Saturday, 13 June 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2007: Sam Rockwell in The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

Sam Rockwell did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Charley Ford in The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford.

Sam Rockwell is an actor I've seen accused of being unable to share the spotlight. Now I find this accusation ludicrous to begin with because often the best parts of one of his Rockwellian performances come in with how he interacts with the other performance e.g. in Seven Psychopaths his more extroverted work played particularly well against Christopher Walken's much more reserved performance. Any who to avoid getting too off track, here is a performance that should completely shut down such an accusation. Rockwell plays Charley Ford one of the members of the temporarily formed James gang who have come together for a train robbery. Charley in terms of the story is important due to his brother (Casey Affleck) being latter titular character fated to kill the legendary Jesse James (Brad Pitt). In the earliest scenes though Charley is just part of the gang, and it would be easy enough to be forgotten in the mix of the various players of this scene. Rockwell probably has the biggest challenge though because Charley the least assuming guy there against the mythic James brothers, or the other men who all have one hang up or another that seems ready to cause a bit of conflict.

Rockwell always adds a bit character in these scenes rather well while actually being quite a bit less extroverted in his performance. He's good actually by showing that Charley is probably the best person for the James gang because he's level headed enough, easy to get along with, and does not have any delusions like his wannabe brother. There's a good scene early on where Charley makes a proposition to Frank James (Sam Shepard) about being a permanent part of the gang, along with Robert. Rockwell's does well in that he portrays Charley's enthusiasm as particularly intelligently stated, although with only a bit of over eagerness, but this comes from Charley having to put forth an idea come up with by Robert. Rockwell is quite interesting in the way he creates a certain unsaid brotherly connection between the two. Charley often ridicules or embarrasses Robert for his delusions about Jesse, but Rockwell never makes this the least bit cruel. Rockwell instead strikes up that certain sort of older brother ribbing. Yes it definitely causes Robert to become upset, but Rockwell always shows there's no real malice in Charley when he does, in fact he seems to suggest doing to keep Bob from going too far.

As the dissolution of the gang leaves Jesse kinda lost and very paranoid as he continues on, he actually seems to start to trust only one man in his gang that being Charley. Rockwell manages to make sense of this through his depiction of Charley as someone who actually seems reasonable. Rockwell adds to this bit by effectively making Charley a bit of a bright spot as there is a naturally endearing quality to Rockwell's performance that makes Jesse's trust of him very understandable. Of course even Charley is not fully trusted by Jesse and must face probably some of the most severe scrutiny. Rockwell again is so good at realizing basically what makes Charley special for Jesse as Rockwell carries a certain optimism, and is able to make Charley a man one should not suspect of anything. Rockwell plays this scenes incredibly well though as he always builds the tension well as he internalizes it suggesting that Charley certainly has plenty of fear for Jesse, but is able to hide far better than some others. Rockwell never wastes a moments of these scenes though as he does gradually build an unsaid, but definite understanding in Charley that he'll never be safe unless Jesse dies.

What really is so special about this performance though is just how much Rockwell does in between the lines so to speak. He does not even need to be a focus of the scenes, but his reactions always add something as he manages to make these that of a genuine person not a stock side character. Rockwell's work gives just a bit more life to every moment even the slightest of ways. I especially love just his expression of somber understanding when Jesse asks Charley about suicide. It's surprising how good Rockwell is, because this is not Charley's story yet you always know where Charley is in his own struggle with Jesse parallel to his brothers. Where Bob is caught up with a few too many ideas, Rockwell presents Charley as technically of a more honest man. There's a great brief scene where Rockwell shows the complexities of Charley's conflict as he recognizes that Jesse is his friend, but also recognizes that he's becoming increasingly dangerous. This leads to the assassination scene which is a masterfully performed scene by Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, and Sam Rockwell.

 Rockwell should not be forgotten because although you feel what Bob and Jesse are going through, the same is for Charley. Rockwell is outstanding because he's not overshadowed by Affleck or Pitt, yet he never feels out of place, and only adds to the power scene. It's remarkable how Rockwell presents Charley's own time in the scene as he also prepares to kill Jesse, but Rockwell is very moving by showing it as a simple resignation for his own survival, without even a thought of glory as he prepares his own gun. After the assassination the film depicts both brothers dealing with the fallout. Rockwell has a few scenes that are fairly swiftly paced, but don't feel rushed. Nevertheless Rockwell has to show Charley going through quite a lot in a matter of scenes, but hey he does not miss a mark here. He's entertaining then quite haunting in his stage portrayal of Jesse. Rockwell then is quite harrowing in his portrayal of how the events have spent the rest of Charley as he seems to be a decaying man leaving his final scene. It's short once again but heart wrenching as Rockwell captures the pain in Charley in such detail. This is a great performance and one of those great models for a truly great truly supporting performance. Charley is rarely the focus, and it is easy to see how he could have been just a side note in the film, and easily forgotten. Rockwell never allows that to happen and makes those final scenes so much powerful than perhaps they should have been, since he simply let us know the man Charley Ford was.

81 comments:

Robert MacFarlane said...

PRAISE THE LAWD

Robert MacFarlane said...

But yes, you nailed what made it such a great performance. He's generous here, never trying to steal the movie from Affleck or Pitt. He creates his character in the background, and ends up with the most pitiable and tragic figure in a film filled with them.

luke higham said...

Happy Days.

Psifonian said...

Rockwell does well here, but frankly, I would've preferred Dillahunt in this role as originally intended. He looks more like Affleck and I think he could've made Charley's melancholia even more palpable. Hell, I thought he was better as Ed than Sam was as Charley, and that's saying something.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Out of curiosity, do you actually even like Rockwell that much, Psifonian?

Michael McCarthy said...

I always knew Rockwell would be a 5, I was actually more sure of him than most of the others in this lineup. He was every bit as effective here as he is in his very entertaining flamboyant performances, and he was excellent at being the emotional heart of the film.

luke higham said...

Louis: Please review Dalton next.

Psifonian said...

In general, yeah, I like him fine. He's MVP of "GalaxyQuest" and terrific in "Moon", "Choke" and "The Green Mile." I do, however, find him a bit overpraised as this sort of indie underdog.

Psifonian said...

Funnily enough, I think Steve Zahn is the more talented version of Rockwell. Any role Rockwell has ever played, Steve Zahn could do it better. It's a shame he hasn't gotten the opportunities beyond a few token roles here and there to show it.

Matt Mustin said...

Are you *serious*, dude? Steve Zahn?

Robert MacFarlane said...

Outside of Rescue Dawn, can you name me a few roles from Zahn that made you come to this conclusion? Just as reference.

Matt Mustin said...

Yeah, exactly. I gotta say I think he's pretty damn unimpressive most of the time and frequently straight up awful.

Robert MacFarlane said...

That's not actually what I said. There's some truth to be told that Zahn doesn't get as many opportunities as Rockwell does. I'm Just wondering if there's some under-the-radar indie flick that did give him a chance to do well.

Matt Mustin said...

That's not what you said, but that's what I'm saying.

Michael McCarthy said...

I never thought Zahn was bad, but he's usually given mediocre material at best and never seems to rise above it in those cases. Rockwell on the other hand, brings something extra to every performance I've seen him in, and never misses the slightest opportunity to be outstanding.

Psifonian said...

“Happy, Texas”, “Riding in Cars with Boys,” “Treme,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” and “Comanche Moon” all feature great turns from Zahn. Hell, I even have a soft spot for his Dennis Dugan comedies, as he is the best thing about them by far and elevates any shoddy material he is given. However, it took Werner Herzog to wake people up to his skill.

Psifonian said...

Also, the underrated "Safe Men" starring Zahn and Rockwell as dimwitted safe-crackers is great stuff as well.

Anonymous said...

What made you downgrade Nyong'o's rating to a 2.5? Because I remember she was a 4.

Psifonian said...

Also not sure if anyone has seen it, but Mark Rylance's performance in "Wolf Hall" is one of the greatest modern performances I've seen.

Michael Patison said...

I could not agree more on Rylance, Psifonian.

As for the Rockwell-Zahn debate, I haven't seen nearly enough Zahn to join the debate, but I will say I agree with the over praised in indie movies bit (for the most part)

Calvin Law said...

Psifonian: What are the songs you use in your Best Supporting Actor montage?

luke higham said...

Psifonian: Same Here on Rylance, It's the best performance in a Miniseries/TV Film, that I've seen since Alec Guinness in TTSS.

Anonymous said...

Louis, up to this point what would be your top 10 performances of GoT? Considering their whole work over the five seasons.

luke higham said...

Anonymous1: From what I recall, Nyong'o's performance left him cold and that she was overshadowed by Ejiofor, Fassbender and Paulson. If I'm being honest, as much as I love the film, I do think her performance is really overpraised.

Anonymous2: At the moment, Charles Dance will be his No. 1 I think.

Vincent said...

Louis, continuing on the Game of Thrones discussion, what are your thoughts on Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Conleth Hill, Rory McCann, Stephen Dillane, Michelle Fairley, Ciaran Hinds, Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams?

You can take your time to answer if it's a bit too much to answer all at once.

Psifonian said...

Calvin,

The main theme from "Gettysburg", "Preparation for Battle" from "Glory," and the main theme from "The Untouchables."

Calvin Law said...

Psifonian: Thanks!

Calvin Law said...

Funny you mention Gettysburg as I am just preparing to watch it now...can't wait.

Calvin Law said...

Also, on a separate note, has anyone here seen Robert Downey Jr in Less than Zero (1987)?

Psifonian said...

I hope you like it, Calvin. Richard Jordan is a revelation and one of my five favorite supporting performances of all time. Stephen Lang, Jeff Daniels and the rest of the cast are no slouches, either.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I actually thought Lang was sort of terrible in it, to be honest.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

You'll have to cite when because I've never been too big on her performance.

Anonymous:

1. Alfie Allen
2. Charles Dance
3. Conleth Hill
4. Rory McCann
5. Sophie Turner
6. Peter Dinklage
7. Liam Cunningham
8. Mark Addy
9. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
10. Carice van Houten

A horrible list to make.

Vincent:

I'll get you those thoughts soon.

luke higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the GOT Season Finale.

RatedRStar said...

Whats everyones predictions for the finale of GOT?

Robert MacFarlane said...

Someone dies, the internet cries.

RatedRStar said...

My big predictions are:

Arya kills Meryn Trant
The High Sparrow stuff will continue onto next season
Stannis wins against The Boltons, and Brienne will rescue Sansa.

RatedRStar said...

or Stannis wins and is killed by Brienne.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I know its unlikely but I hope Catelyn returns from the dead, the Boltons shall reign victorious over the Baratheon Army and Cersei will repent for her sins.

RatedRStar said...

At least 3 deaths will happen since that's what happened in the last couple of season finales.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I've changed my mind, I'll go with the Baratheons.
If 3 characters were to meet their ends, then I predict Meryn Trant, Roose Bolton and Jorah Mormont to die.

Louis Morgan said...

Vincent

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Eli Wallach in the Misfits 61)

Conleth Hill, Maisie William (Klaus Kinski in Nosferatu 79)

Ciaran Hinds (Graham Chapman in Life of Brian 79)

Rory McCann - (What is so special about so many of the performances really is the way they set up the archetype then tear it down to reveal the depth of a human. McCann of course does well as a the hulking brute bringing the needed vicious and venomous in his manner, and his delivery fitting for a man who believes killing is the sweetest thing there is. McCann though peels this away brilliantly as he almost seems to suggest this attitude his only way to survive the world since it's too corrupt to be the good person the hound probably should be. The certain tenderness he does reveal is wholly earned as he shows essentially what sort of man Hound had to make himself to survive the cruel world he lives in. That final scene of his still stands one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the series, and it's largely because of McCann's performance.)

Stephen Dillane - (Dillane really needs to play Richard Nixon, not just because he has a look, but I think the way he plays Stannis shows he'd be perfect for the role. Dillane captures such a difficult thing to achieve with Stannis. This being that there's nothing charming or obviously likable about how he plays Stannis, yet Dillane never leaves the man's power in question. He creates the unquestionably commanding presence of Stannis, realizing this incredible power of personality, but without a hint of warmth)

Michelle Fairley - (I don't think there is a more ridiculous emmy nomination than Emilia Clarke over Fairley for season 3, although really the same could be said for Gwendoline Chrisite, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Natalie Dormer...well really almost every substantial female performance from that season. Anyways Fairley's performance is quite interesting in that the surface she shows what you might expect as she has the passion and determination fitting for a devoted mother. What I like is that Fairley shows that Catelyn's revealing moments are less than flattering. There is a cruelty she brings in her scenes with Jon Snow, but it does not fit out place but rather Fairley portrays it to be all part of her extreme protective nature of her family. Her character makes perhaps some of the most severe mistakes but Fairley gives all them sense through her depiction of Catelyn's mentality)

Sophie Turner - (She probably had the most thankless role out of anyone in the first season since Sansa must begin as the vapid girl who basically learns the truth. Turner actually did that well and worked in setting up where she would take Sansa through the rest of the series. Turner is rarely given enough credit here because after episode nine of the first season she creates Sansa's learning process. What I love though is it is not just simply a portrayal of becoming more cynical. Turner instead shows how she puts on so many different faces in every situation in order to attempt to thrive despite every horrible situation she ends up in. In any scene or place Turner portrays a certain variation in Sansa that manages to exemplify her attempts to play the few hands she is given.)

Calvin Law said...

I am taking a bit of a break now from Gettysburg...it is a pretty darn incredible film so far, Jordan is great yes, I am really enjoying Lang's quirkiness, Sheen is a bit distracting but not bad at all, Berenger is fine, and I think this is the most phenomenal I've ever seen Jeff Daniels, whom I usually like but don't love.

Anonymous said...

Louis can you also give your thoughts on Allen, van Houten, Cunningham and Addy?

Anonymous said...

Also, do you think Nikolaj Coster-Waldau deserved a nomination for Season 3? Because I think he was horribly snubbed.

luke higham said...

Anonymous:
Alfie Allen - (Does quite well early on the man you love to hate as he does the sleazy despicable side of the character rather well. Of course Allen carefully gives insight this as well finding the shattered pride of Theon as really his motivation, and a genuine vulnerability in terms of where his family loyalties lie. He's excellent in the second season in the Winterfell scenes as he shows Theon basically falling apart internally as he tries to act like the man he is not. The show though turns the love to hate on its head though as they've successfully made him suffer enough and Alfie is rather heartbreaking in realizing the transformation of the man into such a broken wretch)

Liam Cunningham - (I think I've liked Cunningham in everything I've seen him in. Anyway I think he makes a great Ser Davos bringing the right passionate conviction to his performance and does well to give one of the most earnest and honest depictions of devotion and decency in the show)

luke higham said...

Anonymous: Coster-Waldau's snub still pisses me off to this day, I thought he was amazing in the bath revelation scene.

RatedRStar said...

I feel Bronn will not be here much longer either, as I expect The Sand Snakes to attempt revenge on Bronn and Jaime on their way back, so expect a death or two there.

Anonymous said...

Emilia Clarke deserved nomination only for the first season, at best.

Calvin Law said...

Gettysburg ratings:

Daniels: 5
Sheen: 3
Berenger: 3
Elliot: 3.5 (verging on a 4)
Lang: 4
Jordan: 5

Michael McCarthy said...

I just saw Jurassic World. It was better than the other Jurassic Park sequels but it had a lot of flaws. The dialogue is often quite bad, some I the performances are equally bad, and the two leads don't have a lot of chemistry. Having said that, it does capture a lot of the excitement of the original, and at least some of the wonder. The main way it improves upon the sequels is in how it handles the weight of the events. When someone is killed by a dinosaur, it's actually made out to be a big deal. None of the characters or extras are portrayed as dead meat (with one exception, who seems to only exist in the film to get killed in a tastelessly drawn out scene that verges on torture porn). Aside from that, it did seem like effort was made, and that the writers and director did care about the story they were telling, even if they told it with middling success.

luke higham said...

Michael McCarthy: Your ratings for the cast of Jurassic World, I've put all of my 2.5s down to 2s on reflection.

Michael McCarthy said...

Pratt: 3.5
Howard: 3
Simpkins: 3
Robinson: 2
D'Onofrio: 2
Khan: 3
Greer: 3
Johnson: 3.5
Wong: 1.5

luke higham said...

Michael McCarthy: WOW, I really must've overrated Wong and Johnson was very good too.

Michael McCarthy said...

The reason my rating for Johnson is so high is because his character didn't need to be there at all, yet he always managed to be amusing whenever he was onscreen. Wong on the other hand I found to be verging on cartoony.

luke higham said...

Michael McCarthy: Thoughts On Pratt.

Michael McCarthy said...

This was a rather good showcase for Pratt as an actor actually. He brings the same charisma that he's become known for but he never coasts on it. He always has plenty of conviction no matter how bad his dialogue is, and when the stakes are high his reactions to what's going on around him are what bring most of the gravity to the film. He also does well in showing how in control is in many situations without overplaying it. He actually reminded me a little bit here of some of Harrison Ford's earlier performances.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: Happy Birthday Daniel! =)

Calvin Law said...

Happy birthday Luke and RatedRStar!!!

luke higham said...

Calvin: Thanks. =)

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

van Houten - (Her performance can I think be a bit taken for granted but really if you think about it all the red woman stuff could have come off as a bit silly without her. van Houten absolutely delivers though as she carries that otherworldly charisma so well that she manages to be so alluring while at the same time so chilling. As she is able such horrible ideas seem so inviting and she always gives them that divine purpose)

Addy - (He should have reaped any guest actor awards, but I think he was sabotaged by spoiler avoiding credit listing. Addy's performance is astonishing especially considering his character's soon to be fate. Addy does not use that as an excuse to create his Robert. Although he does so well in portraying the way vices control Robert as he certainly is a great drunken lout. That's not all there is to him though. In those eyes and especially that voice though you still feel the fire of this great warrior who took a throne. Addy never allows the King to be a joke as there is such a sadness he finds in this warrior who is left to rule a Kingdom he never wanted, while he has to be constantly reminded that the only reason he took up the fight has been forever lost. It's tremendous work as Addy creates almost Shakespearean tragedy in a character who's basically just waiting to die to get the main story going.)

Yes he should have been nominated. It's shame they were on autopilot I fear they'll do the same this year.

luke higham said...

Holy Fuck, What an Ending.
The Mountain's Alive and Jon Snow Dies

luke higham said...

Meryn Trant, Stannis & Selyse are also on the casualty list.

Robert MacFarlane said...

How very Julius Caesar of them.

luke higham said...

Stannis also got the Macbeth treatment.

I have a feeling the ending's gonna piss off Louis in some way, since Daenery's the Number 1 priority from now on.

Robert MacFarlane said...

That Dany scene was straight up the ending of Evil Dead 2.

luke higham said...

I'm sure Myrcella is dead too.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'm pretty certain Arya, Theon, and Sansa are still alive.

luke higham said...

Robert: Actually, they cut away from Stannis being killed, so I do have some doubt. I'd take Stannis over Daenerys any day.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Actually they did that a lot this episode outside of Meryn Trant. What obnoxious cockteases.

luke higham said...

You know what fuck it, I Predict that Melisandre will revive Jon Snow next season.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I predict Hodor will tap dance naked next season.

What? You never said they had to be sensible predictions.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke: Oh my goodness where to begin.

Well I already knew about old Jon Snow, yet the scene still certainly packed a punch, although Melisandre's return I think means he's got a chance, or else old Davos will have to be our hero of the north. (Well actually that would be kinda cool)

The Daenerys boars me still and it seems like she's going to have an easy way out. By the way the place almost looked like where we last saw the Hound, if he had been there then maybe I'd change my mind. Tyrion handling a city again though could have something good in store especially with Varys back (I sure did miss him). Although I have to say the setting up in the pyramid had some pretty clunky exposition.

Theon finally doing something was satisfying but boy if they're dead, that's a bit too much. I mean all Starks dead except the two boys and a blind Arya that would be too much to take. Also Meryn Trant it felt like they really went way overboard to make up for all those cutaways.

The Cersei sequence was excellent though and Headey was outstanding. By the way you know it is Game of Thrones when the most heartwarming scene is a man acknowledging his incest to his daughter, but they could not even allow that.

Finally last and least is Stannis. Sorry all build up for nothing this time, and I did not think it worked well enough as tragedy to be that either. I was extremely disappointed although Dillane was aces. They really should have kept to the other seasons set up structure, because almost everything, except the walk of punishment, felt a bit rushed.

luke higham said...

Louis: In regards to Stannis, had the same feeling as you did.

JackiBoyz said...

Happy Birthday to Luke Higham and Daniel Thornton(RatedRStar)

luke higham said...

JackiBoyz: Thank You. =)

luke higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the season overall, On a .5 scale, what would you rate it out of 5 and your top ten performers (MVPs) of the season as well.

Unlike the first 4 seasons, which I would give a 5, I have to go a .5 less this season and that's mostly due to Daenerys being boring as usual and the execution of the ending to Stannis's Character Arc.

luke higham said...

Louis: I still have hope, that he's alive though.

Anonymous said...

Can I have your top 10 MVPs for every season?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Season 5 was a bit of a disappointment as I easily found it to be the weakest season so far, and the only one I'd give merely a 4.5 to so to speak. They should have maintained the "event" for episode 9 then fallout for episode 10. That structure still left me wanting more as a continuing show should, but gave the season itself proper closure. We did not get that this time as almost every storyline seemed still a little too active. Staying on the negative side of things a lack of Conleth Hill is never a good thing, that's point number one. They perhaps needed to do more episodes simply because of the amount of storyline has become too much for them. The likes of major players such as Brienne and Little Finger almost vanished after the early episodes. Some of the deaths did seem unneeded as the deaths of the show usually create more interesting stories then they stop, I don't think that was the case for all of them this time, especially for Stannis. Stannis's whole story I can't help but feel in the end was a garbage disposal for the show runners, who have always seemed to hate the character. There were good moments from his story to be sure but it felt like a waste of a compelling character, maybe Dillane was just too good in the role, which has never been the case for any one else before this season. Having said that though it still was most watchable, often very entertaining or at least intriguing. The great moments were still truly great, but I hope next season will be a bit more cohesive, and won't waste any characters.

Season 5:

1. Stephen Dillane
2. Alfie Allen
3. Sophie Turner
4. Jonathan Pryce
5. Lena Headey
6. Kit Harington
7. Diana Rigg
8. Liam Cunningham
9. Gwendoline Christie (Have to remember the early episodes)
10. Alexander Siddig

Anonymous:

Season 1:

1. Mark Addy
2. Conleth Hill
3. Peter Dinklage
4. Maisie Williams
5. Charles Dance
6. Sean Bean
7. Donald Sumpter
8. Michelle Fairley
9. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
10. Jason Momoa

Season 2:

1. Alfie Allen
2. Peter Dinklage
3. Charles Dance
4. Liam Cunningham
5. Donald Sumpter
6. Rory McCann
7. Carice van Houten
8. Conleth Hill
9. Sophie Turner
10. Maisie Williams

Season 3:

1. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
2. Charles Dance
3. Liam Cunningham
4. Michelle Fairley
5. Gwendoline Christie
6. Rory McCann
7. Michael McElhatton
8. Carice van Houten
9. Noah Taylor
10. Alfie Allen

Season 4:

1. Rory McCann
2. Peter Dinklage
3. Sophie Turner
4. Pedro Pascal
5. Charles Dance
6. Alfie Allen
7. Conleth Hill
8. Burn Gorman
9. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
10. Maisie Williams

luke higham said...

Louis: Yes, I'm so glad that Coster-Waldau's your number 1 for Season 3.

luke higham said...

Louis: I'm also glad that you're still hopeful for next season.