Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Alternate Best Actor 2013: Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite basically being nominated for every single other acting award, for portraying Richard Phillips in Captain Phillips.

Tom Hanks, the old academy favorite, found himself  not nominated for his work in this film despite the film being nominated for best picture and his co-star Barkhad Abdi being nominated for best supporting actor. I would say it is likely Hanks suffered probably the same Ben Affleck suffered in the previous year with his best director snub which is that he probably seemed such a lock that many voters did not even bother to vote him which unfortunately allowed Christian Bale to get in over him. That is a really shame though that the Academy decided to finally snub Hanks for what would have been his best nominated work, and the greatness of their lineup would have been even more unquestionable.

Anyway Hanks plays an actual man Richard Phillips who was the commander of a unarmed transport freighter going through dangerous pirate territory. The early scenes of the film rely very much on Hanks just being the average sort of man who is just doing his job. Hanks is definitely good in setting up Phillips as a likable enough guy and gives his personal moments the investment they need just so we know where he coming from. When he gets on the ship Hanks is again very good in simply fulfilling what the role should be. He runs his ship not as some great hero or even great captain, but Hanks shows the casual atmosphere of it all by playing the scenes like any average boss with a fairly unassuming but somewhat scolding personality toward his crew to keep them on task.

Captain Phillips suffered some controversy for its portrayal of the Richard Phillips as many of his crew members actually stated he made several foolish actions and was not the hero the film portrays him as. Well I would say that neither the film, nor Hanks really try to make him out to be to be an overly heroic figure either. In fact throughout the showdown with the pirates it can easily be said that the film shows the crew doing most of the work to stop the pirates, and the film does show Phillips making some dumb decisions during the course. Also even though Tom Hanks, who has played several hero types in his time, does not really try to to play Phillips as a hero here, giving a more interesting approach by just reflecting the actions of a fairly average man in such a situation.

Once the pirates board Hanks is very effective in showing a man whose is trying to do his best to what he can to halt the pirates, while trying to keep the situation as calm as possible. Before the pirates come on Hanks is very good at simply showing the emotions as they come and bringing the intensity of the scene alive as he should. When the pirates do board Hanks is strong in the scene as he tries to keep his men together in his final announcement to them. Hanks doesn't play the scene as if he is the greatest commander of men, but honestly as a man trying to do his best to urge his crew and keep them together. The strongest moments of Hanks's performance though begin once he gets to start sharing scenes with Barkhad Abdi as the pirate leader Muse.

He and Abdi are both great together as they play off each other with a perfect precision as they basically have showdown through words as Muse tries to takeover the ship but finds it is harder than it appears. Hanks is very good in firstly always giving the reaction of a man who thinks he could die at any minute as we see the desperation and nervousness within him even if never completely overwhelms him. Hanks combines this well though with Phillips's trying to pull his best Lance Henriksen in Dog Day Afternoon by trying to plant the seeds of doubts in the Pirates while trying to send information to the crew to make it so they can botch the pirates plans. Hanks is good in playing the act that Phillips actually plays which is that of the hapless dope who just seems to be accidentally messing the pirates up.

Hanks handles these scenes well by playing them shrewdly but not too shrewdly frankly. Hanks does not go about making Phillips a genius or an impeccable leader though but rather a guy who has thought of a few tricks to throw the pirates off. Hanks always keeps the pressure on his exchanges of looks between him are Abdi is great as Abdi shows that Muse does know that Phillips is up to something, but Hanks keeps Phillips looking at least slightly hapless, as just a guy who wants the pirates to leave with even the money from the ship's safe for their benefit. This continues once Phillips is captured by Muse and the other three pirates on the life boat as they go along toward Somalia but are quickly hounded by the navy which spells doom for the plans of the pirates.

Hanks adjusts his performance appropriately here as he does slowly build the fear in Phillips himself, even he does keep up his antics to mess with pirates, although Hanks brings just the right sympathy with his tone. Hanks carefully never goes too far with this as he properly still shows that Phillips is definitely exhibiting caution and rather effectively plays it as that Phillips is just thinking about his own safety as anyone would at that point. Inside the life boat I will say it is Abdi who really does steal the show as his becomes such an unforgettably portrait of a desperate man who just won't give up, but Hanks is never far behind keeping with him along the way. Hanks actually makes the right move here to not try to overwhelm Abdi's performance, but rather kinda like Rod Steiger in On the Waterfront, he amplifies the more emotionally volatile performance through his quieter work.

Of course at the end of the film there is the scene which most everyone talks about when praising Hanks's performance which what happens to Phillips after he is saved in a bloody rescue. It is a very performance heavy scene so to speak as Hanks shows Phillips completely in shock after the events on the lifeboat. It's technically ACTING at its most but all I can say is Hanks absolutely nails it without question. You do feel that Phillips is a man in shock in the scene and Hanks is quite powerful by simply giving fully into the scene. He drops anything else about Phillips and completely is in the portrayal of the shock and certainly creates an amazing and most memorable end to his great depiction of Captain Richard Phillips. 

40 comments:

Matt Mustin said...

Great performance, and possibly Hanks' best, although I loved him in Road to Perdition as well. That final scene could've gone wrong in a great number of ways, but Hanks sells it completely.

Michael Patison said...

I totally agree. I had heard he was great here, but when I finally saw it I was further convinced that he is the best (or at least in the conversation for being the best) everyman in film history, at least of actors I can think of. He is simply astounding in the film's second half and always strong in its first.

I agree his last scenes are ACTING, but I agree that he nails them. It just goes to show that, when he is casted correctly (i.e. an everyman like here or Cast Away, so perhaps a beard and isolation are also required), he can still ACT at times and be brilliant.

I also really liked his slightly affected accent. I was thrown off guard by it and thought it would distract me the entire movie, but I got used to it really quickly.

Mark said...

Who would've thought when the film came out that Abdi would get the acting nomination for the film, not Hanks.

dinasztie said...

He totally should have been nominated although I kind of felt that he would be snubbed. :/

It's a 4,5 performance for me. And so are the rest of the guys you reviewed. Except for Oscar Isaac. I really didn't connect to Llewyn Davis and Carey Mulligan was so horrible in that movie, I can't even...

Kevin said...

Louis, have you seen United 93? If you did, what did you think of it?

Kevib said...

Also, what are your ratings and thoughts on Hank's, Law's and Craig's performances in Road to Perdition?

moviefilm said...

Hi Louis!
I just noticed that you liked Amanda Seyfried's performance in Lovelace. I'm so happy. I didn't expect you'd like her and she's in my top 5, as well.
Anyway, what did you think about the rest of the cast (Franco, Bana, Sevigny, Sarsgaard, Robert Patrick and) especially Sharon Stone? Thanks for the answer...

luke higham said...

Louis: who do you think, would've been 6th-10th in academy voting for lead actor.

Psifonian said...

Hanks is the consummate actor. He knows not to hog the limelight in the film, letting Abdi and the other pirates do their thing. Anyone else in the role would be trying too hard, I think, to make an impact because they are the title character. But Hanks isn't like that. It's only when he finally has the screen to himself (the ending) that we see him take center stage, and boy, that's the finest bit of acting all year. Can't believe that was mostly improvised on the spot.

Louis Morgan said...

Kevin: I haven't watched United 93.

Law 4.5(Excellent fiendish turn by him that oozes menace accordinly, and does a whole lot with rather little)

Craig 4(Craig's very good here by being a completely believable weasel that you want to see get his comeuppance)

Hanks: 4.5(A strong turn by Hanks and curious to see him in a fairly cold role. Hanks pulls it off though and his scenes with Newman are incredible)

moviefilm: Robert Patrick was easily my favorite of the supporting cast as I thought he handled the troubled father particularly well. Stone I did not feel was as effective, but thought she was fine as well. In fact I thought basically the whole cast was fine, other than Franco who I thought made a pretty terrible Hugh Hefner.

Luke:

I would guess:

6. Hanks (He probably just missed I think and everyone who followed was probably a great distance in votes from him)

7. Phoenix (If Her came on just a little stronger I think he could have surprised)

8. Redford (His status probably garnered him votes, but the fact that he did not seem to really care probably made voters not care either)

9. Whitaker (The Butler lost basically all his momentum but I imagine it still did have a small group of supporters)

10. Isaac (Davis received a little love so he probably was marked off on a few ballots at least)

luke higham said...

Louis: what were your ratings & thoughts on
Tom Cruise in Minority Report

Sam Rockwell in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch me if you can

Tom Hanks in The Green Mile & Catch me if you Can

luke higham said...

Louis: Lastly, what rating did you give Joe Pesci in JFK.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Cruise 4(Carries the picture quite admirably and gives a simply a solid leading turn)

Rockwell 4.5(Very Rockwellian which absolutely works in perfect tandem with the nutso film he resides in, Rockwell does comedic and crazy like no one else.)

DiCaprio 4.5(A precursors to Wolf although with much more heart. He brings the right charisma to make the cons convincing, but as well is very moving in showing he just wants really to make his life the way it used to be. All of his scenes with Walken are great)

Hanks - Catch Me If You Can- 4(Good in bringing both the proper determination and frustrations with his performance along with a genuine warmth at the right times)

Hanks - The Green Mile - 4(Basically a tailored made Hanks role, and he definitely does a good job here in his average guy in a not so average situation sort of performance)

I'd give Pesci a 5 for JFK.

luke higham said...

Louis: what are your ratings & thoughts on Dicaprio in Romeo + Juliet, Titanic, Body of Lies, Gangs of New York, Shutter Island, Inception & J.Edgar.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Body of Lies - 3(Standard leading performance, he's fine but fairly forgettable here)

Gangs of New York - 2.5(Completely overshadowed by Day-Lewis and others and just seems to never get a very strong grip on the material)

Shutter Island - 3.5(Good enough but I do feel he overplays at the intensity making it so the reveal is not nearly as powerful as it should be. Also he is often overshadowed by the great supporting players)

Inception - 4(A good leading turn that carries the weight of the proceedings on his back well without being completely overwhelmed by the spectacle, even if his emotionally spotlight I did feel was really stolen by Cillian Murphy)

J. Edgar - 2.5 (Problematic performance to say the least and I think Billy Crudup did more with the role with far less time. The heavy emotional scenes just come as far too awkward, although Eastwood's direction and makeup do not help in this. Really his best scenes are really are the ones where Hoover makes fun of Eleanor Roosevelt)

luke higham said...

Louis: when do you think Phoenix's review will be up.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, what are your thoughts on Bruce Willis in Looper?

RatedRStar said...

Take ya time with Phoenix's review I am in no rush to see it lol.

Michael Patison said...

Did you see the movie RatedRStar?

Matt Mustin said...

Michael Patison: He just hates him on principle, which, as has been said many times here, is just ridiculous.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I admit, Hanks hasn't stayed with me as long as I thought he would. Abdi has ended up overtaking him in my memory of that movie.

Michael McCarthy said...

I think we all know how our friend feels about Mr. Phoenix, but I would also like to know if you've seen the movie RatedRStar. I feel like even if I didn't like Joaquin I'd find it impossible to resist the charm of Her.

RatedRStar said...

=) I haven't seen the film, I wouldn't mind seeing it though, seems nice enough.

RatedRStar said...

Ive never said I had a problem with Mr Bongsmoker as an actor, just him =D.

JackiBoyz said...

Maybe I should buy you a Joaquin Phoenix poster for your bedroom Daniel =) for your birthday or something like that xD.

Michael Patison said...

Matt and Michael: I am well-acquainted with RatedRStar's unreasonable hatred of Phoenix.

RatedRStar: As you've not seen the movie, don't you dare make one derogatory remark about how Phoenix acts in movies. I usually don't like him (though we differ on The Master), but I thought he was brilliant in Her.

On a related note, we've all heard your disdain for the man enough. I hate to seem like an ass (though maybe I am), but something's got to go: either your endless hatred of Joaquin or your profuse love for Claude. I'm not saying you have to stop either one; I'm just asking that you stop posting about one of them. We get it already.

I understand Phoenix says and does controversial (asshole-esque) things, but how angry can you possibly get over somebody that simply says things? If we want to talk about somebody that said and did terrible things, Hitler or Stalin (Emil Jannings, anyone?) should be our topic of discussion, not Phoenix.

Matt Mustin said...

There's plenty of actors I love, and plenty of actors I hate, but I don't go on about it. (at least I hope not.)

Anonymous said...

I guess thats just how he is, love him or hate him, I sorta understand his love for Rains but I dont really get his hate for Phoenix either, did Phoenix do something that really like annoyed him?

Anonymous said...

What are your thoughts on this Louis?

Matt Mustin said...

Yeah, I really don't get it. I mean, I'm not a huge fan of the guy as an actor, but I don't have any vitriol for him either.

JackiBoyz said...

On a side note, I thought his comments on Sharlto Copley were amusing enough lol kinda wish he was more comedic in his comments then completely angry and moody all the time.

When he eventually does his rant on Harold Russell I am hoping it is more like his comments on Copley than on Phoenix if you get me lol.

luke higham said...

Phoenix is a capable actor, who's had his highlights & Lowlights, so nobody's perfect. Sure, he's a dick most of the time, but I'm always willing to separate the actor from the man.

Also, if you want to criticise anyone, it should be Keanu Reeves, who is without doubt, the worst A-List actor, I've ever seen.

Michael McCarthy said...

Luke: Does Ashton Kutcher count? Because I would definitely argue that he's worse.

luke higham said...

Michael McCarthy: I've only seen probably 25-30% of his work, & he was fairly terrible. What were your thoughts on Kutcher in Jobs, & if you were able to, what rating would you give him.

Michael McCarthy said...

I thought he did an okay job with the mannerisms but he brought zero depth to who Jobs was as an individual. Yeah Jobs was arrogant but not in the same way Kutcher is, and as far as personality all I saw was a toned down version of Kutcher himself. I would say maybe a 2.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

What? All of you are just dropping the argument? Please, continue! Amuse me! Dance, lowly puppets!

Michael Patison said...

JackiBoyz: I don't think Louis is going to change his mind randomly and put Russell ahead of Rains. I think it's incredibly possible Rains is dethroned by Barrymore.

Louis Morgan said...

Matt: Willis 4(I always like seeing an invested Willis and he definitely was here. I thought he gave a rather strong depiction of a regretful man who has one strong passion he believes in. Really a rewatch could easily upgrade his score)

Tanvir Bashar said...

Which actors wud u say r hanks contemporaries

Louis Morgan said...

Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise.