Sunday, 12 October 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1953: John Gielgud in Julius Caesar

John Gielgud did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Cassius in Julius Caesar.

John Gielgud plays Cassius who along with James Mason's Brutus is one of the main conspirators who plan to kill Julius Caesar then supposedly reform Rome back to a republic. Gielgud's performance acts as a great counterpoint to Mason's performance. Where Mason upheld Brutus's nobility in every breath he takes Gielgud does not do the same for Cassius. Well maybe he does though as Gielgud shows in the scenes where Cassius is trying to urge Brutus to kill Caesar. Gielgud as usual speaks with such elegance as he tries to convince Brutus to go along with the assassination. There is a determination a righteousness even in Gielgud's voice as he espouses various platitudes to Brutus's ears and Gielgud makes it quite believable that Cassius could sway the good Brutus, who happens to love Caesar, to this rather extreme manner of thinking. When Cassius stares Brutus in the face and speaks to him Gielgud makes himself a mirror of Mason, although as it turns out a false a mirror.

The brilliance of Gielgud's performance though is that he portrays Cassius's urging toward Brutus to be quite false, and merely Cassius manipulating Brutus. This is never spoken of by Cassius himself but rather shown wholly by Gielgud's work. Gielgud is fantastic in the moments where frankly Brutus is simply not looking at Cassius and Gielgud uses these moments to portray the true nature of Cassius's intent. Gielgud silent reactions when Cassius is left to his own thoughts does not portray Cassius as a man who is trying to save Rome from a man who has become a tyrant. No Gielgud instead portrays a searing malice in Cassius as he looks upon Caesar and speaks the words against him. Although in words and even in his delivery Gielgud has Cassius claim a conflict of sorts Gielgud shows nothing but a distinct hate in Cassius's eyes. Gielgud is striking as he creates this sinister duplicity in the character being convincing as he persuades Brutus while still conveying the real motivation in Cassius.

Gielgud is excellent in the way he plays with this act as the film goes on, never fully dropping it, although obviously relinquishing it somewhat when the men do kill Caesar. Where Mason presents Brutus clearly feeling guilt even as he performs the coup de grรขce and tries to uphold the righteousness of the actions Gielgud does not hold to the same pretensions with Cassius. With Brutus dead and the man thinking of their actions Gielgud brings a smile to Cassius face as he ponders about how the future will see this deed. Gielgud presents Cassius as loving having killed a man he hated, there is no guilt whatsoever, only a certain joy as perhaps he sees his own chance for power soon to come. Gielgud keeps the act going though when Caesar's loyal man Mark Antony (Marlon Brando) comes on the scene. Gielgud changes Cassius from the man lusting after power to now a somber sadness fitting of a sensible and honorable man who surely killed Caesar only for the goodness of Rome.

After the overthrow goes much more roughly than expected Gielgud reveals all there is to Cassius when Brutus calls him on his obvious personal corruption. Gielgud is great as he reduces Cassius to almost nothing as he simply sneers angrily at actually being seen for what he is rather than what he pretends to be. This can only be momentary though as they do have a war to fight which Brutus still believes in even if the odds seem against them. Gielgud is quite moving as he seems to make Cassius create a false image again although this time it is not to convince Brutus but rather himself. Brutus still speaks for the good of Rome and Cassius seems to go along with it. Gielgud brings the brave face to Cassius as he tries to stand tall with Brutus yet Gielgud once again brings an undercurrent of something else. This time though it is a dread and a fear as Gielgud shows that in his heart Cassius knows that they are doomed. Gielgud is terrific as through the final moments of Cassius he tears away the false hopes of the man to reveal a man whose seen all his plans go up in flames. John Gielgud on his own gives a great portrait of betrayal and deceit but it works especially well against Mason's portrayal of honesty and devotion.

27 comments:

Michael McCarthy said...

I think he's got to be the winner, he's the only one with a really substantial role, aside from maybe Robinson.

Anonymous said...

He was great, I'm glad you liked him, I suppose he's not quite a five for me though.

Anonymous said...

Your rating on Jane Alexander in All the President's Men

luke higham said...

Louis: Where does Julius Caesar rank in your top ten Shakespearean film adaptations, also where would Mason & Gielgud rank in your top ten Shakespearean performances on film.

luke higham said...

Louis: Lastly, have you seen Gone Girl yet or any other new release in general, for the past week.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

2

Luke:

It was #9 on my original list.

1. Olivier in Hamlet
2. Olivier in Richard III
3. Jacobi in Hamlet
4. Branagh in Hamlet
5. Mason in Julius Caesar
6. Gielgud in Julius Caesar
7. Olivier in Henry V
8. Brando in Julius Caesar
9. Welles in Othello
10. McEnery in Romeo and Juliet

Gone Girl
Jersey Boys
Frank

luke higham said...

Louis: Your ratings & thoughts on the casts of the 3 films, your thoughts overall of the films, and did you like Fassbender well enough in Frank before you review him for 2014 Lead.

Michael McCarthy said...

Again, I think we should hold off a little bit on asking Louis for ratings of 2014 performances, since we really don't know who's gonna be nominated.

Anonymous said...

Well, can we at least ask about the females of those films?

luke higham said...

Michael: The only male actor, with a chance of being nominated or even reviewed is Affleck, so if Louis says I'll hold on till the reviews, then fine, I asked him for the whole casts of each film because I want to know his thoughts on everyone in general. Also, I'm quite sure the Jersey boys, Neil Patrick Harris or Domhnall Gleeson will be neither nominated or reviewed by February of next year.

Michael McCarthy said...

Yeah the females are fine, and anyone can ask whatever they want I was just offering a suggestion.

luke higham said...

Michael: That's fine, but I'm sure Louis can separate performances that are review worthy and those that are not.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Anyone else here who watches Boardwalk Empire? Because the last episode had some bloody amazing acting from Michael Shannon.

Anonymous said...

Louis what are your thoughts on the 1952 version of Othello.

luke higham said...

Louis: Your comments have just vanished.

Louis Morgan said...

Gone Girl - (Another film from this year that falls under good rather than the great. As Fincher goes it felt a bit like Dragon Tatoo in terms of quality as I just felt it told its story in a solid enough fashion but never seemed to strive for more than that. The mystery seemed to be almost purposefully weak to focus mostly on the accused murderer/media relationship which I did find entertaining and biting enough, although just enough. It never hit the heights of Seven or Zodiac but I should note that I definitely did enjoy it)

The Cast:

I'll hold on to Affleck (maybe they'll want to make up for his director snub although I doubt it) and even Perry (since Supporting Actor is still a wasteland at the moment)

Pike - 4.5(I don't think this is any great revelation but rather utilizing something I noticed in all the other performances I've seen from her. There is always a certain icy and hollow quality to her performances, even when that's not the character, but it works wonders for her character here)

Coon - 4(She does the "scene stealing" type of character quite well here. She never goes overly look at me while still giving her character the right sting in realizing her rather blunt type of personality)

Dickens - 3.5(It is interesting to see less than stellar detectives in a film and Dickens does this rather well here. She brings the right certain uncouthness and even an unease as she suggests that her character is obviously in over her head)

Harris - 2(Inspired casting is a bit of a double edged sword it sometimes pays off it sometimes doesn't. This film contains both with Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris. Unfortunately Harris is on the latter side. Harris just was way too obvious in the entirety of his performance and I did not buy his character for a second. He did the most obvious type of creep it seems he could think of and it's a shame as I do feel the character had potential for something interesting)

Jersey Boys - (This film is best described as meh. I do like the Four Seasons to begin with so I enjoyed the music as they did a fine job of replicating it, but there isn't much to praise past that. The musical sequences are never presented in a particularly interesting way by Eastwood, who really should get himself another cinematographer. The story is awfully repetitive and no element is realized well enough to make much of an emotional impact)

The Cast:

Young, Bergen, Piazza - 2.5(All three I thought were good in the musical scenes and not terrible in their dramatic scenes. Their performances just always felt extremely by the numbers and there wasn't any extra spark to make their characters come to life. I do think Eastwood needs great actors, who never give a bad take, since he never seems to strive for the best from his actors. I mean just think about Morgan Freeman in Invictus)

Lomenda - 2(Same thoughts as the others but his breakdown scene was poorly performed)

Walken - 2.5(I don't know why Walken was cast as he stuck out too much being the only movie star in the film. It was only made odder that his character had such limited appearances throughout making him seem pointless for the most part. I thought Walken was fine when on screen but he did not have anything to work with. The character was even written in such a reserved way to seemingly prevent Walken from bringing anything Walkenesque to the proceedings)

Louis Morgan said...

Frank - (It certainly is a film that insists upon its quirk which can easily become obnoxious, but I felt it only ever worked here. The weird journey of the band was consistently funny and charming while being quite poignant when it wanted to be as well)

The Cast:

I actually found Fassbender to be supporting, although on the border, so he's not a bad fit for the alternate lineup for supporting (which again is pretty bare boned right now)

Gleeson - 4(Well the apple doesn't fall from the tree apparently. He's quite and endearing and easy to follow straight man here. I found it especially interesting in the way he slowly changed his character from energetic follower to master manipulator in such an unassuming fashion)

McNairy - 3(He did not get to make too much of an impact but he did his insanity well with the right somberness along with a certain comic touch. I particularly loved the moment where agreed with Gleeson's character that their personal songs were great)

Gyllenhaal - 2(I did not mind that she was one note of intense bile, but I think it would have been possible to do it in a funnier fashion than she does.)

Anonymous:

A strong adaptation by Welles with some striking imagery and a particularly memorable score.

luke higham said...

Louis: If I hadn't requested Fassbender, what would his chances have been in supporting, also your thoughts on the ending & songs performed in the film.

luke higham said...

Louis: Lastly, your updated top ten films of 2014.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Louis, what are your top 10 favourite films?

luke higham said...

Louis: Rating & Thoughts on James Stewart in Naked Spur.

Anonymous said...

:( Sad that you didn't like Harris, I just really like him both as a person and as an actor. Anyway I was somehow expecting that you wouldn't have loved the movie or Pike as much as almost everybody else and I was expecting you to dislike Harris. I really can't wait to see Gone Girl and I'm excited about Affleck, Pike, Perry, Coon and Harris (I'm sure I'll love the first fourt and I still have the feeling I'll like Harris, after all some critics such as Peter Travers thought that he was great)

Matt Mustin said...

Peter Travers is a hack.

Michael McCarthy said...

I agree with Louis that Fassbender is supporting in Frank, I'd personally give him a 4 just because I thought the reveal about his character in the end didn't really work, he did his best to try to sell it though. McNairy was the MVP in my opinion, out of the cast he drew both the most laughs and the most sympathy from me. I also really liked Gleeson.

luke higham said...

Matt Mustin: Agree with you 100%, although honestly, he wouldn't piss me off as much as Roeper.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke: I thoroughly enjoyed most of the songs and I kinda loved the ending actually.

Fassbender would be consideration even if you had not requested him.

My top ten could switch around with a re-watch of almost any of these.

1. Calvary
2. Locke
3. Edge of Tomorrow
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
5. The Zero Theorem
6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
7. Frank
8. Gone Girl
9. X-Men: Days of Future Past
10. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Stewart - 4.5(The best of the Mann/Stewart collaborations. Admittingly that is helped greatly by a villain upgrade in the form of Arthur Kennedy being replaced by Robert Ryan. Stewart gives perhaps his best. He always plays the strong willed seemingly sensible man among fools. He's that once again which Stewart does well with his usual command, but this time he suggests a certain weakness in his determination suggesting that his character isn't that much better than the others)

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar:

1. Back to the Future
2. Amadeus
3. Once Upon A Time in The West
4. Jaws
5. Rashomon
6. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
7. The Quiet Man
8. Blue Velvet
9. It's a Wonderful Life
10. In Bruges

Michael McCarthy said...

Louis: You have no idea how excited I got just now when I saw that In Bruges is in your Top 10.