort into his speech, not only to put the power into the scenes but also he helps the non Shakespearean viewer understand the old English better. Olivier's performance is full of challenging scenes that all depend on his performance carrying the scene. Such as the big dramatic speech to the soldiers, no big epic score behind him like in Branagh's but just his voice for this scene. Olivier perfectly makes the speech just a rousing perhaps even more so than Branagh's. In fact every scene Branagh seems a little shaky Olivier is completely confidant and strong. Olivier masters every scene he is in, and I particularly liked the romantic scene with Henry and the princess of France, because it shows another side of Henry. Olivier shows the more carefree Henry just as well as the commanding Henry. A great Shakespearean performance from a great Shakespearean actor. 

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Best Actor 1946: Larry Parks in The Jolson Story

Larry Parks received his only Oscar nomination for playing famous entertainer Al Jolson in the Jolson Story.

The Jolson Story is another one of those old fashioned biopics. It is an incredibly positive view of its subject, very inaccurate, and never in depth.  It still is sort of enjoyable in its own particular way anyways.

Larry Parks plays Al Jolson but he does not try to sing like him. He is always dubbed by Jolson himself, which looks a little strange at times but he lip syncs well enough, so it is not all that obvious. When it is the extreme close ups though Parks face just does not fit Jolson's voice. A lot of the performance is spent singing so for portions of the film this is all Parks is doing.

Parks is technically limited by the fact that he is in an old biopic therefore he can never really get under the skin of the character that well. Parks though never goes off on his own to put more into the performance that what is in the script either. He does nothing subtle at all in this performance, but that is not exactly a problem. Jolson is shown just on the surface and that is how Parks plays him.

He has the right sure of himself gestures. He smiles, and says a lot of things very excitingly. He has right amount of showmanship, and he is romantic enough with Evelyn Keyes.  There is scene that requires a little more is when he talks about being a workaholic. He does an okay job in this one scene but he still does not show a deeper side of Jolson which he could have in this one scene.Parks basically does what he needs to do but that just is not that much of a feat.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Best Actor 1946: Fredric March in The Best Years of Our Lives

Fredric March won his second Oscar from his fourth nomination for playing Al Stephenson in The Best Years of Our Lives.

The Best Years of Our Lives is a very effective drama about the challenges three different veterans face after they come home from the war.

It is interesting that March was the one who was nominated and won from this film. He really is the secondary lead to Dana Andrews who was not nominated, especially in terms of the second half of the film where his character recedes into the background. March's character's problems involve ethic troubles with the bank he works at, and a drinking problem  None of his problems are really given as much attention as the other characters, and his part of the film is the least interesting part of the strong film. He solves one of the problems kind of and the other one is not really truly resolved, then he gains another problem involving his daughter and the Dana Andrews's character. At this point he sort of becomes supporting to Andrew's story.

March is a bit of a mixed performance. He has many drunk scenes, scenes where actors can fall flat on their face. March does not quite do that but he does not play these particularly well. He overplays every one of the scenes when he is drinking. The first string of parties March always over does it doing standard movie drunk that feels much too obvious and sort of conflicts with the realistic tone of the film. He does a better job though when he makes a speech at the bank and is a little more natural. It is not perfectly natural but it makes the scene work fairly well.

March though is much better when he is sober. He has many strong scenes when he tones down a little bit. Scenes where he is quietly talking to the other character March does a lot with just his face, and really shows far more emotions then when he is overacting with the drunk scenes. His scene where he just listens to the other men talk, March just knows exactly how to handle theses scenes. Yes he is background but March still gives the right amount attention to himself without trying to up show the others. His best scenes though are when he becomes at odds with Andrew's character because of his Daughter. His scene where he talks to his daughter about Andrew's character works well, as does the speech he gives to Andrews directly. He shows his concerns for his daughter well, and is very strong in those scenes. March is held back a little, since he is in the background so much, and because of his drunk scenes, but when March is strong he is very strong.