Friday, 11 March 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1994: Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction

Samuel L. Jackson received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction.

It could be debated that Jackson is the co-lead of the film since he does have a good amount of screen time but also because his is a character who actually changes through the film. I'd say he could be placed in either category and I would be fine with it, since he does not have the most screen time and there is John Travolta as Vincent Vega who is the true lead, although Travolta does become supporting in Jackson's section giving some weight to calling Jackson lead as well.  He really could either way just like Morgan Freeman of the Shawshank Redemption also in 1994.

Samuel L. Jackson is one of the two hit man, the other being Vincent Vega, on a job at the beginning of the film. Jackson's Jules has become rather iconic, and it now seems like a role only he really could actually portray. Also Like John Travolta Jackson excels well with Quentin Tarintino's language. He makes as believable as it is going to be, and brings the right amount of life to it. The conversations also work incredibly well between these two because he and Travolta work very well together. They have very natural reactions with one another, and show a great amount chemistry in their scenes together, which does do wonders for the film. They are entertaining, and very funny together especially in the last third of the film where Jules gets angry over Vincent's rather stupid action.

What really makes Jackson performance works is the tremendous presence he has in the film. He certainly makes Jules one bad (you know what). Doing this is generally not given very much credit, but one does need to present himself a certain way to be a genuine tough guy. It does not just depend on the actor himself being seen as tough, the actor needs to be honestly tough. An example of seeing this is Jackson in this compared to many of Jackson's modern roles. Jackson does not force it here, and honestly comes off as a dangerous man in the early part of the film. He does this incredibly well in his scene where he takes care of business in the opening scene. He is just terrific in the way he  enters the situation with casual talk but slowly escalates until his chilling reading of his Bible "quote".

Jules changes quickly as a man after a (technically) near death experience. Jules sees this as a message of God to change his ways. Although the transformation is technically very fast, as Jules quickly sees it is a message from God, Jackson handles quite well, and in a believable fashion. His transformation is realized in the last scene of the film where he again must handle a potentially dangerous situation this time without violence. It is interesting to see him still command the situation once again, but this time trying to keep it calm and cool. Jackson once again is perfectly controls the scene, but it is fascinating to see his different approach. He brilliantly handles Jules' change from a violent man who thinks he is philosophical, to a non-violent man who is philosophical. The change in the two situations is earned by Jackson, and shows the brilliance of this strong performance.


dshultz said...

I loved this performance, but as I think is apparent, Landau will get the Oscar.

dinasztie said...

Slightly overrated, but I love it anyhow. Same with the movie.

Tom said...

Everytime he's on the screen, he dominates. I wasn't impressed with Travolta, who was much too quiet.

Anonymous said...

I pretty much was not impressed.

Brandon said...

One of the best performances of all time. No kidding, what he does is he transcends (like the film itself) the cinematic confines to shape a near spiritual experience. His performance is the moral and emotional compass of Pulp Fiction and (besides the glowing briefcase) he is the heart and soul of one of cinema's most triumphant creations. He conveys the transformation with integrity, humor, and style.

In other words... THE bad motherfucker!

But Sage, I found it so peculiar that you have a strong dislike towards the film and performances. Can you explain a bit more, because I'd love to hear your full opinion on it.

Unknown said...

Which actors wud u say r Jackson's contemporaries