Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1997: Kevin Spacey in L.A. Confidential

Kevin Spacey did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for BAFTA, for portraying Det. Sgt. Jack Vincennes in L.A. Confidential.

L.A. Confidential had somewhat risky casting in its main leads of the then rather unknown Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe in the lead roles they had a sort of a safety though with Kevin Spacey who was certainly a known then. Spacey is fitting to be the "star" of the film as he plays the detective of the stars Jack Vincennes. Spacey is actually very close to being a third lead for the film, and just barely isn't. He certainly has plenty of scenes to himself from the very beginning when we are first introduced to Vincennes who is not exactly the best detective. Vincennes spends most his time acting as a technical adviser for a cop TV show, and in turn spends much of his time living the high life in Hollywood. Vincennes goes even a step further with the little bit of "policing" he does when he strikes up a deal with a sleazy tabloid journalist Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito) to arrest two up and comers in a very well publicized drug bust. Vincennes does not do this for any sort of justice he does it for the money and the fame derived from it.

Kevin Spacey plays the role of Jack Vincennes is a rather knowing fashion which could not be a better fit for the character. Spacey really plays Vincennes as a movie start type guy as we see in his opening scene at a Hollywood party. Spacey's great in the role as he definitely has a certain sleaze in his personal style, and you know from the very beginning that Vincennes is hardly a great cop. Of course this is a tricky thing to do as Spacey could have easily made Vincennes so sleazy that you simply wanted to punch him like many likely wanted to do to his character in Glengarry Glen Ross. Spacey manages to avoid this by bringing so much actual charm along with the sleaze. It is not even that Spacey plays it as though Vincennes is trying to hide his less savory qualities with his charisma, no rather Spacey is able to make at all a singular package, and the little bit of sleaze actually manages to add a bit to his style. Spacey is just wonderful at making Vincennes quite likable while being quite despicable at the same time.

Vincennes gets caught up with the by the books detective Ed Exley (Guy Pearce), and the bender of rules detective Bud White (Russell Crowe) when he gets involved with a case of police brutality mainly because one of the beaten suspects got blood on his clothes causing Vincennes to join in. Vincennes is forced to actually be a cop again until he can get a major bust to once again regain his position as the detective of the stars. This includes working with Ed Exley to track down the killers of a group of people in a dinner. Spacey rather slyly shows a bit of a different side as Vincennes investigates with Exley. On one level Spacey still is Vincennes being Vincennes as Spacey plays the whole investigation as though Vincennes doesn't care and to a certain extent finds the whole thing just annoying requirement for the job. In this regard Spacey is quite entertaining in portraying Vincennes's somewhat careless attitude right down to the way he strolls around the crime scene while everyone else is so intense. His performance is only further amplified by how well he plays off Pearce who plays Ed as such a fervent straight arrow.

As I noted before though that Spacey does allude to another side even though Vincennes is still far from being the ideal detective. In the scenes of the investigation Spacey very quietly shows the same sort of conviction and intelligence in Vincennes's method as a detective as Pearce does in a more forward fashion with Exley. Spacey shows in these brief moments that there is a great detective in Vincennes somewhere, but in his investigation of the case Spacey portrays Vincennes as only putting enough effort in to get the case done. There is no genuine passion in Spacey's performance rather his work shows Vincennes to be basically a true professional who is just kinda phoning it in that way he simply can back to what he truly loves, which is of course living the high life. After the "successful" investigation Vincennes goes right back to his old world, even going back to help Hudgens with another frame up and sting job going so far as to even help Hudgens convince the target, a troubled young actor, to prostitute himself with the promise of a career boon. 

Spacey is outstanding in the scene right after agreeing to do the job for Hudgens for a quick buck and a little bit more fame. The scene is simple and silent for Spacey as Vincennes simply looks at himself in the mirror, and it is absolutely perfectly played by Spacey. In just his reaction we see the conflict in Vincennes, and Spacey so beautifully realizes this moment where Vincennes finally sees just how much he has compromised. Spacey is surprisingly moving as he so honestly creates this crisis of conscious in Vincennes. What I love about it is that he never undercuts Vincennes as a character. It is only when he is completely alone that Spacey shows just how distraught Vincennes is over his terrible mistake, and when he is around his fellow officers he does try to be his old self. Of course Spacey is exceptional when there are very brief moments where Vincennes talks about his mistakes to the Ed. Spacey kinda rushes through this moments which is actually exactly as Vincennes should react as he wants to simply recognize the mistake to Ed but never let Ed see just how much he has been troubled by it.

Spacey's performance, like so many elements of L.A. Confidential, is something I completely adore. Spacey is completely pitch perfect in the role, and his work adds so much to the film. Although of course just like all his other male counterpoints he was of course ignored by the Academy, although I guess to their credit he may have suffered slightly from category confusion since his eventual BAFTA nomination was in lead. His performance is one that just is a very entertaining to watch. Spacey in some of his lesser performances can maybe try to show off a little too much, but here it completely works for his character as well as the film as a whole. Spacey also never leaves this as just a fun portrayal, although it certainly works in that regard. Spacey as well, like all the other performances I have reviewed from this film, does a marvelous job of revealing his character as someone far more complex than they might have seemed from the outset. In Spacey's case he gives that very enjoyable depiction of a shallow man in the beginning but ends up giving some of the most poignant moments in the film as he gradually reveals that maybe Jack Vincennes is a far better man than even he would like to admit. 


Anonymous said...

This is a brilliant review and I perfectly agree with you. Spacey is fantastic here and he's always been my pick for this year.

Anonymous said...

What are your ratings and thoughts on the cast of The Long, Hot Summer (1958)?

Anonymous said...

Hey Louis, this is off-topic, but what do you think is Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Gene Hackman's top 10 performances?

Anonymous said...

What would be your nominees for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for 1997!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Can I have your ratings and thoughts on the cast of Nine (2009)?

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Louis, are there any performances by Cillian Murphy under consideration for future alternate supporting reviews? I know you do like him as an actor based on your rankings

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, what's your ratings/thoughts on Louis C.K. in American Hustle, Dean Norris in The Counselor and Anton Yelchin in Star Trek?

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I rewatched the movie a few weeks ago and Spacey became my Supporting win for the year.

Matt Mustin said...

I REALLY need to rewatch this. I watched it once years ago and liked it a lot, but for whatever reason I haven't seen it since.

Louis Morgan said...

Long Hot Summer:

Newman - 4.5(I've given my thoughts before but it's a great precursor to his work in Hud)

Woodward - 3.5(She's got some great chemistry with Newman, but I feel the film limits her ability. She mostly stays frigid with just enough warmth which completely seems realistic for her character, but I feel the writing is never strong enough to allow to realize a true arc for her character)

Remick - 2.5(Unfortunately she seems mostly there for eye candy. Remick fulfills the limited needs of her character, but those needs are slim)

Anderson - 2(You pretty much can exchange his performance with any other bland the "other guy" performance ever and you couldn't tell the difference. He's not actively bad like someone I'm about to get to, but it's a very boring performance)

Lansbury - 2.5(Far too little to do and if it were not for Lansburg there would have been nothing to the character. Lansbury does have enough natural character to make up for this at least to a certain degree)

Welles - 2.5(Welles really does go way over the top in this one, and does a very pale imitation of Burl Ives's Big Daddy from The Big Country. Welles is a talented enough performer that he still manages to be entertaining, but Ives's work from the same year shows how this sort of role should have been played)

Anthony Franciosa - 1(Seriously how do this guy get cast in anything? He is just terrible as usual he goes for the exact same overwrought overacting any time any emotion is called for. He does become laughably bad at the worst moments in the film. Even when he's not doing that all he seems to do is over enunciate every line he is given. It's just another bad performance from a very bad actor)

Robert De Niro:

1. The Deer Hunter
2. Raging Bull
3. Once Upon a Time in America
4. The Godfather Part II
5. Taxi Driver
6. Mean Streets
7. Angel Heart
8. Midnight Run
9. The Mission
10. Brazil

Al Pacino:

1. Dog Day Afternoon
2. The Godfather
3. The Godfather Part II
4. Scarecrow
5. Glengarry Glen Ross
6. Donnie Brasco
7. Insomnia
8. The Godfather Part III
9. ...And Justice For All
10. Serpico

Gene Hackman:

1. The Conversation
2. Unforgiven
3. French Connection II
4. The Royal Tenenbaums
5. Scarecrow
6. Superman
7. I Never Sang For My Father
8. Bonnie & Clyde
9. The French Connection
10. Mississippi Burning


Pam Grier - Jackie Brown
Helena Bonham Carter - The Wings of the Dove
Judi Dench - Mrs. Brown
Kate Winslet - Titanic
Helen Hunt - As Good As It Gets

Supporting Actress:

Julianne Moore - Boogie Nights
Heather Graham - Boogie Nights
Sarah Polley - The Sweet Hereafter
Emily Watson - The Boxer
Alison Elliot - The Wings of the Dove


Day-Lewis - 2.5(Perhaps the only time I've ever seen him out of his element. Day-Lewis just seems rather bored by the whole thing, and yes it's Day-Lewis who looks bored rather than Guido. He never feels right for the role, and it's a shame because I think Day-Lewis could have been great in a musical role such Jean ValJean in Les Miserables)

Cotillard - 3.5(Easily the best performance for me although she is quite limited in her screen time. In her rather brief appearance she manages to convey the full desperation and disgust in regards to her husband's philandering. Her work is really one of the few things I don't find instantly forgettable about the film)

Kidman - 2.5(She's not bad but I'd be hard pressed to be able to explain why she was even in the film. You could have easily cut her scenes and nothing would have changed)

Cruz - 2(I'm really just not a fan of Cruz as I find she hams her way through this performance. Everything about her work seems a bit overcooked, and I found nothing alluring, poignant, or even entertaining about her work)

Louis Morgan said...


Somehow I've been systematically cheating him along the way, but The Wind That Shakes the Barely seems very likely for him.


Louis C.K. - 3(He does get to do a lot, but he certainly made me had the utmost sympathy for his character. He actually managed to be funny in his dead pan reactions while Bradley Cooper failed to be funny at all in his over the top obnoxiousness)

Norris - 3(Solid one scene, not quite wonder. I liked his performance in it though because he seemed to the only person in the whole drug world who did not seem to suffer from a severe case of delusions of grandeur)

Yelchin - 1(Karl Urban and Simon Pegg manage to have some fun imitating the original performances while still making them character's on their own. Yelchin on the other hand is simply an accent which isn't funny and is far more absurd than the one Walter Koenig did in the original series. It's no wonder he was regulated to the lower decks in the sequel)

Sorry about the late response my internet was not working.

luke higham said...

Louis: Have you seen anything new in the past month.

RatedRStar said...

Heres something even more strange Louis, Anthony Franciosa actually won a golden globe for best actor, how????

Anonymous said...

Do you like Lee Remick in general? And have you seen anything in which she is mention-worthy outside of Anatomy of a Murder and Days of Wine and Roses?

luke higham said...

Louis: Rating & Thoughts on Michael Douglas in The Game.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke: Only The Expendables 3.

RatedRStar: Well to be fair I haven't seen Career, I mean he could potentially be great, I mean even impossible things are possible sometimes.


I do like her in general. I haven't seen her in any major roles outside of those two though. I thought she was fine in Tribute, A Face in The Crowd, and Sometimes a Great Notion, but her roles were very underwritten in all three of those.


Douglas - 4.5(I wasn't that crazy about The Game as an overall thriller but I stayed invested with it because of Michael Douglas. I thought he managed to make a very compelling and surprisingly moving portrayal of a man finding meaning in his life again. Although some of the twists may have been slightly hard to swallow Douglas's reaction and the change he showed in his character from them was always believable)

RatedRStar said...

=D only one way to find out Louis lol, see Career xD

JackiBoyz said...

@Louis: What films are you looking forward to this year?

@RatedRStar: What hong kong films are you looking forward to this year lol.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, why do you keep bothering with the Expendables movies?

luke higham said...

JackiBoyz: I know you didn't ask me but I'll give mine as well.

Mr Turner
Inherent Vice
Gone Girl
THG MockingJay Part 1
The Hobbit TBOTFA

Also, since I'm probably the biggest Fassbender fan on this blog, I'm eagerly anticipating Slow West, Macbeth, Trespass Against Us & The Light Between The Oceans for next year.

RatedRStar said...

@Jackiboyz: I am afraid none at the moment, I tend to see the Hong Kong big hitters when the award season kicks him, expect the usual set of Lau Ching Wan and Tony Leung Chiu Wai to be on the nominees list.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

@RatedRStar: seeing as your a HK film fanatic, what're your thoughts on Nick Cheung, Lau Ching Wan and Chapman To as actors because I find the overrated, underrated and very very annoying respectively

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar: I think I might have to, just to know.....


Mr Turner
Inherent Vice
Bright Eyes (Hoping Burton pulls an Ed Wood out of this one, he probably won't but a man can dream)

Matt: My watching of the film wasn't by my own volition.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

So which 2014 performances are you holding on to for reviews later?

Louis Morgan said...

They are not completely guaranteed, although I am saving them for the moment, but the ones so far are:

The Two Apes from Dawn
Ralph Fiennes - Grand Budapest Hotel
Brendan Gleeson - Calvary
Tom Hardy - Locke

Matt Mustin said...

Have you seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Louis? Because I think Andy Serkis is just as great in that one, if not better.

Anonymous said...

Louis, what are your ratings on Lee Remick in the three movies you mentioned?

RatedRStar said...

@Donald : My opinion on Nick Cheung is a little similar, I think he is very poor in his early award nominated supporting roles, I think he is a terrible comedian and quite clearly is better at dramatics, his dramatic nominations are a mixed bag too, I liked him in Unbeatable, The Beast Stalker and The Stool Pigeon but in all 3 of those films he was overshadowed by his co star. He overacted in Nightfall.

Chapman To is an actor Louis would get very annoyed with if he saw more of his films since he can be a very annoying comedian, his 4 award nominations are a joke, his best performance was in Diva even though he was still not great, just acceptable.

Lau Ching Wan is an actor that I think always gives his all, even if his films arent always the best, I am looking forward to seeing Louis review him for Mad Detective and see him in The Longest Nite, he is a great leading man in the most classic way, he has received so many award nominations, almost as many as Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Tony Leung Ka Fai.

JackiBoyz said...

@RatedRStar: Who are the top ten most underrated, overrated, worst, and best young and up and comers, sorry Louis if it ends up being a mega long post xD.

RatedRStar said...



1)Liu Ye (Michael Fassbender of Hong Kong, only 2 nominations despite being in consideration for over 7 films)

2)Alex Fong Chung Sun (Excellent character actor, 4 nominations)

3)Takeshi Kaneshiro (A charming actor as Louis has seen, never nominated)

4)Roy Cheung (Excellent at playing gangsters and playboys, only 2 nominations)

5)Lam Suet (Chapman To if he was a good actor, only one nomination)

6)Choi Min Sik (Has been in consideration for Hong Kong awards but has never been nominated despite films he has been in being nominated at the ceremony)

7)John Lone (Never nominated despite being in consideration for The Last Emperor, to add insult to injury, Tony Leung Ka Fai was nominated the previous year for a film of the same name.

8)Chang Chen (a great leading man, yet only seems to be recognised for average to good supporting performances, 3 nominations)

9)Sonny Chiba (Despite many great supporting performances over a long career, he has only been recognised once for an average performance, one nomination)

10)Lau Ching Wan (He has recieved nomination after nomination for lead actor but always falls short, despite deserving the award at least 4 times, 14 nominations and only 1 win)

Honorable mentions: Huang Bo, Francis Ng, Wang Xueqi, David Lee, Patrick Tam, Alex Man, Wu Ma, Lee Kang Cheng

RatedRStar said...


1. Jackie Chan (He has been nominated 10 times for best actor ???????? what the fuck, he can be charming but he isnt an award caliber actor)

2. Donnie Yen ( He can't act, im sorry he cannot act, he is so wooden and dull whenever he talks yet he has 2 nominations, IP MAN was overrated and not deserving of its best picture win)

3. Jacky Cheung (His great performances are his first two award nominations and the rest are all bad ones, he is an actor who manages to overact and underplay at the same time, he has gotten worse with age)

4. Aaron Kwok (5 nominations, one of them was ok, the rest were terrible, his performance in Murderer might be the worst ever performance in the lead category, worse than Richard Dix, its super bad acting, how he gets so many lead roles in big films is just strange, I guess singers get lead roles too often)

5. Andy Lau (He has given great performances over the years but unfortunately when he isn't picking up awards he is phoning it in just to pick up a pay check)

6. Tony Leung Ka Fai (He can be great, but he is no Leung Chiu Wai, 50% of his performances are great, the others are just meh)

7. Gordon Lam (3 nominations, the Arthur Kennedy of Hong Kong, he is just a very standard character actor and a very bad presenter to boot yet he gets roles in big films)

8. Simon Yam (10 nominations, one was a career win because it was his final nomination to date, his best performances have been unnominated, he is strangely uncharismatic in lead roles, and really should not be compared with actors like Sonny Chiba and Choi Min Sik for overdue actors.

9. Chapman To (4 nominations, how???, two of them were for Infernal Affairs and its sequel, that says it all, he is a bad comedian and poor actor nuff said yet he is one of the most high paid actors)

10. Nick Cheung (Critics in Hong Kong consider him the best actor at the moment, he isn't, he can be good, but thats only recently happened since he stopped doing comedy about 7 or 8 years ago and actually woke up, he has a long way to go before he can be measured up to the big guns)

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Lau Ching Wan is the Benicio del Toro of HK cinema, haha. I rather like Lam Suet and Kaneshiro is great, RatedRStar have you seen Perhaps Love?

And also, have you seen any Johnnie To films.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

And Ip Man is AWFUL. I am glad that you like Leung Ks Fai in some roles, he is very good in Election.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

And Ip Man is AWFUL. I am glad that you like Leung Ks Fai in some roles, he is very good in Election.

RatedRStar said...


1. Michael Wong (Louis will love seeing him in Beast Cops lol, he is just bad, he mangles English and Mandarin in the most inappropriate ways, he has one nomination, how???)

2. Aaron Kwok

3. Chapman To

4. Leon Lai (2 nominations, both poor performances, he is always dull, never energetic, his best performance was in Fallen Angels, his only good performance ever and thats because his emotionless performance fit the character)

5)Louis Koo( 3 nominations, his most recent nomination in The White Storm was actually decent, shame the other 20 or 30 performances he has given has been overacting central, its funny how many singers turned actors are on this list)

6) Eason Chan (1 nomination, a terrible one, playing a offensive gay stereotype, another singer turned actor, he isnt an actor, he has no screen presence, Hi Richard Dix, the fact he was nominated in the same category as Francis Ng, Roy Cheung and Chang Chen makes me puke)

7. Daniel Wu (2 acting nominations in the same year, one was good, One Nite In Mongkok, the other was in a bad Jackie Chan film, back in 2004 he was touted as being the next big thing, he has never recieved an acting nomination since, and the reason for that is that he has more personality than cement, he does a lot of bad american films nowadays)

8. Jay Chou (1 nomination, people will have seen him in The Green Hornet, that was shit, he was nominated for the same film as the underrated Liu Ye which is just silly, he is dull, another singer turned actor, although I use the word actor with question marks all over it)

9. Simon Yam

10. Donnie Yen

RatedRStar said...

@Donald: Yes I did like Tony Leung Ka Fai in Election he was by far the best of the 5 nominees that year, I think the awards he has won were for the most part deserving, except his first acting win back in 1983.

I have seen Perhaps Love and enjoyed it very much, Takeshi Kaneshiro is always a good romantic lead, Jacky Cheung is also decent as obsessive 3rd love interest, its basically Moulin Rouge if it wasnt a headache.

Yes I have seen many many Johnnie To films, he is by far my favorite hong kong film maker.

RatedRStar said...

Up and Comers

1) Tong Dawei (1 nomination, He should have won the Best Supporting Actor 2013 award over Zhang Jin, he is great as the slightly nerdish but endearing depressed student, I hope he gets more nominations in future)

2) Eddie Peng ( 1 nomination for Unbeatable, snubbed for Jump Ashin He would have been my second place behind Tong Dawei in his nominated performance, he brought a very James Woods style of energy in being quite entertaining but serious at the same time, he overshadowed his co star Nick Cheung, he is also good in Jump Ashin as a gymnast chasing his dream.

3)Joseph Chang (one Golden horse nomination, snubbed for Gf*Bf, I was quite angry at his snubbing, he played a closeted person in the most realistic way)

4)Lawrence Ko (won Asian film award, snubbed for Jump Ashin, a natural young actor, had perfect chemistry with Eddie Peng)

5)Kazuya Kamensashi (snubbed for Its Me, Its Me. He is a great example of a singer turned actor, very good at playing romantic cutesy but withdrawn characters, very good at carrying a film)

6)Yao Yao (Won Golden horse award, the first female talent to appear, another singer turned actress, she was usually a TV star but gave a great turn in Step Back To Glory which she won her award)

7)Choi Minho (One TV nomination, a singer turned actor again, one of the members of Shinee, has the right look and charisma for a leading man, all he needs is to find better scripts sometimes but he is great at romantic melodrama)

8)Miyavi (One of the cast members of Unbroken, another singer turned actor, a great singer I should add, he has done a few acting jobs, but here it could be all or nothing for him)

9)Ko Chen Tung (won golden horse, playing a prankster can go two ways, he can be unlikable and we dont care, or he can be funny and endearing, Chen does the latter)

10)Ian Gouw (1 win, he is 17 years old, become the youngest actor to win a hong kong award for a great child performance, the fact that he managed to help Aaron Kwok give his best performance says a lot)

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

@Louis: See Boyhood. Ethan Hawke is brilliant.

luke higham said...

Louis: Can I have your Rating & Thoughts on Pam Grier in Jackie Brown, Moore & Graham in Boogie Nights and Emily Watson in The Boxer.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

@RatedRStar: I'm glad to see Nicholas Tse isn't on the "worst" list.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert: Will do when I get the chance.

Luke: I believe I've given my thoughts on all the rest beforehand.

Watson - 4(A pretty charming work and has some excellent chemistry with Day-Lewis. She great at portraying a strong emotional intensity in such a quiet way and that certainly works well for her character who basically must feel all of her concerns in some simple solemnity)

Anonymous said...

Louis, what are your rating and/or thoughts of Peter O'Toole in Dean Spanley, and mention the 5 best performances of this decade so far in your mind? Thanks!

Kevin said...

Louis, what did you think of Expendables 3?

I thought it was by far the worst of the series (the first two are by no means great), and the PG-13 rating just made it ten times worse. The new additions were bland and Banderas was intolerable, which was a shame as he could have played a real badass. Mel Gibson was the only good thing.

joel65913 said...

Terrific critique of one of Spacey's very best performances. As you pointed out the performance is full of so many subtle touches. One of my favorites is in the squad room after Ed Exley tells him the Rollo Tomassi story and asks him why he became a cop. He pauses for a moment, gets a wistful look on his face and says "I don't remember." It's very truthful but incredibly sad at the same time.