Monday, 22 December 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2006: Michael Caine in Children of Men

Michael Caine did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jasper Palmer in Children of Men.

Michael Caine is actually rather cleverly playing a role in terms of its intent very much in type yet in a particularly against type way for Michael Caine. Caine certainly is no stranger to player the mentor type in fact that might be every other role during his later career. In fact you can see him in such a role, a rather good example of it to be sure, in The Prestige. Caine technically plays kinda a mentor of sorts to Clive Owen's Theo, but Caine's not nearly as respectable and dignified as he usually is. Jasper's a rather off-beat guy who spends his time in his hidden house where he grows his own weed for sale. Caine takes a rather cheeky approach in the role as this is more of a hippie sage style of performance rather than that of the wise old teacher he usually plays. Caine proves himself just as suited for such a role though and he transforms from his more usual style of performance quite seamlessly.

Caine based his performance on John Lennon and this certainly can be seen easily through the long locks Caine sports in the film. This extends past that though as Caine imitates the certain body language that Lennon had such as the way he would focus or his eyes or just the way he would bend over. This can almost be taken for granted though as Caine never makes a big deal out of these mannerisms but rather just quietly uses them to help establish the particularly artist flamboyancy of Jasper. Caine does splendid work here most importantly by being the only guy who seems to be genuinely happy in the film, and  even Jasper has plenty to be sad about such as his wife being in basically a comatose state. Caine though portrays the part of Jasper as the sort of guy who tries to be happy no matter what the situation as he brings such a natural glee in the part. There just a genuine warmth about everything Caine does and he does do a fantastic job of being one of the particularly colorful spots in a grey world.

It's actually rather interesting since the role of Jasper is relatively simple as he only has two sequences in which he appears. In both he tells a few jokes while delivering a bit of exposition and giving the most proper definition of being a supporting character. Caine though shows exactly how to do such a role through his exceptionally endearing portrayal of Jasper. When delivering lines about the governments oppression, the theories behind what has caused the infertility problems, how Theo and his wife met, or just very simply setting up where the next sequence of action will go Caine simply is terrific. Caine never makes these moments seem forced or at all just there to serve the plot. He also brings so much life in the character of Jasper that in these explanations he offers that of the view of a man actually having lived in the world. In addition to that Caine has just the right bit of fun when Jasper tells his often rather uncouth jokes. Caine is certainly entertaining and enjoyable, and again makes Jasper's whole style just come to life.

I would not have minded if the film had included more of Jasper since Caine is such a delight in the role. The funny thing is I always for some reason think Caine has more screen time than he does because of the impact he makes in the little time he does have. I think his very best scene shows exactly just how much Caine does with just a little bit of material. The scene is when Jasper is going to mercy kill his comatose wife just before the violent rebels looking for Theo are going to show up. It's a short moment but so beautifully handled by Caine. There such a tenderness Caine brings as Jasper says goodbye by telling his wife that he loves her one last time, and even though we never see their past Caine makes the moment perfectly heartbreaking. Caine succeeds in enlivening every second he is onscreen, and he gives a particularly memorable turn here. Caine establishes Jasper as the bright spot on the film making his final moments as disconcerting as they should be. I love Caine's performance here and it is a great example of making a small role seem grand.


JackiBoyz said...

Louis, what would be your thoughts on The Beatles members in general, your thoughts on their music and them themselves?

Psifonian said...

"Pull my finger."

Damn good performance.

John Smith said...

Louis and everyone else, toughts on Mads Mikkelsen in 'The Hunt'

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

New predictions:

1. Affleck
2. Caine
3. Mikkelsen
4. Lopez
5. Carell

mcofra7 said...

Thoughts/ratings on the rest of the cast of Babel

RatedRStar said...

1. Lopez
2. Caine
3. Affleck
4. Mikkelsen
5. Carell

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Hey Louis, are there any performances outside of Billy Zane and (obviously) Tommy Wiseau you'd give a few Wiseaus to?

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

1. Affleck
2. Lopez
3. Caine
4. Mikklesen
5. Carell

Louis Morgan said...

Jackiboyz: I am one to try to avoid personal life details unless for some reason it is essential to talk about for reason or another. Anyways The Beatles collectively have probably the largest collection of good material out of any modern musicians. As a group they worked wonders, and I even like Ringo's singing and the few songs he wrote.

After the Beatles though I find most of their material forgettable or underwhelming. I find it rather telling that one of the more notable post Beatles songs by one of the Beatles "Live and Let Die" was produced by long time Beatles producer George Martin.

John Smith:

Wait for the inevitable bonus review.


Blanchett - 3(She does not get much more to do than portray the physical anguish of her character. She does this well though.)

Bernal - 3(He does well enough to show his character's brashness that gets him into a great deal of trouble in the end. I won't say he makes the border scene wholly convincing, but he certainly tries hard)

Yakusho - 3(His role is small but he is effective in portraying the cold state of his character, and how he might have alienated his daughter. In his own bitterness though Yakuso is quite good in portraying the honest grief the man is going through)

Nikaido - 3(His performance is mostly reactionary, but he does fairly well to show a normal good man trying to deal with clearly quite the troubled family)

El Caid - 3.5(He does a fairly good job of showing the frustrations of the father as he must feel anger for his son's mistakes while at the same time understanding the severity of the situation they put him in. He explores the complications of the character quite well)

Rachidi & Tarchani - 2.5(Neither are bad but they don't really make that much of an impression either)


Dudley Manlove - Plan 9 From Outer Space (Although I can't help but wonder if he knew what he was doing)

Bunny Breckinridge - Plan 9 From Outer Space (His performance is so phoned in that it becomes something marvelous to watch)

Philip Haldiman - The Room (It's no wonder he's like a son to Johnny because both he and Denny don't seem of this world)

I'm sure there are more out there.

Matt Mustin said...

I have a question to those who've seen The Wicker Man. Is Nicolas Cage's performance in that bad, or do you think it's intentionally hilarious?

Louis Morgan said...

I did not include him in my overall ranking because I never watched the film from beginning to end, but Cage is indeed hilarious in that. You can't help but think maybe Cage was purposeful there. I mean dressing up as a bear, stealing bicycles at gunpoint, punching out women, the BEES, something must have been up.

Matt Mustin said...

I kinda get the feeling that he knew what he was doing. Neil Labute, on the other hand, not so much.

By the way Louis, what's your ratings and thoughts on Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist? Because I think she's the sole saving grace of that movie.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Louis who in your opinion are the character/supporting actors more suited for lead roles like Arthur Kennedy and Guy Pearce, and vice versa (i.e. Jude Law)?

Louis Morgan said...


The film actually might work with a few edits to make it more of an absurd comedy about a crazy cop terrorizing a peaceful island community.

I have not seen Gorillas in the Mist.


More suited For Lead:

Guy Pearce
Arthur Kennedy (apparently)

There are other guys like Philip Baker Hall and Brendan Gleeson who do their best work in leading roles, but they certainly are proficient in supporting roles as well.

Vice Versa:

Brad Pitt
Jude Law

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

From what I've seen of Sam Worthington, he actually does much better in supporting roles (i.e. The Debt) than in the leading ones he's gotten.

Michael McCarthy said...

Worthington was great in The Debt, his performance had this way of haunting the rest of the film.

Also Louis, I meant to ask this a while ago, but how close were you to giving Lew Ayres a five for All Quiet on the Western Front? Because the review seemed like a five and I thought he was quite worthy.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

By the way, just saw The Babadook and I'm fairly certain Essie Davis will be my Lead Actress win this year.

John Smith said...

Louis and everyone else, what would be your top 5 movies from the 70s and why?

Mine are:

1.Five Easy Pieces (It is a story that touched me deeply on a personal level by capturing the spirit of a alienated young man who has nowhere to go and does not know what to do with his life, it also managed to capture the feel of an entire generation and contains what I believe to be the greatest performance of all time Jack Nicholson as Ribert Dupea and the best thing is that the movie never gets old and resonates still today)

2. Scenes From A Marriage (This is the most mature potrayl and tragic of a marriage or any lover relationship that I have ever seen. It is about two flawed individuals and examines how two people can lose contact to each other and the bitternes that follows. With great performances from Ullman and Erland Josephson who i believes gives the best performances ever stay true to their charachter and never starts juding the... A must watch)

3.The Conversation (A brilliant movie about the power of technology and it's effects on peoples private lifes. But it is formost a great charachet study of Harry Caul played to perfection by Gene Hackman, who is a lonely surveilance expert filled with paranoia and haunted by past events, it is a brilliant thriller filled with other good performances by Harrison Ford and the late Johna Cazale)

4. Dog Day Afternoon (Contains the best performance by Pacino and if you are a sucker for love stories this movie will break you, there is also a great performance by Cazale. Attica! Attica!)

5. Apocalypse Know (This is a movie athat you can watch twenty times and come up with twenty diffrent intepretations. It tackles humanity, right or wrong, innocence, power, social status,the smell of napalm, the horror, but it is foremost about madnes, the madness in people)

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

1. Dog Day Afternoon (no question about it. It's just the perfect film in my opinion. My 3rd favourite performance of all time by Al Pacino, and sterling supporting work down to even the most minor role. Lumet's direction is brilliant, the script crackles with a pitch-perfect blend of comedy and tragedy. I love, love, LOVE this film.)

2. The Godfather Part II (having quite liked but not loved the first one I was astounded by how much I adored the second film. Cazale gives a heartbreaking performance that sits far and above all other supporting roles on my list. Besides that there's amazing work by almost everyone else, and I love how the two stories parallel in sometimes that most subtlest of ways)

3. Jaws (need I say more? Just a bloody entertaining film throughout. The Three R's are just a terrific trio and I love the palable sense of menace throughout that's often undercut with dark humour and even some very emotional moments)

4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Jack at his best. I love it in the same way I love Stalag 17, how there's such a unique little world created within the confines of the mental institute. One very underrated aspect of the film, I've always felt, is how underplayed the central message of the film is, making the ending all the more bittersweet and powerful)

5. This is tough. I'll go for a tie between The Exorcist, A Clockwork Orange, Cabaret, The Deer Hunter, Rocky (so sue me), Don't Look Now, Star

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

I really need to re-watch The Conversation. And I've never liked Apocalypse Now.

There, blashphemy. Feel free to completely destroy me, folks. Although I do think Duvall is rather great in that film. The rest of it just really doesn't jive with me, so to speak.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

You know what, I'm in the mood for this so I'm just gonna list out my top 5 films from each applicable decade:

1. Angels With Dirty Faces
2. City Lights
3. Goodbye Mr Chips
4. All Quiet on the Western Front
5. Mr Smith Goes to Washington

(still haven't seen Gone with the Wind or The Wizard of Oz, shame on me)

1. It's a Wonderful Life
2. The Third Man
3. Brief Encounter
4. Shadow of a Doubt
5. Double Indemnity

1. Stalag 17
2. Rear Window
3. Marty
4. Sunset Boulevard
5. The Bridge on the River Kwai/North by Northwest/Ikiru/Paths of Glory/The Defiant Ones/Twelve Angry Men...

(still haven't see Vertigo, I'm so ashamed, being a number 1 James Stewart fan and all)

1. To Kill a Mockingbird
2. In the Heat of the Night
3. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
4. The Apartment
5. Tough choice between Lawrence of Arabia and A Patch of Blue

1. The Elephant Man
2. Ordinary People
3. Blue Velvet
4. The Purple Rose of Cairo
5. Cinema Paradiso/Ferris Bueller's Day Off

1. Edward Scissorhands
2. Barton Fink
3. Reservoir Dogs
4. Shakespeare in Love
5. Trainspotting

1. The Pianist
2. Pan's Labrinyth
3. The Prestige
4. Big Fish
Hon. Mentions: Bright Star, Downfall, Memento, The Lives of Others, Children of Men, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation, Midnight in Paris, LOTR series, The Dark Knight, Exiled, Kill Bill Vol. 2

2010s (so far):
1. Inside Llewlyn Davis
2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
3. Get Low
4. Twelve Years a Slave
5. Saving Mr Banks

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Oops, 5 for 2000s is Dirty Pretty Things

Louis Morgan said...

Michael: He was very close.

John Smith:

1. Jaws
2. Chinatown
3. Alien
4. Badlands
5. Apocalypse Now