Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1998: John Goodman in The Big Lebowski

John Goodman did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski.

The Big Lebowski is technically most often about the Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) getting involved in a weird neo noir plot. In between these scenes though he goes bowling with his two friends one being Donny (Steve Buscemi) the other being Walter. Walter is off-beat in his own particular way as he's a Vietnam vet who does not mind reminding anyone of that fact whenever he can, and has a style all his own. It's rather funny to note that the character of Walter is based on director/screen writer John Milius. If you have seen any interviews of Milius the influence can clearly be seen in the appearance of Walter, but also on Goodman's performance. The most obvious quality Goodman carries over is the constant intensity in his voice no matter what he may be doing exactly. 

Goodman's performance here is decidedly much different from his amazing performance in his earlier collaboration with the Coen Brothers in Barton Fink. Where his role there was hiding many dark secrets the same can't be said for Walter who makes his thoughts well known, probably a little too well known to be honest. Goodman goes for the comically absurd approach with his performance, which actually is always a risky one since it can leave to being more obnoxious than funny in no time at all. Luckily that is not the case with Goodman's performance. In addition to that Goodman approach makes absolutely sense for the character of Walter who is not suppose to be a subtle figure. Goodman's performance especially fits in well against the other bowling buddies from Donny who is always being told to shut up by Walter, which is always funny as Goodman shows Walter to seem so angry over it, and against Bridges's dude's relaxed surfer personality.

Goodman gives a larger than life performance as Walter which is fine because he's great here in portraying the character's shameless manner. While the Dude is technically the only one who should be involved in the plot Walter decides to join in when it seems like there is a potential monetary gain to be had. Although Walter is the one technically being asked to come over he kinda takes over whenever he shows up. Goodman is very funny by playing Walter's whole demeanor with the utmost conviction. Much of what Walter says and does is quite stupid actually, but Goodman brings the forcefulness of a soldier on a mission with his life on the line, even when speaking about following a Jewish religious observance. Goodman is great because he never winks with Walter's performance bringing the such purity to Walter's particular madness when seen. This particularly works well against Bridges's more easy going performance, and the two are quite the entertaining pair to watch.

Of course a great comic performance should utilize all moments to its fullest advantage and Goodman does not even have to be the loudest part of a scene to be hilarious in it. This most notably comes into play in the scenes in the bowling alley most importantly when they have to witness their main opponent in the tournament Jesus (John Turturro) who is quite the ridiculous specimen. Although I do enjoy Turturro's performance well enough Goodman really steals these scenes with his reaction as portraying Walter as almost attempting to comprehend the man while seeming to be rather disgusted by him. Goodman's physical performance is also wonderful to behold as he always carries himself in a tough guy manner, while not exactly looking like the toughest guy who ever lived. His action roll out of the car I find particularly amusing. One my favorite moments is his inept disposal of human ashes as Goodman does that accidental incompetence so perfectly.

Interesting enough there technically a great deal of time when Walter is not on screen because many of the Dude's interactions with the strange people involving the plot does not include Walter. Goodman's presence is so strong here that it seems frankly he's in the film more than he is because just how much of an impact he makes when he is onscreen. Goodman takes every overly extreme thing Walter does and makes it humorous and in a certain way even endearing. Although Walter technically is a fool and is overly boisterous while being self-absorbed Goodman's manner always has this honestly like Walter can't tell he's this way, he just is. Although I am not the biggest fan of the Big Lebowski as a whole, although I do like it, one aspect of the film that I do love is Goodman's performance. Goodman's work here just is comedic gold as he makes the most of every moment he is onscreen in his particularly memorable portrayal of a very peculiar sort of insanity.

35 comments:

Michael McCarthy said...

I really hope it goes to either him or Baker.

Michael Patison said...

1. John Goodman
2. Dylan Baker
3. Elias Koteas
4. Bill Murray
5. Sam Lee

Matt Mustin said...

He's hilarious and he has maybe my favourite line delivery in the film: "...AND A GOOD DAY TO YOU, SIR!"

luke higham said...

1. Goodman
2. Baker
3. Koteas
4. Murray
5. Lee

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

"Nihilists? Fuck me."

Kevin said...

Loved Goodman, but still hoping that Koteas takes the win

Anonymous said...

Louis, what are your thoughts and ratings on Ethel Barrymore in None but the Lonely Heart and Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight?

Anonymous said...

Hi Louis, I tried to find your thoughts on McCambridge in All the King's Men and Lee Grant in both Shampoo and Detective Story but I didn't found her anywhere. Could you write them? Or if you really don't want to, you can just give the ratings.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Just Google it, man. Just type in site:actoroscar.blogspot.com into Google and then search for the ratings.

luke higham said...

Louis: Your rating & thoughts on Dennis Weaver in Duel.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Throw in ratings and thoughts on Ian Bannen in Waking Ned Devine and Jay Mohr in Jane Austin's Mafia.

Anonymous said...

@kook160: that's exactly what I did, but I didn't find anything except for the rating on McCambridge, which is a 5, but I'd like to know his thoughts because personally she underwhelmed me.

mcofra7 said...

1. Goodman
2. Koteas
3. Baker
4. Murray
5. Lee

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, I was kind of surprised to see Geoffrey Rush show up in your leading ranking for Les Miserables. Now admittedly, I'm only familiar with the the musical, so what makes Javert a lead a role in that version?

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

From what I can tell, yeah. They cut out A LOT, increasing the screentime ratio.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Barrymore - 3(I found most of her performance just kinda forgettable and I thought much was to be desired in terms of her chemistry with Grant. She's good in her last scene, but that's only scene where I thought her performance stood out)

I feel I definitely gave my thoughts on Bergman before, I'd check the 44 alternate reviews.

Luke:

Weaver - 4.5(Probably one of the underrated one man show performances around, even though technically there are few other unimportant characters. Weaver though gives a great performance. I like how natural he is early on just bringing some light humor to a man who just is traveling for work. While since his character is named Mann it makes sense to be an any man, although not the greatest man to be sure. Weaver gives a fantastic realistic depiction of the somewhat weak willed man suddenly facing death. He does particularly fantastic job of slowing increasing the desperation and fear in his character until it overwhelms him)

Robert:

Bannen - 3(I thought he was endearing and likable enough in the role, but I had the same problem with his performance as I did with the film. I feel everything just played up the quirk a little too much in too cutesy of a fashion)

Mohr - 1.5(Ah yes the movie I saw back in the day instead of watching the X-Files movie. Well I have not seen in since. Anyway what I remember most about Mohr's performance was it being oddly passive for a comedic lead, and he was not even doing a straight man type of performance. I don't recall him being actively bad, but rather oddly actively nothing)

Anonymous:

McCambridge - (For me she might as well been the movie, in fact I would rather have seen the story of her political player rather the blandness that was John Ireland, and the only good when evil Broderick Crawford. I thought she delivered best at really sending home the message of the film in her portrayal of the intense cynicism of her character, and I feel she realized her role the best despite having not that much material. Also the one scene where she portrays her emotional vulnerability I also found quite effective, although I do wish she had someone better to act against, just imagine Kirk Douglas in Ireland's role just for an example)

Grant - Shampoo - 3(I don't mind this performance in the least as she does catty older lady well enough. My only problem is I don't really feel she was very memorable either)

Detective Story - 4.5(This performance on the other hand I felt was a great example of making something out of nothing. Technically there is barely anything to her character, she does not even have a name, but I feel she brings so much to the film through the way she makes her role so well lived in, and does the most with every moment of her time onscreen)

Matt:

As stated by Robert, the story is considerably chopped up. This version constantly jumps back and forth between Javert and Valjean. Javert never really leaves and returns in the story but rather the film always keeps up with whatever it is he is doing at the same time)

luke higham said...

Everyone: What do you think will be the potential lineup for Alternative Supporting Actor 2014.

If Norton, Simmons and Ruffalo get nominated, then I think its going to be:
Michael Fassbender - Frank
Toby Kebbell - Dawn of The Planet of The Apes
Josh Brolin - Inherent Vice
Albert Brooks - A Most Violent Year
Richard Armitage - The Hobbit: Battle of The Five Armies
Bonus
Kiefer Sutherland - Pompeii

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Rating and thoughts on Kiefer Sutherland's performance in Dark City? Because quite frankly that is one of the most baffling performances I've ever seen.

Anonymous said...

Ratings and thoughts on Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind?

luke higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on John Adams (2008), as well as your thoughts on the cast. If you can, ratings as well please.

Scott Gingold said...

I second the motion for Kiefer Sutherland in Dark City, perhaps a bonus review?

Scott Gingold said...

Louis, I'm sure you've probably answered this before, but what happens when you run out of years for Lead & Supp Actors? Will you do actresses?

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I'm not kidding when I say I literally don't know what to make of Sutherland in Dark City. So bizarre on every level, yet I honestly don't know if that's a bad thing. I hereby give him a ? out of 5.

Anonymous said...

@kook160: I'd like to ask you what do you think of Evan Rachel Wood in Thirteen? Because I saw it's your Best Actress pick for that year but personally I would give her a 2.5, I don't think she's bad but she's damaged by an awful screenplay.

John Smith said...

Out of curiosity, how old are all of you? Im 16.

luke higham said...

John Smith: 20

luke higham said...

John Smith: Out of Curiosity, where do you hail from.

Scott Gingold said...

John Smith: 34

Louis Morgan said...

Robert: Uhhhhh a ? might fit as well since my memory only reminds of the weirdness of that performance, and I can't recall if it was good weird or bad weird. In fact it might just have been weird.

Anonymous:

Connelly - 3.5(I like the first half her performance as she did the supportive wife with the right warmth, but after that point I found her work fairly bland and repetitive.)

Luke:

I think it's a great series and using the cliche it does make history come to life. It's compelling because it gets into the details of John Adams's life actually covering his accomplishments, but never avoiding his serious flaws as well.

Giamatti - (I thought maybe he was not the best fit at the beginnings of her performance but I felt he quickly became comfortable with role. He made Adams's appropriately complex and managed to believably show his contradictions as he would seem intelligent then stupid, loving then being hateful, joyous then suddenly bitter. There never becomes a disconnect between the sides of Adams and I'd actually call this his best work)

Linney - (Linney takes no time to become comfortable in the role as she just seems finds the essence of an Abigail Adams quite beautifully. She correctly keeps her performance somewhat reserved, but rather effectively leaves this striking passion that reveals itself at the most important moments. I also thought she and Giamatti had some great very understated chemistry. There was not anything overly romantic but they honestly suggested the love between the two)

Dillane - (Jefferson is a difficult role to be sure as it is hard to envision him precisely in one or another. Dillane takes the approach of kinda a cold passion in that it's easy to see his abilities while it's hard to embrace him fully as a man. I feel his performance works well enough but I don't know if Dillane quite realized Jefferson for all that he was worth though)

Morse - (Someone I think who is even harder to portray for Dillane. I'd wish more films would be made out of Washington since he's almost treated as an untouchable figure. Morse is not the definitive Washington I don't think, but he performance works in this version as he plays him as kinda otherworldly in the way Washington seems almost above everything else)

Wilkinson - (Now Franklin actually does seem a bit easier since the flamboyance is suppose to be part of a man. Franklin is role tailored made for an award. Wilkinson isn't definitive either, but he is appropriately entertaining in his portrayal of a man who purposefully acts as though he is a larger than life figure)

Sewell - (Now Sewell is also quite good in another role that might be a little easier to grasp since again Hamilton is the shrewd political player who does not mind giving insult to others. Sewell's is exudes the appropriate confidence in his performance and gives his lines the biting quality they need)

Scott Gingold: I'll be doing bonus reviews later basically covering some of the notable performances that I missed.

luke higham said...

Louis: are you still reviewing Ribisi within the next week.

Louis Morgan said...

Yes.

luke higham said...

Louis: Thanks, you had me a bit worried there, since I would hate having to wait at least another 14-15 months for his review.

Also will you be reviewing him simultaneously with Koteas or on his own.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Anonymous: Honestly, I thought it was rather realistic acting. Plus I don't hate the screenplay.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke: On his own.

John Smith said...

Luke, im from Sweden