Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2006: Steve Carell in Little Miss Sunshine

Steve Carell did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Frank Ginsberg in Little Miss Sunshine.

Steve Carell is making some headway this year for his dramatic performance in Foxcatcher which is seen as an against type of performance for him. The interesting thing is though in Little Miss Sunshine, which came only a few years into his  prominent movie career, he very much plays a dramatic role. Although Little Miss Sunshine is part comedy Carell's role entails very little comedy to be honest. There are only really two scenes where he's expected to be funny and one is more action based than really from his performance. The first being merely when he throws a drink the other is when he is being sarcastic toward Greg Kinnear's character, who is his brother in-law, as he espouses his personal philosophy which he promotes too often. Carell is enjoyable enough in this scene but most importantly it feels just something Frank would do as Carell importantly does not fall back on his comedic style of old, which I'll admit I'm not the biggest fan of.

Much of the film Carell gives a fittingly somber performance as Frank since before the films begins Frank had just attempted to commit suicide. Carrell's performance certainly matches this idea from his opening scene as the emotional devastation lives in his face. Frank is taken to his sister (Toni Collette)'s home where, despite being obviously not exactly functional himself, he is an observer of her family's dysfunction. Although the intensity of the depression obviously subsides to the extreme right after his most extreme act, Carell effectively keeps the sadness within Frank as he stays somewhat withdrawn from everyone else. In a subtle way Carell suggests Frank as basically reexamining his life as the story progresses around him. Carell is quite good as the impartial observer in portraying Frank's confusion and measured interest at the various oddities involving his sister's family whether it's her son Dwayne (Paul Dano) who swore a vow of silence , he beauty pageant obsessed daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin), or her extremely crusty father-in-law (Alan Arkin).

Carell rather interestingly takes a rather different approach for one major aspect of his character. That being he's a former university professor and who considers himself the number one Proust scholar. Throughout the film Frank attempts to espouse his scholarly knowledge, but the interesting thing is Carell does not portray Frank as the pompous intellectual type he very well might have done as that's that common style with this type of character. Carell though is very good in showing Frank attempt at giving out this sort of information, not as Frank attempting to stroke his ego, but rather a slight attempt to impart the little he has to give. I particularly like the scene where he fails at this when he attempts to tell the meaning of à la mode to Olive only to be quickly shut down. Carell brings the right sort of meekness in his demeanor as he rightfully never loses the idea that Frank is very much in recovery. It is perhaps the case that Frank may have been the pompous scholar at one time, but Carell is rather affecting in portraying a man who probably received more humility than he needed to in a short amount of time. 

Carell's role is mostly rather muted during the film since Frank is often a passive character. Carell though never simply fades into the background though and his reactions are never wasted when he is part of the group. Carell is excellent by quietly conveying the improvement of Frank's mental health throughout the course of the film. It is not shown thrown obvious points of change but rather it is a gradual process as the rest of the story unfolds. Carell handles this incredibly well actually as it always seems honest as Frank becomes more optimistic. It is mainly through reactions but the transformation is well handled from his complete despair found in his first shot to some rather poignant glimmers of happiness seen by the end. Carell best moment is when Frank finally seems to succeed in his attempt at giving wisdom when he advises Dwayne to do his best to stick it out despite his problems with his family. Carell offers a nice bit of honest warmth in the scene and suggests, despite not saying so, that Frank intends to the same as he advised. This is a strong performance by Steve Carell which actually proved his ability as a dramatic actor not long after he technically was even considered a movie funnyman.

39 comments:

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

What I love about this performance is that it's so generous. He never tries to steal the scene away from his co-stars, he never tries to become the focus of attention. In doing so, he ends up being a perfect example of what a supporting role *should* be.

Michael McCarthy said...

Definitely a much more naturalistic, believable, sympathetic, and all around more effective performance than his work this year.

luke higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Foxcatcher, also your Ratings and Thoughts on Tatum and Redgrave, also did you actually like Carell's Performance.

RatedRStar: Your Ratings and Thoughts on the cast of Pride.

Michael McCarthy said...

Hey Louis, do you think you might review 1965 supporting soon? I actually recently watched The Hill for the first time and I'm really looking forward to Harry Andrews' review.

Anonymous said...

I love the scene when he meets his ex-boyfried. Heartbreaking.

luke higham said...

Michael McCarthy: I hope he does one or two of the half finished years after this, because I just don't think he has enough time for another full fledged year before his 2014 reviews.

Louis: I know you'll be doing ten alternate reviews for lead but I'm officially of the opinion that ten just won't justify how extraordinary the year has been, I mean this year has pretty much squashed last year like a fucking bug. So I feel like you should do another lineup of five with the likes of Isaac, Waltz, Serkis, Hardy in The Drop and either Miles Teller in Whiplash or Jack O'Connell in Unbroken.

RatedRStar said...

@Luke: The cast of Pride, I should say all of them add something as most of them are onscreen together quite often.

Nighy (4.5) He is great as the rather stern and old fashioned committee member and handles the emotion beneath the surface extremely well, I particularly love his confession to Staunton and smile at the end of the film is a great end.

Staunton (4) She is always very entertaining as the tough but good hearted supporter, she is particularly great in her aggressive scenes of defence and her nightclub scenes where she is just hilarious .

West (3.5) His character is actually written quite thinly as an Aids sufferer but he brings an appropriate distrust of the group early on before becoming more supportive and likable, he does have a sweet chemistry with Scott.

Scott (4) The most oscar baity role is Andrew Scotts so its no surprise he won an independent award for it, as he plays a rather depressed haunted man who barely looks alive at times due to his past, he isn't given as much time as most of the others but he brings a likable quality and his big scene where he sees his mother is brief but well handled.

Gilgun (3) He is fine and nice enough but he is merely functional a lot of the time, but I will give credit he does have a great reaction when Schnetzer shouts at him to stop following him.

Considine (4) He is just so likable in the role, very similar to The Worlds End where he has a very low key charm and makes it so easy why she would get along with The LGSM group.

MacKay (4) I would say him and Schnetzer are Co Leads as the second half of the film focuses mainly on MacKay, he is decent early on when he is hiding his sexuality while being appropriately awkward and shy. His big change is well handled though as he grows more confident and more into a leader type.

Fox (3) He seems really sweet and likable but I feel he is too much in the background most of the time which is a bit of a shame as his scenes where he has fun with the kids while they mess his hair up is kinda amusing.

White (2) She doesnt do anything for me lol she doesnt seem anywhere near as supportive as her husband does, she is kinda just there.

Marsay (3) Out of all the LGSM young adults I think she is the weakest as she isnt really given too much to do early on as she is just sort of the tough lesbian character who we have seen too many times in films, she does get much better as the film goes on as she becomes a love interest, she gradually becomes much more human and 3 dimensional.

Gunning (4) She is my favorite female character as she is just so likable as the loud big hearted supporter, her scenes where she protects MacKay are fantastic and are appropriately warm.

Trussler (3.5) She is quite funny and has some truly great dialogue to say, like when she asks if all Lesbians are vegetarians instead of saying something rude lol.

Schnetzer (4.5) Some people have criticized him saying that his accent is off, his Irish accent is pitch perfect, they are completely wrong about him. He is great, passionate and appropriately bitchy as well lol, he is the driving force of the film, he shows the frustrations well, makes it believable that he is the leader. I really like how at the start of the film he is quite confrontational and well bitchy lol, but still maintaining a sweet good hearted nature that into the film turns into a frustrated man with nothing but anger later on before returning to normal, its terrific work.

Psifonian said...

It's a great performance, one that I used to think should've been nominated instead of Arkin's, but as time goes on, I prefer Arkin by a hair. Such a great ensemble; not a false note with any of them.

Also, RIP Luise Rainer and Christine Cavanaugh. 2014 is ending on a cruel note.

RatedRStar said...

This is proof that Carell can handle a dramatic role, a very challenging role its just so disappointing that he couldnt do it this year.

RatedRStar said...

RIP Luise Rainer, I actually really like The Great Ziegfeld compared to most.

RIP Christine Cavanugh, I am not really a cartoon guy, never was, but to do so many great voices like Babe and Dexter is certainly a great achievement.

Psifonian, did you read my question on the previous review, what did you make of Foxcatcher since you didnt mention that you needed to see it?

luke higham said...

Louis: Or Schnetzer as well.

I've Seen Unbroken, I don't know why, but I actually quite enjoyed this film.
Ratings
O'Connell - 4.5
Gleeson - 4
Miyavi - 3.5
Wittrock & Hedlund - 3

luke higham said...

R.I.P. Luise Rainier &
Christine Cavanugh
Babe was one of my childhood favourites, as well as Chuckie and Dexter. There's only one Quote from her past work that I could really remember and shall say in tribute to Her and that is Omelette Du Fromage.

RatedRStar said...

Is it sad that when I was in school back in the mid 2000s I said Omelette Du Fromage to a girl as a flirt gesture lol haha, it didnt work.

Anonymous said...

RIP Louise Rainer and Christine Cavanugh
@Psifonian: Can you also share your top 10s in the other acting categories for 2014?

moviefilm said...

Thank you for the review, but I am much happier for the fact that you liked him. I really love this performance, might be my favourite of the year in this category (though I'd have to give it a rewatch, as well as rewatch of Dreamgirls and Little Children). The first time my request is actually not a suffering for you... :)

luke higham said...

Moviefilm: Yeah, I would've been on the verge of a fucking rant if Maguire had stolen a spot from either Hardy or Rockwell, but thankfully Louis listened to my prayers and satisfied us both.

luke higham said...

John Hurt received a knighthood at last.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Foxcatcher - (Well I agree with RatedRStar that it's not a masterpiece I would disagree that it's this year's The Descendants. Miller's direction I did not think was workmanlike here as I seemed like he purposefully meant to make a dispassionate film, the opposite of the inspirational sports movie. It's about glory seeking but there is no glory to be found, even in the victories. A film of this nature seems especially difficult as it must make a hollow experience feel compelling. The film always feels it has the potential for greatness, and there are moments where it perhaps achieves this, but as whole it never quite comes together as it should. There are hanging ideas and the relationships always seem like there should have been a little more to them. I believe the original cut was four hours so maybe there is material for something somewhat more cohesive. As it is I thought it was an interesting but problematic film)

I'll actually save Tatum for the moment.

Redgrave - 2.5(She was fine, I guess, but she felt like a prop more than anything)







R.I.P

Luise Rainier

Christine Cavanugh

luke higham said...

Louis: From your reaction, I'm guessing you liked Carell well enough, I'm now predicting 4.5s for both.

I seriously need to rewatch the movie again.

Matt Mustin said...

I'm actually gonna predict a 4 for Carrell at the moment.

luke higham said...

Louis: But yes, please take my opinion on the third lineup on board because this year absolutely deserves it.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I'm seeing Foxcatcher tomorrow. I'll throw in my two sense when I see it. Also, I saw Into the Woods today. It's sort of a mess, but enjoyable enough. Sure as hell better than Les Mis, but that's not a high bar.

luke higham said...

Koook160: I'm actually a fan of Les Miserables, but I'll see about Into the Woods down the line.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I am not going down that path again. I've already beaten that horse dead and good. No one will ever convince me that movie isn't purely incompetent.

luke higham said...

Koook160: I'm not trying to convince you at all, that's just my personal opinion and everyone has their tastes by the way.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Taste notwithstanding, I think on basic film-making levels it's objectively awful. There are decisions that Hooper made as a director that are Tommy Wiseau- levels of directorial incompetence. For example, knowing how to use a camera.

moviefilm said...

luke: You know, I understand you all being angry about me for requesting him, but: 1. Louis said at the beginning of his alternate reviews that it's not going to be just about good performances.
2. Maguire's performance (though I'd need a rewatch, since I have seen Brothers last time at the time of its release) was my favourite of that year (alongside Firth). Call me crazy, or sue me, but I like seeing mediocore, bad, or comedic actors in more challenging roles especially when they handle them quiete well. Maguire was over the top, yeah, but it was enjoyable (as long as I remember).
3. He was nominated for Golden Globes and some other (not so important) awards, so he deserved some attention. Really, he wasn't that bad...

moviefilm said...

And I have seen Foxcatcher today. I expected to like it much more, but it was fine enough, anyway. I'll not write my rankings and thoughts of the performances yet, I'll leave it January on my blog. But I'm kinda surprised Louis liked it.

luke higham said...

Koook160: I somewhat agree with you on Hooper's direction, but the acting and songs have always made me like the film as much as I do. I thought Crowe was fine, even though his performance of Stars (My Personal Favourite) was quite lacking in the vocal department.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I'm usually not one to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but I wasn't even that impressed with the acting. Hell, I though Jackman totally dropped the ball.

luke higham said...

Moviefilm: Well in Hindsight, all is forgiven now and let bygones be bygones on that one.

luke higham said...

Koook160: That's your opinion and let's leave the discussion and talk about the now rather than the past.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Ugh, I need a freaking drink.

luke higham said...

:)

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

With regards to many of our predictions...looks like we were WAY off on this one! That's what I love about this blog. Makes you re-evaluate your preconceptions.

Louis, for next year would you consider finishing off either 1957 or 1965? As someone mentioned earlier it'd be less time-consuming and we can finally see what you think about certain stalwarts haha.

I think the upcoming years I'm most looking forward to are:
1990 (Can Depp find his way into Louis' good books?)
1962 (Will Sellers get his first 5?)
1989 (I hope I win a prediction before this so I can request Michael J Fox in Casualties of War, but regardless it'sa good year)
1939 (of course)

And of course, Jeff Daniels in Gettysburg.

luke higham said...

Daniels review is a long time coming, but I expect that to come, probably in the Summer.

Upcoming Years, most looking forward to.
1.2014
2.2007
3.1939
4.1962
5.1989

luke higham said...

GDSAO: Regarding your first comment, I've never known any film critic/blogger, who's more trustworthy and reliable than Louis Morgan.
Ebert may be the greater writer, but even he made alot more questionable choices or Kermode who's the most entertaining to listen to.

luke higham said...

Very off topic question for everyone, but what are your favourite national anthems. By the way don't be too biased.

Psifonian said...

My brief thoughts on "Foxcatcher": After hating his first two films, finally, Bennett Miller has made a film that worked for me. It's not a perfect film, but it comes within spitting distance of one. The second half feels rushed a bit; it wouldn't surprise me one bit of that's where the bulk of the editing from the initial cut came from.

A fun observation: the film's trio reminds me of "The Master": Tatum is Phoenix, Carell is Hoffman, Ruffalo is Adams. They fit the same basic archetypes of the human psyche (id, ego, superego). Tatum was best in show. He exhibited such hurt, awkwardness and naiveté, all coiled in a brawny and volcanic exterior. He reminded me of a spiritual descendant, in many ways, to Freddie Quell.