Thursday, 27 November 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1998: Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski

Jeff Bridges did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jeff  "The Dude" Lebowski in The Big Lebowski.

The Big Lebowski tells the story of a slacker who is mistaken for an apparent millionaire causing him to get involved in a strange kidnapping plot. I'll preface that I enjoy the film just fine but I don't love the way some do.

Jeff Bridges technically might very well have been playing against his type that he was before this film came out, but now it is considered perhaps his signature role since it also seem to become evident that his own personality is not that far from the Dude's and even took on the nickname. Well it's not surprising that the Dude frankly became his type since Bridges frankly could not be more comfortable in the role. He certainly is just the Dude and there is never a question of that fact for the moment. Bridges absolutely embodies the role with that slow sloppy way of walking that always reinforces the fact that The Dude definitely does not need to be in a rush to get anywhere. Bridges also just has that especially relaxed quality about every physical movement and his whole speech pattern even when he's not under the influence of marijuana. Bridges is the Dude and it does not take long before it feels like you know just who the Dude is.

The Dude rather oddly is kinda the private eye protagonist for a neo noir. The only reason is that he is mistaken for someone else and is strung along into an odd world mostly because he wants his carpet replaced which was ruined by thugs. Well since the plot itself is much less than it appears the Dude is perhaps the best guy to investigate into it. Of course the Dude hardly really investigates he more of is strung along since people keep showing up at his house or request his company simply due to his incidental involvement with the kidnapping plot that involves some very weird people. He also is prodded along on his own side by his crazy best friend Walter (John Goodman) who comes up with his own absurd ideas involving the plot since it includes a large sum of money. As stated in the film though The Dude is purposefully a constant therefore Bridges keeps his performance on a very similair note throughout, although importantly he never feels one note either.

Bridges is good in the role by keeping a certain realism in the part even though the Dude technically really should have nothing to do with what is going on around him. Bridges does not take his approach too far though and still portrays the Dude as a real guy. This becomes most evident when at first it appears that the kidnapping plot may be serious and that someone's life really is in danger. Bridges is effective in portraying The Dude's reaction as one of genuine fear and concern that his actions and the actions of his friends might have caused someone harm. Bridges is equally good as he gets threatened, and slightly physically accosted by the likes of some Nihilists, the thugs of a pornographer, and a cop. Bridges again does well to portray The Dude rightfully becoming slightly more exasperated and even more intense as the business involving the Big Lebowski becomes more harmful to him. Bridges never makes it that heavy so to speak, but he effectively does bring the right sort of weight to the noir elements.

The majority of his performance is of course not being serious and in fact being that easy going guy as others keep laying down more information on him. Bridges's does well to be both a straight man yet flamboyant in his own sort way as well. Bridges is funny on one end of things in portraying the Dude's confusion at the weird people he comes across as well as the annoyance when Walter's behavior gets too out of hand sometimes. At the same time Bridges is funny as well by not necessarily being the straight man, particularly in the scenes where he interacts with the Big Lebowski and his assistant. Here technically Bridges is the one more actively comical and he does well in that to by being so easygoing, and mostly uncaring, as the Big Lebowski goes on about one thing or another that technically has little to do with The Dude. Bridges has just enough fun in portraying the Dude keeping up his trademark manner even while the Big Lebowski goes off on an overly dramatic monologue.

Bridges does indeed seem born for the role as it is one of those cases where it is hard to see anyone else playing the part especially as it appeared to become one with him after this point. Bridges is quite entertaining in the role, and I do thoroughly enjoy his performance. In addition to this Bridges does as well never goes too far with the role still making the few dramatic points work as they should, as he never makes the Dude purely into caricature. I suppose though this is where it comes into play with how much you love the film as I could easily see someone loving the film loving this performance equally. Well I like the film just fine, and I like Bridges in mostly the same way, I guess I might like the performance slightly more. To be sure I don't have anything to complain about his work here it just doesn't work quite as well for me as it does for so many others, although I can see why his work here is loved by some.

43 comments:

luke higham said...

I Fucking hope Leung gets a 5 now, even though I've lost the prediction again.

Matt Mustin said...

An easy five for me.

Michael McCarthy said...

I had a feeling this'd be the case, though I bet he'll give Goodman a 5.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Please tell me Goodman is still in the cards, Louis.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Also, if McKellen gets a 5 for Apt fucking Pupil, I quit.

Matt Mustin said...

Ratings and thoughts on the rest of the cast? (except Goodman of course)

Michael McCarthy said...

Robert: Personally, I think about 80% of what made that movie crap was Brad Renfro's performance. If McKellan gets a 5 I'll be Rey surprised, but not offended or anything.

Anonymous said...

Louis, what are your ratings and thoughts on Beulah Bondi in Make Way For Tomorrow?

luke higham said...

Everyone: Your thoughts on the teaser trailer for Star Wars The Force Awakens.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert: Don't worry about Goodman.

Matt:

Buscemi - 3(He did not get to do much other than be told to shut up but his reactions are pretty funny)

Huddleston - 3(He does the over the top bluster of his character well enough, and his reaction when Walter throws him out of his wheelchair is particularly enjoyable)

Moore - 3(She's excessively one note which is the point of her character, and it certainly works well enough)

Hoffman - 3(Again like Buscemi his performance is just basically some reactions but again he does them well)

Elliott - 3(I could not imagine anyone else in the role as his "western" style of voice is perfect for the narration)

Gazzara - 3(He brings the appropriately sleazy semi-menace in his one scene)

Turturro - 3(Out of all the odd-balls in the film he might get to do the most, and he's certainly entertaining in his portrayal of the weirdness of Jesus)

Anonymous:

Bondi - 4.5(She, along with the makeup, do a fantastic job of making herself a much older woman. She has some great naturally sweet chemistry with Moore. What I liked most is the way she actually does not make the grandmother a warmth filled person. She shows her to have a somewhat awkward personality and makes it more believable why the children would be so hesitant to let her stay)

Luke:

A rather odd teaser I have to say in that I did not get a sense of what he was going for. The scenes did feel truly random. Also John Boyega's appearance in the opening was so strangely done I thought it was a fake at first.

luke higham said...

Louis: It did look a bit odd to me as well to be frank, but Andy Serkis definitely voiced the narration, not Cumberbatch, as everyone's saying.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

I actually really liked the trailer. I'm sure Boyega's entrance will play out differently in the actual film

luke higham said...

GDSAO: What did you think of the lightsaber shot.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

just watched the trailer. Totally underwhelmed.

luke higham said...

Koook160: What were your overall thoughts on it.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I don't have any thoughts. It was nothing. All I know I'm completely indifferent to its existence.

Michael McCarthy said...

Robert: That's kinda how I felt. Almost like they were afraid to show us anything remotely interesting about the film because they were afraid of what the general intial reaction would be.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Louis, do you watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia?

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

@Luke: loved it. I'm a Star Wars neek so that might explain quite a lot of my partiality.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

By the way have just seen Paddington, it is a rather wonderful film, Ben Whishaw is perfectly cast as the voice of the lovable bear.

Whishaw - 4.5
Bonneville - 4
Hawkins - 4.5
Walters - 3
Broadbent - 3.5
Capaldi - 3
Kidman - 4
The Kids - 3

John Smith said...

Louis, could you give me your top 5 movie performances? If anyone else could give their favorites it would be appreciated as well.

mcofra7 said...

In no particular order:
1. Heath Ledger in the Dark Knight
2. Eli Wallach in the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
3. Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot
4. Guy Pearce in Memento
5. Casey Affleck in the Assassination of Jesse James

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

1. Martin Landau in Ed Wood
2. Edward G. Robinson in Double Indemnity
3. Jane Darwell in The Grapes of Wrath
4. Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
5. Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

luke higham said...

Performances that are most dear to my heart are:
1. Bruno Ganz in Downfall
2. Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange
3. Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
4. Tom Hardy in Bronson
5. Michael Fassbender in Shame

Louis Morgan said...

In regards to Star Wars I have to say the teaser seemed tailored for the die hard fans, I'll admit I'm not one, since it mostly focused on familiar settings, costumes, and props even though it seemed to purposefully avoid showing any of the original cast.

Robert: It's funny that you asked that now as I've just been catching up with series. I had seen a few episodes here and there then I watched the most current season which compelled me to visit the series as a whole.

John Smith:

1. F. Murray Abraham - Amadeus
2. Robert Shaw - Jaws
3. Vivien Leigh - Gone With The Wind
4. Peter O'Toole - Lawrence of Arabia
5. Dennis Hopper - Blue Velvet

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I've seen a few episodes, and thought it was hilarious. Specifically, The Nightman Cometh.

John Smith said...

Love Hooper In Blue Velvet, the scene when he tells Machclain to stop being a good neigbour or else he will send him a fucing love letter is scary but sad at the same time, one of the greatest acting moments of all time in my opinion.

John Smith said...

Love seeing Casey on your list Robert, one of my favorites as well.The Academy frustraded me alot by snubing him, even tough Bardem was great Casey gave the years best performance.

My list:
1. Jack Nicholson/Five Easy Pieces
2. Dennis Hooper/Blue Velvet
3. Joaquin Phoenix/The Master
4. Johan Widerberg/All Things Fair (Has anyone seen this one?)
5.Erland Josephson/Scenes From A Marriage

Loved your choices as well Luke, especially Heath and Brunos performances.

John Smith said...

By the way Louis, would you mind revisiting your toughts on Ben Kingsley In Sexy Beast? Have your opinion changed in some way in regards to his performance?

luke higham said...

John Smith: Thanks, although honestly I forgot about F. Murray Abraham's performance in Amadeus, which I Wholeheartedly agree with Louis on being the greatest performance of all time and is my actual Number One.

John Smith said...

I need to watch that performance again,maybe ill see something more this time... But I still want to make it clear that I love that performance

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Here are mine :)

1. James Stewart in It's A Wonderful Life
2. Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter
3. Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon
4. John Cazale, The Godfather Part II
5. Daniel Day-Lewis, My Left Foot

John Smith said...

Pacino was great in that movie, would be in my top 10.

John Smith said...

Would like to trade my 5th choice and instead put in Gene Hackman in The Conversation. My choices are all equal by the way, except the first one maybe.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

My only issue with Affleck's nomination is that is was obvious category fraud.

John Smith said...

That is true and im going to comit heresy and say that he could have won deservedly in that category had he been nominated in that one

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

He's my choice for Best Actor that year. That's not heresy, that's just legitimate opinion.

John Smith said...

You have good taste

Michael Patison said...

1. Bette Davis in All About Eve
2. F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus
3. Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot
4. George Sanders in All About Eve
5. Philippe Noiret in Cinema Paradiso

John Smith said...

I really need to watch My Left Foot

Louis Morgan said...

John: My thoughts on Kingsley haven't changed since I reviewed him.

Matt Mustin said...

I haven't seen Jesse James in a long time but Affleck is amazing and in my line up he's number three
(behind Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood and Philip Seymour Hoffman in Before The Devil Knows You're Dead)

Anonymous said...

I've just seen Mockingjay - Part I. I liked it quite a bit, I think I liked it even more than the first two movies.
Ratings:
Lawrence - 4.5
Hoffman - 3.5
Moore - 3.5 (an almost 4)
Hutcherson - 3.5 (he really keeps getting better)
Hemsworth - 3
Sutherland - 3
Claflin - 3
Banks - 3
Harrelson - 3