Sunday, 8 February 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2014: Richard Armitage in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Richard Armitage did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five armies is the final installment of the Hobbit trilogy that is mainly a third act battle stretched for almost the entire film. Although I've been The Hobbit apologist for the first two films I can't say the same for this film. The problematic structure of the book, at least in terms of being cinematic, comes to surface as the final battle is too poorly defined to begin with leaving the film to have to stretch and contort in largely ineffective fashions. In addition certain problems with whole trilogy are amplified here particularly the comic filler who is given more focus than Bilbo Baggins in the battle, and the over use of C.G.I. which certainly diminishes the impact of the main villain. I mean if you're going steal the best Mountain from Game of Thrones you could at least utilize him but I digress.

Richard Armitage becomes the most important character in the film, since Bilbo (Martin Freeman) is pushed mostly to the side in order to focus on the bigger power players around the battle, and if the film was spread a little thin Armitage may have been the lead. Armitage takes center stage though as the film focuses upon the gold horde that the dwarves took back after the defeat of the dragon Smaug. The first time we see Thorin's face is that of great relief after the defeat of Smaug, and he goes back to reclaim his home in the Lonely Mountain. Unfortunately the nearby men and Elves feel they are owed a portion leading to conflict. The first half of the film Armitage is given a difficult task in that he must portray Thorin at his worst, where he is only interested in the gold of the mountain, and would rather go to war with the other peoples rather than make a deal. Making it more difficult the film plays it up almost like a disease rather than Thorin just being stubborn. Armitage certainly is  effective in portraying the coldness in Thorin as his mind becomes preoccupied with only holding his fortune. What I liked about Armitage's performance though is he perhaps gives it a bit more complexity than even the film desired on this front.

Armitage is good by bringing a great deal of the sense of the shattered pride in Thorin that seems to propel him even more than the gold, and he conveys a deep seeded desire in Thorin as he ignores the pleads of those asking for their share rather than simply a one dimensional evil. Armitage rightly bring a discomfort in Thorin in these scenes as his manner becomes that of the dictator King who only wants absolute obedience from his men nothing else. Armitage although does bring the needed intensity into Thorin's threats against those who try to talk sense into him, he also though does show an unease of the whole act as though Thorin is trying very hard to be something he's not, rather than having truly gone evil. Armitage as well importantly brings a feeling of sadness to allude that the whole facade is eating away at him. There's one very good moment where after accusing Bilbo after stealing something, Bilbo shows it to only be an acorn for his garden at home. Armitage makes the sudden shift of gears in Thorin feels honest as a comfort once again comes to the character, and Armitage presents it as Thorin letting his guard down, showing the real nature of the dwarf in that moment.

Many of Peter Jackson's directorial choices in the film are questionable, but Armitage consistently acts as a saving grace in the film. The oddly done sequence where Thorin rejects his greed is strangely directed, but Armitage, by giving complexity to that phase of Thorin beforehand, manages to at least make the scene work in terms of the change in Thorin's character. Another odd choice once again comes about when Jackson makes the addition of just thirteen warriors a tide turning moment in a battle that involves thousands, it is a bit silly. I have to admit that I found the sequence far more rousing than I should have due to Armitage's work. He's great in his final speech to the men as he portrays the repentance and passion in Thorin's tone, and shows Thorin becoming the King he was meant to be not the one he thought he was suppose to be. Even though the battle scene is disjointed and bloated Armitage manages to remain compelling by reflecting the emotional victories and losses very much in the moment of the action scenes. He stays convincing even when the film is not, even in his interactions with a computer generated Billy Connolly. Armitage succeeds in making Thorin's final moments rather heartbreaking as he portrays Thorin's last without sadness, but rather a poignant happiness as Armitage shows that in the end his friendship to Bilbo was more important to him than a mountain of gold. Richard Armitage's work here consistently elevates his material, never faltering when the film does, and managed to keep me invested in the film despite its problems.

28 comments:

Michael Patison said...

100% agree. Even when Jackson did him absolutely no favors in his gold-lust scene or his conversation with Bard (there were so many better, far less comic ways to film their through-the-rock-wall talk) or his forgiveness scene or his final speech scene, Armitage consistently brings his A-game. With better direction, it could have been the best performance any one of the 6 films had on offer. As it is, it's still pretty great.

luke higham said...

Louis: Great Performance, I'm very happy, that you gave him a 4.5.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I'm actually going to cheat here with my Number 6.

Inherent Vice/The Grand Budapest Hotel

Michael McCarthy said...

My number 6 is Gone Girl.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

My #6 is Selma.

RatedRStar said...

=D I was at work so thanks for continuing it Luke lol =D my number 6 is

LOCKE


@Louis: Would you say the Oscar ceremony this year have the potential to be one of your least favorites ever lol.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar & Louis: It look's like Queen of the Desert will be a huge disappointment after its first showing.

Also, do you prefer Michael Fassbender in Lead or Supporting Roles.

RatedRStar said...

@Luke: That is possible but Herzogs films usually do get split opinions, I will still see it regardless.

Roger Ebert said it best "Herzog "has never created a single film that is compromised, shameful, made for pragmatic reasons or uninteresting. Even his failures are spectacular"

Lead definately lol =D although his supporting roles so far are usually great also, but he is a leading man at his core I feel.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I'm planning on seeing it too, depending on how Louis reacts to it.

I'm just glad he'll be in the lead race again after 4 years.

Anonymous said...

I've just seen Birdman and...
Birdman > Boyhood
Michael Keaton > Eddie Redmayne
Emma Stone > Patricia Arquette

RatedRStar said...

@Anonymous: HIGH FIVE =D

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: At this point on, I'm going to predict that for the third year in a row, there will be a Picture-Director Split.
Picture - Boyhood
Director - Inarritu

luke higham said...

Louis: Your Rating & thoughts on James Gandolfini in The Drop.

RatedRStar said...

Luke which nomination/performance has angered you the most out of all the nominations =D?


luke higham said...

RatedRStar: Carell by far, The academy has no excuse, considering the quality of the year as a whole, Louis's overall ranking says it all to be frank, while Arquette would be a distant second, since I'm not as bothered by supporting nominations than lead ones.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

For "most annoying" nomination, I have to go with Carell as well. I'm not sure if he's my least favorite performance nominated, but him hogging a slot from Oyelowo, Gyllenhaal, Isaac, or Fiennes is pretty damn irritating.

RatedRStar said...

So, this years Oscar blog battles will be =D

Louis Morgan Vs Patricia Arquette
Luke Higham Vs Steve Carell
Michael McCarthy Vs Eddie Redmayne
JackiBoyz Vs Richard Linklater
Psifonian Vs Michael Fassbender
Koook160, Oscar Issac and Jessica Chastain Vs The Academy Voters

I dont know who I would face lol, any suggestions?

luke higham said...

RatedRStar vs. Witherspoon, since you hated Wild.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Louis, for The Grand Budapest Hotel, are your ratings still the same, or have you upgraded/downgraded anyone?

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

@RatedRStar: My choice for most annoying nominations would be

American Sniper for Best Picture and Editing
followed closely by
Steve Carell for Foxcatcher


luke higham said...

Louis: Without spoiling the remaining alternate years, what are your top ten years for acting in general.

luke higham said...

Louis: Includes Female Performances as well.

RatedRStar said...

In which case

Louis Morgan Vs Patricia Arquette
Luke Higham Vs Steve Carell
Michael McCarthy Vs Eddie Redmayne
JackiBoyz Vs Richard Linklater
Psifonian Vs Michael Fassbender
Koook160, Oscar Issac and Jessica Chastain Vs The Academy Voters
RatedRStar Vs Reese Witherspoon
GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar Vs Joel Cox and Gary D Roach

Anonymous said...

RatedRStar, you know you'd give a 5 to Keaton in Birdman, but what would you give to the rest of the cast? I think I'd give a 5 to Keaton and 4.5 to everybody else, although Stone is close to be a 5.

Anonymous said...

*I know you'd give

RatedRStar said...

Yep the same, I would give 4.5 to the rest of the cast, I have watched the film a few times now so.

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar:

#6: The Babadook

Luke:

Either or is fine by me in regards to Fassbender.

In regards to the picture/director race it does seem like a split is possible again, obviously I'd prefer a Birdman sweep, and PGA/DGA historically are stronger indicators.

Gandolfini - 4.5(After re-watching the Drop I was a bit surprised as I saw Gandolfini as closer to a co-lead than supporting. Although Hardy is more lead, so to speak, the film goes back and forth between Bob's and Marv's story. Marv is the driving factor of the plot actually and in the end I thought the film was as much about Marv's attempt to regain his former "glory" as it was about Bob's attempt to hold onto his dog. Anyway Gandolfini is terrific in the role. He so well shows Marv as a guy who basically always wanted to be a gangster, thought he was, but he never was really. He expresses the wounded pride of the character so eloquently, where the former "big man" now gets chewed out for merely not shoveling out the bar's driveway, that he manages to make Marv a sympathetic figure even though he is in fact a very bad man. It's a very moving performance even though Gandolfini in no way softens the harsher tones of the character, although, like Hoffman A Most Wanted Man, I say the final shot of his performance, is probably even more heartbreaking than it was meant to be)

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar:

After looking back at the scores I'd up Ronan to a 2.5, Dafoe to a 3.5 and Brody up to a 3.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Any particular reason why, because I have similar upgrades to you, I thought Brody was actually pretty funny and Dafoe very effective, I'd give both solid 3.5's.

Also has anyone seen The Mexican, James Gandolfini alone makes the film bearable to watch.