Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Alternate Best Actor 2005: Viggo Mortensen in A History of Violence

Viggo Mortensen did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Tom Stall or is he Joey Cusack in A History of Violence.

Viggo Mortensen portrays at the beginning of the film Tom Stall a man who lives in a small town is happily married with two children, and runs a diner. Mortensen portrays Tom Stall as pretty much an every man. Mortensen plays him straight as just an average man living his life, there seems to be no play, and there is no suggestion that one should suspect anything from him. He just seems to be a man enjoying his rather simple life, and there is not a reason that there is any man other than the one we are seeing in this man. One might think he should show shades here, but really Mortensen does well by not doing because there are no suspicious of Tom Stall who likes his life.

His good life he is living is shattered though when late at night two violent men come into the diner to rob the place. Tom springs into action saving the people in the diner by killing the two men. Mortensen here shows the prominent physical aspect of his performance, as he shows Tom here act with precision. There is no hesitation just an instant and immediate kill. Importantly here Mortensen does not show this to be an act of violence though, but rather a gut level act of desperation. A hidden ability comes out in Stall with Mortensen portrayal more than anything else. He displays part of the history of violence not the whole of it.

Mortensen is very good as soon as this scenes ends showing a change in Stall, and an underlying sense of doubt on the man comes over. Now there does seem to be flaws that appear in the happy average man, as Mortensen conveys a growing sense of paranoia as well as starts to show that the happy man starts to seem at least partially a facade. The happiness seems quite drained, and all of sudden he seems far less assured. Mortensen is particularly effective when Tom is confronted by mobsters from Philadelphia who claim that he is one Joey Cusack. Mortensen shows well the way Tom denials although believable enough to everyone else, there is a clear weakness that would never convince the mobsters.

Mortensen does well in portraying though the frustrations that Tom faces as he deals with the trauma caused by the mobsters harassing his family, as he knows shows a bit of desperation as he tries to deal with his family even though they are no longer convinced that he does not have a past with the men. Mortensen is terrific as he portrays Tom's resolve to deny the men starts to wain until the point the mobsters directly threaten him and his family if he does not go with them to Philadelphia. Mortensen in this scene as he brutally kills the gangsters now shows his violence as not only assured but something entirely of his own. There is not even a desperation shown in his brutal attacks now, but instead he shows himself to be the violent man that the mobsters had claimed him to be.

After killing the gangsters though the average man seems to become wholly a facade, and Mortensen basically eases into Joey as he lets go when he tells the truth to his wife (Maria Bello). Mortensen brilliantly portrays the scene as almost a relief to be able to tell someone who he is. Mortensen though properly still shows that this is to say Tom was not a real person, he most certainly assures that the new him is something he very much earned founded in when he says he killed Joey, but Mortensen makes it clear that at this point the man is both Tom and Joey at once. Mortensen handles this all incredibly well because he perfectly conveys the internal struggle between the two forces as he tries to remain calm and understanding toward his family as Tom would, but also has the moments of brutality like Joey would.

The real meeting of the two men comes down to when he goes to meet his mob boss brother Richie (William Hurt) to sort things out. Mortensen and Hurt are excellent in the scene as the two instantly create the love hate relationship history the two have with one another. Mortensen though also importantly here shows Tom/Joey almost settling into a single man. In the scene Mortensen portrays properly an acceptance Tom has of Joey's history as there are no denials, and he fully embraces his brother. At the same time Mortensen shows that his Tom side is always very much there in his eyes as he tries to make peace with his brother, as well as when he quietly says he sees the good in a marriage. After this scene the film really leaves us on a ambiguous note for both the film, and with Mortensen's performance, which is really the right way to end the film as after the events neither Tom or Joey could be completely forgotten.


mrripley said...

Bello lead or support,did u like her.

Louis Morgan said...

I thought she was fine, and would put her in supporting.

RatedRStar said...

im kinda surprised that he wasnt nominated, how Bello got a golden globe nom but Mortensen didnt is just crazy.

RatedRStar said...

Joaquin Phoenix has not been nominated for the SAG awards (often the closest to the oscar nominees) and Javier Bardem has been nominated I feel so happy I hope stoned Joaquin doesnt get in. =D =D =D =D

Michael Patison said...

I think we should be happy Phoenix didn't get the SAG nomination, but not for the reasons RatedRStar said. I don't think anybody should ever root against someone because of what kind of person they are in their personal life. I'm rooting against him because his performance, while admittedly good at points, is too often overly mannered and therefore bothersome.

RatedRStar said...

oh im not rooting against him because of his personal life, im rooting against him because of his overacted performance.... and his personal life =) (it might make me sound cold hearted even if im usually reserved and kind on this blog but ah well everybody hates an actor mines is Phoenix, yes even more than Clooney)

Michael Patison said...

Mine is probably Tobey Maguire. I'm one of the select few who read the blog that actually like Clooney. I think he was bad in Michael Clayton because he was severely let down by the horrendously boring, run-of-the-mill thriller. I love him in Up in the Air and think he should have won. He was decent in The Descendants, but not nomination-worthy.

RatedRStar said...

I dont like like Tobey either, my opinion of Clooney has increased slightly after seeing his stance on gay marriage and that he is a pretty good director/Screenwriter.

I apologise to anyone who may have been offended by my opinion of Phoenix but thats my opinion (as heartless as it sounds)

Michael Patison said...

I wasn't offended, I just think that when you take people's personal life and choices into account when considering their performances you start going into the territory the Academy relies on too much: reputation, veteran/newcomer status, overdoness.

Louis Morgan said...

Well I'll just say I loved the Bardem nomination, but I must say I never expected him to get this type of recognition even though he deserves it.

RatedRStar said...

I hope he doesnt end up being the Albert Brooks of this year, I reckon he ll get the oscar nom now, after all he is guaranteed to get love from the Baftas (England loves Bond after all) and Golden Globes so his chances of getting nominated are high.

heres how I see the oscar noms turning out now

Best Actor
Daniel Day Lewis - Lincoln (A Lock)
John Hawkes - The Sessions (A Lock)
Denzel Washington - Flight (A Lock)
no one else is though as Jackman and Cooper were kinda surprising considering most of the acting buzz is for Jen Laurence or Anne Hathaway.

Best Supporting Actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master ( A Lock)
Javier Bardem - Skyfall(nearly a lock)
nobody else is a guarantee unfortunately.