Sunday, 30 September 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2008: Eddie Marsan in Happy-Go-Lucky

Eddie Marsan did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Scott in Happy-Go-Lucky.

Happy-Go-Lucky is about a persistently happy and optimistic woman Poppy (Sally Hawkins) who goes about doing various things in her life. Happy-Go-Lucky is very much basically the same type of film as Mike Leigh other film Naked in that they both follow their very particular protagonist in various events that are not necessarily connected. The difference is that is far far far lighter tone than Naked, which largely comes in the that Poppy is constantly positive opposed the constantly negative Johnny in Naked. I must say though that Naked is the superior film as the other characters, and events in Johnny's life just tend to be far more interesting. Only really one group of scenes worked as well as I would have liked.

Luckily the scenes that do work involve Eddie Marsan as Poppy's driving instructor. Scott is as angry as Poppy is happy. Marsan portrays Scott as always being at least a little angry, and really there are only different levels of anger he can be at. Marsan is quite effective in portraying the anger that is always bubbling underneath, in that Marsan's head always seems ready to explode. Marsan portrays it as something always beating down in Scott, and every line he delivers has a certain degree of brashness to it, even when he is just trying to teach. Marsan portrays that even when calm Scott is still slightly irritated and annoyed in some way. Marsan makes that it is not that Scott is just mad at the moment, but clearly that his anger issues have a long a history.

Important to these scenes though are of course Scott's reactions with Poppy as she stays constatnly playful and upbeat even though it continually ticks him off. Marsan and Hawkins have a terrific chemistry actually in that they are steadfast in their characters almost the entire time. Hawkins always stays upbeat in the scenes, always being playing with Scott and laughing her way through, as Marsan is persistent in Scott's never ending anger and the ease in which he gets mad from just the slightest thing Poppy says. Very importantly Marsan makes it clear that Scott's anger is really something he suffers from really, as he seems almost in some sort constant pain along with his anger, and really his anger is so severe he barely can even understand the fact that Poppy is having some fun with him.

The extreme dynamic between Hawkins and Marsan works well making there scenes consistently enjoyable. They are fairly consistent in these entertaining scenes until their final one together where Scott's anger finally get the better of him. Marsan is properly intense here as the always angry man gets to the point of being violently so. Marsan is strong here becuase he does not show that this is going anywhere else for Scott this is just allowing his emotional state to devolve to its purest form. Marsan is appropriately raw here as Scott just breaks down emotionally as he portrays all of Scott's hate in his life, as well as his sadness at once. Marsan is great in this scene and nails it showing just how troubled of a man Scott really is. This is a good supporting performance through the film, and even helps Hawkins's performance come alive more in their scenes through the startling differences of their characters.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2008: Aaron Eckhart in The Dark Knight

Aaron Eckhart did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Harvey "Two-Face" Dent in The Dark Knight.

Aaron Eckhart portrays Harvey Dent who at the beginning of the film is the new District Attorney who is the man who seems the most morally righteous. After all Batman must be a masked man who technically speaking breaks the law constantly, and Lieutenant Gordon must work with fellow police officers whose records are not exactly clean. Harvey is the blond haired good guy, and Eckhart pretty much plays him as exactly such at the beginning of the film.

Eckhart takes on the role in a suave charming approach to the part. Harvey Dent really is the ideal politician who actually believes what he stands for, and is the man his face seems to say that he is. He is not just a hallow shell in the suit, and Eckhart effectively carries himself as an official who honestly does care. There is a hint of his passion for his job being any sort of facade. His portrayal of the goodness in Dent is entirely natural, and never seems forced in the least.

Like Gary Oldman as Gordon, Eckhart is able to bring to life the inherit strengths of Dent's character. Eckhart gives a fairly controlled performance the emphasizes that Dent has, or least believes that he has everything all together. Despite the problems that seem to present himself constantly, including death threats, Eckhart portrays Dent as having a inherit drive, and calmness that shows that although Dent is aware of the problems around him he always does his best to take it in stride. He has a power and passion within his performance that expresses well his good intent.

Harvey Dent does not keep his calm and cool reserve through the film though importantly there are relatively small moments that Eckhart puts into his performance that indicate the eventual path his character will go. These moments really are not really all that negative but rather show small little kinks in his white armor. Of course these are only moments of frustration that Eckhart does bring out convincingly as part of Dent, and making it so that Dent really is of course humans flaws and all. 

As the film proceeds and the Joker's reign of terror comes very close to home for Dent, there is a much darker side shown by Eckhart as he interrogates one of Joker's men. Eckhart brings out a great intensity in this scene that is very brutal. Important to this scene though is that Eckhart brings it in with the calmer Dent of before. Eckhart does not plays the intensity here as something that comes from his stressed emotional state, far more than any sort of insanity. Again though Eckhart again alludes to more flaws within Dent efficiently without comprising the beginning of his performance.

Of course the whole Harvey Dent character is changed completely after half of his face is burned off, and his fiancee is killed by the Joker. His change into Two-Face is of course instant as it is caused by a sudden act of violence. Eckhart actually manages to earn the change by having the appropriate hints early on as well as having a bit of transition just after the accident. In his first post change scene Eckhart is excellent in portraying the weight of trauma on Harvey as he becomes a bitter man, and the goodness of him replaced with only with anger fueled by his pain.

Eckhart is excellent in his moment with Oldman, as he portrays a complete lack of hope losing all of the passion shown at the beginning. He transforms ever lower after an "inspirational" talk from the Joker. Eckhart makes this transformation work as well though as it is not that Joker turns him evil from his talk, but rather just allows him to focus his anger into a path of vengeance. Eckhart is very strong in his moments toward the end of the film as Dent moves forward in his path of revenge only stopping to flip a coin to determine the fate of his victims.

His scenes at the end show not a villain like Ledger as the flamboyant Joker, but instead a deranged man who has no higher plan past his 50/50 judgment. Eckhart is very striking in the end showing the psychotic derangement of Harvey at the end that is only filled by his hatred, but importantly he always has the underlying sadness in his performance exemplifying the fact that it all comes from his loss. It is powerfully chilling end to his path as Harvey, as he marvelously realizes his character's entire decay down to his lowest end. I would not quite put his performance quite up there with Ledger and Oldman, but on his own he creates his character's journey effectively and gives a strong performance throughout the film.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2008: Gary Oldman in The Dark Knight

Gary Oldman did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Lieutenant and later commissioner James Gordon in The Dark Knight.

Commissioner Gordon has been portrayed in live action before by Neil Hamilton in the 60's Batman series and film, and later by Pat Hingle in Tim Burton's Batman and its sequels. In both of these versions Gordon is portrayed as a completely incompetent moron who might probably forget to breath at times. One of the many things that I liked about the new films is that Gordon was finally allowed to be a far more complex and competent character, and it was probably made all the better by having the great Gary Oldman take on the role.

I should note I like his performance as the character in Batman Begins and he set him up well there, but here in this film is really where we get the meat of the character. Oldman sits as the most understated performance in this film, although it might not be saying a lot when your acting against a man in an armored suit and a cape,  a deranged clown, and a man with half of his face fried off, but really this is a very subtle performance by Oldman. Frankly Oldman is very very important to the film and his take on the character really helps amplify and in a way allow some of the other performances in the film.

Oldman takes a very down to earth approach in his role, and in a way is able to ground the film by doing so. His Gordon is very different as he presents a far more intelligent man, in which Oldman creates an honest depiction of what would be a man in his situation. Oldman never overplays a moment as Gordon moves through the film, and is effective at fulfilling the role of both the confidant of Batman, but as well a man who must do his own job that can be quite problematic at times.

As the confidant Oldman is excellent by quietly portraying the appropriate intelligence in his role, but Oldman does this especially well in that he brings it about realistically. He shows Gordon to be a smart man always trying to do his very best in his job as a police officer, but properly Oldman conveys the stress that really limits Gordon in a way. Oldman has the right degree of a passion that does bring about within Gordon that pushes him forward to take the risks he does, but the weight of the decisions is always made quite clear by Oldman's performance. 

A very important part of his character is that Gordon has to work within the confines of the police to try to take on the mob and eventually the Joker as well, which also involves working with not necessarily the most honest of individuals in his police department. When defending himself Oldman again does not try to portray Gordon as this perfect man but rather is far more realistic and blunt in his performance. Oldman subtly shows that Gordon does has cares, and very real frustrations over his unfortunate concessions he must take, but at the same time Oldman is very forceful in that Gordon takes no time to defend what he does at least for a long while.

Oldman stands firm in his place in the film as the man who feels everything happening around, every victory, and every loss. These are of course throughout the film and Oldman is pushed through the film at a rapid rate as he is a supporting character, yet he is always very effective in putting a very human reaction on the events during the film. Oldman never is given a long time yet he gives the moments the power they deserve, and really they build his own character as a person. Even though his family is not used very much, through Oldman genuine performance of Gordon as a person it really does not matter in the for the emotional impact in the end.

Although this is the least flashy of the main performance I must say it sticks me with just as well as even Heath Ledger's tremendous performance. The is very much helped by Oldman excellent depiction of the guilt at the end of the film that really gains weight on re-watches. Again Oldman is not given a lot of time but he is able to convey in these small moments the stress and pain he feels for the results that have been partially related to his actions. This all leads to the very last scene of the film where Oldman is absolutely amazing. He succeeds in entirely using everything he established with the rest of his performance to make the final moments very powerful. 

Oldman is absolutely heartbreaking in his final moments as he so well realizes the sadness and horror in his pleading at the end. Oldman brings the pains of Gordon into these moments magnificently. These pleads are not that of a two dimensional stock character, that in the wrong hands even this Gordon could have possibly been. In fact even in a fairly descent performance that served the role and no more, would not have had the incredible impact that Oldman's performance does because he really does make Gordon into a three dimensional person. This is a great performance by Gary Oldman that might not get recognition due to its understated nature but certainly deserves it.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2008

And The Nominees Were Not:

Aaron Eckhart in The Dark Knight

Gary Oldman in The Dark Knight

Ralph Fiennes in In Bruges

Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading

Eddie Marsan in Happy Go Lucky

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1957: Results

5. Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd- Despite an effective beginning to his performance Griffith never quite matches the ambition of his character, even though he does try.

Best Scene: Lonesome Roads is discovered. 
4. Henry Fonda 12 Angry Men- Fonda gives a good performance consistently portraying the steadfast conviction of his part.

Best Scene: His opening disagreement. 
3. Tony Curtis in Sweet Smell of Success- Tony Curtis gives a strong performance that portrays well the abilities of his amoral press agent, and only shows a glint of conscience in the most powerful moments.

Best Scene: Sidney orchestrates Hunsecker's plan. 
2. Toshiro Mifune in Throne of Blood- Toshiro Mifune gives an effectively brutal turn as his version of Macbeth. He holds no bars physically or mentally in his towering performance.

Best Scene: Death by Archers. 
1. Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory- Douglas gives the second best performance that I have seen this year, and gives one of the very best performances as an almost entirely moral character. Douglas never gives a hint of sanctimony, or falseness, but instead powerfully and honestly portrays the deep concern of his character believably throughout the film.

Best Scene: Colonel Dax turns down his promotion. 
Overall Rank:
  1. Alec Guinness in The Bridge on The River Kwai
  2. Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory
  3. Toshiro Mifune in Throne of Blood
  4. Tony Curtis in Sweet Smell of Success
  5. Charles Laughton in Witness for the Prosecution
  6. William Holden in The Bridge on the River Kwai
  7. Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men
  8. Anthony Quinn in Wild Is the Wind
  9. Van Heflin in 3:10 to Yuma
  10. Max von Sydow in The Seventh Seal
  11. Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd
  12. Glenn Ford in 3:10 to Yuma
  13. Gary Cooper in Love in the Afternoon 
  14. Marlon Brando in Sayonara
  15. Rock Hudson in A Farewell to Arms 
  16. Hal Stalmaster in Johnny Tremaine
  17. Lee Philips in Peyton Place
  18. Don Murray in A Hatful of Rain
  19. Anthony Franciosa in A Hatful of Rain
Next Year: 2008 Supporting

Alternate Best Actor 1957: Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men

Henry Fonda did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying juror number 8 in 12 Angry Men.

12 Angry Men is an effective drama about how one juror of 12 tries to convince the other 11 than the man charged may not be as guilty as the evidence seems to say. Although it is well directed film by Sideny Lumet, I do have to say some of the writing in regards to treatment of the evidence by the jurors is quite absurd at times. I mean juror 8 takes a few too many assumptions.

Henry Fonda portray the lone juror who says not guilty in the initial roundup of votes. I will keep the fact that in all honesty that the character is somewhat misguided, as he really commits quite the injustice in his approach in the room, and really the obviously best juror in the room is number 4, until that is he falls into the insanity of everyone else. Well really before I get to this performance I can't help but espouse with problems with some of the writing of the film, even though it does form into a compelling piece of cinema in the end anyways.

Firstly the disregard of the eye witnesses basically only on their appearance. As we all know one can only possibly give good testimony if you are young, good looking, and entirely well dressed. Also the fact that 8 and the others continually use testimony they denounce as reason as fact. One should also not forget that the boy's failure in his alibi really is not properly thwarted by the others as 4 could still recount far more of his films four days than the boy could the same night. I especially love it when 4 gets one adjective wrong and they act like it is a big deal.

All in all really they did a pretty bad job especially since at the end of the day if the son did not kill the father than just who did. The son had the motivation, and the murder weapon was obviously his. Fell out of his pocket is an unlikely story, and so there were other knifes like his, that still made it no less likely that it was his knife. I just love though when they say no one would ever use a knife a certain ways, or ever have their glasses on in bed, or near a bed to quickly put them on, or who knows maybe she wore reading glasses and that was completely immaterial, but either way they all put these down as scientific fact.

Anyway I really should get off that and get to Fonda, but I did want to state my problems with the reasoning, because it does actually stop me from really getting entirely behind this performance as well simply because of these flaws. Fonda I should say is quite good in the role that is fairly typical Fonda fare as the steadfast moral man who will not let anger or hatred sway his emotions, even if he will be swayed by over sentimentality, alright I really should stop with that. Anyway though Fonda has a quiet but strong presence here that is always made known in from his first moment in which he decides to vote not guilty in front of all the others.

There is no wonder why Fonda was as popular as he was in these sorts of roles because he is terrific in playing a real down to earth wisdom, that never is over or underwhelming. This is most certainly true here as he is not especially loud in his portrayal but he has a particular passion that cannot be ignored by anyone. He is able to portray the sensibility behind this man who will stand for what he believes no matter what others will say against him clearly. Fonda proceeds through the film with an incredible force of will really that never lets up during the film, and he is honestly allows it to be believable that he would be able to sway the opinion as he does.

I would say what are just as important as his own self assured speeches are his moments where he supports the other men who come up with an idea or two to question the evidence. These moments are pretty short reactions but very effectively used by Fonda. They are usually a small smile or a pat on the arm, but they are quite well handled. Fonda in these moments is able to show both that 8 gains genuine happiness as he pulls each juror over to his more humane way of thinking. Fonda in these moments as well though is able to really show through his gentle positive support how he is able to keep the others on his side.

This is a performance that certainly does not have twists or turns, but nor should it. It is rightfully a consistent performance as a morally righteous man (at least in the film's view) than refuses to falter in the slightest when it comes to his beliefs. In comparison to Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory I would say that Fonda does not quite match up perfectly though. That is not to say Fonda is not good, he is, but juror number 8 never brings nearly as much power to the role as Douglas does, as well Douglas never for a moment has even a hint of sanctimony, I can't quite say the same about Fonda. Even though this is not the greatest performance of its kind, I must stress this is still strong work from Fonda nevertheless.

Alternate Best Actor 1957: Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory

Kirk Douglas did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Colonel Dax in Paths of Glory.

Paths of Glory is a brilliant film about the French army court marshaling three men after a failed attack during World War I.

Kirk Douglas portrays the Colonel in charge of the regiment used by the ambitious and pompous General Mireau (George Macready) to take an impossible to overcome German position. Douglas here portrays one of the few officers in the film who is not an amoral man who cares far more about his own military career than for the welfare of his soldiers. As he is one of the few officers who seems to treat the war and casualties as something to be truly concerned about. Douglas portrays Dax as a  man who cares deeply for the lives of his men, although still believes that there is a task that needs to be done. 

Douglas takes a fairly simple but effective approach to the part of Dax. He does not really try to portray Dax in any sort of flamboyant fashion which is fairly common in Kubrick's films. Douglas plays it straight and properly so. In the middle of the men who seem almost insane in their manner towards the war, Douglas shows us a man who stands firm in the belief in his men, even if he does need to still follow orders. Douglas says a lot here with very little as even as he agrees to lead the charge on the hill he shows the genuine concern for the lives of his men as well as his own disbelief in his superior officer.

There is an underlying passion and drive always in this performance bringing to life that Dax is a man of action. Douglas importantly though as well even when he is ordering his men to go out on risky scouting maneuvers that there is always a deeply human compassion within Dax. He is never just a man blindly ordering his men about to risk their lives for the war. Douglas importantly in his performance does manage to portray a caring commanding officer even though he still commits to action. It is an important role within the film itself, and Douglas is excellent because he never seems sanctimonious or false. The goodness of his character always comes through as it needs to.

As the film proceeds Douglas stays though as the steadfast moral center of the film who refuses to accept his superior's stance that his men were cowards after the failed attack. Douglas has a quiet and effective intensity as he stands with his men and tries to help the three accused of the cowardice avoid the firing squad. Douglas is terrific representing all of the frustrations felt by the insanity espoused by his superiors who refuse to come to their senses. Douglas is very strong here and even has just the right about of satirical edge to his performance. In just the smallest reactions during the trial scene he can portray the true lunacy behind the charges.

Douglas never portrays the part as sanctimonious and he is able to portray the intelligence and anger behind Dax. After the men are sentenced to death Dax tries his best to make those who caused this to occur suffer as well as he can for their dreadful actions. Douglas's performance always puts forward the extreme hate, and disgust he has for the amoral officers he serves brilliantly. He never makes him seem like just a rebel, or a pointlessly angry man though. He is always firm and proper in his characterization making his moments where he tells his superior just exactly what he thinks extremely powerful. Douglas is absolutely truthful in this as he makes Dax truly the better man.

This may not be Douglas's most complex character, but this is one of his very best performances. Colonel Dax is an essential character in the film as he is the conscience of the entire film who stands against the structured lunacy of the military heads. Douglas keeps the honesty, and goodness of his character to life without ever being boring, dull, or seem in any way false. Douglas is able to genuinely finds the heart of his character, and becomes the heart of the film realistically throughout the film. Technically speaking it might not be the most showy performance in the film, but Douglas succeeds entirely within his performance achieving in finding the incredible power in his character's passion throughout the film. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1957: Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd

Andy Griffith did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes in A Face in The Crowd.

A Face in the Crowd in the crowd is an interesting film about a man who goes from a prison to becoming both a popular and powerful television entertaining.

Andy Griffith is most certainly best known as Andy Taylor the kind, honest, and wise sheriff of Mayberry, and if not that the honest attorney known as Matlock. Griffith here to anyone who knows him for his most famous roles would see this performance as Lonesome Rhodes as quite against type. Although technically speaking Griffith did not yet gain his type, nevertheless this is a very different type of role for Griffith who is best known as a nice man. If there is one thing Lonesome Rhodes is not is nice.

In his first scene we open on Lonesome Rhodes in a lock up as a sweaty and reprehensible sort who is convinced to entertain in for a radio show only because he will allowed to leave the prison. Griffith is actually quite good early on at being just a brash, angry drifter. There is nothing at first that suggests that is anything but a pretty lowly type of man who just happens to be able to play a guitar more than anything. When he finally does sing though there is seems to be another side who enjoys an attention as long he is the one forcing others to pay attention to him.

After he gets out of jail Griffith portrays well two quieter scenes. First he has his first scene where has become the radio host, and Griffith has a great deal of charm in this scene showing exactly how Lonesome can so quickly gain in popularity. There is also a very important moment where he talks to the radio producer who discovered him Marsha (Patrica Neal), who he also charms but in a different fashion. In the brief scene Griffith portrays a sympathetic quiet moving portrait of a man who never really had a pleasant place in his life, and this remorseful scene really appropriately gives view to his later actions. 

Once these quiet scenes are done Griffith goes full force into Rhodes driving hard to become one of the most influential and popular men. His performance becomes considerable louder here as really Rhodes becomes as amoral as possible. Griffith spends a great deal of this performance becoming bigger and bigger in his portrayal of Rhodes becoming a louder and louder presence as an entertainer, and a manipulator. In terms of the transformation in terms of going off the deep end Griffith is fine, in that he just gets louder and louder, and he quiets down less and less often.

Griffith really does efficiently portray Rhodes as the almost crazed entertainer that just will not stop no matter what he does, or who he hurts. Griffith is good in his short moments of the apologetic Rhodes, because he manages to show Rhodes as not exactly lying when he says he is sorry, but rather Rhodes does believe at the moment what he is saying even if it is not true. The apologetic moments are short though and Rhodes ego only continues to grow as Griffith's performance becomes only bigger and broader. There no longer is any hesitation in him.

Later in the film Griffith I will say is pretty strong in bringing to life the energy in the performer, but when he is not on he gives basically the same performance but only meaner. There are moments where he is suppose to be the most manipulative, and Griffith frankly would have been better off he downplayed them as he is not nearly as powerful in these scenes as he could possibly have been. He is suppose to be a cold calculated controller in these moments but frankly he stays just a bit to obtuse to be as effective as he would need to be.

I do want to say though that even if Griffith could have been even better later on this is still a very interesting performance by him particularly in his earliest scenes. To be entirely honest if he stayed as good as he is in the first third of the film he would be an easy five. The only problem as his performance becomes even more ambitious and tries to be a larger than life character he just does not quite have the punch he needs to achieve this effect. It most certainly is a good performance though, and certainly quite fascinating when compared to his performances later in his career.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1957: Toshiro Mifune in Throne of Blood

Toshiro Mifune did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Taketoki Washizu in Throne of Blood.

Throne of Blood is an excellent adaptation of Macbeth set in feudal Japan.

Macbeth is certainly a character who has received many different portrayals as Macbeth certainly is very open to interpretation. As with most of Shakespeare's leads there really is not a definitive portrayal even in film. Mifune's performance as Washizu who is Macbeth really is very different from other portrayal of the treacherous lord, one reason I would say is unlike other portrayals his does not have soliloquies. Akira Kurosawa keeps this version of the story very refined, and it always moves forward leaving Mifune to move right forward with his performance of the character.

Although Mifune does not have his inner monologues to himself to describe his internal struggle as that is not really a problem. Mifune takes a striking approach with Washizu as a man who barely has any time to really think about the moral troubles of the situation. Something that really is effective about this version is actually that it is a very short adaptation. It never seems lacking though making it that Washizu's decision to betray the King to seem even more pointless than in other versions of Macbeth due to how little time he seems to be able to enjoy his time at the top.

Mifune portrays the ambition as a necessity though brought on by his wife who basically convinces him that it will be either him or the Emperor whether he likes it or not. There is not a delay in his performance as Mifune portrays the betrayal as his own preservation. It really is not ambition he has at first as it very much is in his concern for his own place and power. Mifune genuinely shows that his original intentions may not be nearly as dreadful as one might think, even though his thoughts are entirely manipulated by his wife who most certainly wants the Emperor dead entirely for her own ends.

Of course the amount of sympathy one can have for Washizu quickly drifts as Mifune only can portray concern for one's self for so long. As he quickly becomes deeper into his dark deeds Mifune brings out his incredible intensity in the part. There are not hesitations in his Washizu once he justifies his actions once.  There is rage and passion here that conveys well the level that Washizu will go to keep and maintain what he has gained. Mifune has a great power in his performance showing Washizu's desires to be an incredible force of nature that propels forward his desire and greed that only causes him to commit worse acts along the way.

As he goes down further into the darkness Mifune brings about a growing insanity within Washizu. Mifune has quite a challenge in that Washizu begins pretty crazy and he only goes crazier and crazier. Mifune though actually manages to bring about the level of insanity required for the part as his actions drive him further and further out of control. The famous ghost scene is particularly well handled by Mifune who in the scene brings a strong visceral effect in his portrayal as Washizu goes on a mad rant of hatred, fear and some regret at the apparition that only he can see.

Mifune creates a portrait that really is unrepentant though, even though he does indicate some regret, when he sees his best friends severed head that he ordered done. Mifune though does not beat about the bush here as there is a great deal of conviction in all of his actions. Even in his short moments of shame, Mifune is terrific in that he has Washizu almost hatefully blame those he wronged for the guilt he feels, rather than honestly feeling any honest or lasting grief for the wrong he has done.

The greatest moment in this performance has to be the final moments of the film as he psychotically postures his presumed power, that is instantly shattered as he sees the truth of what his fate will be. Mifune's final breakdown well being slowly killed by a barrage of arrows is astounding. Mifune becomes a beast in a cage as Washizu flails around trying to avoid the arrows well fully realizing the results of his action. It is a very physical and extremely effective death scene by Mifune that is fitting painful and powerful end for his treacherous character.

He takes a very specific approach with the part that easily commands the screen through the entirety of the film. Macbeth can be portrayed many ways often as a man who reluctantly becomes the same evil he vanquished at the beginning of the story. Mifune takes really no prisoners with his performance as he turns his version of the character that truly is the evil really from the beginning. It is exceedingly memorable that Mifune creates Washizu as a man where the evil simply needed to be let out by a twisted justification. This is terrific portrayal of "Macbeth" that is uncompromising in his depiction of the immorality and brutality.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1957: Tony Curtis in Sweet Smell of Success

Tony Curtis did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Sidney Falco in Sweet Smell of Success.

Sweet Smell of Success is an excellent film about a columnist J.J. Hunsecker who gets an ambitious press agent to break up Hunsecker's sister's relationship with a musician. 

Tony Curtis portrays the press agent who will be doing the job for Hunsecker. I considered reviewing Lancaster as well, but watching the film again I would put him in the supporting category. It is an oppressive character so it is easy to see why one could see him as lead as well though. The greater focus of the film though goes onto Tony Curtis's performance as the conniving Sidney Falco. Falco very much is the lackey henchmen of Hunsecker in the film, although it has nothing to do with loyalty, the only reason he follows Hunsecker's demands is to further his own career.

Curtis who usually portrayed good guys before this performance, or at least in some way charming fellow takes on entirely different method here as Sidney Falco. It is a fascinating performance that particularly works well in comparison to Burt Lancaster's superb performance. Both are very much similar men in their amorality, and power waving or seeking, but Lancaster and Curtis take greatly different methods in their performance. Where Lancaster's portrayal of the amorality is very much like forceful brick wall that cannot be surpassed, Curtis though portrays it as something constantly in motion.

Falco is always a man in some sort of motion, and Curtis is excellent in portraying that Falco is constantly playing for some sort of gain. Interestingly enough Curtis always portrays Falco in some sort of motion even when he is standing still or sitting usually blinking at a rapid rate. Curtis puts just the right amount of animation into his role to be able to bring across the idea of how Falco is always a man thinking of the next move during every point of the story, but as well he never does it to the point in which it seems like something flamboyant. It is instead entirely something natural to Falco as a person.

One of the most important lines for Curtis's character is when Hunsecker describes Falco as a man of forty faces not one. This in itself is quite a bit of a challenge to be lived up to, but Curtis is more than capable of doing so. Curtis face is particularly expressive here and quite apt at bringing about the various facades that Falco puts on to move forward in his business. One scene in which Curtis portrays this especially well is when he approaches Hudsecker for the first time in the film. In the scene Hudsecker insults Falco, and Curtis's expression is brilliant. There is a very forced upon slight smirk the entire time, but Curtis so well portrays the incredible hate and venom he does feel Hudsecker in the moment.

Really one of Curtis's greatest assets in this performance are actually his boyish good looks. He plays Falco brilliantly in every scene but especially when he is working his job. There are many who are already put off by him due to previous experience, but there are just as many who do not know the truth about him. Curtis is excellent in every moment of portraying Falco's method as he does not really portray him as the slickest man at all. In fact when some of his angry costumers confront him Curtis is good in showing that quick annoyance and anger Falco comes to right away when confronted being unable to really explain himself.

Curtis though does portray Falco's abilities just as well particularly in showing his abilities to so quickly put wool over people's eyes to meet his demands. Curtis is excellent in bringing across the intelligence in Falco. He never loses a beat and he makes it entirely believable that he could work his way through all of his success. What is so important though is that even when the others doubt him Curtis all brings an incredible degree of determination within Falco that never seems to cease when he is putting one over on someone. There is always a drive in him that keeps him prodding and pushing until he gets his way, or at least gets the person to hate him.

Although Curtis never takes an easy route to be likable in the traditional sense, he does well in adding just the slightest bit of a conscience to his character. Of course Curtis really is terrific here becuase of just how little morality he does give him, making the moments where he does show it quite powerful. Curtis never makes it an overt moment or two as he does the most wretched of things for Hudsecker but there are just the smallest moment of hesitations when doing the worst. Curtis though shows that even the moments of conscience only press for a a slight reaction, but his want for success always shifts to a slight smile of immorality.

Tony Curtis gives a great performance here as Sidney Falco because he never for a moment gives up on that Falco really is only opportunist as Hudsecker calls him. Even in the final showdown between the two Curtis still stays firm that it is not really for goodness sake that he reveals the truth to Hudsecker's sister, he portrays it almost as an accident because it really comes only for his hatred for Hudsecker who betrayed him. He never is overwhelmed by the dialogue or over shadowed by Lancaster, he stands firm in his fascinating depiction of this unscrupulous man.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1957

And the Nominees Were Not:

Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men

Andy Griffith in A Face in The Crowd

Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory

Tony Curtis in Sweet Smell of Success

Toshiro Mifune in Throne of Blood

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Alternate Best Actor 2003: Results

5. Tommy Wiseau in The Room- Wiseau gives a performance for the ages that is absolutely hilarious, unfortunately it was never meant to be.
4. Paul Giamatti in American Splendor- Giamatti gives an effective performance finding the humor and humanity underlying his grumpy character.
3. Peter Dinklage in The Station Agent- Dinklage gives a strong performance from humorous dead pan to slowly easing in a character transition.
2. Choi Min-sik in Oldboy- Min-sik gives a powerful intensely physical performance brilliantly depicting the insane changes of his character throughout the film.
1. Stephen Lang in Gods and Generals- I must settle for Lang this year as his performance moved me the most out of all the performances. He elevates his material magnificently giving a truly incredible portrayal of Stonewall Jackson.
Overall Rank:
  1. Russell Crowe in Master and Commander
  2. Choi Min-sik in Oldboy
  3. Stephen Lang in Gods and Generals
  4. Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa
  5. Robert Duvall in Open Range
  6. Kevin Bacon in Mystic River
  7. Paul Bettany in Dogville
  8. Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean 
  9. Song Kang-ho in Memories of Murder 
  10. Daniel Brühl in Goodbye, Lenin!
  11. Peter Dinklage in The Station Agent
  12. Paul Giamatti in American Splendor
  13. John Turturro in Fear X 
  14. Ewan McGregor in Big Fish  
  15. Nicolas Cage in Matchstick Men
  16. Luigi Lo Cascio in The Best of Youth  
  17. Hayden Christensen in Shattered Glass 
  18. Takeshi Kitano in Zatoichi 
  19. Campbell Scott in The Secret Lives of Dentists
  20. Kim Sang-kyung in Memories of Murder
  21. Mads Mikkelsen in The Green Butchers 
  22. Alessio Boni in The Best of Youth
  23. Kevin Costner in Open Range
  24. Ivan Dobronravov in The Return
  25. Tadanobu Asano in Last Life in the Universe
  26. Jeff Daniels in Gods and Generals 
  27. Robert Duvall in Secondhand Lions
  28. Bill Murray in Lost in Translation
  29. Philip Seymour Hoffman in Owning Mahowny
  30. Jude Law in Cold Mountain
  31. George Clooney in Intolerable Cruelty
  32. Hayley Joel Osment in Secondhand Lions 
  33. Paddy Considine in In America 
  34. Albert Brooks in Finding Nemo
  35. Hugh Jackman in X-2  
  36. Michael Pitt in The Dreamers 
  37. Ewan McGregor in Down With Love
  38. Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai
  39. William H. Macy in The Cooler
  40. Johnny Depp in Once Upon a Time in Mexico
  41. Crispin Glover in Willard
  42. Tsunashima Gōtarō in Japanese Story
  43. Tobey Maguire in Seabiscuit 
  44. Orlando Bloom in Pirates of the Caribbean
  45. Shia Laboeuf in Holes
  46. John Cusack in Identity
  47. Jack Nicholson in Something's Gotta Give 
  48. Will Farrell in Elf 
  49. Rémy Girard in The Barbarian Invasions
  50. John Cusack in Runaway Jury
  51. Antonio Banderas in Once Upon a Time in Mexico
  52. Owen Wilson in Shanghai Knights 
  53. Dwayne Johnson in The Rundown
  54. Jack Black in The School of Rock
  55. Sean Penn in 21 Grams 
  56. Luke Wilson in Old School 
  57. Greg Kinnear in Stuck on You
  58. Nikolaj Lie Kaas in The Green Butchers
  59. Stéphane Rousseau in The Barbarian Invasions
  60. Sean Penn in Mystic River 
  61. Jeremy Sumpter in Peter Pan
  62. Ben Kingsley in House of Sand and Fog
  63. Ewan McGregor in Young Adam
  64. Benicio Del Toro in 21 Grams
  65. Aaron Eckhart in The Core
  66. Jackie Chan in Shanghai Knights
  67. Matt Damon in Stuck on You
  68. Jack Nicholson in Anger Management 
  69. Eric Bana in The Hulk 
  70. Sean William Scott in The Rundown
  71. Ben Affleck in Daredevil
  72. Ben Affleck in Paycheck
  73. Alex Frost in Elephant
  74. Sean Connery in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman 
  75. Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English
  76. Adam Sandler in Anger Management
  77. Tommy Wiseau in The Room

Next Year: 1957

Alternate Best Actor 2003: Choi Min-sik in Oldboy

Choi Min-sik did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Oh Dae-su in Oldboy.

Oldboy is a very effective revenge thriller about a man who tries to find out why he was imprisoned for fifteen years.

Choi Min-sik performance here starts very important with the beginning of Oh Dae-su in a police station shortly before he will be kidnapped. Dae-su is a drunk in the station being loud until taken out by his friend. This is an important scene as Choi is portraying Dae-su as a bit of a mess. He certainly resembles little of how we will see him later on as Choi portrays him as really just a loud drunk who frankly is obnoxious. This is actually a very important moment as it shows the man Dae-su is at the beginning who is just a pretty lowly man to say the least.

Dae-su than suddenly disappears and finds him a room that is apparently a prison that he cannot escape from. At first Choi shows that the annoying drunk Dae-su to just a very scared man who freaks out due to having no idea why he in this place. Choi in a fairly broad way, but in an effective fashion that certainly fits the mood of the film, after all he does have ants crawling all over him in one scene, showing Dae-su devolve into a form of insanity. He handles it well showing it as a painful intensity that is mostly found in his disbelief of what has happened to him, despite not knowing why in the slightest.

Choi tones down though as he the time goes on and on in his cell. Choi changes to this moment and brings about a transformation in Oh Dae-su to a man with a purpose rather than what seemed to be an aimless man beforehand. Choi makes Dae-su still a crazed man, yet he seems to make it far more self contained, and infused into his driving factor which is his lust for revenge. He is good in portraying that really his want to learn who has done this to him is really what has become the primary facet of the man.

When Dae-su is released for reasons that are just as mysterious as why he was put in the prison to begin with, he goes out seeking who did this to him. Dae-su is a completely different man as Choi interestingly plays him as the opposite of the loud mouth at the beginning, which he earned through his transformation in the cell. Dae-su know has become a fairly quiet man, who rather blabbing all the time, seems rather stoic and reserved above all else. His insanity still remains but it comes out at specific times in a sharp distinct manner.

For example the octopus eating scene is of course a deranged scene as he shoves it down his throat, but Choi here effectively shows how Dae-su is now very much a man with a mission as strange and insane as the act is he does it in a controlled and almost stoic manner. Choi is actually quite outstanding in being able to bring to life the oxymoron of this character. It never seems unbelievable, and it always fits well within the style of this unique film.

Choi makes Dae-su quite the intriguing hero to follow through the mystery of the film. Choi does not make Dae-su to be any sort of brilliant detective or tactician, but what really pushes him forward is only his passion to find out the truth. Choi never loses a certain intensity as Dae-su searches for his captors that only grows as he approaches them. He properly brutal when he finally does meet some of them particularly with his free use of hammer. Of course the hammer does a lot of the work, but Choi perfectly conveys the violence Dae-su is capable of.

Dae-su though does not keep his composure forever though as Choi's most difficult scenes really come in at the end of the film when all is revealed to him, which leads him from one intense emotional moment to another. Choi is always very physical in this performance, throwing himself head first in every scene, and this especially true for the climax of the film. This certainly fits for the moments in the film for the revelations are not exactly one's that should be taken lightly, and reacting believably to these revelations is essential to the film, and Choi manages to pull it off.

The first revelation is that that Choi has been set up to commit one the worst sins, and Choibring the the pain, the anger, and the all around horror to the moment that sends Dae-su to the rage. He appropriately shows that Dae-su's is truly horrified by the revelation to the very core of his being. Quickly though after really being told of another revelation there Dae-su becomes filled with regret and remorse. Choi manages to actually bring this change about powerfully so in another scene where he dives right into insanity, and Choi shows that Dae-su loses all of his stoic qualities from before turning essentially into a broken man.

This is certainly a no bars held performance that is striking in just how many risks it takes, and how well they all pay off. Every moment of madness never seems overwrought or needless he makes them all part of the strange journey of Dae-su that becomes something both very powerful, and quite disturbing. Choi never stops for a moment in this bizarre but compelling characterization. It is never a straight forward or simple approach to this character utilizing a technique that very few actors would likely take. With his most unorthodox portrayal Choi makes Oh Dae-su a truly memorable protagonist.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Alternate Best Actor 2003: Tommy Wiseau in The Room

Tommy Wiseau did not receive an Oscar nomination nor a Razzie nomination for portraying the greatest of characters Johnny in The Room.

The Room is a film that one must see to believe about Johnny who is betrayed by all of his friends and he gets fed up with this world.

Ah yes such legendary actors Laurence Olivier, Robert Duvall, and Charlie Chaplin these actors have before directed themselves to an incredible performance clearly attempting to join their ranks is Tommy Wiseau. Tommy Wiseau an actor and director like no other obviously, I mean just look at that picture even pictures of him defy description. Clearly no other director could possibly contain the acting prowess of this man but himself.

Now Wiseau takes an interesting tactic to begin with in his performance which is speak in his native tongue. It might be true technically speaking it is English but let's be honest English takes on a whole new life of its own with Wiseau's accent. Of course his accent is only the first part of his no holds barred work that always takes risks no matter how head scratching it might be to a casual viewers. This is truly otherwordly performance, and no I do not mean in some sort spiritual fashion, I mean more of like an alien from another world.

In Wiseau eyes we see a daze like the thousand worked days of a banker where they take all his ideas and make all the money and he is the fool. His face suggests a man with no hope almost as if he is constantly on a strong painkiller all the time. That face of his just says it all in his place in the world that he soon becomes fed up with. It is a face of a man's failures, and inabilities to know that his fiancee is some pointlessly evil woman for no reason.

Something quite fascinating in this performance is the fact that Wiseau constantly starts throwing his voice all the time, where he will appear to be mouthing one thing, but his words do not match up, it is something truly outstanding, a risky maneuver that lesser actors would never even attempt to do. Wiseau goes full force with obviously implying that perhaps Johnny was not suppose to be a banker with great ideas after all, no he was clearly meant to be a ventriloquist.

Wiseau is not afraid here to even call back to classic performances from the legendary James Dean particularly in one moment heartbroken over his fiancee's lies that he hit her, he breaks out in the immortal line "You're tearing me apart Lisa". Wiseau goes all out in his accented screech, moving his arms akimbo like he was saying yes to a great victory, even though there is not victory to be seen in the rest of Johnny's story in the room.

What is spectacular in this performance of performances is the ability to change the emotions in a moment so easily. For example when again he complains, to the air I guess, about how he did not her, he did not, what grief Wiseau conveys in his scrunched up face, and bizarre inflection. He then instantly changes his face from pain to instant casual greeting in oh hi mark. Such a stunning portrait of instant emotion change, it is truly something stunning.

I think the most interesting part of this performance though is Wiseau's odd, but obviously brilliant choices in certain scenes. Such as when his friend Mark tells Johnny a story about a woman being beaten so bad she ended up in a hospital at Guerrero street. Rather than show interest, or depth in regards to it, Wiseau takes a whole another approach and laughs in reaction to the story showing that even a story about a brutal beating Wiseau shows that Johnny always sees the lighter side even when it might very strange to do so.

But we all know the highlight of this performance comes at the end of the film when Johnny is enraged to find out his fiancee Lisa is having an affair with his best friend Mark, what follows it the most forceful moments of pain ever depicted on screen. He leaves no prisoners not even chickens as he brutally states cheep cheep cheep, which is just incredible for Johnny to try to get rid of the accepted chicken call of Baaack baack, baack, baack, truly stunning. 

The greatest moments come in Wiseau depiction of Johnny tantrum where he destroys the room yelling why Lisa why, in a cry that is unforgettable. He leaves nothing alone whether it is clothes, draws, or a poor tv that Wiseau the director decided to film flying out side the window and being destroyed clearly that cut was essential during Johnny's final pains. Well it all ends with Johnny blowing his brains out, and Wiseau's dead face is truly something that cannot be forgotten in this performance that is one for the ages. There is only one rating worthy of this performance.
Seriously though this performance is in all honesty terrible. Yes his accent, and weird choice in this performance are hilarious. The man though was entirely serious in his performance though, despite what he now claims, and in being a serious performance this fails miserably. As a failure though it completely succeeds though. I can't give him credit though when everything enjoyable about this performance was purely unintentional, since no man can make a film this hilariously bad on purpose.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Alternate Best Actor 2003: Paul Giamatti in American Splendor

Paul Giamatti did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Harvey Pekar in American Splendor.

American Splendor is an intriguing and enjoyable film about the life of comic book writer Harvey Pekar.

Paul Giamatti has a rather unique challenge in his portrayal of Pekar since unlike many biography films the real Harvey Pekar appears on screen. This is not just a one scene thing like Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do With It. Harvey Pekar appears throughout the film even commenting at one point that Giamatti does not really look like him. So Giamatti actually has to stand on instant scrutiny of comparing him to the real man, although he is perhaps helped a little in that he is portraying the man at a different point in his life, but still Giamatti must constantly be standing up right next to the real deal.

Giamatti actually meets the challenge well and there really is not any problems when comparing his performance to Pekar. Although obviously it is not seamless in the sense that he simply becomes Pekar, but he effectively makes it so there is not any extreme disconnect between the real one and the performance. Giamatti is quite good here in bringing into his performance Pekar's mannerisms whether it is his usually furrowed brow, his rather often cross grimace, or his sometimes rather raspy voice. Giamatti handles them all well never being obvious acting, and he utilizes the mannerisms in giving a convincing characterization as Pekar.

The overwhelming aspect of Giamatti portrayal is of course his portrayal of Harvey's seemingly endless contempt and bitterness that also seems to form into a certain depression at times as well. Giamatti portrays this particularly well by bringing across just how intense and prevailing this is in with Harvey at all times. It is not that any of his bitterness ever really goes away from him in any point even when Harvey is relatively happy, Giamatti never loses this part of Harvey for a moment, quite properly showing that this is something that is simply a part of Harvey that he never loses.

Although the bitterness is always a part of Harvey, Giamatti never really makes it downbeat or depressing as it easily could have been. Giamatti effectively finds the humor always within this bitterness and the sardonic slant that is found in Harvey. Giamatti is very good because he is able to bring about the sense of humor in Harvey that really is what created his comic book to begin with. Giamatti is able to be funny, and convey the fact and Harvey himself though he never ever shows that it comes from anything more than his rather extreme form of cynicism.

Giamatti actually makes his cynicism enjoyable in a way, by simply portraying it as the most honest form of Harvey. If Harvey was optimistic, and happy he simply would not be Harvey, and Giamatti expresses that perfectly in his performance. He never portrays there being an actual effort in Harvey when he is talking about something obnoxious in life, it just is the way Harvey deals with things whether it is waiting in line behind an old woman, or his reaction to the Revenge of Nerds, Giamatti always shows that Harvey's says only like how he sees it no matter how others may react.

Although his cynicism never completely wains there are a few warmer moments, although still Giamatti still is fitting in that they are warmer moments for Harvey. Two early on regard his comics when an artist agrees to draw for him, and when his co-workers are amazed by the first issue. In both regards these are quick but incisive moments where we see behind still Harvey's bitter face there is just the slightest happiness and pride in him. Giamatti handles these moment incredibly well because how subtle he is when portrays the softer side of Harvey that actually is made quite sweet.

The most important sides of the softer Harvey are shown with his wife Joyce (Hope Davis). Their relationship certainly is a bit on the abnormal side. Both Giamatti and Davis make it work frankly because they authentically bring out this relationship by being so casual together. Giamatti is very good in these scenes because he so well combines the frustrations of the relationships, but very importantly at the same time does carefully show that Harvey's does very much love his wife. Giamatti finds the highs and the low of their relationship through again his completely honest portrayal of Harvey's complex personality.

This is a very good performance by Paul Giamatti that is an entertaining performance, while being quietly moving at times as well. He never cheats his character though and every where he goes with Harvey is always the same Harvey. Giamatti although portrays a cynical bitter man, he turns Harvey into a very liable cynical bitter man. He even manages to stand up to the scrutiny of being right next to the man he portrays, and does not falter even with this challenge.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Alternate Best Actor 2003: Stephen Lang in Gods and Generals

Stephen Lang did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Lieutenant General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson in Gods and Generals.

Gods and Generals was a heavily maligned film when it came out, in fact it has a lower percentage on Rotten Tomatoes than the Room, although the film needed more focus it does have its fair share of powerful scenes, and should not have been written off to the point it was.

It should be noted that the powerful scenes of the film tend to involve Stephen Lang as Stonewall Jackson who is one of the most important generals on the side of the confederacy. Stephen Lang creation of this man is something quite stunning from the very beginning of his performance as the famous General. The voice he uses is absolutely perfect for the role in that it is relatively quiet but holds an absolute command all the same. Lang's voice though is entirely natural, and never seems something forced in the least. He simply achieves and becomes Jackson and the voice helps in this greatly.

Lang from his first scene conveys so well the history of this character from his first moment has he teaches students in his class. Lang shows Jackson to be an always proper man who proceeds as one should or is expected with the utmost respect. Lang takes a completely no nonsense approach with his performance there is no play here in this man, rather it is just the man who is very much to the point in almost all matters. Lang brings to life the true nature of a man who has been a soldier all his life and treated the job with the utmost respect.

What is very important to this performance though by Lang is that although he portrays Jackson as proper but never stiffly or dully. There is a certain warmth in his performance that is just splendid. One aspect of Jackson that Lang brings life wonderfully is his strong religious beliefs. Religious belief is commonly something shown in film actually, but usually in either some very lightweight form, or in terms of doubt, or guilt. Here Lang though shows a very unique depiction of a religious that really brings to life the strength of his faith.

Throughout the film Lang is passionate in his depiction of Jackson's religion and brings it into how it makes him the brave man he is. Jackson fears nothing on the battle field becuase of his firm belief that he will find salvation in the afterlife. Lang is absolutely genuine and moving specifically in one scene where he talks to a friend who has chosen to side with the North rather than the South. The friend remarks that perhaps they will meet again in better times or than hesitates. Jackson finishes his statement by saying In Heaven. Lang's make this moment deeply moving through the completely honest devotion he portrays in Jackson.

One of the most important aspects of Lang's performance though is of course his portrayal of the brilliant General. Lang is flawless in his depiction of the general and there is never a doubt about his abilities or power as a commander of men. In the scenes of preparation before the battles Lang carries himself particularly well through always having a quiet controlled reserve. He always conveys the intelligence of Jackson as tactician in the ease he portrays in Jackson in making the right decisions before and after each battle.

Lang never avoids portraying the fact harsh fact that Jackson is one of the lead Generals of the Confederate side, which is the enemy of the Union. Jackson at times is very harsh in his statements regarding the extent of violence needed to win against the Union. Lang is cold and frankly brutal in these moments, but shows the truth of the career soldier in Jackson. It is not that Jackson is being evil when he says that no quarter should be given, but rather experience of the man speaking. Lang is able to convey most severe ideas as not being hateful, but simply understanding what is needs to be done to win.

The best moments as the general though do probably come in his moments in which he is able to be the Jackson that truly motivated the soldiers. The moment in which he appears to earn his moniker of Stonewall, Lang actually makes absolutely believable. There is only conviction in him as he stands in the middle of fire, there is no doubt in Lang's performance that he is a Stonewall in the field. The only greater moment is his "first brigade" speech to his men. Lang holds the screen as he has the passion to bring men to follow him anywhere even into the hell of battle.

His performance really does come into its very peak after Jackson is shot by friendly fire, and slowly dies from the results of the accident. Lang is absolutely heartbreaking in his depiction of Jackson's slow death. His early moment in particular when there is hope in his eyes as he is reunited with his wife and daughter quietly showing his intense love and dedication for his family. Lang's performance brings to life the tragedy vividly in his physical decay to his final moment. Death scenes are something that many overact in but Lang's never does creating a memorable an honest portrayal of Jackson's final moments into delirium than death.

This is an incredible performance by Stephen Lang it is a shame his performance was never separated from his entirely forgotten film. His performance is a very special performance in his depiction of this important historical figure. What is so magnificent about his performance is that he succeeds in every aspect of this man. He manages to be both a man of legend in his depiction, but all the same very much always manages to bring to life the completely human qualities of the man himself. Lang never seems to be simply playing Stonewall Jackson, but honestly achieves becoming the man here in this fantastic performance.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Alternate Best Actor 2003: Peter Dinklage in The Station Agent

Peter Dinklage did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Finbar McBride in The Station Agent.

The Station Agent is an enjoyable film about a man born with dwarfism who after the death of his friend moves to rural New Jersey to live life in a relatively secluded no longer used train depot that he has inherited.

Peter Dinklage portrays the man who tries to keep to himself as well as is fascinated by trains. Early in the film Dinklage portrays Fin as a man who very much keeps to himself, even though where ever he goes his dwarfism makes him always seem somewhat out of place no matter where he goes. It is not that Fin is automatically discriminated against actually, but people tend to act abnormally around him. Dinklage is effective in that he does not portray Fin as becoming obviously angry at any point over people's reaction here, but rather all he does is react in a form of exasperation.

Dinklage portrays Fin's reaction well as just tired of them clearly from dealing with these type of people his whole life, so he has come to accept it to a certain degree, even though he doesn't like them still he very much is use to them. Dinklage establishes Fin's antisocial behavior well in these early scenes. He handles it well because he does not show it as Fin's hatred of others, but rather more effectively Dinklage shows it as a disconnection more than anything else. Due to the fact that Dinklage does not portray his behavior as hate, he allows Fin to be far more likable.

Early on the film as a few people in the secluded place he goes to such as a troubled older woman Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), and a very energetic food stand operator Joe (Bobby Cannavale) attempt to get involved in Fin's life in some way, much to Fin's dismay. Dinklage is excellent in these earlier scenes as he practically plays the part as dead pan. His slight sometimes slightly taken aback, or slightly annoyed reactions are always well handled by Dinklage. It is not that he is going for laughs exactly but Dinklage manages to bring the natural humor out of the situation with ease.

The film itself is really about Fin slowly coming out of shell through his interactions with the people around particularly through the constant pestering from Joe to do so. Dinklage is terrific here because of how little he really does give in as Fin. Fin's slow, very slow transformation is handled in the subtleties of Dinklage's performance. He never once oversteps in his performance, and the reluctance of Fin to really recognize people who are honestly interested in is always prevalent. He never makes Fin's transition too easy, keeping it believable throughout the film.

Dinklage never cheats his character and because of that the way he slowly does open up is far more moving. Dinklage small movements to opening up and accepting the people as his friends is well done. It is not that he makes Fin a new person by any means, rather he presents Fin as just a man who has learned to loosen up and accept human contact. Due to this Dinklage makes his whole transition entirely believable, and emotionally truthful. His change from the man of few words to the man of not so many words but can have an open conversation is entirely honest because of Dinklage. 

I must say the big emotional breakdown scene near the end of the film, where he tells everyone in bar to look at him already and get it over with, is the least effective part of his performance, and does not seem entirely necessary. This is not to say that Dinklage does not portray it well enough though it is maybe a bit hasty especially considering how well he handles the rest of Fin's transitional moments in his performance. The point is the delight of his performance is in his quiet portrayal. As Dinklage besides the big emotional scene, which he still does well I must stress this, simply creates a wonderful entertaining performance that leads his film marvelously.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Alternate Best Actor 2003

And the Nominees Were Not:

Tommy Wiseau in The Room

Peter Dinklage in The Station Agent

Paul Giamatti in American Splendor

Stephen Lang in Gods and Generals

Choi Min-sik in Oldboy

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1960: Results

5. Robert Mitchum in The Sundowners- Mitchum gives as usual a good performance that always stays very light but fitting to the film.

Best Scene:  Early romantic scene between Paddy and his wife.
4. Max von Sydow in The Virgin Spring- Sydow although takes awhile to have his moment is quite powerful in his depiction of a father's grief and vengeance.

Best Scene: Tore's final prayer. 
3. Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita- Mastroianni acts as an effective guide as for the audience through the decadence in Rome, as well as gives an effective portrait of a man slowly giving in to it.

Best Scene:  The "orgy".
2. Albert Finney in Saturday Morning and Sunday Night- Finney gives a raw and powerful performance as a frustrated young man who couldn't care less of societal expectations.

Best Scene: "Dead from the neck down"
1. Anthony Perkins in Psycho- Congratulations to both Michael Patison and Maciej for their correct predictions please feel free to name a year and a performance. This year was incredibly close for me not between Finney and Perkins, but between Perkins and Olivier. Perkins after all gives an outstanding performance as Norman Bates being truly terrifying in his chilling portrait of a deranged man. I still will have Olivier remain the winner for the moment since I really need to watch the Entertainer again to be sure because the two are definitely close. It would be easy to hand Perkins the win since he is amazing, but I could not cheat my favorite actor like that.

Best Scene: "We all go a little mad sometimes" 
Overall Rank:
  1. Laurence Olivier in The Entertainer
  2. Anthony Perkins in Psycho
  3. Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry
  4. Richard Attenborough in The Angry Silence
  5. Toshiro Mifune in The Bad Sleep Well
  6. Jack Lemmon in The Apartment
  7. Albert Finney in Saturday Morning and Sunday Night
  8. Alec Guinness in Tunes of Glory
  9. Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita
  10. Alain Delon in Purple Noon
  11. Karlheinz Böhm in Peeping Tom
  12. Peter Finch in The Trials of Oscar Wilde
  13. Montgomery Clift in Wild River 
  14. Jack Hawkins in The League of Gentlemen
  15. Kirk Douglas in Spartacus  
  16. Alain Delon in Rocco and His Brothers
  17. Woody Strode in Sergeant Rutledge
  18. Pierre Brasseur in Eyes Without a Face
  19. Max von Sydow in The Virgin Spring
  20. Dean Stockwell in Sons and Lovers 
  21. Robert Morley in Oscar Wilde 
  22. George Sanders in The Village of the Damned
  23. James Cagney in The Gallant Hours
  24. Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind
  25. Yul Brynner in The Magnificent Seven
  26. Robert Mitchum in The Sundowners
  27. George Hamilton in Home from the Hill
  28. Jerry Lewis in The Bellboy
  29. Rod Taylor in The Time Machine 
  30. Jerry Lewis in Cinderfella
  31. Burt Lancaster in The Unforgiven 
  32. Paul Newman in Exodus
  33. Jean Paul Belmondo in Breathless
  34. Dirk Bogarde in Song Without End  
  35. Jules Dassin in Never on Sunday 
  36. Frank Sinatra in Ocean's Eleven   
  37. John Richardson in Black Sunday
  38. Jeffrey Hunter in Sergeant Rutledge
  39. Stuart Whitman in Murder Inc.
  40. Tommy Kirk in Swiss Family Robinson
  41. James MacArthur in Swiss Family Robinson
  42. Fredric March in Inherit The Wind
  43. Ralph Bellamy in Sunrise At Campobello
  44. Ward Ramsey in Dinosaurus!
Next Year: 2003

Alternate Best Actor 1960: Anthony Perkins in Psycho

Anthony Perkins did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Norman Bates in Psycho.

Psycho, aside from the psychiatrist monologue, is a masterpiece of horror. The beginning of the film depicts a woman Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) who steals money from her employer's client, she goes on the run to meet up with her lover, but on the way is stays at the secluded Bates motel.

I suppose I should say that there will be spoilers in this review but really I should say just watch the film already. Also I would say this is one film that is quite difficult to go in completely fresh due to its constant examination. I would say that the original time I did watch the film I somehow or another was actually not aware of the twist of the film.There is not point in discussing this performance without discussing the twist of film though as Perkins's whole performance is intertwined with the revelation so completely. The revelation being of course that it is Perkins's Norman Bates who is the titular Psycho the film refers to.

This is a performance that very much only improves on initial viewing as the true nature of his character comes to life there is an even greater effect to Perkins's portrayal of Norman. When we first see Norman in the film almost thirty minutes in as Marion Crane accidentally ends up on an off rode where the Bates motel resides. Norman's entrance to the proceedings is pretty unassuming as he runs down from his rather eerie looking house to help Marion check into the motel. Perkins is certainly not his charming young man as he was in films like the Actress, and Friendly Persuasion, he is not completely opposed to those parts in just this first scene though.

Perkins is excellent in his first scene in that he shows Norman not to be necessarily something seriously wrong with him. Yes Perkins does not act as though Norman is perfectly normal though either as there is just the right amount of nervousness in his performance. Perkins makes Norman nervous and shy here, but it does not appear that there really is anything particularly wrong with him other than he probably does not talk to many people often, and certainly not very often to a beautiful woman. Perkins's properly gives no reason to suggests that here Norman is a murderer, making the revelations later on far more effective because of this.

Quickly though when Norman sits down with Marino for a meal after having a fight with his "mother" do we see more to Norman. Perkins is absolutely outstanding in his delivery of Norman's discussion about his hobby of taxidermy as well as his feelings about his mother. Perkins in regards to Taxidermy has the strangest glint in his eyes about stuffing dead things that enjoys to look at that is quite off putting, what makes it even more remarkable though is that Perkins still does well in suggesting that well Norman may be a bit odd he is not necessarily dangerous. This comes from the moment in which stuff as dog or cat portraying a softness to Norman.

Of course that is not the case when he speaks about his mother where Perkins is absolutely brilliant. Here there is the darkness that is Norman in his very unhealthy relationship to his mother. Perkins's performance here is layered in a way in which it comes off as really two both distinctly effective ways in both the initial viewing as well as any viewings after knowing all about the film. In the initial film Perkins is excellent in his depiction of Norman's love hate relationship with his mother. He shows a fierce connection to her that is quite off putting. Perkins suggest Norman is very much his mother's son and loves her deeply, to the point of over protection, but at the same time there is venom of the way he speaks of her that is hateful.

On the initial viewing is able to portray Norman as having a strange connection with his mother, but still he gives nothing away. On the other hand after watching the film this scene is made even more chilling by knowing exactly what his true relationship is with his mother. Norman has in fact already murdered his mother some time ago and has developed a split personality with half of himself being his mother. His lines such as "A Boy's best friend is his mother" or "We all go a little mad sometimes" with his slight smile have a whole extra level of terrifying implication in that he speaking of his own psychotic half. When it seems he is almost ready to become violent over talk of institutions, Perkins cleverly shows us Norman almost becoming the psychopath right there.

Perkins is quite incredible in the role by never being just a villain as Norman, and at times even becoming somewhat sympathetic in the scenes where Norman discovers people has killed while believing that it was his "mother" who in fact killed them. Perkins is authentic is portraying Norman's fear over what his "mother" has done as well as that the police will be coming for his mother. Perkins is great in the scenes where he tries to avoid questions regarding to Marion, and he effectively portraying the tension within Norman as he attempts to keep them away from finding out the truth of what has occurred.

The amazing thing about this performance is that although the character is commonly mentioned as one of the most memorable cinematic serial killers. The thing is you never really see Perkins kill anyone, and you only see him twice as the killer side of Norman. Perkins is flawless in his depiction of the man who has the killer within him, and through this subtly creates an unforgettable psychopath. Although most of his scenes are as the "normal" Norman he does have his two scenes that are very particular the first being quite brief but the second might be his strongest scene in the whole film. It is a silent scene for Perkins as he stares forward in what appears to be a look of confusion and fear of his fate. This slowly becomes a devilish smile. In this scene Perkins goes from the man to the psychopath in a truly horrifying moment. His final stare is truly the final statement on the terrifying nature of Bates, and a perfect end to this flawless performance.