Thursday, 29 November 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2003: Kevin Bacon in Mystic River

Kevin Bacon did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Detective Sean Devine in Mystic River.

It is probably not surprising that Bacon received no attention for this performance, as firstly Bacon is an actor the academy just seems not to notice even when they notice the films he is in. More importantly though Bacon despite portraying one the main characters in the film. Bacon though does not "ACT" nearly as much as the two Oscar winning performances from the film given by Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. Bacon never has a scene like Robbins's vampire scene, or Penn's "My Daughter!" scene, which most certainly is not a bad thing but restrained performances are not favored by the academy.

Bacon takes an understated method through his entire performance. Even his Boston accent, which is present, is very much downplayed, but frankly is far more natural than it is rest of the actors. Bacon due to the fact he really does not get that many personal scenes, has to create his character as Sean and his partner (Laurence Fishburne) investigate the murder of Jimmy Markum's (Penn) daughter. Bacon has a few moments to himself mostly being when Sean is called by his wife over the phone, a subplot that frankly could have been dropped as the payoff does not work all that well due to the actress playing his wife, but for the most part Bacon is forced to find his character while moving along with the plot at a rapid pace.

Bacon is quite effective in portraying Sean in this way actually as he tries to find the killer while trying to keep his personal feelings behind him despite being childhood friends with both Jimmy, and Dave (Robbins) who slowly becomes a suspect. Bacon underplays the role and fittingly for the character. He shows that Sean very much has a job to do, and is quite intent and doing it. Nevertheless Bacon conveys well the personal connections Sean does feel due to his attachment to the case. He is always very collected, but through subtle reactions he portrays the way the events due effect Sean, Bacon's very small response to seeing the murder victim is Jimmy's Daughter is particularly well handled.

Throughout the film Bacon is steadfast in his portrayal that Sean is a good a detective. He believably portrays Sean as a confidant officer with an underlying passion to solve the case, and even with his personal connections he will still do his very best to find the killer. The doubt and hesitations though are equally well placed by Bacon as Sean does struggle to wave his personal thoughts with the case when some evidence points that Dave may be the killer. Bacon again keeps his performance very much contained in terms of the emotions shown, but he still powerfully brings the struggle in Sean to life. It is not something that overwhelms, but Bacon more realistically shows it to be something that presses on in the back of his mind less at some points, but heavier when he is faced more directly with his past.

This is strong work from Bacon as he still does show that even Sean has never forgotten watching Dave being taken away by pedophiles when they were kids. He is not at all overt in his depiction of this very much again establishing it as something that very much sits within Sean, it is not always on his mind, but Bacon shows that he can't ever forget it either. Bacon is great in this role because he stays so calm in the part, and stays as someone you can more easily follow along than Penn with his screaming. Bacon is the one who keeps the film grounded with his far more down to earth portrayal of Sean. Bacon despite being very much put behind the other actors in terms of the types of scenes he is given, he actually gives my favorite performance in the film by taking this fair less flamboyant approach to a story that never calls for it.

29 comments:

Michael Patison said...

On a somewhat related note, why is it that so many actors seem to give fantastic performances earlier on in their career and then just give at best mediocre ones later. Sean Penn is the reason I ask this, of course, The same can be said to a far lesser extent of Nicolas Cage (though he's essentially given up on acting while Penn just seems unable to do it nearly as well anymore). A few other examples that come to mind are Marlon Brando, Edward Norton, and Jack Nicholson.

Louis Morgan said...

Well some of just start doing too many films for the money like Cage.

Others like Penn, Nicholson, Norton, and Brando grew far too much of an ego. Aside from Norton who seemed to stop getting good parts because he is hard to work with due to his ego, the other three later in their careers started to give very mannered performances like they refused to listen to the directors or the directors did not dare question them.

Michael Patison said...

Also, I've never seen this and have heard conflicting views on its quality. Is it worth seeing just for Bacon?

Louis Morgan said...

Well I would say it is worth watching just to have your own view on it. As I would say the film has some powerful moments in but at the same time some way too over the top moments mostly thanks to Sean Penn.

RatedRStar said...

I never knew that Norton had an ego, he seems like a shy innocent type in real life doesnt he lol.

Edward L. said...

Bacon is always good, and in this film he is outstanding. By far the best performance in the film (though Laurence Fishburne is also excellent).

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar: Well I would say demanding his own personal rewrites of scripts is pretty egotistical.

Edward L.: Yes Fishburne is very good here.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

To be fair, sometimes Norton puts his ego aside, such as him taking smaller roles (Moonrise Kingdom and his uncredited role in Kingdom of Heaven) and other times his intervention saves the film (American History X).

As for Penn, he is one giant mixed bag for me. My favorite performance from him is one of your least favorites, in Milk. It's weird, because I usually hate actory performances like this, but it fit Harvey Milk all too well. I also admire his work in 21 Grams and Fair Game quite a bit. I don't see the big deal with his roles in Mystic River or Dead Man Walking. I thought Robbins and Harden stole Mystic River, though Bacon was undoubtably impresssive. For me, Bacon was co-lead with Penn. Granted, Penn was flat out terrible in I Am Sam and All the King's Men. Quite frankly, he looks terrible in the trailer for Gangster Squad.

Out of curiosity, what's your least favorite performance you've seen so far this year? Mine would be, of all people, Guy Pearce in Lawless. I love Pearce to death, but his shameless mugging was just odious.

Louis Morgan said...

Well I was not trying to be negative about Norton I was just trying to answer the question, as I thought Norton was great in both of his Oscar nomination, and he was good this year in Moonrise Kingdom.

Well actually I did not hate Pearce in Lawless in fact I enjoyed him because his "ACTING" was the only thing entertaining about the misguided film. The worst I have seen has to be whoever played Brian Geraghty's wife in Flight.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Ha, she was terrible. Luckily, she had two lines. For me, Pearce is not good at hamming it up. Some actors can make an art out of it (Michael Shannon, Daniel Day-Lewis, etc.) and others should just stick to subtlty. Pearce is one of those actors. His undrstated turns in Memento and L.A. Confidential are the kinds of roles that make him so memorable. His controlled style is not suitable for such histrionics.

For a more ammusing off-the-wall turns, I'd say Michael Shannon in the stupid-and-they-know-it Premium Rush was all the right kinds of delicious ham. Same for Javier Bardem's metrosexual Bond villain.

Louis Morgan said...

Well I agree it is not a great performance of its type, but I did no think he was terrible either. I agree he is better at being understated though.

I haven't seen Premium Rush, but yes Bardem shows exactly how to do off the wall in Skyfall.

Michael Patison said...

I absolutely loved Bardem's performance. He was so entertaining.

RatedRStar said...

I really liked Bardems performance too, the only problem I have is that for some odd reason, his accent slips sometimes, like most of the time he sounds like usual Bardem spanish, and then towards the end when he attacks Bond,M and Kincade his accent sounds kinda odd (when he shouts to Bond "are you getting warmer" and when talking to his last two soldiers he says "make sure Bond is dead", did anyone notice this or just me? .

RatedRStar said...

however ive seen that in a few films wher accents wer off even though the performances were ace like Jean Marais in Beauty And The Beast (1946).

mrripley said...

I loved brian g in flight v underrated.

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar: Well actually I thought Bardem was just doing his natural accent, and a natural accent actually can come in and out with certain words.

RatedRStar said...

still I did enjoy him and would rank it highly among his best, thats not saying too much to be honest but id probably give him a 3.5 bordering on 4 =).

Louis Morgan said...

I'd give him higher. He's my favorite supporting performance of the year so far, although I do have many many films I still need to watch.

RatedRStar said...

oh I liked him, I wish he was given more time, and a better ending (getting stabbed in the back.. seriously??.) I enjoyed a lot of the other supporting cast as well such as Fiennes and Finney (im so glad they didnt kill Kincade off cause it would have been quite cruel, I give an extra point to Silva for not shooting him lol).

Louis Morgan said...

I thought he had just the right amount of screen time. I was fine with his end actually as a mano-a-mano would have been overkill by that time, also Bardem's expression at seeing Bond again was just perfect.

I also liked Fiennes and I really enjoyed Finney.

RatedRStar said...

I guess this is another Depardieu style disagreement we have but oh well =D.

Michael Patison said...

Bardem is my favorite supporting performance thus far too and I also really liked Finney.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Rockwell is still my pick for Supporting Actor. He was at his Sam Rockwelliest.

Louis Morgan said...

I haven't seen Seven Psychopaths yet but I really want to.

Anonymous said...

What did you think of the supporting actors in The Dark Knight Rises?

Louis Morgan said...

Caine and Freeman were their usually dependable selves. Oldman was good again as Gordon but he was just not given as much to do as in the previous film. Levitt was okay. I found Hardy very entertaining as I loved the voice.

I also liked Tom Conti as the world's greatest chiropractor.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Wasn't crazy about The Dark Knight Rises. Easily my least favorite Nolan film. This is coming from someone who would have given all of Nolan's previous films perfect scores, too. I thought the performances (save for Hatheway) were hurt by the script. Hardy's ammusing performance was defeated by weak motivation. Shame, he really could have been as iconic as The Joker. For now, he'll be remembered as Lord Humungus' distant relative.

Michael Patison said...

I agree, koook, I was very unimpressed, and I'd probably say I'd rank it as one of the worse films I've seen this year. My ranking thus far would be:
1. Beasts of the Southern Wild
2. Silver Linings Playbook
3. Skyfall
4. Argo
5. Lincoln
6. Moonrise Kingdom (by far Wes Anderson's best live-action movie)
7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Logan Lerman's and Ezra Miller's devastating performances and Emma Watson's good one elevate mildly good material)
8. The Dark Knight Rises
9. The Master (Anderson's direction is astounding and he's my winner thus far and will probably turn out to be so, but his writing is terribly incomplete and the movie suffers greatly as a result)
10. 21 Jump Street (I enjoyed this one as much as the top 4 or 5, and it's the funniest thing I've seen that's come out in years, but it's not smart in its humor)

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

My top ten for the year so far:

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Hit me a lot harder than I ever imagined)
2. Seven Psychopaths (Clever insanity at its zaniest)
3. Lincoln (Spielberg recapturing his prime)
4. Flight (Washington's best, period)
5. The Master (For all its flaws, I still find it mesmerizing, and pretty sad)
6. The Cabin in the Woods (Was NOT expecting such a scathing satire)
7. Moonrise Kingdom (The first time I ever loved a Wes Anderson film)
8. Looper (Morally ambiguos, great effects, and a VERY underrated turn by Emily Blunt.)
9. Brave (Much better than people gave it credit for)
10. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Powerful, but I'm having troble remembering it.)

There's still a shit ton I need to see. Argo didn't impress me all that much, Cloud Atlas was an amirable mess, Prometheus was terrible, Lawless was pretty disappointing, and Arbitrage was only okay.