Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Best Actor 1995: Anthony Hopkins in Nixon

Anthony Hopkins received his third Oscar nomination for portraying Richard Nixon in Nixon.

Nixon is Oliver Stone' none too subtle film about Richard M. Nixon. Although it really is not very believable, and every point is hammered in far too much, it actually is watchable and moves along surprisingly well for a three hour film.

The really is not a single subtle thing about the whole film including say Stone's constant editing, his rather evil sounding soundtrack, or some of those scenes particularly the one with Mao Zedong as well as Anthony Hopkins' performance. Hopkins does not go for a subtle, underplaying portrayal of Nixon for a second in this film.

Nixon is portrayed rather oddly throughout the film, and not only by Hopkins himself. Hopkins is simply made up in such a fashion to make him simply bizarre with his hair, makeup, and sweat. Nixon certainly was not a standard looking chap, but he was not this odd looking. This is not helped by Hopkins either though.

The way Hopkins stands as Nixon is a complete characterture, his posture everything is basically a cartoonish portrait of Nixon that is rather hard to believe. Hopkins sort of does a Nixon voice as well, but not really a bold one ever. I'd say his accent actually is the least distracting part of his performance. It still is not Nixon's voice though, something many actors have a problem with for some reason.

Hopkins actually in this film never looked like Nixon, but even more than that, I felt he looked frankly like some sort of strange creature the whole time. Nixon always looks a little too out of place, yes he is suppose to be a perpetual outsider, but this is too much, he just does not look like a human which is very distracting. I think this is particularly not helped by his constant awkward mouth movements, and tongue movements which fails to suggest the actual Nixon properly.

Hopkins actual performance therefore is already not exactly going to be convincing unless he is extremely good, which he really isn't. Due to the fact that this is Oliver Stone, Hopkins always must portray Nixon is basically the same fashion throughout. Nixon is a paranoid mess from beginning to end, allowing for no real transition to occur.

Hopkins portrays Nixon as a socially inept man, too inept really to make believable that he ever was able to be a politician, he is frankly just too grotesque in his portrayal to be believed. I just never bought the characterization because it never made completely sense, Hopkins portrayed him as too much of an insane lunatic, without even a what seems a single logical notion in his head, which is exactly what Stone wanted I'm sure, but it does not exactly make a truly believable character.

I did not see how Nixon could accomplish a single thing he really did from really romancing Pat Nixon, or convincing to stay with him, or running his successful political campaign or having the ability to keep anyone with him. The problem is I think is Nixon almost always seems like an utter incompetent, with Hopkins even in scenes where he is suppose to be in control I just did not by it because Hopkins' method of portraying him. 

Hopkins certainly has a moment or too I think such as when he reflects about his past with his brothers which is done well enough, as well as suggesting the sad state of his character, without overdoing it like the rest of his character. Hopkins handles quite well in fact in his way of showing how his parents deeply left a mark he was never able to be rid of.

The rest of his Nixon is just really too flawed for its own good, yes he could have been a complete evil doer, but I think frankly he should have seemed a little more charismatic, and able one to make this story actually believable. I will just say compare his addresses to the real footage of Nixon it just does not much up in far too many ways. This is not an entirely bad performance though, and I am sure it is the type the director wanted. The performance though still is always a bit too much.


dshultz said...

Woah-wah-uh-uh-ohhhh. What? I heartily disagree, but hey, that's life, eh?

dinasztie said...

I knew it...

mrripley said...

He was awful shows you what good director james ivory/johnathan demme can get out of someone and what oliver stone can get out of a good actor pure ham n cheese!!!

Anonymous said...

It helps if you look at it not as an attempt to mimic the president exactly but, instead, as Hopkins' very own creation. It's Nixon as performance art. Tell me: What did you think of Charlize Theron in Monster? Or Marion Cotillard in La Vie en rose?

Louis Morgan said...

Well I understand that it is not a straight imitation, but the was only part of my problem with the performance. My main problem with the performance, was how over the top, as well as repetitive it was.

I still have not watched La Vie en Rose, but Theron is great.

Anonymous said...

I see what you mean. I guess it's a matter of how much you're willing to take before it becomes too much. And I'm with you on Theron. I asked because I've noticed some people have similar complaints about her performance.

Anonymous said...

no no theron is one for the ages when we look back in 40 years hers will be the one we benchmark people on.

Charles Heiston said...

dshultz, Hubblabababbablahblah to you too, Maybe you should post your thoughts on this performance, As it was sub-par work.