Sunday, 30 December 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1988: Forest Whitaker in Bird

Forest Whitaker did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning Cannes and being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Charlie Parker in Bird.

Bird is an okay film but not as compelling as one might want about Jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker's problems with addiction.

This particular film about a musician is rather different from say the newer ones like Ray or Walk the Line which both told the same story of a bizarrely unceremonious rise to fame, than fall into drug addiction followed by recovery by the woman he loves. Bird is different in that Charlie does not recover from his addiction as it does eventually lead to his death. This is very different film as well because we do not really see his fall into his addiction instead his addiction is more of a constant. There are moments where he steers from it partially but he never seems to entirely escape from his problems.

Due to the nature of Parker's story Whitaker does not so much have a character arc but more of a rubber band that goes back fourth. He goes from highs to lows suddenly without all that much notice. Whitaker therefore has to take bit of a scatter shot approach to his performance, which is helped even less since director Clint Eastwood even uses flashbacks giving Whitaker an even greater challenge to really portray Parker effectively. Whitaker does take on the role well actually despite the fact that Charlie Parker constantly jumps back and fourth in his way, and Whitaker actually does find the trouble within the man that causes this.

An important aspect of Whitaker performance is that he portrays Parker as never particularly happy even in the happier scenes of the film. Importantly he does not over do it and just have Parker as a man of depression. There is always a certain sadness in his portrayal though. Whitaker shows Parker as really a man who is unable to really achieve the sort of happiness that would really allow him to ever escape from his addictions. There is always a pain that Whitaker creates in Parker that only reinforces his self destructive behavior and he makes it believable that Parker even after seeming to drop an addiction he would only fall right back into it.

Whitaker despite showing the pain of Parker as a constant does still do well to portray Parker as a charismatic entertainer. He has quite a bit of charm in the role and is convincing in the way so many seem to like Parker so much. Whitaker makes all of it quite natural and creates the sort of presence that Charlie Parker really should have. Whitaker makes Parker a likable man who honestly in many situations can make himself seem like a man who has it entirely together simply through his charms. Whitaker properly shows that both his health and his charm seem to diminish in almost equal measure as the worse off he is the less he seems to want to please.

Whitaker is actually quite good in bringing together the different sides of Bird that come from his moments of terrible addiction to his reprieves of recovery. Whitaker does well in showing the emotional pulls in Parker that make him shift so randomly at times because the one thing that is constant is that underlying pain that Whitaker always properly conveys which propels him to his drugs and alcohol. Although Parker's jumps around in terms of emotional highs and lows Whitaker never makes them feel disconcerting as he does meet the needs of Bird whether he is charming a crowd or loathing himself in a drug addled haze.

Forest Whitaker here gives a good performance as Charlie Parker though it never becomes the powerful tour de force that one want from a depiction of a self destructive man. I do feel this is the fault of the film more that Whitaker which never quite strikes the right chords with the material to make the life of Parker come alive as well as it should. Whitaker realizes Parker as well as this version of the story probably would allow which is an interesting and effective depiction but never as striking as one would think could come from the man considering his life.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1988: John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons

John Malkovich did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Vicomte de Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons.

Dangerous Liaisons is a well made film about two aristocrats who revel in horrible games of passion and deceit.

John Malkovich's casting here certainly was a point of contention when the film originally came out with his rather unorthodox appearance. The Valmont is a perpetual and successful womanizer, and it seems many would think Valmont would probably look a little less devious to begin with like perhaps Colin Firth in Valmont for example. The same could be said about his charms as well as Malkovich is not especially suave in the role of Valmont either, and one might think he would need to be to be believed in the amount of conquests he partakes in.

The question is though does Malkovich really need to be traditionally handsome and Clark Gable type charming for the role, and the simple answer is no. What Malkovich expresses most with Valmont here is the method in which Valmont goes upon his sexual expeditions. Malkovich instead of really trying to hide the sliminess that really does make up his character he instead portrays Valmont as a man who very much revels in exactly what he is. There is no shame in his performance and Malkovich very much accentuates the mechanics of his seductions more than anything else with his portrayal of Valmont. 

There are many liaisons we see Valmont having but we only see two seductions portrayed in the film a routine one, and more daring one of Madame de Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is known for her virtue. In both Malkovich does not show Valmont as attempting really any charm in fact there is always far more of a strategy at play that utilizes both the gender roles of the time as well as the emotions of the woman in both cases. Malkovich is properly calculated as he shows the strategy of Valmont at all times to the audience well at the same time creating the proper ruse that he uses against the women.

Malkovich's makes Valmont's success with both women very convincing actually in the harsh brutality of his seductions. In the first he creates Valmont's method as making himself a bizarre teacher in a most brutal but believable fashion in his success with her through the uncompromising method that Malkovich portrays it all. In the other more difficult one though Malkovich again makes the strategy of Valmont something very clear as Valmont this time makes himself a haunted lost soul who would kill himself if Tourvel does not take his love.

As strange as his seduction method with Tourvel might sound Malkovich brings it to life through his depiction of Valmont who he portrays as throwing himself fully into his demented game. Malkovich makes the "depression" both fake and real enough that it would move Tourvel as it does. It is a difficult trick to pull but one that Malkovich is able to accomplish without any seeming effort. In doing this Malkovich carefully infuses just the slightest bit of moments that suggests that maybe Valmont is not entirely lying about his pledged love for Tourvel. It is in very subtle moments that are very well handled by Malkovich.

One of the most important aspects of Valmont is his relationship with Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close). Through most the film both actors portray theirs as a mutual love of their shared despicable nature and the havoc they cause with their games. This does not really change until the end of the film where Merteuil plays her own game against Valmont as she convinces him to brutally reject Tourvel since she sees that he truly loves her. Malkovich and Close are very effective in the scenes as the truly vile nature of both characters are perfectly created by the actors and we see the full extent of their damage that only hurts other but themselves as well.

Malkovich's final scene as Valmont is terrific as he shows him distraught after finally finding some sort of conscious in himself after all. In his final scene Valmont is fatally wounded by a man (Keanu Reeves) he has harmed and reflects on his behavior. The power of the scene is somewhat muted because Reeves might as well say "Uhh sorry dude I did not mean to stab you so hard" and it would have fit his performance. Forgetting about Reeves though Malkovich is quietly moving though as he shows this time finally an honest Valmont for once as he shows the full extent of his depression and self hatred he has created in himself due to his behavior.

This is a strong performance by John Malkovich in both his unique creation of Valmont as well as his execution of his character. He does well in bringing to life every facet of his manipulative character, and never fails to make his conquests believable. He takes a very different approach than many probably would have with the part as he never avoids the sliminess in character, and never really even tries to hide yet he still makes the story work entirely. It quite an achievement that he is able to do this through this method he makes Valmont a compelling as well as properly repulsive character. 

Monday, 24 December 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1992: Michael Caine in The Muppet Christmas Carol

Michael Caine did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Ebenezer Scrooge in The Muppet Christmas Carol.

The Muppet Christmas Carol is an enjoyable adaptation of the story because although it inserts Muppet style humor it never forgets to give proper respect to the source material.

I break my currently scheduled year to cover something fitting of the day as well explain why Caine is in my top five for the year of 1992 in leading actor. Muppet movies really are not known for their seriousness and a lot of the human actors sometimes wink to the screen a little more than they should. Caine is the true lead of the film, and the Muppets only ever support him. Where usually the humans in these films have at least a certain degree of self awareness that they are surrounded by Muppets Caine plays it deadly serious as if he was portraying the part for the most prestigious adaptation of A Christmas Carol ever made.

Scrooge is a great part for actors, and there is at least one other actor who will find themselves nominated for playing the part in an alternate line up, as he undergoes a transition from greedy miser to a truly generous man. In portraying the cold side of the part many actors botch it like Reginald Owen in the 1938 version who makes it seem like Scrooge has more of an anger management problem more than anything else. Caine though takes the right approach with the part having a great bitterness and chill that perfectly fits his icy surroundings. He makes Scrooge as he walks through the ice and snow seem a perfect fit for it with his heartless expression as he turns to mockers.

Something notable about Caine's performance early in the film as the cold mean Scrooge is how direct he is in the part. He makes the brutality of Scrooge's spirit something just naturally in his blood that requires no effort on his own part. Caine is proper in that he creates it as much more of the history of the man in display and his lack of empathy for anyone is simply part of him. A side note that is quite interesting though is Caine is even humorous in the role without ever breaking the spirit of the role. For example when he throws out a man (well a Muppet) pleading for help, Caine is actually quite hilarious here becuase how humorlessly he does it, by playing the part as if he was not in a Muppet movie he is actually does far more for the film.

A great deal of what goes into playing Scrooge after the initial scenes of bitterness is his reactions to what is shown by the ghosts who appear to make him change his ways. Caine gets less help than many Scrooges as the film is shorter than many, and with a lot less complexity than many other versions as well. Young Scrooge for example just seems to be a jerk already, and there is not change, but this is not a flaw in regards to Caine's performance. Caine is terrific in portraying first the fear in apprehension of seeing the ghosts believably, even though they are Muppets. As Scrooge sees his past simplified, Caine does not simply the emotions internalizing well the feelings of sadness and nostalgia in his eyes beautifully. 

Caine even overcomes the flaws of the film with his honest performance that rejects any notions of falseness. Even with a overwrought musical number about the love lost in Scrooge's life that really does fail to achieve what it is seeking is saved by Caine in his simple moments as he tells the ghost to leave him be, and Caine is quite heartbreaking fully realizing the loss in his expression of grief in a far more able fashion than the whole song tried so hard to do. Caine is moving and effective in portraying the change in Scrooge over being shown his past. He carefully continues to show some stubbornness to the right degree, but eases properly on it to indicate the change is coming in Scrooge.

During the Ghost of Christmas Present scene there is a considerably better musical number about the joys of Christmas and Caine is terrific in the way he is able to portray the growing joy in Scrooge over just 2 minute scene as he moves from reluctance to happiness during the song. Equally effective though is Caine is in the last Ghost that shows a melancholy future. Despite the film talking about the death of a Muppet, and later having Scrooge having to plead for his life in from of giant Muppet Caine never fails to bring the proper weight to the scenes. His impassioned performance absolutely ignores his surroundings and brings out the power of the material wonderfully well.

The final scenes of the final that show Scrooge as a changed man are pretty much handled in a single song sung by Caine. Caine is not a master of song by any measure but he carries the song but more importantly he is able portray through the song the love of life Scrooge now has. It is a great moment in because Caine infuses so much genuine charm and joy into the song that properly establishes Scrooge as a man who has finally found happiness. This is in many ways a rushed depiction of the character, and a lesser actor would most likely have been self aware to the version of Scrooge they are in. Caine ignores any notion that this depiction of the story shall be taken less seriously and gives a moving as well as convincing performance as Ebenezer Scrooge.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1988: William Hurt in The Accidental Tourist

William Hurt did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Macon Leary in The Accidental Tourist.

The Accidental Tourist is an enjoyable film about a writer of travel guides who deals with personal troubles after the sudden death of his son.

William Hurt had received three Oscar nominations in a row. He found himself nominated from 85 to 87, but he was not nominated this year despite the fact that his film was nominated for best picture. It seems the academy, as well as most everyone else just decided this was the drop off point for William Hurt as a leading man for whatever reason. After this none of his leading performances made a stamp in the awards season and he did not find himself Oscar nominated again until he was well embedded as a character actor instead. His snub here really did seem to mean more than just not being nominated for an Oscar honestly.

It is a real shame though that William Hurt was forgotten for his leading man work here as I have to say I really like Hurt as a leading man. Hurt is just has a certain screen presence that creates a great deal of likability which is most certainly true of this performance. He is very unassuming as the travel guide writer Macon Leary, and this really works very well for the part. Hurt is careful in his portrayal in he emotes just enough in his part, in that he is someone we can easily follow through his personal story as he pulls us into his character's troubles rather than pushing away with them as one easily could do.

The pressing element on Macon is the death of his son which Hurt portrays marvelously because it is something that he realizes in the subtleties of his performance. There is a depression in his performance, but Hurt is terrific becuase he shows the depression without this being left as a depressed performance. He is very moving in his rather short moments that are very underplayed by him.  These scenes are effective because he brings to life the sadness in Macon from the death of his son as something that has settled within to a certain point that it leaves him not a man of constant overwhelming grief, but instead an internalized grief that leaves him in his haunted state. 

One could argue this film is in a part a romantic comedy involving Macon's relationship with his recently divorced wife Sara (Kathleen Turner), and his relationship with a stalker like dog trainer Muriel (Geena Davis). Hurt though does not at all seem like the romantic leading man with his performance here. In his scenes with both Davis and Turner Hurt does not at all portray the romantic angle in really any scene with them. This actually works in favor to his character and the film as he portrays both relationships in a most unorthodox fashion. In both situations though Hurt portrays Macon as a haunted man attempting reaching to find some happiness, but is really unable to break the certain malaise that he cannot escape from.

In his relationship with Turner's Sara, Hurt is effective in portraying the distance that was caused by the death of their son as well as by her own decision to separate at the beginning of the film. When she tries to reconnect with Macon Hurt is quite good because he shows the appropriate familiarity with her that explains why he returns to her, but he is strong in his ability to create that distance that never does leave him when he is with her. The other relationship with Muriel the dog trainer is very different but Hurt handles it equally well. In the beginning Hurt is quietly amusing with how taken aback Macon is by her persistence. Even when he lives with her Hurt is consistent portraying Macon as looking for something but still not really finding it.

Hurt knows how to portray Macon's very slow change as in his scenes as he slowly opens up, Hurt portrays perhaps a happiness but not one that can ever overcome his sadness as well as in equal measure a certain confusion over what he really wants. The confusion and the sadness do not really subside in one moment but Hurt instead more powerfully shows it to be something that slowly wears away. His final moment of the film, in fact the very final shot, is just perfectly played by Hurt as he shows finally the persistence of Muriel allows him to break out of his sadness with a simple but powerful smile. This is a very strong performance by William Hurt that is a moving depiction of his character's plight, as well as more simply as a charming leading man.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1988: Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers

Jeremy Irons did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning the New York and Chicago critics awards, for portraying Beverly and Elliot Mantle in Dead Ringers.

Dead Ringers is a fascinating film about twin gynecologists who consistently exploit the fact that almost no one can tell them apart, until a woman causes their close relationship to quickly deteriorate.

Jeremy Irons found himself not nominated for this performance despite his critical wins, but it really should not be surprising as he was playing twin gynecologists in a film that surely made Oscar voters uncomfortable. Irons himself believed this to be his best work and even went so far as to thank director David Cronenberg in his Oscar speech when he won for Reversal of Fortune despite the fact that Cronenberg did not direct that film. Although Irons should no his performance in Reversal of Fortune was deserving entirely in its own right. Irons has a right to be so proud of his work here though, and the idea that he was forgotten in favor of several actors giving descent but unsubstantial work really makes the nominees that year a bit of a joke.

All I can say is there are performances than there are performances. The sheer ambition of this performance is stunning in itself as Irons takes on two roles of equal importance in the film. Playing two roles in the same film does occur but many times it is used more of just for a brief moment to cover a character, or is more of used for comedic reasons. Irons depiction of twins here is decidedly serious, and his performance is probably the deepest delve into the relationship of twins as characters. Both Beverly and Elliot are characters each in their own right, neither is a throwaway they are both equally important throughout the film. Irons always keeps each of them fully fledged characters in their own rights.

It is absolutely incredible how Irons creates each twin. A main part of the film is the idea that no one seems to be able to tell the differences between the two twins. Irons plays into that to just the right degree in that of course they look exactly the same, yet he still creates them as two separate men through subtle differences between the two. In Elliot is he shows a man filled with confidence who takes possibly a little too much pleasure in the games he plays with his brother based on mistaken identity. Beverly is a far less confidant individual who lacks the charisma found in his brother, and Irons shows hesitations regarding the games, but importantly still portrays a shy pleasure that Beverly gets from them as well.

Irons is outstanding in his individual scenes as they each take upon one of their patients an actress Claire (Genevieve Bujold). Irons with Elliot portrays him as almost a bit of wolf in the situation. He portrays the brother as in total charge of the situation taking control the relationship with a certain viciousness but as well as still with an undeniable charm that never leaves a question to Elliot's power of persuasion. Irons though is brilliant in his first scene when Beverly tries to take over from Elliot's start at the relationship. He is fantastic he plays Beverly as a man with a bit of awkwardness as he tries to take over from his brother, but in the same notion there seems to be a greater humanity. Where with Elliot it is a conquest, Irons shows within Elliot there is a far more honest emotional connection with Claire.

The relationship between the two brothers is of course the main focus of the film and here Irons transcends greatness with his performance. When the two are in the same scene, Irons's performance simply goes to a whole new level of brilliance. He creates a chemistry between the two that it made facilitating by his performance that never falters for even a moment. Early in the film we see them together and Irons creates a camaraderie clearly between the two as they play their game, and at first just seem to be having a fun time of it. There is a certain dichotomy to their scenes together though as Irons has Elliot very much the one in control of the two as they speak. After all it is only with Elliot's urging that Beverly even decides to even start his own relationship with Claire.

The dynamic that Irons creates between the two is simply astonishing. As the two seem to drift somewhat due to Beverly not wanting to only have a game with Claire, and falls in love with her. Irons is effective as he portrays Beverly's attempts to distance himself from his brother's attitudes. He portrays the greater humanity in Beverly as the game wears on him. Irons is just spectacular in the scene where Claire meets both brothers at the same time for the first time as she disgusted by their tricks. Irons in the same scene portrays Elliot who only continues to enjoy himself with the trouble he has caused for a woman he only sees as something to gain pleasure from, all the while he powerfully portrays the heartbreak Beverly suffers from Claire hatred toward him as well as Elliot's lack of caring.

The two are one but are separated is the constant idea throughout the film, and as strange and impossible that might seem Irons some how does it with this performance. As they are at first connected by their games they play they separate, and the two compensate for each with Irons portraying these compensations flawlessly. Beverly after being separated by Claire falls into drug addiction, and Irons is bluntly effective in his depiction of Beverly's painful despair, as loses. He is particularly strong as Beverly becomes less and less composed he comes in contact with Elliot who tries to help him recover. Irons in these scenes shows Elliot as staying very much in control of himself still, but importantly Irons portrays Elliot as very deeply caring for his brother with a certain warmth, and something else which I will get to.

In the very same film we see Beverly recover somewhat, and Elliot now falls into the addiction. Amazingly though this not all seems repetitive, and Irons seems to create two types of despair in each brother that causes their fall. Beverly far more self loathing, and Irons creates in Elliot a despair over his own troubles regarding understanding his brother. At the end of the film where Beverly attempts to help Elliot as Elliot had helped him a similar way the connection appears fully. Irons in the scenes where Elliot helped his brother showed a warmth, but as well a disturbing obsession that Elliot feels himself to be Beverly all the same. The complexity and oddity of the whole situation could have been entirely lost by simply the idea itself, but Irons some how honest all the elements in to make it so it all works in the study of the two men.

Their final scenes are truly something to behold in both the disturbing sense and in an awe inspiring sense. As the two men's relationship entirely comes together that leads to disastrous results, it is Irons's performance makes this all work as brilliantly as it does. He fully realizes this connection between the two that overcomes both in a fashion that is unable for either to escape their mutual madness. Irons's final moments as Beverly and Elliot are both horrible, and oddly poignant at the same moment, becuase of how well he realizes their relationship. Irons makes the relationship that could so very easily seemed unbelievable believable. This is an astonishing work that I cannot praise enough. Irons's performance is almost otherworldly in how completely he brings in these two men and their bizarre duet to life. This is one of the greatest performances of all time, simple as that.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1988

And the Nominees Were Not:

Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers

John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons

William Hurt in The Accidental Tourist

Bob Hoskins in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Forest Whitaker in Bird 

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2005: Results

5. Jeff Daniels in The Squid and the Whale- Daniels is terrific at being one of the most self indulgent character's ever, he never strives from the indulgence instead reveling in it creating a rather entertaining performance.
4. Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang- Kilmer is just excellent in giving a deliciously amusing and cynical performance that compliments Robert Downey Jr's leading work marvelously.
3. Mickey Rourke in Sin City- Rourke unlike so many of his co-stars finds just the right tone for the material giving an effective turn that is easily the best part of the film.
2. Barry Pepper in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada- Pepper is great here giving a moving performance as a foolish man who is forced to change when confronted with his crime.
1. Ed Harris in A History of Violence- This was an extremely difficult year to choose as I loved all of these performances, and the top two of Pepper and Harris were very hard to choose just one. For the moment though I will go with Harris who despite having the least screen time out of all gives performances he has just as great impact with his powerful villainous turn in this film.
  1. Ed Harris in A History of Violence 
  2. Edward Norton in Kingdom of Heaven
  3. Barry Pepper in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
  4. Mickey Rourke in Sin City
  5. Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  6. William Hurt in A History of Violence
  7. Keanu Reeves in Thumbsucker
  8. John Hurt in The Proposition   
  9. Ghassan Massoud in Kingdom of Heaven
  10. Cillian Murphy in Red Eye
  11. Cillian Murphy in Batman Begins 
  12. Danny Huston in The Proposition
  13. Donald Sumpter in The Constant Gardener  
  14. Min-sik Choi in Sympathy of Lady Vengeance
  15. David Thewlis in Kingdom of Heaven 
  16. Jeffrey Wright in Broken Flowers
  17. Vincent D'Onofrio in Thumbsucker
  18. Chiwetel Ejiofor in Serenity
  19. Kevin Costner in The Upside of Anger
  20. Clifton Collins Jr. in Capote
  21. Matt Dillon in Crash  
  22. Brendan Gleeson in The Goblet of Fire 
  23. Gary Oldman in Batman Begins
  24. Stephen McHattie in A History of Violence
  25. Ciaran Hinds in Munich 
  26. Jeremy Irons in Kingdom of Heaven
  27. Stephen Dillane in Nine Lives
  28. Boris Leskin in Everything is Illuminated
  29. Chris Bridges in Crash   
  30. Tom Hollander in Pride and Prejudice 
  31. Liam Neeson in Kingdom of Heaven
  32. Paul Giamatti in Cinderella Man 
  33. Danny Huston in The Constant Gardener
  34. Rockmond Dunbar in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  35. Joe Mantegna in Nine Lives
  36. Alexander Siddig in Kingdom of Heaven
  37. Vince Vaughn in Thumbsucker 
  38. Mathieu Kassovitz in Munich
  39. Jack Black in King Kong 
  40. Donald Sutherland in Pride and Prejudice
  41. Michael Caine in Batman Begins 
  42. Jared Leto in Lord of War
  43. Liam Neeson in Batman Begins 
  44. Powers Boothe in Sin City 
  45. Linus Roache in Batman Begins 
  46. Richard Jenkins in North Country
  47. Hanns Zilcher in Munich 
  48. Ian McShane in Nine Lives
  49. Ralph Fiennes in Wallace and Gromit Curse of the Were Rabbit
  50. Paddy Considine in Cinderella Man
  51. Michael Pena in Crash  
  52. Tom Wilkinson in Batman Begins   
  53. Beau Bridges in The Ballad of Jack and Rose
  54. Clive Owen in Sin City 
  55. Daniel Craig in Munich
  56. Julio Cedilla in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada   
  57. David Wenham in The Proposition 
  58. Ethan Hawke in Lord of War
  59. Don Cheadle in Crash 
  60. Mathieu Amalric in Munich
  61. Alan Rickman in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  62. Ryan McDonald in The Ballad of Jack and Rose
  63. Benecio Del Toro in Sin City
  64. Skandar Keynes in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
  65. Woody Harrelson in North Country
  66. Nick Stahl in Sin City 
  67. Billy Nighy in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  68. Frank Langella in Good Night and Good Luck
  69. Chris Cooper in Capote 
  70. Graham Greene in Transamerica
  71. Rutger Hauer in Sin City
  72. Omar Metwally in Munich
  73. Elijah Wood in Sin City
  74. George Clooney in Good Night and Good Luck 
  75. Dwight Yoakam in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
  76. Christopher Plummer in The New World 
  77. Terrence Howard in Crash  
  78. Kurt Russell in Sky High
  79. Sam Rockwell in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  80. Ralph Fiennes in The Goblet of Fire  
  81. Tom Hollander in The Libertine
  82. Jason Isaacs in Nine Lives
  83. Dave Foley in Sky High
  84. Ian Holm in Lord of War 
  85. Bruce Campbell in Sky High
  86. Christopher Lawford in The World's Fastest Indian
  87. Christian Bale in The New World 
  88. Corbin Bernsen in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 
  89. Kevin Mcdonald in Sky High
  90. Craig Bierko in Cinderella Man
  91. Robert Downey Jr. in Good Night and Good Luck 
  92. Alan Tudyk in Serenity
  93. John Malkovich in The Libertine
  94. Morgan Freeman in Batman Begins  
  95. Jon Finch in Kingdom of Heaven
  96. Geoffrey Rush in Munich
  97. Michael Sheen in Kingdom of Heaven
  98. Christopher Lee in Corpse Bride
  99. Mos Def in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  100. Brendan Gleeson in Kingdom of Heaven
  101. Jason Lee in The Ballad of Jack and Rose 
  102. Jeremy Renner in North Country
  103. John Malkovich in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  104. Walton Goggins in The World's Fastest Indian
  105. Christopher Walken in Wedding Crashers
  106. Brian Cox in Red Eye
  107. Albert Finney in Corpse Bride
  108. Brian Cox in Matchpoint
  109. Burt Young in Transamerica
  110. James Cromwell in The Longest Yard
  111. Sean Bean in North Country
  112. Bruce Willis in Sin City 
  113. Matthew Goode in Matchpoint
  114. Michael Chiklis in Fantastic Four
  115. Michael Clarke Duncan in Sin City  
  116. Peter Stormare in The Brothers Grimm 
  117. Chris Evans in Fantastic Four
  118. William Baldwin in The Squid and the Whale
  119. Tim Robbins in The War of the Worlds
  120. Ryan Phillippe in Crash
  121. Owen Kline in The Squid and the Whale 
  122. George Clooney in Syriana  
  123. Jonathan Pryce in The Brothers Grimm
  124. Ashton Holmes in A History of Violence
  125. Michael Gambon in The Goblet of Fire 
  126. Marton Csokas in Kingdom of Heaven
  127. Paul Dano in The Ballad of Jack and Rose
  128. Brendan Frasier in Crash 
  129. Bradley Cooper in Wedding Crashers
  130. Ian Mcdiarmid in Revenge of the Sith  
  131. Julian McMahon in Fantastic Four
  132. Kevin James in Hitch
  133. Kevin Zegers in Transamerica
  134. Kyle Schmid in A History of Violence
  135. Chris Rock in The Longest Yard
  136. Keir O'Donnell in Wedding Crashers
  137. Michael Madsen in Sin City
 Next Year: 1988 Lead

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2005: Mickey Rourke in Sin City

Mickey Rourke did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Marv in Sin City.

Sin City is a film that has effective elements but frankly its style wears thin and the numerous problems of the film start to wear down heavily on re-watch. 

One of the major flaws of the film is the acting. Many of the performances are just awful as they struggle to read the lines, and sound as wooden as possible. Also the way the film tries to replicate the scenes from its source material make many of the actors stand and moves in ways that makes their performances seem extremely stilted. Also sometimes a performance can switch from awful to effective in the same scene like Bruce Willis at the beginning of the film. Some of his physical pain is well handled but his early scene where he talks with Michael Madsen's character it feels like both of them are reading off of cue cards.

Where so many of the actors get swollen whole by the overwhelming style of the direction and the rather cumbersome script, particularly its dialogue, its amazing that Mickey Rourke manages to avoid all of the problems that so many of the other actors suffer from. The film basically consists of three stories of equal importance and they each have a lead character the first being Rourke's, the second being Clive Owen's and the third being Bruce Willis's. They are each the lead in their own story, and due to that none of them drive the entire film making it more of an ensemble all together. Out of the three though Rourke's story is easily the best mainly because Rourke easily gives the best performance.

Out everyone in the cast Rourke just meets the material perfectly, and wears it perfectly from his elderly Kirk Douglas makeup, to even his place in the stylized background, Rourke just fits. I don't know frankly how he does it here, but where so many of the actors seem stiff in the recreations of the comic book scenes Rourke seems entirely natural, even if stylized. He meets the style just right that it really works only to amplify the effectiveness of the character and the story. He meets the style not only in a physical sense but he does so equally within his performance. Where so many of the actors struggle with the faux noir style of the language Rourke is just a master of it.

What perhaps works so well about Rourke's performance is that even though he embraces the style to the right degree, he in his own still goes about giving a convincing performance as Marv. Marv's story is about him having a one night stand with a beautiful woman Goldie who he finds is dead in the bed right next to him unaware of how it happened. After finding out he has been framed for the murder he goes about trying to discover who did it and get revenge for her death. This is a performance that very much has to move quickly as Marv is rarely given any time to talk. Rourke very much has to create Marve from scratch as fast just as he runs through the plot, and he does a marvelous job of it.

Mickey Rourke makes Marv an intensely likable hero who does all his mayhem with a certain bit of humor that is well utilized. He has a lot of fun in the role and makes us be able to take a ride with Marv through the film nicely, and actually does well to make the overly grim aspects of the film not as overwhelming due to the lighthearted fashion that he takes with the part. The lines that are so forced coming from the other actors just fly off the tongue out of Rourke, he just knows exactly what to do with the material. It all really comes down though to mixing just the right amount of realism with the style, sure his part is larger than life, but Rourke keeps him grounded in just the right degree in the right area.

Rourke combines well the physical humor aspects flawlessly with portraying the emotional drive in Marv that comes from him losing the only woman other than his mother that ever seemed to honestly love him. Rourke honestly is very subtle in the brief moments of portraying the very real pain and doubts of his character. These scenes are quick and to the point but Rourke does well to make the emotions honest, and not at all stylized. This great entertaining work by Rourke, and it easily makes his section of the film the most watchable. He is one of the few actors to really not get in engulfed by the material, and is the only actor to make his very own distinct mark on the film, although that is obvious since he is easily the best part of the film.

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2005: Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Val Kilmer did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning a Satellite award (yes that award is considered a bit of a joke but hey they awarded Javier Bardem for Skyfall so they can reward a good performance), for portraying  "Gay" Perry van Shrike in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Val Kilmer here portrays a private detective who work for a film studio. In the beginning of the film he takes on our hero and accidental actor Harry (Robert Downey Jr) on an investigation to supposedly prepare him for a film role. Val Kilmer's character is named Gay Perry for a reason, and its not because he is happy all the time. Playing a character who is explicitly gay certainly is place for pitfalls as shown by the likes of Ed Harris and Tom Hanks. Kilmer though luckily does not fall into this. He uses a slight accent, and mannerisms in his performance but in a very low key fashion that only amplifies his character.

I might as well not beat about the bush and say that Kilmer is a joy to watch in this film as he, like Robert Downey Jr, knows just how to play the material. As Downey does in his lead performance he finds just the right tone for his performance being slightly comic throughout yet displaying such an ease with the more dramatic moments as well. Kilmer though is slightly different here as he is the supporting player whereas Downey is the lead. Kilmer properly makes Perry less sympathetic than Harry, although still very likable, but he properly has a more cynical edge that causes him to differ from Downey' performance.

Kilmer is great in the role as he takes a bit of a rougher approach to some of the material that work particularly well for the film, as well as does a lot to emphasize the experience that Perry has in the sort of matters that take place in the film oppose to Harry who is a bit more of a freshman. Kilmer is properly convincing in the role as Perry and Harry deal with the mystery. Kilmer has the proper conviction and strength in the role to properly suit the mentorish properties of Perry. Kilmer exudes just the right degree of confidence in the role that works well in the film, almost being a comforting factor at times because he shows Perry to be just about always on the ball.

Val Kilmer most importantly has terrific chemistry with Robert Downey Jr. They are just a great duo throughout the film, and they play off each other wonderfully making all of their scenes together delightful. Kilmer is excellent playing Perry as the smarter older, although less passionate of the two. He is particularly great in any scene where Perry straightens out Harry a little bit for the dumb decision he makes time to time. Kilmer is always hilarious in these moments having just the right bluntness in the moments. The two are just perfect together in their antagonistic scenes always bringing out the humor in their conflict brilliantly.

This is a very entertaining performance bringing the best out of the script of the film, and even out of Robert Downey Jr. They both just play the scenes so well that they do not overshadow each other than just amplify each other. Val Kilmer turns his mentor/partner character into just an extremely likable character throughout the film. Kilmer's performance here just works to the point that I have to admit I was very relieved when Perry was alive for no sensible reason at the end of the film other than Perry is just awesome. Kilmer is the one who makes Perry as awesome as he is. Kilmer gives another fantastic characterization here, and shows along with Tombstone that it is shame his talent is not exploited more often.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2005: Jeff Daniels in The Squid and the Whale

Jeff Daniels did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe for portraying Bernard Berkman.

The Squid and the Whale is an intriguing and entertaining film about the conflict that develops when a literary family is broken apart by divorce.

Daniels anyway is brilliant in this performance in just the way he creates this character. This is a performance that can be taken as almost one note in the broad strokes, though that is not true due to the subtleties of Daniels's work. What Daniels does here is take self absorption to an all new level with his performance here as a once great writer who still considered himself so, even though no one else seems to. Daniels always is reassuring the fact that Bernard is as much into himself as a man possibly can. Daniels doesn't show a hint of doubt as he says such things as the Tale of Two Cities being "lesser Dickens" or than Kafka was one of his predecessors.

Daniels makes it clear throughout the film that he has no concerns in any way if people even doubt his genius because he is so self assured. Daniels is terrific here because there is not ever a doubt in our minds that he has no doubt about himself. Daniels is actually quite hilarious in how pure the self absorption is in his performance. Daniels portrays Bernard as a man very much in love with himself without the need for anyone else's approval because they are not geniuses like him anyways. It is almost a derangement considering how sure of himself he really is, but Daniels of course shows it only ever to be a calm very very collected derangement that Bernard has.

It is a brilliant note that Daniels plays the part at and really it would be wrong for Daniels to ever get off that note as Bernard never does lose his intense devotion to himself, even at the end of the film Daniels still stays firm in support of Bernard's derangement. Daniels shows that Bernard simply is incapable of losing his superiority complex. Daniels is pure as whether it is trying to teach his kids a lesson, or fighting with his wife Bernard never stops with his own approach of quiet reserved smugness. The only time he really breaks this frame is when he is shown not to be the best, and Daniels is quite good that only when pushed into a corner that exposes an inferiority does he break out in anger.

Daniels is brilliant in his broader creation of course, but his best moments perhaps are in the silent expressions of his performance. He is particularly excellent in any scene where someone praises Bernard's wife's writing in his presence. Daniels always portrays a deep wound in his face in Bernard anytime that he hears that his wife may be a better writer than he. Daniels is equally strong in his moments of interacting with his kids particularly when he expresses love to them. Daniels is particularly interesting in these seems as when Bernard tries to talk warmly to them he does and he doesn't. Daniels finds just the right difficult tone needed as Bernard does love his kids, but never enough to love them more than he loves himself.

This is a terrific performance by Jeff Daniels where he succeeds in making an extremely unlikable character extremely enjoyable to watch. The challenge of this character really is a big one in that Bernard could easily just be obnoxious with his constant self promotion, or dull with his relaxed manner of doing so. Jeff Daniels though more than meets the challenge presented by the character with such an effortless assurance with his performance. He simply has a grasp on the part, which is essential for this character to work as he really cannot have even the slightest doubts to be believed. Daniels makes the character his own being the entertaining despicable "genius" Bernard Berkman should be. 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2005: Barry Pepper in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Barry Pepper did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Mike Norton in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.

Barry Pepper plays someone here who is best described as a bit of an idiot. Mike Norton is a border guard who basically spends his time looking at Porno magazines when he is not beating up Mexicans trying to cross into the United States. He spends time at home mostly watching television and unceremoniously having sex with his wife. Playing an idiot is something that actually is far more a challenge than one would think as it commonly can be used to give a one dimensional performance, but Pepper although most certainly is playing Mike as an idiot he makes him a compelling character nevertheless.

In all truth Pepper's approach is what makes not only his performance work but really the film work as a whole. Mike Norton is the man who killed Melquiades Estrada, and one could try to say that he is therefore the villain of the film. Pepper certainly does no portray him as a villain in any respect though, and instead portrays him as a thick headed man who honestly did something very bad simply because he just is not very smart. As strange as it sounds Pepper is honest in his portrayal of Norton's stupidity, he never plays it for laughs, but instead establishes it as really the motivating factor of most of his behavior.

For example when we see Mike actually perform the act of Melquiades Estrada there is no hate in his face or anything remotely similar to that. Instead Pepper shows it as entirely an act of desperation, and he emphasizes the lack of understanding in Mike. Mike jumps too quickly to firing back from a stray bullet, and Pepper shows that this action comes from Mike's lacking skills as a frankly just responsible person let alone boarder guard. When Mike see what he has done, Pepper allows us to actually sympathize with Norton to some degree as he portrays instantly the regrets of Mike over the situation, because his face shows that he honestly did not mean to do it.

Mike troubles grow though when Melquiades Estrada's best friend Pete (Tommy Lee Jones) decides to kidnap Mike to go on an expedition to properly bury his friend. Pepper is excellent in his scenes with Jones by playing the reactions of Mike very much close to the bone. Pepper is very good in simply playing the role as realistically as possible in his reactions to Pete demands of him. He is convincing through the entirety of their journey and Pepper matches the jumbled emotions of Mike all the way. Whether it is his anger at being taken, his pain from the various displeasure he suffers along the way, the regrets he feels when the point of Melquiades death comes up, and most powerfully his fearful uncertainty over what Pete is going to do to him. 

Mike seems to undergo a transformation during their journey. It is not that he necessarily that he becomes any smarter exactly, but he seems to slowly break the stupor he seemed to be in at the beginning of the film that really lead him to the unfortunate events that caused Melquiades's death. Pepper is excellent here because he makes Mike's apparent transition something that honestly feels quite natural. He never overplays it nor does he reject the old Mike, as even near the end he still suggest some of the old Mike as he still acts defiantly to Mike. His transition though is made moving by Pepper as he portrays it coming from both a greater understanding of something other than himself as well as in part the psychological and physical trauma he faces through the journey.

This really is not a quiet by nature character, but really the power of Pepper's performance is very much in his face. At the beginning of the film it is a stubborn indistinct expression that he carries mostly that sums of Mike as a person. As the film proceeds though the expression opens up though and he allows us to emphasize with Mike, as he truthfully portrays Mike's changes throughout with particularly strong moments when he opens up fully. These moments are earned, and used perfectly by Pepper as his performance show exactly what Mike is going through. The moment he breaks into tears from a soap opera is extremely well handled he is understated even in the breakdown where Pepper expresses finally an actual understanding of his relationship with his wife.

Pepper builds incredibly though to his final scene where Pete forces him to ask for forgiveness to Melquiades. He starts well though by still showing some of the old Mike as he almost teases Pete. Pepper though is terrific as he genuinely portrays the regrets and sadness Mike does feel for what he has done, even though he pressured Pepper shows what does come is the truth. The only moment better than this in his performance is his final short line asking if Pete will be okay. In this single short sentence Pepper shows us a changed Mike. His expression empathetic, with Mike's wanting to understand know about someone else, and no longer in that stupor. This is an outstanding performance by Barry Pepper creating a fascinating portrait of a stupid man.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2005: Ed Harris in A History of Violence

Ed Harris did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Carl Fogarty in A History of Violence.

Ed Harris portrays the Philadelphia gangster who comes looking for diner owner Tom Stall who recently killed two men trying to rob his diner. Fogarty though believes Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) to actually be Joey Cusack who was involved with the criminal underworld in Philadelphia. He is one of the two major villains, the other being William Hurt who shows up only at the very end of the film. Where William Hurt portrays Richie Cusack Joey Cusack's brother. Forgarty knows Joey from the same period, but where Richie and Joey seem to have a love hate relationship, the only seems to be the latter when it comes to Forgarty relationship with Joey.

Harris is not always my favorite actor as he sometimes can either overact or just not make any sort of distinction with his performance. Harris tears right into the film though as Carl Fogarty as he walks into the diner. Harris as he walks in takes our attention as the man who most certainly seems out of place in this place as he sits to question Mortensen's character. Harris is particularly effective here because he does not show for a moment that Carl Fogarty might think that Tom is Joey, Harris makes it clear that Fogarty entirely knows that this is Joey. Harris portrays Fogarty's questions not as Forgarty trying to find out if he is Joey, but rather waiting to see if Tom will admit it.

Harris is a great villain here in the way he conveys the threatening quality of Forgarty as something always there, but very much below the surface. He is excellent the way he portrays the slight bemusement that Fogarty has over finding Tom's attempts to deny his accusations as pathetic. In a way Harris shows that Fogarty attitude toward Tom is one of a great deal of familiarity. Although it entirely comes from Harris, as Tom of course only keeps denying things, Harris creates Forgarty's troubled relationship with Joey through his performance. He both is able to create the sense of familiarity with Joey showing that they go way back, but that their history is quite a troubled one.

The threat comes in his performance in the subtle way Harris looks at Mortensen in their scenes together that always presents an underlying hatred in Fogarty for what Joey did to him, which was trying to rip out his eye with barb wire leaving his eye dead. Harris always keeps Fogarty very calm and collect in a dangerous fashion but he is especially fierce when his hatred comes out fully. Harris is particularly powerful when he confronts Tom's wife Edie (Maria Bello) as the full amount of hate for Tom he feels comes out as he describes what happened to his eye. Harris is excellent though as he shows Fogarty as well controlled man who returns to his conviction that Tom is Joey as he pressures Edie with questions in regard to Joey's violent abilities.

Harris actually is only in four scenes total in the film, but he makes the most out of each of them. Through his performance he creates the dark world that Joey came from in his ease in which he makes himself a threat to Tom, while never outwardly being so. Harris dominates all of scenes in his portrayal of his character's determination to get what he wants. Fogarty is a character that could have been just a one note forgettable villain considering his screen time, but Harris just does all he can with the role. Harris with ease infuses each scene with both a cryptic intensity as well as even a dark humor. Harris manages to make both the line "There's no need for that kind of Language" in a slightly comic fashion and in the same scene the line “Ask your husband, why he's so good at killing people” work perfectly without any hesitation in his performance. This just outstanding work from Harris that makes Carl Fogarty a truly memorable antagonist.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2005

And the Nominees Were Not:

 Barry Pepper in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Jeff Daniels in The Squid and the Whale

Ed Harris in A History of Violence 

Mickey Rourke in Sin City


Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Alternate Best Actor 2005: Results

5. Robert Downey Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang- Downey finds just the right sardonic tone for his performance that fits his film like a glove.
4. Tommy Lee Jones in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada- Jones perfectly cast himself portraying the complex motivations of his character brilliantly.
3. Guy Pearce in The Proposition- Pearce gives a strong understated performance that is particularly effective in portraying the complex relationship that motivates his character.
2. Viggo Mortensen in A History of Violence- Mortensen is terrific in his depiction of the slow dissolution of his character.
1. Ray Winstone in The Proposition- The underrated Ray Winstone wins this year with his powerful performance as a man trying to bring the law to the lawless. Winstone succeeds far more than anyone would expect creating a poignant depiction of a character that could perhaps have been a throwaway in lesser hands.
  1. Ray Winstone in The Proposition
  2. Viggo Mortensen in A History of Violence
  3. Byung-hun Lee in A Bittersweet Life
  4. Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote
  5. Damian Lewis in Keane
  6. Guy Pearce in The Proposition
  7. Tommy Lee Jones in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
  8. Robert Downey Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  9. Daniel Auteuil in Caché
  10. Brendan Gleeson in Six Shooter 
  11. Bill Murray in Broken Flowers
  12. Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain   
  13. Romain Duris in The Beat That My Heart Skipped
  14. Jeff Daniels in The Squid and The Whale 
  15. Ralph Fiennes in The Constant Gardener   
  16. Cillian Murphy in Breakfast on Pluto 
  17. Matthew Macfadyen in Pride and Prejudice
  18. Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man 
  19. Daniel Day-Lewis in The Ballad of Jack and Rose
  20. Brady Corbet in Mysterious Skin
  21. Nicolas Cage in Lord of War
  22. Pierce Brosnan in The Matador
  23. Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain
  24. Anthony Hopkins in The World's Fastest Indian
  25. Christian Bale in Batman Begins
  26. Eric Bana in Munich
  27. David Strathairn in Good Night and Good Luck
  28. Ali Suliman in Paradise Now 
  29. Johnny Depp in The Libertine
  30. Lou Pucci in Thumbsucker
  31. Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Mysterious Skin
  32. Greg Kinnear in The Matador 
  33. Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Match Point 
  34. Elijah Wood in Everything is Illuminated
  35. Bob Hoskins in Mrs. Henderson Presents
  36. Nathan Fillion in Serenity
  37. Tony Leung Ka-Fai in Election 
  38. Tom Cruise in The War of the Worlds 
  39. Martin Freeman in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 
  40. Peter Sallis in Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  41. Kais Nashif in Paradise Now
  42. Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line
  43. Orlando Bloom in Kingdom of Heaven
  44. Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers
  45. Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers 
  46. Will Smith in Hitch
  47. Eugene Hutz in Everything is Illuminated
  48. Colin Farrell in The New World 
  49. Johnny Depp in Corpse Bride 
  50. Heath Ledger in The Brothers Grimm
  51. Adrien Brody in King Kong 
  52. Jesse Eisenberg in The Squid and the Whale  
  53. Michael Angarano in Sky High
  54. Ewan McGregor in The Revenge of the Sith
  55. Matt Damon in Syriana 
  56. Daniel Radcliffe in The Goblet of Fire 
  57. Josh Hutcherson in Zathura
  58. Simon Lam in Election
  59. Ioan Gruffudd in Fantastic Four
  60. William Moseley in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe  
  61. Terrence Howard in Hustle and Flow   
  62. Bernie Mac in Guess Who
  63. Matt Damon in The Brothers Grimm
  64. Johnny Depp in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  65. Jonah Bobo in Zathura 
  66. Jim Carrey in Fun With Dick and Jane
  67. Will Ferrell in Bewitched
  68. Ashton Kutcher in Guess Who
  69. Adam Sandler in The Longest Yard
  70. Hayden Christensen in Revenge of the Sith
Next Year: 2005 Supporting

Alternate Best Actor 2005: Tommy Lee Jones in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Tommy Lee Jones did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Pete Perkins in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is a very effective film about the shooting of a Mexican Melquiades Estrada by a border patrol officer Mike Norton (Barry Pepper), and the Mexican's friend's attempt to find justice.

Tommy Lee Jones portrays Pete Perkins a rancher near the Mexican rancer who is friends with Melquiades. Robert Downey Jr. was a perfect choice for his role in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang as the quick talking manic man, well Tommy Lee Jones is also perfectly cast here as a world weary crusty rancher type. Jones simply fits this role like a glove. There is never a question to Jones as the man, he just fits the part so well, that he already has already a leg up on the part. He does not even need to convince us that he is this man, he simply is the man from the first second to the last second.

The film jumps around in time early on the film so it really is best to focus on this performance in chronological order. Tommy Lee Jones in his scenes that show his friendship with Melquiades handles the part perfectly. He portrays Pete's friendship with Melquiades as something quite natural. He has the right sort of warmth and camaraderie in these scenes, but he does not draw too much attention. He portrays Pete as a bit playful with his friend, and they just portray the proper happiness in their scenes together. He does not overdo it ever, creating just a believable friendship between the two.

After Melquiades is killed though Jones changes Pete's manner severely as he seems as a far more of a haunted individual, who seems to have lost his best friend. Jones is effective as he conveys the fact that the happiness has really been sucked right out of Pete as he stays troubled by the death of his friend. Jones is quite moving in how quietly he portrays the grief in Pete over his death. He is particularly powerful in the scene where he asks the local authorities why they buried his friend without even telling him. Jones in this moment shows just how much the friendship meant to Pete, and how heartbroken he has become after his friend's sudden death.

Pete suddenly learns the truth of who killed his friend though and goes on a strange quest to properly bury his friend on horse all the while keeping the officer as a hostage. Jones is brilliant in realizing the incredible drive that pushes Pete forward on his peculiar journey. Jones has a such a conviction in the part that as he moves on the journey we entirely believe character's actions, even when we do not entirely understand where he will go with the man. Jones combines the passionate devotion of his character, with a very real threatening element as well. He keeps Pete;s actions a mystery well, but he never limits out abilities to empathize with his plight either.

Tommy Lee Jones here does so much with the smallest of expressions. Pete really is a man of very few words throughout the film, but Jones always is able to bring to life just how important this expedition is as well as how meaningful it is to Pete. In very subtle moments Jones portrays a deep seeded loneliness that seems to prevail within Pete over the death of his friend. Although in the big emotional scenes Jones really does stay reserved he never fails to deliver on the power and the poignancy of them. 

Directing one's self to a performance certainly can be a tricky thing to do, it works if an actor knows their limits and boundaries, but not so much if they don't.  Jones most certainly knows everything about his screen presence as he utilizes it so well. He never turns Pete into some sort of one dimensional angle of vengeance of anyway. Jones is always very effective as he creates the internal struggle within Pete over his decisions, but as well his heartbreak involving his friend. Jones succeeds in bringing this unique character to life with likable, sometimes even humorous naturally intertwined with the powerful core of what pushes his character forward.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Alternate Best Actor 2005: Robert Downey Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Robert Downey Jr. did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Harry Lockhart in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is an extremely entertaining film about a Hollywood mystery a small time thief accidentally gets involved with.

Robert Downey Jr. plays the small time thief who also narrates the film, although he does narrate in a Morgan Freeman fashion, but instead in an entirely self aware fashion. Robert Downey Jr. really makes this movie work through his performance, because he knows exactly how to play the material, particularly the narration. Downey knows how to do self aware well in a way that it only adds humor and an appreciation to the film rather than seeming smug and self indulgent as it easily could have. Downey gets just the right tone for the film with his narration, and makes every line work extremely well.

Outside of the narration Downey again fits the part like a glove. He just knows how to be playful with an incredible charm. He is never cloying in the role instead he is always just very likable. It is so easy to follow Downey through the film as he carries us with him. He has just the right amount of fun in the role to the point that it succeeds in bringing out the comedy, but he never does overdo it either. Downey strikes the perfect chord sin the part, and part of that is his ease with every aspect of the role. Downey not only commands the quick dialogue with the utmost finesse but he just as easily handles the more dramatic moments found in the film as well.

Robert Downey Jr. is probably one of the very best actors when it comes to blending comedy with drama, as he does so brilliantly here. There are sudden moments throughout the film that require some quick heavy lifting from Downey such as when Harry sees a woman murdered and takes revenge in anger. He absolutely sells these scenes completely, bringing in the necessary power to the moments, while never compromising the tone the film has. He keeps it all together marvelously really bringing all of the elements in the film in a terrific fashion as he never loses the humor of the situation or the seriousness of it.

His chemistry with his co-stars is great with both Michelle Monaghan as Harry's childhood friend Harmony, and Val Kilmer as the private detective known as Gay Perry.With Monaghan Downey achieves a nice warmth that works quite well as the two dance around the romance nicely without it every becoming problematic. The two find the sort of style of an old screwball comedy romance that is certainly quite effective. With Kilmer they are just a great comic duo as the two play off each other perfectly from scene to scene. They never overwhelm each other but properly share the spotlight to the point of great entertainment.

This is just a fabulous performance in all regards by Downey who moves the film along as well as an actor possibly could. Everything works about his performance, and he completely succeeds in bringing the very best out of the film's most unusual script. In all truth this is just a perfect infusion of character and actor as I really could not imagine anyone else fitting in this role as well as Downey does. He knows exactly how to see the film through from beginning to end, as well as making the film just an entertaining and enjoyable ride throughout.

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.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Alternate Best Actor 2005: Ray Winstone in The Proposition

Ray Winstone did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Captain Morris Stanley in The Proposition.

Ray Winstone portrays the other lead of the film the lawman who makes the most unusual proposition to Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) to kill his brother. Winstone like Pearce gives a very understated performance as the Captain who gives this proposition in his attempt to civilize the Australian Outback. Winstone really has a rather interesting role as the Captain, as this role really very easily could have been an unsympathetic character. After all Winstone certainly is not opposed to playing unsympathetic roles, but in this case Winstone actually gives the most sympathetic performance he probably has ever given.

In his very first scene when the Captain makes the Proposition Ray Winstone portrays it with a calm but clear authority. He shows the Captain who very much intends to get what he wants, but more importantly Winstone here does not portray the Captain as a small minded man. The Captain in telling Charlie about the proposition also tells him how he plans to civilize the land. Winstone in does particularly well in portraying the Captain's sentiments here as partially dream perhaps, but he makes the Captain's statement as one of earnestness and entirely genuine. He makes the Captain an honest man, who is very easy to empathize with his plight.

Winstone is brilliant in internalizing so well the pain the Captain feels over his difficult struggle to try to fulfill his duties. Winstone is perfect in honestly showing how the responsibilities weigh very heavily on the Captain. Winstone importantly shows that the Captain still is very able, intelligent, knowledgeable of what it is that he is doing. Winstone though always conveys that underneath the Captain never is able to alleviate all that is on his mind due to all that is required of him of his job. Winstone carefully never makes this as something too overbearing in his performance, but rather something that is simply part of the Captain he can't get over.

One of the most important parts of the story with the Captain is his relationship with his wife Martha (Emily Watson). The relationship between the two is extremely understated, and at times quite unspoken. Winstone, and Watson are terrific together because despite the quietness in their relationship the two are able to bring to life the two unrequited love together clearly, even though their is a distance as well. Winstone is excellent because through his tenderness in the moments with Watson he shows that the Captain does very much love his wife very deeply, but at the same Winstone always portrays a certain distance as well. Winstone though is careful to show it comes from not wanting to share his pain, and horrible experiences though.

Winstone is terrific in creating the Captain as a man who honestly does want to do what his right, and there is nothing underhanded about his desire to civilize. Winstone is always great in reflecting the very real dangers that the Captain entirely understands, which is especially true in the scene where the Captain's bureaucrat superior Fletcher (David Wenham) orders that the captured and mentally troubled Burns's brother Mikey be whipped for the crimes of Arthur Burns. Winstone, though still staying reserved, is very moving as the Captain tries to convince Fletcher both for the fact that he knows Mikey's mental state, but as well knows what will happen if the proposition is broken. Winstone is amazing as he powerfully shows in this scene the way the Captain can barely hold back his pain due to knowledge of what the consequences will be.

This is really an outstanding performance by Ray Winstone because really the Captain in lesser hands could have been a throwaway part almost, as the complexities of the man could have easily been lost. Winstone though makes the Captain a fascinating three dimensional character whom we can easily empathize with. Importantly though he makes the Captain story just as interesting, and in fact more powerful even than the other half with the Burns brothers. Truthfully the Captain story could have seemed dull compared to the crazy and violent Burns clan. Winstone though never allows his half of the story to sink for even a moment though. He uplifts it at all times creating a full fledged and incredibly poignant portrait of a man whose dream to civilize becomes a nightmare of chaos.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Alternate Best Actor 2005: Guy Pearce in The Proposition

Guy Pearce did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Charlie Burns in The Proposition.

The Proposition is an effective film about a British lawman making a deal with an outlaw that if the outlaw kills his older brother he will not hang the outlaw's younger brother.

Guy Pearce portrays the outlaw given the proposition that he seems to accept, and goes off to find his older brother Arthur (Danny Huston) while his younger brother Mikey is being held to be hung if Charlie does not kill his brother by Christmas. Pearce portrays one of the two leads in this film, which is a very interesting film in that although there are flamboyant performances in the film from a great number of the supporting cast particularly Danny Huston, and John Hurt as a racist Bounty Hunter, but the leads of the film both give rather understated performances.

Pearce portrays Charlie Burns as a reserved man and does well to show the life of the man is reflected in his face. In the film we only learn of rather limited information about the Burns boys and their endeavors of outlaws. We never do learn exactly how much Charlie and Mikey were really involved with the crimes ascribed to Arthur, but Pearce does well in creating his own history of Charlie through his performance. He portrays Charlie as a rather hard man, certainly with his own wealth of less than savory experiences that seems to have permanently tarnished his expression to at least some degree.

The Proposition is an interesting film in that really one can sympathize with both leads, even though they are in a way at opposite ends. Pearce though allows us to easily follow Charlie through his half of the story as well as sympathize with him by portraying that the driving force that propels him in this story is his concern for his younger brother. Pearce is very strong in creating the strong need Charlie has to protect his brother. In the film itself Charlie says very little in regards to how deeply he cares about, but Pearce very powerfully portrays the very emphatic need Charlie feels to do what is best for his brother. 

Pearce really says very little throughout the film, in fact most of the time he is looking at others studying them in some way. Pearce is especially adept at portraying the feelings within Charlie without saying very much at all during his performance. His very best scenes involving this come in all of his scenes with Danny Huston as Charlie's deranged older brother. Pearce is almost completely silent in these scenes but he is perfect in conveying the struggle within Charlie during these scenes on whether or not to kill his older brother to save his younger. Pearce is excellent because he portrays a distaste for his brother, yet at the same time the two actors properly establish a familiarity between the two.

Guy Pearce is a strong presence throughout the film, but his best scenes come at the very end of the film when Charlie finally does choose to act. Pearce is perfect in the last moments of the film portraying the part still very quietly but with tremendous impact as he shows quickly Charlie's grief for his younger brother that quickly becomes a passionate anger against Charlie's older brother. His fierce stare, and his delivery of "no more" Pearce absolutely delivers the necessary impact the final scene of the film deserves, and as well he creates the proper resolution between the relationship between the two brothers.

Guy Pearce gives a very good performance here as the co-lead of the film, and fulfills his half of the film extremely well. Pearce although underplays his role very throughout the film but he does not fail to stand out just the same. Even in scenes with far more extroverted characterizations Pearce never allows himself to be overshadowed in the film. He stays firm in the film doing well in his assured, and realistic reactions in the film. In a way Pearce through his work here even allows the performances of Hurt, and Huston the impact they should through the way he reserves himself in the film. Yet Pearce even in his minimalist approach still creates a remarkable portrait of this outlaw.