Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1971: Bruce Dern in Drive, He Said

Bruce Dern did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning NSFC, for portraying Coach Bullion in Drive, He Said.

Drive, He Said is about a star basketball player Hector who deals with problems with an affair he is having and his protestor friend who is in fear of the draft. The film was Jack Nicholson's directorial debut and it is obvious in the film, much like Sean Penn directing for the Indian Runner although he had a better script to fall on, that he was trying far too hard to show himself to be director with a distinct style and vision. It is no surprise that Clint Eastwood continued his directing career and Nicholson rarely returned as Eastwood's debut film from the same year, Play Misty For Me, is a far more assured work.

Drive, He Said is a film with many ineffectual performances that often come off as obnoxious, dull or just simply not very cinematic. The great exception to this is Bruce Dern in the role as the Coach of the Basketball team Hector plays with. Bullion is not to much of a character he is just always trying to push Hector to fly straight and push his team to win the game. Dern's performance just has a presence no one else has in the film. When he is on screen the film does come alive in a certain way because he brings a certain energy to the part sorely missing from most other places in the film. Although the point of his character is simple Dern does bring this point alive effectively.

Dern does well in showing the differences in the Coach's approach. When in practice or on a game Dern reflects the intensity of the situation as he portrays the Coach as being particularly direct to get his points across as quickly and firmly as possible. Dern makes Coach Bullion like a military strategist positioning his troops and motivating him his way so they get the job done. When they are not on the court Dern tones down Bullion to make him a believable character. Dern still makes him forceful in his attempts to shape up Hector but shows him to be much quieter yet still persistent figure. Dern instead of having the piercing criticisms of the court, he makes Bullion criticisms in the form of a restrained disappointment.

Unfortunately for Dern as well as the film itself Coach Bullion is not featured all that often and really the character is almost entirely made by Dern's performance. Dern tends to be a reliable character actor and certainly is reliable here. There is just only so much he can do with his underused and underwritten character, but hey he did make me wish the film had been about his character's story to bring his team to the championship. This is not a great performance by Bruce Dern but it certainly is a solid one which does manage to steal the film even though there really is not all that much of a film to steal.

8 comments:

JackiBoyz said...

have you seen many Oscar films this year Louis? like Captain Phillips and Prisoners, if so what did you make of them? and who are you hoping gets nominated this year.

Louis Morgan said...

I've only seen a few of the likely contenders so far:

Prisoners I thought as a whole was fine but far from great. Gyllenhaal was great, although it seems the only way he's going to be nominated is category fraud.

Captain Phillips was pretty good even if I really don't like Greengrass's style all that much. Hanks was in top form though and a nomination would be deserved.

The Butler is a film I hope gets shut out as I did not care for it in the slightest. Out of the performances Whitaker and David Oyelowo were okay, and I did enjoy Liev Schreiber but no one needs to be nominated from that film.

I really don't have any favorites for nominations yet simply because I have not seen enough films and performances to really get behind anyone yet since I don't really even know the field yet.

RatedRStar said...

I apologise for my Dern remarks, I can be quite cold and bad at times but I don't mean to be =(.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis: I'm glad you liked Tom Hanks. Maybe his best performance.

Has anyone seen 12 Years A Slave yet?

Michael McCarthy said...

I wanna see 12 Years A Slave so bad...if it expands I'm totally going this Friday or Saturday. I must say though, Gravity really impressed me. Clooney was fine, he did what he had to do, but Bullock took my breath away. It'll be a travesty if Cuaron doesn't get a directing nod

I liked The Butler but I don't think it needs to be nominated. The performances were fine all around (apart from Alan Rickman) and I definitely enjoyed Oprah even if she's getting more acclaim than she deserves.

Rush was great. The relationship between the two leads was flawlessly crafted and both actors made their characters completely 3 dimensional and interesting.

Blue Jasmine was weird but Blanchett definitely did a good job, and I really enjoyed The Way Way Back, the cast was so charming (particularly Sam Rockwell of course) but academy voters are gonna forget all about that one no doubt.

And I loved Captain Phillips. I'm not one of those guys who thinks Tom Hanks walks on water but he always kept me on the edge of my seat and his final scene was terrific. Also, I don't know about any of you but I thought newcomer Barkhad Abdi was great as the captain of the pirates.

Louis Morgan said...

Abdi was great, but I don't know about his chances.

Anonymous said...

I liked Abdi a lot too.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Okay, from the movies I've seen:

Blue Jasmine: Very interesting character study. Blanchett earned that acclaim. Sally Hawkins and Bobby Cannanvale were also very good.

The Way Way Back: Hated it. A poor man's Perks of Being a Wallflower with none of the emotional resonance or even semi-realistic performances. The characters were cartoons at best. Rockwell has done much better.

Gravity: HOLY FUCK. I mean, really, HOLY FUCK. That sound design, those effects, that camera work... HOLY FUCK. It's weird, ever since Sandra Bullock won he Oscar for one of my least favorite movies, she's actually impressed me in every film since. I guess she's trying to earn proper acclaim.

Prisoners: Very good, barring Jackman's ham and a few silly plot elements. Gyllenhaal owns the movie.

Before Midnight: An absolute masterpiece. Easily my favorite so far this year. Hawke and Delpy have never been better. Great portrayal of marriage (yes, I know they weren't technically married, shut up). Loved everything about it.

The Place Beyond the Pines: A bit of a mess, but an interesting mess. Cooper excels, Gosling's done better.

42: A clich├ęd, run-of-the-mill biopic with not much going for it. I say not much because Harrison Ford was fan-freaking-tastic.

The Butler: Hoo boy, I haven't seen something this schizophrenic in a while. With the exception of David Oyelowo, none of the actors really "wowed" me. The structure is pure insanity.

Mud: Good, if overrated. Very interesting barring the last act. The climax was tonally inconsistent and utterly bombastic. I would have preferred a less "happy" ending. Acting is solid all around.

Haven't seen Captain Phillips yet and I missed my window of opportunity to see Rush.