Friday, 5 December 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1998: Giovanni Ribisi in Saving Private Ryan

Giovanni Ribisi did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Technician Fourth Grade, Irwin Wade in Saving Private Ryan.

Saving Private Ryan was very popular with the academy but it failed to receive a single Oscar nomination for the supporting cast. The large cast though probably was the problem and the fact that there is not clearly the supporting actor for the film. The film attempts to give each man their individual time while the story moves along and then it even stops to give Matt Damon as Ryan his time in the sun as well. Although some of the squad certainly deserves praise I can fairly easily single out the performance I felt stood out the best. That being naturally Giovanni Ribisi's performance as the squad medic Irwin Wade. For the Omaha Beach opening and the scenes following Ribisi along with most of the men basically act between the lines of the action. They are mainly reduced to a moment or two as the film occasionally cuts away to the men. In this more limited regard Ribisi is properly effective, and aids as do most of the others in helping to such the severity of their situation.

Ribisi is very good in that limitation as he brings a bit more empathy in Wade opposed to the more cynical quality scene in the reactions of the other members of the squad, allowing him to stand out from the other men well. He's particularly good in the scene as he portrays the very anxious concern in Wade as he asks to know where the wound is on a fellow soldier who is out of reach due to an enemy sniper. Ribisi also does well in the moment where the other men casually look at dog tags to find Ryan, and begin to make a game of it. While they are doing that fellow paratroopers of the dead men are walking by, and I have to say Spielberg kinda overplays the scene a bit much in terms of the music and the faces of each of the men as they walk by. Spielberg hammers it in too much to drive the emotions of the scene, and it is actually Ribisi's quick unassuming portrayal of Wade's reaction, as he tells the other men  of their squad to stop their behavior, feels more honest, and actually ends up being much more moving as well.

Although Ribisi thrives in the limitations of his earlier scenes when he does get a chance to shine he makes the most of it. This occurs when the men stay in an abandoned church for the night before they are to go off to the battlefield again. In this scene Wade reflects back on his life at home with his mother as Wade describes that her work prevented them from seeing much of each other, and despite this he would pretend to be asleep even when they did have the chance to talk. It's a terrific moment for Ribisi as he so beautifully creates this past in Wade just through his words and his face as he tells the story. There is a great deal of poignancy in Ribisi's work as he quietly suggests the regrets in Wade as well as, better than any one else in the cast, giving a vision of what Wade's life was like before the war. It's a great scene but it's made all the more remarkable due to his final scene that is not long after this scene. 

On the way to finding Ryan, the Captain (Tom Hanks) decides to take down a German fortification on the way (and for some reason decides to send the medic in on the attack), which naturally results in Wade being the only one shot. Although the set up for the scene is somewhat questionable it results in perhaps the most powerful scene past the opening battle scene. Thankfully Spielberg does not heavy hand his direction in the scene instead leaving just Ribisi to perform Wade's final moments. Ribisi makes it a difficult scene to watch in his portrayal of Wade dying as he encompasses the intensity of the physical pain as well as the fear in Wade. In addition though Ribisi also brings the desperate confusion as Wade ineffectually attempts to give himself medical advice, but cannot due to his wound. He is absolutely heartbreaking in basically his last breath as Wade cries out his mother name and Ribisi's sadly once more calls back to that early scene. It is an exceptionally well acted scene by Ribisi which contributes greatly leaving the most lasting impact out of any of the performances in the film.


Anonymous said...

I've yet to see this movie, but I will eventually. Except for Dogville and The Hours, have you seen any Nicole Kidman's performance to which you would give at least 4 stars?

luke higham said...

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

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Didn't he do this the same year as The Other Sister?

luke higham said...

Louis: What are your top ten death scenes.

Louis Morgan said...


None but I have not seen Birth, The Others, To Die For or Rabbit Hole.


Sizemore - 3.5(I have to say it is a little funny watching Siskel & Eberts review since they claim the men in the squad are not cliches but they really are for the most part(I'd say Wade is the only one who's not a standard WW II character in at least in terms of basic description). Of course this isn't automatically a bad thing. First up the gruff right hand man. Sizemore is appropriately gruff and tough in the role. I actually do think he's rather good and nicely does bring some quiet heart in Sergeant that's pretty effective)

Burns - 2(Next the wise guy who's always making jokes. Well he's easily gives the worst performance in the squad as everything he does just seems so acted. He actually might as well be with John Wayne because his performance would be more fitting in a 40's war movie)

Pepper - 3.5(The religious zealot. I usually like Pepper, I mean you have to give a guy credit for keeping a straight face in front of John Travolta in Battlefield Earth, Pepper's lines are all pretty on the nose, but he does do his passionate worship,of possibly more of his rifle skills than God, rather well)

Goldberg - 3(The Jewish guy. He is pretty good though particularly in his last scene as his performance makes his demise pretty brutal)

Diesel - 3(The dead meat who is usually have an easily identifiable ethnic background. He's first to go so he gets to do the least. I actually think he's decent enough and rather moving in his final moments as he portrays the fear in Carpazo as he tries to hand off the letter)

Davies - 4.5(The pacifist. The cliche is perhaps strongest in this character, but thankfully Davies is great in the role. What I love is that he does not play Upham as some morally righteous guy who refuses to fight, but rather as a coward. Davies is terrific in portraying the way the terror of the fight basically controls his character, and even his final action is more of revenge than an actual personal righteousness)

Damon - 3(I don't know why Damon became viewed as payoff I mean Christopher Nolan made the same mistake. He's just not a guarantee of something interesting. Although Damon's not bad here at all in fact he's rather good in his improvised scene of talking about Ryan's brothers, but I don't know if he EARNS being Ryan in terms of impact, maybe he shouldn't though)

Young - 2(Alright his whole character is one of my biggest problems with the film. The film did not need the bookends. Instead leave the earning by Ryan as a moving ambiguous idea about one man living due to others having died. Also that whole setting up the mission was also not needed just send them on their way. You did not need a whole bunch of scenes with John Williams's strings backing up the importance of the mission. In fact if they did it this way we'd be more with the men in their anger. Of course even that I find somewhat questionable in terms of writing. How exactly were they risking their lives for one guy? I mean the going to look for Ryan part was the least dangerous part of what they were doing, it was the getting in on normal military actions that caused them to die. Also if they weren't looking for Ryan did they think they were going to go home, that certainly did not seem to be the case, so they likely were going to risking their lives anyways. With all that said though Young does not help the situation. He's one note of overwrought emotion that unfortunately does feel forced even if the situation might earn a break down. The writing and his performance though try to hammer it home so hard though that it becomes annoying)

Louis Morgan said...

1. John Hurt - Alien
2. Toshiro Mifune - Throne of Blood (Although Seven Samurai also deserves mention)
3. John Hurt - 10 Rillington Place
4. Giovanni Ribisi - Saving Private Ryan
5. Brendan Gleeson - In Bruges (If I'm counting the whole build up)
6. Joe Pesci - Goodfellas
7. Tatsuya Nakadai - Sanjuro
8. William Peterson - To Live and Die in L.A.
9. Woody Harrelson - The Thin Red Line
10. Yoo Ji-Tae - Oldboy

There was at least one I left out as it will factor into a future review. Also I'm sure I'm forgetting some great ones, but there's a lot great death scenes to go around.


That was 99.

luke higham said...

Louis: I'm surprised by Davies rating, I liked him quite alot, but for some reason, it didn't look like you would like him as much as you actually did.

luke higham said...

Louis: Another brilliant death scene you forgot about was Sean Bean's in The Fellowship of The Ring.

luke higham said...

Louis: What decade will you be working on next. Please say the 2000s, because out of all the years remaining, 06 is probably the year I'm most looking forward to, even more so than '39, '62 and '07.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I TOTALLY agree about the bookends. It damn near killed the whole movie for me. My favorite of the cast was actually Davies for the reasons you mentioned.

RatedRStar said...

I should say I love the Siskel and Ebert tribute website that was created, to go back and see so many episodes is great.

Matt Mustin said...

"There was at least one I left out as it will factor into a future review." Not gonna lie, that has me very, VERY curious.

RatedRStar said...

Thanks to to handpulling and some lovely little steaming =D, I managed to see quite a few films.

Still Alice, Birdman, The Theory Of Everything and ......Unbroken.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: Ratings & thoughts on Performances you would give a 4.5 or more please.

RatedRStar said...

Jack O Connell (4.5) Its probably no surprise to anyone that Connell does good work here, I like how at the beginning he starts off as quite confident but still maintaining a certain likeableness that he can do anything, Of course when he is captured he manages to do a great job of the physical degradation, and managing to create a nice sympathy for his character, I should say this film does not deserve that 50% score on Rotten Tomatoes, am I the only one surprised by Unbrokens mixed score.

Michael Keaton (5) I remember, I said
to Koook160 on Facebook a while back that I was looking forward to Birdman, well I loved Keaton here and the film 2, I have always liked Keaton as an actor but his performance is completely human, his ego, his depression, his rather hiliarous outbursts are made completed understandale, It is quite hard to say much more without spoiling the film but, if Keaton wins the oscar I will be very happy.

I should say I did like the performances by Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Miyavi, Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones and Julianne Moore but I wouldnt give them a 4.5 or higher.

RatedRStar said...

@Luke: What are your thoughts on Newcastle vs Chelsea

RatedRStar said...

@Michael Patison: What are your thoughts on Real Madrid so far.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: Didn't watch the game, but the only thing I could say is Congrats to Newcastle, but I'm fairly pissed about the result overall, don't get me wrong, I'm sure Newcastle deserved it, but I just can't face having to watch the highlights for it at all. From a Neutral perspective though, it's good in a way, since the season's becoming a bit boring so far.

Michael Patison said...

RatedRStar: They've been simply incredible. CR7 is in the best form of his life, and everything he does makes those around him better. But it's not just him. The complete dismantling of Cornella at midweek (which should have happened, but which I certainly didn't expect to be so complete given the slightly weaker side Ancelotti put out) shows that the rest of the team is in peak form as well.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

@Matt: Two words: Rutger Hauer.

Matt Mustin said...

@Robert: Ahhhh yes, of course.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke: That's another good death one to be sure.

RatedRStar: That site is great as the two are so much fun to watch even if I do often disagree with their arguments, and sometimes even their logic.