Saturday, 2 May 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1990: Harry Dean Stanton in Wild At Heart

Harry Dean Stanton did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Johnnie Farragut in Wild At Heart.

Wild At Heart is another neurotic erotic thriller from David Lynch about young lovers Lula (Laura Dern) and Sailor (Nicolas Cage) on the run from the wrath of Lula's mother Marietta (Diane Ladd) who wants Sailor dead. It never maintains the heights found in Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive, as it never feels as cohesive. Nevertheless it certainly has some brilliant scenes and it has to at least be described as interesting.

The lead of Lynch's films of this style often is a straight man of sorts to play off the oddity of everything else particularly in the cases of Kyle MacLachlan in Blue Velvet and Bill Pullman in Lost Highway. That's not the case here with Nicolas Cage giving a bizarre turn himself through his Elvis Presley inspired work. The closest we seem to get in this film is from the character actor of character actors Harry Dean Stanton. Of course he's still fairly far in terms of how the role is written, but Stanton take on the part does seem to make him fulfill the role a bit. Stanton plays a police detective who is recruited by Marietta to track down Sailor and Lula. Of course the reason he is able to be recruited by her is that Johnnie is in love Mariette, which keeps his character a bit absurd as well since he can't see through, not to mention he too has a few Lynchian moments in there. Nevertheless Stanton gives a pretty unassuming performance though as he presents Johnnie as kinda a classic sort of gumshoe. Stanton's manner reflects this so well with that perfect harried look of the hardworking detective.

Now Stanton's approach could not work better as he acts as a very much needed buffer against Ladd's extremely over the top performance. Stanton is hilarious as he stays so downplay against her while not necessarily portraying his own reactions as wholly realistic. That's fine though as Stanton in that is so good at showing the way Johnnie tries to deal with the crazy woman that he loves for some reason. Stanton's great because he plays it as though Johnnie sees her as basically a sane woman who has to be corrected on a few things. He's especially funny when trying to explain to her that Sailor is not a murderer because the man was going to attack him with a knife, an assassin sent by Mariette. Stanton's terrific because he so gently tries to correct her on this point as though she's genuinely messed about it's just marvelous. Stanton really brings this wonderful sweetness to his performance because he portrays Johnnie as so honest in his affections for Mariette. Stanton's earnestness about it plays particularly well off of Ladd who does not make a secret that Mariette is clearly playing Johnnie every step of the way.

Every scene that Stanton shows up, well until his last one, is a hoot because of his characterization of Johnnie as such a sweetheart towards Mariette. One of my favorite moments is early on as Johnnie tells Mariette not to call about her criminal connections to deal with Sailor, as Stanton is so moving as Johnnie by portraying just how hurt he is even thinking that Mariette does not return his love. Stanton is so brilliantly tragic in the role because he manages to be so amusing portraying Johnnie method of dealing with her, but with a real heart behind it. The concern, when Mariette alludes to something being seriously wrong only over the phone, is so pure in Stanton's performance, as is the enthusiasm in their last scene together when Mariette seems to finally want to be with him. Of course this love story is not the love story of the film since Mariette does not love poor Johnny going so far as to sell him out leaving him at the hands of the darkest elements of the film. This takes Johnny to be beaten down in a hotel room and unfortunately for Johnnie that is not the end of it leading Stanton's final scene which may be the very best scene in the film.

The scene is pure horror from its strange setting, to the ominous music playing throughout, to a horrifying performance by Grace Zabriskie, and of course there is poor Johnnie in the middle of it being tied to a chair forced to watch it all. Stanton's silent work here shows exactly how incredible of an actor he really is. He first begins as the straight man of sorts as he watches in almost complete disbelief at what it is that he is seeing, and there is some humor still left from this dead pan act. This does not last for long though as Stanton only brings out the terror of the scene all the more by reflecting it so fully through his expression. Then to end it all Stanton is absolutely heartbreaking as Stanton portrays the final sad realization in Johnnie about his fate. Stanton, for me anyways, was the most consistent thing in the film as his scenes always have something worthwhile that being him. Stanton's performance works so well within the film as he plays into the style so effortlessly while still keeping honest emotions in his character. Of course I love Stanton here though, I mean it's Harry Dean Stanton with an actual part, the man who can make something special out of almost nothing.


luke higham said...

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

luke higham said...

Another Great Supporting Year.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Out of curiosity, who was the one who requested Armond Assante?

luke higham said...

KoooK160: It was JackiBoyz.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I'm curious about that performance. I haven't seen Q&A, but Assante has been terrible in everything else I've seen him in. I was hoping for an ironic review for 1995 Supporting for his slurring in Judge Dredd.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis, would you consider everybody in Avengers 2 supporting, or would you put some in lead, like the first one.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Ensemble, definitely. Hell, I'm shocked Louis considers the first one not to be.

Michael Patison said...

Assante got a Glibe nomination I think, so there's that.

JackiBoyz said...

I was quite curious on Assante, I always seem to be interested in performances that managed to get a globe nomination but then nothing else, so it could be bad or good, the film looks decent enough I guess.

RatedRStar said...

Louis where do you remember this line =D " I have to get sick" (steps out of car, kneels down, when other person checks on him, he legs it straight to the car and drives off) =D lol.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

I hope Assante gets a 5 too just so this can be one of the greatest years ever for supporting.

What are Louis and everyone's top 10 David Lynch performances?

1. John Hurt in The Elephant Man
2. Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive
3. Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet
4. Richard Farnsworth in The Straight Story
5. Harry Dean Stanton in Wild at Heart
6. Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet
7. Anthony Hopkins in The Elephant Man
8. Laura Dern in Wild At Heart
9. Dean Stockwell in Blue Velvet
10. Anne Bancroft in The Elephant Man

Honorable Mentions: Nicolas Cage in Wild at Heart, Harry Dean Stanton in The Straight Story, Robert Blake in Lost Highway

Louis Morgan said...


Cage - 4.5(Really it seems odd that Cage and Lynch only ever worked together once since Cage's off-beat style does seem particularly logical in a David Lynch setting. Cage's performance is one big gamble with his Elvis impersonation which is an odd enough way to start any performance. Cage does the impersonation really well because he plays Sailor as a man so influenced by Elvis that he naturally will imitate him, and it never does feel like an act. In fact there are some truly inspired moments from this particularly his two song numbers. Past the impersonation though Cage does find a character with Sailor. He brings a nice bit of humor with the luckless hero who does not quite know what to make of his situation. Then of course there is the romance which I will get to in a moment)

Dern - 4.5(She seems to have quite the grasp of Lynch's style, I really should watch Inland Empire, but Dern captures the absurdity behind the Lula character though with an honesty in the emotions of the character. It's a lovely performance and her chemistry with Cage is something quite unique. They have this lusty passion yet always with a powerful love holding to together, it's something else to be sure, but also something rather special)

Ladd - 3(I have to admit I was disappointed by her performance. She over the top, but almost everyone is in this film. Her real scenary munching scenes, particularly the lipstick insanity I felt the performance, not the character which was not the case for so many of the over the top performances in the film. I did not think she was terrible, I did like her face to face scenes with Stanton for example, where she calmed down a bit doing the quiet manipulation of the character rather well. The problem though is when she goes big I see Diane Ladd going big not the insanity of Mariette)

Dafoe - 4.5(Now this is how you go over the top. Dafoe is brilliantly grotesque as Bobby Peruas as everything about him seems filthy or despicable in some way. He makes for one memorable last act villain for the film as well as being just so hilarious in portraying Peru's heinousness)

Freeman - 3.5(Much more menancing here than he was in Miller's Crossing. He plays up the sleazy deviousness of the character with aplomb, and his delivery of the line, where he explains exactly what Mariette is, is just great)

Zabriskie - 4.5(A extremely weird and intensely unnerving performance. Everything about what she does here is off-putting in the best and worst sort of way)

Rossellini - 3(She's fine in giving one of the least insane performances in the film. She's good but does not have too much to do)

Glover - 3.5(Well it's pretty much the same performance he gives in every film that's not Back to the Future, but here it actually works in creating the madness behind his strange little vignette)


"LAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWW" is all I can about that.




Who could forget the most heroic of all Captain Americas.


1. Naomi Watts - Mulholland Drive
2. Dennis Hopper - Blue Velvet
3. Richard Farnsworth - The Straight Story
4. Isabella Rossellini - Blue Velvet
5. Robert Blake - Lost Highway
6. Harry Dean Stanton - Wild At Heart
7. John Hurt - The Elephant Man
8. Dean Stockwell - Blue Velvet
9. Anthony Hopkins - The Elephant Man
10. Laura Dern - Wild At Heart

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: Chelsea, Premier League Champions.

RatedRStar said...

@Luke: We knew that anyway lol wed been saying that for like the last 2 months =).

Oh my favorite line from Judge Dredd has to be " ISS A LIE" his face is so funny lol.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: Actually, we've been saying it since the 6-3 against Everton =).

RatedRStar said...

@Luke: Oh wow that was a long while ago lol.

I had a really lovely thought, it probably wont happen but I would love to see a Game Of Thrones cast member get an Oscar nomination sometime lol that would be amazing =D.

Psifonian said...

Keisha Castle-Hughes already did.

RatedRStar said...

@Psifonian: Ah yes the horror lol, I have seen Whale Ride a long while ago and completely forgot about it and her performance, I think what I mean is, a main cast member who is well not just debuting for like 5 episodes or so lol =D.

RatedRStar said...

My spelling is shit today. Whale Rider, I might create a google account because I get a bit tired of having choose various sandwich pictures just to prove its me lol

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: If you've seen the first season or two, what are your thoughts on the show. If someone, were to get nominated in the future, which, like you said is quite unlikely, I'd probably put my money on Emilia Clarke.
Dance is very much a TV Actor nowadays and Dinklage, has been finding it hard to get good roles outside of Television.

RatedRStar said...

@Luke: I have caught up with all the seasons now, I love it completely, the acting, the writing, the directing, everything, its so close to being perfect minus some acting that is a bit poor from some.

Has anybody here seen Whale Rider or is it just me cause I wonder what their thoughts would be on it.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I share your pain, I'm so fucking sick of the Cake/Sandwich/Beef/Sushi picture bullshit. I have a Google account and it changes nothing.

My spelling and grammar keeps suffering because of this.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: It's great to have another fan on the blog.

mcofra7 said...

This is pretty random, but I just watched Pi and I'm curious to see what others think of the film.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean Life of Pi? I thought it was visually great, I liked very much the direction and the special effects, also the leading performance was really good but... I don't know, I wasn't to crazy about it. It's a good movie but I never felt it really became all that great as a whole.

RatedRStar said...

@Luke: I had a weird intro on watching it, I mean I could have been in mental care after seeing Martell get the eye treatment lol.

@Mcofra7: I would think most people on the blog would have seen it since most of us I think were around in 2012 on this blog, assuming you are definately talking about Life Of Pi.

I enjoyed the film but not as much as others did, I liked the acting and the direction, the special effects do look really cool, and I was emotionally invested most of the time, I just thought it was pretty good, but not quite amazing as I felt the themes didnt really do that much for me, I didnt mind them I just didnt really feel too bovered about them.

RatedRStar said...

Would Life Of Pi be in my top ten of 2012, possibly, I think 2012 is probably the weakest year of the 10s so far with many good to great films but not that many amazing ones so it would probably get in.

luke higham said...

It might be Darren Aronofsky's Pi (1998).

mcofra7 said...

It is the 1998 film that I was referring to. I should have clarified.

RatedRStar said...

Ah lol right, I haven't seen it.

RatedRStar said...

@Mcofra7: Maybe it could be reviewed as part of the bonus reviews, if you find an actor to be deserving of one.