Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1955: Jack Lemmon in Mister Roberts

Jack Lemmon won his first Oscar from his first nomination for portraying Ensign Frank Pulver in Mister Robert.

Mister Roberts details the struggle on a naval ships in the back waters of the pacific during World War II between the kindly Mister Roberts, and the tyrannical ship's captain (James Cagney).

Jack Lemmon plays Ensign Pulver the laundry and morale officer aboard the ship. He might have this position though he mostly just seems to sleep in his quarters, and randomly attempt to come up with things to help pass his time on the rather boring ship. Lemmon is an actor I will admit that I actually tend to prefer him in dramatic roles oppose to his comedic roles, since I find he can easily go a little too far with his comic performance, or that his shtick can eventually become old during the course of a film.

Luckily in this film though Lemmon is used just the right amount, as well as he finds the right tone for his performance to work as it should. This is one of Lemmon's better comedic performances, because he does not overplay his role to the point of ever coming off as annoying or obnoxious but instead makes Ensign Pulver the most entertaining character in the film. Also really he makes his performance the mainly comedic performance that works best in the film, unlike the rest of the crew who shows just how one can constantly overact while attempting to be funny, but than not be funny at all.

Lemmon on the other hand succeeds in creating a very enjoyable performance as Ensign Pulver. As usual with most Lemmon performances, especially his comedic ones, he infuses a great deal of energy into his performance, and it is all well spent with Ensign Pulver. Lemmon manages to be very entertaining with simply his body language of Pulver who manages bring life to every scene he is in through his uneasy manner, I particularly like his scene where he accidentally runs into the ships Captain, and Lemmon shows just how little confidence Pulver really has.

Lemmon never really wastes a moment in his performance as Pulver, and manages to make more out of every scene he is in than there would have been otherwise. He has pitch perfect reactions throughout, and manages to make the lazy and rather meek Pulver a very enjoyable character. All of his behavior is made endearing by Lemmon, when it easily could have gone the wrong way. Lemmon has just the right charm in his performance to make Pulver as he should be. His performance though is not only comedic and does have some dramatic weight that is found in the end of the film.

Lemmon though manages just as well with his final dramatic scene as he did with all his comedic ones. He shows in his single scene how much the titular Mister Roberts meant to everyone and actually Lemmon's performance is what makes the final climax of the film work. He shows a transformation at the end with Pulver, that is made believable despite being a fast one, because he is able to show how Pulver sees his sense of duty and finally does it. This is a very good performance by Lemmon that seizes his opportunities of his part, and manages to make his performance the most memorable part of his film.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1955: Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause

Sal Mineo received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Plato in Rebel Without a Cause.

Rebel Without a Cause depicts the story of troubled teenager Jim Stark (James Dean).

Sal Mineo plays Plato a very much troubled teenager who no longer lives with his family and is instead raised by his black house keeper. He basically spends most of his time alone, and attempts to find some sort of companionship with his fellow troubled teenager Jim, and attempts to help Jim with his problems with the local hoods. One thing that is never said but very much implied is that Plato is rather attracted to Jim to the point that he is clearly suppose to be a homosexual.

This is never stated in the film in anyway not in really even a hidden in the words like some films, instead it basically all comes entirely in Mineo's performance. Mineo is appropriately subtle in his depiction of his character he never plays his character in any sort of flamboyant fashion, instead he suggest this only in his looks, and his body language when reacting with Jim. It is very well handled by Mineo and perfectly shows how Plato is attracted to Jim.

Other than this aspect Plato is a very troubled young man. It actually would have been easy to constantly overplay Plato's troubles, but instead Mineo gives a quietly effective performance that is able to more realistically bring to life Plato's long history of problems. Mineo shows that Plato tries hard to hide all of his problems, but always shows that there is something wrong with him at all times. There is not a single scene where Plato seems entirely normal, because Mineo infuses Plato mental instability in every moment he is on screen.

A very important moment for Plato and Mineo performance is his single really happy scene where he hangs out with Jim in an abandoned home he used to runaway from home to. Mineo makes the most of his scene showing a desperation and a genuine happiness in Plato in this moment. He does not over do it though still making it clear that Plato is not well, but rather Mineo makes this Plato's imperfect attempt to be so.

Interestingly enough for me his final scenes felt like his least impressive scenes. Plato finally goes out of control. In these scenes Mineo is still good and still is as Plato should be, but I really feel that he should perhaps have been able to bring even more emotional strength into this pivotal scene. His performance is very good though I have no doubts about that. He never has a bad moment and creates an excellent characterization.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1955: Arthur O'Connell in Picnic

Arthur O'Connell received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Howard Bevans in Picnic.

Picnic is a very melodramatic film about a drifter Hal (William Holden) who visits a small Kansas town looking for work.

O'Connell plays one of the locals an older man who owns a store and is thinking over becoming married to one of the local school teachers Rosemary (Rosalind Russell). He is hesitant to give up bachelor life though. In fifties melodramas it is easy for one to give a rather melodramatic performance, or a very dull one. O'Connell thankfully though is a rarity in this situation and in this particular film as he does try his best to give a natural performance.

O'Connell's actual character is quite limited though in the scope of the film. Howard is there and shares small romantic scenes with Rosemary. O'Connell has descent chemistry with Russell even though it not especially special but it does manage to make their relationship believable. Howard past that just remains as the most sensible person who does not immediately jump to conclusions nor get all melodramatic all of sudden either.

O'Connell gives an appropriately charming performance, and never gets sucked up in the overacting or dullness that some of the other performers do in this film. I still cannot say that this is a great performance by any means though the part of Howard requires little of him in the very end. I will most certainly give him his due credit though as he does play Howard exactly as Howard should be portrayed.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1955: Joe Mantell in Marty

Louis Morgan: Hello and welcome to my interview with none other than Joe Mantell who received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Angie in Marty. Well Mr. Mantell can you please describe your character in Marty.

Joe Mantell: Well Angie is a bit of a dope, the man who is always hanging out with Marty pestering Marty on what their going to do trying to convince to to find women with him.

LM: What else does Angie do over the course of the film.

JM: Well not much really he later on in the film keeps looking for Marty at different places well Marty finally finds a date.

LM: Anything more than that?

JM: Well at the end he keeps telling Marty that he went out with a dog and proceeds to go back to the way he usually does things.

LM: Well that really is not much is it, how do you play the part?

JM: Well Angie is really a big nothing so that is how a play him as a big nothing just always depending a little too much for his friend.

LM: Well I suppose you do play Angie just as he should be played, but is that really anything all that special.

JM: Well I suppose not, but hey I am not bad am I?

LM: Well no your not.

JM: Yeah that's right I'm not, I certainly am better than Baryshnikov in The Turning Point now aren't I?

LM: True, but still its hard to say that this is not anything more than just a bonus nomination for the very well liked Marty.

JM: Well that's your opinion.

LM: Indeed it is. I will say in closing though I love the way you say "Forget it Jake, It's Chinatown" in Chinatown you nailed that line.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1955

And the Nominees Were:

Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause

Joe Mantell in Marty

Jack Lemmon in Mister Roberts

Arthur O'Connell in Picnic

Arthur Kennedy in Trial

Friday, 25 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1947: Results

5. Charles Bickford in The Farmer's Daughter- Bickford is certainly fine in his part, but nothing special. He perhaps could have stolen some scenes but he never is able to.
4. Thomas Gomez in Ride the Pink Horse- Although his part is fairly limited Gomez gives an enjoyable and charming performance that only adds to his film.
3. Edmund Gwenn in Miracle on 34th Street- Gwenn is not really a definitive Santa Clause by any means, and this is not any sort of great performance, but it is a good one where Gwenn makes Santa Clause just as kind and warm as he should be.
2. Robert Ryan in Crossfire- Robert Ryan plays the sort of role he became best known for and the truth is there is a reason he became known for this sort of role, because he was very good at it. This is not his best variation on this sort of character though.
1. Richard Widmark in Kiss of Death- There is no question for me who wins this year though as Widmark easily gives the most memorable and most effective performance out of the nominees. Widmark becomes basically invisible in his chilling creation of Tommy Udo a psychopath who only ever finds joy from what he does.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1947: Edmund Gwenn in Miracle on 34th Street

Edmund Gwenn won his Oscar from his first nomination for portraying Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street.

Miracle on 34th Street depicts the story of a Santa Clause who becomes the Santa Clause for the Macy's day parade and later for the store, the only problem is he claims he really is Santa Clause.

Edmund Gwenn I imagine won by a great deal for his performance here as Kris Kringle, since it is unlikely much consideration was given to Gomez and Bickford whose films received few nominations, and it certainly would not have gone to those rather nasty characters Ryan and Widmark play especially since neither have a single sympathetic quality. Also Miracle seems that it was likely second place for best picture considering it won story and screenplay, but it lost I feel only because the Academy wanted to seem important by going with the "important" picture.  

Also Gwenn is really not supporting in this film he is the subject of the film and the lead actor of the film, it is not an overly egregious nomination since there is at least the other lead of John Payne, but really Gwenn most certainly is lead. Also what is not to like about Santa Clause. This is not a only a unique nomination but also an exceedingly unique win as usually Santa Clause is not the sort of character one would expect to receive a nomination let alone an Oscar win.

This review is for the very day the film begins in, and it is hard to say anything bad about Santa Clause, but I won't let any of these factors change my view of Gwenn's performance. Gwenn really does not take any sort of unorthodox approach to playing Santa Clause he is nice and gentle as he should be. He is warm and kind just as he should be. There is also a bit of a no nonsense part of him though as he does not like people who do the wrong thing either. Gwenn even shows this aspect to be still Kris Kringle merely wishing that only everyone should be nice as well.

Gwenn really is just fine in the role of Santa Clause, but if you have seen Gwenn's other performances like in Mister 880 for example his performance is not that much of a stretch for him. This is basically how he played any nice old man role no differences to attempt to make him any more Santa Clause like in the least. His style of performance though most certainly works for the role though, and I have no issues with the way he plays it either. His Santa Clause certainly is not definitive in any fashion, but he is as he should be.

There certainly are wrong ways to play Santa Clause but most of the time he is on film it is not that hard to get him right, just have a kindly old man who has a beard or at least can grow one who just seems to be respectable not much more than that. Gwenn is not a definitive portrayal of Santa Clause by any means but he is one of the better ones. Gwenn is consistently good, but his performance is not even my favorite of the film that would go to the duo of Gene Lockhart as the rather pathetic judge, and William Frawley as his blunt campaign manager. Yes it most certianly is fun for Santa Clause to win the Oscar, but in the end this only just a good performance not a great one, and certainly not better than Richard Widmark.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1947: Thomas Gomez in Ride the Pink Horse

Thomas Gomez received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Pancho in Ride the Pink Horse.

Ride the Pink Horse tells of an ex American GI Lucky Gagin (Robert Montgomery) who goes down to a New Mexico border town to seek revenge against a crime boss who killed his friend.

Thomas Gomez plays one of the Mexicans in the border town who runs the local carousel, and befriends Gagin, after he convinces Gagin to buy several locals drinks because the bar did not have enough change for Gagin's ten dollar bill. Thomas Gomez actually gives a very nice performance as Pancho who eventually saves Gagin despite being threatened physically himself. Although really this could have been a role that could have only been stereotype or two dimensional but Gomez makes an honest character out of Pancho even with the little time he is given.

He adds a much needed bright face to the film that tries to bring some joy to the whole proceedings. Gomez does not make Pancho for a second some sort of forced comic relief though, instead Gomez makes Pancho a joyful fellow that naturally brings a lighter element to the film. He actually has good chemistry with Robert Montgomery and the two have a nice dynamic with Montgomery being rather serious and to the point, and Gomez being far more relaxed who would rather take his time with things.

Thomas Gomez is always a good presence in the film and only adds to basically the color of the film. He is particularly good when his loyalty to Gagin is challenged by thugs. Gomez is very good in this scene giving a realistic portrayal of loyalty Pancho has for his friend, and the scene is rather hard one to watch as Pancho is beaten because Gomez is just so likable as Pancho. Although this is not an overly complex character, Gomez only ever works to add to his the film with easy charm and joyful character.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1947: Robert Ryan in Crossfire

Robert Ryan received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Montgomery in Crossfire.

Crossfire details the investigation behind the murder of a Jewish man.

This really is going to be a spoilers review as the film is a mystery and to really get into the qualities of Ryan's performance. Although I must say this mystery is made quite predictable becuase usually when a film is a mystery film is and that mystery film has a nomination in the supporting actor category it usually gives away who the killer is. Also the fact that Robert Ryan is in a movie is a dead give away to who is the killer since Robert Ryan was type cast as a cruel antagonist. 

I knew the second he walked on screen in the film that he was going to be the killer anyways since Ryan just naturally has an unsavory quality to the way he looks, which is why he played this sort of role so often. I must say this is not the best version of this sort of role for Ryan though as I greatly preferred his work in Billy Budd for example where there seemed to be a greater mystery to his villain and with that made his character far more chilling in that particular film.

Ryan tries from his first scene tries to avoid suspicion in the role of Montgomery although he certainly gives an effort to seem innocent and naive, he simply is Robert Ryan so I know that he could not possibly be good, but really that is not his fault. Ryan actually does fairly good job of showing Montgomery's attempts to try to throw off the investigation by acting unaware of the whole thing, although with the right undercurrent knowing the truth that he clearly is always hiding.

Robert Ryan though is best at what he does best which is being the intense vicious villain. Ryan is appropriately cruel and chilling as he shows that Montgomery really is a racist with absolutely no sympathy for anyone, especially not Jewish people who intensely hates. Ryan does not show any reason behind Montgomery's hate other than just hate that has clearly been with Montgomery for a long time. Although there are not a lot of surprises in this performance there is a reason Ryan was typecast in this sort of role, because he was very good at it as he shows here.

Best Supporting Actor 1947: Charles Bickford in The Farmer's Daughter

Charles Bickford received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Joseph Clancy in The Farmer's Daughter.

The Farmer's Daughter tells of a Swedish American woman Katie Holstrom (Loretta Young) who moves her farm to the big city, and after being the maid to political power broker Agatha Morley(Ethel Barrymore), and her U.S. Representative son (Joseph Cotton).

Charles Bickford plays Joseph Clancy the majordomo to Agatha Morley, and her son. Clancy is a loyal servant who wants what is best for the family, but also proceeds eventually to become a friend to Katie as well. Clancy most of the time is just in the background of the film making the occasional goodhearted comment. He only does a little more when he is encouraging Katie to pursue her plans to run for political office despite the opposition of those around them.  

I frankly do not know why Bickford was always put in what are suppose to warm roles, as I always feel he comes off as a little to rough of an individual for it to really seem entirely natural. This is not to say Bickford is bad, because he is not at all bad really. He is there he says what he has to with certainly a degree of feeling and determination but it never amounts to anything all that special or even all that interesting.

I think this part could have been something a little more special as I think it could have been a scene stealing part potentially in someone with a more natural comedic trivalent like say Charles Coburn for example, but as it is Bickford just never makes himself the center of attention even when he has the chance. I think this character could have been very enjoyable and warm presence in the film, but Bickford never really gets over his demeanor he carries in basically of his roles.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1947: Richard Widmark in Kiss of Death

Richard Widmark received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Tommy Udo in Kiss of Death.

Kiss of Death details the story of a criminal who becomes an informant to help his family, which gets him into a dangerous situation with one of the men he informed on.

Richard Widmark although had a long screen career he was only ever nominated for his for film role ever as the giggling psychopath Tommy Udo. What I found interesting from his first scene in this film was the fact that Widmark's performance here in no way resembles his later screen persona which was usually a deep voiced commanding figure. In this film though I barely recognized Widmark as he completely becomes the role of Tommy Udo.

As I said Widmark has a deep voice but here that is not apparent in the least. Widmark here instead has a rather high pitched weasel type of voice that works perfectly for the role of Tommy Udo. He makes Tommy Udo not some sort of overwhelming figure who seems to command, but far more freighting by always seeming to be dangerous by just how off of a person Widmark makes him, Widmark always shows that there is something simply off about Udo.

What makes Widmark's performance so memorable though is that Tommy is not only a Killer but a true sadist who loves to kill. The famous wheelchair pushing scene would not be nearly as memorable as it is if it were not for the grinning joyful face that Widmark has the moment Tommy is doing it. There is not a single moment in which Widmark shows any sort of sympathy inside of the disturbing Tommy.

Widmark simply makes the most out of the character of Tommy Udo who easily could have been played way over the top, but instead Widmark makes him bizarrely real in his psychopathy and all the more chilling because of that. There are so many aspects of this performance that could have gone wrong in lesser hands but with Widmark they never do. This is truly an accomplishment becuase of how risky Widmark plays his role, which is a little surprising since it was his first performance in a film.

The way he walks, the way he talks, the way he laughs, and especially the way he smiles only ever work to make Tommy Udo an unforgettable character. Every moment of the film he is in, which is not as much as one might think Widmark makes the most of. He absolutely holds your attention in every scene for every second with his fascinating portrayal. He makes Udo such an effective villain that even when he was off screen I was thinking about him. This is an amazing performance by Widmark that creates a chilling portrait of a smiling psychopath.

Best Supporting Actor 1947

And the Nominees Were:

Robert Ryan in Crossfire

Richard Widmark in Kiss of Death

Edmund Gwenn in Miracle on 34th Street

Thomas Gomez in Ride the Pink Horse

Charles Bickford in The Farmer's Daughter

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1967: Results

5. Cecil Kellaway in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner-  Kellaway is charming in the role, but it never requires more of him than just a little charm.
4. John Cassavetes in The Dirty Dozen- Cassavetes is appropriately rebellious in his early scenes, but later in the film it becomes quite hard to ever distinguish him from the rest of the dozen.
3. Michael J. Pollard in Bonnie and Clyde- Pollard gives the least memorable performance of the main cast, but this is a strong cast. He plays his past as a rather modest and impressionable boy just as he should, as well as does shine in a  few key moments.
2. George Kennedy in Cool Hand Luke- Although Kennedy does some unneeded overacting from time to time in his performance he still gives a good performance. He is entertaining and especially effective in showing Dragline's complete admiration for the titular Luke, which is an essential part of his film.
1. Gene Hackman in Bonnie and Clyde- Good prediction Dinasztie . Gene Hackman easily gets my vote as he gives such a great performance despite some clear challenges in the part. Although not a single scene focuses solely on his character Hackman fully realizes not only his character but also how he factors in with the rest of the gang. There is not a wasted moment in Hackman's entire performance and when any opportunity presents itself in the film Hackman makes the most of it creating some very effective moments throughout his performance. 

Best Supporting Actor 1967: George Kennedy in Cool Hand Luke

George Kennedy won his Oscar from his only nomination so far for portraying Dragline in Cool Hand Luke.

George Kennedy plays Dragline who is the sorta defacto leader of the prisoners when the nonconforming Luke (Paul Newman) comes into their chain gang camp. In his early scenes he is fairly hostile toward Luke. In these early scenes Kennedy does not make Dragline seem to be the boss of the men or anything like that, but rather he just is the most overwhelming presence in the place who clearly has been there for awhile. Kennedy has a strong presence int the film, and always makes it clear why Dragline is the most prominent member of the chain gang.

Kennedy is pretty good in establishing the illiterate Dragline as a fairly likable fellow who does just about anything to help pass the time in the prison. He makes his rather transition to liking Like rather natural actually even though it is a very fast one. He shows that Dragline basically has a certainly hostility to any new prisoner, but Kennedy fairly quietly shows that Dragline quickly sees something special in Luke that he can easily attach himself to, frankly just to again help himself in the prison life.

Kennedy best moments come in just his simple admiration he has for Luke later in the film. He shows such a genuine joy in everything that Luke does. Kennedy realizes the whole idea that Dragline seems to love Luke very well, by showing it as basically that he seems to worship the whole idea of Luke who refuses to conform to what the prison wants him. Kennedy honest enthusiasm in all of these scenes show how much Luke means not only to Dragline but all the prisoners, which is part of the reason why this film works.

I really do enjoy this work every time I watch the film as he is a warm presence throughout and succeeds in bringing an important facet to the film very much to life. My complaints would be that Kennedy from time to time does go a bit too far in his whole Dragline mannerisms that he becomes over the top. He does not do this all of the time that it becomes overly distracting, but  he does do it enough that it does become noticeable. Even with the overacting Kennedy gives good performance that properly fulfills Dragline's important role in the story.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1967: Michael J. Pollard in Bonnie and Clyde

Michael J. Pollard received his only Oscar nomination so far for portraying C.W. Moss in Bonnie and Clyde.

Michael J. Pollard plays C.W. Moss a gas station attendant who Bonnie and Clyde come across and due to his skills as a mechanic invite him to join their gang. C.W. is rather impressionable as well as not exactly a deep thinker. He basically does what he is told as an eager fan would, and becomes quite sad when he fails to meet their expectations. He is not the brains or the life of the gang, but really just basically an extra gun when it comes to where he stands in the group.

Pollard is very good in just being this impressionable boy of sorts. There is always a certain naivety as well as an unremarkable quality to his performance that absolutely is right for C.W. There is not a single scene where he takes command of the scene, nor should there be since all C.W. really does do is follow orders that are given to him. Pollard most certianly does make C.W. just as he should be a not too notable fellow.

I will say that because of this I really did not notice Pollard during a great of the film. He really is just there in a non too special way. Pollard really does not do anything to make you pay attention to him in scenes with the gang, something that co-nominee Gene Hackman was able to do marvelously. It is not that Pollard is bad he just really does not stand out most of the time.

Pollard though does have some very brief moments that focus on C.W. They are most certainly not substantial in the least, and in fact they really are just silent reaction shots that happen to only show Pollard. In these short moments though Pollard is good such as when being chewed out by Clyde for messing up a robbery as well as when he realizes the situation he is for a brief moment after a very violent shoot out. Pollard in these moments shows just how little C.W. realizes what he is doing.

Besides these small moments there is not much to C.W. besides just being part of the gang other than his spinelessness which certianly becomes important when at the end of the film he becomes pushed around even more by his father, and reacts in just the one he should. Pollard really is just as he should be in the role although he is most certianly the least memorable of the main cast it is most certainly a performance that is as it should be.

Best Supporting Actor 1967: John Cassavetes in The Dirty Dozen

John Cassavetes received his only acting nomination for portraying Victor P. Franko in The Dirty Dozen.

The Dirty Dozen tells of a group of condemned soldiers who are put into a unit to undergo a dangerous mission.

John Cassavetes is best known today for being an experimental director, and not for his acting, although he certainly has a quite a few acting credits to his name. He also does not quite join the ranks of directors being nominated for acting like Vittorio De Sica, and Erich Von Stroheim because John Cassavetes actually did received a directing nomination eventually down the line were the other two where never recognized for the fields they were considered best in.

John Cassavetes does fit into those ranks somewhat though as the most notable thing about this nomination is that it is an acting nomination for Cassavetes who is still best known as a director. He plays one of the condemned soldiers who is quite the rebellious wise guy at the beginning of the film who purposefully questions the whole idea, and just thinks of ways that he can possibly escape, as well as complain about the various conditions that must deal with.

Cassavetes is just fine at being rebellious for the purpose of being so, and correctly conveys the idea that Franko was a career criminal before being in the army. He has the right reactions early on to suggest the way he is always looking for something to try exploit to his advantage, or something just to simply complain about. He most certainly is the character Franko should be, because I never once questioned his motives or the background of the character.

The only problem though is once the dozen becomes united into a military unit I must say I stopped really even noticing Cassavetes. Yes he was there with rest of the group, but just within nothing that he did made him standout in the least.  He makes the occasional wise crack still, but his presence overall becomes quite muted. In the end this performance really is absolutely fine, but there is nothing particularly remarkable or special either.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1967: Gene Hackman in Bonnie and Clyde

Gene Hackman received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Buck Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde.

Gene Hackman plays Buck Barrow the brother of bank robber Clyde (Warren Beatty). This whole role is quite a challenge for Hackman to begin with. There is not a single scene in which Buck is the only character, or even a single scene where Buck is the main focus of the scene either. He is always part of the Barrow gang in every single scene he is in, but here is the perfect example of a performance where all the role is not big, and by far the least important in the film in can still have its own impact significant in its own way.

Hackman performance here frankly is the performance that makes it easy to criticize performances that do nothing that almsot seem to use the excuse that there role is too small to do anything substantial with it. Hackman takes what he has with Buck and makes more than anyone possibly could have in the role. From his first scene Hackman is able to establish a unique and effective characterization of Buck as a usually somewhat easy going fellow who certainly has a history that has not made him bitter. Hackman with a subtle accent and mannerisms he makes Buck a true man of the period.

Hackman is terrific with the absolute in which he establishes the various relationships he has with the gang, and he is really instrumental in making the whole dynamic of the gang work. With Warren Beatty they both manage to make they create a genuine brotherly dynamic with the way they interact and talk with one another. Also very importantly Hackman makes the fact that Buck is married to usually hysterical Blanche (Estelle Parsons) entirely believable. Although no one else he shows that Buck most certainly does see something in here, and does honestly love her despite her behavior. There is a quiet chemistry between the two that is just right for their unique relationship.

One of the biggest challenges in the role was really the idea that Buck played by a lesser actor could have been completely forgotten in the whole of the gang. Hackman makes himself standout without being an overwhelming presence. He finds just the right ways to stay noticed. Hackman makes Buck one of the warmer members of the group, who seems to always find the lighter sides of things making his same old joke over and over again. Hackman always stays absolutely realistic within in the group,a and his whole performance only ever succeeds in adding to the film. 

The most substantial parts of his performance come though in his key scenes, that although they really do not focus on Buck Hackman bring the attention to himself nonetheless. The first being his whole first scene where he must fight with the gang as he jumps into action, and later when they are running away. Hackman is amazing as he shows how his thoughts are going a mile a minute as well as showing that Buck clearly realizes that there is no going back after what he has done. His other big challenge comes in his final scene where Buck is dying, Hackman absolutely succeeds in making Buck death really hit even harder, because of just how naturally he portrays the whole event. Hackman gives a very strong supporting performance that is the perfect example how an actor can really make the most out of just about any role.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1967: Cecil Kellaway in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Cecil Kellaway received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Monsignor Ryan in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

Monsignor Ryan is a kindly priest who is a family friend of the Draytons who are dealing with their daughter marrying a black man. Monsignor Ryan really is not in the film very much. He shows his nice face and acts very well to the interracial couple, than questions Matt Drayton (Spencer Tracy) about his hesitations around the relationship of his daughter. There really is not much to the character of Monsignor Ryan and in turn there really is not much to Cecil Kellaway's performance.

Cecil Kellaway is charming and nice enough in his performance. He is exactly the kindly priest that he should be. When he later questions Tracy's character he again is believable in his somewhat sarcastic way he confronts him is done in an appropriately playful fashion by Kellaway. After this though there really is nothing special about his work, but at the same time there is nothing wrong with his work either. In fact it is just as it should be possibly just a little more, but certainly no less.

Kellaway does not really standout in any substantial fashion in the film, but nor is he excessively forgettable either. He is just a nice little presence in the film because of Kellaway's natural charm, I suppose Monsignor could have been less by not having the charm Kellaway has but still the performance never becomes anything that needed to be rewarded or even noted.

Best Supporting Actor 1967

And the Nominees Were:

Gene Hackman in Bonnie and Clyde

Michael J. Pollard in Bonnie and Clyde

George Kennedy in Cool Hand Luke

Cecil Kellaway in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

John Cassavetes in The Dirty Dozen

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1977: Results

5. Mikhail Baryshnikov in The Turning Point- This nomination is really almost an insult to the other nominated actors, since Baryshnikov gives a terrible performance. His performance does not have a single impressive or convincing moment. He in fact can barely get past his own accent when saying his lines.
4. Maximilian Schell in Julia- Schell has a very short performance in which he comes in a does what he needs to do and than leaves. Schell gives a fine performance, but barely anything is required of him.
3. Peter Firth in Equus- Firth puts a lot of passion into his performance showing both the obsessions as well as the pain his character feels quite well. Unfortunately it never becomes compelling.
2. Jason Robards in Julia- Robards gives an effective performance having the right chemistry with Jane Fonda, as well as being able to create fine portrait of the aged Dashielle Hammett, although limited by the film.
1. Alec Guinness in Star Wars- Alec Guinness does not have the biggest challenge in his career but he certainly handles it with an complete ease and grace. He makes his character memorable, and fully realizes each aspect of Obi-wan Kenobi.

Best Supporting Actor 1977: Alec Guinness in Star Wars

Alec Guinness received his third acting Oscar nomination for portraying Obi-wan "Old Ben" Kenobi in Star Wars.

Alec Guinness portrays Obi-wan Kenobi which many people might say is his most memorable role, although I personally say nonsense that most certianly is Col. Nicholson but hey Guinness is one of my favorite actors and I would naturally say his best performance is his most memorable role. Either way though I will agree the old master Obi-wan certainly is a well remembered performance, and a very much iconic performance from Guinness. Of course as always a performance being iconic does not mean it is great.

Obi-wan certainly is less of a challenge for Guinness than so many of his performances. I mean he is not playing eight different characters in the same film, nor is he given a very layered and complex character to handle with absolute ease. Old Ben almost seems like a walk in the park if you look at it among the rest of Guinness' repertoire. Still though even a relatively simple role like this Guinness can still manage to make special in its own way.

Obi-wan is the old Jedi who knows the ways of the force and takes his duty to help young Luke Skywalker rescue Princess Leia as well as teach Luke about his past and the force. From his first scene Guinness is effectively mysterious in his performance. He conveys a past of some sort in every moment of his performance. Guinness with an absolute ease is able to show that Obi-wan is always under full control of the situation, through a quiet intelligence which Guinness is able to show with seemingly no visible effort.

Guinness is able to bring to life the whole idea of the force as well as possible simple through the conviction in his performance. Do to the fact that he shows such a complete belief in his teachings of the force Guinness is actually brings much needed believability to the whole entire concept. Guinness never really winks to the camera or anything like that but instead stands steadfast showing Obi-wan genuine belief in the idea.

Guinness has a strong presence that adds to the film very effectively in his quiet way. He is able to be the mentor perfectly without ever making Obi-wan seem false or forced in his wisdom, but rather actually an honest wise man. There is not anything extraordinary about his performance, but it is a fine effort by Guinness nonetheless. Yes as I said before when it comes to Guinness this character seems hardly a challenge, but credit goes to where credit is due. Guinness shows here that he always seemed to manage to bring life to all of his performances and characters no matter how big or small, or even whether or not he even liked the film itself.