Thursday, 14 November 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2000: Oliver Reed in Gladiator

Oliver Reed did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for BAFTA, for portraying Proximo in Gladiator.

Oliver Reed plays Proximo the man who buys Maximus Decimus (Russell Crowe) after he has had his family murdered by the evil Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Proximo is a gladiator manager and owner, although he is a bit different in that he himself was a former Gladiator. Reed was an excellent choice to play the part having played many tough guy roles throughout his career and here he brings that sort of presence to this role. Although Proximo is aged, and most certainly past his prime, with Reed we can see what made him the great warrior he once was, and possibly how exactly how he once came to be the true champion of the Colosseum.

Reed plays both sides of the role very well. As the outer side, Reed shows Proximo to be a shrewd businessman. Reed brings the right sly attitude with a certain strong force of personality as Proximo showing him to be a man well versed in the nature of his trade. Proximo though does have the deeper connection with Gladiator's then just the money. Reed has one great scene where he tries to inspire his men to victory giving a hint of his own mastery of the arena. Reed is terrific as he thrusts with a knife portraying the powerful technique in Proximo, and suggesting exactly who Proximo once was when he had to save his life by ending another simply for entertainment purposes.

Oliver Reed's best scene though is when he encourages Maximus to be more than a killer, and be a showman who the crowd adores. In the scene Proximo describes when he was made free by the former emperor after becoming the champion of the arena. Reed handles the scene beautifully because it is not like he is just giving a lecture to Maximus. Reed instills the moment with a tremendous nostalgic pride and shows Proximo almost relive the moment as he gives the sense of the joy Proximo held when he finally achieved freedom so many years ago. It is a wonderfully acted scene by Reed, and it also properly alludes to why Proximo would be willing to give up his own livelihood to help Maximus late in the film.

This film was Reed's last one, and unfortunately he actually died during filming. All of Proximo's scenes were not completed and this is noticeable in the film. When everyone is captured in Proximo's compound the Roman guards for whatever reason kill Proximo even though they don't do the same to the slaves even the ones who have fought back. Of course this is a pretty obvious rewrite to compensate for Reed's untimely end. The required changes cuts Proximo short really. If Reed had lived it is pretty easy to see that Proximo probably would have had one more scene that would have given a more fitting end to his character, rather than the very quick exit his character receives in the film.

In my view Oliver Reed once again gives the best performance in a best picture winning film, even though once again his character is far from being even the most important supporting character in the film. Reed even with the fact that he really did not get to portray the actual conclusion of the character before his death makes Proximo a compelling character. I only wish there had been more of Proximo in the film as Reed makes him a fascinating part of the film even though the character could very well have made absolutely no impact on the film whatsoever. Oliver Reed brings out the complexities of the part incredibly well, and creates an interesting portrait of a gladiator after he has put away his sword.

16 comments:

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I assume you'll review him for The Brood.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Also, I have a confession...

Phoenix was the only thing I liked about this movie! There, I said it. RatedRStar, have at it.

Anonymous said...

I thought Phoenix was the best part, too but only because he was fun to watch when everything else (including Crowe's performance) was so dull. But I still wouldn't say he was good.

Psifonian said...

"Shadows and dust."

If it weren't for the fact his character was truncated due to Reed's untimely demise, he would make a strong play for my Best Supporting Actor win. It's one of the great recent tragedies that we never got to see the final scenes with Proximo played out (in the latest script draft, he was supposed to be forced to fight Maximus in the arena as a way for Commodus to further torment Maximus).

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

@Anonymous: Actually, I would say he was great. His character is written to be a two-dimensional villain much like Isaacs, but unlike him, he goes a different route. Phoenix plays the character not as a villain, but more like child seeking approval. His rants and showboating seem less like theatrical ham and more like a child throwing a tantrum. He plays it like Commudus is more than an evil bastard, he's a manchild who never had a chance to grow up. I found him, despite all odds, to be weirdly sympathetic. Even when the script abandons all pretenses of complexity (i.e. wanting to fuck his sister), Phoenix still plays it like a man who's just desperate for anyone to give him affection. He's a bastard, but a poor bastard.

Michael McCarthy said...

I personally wasn't crazy about Reed in Oliver! but I thought he was great in this.

RatedRStar said...

I obviously thought he was shit =D I personally think I could have done better, in fact I show more personality and 3 dimensional villainy on this blog lol then Phoenix does in Gladiator.

RatedRStar said...

I liked Reed though.

RatedRStar said...

Although I hate Crowe as well for being dull, I agree with Crowe on what he said about George Clooney trying to be Frank Sinatra ( I think Clooney wishes he were Cary Grant).

Anonymous said...

is Joaquin your most hated actor RatedRStar?

RatedRStar said...

no actually he isn't, I like him in some performances. These would be my most hated.

1)???
2)George Clooney
3)Arthur Kennedy
4)Dean Jagger
5)Paul Muni

mrripley said...

I know u hate ed harris judginf from your reviews,loved reed but his perforance was unfinished so i leave him off my balllot,i still think phoenix and nielsen are the best in gladitor but i like crowes star making turn too and richard harris.

Matt Mustin said...

mripley: I liked Richard Harris too. I maintain that Crowe has done MUCH better SEVERAL times.

Michael Patison said...

This may have been what made Crowe a household name but I say his star-making turn was L.A. Confidential, though every time I watch it I begin to agree with Robert that Guy Pearce gives the better performance as he struggles with his unquenchable ambition, leading to his constant push and pull between doing the right thing and doing what he needs to do to get results.

Michael Patison said...

In terms of this movie and performance, I'd totally agree it was the best in the film. Phoenix wasn't horrible for me but he wasn't great obviously. Crowe was indeed boring, and Harris didn't have enough screentime. I must say I was surprised that I even thought Hounsou was passable, but he was.

Mark said...

Gladiator has many strengths. Its acting is not one of them.