Monday, 29 April 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2001: Brian Cox L.I.E

Brian Cox did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for and winning awards from several critics groups, for portraying John "Big John" Harrigan in L.I.E.

L.I.E is a film about a teenager Howie (Paul Dano) who slowly becomes involved in a relationship with a pedophile. This is one of those very edgy films, but honestly I found it mostly dull that seemed to rely too often on its edginess rather than making a truly compelling film.

Brian Cox plays Big John which is likely the aspect of the film that caused it to be rated NC-17, as Big John is the pedophile who slowly becomes interested in Howie after Howie and his friends stole from him. Cox initially is full on creep, the very definition of it. Unlike say Stanley Tucci in The Lovely Bones, Cox plays the part very realistically and is very unnerving because of that. He does strive away from this man's method instead being quite blunt about it as he portraying Big John as the man who seems so nice as he approaches the boy with his big smile, and gentle charm yet with those very unpleasant thoughts clearly going around in his mind as well.

Cox doesn't hold back in his portrayal of Big John the pedophile. He does not to try to make him extra colorful, or even say a villain making actually far more disturbing in a way in that he is the day to day pedophile. Cox is so unbearably natural as he both threatens as well as comes onto to Howie at the same time. Cox is all too effective really because he doesn't hesitate, and there is just a great deal of casualness in his performance. This seems all standard for Big John, its what he does and Cox doesn't show him to have second thoughts when he is doing his come on. He makes it clear that this is not something new for Big John rather something he does all the time.

Big John is not a man like Stuart Whitman in The Mark who knows he has some serious problems and can barely live with it. Cox portrays Big John as a guy who lives his actions just fine, there is some regret that Cox brings to Big John to show him as a human being, but Cox makes it abundantly clear that his shame never is enough to rid him of his sunny demeanor. Cox never takes an easy route with his performance making a very strange yet always believable portrait of Big John who most definitely is a creep, but at the same time not as some sort of pure evil psychopath either. He never cops out in terms of the filth of the man's mind yet still seems natural whenever Big John is charming or seems to honestly care about Howie and not in a sexual fashion.

Brian Cox gives a compelling turn here that is easily the highlight of the film. He mixes different elements of what could be entirely separate characters, but he is able to meld them into one single man. Cox is able to fully be the creepy pedophile never shying away by how intense he will be at times or just how unabashed he will be about the whole matter. In the same man Cox does show a man though and he is honestly does bring charm into his performance, and even seems natural in the moments where Big John acts as much more of a mentor. Cox manages to make it so neither part of his portrayal compromises the other succeeding in realizing Big John as a complex character who easily is the most intriguing as well as sickening aspect of the film.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2001: Jude Law in A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Jude Law did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Gigolo Joe in A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence is an intriguing film, although a far from perfect film that wears out its welcome by the end, about an artificial boy named David (Haley Joel Osment) who wishes to become real to be loved by his human mother.

Jude Law plays Gigolo Joe an artificial prostitute who befriends David after David has been abandoned. Joe himself is in a precarious place by being framed for the murder of one of his clients. Joe acts as David's guide to the real world and the world of the robots as they both travel along as David searches for the blue fairy he believes will be able to turn him into a real boy. Law much like Osment is very good in making the android. They both are good in making certain tics that seem unnatural and that of a robot yet still seeming very human as well, and create the androids as truly strange things that both seem like real humans but are not quite.

Law is great as being the hustler selling his "wares" with his own particular and rather sensual style. Law does not play the part as the usually sort of selling himself, as he is not the usual sort, after all he was only ever programmed to do such things. Law instead shows Joe as a performer above else, and does this with considerable style and charm. He does not show Joe as a troubled man, but rather something selling its trade using his charisma and abilities to do so. Law is very effective showing that for Joe being a prostitute is merely something he was born to do therefore he will be don it with plenty of pleasure, and never a single thought questioning his "life" path.

Law has a great presence here making Joe very likable, and adding some much needed humor to a film that is pretty harsh otherwise. He is great in his scenes with Osment and the two make a rather particular pair. They form an unusual friendship that never seems like the mentor/protege, but instead they strike up a rather unique dynamic that is rather interesting. Law mixes well the various emotions that Joe comes with when it comes to dealing with David's journey. He has a nice warmth though still in Joe's hustler style that comes with the information he lends to David as David attempts to help David find his blue fairy. Law makes the connection between Joe and David moving as well as believable.

The balance of their relationship comes with that Joe is also aware of the hatred humans have for the artificial beings. Law balances a certain coldness from Joe's experiences with the warmth in being caught up with David's dreams quite brilliantly. It is difficult to be both the optimist and the cynic but Law manages it in a rather memorable fashion. His scenes total not a great deal of time but Law makes his stamp on the film with his performance despite this film being easily one where the acting could be overshadowed by the writing, and direction. Law finds just the right path with his character making him a certainly a robot but one where humanity lies as well. This is strong work, and honestly I wished his exit from the film was a little less abrupt as Joe could have easily lead a film.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2001

And the Nominees Were Not:

Sean Bean in The Fellowship of the Ring

Viggo Mortensen in The Fellowship of the Ring

Jude Law in A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Brian Cox in L.I.E

Steve Buscemi in Ghost World

Alternate Best Actor 2001: Results

5. Jack Nicholson in The Pledge- I have to say that my winner was easy to choose I had a hard time deciding the order of the rest as I like all of them. I hate to have to put Nicholson here as I really like his quiet downplayed work here a great deal even if the film botches his characterization somewhat by rushing things.
4. Ryan Gosling in The Believer- Gosling gives a performance better than his film gives a fascinating portrayal of a man made by his inconsistencies.
3. Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge!- The film gave me a headache, but McGregor managed to clear it up through his passionate charming portrayal that belts his character's blunt feelings on love no matter how stupid they may be.
2. Billy Bob Thornton in The Man Who Wasn't There- Thornton is all about his distinct characterization here which is a wonderfully deadpan performance that manages to bring us into his character's story, even when his character would just rather go back to cutting hair.
1. Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums- Well my second favorite actor does it again with his winning turn here as the patriarch of the title family. He is a devilish delight in his comedic scenes, but as well quite moving and believable as his character slowly becomes a better man.
Overall Rank:
  1. Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums
  2. Tom Wilkinson in In The Bedroom
  3. Billy Bob Thornton in The Man Who Wasn't There
  4. Jake Gyllenhaal in Donnie Darko 
  5. Ryan Gosling in The Believer
  6. Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge!
  7. Jack Nicholson in The Pledge
  8. Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind
  9. Ethan Hawke in Training Day 
  10. Jim Carrey in The Majestic 
  11. Choi Min-sik in Failan 
  12. Anthony LaPaglia in Lantana
  13. Anton Yelchin in Hearts in Atlantis 
  14. Liu Ye in Lan Yu
  15. Billy Bob Thornton in Monster's Ball 
  16. Gene Hackman in Heist
  17. Ray Winstone in Sexy Beast
  18. Haley Joel Osment in A.I. Artificial Intelligence 
  19. Denzel Washington in Training Day 
  20. Rodrigo Santoro in Behind the Sun
  21. Jim Broadbent in Iris 
  22. Mark Rylance in Intimacy
  23. Robert Sean Leonard in Tape 
  24. Heath Ledger in A Knight's Tale  
  25. Kevin Kline in Life as A House
  26. Elijah Wood in The Fellowship of the Ring 
  27. Aurelien Recoing in Time Out
  28. Gael García Bernal in Y Tu Mama Tambien
  29. Diego Luna in Y Tu Mama Tambien 
  30. Billy Bob Thornton in Bandits 
  31. Ethan Hawke in Tape
  32. Ricardo Darin in Son of the Bride
  33. Hu Jun in Lan Yu 
  34. Lior Ashkenazi, Late Marriage
  35. Johnny Depp in Blow
  36. Branko Đurić in No Man's Land
  37. René Bitorajac in No Man's Land
  38. Benoit Magimel in The Piano Teacher
  39. Vince Vaughn in Made
  40. Jude Law in Enemy At the Gates 
  41. Ben Stiller in Zoolander
  42. Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky 
  43. Per Christian Ellefsen in Elling 
  44. Aamir Khan in Lagaan
  45. Jon Favreau in Made
  46. Kevin Spacey in The Shipping News
  47. Bruce Willis in Bandits  
  48. Fernando Tielve in The Devil's Backbone
  49. John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and The Angry Inch
  50. Yosuke Kubozuka in Go
  51. John Goodman in Monster's Inc 
  52. Brad Pitt in Ocean's Eleven
  53. George Clooney in Ocean's Eleven
  54. Brad Pitt in Spy Game
  55. Robert De Niro in The Score
  56. Ravi Ramos Lacerda in Behind the Sun
  57. Robert Redford in Spy Game
  58. Mike Myers in Shrek  
  59. Edward Norton in The Score 
  60. Brad Pitt in The Mexican
  61. John Travolta in Domestic Disturbance
  62. Hugh Jackman in Swordfish
  63. Sam Neill in Jurassic Park 3 
  64. Paul Dano in L.I.E 
  65. John Travolta in Swordfish
  66. Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 2
  67. Chris Tucker in Rush Hour 2
  68. Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 
  69. Robert Redford in The Last Castle
  70. Mark Wahlberg in The Planet of the Apes
  71. Billy Crystal in Monster's Inc
  72. Johnny Depp in From Hell
  73. Alec Baldwin in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
  74. Ryan Phillippe in Antitrust
  75. Orlando Jones in Evolution
  76. David Duchovny in Evolution
  77. Will Smith in Ali
  78. Woody Allen in The Curse of the Jade Scorpion
  79. Brendan Frasier in The Mummy Returns
  80. David Spade in Joe Dirt
  81. Sean Penn in I Am Sam
Next Year: 2001 Supporting

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Alternate Best Actor 2001: Jack Nicholson in The Pledge

Jack Nicholson did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jerry Black in The Pledge.

The Pledge is a film with some effective scenes which feels like it is building to something, but unfortunately its rushed ending leaves the film as a bit of a misfire.

As I've said before Jack Nicholson whose later career is somewhat problematic. Thankfully Nicholson never has become like De Niro or Pacino who frequently just don't care in their performances, he tends to give it a try, but sometimes that is a problem as he just seems to be given Carte blanch by many directors. In James L. Brooks's films and in the Departed as well Nicholson seemed to be allowed to do whatever he wanted filling his performances with an excessive amount of his Nicholson trademarks. It seems it might take a director to really say no to Nicholson when he starts over doing it, and it is quite amusing that Sean Penn the chronic over actor is one director to stop Nicholson from overacting.

Nicholson as the recently retired police detective Jerry Black forgets all of his mannerisms and buckles down to honestly find a character here. The detective on the very night of his retirement party goes on an investigation of the murder of a young girl, and Jerry ends up being the one to tell her parents about her death. Nicholson in these early scenes doesn't have to stand out in front here instead he really dials down his style. Nicholson shows himself certainly, but mostly he plays it close to the bone portraying the realistic reactions in the man as he sees the horrible crime. Nicholson doesn't rush the emotions here instead using subtly to really let them resonate.

Nicholson plays Jerry as a mostly quiet man who observes much of the time, and he does this very well showing perhaps his time as a detective.  Nicholson is effective as Jerry is very often around very emotional people speaking, and Jerry must be the listener who contains himself for the most part. Nicholson is quite strong in internalizes the emotions in Jerry portraying that what he sees as moving him most certainly, yet there is the distance one would expect from the career detective who would spend his career with dealing with such situations. He does well in establishing that Jerry has been at his game for sometime, although he slowly works toward showing that he is probably moving a little too far with this case.

After failing to break the case quickly the film still follows him as he seems like he is settling into his retirement but is in fact still working on the case of the killer that everyone else thinks has long since been solved. Nicholson is very good as he shows a bit of a tender side when he befriends a single mother. Nicholson makes Jerry a man of two minds here quite well as he both honestly does wish to befriend the mother and her child, but all the while does harbor another plan that is far less noble. Nicholson is excellent in the manner which he shows a genuine concern and even a happiness as he spends time with them, but still he suggests that laying on in the back of his mind at all times is his desire to catch the killer even if it means using the child as bait.

This leads to the point of the film which is rushed and unfortunately it does adversely effect Nicholson's portrayal of Jerry's character arc. Suddenly there is a rush to use the child directly as bait and catch the killer, and it all happens much to fast with not nearly enough build up. Jerry is quite despondent and obsessed even more than before which is not properly built up to due to the way the film moves so quickly to the conclusion, which apparently was done this way due to production problems. It isn't long till Jerry is nothing more than a babbling mess thanks to the mess he made of everything from his refusal to stop. Nicholson isn't bad at all in terms of portraying Jerry's current state but there is something lost since the film forces his character to change too fast.

It is a shame that the film was not properly finished as it leaves both the film and Nicholson's performance less than what they might of been. I don't want to write this performance off though as this is an excellent performance for about eighty percent of the film. Even when the film does falter Nicholson still stays solid even if he can't maneuver the changes in his character perfectly due to the shortcoming of the film. This still is a notable performance by the great Nicholson as we see him really tone himself down to give an interesting and compelling characterization that never just relies on his old tricks. I do think this could have gone down as one of his very best performance if the film had stayed consistent. Nicholson nevertheless gives a strong quiet portrayal with some moments of real power within it.

Alternate Best Actor 2001: Billy Bob Thornton in The Man Who Wasn't There

Billy Bob Thornton did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe and winning several critical awards, for portraying Ed Crane in The Man Who Wasn't There.

The Man Who Wasn't There is an effective though certainly very dry film noir about a barber who sees his life go to pieces with just one case of blackmail.

It seems rather strange that Thornton was unable to receive a nomination for his performance here considering he had a banner year. The problem very well might have been that he had both this and Monster's Ball as viable options. Although on a whole Thornton did receive the most individual attention for this film, it just probably was not enough for this to be taken as the obvious choice. In fact since he received a little more attention for this might have confused the academy even more as his Monster's Ball character is a bit friendlier one in terms of the type of character's they usually go for.

One of the most unique aspects to the Man Who Wasn't There as a film noir is its protagonist. Usually in film noir what gets the character in some sort of trouble is the fact that he gets passionate about something too passionate for his own good. Well the last word that would come to one's mind when describing Ed Crane is the word passionate. Thornton has quite the challenge as Ed Crane in that he needs to play him as the The Man who Wasn't There, yet he also needs to avoid seeming like he is just phoning it in. He has to make us interested in Ed Crane own personal little story even though Ed Crane does not seem exactly all that interested in it himself.

What Thornton does in the role works as he creates a unique characterization for that of Ed Crane. It is not that there are any tics or mannerisms one would usually associate with a distinct character, but nevertheless Thornton makes Ed Crane just a certain sort of man. One could actually say there is a manner there but it is of the unassuming retiring man who prefers to sit and stand quietly much more than talk. Thornton finds just the perfect tone for Ed. He isn't shy, he does not really dislike people, Thornton is able to find that type of man who just would rather be left to his own devices, for better or worse.

Thornton takes a dead pan approach which is interesting since this is not a comedic performance for the most part, although there are certainly a few darkly funny moments in his portrayal. He is much like a dead pan comedian though in that he successfully brings us into the story even though he keeps that same style pretty much throughout the film. He is able to be fascinating to watch just through his dead pan fashion of the part, and there is something just easy to watch this peculiar type of man fall into the film noir plot that is usually left to more pronounced individuals. Thornton is able to make us care even when it may seem like Ed barely does.

One thing that is particularly compelling in Thornton's work here is his narration. It further punctuates every scene with the style he creates so well with Ed Crane, and works along beautifully with his performance on screen. The two blend together seamlessly to make Ed the interesting unique protagonist for this noir. Thornton is terrific in bringing his character's style to the forefront in every scene, and never wavering from it. There are two quick moments where he gets a little more emotional, but only in a completely understandable context that makes sense for Ed. Those to brief moments aside Thornton is able to bring something out of every scene within his purposeful style.

It is a shame that Thornton was not recognized for this performance or his also strong more emotional performance in Monster's Ball. He is very good in both performances of character's with rather differing styles as Hank Grotowski his character in Monster's Ball who most certainly is a man who is there. I like both performances a great deal though I do prefer this performance a little more. I just love what Thornton is able to bring out of his character, and does so much with what seems so little in terms of the character's less traditional emotional arc. It is a great piece of acting by Thornton that does so well in the creation of his character, and shows that it is possible to make even a man who is suppose to be boring can be compelling.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Alternate Best Actor 2001: Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums

Gene Hackman did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning a Golden Globe as well as a couple Critic Awards, for portraying Royal Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums.

The Royal Tenenbaums is about the dysfunctional but once notable family. Although I find it fairly easy to see why some may not go for Wes Anderson's particularly quirks as both a writer and director, I do enjoy his style this film included.

I suppose it is no secret that Gene Hackman is one of my very favorite actors. I've covered several of his performances from his amazing subtle work in The Conversation, to his chilling yet humane performance in Unforgiven, but I have not covered any of his performances in comedies. Although to be sure this is not a pure comedy by any means as it has more than its fair share of dramatic moments, but Hackman does get ample opportunity to show off his comedic chops here. In fact it is pretty easy to say that his performance and character is what really puts this film much more on the comedic side than it would be otherwise, as his character always seems to look at the lighter side of things.

In the opening montage of the film we see the childhood of the Tenenbaum children with Royal as their rather self indulgent father who seems quite insensitive to all of their needs going so far as to even shooting his own son with a BB gun because hey that's just Royal does. I could see how so many actors could easily have gone the wrong way with Royal into just an unlikable mess, but this is Gene Hackman so he nails the character from his first scene. Hackman is such a delightful presence to behold and he knows how to play the role with an energetic glee that can pretty much override the character's despicable nature to make it so we can laugh right along with him. 

Hackman is a genius here because well he doesn't avoid being unlikable yet he never stops Royal from being compulsively likable. He doesn't just fall on one facet of the character exactly, and it is quite interesting the way Hackman is able to show exactly what Royal did with his children yet not make us feel the alienation like the children. A great moment is when he first witnesses his daughter's play at her birthday party and only criticizes it rather bluntly. This works because Hackman is just so unabashed about it, and he doesn't play it like Royal is being purposefully sadistic in his method, rather Hackman is able to portray the selfishness of mind that keeps Royal from even fully realizing what he is doing at times.

Like all my favorite actors Hackman is able to be simply fun to watch act, and this is definitely true in this case as Royal Tenenbaum throughout and every scene is only made better when he has something to do in them. There is a great number of scenes in the middle where Royal is launching his scheme to attempt to get back in his family by pretending that he is dying. Hackman is terrific as Royal acts as if he really cares about everyone well still not away from his usual self obsessed schemes as well. Hackman is so wonderful in his little moments as we see that same old Royal, and has some comedic gems he brings whenever he can.  Sometimes it can be a slight reaction, like when Royal is astonished by a game room he has not been into for sometime, and Hackman makes it comedic gold.

The role of Royal does have quite a change through the film as he seems not particularly redeemable in his behavior early on yet he changes quite a bit by the end the film. This of course can be done rather poorly even by someone like Jack Nicholson who failed to be fully believable in his try to bring the curmudgeon around in Its As Good As It Gets. Hackman also has quite the task but doesn't make any of the mistakes that Nicholson did in his performance. Where Nicholson was far too sudden in his approach and not at all natural, Hackman knows how to properly maneuver through the change appropriately. One of the important aspects of his portrayal is the way he eases into the change in Royal, he never rushes it, and just as importantly he never loses that joy in Royal's behavior found before his change.

During the period of faking that he is dying Hackman although always suggests the game Royal is playing there is a certain caring in him particularly when Royal tries to connect with his grandchildren. Hackman never forces it showing there still is that imp at least partially in his manner even when he tries to be entirely earnest with his children. He works toward it in a brilliant fashion though and the moment where Royal is found out about his lies we see the change finally in Royal. The moment where Royal finally says what the family really does mean to him by saying his days with them have been the best days of his life is made so poignant as Hackman does not just leave it to the narration to say it, he shows the mixed bitter sweet moment in Hackman's expression when Royal realizes how important his family really is to him.

After Royal finds himself on the outs again with his family Hackman is so good in showing that Royal can't go back to his old ways completely, although importantly he still has some nice funny moments still never losing that primary characteristic of Royal which is that he loves life. Royal manages to be brought back in by a real family crisis and Hackman is very moving as he portrays the changed Royal attempt to make things right. What works so beautifully about Hackman's performance is that Royal is entirely genuine in his attempts to bond with his family, yet what works is that he shows a struggle in Royal. Hackman doesn't have the struggle to be a good man, but rather struggle with just his lack of experience. What is so effective is that Hackman conveys the honest effort Royal puts in as he tries to connect with his children despite his numerous shortcoming, making it much more powerful when he finally does.

This is another excellent performance by Hackman in every respect. He is a comedic force through the film always making a situation quite hilarious even no matter what the situation might be. He doesn't avoid being the unlikable father to self absorbed to care about his family, no instead he absolutely relishes in that fact and gets such great moments by this approach. He is consistently funny and it is a delight to see Hackman succeed so effortlessly with humor as he managed to do in his earlier far more dramatic performances. Of course there is drama here to and Hackman knows exactly how to handle that as well. He connects right with the comedy side of the role. They are one and the same, Hackman excels in the role seamlessly combining all that is Royal winning when it comes to creating laughter with his performance, and moving when he needs to express the more soulful moments. All I can say is that I love this performance.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Alternate Best Actor 2001: Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge!

Ewan McGregor did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Christian in Moulin Rouge!.

Moulin Rouge is quite properly considered to be a love or hate it film. Well I fall much closer to latter as the films opening thirty minutes with its incessant quick cutting gave me a headache. There are a few set pieces that I like or at least don't mind, but I can't like any film that I almost had to turn off after thirty minutes.

Speaking of the headache I had it was not helped by many of the performances found in this film. John Leguizamo's performance probably had both Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Jose Ferrer rolling in their graves, and Richard Roxburgh well uhh what can one say about that performance other than his delivery of "I JUST DON'T LIKE PEOPLE TOUCHING MY THINGS" would be great for a security alarm system to protect your possessions. These performances are insanely over the top without being entertaining which is always a problem and it seems for an actor to be able to give a good over the top performance they need to be capable of a subtle one as well.

Those performances as well as many others did not alleviate my headache, and I was ready to give up, but then Ewan McGregor finally got his first solo number, and I have to admit my headache went away. Where too many of the other performances basically act like they know their in an over the top affair and are rather obnoxious because of this Ewan McGregor throws himself into his role with such profound conviction. He doesn't wink or do anything even close to that in his portrayal of Christian, Christian is suppose to be a love obsessed writer filled with passion, and McGregor plays him just that way particularly the part about being filled with passion.

McGregor is uncompromising in his depiction of the hopelessness of this romantic. Honestly if Christian had been portrayed with the wackiness that too many of the other performers rely on his whole constant mentioning of love would seem as stupid as it is. McGregor though because of just how much he gets into the part makes it that even if Christian's unwavering beliefs may be a little too much, at least they are genuine thanks to the fact that is all McGregor ever gives it. McGregor just plays his part with such earnestness that he even manages to keep his head up throughout the whole film, even late in the film when his character makes his rather strange actions in which he becomes rather hateful albeit briefly.

This is of course a musical and McGregor voice is something to behold on its own and only continues to show the amount of effort he puts into the part. McGregor with each and every song sings about love pushes the idea to the utmost that supports the level of belief Christian should hold. Each of his songs where highlights for me throughout the film because again how much he goes for broke with them. The intensity of his singing the expressions they all work so well, and really make the idea of the story of love and he is able just to go with the simplistic. McGregor never seems to care if the love is simplistic and shallow he belts it out to the back row anyways. 

The film did manage to cause me literal pain but McGregor acted as my aspirin for the film, his performance was something I could hold onto to get through it. His investment in it is so great that he even managed to make me invested in it a little. There is not a halfhearted moment in his portrayal even in that late act poorly written out of character turn at the end of the film. This is just a sweet entirely charming performance that knows how to make the material move even when the material isn't even all that great. It is a true shame that the film which was nominated for eight awards but not one was left for the leading man who puts his all into lighting up every moment in which he is onscreen.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Alternate Best Actor 2001: Ryan Gosling in The Believer

Ryan Gosling did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, for portraying Daniel "Danny" Balintin The Believer.

The Believer is a somewhat interesting although the writing and particularly the direction is never that spectacular, and to be sure they are both overshadowed by the lead performance in the film.

Ryan Gosling is the film as the skin head neo Nazi who also happens to be Jewish although this is not something he would tell his thick headed prejudiced friends nor his rich affluent fellow fascists who wish for Fascism to be taken seriously as an ideology by the public. Gosling stands in the middle of many things and has to work around this and brings out each aspect of his character within his performance. Danny is basically a series of contradictions and Golsing needs to portray each one of these naturally without it seeming forced, and each of the contradictions has to actually form who Danny is exactly.

The first of these contradictions is the presentation of Danny within the realm of the fascists and the Nazi sympathizers. On one hand Danny is a charismatic sort who seems to think many things through which speaks about. Gosling portraying Danny as charismatic and articulate in his ability to discuss his beliefs no matter how extreme they may be. On the other hand though Danny can seem just a thuggish brute who resorts to violence first with no more than angry thought. Gosling again is just a believable as the brute with a great intensity in his performance portraying the seething anger in the man that pushes him to commit these attacks.

The contradictions only continue as the conviction of this man also comes into play. Again on one side Gosling is absolutely forceful in his depiction of the level of conviction that Danny does have in his individual theories. They may be utter bunk but Gosling does show Danny as a man who fiercely believes in them, as well as has the ability to tell them in a way that would make at least some not to be instantly repulsed by his ideas. On the other side of Danny though there is a weakness in him and a lack of conviction in his beliefs as he reflects about his past in the Jewish tradition or when he is confronted by the very real ends which would come about if his ideas came to fruition.

Nothing technically makes sense about this self hating man yet Gosling allows this man to his exist through his portrayal which matches whatever side of the man comes out. He is able to achieve the inconsistencies of the man without Danny seeming impossible or even improbable. He is able to find Danny on every level and within the contradiction that is Danny creates a fascinating character. He can be perfectly reprehensible yet so easy to listen to in his reprehensibility due to Gosling presence which makes it possible to believe that he would be both accepted and at the same time rejected by both the high brow fascists and the down and dirty ones.

 Gosling is able to be the leader and just a punk who doesn't how to deal with his own problems other than with violence. Importantly though Gosling portrays largely that the violence that manifests itself comes from his own self hatred. Gosling is able to get find the complexities the self hatred that comes about in many forms whether it is the basic anger that is fueled from being the very thing he hates, or a strange sadness from some sort of respect he still holds for his childhood despite his apparent rejection of it. Importantly Gosling shows that this is never something simple and is fairly moving in portraying it as something that truly leaves nothing but a confused mess in the end.

The film never reaches the heights it could given Gosling's work, and honestly it lessens the lasting impression Gosling's performance can leave. The story just never becomes that powerful therefore Gosling can never can quite go the extra distance with Danny as a character. I do not want to sound negative at all though as I do not have a single complaint in regards to Ryan Gosling's portrayal. Gosling gives a terrific performance that really succeeds brilliantly despite the challenges presented. He is able to compile Danny into one believable man despite the contradictions of him, and in fact uses the contradictions to enable him to be a singularly unique character who never is quite one way when it comes to any matter.  

Friday, 19 April 2013

Alternate Best Actor 2001

And the Nominees Were Not:

Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge!

Billy Bob Thornton in The Man Who Wasn't There

Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums

Jack Nicholson in The Pledge

Ryan Gosling in The Believer

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2010: Results

5. Sam Rockwell in Conviction- Rockwell gives the best performance in his film giving some poignancy to his character's situation even though the power of his performance is limited by the film's problems.
4. Andrew Garfield in The Social Network- Garfield plays the emotions of his role a little to heavily at times but still gives an effective performance with a few stand out moments.
3. Chow Yun-Fat in Let the Bullets Fly- Yun-Fat gives a very entertaining villainous turn even if he could have brought just a little more menace to his role. 
2. Pierce Brosnan in The Ghost Writer- Brosnan gives a strong performance effectively creating the different faces of a career politicians with too many secrets.
1. Ben Mendelsohn in Animal Kingdom- Good Prediction Fisti. This might not be a great year for great performances as I don't give anyone a five, but it is a great year for good performances. My personal winner came down to the two criminal uncles of Mendelsohn and John Hawkes in Winter's Bone.
Overall Rank:
  1. Taika Waititi in Boy
  2. Ben Kingsley in Shutter Island
  3. Armie Hammer in The Social Network  
  4. Ben Mendelsohn in Animal Kingdom
  5. John Hawkes in Winter's Bone
  6. Michael Lonsdale in Of Gods and Men
  7. Cillian Murphy in Inception
  8. Pete Postlethwaite in The Town
  9. Ted Levine in Shutter Island
  10. Barry Pepper in True Grit 
  11. Joel Edgerton in Animal Kingdom
  12. Jackie Earle Haley in Shutter Island
  13. Jeremy Renner in The Town 
  14. Tom Hardy in Inception 
  15. Ray Winstone in Edge of Darkness
  16. Pierce Brosnan in The Ghost Writer
  17. David Bradley in Another Year
  18. Joaquin Cosio in El Infierno
  19. Chow Yun-Fat in Let The Bullets Fly 
  20. Guy Pearce in Animal Kingdom
  21. David O'Hara in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 
  22. Olivier Rabourdin in Of Gods and Men
  23. Peter Wight in Another Year 
  24. Jon Hamm in The Town 
  25. Kayvan Novak in Four Lions
  26. Andrew Garfield in The Social Network
  27. Nigel Lindsay in Four Lions
  28. Max von Sydow in Shutter Island  
  29. John Malkovich in RED
  30. Mark Ruffalo in Shutter Island  
  31. Michael Keaton in The Other Guys  
  32. Jason Schwartzman in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  33. Justin Timberlake in The Social Network   
  34. Bob Hoskins in Made in Dagenham
  35. Sam Rockwell in Iron Man 2   
  36. Chris Evans in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  37. Bill Murray in Get Low  
  38. Kieran Culkin in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  39. Ed Harris in The Way Back
  40. Sam Rockwell in Conviction 
  41. Brandon Routh in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  42. Laurent Lafitte in Little White Lies
  43. Arsher Ali in Four Lion 
  44. Philipee Laudenbach in Of Gods and Men
  45. Gary Oldman in The Book of Eli
  46. Emilio Estevez in The Way
  47. Ken Watanabe in Inception
  48. Ned Beatty in Toy Story 3 
  49. Guy Pearce in The King's Speech  
  50. Colin Farrell in The Way Back
  51. Jack McGee in The Fighter 
  52. Jacques Herlin Of Gods and Men 
  53. Benoit Magimel in Little White Lies
  54. Sullivan Stapleton in Animal Kingdom 
  55. Nicolas Cage in Kick-Ass 
  56. Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu in Boy
  57. Ewan McGregor in I Love You Philip Morris 
  58. Michael Douglas in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  59. Adeel Ahktar in Four Lions
  60. Mark Strong in Kick-Ass
  61. Michael Keaton in Toy Story 3 
  62. Gary Lewis in Valhalla Rising 
  63. Gabriele Ferzetti in I am Love
  64. Frank Langella in All Good Things
  65. John Carroll Lynch in Shutter Island 
  66. Ewan Stewart in Valhalla Rising
  67. Lucas Black in Get Low 
  68. Samuel L. Jackson in Mother and Child
  69. Chris Cooper in The Town
  70. Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Inception
  71. Garret Dillahunt in Winter's Bone 
  72. Mickey O'Keefe in The Fighter 
  73. Mark Webber in Scott Pilgrim vs the World
  74. Matt Damon in True Grit
  75. Luke Ford in Animal Kingdom
  76. Bill Cobbs in Get Low
  77. Choi Moo-sung in I Saw the Devil 
  78. Chris Evans in The Losers
  79. Dustin Hoffman in Barney's Version 
  80. Jim Sturgess in The Way Back
  81. Brian Cox in RED 
  82. Chris Cooper in The Company Men
  83. Oliver Platt in Please Give
  84. Maarten Stevenson in Valhalla Rising
  85. Pete Postlethwaite in Inception
  86. Kevin Costner in The Company Men
  87. Tom Wilkinson in The Ghost Writer
  88. Don Cheadle in Iron Man 2 
  89. Idris Elba in The Losers
  90. Ray Winstone in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
  91. Karl Urban in RED 
  92. Stephen Rea in Ondine
  93. Eli Wallach in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  94. Rupert Grint in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows   
  95. Mickey Rourke in The Expendables 
  96. Paolo Bonacelli in The American  
  97. Josh Brolin in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  98. Robert Pugh in The Ghost Writer
  99. Andrew Garfield in Never Let Me Go 
  100. Benedict Cumberbatch in Four Lions 
  101. Saul Rubinek in Barney's Version
  102. Michael Caine in Inception
  103. Michael Gambon in The King's Speech
  104. Morgan Freeman in RED 
  105. Gilles Lellouche in Little White Lies
  106. Stellan Skarsgard in King of Devil's Island 
  107. Tom Berenger in Inception 
  108. Gerard Butler in How to Train Your Dragon
  109. David Zayas in The Expendables
  110. Dileep Rao in Inception
  111. Mark Strong in The Way Back 
  112. Stanley Tucci in Easy A
  113. Jimmy Smits in Mother and Child
  114. Lee David in Poetry
  115. Scott Speedman in Barney's Version 
  116. Jean Dujardin in Little White Lies
  117. Frank Grillo in Edge of Darkness
  118. Hugo Weaving in The Wolfman
  119. Edoardo Gabbriellini in I am Love
  120. Tim Blake Nelson in Leaves of Grass
  121. Eric Roberts in The Expendables
  122. Jackie Chan in The Karate Kid 
  123. Yoruck van Wageningen in The Way
  124. Elias Koteas in The Killer Inside Me
  125. Christopher Mintz-Plasse in Kick-Ass   
  126. Peter Gallagher in Conviction  
  127. James Nesbitt in The Way 
  128. Flavio Parenti in I am Love
  129. Ned Beatty in The Killer Inside Me
  130. Vincent Cassel in Black Swan  
  131. Thomas Haden Church in Easy A
  132. Alan Rickman in Alice in Wonderland 
  133. Richard Dreyfuss in Leaves of Grass
  134. Bill Pullman in The Killer Inside Me
  135. Michael Sheen in Alice in Wonderland
  136. Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are Alright
  137. Derek Jacobi in The King's Speech
  138. Josh Hutcherson in The Kids Are Alright 
  139. Josh Brolin in True Grit 
  140. Jason Statham in The Expendables
  141. Mickey Rourke in Iron Man 2 
  142. Danny Huston in Edge of Darkness
  143. Miles Teller in Rabbit Hole
  144. Ben Barnes in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader  
  145. Crispin Glover in Alice in Wonderland 
  146. Brandon T. Jackson in Percy Jackson 
  147. Liu Kai-chi in Stool Pigeon
  148. Jamie Foxx in Due Date
  149. Josh Pais in Leaves of Grass
  150. Timothy Spall in The King's Speech
  151. Dolph Lundgren in The Expendables
  152. Jet Li in The Expendables
  153. Randy Couture in The Expendables
  154. Anthony Hopkins in The Wolfman
  155. Jesse Moss in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
  156. Jason Patric in The Losers
Next Year: 2001 Lead

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2010: Andrew Garfield in The Social Network

Andrew Garfield did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, Bafta and several critic awards, for portraying Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network.

The Social Network has three notable supporting performances in the film. Armie Hammer is properly pompous and gets across the entitled nature of the Winklevoss twins well, although his work since then suggests this might of been the part he was born to play. Justin Timberlake has the juiciest role as the ambitious but paranoid Sean Parker. He isn't terrible, there is an awkwardness in his performance though, and he particularly falls flat when portraying Parker's paranoia. Andrew Garfield as Facebook co-founder and Mark Zuckerberg(Jesse Eisenberg)'s best friend Eduardo Saverin received most of the attention out of the supporting players.

The first time I watched the film Andrew Garfield actually left the biggest impression on me and I was little cold on Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal. Watching the film again though switched things around with Eisenberg's performance left the best impression, and Garfield weakened for me. A strange occurrence sure but watching Never Let Me Go the other film he received praise for made me understand a little bit of why. In Never Let Me Go Garfield gives an emotionally charged performance, but frankly too emotionally charged without the proper depth of character to really make the emotion resonate. His breakdown in that film left me completely unmoved because he just did not build to it well enough.

I do believe his performance in this film is better than his performance in Let Me Go though, but it shares the same problem where he gives an excessive emphasis to the emotional state of his character. He puts too much at once limiting his ability to play through the scene properly, or to powerfully build the fears and insecurities in Saverin as he sees Zuckerberg slowly edge him out. I don't want to sound to negative as I don't think he is bad at all, I just don't think he is great. He still does put on a great deal of effort and he does bring the emotions needed to his scenes even if he he takes a little too earnest of approach in his portrayal of Saverin who is suppose to be the moral center of the film.

There are plenty of things to like about this performance still particularly his chemistry with Eisenberg which finds the difficult connection between the two by having a genuine friendship there but as well a distance there due to the conflicting natures of the more self absorbed Mark, and the far more open and modest Eduardo. They are quite effective in creating early on both how the two would work together to make Facebook but as well create the seeds of the rift that would slowly develop between the two. Eisenberg and Garfield both handle this incredibly well by having the vastly different styles of performance that still work together in the same scene.

This is not a perfect performance as his character's arc would have been all the stronger if he simply eased up a little on some of the earlier scenes in his performance. Garfield though is very good in the final payoff scene for his character as he confronts Mark and Sean for betraying him. He delivers absolutely in this scene portraying the righteous anger in Eduardo for what they did to him. Yes this payoff would have been even greater I think if he slowly built up the vulnerability in Eduardo to this point, but as it is it still is an effective scene. All in all Garfield is quite good in his role, even if he does not stand as the best performance as the film.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2010: Ben Mendelsohn in Animal Kingdom

Ben Mendelsohn did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning a couple Australian film awards, for portraying Andrew 'Pope' Cody in Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom is an effective crime drama about a 17 year old boy 'J' who slowly gets deep into his criminal family after the death of his mother. The film is very good but it has one big flaw which is that James Frecheville in the lead as the boy is just awful, especially when compared to the rest of the cast.

Ben Mendelsohn despite not being Oscar nominated for this role has apparently still broken through from now being one of the go to guys for a sleazy low life. Like Christoph Waltz who happened to have a similar break through that resulted in being cast in a few lesser variations (I refer to Three Musketeers and The Green Hornet), the original performance tends to be the best. As Pope Cody he portrays one of the Cody brothers who is an armed robber with his partner Barry Brown (Joel Edgerton), but as the film opens currently is hiding out from a group of police who kill first and never bother to ask questions.

Mendelsohn actually creates sympathy for Pope early on in his portrayal as he just shows him to be a man who finds himself caught in a corner. Although Mendelsohn properly hints that Pope is definitely not just a normal guy he does well in being rather humane in his performance in these early scenes to allow us to see honestly why J would not be instantly sworn off by them. Mendelsohn has a few good moments where he establishes that Pope is somewhat distance thanks to his current problems with the police but as well there is a certain camaraderie that properly suggests the history of the family as well. 

There is one particularly excellent moment for Mendelsohn when his friend his suddenly killed by the police and Pope is near enough to see it. Mendelsohn is terrific in showing a very human reaction filled with both fear that it very well could have been him but also a sadness over seeing his friend killed in such a way. It is a great subtle scene for Mendelsohn and particularly effective in showing the man before we meet the monster. Mendelsohn honestly allows you to feel sorry for Pope in the succeeding scenes as he makes the grief Pope feel understandable to at least a certain extent, and the eventual determination for revenge almost seem not as horrible as it is.

Jackie Weaver as the mother to the uncles and grandmother to J received high praise for her work which seemed like the a likable enough mother type but turned out to be pure evil. Mendelsohn has a similar arc although less extreme as it is no secret that Pope is a criminal to begin with. He does in a way though make Pope initial actions of revenge, even if that includes just murdering to random police officers who did not have anything necessarily to do with his friends death, somewhat reasonable through his passionate and authentic portrayal of Pope's feelings up to the point, and he allows us to believe that he could rope J in on the crime even.

After Pope succeeds in his revenge and the cops press the whole family about what happened we see the true terror in Pope. Where you could sympathize with the unease of Pope in his early scenes Mendelsohn becomes quite frightening as he shows Pope become like a violent animal in the corner. Mendelsohn has a great unpredictability in his performance not allowing us to know exactly what he is going to do, but one thing is sure that the uneasiness in the man should not be taken lightly. Mendelsohn is terrific in revealing the true nature of the man as he portrays a violent intensity that slowly builds as Pope begins to constantly question whether J can really be trusted.

Mendelsohn builds well to the moment in which Pope finally does murder someone he thinks will implicate him in the murders. Mendelsohn is absolutely chilling in the scene by how quickly and by the matter of fact fashion he handles the scene. He begins in such a gentle welcoming fashion, even when he is offering heroine to the person, than the way he than just proceeds to murder the person without hesitation is terrifying. It is an effective scene perfectly handled by Mendelsohn which portrays the animal in the man. It made all the more fearsome by Mendelsohn since once every gets cleared up, he shows that Pope is able to act like nothing happened.

This is a terrific performance by Ben Mendelsohn that honestly makes the film work as he almost steals the place lead, because the actual lead could not steal a free sample let alone a scene. James Frecheville should have conveyed how J was emotionally pulled in than out of the family's sway, but he does not. The film still works though because Mendelsohn through his performance as Pope which starts out as sympathetic and slowly reveals to be only horrific actually makes J's journey believable without the actor playing J to even portray it. Mendelsohn through his compelling portrayal of Pope manages to overcome the major flaw of the film which is really something to say the least.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2010: Chow Yun-Fat in Let The Bullets Fly

Chow Yun-Fat did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Huang Fox in Let the Bullets Fly.

Let the Bullets Fly is an entertaining film about a bandit leader who pretends to be the governor of a city only to be faced by a crime lord.

Chow Yun-Fat portrays the villain of the picture Huang Fox who is the crime lord who quickly does not take to kindly to the governor. The film amounts to their struggle for the city which involves a lot of double crosses, banter, and some bullets of course. Chow Yun-Fat when acting in his own language has a tremendous amount of presence and just owns the screen. This is true here and important in his role as Huang Fox who is a pompous somewhat over the top crime lord who does not mind telling everyone about his money and power.

Chow Yun-Fat has a lot of fun in his role as the crime lord giving a very expressive performance as the crime lord. A great deal of the scenes are where the bandit and the crime lord are basically trying to out think each other in various ways particularly in long scenes where they try to out trick each other in strange negotiations. Yun-Fat is great in all this scenes showing a sly intelligence in the man and always the joy of the game in Fox throughout the whole thing. He and Wen Jiang as the bandit create the right tone by portraying their power struggle in a very strange yet oddly believable fashion.

Although he plays the villain this is a very humorous performance by Chow Yun-Fat. Most of the humor comes from his scenes where he flaunts his power which Yun-Fat portrays in such a joyful and completely unabashed manner. Whether he is abusing people randomly or having some of his men kill themselves Yun-Fat honestly is able to bring some comedy to the scenes through the gleefully insane way that he plays the part. Fox easily could have fallen flat but the energy Yun-Fat brings to the part brings this part alive in a very entertaining fashion.

The only part of the performance that is a little underwhelming is the menace in the role. This is not to say Chow Yun-Fat does not make a fine villain, he does, but he is not quite an amazing villain. Yun-Fat is decent enough when he needs to show the direct villainy and does have some intensity. He never quite finds the perfect balance between being the evil crime lord and the comedic crime lord. Yes he does manage some menace while being enjoyable to watch but he never meets the two aspects of the character in a way that would make Huang Fox an all time great villain.

He handles the role in an energetic fashion with a lot of style and that usually Yun-Fat screen presence on display. Chow Yun-Fat gives a strong performance as Huang Fox although to be sure he is better in the comic moments than the menacing ones. This is not one where he is okay in one bad in the other though. He is great in the comedic scenes of his portrayal, and still fine in the moments where the true villain comes out. Chow Yun-Fat gives an effective villainous turn here, it is not one of those absolutely unforgettable villain portrayals but it is a pretty good one.

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2010: Pierce Brosnan in The Ghost Writer

Pierce Brosnan did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Adam Lang in The Ghost Writer.

The Ghost Writer is a very effective thriller about a new ghost writer (Ewan McGregor) brought in to finish the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister while he is under scrutiny for his involvement with the torture of suspected terrorists.

Pierce Brosnan plays the former British Prime minster Adam Lang. Brosnan is of course best known as his run as James Bond, but here he goes a bit against type as the somewhat shady politician. Brosnan's character is one we hear of several times before we finally meet him in the film. He has a build up and Brosnan does not disappoint when we do meet him. He takes a rather interesting approach in his performance which is he makes Lang sort of a mystery, but he plays him as a man who does not at all wanted to be taken for one. It is an effective portrayal in his few scenes he get across the several different faces of the career politician.

Brosnan has his scenes on the television where he seems the most confidant although as well the least natural. Brosnan creates the right posture though the way he so firmly speaks, and the way he seems to be happy and confidant even when there is no reason to be. Brosnan knows just how to be basically the fake man, but at the same time makes Lang seem like the leader he should have been considered at one time. He does very well here and he does well in showing the difference between the public persona and the real man that we meet when he speaks to the ghost writer, although even then there are really two sides to the man.

On one hand Brosnan keeps Lang as a base man of former power and still one of wealth and importance. Brosnan creates the right type of casual pompousness in the man in the way he deals with his entire staff and particularly the ghost writer. Brosnan is good actually because he never makes Lang to seem overly malicious in his behavior as it Brosnan allows us to see this as the sort of behavior that developed from being a person of such power. There is more than the fairly shallow rich powerful man behavior to this man, and Brosnan does create the right depth in his performance to suggest why Lang is in the trouble he currently has.

When pressed about his troubles Brosnan shows Lang is an intensely defensive and angry man over his fall from glory. He is very good in portraying just the sheer bitterness the man feels, but as well alludes early on that maybe he is hiding a darker secret. Brosnan is great though in his very last scene though as he seems in a way breaks the mystery with his performance even if in terms of the film's development we do not yet know that he has. Brosnan creates strong passion in Lang for what has done and there is not an undercurrent suggesting otherwise in this moment perhaps suggesting that Lang is not hiding anything in terms of his own actions.

This is a very solid performance by Pierce Brosnan particularly by the way his performance allows the secret in the film to exist while completely supporting the eventual revelation in regards to his character. He handles every aspect of his character very well especially through his portrayal of each shade of the man in terms of both the public and private man. Brosnan all in all actually does not have too many scenes to his name or even that much total screen time. Brosnan within the time that he does inhabit though gives the proper life to his character to support the character who is in always at the center of the film even though is often not on screen.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2010: Sam Rockwell in Conviction

Sam Rockwell did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a critics choice award, for portraying Kenny Waters in Conviction.

Conviction is a bit of waste of an interesting story about a single mother Betty Anne Waters (Hillary Swank) who does everything even going to law school herself to prove that her brother was innocent of a murder he was convicted for. The film goes for a forced sentimentality too often rather than just allowing the emotions to flow as they should, and many of the performances are underwhelming including Swank in the lead.

The one performance that rises above the film is Sam Rockwell's. I have reviewed Rockwell twice before for his wildly entertaining performances in Galaxy Quest and Seven Psychopaths. This is a rather different performance from Sam Rockwell who plays a much more toned down sort of guy here, he has a few short Rockwellian moments but they are brief in scenes that work for when Kenny is either drunk or very excited. For the most part Sam Rockwell downplays his role very much and plays Kenny as a down to earth guy who is a bit of a trouble maker who ends up in some serious troubles when a cop targets him for the crime.

Sam Rockwell has several scenes he appears in but they tend to be fairly short scenes. Many of his scenes mostly consist of reaction shots, and frankly the film would have done well to stay a little more with his character. Rockwell therefore is limited here by the film which is all about finding his character's innocence but there is not even a scene where he is really even pressured about the whole affair. The film never takes Kenny's predicament far enough leaving most of it to Rockwell to show it in just his brief scenes. Rockwell though does do his very best to make this a moving characterization despite the limitations of the part.

Early on Rockwell makes Kenny a likable trouble maker. He has it clear that he is a guy who speak his mind too often is is not opposed to foolish behavior, but underneath he has a good heart. Rockwell manages to be sympathetic while showing exactly why though he would be so easily find himself in hot water as well. This leads as he is quickly convicted. Rockwell is very effective in first showing his disbelief at first, than is quite moving in his first scene in prison after a suicide attempt. It is a very strong scene almost silent portraying that he has finally realized the weight of the situation.

As the film goes on we get quick scenes to keep us updated on Kenny's feelings throughout his sister's journey to find him innocent. Rockwell is very good in all of these short scenes which are easily the best moments in the film as his portrayal of Kenny's reactions to the development bring out the most genuine emotions in the film. Rockwell gets across the pain of the situation in scenes of failure as he shows the frustrations and paranoia due to being placed in jail for a crime he did not commit. At the same time he gets across the poignancy of the moments when Rockwell portrays the jolt of euphoria as Kenny sees that perhaps he will make it out after all.

This is a good performance by Sam Rockwell. It does not rank as one of his very best performances though merely because the film never allows him to really go as far with the character as it appears he could have gone with a better script. He is by far the best part of the film though. He is the only actor who does not flub his accent by over doing as well as more importantly Rockwell manages to bring the dramatic weight of the situation despite the limitations set on him by the film. He made me actually care about his character's story enough to get through the many weak passages found throughout the rest of the film.

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2010

And the Nominees Were Not:

Ben Mendelsohn in Animal Kingdom

Sam Rockwell in Conviction

Andrew Garfield in The Social Network

Pierce Brosnan in The Ghost Writer

Chow Yun-Fat in Let the Bullets Fly

Monday, 15 April 2013

Alternate Best Actor 2010: Results

5. Andy Serkis in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll- Serkis is terrific in his portrayal of Ian Dury reminding me of the real man who I only knew from a brief not very memorable scene in Judge Dredd.
4. George Clooney in The American- Clooney gives possibly his best performance by toning down his usual mannerisms and giving a restrained as well as powerful portrait of an assassin who has seen too many double crosses.
3. Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine- Ryan Gosling gives a very strong performance in both his portrayal of the exuberant charmer as well as the bitter man he becomes.
2. Robert Duvall in Get Low- Robert Duvall once again knocks it out of the park in his portrayal of his old hermit who he creates a beautiful portrait with warmth, humor and sadness all while properly being this man who has exiled himself from the world.
1. Choi Min-sik in I Saw the Devil- This was one very close for me between the top three who all give great performances with stand out moments throughout their films. My favorite though goes to Choi Min-sik for his chilling portrayal of a serial killer who ends up being tortured himself. It is an amazing performance meeting the challenge of his character all the way through even as his character undergoes several extreme changes.

Overall Rank:
  1. Choi Min-sik in I Saw the Devil
  2. Robert Duvall in Get Low
  3. Lee Byung-hun in I Saw The Devil  
  4. Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network
  5. Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine
  6. Ewan McGregor in The Ghost Writer
  7. Lambert Wilson in Of Gods and Men
  8. Casey Affleck in The Killer Inside Me
  9. George Clooney in The American
  10. Riz Ahmed in Four Lions 
  11. Martin Sheen in The Way
  12. Damián Alcázar in El Infierno
  13. Eddie Marsan in The Disappearance of Alice Creed
  14. Christian Bale in The Fighter
  15. Paul Giamatti in Barney's Version
  16. Michael Douglas in Solitary Man
  17. James Rolleston in Boy
  18. Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech
  19. Andy Serkis in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
  20. Joaquin Phoenix in I'm Still Here 
  21. Tommy Lee Jones in The Company Men
  22. Mads Mikkelsen in Valhalla Rising
  23. Jiang Wen in Let the Bullets Fly
  24. Tyler Labine in Tucker & Dale vs Evil
  25. Alan Tudyk in Tucker & Dale vs Evil
  26. Ryan Reynolds in Buried
  27. Jim Broadbent in Another Year
  28. Jim Carrey in I Love You Philip Morris
  29. Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception
  30. William Jøhnk Juels Nielsen in In A Better World
  31. Nicholas Tse in Stool Pigeon
  32. William Shimell in Certified Copy
  33. Otto Jesperen in Trollhunter
  34. James Franco in 127 Hours
  35. Mel Gibson in Edge of Darkness 
  36. Mikael Persbrandt in In A Better World
  37. Vincent Gallo in Essential Killing
  38. Bruce Willis in Red 
  39. Trond Nilssen in King of Devil's Island 
  40. Francois Cluzet in Little White Lies
  41. Ge You in Let The Bullets Fly 
  42. Aaron Eckhart in Rabbit Hole 
  43. Denzel Washington in The Book of Eli
  44. Markus Rygaard in In A Better World
  45. Ben Affleck in The Town
  46. Colin Firth in The King's Speech 
  47. Jeffrey Dean Morgan in The Losers 
  48. Zachary Levi in Tangled
  49. Edward Norton in Leaves of Grass
  50. Colin Farrell in Ondine
  51. Ben Stiller in Greenberg
  52. Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 2 
  53. Jay Baruchel in How To Train Your Dragon
  54. Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter   
  55. Martin Compston in The Disappearance of Alice Creed
  56. Benjamin Helstad in King of Devil's Island
  57. Jeff Bridges in True Grit 
  58. Ben Affleck in The Company Men
  59. Ryan Gosling in All Good Things 
  60. Javier Bardem in Biutiful   
  61. Mark Wahlberg in The Other Guys
  62. Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows  
  63. Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World  
  64. Shia Laboeuf in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  65. Sean Penn in Fair Game
  66. Will Ferrell in The Other Guys
  67. Gleenn Erland Tosterud in Trollhunter 
  68. Robert Downey Jr. in Due Date 
  69. Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island  
  70. Aaron Taylor Johnson in Kick-Ass
  71. Skandar Keynes in Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  72. Sylvester Stallone in The Expendables  
  73. Benicio Del Toro in The Wolfman
  74. Logan Lerman in Percy Jackson  
  75. Zach Galifianakis in Due Date
  76. Jaden Smith in The Karate Kid
  77. Nick Cheung in Stool Pigeon
  78. Johnny Depp in Alice in Wonderland
  79. James Frecheville in Animal Kingdom
Next Year: 2010 Supporting 

Alternate Best Actor 2010: Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine

Ryan Gosling did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe as well as several critic awards, for portraying Dean in Blue Valentine.

Blue Valentine is a mostly effective film about both the building of a relationship as well as the painful destruction of it.

Something that commonly occurs with Oscar nominations is films where it seems the actors performances are inseparable the Oscars go and separate them. This is occurred most recently with Amour where Emmanuelle Riva was nominated but Jean Louis Trintignant was nominated. This has happened several times despite it seeming like one could get along the way they do without the other but this did occur for Ryan Gosling as well. Michelle Williams was nominated for portraying the female side of the relationship Cindy while Ryan Gosling as the male side Dean was not despite the film being primarily about their interactions while they are beginning their relationship as well as while they seem to be ending it.

Gosling portrays Dean who is the more explosive of the two in the relationship. Williams's portrays Cindy as somewhat restrained and she emphasizes the distance cold manner of her. Her change between her is really the level of coldness she has. Gosling gets the more flamboyant role as Dean who early on the film is a bit of a hopeless romantic. Gosling definitely does not play the role like your traditional hopeless romantic in any way, even if he is one. Gosling takes his very own approach to the character who he plays him as not exactly the most stable sort. Gosling does this really quite well because he makes Dean a quirky energetic fellow in everything that he does has a certain quirk yet Gosling feels very down to earth with his performance.

Gosling emphasizes the spontaneity of his performance which he does as both the young and the old Dean quite effectively. As the young Dean he is a man of his very own style as shown in the romantic scenes between Dean and Cindy. Gosling is honestly very charming in a very different fashion in just  how much that he expresses Dean's beliefs in the idea of love that he holds. As the young Dean Gosling suggests him honestly working toward some sort of substantial relationship with Cindy even though mostly what he does technically speaking is very much just on an the surface attraction and connection. The truth is they never do get right down to the matter of love, and both actors probably accentuate that disconnect within the connection.

Importantly Gosling is not at all fun and games as Dean. Dean is not a stable man by any means. Gosling makes Dean a man who is a bit in his own world at times even though when there is something that breaks it Gosling powerfully shows that it really does hurt him. Gosling interestingly makes his flamboyance almost a way just make himself happy as there is a great deal of sadness in Dean from his inability to live the life he wishes to live. Gosling is excellent the way he gets across the rapid changes in Dean's emotional state throughout the film, that can even change to an extreme extent in a single scene. He gets across the small moments of joys but as well as the pains that he goes through with his relationship with Cindy.

The scenes with the young Dean are shown inter spliced with the scenes of the older Dean after he and Cindy have gotten married. Gosling again still keeps that unpredictability in Dean yet now he has lost any joy that seemed to be in him before. Dean no longer is the exuberant charmer but rather a bitter overly possessive man. Gosling absolutely succeeds in this changed and makes the change as disheartening as it should be since he makes him the same man with time. It is quite disconcerting because he still exhibits some of the same behavior as he did before but now it frankly has lost the heart. There isn't any charm any more in his portrayal which adds so much in presenting the loss of life in Dean as he sees how his dream relationship has turned out.

Gosling and Williams both succeed incredibly well in portraying the death of the relationship by amplifying that disconnection between the two of them. William's making the coldness in Cindy only growing more and seeming more uninvolved than ever, and Gosling showing the insecurities that Dean has over his ideas for life have only grown more and more. The two of them together are great as they succeed in making the two people who do not seem like they were meant to be together, but they what they do so well is able to convey the tragedy of the relationship. The tragedy that they create is that in their severe problems in their disconnection is that in their past there was honestly something between them.

Gosling gives a very strong performance as this troubled man in both his youth and after having aged into bitterness. He gives credence to every aspect of the man from the more positive moments involving his unique charming but as well the terrible behavior that surfaces in the man within time. It is a great individual performance, but where the film succeeds most is in the creation of the relationship between the two actors.  His portrayal of the changes that Dean goes through along with Williams portrayal of what Cindy goes through leaves a memorable impression. They create together a unique relationship that never shy away from going into the blunt details of it all from the scenes of happiness to the uncompromising scenes of despair.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Alternate Best Actor 2010: Robert Duvall in Get Low

Robert Duvall did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for several critical awards as well as Sag, for portraying Felix Bush in Get Low.

Get Low is an intriguing film about an old hermit who requests a funeral home to give him a funeral while he is still alive.

Robert Duvall unlike some of his contemporaries never has given up on giving his all in his performances. Duvall has kept showing passion in his portrayals throughout his career and it is a real shame the the academy failed to recognize him for his work here as he would have been the best of nominees had he been nominated. Duvall once again shows himself to be the great actor he is in his portrayal here as the hermit Felix Bush who lives in a lonely cabin in the woods advising all to keep away, until suddenly he comes to the nearby town to explain his wish to make some sort of peace through his strange idea to have his own funeral party without having to be dead.

Early on the film Bush is a scraggly sort with a long unkempt beard and the general appearance of the type of man you would expect from a hermit who lives in a cabin in the woods. Duvall instantly sinks his teeth into this character right away finding just the right way to play the part as Duvall usually does. He meets the demands of the hermit in an interesting and effective fashion. On one hand he does convey very much the hermit everyone wants to keep away from. He is cold in his own way, and he suggests a certain danger in the man. Duvall makes it entirely understandable why everyone would keep away from him as well as why so many would believe some of the stories that have been heard about him.

Duvall at the same time though shows that Bush probably is not all that they see either. Yes there is a coldness and a bluntness in his method of dealing with outsiders but there is not any cruelty in Duvall's eyes though either. When one of the towns people harasses Bush causing Bush to give him a quick beat down, Duvall very much shows it very much as just a quick reaction to dealing with behavior, and their is no real ill intent in him. Anything about him that is distance is not a distance formed of hate or anything even remotely close to as played by Duvall, it is something entirely different that Duvall perfectly alludes to early on. He keeps what keeps Bush away an undeniable mystery, but Duvall makes it clear that once you know Bush it is not due to him being a monster.

Like the funeral home director (Bill Murray) and one of his employees (Lucas Black) when we get to spend a little more time with Bush he makes all the more apparent that he is no monster. Duvall actually as we meet Bush more takes a rather gentle approach as Bush. He even has a nice bit of humor in his performance which he brings naturally in his portrayal of the old loner. Duvall knows how to bring this semi comedic elements well into the part by just blending it into his distinct personality with such flawless ease. This humor also is important to show that Bush is a complex man who is not only defined by his past, and Duvall establishes through this humor that there was once probably a very lively man that lived with the name Felix Bush.

It would have really easy for him to have been just a grumpy old man, or just a very sad one but Duvall gives a nice portrait of variety with the old man. One particularly great way Duvall handles the part is in the way that Felix asks about the stories about him. Even though the stories are never positive Duvall subtly suggests a bit of a curiosity in Felix as well as even a bit of a bemusement that he would be able to create such gossip with his life. Duvall honestly actually has a great deal of warmth in his performance more than one would expect from the old hermit. He does though always in a quiet manner that never compromises the nature of the man. There is a warmth but a shy retiring one almost like he tries to close it off a bit just like he tries to be closed off from the world.

There is an overarching sadness in Duvall's performance though that suggests why Felix closed himself off from the world. Although it is not always overwhelming Duvall never makes it the only part of Felix but he does make it an essential part. He establishes a pain there a sorrow that is very much deep in his bones. It is not that he is just sad but rather there is a true tragedy suggested by his eyes something that he cannot completely forgot about even when he is having a fine time. His scenes with Sissy Spacek, as Felix's old girlfriend as well as the sister of the woman who he has a picture of in his own, are all terrific. The two great actors together tell the past of the two both the fond memories but as well very much the shared memory of the sadness they share which haunts them both.

Duvall builds quite effectively to what exactly pains Felix so much to the scene where they finally do hold the funeral party where Felix finally offers his confession of what precisely haunts him. Duvall is absolutely brilliant in this scene as he recall the terrible memory and this scene can be put up there with the greatest moments in his illustrious career. It is a beautiful scene as Duvall has Felix vividly recall what happened to him in all of its heartbreaking deal and it is a wondrous moment as an overwhelming amount of emotion pours out from the man who refused to reveal his pain for so many years. Duvall is outstanding as he completely earns the moment and it truly feels like a man finally letting go of something that has kept so sheltered for so long.

It really shows the quality of this performance that Duvall does not just stop after the pivotal moment and he has one more terrific moment as we see Felix finally being a man of contentment. The pain is lost and it is in a way almost as powerful as the speech itself by portraying what his confession has finally given him. This is an another amazing performance by Robert Duvall create a fascinating character out of the hermit. The idea of the funeral is interesting all on its own, but Duvall is the one who makes it something so special by delivering with this great character. It is terrific just to watch Robert Duvall knock a role right out the park once again with that same ease and naturalism that he has brought to his characters throughout his long career.