Friday, 12 December 2014

Alternate Best Actor 2006: Cillian Murphy in The Wind That Shakes The Barley

Cillian Murphy did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Damien O'Donovan in The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley is an effective enough film that depicts from basically from a small scale Ireland's attempt to gain independence from the British.

Ah yes Cillian Murphy the man whose made my personal top tens three times yet I have never reviewed him. Well now here's the review to rectify this problem. Murphy has played some off-beat roles like in Batman Begins as the Scarecrow, but even with his unorthodox appearance he actually does often play the any man as well. That is the case here as he plays Damien O'Donovan an Irish doctor who in the opening of the film is just one of the men of the community. There is nothing particularly distinctive about him at the beginning of the film as he is just one of the men harassed by British soldiers after they caught playing game with the British claiming it is in violation of the ban on public gatherings. The film actually keeps Damien as such for almost the entirety of the film as director Ken Loach purposefully shows the community together in their fight. 

Murphy is technically just one of the men in the group although he is of course given enough focus to be clearly lead. Murphy's performance is rather low key as this is not depicting the struggle of one seemingly larger than life man a la Michael Collins, who actually gets derided in this film. Despite the nature of his part Murphy never is overshadowed by the vision of the film. He allows Loach's to take this approach without question, as Murphy never goes for a grand standing performance, instead he stays very much in making Damien an average man in the situation. Murphy is terrific though by just realizing this average man in a very honest fashion. Whether it is his interactions with the other people or with his wife Murphy just has a genuine authenticity in his performance. There is nothing that seems forced about the man, and in addition, despite technically being a simple character, Murphy never makes Damien seem less than he should be.

Murphy by depicting Damien in just a realistic fashion makes the later actions of his character have the greater impact. If Murphy had made him the larger than life man when the rebellion takes place everything, interestingly enough, might have seemed simpler as it would have been a hero defeating his enemies. This is not the case though and Murphy does not accentuate the heroic qualities of the rebellion in his performance. This is particularly notable when they start to take a violent approach which includes executing those who were involved with the executions of Irish men. Murphy is great in this scene where Damien performs the killings on the men as he portrays it less like a folk hero, but rather more of a man who has never killed a man in his life. Although Murphy portrays a clear devotion to the cause he still portrays the mental anguish as Damien is finally takes a life for his cause.

After the bring the British to negotiations and they are given a form of independence a divide breaks with those who either think it is not enough freedom, or they also desire to introduce communism into Ireland. Damien is one of these men who refuses to become peaceful even after a form of peace has been created. Damien is one of the voices of dissent and again Murphy stays very much in the mold of keeping Damien just a man rather than necessarily a great leader. Murphy is effective in his delivery as he does not make a grand speech, but still the emotional statements of a man with the utmost conviction in what he believes. Murphy is good though by perhaps suggesting the weaknesses in Damien's abilities to change the mind of the others, including his brother, that not only fails to convince them but causes him to alienate them from his cause as though they were never even on the same side to begin with.

Cillian Murphy's performance artfully matches Ken Loach's vision for the film which is presenting the fight for Irish Independence from a more modest perspective. Cillian Murphy always reinforces this idea through his unassuming yet driven performance. The power of his performance comes from always representing Damien's journey of a normal man who has strong convictions. One of his best scenes that reflects this is his last scene when Damien is about to be executed for attempting to rebel against the new Ireland and refusing to tell where he has hidden his weapons. Murphy is quite out of the ordinary in this last scene because he actually does not present Damien as a man defiantly facing the executors. Instead he's rather heartbreaking by showing a man reacting with the fear of a man who is about to be killed as he does cry out, and breakdown in the moment. Murphy gives a remarkable performance as he makes the ordinary compelling.

47 comments:

luke higham said...

Louis: Rating & thoughts for the rest of the cast.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, what are your thoughts on Richard Sammel in Inglourious Basterds?

John Smith said...

Guys out of intrest could you mention a review or more where you belive that Louis fucked up (For lack of better words, no my intention to insult)

For me it is his review of Roy Scneider In all that jazz which is one of my favorite performances. I do not believ that the review was detailed and did justice to what he accomplished in that role.

The mannerism, the coughing, the way he says "It's showtime" and how it gets less entusiastic every day.

If you want more examples do ask

luke higham said...

John: The Majority of Louis's reviews from 2010-11 were pretty short anyway. Only performances like Peter O' Toole in Lawrence of Arabia or F. Murray Abraham received longer reviews, is because they're a couple of his all time favourite performances.
I'm sure Louis at the time, was needing to grow confidence as a writer and that's why we get more detailed reviews now.

Anonymous said...

Personally I like all of Louis' reviews and I don't think there's one that is fucked up. Anyway, Louis, can I ask your thoughts and ratings on the cast of Dreamgirls?

John Smith said...

Luke, i have to aknowledge that you do have a point

luke higham said...

John: Well, we all should cut Louis some slack and be grateful that he gives us his valuable opinion on the performances we love and hate, I mean, if Louis was, what he is now, we most likely wouldn't be at this stage right now, he'd probably, still be working on Alternate Best Actor 1971, which was the first year he worked on for the Alternates.

luke higham said...

Louis: Can I have your top 5 favourite performances by Cillian Murphy with ratings included.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Thoughts on the raatings as well, please :)

Also have just seen Boyhood; really liked it, and Ethan Hawke's performance is now on my top 10 male supporting list. He was just so effortlessly natural and brilliant.

RatedRStar said...

I think my choice of best supporting actor would definately be between Ethan Hawke and J.K Simmons.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Hawke is a rather easy win for me at the moment, though I still need to see Fassbender in Frank and Ruffalo in Foxcatcher. Those two sound like the only real threats to him for me.

RatedRStar said...

So far anyway, and despite The Judge and Unbroken getting a roasting by critics I actually liked Robert Duvall and Miyavi.

RatedRStar said...

I am worried that Ruffalo might be dull and overshadowed by Carell and Tatum, and Fassbender was great in Frank =D I was merely mentioning out of the oscar contenders.

Michael McCarthy said...

I'm really curious to see Foxcatcher. I wasn't as crazy about Fassbender in Frank as some, I thought he was great until the reveal about his character. I think he did his very best to make it make sense, but the way it was presented made that almost impossible for me. I'd give him a 4, but I personally preferred Scoot McNairy's performance.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Duvall is great in The Judge; haven't seen Miyagi yet. RatedRStar, what are your thoughts/ratings on the cast of Unbroken?

RatedRStar said...

Jack O Connell (4 bordering on 4.5) His performance is perhaps at tad too simplicity, but in terms of creating a painful prisoner trying to survive he is great, his scenes of defiance are well realised, I mentioned before that I also liked how he was quite confident and cocky early on before being brought back down to earth, I will say Jolies heavy handed direction brings him down so that the film almost wants to be cheesy and sincere.

Domhnall Gleeson (3) Gleesons performance is almost the same as Connells, except he isn't given as much to do and doesn't seem as deviant becoming much more pessimistic about the situation, he handles it well though.

Garrett Hedlund and everyone who plays a prisoner (2) I get that you have to have various types of prisoners in some films but Unbroken over does it, Hedlund is part of this problem just overdoing every exacerbated reaction and adding virtually nothing.

Miyavi (3.5 bordering on 3) I am a huge fan of Miyavi, as Louis and others might understand, I hold him in a similar regard to Sam Lee =D in that he is a lovely quite charming person in real life and I should add a great guitarist.

Ill start with the good, he is actually very good at being the straight forward sadist and being fairly menacing and even trys to give more depth from his rather interested reactions to Connell.

The Bad, I blame this mostly on Angelina Jolie, the script basically writes The Bird as being just one note and the film doesnt change that at all, the character itself is just one note, no depth what so ever.

I will give a lot of credit to Miyavi because he isnt a professional actor and does do a decent job and I can pretty much blame the whole film on Jolies heavy handed direction and the script.

RatedRStar said...

I should say its kinda unusual seeing Miyavi look normal lol considering what he usually looks like with his dark visual kei look =D.

luke higham said...

My Supporting Top 5 at the moment (In no particular order are):
Michael Fassbender in Frank
James McAvoy in X-Men: Days of Future Past
Robert Duvall in The Judge
Richard Armitage in The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Toby Kebbell in Dawn of the Planet of The Apes
Honourable:
Ethan Hawke in Boyhood
F. Murray Abraham in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Anonymous said...

Thoughts/ratings on the cast of Battle of the Five Armies, Luke?

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

McAvoy's Lead in DoFP. Very, very lead.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: I'm not particularly great at writing thoughts, but I'll try the best I can.
Freeman - 4 (leaning towards a 4.5, Great as usual, His scenes with Armitage are great and his last scene for me was quite emotionally fulfilling. I would also say that if there's one thing that the Hobbit Trilogy has over The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy is a far more likable protagonist in Bilbo Baggins, where as Frodo, despite the nature of the character as written, I just can't stand him that much)
Armitage - 4.5 (He stole the film for me, I thought his portrayal of an overwhelming madness was very well handled & found his last scene quite heartbreaking as well.
Evans - 4 (The more screen time the better, as he fulfills the Aragorn like role really well.)
McKellen - 3.5 (Same Old, Same Old)
Blanchett - 3 (Her confrontation scene with He who I must not name is quite compelling.
Lee - 3 (Has one pretty brief scene alongside Blanchett & Weaving, but is pretty good, at foreshadowing, what will happen in the following trilogy.
Cumberbatch - 3 - (Only features in the opening scene as Smaug, but delivers his lines really well)
Lilly - 3 (Liked her as much as I did last year).
Pace - 3 (His Performance here was is better than last year's effort, although for me, not by much.
Bloom - 2 (Okay)

luke higham said...

KoooK160: Like Louis, McAvoy is very much on the border for me & is only just supporting for me.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Delaney - 3.5(Something I liked about the film was that he was not a straw man or at least Delaney did not play him as such. He offers the right traditional support in the first half to Murphy, but in the second half when they are at opposing ends Delaney still portrays his character as a passionate man just standing for he believes in. I actually think maybe the writing was going for him to be the villain, but I love that Delaney does not play it as such)

Cunningham - 3.5(He's yet to really let me down and he's good here once again. His role is limited to bursts of the most fervent passion of a passionate group, and Cunningham more than matches this task)

Murphy:

1. The Wind That Shakes The Barley
2. 28 Days Later
3. Inception
4. Batman Begins
5. Cold Mountain - 3.5(I believe I've given ratings and thoughts on the others in probably the results from their respective years. Murphy has only a one scene role, which is very limited, but establishes instantly the earnest compassion in his character making his quick end properly tragic)

The rest of the cast is decent but does not make that much of an impact.

Matt:

Sammel - 3.5(Now here is truly a scene stealing performance as it seems like he was in no way meant to steal the scene. He's good as he verbally spars with the Basterds, but the reason he steals the scene is when he goes face to face with the bear jew who asks if his medals are for killing Jews. There is such a power in his defiance as well as conviction with his one word answer of "bravery")

John Smith:

I'll admit looking back at some of my earlier reviews can make me cringe a bit, especially since I will freely admit that my proofreading efforts have never been that valiant, and I'll admit Scheider's performance, along with a few others, is one I feel that I should revisit.

Anonymous:

Foxx - 2(I have to say he's probably more forgettable than anything else. I just don't think much stands out about his work, and he also has a fairly embarrassing problem of being the guy who shows that it is a musical musical. By that I mean singing in normal non stage situations, which I think the film should frankly have dropped since it's often quite rare when it happens)

Knowles - 2(Like Foxx I thought she was less actively bad and more just not very distinctive)

Hudson - 2(I guess she might stand out more than some of her co-stars. She is I guess less forgettable with her blasting of her songs, but her acting is incredibly wooden)

Rose - 2.5(She's actually decent as I felt her emotions felt a lot more honest than any one else's. Her main problem is she doesn't get to do much)

Anonymous said...

Thoughts/ratings on:
Reginald VelJohnson in Die Hard
Williem Dafoe in Mississippi Burning
The cast of Eight Men Out

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Anyone else seen The Drop? Just watched it. Pretty effective thriller, nothing groundbreaking but I quite liked it.

Hardy-4.5 (verging very close to a 5)
Rapace-4
Gandolfini-3.5
Schoenaerts-4
Oritz-3

John Smith said...

Louis, i understand that it was during a early period but you also have to notice the way you have developed as a writer during this entire journey. At least i have after pondering over Lukes comment.

Anonymous said...

I've just seen for the first time The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou. I just loved it.
My ratings/thoughts:
Murray - 5
Wilson - 2.5
Dafoe - 4.5 (close to a 5)
Blanchett - 4.5
Huston - 4
Goldblum - 4

RatedRStar said...

Speaking of Steve Zissou, did anybody ever see the documentry which influenced the film, The Silent World (1956) I wonder how good it is?

John Smith said...

Louis and everyone else what are your guys favorite Scorcese movie?

Mine Is Taxi Driver

luke higham said...

John Smith: From what I've seen from him, It's only just GoodFellas, followed by Raging Bull. As of yet, I haven't seen Taxi Driver at all.

Louis: Can I have your top 5 overall female supporting performances so far this year, with ratings included.

Also, I've just seen The Rover, Pearce gets a 5 from me.

Michael McCarthy said...

I love practically all things Scorsese, and my favorite is still Raging Bull. I think I'm one of the only regulars of this blog who thinks it absolutely lives up to the hype.

John Smith said...

Am i weird if i say htat the performance that i loved the most was Joe Pecis?

Anonymous said...

My favorite would be Goodfellas but I love Raging Bull and Taxi Driver as well. I must say also that I was rather surprised by how great was The Age of Innocence, that didn't seem the kind of movie that Scorsese would direct.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

@John: Absolutely not. Pesci is easily the highlight of Bull for me.

Anyway, my favorite is Goodfellas. Damn near perfect.

John Smith said...

Good to know that im not the only one who thinks that.

Glad to see someone mentioning The Age Of Inocence, second place to me.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Veljohnson - 4(In the sense of being the comic relief sidekick Veljjohnson is enjoyable enough, but despite that being his character's setup he's actually brings a lot of heart to the role. His scenes with Willis over the radio when he tells him about who he shot is surprisingly emotional)

Dafoe - 3.5(He's very much overshadowed by Hackman's more emotional work and his character also does not really have an arc. Rather he starts with passionate no nonsense and stays with it. He does this well though effectively making his character very emotional well having such an emotionless manner)

Strathairn - 3.5(A problem I have with the film itself is Sayles does not know who to focus on and how to focus on them. He really does jump around too much, and never let's any of the characters, or actors thrive like they should. Nevertheless Strathairn is the best in conveying his character's specific emotional desperation that stems from finances that causes him to join in the fix, and he is moving as he expresses his shame as the fix goes on. The film, like with everyone, really does not give him enough to do)

Lloyd - 3.5(Would not have minded more of him either, although Lloyd's work is one of the most complete because it does feel like his character is complete. Lloyd's brings an appropriate sort of slick sleaze in his baseball player turned gambler, and I particularly enjoyed his performance in the courtroom scene as he expressed his character's bemusement at gaining nothing from the fix despite being instrumental in making it)

Cusack - 3.5(He's almost made lead but it's too late. The writing involving his character is too all over the place as he suddenly is made the moral center in terms of being made against the fix as well as still loving the game. Cusack brings the needed conviction and passion in his scenes, I just wished the film brought them about in a better fashion)

Mahoney - 3.5(Like Lloyd he actually benefits from having a more limited character. Mahoney's though does the tough manager type well and is especially good in portraying the frustrations as the team employs the fix)

Rooker - 3(The anointed evil player for whatever reason. Rooker is good at this though even if his part is way too simple)

The rest of the cast kinda fade together except for maybe a brief moment her or there but not enough to make a memorable impact.

Anonymous:

Yes.... another into the Zissou fold are numbers are growing....

John Smith:

Goodfellas without hesitation.

Luke:

Supporting Actress:

1. Rene Russo - Nightcrawler
2. Jessica Chastain - Interstellar
3. Melanie Theirry - The Zero Theorem
4. Carrie Coon - Gone Girl
5. Eva Green - Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

4 for all.

Forget what I said about Pearce before I was not praising him enough, and I mean that.

luke higham said...

Louis: So I'm guessing Pearce is a possibility for review then.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: Your thoughts on the last 16 draw.

luke higham said...

Louis: Do you have any new film viewings from the past week.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

The Broadcast Film Critic's Association just announced their nominees. Tilda Swinton's in for Snowpiercer!

luke higham said...

Louis: When's the review up.

luke higham said...

Louis: Your previous comment has been erased.

RatedRStar said...

@Luke: Well I am glad that the fixtures arent completely the same, looks like City and Chelsea got the tough games, the most exciting game actually looks like Juventus and Dortmund, anyone could win that while nearly all the others are pretty straight forward.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty pleased by the nominees but... Ansel Elgort nominated for Best Young Actor for The Fault in Our Stars? He was decent at best, and Shailene Woodley acted circles around him.

Anonymous said...

I've just seen The Spectacular Now after reading some good reviews about it but I didn't like it at all. I really liked Teller and Woodley. What are everybody's thoughts on their performances?

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I saw The Spectacualr Now, and thought it was okay. Great ensemble, though. Loved a lot of the one-scene-wonders from Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and especially Brie Larson. As for the main two, I found Teller rather impressive in turning an obnoxious, unlikable schmuck of a lead character into a sympathetic figure. Woodley was very good as well, albeit to a lesser extent.

As for The Fault in Our Stars, I'm finding myself disliking it more and more every time I think about, especially Ansel Elgort's Manic Pixie Dream Guy.

Anonymous said...

I liked Elgort more than you but he was not great definitely. I like the movie well enough, I think it's sweet and likeable. I mostly like it for Woodley and Dern (and Trammell to a lesser extent) and I think I probably would have hated it without of them.