Monday, 31 March 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1986: Brian Cox in Manhunter

Brian Cox did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Hannibal Lecktor in Manhunter.

Manhunter is an effective thriller, even though just like Michael Mann's earlier film made in the eighties, Thief, the soundtrack is extremely out of place for the most part.

Brian Cox was the first actor to play the role of one of the most famous onscreen serial killers Hannibal Lecter. Right from the outset there are some differences though not only because his last name is spelled Lecktor for some reason, but as well the film does not really make much of a mention in regard to his cannibalism even if he has the same first name. The character though does serve the same purpose of being the man an investigator goes to try to find out about something about another serial killer currently at large. This time the investigator is Will Graham (William Peterson) who successfully caught Lecktor and is seeking his help to try to understand a new killer nicknamed the Tooth Fairy (Tom Noonan).

Cox honestly goes for less the larger than life villain, although that probably contributed greatly to Hopkins turning the role into an iconic one, and more bluntly as a down to earth serial killer. Cox also plays him as a maniacal genius but in a far different way. In his first scene when he talking to Will in prison Cox plays his Lecktor as much more aggressive in his attack. He is less sneaky about it rather putting up his psychological games right to the forefront first thing. Cox delivers the game as much more a fast talking constant array of harassment toward Will. Cox method is particularly effective in making his Lecktor as man who is just constantly pestering and prodding for some sort of weakness, and rather interestingly does so with out the suave qualities Hopkins utilizes.

Both of them use there eyes very specifically in their performances and it is rather interesting to see the differences in their approaches. Hopkins keeps a constant stare as if Lecter is looking at their soul and that is his natural state. Cox rather shows it to be a put on just for will and it is quite chilling though. It adds to the blunt force intensity he brings in his Lecktor as it only adds to what he is trying to do Will. Both Hannibals want to be play a game, but Cox plays it like Lecktor honestly more like a real man who just wants to get as much pain out of a man he hates as possible. The intelligence of Hannibal is there too with Cox, but in oddly a less likable way as he is really more realistic suggesting a completely smug man who also is a psychopath to boot.

The only problem with Cox's performance is there is not much of it. He's only in three scenes and two of them are relatively brief. He's great in all in his own personal creation of Lecktor that manages a strong presence in the film despite the limited nature of the part that makes Hopkins in Lambs seem far more substantial in comparison. I really would have liked to have seen his Lecktor in the Silence of the Lambs storyline, as Cox definitely leaves his Lecktor with more areas to explore than what is seen in Manhunter. As it was though Cox in his brief time gives a disturbing depiction of the killer, and it is fascinating to see this rather different, but certainly a very effective take on the character.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1986

And the Nominees Were Not:

Daniel Day-Lewis in A Room With A View

Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet

Brian Cox in Manhunter

Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors

Raul Julia in The Morning After

Alternate Best Actor 1986: Results

5. Gene Hackman in Hoosiers- Hackman avoids the cliched route instead giving a realistic yet still inspiring depiction of the coach of the underdogs.  

Best Scene: Norman Dale convinces Shooter to help out on the team.
4. Jeremy Irons in The Mission- Irons gives a very moving portrayal by making his character's goodness only ever come across as genuine and very poignant.

Best Scene: Gabriel argues for non-violence to Rodrigo.
3. Gary Oldman in Sid and Nancy- Oldman rather surprisingly gives a mostly quit and always believably portrayal of his drug addled character. The louder moments though are well earned and effective in bringing to life the unique stage presence of Sid Vicious.

Best Scene: "My Way"
2. Harrison Ford in The Mosquito Coast- Ford goes wildly against type and completely succeeds. He not only disappears into the role, but he well gives a very compelling depiction of the growing insanity of a man who can see nothing other his own personal vision.

Best Scene: Allie insists a Nuclear holocaust has occurred.
1. Jeff Golblum in The Fly- Jeff Goldblum gives a great performance. He certainly fulfills the requirements of becoming the monster, but most importantly he always brings the humanity in the process. He brings you into this man's story every step of the way and creating a truly tragic depiction of a man who went too far. My whole top five is especially strong with Ford, Oldman and Goldblum as well as the two Oscar nominated guys Woods and Hoskins all being deserving of the win. Really it's one of those cases though where I think a re-watch could sway it one way or another but right now I will have to go with the following ranking:

Best Scene: Seth after his "successful" use of the machine.

Overall Rank
  1. Bob Hoskins in Mona Lisa
  2. Jeff Goldblum in The Fly
  3. Harrison Ford in The Mosquito Coast
  4. James Woods in Salvador
  5. Gary Oldman in Sid and Nancy
  6. Jeremy Irons in The Mission
  7. Sean Connery in The Name of the Rose
  8. Gene Hackman in Hoosiers
  9. William Hurt in Children of a Lesser God
  10. Kyle MacLachlan in Blue Velvet
  11. Robert De Niro in The Mission
  12. Rick Moranis in Little Shop Horrors
  13. William Peterson in Manhunter 
  14. River Phoenix in Stand By Me
  15. Jeff Daniels in Something Wild
  16. Charlie Sheen in Platoon 
  17. River Phoenix in The Mosquito Coast
  18. Paul Newman in The Color of Money
  19. Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China
  20. Pat Morita in The Karate Kid Part 2
  21. Will Wheaton in Stand By Me
  22. Barrie Ingham in The Great Mouse Detective
  23. Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  24. Tom Cruise in Top Gun
  25. Christopher Lambert in Highlander
  26. Steve Martin in Three Amigos
  27. Ralph Maccio in The Karate Kid Part 2
  28. William Shatner in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  29. Martin Short in Three Amigos
  30. Jeff Bridges in The Morning After
  31. Dexter Gordon in 'Round Midnight
  32. Tom Cruise in The Color of Money 
  33. Sylvester Stallone in Cobra
  34. Chevy Chase in Three Amigos
  35. Julian Sands in A Room With A View
  36. Eddie Murphy in The Golden Child
  37. Christian Slater in The Name of The Rose
  38. Steve Guttenberg in Short Circuit
  39. François Cluzet in 'Round Midnight
  40. Thom Mathews in Friday the 13th Part VI
Next Year: 1986 Supporting

Friday, 28 March 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1986: Gene Hackman in Hoosiers

Gene Hackman did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Norman Dale in Hoosiers.

Gene Hackman in Hoosiers plays the well weathered role of a coach to an underdog sports team. This one is a little different in that Hoosiers is better than a lot of films with this type of plot. The role of Norman Dale is also considerably more flawed than many of these characters often are. It is also helped by the great Gene Hackman being in the role as Hackman is not someone to go for the simple route with a character. Such roles, and perhaps even this one in lesser hands is ripe for some schmaltz and all sorts of cheesiness if one is not careful, but that is not the case for Hackman's work here. The main reason being that Hackman in no way seems to be treating the part like the typical inspirational sports coach character.

Hackman firstly just is very believably in the role as a man who clearly not exactly currently in the best part of his life. Dale's coaching job after all is more of a last ditch chance at redemption more than his ideal choice of work. Hackman wears some of that bitterness in him quite well. It is not something that Hackman let's overwhelm his performance, but he does well to suggest the past without the film really needing to show it. Most of the film is not dwelling on the past instead obviously focusing on Dale's attempt to try to get the small town team in shape to win the championship well carefully dealing with the locals who basically want to replace him as soon as they see him. Again in performing as the coach Hackman again does not act as the usual type of movie coach.

In the coaching duties Hackman delivers with a fervent passion as well as always a certain intelligence in his ways as a mentor. What makes Hackman so effective though is the way he comes off as a particularly realistic coach especially in the game scenes. Hackman portrays Dale as honestly having a pretty bad temper in the game, and does not hold back in that regard. Hackman is always particularly strong in showing that Dale does not take it well when anyone whether it is the game's referee or one of his players, he someone who knows he's right so he's not going to take that from anyone. Hackman does not show that Dale is really a perfect guy who someone you would even want to be around, but because of that he's always particularly believable in this role.

That is not to say that Norman Dale is not an inspiring figure in the film, quite the contrary not only does he pull all the boys together to form an actual team he even gets the local drunkard (Dennis Hopper) to redeem himself slightly by becoming an assistant coach for the team. Hackman again is terrific by not goign the standard route by being particularly warm and lovey dovey. Instead in most of these scenes Hackman is very careful to suggest an underlying empathy in Dale as he tries to give his inspirational speeches, but the way Hackman plays it up front is as basically "Do the right thing, or well I just down give a damn". Hackman completely meets the challenge of being the inspiring coach, but he always does it his way which avoids ever falling into the slightest bit of schmaltz.

Gene Hackman being in the lead role helps Hoosiers stand out as sports movies of this kind. He does not hit the usual beats of this type of character instead taking his own path the whole way through. By doing this Hacman not only gives a much more intense and compelling portrayal, but also one far more line with a real coach in Norman Dale's position. He makes him a pretty rough character and one that is not always easy to deal with, but Hackman never fails to perfectly balance those technically less savory qualities with a great deal of genuine heart and passion. Although I would not quite put this up there with Hackman's best performances, it is a great example of Hackman excelling in yet another genre.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1986: Gary Oldman in Sid and Nancy

Gary Oldman did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy.

Sid and Nancy is not a particularly easy to watch but it is an effective depiction of the relationship between punk rocker Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy. 

Gary Oldman made his breakout with his film here as the Bass guitarist for the punk rock band the Sex Pistols. If you haven't seen the film but are aware of Oldman's later work, Oldman could easily surprise you with his portrayal of Sid in the early scenes of the film. Oldman actually is pretty quiet in the early scenes as the film establishes the relationship between Sid and the drug addict Nancy (Chloe Webb). When we are first introduced to Sid it is in a very low key way and it is quiet a while before we even meet his on stage personality. At first Oldman plays Sid as a bit of drifter who happens to be to have a place within a punk rock band. Oldman's whole method with Sid in these scenes is fairly unusual in tone, but very interesting in the way he creates the character.

Sid Vicious is not a particularly well put together person from the start of the film, but he also is a very young person. What Oldman does well is create the youthful elements in the character which are a tricky prospect considering that he already is rather troubled to begin with. The way Oldman expresses it is effective in that he portrays Sid as someone who does not know particularly what he is doing, and Oldman is very good in showing that basically in any particular scene that Sid is a bit lost in this world. Oldman's performance is never lost though in he is creates this particularly man quite vividly as his Sid does seemed primed for the destruction set for him as he does not know what he is doing.

Oldman is particularly excellent in the scenes where Sid and Nancy begin their relationship which is not a normal romance to be sure. Oldman plays the scenes where Sid tries to begin the relationship very oddly yet always naturally to Sid's character. Oldman though makes the urge to connect with her quite palatable even though the method is always unassuming as Sid is not very far from being in a world of his own. This only continues once they do begin their relationship which does not consistent of the normal things. Instead of talking all that much and getting to know each other it is mainly them spending time together as they use a lot of drugs. Oldman and Webb create a honest chemistry in that there is this strange comfort the two have with one another.

Interestingly once again Oldman plays the part pretty quietly with his early scenes with Webb. This is particularly noticeable since Webb's performance is particularly loud and extreme at times, but Oldman plays off that incredibly well by showing Sid as more of internalizing his sorrows whereas Webb shows Nancy as exploding from them. The dynamic two creates absolutely works in showing these particularly damaged individuals who interact with each other in a most peculiar way. They almost don't interact with the way Oldman whispers and Webb yells like they speak over each other at times that might seem like it does not make sense, but it seems completely believable as both actors realize that there is this connection the two have beneath that.

The two go on in this way though until The Sex Pistols go on tour in America we do see the change in Oldman's portrayal of Sid. Although there was a stage scene beforehand, but Oldman kept it fairly simple, the stage persona of Sid comes to the forefront much more in these scenes. Oldman here does pull a larger presence now, and he does so brilliantly in showing the energetic yet always slightly off creation that Sid is on stage. The best moment for this part of his performance is when, in a dream sequence, Sid performs "My Way" to an adoring crowd who he promptly murders. It is a most unusual set up and scene but Oldman completely makes it through his fantastic portrayal of the scene. He is magnetic yet does not at all pull back on the crudeness of the character, and turns the performance into a moment of sheer brilliance.

For awhile well away from Nancy Oldman is very adept at transitioning Sid into the more indulgent personality fitting for a rocker. Oldman does this particularly well because it is almost in a reactive way, that the fame reduces him to these indulgences. This remains his course until Nancy once again comes back and they resume their relationship. And again the beginning of the renewed relationship there is a genuine happiness and joy the two seem to convey together in such a subtle yet such an honest feeling fashion. They explain why they stay together even as their relationship goes toward right back how it started. Even in the worst scenes later on there is this contentment at times between the two that always is so easy to believe that it actually is rather disconcerting.

Oldman comes off as painfully authentic in his portrayal of the slow degradation of Sid as he is with Nancy as they both basically stay in a room together taking drugs. They have that contentment at times, but then there is vile hatred at others when either have some sort of need and desire. The final scene of them in the room which is either murder or accidental death is not a monumental event. In fact it comes off as particularly chilling because of the way Oldman and Webb show it to be almost a routine event that seems like it just had to happen because of the aimless slightly hostile condition between them. From the death Sid does not learn anything and this technically is a mostly aimless character. The lack of a traditional arc is hardly a problem because Oldman's great performance just simply brings Sid Vicious to life for the film, and it would hard to ask for anything more than that.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1986: Jeremy Irons in The Mission

Jeremy Irons did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Father Gabriel in The Mission.

The Mission depicts the attempt of Jesuit missionaries to defend the freedom of a remote South American tribe of natives. The film does have many great things about it including basically every technical aspect of the film particularly the beautiful score by Ennio Morricone. The film is even written by Robert Bolt who wrote several excellent epics, but the directing by Roland Joffé is very  inconsistent. Some scenes do achieve a certain greatness but certain pivotal scenes come off as painfully inadequate.

Jeremy Irons plays the lead Jesuit priest Father Gabriel who tries to bring Christianity to the natives in a peaceful and loving fashion. Although Robert De Niro as Rodrigo has the greater character arc as Rodrigo goes from slaver to Jesuit to justified fighter, Irons gives the much more assured performance out of the two. The two or you could say three performances by Irons that I have conversed have been rather brilliant performances by him but as very devious sorts. This is a very different type of role by Irons's as Father Gabriel is a very good man who does not want to reach out to the natives to control them, but rather connect with them. Gabriel in the film wants nothing more than what he believes is best for the people, and is a character of true selflessness throughout the story.

Irons is wonderful in the part, and I would say he is the best part of the film outside of the score and its technical accomplishments. Irons firstly gives a very genuine portrayal of the goodness Gabriel. This is interesting in that to most people Irons is probably known best for being a conniving villain in films like the Lion King and Die Hard 3. Irons is just as much at home in playing Gabriel who is a man who absolutely tries to believe in the best of mankind. Irons who is so good at playing ice cold carries a splendid warmth in his portrayal of Gabriel. It's such a kindness that Irons exudes so well here that goes even beyond a tenderness in his voice. Although restrained in terms of the type of man he is, this is actually a surprisingly physical performance by Irons.

He's not physical in the normal way you would think of it but the way he carries himself just accentuates the love in Gabriel's heart so beautifully. One of the most important scenes in the film is when Rodrigo fettered with his old armor as the weight is confronted by the natives the very people he hunted and enslaved. The scene is one of the well handled ones and the score, De Niro's performance and the whole scene do work in giving power to Rodrigo finding redemption threw the natives forgiving him, but what I find the most powerful moment in the scene belongs to Irons. All it technically is a simple embrace Gabriel gives Rodrigo, but Irons portrays it in such a genuinely loving and honest fashion that he brings to life the great power of forgiveness in the scene.

When Gabriel is not helping the natives live peacefully or help Rodrigo find the righteous path he must defend the natives from the colonial governments who wish to exploit them. He tries to convince his Cardinal (Ray McNally) that the mission must stay open as it is the only source of protection for them. Irons is very effective in these scenes bringing the passion one should expect in his speeches where he tries to not only protect the natives but defend their nature as people. Irons is most than just passion though and that is what makes his performance stand out. There is always a tenderness even in the passion of his performance and in that tenderness he brings he reinforces the goodness of Gabriel in such an effective and wholly natural fashion.

Gabriel beliefs are so strong though that he still refuses to fight the soldiers who are going to come to destroy the mission, even though his fellow priests as well as Rodrigo take up the sword. Irons shows that Gabriel definitely is not a coward though and rather his refusal to fight gets right down to the core of his being. Irons's best scene in the film is when Gabriel argues to Rodrigo over this point. Irons is especially moving as Gabriel insists that the world should be that of love rather than hate, and refuses to accept anything else. There is nothing naive in Irons's delivery rather he makes it far more heartbreaking by honestly portraying Gabriel's resolve. Irons alludes to that Gabriel perhaps knows it is futile, and with that shows the true resolve of man who absolutely believes the best in mankind.

The part of Gabriel could have very well been forgettable within the whole scheme of the film, or just behind the more volatile role of Rodrigo, but Jeremy Irons makes it so his depiction of Gabriel is one of the strongest facets of the film. Although often Joffé's direction falters to bring the best out of the material, Irons whenever he is onscreen does realize a great deal of the potential of the story through his performance. Irons earns the right to be surrounded by Morricone's score, as the nature he brings out of Gabriel with his work is fitting to the beauty of Morricone's music. There is not a false moment to be found with his Gabriel and all of the goodness of the character is never dull or unbelievable because Irons realizes it so gracefully.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1986: Jeff Goldblum in The Fly

Jeff Goldblum did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Sethaniel "Seth" Brundle in The Fly.

The Fly is a very effective horror film about a brilliant scientist who invents a way to transport matter, but some severe problems arise when he decides to transport himself.

Jeff Goldblum plays the scientist who we first meet at the beginning of the film as he meets a journalist Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) and quickly tries to impress her by claiming to have created something that will change the world. Jeff Goldblum has a very unique screen presence to be sure with his method that is certainly all his own. There isn't too much to Seth from the start other than he is a scientist the rest really is all up to Goldblum. Goldblum of course was the perfect choice than as he is character all his own and that is proven so from the scene he begins as he rather awkwardly attempts to flirt with Veronica while alluding to his scientific discovery at the same time. Goldblum possesses the exquisite skill of being slightly strange here well being quite charming and rather endearing at the same time.

Although Goldblum certainly fits the bill of the tightly wound nerd, and has certainly played them in his career, but Goldblum does not seek to make Seth an alienating man here. Instead Goldblum does something extremely important in these scenes which is to make Seth a particularly likable tightly wound scientist. He brings a lot of heart in his natural enthusiasm as he shows Seth trying to impress Veronica in some way even if it means showing of his experiment which is a matter transporter. Goldblum keeps Seth even as an inventor of such a machine someone who is very easy to empathize with as he tries in his very own slightly off fashion to woo this woman. Goldblum also nicely shows just a small but strong and very understandable pride that Seth has for his machine as he presents it to her.

Also very once again very importantly is the set up of the romance with Geena Davis's character. The two have great chemistry together in the film and although the progress of the relationship is rather swift they do make it a convincing and warm connection between the two characters. Both of them are always believable together and Goldblum makes it a particularly sweet performance by just how genuine he is in the awkwardness and shyness of sorts at the start that slowly diminishes, although never disappears, once he manages to impress her with his success with the machine, even making it so his machine can even transport living material. This succesess of Goldblum's performance early on in making the love story work as well as making Seth likable is essential to bringing we the audience into investing in the man as things take a turn for the strange.

Seth due to some foolish drinking as well as some of his well establishes insecurities decides to test the teleport using himself as the test subject. It seems to be a complete success although little does he know a fly came for the ride causing him to be fused with it. At first the transformation appears to be a good thing as Seth find his body is changing apparently for the better. Goldblum never leaves the transformation simply for the makeup to do the job and he stays with the transformation right until the end when he replaced. Goldblum is very effective though in the way he carries himself differently from this point on and at first with a far more confidant manner than he had before. Where before he was mostly fidgety in his physical manner after his change Goldblum presents Seth as a man who believes himself to be an absolutely prime specimen who should show off.

The confidence though soon changes its shape though as it morphs into something more unseemly. What it is in the transformation Goldblum shows that Seth basically is in a transformation period like a hormonal teenager. This could come off as a bit silly but Goldblum never makes it a humorous idea. Instead Goldblum is quite exceptional in showing it as a very instinctual act in his performance. Goldblum does not suddenly change either in his behavior rather he easing into from a strong confidence to an overwhelming arrogance very effective and surprisingly naturally considering that technically speaking it is unnatural. That's what is so great about his performance though is that Goldblum does not cheat, or use the concept to forget the character. It's far more disconcerting because Goldblum shows it to be the same likeable Seth from earlier who becomes this obnoxious jerk.

Of course his time as a prime specimen diminishes, and the fact that he is part fly starts to shine through in far more obvious fashion. Although what amounts to the change in Seth becomes far more than just some small marks on his face Goldblum still refuses to be overwhelmed by the makeup. Goldblum adds to it first through his mannerisms he changes to reflect that of as a fly, which again could have been played for just some easy laughs but that is not the case for Goldblum's portrayal. Goldblum makes these mannerisms completely seem genuine the process that he is creating and because of this the transformation is far more disturbing. What is also particularly interesting about his performance is that Goldblum does not drop his distinct presence really. Although Seth becomes a monster Goldblum never takes the easy approach by just making Seth act like a monster.

Throughout the later scenes right up until just before the very end Goldblum keeps a humanity in Seth by playing it as a the old slightly off scientist beneath it all. Goldblum makes it far more tragic by always reinforcing the idea that there still is that man within it all the time even as the man becomes harder and harder to see beneath his new skin. This works incredibly well one in that having Goldblum unique delivery style makes this one monster that stands out, but also he does make it far more poignant destruction of this man. Goldblum particularly makes the loss of the Fly man's especially disheartening because he portrays that certain desperation as he tries to keep his intelligence. The process continues with Goldblum slowly bringing  the madness in such a delicate and all too convincing of a fashion.

This is a marvelous performance by Jeff Goldblum because even though he plays a man who turns into a fly he never devolves into just a hammy creature performance, as he very easily could have. He calculates his performance perfectly by making Seth such a sympathetic figure early on to although for someone to be easily invested in as he goes down the path of turning into a manfly. Goldblum treats the whole idea of turning into a fly seriously with his performance making the transformation compelling and believable, well at least as believable as a man turning into a fly can be. This is not just a great performance in a technical sense though it goes much further than that. Goldblum gives a powerful portrayal of the results of too much tampering with the laws of nature. While Cronenberg's direction can make the story of Seth Brundle's transformation disgust and frighten, Goldblum is always there to make it a story which resonates emotionally.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1986: Harrison Ford in The Mosquito Coast

Harrison Ford did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Allie Fox in The Mosquito Coast.

The Mosquito Coast is an interesting character study about a survivalist who tries to take his family out of modern society.

Peter Weir was the only director who managed to direct Harrison Ford to an Oscar nomination. Ford was nominated for Weir's Witness for a fairly prototypical Ford leading man style performance, a good enough performance but pretty standard performance from him. Ford worked once again with Weir for this film which came out only a year after witness. Ford was not Oscar nominated for this film despite this being a very against his usual type. Ford did find some recognition for it but he probably sunk by the film's tepid reception when it originally came out, and perhaps because Ford plays a character a little too far from his usual type since Ford's characters tend to be likable that is not the case for Allie Fox.

From the beginning of the film it is made abundantly clear that this is not action hero Harrison Ford. In his earliest scene all that Allie Fox does is basically bash the current state of America then proceed to harass a hardware employee for giving him a Japanese product rather than an American one. Ford's performance here perhaps shows how Hugh Jackman perhaps should have positioned himself in a similar role in Prisoners. Allie Fox is a survivalist and Ford shows this in an underlying intensity within Allie. Ford though doesn't overplay this aspect of Allie here though showing in the words he is speaking but not allowing the intensity to completely control his behavior. At this point Ford successfully allows one to think that Allie could easily be all bluster, but then again it might not be.

Harrison Ford brings a natural eccentricity to the role that does not completely cut you off from him early on as he tries to show off one of his inventions which while genius is not necessary in the modern society. Ford shows such an honest enthusiasm with the invention that he makes it actually makes him at least slightly easy to sympathize, but more importantly why his family would be so much behind him from the start of their journey. Ford in his best and most notable heroic performances as Han Solo and Indiana Jones managed to be tough with an undercurrent of humor and warmth. Ford once again here does use that natural warmth he is able to bring as Allie speaks to his family about his ideas. He may seem like a nut, but at least a nut who can at least get his family behind him.

Allie in his paranoia, and like Toshiro Mifune's character in I Live in Fear, insists a relocation must take place in order to survive the upcoming holocaust that he is absolutely sure will occur. Ford rather brilliantly subverts many of his usual qualities as an actor in use of Allie here. When he first locates to the jungle with his family and some others to create a self sustaining society Allie seems very much the capable leader. Ford in all of his best performances exudes command and charisma which he does here as well. Ford though does not play it as he would one of his heroes though, rather he put it in a very powerful personality he brings to Allie that is nothing like his other roles. Although the society does not become a cult, Ford in these earlier scenes suggests that Allie very well could have created one if he wished, which is appropriate to his early success in the project.

There is always a shroud Ford brings to his performance that is carefully played to suggest the narrow mindedness of Allie. There is a peculiar intensity he places in Allie. He is rather fascinating in the way he interacts with basically everyone else in the film. Ford even when he may technically be directly interacting with someone else that there is this distance to Allie. When he speaks he often seems to be speaking to himself in some way, and Ford creates a man with a true tunnel vision. In every scene Ford never creates a full chemistry with anyone, even in the way he physically interacts Ford suggests a certain dismissive quality in his interactions with others in his body language, which is essential to the development of Allie's downfall that takes for the rest of the film.

Allie actually seems to find perfect success in the jungle except that he really is not satisfied completely for no real reason, and later he finds a society tends to need things like the police for a reason. When these problems start to turn up what laid beneath the surface begins to arise in Ford's performance. As Allie slowly devolves into madness Ford is extremely good firstly because he properly hinted at the development beforehand, but just importantly he never overplayed his hand earlier. When the madness comes out Ford brings it out in such a natural and completely brutal way. His leadership becomes a dictatorship and any weakness, even from his children, he treats like betrayal. Ford is very chilling in these scenes because of how casually cruel Allie becomes and how he so disconcertingly loses the warmth that he did have earlier on.

In the late scenes of the film Ford does not shy away from being completely unlikable as Allie goes completely off the deep end in his treatment toward his family. What makes Ford's performance so good is that he technically keeps Allie on the exact same course he was from the beginning. It is still just all about his world view and survivalist ideas, yet developments have suggested that he is wrong. Ford rather than showing Allie reflect on any of these instead only shows the intensity grows as Allie basically must force himself to be even more fervent for his cause, as he becomes a desperate man who refuses to be proven wrong. The insanity Ford creates is palatable and always believable because from the moment we have seen him on screen he started building to the point he reaches at the end, giving a honest yet so horrible depiction of a man who refuses to lose his beliefs.

Watching this film again after so many years made me remember more clearly the circumstances of my original viewing, which was actually probably less than half of the film. Anyway even though I knew what it was about when I caught up with a review of the film I was surprised that Harrison Ford actually played the lead, because only seeing the second half I had not at all recognized him. That is one of the strengths of this performance though because Ford does disappear so effectively into Allie Fox. This could have easily been De-glamorization just for the sake of the shock of it, but no you forget about that pretty quickly as Ford becomes Allie. It is a shame that this film failed both critically and commercially as Ford takes this challenge of Allie Fox and gives a great portrait narrow minded madness. All I can wonder if this had been more of a success perhaps Ford would have continued to challenge himself rather than take the path he did take which was to slowly give lazier and less interesting performances in action movies.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1986

And the Nominees Were Not:

Gary Oldman in Sid and Nancy

Gene Hackman in Hoosiers

Jeff Goldblum in The Fly

Jeremy Irons in The Mission

Harrison Ford in The Mosquito Coast

Monday, 17 March 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1996: Results

5. Gene Hackman in The Birdcage- Hackman steals the film with his hilarious dead pan performance.

Best Scene: Senator Keeley talks about foliage.
4. Pete Postlethwaite in Brassed Off- For most of the film Postlethwaite gives a very enjoyable performance in bringing such a conviction and pride in something so seemingly small, and then he successfully transitions to a true emotional poignancy at the end of the film.

Best Scene: Final speech.
3. Robert Carlyle in Trainspotting- Carlyle gives a very entertaining and intense portrayal of man who gets his kicks out of kicking a certain something out of any unlucky fellow in his way.

Best Scene: Begbie's final bar breakdown.
2. Derek Jacobi in Hamlet- Claudius easily could have been a throwaway role but Jacobi gives an excellent portrayal of Claudius as both an imposing villain but as well an honest the portrayal of guilt.

Best Scene: Claudius asks for forgiveness.
1. Steve Buscemi in Fargo- Good Prediction koook160.  Steve Buscemi gives a great portrait of idiotic criminal and is terrific in every one of his scenes, and it's only better due to his perfect chemistry with his partner in crime played by Peter Stormare who is also my very close number two for this year.

Best Scene: Carl negotiates with Wade.
Overall Rank:
  1. Steve Buscemi in Fargo
  2. Peter Stormare in Fargo
  3. Edward Norton in Primal Fear
  4. Derek Jacobi in Hamlet
  5. Tony Jay in The Hunchback of Notre Dame 
  6. Robert Carlyle in Trainspotting
  7. Pete Postlethwaite in Brassed Off
  8. Gene Hackman in The Birdcage
  9. Charlton Heston in Hamlet
  10. Paul Scofield in The Crucible
  11. Harry Belafonte in Kansas City
  12. Clifton James in Lone Star 
  13. Matthew McCounaughey in Lone Star
  14. Edward Norton in The People vs. Larry Flynt
  15. Bain Beohlke in Fargo
  16. Bill Murray in Kingpin
  17. Kevin McKidd in Trainspotting
  18. Gary Sinise in Ransom
  19. Dwight Yoakam in Sling Blade
  20. Armin Mueller-Stahl in Shine
  21. Harve Presnell in Fargo 
  22. Paul Kandel in The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  23. Robert Duvall in Phenomenon
  24. Lucas Black in Sling Blade
  25. Kevin Pollak in That Thing You Do  
  26. Pete Postlethwaite in Romeo + Juliet 
  27. Robert De Niro in Sleepers
  28. Samuel L. Jackson in A Time To Kill
  29. James Cromwell in Star Trek: First Contact 
  30. Matthew McCounaughey in Larger Than Life
  31. Christopher McDonald in Happy Gilmore
  32. Stephen Rea in Michael Collins
  33. Robert Duvall in Sling Blade
  34. Brian Blessed in Hamlet
  35. Willem Dafoe in The English Patient
  36. Brent Spiner in Star Trek: First Contact
  37. Kevin Spacey in A Time To Kill
  38. Dave Chapelle in The Nutty Professor
  39. Ian Holm in Big Night
  40. Kevin Bacon in Sleepers 
  41. Stephen Tompkinson in Brassed Off
  42. Jonny Lee Miller in Trainspotting
  43. Steve Park in Fargo 
  44. Alan Rickman in Michael Collins
  45. Tom Hanks in That Thing You Do
  46. Carl Weathers in Happy Gilmore
  47. Nicholas Farrell in Hamlet
  48. Scott Wilson in Shiloh
  49. Richard Attenborough in Hamlet
  50. Forest Whitaker in Phenomenon
  51. Chris Cooper in A Time to Kill
  52. Vince Vaughn in Swingers
  53. James Woods in Ghosts of Mississippi 
  54. Kris Kirstofferson in Lone Star
  55. Ed Harris in The Rock
  56. J.T. Walsh in Sling Blade
  57. Steve Zahn in That Thing You Do
  58. Robert Musgrave in Bottle Rocket
  59. Peter Vaughan in The Crucible
  60. John Astin in The Frighteners
  61. James Caan in Eraser
  62. Ewan Bremner in Trainspotting
  63. Jon Voight in Mission: Impossible
  64. Larry Brandenberg in Fargo
  65. John Ritter in Sling Blade 
  66. Ron Canada in Lone Star
  67. Johnathon Shaech in That Thing You Do
  68. Billy Crystal in Hamlet
  69. Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day 
  70. James Caan in Bottle Rocket
  71. Ewan McGregor in Brassed Off
  72. Kevin Kline in The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  73. Bruce Davison in The Crucible
  74. John Carroll Lynch in Fargo
  75. Larry Miller in The Nutty Professor
  76. Ving Rhames in Mission: Impossible
  77. Andre Braugher in Primal Fear
  78. Tony Denman in Fargo
  79. Pete Postlethwaite in Dragonheart
  80. Jim Carter in Brassed Off 
  81. Brad Renfro in Sleepers
  82. Timothy Spall in Hamlet
  83. John Ales in The Nutty Professor
  84. John Gielgud in Shine
  85. Philip Seymour Hoffman in Twister 
  86. Richard Briers in Hamlet
  87. Delroy Lindo in Ransom
  88. Aidan Quinn in Michael Collins
  89. Philip Jackson in Brassed Off
  90. Robert De Niro in Marvin's Room
  91. Ron Livingston in Swingers
  92. Brad Pitt in Sleepers 
  93. Treat Williams in The Phantom
  94. Bill Murray in Space Jam
  95. Jonathan Pryce in Evita
  96. Phil Hartman in Sgt. Bilko
  97. Michael Moriarty in Shiloh
  98. Michael Douglas in The Ghost and the Darkness
  99. David Arquette in Scream
  100. Ben Stiller in The Cable Guy 
  101. Dustin Hoffman in Sleepers   
  102. Dan Hedaya in Marvin's Room
  103. Steve Buscemi in Kansas City
  104. Viggo Mortensen in Daylight
  105. James Cromwell in The People vs. Larry Flynt
  106. Donald Sutherland in A Time to Kill
  107. Danny DeVito in Matilda
  108. Rob Campbell in The Crucible
  109. Patrick McGoohan in The Phantom
  110. Paul Reubens in Dunston Checks In
  111. Dan Aykroyd in Sgt. Bilko
  112. Wayne Knight in Space Jam
  113. Stan Shaw in Daylight 
  114. Leonardo DiCaprio in Marvin's Room
  115. James Coburn in The Nutty Professor
  116. Keith David in Larger Than Life
  117. Rufus Sewell in Hamlet
  118. Owen Wilson in The Cable Guy
  119. James Rebhorn in Independence Day
  120. Hank Azaria in The Birdcage
  121. Richard Paul in The People vs. Larry Flynt
  122. Gerard Depardieu in Hamlet 
  123. Gary Busey in Black Sheep 
  124. Christopher Lee in The Stupids
  125. Matthew Lillard in Scream
  126. Phil Hartman in Jingle All The Way
  127. Jack Black in The Cable Guy 
  128. Colin Firth in The English Patient
  129. Michael Murphy in Kansas City
  130. Robin Williams in Hamlet
  131. Joe Morton in Lone Star
  132. David Thewlis in Dragonheart
  133. William Atherton in Bio-Dome
  134. Cary Elwes in Twister
  135. Skeet Ulrich in Scream
  136. Randy Quiad in Independence Day
  137. Harold Gould in Killer: A Journal of Murder
  138. Tim Matheson in Black Sheep
  139. Bob Odenkirk in Cable Guy
  140. Paul Sorvino in Romeo + Juliet
  141. Emilio Estevez in D3
  142. Peter Dobson in The Frighteners
  143. Brian Dennehey in Romeo + Juliet
  144. Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire
  145. Judd Hirsch in Independence Day
  146. James Belushi in Jingle All The Way
  147. Bill Cosby in Jack
  148. Ruper Everett in Dunston Checks In 
  149. Beau Bridges in Jerry Maguire
  150. Robert John Burke in Killer: A Journal of Murder
  151. James Naughton in First Kid
  152. Eugene Levy in Multiplicity
  153. Glenn Shadix in Dunston Check In
  154. Jack Lemmon in Hamlet
  155. Dash Mihok in Romeo + Juliet
  156. Brian Kerwin in Jack
  157. Robert Guillaume in First Kid
  158. James Acheson in Kazaam
  159. Harold Perrineau in Romeo + Juliet
  160. Jerry O'Connell in Jerry Maguire
  161. Dan Futterman in The Birdcage
  162. Sinbad in Jingle All The Way
  163. Crispin Glover in The People vs. Larry Flynt 
  164. Kiefer Sutherland in A Time to Kill
  165. Michael Maloney in Hamlet
  166. John Costelloe in Kazaam
  167. Bug Hall in The Stupids
  168. John Leguizamo in Romeo + Juliet
  169. Jake Lloyd in Jingle All The Way
Next Year: 1986 Lead

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1996: Gene Hackman in The Birdcage

Gene Hackman did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Senator Ken Keeley in The Birdcage.

The Birdcage is an enjoyable enough comedy about a gay couple (Robin Williams, Nathan Lane) who try to play it straight to fool their son's fiancee family who are conservative.

Hackman and Dianne Wiest play the parents which are roles that often are rather boring in films like this and only there to look stupid in front of the lively flamboyant leads. Well thankfully that is not the case in this film because the writing actually gives them something to do, but also if you have Gene Hackman in one of the roles it will be far less likely that there will be a comedy deficiency with his role. I have reviewed Hackman before in mostly comic roles like The Royal Tenenbaums and Superman where he excelled without question, but in these were very extroverted roles. Senator Keeley is quite the opposite in that he is not even really required to be funny for the film to work actually.

In the more introverted role though Hackman still is quite hilarious from his first scene where his daughter tells him about her intent to marry going so far to tell him that she has been sleeping with the man for over a year. Hackman starts with hilarity through his perfectly delivered "blahh" and complete disgust at the information. Technically a lot of what Hackman does is just some fairly standard stuff, but Hackman tweaks his performance ever so slightly to make whatever he does very funny. It's hard to get down right to do what exactly Hackman does here as he still could easily transition this performance to a serious portrayal of Senator Ken Keeley. Hackman though knows just how to play every moment to be funny never appearing like he trying to be funny in anyway.

This only continues once the farce starts when they meet gay club owner Armand (Williams) and Albert(Lane), although Lane dresses up as a woman to hide the truth about who they are. Hackman again still keeps Keeley very much in the situation playing believably his positive reactions to Albert in particularly who as a woman espouses basically every view that coincides with Keeley's own. Hackman does not wink yet still is always very amusing because of that particularly in his long and slow monologue about the foliage in America and the purple mountain majesty and such. The whole point of the monologue is that it is suppose to be rather boring to say the least, he gets that point across, but makes the whole ting very funny because of his flawless delivery.

The last thing for Hackman really to do is play the whole revelation of everything which Hackman again plays to great comedic effect through his deadpan confusion at the matter. Hackman really made the movie for me as I easily found him to be the funniest performance even though his effort to be funny seemed the least apparent. Hackman as per usual simply knows how to play every scene just right. He is completely convincing as the senator as he should be fulfilling his whole point in the film incredibly well, but Hackman does not let that just be that. He goes the extra mile giving a very entertaining performance as well, proving himself capable on the more introverted side of comedy, and also stealing film right out from under the noses of the more flamboyant performances found in the ensemble.

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1996: Pete Postlethwaite in Brassed Off

Pete Postlethwaite did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Danny in Brassed Off.

Brassed Off is a good enough film about a coal miner brass band that is threatened by mine closure. Although don't let the adds fool you it is far far more drama than comedy.

Postlethwaite was actually in six films in 1996 including his best of show performance in Romeo + Juliet, and his enjoyable if over the top portrayal of a monk who is a wannabe poet in Dragonheart. I actually have not seen all of the films, but Postlethwaite was one of the most consistent character actors of 90's and one of the best examples of his talent was in this film. Postlethwaite plays the conductor of the band who is the largest source of comedy for most of the film as his character Danny seems far more interested in the success of the band than the success of the mine. Although many of the men are pretty cynical of the whole thing that will not be found in Danny especially not in the way Postlethwaite plays the part.

Postlethwaite makes Danny a source of comedic gold through his completely no nonsense performance actually. In any of the band scenes Postlethwaite is absolutely hilarious because of just how dead serious he is as he conducts the band. This is not just some sort of mundane task or even an extra activity for fun this is the most important business of life in the way Postlethwaite performs the part. There is nothing but the utmost determination in his work that works in two ways. One he does make it genuine that Danny feels this way as the band is a matter of pride, but it is also very funny because he so believably shows a man who is so deadly serious about something that most don't really care too much about.

Postlethwaite's seriousness only continues to be effective though in some great moments earlier on the film where there are some double entendre  moments in the dialogue. Really these moments could have fallen ridiculously flat in just the pitch of them but the reason they work so well is because of Postlethwaite. In one moment the jealous wives of other band members question the inclusion of the only young female player. Everything the women imply about her is in a most sexual fashion, but Postlethewaite makes it funny because every response by Danny is slightly bewildered yet completely firm on the fact that she simply is very talented. Really there probably would not be many laughs at all if it were not for Postlethewaite's stone faced delivery.

Of course the laughs rather abruptly stop in the film once the mine actually closes and old Danny even collapses from a mine related illness. This quickly leads Danny into a change of heart as he finally values people more than the band. This is a fast transition but handled well by Postlethwaite in a scene of reflection as the band plays just for him, then his important final speech after the band successfully won a national competition. The film itself really does hammer in its message like ten too many times since it does just keep saying the things over and over again instead maybe doing a little more with the characters.

 The final time the film's message is given though, other than one more printed message, is in the speech by Danny. It's the best moment for it's message because Postlethwaite is the one delivering it. He just brings such a intense passion in his delivery that he gives the film a powerful bang at the end that has nothing to do with any brass instrument. This is a very good performance from Pete Postlethwaite as he brings such an abundance of humor to the first well about eighty percent of his performance, many actors may have not been able to bridge the transition. Postlethwaite, with the little time he has, manages to connect the two sides and give an emotionally poignant performance as well.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1996: Steve Buscemi in Fargo

Steve Buscemi did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Carl Showalter in Fargo.

Steve Buscemi actually did manage to get himself a few citations on the awards season for 1996, but all chances for a nomination were probably squashed when the male lead of the film William H. Macy was put in the supporting category. Buscemi plays one of the two men that Jerry Lundegaard (Macy) hires to kidnap his own wife to allow him to extort money from his rich father-in-law. The last time I reviewed Buscemi was his portrayal of the criminal who put professionalism above all others in Reservoir Dogs as the unfortunately titled Mr. Pink. Carl Showalter is no Mr. Pink although he probably would like to be evidenced by his very first scene where Jerry comes to give them their advanced in the form of a stolen car from the used car dealership where Jerry works.

In his very first scene Buscemi is excellent as he plays Carl as coming on very strong against Jerry trying to be the tough criminal he is suppose to be as he inquire what the logic is behind Jerry's plan exactly. Buscemi in this scene shows Carl as a man very trying to put up the front that he is quite hardened and much more of a man than he actually is in his treatment of Jerry. Buscemi though nicely brings that underlying weakness to Carl from the first scene as you never feel a strong confidence here, nor any of the suggested intelligence that was in his earlier performance. One of my favorite moments in his first scene is how he ends the scene as Carl tries to keep on pushing Jerry but then suddenly stops and just suggest taking a look at the car. Buscemi transition is perfect in showing just how easily Carl loses his tough guy act.

After that point we get a series of scenes between Carl and his other criminal associate Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare). Buscemi and Stormare's chemistry is one of the greatest aspects of the film with Stormare playing it ridiculously dead pan and Buscemi playing up Carl as more talkative and animated sort of guy. They are hilarious together with Buscemi playing up Carl trying basically to carry on as a man would on a business trip or something with Grimsrud who clearly is not the same type of man. Every bit of dialogue is handled perfectly by Buscemi because he handles it so casually even though the men are on track to commit crime. They're especially hilarious together though in the back and forth between the two. Buscemi is great in showing Carl trying to make some sort of conversation but always being taken aback by Grimsrud's stoic demeanor.

One of the best scenes in the film takes place after the kidnapping has taken place and the two men find themselves in an awkward situation when they are pulled over for a foolish mistake on Carl's part. Buscemi is extremely entertaining in the scene as it begins particularly in his threat to their victim where he tells her to be quiet or they'll have to shoot her. The reason that particularly moment is so funny is all in Buscemi's delivery. He does not make it like a psychotic or even a hardened crook even, but rather Buscemi has Carl say it like he's just some normal guy handling a situation he obviously does not have much sense for. This only continues for the men though as Carl bungles his attempt to speak to the police officer. Buscemi makes Carl's incompetence completely believable, but also so very amusing because of just how he handles every moment of it with his performance.  

As he showed in Reservoir Dogs, Buscemi is great in bringing a very visceral power in his reactions to intense situation. Well he apps that up to another level as Carl who must undergo many intense situations throughout his time in dealing with Jerry's foolish plan. Buscemi is absolutely on fire in every scene because he plays every scene with such expert precision which is always works as such an interesting portrayal of a man who is in way over his head but tries to act like he's not. Another terrific scene Buscemi comes in with the exchange of money which becomes problematic when Jerry's father-in-law handles it. Buscemi's actually makes it pretty easy to sympathize Carl a bit in the moment as his exasperation, and complete bewilderment of the moment is just so brilliantly played by him. Of course things only get worse for Carl as things proceed.

Carl of course takes a gunshot to the face, although he does manage to survive, his face obviously won't quite be the scene. Although the makeup in the scene is more than solid Buscemi's whole physical reaction in the moment really sells the moment in such a brutal way. The way he changes his speech from the wound, and every one of his cries of pain are handled so well that it becomes pretty hard to watch his performance. This is the case throughout the film for Buscemi and it is treat to watch him in any scene he is in because it is always true to his honest depiction of such a foolish criminal. Buscemi can even make a gem out of a scene where Carl argues about the cost of a parking ticket because every reaction every delivery on Buscemi's part just rather flawless. Buscemi gives a great performance in a role that in the wrong hands could have fallen pretty flat as the humor of the moment is often in the delivery, or maybe they might have tried to hard on the humor and undercut the criminal part. Buscemi has such a tight grasp on the character and the material that he makes Carl one of the best parts of this film.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1996: Derek Jacobi in Hamlet

Derek Jacobi did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Claudius in Hamlet.

This performance represents a change for two things that are not always that interesting. The first being the character of Claudius, Hamlet's Uncle who is also married Hamlet's mother that Hamlet presumes murdered his father the original King. In Olivier's version for example he really does not make much of an impression other than being a target. The other thing not always interesting is Jacobi who seems always cast as fairly uninteresting British guy in films like the King's Speech and My Week Marilyn. Now Jacobi is not bad so to speak in those, but he is never terribly interesting. Seeing him in those roles might give you the wrong impression that Jacobi is always a dull actor, the simple watching of one of his Shakespearean performances will fix that quite quickly though.

Derek Jacobi is actually one of the connective tissues between Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh as before appearing in Branagh first directorial effort Henry V Jacobi starred along with Olivier in the filmed version of Othello. Anyway Jacobi is another master of the language in league with Olivier and Branagh. No doubt his mastery contributed to Branagh's casting of Jacobi as the chorus in Henry V. Branagh proceeded to cast him once again this time as Claudius. Jacobi's success with this role can be witnessed from one of the earliest scenes of the film where he is presenting his new wife to his people. Jacobi presents a different Claudius in this scene that is usually seen. Jacobi presents Claudius as a man truly enjoying his position power as well as marriage, but he actually suggests a real command of a King.

Throughout the film, with help from the complete version of the play, Jacobi is very effective by showing Claudius's own transformation as Hamlet's behavior becomes more suspicious. When Hamlet's madness seems to have no rhyme or reason to anyone other than Hamlet himself, Jacobi rather merely treating Hamlet like some sort of nuisance is far more effective by portraying an actual concern for his nephew. There certainly are most definitely traces of his concern for his own health, but Jacobi brings a greater depth of feeling with his work. There is the suggestion in his performance that he actually does to a certain extent care about his nephew's mental health. Jacobi never wastes his reactions in any of his scenes given a fuller portrait of Claudius mentally processing what Hamlet is doing.

Claudius changes his response to Hamlet one Hamlet organizes his mousetrap which is to use players to basically show a reenactment of the King's murder to get a response out of Claudius to show his guilt. Jacobi brilliantly handles Claudius's reaction making it a strong emotional response but he does not go too far. He makes it noticeable without a doubt, but it's far more powerful because Jacobi doesn't make it excessive. Jacobi even greater scene comes instantly afterwards when Claudius quickly goes to a confessional to try to plead forgiveness to God. Jacobi actually succeeds in stealing these scenes from Branagh, and that's not because Branagh is slouching in his role in anyway. Jacobi brings such a genuine poignancy as he shows the palatable guilt in Claudius, guilt worthy of a man who has murdered his own brother.

Claudius's reveal though also causes Hamlet to become rather sloppy in his plan, and it becomes obvious that Hamlet knows Claudius's crime. Jacobi adjusts his performance magnificently as Claudius becomes an active villain who is trying to plot the demise of his nephew. Unlike the other Claudius's who seem woefully inept, Jacobi manages to make the King an imposing figure. As I said earlier he actually carries a command with his performance to suggest his role as the King, and he transfers this command to Claudius as he tries to deal with the threat to his power, Hamlet. Jacobi is very effective by suggesting a greater intelligence in Claudius as he slowly tries to reason out what exactly to do with his problem. Jacobi brings a strong menace with his portrayal, particularly in the scenes where he believes he is organizing Hamlet's death, as he reveals the side of Claudius that slew his own brother.

Jacobi is terrific because he never allows himself to be forgotten behind Branagh's Hamlet, he always keeps Claudius as notable presence in every scene he is in, even the final duel which is one of the great highlights of Branagh's performance. Jacobi is great in the scene playing the deviousness of Claudius well behind his apparent jovial face who just wants to praise his nephew. Jacobi infuses the right deviousness in the scene as Claudius attempts to rid himself of his problem. Jacobi's best moment in the scene comes when his wife Gertrude decides to drink from the cup that Claudius purposefully poisoned for Hamlet. Jacobi is fantastic in the moment because it is not just an oh well moments, but Jacobi portrays Claudius as honestly heartbroken that his scheme has killed his wife who he did indeed love.

Derek Jacobi gives a great performance here as Claudius because he never let's the character fall into obscurity in the film, as Claudius very easily could have simply been forgotten behind the flamboyance of the titular character. He realizes the various facets of the role in a wonderful fashion as he never makes Claudius just the King, or just the villain, or just a guilt ridden man. Jacobi makes him all of those things into a believable whole, and by showing these different sides he makes Claudius a far more compelling character than he usually is. Jacobi makes a remarkable impact on the whole of the film refusing to ever be forgotten because he isn't the title character. Add to all that Jacobi incredible understanding and delivery of the language you have one of the best Shakespearean performances on film.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1996: Robert Carlyle in Trainspotting

Robert Carlyle did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Francis "Franco" Begbie in Trainspotting.

Robert Carlyle plays Begbie the only member of the group of friends in the film who is never uses heroine throughout the course of the film. This hardly makes Begbie the most sympathetic or most intelligent of the friends though in fact it is quite the opposite. Although Begbie avoid heroine he instead enjoys a quite a lot of hard drinking, and all that seems to come from hard drinking. Carlyle performance early on is instantly striking in his portrayal of the one friend who never seems to retire from anything, certainly not from reality in at least the way the others do. Begbie is an extremely different man from the rest of them and Carlyle absolutely makes the makes the most of Begbie's uniqueness.

Carlyle plays Begbie as a constant time bomb of sorts who seems to be tightly wound even when he hanging out with the bloke. Carlyle is not even a particularly imposing man all by himself but in a very Joe Pesci sort of way there is always a volcano about the erupt. Carlyle makes Begbie unpredictable in his manner and frankly a slightly uncomfortable man to be around because the way he plays him you don't know exactly when he's going to snap as he always keeps the possibility open even when he seems to be calm. In his calm seems Carlyle is very good in being the big talker though and even the way he seems to look suggests an incredible self absorption on his part. Whenever Begbie is going on about something Carlyle makes it clear that no should ever interrupt Begbie as his mindset is set firmly in place.

Everyone one of Begbie barroom tantrums are a highlight of both Carlyle's performance as well as the film. Carlyle pretty much makes it his picture in every scene where he a very specific manner he takes as Begbie gets ready to beat down an unknowing bystander. Carlyle plays the scenes brilliantly as every part of it seems part of an exquisite plan that Begbie has in mind. This could seem overly mannered but it's not for two reasons one being that Begbie does definitely have a certain plan when he does this but as well Carlyle makes the whole process completely natural to the man he creates. Carlyle in these scenes fires on every cylinder in his performance. Firstly these scenes are extremely entertaining as Carlyle brings such a powerful flamboyance that is fun to watch, and it works because Begbie definitely wants everyone to notice him.

Within the intensity of his anger though Carlyle is careful, in the barroom brawls, to really bring the joy of Begbie's own performance into it as he has a strong sadistic streak. Carlyle is particularly good in those moments where Begbie handles his knife showing the great pride he has with what he does with it, or chooses not to do with it. Begbie's outbursts are his highs, and Carlyle brilliantly establishes this fact. Importantly when he just threatens one of his friends Carlyle rids himself of the joy though showing that towards his friends his anger is strictly basically his only emotional response he really knows. In his attacks though Carlyle also brings a constant command and pompousness in his manner showing that Begbie is as well trying to prove his dominance with his actions, and attempt to prove himself as something greater than he is.

Carlyle is given several of the big acting scenes of the film, and he does not waste his opportunities. Everyone of his scenes he takes to the fullest and gives a particularly striking performance. What is great about what he does is that he does not go over the top really, because Begbie is an over the top guy so technically speaking Carlyle is only being entirely natural to Begbie as himself. This might have not all worked or just have been enjoyable but unfitting moments but Carlyle brings it altogether in the way he plays Begbie in every scene. Due to Carlyle keeping that intensity always a factor these scenes are only ever the right transition for who Begbie is. Carlyle is excellent here because he sets himself clearly as one of the best parts of the film, and distinguishes himself clearly from the rest of the cast.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1996

And the Nominees Were Not:

Steve Buscemi in Fargo

Pete Postlethwaite in Brassed Off

Derek Jacobi in Hamlet

Robert Carlyle in Trainspotting

Gene Hackman in The Birdcage

Alternate Best Actor 1996: Results

5. Leonard DiCaprio in Romeo and Juliet - DiCaprio does not have the language down but he does bring the right passion and enthusiasm although it is hard see through that direction.

Best Scene: Romeo's death monologue.
4. Chris Cooper in Lone Star- Cooper seems right as the quiet convicted Sheriff, but he's suppose to be uncomfortable with his job which isn't expressed very well.

Best Scene: Sam talks to his old flame.
3. Liam Neeson in Michael Collins- Collins is made to be an absolute hero here, and the film outright rejects any scenes to give a greater complexity to see him, but Neeson does bring the right power and passion to the part.

Best Scene: Collins attempts to defend the treaty.
2. Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting - McGregor gives a nicely charismatic portrayal, and meets any challenge in store for him.

Best Scene: Renton goes Cold Turkey
1. Kenneth Branagh in Hamlet - Although I was skeptical about Branagh approach to the prince of Denmark, he successfully won me over with his flamboyant portrayal of Hamlet. He creates an understanding in the insanity, but as well brings his performance down when needed and to great effect. For the overall win it came down to the men whose plan goes horribly wrong, I decided to go with the car salesman.

Best Scene: The duel.
Overall Rank:
  1. William H. Macy in Fargo
  2. Kenneth Branagh in Hamlet
  3. Timothy Spall in Secrets & Lies
  4. James Woods in Killer: A Journal of Murder 
  5. Daniel Day-Lewis in The Crucible 
  6. Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting
  7. Liam Neeson in Michael Collins
  8. Matthew McConaughey in A Time to Kill
  9. Mel Gibson in Ransom
  10. Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire
  11. Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient
  12. Noah Taylor in Shine 
  13. Luke Wilson in Bottle Rocket 
  14. Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor
  15. Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: First Contact
  16. Tom Hulce in The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  17. Richard Gere in Primal Fear
  18. Owen Wilson in Bottle Rocket
  19. Stanley Tucci in Big Night
  20. Nathan Lane in The Birdcage 
  21. Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible
  22. Tom Everett Scott in That Thing You Do 
  23. Jon Favreau in Swingers
  24. Tony Shalhoub in Big Night
  25. Geoffrey Rush in Shine
  26. Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade
  27. Michael J. Fox in The Frighteners
  28. John Travolta in Phenomenon
  29. Antonio Banderas in Evita
  30. Jim Carrey in The Cable Guy
  31. Sean Connery in The Rock
  32. Woody Harrelson in Kingpin
  33. Sean Connery in Dragonheart
  34. Michael Keaton in Multiplicity
  35. Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore
  36. Dennis Quiad in Dragonheart
  37. Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Eraser  
  38. Chris Cooper in Lone Star
  39. Bill Murray in Larger Than Life 
  40. Joseph Perrino in Sleepers
  41. Robin Williams in The Birdcage
  42. Nicolas Cage in The Rock
  43. Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet 
  44. Bill Pullman in Independence Day
  45. Jason Patric in Sleepers
  46. Val Kilmer in The Ghost and the Darkness 
  47. Steve Martin in Sgt. Bilko
  48. Randy Quaid in Kingpin
  49. Blake Heron in Shiloh
  50. Sylvester Stallone in Daylight
  51. Will Smith in Independence Day
  52. Woody Harrelson in The People vs. Larry Flynt
  53. Bill Paxton in Twister
  54. Chris Farley in Black Sheep
  55. Leslie Nielsen in Spy Hard 
  56. Kelsey Grammer in Down Periscope
  57. Jack Nicholson in Mars Attacks!
  58. Keanu Reeves in Chain Reaction
  59. Vincent Kartheiser in Alaska
  60. Alec Baldwin in Ghosts of Mississippi
  61. Jon Lovitz in High School High
  62. David Spade in Black Sheep
  63. Matthew Broderick in The Cable Guy
  64. Robin Williams in Jack
  65. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All The Way
  66. Tom Arnold in The Stupids
  67. Sinbad in First Kid
  68. Jeffrey Nording in D3
  69. Billy Zane in The Phantom
  70. Robert Sean Leonard in Killer: A Journal of Murder
  71. Joshua Jackson in D3
  72. Jason Alexander in Dunston Checks In 
  73. Brock Pierce in First Kid
  74. Francis Capra in Kazaam 
  75. Michael Jordan in Space Jam
  76. Shaquille O'Neal in Kazaam
  77. Eric Lloyd in Dunston Checks In
  78. Stephen Baldwin in Bio-Dome
  79. Pauly Shore in Bio-Dome
Next Year: 1996 Supporting

Alternate Best Actor 1996: Chris Cooper in Lone Star

Chris Cooper did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Sam Deeds in Lone Star.

Lone Star tells the story of the investigation of a murder of a corrupt Sheriff long ago that brings up old memories in a border town. Lone Star seems like it could have been a masterpiece but John Sayles writing is always a notch below being great. It focuses on several stories, but his writing never quite brings enough complexity to to these side characters to make them three dimensional. It is not helped by Sayles's very stale direction, and many of the poorly dated elements that scream 90's, particularly the often heard electric guitar riff in the score.

Chris Cooper plays the Sheriff who is investigating the death of the former Sheriff  Charlie Sheriff (Kris Kristofferson) who he starts to believe was killed by the other former Sheriff the late Buddy Deeds (Matthew McConaughey) who also happens to be his father, and treated with such reverence by the town people. Cooper plays the role of the rather tight lipped Sheriff, although unlike the usual quiet Sheriff it is more than a little heavily implied that Sam Deeds is not especially good at his job, nor is he an especially comfortable man in the job. Although that is the basis for most of his actions in the film Cooper still plays the Sheriff often in the quiet observer who takes his time, and takes it very quietly to find out exactly what had happened in the past.

Cooper really is only barely lead as the film does jump around from story to story, and Sam is merely one of those stories although the most important one in terms of the film's structure. On the surface Cooper seems right for the part as he carries a quiet conviction well, and does well to portray that simple morality of his character. He is as well good in basically abridging some of the flashback scenes as he goes from person to person trying to find out what exactly happened all those years ago. Cooper remains solid enough in bringing back every scene with that reflective expression but he never makes the emotion that palatable here. He is fine for the most part in being the Sheriff but problems arise though once it becomes evident that Sam is suppose not be cut out for the job.

There are more obvious moments to show his discontent such as the brief moments where Sam lashes out which Cooper handles well enough as they are outbursts fitting for the reserved man, but I don't know the film consistently says from the very beginning that Sam just is not cut out for the job. Cooper frankly fits the job too much, and that could have worked if there was a slow decline for him , but the films acts as if he's not good enough the whole time. Unfortunately the film just constantly says this rather than really showing it. The film would have greatly benefited if it actually had a scene where Sam had a handle a situation as Sheriff actually, something they did do for Nick Nolte's character in Affliction, but here they just keep saying and we never really see it why.

The idea of Sam's inadequacies is mostly Sayles's fault, but Cooper does not really sell the idea particularly well either. Cooper maybe should have played the part in a somewhat less introverted way to begin with because he only really seems competent enough with his manner as the Sheriff, in fact I would think he had been doing a fine job if the film did not say over and over again that he wasn't cut out for it. Chris Cooper's performance here is fine for the most part in that I would never say he was ever bad, but I do feel his work was a misstep at the point of conception. In fact the usually withdrawn Cooper may have been more suited for the legendary Buddy, and the more extroverted McConaughey should have played Sam(although he does more than just fine as Buddy).

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1996: Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting

Ewan McGregor did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Renton in Trainspotting.

Trainspotting is about a group of friends in around the Edinburgh drug scene. Although I am not a huge fan of Danny Boyle I found his kinetic style worked here and found the film an entertaining ride.

The always reliable Ewan McGregor made his breakout with his role here as Renton a heroine addict who we follow through his lowly existence along with his group of friends who are addicts of one sort or another. Just like in the later adaptation of Irvine Welsh novel Filth, Trainspotting also employs frequent narration by its hero, and again with a very earthy tone to it. Renton though is a considerably less complex individual than Bruce Robertson, as Renton life at the beginning of the film consists very little more than getting high and spending some time with his friends doing nothing. Honestly Renton could be a disposable enough character really if it were not for the fact that McGregor is the one to play him.

McGregor has a natural magnetism in him, and he is able to create an investment in a character like Renton even if he may not be worthy of it. Although Renton lives an undeniably dour lifestyle it never feels that way because of McGregor's portrayal of him as well as the humorously cynical narration that he delivers during the course of the story. McGregor wit his performance never falls into the depression potential of his character always bringing a certain energy to any moment he may be in never allowing any scene to fall the wrong way. Even though he may not be deserving of it McGregor is able to make Renton considerably endearing through his own charisma as a performer.

Renton undergoes some changes throughout the film though most considerably when his parents force him to undergo cold turkey withdrawal, when earlier he took a very specific process to kick the habit. McGregor is terrific in the cold turkey scene and the intensity of his performance is absolutely fitting to the imagery that Boyle creates around him. The scene perhaps could have merely become an exercise in the style of the grotesque, but McGregor does not allow that to happen by showing the very real pain that Renton undergoes as he suffers every thing that the absence of the drug is doing to his body. It is brilliantly acted scene by McGregor, and he makes Renton's turn to make something out of himself wholly believable.

For the rest of the film Renton takes a reactionary role, although with the occasional slight relapse, as he tries to deal with friends who have not at all reformed. McGregor is effective in portrayal of the slowly growing exasperation at the increasingly troublesome behavior of his friends particularly from the alcoholic and violent Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Although McGregor by this point technically becomes the far less volatile presence in the film, and it would have been easy enough to be forgotten behind the nature of Carlyle's intense performance. McGregor performance always remains compelling, and his depiction of Renton's growing responsibility is honest and fitting to the character.

It is easy to see why this was McGregor break through as it is the indication of McGregor's abilities in limited roles, which he would again show later on in Moulin Rouge and The Ghost Writer. Renton is not a poorly written character by any means, he absolutely works for the story, but he is mostly of defined by what he does rather who he is exactly. McGregor proves his measure with that traditionally known star quality with his work here. His strong screen presence is always prevalent here, he strikes the right tone with his performance fitting to the material, and whenever there is a challenge like the the withdrawal scene McGregor is more than up to it.