Monday, 30 September 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1978

And the Nominees Were Not:

Anthony Hopkins in Magic

Donald Pleasence in Halloween

Dustin Hoffman in Straight Time

Christopher Reeve in Superman

Peter Ustinov in Death on the Nile

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1987: Results

6. Robert De Niro in Angel Heart- De Niro being the weakest of this bunch doesn't really say much of anything as he gives a very eerie turn as the ultimate evil.

Best Scene: Cyphre prepares an egg for consumption.
5. Vincent D'Onofrio in Full Metal Jacket- D'Onofrio gives a great performance first being rather moving as man not capable enough in the rough boot camp, then downright terrifying once he gets into the swing of things.

Best Scene: Late at night in the latrine.
4. Dennis Hopper in River's Edge- Hopper gives a cohesive portrait of a complex man and despite playing a drug dealer murderer somehow becomes the moral center of the film.

Best Scene: Feck's confession. 
3. R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket- Ermey gives a relentlessly brutal as well as slyly satirical performance as the drill sergeant that would make an average drill sergeant squirm.

Best Scene: Hartman's introduction.
2. Richard Dawson in The Running Man- Richard Dawson turns his work on Family Feud askew brilliantly in making a menacing and entertaining 80's action movie villain who steals his film without question.

Best Scene: "Only in a Rerun"
1. Mandy Patinkin in The Princess Bride- This year is one of the all time greats for supporting performances that goes even beyond the six I reviewed here and the fairly solid line up offered by the academy. My favorite performance from the year though has to go to Mandy Patinkin's extremely endearing, very funny, and even quite moving portrayal of Ingio Montoya.

Best Scene: "Hello my name is Inigo Montoya you killed my father prepare to die."
Overall Rank:
  1. Mandy Patinkin in The Princess Bride
  2. Richard Dawson in The Running Man
  3. Morgan Freeman in Street Smart
  4. R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket
  5. Alec Guinness in Little Dorrit
  6. Dennis Hopper in River's Edge
  7. Vincent D'Onofrio in Full Metal Jacket
  8. Robert De Niro in Angel Heart
  9. Peter Falk in Wings of Desire
  10. Peter O'Toole in The Last Emperor
  11. Daniel Roebuck in River's Edge
  12. George Wyner in Spaceballs
  13. Kurtwood Smith in Robocop
  14. Will Patton in No Way Out
  15. David Strathairn in Matewan
  16. Christopher Guest in The Princess Bride 
  17. Andre The Giant in The Princess Bride 
  18. Ying Ruocheng in The Last Emperor
  19. Chris Sarandon in The Princess Bride
  20. James Earl Jones in Matewan
  21. Wallace Shawn in The Princess Bride
  22. Ian Bannen in Hope and Glory
  23. Vincent Gardenia in Moonstruck
  24. Bob Gunton in Matewan
  25. Billy Crystal in The Princess Bride
  26. Denzel Washington in Cry Freedom
  27. Gene Hackman in No Way Out
  28. John Goodman in Raising Arizona 
  29. Mel Smith in The Princess Bride
  30. Erik King in Street Smart
  31. Danny Aiello in Moonstruck
  32. John Malkovich in Empire of the Sun
  33. Robert Prosky in Broadcast News
  34. Mel Brooks in Spaceballs
  35. Tom Waits in Ironweed
  36. John Candy in Spaceballs 
  37. Peter Falk in The Princess Bride 
  38. Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys
  39. William Forsythe in Raising Arizona
  40. Gary Busey in Lethal Weapon
  41. Forest Whitaker in Good Morning, Vietnam
  42. Dick Van Patten in Spaceballs
  43. Ronny Cox in RoboCop
  44. Jack Nicholson in Broadcast News
  45. Hal Holbrook in Wall Street
  46. Miguel Ferrer in Robocop 
  47. Bill Duke in Predator 
  48. Bruno Kirby in Good Morning, Vietnam
  49. John Mahoney in Moonstruck
  50. Barnard Hughes in The Lost Boys
  51. Robert Englund in Nightmare on Elm Street 3
  52. Gene Hackman in Superman IV  
  53. Corey Feldman in The Lost Boys
  54. Sean Connery in The Untouchables
  55. Otto Sander in Wings of Desire
  56. J.C. Quinn in Barfly 
  57. Yaphet Kotto in The Running Man 
  58. Fred Gwynne in Ironweed
  59. Andy Garcia in The Untouchables
  60. Nigel Havers in Empire of the Sun
  61. J.T. Walsh in Good Morning Vietnam
  62. Dean Stockwell in Beverly Hills Cop 2
  63. Joshua John Miller in River's Edge
  64. Robert De Niro in The Untouchables
  65. John Rhys-Davies in The Living Daylights 
  66. Victor Wong in The Last Emperor
  67. Judge Reinhold in Beverly Hills Cop 2
  68. Mick Fleetwood in The Running Man
  69. Terence Stamp in Wall Street
  70. Carl Weathers Predator 
  71. John Ashton in Beverly Hills Cop 2
  72. Noble Willingham in Good Morning, Vietnam
  73. Trey Wilson in Raising Arizona
  74. Brownie McGhee in Angel Heart
  75. Michael O'Keefe in Ironweed 
  76. Arliss Howard in Full Metal Jacket
  77. Martin Sheen in Wall Street
  78. Dann Florek in Angel Heart
  79. Billy Drago in The Untouchables
  80. Joe Don Baker in The Living Daylights 
  81. John C. McGinley in Wall Street
  82. Kurt Fuller in The Running Man
  83. Randall Cobb in Raising Arizona
  84. Charles Martin Smith in The Untouchables
  85. Fred Savage in The Princess Bride
  86. Will Oldham in Matewan
  87. Christopher Connelly in Strike Commando
  88. Andreas Wisniewski in The Living Daylights
  89. Wallace Shawn in Prick Up Your Ears  
  90. Jeroen Krabbe in The Living Daylights
  91. Jesse Ventura in The Running Man
  92. Frank Stallone in Barfly
  93. Jay Patterson in Street Smart
  94. Marvin J. McIntyre in The Running Man
  95. Sam McMurray in Raising Arizona
  96. Jim Metzler in River's Edge
  97. Andre Gregory in Street Smart
  98. David Hayman in Hope and Glory
  99. Jesse Ventura in Predator
  100. Alex Vitale in Strike Commando
  101. Jon Cryer in Superman IV
Next Year: 1978 Lead

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1987: Robert De Niro in Angel Heart

Robert De Niro did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Louis Cyphre in Angel Heart.

Angel Heart is an effective thriller about a private eye Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) given the fairly simple task of finding a man, although there is not anything simple about the task.

Robert De Niro plays the man who hires Harry to find the elusive Johnny Favourite. It is obvious from his appearance though that he is not just a run of the mill sort rather something far more sinister, a 70's era Martin Scorsese, which means the most frightening creature of all, the devil. This really is not something hidden in anyway instead it is abundantly obvious right down to his name, his ring and his long finger nails which he uses to tear apart open the shell of an egg which Cyphre does not mind explaining that the egg often is used to represent the soul.

With the way Louis Cyphre is set up as a character De Niro doesn't mind playing the part of the devil in a rather blunt manner. De Niro plays off the fact that Cyphre obviously is the devil by giving the right type of knowing style of a performance. De Niro does not play it as knowing toward the audience but rather knowing in terms of what Cyphre knows. De Niro always has an off putting assurance in his performance that establishes well the fact that Cyphre clearly knows more then he is letting toward Angel, and that in every twist and turn that Cyphre knows exactly why they are occurring even if he won't let on.

De Niro actually has a few scenes but he is a strong highlight of the film through his simple but very effective portrayal of Cyphre. De Niro makes Cyphre basically the fate of the film. His devil is the ultimate manipulator who doesn't only move the chess pieces but own the chess board the whole time. De Niro's performance has the intelligence of the all knowing beast in it. De Niro instead of going really big in the role is very terrifying by staying so very chilling through just how relaxed Cyphre is during every single dark turn in the film which Cyphre knows will happen when he wants it to happen.

Every single movement and physical gesture that he gives are striking and captivating in both their oddness but as well in the way in which they creation the demonic puppet master. De Niro in every  one of his appearances builds the grim atmosphere that overpowers film. When De Niro finally unleashes the true devil it has a truly fierce some quality and works particularly well because De Niro crafted in such an eerie fashion to begin with. In his few scene De Niro realizes the devil in this world and when his eyes glow a most unnatural quality, De Niro has made only a natural transition.

 De Niro is listed in credits as giving a special appearance in the film. This is probably the perfect description for his role in the film. De Niro does not have a lot of screen time, but he makes a tremendous impact with each and everyone of his scenes. Louise Cyphre is actually far more difficult role then it might seem as the way he dresses and the way he looks could easily have illicit the wrong kind of laughter. De Niro is in top form though making a vivid depiction of the prince darkness and giving a very compelling performance where De Niro unassumingly controls the entire film without really even seeming like he's trying to.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1987: Mandy Patinkin in The Princess Bride

Mandy Patinkin did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride.

The Princess Bride is an extremely enjoyable fairy tale about a hero Westley (Cary Elwes) who must save his one true love Buttercup (Robin Wright).

Practically the whole cast is worth mentioning as their performances make up this delightful film. Chris Sarandon is the perfect weasel as the cowardly yet egotistical Prince Humperdink, Christopher Guest out Rathbones Basil Rathbone as Humperdink's far more competent second in command Count Tyrone Rugen, Wallace Shawn is at his very best at doing his Wallace Shawn thing as a villain who thinks he is much smarter then he actually is, and even Andre the Giant is incredibly endearing as a giant who is far too gentle for his task as an evil henchmen. Even though I enjoy all of those performances a great deal my favorite performance in the film without question is delivered by Mandy Patinkin.

Mandy Patinkin plays Ingio Montoya who at the beginning of the film works for the evil schemer Vizzini (Shawn) who kidnaps Buttercup to start a war. Ingio is a henchmen to the bad guy although he is not bad himself merely because otherwise he would just be a drunk. Patinkin establishes the nature of Ingio very effectively early on as a noble figure who is far greater than his current job. Patinkin is effortless in his creation of the heroic nature of the man. Every line he has has such a beautiful conviction about everything that he says. Patinkin is incredibly endearing in being an absolutely true man of honor.

Patinkin though also gives a very comedic performance which he seamlessly blends with the straight forward elements of his portrayal. Patinkin has such an ease with his comic timing here that it flows flawlessly with the technically more serious moments given to the character of Ingio. Patinkin is just hilarious though and plays the perfect sort of game with his performance where he is always so straight forward yet some of his moments are just hilarious in a much more broad way.  Patinkin always puts just the right emphasis to make every funny moment really fly freely to the point of comedic goal without ever making his character seem even slightly over the top.

Everything works about Patinkin's work here including his chemistry with both Andre the Giant and Cary Elwes. With Andre the Giant they are the perfect group of side heroes in the story who together try to save the day even though they have a problem with a half dead hero. Patinkin and Andre the Giant have the right natural friendship and every one of their scenes together are just a delight to watch. The same is true for he and Elwes who are pure perfection at the witty banter when they sword fight early on the film. The two really make a proper exciting dance of it not only in their physical performances but as well in their mixing of words as the two get to know each other well they fight to the death.

The true greatness of Patinkin's performance though can be summed in one line "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.". He first says it quietly to Westley and describes his quest to avenge his father's death by the man with six fingers on one hand. Patinkin brings such conviction as he espouses Ingio's desire and creates such a sympathy for Ingio's desperate struggle. Patinkin in his lovely delivery though suggests the love Ingio had for his father and the sadness that his death brought to him. In just this one speech I wanted him to get his revenge even though we are only told the story and technically at this point Ingio is just a henchmen to a villain of the piece.

The very best scene of the film and maybe the very best scene of 1987 comes when Ingio finally meets the six fingered man Count Tyrone Rugen (Guest) for a duel to the death. Patinkin is flawless in his performance of the scene making it a perfect blend of drama and comedy. Patinkin very movingly finds the drama as Ingio faces several setbacks through wounds he suffers and is quite heartbreaking when for a moment Ingio seems to accept defeat. This only succeeds in making his comeback all the greater as he gains the upper hand as he repeats the immortal line again and again. Patinkin find brings such humor in his line through his increasingly heroic delivery of the line even while Ingio is suffering from several wounds. 

The greatest moment comes when Ingio has the Count cornered and Ingio forces the Count to beg through bribes building up to the moment of ultimate satisfaction with the line of "I want my father back, you son of a bitch!". Patinkin's delivery gives me chills every time I watch the scene and it makes Ingio revenge so sweet. This is a great great performance by Mandy Patinkin who does not just steal every scene he is in but steals the film itself as I found myself more invested by Ingio's story then even the main storyline. I just love this entire performance by Patinkin that is a magnificent combination of a pitch perfect comedy and a real dramatic passion.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1987: R. Lee Ermey and Vincent D'Onofrio in Full Metal Jacket

R. Lee Ermey did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.

Full Metal Jacket is an effective film, although I've always felt it peaks with the boot camp, about a group marines as they go from boot camp to Vietnam.

Although Matthew Modine as Private Joker is technically the lead of the film as a whole R. Lee Ermey is the star of its first third as the men go through boot camp. Ermey owns the picture and for most of the first third it is a constant stream of his voice in the role of the drill Sergeant who intends to shape every man his way. R. Lee Ermey actually helped Lou Gossett Jr. prepare for his Oscar winning role in An Officer and A Gentleman as a drill Sergeant. Ermey though doesn't repeat Gossett's performance, Goessett's character had a heart, Ermey plays Sergeant Hartman as the penultimate soulless drill Sergeant who will make killing machines at any cost.

Ermey's performance is a non stop charge of intensity as he rips out every insult known to man to demean and break down each man to meet his firm requirements. Ermey doesn't hold back and his performance has a visceral sting like few performances ever have. Ermey string the film along through his, mostly ad-libbed, insults he lobs toward each recruit. Ermey does not even seem to blink in his unending intensity that is perpetual in every scene that he is in. Each of Ermey's results cut right down to each matter and the way each man falls directly in line is not even a slight question because Ermey absolutely controls all in every single scene he is in, besides his final scene of course.

This performance would see one that is one note in that Hartman really does not change nor should he, but Ermey brings so much in the yelling of the drill Sergeant. He always brings that violent threat and a forced dehumanization in his almost sometimes demonic eyes. In that though Ermey even manages a very odd yet extremely effective pitch black comedy in his performance too. Ermey never does wink even slightly in his performance and his extreme nature of his character is always kept intact. Within the unquestionable drive of his performance Ermey technically does have a satirical take by being the drill Sergeant that would cause most drill Sergeants to cower in fear.

One of Ermey's best moments is when he gives a lecture to his men about the Kennedy assassination as well as well as a sniper massacre. He talks about both and Ermey has Hartman speak of them with the utmost pride as he basically praises both events simply because the men who did the killing were both trained by the marines. Ermey's delivery of it is flawless because he allows the absurdity to be there without paying any direct attention to it himself. He keeps an absolute conviction in his performance and even though the statement is completely insane Ermey is great because obviously it is perfectly sensible to his deranged idea of pride. 

The man given the worst treatment of all is Private Leonard "Gomer Pyle" Lawrence played by Vincent D'Onofrio. Leonard starts out the film as clearly the weakest of the recruits who is just one big softie who does not seem ideal to become the killing machine that Hartman wants. D'Onofrio is quite good in being the softie at first and gains quite a bit of sympathy just being the guy who just should not be where he is. D'Onofrio is very earnest just in his portrayal of the ineptitude. D'Onofrio's keeps it fairly simple but he is rather moving because he always makes it obvious that Leonard is trying and that he does feel terrible about every one of his failures.

Leonard's ill treatment never stops as Hartman's ridicule always continues and eventually he is hazed by the other men when Hartman decides that the other men will have to suffer for every mistake Leonard makes. This results in a change in him that is rather extreme and sudden. This is not D'Onofrio's fault as he does have slight indications that this could happen beforehand, but once he changes there is no going back. D'Onofrio becomes almost entirely silent for most of his remaining scenes as Pyle is left by everyone and internalizes everything into himself. D'Onofrio is excellent showing the closed off Pyle and the insanity clearly building within him as he goes by himself to complete the task of becoming a killing machine.

This leads to the final scene where Ermey's and D'Onofrio's performances converge. D'Onofrio is amazing in the scene showing a full changed Pyle as he finally bursts out into his emotions in a truly frightening scene. D'Onofrio is chilling as he shows the formerly soft Pyle a man driven by insanity as Pyle loads and prepares his gun with actual ammunition. D'Onofrio explosion is only made more startling by the way he build in the proceeding scenes in which Pyle was clearly repressing something as he went about his duties to finally pass the trials of the marines by being the monster Hartman always wanted him to be.

Ermey comes in this scene and is also great as he dials back on the intensity of Hartman for just a moment when he notices what Pyle is planning. It is a very subtle moment as Hartman perhaps sees what he has created before he tries one more time to return to his intimidation that results very poorly for both Hartman and Pyle. It is a fantastic scene as Ermey and D'Onofrio basically play Frankenstein and his monster with Hartman having to face what he created. Both actors are brilliant in their uncompromising performances that go all the way with their characters right to their very bitter end. They both give performances that are madness incarnate, one controlled one not, and both succeed in creating the unforgettable opening act of this film.

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1987: Dennis Hopper in River's Edge

Dennis Hopper did not receive Oscar nomination for portraying Feck in River's Edge.

River's Edge is a mostly effective film, the school teacher is a bit on the nose and I've never cared for Crispin Glover in anything other than Back to the Future, about a group of troubled teenagers who try to hide the fact that one of them murdered his girlfriend.

Dennis Hopper plays one of the few adults in the film and is just as disturbed as the kids. Hopper plays Feck a hermit who also acts as the local drug dealer for the local kids. Feck is a strange man who does not mind greeting someone at the door while brandishing a gun, telling them openly that he murdered a woman and referring to his sex doll as a person. Dennis Hopper is definitely not a stranger to playing unhinged characters but this performance has a very different feeling then his earlier work in Apocalypse Now and Blue Velvet. Hopper internalizes the derangement of this character and gives quite an intriguing portrayal.

Hopper is excellent in portraying the mess of the man that is Feck in his early scenes when one of the teenagers come by to buy drugs from him. Hopper mixes up the man flawlessly inter splices the different sides of his troubled psyche. Although everything is insane about him Hopper is very natural in his performance as the shut in. In his initial scene Hopper weaves a portrait of Feck's derangement as he seems slightly amiable as he welcomes one of the teenagers but at the same time still threatens with his gun. Hopper is perfectly disconcerting as he makes Feck with an oddly warm personality that all the while still always has the threat of being completely deranged at the same time.

Hopper plays each side brilliantly while keeping such possibilities in every scene. Hopper never outright explains what exactly is the deal with Feck yet he creates a very compelling portrait of the insane individual. There is nothing simple about him. It would be easy just to play him as just insane but Hopper gives him such a depth of character. Hopper has Feck an insane man but a very lonely insane man. Feck's best friend is a sex doll he acts is alive and Hopper even brings a complexity to this relationship showing his insanity in this regard as something he does for a need to try to cope with his horrible situation.

Although it is a given fact from his first scene that Feck is a murderer, Hopper strangely makes him the moral center of the film. Hopper importantly distances Feck from the kids as Feck does not have that emotional distance the teenagers have. The difference is especially notable and quite fascinating once the murderer John (Daniel Roebuck) hides out in Feck's home. They both have murdered women John treats it as nothing to him rather something he just did, Hopper though is incredible showing Feck's murder as something that truly haunts him all the time. Feck's a murderer and Hopper does not shy from that in his performance, but Hopper always emphasizes in a bizarre poignancy that Feck felt the murder unlike John.

The scenes shared by Roebuck and Hopper are easily the best as they interact with their conflicting personalities even though they share the same horrendous deed. Hopper is absolutely great in these scenes portraying Feck as having a most unusual reaction to John. On one hand there is a warmth he brings that is very strong portraying once again that Feck to try to deal with his loneliness will reach out to even to John's hollow soul. On the other hand though Hopper builds in Feck a slow building very quiet disbelief in Feck as John consistently shows no remorse. Hopper is amazing as he pour so much emotion into his portrayal of the way John's soulless outlook tears him apart as Feck's murder is something he could never forget.

Hopper's single best scene comes after Feck has murdered John and he explains why. Hopper is so beautifully somber in the scene as Feck mourns the death of John as well as he slowly explains that he had to kill him as John's behavior was impossible to understand even to a fellow murderer. Dennis Hopper completely realizes this character and there is not a moment to be disbelieved. Hopper somehow brings the whole mess that is Feck together in his performance. Not only does he realizes his character's conflicting behavior into a cohesive whole he also gives an honestly sympathetic performance as Feck that stands as a powerful contrast to the emotionally distant performances by much of the cast particularly Daniel Roebuck.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1987: Richard Dawson in The Running Man

Richard Dawson did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Damon Killian in The Running Man.

The Running Man for the most part is a somewhat underwhelming action movie about an innocent man in a dystopian future  who is forced to compete in a life or death game show. It is mostly underwhelming because the action scenes just aren't that great, and Schwarzenegger is far from top Schwarzenegger form. There is one element of the film that made me not mind watching the film one bit though, and that is where Richard Dawson comes in.

Richard Dawson plays the lead antagonist of the film a game show host just like Dawson himself was for many years as the host of family feud. The game show Running Man though is not family feud, and Dawson takes on the role with a brilliant satirical turn. In his game show scenes Dawson brings on his performance from Family Feud which he uses to great effect. He has such a perfect seeming warmness with audience the way he flirts with the women holding them all so close when letting them play along with the game. Dawson uses every trick he had on Family Feud and flawlessly brings them to this performance.

Dawson is a great showman and he makes every scene he is worth while in some way. His whole rousing of the audience is always terrific in creating the world of the show built around a true bloodsport. Dawson doesn't just repeat what he did on Family Feud, although his replication of it is remarkable and should not be taken for granted, Dawson puts just the right tinge of menace along with the jovial host who loves everybody. One of his best moments is when he is building the crowd up, but for a moment he pulls out the true villain to respond to Schwarzenegger's catch phrase "I'll be back" which Dawson responds with the perfectly delivered response of "Only in a re-run".

Richard Dawson is masterful as the game show host. He simply could not be better in the way he plays along so well to the crowd and honestly can even make you even believe in the concept of this type of game show. Dawson play every aspect of the show like an expert pianist playing a difficult piece. He extremely efficient in the way he is able to change through the course of the game from his early scenes where he is building the crowd up, to even portions where Dawson makes Killian a pseudo empathetic sort as he tries to calm the audience as the games are not going how they usually do, but most importantly always the strong resilience of a man who will put on a good show no matter what.

We don't only see Killian only when he is performing and Dawson is wonderful in showing the real man behind the showman. Dawson takes an excellent approach by very much easing down on the flamboyance of his performance as Killian takes care of the behind the doors dealings to get the ratings he wants. Dawson is exceptionally blunt in portraying Killian as the unscrupulous man who doesn't mind a few underhanded dealings if it were to mean just one more point for his show in the ratings. Dawson removes any of the jovial qualities before giving a very dark side of the man who is quick and to the point about his demands as well as in making his threats if anyone fails him.

Dawson deserves so much credit for his performance because he gives a disturbingly authentic portrayal of a game show host when it would have been so easy to way over play the role given that it is an Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie. Dawson goes all the way with his performance though being completely believable as the man who can change on a dime from the seemingly charming and energetic host to the blunt and very harsh businessman. Dawson is effortless in creating the sleazy host who can play either to the audience to support any single thing he does or manipulate any one of his underlings or contestants to do his bidding. He brings this dynamic together to make Killian an entertaining and menacing villain.

This is far more then just some inspired stunt casting as just any game show host would not have done. For one Richard Dawson was probably one of the very best in that field, but as well because Dawson delivers in every aspect of the role of Killian. Every scene he is in lights up the film and enlivens it in a way the action scenes can't. Dawson does not waste a single second of his screen time making the most of every moment in his portrayal of the evil game show host. Dawson goes the distance with it and really Dawson clearly could have given a very similar performance in an entirely serious film about an egomaniac game show host.

Its a shame that Richard Dawson's creation of Damon Killian was not in a film that was as inspired as his performance because merely saying that Dawson is the best part of the film is not quite fair. His performance goes above and beyond the call of duty for his role as the central villain. Dawson's work doesn't just rise above the film he elevates the film itself from being completely dispensable to having one aspect that is well worth watching. This is just stellar work from Dawson as he gives a deliciously sinister turn that works both as being an entertaining villain but as well a rather oddly believable portrait of a television personality who will do anything to be number one in the ratings.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1987

And the Nominees Were Not:

R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket

Vincent D'Onofrio in Full Metal Jacket

Dennis Hopper in River's Edge

Mandy Patinkin in The Princess Bride

Richard Dawson in The Running Man

Robert De Niro in Angel Heart

For prediction purposes I'll give the honor to Ermey out of the two Full Metal Jacket men. 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1987: Results

5. Mickey Rourke in Barfly- Rourke is all about his unique creation of his character of the Barfly and although unorthodox it does work quite effectively for his film.

Best Scene: Henry first goes home with Wanda
4. Bruno Ganz in Wings of Desire- Ganz is again mostly about conception and like Rourke it works wonderfully well for his film.

Best Scene: Damiel, now fallen, meets with Peter Falk.
3. Gary Oldman in Prick Up Ears- Oldman uses his chameleon abilities in a terrific fashion to giving a complex portrait of a writer whose talent, ego and appetites grow faster then his partner can take.

Best Scene: Orton becomes the dominate one in his relationship with Halliwell.
2. John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles- John Candy gives a great performance that is very entertaining on the surface but also quite a heartbreaking portrait underneath.

Best Scene: "You wanna hurt me?"
1. John Lone in The Last Emperor- My favorite performance of the year belongs to John Lone's portrayal of the Last Emperor of China. Lone gives a fascinating and very moving portrayal of the journey of a ruler who did not even have power over himself.

Best Scene: The elderly Puyi visits his old home.
Overall Rank:
  1. John Lone in The Last Emperor
  2. Jack Nicholson in Ironweed
  3. John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles
  4. Albert Brooks in Broadcast News
  5. William Hurt in Broadcast News 
  6. Gary Oldman in Prick Up Your Ears
  7. Bruno Ganz in Wings of Desire
  8. Mickey Rourke in Barfly
  9. Mickey Rourke in Angel Heart
  10. Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles
  11. Michael Douglas in Wall Street
  12. Christian Bale in Empire of the Sun 
  13. Rick Moranis in Spaceballs
  14. Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights
  15. Matthew Modine in Full Metal Jacket
  16. Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon
  17. Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction
  18. Chris Cooper in Matewan
  19. Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride
  20. Nicolas Cage in Raising Arizona
  21. Alfred Molina in Prick Up Your Ears
  22. Dan Aykroyd in Dragnet
  23. Marcello Mastroianni in Dark Eyes
  24. Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon
  25. Max von Sydow in Pelle the Conqueror
  26. Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam
  27. Peter Weller in RoboCop 
  28. Sebastian Rice-Edwards in Hope And Glory
  29. Keanu Reeves in River's Edge
  30. Derek Jacobi in Little Dorrit
  31. Jason Patric in The Lost Boys
  32. Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck
  33. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator
  34. Bill Pullman in Spaceballs
  35. Tom Hanks in Dragnet
  36. Corey Haim in The Lost Boys 
  37. Pelle Hvenegaard in Pelle the Conqueror
  38. John Lithgow in Harry and the Hendersons
  39. Kurt Russell in Overboard
  40. Christopher Reeve in Superman IV 
  41. Charlie Sheen in Wall Street
  42. Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop 2 
  43. Charlie Sheen in No Man's Land
  44. Kevin Costner in No Way Out
  45. Craig Wasson in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3
  46. D.B. Sweeney in No Man's Land
  47. Kevin Kline in Cry Freedom
  48. Christopher Reeve in Street Smart
  49. Crispin Glover in River's Edge
  50. Reb Brown in Strike Commando
  51. Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Running Man
  52. Kevin Costner in The Untouchables
Next Year: 1987 Supporting

Alternate Best Actor 1987: Mickey Rourke in Barfly

Mickey Rourke did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Henry Chinaski in Barfly.

Barfly is an interesting and curious little film about the exploits of a man drinks his way through his life.

Mickey Rourke plays Henry Chinaski a character who does not see to give a damn about most things and plays the part as if he doesn't give a damn what anyone things either. Rourke goes for broke with his performance playing the role of his own very particular characterization and going all the way with it. Rourke goes all the way with every respect from the way he stands, the way he sits, the way he smiles, and especially his voice. Everything that Rourke does is not at all compromised in his seemingly rather odd way of playing Henry that pretty much its a love it or leave it type of performance.

I would say more then anything it takes a bit of time to get use to his performance as Henry as it is so strange on the level of conception. To Rourke's credit he does succeed in the way a performance like this needs to succeed in that he does make all the mannerisms and his voice seem natural to his character. Rourke is consistent though throughout in terms of his creation of Henry. He never falls off from this characterization and he always is the odd sort that Henry is no matter what the situation. Rourke never loses his character and although Henry always seems less then normal Rourke is always true to who Henry is.

As film alcoholics go this is a very different vision then usually seen. They are usually either comedic drunks or pained individuals who are slowly destroying themselves with their drinking. Henry as a character sort of doesn't fall into either category and he sort of falls into both. The tone of Barfly is quite unusual and this largely due to the way the character of Henry is written and the way he is portrayed by Rourke. Henry is a barfly in that he is always of that world and never stops being part of it which means he is always drunk in some way, but it does not seem self destructive, in the traditional way, as he seems to be exactly where he wants to be.

Henry just kind of does what he does throughout the film and the ending is of the film is that he is left as a man just continuing to do what he does finding that is all that he wants. What Rourke does quite effectively though is make Henry a man who would start at the bar and stay at the bar no matter what. He develops the oddly carefree personality that goes with the flow whether it is downing yet another glass of liquor, spending time with a fellow lush (Faye Dunaway), or getting in a bar fight he pretty much takes in his own way always without very few examples of really ever even getting bent out of his already rather odd shape.

Henry's lack of much of a character arc though is not a problem because Rourke does realize Henry so well that his lack of change is actually just what makes the most sense for his character. In turn the appeal of this performance is just Rourke having Henry be himself. Rourke's performance did take some time to get used to but once I did I found him quite a compelling character to follow. This character is all about the creation of Henry which Rourke just goes all the way with and it really does work in making the film itself work by making the titular Barfly a strangely interesting and sometimes even humorous character to follow.

Alternate Best Actor 1987: John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles

John Candy did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Del Griffith in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is an entertaining film, even though its soundtrack is extremely 80's, about a businessman Neal (Steve Martin) who tries to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving well being helped by and annoyed by a traveling salesman.

I'll start with how it would be easy to look at this performance which may seem just like the very best of John Candy doing what he did for most of his unfortunately brief acting career. Candy on the surface at least goes for the entertaining performance as the man who just might have too much personality as he helps Martin's Neal try to make it home no matter what. In this way Candy is at his very best in this style of performance as the man who tries to do whatever is best but too often screws up and ends up having too many behavioral manners that might be just a little obnoxious.

Candy brings out his charm very well here and is very likable in the role of Del even though he doesn't shy from allowing us to see why Neal would have such strong outbursts against him at times. Candy mediates within the role very effectively finding the right balance in bringing the humor needed for the part through his excellent timing yet never overplaying it to the point that it makes Del just a caricature. Del is a character at the risk of being too much at every moment but Candy through his charm ground Del in just the right making the bigness of Del's personality a natural trait within the character that really works splendidly throughout the course of the film.

This film is of course a buddy picture and the film is all about the interactions between Candy and Martin as Del and Neal try to make it back to Chicago in time. Again on the comedic side of things the two work splendidly together as they play off each others styles quite effectively with Martin's cynical rather blunt performance which contrasts well against Candy's much more jovial and optimistic portrayal. They make a great balancing act and build to the punch lines often well with Candy's usually building something up in a colorful lively fashion which Martin without a doubt will break down with just the right severity.

Candy's work here though is more than just a nice enjoyable little turn to lead this road picture. Del's wish to help Neal to whatever end is not just a random trait actually though and Candy's performance actually gives motivation to Del. Del wants to be Neal's best friend and sees a camaraderie as two men on the road who are not where they want to be but their major difference comes in the secret that Del is hiding. Del claims to be happily married but the truth is he is a widower. What Candy does so well is that, even though this is a secret to the end of the film, he actually does give it away earlier by showing how this fact of Del's life actually shapes the man.

Candy's best scene probably of his whole acting career comes the first extremely rough patch in Del's and Neal's time together. Neal insults Del's whole personality leaving Del to defend himself. Candy is absolutely heartbreaking in this scene as he shows Del just barely able to hold back tears, but as well a passionate determination as he defends his genuine personality. In the moment Candy reflects the feeling of a past happiness with his extremely moving delivery of "I like me. My wife likes me.". Candy realizes the memories of Del's wife beautifully and suggest both the joy that the memories bring but as well the heartbreak over the loss as well. 

In a way Del's reaction might seem like an overreaction but its not because of Candy's performance that explains why it is strong as it is. Del is not just being told he is a bad storyteller by Neal, but rather that there is a whole problem with his personality. Candy shows that it hurts Del deeply because Neal's insult is also a failure of his to actually reach out and find some happiness in a friendship while he has to live with the fact that he really has absolutely nobody in the world. Within it though Candy is terrific in bringing the resilience in Del who no matter what will stand by himself because he knows he is completely true to himself.  

Martin and Candy are equally adept at the serious elements although for the most part they do make it an underlying factor in the film but one that slowly builds to a mutual respect to one another. Their chemistry is excellent and they naturally build the friendship even between the more comic moments. When the pivotal moment comes in which Neal comes back for Del, having figured out the secret that he had been hiding, it is  heart warming without being forced in any way. Candy and Martin earn the moment completely through their performances. 

John Candy's performance on the surface is just a very entertaining turn utilizing his great comic timing and his unique charm as an actor. This performance is more than just that, and that really would have been enough for the film to have worked out just fine anyway. Candy does more than that and reveals a side to his talent that tragically was underutilized during his career. Candy really brings a tenderness and emotional truth with his portrait of a grieving man who faces his grief, as well as the world, by trying to be the best man he can possibly be and try to find some happiness in that.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1987: Bruno Ganz in Wings of Desire

Bruno Ganz did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Damiel in Wings of Desire.

Wings of Desire is an effective film that watches the lives of many people well they are observed by unseen angels.

Bruno Ganz portrays the angel Damiel who observes the world and the lives of humans although he is not able to interact with the world. For about the first three fourths of the film Ganz's performance is very much a straight shot in terms of its consistency. Wings of Desire is very much, the director, Wim Wenders's film. Ganz is a part of it but a very important part portraying the angel who wants to stop just observing human behavior and become human himself. Even though this desire might sound like the arc for Damiel it is done very much as part of who Damiel is from the beginning of the film.

Ganz's performance is very much about his face and the manner in which he observes for most of the period in which he is an angel. Ganz as a wonderful welcoming quality in his performance and very much achieves what he needs to as the angel. There is nothing strange or even slightly creepy about him watching over the people because the goodness of Damiel is so effortlessly conveyed by Ganz. Ganz's performance accentuates the perfect pleasantness of the Damiel while still being otherworldly in just the right way. Ganz is inviting in his earnest face yet he mixes in the right separation as Damiel can only interact with the real world in the smallest ways.

Ganz really plays the longing to be human extremely well as part of who Damiel is. It is never something that drives Damiel from still being angelic in manner instead Ganz infuses within the curiosity of Damiel as he watches the world. Ganz carefully sets Damiel apart from the angels in the film through a strong but very subtle passion as he slowly tries to interact the world directly. It is steady mostly silent curiosity but Ganz establishes it well and in this way makes Damiel the most open seeming of all the angels as Damiel is an angel who wants to be a man. He still is at a distance but always leaves the potential for closeness.

Eventually Damiel falls and becomes a human although this is not done with a great deal of pomp or circumstance. Ganz's performance follows suit which works properly for the character of Damiel who definitely would not make sense to change the nature of his character. As the human Damiel Ganz adjusts his performance ever so slightly but it is a very effective approach as he doesn't compromise the nature of Damiel as a character. Ganz becomes earthly in his face and expression as the seeming perfection leaves to just a more normally emotional man. He still suggests a natural goodness but the goodness of a normal man rather then a heavenly creature.

Even though Damiel has made a big transition Ganz still goes along as Damiel as the curious man although now with even more life as he gets to interact with the physical for once. He brings a tremendous energy and joy in his performance and really brings to life the idea of a man first experiencing the smallest parts of life in a believable natural fashion. It is the last part of the film so there actually is not a great deal of time given to these scenes actually as Damiel experiences the world and tries to find a woman he fell in love with as an Angel. Ganz though gives a nice quiet work just letting all of the happiness of the journey of Damiel flow in fitting for fashion for his character whose journey should be a gentle but moving one.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1987: John Lone in The Last Emperor

John Lone did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Aisin-Gioro Puyi in The Last Emperor.

The Last Emperor is a strangely underrated best picture winner that depicts the life of the last emperor of China.

The Last Emperor despite being nominated for nine Oscars, all of which it won, it did not receive a single acting nomination. John Lone despite leading the film was ignored although perhaps it was because he is not the only actor to play Puyi in the film and there are three other actors who play the emperor before Lone takes over Puyi. Lone still undoubtedly makes the most distinct mark on the man as Puyi is portrayed before Lone takes over basically as a spoiled brat of sorts who just wants to enjoy all pleasures he is allowed by being the emperor although at times is troubled by the fact that he really is not in power and is never allowed to leave the Forbidden City.

Films that won best picture that were lead by a historical figures tended to be about people who shaped the world through their influence like George S. Patton, T.E. Lawrence and Mahatma Gandhi. Puyi is the exact opposite whose whole life is shaped by the influence of the world. The earliest chronological moment in which we meet Lone's Puyi is as he is trying to make the smallest measure to control his life in the city which amounts to no more then being able to cut his hair and trying to make it so his servants are not stealing his possessions. Lone portrays Puyi as a young man with small pride in himself and within that sense of power although only a sense of power that in all reality is actually very small.

Quickly enough though Puyi is kicked out of the forbidden city and attempts to live a life of a rich playboy. Lone is terrific in these brief scenes having such false life to him whether he is crooning a song well a minstrel band plays, or taking to the dance floor. Lone brings a bizarre style of charm an enforced charm that is perfect in representing what Puyi is trying for. Lone gives a manufactured artificial performance in this phase of Puyi when he is a manufactured artificial man. Lone fits the surroundings brilliantly and suggests how Puyi fails in this life as well by never quite having the right comfort in these scenes, and by performing the part of Puyi as a purposeful performance.

Puyi's life as the attempted playboy does not last long though as he once again attempts to be the Emperor he is said to be when the Japanese install him as a puppet ruler. Lone is very effective again by showing that Puyi is trying to fulfill some sot of role for himself that may not be himself but is something at the very moment he wants himself to be. Lone is excellent in adjusting himself to Puyi's new model he has set to himself which is the cold proper leader he thinks he should be. Lone accentuates a certain desperation in Puyi's manner as he tries very hard to be a man of power and finally an actual emperor. Lone suggests properly within his stiff posture and cold demeanor he still knows he is a puppet.

What Lone always does importantly in his performance is he is never just the surface of the man in his performance even though much of Puyi's later life is that of a superficial man. There is one absolutely outstanding moment where Puyi's wife is taken away for treatment of her opium addiction which is killing her. Lone still keeps Puyi in his position until he learns that she has been taken away without his prior knowledge. Lone is very powerful as Puyi watches his life being controlled once more. It is beautiful moment because Lone still shows Puyi as man who is truly emotionally devastated even though all he can is stand and watch as he still has his life controlled by another.

After this point Puyi is put in a reeducation camp and he forced to relieve his past by the camp officials who wish for him to admit to crimes. Lone appears and reappears in these scenes as they flashback to his earlier life. In all of these scenes Lone punctuates every one of the flashbacks through his portrayal of Puyi in his current state. Lone strikes an interesting balance in these scenes as Lone makes Puyi more truthful but a man still holding back in someway. Lone is careful though and is most truthful in the disappointment and sadness in Puyi as he is a man left as prisoner after so many attempts to try to be something more, and no longer with even the illusion of having his own power.

Lone is effective in that he shows that although honest in his sadness Puyi is not quite so in his position and responsibilities yet. It is not the overriding artificiality anymore though as Puyi without a doubt is a defeated man in heart. There still is a defensiveness that Lone properly brings but not longer to try and imagine himself as a different man anymore. The defensiveness instead Lone shows to be brought upon a bitterness, a bitterness that leaves him as a man who will try anything even in slightest way to try and not completely accept his current plight. The camp though is not the end of Puyi though as he becomes a gardener when he finally is given his first freedom in life.

Lone is absolutely perfect in these final but pivotal scenes as the elderly Puyi. Firstly in a more technical sense Lone ages very natural and he is utterly believable as the older Puyi. More importantly though Lone brings a tremendous poignancy to these scenes as he portrays Puyi's late life. Where Puyi is left is as a humble gardener but finally allowed to live not by the direct control of others. Lone portrays finally a man of contentment and happiness in a way that was not evident before. He is particularly moving in his final scene as Puyi visits the Forbidden city alone and Lone shows a man who can finally treasure his life in a way he never could well he experienced it.

Lone actually has quite the challenge in his performance in that aside from the scenes set in the communist prison camp the film moves quickly from one point to another in regards to Puyi's position and character. To Lone's great credit his work never suffers from other performances that are set in such restrictions. Lone keep Puyi as a fluid character in his performance and is able to move through his life in the efficient and effective manner. In Lone's work there is not the disconnection that is quite possible from these technical restrictions. These changes can even be quite extreme at times yet Lone still is entirely believable in every part of Puyi's story. Lone's gives a great performance which creates a remarkable portrait of an emperor who could not even control his own life.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1987: Gary Oldman in Prick Up Your Ears

Gary Oldman did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for BAFTA, for portraying Joe Orton in Prick Up Your Ears.

Prick Up Your Ears is a decent enough character study about the tumultuous relationship between two gay men in the 60's.

Gary Oldman plays one of the two men an eventually very successful playwright Joe Orton. Oldman takes on the role in his usual chameleon style of performance in his recreation of Joe Orton. The film is told in flashbacks and although we first see the later Joe it is important to note the scenes which take place earlier chronologically as we meet Orton as he is first just trying to make it as an inspiring actor. Oldman voice and manner is appropriately off beat without overplaying the style of the man. He brings this style to the part in an entirely natural fashion as Oldman conveys the curious nature of the man just through his oddly meek manner even though Orton is not really meek in nature.

The crux of the film is Orton's relationship with a fellow actor and wannabe writer Kenneth Halliwell (Alfred Molina). It is an interesting dynamic they create as when they both first meet Oldman's plays Orton as the submissive in the relationship at first as Kenneth urges Joe on to work as a writer and starts the homosexual relationship with him. There is a relatively quick turnaround in this relationship though when Orton pushes them to seek random sexual partners constantly and ends up starting to dominate Halliwell. Oldman is very effective in this turnaround showing his earlier submissive quality mainly coming from him just have a time of learning but once he knows he takes over in a rather sly fashion.

Oldman is terrific in this change as Orton becomes completely dominate over Halliwell but as well seemingly to stay the same time of man as he does everything exactly his own way. Oldman develops a certain style of pompousness in which is quite indulgent yet in a very internalized way. Oldman has almost a snake like way in which he charms not by forcing his will upon others but instead sneakily undercuts them into being subservient to his desires. The dominance is quite brutal in ways as he quietly ridicules Halliwell in his own way and Oldman has an extra brutality because of the manner he is actually doing it quite forcefully even though Orton's manner of ridiculing him in an indirect although purposeful way.

As Orton's control over Halliwell grows so does his pretensiousness grow as an artist. Oldman has the perfect portrait of the artist who belives far too much in his own importance and own greatness. Oldman whenever Orton is talking about his material has that aloofness of the off beat artist who almost doesn't seem like he wants to talk about his work as he is too above such things yet within this stance there is the pure indulgence of the artist as well. Oldman makes for the perfect self proclaimed genuis who medaites himself just right to be that off beat man while still always pumping his own brillaince up even though he again never makes it something that Orton will directly say.

There are two important scenes where Orton changes almost entirely though and is quite a perfect moment for Oldman. The first he shows Orton at his most mainstream. It is when Orton is accepting an award for his play and is even away from Halliwell who knows him best. Oldman portrays Orton toning down his off beat attitudes as Orton. He keeps them slightly to be a man who would write the play he wrote but does not have that more purposefully atagonistic quality that he displays at other times. In this scene Oldman shows us Joe Orton the lauded playwritght who knows exactly how to play the crowd and further his place in the theatrical society, and suggests an Orton who only could have gone further with his career.

The other scene takes place when Orton returns home to attend his mother's funeral and is around a few people who know. It is a relatively brief set of scenes but Oldman is rather interesting as he has Orton lose all of the pretentiousness he carries and purposeful sexual intensity. The meekness at the beginning of Orton's journey returns and Oldman suggests that Orton's behavior is very much whatever his situation may be. Oldman makes Orton a man of circumstance. It is not that he is putting on any behavior exactly but he is a man who adjusts himself for others in more general circumstances but when it comes to his life with Halliwell and his wishes for constant homosexual encounters he insists on doing things only his way.

This is a very strong performance by Gary Oldman as his creation of Joe Orton is remarkable. Every facet of his life is well drawn in Oldman's performance and gives insight into the man as well as how he managed to drive his best friend and lover to murder him. As Oldman's work though this is not my favorite. Compared to his work in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Immortal Beloved he does excel in bringing his character vividly to life in an entirely natural fashion, but unlike those late performance there is never quite the moment where his performance goes the extra mile to be a truly powerful and compelling performance. It nevertheless is excellent work from Gary Oldman and another example of his chameleon like ability as an actor. 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1987

And The Nominees Were Not:

Bruno Ganz in Wings of Desire

John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles

John Lone in The Last Emperor

Gary Oldman in Prick Up Your Ears

Mickey Rourke in Barfly

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1966: Results

5. Richard Crenna in The Sand Pebbles- Crenna gives a solid performance that seems to create a more complex character then the film even wanted.

Best Scene: The captain tries to prevent a mutiny.
4. Orson Welles in A Man For All Seasons- Welles in one scene gives complex portrait of Cardinal Wolsey that is worthy of the complex man.

Best Scene: Wolsey tries to persuade More to support the King's divorce.
3. Richard Attenborough in The Sand Pebbles- Attenborough gives a moving performance that effectively conveys his character story almost entirely in his physical performance.

Best Scene: Frenchy talks to Maily for the last time.
2. John Hurt in A Man For All Seasons- John Hurt is the perfect weasel informant here by showing the motivation of what makes such a man.

Best Scene: Richard Rich testifies against Thomas More.
1. Lee Van Cleef in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly- Good Prediction Mark feel free to name a year and a performance. This year came down to the comedic and almost leading work of Walter Matthau against Lee Van Cleef's classic villainous turn. Like Wallach against Nakadai this was not an easy choice but I have to choose one so I am going Van Cleef's chilling performance as the titular Bad.

Best Scene: Angel Eyes has Tuco tortured.
Overall Rank:
  1. Lee Van Cleef in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
  2. Walter Matthau in The Fortune Cookie
  3. John Hurt in A Man For All Seasons
  4. George Segal in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  5. Robert Shaw in A Man For All Seasons
  6. Richard Attenborough in The Sand Pebbles
  7. Orson Welles in A Man For All Seasons
  8. Toshiro Mifune in The Sword of Doom 
  9. Richard Crenna in The Sand Pebbles
  10. Frank Gorshin in Batman 
  11. Aldo Giuffrè in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly 
  12. Burgess Meredith in Batman 
  13. James Mason in Georgy Girl
  14. Harry Andrews in The Deadly Affair
  15. Leo McKern in A Man For All Seasons
  16. Maximilian Schell in The Deadly Affair
  17. Jack Palance in The Professionals
  18. Michael Hordern in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum 
  19. Denholm Elliot in Alfie
  20. Ralph Bellamy in The Professionals
  21. Eiji Okada in The Face of Another
  22. Eli Wallach in How to Steal A Million
  23. Nigel Davenport in A Man For All Seasons
  24. Cesar Romero in Batman
  25. Hugh Griffith in How To Steal A Million
  26. Robert Ryan in The Professionals
  27. Cliff Osmond in The Fortune Cookie 
  28. Yuzo Kayama in The Sword of Doom
  29. Antonio Molino Rojo in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
  30. Ichiro Nakatani in The Sword of Doom
  31. Woody Strode in The Professionals
  32. Luigi Pistilli in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
  33. Corin Redgrave in A Man For All Seasons 
  34. Antonio Casas in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
  35. Mako in The Sand Pebbles
  36. Laurence Olivier in Khartoum
  37. Phil Silvers in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum 
  38. Mario Brega in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
  39. Cyril Cusack in Fahrenheit 451  
  40. Jack Gilford in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
  41. Ned Glass in The Fortune Cookie
  42. Buster Keaton in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum 
  43. James Caan in El Dorado
  44. Ralph Richardson in Khartoum
  45. Alfie Bass in Alfie
  46. Roy Kinnear in The Deadly Affair
  47. Alan Bates in Georgy Girl 
  48. Arthur Hunnicut in El Dorado
  49. Simon Oakland in The Sand Pebbles
  50. Michael Crawford in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum 
  51. Neil Hamilton in Batman
  52. James Hong in The Sand Pebbles 
  53. Colin Blakeley in A Man For All Seasons
  54. Reginald Denny in Batman
  55. Peter Bowles in Blow-Up
  56. Charles Boyer in How to Steal A Million
  57. Alan Napier in Batman
  58. Bill Owen in Georgy Girl
  59. Stafford Repp in Batman
  60. Richard Johnson in Khartoum
  61. Cyril Luckham in A Man For All Seasons
  62. Graham Stark in Alfie
  63. Ron Rich in The Fortune Cookie
  64. Charles Robinson in The Sand Pebbles
Next Year: 1987 lead

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1966: Richard Attenborough and Richard Crenna in The Sand Pebbles

Richard Attenborough did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning the Golden Globe, for portraying Frenchy Burgoyne in The Sand Pebbles.

Richard Attenborough evidently could not catch a break with academy when it came to his acting as even though he won the Golden Globe for his performance and his co-star Mako did manage to be nominated. Richard Attenborough plays one of the ship mates on the warship the San Pablo that resides in the back waters of China. Frenchy is one of the few decent men on the ship and one of the few who befriends the lead character Holman plated by Steve McQueen. Attenborough puts on a bit of an accent in the role to make his character American it starts strong and then quickly softens close to his normal accent it never is a distraction though.

Attenborough plays a bit of an opposite of his character in Morning Departure as in that film he played one of the worst men on a sea vessel and in this film he plays one of the best men. Attenborough has a fairly large supporting performance but it is very quiet part in the scheme of things particularly since French lets Holman make most of the big actions during the course of the film. The subplot of Frenchy as a character is that he becomes smitten with a Chinese woman who is basically up for sale and he wants to save her from having to be prostituted to anyone especially not one of the sleazy crewmen of the San Pablo. Even when Frenchy takes his course to save her it still is a low key affair for French.

Richard Attenborough was the perfect choice for the part as Attenborough is the master of a magnetic yet still low key presence. This is great for Frenchy as much of Frenchy's personal conflict in the film is conveyed by reaction shots of Attenborough from him seeing her to the proceedings scenes of he unease at her potential fate to his determination to save her. Attenborough never makes this feel like a limitation as he Attenborugh conveys exactly as he needs to in every instance. There is nothing loss and even though it is mostly silent in nature Attenborough let's us see exactly what Frenchy is going through. Every little frame you catch Attenborugh presents Frenchy's personal story with quite a strong power and poignancy.

Later on the film there are some longer moments where we see Frenchy as he marries the woman and tries to see her even though the men have been banned from the town. Attenborough is very moving in these scenes bringing out the sense of love in Frenchy quite effectively in their wedding scene and even more so when he visits her later by swimming through the cold sea. Attenborough is terrific showing the physical ailment of French effectively as he is dying from hypothermia and importantly in the final moments of Frenchy, Attenborough still reinforces the emotional power of the scene through the genuine tenderness in his performance. Attenborough is excellent in the role. I only wish his character's story was not cut off as abruptly as it is as I found Frenchy's romance far more affecting then Holman's romance.
Richard Crenna did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Lieutenant Collins in The Sand Pebbles.

Richard Crenna plays a rather thankless role as the captain of San Pablo Collins. For most of the film he fulfills just the role of the good captain who is trying to things together on his ship while he has everyone do their duty. Crenna is very good because he doesn't make the captain a foolish commander as they are often portrayed in films like this and I could have easily this character portrayed that way as well. Crenna though avoids this by infusing the right honesty in the part. Whenever the captain has to take care of something very serious going on and he is forced to make a decision, the struggle to do the right thing is there in captain due to Crenna's performance.

Like Attenborough's performance a great deal of Crenna's best moments are silent although the difference here is that Crenna gets far fewer scenes to go on. There are two very strong scenes one is when the captain is forced to scare away angry locals as his men are ready to mutiny and refuse to follow orders. Crenna's has a great moment of split second intensity as he portrays the captain trying to stay strong even with so many problems around him. The other scene is even shorter as he is alone in his cabin with the ship seemingly having nowhere to go. The captain is interrupted and he holsters a gun. We see his face for a second and that is all Crenna needs to show the despondent man Collins has become suggesting that this situation is something he thought he would never have to deal with.

The only problem I would say for Crenna is the film seems to want a simpler character then the character Crenna wants to create. Late in the film the captain is treated as if he is insane and just a man who wants war for the sake of it. Crenna really does not give such a man in his performance instead bringing much more depth to the part by showing the weight of his position in his performance. Crenna never leaves the captain as a thick headed commander, but finds what there is beneath a man of his position. Again with Attenborough, although I would say to an even greater degree as Crenna really gets the short end of the stick most of the time, Crenna actually suggests that there could have been a more interesting story for captain Collins if the film had given him greater focus.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1966: Orson Welles and John Hurt in A Man For All Seasons

Orson Welles did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in A Man For All Seasons.

Anthony Quayle actually was Oscar nominated for portraying Cardinal Wolsey in the inferior film about King Henry VIII's divorce Anne of the Thousand Days. His performance left much to be desired as he reduced the man to no more than a yes man who beckoned to the King's every call and not much else. Orson Welles portrays the Cardinal in this film in one brief moment, a major scene, and a brief scene whereas Quayle had several scenes in which he was allowed to portray the Cardinal. In both films his character technically has the same purpose. He starts out as a man serving the King by trying to get all to support the King's divorce then quickly at the end is a man of regret after he has failed to make everything work for the King and is soon to die from illness.

Wolsey was not just a yes man and was as chancellor of England whose power was only second to the King's. Why or how he got to this position as portrayed by Quayle is a complete mystery, but Welles makes it known in his one major scene. Welles has the impressive power of personality needed for a figure of Wolsey's status. He is just doing the King's work yet Welles brings the right subtle knowing in his performance. Wolsey is more than a yes man in Welles's performance as he tries to convince Thomas More (Paul Scofield) to go along with the King's whim Welles makes Wolsey a master of the double talk and within the talk Welles shows that Wolsey is wholly aware of the farce but will do his duty as the servant to the King as he should.

Welles in his single scene shows Wolsey to be a cunning man and in doing so suggests how he came to be a man of such great power. With Welles, which was so lacking in Quayle's performance, there is the power of personality needed for a man of Wolsey's status. Although obviously the film never gets into much of Wolsey's path or his rise to power Welles's is able to suggest the history of the man even though we never do see it. There is clearly far more to his Wolsey we don't see with Welles unlike Quayle who made Wolsey a very shallow and uninteresting figure. Welles's brief final moments of a depressed and dying Wolsey are quite effective showing the end of a much longer journey than we are privy to.

Orson Welles's does not give an all time great performance as Wolsey but it is a terrific example of what a great actor can do with a limited role. Cardinal Wolsey in the scheme of A Man For All Seasons really is not that important and very well could have been played in a forgettable fashion. The film would not have suffered much from it, but Welles bringing as much devotion to the part makes it a better more interesting film as whole. Welles in his three scenes, two of which are extremely short, gives a performance that would have been worthy of a leading turn as Wolsey. The historical Wolsey was clearly a very complicated man and Welles gives a performance that brings the depth needed to bring Wolsey to life.
John Hurt did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Richard Rich in A Man For All Seasons.

John Hurt rather than having basically one showy scene for himself early on like Orson Welles is found throughout A Man For All Seasons. He plays Richard Rich who is a young man who hangs out around Thomas More's house trying to get More to recommend him for or give him a post of some importance. Rich's character is basically the opposite of Thomas More's in terms of their morality. More's story consists of him staying with his values even if it means his own death, Rich is far more flexible in this regard. Rich is the secondary direct antagonist in the film, Cromwell (Leo McKern) is the main direct antagonist, and King Henry (Robert Shaw) never quite comes right out as the villain even though he is. Hurt doesn't play him as a villain though particularly early in the film.

Hurt takes an interesting approach as Rich who he plays as a pathetic man but a pathetic man who does not want to be one. Hurt's earnestness in the role is absolutely genuine and technically there doesn't seem to be anything evil about his pleads. Hurt is quite good because although it is obvious in his performance that Rich wants a quick way for advancement without really doing much of anything for it, he portrays it very honestly though in terms of the emotions of it. Hurt's shows the wishes of Rich although selfish and rather lazy in nature there isn't anything intentionally malicious in his behavior. Hurt portrays Rich as a man who does want to do some sort of right for More, and wants More to do see him as a man can do right even if Rich doesn't really know what that means. 

There is one terrific scene with Hurt as the film progresses as Rich is still hanging around More, but has been tempted to be an informant by Cromwell. It is basically their falling out point where Richard tries one last time for More to give him a position while he threatens More he will start working for Cromwell otherwise. The way the More family actually talks about Rich after he leaves suggests Rich perhaps was meant to be more villainous at least in conception. The way Hurt plays it though makes for a much more powerful scene. In the scene Hurt is incredible in the desperation he expresses as Rich asks one more time. He is making a threat at the same time but only a weak pathetic one and Hurt is actually quite moving showing that what Rich would want most is not to go down the wrong path and have More's approval.

After that point Rich becomes Cromwell man although Hurt doesn't have that many lines he is great in portraying Rich's slow turn to becoming morally reprehensible. At first Hurt shows well the hesitations Richard feels to fully go over to Cromwell's way of thinking and completely forget his past with More. As time passes though Hurt portrays Rich as rather not having to bear witness to More anymore and there is one moment that is especially chilling by how much Hurt earns the change in heart which is when it is Rich who actually suggests to Cromwell that they torture More to get the confession they desire out of him. Hurt's movement from a man who could possibly be redeemed to the weasel informant who is close to being morally bankrupt.

John Hurt's very best scene though comes in Thomas More's trial and he is called in to be the man to give the evidenced needed to make it so More will be executed. Hurt is brilliant in the scene starting out with such pompousness as Rich has found himself in an even greater position because of his testimony. Hurt has Rich start out in his immoral way barely noticing More as he starts but as he gets the the point in which his testimony will condemn More he changes in his manner. Hurt conveys the feelings of respect in More, although repressed, are haunting him as he tries to finish his testimony which will sign Thomas's death warrant. Hurt shows Rich's faces the implications of the deed in his mind and Hurt is outstanding as he portrays Rich struggling hard to keep his face as an enemy of More. 

A Man For All Seasons has many strong supporting turns from its illustrious cast but my favorite performance belongs to John Hurt in only his third appearance in a feature film. Where Orson Welles made the most of his role despite the extreme limitations put upon him due to his screen time, Hurt takes an approach to the role that gives a strong motivation to Richard Rich's betrayal and even allows a certain sympathy by showing the humanity in his treachery. Rich could have easily been portrayed just a one note whelp who seemed to be a bad man from the start. John Hurt instead shows the transformation of a man who could potentially be decent man to a pitiful informer. He gives a far more interesting portrait of a man's corruption by showing the failed attempt to resist it.