Friday, 25 May 2012

Best Supporting Actor 1983: Sam Shepard in The Right Stuff

Sam Shepard received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff.

The Right Stuff tells of test pilots who later become astronauts due to the space race. 

The Right Stuff is an ensemble film but at the very beginning of the film Sam Shepard is the lead of the film as test pilot Chuck Yeager who is the first pilot to break the sound barrier. Sam Shepard takes quite a low key approach to his performance which certainly makes sense for Yeager who is a man of a very few words. Yeager although is in many ways an unassuming man, he at the same time is a man of great presence. Shepard does hold the screen as Yeager showing always that Yeager although quiet is an unmistakably strong willed man. Shepard makes Yeager a man who says more in one word than many would in a speech.

Yeager is always sure of himself, and ready for anything. Shepard makes Yeager's reaction to being challenged by the idea of breaking the sound barrier barely something that even phases him. Shepard is excellent here because he never makes Yeager seem like some sort of pompous man at all, even though he is shrugging off doing something that seemed impossible as almost nothing. Shepard brings a certain somewhat almost otherworldly quality to Yeager. He is a man who is simply completely true to himself he understands his own abilities, and knows there is no reason to ever sell himself short.

Shepard brings to life Yeager's complete self efficacy flawlessly. In short Shepard never lies in his performance. All of Yeager's complete self assurance, and confidence never seems forced for a moment. Shepard is the man in total control of his situation, and without a hint of hesitation or fear for situation despite the very likely chance of dying faced by all test pilots. When Yeager decides to proceed with his considered by some impossible task without a second thought despite having broken two of his ribs in a horse riding and needing a broom handle to properly secure that his jet's door is closed, we do not give it a second thought because brings to life this uninhibited confidence and drive perfectly.

After achieving his mission Yeager no longer is the main character as the film focuses on the first astronauts while Yeager rebukes the whole idea of being one believing the pilot is not an important facet of the whole thing. Yeager does not completely disappear as it shows the stories of the astronauts rather it comes back to him every so often to show how the attention has gone away from the original pilots, as well as Yeager's own changes in view toward the concept of being an astronaut. These scenes are short and of course with few spoken words, but again Shepard is flawless in his conveying of how Yeager sees the astronauts as more than spam in a can.

This is a good performance by Sam Shepard and he creates a vivid portrait of this remarkable man. Shepard manages to do this despite the fact he really does not have a single scene in which delves deep into his character. This is a performance that is constantly on the move, and is a performance that is very much in the moment. Shepard though makes the most of each and every one of these moments. Shepard always keeps us interested in Yeager even in just those short later scenes. He does not have a single wasted second in his performance, and makes Chuck Yeager the exact sort of man the title of the film refers to.


RatedRStar said...

=) Id give him 5 I thought he was pure badass and I really wanted to see more of him.

dinasztie said...

Saw him very long ago... From what I remember I felt for his character. I think Shepard is kinda underrated in general as an actor or at least rarely talked about.

Michael Patison said...

I totally agree, Louis, though I would give him a 5. And dinasztie, Shepard is actually a critically acclaimed playwright in addition to being as you said an underrated actor.

Oscargrouching said...

I still think Mickey Rourke in Rumble Fish is my win .

Louis Morgan said...

I'll say on this one I am on the fence between 4.5 and 5.

Michael Patison said...

What'd you think of the movie as a whole, Louis?

Louis Morgan said...

It was great and deserved best picture out of the nominees. The director snub is absurd as well.