Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Alternate Best Actor 2009: Viggo Mortensen in The Road

Viggo Mortensen did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite getting a few critical mentions, for portraying the man in The Road.

The Road is an effective film about a man and his son trying to survive after the apocalypse.

Viggo Mortensen is no stranger to playing heroic characters but in The Road his character is a far cry from the wandering King Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. Mortensen here only plays a man known as simply the man as formal names are never given. Mortensen seems like the perfect fit for such moniker considering he has a definite everyman quality to him, and this is further helped by his naturalistic style of acting. This average man though is not in any average situation though as some cataclysmic event occurs suddenly throwing the world into a post-apocalyptic landscape where few people survive, the plant life and most of the animals seem dead, and many of the human who still survive are cannibals who hunt down other survivors and sometimes even use them as if they were cattle.

There are a few scenes set before the man must wander the world with his son, the boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee). These are shown a few times early on in the film as we the Man and his wife, the woman (Charlize Theron), are first dealing with the event while the woman has to give birth to the boy. Mortensen is excellent in these few scenes by showing a different man than we see in the scenes set in the present. Mortensen portrays the Man much gentler and is exceptional in the way he suggests the lack of the current experience in the man. Mortensen properly gives us the man before the end where we see perhaps the man who had been living a good life. The scenes could have easily seemed unnecessary to the film as a whole but Mortensen uses them brilliantly as establishes so well the man who was of the old world and not the horrible one we see him existing in for the majority of the film.

Mortensen also powerfully creates though the beginning of the deterioration through his personal loss in one scene where the woman basically resigns herself from life and decides to leave the man and the boy just to go out into the darkness and just die somewhere. Mortensen is absolutely heartbreaking in the scene as the man tearfully asks her not to go. What makes the most so particularly moving is because Mortensen gives us the futile nature of the man's pleading. Mortensen plays it as the man knowing she is going to leave and that there isn't anything he will be able to do about. In the moment Mortensen makes the loss completely palatable despite the brevity of these scenes. We get very little of the relationship between the woman and the man and the scene comes relatively quickly. Mortensen is able to put forward that love the man shares with the woman and realize the better times while barely seeing making the loss something truly felt.

The rest of the film takes place in the bleak present where the man moves from place to place with his son in attempt to try to find food and some sort of refuge. Mortensen is excellent in these scenes as we see the years in this environment in his face and every physical mannerism of the man. Mortensen's eyes are absolutely haunting in every scene as we basically see what the man has seen within them. There is the history of loss in his expression as we see happiness is something far from what has every been found within his face. The man is slowly dying throughout the film from an unknown lung related ailment that only worsens as the film proceeds. Mortensen's portrayal of this as well as simply the ravages of starvation is harrowing to witness. There never seems to be any acting seen here, Mortensen manages to bring us this man in this situation.

Mortensen very importantly creates a very effective dynamic with Smit-McPhee as the son as he makes the man have a very particular relationship with his son, particular because of the world they must live in. On one hand Mortensen brings the needed warmth in the role and it always makes it obvious that the man loves his son deeply, even though Mortensen does well in often subtly suggesting than always coming out with it in a needlessly overt fashion. The reason that is so important is because the man is suppose to betraying to make it so the son will be ready to face what's left of the world even after the man's death. Mortensen does not make it a distance but rather very honestly portrays the attempts to make the son ready like any good father making his son ready but with far different circumstances. There is no coldness in it, but Mortensen gives the right bluntness in the father's attempts at teaching his son.

Mortensen never wastes a moments in their interactions as he brings such complexity to the relationship. Two of the most heart wrenching scenes are one slightly calmer and one more intense due to the predicament they find themselves in are when the father is trying to show the son how to commit suicide with a gun. The first time Mortensen shows it to be an unfortunate somber remainder to his son, and there is always that extra effort that Mortensen suggests in his performance, which exemplifies that the father does not want to do this, but he simply must. The other is when they believe themselves to be possibly caught by cannibals, and the man for a moments believes he must mercy kill the boy. It is an unforgettable scene because Mortensen makes the horrible nature of the moment only ever ring truthfully as his performance only reflects what any good man would be going through in such a moment.

Mortensen is incredible in realizing a man who tries to hold onto a decency even though it is extremely difficult to do so. Mortensen is fantastic in any moment where the man must set aside his morals for the moment due to the fact he must protect his son. This includes an early encounter with an encounter with an obvious cannibal. Mortensen gives a very moving portrayal by so authentically creating the desperation in the man as he must basically force himself to kill the man as there is no other way. When trying to avoid this Mortensen is so great at showing that the man tries every ounce to handle the man in a peaceful way, and once again shows that extra effort he must put forward to deal with the situation. Mortensen never makes the man an otherworldly hero, but rather very powerfully making him a man who is giving every ounce himself to protect his son and be one of the good guys. 

The film thankfully has a reprieve of sorts where the man and the boy happen upon a survival bunker that is stocked with supplies. The scene allows them to leave their current situation and sort of return what would likely be their normal relationship. Mortensen is terrific in this scene because we briefly see many of the fears and paranoia that had been slowly growing rest. It is a wonderful moment as Mortensen let's even more of the warmth and love the father has to give come out. Mortensen in this scene shows even more that has been lost by showing what has been gained by this comfort. Mortensen again carefully does not overplay the optimism instead beautifully suggesting but never going too far as the man's unfortunate suspicions come to play once again when they hear people who seem to be following them.

This is a complete triumph by Viggo Mortensen as he carries the film upon his shoulders. Although John Hillcoat's direction realizes the apocalypse in all its cryptic detail it is Mortensen that makes the story resonate through his depiction of the man. Even though the story may take place in a fictional time and place this will never be found in Mortensen almost unbearably honest performance. Even though he is only a man and is named so simply as man there is nothing simple about Mortensen's man. He completely realizes every facet of this man's struggle with his son and the final moments of the man's life are devastating to witness because there is not a false breath in Mortensen's work. This is monumental performance by the great Viggo Mortensen and I have no hesitations with calling it his very best performance.   

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Alternate Best Actor 2009: Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 500 Days of Summer

Joseph Gordon-Levitt did not receive Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Tom Hansen in 500 Days of Summer.

500 Days of Summer is about the highs and lows of a relationship between two young adults. The first time I watched it I thought it was fine enough, on re-watch though it's style wore very thin very quickly for me.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the male lead in Tom Hansen an aspiring architect, obviously, who works at a greeting card company. Tom is technically speaking a hopeless romantic in that he is a fervent believer in true love and intends to find it in his crush who works at the same company Summer (Zooey Deschanel), who shares no such beliefs with Tom and makes that rather clear very early on to him. The film jumps back and forth in the timeline sometimes to the beginning of their relationship which is straight out of a romantic movie with certain flamboyant acts. Many other scenes depict the end of the relationship with Summer simply insisting that they should only be friends with Tom dreading this idea. We then get various quirky stylistic flourishes from the direction which bridge the various scenes together.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt whole performance is one of a particular style as well as often he must fit in these various flourishes of the director Marc Webb which includes even a musical number after Tom has consummated the relationship. There are mostly two halves to the performance particularly early on. On one side there is the Tom pursuing Summer and starting the relationship with her. On this side Gordon-Levitt is fairly charming enough and his enthusiasm in these scenes are endearing enough. Also in these screes are some wacky moments which well they are indeed there with Gordon-Levitt needing to be awkwardly hilarious. I did not find him awkwardly hilarious, but he is more than entirely fine in these scenes as well. On the other side set in the future though Tom is quite the opposite.

In the scenes set later Tom is basically in a set state of depression mixed with a hatred both due to Summer's treatment of him. The film and Gordon-Levitt don't mind really saying that Tom is a bit of a self-absorbed jerk in this regard and this is the way he plays it. I imagine though it is also meant to be fairly comedic in nature as Tom is unable to be reasoned with in his state. Gordon-Levitt certainly gets the points across as he should and the fairly simple way of playing does make sense for the character as Tom is suppose to be so set on his ideas of romance that anything else causes him to basically shut down. Anyway though again I did not find the performance particularly hilarious, and although I think he got the point of Tom across well enough it still did not make his character especially compelling or interesting to watch.

After a certain point the film becomes a bit more regulated as does Gordon-Levitt performance as he basically shows Tom having learned his lesson therefore basically taking things to less of an extreme. In turn he does the same with his performance no longer being so enthusiastic in the happy moments but not nearly as depressed and angry in the bad moments. Tom basically just starts to deal with things like a man who is more assured when it comes to facing things realistically. Gordon-Levitt is once again completely solid in these scenes which are certainly quieter but probably more natural in style. He once again fulfills the need of the character's change in attitude and is believable, even though again he never made to get caught up too much, or frankly even care that much about Tom's problems.

This whole performance came off as just fine to me in basically every way in that there were not any scenes where I hated his performance but he failed to ever impress me either. This isn't even a standard romantic lead turn as Tom is suppose to be slightly insufferable and Gordon-Levitt shows that well enough just like how he does pretty much everything well enough. He is charming enough, he has enough energy in the role, he has enough passion when he needs it, and he is always clearly trying more than enough. Enough I suppose means that I would describe this as a good performance, and I'll call it a good performance, but I won't call it a great one or one that made me care any more about the film. Now it is time for me to go batten down the hatches.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Alternate Best Actor 2009: Tom Hardy in Bronson

Tom Hardy did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Michael Peterson also known as Charles Bronson in Bronson.

Bronson is stylish and effective film about the man dubbed to be Britain's most violent prisoner.

This is my first review of a performance by Tom Hardy who is one of the most interesting younger actors around the reason for this can easily be seen through his performance here. Hardy physically transformed himself in the role, as he again did playing Bane later on, he built himself to be a hulking individual. Hardy's muscle bound physique certainly adds to to the whole film, and without a doubt Hardy makes himself look like the real man while also making it so you never once doubt the criminal nature of his character. Hardy hardly leaves the muscles to do the work though in creating Michael Peterson/Charles Bronson and meeting the challenge found in playing in this film. The man is already rather odd individual to begin with from what he did in reality, but this film is not solely interested in the more literal events of the man's life.

A substantial amount of the film is a performance within the performance by Hardy, and even this is broken into two segments of sorts. One where Bronson appears to be performing in front of an audience some strange reenactment of his life, and another where he is directly we as the audience in a form of narration. In his narration Hardy stares straight at you with a fierce intensity quite fitting the brutal nature of the man. Along with that you get the unwavering accent that Hardy uses in the role. It always comes off as completely naturally which is important and it also amplifies Bronson's nature quite brilliantly. The reenactment is quite different though in that you could kind of say that Hardy is playing another role since not only does Bronson act as though he is someone else but also these scenes are suppose to be a performance.

Hardy is incredibly magnetic in these scenes and it is fascinating just to watch him perform as Bronson performing his various acts. Hardy has the right type of fun in these scenes as brings out the joy of performance to be sure but he rather shrewdly does it through the character of Bronson rather than seeming as though it is coming from Hardy himself. Hardy's method is particularly in that he manages to show such a delight in Bronson in basically every part of his life that he describes no matter what it may entail even if what it entails some rather brutal crimes which are usually some rather brutal beatings for all involved. Hardy very simply is amazing to watch though in every moment he has, and honestly Hardy probably could have made a compelling film if all the film was Bronson's very bizarre stage performance.

The rest of the film we follow Michael Peterson in his A Clockwork Orange type of story as we follow him through his most unusual life of crime. His life of crime is particularly odd because throughout the film he only commits a few crimes outside of prison. The scenes outside of prison are brief but Hardy makes the most of them in the way he plays with Bronson's behavior. Hardy has this element he brings in Bronson as he tries to interact in the outside world where there is a constant awkwardness to him. Hardy always brings this fairly odd intensity in it in that it is not why you might expect. There certainly is the more traditional violent intensity in Hardy's performance but there is more to that than that. The intensity Hardy infuses is that of a man who seems unable to really respond like a normal person in that Hardy shows that Bronson never seems right in any scene where he is on the outside.

Bronson barely spends any time outside though and spends most of the time in prison where he technically does not really fit either since he spends most of his time beating guards as brutally as possible in turn being beaten himself and being thrown into solitary confinement. Bronson is a most unusual man and Hardy in turn gives a most unusual performance yet it always seems genuine in the creation of the man. Bronson is not a character who really has much of an arc in that although he has a pattern he does not really change much as man no matter what might be going on. That does not mean the character or Hardy's performance ever becomes uninteresting or repetitive as Hardy turns Bronson into such peculiar but always compelling character no matter what even when it is always rather doubly reinforced how much of a brute that he might be.

Hardy is very charismatic with Bronson and he carries a unquestionable presence in every scene he is in, and purposefully makes Bronson an entity who insists upon himself. Hardy allows it to be believed that anyone would spend more than a moment with Bronson through the strange charisma he does derive through performance. There is some odd slight refinement that Hardy gives the man that seems completely opposed to the man himself especially in light of his various action throughout the film, but Hardy makes it exactly who Bronson is. The funny thing about it is there is no moment in which Hardy ever really lies about the nature of Bronson either, or tries to show Bronson lying in some way. No instead Hardy makes this alluring qualities to the man something that is part of the madness that lies within him.

Bronson is a brutal man though whose greatest past time is beating others or trying his hardest to get into a situation where he will beat others. Hardy presents Bronson as a man who lives for the fight in terms of both a sadistic glee he gets from his success, but also everything surrounding the build up to the fight. Even in the real experiences Hardy still treats Bronson as giving a performance in the fight scenes, fitting for the movie star name he has adopted, in that Bronson likes the build it up proper. Again it is pure insanity as he threatens extreme violence just to take a violent beating himself, while doing odd things like having a guard oil him up like a wrestler, it is all insanity and Hardy is terrific because all of the insanity seems uniquely part of Bronson. He's crazy to be sure and his actions are absurd, but Hardy only ever presents makes them the strange expressions of Bronson.

One great set of scenes for Hardy involve when Bronson is sent to a mental institution instead of a prison. Hardy uses these scenes well to show a slightly different side of Bronson that also suggests more about Bronson as a whole. In these scenes Hardy shows Bronson honestly most as an actual prisoner more than he is in the actual prisons. In these moments his chances for violence and for the fight are severely limited and Hardy for once tones down his magnetism. In the sterile environment Hardy makes Bronson a man completely lost for once and that what he lives for is the fight, and really without his chances for violence Bronson basically loses his spark in life. Hardy rather interestingly perhaps does indeed make Bronson at his most "sane" technically speaking, and in doing so allows us to see why exactly he behaves the way he does in prison.

This is a fantastic performance by Tom Hardy as he simply realizes Bronson as a person and allows us to observe this strange man for the duration of the film. Bronson could have easily been just a repulsive figure and he technically still is even as Hardy plays him, but Hardy makes him such a watchable repulsive man. Hardy realizes Bronson so perfectly that he does indeed just becomes Charles Bronson which is quite an achievement no only because he realizes the larger than life qualities of the man both literally and metaphorically he also realizes the man as vividly man  and in doing so making sense of a man who's actions so often can seem rather senseless. Bronson could have fallen apart if the lead performance was at all inadequate, but Hardy has a unquestionable grasp on the material and carries the film on his back rather magnificently.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Alternate Best Actor 2009: Sharlto Copley in District 9

Sharlto Copley did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Wickus Van Mere in District 9.

District 9 could be viewed as the good version of Avatar as it actually an interesting and entertaining film about a difficult relationship between humans and an odd group of aliens.

Sharlto Copley before moving into playing a variety of wackos made his acting debut in his friend Neil Blomkamp's own feature film debut which is this film. Here Copley plays a much more down to earth fellow mentally this time around. In the opening of the film he is in fact no more than a bureaucrat ordered to take charge in the eviction of the Aliens from District 9 who are to be sent to another camp named District 10. Wickus spends his early time directly addressing the screen as Wickus is being the sort of star of a documentary video as he goes about his task. Copley is great in introducing us to Wickus as the corporate drone of sorts. The reason being because of just how realistically that he creates Wickus early on despite this being a film about stranded Aliens.

Copley smartly treats the role by playing Wickus simply as man who is being followed in his job as in a real documentary. Although a corporate man Copley still nicely plays Wickus as a man and at the start he is very effective in showing such a genuine excitement in Wickus as he receives his promotion along with his new assignment to remove the Aliens. Copley is particularly likable in the role even in these moments where he could have been unlikable simply because how much life he does bring in the part. Yes he is a bureaucrat to be sure, but Copley very naturally suggests that there is obviously at least a little more to the man than that. Copley makes him a feel like a completely real man even before we see him evict any Aliens, and in dong so he grounds the film incredibly well that could have easily become far too detached otherwise.

Although the film does not mind showing Wickus to be a more than a little out of his element as he tries to perform the evictions, and Copley does not mind showing this really either, he very importantly does indeed act as an excellent guide through District 9. Copley holds these scenes together incredibly well through the naturalism that he brings to the part. The reason for this is how well he plays the fact that Wickus is making a documentary at this point. In that point Copley properly brings a constant energy in the scenes that only reflect a particular passion that Wickus has to make a good impression in the documentary, but also just the baser sense that he is happy to be the star so to speak. Along with that though Copley brings the right pride in just the way Wickus walks as well as espouses his information of the land as if he were the expert he needs to be for this job.

Copley carefully shifts though depending on the situation as he should in a proper fashion that shows Wickus shifting gears when needed. Whenever Wickus is actually going through the process of evicting Copley effectively brings out the bureaucrat all the more as he attempts to portray Wickus as all business. Copley brings the right weakness in Wickus's manner in these scenes as it is easy to see the cracks in him as he tries to act tough in front of the Aliens. Again though I like that Copley does not overplay that though as he never makes Wickus defined by it by any means. Copley is good in bringing the strong bluster in Wickus trying to be in charge, but Copley shows that he just really does not have it in him. Copley very realistically brings the attitude of a man who really just is not that good at his job, but really is trying very hard to be.

Copley is also terrific when things begin to go wrong during his attempted evictions such as when the Aliens commit violent acts or perhaps even he makes eye contact with a local human crime lord. Copley shifts perfectly in these scenes always to reflect the intensity of them. He even twists quite cleverly yet still realistically though by showing Wickus's strong attempt to try and seem like he still knows what he is doing despite it seeming obvious that he is in over his head. Copley is great by showing how every encounter shakes up Wickus a little more and he makes Wickus filled with far less confidence and a far more nervous fellow then he was at the beginning. This only becomes much worse for poor Wickus though when Wickus accidentally sprays a strange liquid upon himself that came from a hidden canister from one of the Aliens's shacks. 

That liquid causes Wickus to suffer severely and Copley once again delivers brilliantly with this aspect of his performance. Wickus start out becoming ill and Copley does not just leave it to spewing black liquid from his orifices. Copley brings the illness alive through his portrayal and his depiction of Wickus's physical degradation is made odd believable because of him. After he is done for the day Wickus collapses at home finding himself in the hospital, but much worse than that he finds that his hand has become the same hand that belongs to the Aliens. Copley's reaction is outstanding because he merely conveys what most men's reaction would be to discovery this. The horror in his eyes and panic is painfully raw. Copley is very powerful in that scene as well as the proceedings scenes where his company uses him as a guinea pig, but being just so honest in his performance.

 The film technically takes a rather drastic turn as he goes on the run seeking refuge in District 9 while gradually transforms more into the Alien. Copley capitalizes on the fact at the beginning of the film he always manged humanize Wickus even though he was a bit of dope. This is especially important when the film expects us to become completely invested in him as he must try to cure himself and avoid being dissected by his company. Copley allowed the right sympathy by never turning Wickus into a caricature earlier therefore when Wickus's life is threatened it becomes very easy to feel for his plight. The film does not spend too much time on Wickus's regrets as he ends up with teaming up with one of the Aliens, it pretty much leaves it to Copley's portrayal of Wickus's reactions to the Alien. That is all that is needed as Copley's naturalism shines through as we see the shame and regret in him, but Copley keeps it subtle fitting to a man who's problems are quite pressing.

The last act of the film is very action oriented as Wickus has to fight off by the armed company men and plenty of criminals who want him for their use. All of the action could have easily overwhelmed Copley's performance and he could have easily just been kind of there. Copley never let's that happen though making the most of all of his reactions. Yes Wickus kind of does become an action hero through his use of the alien armaments, but Copley does not play it that way. Copley brings the right awe in Wickus's astonishment at most of what he does, as well still bringing the appropriate fear and desperation as he is forced into this situation he never wanted to be a part of. Copley that carries this film so flawlessly. He does this because in every step, even though it is science fiction, even though he plays a guy who is turning into alien, who always makes Wickus feel like a real person through his portrayal of every emotion he goes through. He gives a great performance that is probably one of the best feature film debuts I've seen.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Alternate Best Actor 2009: Nicolas Cage in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Nicolas Cage did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Terence McDonagh the titular character of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.

Werner Herzog's own Bad Lieutenant's name may sound like a bad straight to DVD release sequel, but its actually a very entertaining sorta re-make to 1992 film directed by Abel Ferrara with Harvey Keitel as the Bad Lieutenant.

The similarities in the two films are that they focus on the exploits of a bad Lieutenant who is tasked to solve one major crime while he indulges in sex, drugs, gambling, and all while abusing his power as a police officer. The earlier film was a very serious depiction of this troubled man, but in this case it goes for much more of a dark comedy type of approach to the material. The same goes for Cage's depiction of the Lieutenant which differs greatly from Keitel's work. The Lieutenant engages in the same behavior but in a vastly different fashion. Also I would say that this named Lieutenant, although definitely makes problematic decisions throughout the film, it is easy to see that he is far more competent individual than the unnamed Lieutenant who was completely incompetent in basically every single facet of his life.

 Nicolas Cage receive a bit of a bad rap these days with many calling him a terrible actor, but I think I would more of categorize him as a wasted actor. Yes he's in plenty of bad films due to his lack of selectivity, but so is Gary Oldman for the same basic reason. Cage when he really goes for a role, like in his two Oscar nominated performances, he goes all in which thankfully is the case here. There is no really reason to compare him to Keitel because he does not go for anything like Keitel's great performance. This is mainly a comic performance by Cage. That is not to say he is going for laughs directly even once, but Cage knows what he is doing. Cage was probably the absolute perfect choice for the role as this Lieutenant is someone you should never be able to guess what he is going to do next much like a Nicolas Cage performance.

It is funny in that in terms of the drug problem with this Lieutenant you might actually be able to attribute it, at least in part, to his his back pain which Cage illustrates quite well through a constant hunch. The Lieutenant is never off any single drug through the film and Cage can practically make you see it coursing through his veins through the certain malaise that he gives him. There is always something working through his system and Cage rather brilliant brings this through his performance as any highs or lows seem on a physical level as well as a mental one. When for example he abuses some young people outside of a club for drugs his sleazy style is that of a lowly addict just constantly pleading for drugs, but Cage cleverly subverts but still having the appropriate command that still is what you may expect from a normal cop handling the situation.

Cage is never set to set a scene in just a scene lay down as there is a constant energy he brings to role that is effective as it is always in character for the manic nature of his character. Even when the character comes down from one of his highs Cage even manages to that with some great gusto. Some of my favorite scenes though are when Lieutenant McDonagh proves himself far more capable than the original Lieutenant such as one scene where he goes through one house to sneak behind one the murder suspects they are after. Cage is great in the scene once he catches the man as it is a truly intense high he presents in the Lieutenant from his accomplishment. It is not just that of the success but Cage puts the drugs right in there to as the Lieutenant is not doubt on the up swing when it comes to whatever he had possibly ingested most recently.

One of the most interesting things I found watching this performance is how likable Cage manages to make the Lieutenant despite the fact that the bad is definitely earned as torturing old ladies is not even out of the question if it meets his demands. Cage succeeds well in two points in this regard. One being that he does have so much fun in the role and he properly channels that at the right times to concise for any particular success the Lieutenant may be having. Another reason though is the comic manner Cage has. He is pretty spot on in all manners that he takes in this regard. On one side one will be a little broader moment that he makes work because he has set up the Lieutenant to be just this spontaneous. Anything does go for the Lieutenant it seems and Cage completely makes that work often to a rather hilarious degree.

There are two particularly fantastic moments for Cage in that regard. One being when he threatens his new criminal associates for his cut in a criminal bargain. Cage goes from possibly killing them type insanity to a joking jubilation so naturally that is riotous. The other scene though is when he uses the murderers he's suppose to be catching to kill another set of gangsters that he has crossed in some way. After the murders the Lieutenant hallucinates one of their souls break dancing afterwards ordering his associates to shoot the man again to stop it. That might go on the too absurd side but Herzog and Cage make it work. Cage's is expression is awesome in nature as his totally gone expression seems to honestly be that of a man who is in fact seeing a break dancing soul. That is not all there is though to Cage here.   

Cage oddly enough goes from insanity to a calmer at times in such an extreme way yet only fitting for the character that he has developed. Cage even manages to bring humor to some technically dark scenes, like letting some men have their way with his prostitute girlfriend. In this case he does in such a matter of fact way that he allows the blackness of the situation to have the right tinge of farce to stop it from becoming a little too serious. This is not to say Cage is even all fun and games, even if there is plenty of that to go around. There is a strange underlying heart that Cage suggests that is underlying in any scene where the lieutenant must actually do the right thing. There is no confession scene like in the other film yet Cage still manages to subtly suggest the good man behind the very bad one.

Before writing this review I thought perhaps a 4.5 for Cage here, but as I've gone through all that I liked about his performance I have had an even greater appreciate for his work here. This is Cage probably at his very best as he goes for broke and gets the appropriate pay off in return. Cage never becomes dour he never becomes even slightly uninteresting for a second. There is always something he brings to the part and his twisted comedic nature makes the film soar far more than if an actor took a more straight forward, and to be honest less Cagey, approach really the film may have been a complete failure. Cage matches the style exactly as he should and gives a incredibly enjoyable performance. This definitely might not be everyone's cup of tea I suspect but I have to admit I loved it.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Alternate Best Actor 2009: Tobey Maguire in Brothers

Tobey Maguire did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Captain Sam Cahill.

Brothers has a certain effectiveness at times but overall it never quite comes together in it's story about two brothers one who is a soldier who is thought to have died in Afghanistan, and the other a perpetual screw up who finds some responsibility at his apparent death.

Maguire plays the "good" brother and Jake Gyllenhaal plays the "bad" brother Tommy. That is technically good casting in that they can be taken as brothers as they both fit a similar type and it is no surprise to learn that Gyllenhaal was considered to replace Maguire as Spider-Man when it was in question whether or not he would reprise the role in Spider-Man two. The comparison between the two is problematic in that I would not hesitate in saying Gyllenhaal is simply the much more talented Maguire as Maguire has a tendency for a blandness in his performances. This blandness is not avoided here either even though this ends up being a very emotionally charged role. The beginning of the film though is just setting up the family dynamic with showing Sam as a devoted soldier but also a man who is very loving toward his children and his wife (Natalie Portman).

Maguire sorta fails in both of the points early on. He just never really seems like a man who was ever a soldier here and he does not do anything to really suggest anything about Sam early on. He's very paint by numbers just kinda going through the motions of any scene. He does not show really a command you might expect from a respected Captain like he probably should. He also does not strike up enough chemistry with either Portman or the two child actors playing his daughter. Also he does not really strike anything notable with Gyllenhaal, in fact it does not seem like he really is trying all that hard in that case whereas Gyllenhaal really is trying to bring something between the brothers. Unfortunately there is not anything that comes from Gyllenhaal's effort because Maguire does not reciprocate, and despite being called Brothers Maguire and Gyllenhaal don't share that many scenes together.

Everything changes though once Sam goes off to Afghanistan and his helicopter is shot down, but he survives although he is captured by enemy forces. They take him and a fellow soldier and proceed to torture them to elicit "confessions". Maguire in these scenes isn't terrible in that I do think there are glimpses of expressing the severity of the situation and the change in Sam's mental state. Maguire never pulls the emotions together enough to make these scenes truly harrowing. There is still an inadequacy at times as he does not bridge the transformation from one to another well enough. There are moments where he seems to have it in portraying Sam's descent, but then others he seems lost in the scene. This is especially true for the pivotal scene where his captors force him to kill subordinate. Maguire does not build the moment instead going to some standard yelling and just undercuts what should be an essential character moment.

Sam comes back and is obviously a bit off as he no longer seems the same man, and is clearly suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. Maguire actually has one really strong scene where Sam accuses Tommy of sleeping with his wife. Maguire is very effective in showing the unsettled nature of Sam and just the cold nervousness of the man. Maguire in that scene realizes the state of Sam rather powerfully, unfortunately this is not the case for the rest of the scenes. Maguire just seems to go on a blank stare autopilot that fails to bring his conflict to the forefront. He stays this way until an extreme breakdown that occurs. It's a loud scene and really it comes off as much more of him acting loudly rather than bringing the natural breakdown. One reason is he did not build to this well enough, other than that one scene with Gyllenhaal, but as well it is just insufficiently acted in a base sense. Although the ending is particularly weak this isn't a terrible performance as there are moments where Maguire finds the character, but those moments are the exceptions.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Alternate Best Actor 2009

And the Nominees Were Not:

Nicolas Cage in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Tom Hardy in Bronson

Viggo Mortensen in The Road

Sam Rockwell in Moon

Sharlto Copley in District 9

And since I'm a man of my word BONUS REVIEWS:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 500 Days of Summer

Tobey Maguire in Brothers

The prediction contest will just be for the first five.

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1986: Results

5. Raul Julia in The Morning After- Julia is going against a terrible film, but he does rise enough above it to give some depth to a role.

Best Scene: The Revelation.
4. Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors- Martin may peak with his song, but that is one entertaining peak to reach.

Best Scene: "Dentist!"
3. Brian Cox in Manhunter- Cox gives us his own Hannibal that emphasizing the intelligence once again, but with with a very effective more down to earth style.

Best Scene: Hannibal's introduction.
2. Daniel Day-Lewis in A Room With A View- Day-Lewis gives a brilliant portrayal of the ultimate Edwardian man which he makes amusing in the extremity yet completely natural to his character.

Best Scene: Lucy breaks off the engagement with Cecil.
1. Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet- Good Predictions Psifonian, Lezlie, Maciej, RatedRStar,  and Michael McCarthy. Despite this year having several strong strong supporting performances I have no hesitations in rewarding Hopper the win here. He is absolutely amazing with his searing and completely unforgettable depiction of the twisted Frank Booth.

Best Scene: "In Dreams" 
Overall Rank
  1. Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet
  2. Daniel Day-Lewis in A Room With A View
  3. Tom Berenger in Platoon
  4. Willem Dafoe in Platoon
  5. Dean Stockwell in Blue Velvet
  6. Michael Caine in Hannah and Her Sisters
  7. Brian Cox in Manhunter
  8. Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors
  9. Ray Liotta in Something Wild
  10. Michael Caine in Mona Lisa
  11. Tom Noonan in Manhunter
  12. John C. McGinley in Platoon 
  13. Raul Julia in The Morning After
  14. Lance Henriksen in Aliens
  15. Dennis Hopper in Hoosiers
  16. Vincent Price in The Great Mouse Detective
  17. Michael Biehn in Aliens
  18. Bill Murray in Little Shop of Horrors
  19. Corey Feldman in Stand By Me
  20. Levi Stubbs in Little Shop of Horrors
  21. Robbie Coltrane in Mona Lisa
  22. Paul Reiser in Aliens
  23. Clancy Brown in Highlander
  24. Bill Paxton in Aliens
  25. Max von Sydow in Hannah and Her Sisters
  26. James Hong in Big Trouble in Little China 
  27. Alan Ruck in Ferris Bueller's Day Off 
  28. Helmut Qualtinger in The Name of the Rose 
  29. Woody Allen in Hannah and Her Sisters 
  30. Jeffrey Jones in Ferries Bueller's Day Off
  31. Jerry O'Connell in Stand By Me
  32. Vincent Gardenia in Little Shop of Horrors
  33. George Dickerson in Blue Velvet
  34. Forest Whitaker in Platoon
  35. Dennis Dun in Big Trouble in Little China
  36. Keith David in Platoon
  37. William Hope in Aliens
  38. Forest Whitaker in The Color of Money 
  39. Conrad Roberts in The Mosquito Coast
  40. Ray McNally in The Mission
  41. Victory Wong in Big Trouble in Little China
  42. Kevin Dillon in Platoon
  43. F. Murray Abraham in The Name of the Rose
  44. Francesco Quinn in Platoon
  45. Val Bettin in The Great Mouse Detective
  46. Liam Neeson in The Mission
  47. Val Kilmer in Top Gun 
  48. Sean Connery in Highlander
  49. Anthony Edwards in Top Gun
  50. Denholm Elliot in A Room With A View
  51. Ron Perlman in The Name of the Rose
  52. Charles Dance in The Golden Child
  53. Simon Callow in A Room With A View
  54. Philip Bosco in Children of a Lesser God
  55. Brad Dourif in Blue Velvet
  56. Tom Skerritt in Top Gun
  57. Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  58. Michael Lonsdale in The Name of the Rose
  59. DeForest Kelley in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  60. Victor Wong in The Golden Child
  61. Dennis Farina in Manhunter
  62. Rupert Graves in A Room With A View
  63. John Turturro in The Color of Money
  64. Michael Ironside in Top Gun
  65. Reni Santoni in Cobra
  66. Jim Belushi in Salvador
  67. Yuj Okumoto in The Karate Kid Part II
  68. Martin Scorsese in 'Round Midnight
  69. Alan Young in The Great Mouse Detective
  70. James Hong in The Golden Child 
  71. Danny Kamekona in The Karate Kid Part II
  72. John Savage in Salvador
  73. Stephen Lang in Manhunter
  74. Alfonso Arau in The Three Amigos
  75. John Getz in The Fly
  76. David Kagen in Friday the 13th Part VI
  77. Andre Gregory in The Mosquito Coast
  78. Andrew Schofield in Sid and Nancy
  79. Austin Pendleton in Short Circuit
  80. Fisher Stevens in Short Circuit
  81. Tom Fridley in Friday the 13th Part VI
  82. Brian Thompson in Cobra
Next Year: 2009 lead

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1986: Raul Julia in The Morning After

Raul Julia did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Joaquin "Jackie" Manero in The Morning After.

The Morning After is an awful film about an alcoholic actress Alex (Jane Fonda) who finds a murdered man in her bed one morning. Sidney Lumet does a terrible job directing it keeping it tonally inconsistent and making some of the oddest music choices ever seen in a mainstream film. It does not help that the two main characters are not interesting, and I have to admit I found Fonda's drunk scenes to be pretty terrible. As for the quality of the central mystery well I might as start the review....

This is not really one of Julia's greatest performances and in fact  I'd even say he was in a better film when he was in Street Fighter, but I can't help myself when a Julia performance is recommended just to recognize the man who was taken from this life far too soon. Anyway the mystery of The Morning After does not seem much like a mystery at all as the killing obviously has something to do with Raul Julia who is the only other character in the film besides the male lead played by Jeff Bridges who is a hillbilly? ex-detective. It was obviously not going to be Jeff Bridges as Jagged Edge was only a year before so it had to be Julia, well did it not? Well actually it isn't really because it's this character you don't see until the revelation, which I guess can work, but not if it's written this poorly. Anyway Julia's Jackie still has something to do with it.

For most of the film though Julia comes in and out of the film as Alex's hairdresser and husband although they are apparently amiable in a separation. Julia even in a bad part still has plenty of energy to go around like an early scene where he tries to replay what it was that Alex had done the night before the murder. Julia does not have all that much screen time for him to build a character but he is effective in showing the undercurrent of deceit in Jackie, and the fact that he obviously knows far more about the murder than he let's on. What Julia does though is suggest what is later explained and that is that Jackie is contemplating far more than if he was merely the murdering. There is going on in Julia's portrayal and it would have been interesting to have explored his character more but the film is terrible so it has to focus on Fonda's disjointed performance and Bridges's inconsistent accent.

The revelation at the end of the film is that Jackie is actually trying to cover for his new fiancee who apparently was the one who committed the murder. He does handle the revelation scene well particularly when Jackie is trying to kill Alex. Although the camera angle Lumet chooses is hideous, Julia is effective in showing that Jackie is almost breaking his own heart well trying to do this. In that moment he actually brings far greater depth to the piece than can be found any where else. He is even quite moving when Jackie's fiancee tries to pin the murder on him as he shows Jackie to be so honestly distraught that the woman he tried so hard to save has just betrayed him in the end. This is a more than solid performance by Julia as I do think he rises above his terrible surroundings despite the extreme limitations of the role. I have to say I would have much rather have seen the film be completely about Julia's character moral contemplation over his actions to save his love. Unfortunately though there just is not enough Raul to go around in this case.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1986: Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet

Dennis Hopper did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Frank Booth in Blue Velvet.

Blue Velvet is a brilliant film about a young man Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) who tries to find out the mystery behind a severed human ear and in doing so uncovers the dark underbelly of his seemingly idyllic hometown. 

Dennis Hopper actually was Oscar nominated for 1986 in this category, but not for his turn in this film. Instead he was recognized for his good but certainly in comparison simpler portrayal as a sympathetic drunkard in Hoosiers. There probably was not much of a competition between the performances in terms of votes either since in Hoosiers Hopper played a likable man and in Blue Velvet he plays a villain. Yes the academy likes villains well enough but not really so much when they are like Frank.Well there really aren't many villains like Frank Booth to be sure when one of his most savory qualities is the fact that he runs a small criminal organization in what seems to be a pleasant town otherwise. In fact Hopper's portrayal of Frank's very first scene probably guaranteed that he would be recognized for Hoosiers and not this film.

Frank makes his most unusual entrance once Jeffrey tries to become a sleuth by investigating a night club singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) who is said to have some sort involvement with the missing ear. He is caught by her in her apartment and she beings to play a sexual game with that is quickly silenced when Frank comes over to have his own sexual game with Dorothy with the hidden Jeffrey forced to watch. Hopper is truly something to watch in this scene as he let's the whole prevision fly in his all too convincing portrayal of Frank particularly method to game sexual satisfaction. The way Hopper plays the whole scene is absolutely amazing yet an especially disturbing sight to be seen. It is a jumble of emotions in Frank's method and he seems all over the place mentally yet Hopper successfully brings it into one man's madness.

It would have been easy enough to just be the vicious rapist he is, and Hopper certainly does not hold back in that regard. Every time he tells Dorothy to not look at him, or to shut up Hopper is so brutally cruel in his delivery and such an unpleasant degree. That is not all there is to even Frank anger though. During the "sex" scene there is such a bizarre intensity that Hopper brings to Frank lust that is honestly completely frightening to see. The reason being that within the anger there is that sexual desire and satisfaction that he depicts in the same moment in a truly twisted dance of emotions. That would be enough it seems to leave an impression but Hopper does not stop there. Underlying all of it Hopper expresses moments of almost an emotional breakdown in Frank as the sexual experience also seems to cause him to reflect on some very odd psychological issues stemming from his past.

Well that is only Hopper's first scene and he already pretty much insured you would never really forget his performance. Anyway Hopper appears once again after Jeffrey makes a very ill timed exit from Dorothy's apartment as it just happens to be the same time Frank and some of his henchmen arrive. Again what is so incredible about Hopper's performance is just how much he does in every scene with Frank Booth, to be sure there is not one even slightly dull moment when he is onscreen. In the basic villain mold of things Hopper certainly fits that part particularly well. His menace is a truly palatable one here as he makes Frank presence resonate throughout the film so there is some dread in the mere implication of his appearance. Hopper's portrayal isn't even that of a cunning villain necessarily, but the ferocity he brings in Frank's violent demeanor makes him a man to be feared.

Again merely being the villain just does not seem enough in Hopper's performance as there is even a very darkly comic element that Hopper brings with his portrayal Frank. In his scenes with Jeffrey Frank addresses him as neighbor and Hopper is rather hilariously friendly in the way he says it even while he is constantly physically abusive toward him. Any of these moments could come off poorly or odd considering the rest of what Frank does but Hopper handles them so naturally that his deliveries seem exactly how Frank would say them. My favorite of these pitch black comedic moments has to be right when Frank is intent on murdering Jeffrey and just before believing he's going to do it says "You've got about one second to live buddy!". Hopper delivers so amusingly like Jeffrey is his buddy, yet the killing intent in Frank still is never lost even for a second. 

Of course Frank is not just a thug  even though is unquestionably a thug. This is best shown when Frank forces Jeffrey and Dorothy along with his gang to the home of a very strange man called Ben (Dean Stockwell) who lip syncs Roy Orbinson's "In Dreams" to Frank. Hopper is fascinating in this scene as he shows such a vulnerability in Frank as the song brings him almost to tears. What is so compelling about his performance is that he makes this moment of reflection a completely believable transition for Frank. Even more than that Hopper is absurdly magnetic and even oddly poignant as he portrays the profound affect on Frank and alludes to the psyche of the man. Hopper expresses what the song means to Frank, and suggests that the emotions it brings are overwhelming to the point that he must fight them with anger. It is a flawlessly acted scene by Hopper. 

Frank is a role that could have easily been filled with pitfalls not only the whole idea of the character but as well just merely behavior perhaps could have seemed overly repetitive. This is never the case for Hopper as you never know what Frank is going to do in a given scene except that it is going to be very disturbing yet so strangely entrancing to witness. This is especially true in the scene where he first threatens then proceeds to beat Jeffrey for interfering with his abuse of Dorothy. Hopper certainly makes you believe the threat as he is brutally imposing but again the twist in his Frank is how well he suggests just how damaged of a man the psychotic Frank is. Frank again almost cries as he's beating Jeffrey and Hopper only ever brings these emotions into Frank as Frank. Hopper makes all these seeming inconsistencies all what is this one deranged man and that is something astonishing to behold. 

I really cannot praise this Hopper enough in this film. It is such a tremendous work by him as he turns Frank into one of the most unforgettable villains of course. I don't see him just as a villain though as Hopper goes so much further than that with his work, he creates this remarkable character that he does make so unrepentant in his repulsiveness yet you can't look away. Frank isn't even necessarily necessarily that much of Blue Velvet's running time yet it is impossible to think of the film without thinking of his performance. Hopper is captivating in every single frame of his performance as he never wastes a second in realizing every facet of Frank Booth. This is easily the greatest performance by Dennis Hopper that I have seen, and I hold no hesitations to call it one of the greatest supporting performances of all time.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1986: Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors

Steve Martin did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Orin Scrivello, DDS, in Little Shop of Horrors.

Little Shop of Horrors is a very enjoyable musical comedy about a sad sack Seymour (Ric Moranis) who discovers a most unusual plant that offers him fame and fortune but it wants human blood in return. I should note I actually prefer the good ending found in the theatrical cut. This is for several reasons. Firstly stage and screen are not the same and tonally things do not always transfer perfectly so changes need to be. Secondly having the lead be Moranis makes it so the happy end is the best because he is just so darn likable, even when he is making Faustian deals you can help but feel for him. Thirdly the whole "Don't Feed the Plants" scene may be impressive to look at, but it just goes on for way too long.

Steve Martin plays the abusive boyfriend of Seymour's love interest Audrey (Ellen Greene), that's not the important part of his character. The important part is that being a sadistic dentist which is portrayed in a hilarious song number as he describes his reasons for his profession which is simply because of his love of causing things pain. Martin is usually best known for his dead pan comedic performances but this one is a broadly comic portrayal which was probably unavoidable considering it involves a song sequence. Anyway Martin plays the role as basically a twisted Elvis impersonator as he tries to inflict as much pain as possible to other around which is best shown in his first and best scene his song.

Martin's performance is completely hilarious in the song as he delivers with the song particularly brilliantly. He changes from one moment to the next with whether it is emphasizing the impersonation, or at times kind of the big singing known in the fancier type of romantic musicals, and other times with a psychotically intense voice. Each switch is perfectly place to accentuate the hilarity of the sequence. To only add on top of that his physical performance is also comedic gold as he wields his arms almost as weapons of death constantly threatening all humans who may be nearby him. Martin pulls out every single possible ounce of humor in the scene and he successfully makes the whole dentist song scene one of the strongest in the film. 

Martin other great scene is when he has a patient played by Bill Murray who unfortunately for him is a masochist. The two comedians play off each perfectly with with Martin going as intense as possible in his the pleasure he gets out of his vicious attempts to cause the man discomfort, and Murray playing off it by showing the man to love every single moment of it to well an orgasmic extent. The best moment of the scene though easily comes when Martin's character throws him out and it is ridiculously funny just how much disgust Martin displays in the dentist, as it is quite obvious that the dentist only likes it when he is the one having fun. That also is a great scene, and Martin is only in about four scenes to begin with.

Well the other two are a little less funny, but then again that is a bit hard to match considering the quality of the other two. Don't get me wrong he is still quite enjoyable in these two other scenes particularly his expression when he realizes he's going to die from his laughing gas machine. They are not nearly as entertaining as the other two but that is far less Martin and much more caused by the limitations presented to him. Nevertheless Martin proves himself quite capable in the broader style of comedy and is still one of the best parts of the film. Although he's merely good in two of his scenes opposed to being great like he is in his other two scenes, but I suppose that's good enough.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1986: Daniel Day-Lewis in A Room With A View

Daniel Day-Lewis did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Cecil Vyse in A Room With A View.

A Room With A View did find itself a supporting actor nomination from the academy for Denholm Elliot who was fine but not especially noteworthy, but the man ignored from the film was Daniel Day-Lewis who made a notable breakout in 85 and 86 for starring in this film and My Beautiful Laundrette where he played characters who could not be more different. A fitting way for him to start his time as a noted actor since he went on to never pigeon hole himself as a type other than the roles always tended to be particularly daring nature. Day-Lewis here plays a role that actually might not seem particularly daring right off the page in fact he might seem a rather boring character especially since the role of Cecil really is suppose to be a boring man. These types of roles are usually the ones most forgotten with performances that are just as forgettable, that is not the case here as Day-Lewis shows exactly how one should approach such a role.

Day-Lewis may in fact give the ultimate Edwardian portrayal as the genius of this performance is quite extraordinary. Day-Lewis becomes the man of the time with every facet of his performance. His physical manners all are that of a man of perfect refinement who has tries to have the best tastes in all things. The way he turns pages in a book the way he walks they are all in that of a man who has learned to be as proper as one could possibly be. His voice only follows suit with his prissy high pitched voice that is perfect for his endless recitation of the books that he reads. The whole demeanor and every manner reinforces the idea of the repressed nature of the man's upbringing and life. It is to such an extreme in Day-Lewis that there is a strong comedic value actually in his work in that is rather quite funny because Cecil just is just so very proper. Although Day-Lewis slyly makes this a comic performance that does not mean he seems out of place in the film.

One of the amazing aspects of his work is that even though he allows some of what he does to be amusing that does not mean he does not realize Cecil as a real man. All he does still feels completely natural to the setting and he comes off enough as a realistic man of the period still. All of the mannerisms are used by Day-Lewis to create a cohesive whole that is Cecil Vyse. This is not just a great performance in terms of character creation though, Day-Lewis goes beyond that with his performance. Although he definitely plays Cecil Vyse as a repressed man and even technically speaking a boring one, he does not portray him as a simple man particularly in regards to Cecil relationship with the Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter). Although the story of picture suggests that Cecil is the wrong suitor and the "free-spirited" George Emerson (Julian Sands) is the right one, Day-Lewis's performance kind of rejects this notion.

Where Julian Sands plays his role so one note that he makes George rather uninteresting, Day-Lewis never makes that the case for Cecil. Cecil is a man who suffers from everyone else apparently telling him who he is in fact Lucy does a little too often. Day-Lewis though portrays an honest frustration in Cecil over her dismissive attitude, but he effectively shows it as something that he still needs to repress by his nature. Another strong example of the subtlety he brings is also when George is fairly obviously trying to woo Lucy while she is suppose to betrothed to Cecil. Day-Lewis again in these scenes suggests an underlying unease and that Cecil actually is aware of the situation but cannot break his mold to do anything about it. Day-Lewis's best scene though is when Lucy breaks off the engagement with Cecil. Day-Lewis makes it a surprisingly moving scene because he shows that Cecil is heartbroken over it, but Day-Lewis only allows it to be seen in a internalized fashion which properly fits Cecil's manner toward life. This is a perfect portrayal by Day-Lewis as he makes the boring character entertaining, and realizes his character fully as his own man rather than just a hurdle between the main romance.