Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1959: Dean Stockwell in Compulsion

Dean Stockwell did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning Cannes, for portraying Judd Steiner in Compulsion.

Compulsion is a somewhat compelling film, although certainly brought down by a romantic sub-plot featuring the two worst performances in the film, that tells a fictionalized version of Leopold and Loeb's murder trial.

Leopold and Loeb had previously been fictionalized in film through the 1948 Alfred Hitchcock film Rope. That film took place all in one room and attempted to tell the story of the two men through the setup of a thriller. Compulsion is far more reaching in its version covering the story closer to the actual facts as well as going into the aftermath of the murder, rather than merely depicting the time between the murder and then where they were caught. Both films start in a very similair fashion in that both begin when the murder has just occurred, although in this version instead of killing a classmate they murder a child which was factual to the real case. In both though it focuses in from there onto the relationship of the two young men who decided to commit the murder because they believed themselves superior, and decided that they were basically entitled to a murder since they were supermen who were above the law. This leads them to commit the murder which they believe will be a perfect one which they will get away with since they've worked out every detail it seems.

Dean Stockwell is an actor with a rather odd career to recount as he started as a cutesy child actor in many high profile films, then successfully bridges over the gap into adulthood with a few prominent leading turns. Stockwell's brief stint as a leading man in high profile films seemed strange but likely it was caused by him apparently getting into the hippie counterculture, since after his gap in his filmography his leading turns came in the form of a rather different sort of films although he certainly found success as a character actor. Repulsion stands as one of his most notable leading performances from that brief period as he plays one of the young murderers. Stockwell plays Judd, much like with Farley Granger in Rope, Judd is the submissive of the two men. Farley Granger played this as meekly as possible, but Stockwell is far more interesting in his approach as seen in the opening sequence. Stockwell does not depict it as an overarching quality rather something more specifically attached to their crime. When Judd states his acceptance of this position Stockwell conveys why as he seems to suggest a certain almost sexual thrill in Judd over the prospect.

The other young man is Artie Strauss played by Bradford Dillman takes a similair approach, although I would done in a far more effective manner, as John Dall in Rope as they both present their man is particularly remorseless, but really he'd have to be if he goes about taunting fate by even trying to help in the investigation personally. With Judd is a bit less exact in his behavior. In more official settings such as in the classroom, or in a discussion with other students Stockwell portrays Judd in being very close to Artie in terms of personality. Stockwell is quite good in expressing the sheer pompousness of this pervasive attitude in Judd as he reveals his philosophy about the right of a superior man. Stockwell does not hide just how unlikable the whole idea is, or how unlikable Judd is when he is talking about, but what he does show is the strong conviction in Judd when he speaks these words. There is an affirmative belief and absolute conviction that Stockwell gives every word, the sort of conviction that would be needed to take the philosophy to the next step which would be to actually commit murder to put the philosophy into action.

Judd though does not bring this same conviction though when he is outside an academic setting, and in the real world. Stockwell does well to provide an awkwardness to Judd as he basically has to be a normal person trying to interact with others without his philosophy to hide behind, or with Artie to interact with. There is far less certainty to the man, and Stockwell effectively conveys the weaknesses within him. When a situation causes Judd to reveal some violent and psychotic tendencies Stockwell does not portray it as coming from the super man of his philosophy, but rather just a deranged and pathetic individual. Judd's believability as a "superman" becomes even more into question once it is discovered that they left a pair of glasses at the scene of the crime. Stockwell is terrific as he reveals far less than a master criminal in the scenes where the two men begin to hear about the evidence that suggests they'll likely become suspects sooner rather than later. Stockwell delivers in finding the sort of visceral gut reactions in these scenes fitting for someone whose going back through his mind, and realized they've made a terrible mistake.

Their "perfect" murder comes crashing down in front of their faces as Judd is soon brought in for questioning due to his glasses. Stockwell is great in these scenes because he shows Judd attempting to be the superior being again as he goes face to face with the district attorney. Now outside of just stating his own personal theories Stockwell brings a considerable desperation in the act as it is obvious Judd is not nearly as confident about the matter as he claims to be. This makes it wholly naturally when he quickly breaks down into an emotional mess when it is revealed they know it is his glasses, and later when Artie quickly confesses to the crime after they are both formally brought in. The two fall apart to reveal far less than they every pretended to be and Stockwell is excellent in realizing Judd as the mess he truly is. Stockwell and Dillman take a back seat in the last act of the film once they two men are brought to trial as the film more closely follows on the actions of their defense attorney named Jonathan Wilk clearly based on Clarence Darrow and played by Orson Welles. Stockwell still delivers in the few moments that he has but his impact is diminished. This really does not matter much though as the proceeding scenes allowed him create compelling portrayal of the rather unique derangement of this young man.

130 comments:

Anonymous said...

What did you think of his performance and rating in the Gentleman's Agreement, Louis?
By the way, cast and director for:
Taxi Driver (1920's version)
Star Wars (1930's version)
Forrest Gump (1940's version)
12 Years A Slave (1950's version)
There Will Be Blood (1960's American Version)
American Beauty (1970's version)
Whiplash (1980's version)
The Asphalt Jungle (1990's version)

Louis Morgan said...

Stockwell - 3(It's not a very good role in that he's mostly there just to set up exposition for Peck's character through obvious questions. Stockwell does this well enough, then he has his one scene of anguish due to being bullied. He delivers this in a moving fashion, but the film does not really give him a character to work with more of a plot device)

And here's a starter for the premakes I'll get you the rest later.

Taxi Driver (1920's version):

Directed by: F.W. Murnau

Travis: Conrad Veidt
Iris: Janet Gaynor
Betsy: Mary Duncan
Tom: George O'Brien
Sport: Louis Wolheim

Star Wars (1930's version)

Directed by: Merian C. Cooper/Ernest B. Schoedsack

Luke: Errol Flynn
C-3P0: Edward Everett Horton
Darth Vadar: Boris Karloff
Han Solo: Clark Gable
Princess Leia: Olivia de Havilland
Grand Moff Tarkin: Basil Rathbone
Obi-Wan: John Barrymore

Forrest Gump (1940's version)

Directed By: Frank Capra

Forrest: Gary Cooper
Jenny: Barbara Stanwyck
Lieutenant Dan: Walter Brennan
Mrs. Gump: Beulah Bondi

12 Years A Slave (1950's version)

Directed By: Stanley Kramer

Solomon: Sidney Poitier
Edwin Epps: Kirk Douglas
Patsey: Ruby Dee
Mary Epps: Vivien Leigh
William Ford: Jose Ferrer
Armsby: Gregory Peck
Samuel Bass: Robert Ryan
Tidbeats: Elisha Cook Jr.

Michael McCarthy said...

This makes me remember an idea I had recently...

Up (Live Action, 1960's)

Carl Fredrickson: Spencer Tracy
Russell: Yoshitaka Zushi
Charles Muntz: Groucho Marx
Doug (voice): Gene Wilder

Calvin Law said...

Louis: Glad you liked him. Thoughts/ratings on the rest of the cast? Stockwell is such an underrated actor.

RatedRStar said...

I am going to take a risk, I reckon Stockwell could finish last simply because this looks like a low 4.5 as opposed to a high one, so if someone else gets 4.5 I reckon they may finish higher, plus I feel Leaud could get a 4.5 he was certainly front and center in the film.

1. Grant
2. Nakadai
3. Guinness
4. Leaud
5. Stockwell

RatedRStar said...

I think there is one perfect moment from Jean Pierre in the questioning scene, when he is asked if he has slept with a girl, and reacts by smirking lol.

Michael McCarthy said...

Daniel: Couldn't agree more on that moment, it was such a natural, realistic reaction. I could totally see Leaud getting a 5 to be honest.

luke higham said...

1. Grant
2. Nakadai
3. Guinness
4. Leaud
5. Stockwell

luke higham said...

Louis: Your Female Lead/Supporting Top 5s for 1950 and 1951 with ratings.

luke higham said...

Calvin: Do you know when, your next head to head will be posted.

Are you watching Inside Out or Southpaw anytime soon.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Tillman - 4(His role is a bit more simplistic compared to Stockwell, but he's good as well. He does the excessively pompous routine quite well suggesting less of passionate devotion to the philosophy like Stockwell, instead portraying his side as a particularly despicable form of entitlement. Tillman does not avoid being unlikable in the role, but instead properly revels in it particularly when Artie goes around helping the cops investigate the murder he committed. He's good in his scenes with Stockwell realizing his dominance basically through his own personal confidence over him. Like Stockwell though he does well in showing just the way this front all falls apart once they realize they'll actually be punished for what they have done)

Varsi - 2(She's okay in her scenes with Stockwell though still very much overshadowed by him. She's terrible in her scenes with Milner though as they have no chemistry together, and the two in no way give purpose to such useless scenes)

Milner - 1.5(The character possibly could have had potential in realizing a normal sort of guy's reaction to the events. Milner though goes way over the top with his big moments, such seeing the dead boy, or taking exception with Varsi's continued interest in Judd.. The rest of the time he's just very bland, adding very little to the proceedings)

Marshall - 3.5(The later scenes he's reduced to incredulous or annoyed faces at his opponent in court. He's great though in the interrogation scenes particularly the with Stockwell as he brings such a cold incisiveness to his role, which is very much needed to show how his character is able to get under such self-assured young men's skin)

I'll save Welles for the moment.

Anonymous:

There Will Be Blood (1960's American Version)

Directed By: John Huston

Daniel Plainview: John Huston
Eli Sunday: Dennis Hopper
H.W.: Kurt Russell

American Beauty (1970's version)

Directed By: John G. Avildsen

Lester: Jack Lemmon
Carolyn: Lee Remick
Angela: Cybill Shepherd
Jane: Sissy Spacek
Frank: Lee Marvin
Ricky: Timothy Bottoms

Whiplash (1980's version)

Directed By: Martin Scorsese

Neiman: Timothy Hutton
Fletcher: Harry Dean Stanton

The Asphalt Jungle (1990's version)

Directed By: Michael Mann

Dix: Russell Crowe
Emmerich: Philip Baker Hall
Doc: Klaus Maria Brandauer
Doll: Mira Sorvino
Angela: Heather Graham
Gus: Steve Buscemi

Luke:

1950:

Lead:

Gloria Swanson - Sunset Boulevard
Bette Davis - All About Eve
Claudette Colbert - Three Came Home
Judy Holliday - Born Yesterday
Anne Baxter - All About Eve

Supporting:

Machiko Kyo - Rashomon
Josephine Hull - Harvey
Noriko Honma - Rashomon - 4
Eleanor Audley - Cinderella - 4
Celest Holm - All About Eve

1951:

Lead:

Vivien Leigh - A Streetcar Named Desire
Katherine Hepburn - The African Queen
Kathryn Beaumont - Alice in Wonderland - 4
Jan Sterling - Ace in the Hole - 4
Ava Gardner - Pandora and the Flying Dutchman - 3.5

Supporting:

Kim Hunter - A Streetcar Named Desire
Shelley Winters - A Place in the Sun
Lee Grant - Detective Story
Kathleen Harrison - Scrooge
Verna Felton - Alice in Wonderland - 4

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Josephine Hull a 2.5 for Harvey? What rating would you give her now?

Louis Morgan said...

She should have been on the bottom of the five.

luke higham said...

Louis: Ratings for Colbert, Holliday, Hepburn and Harrison. Plus ratings for the supporting ladies in Ugetsu.

luke higham said...

Louis: Apart from the 5s, can you give ratings to all of the performances in your top 5/10s, even if you feel like you've posted them already.

Anonymous said...

Louis, I'm sorry if I'm repeating this, but what are your thoughts on Gielgud, Richardson, Laughton, Scofield and Robert Ryan as actors from what you have seen of them?

Anonymous said...

Besides that, can you repost your ratings for Bogart in Desperate Hours and The Enforcer?
Plus, your ratings and thoughts for:
Gloria Grahame in A Lonely Place
Claire Trevor in Dead End
Cary Grant in Charade
Paul Scofield in The Train
Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not and Key Largo

Anonymous said...

So Hull is still a 2.5?
@Luke: Holliday is a 4.
@Anonymous: Trevor is a 4, although he might have upgraded her to a 4.5 after rewatching the movie I'm not sure.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: Thanks.

Hull should still be a 2.5

Don't think Trevor's been upgraded, as Louis's made no mention of it since originally giving his thoughts on her.

luke higham said...

Anonymous:
Trevor - 4(She's usually good and this is no exception. In her one scene she is very effective in completely establishing her character honestly making her plight resonate despite the brevity of her appearance)

Grant's a 4.5

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous: Actually thinking about it a bit more I'd swap her out for Marilyn Monroe in the Asphalt Jungle who'd I give a 3.

Luke:

Colbert is a 4.5 the rest are 4's.

Anonymous:

Gielgud - (Could do standard proper elderly British man better than anyone as he usually managed to bring some wry humor to the role, even when it was not even necessarily there to begin with. He largely played these sort of roles, but he did them well. Although many of these parts could be similair he certainly knew how to find variation within them as well whether it be more menacing like in Gandhi or more welcoming like in The Elephant Man. If there was more complexity possible in a role though he'd always find it, and if it was a bit more outside this comfort zone such as in Julius Caesar or Providence he would thrive as well. He was a welcome in presence in almost any film he'd appear in. I suppose I should note, though I need to see more from his early film work, but judging only by Secret Agent it might have took him some time to get comfortable with film)

Richardson - (Oddly it seems perhaps Richardson started out more comfortable in film early in his career, but Gielgud maybe surpassed him in this regard later in their careers. Where I would say Gielgud surpasses Richardson are in those standard roles both of them often had later in their careers Gielgud usually found a way to be interesting even if the part was not, that was not always the case for Richardson. When he had a better role though Richardson excelled just as much as Gielgud such as in Richard III, The Fallen Idol and The Heiress. To be honest though I need to see more of him)

Laughton - (Well Laughton certainly could go over the time, but he was good at it so why not. Laughton though knew how to also be subtle within those performances for the entirety of a performance. Although there are a few exceptions Laughton usually brought a certain life to any of the films he was in. His early work in particular stands out well as he went about actually creating compelling characters with work, and was one of the very best the 30's had to offer. Plus to top it all off he directed one of the greatest debut films of all time, shame it was his only film)

Scofield - (I have not seen too many of films, but then again he did not make that many so I have seen a decent percentage of them. Scofield's screen presence was perhaps one of the most effortlessly dignified to ever grace the screen which worked wonders for his Oscar winning role. He never actually seemed to be undignified, I mean he came off as dignified as Nazi. Scofield made it work though as every one of this performances have a unique but effective style to them without feeling repetitious)

Louis Morgan said...

Robert Ryan - (One of the most underrated actors around, as he rarely is mentioned even when talking about the actors from his time period. Ryan could certainly play a heavy, but what was so special was that he never made the part as simple as it could be. I always bring it back to comparing his villainous turn in Naked Spur against Arthur Kennedy's in the other Mann westerns. Kennedy's characters came off as quite flat, whereas there was a great vibrancy in Ryan's characterization. When he was not being menacing he usually offered fine support, and could pack quite the remarkable emotional punch in his work especially in The Iceman Cometh which is one of the all time great swansong performances for an actor)

Anonymous:

Desperate Hours - 3.5
The Enforcer - 3.5

Gloria Grahame - 3.5(I thought she was decent enough in depicting her characters interest yet suspicion with Bogart's throughout the film, but I never felt it all packed the emotional weight the ending was suppose to clearly have. I don't feel this was really Grahame fault though)

Scofield - 3.5(I actually would have liked if he had gotten a bit more to do. Scofield playing the role of the Nazi with the train adds much more weight to the role than there likely would have been otherwise. Like I said he always carries that dignity and with that there is a certain power of personality. His final confrontation with Lancaster is particularly good as Scofield makes the taunts especially vicious through his delivery)

Bacall - To Have and Have Not - 3.5(Her chemistry with Bogart translates in this instance and they are very good in having sultry yet loving interactions with one another. Past their interactions her role is fairly limited, but she does well with the few reactions shots she is allowed)

Key Largo - 2(Well here it does not translate as well but then again both of them feel like they're on autopilot in this one. Bacall doesn't add anything to her role, and particularly makes her interactions with Robinson quite underwhelming as she fails to sell how her character is quite possibly somewhat intrigued by the man)

Anonymous said...

Louis: Will you be able to review Richardson for Long Day's Journey Into Night?

Psifonian said...

I know some of you have seen it already, but for those who haven't, my updated Best Actor montage (1920-2014): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mS_D8_2Ws0

mcofra7 said...

1. Grant
2. Nakadai
3. Leaud
4. Guinness
5. Stockwell

Anonymous said...

@Psifonian you're videos are always very very well done. Can I ask you what do you think of these actresses?
Isabelle Adjani
Michelle Pfeiffer
Jane Fonda
Nicole Kidman
Kate Winslet
Cate Blanchett
Emma Thompson
Marion Cotillard

Psifonian said...

Thank you kindly.

Isabelle Adjani: I like her a good bit.
Michelle Pfeiffer: I love her screen presence, but she’s never really done anything I’ve loved.
Jane Fonda: Not really my cup of tea. I do like some of her non-winning nominated works, though.
Nicole Kidman: She’s done two or three things I like. The rest range from mediocre to downright godawful. Points for trying, though.
Kate Winslet: Not as big on her as most, and “Revolutionary Road” is one of the worst things ever, but I like her fine.
Cate Blanchett: Adore her, but she’s won for two of her weakest works, personally.
Emma Thompson: I like her a lot, but I actually like her off-screen presence more.
Marion Cotillard: One of my favorite actresses working. She takes three wins for me and has gotten a slew of nominations to boot.

Anonymous said...

What are the Kidman performances you like? Because I really like her in general, and especially in Dogville, Eyes Wide Shut, To Die For, Moulin Rouge!, Rabbit Hole, The Others, The Hours and The Paperboy. And what are the performances from Meryl Streep and Jane Fonda that you like? 'Cause I know you don't really care for them.

Anonymous said...

Also, the performances from Kidman that you find awful if you don't mind, because I've seen many of her movies (I guess I'm a fan ahah) and while I found a few of her performances mediocre (Fur, Days of Thunder, Billy Bathgate), I've only ever found her awful in Batman Forever (she was so dull).

Psifonian said...

"Dogville," "The Others," "Cold Mountain," and "The Hours" (to an extent) for Kidman. I hate "Moulin Rouge!" and "The Paperboy," and I found "Eyes Wide Shut" and "To Die For" to be decent but nothing special for me. I know I'm in the minority there. "Rabbit Hole" felt like a showreel of good moments with nothing to connect them, and without that connective tissue, it felt incomplete.

I like the following Streep performances:
* Holocaust (SO much better than Sophie's Choice, y'all)
* The Seduction of Joe Tynan
* Silkwood
* A Cry in the Dark
* Adaptation.
* Angels in America (the only thing I'd consider truly masterful from her)
* A Prairie Home Companion

She has had her moments in things like "August: Osage County," but for the most part I find her a soulless mechanical monstrosity who has completely abandoned the compelling naturalism in her early years for that mimicry that comes off like an advanced robot trying to pretend to be human. I'm afraid that if we don't break her away from O. Russell soon, Jennifer Lawrence might go the same route.

I only really like "The China Syndrome" and "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" when it comes to Fonda, at least in her leading parts.

Anonymous said...

Also (really sorry if I'm becoming annoying), will you one day post some videos with not only the winners but also your nominees? Because I'm so interested about them, also because thanks to your videos you made me want to see movies that I had no particular intention to see, and that I ended up really liking.

Anonymous said...

@Psifonian: uh that's interesting. I adored her in "Moulin Rouge!" and really liked her in the otherwise terrible "The Paperboy" and found her quite unimpressive in "Cold Mountain" (I should rewatch her there though). And I think her work in "Eyes Wide Shut" is one of the best supporting female performances ever, and I thought she was terrific in "Rabbit Hole" and "To Die For". But to each his own, and at least we agree on "Dogville" and "The Others".
About Fonda, I love her in general and the two performances you've pointed out are amazing. I think she's rather underrated in "The China Syndrome", those final moments of desperation and confusion were devastating.
And about Streep, I like her very much in general, also her recent work (and I adore Sophie's Choice), and I'm thrilled that you liked her in A Cry in The Dark. Actually I'm surprised you liked her there because I think that it's one of her most calculated work, but it's calculated in the best way possible. I love how she downright refuses to get the sympathy of the audience and gives instead a much more complex and realistic portrait of Lindy.

Psifonian said...

I'm working on making a nominees' series. It's a heavy undertaking, but this will be the last time I have to redo my acting winner videos from scratch (as they are now in glorious 2K/Blu-ray quality), so I can focus on it after I update Supporting Actor, Picture and Cinematography (which I've been putting off for ages).

I think Streep can be very good if she's given a director who knows how to rein her in. Unfortunately, Streep doesn't work with many great directors these days. Altman and Nichols are dead, and she's replaced them with the likes of Phyllida Lloyd. Streep is an acting trebuchet who will go wildly off the mark if she isn't channeled properly. Nicolas Cage is the exact same way. It can make for exciting performances, but if they aren't calibrated well, they can be disasters. I don't get how Meryl gets a free pass time and again while Cage gets denigrated, though; her films aren't that much better than his, and he's got more classic films to his credit.

Anonymous said...

I disagree on Streep as I usually really like her performances but I can totally see the problems people have with her performances even if I don't share them. And the nominees videos are a great news (and yes, the quality of your winner videos is excellent). Have you seen some 2015 movies that you really liked? Because at the moment the 2015 movies I really liked are Tale of Tales, Youth, Mad Max: Fury Foad and Ex Machina.

Anonymous said...

"Freeheld" trailer:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=blk27Jj9UE8

RatedRStar said...

I might need to watch Angels in America again sometime but I remember having some wildly mixed opinions on it.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: Moore's gonna be good and that's all I took from it.

luke higham said...

Louis: Your Female Lead/Supporting Top 5s for 1952 and 1954 with ratings.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'm sort of interested in Freeheld since it takes place in my home county. I'm pretty sure that hasn't happened before in a movie.

Robert MacFarlane said...

@Psifonian: What do you think of the following actors of this generation:

Oscar Isaac
Bradley Cooper
Jake Gyllenhaal
Ryan Gosling

Anonymous said...

@Robert: What do you think of those same actresses the other Anonymous asked Psifonian?

Anonymous said...

Steve Carrell seems so Michael Scott in this Freeheld trailer. It may be funny if it has given to him the comic relief. The movie is written by the same person who wrote Philadelfia, a movie that I hate, so it's probably gonna be a another propaganda. Moore may be good, but who isn't sick of this kind of character (diseased one) getting nominated?

Robert MacFarlane said...

It doesn't look like propaganda. It just looks like a generic biopic.

Psifonian said...

Oscar Isaac: When I first noticed him, I kinda hated him (“Sucker Punch” is an abysmal performance in an underrated film, and I wasn’t crazy about his King John in “Robin Hood” until a recent rewatch), but I can see him becoming the new Pacino quite easily, as he is vastly improving his craft. That said, I feel people are overrating his talents a bit these days.
Bradley Cooper: I kinda hate his smug persona and have since the days of “Wet Hot American Summer”, but he was terrific in “The Place Beyond the Pines” (but no match for his co-star). I wish he’d stay the fuck away from David O. Russell, but then, that applies to most actors and actresses. I think he’s got talent, but there is a distinct sense of entitlement that hangs over him.
Jake Gyllenhaal: Definitely ramping up of late. He’s taking bolder, ferocious choices and they are paying off. “Prisoners” was impressive work (despite the blinking), he was the only thing I liked about “Enemy,” and his Lou Bloom is a better version of Travis Bickle. I’m seeing “Southpaw” tonight and hoping he continues that path of carving out great performances.
Ryan Gosling: Perhaps the best of the four. I’m loving his minimalistic approaches these days, and I adore his Refn collaborations (yes, I loved “Only God Forgives”). He’s also a terrific director, judging by his debut, but he (like Refn) needs a strong screenwriter to work from. “Lost River” felt like two great but different movies haphazardly blended together.

I’d rate them, talent-wise:

1. Gosling
2. Gyllenhaal
3. Isaac
4. Cooper

Robert MacFarlane said...

@Anonymous:

Isabelle Adjani: I, uh, never saw her in anything. Sorry.

Michelle Pfeiffer: In general I like her quite a bit. She's my win for 1989 Best Actress and 1992 Supporting Actress.

Jane Fonda: She was very good in her prime, but nigh insufferable since she returned to acting recently. Her work in The Newsroom and This is Where I Leave You were downright embarrassing.

Nicole Kidman: I haven't seen as many roles from her as I know I should have. What I have seen from her varies quite a bit. I'll get back to you once I've seen Birth, Rabbit Hole, and To Die For.

Kate Winslet: I tend to have more issues with her than most people. She's downright terrible in Heavenly Creatures and Revolutionary Road. For some reason I just find her somewhat interchangeable in quite a few of her roles. Nevertheless I will give credit where credit is due; She's totally masterful in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind, deconstructing the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope before it even had a real name.

Cate Blanchett: Pretty wonderful outside of her hammy reprisal of Queen Elizabeth in The Golden Age.

Emma Thompson: Also pretty wonderful, though she's made a few missteps here and there. Like Psifonian I adore her off-screen persona.

Marion Cotillard: Is one Dark Knight Rises away from me considering her flawless. Pretty much my favorite working actress and her performance in Two Days, One Night will more than likely endure with me for the rest of my life.

Also, I have similar issues to Streep like Psifonian, just not to the same extent.

Robert MacFarlane said...

@Psifonian: I actually hated Isaac as well in Robin Hood and Sucker Punch (though unlike you I find Sucker Punch irredeemable sexist garbage). But his one-two punch of Inside Llewyn Davis and A Most Violent Year really hit me hard.

Anonymous said...

Psifonian: after watch Southpaw, please share your thoughts on him, Whitaker and the filmt itself?

Psifonian said...

Roger that. Will do.

RatedRStar said...

Its funny how Cooper is the one with the 3 Oscar noms yet I find him to be the weakest actor of those 4.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: I'm not really looking forward to Freeheld, but Moore's a good enough actress, so I have confidence in her giving a solid performance, though nothing outstanding, by any means.
I'll give you my rankings for the actors & actresses that you mentioned.

Actresses
1. Cotillard (Best In The World)
2. Adjani (She's great in Adele H., La Reine Margot and amazing in Possession)
3. Blanchett
4. Thompson
5. Kidman
6. Winslet
7. Pfeiffer
8. Fonda

Actors
1. Gyllenhaal
2. Isaac
3. Gosling
4. Cooper

Robert MacFarlane said...

I actually like Cooper a lot in his recent output, but I won't deny his smarmy persona in comedies is tiresome. His performances in American sniper and Place Beyond the Pines have only grown in my mind.

As for Gosling, I loved the minimalism in Drive, but found it sort of ill-fitting for Pines. There is such a thing as too restrained, and he just didn't resonate like he should have there. Then again, I don't seem to care for that movie outside of Cooper.

Anonymous said...

@luke: ADORE Adjani in the three movies you mentioned. Ranking those actresses for me would be pretty difficult for me though, as I love them all. What would you say are the best performance from each of those actresses and those four actors?
@Robert: Agree that Cotillard's performance in Two Days, One Night is really something quite special. It's so real and moving, I love it. About Fonda's recent works I mostly agree with you, but she's terrific in Youth. Also I give Pfeiffer the same exact two wins you do, she's excellent in Baker Boys and Batman Returns. What do you think of Kidman in Dogville, The Others and Eyes Wide Shut?

Robert MacFarlane said...

Need to rewatch Eyes Wide Shut, haven't seen The Others (I know, I'm terrible, but I absolutely LOVE her work in Dogville. Hell, I love the entire cast of that movie. It's really the only Lars Von Trier movie that I've seen and was truly compelled by.

Anonymous said...

As for those four actors, I liked them all. My favourite is easily Gyllenhaal, he's really giving many great performances recently (his snub for Nightcrawler still pisses me off). I love Gosling in Drive, and he was very good in Pines although I think I too preferred Cooper. I didn't like him in Only God Forgives, where he was quite bland. Cooper's purely comedic work is kind of a mixed bag, but I really like all of his nominated works plus Pines. And I flat out adore Isaac in Inside Llwyn Davis and A Most Violent Year.
And yes, Kidman is fucking amazing in Dogville. She develops the character brilliantly, probably her best work. And yes, the movie is amazing and the cast is excellent! I always like Von Trier, except for Nymphomaniac Vol. 2 (the Vol. 1 was good) and Antichrist (which was way way too much).

Robert MacFarlane said...

Sometimes I do wonder if my hyperbolic love for The Tree of Life and everything that movie stands for affected my view of Melancholia, which felt like a direct antithesis to it in terms of themes. I also found Antichrist to be way too much. Great cinematography, though. Still need to see Breaking the Waves and both parts of Nymphomaniac.

luke higham said...

Anonymous:
Okay Then
Cotillard - The Immigrant and she's amazing in La Vie En Rose, Rust And Bone and Two Days, One Night.
Adjani - Possession
Blanchett - I'm Not There
Thompson - Howards End
Kidman - The Others, though she's fantastic in Dogville as well.
Winslet - Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
Pfeiffer - The Fabulous Baker Boys
Fonda - They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (Haven't seen Youth yet).

Gyllenhaal - Nightcrawler (Duh)
Isaac - Inside Llewyn Davis
Gosling - Drive
Cooper - American Sniper

Anonymous said...

@luke: Agree with many of those, thank you for the list.
@Robert: Uh I really liked Melancholia and I thought that Dunst and Gainsbourg were great. I agree on Antichrist's cinematography, and Gainsbourg was killer good, but the movie was just too much, and gratuitously so. Manderley wasn't bad but it wasn't half as good as Dogville, and Bryce Dallas Howard didn't even came close to Kidman's performance. I love Dancer in the Dark (Björk is terrific in it) and Breaking the Waves (Emily Watson is incredible, really incredible).

luke higham said...

Anonymous: I think Watson might snatch '96 Lead away from McDormand. Bjork and Burstyn will go head to head for 2000, Swinton's gonna win '11, though Dunst does have a slight chance and Gainsbourg could win over Kim Hye-Ja's performance in Mother.

luke higham said...

*Gainsbourg could win over Kim Hye-Ja's performance in Mother for 2009.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I, uh, kind of hated Gainsbourg in Antichrist. She was okay in Melancholia, though. I was actually pretty okay with the acting in Melancholia, even from Sutherland.

Anonymous said...

@Robert: Gainsbourg was the only thing I really liked about the movie along with the Cinematography. But overall it was just too gratuitous and distasteful. I liked her quite a lot in Melancholia - I think she dominates the second half although overall Dunst leaves the bigger impression - and I too didn't mind Sutherland's acting.

Anonymous said...

I meant Antichrist in the first part of my comment.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Yeah, Sutherland isn't technically THAT bad of an actor, just an insanely inconsistent one.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: If their's any actors or actresses, that you want to ask me about and what their best performances are, feel free.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: It gives me something to do.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: I'l rank them as well if you want.

luke higham said...

*I'll rank them as well if you want.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I know that I said, I'd keep myself calm over the nominations next year, but if their's one thing that would really piss me off is Cooper getting nominated for a 4th consecutive year, and a filler one at that.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Guess you don't like Cooper that much, eh?

luke higham said...

Anonymous: I like him in SLP, Pines and American Sniper, didn't like him at all in American Hustle and just have a bad feeling about Joy.

If it were a Lead performance, I wouldn't be as worried, since he does deliver when it matters and this performance seems more in line with Hustle than Playbook.

His Comedic roles apart from Wedding Crashers and The Hangover do absolutely nothing for me unfortunately.

Lastly, When the academy has a favourite, they really love their favourites.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: I love his voice work for Guardians Of The Galaxy.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Actually I think Wedding Crashers is the pinnacle of why his smarmy comedic persona rubbed people the wrong way. Then again, I loathed Wedding Crashers.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Yeah, I also like him in SLP, GofG and American Sniper. But it seems like Lawrence and Cooper keep continuing working with Russell to just get Oscars, do they? Anyway, let me guess. Like me and Louis, you're not big of a fan of Cooper, Peck and Tracy, are you?

Robert MacFarlane said...

I think Cooper probably won't get nominated this year. It's being pushed by 20th Century Fox, who doesn't have the best track record when it comes to the Oscar race in recent years. They tend to push smaller films via Fox Searchlight.

luke higham said...

Robert: I've always liked Wedding Crashers, sorry. :)

Anonymous: Yep.

1. Peck - To Kill A Mockingbird, I personally like his work on The Omen quite a bit, though Whitelaw's the standout. The rest that I've seen, were fairly dull and bland.
2. Tracy - Bad Day At Black Rock
3. Cooper - High Noon, he's good in spots though very dull at his worst. I haven't given him a 5 and probably never will and placed Peck and Tracy above him by virtue of having a 5 star performance.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Since you preferred O'Toole over Peck (as I did), who did you prefer in 1966 Best Actor? Burton, Scofield or Caine?

luke higham said...

Anonymous: Burton. Caine's fantastic and I've always loved Scofield in A Man For All Seasons (Seen the film, about 10 times now).

Anonymous said...

Luke: It's quite a shame that Scofield didn't make that many movies. I'd love to see more of his talent used, but he preferred stage, so whatever. I guess Cooper and Tracy were praised by their peers for being natural (but there were many actors who could act naturally during their time), but now they are being judged by Louis. Natural acting doesn't equal good acting. Burton should have never had got obsessed with booze.
Oh, and by the way, your Oscars for Claude Rains.

Anonymous said...

@luke: I'm the Anonymous who asked about the actresses, well I'd like to ask you youd Top 10s performances for each season of Game of Thrones, with thoughts in general (meaning considering all seasons) on Dinklage, Headey, Coster-Waldau, Williams, Turner, Allen, Dormer, Clarke and Rigg.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Notorious and Casablanca (Weak Year).

Rains is one of my all-time favourites, though there were many years, where he was great, yet someone or on occasion 3 or 4 were just that teensy bit better.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: I'll give you those thoughts tomorrow, as I'll be seeing Southpaw at 8:30 British Time.

Anonymous said...

Luke: What did you think of Mitchell and Russell? What are your ratings for them?

luke higham said...

Anonymous: They were both fantastic though I need to rewatch both, so that I could go more in depth, with my thoughts.

5s for Both.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I think I liked March in TYBOOL way more than Louis did. Stewart deserved to win, of course.

luke higham said...

Must rewatch the first two. My choices are near enough, the same as Louis's.
Season 1:

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


Season 2:

1. Charles Dance
2. Peter Dinklage
3. Alfie Allen
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 (Should've won that damn Emmy)
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. Pedro Pascal
4. Charles Dance
5. Sophie Turner
6. Alfie Allen
7. Conleth Hill
8. Burn Gorman
9. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
10. Maisie Williams

Season 5:

1. Stephen Dillane
2. Alfie Allen
3. Sophie Turner
4. Jonathan Pryce
5. Lena Headey
6. Kit Harington (Love that final reaction shot in 'Hardhome')
7. Diana Rigg
8. Liam Cunningham
9. Gwendoline Christie
10. Alexander Siddig (The only great aspect about that forced Dorne storyline)

luke higham said...

Anonymous: There's no problem with that, March gave a very good performance.

I'll be back later. :)

luke higham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
luke higham said...

Anonymous: I can't wait to let rip on Clarke.

Anonymous said...

Oh we're in total agreement on Coster-Waldau for Season 3. He was brilliant. I'd also put Natalie Dormer in my Top 10 for Season 3, and Headey for Season 1, 2 and 4. Anyway, great top 10s.

Psifonian said...

My rankings:

Season 1:
1. Mark Addy
2. Charles Dance
3. Sean Bean
4. Peter Dinklage
5. Lena Headey
6. Maisie Williams
7. Harry Lloyd
8. Peter Vaughan
9. Jason Momoa
10. Iain Glen

Season 2:
1. Alfie Allen
2. Liam Cunningham
3. Stephen Dillane
4. Charles Dance
5. Carice van Houten
6. Conleth Hill
7. Peter Dinklage
8. James Cosmo
9. Rory McCann
10. Gwendoline Christie

Season 3:
1. Liam Cunningham
2. Gwendoline Christie
3. Charles Dance
4. Jack Gleeson
5. Michael McElhatton
6. Alfie Allen
7. Iwan Rheon
8. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
9. David Bradley
10. Diana Rigg

Season 4:
1. Rory McCann
2. Alfie Allen
3. Pedro Pascal
4. Peter Dinklage
5. Michael McElhatton
6. Charles Dance
7. Sophie Turner
8. Gwendoline Christie
9. Noah Taylor
10. Burn Gorman the fookin' legend

Season 5:
1. Stephen Dillane
2. Jonathan Pryce
3. Kerry Ingram
4. Alfie Allen
5. Sophie Turner
6. Kit Harington
7. Iwan Rheon
8. Liam Cunningham
9. Carice van Houten
10. Diana Rigg

Robert MacFarlane said...

I have to say I'm less enthused by Carice van Houten than you guys are.

Anonymous said...

I really really like Carice Van Houten, although I think Lena Headey is the best actress on the show, she's incredible. Oh and Psifonian, it seems like you don't like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as much as others (such as me, Louis and Luke). For me, he's terrific and easily the MVP of Season 3 (and he was also great in Season 1 and 4). Also, I didn't care much for Jason Momoa (fine but not too special), Burn Gorman (meh), Harry Lloyd (too cartoonish for me), Michael McElhatton (very good but I don't know he doesn't really stand out), Noah Taylor (unremarkable) and Jack Gleeson (good, easy to hate, but not great). Also I felt Season 2 was Dillane's weakest (good but overshadowed) and I'm not too crazy about Iwan Rheon who's still very good anyway. I love Natalie Dormer (particularly in Season 3) and Michelle Fairley is easily in my Top 10 for Season 3 (she was amazing in the Red Wedding episode). And I seem to like Lena Headey much more than all of you, she's my Top 10 for every season except for the third one. But anyway GoT has such a brilliant cast: most of them are very good, which in my book includes also Emilia Clarke, whom I really liked in Season 1 and 5 (and her performance in the 4th episode of Season 3 was dynamite).

Robert MacFarlane said...

Yeah, I didn't really like Harry Lloyd all that much either. That character was like the Westeros version of Guy Pearce in Lawless. In other words a complete cartoon.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: Unfortunately am quite busy nowadays, might be awhile till me next blog post.

Calvin Law said...

Also Southpaw was an incredibly cliche-ridden affair that was just not my cup of tea. There were a few moments but they were far and few between.

Gyllenhaal: 4.5
Whittaker: 3
McAdams: 2
Laurence: 2
Harris: 2
50 Cent: 1
Rita Ora: 2 Wiseaus

luke higham said...

Southpaw Ratings
Gyllenhaal - 3.5 (He had a few unconvincing moments and the cliches dragged his performance down for me)
Whitaker - 3
Harris - 2
McAdams - 2
50 Cent - 1.5
Ora - N/A
Melodramatic rubbish from beginning to end.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: Clarke does have her moments, but I just can't stand her portrayal.

luke higham said...

Calvin: I'll give credit, where credit's due, Gyllenhaal's physical portrayal was great.

Anonymous said...

Luke: It seems like Southpaw is pretty bad, I take it. If Demolition was out this year...Gyllenhaal could probably be a contender for the Oscar.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised the amount of appraisal Nyongo's performance in 12 Years A Slave got, to be honest. Let's see what's next for her.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: God, I hate Harvey Weinstein. With the right director, script and themes, this could've been his Raging Bull, Whereas Nightcrawler was his Taxi Driver (and arguably better). I honestly think he's an idiot, he says one thing and does the complete opposite. I hope Demolition's gonna be moved to next Autumn, otherwise my anger's going to be even greater.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: I know it has a limited release in April, but I'm hoping that Searchlight gives it a wider release in the autumn.

luke higham said...

*This could've been Gyllenhaal's Raging Bull, Whereas Nightcrawler was his Taxi Driver (and arguably better).

luke higham said...

Anonymous: As I said about a month ago, Nyong'o was overshadowed by Ejiofor, Fassbender and Paulson.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I honestly hate people who campaign for Oscars, Weinstein in particular. Cliff Robertson won his Oscar for having campaigned. Had he not campaigned, Peter O'Toole could have won for The Lion in Winter.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I honestly also believed in that as well, Luke. I bet that Nyong'o isn't going to have that much of a career, like Abraham and Rainer. Fassbender was easily my win for 2013 Best Supporting Actor over Leto, Abdi and Foster (who wasn't nominated for two great supporting roles). Leto is a mixed bag of an actor for me. I just don't believe why people already call him (or Nyong'o) a great actor.

Anonymous said...

*understand why

luke higham said...

Anonymous: I know the academy's trying to stamp it out, but it's gonna continue, even when we all breathed our last breath, so we'll just have to live with it.

If Weinstein ruined Macbeth and it seems, that he hasn't, I would've given the rant of a lifetime.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Even though Louis gave a 2 for Bogart's performance in A Lonely Place, I would still like to see it just to see this great performance many critics say it is.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: Fair enough.

I do feel sad for Abraham, his performance in Amadeus, may just be my favourite of all-time.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I forgot to mention that I was also forced to watch Shakespeare in Love during school. I can't believe Paltrow and Dench got Oscars. Joseph Fiennes just can't act, unlike his older brother Ralph. Sometimes, melodramatic movies just annoy the hell out of me and are just painful to watch over and over again. If I was forced to watch Still Alice again, I would refuse to do so. I have to admit that I never really cried watching a movie.

luke higham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I think I would give the Oscar to both Abraham and Hulce. I feel sad for them both for not having got the promising roles they so deserved. But they still gave two brilliant performances and that's what matters. 1974 and 1975 were also great years. Personally, I think that Pacino and Nicholson were equally brilliant in 1974 and 1975, same with Hackman who should have been nominated in 1974 and possibly in 1975.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: Louis's only ever come close to shedding a tear twice.

I find Shakespeare In Love watchable enough, though that's due to me having a deep interest in history. Ralph's better by a million miles.

Still Alice had a really good performance from Moore and that's all I liked about it.

I just like to say, thank god for Brendan Gleeson passing his talent down to Domhnall. Within 2-3 years and a good amount of Lead roles, he could become my favourite actor of the newer generation of talent. Vikander's my favourite actress.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I sure expect Domnhall to give great performances in the future.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: Is there any rankings you would like me to do + their best performance.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I'm not quite following you. Are you talking about the performances that Domnhall and Vikander gave?

luke higham said...

Anonymous: Just pick an considerable amount of actors, I'll rank them best to worst, plus my favourite performance of theirs.

Anonymous said...

James Stewart
Humphrey Bogart
Cary Grant
Clark Gable
Marlon Brando
Laurence Olivier
Alec Guinness
Fredric March
Gary Oldman
Daniel Day-Lewis

luke higham said...

Anonymous: This is quite difficult.
1. Olivier - Richard III
2. Guinness - The Bridge On The River Kwai
3. Stewart - Vertigo
4. Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
5. Day-Lewis - My Left Foot
6. Grant - North By Northwest
7. Gable - Gone With The Wind
8. Bogart - The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre
9. Brando - On The Waterfront
10. March - Seven Days In May

luke higham said...

Anonymous: I'll do actresses as well.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I have to admit I kinda like Bogart's performance in The African Queen. Anyway, if Bogart was to win an Oscar for something, it would be something of a lighthearted role. Anyway, many people state that Bogart's performance in A Lonely Place is his most complex and darkest performance, but I have to disagree with that. Dobbs in Sierra Madre was certainly a harder one to pull than Steele, who was similar to Bogart. I don't consider actors playing themselves that hard, like my teacher said one. Peck's Atticus Finch wasn't that hard to pull off either. It came out easy for Peck because Atticus was very much like him. But Atticus isn't that complex of a character, he's a very simple one.

Anonymous said...

Bette Davis
Barbara Stanwyck
Meryl Streep
Irene Dunne
Greta Garbo
Myrna Loy
Vivien Leigh
Marion Cotillard
Jane Fonda
Katharine Hepburn

luke higham said...

Anonymous:
1. Cotillard - The Immigrant
2. Garbo - Camille
3. Stanwyck - Double Indemnity
4. Leigh - Gone With The Wind
5. Dunne - The Awful Truth
6. Loy - The Thin Man
7. Hepburn - The Lion In Winter, though haven't seen a great deal of her more memorable performances.
8. Davis - All About Eve
9. Streep - The French Lieutenant's Woman
10. Fonda - They Shoot Horse, Don't They?

luke higham said...

*10. Fonda - They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Anonymous said...

Anyway, I'll rate the actors/actresses and my favorite performances I requested for you.
1. Olivier- Rebecca
2. Guinness- The Bridge on the River Kwai
3. Stewart- It's A Wonderful Life
4. Oldman- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
5. Day-Lewis- My Left Foot
6. Bogart- The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
7. Grant- North by Northwest
8. Gable- Gone With The Wind
9. Brando- On the Waterfront
10. March- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (I prefer this performance over Seven Days in May)
Actresses
1. Stanwyck- Double Indemnity
2. Leigh- Gone With the Wind
3. Garbo- Camille
4. Cotillard- La Vie En Rose
5. Dunne- The Awful Truth
6. Loy- The Best Years of Our Lives (I prefer her in this than in The Thin Man even though she's great in it)
7. Davis- All About Eve
8. Hepburn- The Lion in Winter
9. Streep- Silkwood
10. Fonda- They Shoot The Horses, Don't They?

luke higham said...

Anonymous: Shit, I forgot about It's A Wonderful Life, I'll tie that with Vertigo.

Goodnight. :)

Anonymous said...

Luke: Goodnight. :)

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

1952:

Actress:

1. Maureen O'Hara - The Quiet Man - 4.5
2. Claire Bloom - Limelight - 4.5
3. Kinuyo Tanaka - The Life of Oharu - 4.5
4. Shirley Booth - Come Back, Little Sheba - 4.5
5. Joan Crawford - Sudden Fear - 4.5

Supporting Actress:

1. Olivia deHavilland - My Cousin Rachel - 4.5
2. Edith Evans - The Importance of Being - 4
3. Mildred Natwick - The Quiet Man - 4
4. Gloria Grahame - Sudden Fear - 4
5. Miki Odagiri - Ikiru - 4

1954:

Actress:

Brenda De Banzie - Hobson's Choice - 4.5
Judy Garland - A Star is Born

Eh that's all I got.

Supporting Actress:

Eva Marie Saint - On the Waterfront
Grace Kelly - Rear Window - 4.5
Thelma Ritter - Rear Window - 4
Dorothy Maguire - Three Coins in a Fountain - 3.5
Jane Wenham - An Inspector Calls

Anonymous said...

Wow, he must be great.
1. Grant
2. Nakadai
3. Guinness
4. Stockwell
5. Leaud
By the way, Louis (and I know that I'm annoying you a little with this premake thing, but whatever), your cast and director for Sin City in the 1930's (Pre-Code), 1950's and 1970's and their respective releases.