Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2006: Sergi López in Pan's Labyrinth

Sergi López did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Captain Vidal in Pan's Labyrinth.

Pan's Labyrinth is an effective film, even though I do have a few reservations, telling the story of a little girl Ofelia dark adventure involving a fantasy world while she lives with her pregnant mother on a Spanish military base intent on weeding out the remaining rebels after the Spanish Civil War.

Watching the film again I have to say it would not be hard for me to put Sergi López as co-lead in the film. This is due to the fantasy side of things being told from Ofelia perspective, but the scenes of reality being mostly told through the eyes of Captain Vidal. Vidal in addition to being the head of the military base he also is Ofelia's stepfather having been the one who impregnated her mother. Although Captain Vidal is the most prominent character on the reality side of things he might as well be the big bad wolf since Vidal is written to be a personification of an organized evil, usually even in the cases of this type there may be a bit of humanity found, after all there is some even in the case of Ralph Fiennes's Amon Goeth in Schindler's List, that's not really the case for Vidal. Even in his personal life Vidal shuts down any discussion of those things known as feeling and the only thing he seems to care about is the birth of his son, but mostly as though it is a possession more than anything else.

As written Vidal certainly could have been extremely over the top and almost ceaseless in his obvious evilness, but to his credit that's not really the way López plays him. The few chances he gets to explore any other side of Vidal López tries to make something out of them. This includes the brief moment where he greets his wife as López gives a nicely feigned charm although this is shortly undercut by his particularly rude treatment of his Ofelia. His unpleasantness at the dinner table where he ignores all personal questions is given some sense by López suggesting more of his uncomfortableness with interpersonal interactions than simply evil motivating him. There is also the running idea of his father's watch which originally had the exact time his father died, and he was some how given the message to show him how a brave man dies. The whole watch idea I feel is a bit underdeveloped in terms of the writing and López can't quite make up for it. He's not bad in these scenes, but it never has the impact that direction seems to imply that it should have.

The main point of his performance though is the scene of Vidal being a murderer and torturer of rebels, their conspirators, and anyone unfortunate enough to be accused of such. López is very good in these scenes by not playing them as a crazy psychopath but rather an official soldier of death. López plays Vidal as particularly relaxed in these scenes as though this is when the man is truly in his element. López does not scream or yell but rather has such a viciousness simply in the way he casually way he portrays his manner in the killings. López brings such a comfort in Vidal as he takes his hammer to men, or shoots them down. It is not that of a man seeking gratification really, but rather as a man going about his job in the fashion he knows best. López makes the character the most cruel by portraying the efficiency of his method at all times. López, if he must be the big bad wolf certainly earns the title. As good as he is in these scenes I do feel something is missing and there may have been a little more to explore with the character. López does find some depth but in the end the character still feels fairly simple. He's certainly never lacking in the needed menace for the character, but I could never shake the feeling that something is missing.

23 comments:

luke higham said...

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

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Yeah, I figured he'd get a 4. I agree, there's just something that seems like it's missing.

Kevin said...

Just finished watching The Rover. Fantastic film with a fantastic lead performance by Pearce. Louis, I know you want to save Pearce for a potential review, but what are your ratings and thoughts for Pattinson and McNairy, as well as your thoughts on the film as a whole?

Personally, I was quite impressed by Pattinson, despite his dodgy accent

Psifonian said...

I can agree with this. He was phenomenal but he was let down by the one-dimensional nature of his role, so it crippled him in the long run. Had the film been entirely about him and the war, it would've filled those gaps in nicely. But as it stands, it's weaker than what could've been.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

So what are everyone's least favorite performances so far this year?

luke higham said...

Koook160: Jamie Foxx in The Amazing Spiderman 2

Kevin said...

Easy choice: Stallone ad his gang of bland, wooden young ones in The Expendables 3

Dishonourable mentions: Marton Csokasn and Chris Cooper in The Amazing Spiderman 2

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Chris Cooper in ASM2 is my least favorite of the year. Somehow he manages to leave a mark in sheer awfulness in the span of 2 minutes. Then again, the entire supporting cast stunk.

John Smith said...

Toughts on Alex Angulo as the doctor in Pans Labyrinth

RatedRStar said...

Jamie Foxx in Amazing Spiderman 2 would be mine, which pretty much confirmed 100 percent that Jamie Foxx is a terrible actor and I hope his career goes up in flames and I mean that from the bottom of my lovely heart =D.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Having never seen Ray, I'm usually a Jamie Foxx apologist going by Collateral and Django, both of which I liked him in. However, when someone uses his Electro as proof of his lack of talent, I find it incredibly difficult to argue with them. All I can say is "Well, Dehaan was even worse".

Michael McCarthy said...

Foxx and Cooper in Amazing Spider-Man 2, Aaron Johnson in Godzilla (not terrible, just really boring), Brandon Smith in Get On Up, Maggie Gyllenhaal in Frank, Boyd Holbrook in The Skeleton Twins. I have a suspicion Cameron Diaz would top this list if I ever got up the courage to see Annie.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I have not seen Godzilla, but a friend of mine went on a long, hilarious rant about Johnson's performance after seeing it.

Psifonian said...

Olivia Williams in "Maps to the Stars" robbed me of any respect I had for the woman.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Baquero - 3.5(I'll state my only real problem with her performance first, and that is the grape eating scene with the Pale Man. I think she is partially to blame here as she does not suggest Ofelia being like entranced by the food or is physically suffering from hunger, instead she comes off as painfully dumb. I mean after being warned, seeing the Paleman, and the pictures of what he has done, no one with half a brain, even if they were starving, would eat something. Anyway she's does give a fine job of portraying Ofelia curiosity and fear otherwise. She never acts up and gives a properly naturalistic performance)

Verdú - 3(Her part is pretty simple but she does the whole quiet woman with strong passionate streak. She conveys fairly effectively the character's way of hiding her true intentions, while letting the audience know.)

Gil - 3(She's basically one note of slight to more severe physical pain from her pregnancy, but she does this rather well.)

Angulo - 3.5(Possibly in a little too well worn role of the compassionate doctor, but Angulo very good in the role. He carries himself with that needed dignity and reserve, but with a poignant warmth he brings to the character)

Kevin: The Rover is one film I think I definitely need to re-watch. I thought it was certainly an intriguing more low-key post-apocalyptic story with a lead performance that certainly deserves some recognition. I feel though I really need to re-watch to get read on Pattison's work which I was not quite sure what to make of on my initial viewing. McNairy though I thought was pretty bad in this. His accent (better to refer it as accents) was all over the place to the point of distraction, and I did not feel he did much of note past that.

Robert:

I feel a bad performance in a good film is always more egregious so:

Karen Gillan - Guardians of the Galaxy

Matt Mustin said...

That's a shame about McNairy. He's usually pretty good from what I've seen.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Yeah, Gillan was pretty bad.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Shame you didn't like this more, but oh well. Still my second favourite film from 2006.

To be honest, it's more of a director's film than anything else. Although I will defend Baquero and Verdu getting high 5's from me to the very end.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Louis what are your top 5 films of 1980, and thoughts on them. Also do you think Ordinary People deeserved Best Picture?

Louis Morgan said...

1. Amadeus
2. Back to the Future
3. Blue Velvet
4. A Christmas Story
5. Chariots of Fire

I would have opted for The Elephant Man but I still think its a good enough film so I don't mind that it won. I do wish that the academy did not almost always throw Picture and Director together though as I do feel Lynch and Scorcese were far more deserving than Redford in terms of their direction. It's only made more aggravating because the Academy did do a trade off the very next year with Warren Beatty winning for Reds despite Chariots of Fire winning picture.

Matt Mustin said...

I feel like too often the Academy forgets that the category is "Best Achievement in Directing" not "Director of the film I liked most."

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Oh, sorry Louis, I meant 1980 itself

Louis Morgan said...

1. The Elephant Man
2. Breaker Morant
3. Kagemusha
4. The Big Red One
5. The Empire Strikes Back