Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1986: Gary Oldman in Sid and Nancy

Gary Oldman did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy.

Sid and Nancy is not a particularly easy to watch but it is an effective depiction of the relationship between punk rocker Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy. 

Gary Oldman made his breakout with his film here as the Bass guitarist for the punk rock band the Sex Pistols. If you haven't seen the film but are aware of Oldman's later work, Oldman could easily surprise you with his portrayal of Sid in the early scenes of the film. Oldman actually is pretty quiet in the early scenes as the film establishes the relationship between Sid and the drug addict Nancy (Chloe Webb). When we are first introduced to Sid it is in a very low key way and it is quiet a while before we even meet his on stage personality. At first Oldman plays Sid as a bit of drifter who happens to be to have a place within a punk rock band. Oldman's whole method with Sid in these scenes is fairly unusual in tone, but very interesting in the way he creates the character.

Sid Vicious is not a particularly well put together person from the start of the film, but he also is a very young person. What Oldman does well is create the youthful elements in the character which are a tricky prospect considering that he already is rather troubled to begin with. The way Oldman expresses it is effective in that he portrays Sid as someone who does not know particularly what he is doing, and Oldman is very good in showing that basically in any particular scene that Sid is a bit lost in this world. Oldman's performance is never lost though in he is creates this particularly man quite vividly as his Sid does seemed primed for the destruction set for him as he does not know what he is doing.

Oldman is particularly excellent in the scenes where Sid and Nancy begin their relationship which is not a normal romance to be sure. Oldman plays the scenes where Sid tries to begin the relationship very oddly yet always naturally to Sid's character. Oldman though makes the urge to connect with her quite palatable even though the method is always unassuming as Sid is not very far from being in a world of his own. This only continues once they do begin their relationship which does not consistent of the normal things. Instead of talking all that much and getting to know each other it is mainly them spending time together as they use a lot of drugs. Oldman and Webb create a honest chemistry in that there is this strange comfort the two have with one another.

Interestingly once again Oldman plays the part pretty quietly with his early scenes with Webb. This is particularly noticeable since Webb's performance is particularly loud and extreme at times, but Oldman plays off that incredibly well by showing Sid as more of internalizing his sorrows whereas Webb shows Nancy as exploding from them. The dynamic two creates absolutely works in showing these particularly damaged individuals who interact with each other in a most peculiar way. They almost don't interact with the way Oldman whispers and Webb yells like they speak over each other at times that might seem like it does not make sense, but it seems completely believable as both actors realize that there is this connection the two have beneath that.

The two go on in this way though until The Sex Pistols go on tour in America we do see the change in Oldman's portrayal of Sid. Although there was a stage scene beforehand, but Oldman kept it fairly simple, the stage persona of Sid comes to the forefront much more in these scenes. Oldman here does pull a larger presence now, and he does so brilliantly in showing the energetic yet always slightly off creation that Sid is on stage. The best moment for this part of his performance is when, in a dream sequence, Sid performs "My Way" to an adoring crowd who he promptly murders. It is a most unusual set up and scene but Oldman completely makes it through his fantastic portrayal of the scene. He is magnetic yet does not at all pull back on the crudeness of the character, and turns the performance into a moment of sheer brilliance.

For awhile well away from Nancy Oldman is very adept at transitioning Sid into the more indulgent personality fitting for a rocker. Oldman does this particularly well because it is almost in a reactive way, that the fame reduces him to these indulgences. This remains his course until Nancy once again comes back and they resume their relationship. And again the beginning of the renewed relationship there is a genuine happiness and joy the two seem to convey together in such a subtle yet such an honest feeling fashion. They explain why they stay together even as their relationship goes toward right back how it started. Even in the worst scenes later on there is this contentment at times between the two that always is so easy to believe that it actually is rather disconcerting.

Oldman comes off as painfully authentic in his portrayal of the slow degradation of Sid as he is with Nancy as they both basically stay in a room together taking drugs. They have that contentment at times, but then there is vile hatred at others when either have some sort of need and desire. The final scene of them in the room which is either murder or accidental death is not a monumental event. In fact it comes off as particularly chilling because of the way Oldman and Webb show it to be almost a routine event that seems like it just had to happen because of the aimless slightly hostile condition between them. From the death Sid does not learn anything and this technically is a mostly aimless character. The lack of a traditional arc is hardly a problem because Oldman's great performance just simply brings Sid Vicious to life for the film, and it would hard to ask for anything more than that.

15 comments:

luke higham said...

Louis: rating & thoughts on Chloe Webb.

Michael McCarthy said...

LOVED the "My Way" scene. If you watch the actual video of that you can really see how well he captures Sid.

luke higham said...

Louis: Are their any films that you've seen so far in 2014. If so what were your thoughts on them.

Anonymous said...

Louis , off topic but what is your thoughts on Elias Koteas in Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles 1990?

Michael Patison said...

Louis, which female performances would you give 5s to for the 80s and the 90s?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke: Still have not seen any I'm afraid.

Anonymous: Well he certainly does Casey Jones pretty well. He's got a certain toughness and likability well being entertaining as well. Really I'd say he's the best part of that movie. (Other than Sam Rockwell asking what type of cigarettes you want of course)

Michael:

Sissy Spacek - Coal Miner's Daughter
Mary Tyler Moore - Ordinary People
Melinda Dillon - A Christmas Story
Nastassja Kinski - Paris, Texas
Madeline Kahn - Clue
Lesley Ann Warren - Clue
Whoopi Goldberg - The Color Purple
Isabella Rossellini - Blue Velvet
Glenn Close - Dangerous Liaisons
Jessica Tandy - Driving Miss Daisy
Lorraine Bracco - Goodfellas
Kathy Bates - Misery
Jodie Foster - The Silence of the Lambs
Susan Sarandon - Thelma & Louise
Judy Davis - Naked Lunch
Sigourney Weaver - Alien 3
Holly Hunter - The Piano
Susan Sarandon - Dead Man Walking
Kathy Bates - Dolores Claiborne
Judy Parfitt - Dolores Claiborne
France McDormand - Fargo
Brenda Bletyn - Secrets & Lies
Pam Grier - Jackie Brown
Julianne Moore - Boogie Nights
Melora Walters - Magnolia

luke higham said...

Louis: can I have your response on Chloe Webb, as well as your thoughts on the female performances that you've just listed.

Anonymous said...

Louis , as nuts as this sounds would you really think about Elias Koteas as Supporting review for 1990 LOL.

Also what do you think of the movie overall?

Anonymous said...

how would you rank Woody Allen's films

Michael Patison said...

Thanks, Louis. I'm going to eventually be asking for your female 5s from every other decade (20s-70s) the next time you review a year from them, so you can either just put all up right now or you can wait until I ask. Whichever you want.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

No Linda Hunt in The Year of Living Dangerously? Or Helena Bonham Carter in The Wings of the Dove?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke: Sorry about that. Webb would be a 4.5. She is great in regards to the chemistry she strikes up with Oldman. On occasion though I did feel like the performance came through, where that was never the case with Oldman.

Anonymous: I would say I like it particularly for nostalgic purposes. The action though does not hold very well at all though.

Woody Allen Ranking:

1. Crimes and Misdemeanors
2. The Purple Rose of Cairo
3. Midnight in Paris
4. Hannah and Her Sisters
5. Annie Hall
6. Bullets Over Broadway
7. Blue Jasmine
8. Sweet and the Lowdown
9. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
10. Might Aphrodite
11. Bananas
12. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

Robert: I'm afraid I have to see the performance to be able to give it a 5.

luke higham said...

Louis: when is Hackman's review to be up.

Tanvir Bashar said...

Wat wud u say r oldmans top ten performances and the ratings of it

Louis Morgan said...

I gave the list in my review of his performance in Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy.