Monday, 15 December 2014

Alternate Best Actor 2006: Clive Owen in Children of Men

Clive Owen did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Theo Faron in Children of Men.

Children of Men is an excellent film set in a world that has been torn about by the sudden infertility of seemingly all women.

We first meet Theo at the beginning of the film as he is merely watching the news of the youngest person in the world dying while he is getting coffee. We see him adding alcohol to his coffee outside before the coffee shop he was just in explodes from a bomb, either from terrorists or the government it is never told. From there on he is are average man who we are to follow through the world that the film creates. Theo seems simple enough and Owen is great in establishing his character's rather bored way through life. There isn't anything passionate as he maneuvers through the day and even after narrowly avoiding being blown up there is not much happiness in having survived that. Other than portraying the fear of the immediate moment of the attack Owen is very effective in establishing as this as a more ordinary occurrence than it should be in this world because of his nonchalance towards it afterwards. The most notable thing about Theo early on is Theo's exasperation with it all.

The most notable thing about Theo is more of who he knows than who he is actually is. First with his off-beat hippie friend Jasper (Michael Caine) as swell his estranged wife Julian (Julianne Moore) who is a the leader of a terrorist group opposed to the government. In his scenes with Jasper Owen is quite good in just exuding a bit of joy showing that his time with his friend is probably the only good time he really has in life. On the other hand it is a particularly disconcerting thing when he goes off to a meeting with his wife as she has thugs abduct him using a van and bag over his head bringing him to a hidden location. Although he is seeing his wife for the first time in some time their relationship is not delved into too much in terms of Owen's performance. Instead Owen rather properly expresses just the surprise and disbelief at the manner in which she is meeting her. Also there really is not a great deal of time for anything else as she technically only met him to have him procure papers for a woman who needs to get out of England.

Theo is able to procure the papers through his well to do cousin and accepts the mission apparently due to the money he is being offered for it. This does not appear to be the only reason as Theo contacts Julian again for the mission. Owen's is terrific as he alludes to a more active Theo of one time as he expresses affections to his wife, carefully as though not to make it too obvious yet suggests the history the two one shared. Owen seamlessly switches to his usual sardonic callousness though after she rebuffs his semi-attempt at rekindling due to memories of their dead son who died in a flu epidemic. Suddenly though as they begin to try to transfer the woman Julian is suddenly killed in an attack. Owen is truly outstanding in the scene as Julian is laid to rest as he first keeps his usual uncaring reserve. After he walks away from the rest of the group though Owen is absolutely heartbreaking as he so naturally loses that reserve to reveal the overpowering grief that Theo actually feels over his wife's death.

Soon after this point Theo finds out that the woman in fact is pregnant and takes it upon himself to get her to safety after he finds out that it was his wife's own terrorist group that killed her. Owen only continues to be exceptional in portraying Theo's reactions to this apparent miracle. When he sees that she's pregnant Owen is flawless in expressing the wonderment of seeing the impossible one again, and gives so much weight to what it means within the film's world. Owen's performance technically becomes even more reserved technically speaking since Theo has to continue right through trying to help the woman find safety while avoiding being killed by either the terrorists or the government forces. Owen does not necessarily have even a lot of lines, which is interesting because I would not describe Theo as a stoic individual, but that never matters as Owen's performance stays consistently compelling throughout the film.

The second half of the film there continues to be great moments for Owen's performance and it is astonishing to note how simple in terms of what Owen needs to do yet how powerfully he does it. One such scene that is fantastic is as Theo overhears Jasper tell the story of how he met Julian. Owen does not say a thing yet his expression conveys the heart beak and the emotional loss as Theo merely is given the moment to reflect on the past. An equally poignant moment comes when Theo must witness yet another of the people he loves being killed. Owen reaction charges the scene with such an intense emotional power as this time he is forced to once again grieve while being charged with anger for the act as he seems to hold in all in well wishing to scream out his pain. Also the pivotal moment of the birth is brilliant played by Owen. All the nervousness, unease, and even humor as he tries to talk her through it, then when the baby comes Owen once again shows the wonderment of the moment.

This an interesting challenge against Clive Owen since everything about Theo as a character is technically just accepted and even his character arc never stops to next the stop. The film never needs scenes specifically to develop Theo's character though because of Clive Owen's work. He flawlessly creates the character through the lines, and shows him grow as a hero without needing to have an obvious scene to make this change. Owen's work here is one of the moment, and that's all that he needs to be. The way he makes every scene have a greater impact through the simplest aspect of his performance. Even the way he moves around in the action set pieces is notable, yet never distracting, as he just again adds to this visceral punch. Owen is never overshadowed by the vision of the world he only amplifies it with his performance that shows an actor does not necessarily need the normal associated elements of a great performance to give a great performance. Well Owen gives a great performance, and I'd say one of the very best of its sort.

28 comments:

luke higham said...

Very happy, you loved both of my requests.

luke higham said...

Louis: Ratings & Thoughts for the rest of the cast.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Confession: I find this movie and his performance incredibly overrated.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

I'm surprised but glad at how much you like him. Having revisited this performance recently I've decided that my 2006 award choices are:

Best Picture:
The Prestige
Children of Men
Pan's Labrinyth
The Painted Veil
The Lives of Others
Hon. Mentions: Letters from Iwo Jima, Stranger than Fiction, Blood Diamond, Notes on a Scandal

Best Actor:
Clive Owen for Children of Men
Christian Bale for The Prestige
Forest Whittaker for The Last King of Scotland
Ulrich Muhe for The Lives of Others
Ben Wishaw for Perfume

Best Actress:
Judi Dench for Notes on a Scandal
Cate Blanchett for Notes on a Scandal
Eva Green for Casino Royale
Naomi Watts for The Painted Veil
Ivana Baquero for Pan's Labrinyth

Best Supporting Actor:
Jackie Earley Haley in Little Children
Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine
David Bowie in The Prestige
Sergi Lopez in Pan's Labrinyth
Michael Caine in Children of Men

Best Supporting Actress:
Maribelle Verdu in Pan's Labrinyth
Martina Gedeck in The Lives of Others
Emma Thompson in Stranger Than Fiction
Emily Blunt in The Devil Wears Prada
Rebecca Hall in The Prestige

John Smith said...

Louis, toughts on Gene Hackman In Another Woman

Also your top ten Gene Hackman Performances would be appreciated

luke higham said...

I'm so looking forward to reviews for Bale, Jackman, Muhe, Lopez and Caine.
If I win the second prediction, I'll be making a last minute request for Mads Mikkelson in Casino Royale for supporting, since he's one of my favourite actors at the moment.

luke higham said...

John Smith: Louis's Top Ten Hackman Performances.
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

Anonymous said...

Louis, what are your ratings and thoughts on Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt in The Devil Wears Prada?

John Smith said...

Louis, your top ten Newman performances would be appreciated (Thank's Luke)

luke higham said...

Louis: What rating would you give to Ellen Burstyn for The Exorcist. I know, you've given your thoughts before, but just can't seem to find the rating at all.

John Smith said...

Louis. rating on Patricia Oneal In Hud would be appreciated

luke higham said...

John Smith: Neal got a 5 from Louis.

John Smith said...

Im watching Hud right now, took quick break to find out (:

John Smith said...

After watching Hud ive come to the conclusion that he is better then Brando.

RatedRStar said...

I can think of about 40 actors that are better than Brando, living or dead lol =D.

John Smith said...

He is quite overrated. Except Waterfront(Great), Streetcar(Great)and The Godafather (Very Good)


Newman has The Verdict, Cool Hand Luke, Nobody's Fool, The Hustler, Hud, Where The Money Is, The Sting, Road To Peridition

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Thoughts/ratings on Steve Park in Fargo?

John Smith said...

Louis, toughest and ratings on Tom Hanks in Road To Peridition, thanks in advance

John Smith said...

I believe the movie to be on of the most... beautiful movies i have ever seen

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

I believe he gave Hanks a 4.5 and praised him for going against type, don't quite recall the other details though. I quite liked the film too, it's probably my #3 for the year.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Eh, wasn't big on Road to Perdition. When it wasn't trying to be Malick-lite, it was pussyfooting around its own content an characters. And Jude Law was a cartoon.

luke higham said...

John: Did Louis give you the top ten Newman list, since his last comment for the Murphy review was erased and I don't want it becoming a trend at all.

John Smith said...

Luke: He did not

luke higham said...

John: Thanks

Michael McCarthy said...

I'm surprised to see this rating, I loved the movie but I never saw the performance as a 5, maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention.

And happy birthday Robert!

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Moore - 3(She's decent enough but she is not able to make too much of an impact in her limited screen time)

Ejiofor - 3(He's good in portraying the calculated yet blind fervor of his character who might not trying to be evil, but ends up being so)

Hunnam - 2.5(He does not do much but serves his purpose as the guy you want to see get his comeuppance)

Ashitey - 3(Despite being a pivotal character she is indeed often overshadowed. She's still fine anyway and is quite good in the birthing scene)

Ferris - 3.5(She's quite effective in making her character both genuinely thewarm well still suggesting the kooky nature of off kilter elements of her character's beliefs. She never becomes just one or the other and treads the line between the two quite well)

Mullan - 3(He does his slightly off thug with a nice bit of humor, but still is intimidating enough)

4.5 for Burstyn.

Anonymous:

Streep - 3(She over the top but that actually is fitting per the style of the film. I thought she was alright, but never that entertaining or anything. I also really did not care for the film I will admit)

Blunt - 3(I'd place her as the best part of the film but that's not saying too much for me. She's enjoyable enough with her early cold disregard and nicely enough transitions to a less snarky likability)

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar:

Park - 3.5(Awkwardness personified perhaps. He is brilliantly off putting in his performance as he appropriately seems like a complete mess with his overly enthusiastic tone that randomly stops to reveal a very distraught and desperate man)

John Smith:

Haven't seen Another Woman.

Newman Top Ten:

1. The Verdict
2. Hud
3. The Hustler
4. Road To Perdition
5. The Sting
6. Cool Hand Luke
7. The Long Hot Summer
8. Slap Shot
9. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
10. Nobody's Fool

luke higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film

Louis Morgan said...

Luke: Well I need to fill out my bottom five anyways. The film is not good although in a particularly messy way. A plus unlike its cousin film the Transformers is that it's not that long, also to its credit the Turtles design are not as off putting once you get used to them, and perhaps there was even potential in the Turtles as characters if the film bothered to care about them. The film oddly doesn't, but the thing is it's not like it really cares about April O'Neal either. It's a film that never seems to start actually it's really a weird experience as bad films go. I particularly "liked" the villains where one of them seemed to be created very late into production. It was almost intriguing with how oddly and ineptly the film was put together.