Saturday, 29 June 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1938

And the Nominees Were Not:

Nikolai Cherkasov in Alexander Nevsky

Cary Grant in Holiday

Jean Gabin in The Human Beast

Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood

Michael Redgrave in The Lady Vanishes

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1952: Barry Fitzgerald in The Quiet Man and Results

Barry Fitzgerald did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Michaeleen Oge Flynn in The Quiet Man.

I would choose Victor McLaglen as Will Danaher out of the official Oscar nominees for 1952, but actually his performance is not even my favorite performance from this film. The Quiet Man has a strong supporting cast with one of Ford's old favorites Ward Bond giving a very enjoyable performance as the Irish villages priest, as well as Arthur Shields, Barry Fitzgerald's brother, gives a nice warm performance as the one man who knows Sean Thornton's (John Wanye) secret, and all just the small bit parts are nicely chosen in a way in which they create a very unique atmosphere. Then there is Barry Fitzgerald who plays Michaeleen Flynn who is the town's carriage driver, the match maker, and the bookie.

This is actually quite a different performance from Fitzgerald's Oscar winning performance in Going My Way, which was actually fairly understated work as a modest man. Michaeleen is many things, but one thing he is not is modest. Fitzgerald plays the scene stealing performance of the film and knows that fact. I have to say that this actually could have been easily one of those parts that is a little too much, and a little too lively of a character for his own good, but that is not the case because of Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is an extremely endearing presence and he has such a wonderful charm with his rather particular accent as well as just his whole manner in this performance.

Fitzgerald makes Michaeleen the little man who always stands out as well as stands in everyone's business, and Fitzgerald is a great deal of fun as Michaeleen tries to orchestrate the marriage for Sean and Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara) despite the strong objections of her brother. One Fitzgerald's best moments is when he convinces Will Danaher that getting ride of his sister will allow himself to get a wife is perfectly played. Fitzgerald is so gentle in slyness yet has a the right impact to make completely believable that Michaeleen would be able to pull the trick over on Danaher without a hitch to his plan.

Fitzgerald adds so much with his performance, and one of these reasons for this is he has a great dynamic with John Wayne. Where Wayne often is The Quiet Man, Fitzgerald often is not. They both react to one another in a marvelous fashion, and Fitzgerald has some marvelous moments when Michaeleen gently and often in a comedic fashion will correct or inform Sean about something about Ireland. Fitzgerald combines some nice jabs at the Yank as they refer to Sean as, but alone with that Fitzgerald is always very welcoming in his performance showing a genuine friendship as well.

Fitzgerald is excellent in meeting the tone of the film as well as in part creating that tone with his performance. The tone being that it is mostly a comedy, but a comedy that allows some seriousness. Fitzgerald maneuvers this possibly the most as he will go from being entirely amusing to conveying some drama in a single scene. The reason is works in Fitzgerald's performance is he never overplays the comedy even though he is very funny throughout the film. By not overdoing it though and important not becoming just a caricature, when Michaeleen does express some honest grief over the mess that he in part has created Fitzgerald does make it honestly moving without compromising his character.

This is all around just a great example of what a supporting performance should do. Fitzgerald whether it is through just a quick momentary reaction to something like his brilliant one for when Thornton knocks out Danaher, or something more when tells the whole crowd stand neutral for the big fight between Thornton and Danaher he always makes these moments to be properly humorous all the while still making this all fit into the story beautifully. Fitzgerald makes every scene all the better with his terrific work here that creates just a very likable character from Michaeleen Flynn which complements the whole film in simply a wonderful fashion.
Other Performances From This Year:
James Stewart in The Greatest Show On Earth- Stewart has actually a very bizarre role as a clown who never takes off his makeup and the reason is that he actually hiding from the police as he use to be doctor who had to run from the law because he euthanized is wife. Really Stewart's whole story is quite odd in the schemes of things of the film that is pretty light weight otherwise. Stewart though does sell his performance nevertheless and is easily the best part of this otherwise weak film. He is quite good suggesting the underlying secret in his character quite well throughout the film, while seeming just to be a supportive friend the rest of the time. Stewart's performance makes his character seem less pointless because his performance is entirely solid, although his impact is diminished a bit I must say when all the other characters seem to forget that he existed after Buttons is taken away at the end.
Donald O'Connor in Singin' in the Rain- I have to confess I do not really care much for Singin in the Rain. I don't mind that people enjoy it, but I personally don't really like this kind of musical. It also does not help matters that I've never cared for Gene Kelly doing his Gene Kelly thing. O'Connor's performance as Kelly's character's friend Cosmo Brown is very much like Kelly's except his character never has any "dramatic" moments and is most just there to brighten things up. I will definitely give O'Connor credit he does everything to brighten things up, and his seemingly infinite energy particularly the Make Em Laugh number where he is literally running up the walls. He contorts his face, sings gleefully, jumps up and down and all around in this performance. The only problem was this performance just does not entertain me personally, and I can see he definitely is trying very hard to, and I can at least see why people love this performance even if I don't.

Arthur Kennedy in Bend of the River- Arthur Kennedy plays Emerson Cole a mysterious man whose James Stewart's character comes across just before he is about the be hanged. Kennedy actually is pretty good in the role early on having a certain likability even while his character seems like he might be just a little too good with his knife and gun. He finds the right tone for his character early on as he balances that efficiency with killing along with a certain friendly attitude. This goes away unfortunately in the third act of the film when Cole goes full villain is not the highlight of his performance but in fact the low point. He becomes just kind of one note and everything he built on earlier is completely forgotten about. Kennedy overall does give a decent performance but it is a missed opportunity because of the last third.

Toshiro Mifune in The Life of Oharu- This is a rather different character for Mifune. One big difference is it a small supporting part, his part in the Idiot was rather large in comparison, and Mifune exists the picture only twenty five minutes in. This character is also very different in that Mifune plays a meek character. Even when he played the doctor in The Quiet Duel he might have been quiet but he still had a strong will. In this film though Mifune plays a page named Katsunosuke who has an affair with a higher class prostitute and is executed after the affair is discovered. This is a short simple character, but I will give Mifune the credit he deserves for trying to get the most from the character as well as being believable as the page. For once Mifune actually is pretty meek and not all that distinct of a personality here, but doesn't just slip into the background either. Mifune in short screen time does manage to show us a foolish romantic and shows him to basically plead with woman Oharu to have an affair. Mifune although meek makes it believable because he is only genuine in these pleads. Quickly he is caught and executed, but Mifune still has a strong scene as Katsunosuke expresses grief not for himself, but rather the unloved Oharu. He is believable in this selflessness of character, and finds the right power in the man's last action. This obviously is not up there with Mifune's lead performances, but this is a good performance from him nevertheless.
Overall Rank:
  1. Barry Fitzgerald in The Quiet Man
  2. Ralph Richardson in The Holly and The Ivy
  3. Ralph Richardson in The Sound Barrier 
  4. James Mason in The Prisoner of Zenda
  5. Victor McLaglen in The Quiet Man
  6. Anthony Quinn in Viva Zapata!
  7. James Stewart in The Greatest Show on Earth
  8. Toshiro Mifune in The Life of Oharu
  9. Arthur Shields in The Quiet Man
  10. Ward Bond in The Quiet Man
  11. Millard Mitchell in My Six Convicts
  12. Yūnosuke Itō in Ikiru
  13. Gunnar Björnstrand in Secrets of Women
  14. Arthur Hunnicutt in The Big Sky
  15. Jack MacGowran in The Quiet Man  
  16. Henry Morgan in My Six Convicts
  17. Arthur Kennedy in Bend of the River
  18. George Sanders in Ivanhoe 
  19. Denholm Elliot in The Holly and the Ivy 
  20. Håkan Westergren in Secrets of Women
  21. Claude Dauphin in Casque D'or
  22. Jack Elam in Kansas City Confidential  
  23. Hebert Heyes in Park Row
  24. Buster Keaton in Limelight  
  25. Preston Foster in Kansas City Confidential  
  26. Eddie Albert in Carrie 
  27. Joseph Tomelty in The Sound Barrier
  28. Donald O'Connor in Singin' in The Rain
  29. Hugh Williams in The Holly and the Ivy
  30. Brandon De Wilde in Member of the Wedding 
  31. Raymond Bussiéres in Casque D'or
  32. Lee Van Cleef in  Kansas City Confidential 
  33. Neville Brand in Kansas City Confidential 
  34. Harou Tanaka in Ikiru
  35. Sean McClory in The Quiet Man
  36. Nigel Bruce in Limelight
  37. Miles Malleson in The Importance of Being Earnest
  38. Shinichi Himori in Ikiru
  39. Charles FitzSimons in The Quiet Man 
  40. Francis Ford in The Quiet Man  
  41. Finlay Currie in Ivanhoe
  42. Jean Gabin in Le Plaisir
  43. Louis Calhern in The Prisoner of Zenda
  44. Herbert Marshall in Angel Face
  45. Denholm Elliot in The Sound Barrier
  46. Lloyd Bridges in High Noon
  47. Michael Rennie in 5 Fingers 
  48. Felix Aylmer in Ivanhoe
  49. Jim Backus in Angel Face
  50. Leo G. Carroll in The Snows of Kilimanjaro 
  51. Alexander Knox in Europa 51
  52. Leon Ames in Angel Face 
  53. Henry Morgan in Bend of the River
  54. James FitzSimons in The Quiet Man
  55. Thomas Mitchell in High Noon  
  56. David Wayne in With A Song in My Heart
  57. Joseph Wiseman in Viva Zapata!
  58. Dick Powell in The Bad and the Beautiful
  59. Henry Morgan in High Noon 
  60. Rory Calhoun in With A Song in My Heart
  61. Gilbert Roland in The Bad and the Beautiful
  62. Jay C. Flippen in Bend of the River
  63. Lon Chaney in High Noon
  64. Ichiro Sugai in The Life of Oharu
  65. Barry Sullivan in The Bad and the Beautiful
  66. Walter Pidgeon in The Bad and the Beautiful
  67. Ray Teal in Carrie
  68. Alan Reed in Viva Zapata!
  69. Walter Hampden in 5 Fingers
  70. Rock Hudson in Bend of the River
  71. Jukichi Uno in The Life of Oharu
  72. Otto Kruger in High Noon  
  73. Farley Granger in Hans Christian Anderson
  74. Lloyd Bridges in Plymouth Adventure
  75. Bobby Watson in Singin' in The Rain
  76. Richard Jaeckel in Come Back, Little Sheba 
  77. Van Johnson in Plymouth Adventure 
  78. David Clarke in The Narrow Margin
  79. Millard Mitchell in Singin' in The Rain
  80. Sterling Hayden in The Star
  81. Steven Geray in The Big Sky 
  82. Leo Genn in Plymouth Adventure
  83. Lawrence Tierney in The Greatest Show on Earth
  84. Douglas Fowley in Singin' in The Rain
  85. Jim Davis in The Big Sky
  86. Lyle Bettger in The Greatest Show on Earth
  87. Gordon Gebert in The Narrow Margin
Next Year: 1938 Lead

Friday, 28 June 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1952: Results

5. James Mason in 5 Fingers- Mason creates an effective villain by emphasizing the cynicism of his character bluntly.

Best Scene: Diello finds out he's been had.
4. Laurence Olivier in Carrie- Olivier gives a strong performance playing a doomed romantic.

Best Scene: Hurstwood confesses his love to Carrie.
3. Michael Denison in The Importance of Being Earnest- Denison gives a hilarious turn that always has brilliant timing and brings the humor out of his material.

Best Scene: His reactions to the final revelations.
2. John Wayne in The Quiet Man- Wayne gives a winning performance that capitalizes on the best of his on screen persona.

Best Scene: Remembering the fatal fight.
1. Takashi Shimura in Ikiru- I should quickly say that I added what I thought was the best scene from each performance simply for fun. This year came down to Wayne and Shimura, although Denison was right behind them as I loved his performance as well. I have to say I hate and love these years as I hate to have to choose to between two performances I like equally but I hate to have to choose. Either way my choice goes to Shimura's powerful performance that is a heartbreaking and inspiring depiction of a dying man.

Best Scenes: "Gondola no Uta" the first and the last time.
Overall Rank:
  1. Takashi Shimura in Ikiru
  2. John Wayne in The Quiet Man
  3. Michael Denison in The Importance of Being Earnest
  4. Laurence Olivier in Carrie
  5. James Mason in 5 Fingers
  6. Dirk Bogarde in Hunted
  7. Charlie Chaplin in Limelight 
  8. Marlon Brando in Viva Zapata!
  9. Orson Welles in Othello
  10. James Stewart in Bend of the River 
  11. Gary Cooper in High Noon
  12. Carlo Battisti in Umberto D.  
  13. Robert Mitchum in The Lusty Men
  14. Kirk Douglas in The Bad and the Beautiful
  15. Ray Milland in Thief
  16. Burt Lancaster in Come Back Little Sheba
  17. Alec Guinness in The Card 
  18. Jack Palance in Sudden Fear
  19. Michael Redgrave in The Importance of Being Earnest 
  20. Shin Saburi in The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice
  21. Richard Burton in My Cousin Rachel 
  22. Micheal MacLiammoir in Othello
  23. John Payne in Kansas City Confidential 
  24. Kirk Douglas in The Big Sky 
  25. Charles McGraw in The Narrow Margin 
  26. Gene Evans in Park Row
  27. Spencer Tracy in Pat and Mike
  28. Arthur Kennedy in The Lusty Men
  29. Georges Poujouly in Forbidden Games 
  30. Humphrey Bogart in Deadline USA
  31. Serge Reggiani in Casque D'or
  32. Danny Kaye in Hans Christian Anderson
  33. Stewart Granger in The Prisoner of Zenda
  34. Jose Ferrer in Moulin Rouge  
  35. Gene Kelly in Singin in The Rain
  36. Charlton Heston in The Greatest Show on Earth
  37. Spencer Tracy in Plymouth Adventure 
  38. Nigel Patrick in The Sound Barrier 
  39. Robert Taylor in Ivanhoe
  40. John Beal in My Six Convicts
  41. Cornel Wilde in The Greatest Show on Earth
  42. Gregory Peck in The Snows of Kilimanjaro  
  43. Robert Mitchum in Angel Face
  44. Bob Hope in The Road to Bali
  45. Bing Crosby in The Road to Bali
  46. Dewey Martin in The Big Sky
  47. John Whiteley in Hunted
Next Year: 1952 Supporting

Alternate Best Actor 1952: Michael Denison in The Importance of Being Earnest

Michael Denison did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Algernon Moncrieff in The Importance of Being Earnest.

The Importance of Being Earnest is a very enjoyable film adaptation of Oscar Wilde's comedy about two men who pretend to be someone they are not.

Michael Redgrave plays Jack Worthing the more timid of the two, when it comes to their little games they play to make it so they can do what they want with their social lives. Redgrave is just fine as Worthing who is a bit uneasy as he tries to maneuver through his game of names in order to woo Gwendolen (Joan Greenwood), the man who steals the show though is Michael Denison as Algernon who is Worthing's friend? who also likes to use a fake name to get out of situations. Algernon's attitude though is quite different from Wothing's. Algernon though seems far less uneasy about the problems that could arise from the names, and instead seems to just wish to enjoy himself with whatever comes.

Denison is brilliant in his method of playing Algernon who he portrays as a bit of the constant critic, who pretty much loves to pester Worthing for even the slightest thing. Denison finds the most entertaining tone to play his character which is he loves the way he condescends whenever it is possible. In his devilish smile there is always an unbridled glee he takes throughout the proceedings of the story. Denison finds just that perfect tone for his performance that always adds to the comedic value of every scene. Just as important is Denison somehow never is off putting even though Algernon is always pestering Worthing and really does not have too many problems with his falsifications.

It is hard to say how exactly Denison finds this tone precisely as he doesn't hold back in any way. He is absolutely biting as Algernon the entire film. It would be easy to fall off and just coming off as smug or overly pretentious, but Denison never has this problem for whatever reason. What probably makes this performance work so well is that there is not any coldness to the joy that he expresses as he makes his comments throughout. Of course this is not to say he comes off as really a warm fellow either but he treads the line just so incredibly well so he is the carper he should be, but one who allows us to enjoy his critiques right along with him.

Much of the strength of the film is the wordplay in the dialogue and Denison is the best of the cast when it comes to delivering these colorful lines. Denison handles everyone such a rhythm that really makes the words come to life, and the scenes play out quite wonderfully with his precise precision. Not a single line falls flat with Denison everyone of his lines are delightful because of how he works them in with the style of his character and of course his comedic timing is flawless. His line deliveries though are not even the best part of his film, and actually my favorite moments of his performance is when he is just in the background.

Denison even when he technically is not the focus of the scene does not allow himself to be left as just in the background. He has great moments that do take the scene in his favor even when it is not a scene that favors Algernon. The snide method of his character is always present and he has some hilarious moments as he reacts to Worthing's own actions. His little knowing smiles and eye turns are always funny and in fact always amplify the comedic value of any scene. Denison just is on no matter how slight the reaction may be it is always something that can be enjoyed.

An interesting thing is that even when Algernon gets involved by trying to woo his own woman Cecily (Dorthy Tutin), Denison still keeps Algernon steady in his style. Even when his plans go wrong with the woman even Denison still keeps Algernon as Algernon. I don't take it as Denison being lazy though instead he stays true to his character. Honestly the later scenes would not be nearly as easy to enjoy if Denison did not keep it up and stay true to Algernon nature which allows him to eat calmly even as both his and Worthing's future with the women is definitely in question.

Michael Denison's performance is one that finds one note to play his character and sticks with it. What makes it work though is that it is such a note of brilliance. Denison portrayal of Algernon never falls short and really makes the film. He livens up every scene with his performance whether or not he even has the best lines in a particular scene. The moment in this version of the play is apparently best remembered Dame Edith Evans's delivery of the line "A Handbag!", although I won't say anything negative about that, but for me the best moment has to be Denison's absolutely perfect reaction when he learns that Worthing is his brother. That fantastic moment though is just all that Denison does throughout the film, and I have to say I simply loved this portrayal of Algernon.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1952: John Wayne in The Quiet Man

John Wayne did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Sean Thornton in The Quiet Man.

Against type usually refers to an actor who plays good guys playing bad guys or vice versa. Wayne sort of plays against type here although not in the way one usually sees an against type performance. John Wayne is of course best known for all the westerns he starred in and he often carried a gun. This is one film where Wayne does not even hold a gun once and is a very different story about an American raised but Irish born who tries to return to his birth place to settle down and escape his old life. Maybe it was that different nature of the role is what caused his snub despite the fact that the film was nominated for best picture and actually won best director for John Ford.

This is not to say this is not a John Wayne performance, instead rather he uses what is best about his on screen persona to portray his character in this film. The title the Quiet Man is apt for Wayne. This is not to say he is some sort of George Smiley sort here, but rather Wayne just plays him in a modest fashion. This is a great example of a true low key charm. Wayne doesn't try to pile on anything about his character instead lets his character to be a very likable sort by just letting his natural charisma play out with ease. There is no question that why most everyone would take a liking to Sean Thornton, because Wayne makes him just a man with a nice warm personality.

Wayne in this film acts as the perfect guide for us through the pleasant setting of the small Irish village of Innisfree. Wayne does this carefully and very effectively. There is a nostalgia and distinct pleasure in his performance that adds to the pleasure of watching the film. One moment in particular that is excellent is just the moment as he looks upon his old childhood home and remembers his mother's words about the place. Wayne in his face tells us a large portion of the motivation in his smile as he looks at the place, and we see the genuine joy that Thornton feels in his homecoming which suggests properly that Thornton is trying to find that wonderful place his mother always spoke of.

As with many films of this nature the town is filled with various characters. The Quiet Man really works because all these character only add to the film with none of them being too over the top or out of place. Wayne adds to all of their more flamboyant performances for his own performance which is a little more easy going in a few ways. Wayne is great in his reactions to everyone in the town which he always handles well. Wayne is quite endearing in all of these scenes as he shows only an honest enjoyment of almost all those around him, and he becomes the perfect sort of welcomed outsider. He never blends right in with them, but Wayne shows that he can be comfortable with them in his own way.

The core of the story of this film is a love story though between Sean and the fiery Mary Kate Danagher (Maureen O'Hara), although it is not an easy one due to the objections of her brutish brother 'Red' Will Danagher (Victor McLaglen). Wayne and O'Hara have excellent chemistry here, and once again it is established in rather quiet way. Much of the attraction and love between them is shown through only really the smallest reactions to one another. They are beautifully handled by both actors as this is not a romance that involved big speeches, or even the usual romantic comedy back and forth insult routine. Instead they portray a powerful attraction and connection through mostly their manner to one another, and it works incredibly well.

Wayne and O'Hara do well to establish their character's love as something always underlying so even when they to have quite the conflict it is believable that they would stay together. Their conflict comes from her believing him to be a coward as he refuses to fight her brother despite that her brother will not give her rightful inheritance. Wayne is excellent in portraying the way Sean does not want or even entirely understand why to deal with Will. Wayne shows in part what this comes from is being the outsider to a certain degree and just doesn't see what's important about it. Wayne importantly never makes Sean seem foolish, instead he allows us to entirely empathize with Sean's lack of cultural understanding.

There is another reason though and that is also the secret reason why Thornton came from America which is that he was a professional boxer who killed a man in the ring. Once again Thornton's battle with his own guilt over the death and the fear of fighting again. Wayne again handles this all in very subtle moments, and mainly silent. Once again though Wayne's method is absolutely works in the role and these scenes are quite powerful in portraying what haunts the man as well. One especially great moment is in a flashback where we see Sean reaction to the man's death. It is a terrific moment for Wayne as he says nothing but we see just how it tears him apart inside. Sean is able to get over it, but again Wayne handles the realization in an unassuming yet entirely satisfying fashion.

This is definitely a different character for Wayne with his character trying to avoid violence, and all he ends up doing is getting in a rather comedic fight. Wayne shows here that he does not need to shoot someone to be a compelling screen presence. He uses his charm to give one of the very best romantic comedic performances. It is a shame that the Academy failed to recognize Wayne for this film despite the amount of nominations and support the Quiet Man found in other categories. Wayne focuses on the basics of the character finding his place in the film wonderfully, and just all around giving a winning performance that really brings this great film together.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1952: Laurence Olivier in Carrie

Laurence Olivier did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Bafta, for portraying George Hurstwood in Carrie.

Carrie is a decent enough drama about a young woman of the same name (Jennifer Jones) who tries to make her way in the city of Chicago.

Olivier plays the one of the men she encounters in Chicago who manages a high class restaurant that Carrie is meeting a rather unscrupulous man Charles (Eddie Albert) who she is in a relationship with for mostly monetary reasons. Olivier in his first appearances as Hurstwood portrays him a rather unassuming but also rather charming man. In his usual Olivier fashion he has an adjusted accent which is a lowered Americanized voice that Olivier uses that actually is rather well done, and gives Hurstwood a natural warmth. He quickly makes Hurstwood just a likable and amiable face that works quite well in the contrast to Eddie Albert's portrayal of Charlie who always seems to be putting on his charm a little too much.

Hurstwood does not just stay as the nice manager of a restaurant though as he quickly becomes infatuated with Carrie. Olivier plays this quite well and he is a bit of the master of that face of longing. Olivier importantly builds this up quite well and honestly establishes the way Hurstwood's feelings toward her grow. Olivier always makes it rather clear in Hurstwood's glowing expression toward her that slowly build as he spends more time with it. He is very understated in his depiction of Hurstwood's interest in her, but very effective in the subtle fashion that he portrays the growing passion in Hurstwood which slowly becomes more and more pronounced.

Of course there is a reason why Hurstwood stays so understated about the whole thing, and the reason is that he himself is married to a wife who could care less about him. Again Olivier mainly internalizes the emotions within Hurstwood where they are quite evident in him and plays it as burning bitterness as well as a sadness in Hurstwood. Olivier is careful to put this right in his happier moments with Carrie that even when there is an expression of joy in Hurstwood he never forgets his terrible predicament with his own wife either. Olivier shows us a man trapped really in a difficult state of two kinds of repression one of the hate for his wife, and the other for his love of Carrie.

Hurstwood eventually does run right off with Carrie, but things do not improve for the man as he suffers financial difficulty with Carrie as well as his vengeful wife. The rest of Olivier portrayal is that of a man slowly decaying emotionally as the whole world seems to be against him. Olivier is quite moving in this depiction as just about everything goes wrong for the man, and Olivier manages to reflect what this is doing to him. What makes this never repetitive though is that Olivier has short little moments where there is the chance for something better to come from Hurstwood. There still is that genuine love for Carrie, and Olivier powerfully establishes a happiness that slowly fades from him. 

I personally will never understand those who think Olivier could not attune himself for film, as this is a perfect example of exactly how well he did understand the medium. There is such a great attention Olivier pays to the close up here and that is where the strength of his performance is found. His characterization is always based on what is going on through the mind of this lonely man and throughout the film he calmly lets us into the man's great pains and his meager joys he has in his life. I would not put this up there with the all time great Olivier performances, but this is a very strong portrayal that made this film worth watching.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1952: Takashi Shimura in Ikiru

Takashi Shimura did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Bafta, for portraying Kanji Watanabe in Ikiru.

Ikiru is a powerful film about a bureaucrat who learns he is dying.

Takashi Shimura is the other frequent collaborator with Akira Kurosawa and was often featured with Toshiro Mifune sometimes in smaller supporting parts, but as well in lead roles who often were calmer wiser character in comparison to the more reckless and crazed characters played by Mifune. Although I do have to admit I did feel Mifune stole the show of those earlier film Shimura never was a slouch either usually giving a strong performance himself particularly in Drunken Angel. In Ikiru though Shimura is the sole lead, and Ikiru also stands as the only film by Kurosawa from Drunken Angel to Red Beard not to feature Mifune in any role, so Shimura stands as the true focus of the film. 

The early scenes of Shimura's performance are some of the most depressing moments ever put on film. When we first meet him Shimura portraying Kanji as that of a man who might as well be dead due to the way in which he goes about his life. There is nothing to the man whatsoever as Shimura portrays him. He occupies a desk and that is all that he does. There is not a hint of anything else other than a man wasting away only doing the most mundane things in a most mundane fashion as a bureaucrat who just basically stamps one document then another, and nothing else. Even worse is that there is not even a sadness in Shimura's performance instead he goes to an extra level with Kanji as the bureaucrat who seems to be connected to absolutely nothing in the world.

Kanji soon finds out that he has stomach cancer, and the sadness of the man finally comes out. Shimura is absolutely brutal in just how he never is shy about portraying just how little happiness there is in this man's life. Kanji even as he tries to reflect back on a better time can only still think what was wrong in his past as well. Shimura shows us a depression in his performance that is truly memorable because of how overpowering he portrays this in this man. Shimura shows the in no way compromised feelings of a man who has never really lived learning he is going to die. It is not a depression that there is even a feeling of anger in, instead Shimura is all the more striking by making us see a man who almost resigns to his fate.

Kurosawa's protagonists tend to have a strong will, Ikiru presents us a protagonist who is almost exactly the opposite. Shimura himself in Stray Dog, Seven Samurai and Drunken Angel plays his roles with always a great strength of personality, as Kanji he creates one of the most meek characters ever put on screen. This goes beyond just his actions and Shimura makes every physical attribute meek in this man. He always has a hunched back, a hunched back fitting of a man who only ever hunched over his desk for year upon year, and his voice is that of a man who has almost never spoken. Shimura's voice here is weak, unassuming, and at times comes out with barely any mouth motions. This physical depiction Shimura gives us the results of a life not spent.

Kanji in an attempt to do something decides to live is to basically party and gets a young man to go take him around the night life. Shimura shows a man here reaching from the void trying to find something to change his lot that has befallen him in at least someway. In the night life Shimura is very good channeling the different emotions going on in this man's mind as he experiences something he was not aware of. There are moments with a smile where we see the man enjoying himself in at least some way, but even in the happiness Shimura portrays a certain confusion at the same time. He never seems to fully understand even what exactly he is trying to do, and Shimura even in the moments of brief pleasure shows that the overpowering depression within in the man never does leave him.

In the middle of the night of at least an attempted pleasure there is a moment where they stop for a moment and Kanji requests a piano player to play the song "Gondola no Uta". The song is about the briefness of life, and as the song is played on the piano Kanji sings along. Shimura is absolutely heartbreaking in this scene as he sings the words in such a quiet yet powerful fashion in that meek voice of Kanji's. Although his voice may not be strong the emotions in that voice are. Shimura as he sings shows us the thoughts of Kanji of the song that speaks to him all to well. The sadness of the man in this moment is not hidden in anyway and for a moment here this passionless man gains a passion even if it is a passion for his own depression. It is an absolutely incredible scene by Shimura.

Although there are moments of momentary enjoyment Kanji is still left depression by the end of the night, and still confused over what he can do to really live. Kanji believes he can find though out from his young co-worker who seems to enjoy life named Toyo Odagiri (Miki Odagiri), and he decides to spend time with her. Shimura again is terrific because he does not give an easy answers to Kanji in his plight. Again with Toyo Shimura suggests some enjoyment he has as he speaks to someone he thinks knows the path. It is purer pleasure here though, not something just of the moment, and we do see him honestly enjoy himself. Shimura though still keeps his depressed state as something that clearly never leaves his mind, and his wasted life and bitter feelings to his son even seem to over take the bit of happiness from the young woman.

The happiness is challenged even further though as Toyo quickly becomes suspicious of the intentions of Kanji and confronts on the issue forcing Kanji to finally reveal what he really wants. Shimura is excellent because even when he must blurt out what he wants he still keeps the nature of Kanji as a character. He tries several times to verbalize his desire with what remains of his life, and when he finally gets it out Shimura delivers it in a humble but with earnestness. When Toyo offers something very small as her reason for enjoying life, which is that she creates toys, Kanji takes off in attempt to do something like that himself in his short time left. Shimura's expression as he leaves is particularly notable because although we see finally a hope and even a drive these are still but a glimmer and desperation still remains the dominating emotion.

After this point we mainly get flashbacks to Kanji as he finally attempts to do something himself which is to take action in his work, and finally help a group of people by building a park over a cesspool. In these scenes we finally meet Kanji who has gained a purpose. Shimura importantly does not change the whole nature of Kanji as physically he stays much the same man, as it would be impossible for him to change the type of man in such a short time. Shimura instead shows the change in Kanji in a far more subtle fashion. There now is a passion as he works to make the park. Although still modest in his depiction Shimura is able to suggests an understanding of himself, and now an inner strength portrayed. As he tirelessly tries to make something worthwhile Shimura suggests that Kanji does not find something foreign, but instead that this potential was always was possible in the man.

This all ends in what is one of the most incredible moments in cinema which is the last time we see Kanji as he has finally realized his dream. It is a triumph of Kurosawa and his cinematographer Asakazu Nakai in the beautiful staging of the scene as we see the lone figure of Kanji swinging in the park swing all while it snows around him. The poignancy of the scene though is achieved through the final moments of Shimura performance. He once again sings "Gondola no Uta". Although his singing voice obviously has not improved or changed in some way the expression of the man most certainly has. Where intense sadness was the overlying emotion in his face before now there is the face of contentment as he sings finally having lived his life even if it had been only for the brief time.

The power of Shimura's work is in his firm approach for the character. Shimura portrayal of the man's plight is fiercely tragic, and it is never something that he eases away in his performance either. Due to this the redemption of the man is far more inspiring because the low the man finds himself in is realized so strongly beforehand. He never forgets the resigned nature of the man, and his fervor that does come is found in this same man. The redemption is not something that is found in an instance or a moment, but instead Shimura finds it slowly and in a heartfelt fashion that makes Kanji's journey of self discovery unforgettable. Takashi Shimura's performance as Kanji is an outstanding performance which is remarkable as he allows his character's plight to be properly mournful but eventually inspiring as well.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1952: James Mason in 5 Fingers

James Mason did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Ulysses Diello in 5 Fingers.

5 Fingers is a good enough thriller about the valet to an English ambassador who sells secrets to the Nazis.

James Mason plays the main character who is the spy who has no hesitations in making a deal with the Nazis to trade his employer's secrets for money. Mason is such a cool customer it is no surprise that he was cast as a spy where that sort of attitude is a must. Ulysses is not exactly your usual sort of spy in that he does not work for anyone in the way one would usually expect. He does not work for the Nazis in the traditional sense as an agent he technically is always a freelance, he does not have a connection directly to the Nazis he only corresponds with them to give the information he has only so he can get the money that he wants.

What the main feeling that Mason conveys in his performance as Diello is a truly intense cynicism in his performance. When he talks to the Nazis and deals with them for the money there is not any passion in giving the secrets. Mason does not suggest in any way that he wants to hurt the British Empire or help the Nazis. Mason instead plays him as a man who does not care, the only thing he cares about is the money. Mason is brilliant with just how brutally cynical he is in his characterization of Diello. There is nothing optimistic or positive in his portrayal in anyway, and it is all the more chilling because there isn't a passion in the evil he is doing either.

Mason portrays him as completely unscrupulous man and tells us exactly why he would act this way through his demeanor that feels no love for almost anything. Mason adds to this even more by portraying Diello as quite a different man in his role as the valet. Mason does not over do it as a big fascade in any way, but really just makes him a pretty pleasant sort of servant. He is entirely unassuming does not suggest any cynicism just a man you would not necessarily notice in any way, and he is convincing that he could go unnoticed as long as he does. As Diello in his mode on the valet he is the speck in the room that can hear and listen to the secrets well never seeming like he could ever leak them.

Diello does care about one thing in that he tries to win over an equally unscrupulous Countess (Danielle Darrieux). Mason is very good in these scenes because we do see a little more to Diello although Mason very much underplays it. He does it well to suggest that he does care for the Countess, and there is a slight warmth, but slight because his nature forbade him from offering any more. His attachments comes to bite him as the Countess betrays him several times. Each time Mason is terrific showing a vulnerability in his otherwise thick hide in excellent moments where we see just how much the revelations of his betrayal do cause him pain.

Mason though does show that Diello tries to keep up his style of cynicism and he is quite excellent in the late scenes as he tries to play off both the allies and the Nazis and get off Scot free doing so. Mason absolutely knows how to be the devious sort that Diello is. He plays the scenes with an assured intelligence as well as a certain pleasure. The pleasure is adds so much to these scenes and adds just the right extra element of villainy in the man. Mason lets us see that the smugness of the man enjoying being able to trick basically the whole world, and in doing so being able to make himself a nice lump sum of cash at the same time.

Diello in a twist finds himself the fool, and because he made Diello so smug we as the audience can quite enjoy him losing all of his assumptions as Mason leaves him almost a loss for words. He does leave with a last laugh of sorts when he finds out the Countess who betrayed him has suffered the same fate as him. Mason final gesture is a perfect end for his character as we see the nature of the man one more time who will forget his unfortunate circumstance to entertain himself with the thoughts of the suffering the woman who has betrayed him. That final action really sums up Mason's performance. Mason never asks for sympathy, nor does he earn it instead he gives a compelling turn simply by emphasizing just how much a cold bastard Diello really is.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1952

And the Nominees Were Not:

John Wayne in The Quiet Man

Michael Denison in The Importance of Being Earnest

Takashi Shimura in Ikiru

Laurence Olivier in Carrie

James Mason in 5 Fingers

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1980: Results

5. Mark Hamill in The Big Red One- Hamill plays his character well and has stand out moments even within the vignette nature of the film.

Best Scene: The Concentration Camp.
4. Harrison Ford in The Empire Strikes Back- Ford gives one of his best action hero performances making Han Solo the great hero he should be.

Best Scene: "I Know".
3. Leslie Nielsen in Airplane!- Nielsen gives an one note performance of utter comedic brilliance, being incredibly funny by playing his part as deadly serious as possible.

Best Scene: "I am serious and don't call me Shirley".
2. Bryan Brown in Breaker Morant- Brown gives an effective performance finding his own place in the film as the soldier whose rough exterior hides a deeper sadness.

Best Scene: Hancock writes his farewell letter to his wife.
1. Tsutomu Yamazaki in Kagemusha- Good Prediction Maciej. Well I've come to the conclusion that Tsutomu Yamazaki is the greatest actor to have a Wikipedia page with no more than three sentences. Once again he delivers an incredible supporting performance. He always finds a way to stand out even when he is in a group of actors. Yamazaki gives a great supporting performance that plays off of and supports Tatsuya Nakadai's lead performance beautifully.

Best Scene: Nobukado predicts the fate of Kagemusha.
Overall Rank:
  1. Joe Pesci in Raging Bull
  2. Tsutomu Yamzaki in Kagemusha
  3. Peter O'Toole in The Stunt Man
  4. Bryan Brown in Breaker Morant
  5. Leslie Nielsen in Airplane!
  6. Harrison Ford in The Empire Strikes Back
  7. Mark Hamill in The Big Red One
  8. Freddie Jones in The Elephant Man 
  9. Robert Stack in Airplane!
  10. Brian Blessed in Flash Gordon 
  11. Bill Murray in Caddyshack
  12. Lewis Fitz-Gerald in Breaker Morant
  13. Jason Robards in Melvin and Howard
  14. James Earl Jones in The Empire Strikes Back 
  15. John Gielgud in The Elephant Man
  16. Gene Hackman in Superman II
  17. Lloyd Bridges in Airplane!
  18. Levon Helm in Coal Miner's Daughter
  19. Max von Sydow in Flash Gordon
  20. Billy Dee Williams in The Empire Strikes Back
  21. Timothy Dalton in Flash Gordon
  22. Michael Caine in Dressed to Kill  
  23. Henry Gibson in The Blues Brothers
  24. Terence Stamp in Superman II
  25. Scatman Crothers in The Shining
  26. Cab Calloway in The Blues Brothers
  27. Philip Stone in The Shining
  28. Peter Graves in Airplane!
  29. Melvyn Douglas in Changeling
  30. John Candy in The Blues Brothers
  31. Judd Hirsch in Ordinary People
  32. Frank Vincent in Raging Bull
  33. Allen Garfield in The Stunt Man
  34. Robert Carradine in The Big Red One
  35. Frank Oz in The Empire Strikes Back
  36. Kenichi Hagiwara in Kagemusha 
  37. Siegfried Rauch in The Big Red One
  38. Topol in Flash Gordon
  39. Chevy Chase in Caddyshack
  40. Keith Gordon in Dressed to Kill 
  41. Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack
  42. Anthony Daniels in The Empire Strikes Back
  43. Dennis Franz in Dressed to Kill
  44. Danny Lloyd in The Shining 
  45. Alex Rocco in The Stunt Man
  46. Bob Balaban in Altered States
  47. Jinpachi Nezu in Kagemusha
  48. Jackie Gleason in Smokey and the Bandit II
  49. John Marley in Tribute
  50. Ted Knight in Caddyshack
  51. Jerry Reed in Smokey and the Bandit II
  52. Stephen Stucker in Airplane!
  53. Charles Haid in Altered States
  54. Robby Benson in Tribute
Next Year: 1952 lead

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1980: Harrison Ford in The Empire Strikes Back

Harrison Ford did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back.

I am not the biggest fan but I like the original films well enough. 

This film was made just one year before the first Indiana Jones film so Harrison Ford was just one year from pure super stardom. This film he remains still as almost the supporting lead of the film, the action hero who technically is the side character action hero. Where Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is the noble hero of the trilogy with his personal journey being to stay on the righteous moral path while fighting evil, Han Solo is the guy who would shoot first in much the same manner as Clint Eastwood's Man with no Name. 

Harrison Ford's style as an action hero is pretty much perfect for how Han Solo should be in the film. Han Solo is of course a bad ass who take his enemies down without a second thought, but there is a heart in the guy as well who has a conscience even he perhaps would rather not have one at times. Ford is perfect for this because in his best action performances there is usually a certain lighter humorous touch in his portrayal. In the best way though Ford never seems uninterested in what is going on around him as he is able to make a one liner well still making the situation serious in the same scene.

Ford's just great at being the cool action hero Solo should be and has some of his best moments here. Something that Ford does particularly well is making Solo very competant while sorta being incompetant at the same time. He is very good in showing the imperfect nature of the hero as well as really the effort he has to put in to accomplish his goals. Solo fails plenty of times and he uses these moments particularly well to make Han actually extremely likable but at the same time these moments of failure never compromises his awesomeness as a hero either.

That awesomeness really does come to the way that Ford makes him a man who will always try to do things his way which even includes the romance with Leia (Carrie Fisher). I think Ford's very best moment in the film was the one that was his own ad lib which is the classic last moment expression of love which Han's only response to Leia's "I love you" is "I Know". It is pretty much the summation of the attitude Ford's espouses throughout the film which is a true individualistic streak who always will do things his own way.

This is a very good performance by Harrison Ford and the best of his three performances in the Star Wars film. I would not put it quite as his very best performance in this sort of role, that would come when he became the undisputed lead of a film, but this is a great example of this type of performance from Ford nevertheless. He has just a natural likability as well as believability that succeeds in making a great character to follow through this large scale sci fi adventure, and Ford makes it fully understandable why Solo became such a popular character. 

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1980: Leslie Nielsen in Airplane!

Leslie Nielsen did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Dr. Barry Rumack in Airplane!.

Airplane! is of course the scatter shot comedy in which they throw a gag at you constantly, and unlike the ones they make today most of the gags are funny.

One of the keys to the success of Airplane is in its casting as well as the general nature of the performances. Many of the actors cast were serious actors before this film like Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, Peter Graves, and of course Leslie Nielsen. Interestingly enough Bridges and particularly Nielsen became almost exclusively comedic actors after this point, and both of them appeared in several more spoof films. Of course the first of something often is the best, and this is certainly true of Nielsen's comedy career. Now as I said though it is not merely the casting which works, but what also makes the film is the way that these actors perform in this comedy.

Most of the actors give a dead serious performance who stay dead serious even when delivering completely absurd lines or completely absurd scenes. Nielsen does this the very best out of the whole cast, and I suppose it is pretty obvious how he managed to make a whole other career out of it. Now the key is that while it is never comedic, it also isn't dramatic so to speak. Nielsen tailor makes his performance it be extremely funny but not that he ever seems like he is playing for laughs even though he always is. The thing is you probably could not just take this and put it in another disaster serious movie there is an extra element that amplifies the comedy further than if he only played it straight.

What it is is that he does not seem to be taking just seriously, but so seriously that his life is depending on delivery every line with the utmost conviction. Nielsen never strives once from this code keeping that expression of the seasoned doctor who is adamant that the passengers made sick by fish must be gotten help very soon. Nielsen because of his steadfast manner is absolutely hilarious because it doesn't matter what the line is he is going to act like it is the most important thing possible. Because of this he makes every line very funny, as the immortal line "I am serious, and don't call be Shirley" could have just been a bad pun, but Nielsen makes it comedic gold because Nielsen acts like there isn't anything funny about it.

This is technically a one note performance, but that one note is a note of brilliance. Every time Nielsen is on screen he made me smile and elicited laughter. His consistently dead pan style makes every scene shine all the brighter, and despite technically doing the same thing throughout the film Nielsen never seems to become repetitive in the role. He stays endearing and his character is enduring throughout it all even manages to perhaps be even a little inspiring with his go out and win one for the Zipper speech. Its just an incredibly enjoyable performance that is the funniest part of this very funny film.

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1980: Mark Hamill in The Big Red One

Mark Hamill did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Pvt. Griff in The Big Red One.

The Big Red One is a pretty good World War II that focuses closely on just a small group of men as they make their way through various situations in the war.

Mark Hamill is an actor best know first and foremost as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars trilogy, then second for voicing the Joker in various animated forms, and thirdly if your making a joke Corvette Summer. Not much else gets mentioned about his filmography and to be truthful he mostly has voice work to his credit. He did manage to appear in this film as the technically rather cliche role of the one guy who doesn't want to murder in the role and looks poorly upon the other soldiers who treat life with so little care. I've seen this role before, but this film's depiction of the role is considerably better because we don't get constantly reminded of his character's nature over and over again unlike some other war films.

It is interesting to see Hamill in a purely dramatic role in a mostly serious war film like this, and actually he proves himself quite capable. Why this is a better portrayal of the usual sort of character, even though he follows a rather similar path, is that a lot is left unsaid. Hamill has his scenes where he outright says it, but even then he never forces the sentiment in an artificial fashion. He makes it a short passionate moment that is not at all sanctimonious as he keeps it entirely within his empathizing eyes never making any accusations at the other men. Hamill leaves it as something that is Griff's own personal issue that he must deal with and not something he pesters his comrades with.

The film does well though not to keep bringing this point up and actually leaves it to Hamill to express as they make their way through the war.  Out of the supporting men Hamill always manages to have the strongest presence and frankly brings the most power to various scenes in the film. This film technically speaking does not have a lot of connective tissue in the traditional sense instead we kind of jump from one circumstance to another during the war and therefore the actors have to kind of jump around quite a lot in terms of their character's particular feelings during a particular scene. Hamill is the best at this bringing whatever is needed in a particular scenes whether it is some light humor or more profound gravitas. 

The highlight of his performance is easily the required scene where the man who does not want to murder not only kills but does it in a way that particularly seems like murder. In this film it comes about when the men are liberating a concentration camp and Griff is going through the ovens finding the human remains until eventually he finds a German soldier hiding among them. Griff kills the man but then proceeds to continue shooting the man long after he is dead. Hamill manages to sell the scene because he builds up to it through the horror he expresses as Griff sees what is inside the ovens. As he kills the man Hamill is quite chilling actually as we see almost a pent up anger as well as almost an insanity in him as continues to shoot the man.

The film as well as Hamill kind of takes Griff's moment as just temporary insanity though and there really is not any follow up to the scene afterwards as he just kind of becomes the same old Griff. This is fine enough I suppose, but I do think it would have been more interesting to have seen Griff reflect on what he had done after the fact. Hamill's work here still is quite effective throughout adding to some of the strength of this film, and does manage to create one of the better character's of this kind even with the film structure which does not allow for a more traditional sort of character arc. It also is an indication that perhaps Hamill was capable of more in terms of live action then what he ended up doing through his relatively limited feature film career.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1980: Tsutomu Yamazaki in Kagemusha

Tsutomu Yamazaki did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Takeda Nobukado in Kagemusha.

Akira Kurosawa is a director who has his own style and you know its a Kurosawa picture when your watching it. Although it is very easy to argue that most if not all his films are director's pictures, yet he is always able to allow at least one performance to truly shine something that cannot be said about many director's films. I mention this because Tsutomu Yamazaki's performance is something in this film that could have completely have been overshadowed by what Kurosawa is doing with the character. Yamazaki in some scenes is almost indistinguishable, in term of appearance, from Tatsuya Nakadai in his duel role. The reason though is that Yamazaki here plays the brother of the warlord that Nakadai plays Takeda Shingen who at times acted as the lord's double before the even better Kagemusha was found.

Yamazaki, as he did so well in High and Low as well, is able to work within Kurosawa's direction marvelously and never lets himself be enveloped by it. You could argue that Yamazaki role actually might not be the third most important role past those plays by Nakadai, but Yamazaki's portrayal of Nobukado takes his place as the best supporting character either way. Just like his role in High and Low Yamazaki manages rip right into scenes even when his character is at somewhat of distance. Like the opening scene which is a great showcase for both Yamazaki and Nakadai as Kagemusha, Shingen and Nobukado all together in a single scene. Yamazaki is almost a dead ringer in this scene yet he still establishes his own character right as Nakadai is establishing both of his.

Yamazaki finds the right character for Nobukado that has elements of Nakadai's Shingen but is his own man as well. Yamazaki as did Nikadai convey a certain cunning in his portrayal that feels entirely natural as well as makes it believable that this man would try such a ruse. Yamazaki in his smile suggests an assured intelligent fellow, but it is not exactly the same as Nakadai portrayed it. Yamazaki shows something different in Nubukado which is that there is not the weight of responsibility in this man. Yamazaki is lighter in his approach and portrays a different style in this man who is merely trying to help his brother become the ruler of  a country rather than trying to become the ruler of a country himself.

Yamazaki dispersal for awhile until the death of the warlord and the generals of Shingen gather to decide what must be done. The strength of Yamazaki performance really comes through in these scenes because the other actors ill define their characters and for the most part they just kind of fade together in their scenes. Yamazaki is the only one who stands out among them. Where the other men seem more angry than anything else as they are trying Kagemusha to take up the role of Shingen, Yamazaki though brings much more weight through his more somber approach. Although it is not said through his quiet passion and underlying sadness Yamazaki conveys the idea that without the Kagemusha they will lose everything that his brother fighting for making his death the end of the clan.

Honestly without the depth of feeling that Yamazaki gives the death you would almost think his death was meaningless. Yamazaki brings the point home though and as well makes it far more believable that Kagemusha would actually take on the duty. After Kagemusha accepts to pretend to be the lord Nobukado becomes basically his mentor as he tries to teach him the ways of the lord as well as keep him in line at the same time. Yamazaki is great in his scenes with Nakadai as he acts the part of the teacher with Nobukado telling Kagemusha everything he can so he can perform the task. Yamazaki importantly as he does this in a most forceful fashion also has a bit of a nostalgia in his delivery and again he properly shows that the loss of the lord certainly means something particularly to Nobukado.

Yamazaki as with his earlier work makes the most of even the slightest of motions and even something as simply as looking at one of the lord's old rooms can be something special. It would be simple enough just to show the room off quickly and to the point. Yamazaki is still relatively fast about it but he stops for a moment and looks at the room reflecting on the past. Yamazaki does not shed a tear in his portrayal but just his physical manner in this slight action does portray the heartbreak in Nobukado from the death of his brother. There is another element as he tells the trade and that is Nobukado is also thinking about when he was the lord's double. In just a short speech Yamazaki suggests Nobukado's own difficultly with the task as well as indicates some of the problems Kagemusha will face.

Not all is serious though and he actually has some great comedic moments in his performance in the scenes where Nobukado is keeping Kagemusha in check. The two have some terrific chemistry together as they trade various stares. Yamazaki is fantastic in his reactions whether it is enjoying seeing the man he trained perform, or somewhat taken aback when Kagemusha makes an unusual move. One of my favorite particular scenes is when Kagemusha meets Shingen's mistresses and makes a joke saying he is not the real lord. Yamazaki is very amusing as he starts with an intense expression at Kagemusha for risking the ruse, but then changes it into a face of distinct pleasure as he punishes him by denying Kagemusha both of the lord's mistresses. 

Yamazaki's performance is a perfect supporting performance and just like the last time I reviewed him he seems to be the go to man for making the most out of very little. Nobukado ceratinly could have been very little and Nakadai's work could have easily been the only performance that stood out. Yamazaki again refuses to be forgotten even when he is in the background and gives a great performance that complements and amplifies Nakadai's performance. He consistently adds more to Nakadai's work because he is always there showing a former double empathizing with the new one. His last scene is particularly strong as Nobukado almost mourns Kagemusha as he knows what his fate will be. Yamazaki's delivery is powerful in the bleakness he creates and once again makes that connection that Nobukado feels with Kagemusha's plight come to fruition.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1980: Bryan Brown in Breaker Morant

Bryan Brown did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning the AFI award, for portraying Lt. Peter Hancock in Breaker Morant.

Bryan Brown plays one of the three men on trail for murder during the Boer war. Each of the three men fit into a certain category with Breaker Morant (Edward Woodward) being one without regrets for his actions and seeing it as being part of the harsh life soldier as well as always keeping the manner of a good soldier. The youngest is Witton (Lewis Fitz-Gerald) who regrets the killing as well as regrets having become a soldier in the first place. This leave Hancock who comes off as the least savory of the men for a variety of reasons. Hancock is a man who does not know how to be quiet and is the loudest of the men particularly when they sit in the courtroom.

Hancock is the brash one and Brown rightfully gives a Brash performance particularly in the courtroom scenes. Although Jack Thompson as their defense gets the big speeches Brown has a great deal of quick one liners. Hancock early during the trial does not hold back and will quickly try to shoot down lies. Brown is very good in these moments because he does not do this as a righteous man in any way. Brown instead does it like a man trying to shoot someone down in a bar he does it crudely and in a brash manner. Brown has him keep back ever so slightly as he still is a trained soldier though finding the right style for a man who is a soldier, but the type who will forget that without too much provocation.

Outside of the courtroom Hancock is just as brash and his attitude differs from the somber Witton and the steadfast Morant. Brown plays Hancock as probably the most angry in their circumstance. When it comes to him and the killing there is not the duty expressed in Morant or the regret in Witton. Hancock is left as a man with a dog eat dog attitude, since the Boer killed many of their men and tried to kill them he does not have any regrets about what he did. Brown portrays pretty stone cold in just a sentiment filled with exasperation and hatred toward the enemy. Brown properly makes Hancock a man who is able with what he did because of his experiences that he went through.

Like Morant we do get little glimpses of Hancock's personal life which Brown handles quite effectively. Again Brown is rather blunt in just showing how harsh Hancock's life really was. There is one quick flashback to his family and we only get a hint of this relationship. Brown portrays it as a rather sad relationship. There is perhaps a love there but not in a way that seems with much warmth if any. Brown is very subtle as he suggests a considerable sadness is in this man's life. We do not learn what it all is but Brown suggests it beautifully. Brown shows the sadness as really the true man which lies beneath his anger and discontent he expresses otherwise.

Bryan Brown's performance is a strong facet of this film and fills his place as the soldier who was willing to murder as his experience in the war never suggested that he should do anything else. I will say out of the three soldiers on trial in the film Edward Woodward did hold my attention the most and I found his personal story to be the most powerful. Bryan Brown and to a similar extent Lewis Fitz-Gerald still give two interesting and moving portrayals on their own because each of them find what exactly motivates each of the soldiers and both what exactly brought them together to this trial but as well what exactly separates them in their attitudes. Brown might not be the best part of the film but he is one of the reasons why this is a great film.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1980

And the Nominees Were:

Tsutomu Yamazaki in Kagemusha

Leslie Nielsen in Airplane

Bryan Brown in Breaker Morant

Harrison Ford in The Empire Strikes Back

Mark Hamill in The Big Red One

Monday, 17 June 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1980: Results

5. Anthony Hopkins in The Elephant Man- Hopkins gives a good performance making the most out of his relatively simple character and bringing to life the complexities of the character where they exist.

Best Scene: Treves first sees the Elephant Man.
4. Jack Thompson in Breaker Morant- Thompson has a simple but showy role bringing the emotional punch to his courtroom scenes.

Best Scene:  Major J.F. Thomas's summation.
3. Donald Sutherland in Ordinary People- Sutherland gives an understated and moving turn showing the attempt of a man to hold his life as well as his family together after a terrible tragedy.

Best Scene: Calvin confronts Beth.
2. Edward Woodward in Breaker Morant- Woodward gives an excellent performance showing a courageous gentlemanly soldier, whose capable of horrible deeds.

Best Scene: Morant tells the court of rule 303.
1.Tatsuya Nakadai in Kagemusha- Nakadai gives an amazing performance playing two characters brilliantly one a cunning war lord, and the other an impersonator who has a difficult journey of pretending to be the other man. I am going to face all the wraith of meddling with the grand scheme of things and go my own way this year altogether. I have a confession to make which is watching Ordinary People again really made me lose a lot of my enthusiasm for Timothy Hutton's performance. I still think he is great, but actually watching it this time Donald Sutherland left the bigger impression on me. As for Robert De Niro I do believe his performance is tremendous but its never been a performance that I love. Therefore my very personal win goes to Tatsuya Nakadai.

Best Scene: The Lord and Kagemusha meet for the first time. 
Overall Rank:
  1. Tatsuya Nakadai in Kagemusha
  2. John Hurt in The Elephant Man
  3. Robert De Niro in Raging Bull
  4. Edward Woodward in Breaker Morant
  5. Donald Sutherland in Ordinary People
  6. Timothy Hutton in Ordinary People
  7. Jack Thompson in Breaker Morant
  8. Lee Marvin in The Big Red One
  9. Anthony Hopkins in The Elephant Man
  10. George C. Scott in Changeling
  11. Burt Lancaster in Atlantic City
  12. Tommy Lee Jones in Coal Miner's Daughter
  13. William Hurt in Altered States
  14. Paul Le Mat in Melvin and Howard 
  15. Mark Hamill in The Empire Strikes Back
  16. Christopher Reeve in Superman II 
  17. John Belushi in The Blues Brothers
  18. Jack Nicholson in The Shining   
  19. Dan Aykroyd in The Blues Brothers
  20. Steve Railsback in The Stunt Man
  21. Robert Hays in Airplane
  22. Robin Williams in Popeye
  23. Sam J. Jones in Flash Gordon
  24. Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit II
  25. Jack Lemmon in Tribute 
  26. Michael O'Keefe in Caddyshack
Next Year: 1980 Supporting