Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1983: Results

5. Burt Lancaster in Local Hero- Lancaster gives a fairly delightful portrayal of his eccentric millionaire.

Best Scene: Happer arrives on the scene.
4. Don Ameche in Trading Places- Ameche is far less delightful than Lancaster, but instead gives a very funny portrayal of a particularly devious millionaire.

Best Scene: "TURN THOSE MACHINES BACK ON!"

3. Ed Harris in The Right Stuff - Harris rather brilliantly is able to create both the facade and the reality of an All-American Hero.

Best Scene: Glenn talks about his image with his wife.
2. Mickey Rourke in Rumble Fish- Rourke gives a striking stylistic performance that matches the style of his film and the nature of his character incredibly well.

Best Scene: The Motorcycle Boy appears.
1. Darren McGavin in A Christmas Story- Good Predictions GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar, Michael Patison, and Michael McCarthy. McGavin easily stands as my win for his absolutely hilarious yet still rather heartwarming performance.

Best Scene: The Old Man receives his major award.
Overall Rank:
  1. Darren McGavin in A Christmas Story
  2. Sam Shepard in The Right Stuff
  3. Mickey Rourke in Rumble Fish
  4. Ed Harris in The Right Stuff
  5. Don Ameche in Trading Places
  6. William Hurt in The Big Chill
  7. Ralph Bellamy in Trading Places
  8. Ed Harris in Under Fire
  9. Jeff Goldblum in The Big Chill
  10. Burt Lancaster in Local Hero
  11. Edward Fox in The Dresser
  12. Ian McDiarmid in The Return of the Jedi
  13. Dennis Quaid in The Right Stuff 
  14. Matt Dillon in The Outsiders
  15. Rip Torn in Cross Creek
  16. Klaus Maria Brandauer in Never Say Never Again
  17. Denholm Elliot in Trading Places
  18. Tom Berenger in The Big Chill
  19. Gene Hackman in Under Fire
  20. Jeff Daniels in Terms of Endearment 
  21. Sebastian Shaw in The Return of the Jedi
  22. Ralph Macchio in The Outsiders 
  23. Herbert Lom in The Dead Zone
  24. Charles Durning in To Be Or Not To Be
  25. Christopher Lloyd in To Be Or Not To Be
  26. Peter Dvorsky in Videodrome
  27. Fred Ward in The Right Stuff
  28. Martin Sheen in The Dead Zone
  29. Fulton Mackay in Local Hero
  30. George Rose in The Pirates of Penzance
  31. Jean Shepherd in A Christmas Story 
  32. Reiner Schwarz in Videodrome
  33. Jose Ferrer in To Be Or Not To Be
  34. Scott Glenn in The Right Stuff
  35. Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment
  36. Cliff Robertson in Star 80 
  37. Dennis Hopper in Rumble Fish
  38. Jean Louis Trintignant in Under Fire
  39. Wilford Brimley in Tender Mercies
  40. Steven Bauer in Scarface
  41. John Lithgow in Terms of Endearment
  42. R.D. Robb in A Christmas Story
  43. Michael Caine in Honorary Consul
  44. Jeff Goldblum in The Right Stuff
  45. Harry Shearer in The Right Stuff
  46. Billy Dee Williams in The Return of the Jedi
  47. Pat Hingle in Sudden Impact
  48. Kurt Russell in Silkwood
  49. Joe Pantoliano in Risky Business
  50. Bob Hoskins in Honorary Consul
  51. Scott Schwartz in A Christmas Story
  52. Emilio Estevez in The Outsiders
  53. Curtis Armstrong in Risky Business
  54. Max von Sydow in Never Say Never Again
  55. George Wyner in To Be Or Not To Be
  56. Paul Gleason in Trading Places 
  57. Fred Ward in Uncommon Valor
  58. Clancy Brown in Bad Boys
  59. Harrison Ford in The Return of the Jedi
  60. Desmond Llewelyn in Octopussy 
  61. Kevin Kline in The Big Chill 
  62. F. Murray Abraham in Scarface
  63. Michael Gough in The Dresser
  64. Craig T. Nelson in Silkwood
  65. Reni Santoni in Bad Boys 
  66. Roberts Blossom in Reuben, Reuben
  67. Tim Matheson in To Be Or Not To Be
  68. Patrick Swayze in The Outsiders
  69. Ron Silver in Silkwood
  70. Peter Capaldi in Local Hero
  71. Fred Ward in Silkwood
  72. Rowan Atkinson in Never Say Never Again
  73. Patrick Swayze in Uncommon Valor
  74. Simon MacCorkindale in Jaws 3-D
  75. Laurence Fishburne in Rumble Fish
  76. Louis Gossett Jr. in Jaws 3-D
  77. Peter Coyote in Cross Creek
  78. Randy Quaid in National Lampoon's Vacation
  79. Danny DeVito in Terms of Endearment
  80. Malcolm McDowell in Cross Creek
  81. Roger Rees in Star 80
  82. Anthony Michael Hall in National Lampoon's Vacation
  83. Nicolas Cage in Rumble Fish
  84. Reb Brown in Uncommon Valor
  85. Robert Loggia in Scarface
  86. Edward Fox in Never Say Never Again
  87. Paul Drake in Sudden Impact
  88. Robert Vaughn in Superman III
  89. Louis Jourdan in Octopussy
Next Year: 1953 Lead

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1983: Mickey Rourke in Rumble Fish

Mickey Rourke did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying The Motorcycle Boy in Rumble Fish.

After Francis Ford Coppola made his extremely by the books type of adaptation of an S.E. Hinton novel The Outsides he then proceeded to make an extremely stylistic film out of another one of her novels Rumble Fish. It is an intriguing albeit not wholly successful film about Rusty James (Matt Dillon) a street thug who strives to be like his older brother.

Mickey Rourke plays that older brother who is only known as The Motorcycle Boy. The film's style goes past the visual style Coppola employs and can be seen reflected in the performances as well. Not every performance quite feels right, but Mickey Rourke, as he would later show in Sin City as well, seems to be a master of style. Rourke's whole performance seems to fit perfectly in with the surrounding imagery, and manages to even amplify it. Rourke whole physical being here seems to be that of almost a painting. He is seemingly one with the film in way almost no other of the performances are. Where some seem to partially struggle to find the realism or the style for their character, Rourke has a firm grasp of the challenge put forth by Coppola's direction, and is rather enthralling to watch from the moment he suddenly appears after a great deal of time building on the unseen character's seemingly legendary status.

From the way he is spoken about by others, by his brother, and of course his own moniker The Motorcycle Boy is almost a mythic character. Rourke's performance meets the demands of such a role by giving the character such a natural cool in every frame that he inhabits. Rourke speaks quietly, and often in a poetic fashion. That could come across as pretty annoying pretty quickly, but Rourke completely sells the idea of the Motorcycle Boy as almost a sage of sorts. Rourke just simply is the legend proclaimed he should be. With seemingly no effort Rourke carries this odd command in the role, and even a certain menace whenever The Motorcycle Boy suddenly appears to save his brother from various situations. Rourke holds the screen without question in these scenes and it is simply a marvel to watch him so artfully plays this part.

Mickey Rourke manages to go further than simply be the idealized man that the Motorcycle Boy's brother imagines him as though. Rourke is excellent, even while staying very much in his style, he suggests a very quiet underlying warmth in his scenes with Dillon, suggesting the love of the older brother quite effectively. Rourke's particularly good in the scenes where the Motorcycle Boy speaks about their mother, and has to interact with their alcoholic father (Dennis Hopper). Rourke technically does not say all that much in these scenes but there is such a poignancy he brings out of his performance. Rourke seems to suggest the memories of their mother simply in his expression in these moments, and is quite affecting in the way suggests how deeply felt the loss of his mother was. It's terrific work as Rourke manages to be so emotionally intense yet do it in such modest yet moving fashion.

Rourke's performance is the highlight of the film as it often loses some of its momentum whenever he is off screen. Whenever he is on screen Rourke absolutely enlivens it through his flawless ability to be so in tune with the stylization of the film. Rourke is able to be everything that is claimed about The Motorcycle Boy and is able to even earn having such a name for his character through his performance. Rourke takes the challenge of character and absolutely thrives with the idea. The Motorcycle Boy is sort of a personification of a James Dean sorta cool which Rourke achieves well never seeming like he is trying merely to copy James Dean. Rourke though never just let's this be a stylistic caricature alone, but does bring the needed depth and emotional honesty to the part as well. It's a striking work from Rourke, and easily the most memorable aspect of the Rumble Fish.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1983: Don Ameche in Trading Places

Don Ameche did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Mortimer Duke in Trading Places.

Trading Places is a very enjoyable film about a wealthy investor (Dan Aykroyd) being forced to switch lives with a poor con man (Eddie Murphy) by two rich brothers.

One of the reasons I choose to review Don Ameche in this film was that the only time I have reviewed him so far was for his Oscar winning performance which I was not particularly favorable to. Of course that was a case of the recognition being more of the problem than his performance as it is very unlikely any actor could have been able to do much with the thin role he had in Cocoon. Any I felt I kinda owed him a review of a performance that would have been a much more interesting Oscar win. After all it was his first theatrically released film after a very long hiatus from the cinema. Although that is easy enough to answer why he was not nominated through the nature of his part and the nature of film. Actually Denholm Elliot was recognized for the film even winning the BAFTA for it. Elliot is good in the film, but knowing the BAFTAs and their love of Elliot there was no way they would have recognized anyone else before him.

Ameche plays one of the Duke brothers who decide to manipulate a few lives for their own personal enjoyment. The other elder brother Randolph is played by another golden age of Hollywood alum Ralph Bellamy. Both Bellamy and Ameche are decidedly against the types that played in the old days this time playing the villains. Bellamy plays Randolph as a sorta of a kindly old man although this only hides the fact that he is quite sinister still. Ameche is more to the point playing Mortimer as very directly dismissive of people who he views lower than him, and that happens to be pretty much everyone even seemingly his brother at times. Ameche attunes his performance rather brilliantly here as it would have been easy enough to be just the angry the rich man who gets his comeuppance by our comedic heroes, which often the case in many comedies. No, instead Ameche tries hard to be just as funny but in his own way.

Ameche goes about being a straight man of sorts in his portrayal of Mortimer Duke and is quite adept at being funny while still fulfilling his role as one of the film's villains. Ameche is great in his constantly disgusted reactions at those who he views lower than him, which since that's most everyone these are never in short supply. Ameche plays it with a hilarious yet silent intensity as their is such a venomous disgust in his eyes in his glances. Ameche establishes himself as a humorous factor in every scene he is in merely for his pitch perfect reactions he gives to Mortimer in any situation. It could have been simple enough just to let Eddie Murphy show off with his ad-libs, but Ameche never lets Murphy steal the show. Ameche never allows himself to be overshadowed though staying with Murphy all the way, and perhaps even stealing some of the limelight from him with his commanding yet comedic way as Mortimer.

One of Ameche's best moments was an unintentional one apparently where he's thrown back a money clip and clumsily pops it up several times until he finally catches it. One has to give credit to Ameche and Bellamy for staying in character, and Ameche, although technically messed up, plays it off like a total boss creating quite the funny scene. My absolute favorite scene of Ameche's is at the end of the film when the two men they played with get back at them causing the Duke brothers to lose all of their money. Ameche makes the most of the moment as he finally shows Mortimer completely lose his reserve, and basically finally spewing the sort of sentiment that was in his mind in most of the other scenes in the film. Ameche loses his "four letter word for excrement" is absolutely hilarious to witness, and only wish that it had gone on for a little longer. This is all together a very entertaining performance by Don Ameche, and hey if the Academy had wanted to throw him a win, like they apparently did, I certainly could have stood behind it if it was for this turn.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1983: Ed Harris in The Right Stuff

Ed Harris did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying John Glenn in The Right Stuff.

The Academy actually did right for The Right Stuff (no pun intended) when they nominated Sam Shepard for his excellent understated performance as Chuck Yeager, although that doesn't make up for the ridiculous snub of Philip Kaufman's direction. The Right Stuff though has a great ensemble though with almost everyone offering something with their performances. From Jeff Goldblum and Harry Schearer's enjoyable performances as comic recruiters, the finely attuned work from Veronica Cartwright, Kathy Baker, Mary Jo Deschanel and Pamela Reed as the astronauts' wives, and of course most of the astronauts themselves. Dennis Quaid brings the right type of smirk pompousness as a man whose too much of a hot shot, Fred Ward an endearing and later rather moving lunkhead, and Scott Glenn is quite entertaining as the somewhat offbeat Alan Shepard. My favorite performance out of the Mercury seven though belongs to Ed Harris given the complete opposite of his viciously cynical performance in Under Fire also from 1983.

It's interesting to look at Harris's work as a bit of an interesting counterpoint to Sam Shepard's performance as Yeager. Shepard exemplifies the true American hero who strives for the very best but with the utmost modesty and integrity. Well Harris's John Glenn is a little different, he's also an all American hero but of a different sort. The first time we see Glenn it is on a TV show and we meet the John Glenn as would be perceived in the media. Harris plays Glenn as the most obvious sort of all American hero in that it would be seemingly impossible not to recognized him as such. Harris brings the most upright of posture, the brightest of smiles and his whole demeanor is that of pure optimism. Harris manages quite a certain charm here of this very particular sort in his performance. He makes his Glenn just seem almost too good in his all American quality and Harris is great here by subverting it slightly. He makes Glenn the public hero he should so that all would seemingly love him but Harris makes it so extreme to show that to a certain degree that it is a facade for the press.

Glenn is not always in the public eye though and Harris presents a slightly different Glenn. Harris changes his performance just enough in that well he's not quite exactly the image he presents, although he's not entirely not that either. Harris rather presents a technically similair man but this time one that you can wholly believable. In the scenes with the other astronauts, particularly when they are in contention with one another, Harris shows that Glenn fervent belief in his own morality does not always make him the most likable. When Glenn yells at the other astronauts for a perceived unfaithfulness to their wives Harris does not portray Glenn's outrage as an endearing morality, but instead as a very passionate yet seemingly hate driven venom toward the other men. Harris does not try to make Glenn negative though but rather effectively wipes away the sheen he so brilliantly created in his earlier scenes. Harris is terrific though also in revealing a more positive side of Glenn in a more realistic sort of way.

Harris nicely, along with Ward, Quaid, and Scott Glenn, creates a real camaraderie between the astronauts as they begin their missions as well as start getting to know one another. There is not any obvious moments where each become friends really, but rather they are very good in naturally portraying the way they seem to accept each others as proper comrades. My favorite warmer scene with Harris is in his scenes with Mary Jo Deschanel as Glenn's wife Annie who suffers from a very sever stutter. Harris is particularly sweet in this scene as he portrays Glenn as almost kind of laughing at his own perfect image to his wife. Harris, in all his scenes with Deschanel, exudes such a comforting quality portraying Glenn's love for his wife but also the way he tries to protect from scrutiny due to her speaking disability. It's lovely work by Harris and shows the the true strength of his performance. It is rather fascinating in that he manages to create a portrait of John Glenn's image as false, well making it true at the same time.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1983: Burt Lancaster in Local Hero

Burt Lancaster did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite receiving a BAFTA nomination, for portraying Felix Happer in Local Hero.

Local Hero is an enjoyable film about a representative from a Texas oil company (Peter Riegert) going to a town in Scotland to secure rights to build a refinery in the area.

Burt Lancaster plays the owner of the Texas oil company named Felix Happer. Local Hero is a lighthearted style of comedy with many colorful and off-beat characters. The first one we meet is Happer played by Lancaster who we first meet as he's sleeping through a meeting about the refinery in Scotland. Happer then proceeds to send Mac MacIntyre (Riegert) on this particular mission simply because he believes him to be Scottish due to his surname. Happer first gives Riegert a few words of "wisdom" the most important of which is to make sure to look to the sky. Lancaster of course has the command needed to man of Happer's power, but Lancaster wryly portrays the eccentricities of his character. There is such a enormous delight in his face as he encourages Max to make sure to observe all the things that take place in the stars, and report back to him first chance he has. 

Lancaster after that point appears periodically throughout the film as we either see Mac reporting him on the sky or Happer is being harassed by a seemingly deranged former employee. Lancaster is rather entertaining  in showing the joy in Happer as he seems to absolutely love to hear the various discoveries by Mac as Lancaster gives Happer an endearing childlike enthusiasm. Lancaster contrasts this well with the scenes of Happer being harassed though by showing the complete exasperation at the antics of the man that seemed designed just to get under Happer's skin. Lancaster does this quite well and is particularly funny when he more or less orders for the man to be shot. Lancaster has some excellent comedic timing in these scenes and made me look forward to every time the film cut back to him as he was consistently enjoyable to watch.

Eventually, in the film's climax, Happer comes to Scotland to make a deal with the one holdout on the deal. Happer basically shows up and solves all the problems, and rather quickly wraps up the film. The most important scene in regard to this is actually off screen as it appears that Happer finds a kindred spirit in the one holdout. Lancaster does not get to do a great deal in these scenes, but what does do he does well. He comes in, again with Lancaster's strong presence that he kept while into his later years, and makes Happer's clean up convincing. He also properly calls back to the enthusiasm of his phone calls with Mac to show Happer's change of heart as quite believable showing it to not be much of a change of heart after all. This role is obviously not the biggest challenge of his career, but Lancaster fulfills it wonderfully well proving himself quite capable in a mostly comic role. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1983: Darren McGavin in A Christmas Story

Darren McGavin did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Mr. Parker better known as the Old Man in A Christmas Story.

Well where do I begin with a performance like this. Well how about some random trivia that Jack Nicholson was apparently very interested in playing the role of the Old Man. Of course one can't helped but be interested to know exactly how that would have went as the Old Man would have been a very different role for Nicholson. Also knowing that Nicholson began giving some rather indulgent performances in the 80's as well as that director Bob Clark likely would not have been able to restrain him, in addition to how McGavin's performance turned out I think it was an all around good thing that never came to fruition since the studio felt Nicholson would have cost too much. Clark apparently was also glad that did not happen since he felt Darren McGavin was born to play the role, well Clark was absolutely correct with that assessment. McGavin just simply is the Old Man here and there is never a doubt about him being perfectly cast in the role. McGavin though goes a step further than that though by also playing the role perfectly as well.

The role of the Old Man in nature is a pretty flamboyant one since A Christmas Story is a comedy that is fairly broad in a certain way. It never goes fully absurdest though and carefully keeps a certain grounding in reality which makes it the memorable film it is. McGavin has a difficult role in the Old Man who is perhaps the most insane of the characters, and it is not hard to see how the part may have been played. Well McGavin is able to find just the right tone for his performance to make the eccentricities of the Old Man sing fairly loudly well never making him just seem to be too much of a cartoon. The way he strikes up the balance is really the genius of his performance but let's just look at the most obvious thing to talk about which is the more comedic side of McGavin's performance. Well again where does one begin with a comedic performance like this other than to begin at the beginning of it as the Old Man is trying to solve some sort puzzle for a contest. McGavin's whole style he takes is just so natural yet so unique at the same time.

McGavin has this slightly jumbled way of speaking as he goes along in his sentences while slowing down at certain points as well as accentuating others. Possibly weird sounding merely in distribution but McGavin handled it so well, and it only adds to making the Old Man a very particular type of Old Man fitting in his own way with the world the film creates. Now McGavin whole delivery in this film is pure brilliance throughout every situation as he carries quite the amusing style to it while still bringing that sort of a fatherly menace one would expect from the Old Man when it's needed. Of course I need to stop praising the balance though because his delivery is also simply really funny. There is of course his most extreme moments where the Old Man is either yelling at his neighbors dogs or his furnace to work properly where McGavin goes off delivery a slightly legible, surely nonsensical, but altogether glorious tirades of curses of the oddest sorts. McGavin though knows exactly how to approach every scene it seems in order to derive the greatest comic effect whenever it is necessary.

I could almost described every scene McGavin is and the way he goes about portraying the Old Man's reactions to the events of the film. Every one is that good, and McGavin seems absolutely driven to be as ridiculously entertaining as possible. One example is when the Old Man learns he has won major reward. It turns out to be a rather gaudy Leg lamp, but that does not dissuade the Old Man, making sure the whole neighborhood knows of his major reward. McGavin shows such an incredible pride in his eyes and great spirit as if the Old Man had discovered something amazing, or invented something worthwhile. McGavin's makes the pride in the Old Man absolutely fervent and by doing so is absurdly funny. Now McGavin is equally funny when his lamp is destroyed due to his wife hating the lamp. When the discovery is first had McGavin is striking in how intense he is in portraying the Old Man's pent up rage and his glare at his wife for her apparent jealousy, according to him anyway. Perhaps even more perfect, although impossible, is when he discovers his lamp is impossible to repair, and McGavin plays the Old Man's reaction as such a somber acceptance of loss.

McGavin is outstanding because he goes just enough overboard to make a moments incredibly funny yet always keeps it in just the right sort of bounds that it never becomes too much or somehow repetitive. I could go on and on in describing every one of his scenes because that's how good he is here in making the most of it. Of course McGavin does not have to even be the focus of a scene to make an impact though. It could just be one reaction that he makes to be quite memorable. One of my favorites being his face of pure disbelief when he hears his son Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) say the fdashdashdash word, or perhaps his face of pure disgust when he watches his younger son disgustingly plant his face into his food. McGavin's portrayal makes one comedic gem after another through the character of the Old Man. It's exceptional work that particularly thrives in the vignette nature of the film. Of course, I must say once again, A Christmas Story is not just simply some random scenes thrown together. There is the driving force of Ralphie wanting to get the Red Ryder BB gun.

If this was merely about being funny McGavin would already give a great performance, but McGavin manages to go the extra distance with his performance as seen in the scene where Ralphie finally gets his prized gift. It is in this scene where McGavin subtle grounding of the character comes very much in to play as he very much earns this moment in his performance. Despite Mrs. Parkers obvious problems with it the Old Man still decided to get Ralphie his present surprising him after it appears as though he had failed in his mission. McGavin is terrific in this scene by portraying such earnestness and genuine love in his eyes as he watches his son's dream come true. It's a beautifully heartwarming scene and McGavin is wonderful by making it seem completely fitting to the rest of his performance. I really can't praise this performance enough because Darrin McGavin is the Old Man here, and really I left off some moments some of the best moments of his performance. The problem is I would have to describe every second of his performance as this is flawless work.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1983

And the Nominees Were Not:

Darren McGavin in A Christmas Story

Burt Lancaster in Local Hero

Ed Harris in The Right Stuff


Mickey Rourke in Rumble Fish

Don Ameche in Trading Places

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1983: Results

5. Al Pacino in Scarface - The film treats too many sides of his character too thinly, but Pacino manages to give a rather effective flamboyant performance.

Best Scene: "Say Hello To My Little Friend"
4. Ken Ogata in The Ballad of Narayama - Ogata gives a very quiet but powerful portrayal of the emotions of a very stoic man.

Best Scene: It begins to snow.
3. Peter Billingsley in A Christmas Story - Billingsley's gives a very funny performance that compliments the film's narration particularly well.

Best Scene: Seeing Santa.
2. James Woods in Videodrome -Woods, as usual, gives a very energetic performance, and manages to keep a certain humanity in the film no matter how strange it gets.

Best Scene: "Long live the new flesh"
1. Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone - Christopher Walken proves once again whenever he's really challenged in a role he absolutely delivers. The challenge of his role here is technically not the complexity, his character is purposefully average in most ways, but never making his character seem simple. It's a great performance that deserves mention alongside his work in The Deer Hunter.

Best Scene: Johnny meets his old girlfriend's husband.
Overall Rank:
  1. Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone
  2. Robert Duvall in Tender Mercies
  3. Tom Courtenay in The Dresser
  4. James Woods in Videodrome
  5. Peter Billingsley in A Christmas Story
  6. Albert Finney in The Dresser
  7. Ken Ogata in The Ballad of Narayama
  8. Eddie Murphy in Trading Places
  9. Tom Cruise in Risky Business 
  10. Al Pacino in Scarface  
  11. Gene Hackman in Uncommon Valor
  12. Clint Eastwood in Sudden Impact
  13. Mel Brooks in To Be Or Not To Be
  14. Dan Aykroyd in Trading Places 
  15. Michael Caine in Educating Rita
  16. Tom Conti in Reuben, Reuben
  17. Mark Hamill in The Return of the Jedi
  18. Kevin Kline in The Pirates of Penzance
  19. Peter Riegert in Local Hero
  20. Matthew Broderick in WarGames
  21. Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again
  22. Nick Nolte in Under Fire
  23. Woody Allen in Zelig
  24. Eric Roberts in Star 80
  25. Sean Penn in Bad Boys
  26. Matt Dillon in Rumble Fish
  27. Christopher Reeve in Superman III
  28. C. Thomas Howell in The Outsiders
  29. Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Vacation
  30. Rex Smith in The Pirates of Penzance
  31. John Travolta in Staying Alive
  32. Richard Gere in Honorary Consul
  33. Richard Pryor in Superman III
  34. Dennis Quiad in Jaws 3-D
  35. Roger Moore in Octopussy
Next Year: 1983 Supporting

Alternate Best Actor 1983: Peter Billingsley in A Christmas Story

Peter Billingsley did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story.

A Christmas Story is a surprising masterpiece of sorts since it was directed by Bob Clark, the director of some truly terrible films, and its story is particularly simple one. A Christmas story where a boy just wants a BB gun.

Peter Billingsley plays the child Ralphie who follow through the various times of his young life up until Christmas as he tries every way he can think of to get a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in its stock and a thing that tells time. The film also is narrated by an adult Ralphie who recounts these exploits in a dry humorous fashion who is played by the writer of the film's source material, Jean Shepherd. This is not about Shepherd's performance though this is about Billingsley's portrayal of Ralphie. Child acting is not always where one finds the greatest performances as it can often be the most self-aware type of work, or just obviously inexperienced type of acting. Billingsley is even in a role that could have gone either of these ways. Firstly since the adult Ralphie talks much more than the boy, and a lesser actor may have just been kind of a non-entity. Secondly though Ralphie technically is a bit of wiseguy type kid in many respects, which could lead to that all too knowing sort of obvious type of acting.

Well Peter Billingsley is a particularly natural child actor in the film, and most importantly just makes Ralphie believable as a kid first and foremost. Ralphie may have some particularly snarky thoughts about certain things, as told by his future self, but Billingsley does not use this as an excuse to be overly precocious in his characterization. Billingsley strikes up a certain balance between showing the side of Ralphie that alludes to the adult version, but also the side of him that shows that Ralphie simply is just kid. Billingsley does this though by never letting either being the deciding factor for the character, and really just pretty flawlessly maneuvers these sides in his performance making everything he does seem distinctly Ralphie. He does not shift from one side to another really, as that would not make any sense. Instead he makes sense of the mind of a boy like Ralphie by always believably changing from one side of boy's life to another.

 The most emotional moments are usually pretty simple scenes such as either Ralphie is getting punished for swearing or fighting, or perhaps a particularly happy moment like at the end of the film. Billingsley doesn't treat this moments with a great deal of humor, but is effective by just being to the point and showing how a fairly young boy would react. When punished for his "crimes" Billingsley is very good by making the sadness in Ralphie very much on the surface yet still intense in its own way. He very correctly cries at being punished not the crying of some great depression, but the sadness of the moment which can be rather extreme for a kid. Billingsley is equally good in showing the happiness at the end of the film as Ralphie finally gets what he wants. The enthusiasm and love in his eyes in the scene is unabashed in nature, and again shows a boy who's dream at the moment has just been fulfilled. Bilingsley even is convincing in the scene where he beats the bully going from fury to crying in a second. It may seem odd, but Billingsley's is absolutely convincing in showing such a sudden shift of emotion to seem completely natural for a kid.

Of course this is not a drama but a comedy at heart. The majority of his performance is more of Ralphie humorous reactions to various opportunities and setbacks involving his relatively simple life. In this regard much of his performance is reactive, but that's all Billingsley needs to be quite humorous in the role. Billingsley, once again, importantly always makes these funnier moments seem the antics of a kid with far too much of an imagination rather than just a movie kid type character. Now the most important thing though is that Billingsley is very funny in these reactions, and has some of the most memorable moments in the film. There is of course when Ralphie overplays his hand, naming his Christmas gift too early, followed by a simple "ooh" which Billingsley delivers quite hilariously. Then of course there's the great moment of comedic fear after accidentally uttering an expletive in front of his Old Man, and one must never forget his perfection reaction (pictured above) when he hears from Santa Clause himself that he'll shoot his eye out if he gets his desired present.

Many of Billingsley's best moments are actually quite silent in nature, yet still consistently entertaining. I particularly enjoy his expression, as if Ralphie is almost the referee, when his two friends are testing their debate on whether or not your tongue will get stuck on a frozen pole. Another great moment shortly afterward his face of pure, yet so fake, innocence when Ralphie shakes his head to indicate knowing nothing of what happened to his friend who decided to see if his tongue would be stuck. I have to say, like Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone, Billingsley never seems to waste a reaction. This is a performance that's easy to take for granted since Billingsley just is Ralphie for the duration of the film. Also it should be mentioned that Jean Shepherd's narration also provides to a certain degree the strength of Ralphie as whole, but this should not take anything from Billingsley's performance as he always seems particularly in line with Shepherd's work. The narration and Billingsley's portrayal of Ralphie come together to make one very memorable character.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1983: Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone

Christopher Walken did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Johnny Smith in The Dead Zone.

The Dead Zone is a rather great film about a man who wakes from a coma with the ability to see into the future and the past.

I've covered Christopher Walken for his memorable supporting performances before, but this is the first time I've looked at him in the leading role. The Dead Zone is yet another film by David Cronenberg who made some fairly weird films in the 80's and Walken seems like a fit who is often described as having a somewhat off-beat screen presence. Well the funny thing is here is this is probably David Cronenberg's least odd film from the 80's, despite the psychic aspect, and Walken actually plays a particularly normal guy here. Johnny Smith, which is a particularly simple name, is just a pretty average high school English teacher. One up from that though he seems to be in general just an all around decent guy. Walken in the earliest scenes has a very nice understated charm in the role. In terms of Johnny's romance with his fellow teacher Sarah (Brooke Adams) Walken brings such a nice sweetness to the part, and even though there are only a couple of scenes he makes Johnny a very likable guy who you care about before he gets into his unfortunate automobile accident.

The accident puts Johnny into a coma which he stays in for five years. The film is very effective in the scene where he awakens as it plays it in such a straight forward fashion as it simply shows Johnny needing to deal with the results of having been gone from the world for so long. Walken is incredibly moving in the first scene where Johnny comes out of the coma. Walken is so good in portraying the physical problems of the situation as he portrays Johnny very weakened state in a way that never feels fashioned but rather wholly honest. Walken is great though in bringing such an authenticity to when Johnny is visited by his family who unfortunately must inform him that Sarah moved on and got married to someone else. Walken is heartbreaking showing so quietly the devastation as Johnny hears this unfortunate news. Walken's performance is terrific here because he so bluntly just brings to life the hear break of this man, and absolutely makes Johnny such a man one can empathize with.

The film takes a sudden turn though when Johnny accidentally finds out he has psychic powers that are able to tell him the past or the future in regards to someone simply by touching them. Walken is fantastic in these scenes which are quite tricky as it would be easy to make them seem rather silly. Walken always manages to give them the needed gravity to the power. Walken firstly doesn't overact the physical reaction making it seem as something of a nervous twitch, I mean just compare his manner here compared to say the way Stephen Lack's manner in Scanners. Walken makes it seem real and never acts as though he is in a science fiction type film. He treats it as if it were The Deer Hunter. This can be seen with even further in the early moments of using his power. Walken brings such an intensity of emotions as he creates the visions as something truly forceful. Walken does not simply show Johnny as seeing the things he sees but rather completely feeling what is going on.

What is so special though is it is not as if Walken just makes Johnny become his power. Walken never forgets the man, and incredible how well Walken realizes the emotional complexity of the man's situation. He's exceptionally good in really bringing the life the positive moments of Johnny life such as when he is actually visited by his old girlfriend. It's very quiet but Walken realizes these moments of happiness so wonderfully. They are just the right amount of tenderness with the fairly frigid atmosphere that the film exists in. Walken is completely convincing in showing just how in love Johnny is with Sarah, and even overcomes the fact that Adams doesn't really give a particularly special of a performance. The way Walken gets that across though makes a later scene, where Johnny inadvertently meets the man she forget him for as well as had a child with, absolutely harrowing. It's such a powerful moment for Walken and one that he competently earns through his performance.

The story is technically fairly episodic, but I never saw this as a problem with the film because Walken just simply keeps it together. Walken's very effective in portraying the slow degradation of Johnny throughout the story because of his visions. Walken delicately portrays this pain in Johnny as he seems to become a more and more haunted man as though every vision seems to leave something in him while taking part of his life away. Really what is so good about this performance is everything about it. There is not a single reaction wasted by Walken here. Walken gives every emotional reaction he has a certain power or poignancy. It's fascinating how never does the moment where Johnny has the vision seems the same. It's different fitting how a normal guy would react to the very different horrors he sees. Even a very short moment such as when Johnny sees the mother of serial killer knew her son's actions, Walken makes his reaction stand out by how genuine it feels.

This is a particularly interesting performance by Christopher Walken, and one that shows just how talented he really is as Johnny just isn't that complex a character. That never matters, and he never feels less than he should be because of Walken's performance. I have never seen Christopher Walken fail with a challenging part. It never seems as though Johnny isn't complex enough or is somehow boring because of his simple nature. Firstly Walken brings the needed low key charm for the part, and succeeds in making Johnny someone we want to succeed. What Walken also does is take the idea of an average guy with this strange ability and makes that real as well. This is a challenging role in a most unique way as it is fairly easy to see how this part could have gone off the wall in terms of the psychic scenes, and on paper there isn't that much t this John Smith. The name is basically a blank slate and that's all he may have been, but Christopher Walken gives a fantastic portrait of pure emotional honesty.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1983: Al Pacino in Scarface

Al Pacino did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Tony Montana in Scarface.

Scarface depicts the rise of one man from a Cuban immigrant to the head of a drug cartel. Obviously meant to be the most subtle picture ever made by having two masters of subtly behind the film with Brian De Palma as the director and Oliver Stone as the writer. As a gangster film it fails to have the intimacy or complexity of The Godfather, or Goodfellas, but nor is it entertaining enough just to be a film of stylistic bombast. I did not hate it, but I found the film actually overlong as well as often boring. I do find it rather telling though that there is only ever really a single moment people mention when talking about the film.

Al Pacino after finding such great success throughout the 70's had a very different career in terms of film in the 80's. He only made five films during the 80's and only one of those films has a great deal of notoriety. That of course being Scarface which is one of the most iconic film of the 80's and has arguably  either Pacino's second most or most iconic role in Tony Montana. Iconic though does not necessarily mean good, although it becomes abundantly clear why this is such a notable performance from Pacino from his very first scene where Montana is being interrogated by U.S. customs. Pacino's Cuban accent is something to behold all in itself as it seems purposefully extroverted. This goes really for most the cast as the accents seem more of out of a movie of the 40's, which possibly was a purposeful idea by De Palma. To Pacino's credit he goes with accent all the way as it does help to establish Tony, plus he actually keeps it pretty consistent unlike Robert Loggia who has a wave like accent that comes in and out at random.

It's not just the accent though is so flamboyant and distinct but Pacino's whole manner here. His almost constant grimace, and his way of always holding his body tight does make Tony Montana stand out. The film has kind of a weird tale of the rise to power in that it kinda wants to show the corruption of it, but not really since Tony is a criminal the moment he comes on the scene. When the first things Tony does is actually murder a man in the refugee camp in Florida. Pacino's performance in the early scenes is the most extreme perhaps of his career to this point. His work in The Godfather films, and Dog Day Afternoon had moment of emotional intensity but that was the overarching quality of the performance. That is the case here, and the more quiet moments can be counted on one hand. Pacino's technique here wouldn't have worked in those films, but Scarface intends to thrive on the bombast therefore Pacino's technique is in line with that vision.

Pacino's performance does work in creating a mobster who is a far cry from the cold calculating Michael Corleone in fact he actually makes Sonny look like a calm guy at times. Pacino's good at having that violent intensity in the early scenes that portrays Montana as a guy who quite enjoys killing. In the early scene Pacino even though he's never not intense here actually has a warmth of sorts as he hangs out with his friend and right hand man Manny (Steven Bauer), and does convey the simply friendship between the two even if little time is spent on it. Technically that's one of the major problems of the film is the thin way most of Montana's relationships are portrayed. The one with Manny works but that is not the case for all the performance. The one with Loggia's mob boss never comes to life as a mentor, or a much a rivalry.  The relationship with Michelle Pfeiffer's trophy wife also is thin. It goes from Pacino showing an ever so slightly charming side, to instantly passive aggressive towards, then she just kinda disappears.

The limited nature of the relationships aren't Pacino's fault he actually doesn't do a bad job of showing the small emotional shifts in these moments. Pacino's best scenes in this regard are the ones where Tony is with his sister. These are absurdly brief but Pacino manages to naturally bring a little bit of emotional depth in Tony Montana. The main drive of the film is the corruption of Tony Montana which is technically relatively simply played by Pacino. He frankly just shows Tony to just lose his joy in his crimes and take on some general malaise once he gets everything he wants. Again Pacino plays this well but it seems like there should have been possibly a more to this transition than there is. Again the film's nature never allows much of a development in this way. For example after he makes the decisive action to make it to the top the film just instantly jumps to him already being tired with the top, again it just isn't Pacino's fault.

The best moments of Pacino's performance are the broad ones since the film also works best when it embraces the bombastic nature of the story. Pacino thrives in these scenes completely embracing the madness and giving quite the entertaining portrayal of Montana's vicious intensity. Pacino is wise to tone down enough in key moments, such as when he executes a superior, to be a little chilling, but he's actually at his highpoint when he's loud. The strongest moment of the film is the one the film is known for which is "say hello to my little friend". Pacino goes full force and it is something to behold as the film finally just let's him go. Pacino allows it to be quite the rousing conclusion to a film that is not always otherwise. This is a risk taking performance to be sure, and possible a love or hate although I personally don't fall in either category. I don't hate it but Pacino never able to wholly overcome the film's shortcoming. I do find his performance fits the nature of the film well though, and is enjoyable particularly when the film hits the right stride in terms of the style it seems to be going for.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1983: James Woods in Videodrome

James Woods did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Max Renn in Videodrome.

Videodrome is bizarre yet rather brilliant film about a TV programmer who while looking for more extreme content gets far more than he bargained for.

The first film in David Cronenberg's output as a director for the 1980's was Scanners. It certainly had effective elements within it but it was almost crippled by the terrible leading performance by Stephen Lack whose performance was so lacking that it is okay to make as many puns about it as you want. Cronenberg never made that mistake again for the rest of his 80's output casting a procession of great actors to lead his films starting with James Woods in this film. James Woods is perfectly cast as the TV programmer Max Renn who in his desire for ratings goes for the lowest common denominator which is the most extreme sex and violence he can find. Woods is a genius at this very particular type of sleaze needed for a part like this. It oozes from him yet Woods never makes this innately unlikable though either, it's neat trick which Woods manages to pull off.

James Woods is one of those great actors who can energize a film merely by his presence. That is certainly the case here as even when Max is technically progressing through the early parts of the plot, that have yet to really change him in anyway. In the early scenes Woods establishes Max as definitely sleazy particularly in his intent, but mostly he's a fairly normal guy technically speaking. Woods has such energy as a performer that he's great to watch even when he's going through the motions of kick starting the plot. Woods even has this certain comedic edge he can call upon whenever he likes that can lighten certain scenes ever so slightly, without it ever compromising the purpose of the scene, or even though there technically is nothing inherently funny going on. Woods brings the right spark that is very much needed for the film that could have been too dour otherwise.

The weirdness begins though once Max watched a Videodrome tape which consists of sexual torture and murder. After watching the tape much weirder things begin to happen as he begins to hallucinate all sorts of bizarre imagery that is in some associated with television or video tape. Woods is a match for the weirdness like few actors can be. It would be extremely easy for a Stephen Lack type to be swallowed whole by the bizarre imagery but Woods knows exactly how to play into it. Woods never is overshadowed by it but rather stands with it in portraying Max's reaction with the weird things going on in front of him. Woods creates this awe and fascination in Max as he is having the hallucinations as if he is almost becoming one in the reality. What Woods does so well is make this unreality seem like a reality by his reactions that always give a grounding to the oddity.

What is particularly interesting about Woods's performance though is outside of the hallucinations, therefore out of control of the Videodrome, Woods portrays Max as really just a normal guy who wants to get to the bottom of what is being done to him. Woods is excellent in portraying rightfully the difference in reactions when Max is being directly influenced by the Videodrome, and when he is at least somewhat in control of his own faculties. Woods is very good in these scenes by really playing them close to the chest and just showing directly the pain he is suffering. All of Woods reactions are very realistic and is incredibly effective by showing Max acting as one would expect from a man who has learned that he has basically received a particularly strange death sentence. Woods is able to elicit sympathy for the sleazy Max by portraying his emotional devastation so honestly.

Things only get worse when Max discovers that he is not just some random victim of Videodrome but has been selectively targeted for a greater purpose. This leads to Max being programmed like a type by the men behind Videodrome to perform some sinister tasks of their design. Woods is fantastic here as these scenes could have easily lead to some seriously corny type of acting as Max becomes a slave to the Videodrome. They don't because of Woods's performance which never fails to ground in his own particular way. Firstly he established the build by portraying the hallucinatory scenes with the needed bizarre devotion. Woods once again brings such a severe intensity that he absolutely makes the control of the Videodrome completely convincing. No matter how weird it gets Woods always stays completely convincing in the role.

Like Jeff Goldblum's performance in The Fly, which was also directed by David Cronenberg and very special effects driven film, Woods's performance also proves that bringing honest human emotion into such a far out concept is quite possible. A lesser actor potentially could have been lost in the imagery, completely overshadowed by it, or just failed to sell it. The imagery never becomes too much because Woods always pulls it into his genuine portrait of Max. Woods matches the imagery with his own driven performance that never fails to keep the film compelling in both in terms of Max's mental degradation as well as the increasingly odd world that Cronenberg creates. Woods keeps the film on a personal understandable turn and not just some sort of freak show where this is happening just to some nameless individual. Woods turns Max Renn into a real man giving the film a much stronger emotional impact and in turn making the film far more disturbing as well.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1983: Ken Ogata in The Ballad of Narayama

Ken Ogata did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Tatsuhei in The Ballad of Narayama.

The Ballad of Narajama depicts the harsh day to day life of a small Japanese village where all elderly go to a mountain to die when they turn 70. I have to admit I was allowed a particularly interesting view of this film as I accidentally watched the original 1958 version first. I will admit I took longer to catch my mistake than I should have, curse you restoration, I caught wise a few minutes in when a Kurosawa regular showed up but by then I thought I ought to finish it anyway. It was interesting though to see the original which was done in a stylized Kabuki fashion, beautifully shot at that, and the remake which is shot on location taking a bit of grimier more realistic approach to the same material.

Both versions tell the story of the son and the mother as the mother becomes very accepting of the final trip to Narayama whereas the son is hesitate. That is only the center point of the film though as it also tells various other stories involving the hardship of the village life before the time comes for the mother's trip. The 83 version has even more side characters including Tatsuhei's loutish brother who takes up considerable time in this version in his attempts to get laid even if it involves doing it with animals. The son's role is somewhat limited in the first half of the film, although Ogata is give a bit more to do than Teiji Takahashi who played the role in the original film. Both actors take a fairly similair approach though which is portraying Tatsuhei as a rather stoic figure. For most of the film Tatsuhei is a very subdued to presence as he's just a man trying to go day to day to care for his family in difficult circumstances.

There certainly are many problems for poor Tatsuhei as he has an obnoxious son, his aforementioned brothers, the impending fate of his mother, and just the problems of being a poor peasant to deal with. Ogata handles his part certainly well within its fairly tense limitations. Whenever we see Ogata we understand what the man is going through, and Ogata even makes Tatsuhei humble way of dealing with things wholly understandable. Ogata portrays Tatsuhei as honestly just a man who bears the difficulty of his life, Ogata presents the face of a man who knows how things are just as he knows that there really is not anything he can really do to change it. Ogata makes Tatsuhei the man of the world he should be, and although I don't think Ogata's performance always makes the greatest impact in these scenes, I do find he stands out just as he should.

Even when something more dire occurs such as retribution when one family steals from the others, which involves burying the family alive. Ogata suggests the severity of this punishment in his expression yet still stays reserved which fits Tatsuhei's character. Ogata strikes up the right balance since he's not a meek man really more of a dutiful one. There is a internal strength that Ogata properly exudes from Tatsuhei even though he never does speak out against various things, and not because he's a coward rather because he finds it to simply be the way things are. The brief moments of stronger emotions are well quite brief for most of the film. Ogata always makes them completely honest and wholly poignant by showing them almost having to pierce through the armor contentment he tends to wear otherwise. These moments though are rather few and far between and Tatsuhei is not truly focused upon as lead until the last act of the film.

The final act is when Ogata has to deliver his mother to her resting place with her silently riding on his back for a long journey. This is highlight for Ogata's performance as he does do an exceptional job of reflecting the intense emotions going through Tatsuhei as he must understand that he is bringing his mother to die. Ogata begins keeping the modesty of Tatsuhei intact although always subtly suggesting how this is tearing Ogata apart. Ogata is particularly affecting in one moment where Tatsuhei takes a break and loses his mother thinking she has gone home. Ogata is quite wonderful in so naturally suggesting the happiness of  a son who loves his mother, only to have it dashed when he finds her ready to continue her journey moments later. Ogata manages to be so moving by being so delicate in his transition from the moment of hope to once again facing the inevitable his mother seems to support.

Tatsuhei finally does break down when he's finished the journey and brings his mother to her final resting place. Ogata very much has earned Tatsuhei's emotional devastation by this point and quite powerfully shows just how much the man loved his mother, and is being torn apart by this love and his perceived duty. This is an interesting performance to examine as what Ogata achieves so well is creating the essence of this sort of man completely. You never need to guess about his Tatsuhei you always understand him no matter what the situation. It's an excellent portrayal of a pure naturalism as he makes Tatsuhei so honest in every element of the film, and even though the film focuses so rarely directly on him Ogata still completely Tatsuhei as a character. There is never a moment that seems false or untrue for the man straight to his final scene. Tatsuhei after leaving his mother goes home. Ogata shows no outrage over it, but instead he is so heartbreaking by portraying Tatsuhei as accepting the horrible reality of his life. This is not a performance really about big moments but rather creating a man true to life.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Alternate Best Actor 1983

And the Nominees Were Not:

Peter Billingsley in A Christmas Story

Ken Ogata in The Ballad of Narayama

Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone

James Woods in Videodrome

Al Pacino in Scarface

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2004: Results

5.  Alex Fong in One Nite in Mongkok- Fong's performance is forced to be very much to the point but he manages to create his character along way quite effectively.

Best Scene: Milo covers up the shooting.
4. David Carradine in Kill Bill Vol. 2- I know I may suffer the same fate as Bill for this, but I have to admit that I don't love this performance. I just like it quite a bit.

Best Scene: The end of Bill and The Bride's duel.
3. Michael Madsen in Kill Bill Vol. 2 - My favorite of the assassins actually as Madsen brings so much heart to his performance.

Best Scene: Budd "wins"
2. Willem Dafoe in the Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou- Dafoe is absolutely endearing and incredibly funny as the Steve Zissou's most loyal man.

Best Scene: "Thanks for not picking me"
1. Philip Seymour Hoffman in Along Came Polly - Well this might come as a surprise to all. Hoffman does not have the great directors behind him that Dafoe, Madsen, and Carradine do. He just has himself, and I loved him the most.

Best Scene: Proxy Insurance speech.
Overall Rank:
  1. Philip Seymour Hoffman in Along Came Polly
  2. Willem Dafoe in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
  3. Michael Madsen in Kill Bill Vol. 2
  4. David Carradine in Kill Bill Vol. 2
  5. Thomas Haden Church in Sideways
  6. Peter O'Toole in Troy
  7. Bud Cort in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
  8. Javier Bardem in Collateral 
  9. Rip Torn in Dodgeball 
  10. Barry Shabaka Henley in Collateral 
  11. Ben Stiller in Dodgeball
  12. Jeff Goldblum in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
  13. Colm Meaney in Layer Cake
  14. Paul Rudd in Anchorman
  15. Toby Kebbell in Dead Man's Shoes
  16. Mark Wahlberg in I Heart Huckabees
  17. Alex Fong in One Nite in Mongkok
  18. David Thewlis in The Prisoner of Azkaban
  19. Michael Gambon in Layer Cake
  20. Dylan Moran in Shaun of the Dead
  21. Stuart Wolfenden in Dead Man's Shoes
  22. Nick Frost in Shaun of the Dead
  23. J.K. Simmons in Spider-Man 2
  24. Jason Bateman in Dodgeball
  25. Gary Cole in Dodgeball
  26. Bill Nighy in Shaun of the Dead
  27. Ulrich Matthes in Downfall
  28. Fana Mokoena in Hotel Rwanda
  29. Willem Dafoe in Spider-Man 2 
  30. Thomas Kretschmann in Downfall
  31. Alan Tudyk in Dodgeball
  32. Tom Wilkinson in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  33. David Koechner in Anchorman
  34. Gordon Liu in Kill Bill Vol. 2
  35. Brian Cox in Troy
  36. Christian Berkel in Downfall
  37. Alfred Molina in Spider-Man 2
  38. Peter Serafinowicz in Shaun of the Dead
  39. George Harris in Layer Cake
  40. Alan Rickman in The Prisoner of Azkaban
  41. John Hurt in Hellboy
  42. John Turturro in Secret Window
  43. Gary Stretch in Dead Man's Shoes
  44. Burn Gorman in Layer Cake
  45. Joan Dalmau in The Sea Inside
  46. Stephen Root in Dodgeball
  47. Ben Whishaw in Layer Cake
  48. Nick Nolte in Hotel Rwanda
  49. Tim Robbins in Anchorman
  50. Mark Ruffalo in Collateral
  51. Chris Parnell in Anchorman
  52. Celso Bugallo in The Sea Inside
  53. Luke Wilson in Anchorman
  54. John C. Reilly in The Aviator
  55. Charles S. Dutton in Secret Window
  56. Tony Curran in Flight of the Phoenix
  57. Alan Alda in The Aviator
  58. Ben Stiller in Anchorman
  59. Dustin Hoffman in I Heart Huckabees
  60. Chin Ka-lok in One Nite in Mongkok
  61. Hank Azaria in Dodgeball
  62. Joaquin Phoenix in Hotel Rwanda
  63. Len Cariou in Secret Window
  64. Sean Bean in Troy 
  65. Timothy Hutton in Secret Window
  66. Jeffrey Tambor in Hellboy
  67. Brad Bird in The Incredibles
  68. Anson Leung in One Nite in Mongkok
  69. Justin Long in Dodgeball
  70. Jason Lee in The Incredibles
  71. Nick Roud in Finding Neverland
  72. Bruno Ganz in The Manchurian Candidate
  73. Michael Parks in Kill Bill Vol. 2
  74. Elijah Wood in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  75. Ben Foster in The Punisher
  76. Bruce McGill in Collateral
  77. Mos Def in The Woodsman
  78. Mark Ruffalo in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  79. Samuel L. Jackson in Kill Bill Vol. 2
  80. Giovanni Ribsi in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
  81. Gary Oldman in The Prisoner of Azkaban
  82. Samuel L. Jackson in The Incredibles
  83. Ben Kingsley in Thunderbirds
  84. Peter Sarsgaard in Kinsey
  85. Billy Connolly in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
  86. Tim Meadows in Mean Girls
  87. David Hyde Pierce in Hellboy
  88. Dylan Baker in Kinsey
  89. Timothy Spall in The Prisoner of Azkaban
  90. Dustin Hoffman in Finding Neverland
  91. Will Patton in The Punisher
  92. Michael Gambon in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
  93. Timothy Spall in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events 
  94. Owen Wilson in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
  95. Brendan Gleeson in Troy 
  96. Michael Shannon in The Woodsman
  97. Jon Voight in The Manchurian Candidate
  98. Steve Carell in Anchorman
  99. Rupert Grint in The Prisoner of Azkaban
  100. Dean Stockwell in The Manchurian Candidate
  101. Ian Holm in The Day After Tomorrow
  102. Alec Baldwin in The Aviator
  103. Giovanni Ribsi in Flight of the Phoenix
  104. Michael Gambon in The Prisoner of Azkaban
  105. Roy Scheider in The Punisher 
  106. Patrick Wilson in The Phantom of the Opera
  107. Christopher Walken in The Stepford Wives
  108. Jon Gries in Napoleon Dynamite
  109. Bokeem Woodbine in Ray
  110. Jon Lovitz in The Stepford Wives
  111. Bill Paxton in Thunderbirds
  112. Alec Baldwin in Along Came Polly
  113. James Franco in Spider-Man 2
  114. Karl Urban in The Chronicles of Riddick
  115. Karel Roden in Hellboy
  116. Warwick Davis in Ray
  117. Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby
  118. Freddie Highmore in Finding Neverland
  119. John Travolta in The Punisher
  120. Bryan Brown in Along Came Polly
  121. Colm Feore in The Chronicles of Riddick
  122. Kevin Pollack in The Whole Ten Yards
  123. David Wenham in Van Helsing
  124. Linus Roache in The Chronicles of Riddick
  125. Efren Ramirez in Napoleon Dynamite
  126. Roger Bart in The Stepford Wives
  127. Frank Collison in The Whole Ten Yards
  128. Garrett Hedlund in Troy
  129. Hank Azaria in Along Came Polly
  130. Hal Sparks in Spider-Man 2
  131. Aaron Ruell in Napoleon Dynamite
  132. Kevin J. O'Connor in Van Helsing
  133. Richard Roxburgh in Van Helsing
  134. Jay Baruchel in Million Dollar Baby
Next Year: 1983 lead

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2004: Philip Seymour Hoffman in Along Came Polly

Philip Seymour Hoffman did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Sandy Lyle in Along Came Polly.

Along Came Polly is a comedy about a guy Reuben (Ben Stiller) whose wife cheats on him on their honeymoon, but finds a new romantic potential in a very different woman Polly (Jennifer Aniston). I won't lie found most of Along Came Polly very disposable as a comedy as a whole, and sometimes slightly grating.

Philip Seymour Hoffman technically plays a very standard role that being the wacky best friend of our straight man lead. This is an absurdly common character in comedies of this sort and often they can be extremely obnoxious cases of an actor trying their hardest to be funny while falling flat on their faces. In those cases though the best friend role is usually played by some chronic over actor, but that is certainly not the case here where the role is played by the renown actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. It is not usually the case that a great actor is in this sort of part so one must merely see how Hoffman handles it. Well Hoffman first enters the film proudly as Sandy is performing as the best man at Reuben's wedding only to hilariously slip and fall. Prat falling may not be the best approach for a performance to come in on especially if the actor just let's the fall act as the joke, but boy I gotta hand it to Hoffman for some flawless execution. From the overjoy pride, to the intensity of the fall, and of course that face of disappointment beautifully done sir.

Hoffman simply does not stop with that entrance though as we are given a little information about his past as it turns out Sandy was once the star of a Breakfast Club type film where he played the bag pipes. Although he obviously has done nothing of note recently he still acts like he is an actor who should hold the status of perhaps an actor like Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman brilliant because he does not simply have Sandy stroking an ego about his so called acting prowess. Hoffman's better than that in that in this aspect of the performance he's really quite subtle about it. Sandy is of course has a huge ego about it but the way Hoffman plays it is not something that Sandy needs to boast about because it obviously should be so well known for anyone to see. It's both understated yet overstated by Hoffman in the most perfect of fashions. Although actually this even brings to one of the few semi serious scenes for Hoffman where he tells Reuben that his wife was acting the whole time. Again Hoffman is great as he fulfills the supportive role as he shows Sandy to be in utter command as he points out her lying.

But enough of that semi-serious stuff by Hoffman no matter how well handled it might have been I want some more hilarity. Well look no further than when we see Sandy practicing for a community theater version of Jesus Christ Superstar where Sandy tears it up on stage during "What's The Buzz" giving that Judas sneer as the chorus goes on awaiting Jesus's response which of course Sandy also decides to take for himself. Hoffman is a wonderful ham with his over accentuation of stage gesture possible showboating to its fullest and being absolutely hilarious while doing it. Of course Hoffman pivots flawlessly from the ham playing Jesus and Judas at apparently the same time to being the over indulgent ARTIST whose understanding of all just can't be comprehended by mere mortals. After seeing that relatively brief scene though I frankly would not have minded seeing the entirety of Jesus Christ Superstar entirely played by Hoffman as Sandy. Of course tearing it up on stage made be nothing compared to when Sandy is tearing it up on court.

That of course I mean the basketball court where plays with Reuben. Every shot basically Sandy misses as he always takes the shot no matter how many times he misses, or even though he is nowhere in position to make it into the basket. This of course may be technically speaking an incredibly repetitive joke, but I found it a consistently funny one because of Hoffman's delivery once again. Hoffman could not be better in the intensity he gives to every physical movement of Sandy on the court, and could not be more amusing in his non-stop barrage of various completely ridiculous words he says that in no way reflect his skills on the court. I find it extremely easy to see a non-Philip Seymour Hoffman type actor completely falling flat in this scene but Hoffman finds just the right tone for his absurdity to make really work. This even goes for jokes I don't think work otherwise, like the gross out jokes, such as when Sandy defecates in his pants. Although the way the film went about the set up was not very funny at all, the sad expression that dawns on Hoffman's face is pure gold.

Hoffman's two best scenes though come at the very end. The first being when Sandy is finally told the truth about his fame and skills by Reuben's father. Hoffman's reaction is terrific as he expresses the realization of this fool so wonderfully, and manages to will out this dramatic change in what is otherwise a pretty absurdest caricature. This though leaves Hoffman with one more scene where Sandy must deliver Reuben's insurance pitch for him. Hoffman is best described as awesome in this scene as strikes up the perfect balance of the ridiculous of Sandy with a needed conviction to make the pitch believable. Well Hoffman does both of these things at the same time and suggests some of his more serious performances, through drive he gives to the word, despite still being consistently funny in the scenes as well. You could not ask for a better end to this gem of a performance. I have to say though the film does foolishly fail to be as good as Hoffman is around him, and even more foolishly has him absent for about 20 minutes in a row. None of that matters because Hoffman is great in every scene he is in, and although I doubt I'll be watching the film as a whole again I won't watching his scenes over and over again.
(yeah that just happened)

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2004: David Carradine in Kill Bill Vol. 2

David Carradine did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Bill in Kill Bill Vol. 2.

David Carradine plays the titular Bill who has quite the build to his appearance since in the first film we never see his face and mainly only hear his voice. He takes no time to make his facial appearance in the second film appearing in only the second scene of the film which depicts the massacre of the chapel where the Bride (Uma Thurman) was to be wed. The Bride unexpectedly receives a visit from Bill just outside the chapel, and we first see the main villain of the film although he's certainly not what one might expect from the build up to him. Instead of obviously see some of vicious killer it's simply an older man playing a fairly unusual flute who greets here, and at least at first appears to be rather amiable. Of course this is in part due to the way in which Carradine establishes exactly how Bill and The Bride treated one another before she ran away from him as well as before he attempted to murder her which involved shooting her directly in the head.

Carradine and Thurman actually have a rather nice chemistry with one another and there is a real warmth between the two as they speak even if there is an underlying tension at first. Carradine is quite effective in the scene though as he basically eases back on the possible tension through ever seemingly pleasant thing Bill says. Carradine manages to have quite the charm with Bill in the scene and does a particularly good job of making it completely believable that the Bride was with him before the events at the chapel. Thurman and Carradine are both great though because we see the spark the had between the two when they were mentor/protege as well as lovers. Carradine though does nicely suggest some of the menace, that is far more prevalent in his performance in the first film, but he does show it as he tells the groom that he also likes to live dangerously. Carradine as the right sly wink in the way he says that to tell Bill's true intent.

The next time we see Carradine is his single scene Michael Madsen as Bill's brother Budd. Again he has the right chemistry with Madsen as well but instead of Madsen's passive aggression, Carradine carries an especially remorseful tone as Carradine shows that Bill is very much trying to mend things with Budd even though Budd won't have it. Carradine appears a few more times in flashback as we see when the Bride and Bill were together. Again Carradine is good in these scenes in playing them like the chapel scene again without any tension behind though. Instead Carradine brings a somewhat greater warmth as well as command of sorts as Carradine shows Bill fully as Bride's mentor in the scene. Of course the most important scene in the film for Carradine comes when the Bride finally reaches the boss of the game, I mean the former boss of all the other assassins which is of course Bill.

Bill has a hidden weapon of sorts against the bride which is that their daughter is in fact alive using her to delay the inevitable. I like Carradine in these scenes once again because he makes Bill seem like an honest father here as he treats his daughter with such tenderness even going so far as to very warmly talk about her mother even though she has in fact come to kill him. Carradine manages to be surprisingly sweet in this scene and it never compromises the character as it seems completely fitting to the Bill he has established in all the other scenes. Again Carradine is good though in having a certain subtle intensity as it all as he shows in the eyes that Bill has obviously knows why the Bride is there. Of course after some special time with their daughter together they do have to get down to business, which since it is a Quentin Tarantino film it means the villain has to talk a little about how they got to this place exactly first.

The Superman speech is not a favorite of mine, even though I think Tarantino does manage to pivot it properly to a point. Carradine handles it naturally enough but is unable to make seem completely necessary as it is hardly a classic speech. Carradine's best scene comes soon afterwards though after their short fight which ends with a certain five point palm move. Carradine is great in this scene as he so gently portrays the way Bill accepts his fate and even forgives the Bride for already having done what she has done. It's a beautifully handled moment as both Thurman and Carradine basically bring the two back to an earlier time as all the hostility is gone, and instead you the two never stopped loving each other at a certain level. Carradine manages to subvert what you would expect rather brilliantly as the demise of the main villain ends up being rather heartbreaking after all.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2004: Michael Madsen in Kill Bill Vol. 2

Michael Madsen did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Budd in Kill Bill Vol. 2.

Kill Bill Vol. 2 is a strong follow up to the first film as it nicely completes the story of the Bride's revenge well managing to never seem repetitious of the original.

Michael Madsen is not the greatest of actors since he's given some truly terrible performances in his career. The thing is though he happens to be one actor who cannot phone in a performance, if he tries to phone it in he might as well be in comatose by how lifeless he becomes. Thankfully though when he's in a Quentin Tarantino film he seems to decide to actually try. This is certainly the case here as he portrays the Budd the third person on the Bride's (Uma Thurman) kill list due to the fact that he was part of the assassin squad who massacred her wedding rehearsal. Budd in addition to that is also the brother of the leader of the assassin squad Bill (David Carradine). Where two of the assassins carried on their evil ways, another changed but seemed more upset at being called on her crime rather than committing it, Budd is far from his days of being an assassin, now living in a trailer in the desert, and in addition reacts quite differently than the rest in regards to the Bride's quest.

This can all be seen in Madsen's only scene in which he shares with Carradine as Bill tries to warn Budd about the Bride. Madsen is terrific in the way he interacts with Carradine in the scene. There is a certain ease that Madsen brings and alludes well to the fact that they are brothers. There's an underlying warmth between the two as they speak about the Bride's previous exploits. Madsen though is effective in bringing along with this a certain passive aggressive element as he speaks to Bill, and comes off as very realistically how one brother shows his discontent with another. He is equally effective in alluding to whatever tension that was caused by something in the past, quite possibly something to do with the chapel massacre. It is not overly open about but Madsen just suggests the right disregard for his brother's advice. Both actors do very well in quickly establishing the relationship between the two brothers, despite only having this one scene together.

Madsen's best moment of his opening scene though is where Bill insists that the bride will kill him if he does not accept his help, and Madsen's delivery of Budd's reaction is flawless. Madsen particularly carries himself with a Sergio Leone style in some ways particularly when Budd remarks that they do indeed deserve to die. Madsen is exceptional as he shows Budd's living through his own regrets involving the incident in his short speech and we see that Budd has an honest remorse for his actions. What is most remarkable is in an instance where Madsen cuts down the dramatics though and finishes his statement with a silly rhyme saying "But then again so does she so I guess we'll just see won't we". Madsen does not play as though Budd did not mean his first statement, rather that Budd's simply ready to see how the chips are going to fall, and he simply does not have the right to really complain either way. It's a brilliantly handled moment by Madsen and wonderfully shows Budd's particular state of mind.

After that we briefly follow Budd through his sad state of existence in lowly job where he is treated none too well. There is technically a slight comic edge about these scenes as a former assassin has to just has to be chewed out by his crude boss. Madsen makes the beaten down state of Budd so simple, but so honest though that it's hard not to feel sorry for the guy. Despite Budd's predicament he is the only one of the assassins to actually manage to defeat the Bride in the battle as he manages to surprise her. Madsen is terrific in the scene as he shows Budd almost slightly surprised himself at the turn of events. Madsen does not portray Budd as being overly sadistic or anything like that but rather is quite great at showing Budd to be mainly happy at getting the upper hand. Madsen boisterous in the right way in the scene. His attitude is not that of a pompous jerk but rather guy who's has so few things going his way that he's just has to enjoy this moment for all its worth.

Madsen is veryy good here by making Budd far more than simply a name to be checked off the list, even though technically speaking he's one of villains. He even technically does a particularly villainous thing when he buries the bride, but even in that instance Madsen plays it as though Budd is taking no pleasure in it. In fact there again is a regret in Madsen's expression that suggests that Budd doesn't exactly want to it but rather feels that he must. Madsen always brings a great complexity to Budd in each of his scenes, and never makes him a simple evil thug. Madsen makes Budd stand out by bringing such heart to his performance so that when he exits the film I felt sadness opposed to anything else. Actually if he had been felled by the Bride instead of who he meets his end with I might have lost my investment with the Bride. This is because Madsen manages to create such an affecting portrait of a former assassin with a conscience.