Saturday, 31 December 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1946: Charles Coburn in The Green Years

Charles Coburn received his third and final Oscar nomination for portraying Alexander Gow in The Green Years.

The Green Years portrays the growth of a young Irish orphan Robert Shannon who goes to live with his sometimes distant relatives in Scotland.

Charles Coburn portrays one of Robert's relatives his Great Grandfather specifically. Alexander Gow is the ends up being the warmest of his relatives who is a bit of a rouge among the family. Coburn despite a rather odd hairstyle, and a fake nose as well still once again proves himself to be one of the best character actors of the period. Although interestingly enough this is his only nominations that is a completely supporting role, unlike his previous two nominations that can both be easily argued as leading roles.

Charles Coburn gives a performance that is an interesting contrast to his bitter millionaire in The Devil and Miss Jones, and the fun loving millionaire in The More the Merrier. This time he portrays a not too rich Scotsman who although has a handsome life insurance policy he is not that wealthy of a man. Coburn handles his Scottish accent in a restrained but effective fashion, and also has certain mannerisms that only add to the character. From the way he walks, to the way he sits all really adds to showing the age and history of his character.

Alexander Gow does not have a great deal of time to himself, but Coburn always makes the most of every time he is on screen. Alexander Gow is an interesting character because he tells some tales about his past that may or may not be complete tall tales or something that might have actually happened to him. Coburn handles these story scenes perfectly telling the story as if it is something that happened to him, but in in a certain fantastical fashion that suggests maybe it did not.

The most important moments in Coburn's performance come from his scenes with his Great Grandson Robert. Coburn is genuinely warm in these scenes. He never overplays the part, and he has the right chemistry with both actors who play Robert. What makes his scenes work well is that Coburn never shows Alexander be overbearing with love, but there is always an honest joy in all of his reactions as he sees his great grandson achieve.

Coburn gives an appropriately fun loving performance here, that is perfect for the almost too fun loving nature of Alexander. There is not a moment where Coburn does not find a way to bring something more to the film through his performance. It is a consistently enjoyable performance of the aged Alexander Gow it is easy to make a role like this frankly too colorful and one can overact. Coburn never does this always finding the right tone, and giving a wonderful supporting performance.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1946: Claude Rains in Notorious

Claude Rains received his fourth and final Oscar nomination for portraying Alexander Sebastian in Notorious.

Notorious is a thriller about the daughter of a Nazi spy Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) who in an attempt to prove her loyalty to America agrees to infiltration her father's organization, even though she is torn through her duty and her love for her spy liaison Devlin (Cary Grant).

Claude Rains lost every time he was nominated but I have the feeling that he probably received the second most votes every time except for perhaps 1944. Although he lost each other time to another well liked character actor this time he lost to the non actor Harold Russell, who most certainly had other factors in his favor to win. Rains though lost once again in a role that shares similarities with his other two performances I have nominated so far which is that he portrays sort of a villain, but a not at all standard villain who has a lot more to them than one would really expect.

Here he portrays Alexander Sebastian who is an important part of a secret Nazi group, that Bergman's character infiltrates through Sebastian's infatuation with her. What is fascinating about this performance by Rains is the fact that he never for a moment portrays Sebastian as any sort of standard villain who is just simply evil. He instead always presents Sebastian as a man first and a villain second. His business with the Nazis never seems to be the most pressing factor Rains suggests in the way he performs each of his scenes.

One of the best parts of his performance is his chemistry with Bergman in the film. With the part of Sebastian's romance with Alicia it would have been easy for Sebastian to come off as only a fool, or just a man who simply lusts after her. What makes Rains take on this so special though is the idea that he conveys a genuine love in these scenes. Rains never makes it out to be anything less. Rains makes it almost a tragic portrait of a man who is seeking for something that is not there.

What I love about his scenes with Bergman, is that Rains almost shows that Alexander is almost ready to be let down at any moment. In every scene where he sees Alicia with Devlin, Rains is terrific because he does not show any sort of angry or jealous outburst. Rains though subtly shows a fairly sensitive man who honestly does not want to be wounded, and even suggests that he may have been before in the way he quietly pressures her to admit she does not love him, almost as to say that Alexander could never truly believe someone like her could possibly love someone like him.

It is almost surprising how sympathetic Rains manages to make Alexander without ever going to far and making him not longer a villain. Rains honestly makes you sorry for Alexander when he finally does find out about the truth of why Alicia married him. Rains is actually quite moving in that he shows Alexander feels genuinely betrayed on a deeply emotional level. Rains never shows him as simply angry over her betrayal but as actually hurt by her betrayal and false affection when all his affections where truthful.

I suppose I should note as well how Rains acts as a villain, even though I feel I almost do not need to as he makes Alexander such a layered man to begin something that usually does not go hand in hand with a villain. As a villain though Rains again is brilliant in his refusal to ever portray Alexander as any sort of simple evil doer. There are several shades to his characterization from how he appears outwardly as well to the way he appears in more confined quarters.

Outwardly even Rains never takes one approach and still only shows complexity within his characterization. Alexander never lets on to the evil he really is able to do, but rather Rains makes him quietly imposing. There is never visible malice in face, but rather a more businessman sort approach to the proceedings. He is especially chilling in a single scene where he and his Nazi cohorts decide a man must die for a slight mistake. Rains and the others show such a casual approach to their decision that it is absolutely chilling.

Also Rains portrays Alexander quite intelligently throughout. Although he is indeed being tricked the for most of the film, Rains still makes Alexander an astute adversary. I particularly love his single scene where he figures out the betrayal of his wife. The scene is just about silent but Rains is brilliant in his reactions as Alexander breaks down the plot against him clearly in his mind.

In his more enclosed scenes with his mother Rains though shows a very different side to Alexander as a villain. There again is always a man there first, and his actions to deal with his wife's betrayal are made not out to be a vile decision but an unavoidable act of self defense. It seems almost impossible to make a scene where you might have sympathy for a man who is intent on killing his wife, but Rains makes Alexander's fear for his own life such a reality that he almost makes Alexander's actions seem understandable.

This is just an outstanding turn the whole way through for Rains, and for me turned Alexander oddly enough in the character I became most interested in. This is all despite the fact that Alexander could have been one dimensional and a simple evil figure. Rains though creates a compelling portrait of a man, that I must say I was surprised how much I felt sorry for him, particularly in his final scene where Alexander can do nothing but accept his fate. This is a perfect supporting performance, that just may be Rains's best work.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1946: Clifton Webb in The Razor's Edge

Clifton Webb received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Elliott Templeton in The Razor's Edge.

The Razor's Edge is a very bad film that tells the story of a troubled War vet ran who takes a personal journey to find the meaning of life.

Clifton Webb was apparently the go to snobbish society type before John Gielgud took over that perpetual role. The character of Elliott Templeton is strictly within Webb's type, a snobbish fellow who looks down upon basically everyone else in someway. As one would except Webb is of course a pro at being the snobbish Templeton, and always has the right demeanor as well as superior attitude in each of his scenes.

Elliot Templeton as a role in the film is quite limited though to mostly making snide remarks about others going through the plot. Webb though always does indeed make the most of each of his moments. Webb is just the perfect snob, which is exactly what Templeton is suppose to be. Templeton though is not the greatest role still and does not do more than act as a snob until his death/ Oscar scene.

The placement of the scene actually is quite bizarre considering how he was just treated as a snob most of the time, yet the film suddenly wants you to have sympathy for him, either way though Webb does have a chance to show a weaker side to Templeton. Webb's final scene is a mix though. He overacts in one moment of it as he cries out that no one is coming to see him, but his last moments are well handled as Templeton regains his dignity.

As with so many performances nominated in this category there is not anything special in Webb's performance, and aside from a moment during his final scenes there is nothing wrong with his performance either. It is really standard work from Webb that suits the role, and is an entirely functional performance, but not one that ever stands out as something all that substantial.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1946: William Demarest in The Jolson Story

William Demarest received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Steve Martin in The Jolson Story.

William Demarest portrays Steve Martin a vaudevillian cellist who discovers Al Jolson. They eventually work together for awhile until Jolson becomes far more successful leading Jolson to go on his own, but he eventually brings Martin back as his manager. The part of Martin is thin, just as the whole film is that is far more interested in reenacting various Jolson musical numbers more than really developing any of its characters to a fuller extent.

William Demarest has a nice warm presence on screen as Steve Martin who acts a mentor to Jolson. There really is not much to his part though other than either giving Jolson supportive talks, or trying to convince that he should probably try to take it easier. Demarest does all of this well enough. He is supportive as he should be, and as mentory as he should be, but none of what he does is amazing.

Demarest really though does gives my favorite performance in the film although that is not saying much. He does his best with his character with the limited amount he is given which only lessens as the film continues on. It is not a great performance just one that is as it should be. There are no special moments, but Demarest is consistently competent throughout.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1946

And the Nominees Were:

Claude Rains in Notorious

Charles Coburn in The Green Years

Harold Russell in The Best Years of Our Lives

Clifton Webb in The Razor's Edge

William Demarest in The Jolson Story

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1971: Results

5. Leonard Frey in Fiddler on the Roof- Leonard Frey gives an enunciation and energetic performance that might be a bit much, but is fitting for the part.
4. Richard Jaeckel in Sometimes a Great Notion- Jaeckel is barely noticeable most of the film, although he is always fine when he is on screen, but his final scene is quite effective.
3. Roy Scheider in The French Connection- Scheider although never has a scene really to himself or his character he gives a realistic performance that more than fulfills the requirements of his role.
2. Jeff Bridges in The Last Picture Show- Bridges gives a performance that I can never say wows me, but it is always a good consistently realistic turn that brings to life the confusion of his character.
1. Ben Johnson in The Last Picture Show- Johnson easily earns my win this year as Sam the Lion. Johnson creates a haunting and humane portrait of a man who stands for a certain noble dying nature.
Deserving Performances:
Andrew Robinson in Dirty Harry
Fernando Rey in The French Connection
Jack Albertson in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Best Supporting Actor 1971: Roy Scheider in The French Connection

Roy Scheider received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Detective Buddy 'Cloudy' Russo in The French Connection.

Roy Scheider portrays Detective Cloudy Russo who is the Narcotics partner to 'Popeye' Doyle (Gene Hackman), and they together try to foil a heroine trade between French and American criminals. Scheider has a descent amount of screentime actually but his role is limited in terms that there is not really any scenes that focus on him as a character, and really there are not even too many  moments within scenes that focus on Scheider. Really all of the characterization is basically up to Scheider as he moves through the plot.

Despite this rather big limitation Scheider still makes Russo into a character, whom does seem like there is probably more to him but we only ever see him on the job. Scheider makes Russo into a very much normal man who does his job. Scheider always is quite natural whenever he is doing anything, and there is never a moment where Scheider acts as if Russo is doing something far out of the ordinary. With this Scheider establishes Russo's history has been long.

Scheider also is good in his distinct chemistry with Hackman as they play off each other in their scenes together. They have a particular dynamic the way they interrogate, and work together that shows their long history on working on cases. They work together perfectly as Hackman as Doyle is the more intuitive one, as well as hot headed one, against Scheider as Russo who acts as the more level headed and cool headed one who tries to keep Popeye sensible.

Although Russo is most certainly a limited part but Scheider makes more than the most it. He is realistic throughout and easily adds to the realistic tone of the film. Even though the character as written could have far too simple, but Scheider though still manages to make Russo into a realistic character. It is not the most complex part, but Scheider does his very best in the part to bring Cloudy Russo to life.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1971: Jeff Bridges in The Last Picture Show

Jeff Bridges received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Duane Jackson in The Last Picture Show.

. Jeff Bridges portrays Duane Jackson one of the more popular teenagers in the town who goes out with the most popular girl Jacy (Cybil Shepherd). Jeff Bridges actually most certainly has a challenge here to make Duane a compelling or likable character. Duane after all is not at all sure of himself is in a point of his life where he understands very little about himself, or anything else and sees many things in a rather shallow manner.

It is than hard for Bridges to really a distinct characterization since Duane is constantly changing his attitudes, and ideas. Bridges actually though does have his usual charm he has in his roles but too a far far lesser degree than say in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. It is still apparent but it can only do so far really, and I can't say even Bridges manages to make Duane likable, even though he does try.

Duane goes through a lot of phases in the film but mostly he just acts as a fairly shallow young man in his shallow relationship. Bridges in turn is properly shallow as Duane, and is most certainly realistic in showing his confusion as well as his shallow wants in his relationship. Bridges is entirely accurate but I'm hard pressed to honestly say I found his performance especially compelling.

I don't want to say he is ever bad though that is most certainly sure. He stays realistic throughout the ever changing Duane, from when he is impudent or later in his scenes where he ends up being cruel after being dumped by Jacy. To even his last scene where he shows Duane having any sort of understanding.

They are all part of Duane almost random journey that is fitting of inexperience youth, which Bridges does realize, I just must admit I never felt myself Duane become all that interesting or affecting in the film despite Bridges' efforts. I know there are many who love this performance, but I personally cannot see it more than just simply a good realistic performance.

Best Supporting Actor 1971: Ben Johnson in The Last Picture Show

Ben Johnson won his Oscar from his only nomination for portraying Sam the Lion in The Last Picture Show.

The Last Picture Show tells of various relationships within a small Texas town.

Ben Johnson plays Sam the Lion who owns the local billiards, diner, and picture show. Same the Lion is a very particular character in the town because he is one of the few people who believes in doing the right thing in his own regard as well as in regard to helping others. Sam also although certainly does not have a perfect life he clearly does not suffer from the psychological troubles which trouble most of the rest of the residents of the town.

Sam the Lion actually has a limited amount of screen time but Johnson makes the most of every moment he has on screen. In short scenes Johnson effortlessly conveys the noble nature of Sam the Lion. There is always a certain quietness in his performance, and within every solemn gaze Johnson always manages to bring to life the wisdom, and intelligence of Sam. It is difficult to establish this sort of almost casual wisdom without seeming unrealistic, but Johnson manages it flawlessly.

Johnson with his little he has manages to create a whole history in the character of Sam. In his somewhat tired world worn face their is an honest experience conveyed by Johnson. He is of course especially stand out in his scene where reminisces about old times. Johnson is brilliant in his ability to convey the truly fond memories Sam has of his particular past. Johnson is especially strong is that it is not that he shows really a regret, Sam really is above a feeling like that, but instead he shows a genuine nostalgic feeling for that time in his life.

Johnson succeeds well with Sam the Lion, creating a unique presence in every one of his scenes that almost a mysterious quality to him in the way he has his certain warmness and nobility that almost no one else has in the town. It most certainly is a short role in the end, but Johnson's performance has a lasting impact on the film. When he exits the film you feel a genuine loss of warmth, hope and nobility that Johnson so effortlessly conveyed in the role.

Best Supporting Actor 1971: Leonard Frey in Fiddler on the Roof

Leonard Frey received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Motel Kamzoil in Fiddler on the Roof.

Leonard Frey portrays Motel Kamzoil the poor tailor who is love with the eldest daughter Tzeitel of the milkman Tevye (Topol). Motel is only a small aspect of the story, and is a rather modest character as well. Motel though is quite passionate in his love for Tzeitel, and does insist on being her husband even though she has been matched with a different man.

Frey gives an energetic and enthusiastic performance, perhaps a little too enthusiastic frankly with how much he puts into each of his expressions and reactions. It is a musical though and he is in line with many of the performances found in the film with his particular enthusiasm, and it certainly makes sense for his character who is very passionate for his love.

Frey though most of the time is barely even noticeable in the film which technically is fitting for his character but does not make his performance especially compelling either. Frey mostly is as he should be since Motel should be quite the modest individual who never is suppose to really stand out much, except when it comes to Tzeitel or his sewing machine which will make his sewing far easier.

He also has a song number to himself and he does through a lot of energy into his single song that is again quite appropriate to Motel who is quite passionate when he needs to be. In the end still it is hard for me to say this is all that much of a performance. It isn't really bad at all, even if he might be a bit much at times, but he never makes Motel overly special either.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1971: Richard Jaeckel in Sometimes A Great Notion

Richard Jaeckel received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Joe Ben Stamper in Sometimes A Great Notion.

Sometimes a Great Notion depicts the lives of an independent logging family the stampers who are at odds with Union loggers who are on strike.

This is the sort of nomination that just boggles the mind because one must ask why exactly did anyone in the academy say wow now that there is a performance that needs to be recognized. Especially since Sometimes a Great notion only received two nominations total, so this was not one of those bonus nominations like say Joe Mantell in Marty, I guess they wanted to nominate long time character actor Jaeckel  I suppose but certainly seems quite strange in the end.

Joe Ben really is not at all prominent in the story of the Stampers he in the end is just one of the Stampers crew and in terms of the story is mostly just makes the occasional comment or reaction that is in no way substantial. He neither makes the decisions in the family or the arguments in the family. He really is part of the family he merely acts as just part of the family with his occasional small little reaction here or there that does not make the biggest of differences.

Joe Ben really is a non entity for most of the film until finally in one scene where he is held in place by a tree. Jaeckel is quite realistic in this scene and effectively brings out the emotions in the single scene. Other than this important scene Jaeckel just is around scenes never becoming the focus or making himself the focus. He most certainly never bad for a moment in the film, but there is just so little ever asked from Jaeckel in the part of Joe Ben Stamper that he could never really be more than just adequate.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1971

And the Nominees Were:

Leonard Frey in Fiddler on the Roof

Jeff Bridges in The Last Picture Show

Ben Johnson in The Last Picture Show

Richard Jaeckel in Sometimes a Great Notion

Roy Scheider in The French Connection

Best Supporting Actor 1991: Results

5. Ben Kingsley in Bugsy-Kingsley gives a rather dull performance that never really even becomes comfortable with his gangster mannerisms he attempts to employ.
4. Harvey Keitel in Bugsy- Keitel certainly is as good as one could be as the gangster here being exactly as he should be unfortunately he does almost nothing over the course of the film.
3. Jack Palance in City Slickers- Palance like Keitel basically is exactly as he should be in his role, unfortunately just like Keitel he has far too little to do.
2. Tommy Lee Jones in JFK- Tommy Lee Jones creates the right fascinating performance that carefully but very effectively creates the enigma of a man his character should be.
1. Michael Lerner in Barton Fink- Lerner is only in three scenes but he dominates the three scene with his rather enjoyable performance as the quick talking movie executive.
Deserving Performances:
John Goodman in Barton Fink
Ted Levine in The Silence of the Lambs
Gary Oldman in JFK

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1991: Jack Palance in City Slickers

Jack Palance won his Oscar from his third and final nomination for portraying Curly Washburn in City Slickers.

City Slickers is a comedy about a literal group of city slickers who go on a cattle drive.

Jack Palance portrays the trail boss Curly who heads the cattle drive. He is rough tough, and with a glint of a philosophical side as well, an all around old fashioned cowboy. Jack Palance plays him rough and tough well enough most certainly with the strong screen presence he usually was able to bring in his better performances. Also he does have an occasional enjoyable reaction or two as well when he sees the city slickers act stupidly.

Palance as well handles the philosophical side of Curly with an ease and grace that is entirely appropriate for his old dying race demeanor and fits the rest of his character. My problem with this Oscar winning performance though comes from his screentime, and the amount asked of Palance from his performance. This just is not too much of a challenge really in the end especially compared to say his performance in Sudden Fear, or even his performance in Shane.

Firstly he is only required to do exactly what he does no more, which in the end is surprisingly little. Secondly though I was surprised with just how little that was total, I had seen the film before but not in a long while, and I forgot just how little Palance was actually in the film. This still is not a bad performance by any means, but it just never amounts to anywhere near one would expect from what was named the best supporting performance of the year.

Best Supporting Actor 1991: Tommy Lee Jones in JFK

Tommy Lee Jones received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Clay Shaw in JFK.

JFK is Oliver Stone's inaccuracy and conspiracy filled depiction of District Attorney Jim Garrison's (Kevin Costner) investigation into the JFK's assassination. 

Tommy Lee Jones portrays the very elusive and mysterious businessman Clay Shaw who in the film seems to have some involvement with the assassination of JFK although it never says precisely what his association is. Tommy Lee Jones portrays Shaw in an equally mysterious fashion, and although Stone is not a subtle director by any means there is most certainly subtly laced within Jones's work in this film.

Jones role is in the end quite small really. Much of his appearances in scenes are only very very short moments that merely indicate his presence more than anything else. Nevertheless Jones still creates compelling character within these short scenes. Jones never for a moment exactly says who Shaw is in but rather creates him into a fascinating enigma that is basically impossible to fully understand. An enigma is actually quite a difficult role to find the right balance as it is easy to give away too much of the character or too little that it just seems like thin characterization. Jones though manages to find the perfect balance of the known and unknown in his performance. There is an underlying sinister quality to Jones' portrayal that is always clear and chilling in an understated way but mysterious by the way Jones never exactly say what makes Shaw so sinister.

Jones gives a careful but concise performance that always seems to suggest the Shaw is hiding something, but Jones is good enough that he is able to convey in small indications that he is hiding something, but at the same he is able to show that Shaw is exceedingly good at hiding his secrets. This again something that is very difficult to convey but Jones is masterful in portraying that here. Jones's role is quite short but you do actually feel his presence almost throughout the film from the his short time. I really do not like to use that overused phrase with performances, but it is true of Jones's work here that absolutely creates fascinating character who acts as the incarnation basically of the conspiracy in the film.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1991: Michael Lerner in Barton Fink

Michael Lerner received his only Oscar nomination so far for portraying Jack Lipnick in Barton Fink.

Barton Fink depicts the strange story of a playwright hired for the movies to write a wrestling picture but suffers from writer's block while living in a bizarre hotel.

This is a little bit of a strange nomination since after the watching the film I would think that anyone would most likely say the standout supporting performance in the film was by John Goodman as the strange neighbor of Barton's, but I guess maybe Goodman's character was a little too strange for them maybe his whole plot line so perhaps they decided to go with the character they could more fully understand the imposing studio boss played by Michael Lerner. Jack Lipnick the man who hires Fink to write a wrestling picture that is to star Wallace Beery. Also Lerner evidently launched an active personal campaign for the nomination whereas Goodman did not, although two from Barton Fink would have been much more preferable than two from the forgettable Bugsy.

Lerner appears in only three scenes total as Lipnick although he is the domineering presence in all three of them. Jack Lipnick is forceful fast talking studio head who knows his business and talks fast, and is unpredictable in his way he praises Fink and ridicules his assistant. Lerner is great in these scenes and does bring all of these qualities to life. He dominates his scenes just as Jack Lipnick should dominate everything around him. Lerner finds this magnificent combination within his three scenes of creating the very strange yet rather hilarious nature of the forceful Jack Lipnick particularly to how he contrasts against the unsure Fink. Lerner finds this perfect tone to maneuver within his performance, as any proper supporting player in a Coen brothers should, in that he not only brings impeccable comedic timing but also goes further in terms of the creation of what Lipnick represents. Lipnick is the studio system in full force and his use of Fink is the brilliant representation of this sort of grotesque leviathan. There is this confidence, overwhelming confidence, Lerner brings and a passion, however both of those seem forceful for the sake of it, of a man demanding to own his "art" even when he's really in it just for the money. His interactions with Barton are sheer perfection in the first two scenes Lerner plays this brilliant line between excessive affability but with these strict sinister undertones. One of my favorite moments is in their first scene together where he states his lack of actually having seen Barton's work, despite being so enthusiastic towards Barton's work, and as a parting note Lerner infuses this certain cynicism as he casually dismisses Barton's intentions when speaking about work he has done rather than theoretical work he will do for capitol pictures. Lerner's second scene is equally entertaining as Lerner brings such earnestness towards Lipnick's fawning over Barton, even translating it towards his violent reaction towards his assistant Lou when he demands actual work from Barton. Lerner again is this great face of the studio delivering this great smile towards Barton yet again channels this vicious darkness even within that. Lerner then naturally makes it all come to his final scene where he is openly hostile towards Barton for having written a "fruity picture about a man wrestling with his soul". Lerner is great as he still is very funny even in this breakdown of Barton's passion but indeed is also all the more cruel because of it as Lerner still doesn't lose that certain spring in his delivery while cutting out Barton's heart and feeding it to him. Although yes Goodman should have been nominated, I will say Lerner is extremely entertaining and effective in his own right by creating both the colorful facade of the studio system and its more genuine dog eat dog attitude.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1991: Ben Kingsley in Bugsy

Ben Kingsley received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Meyer Lansky in Bugsy.

Kingsley portrays Meyer Lansky Bugsy Segal(Warren Beatty)'s old friend from childhood as well as fellow gangster. He is the more sensible one who sees the big picture, and understands crime in more terms of money refusing to take things too emotionally or personally. Kingsley really is not in the film very often but he has a few scenes that are important for his character.

Kingsley unlike his fellow nominee Harvey Keitel is not nearly as comfortable as a gangster. He tries the same trick as Keitel from the voice to his physical demeanor. Kingsley never seems to be completely natural with his gangster voice or his gangster style and it frankly seems a little too much like a performance rather than really being an embodiment of Meyer Lansky.

Unlike Mickey Cohen played by Keitel though the materials did seem to be there to make Meyer Lansky into a memorable or compelling character. The problem is though Kingsley is never able to convey any sort of inner killer, or power one would think would be in a character like this, something that Lee Starsberg was able to very well in the Godfather Part II as Hyman Roth who was based on Meyer Lansky.

Kingsley never gives more than a rather paper thin characterization of Meyer Lansky focusing far too much on the mannerisms of the character, which he does not even do well, without ever achieving any sort of deeper complexity to the character. It is is all around a rather unimpressive performance by Kingsley that never seizes any of the opportunities the role does indeed offer.

Best Supporting Actor 1991: Harvey Keitel in Bugsy

Harvey Keitel received his only Oscar nomination so far for portraying Mickey Cohen in Bugsy.

Harvey Keitel portrays gangster Mickey Cohen who is a bit of renegade gangster at first but eventually he comes to work for Bugsy Segal (Warren Beatty). This is another odd career nomination for Keitel that is his only nomination he has received so far but for very unsubstantial work. He does have an intensity in the role though in his first scene where he yells at Bugsy for awhile, but than he quiets down in his very next scene where he makes a deal with Bugsy and really quiets down for the rest of the film.

After his first scene he barely is on screen and when he is on screen he really is just in the background making the occasional comment that is in no way remarkable. Cohen as a character in this film just simply has little to no impact on the film. Aside from his first scene there is never  a scene that even focuses on him for more than a few minor moments. This really is a character as written that it would have been impossible for any actor to make anything special out of it. Keitel though does really portray the part of Mickey Cohen as well as anyone could. He talks tough he has the right demeanor for the typical gangster. He really is just as he should be but the problem of course is the fact that Cohen is such an undemanding role that there just is nothing about Keitel's performance that comes across as memorable or even particularly interesting.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1991

And the Nominees Were

Ben Kingsley in Bugsy

Harvey Keitel in Bugsy

Jack Palance in City Slickers

Michael Lerner in Barton Fink

Tommy Lee Jones in JFK

Best Supporting Actor 1987: Results

5. Sean Connery in The Untouchables- Connery has little to do in his role besides act tough and give inspirational talks both which he does adequately enough but never to any sort of amazing degree.
4. Denzel Washington in Cry Freedom- Washington gives a fine quietly passionate performance that avoids the problems some of his other performances suffer from.
3. Vincent Gardenia in Moonstruck- Gardenia gives an effectively colorful performance that only succeeds in adding to his film.
2. Morgan Freeman in Street Smart- Freeman gives a great performance excelling in both showing the odd charm and charisma equally well with the terrifying brutality of the same man.
1. Albert Brooks in Broadcast News- This for me was a rather close choice between the top two, although I really should not have had to make because Brooks gives really more of a lead than a supporting performance. Brooks either way gives a great performance that balances the different aspects of his character making a winning performance. He gives a charming humorous performance that finds the right emotional tone throughout the film.
Deserving Performances:
Vincent D'Onofrio in Full Metal Jacket
R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket
Mandy Patinkin in The Princess Bride

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1987: Albert Brooks in Broadcast News

Albert Brooks received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Aaron Altman in Broadcast News.

Broadcast News is a film for that improved all around on this viewing so much so really that I must say I was rather unfair to William Hurt in my review of his leading performance and I should probably update my review since he achieves far more than I gave him credit for. What also struck me though was Albert Brooks in the role of the intelligent News reporter who believes in and is effective at reporting the real news. Even though he is not that much of a showman. Brooks really is not supporting but rather co male lead along with William Hurt.

Brooks actually has a great challenge in this role, a challenge that is often failed at which is to portray a character who is written to be annoying in some way but succeeding in making the character likable still. Brooks is quite capable in this regard as Aaron who is purposefully written to be a bit of a know it all as well as someone who does not mind espouses his views fairly loudly and with as much condescension as possible. Brooks though is able to balance this aspect of Aaron with his more charming traits just about perfectly though.

Brooks in Aaron more potentially annoying qualities does well because he effectively enables his slight sense of superiority to be both appropriately humorous as well as sincerity in his performance. Brooks is able to show that Aaron honestly does believe in what he does and what he attempts to do, and it it is almost that he can't help but be at least a little snarky to those who are willing to compromise their values rather than do what it right.

Brooks with this though also does manage to make Aaron charming in his own particular way. Brooks is interesting actually in that he shows that what Aaron tries to do really is always attempt to be charming as much as possible really, because it does not come to him naturally. Brooks is able to show naturally actually able to realize Aaron's repeated attempts to try to charismatic and naturally he does succeed somewhat, but Brooks shows always there is that effort that stops Aaron from being able to be his rival Tom Grunick (William Hurt).

What really is effective about his performance though is in Brooks of portrayal of Aaron relationship with the television producer Jane (Holly Hunter). Brooks is terrific in these scenes as he shows Aaron's obvious love for Jane even though Jane refuses to see Aaron anymore than just a friend. Brooks is great in showing just how much he honestly does love her particularly in his body language that is always tuned toward's Hunter's in a way that he is always waiting for just to reciprocate.

Brooks is very moving really in his scenes with Hunter later on after Jane has fallen for Tom. Brooks realizes so well the various emotions Aaron goes through from his obvious love for Jane that he finally absolutely comes out with, but also with his own anger toward her since she can't return it and is instead falling for a man who represent everything he sees that is wrong with the news. Brooks gives a moving performance that really realizes the painful dilemma of Aaron's life.

Brooks is also great in his very important moments with William Hurt as neither of them treat each other in really a hostile a fashion but rather have a dynamic of rather hidden mutual jealousy, disrespect but with a bit of admiration at the same time. What both actors do work exceedingly well for their scenes together which realizes both their professional and personal struggles in an interesting effective fashion. I was very much surprised by just how much I liked him this time around, but Brooks really gives a great performance that succeeds completely with his character.