Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1989: Jeff Bridges in The Fabulous Baker Boys

Jeff Bridges did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jack Baker in The Fabulous Baker Boys.

The Fabulous Baker Boys is a fine film about a duo of nightclub musicians who take on a female singer to rejuvenate their act.

Jeff Bridges plays the younger of the Baker boys, the older brother Frank (Beau Bridges) acts as the manager for both and takes a far more enthusiastic approach when it comes to the actual performances. The film begins with Jack basically already in a lull. Bridges has a bit of a challenge right from the start in that Jack is not exactly the most lively presence right from the start. Bridges in no way tries to falsely energizes the role, but instead plays the part accordingly. Bridges though manages to do well in the part by just vividly realizing the state that Jack is in when the film begins. Bridges portrays Jack as a man in problematic state of indifference from the beginning. He has his one night stands with women which Bridges portrays as basically just part of routine. The same certainly goes for when he is performing with his brother on stage where Bridges shows that Jack is just going through the motions of what is required of him, but there is not a hint of life in the routine for him. He just plays what he needs to and contributes the minimum of what is required of him to complete the act.

Bridges though is interesting the way he creates the state Jack is in because even though it is not especially pleasant for him it technically is far from horrible for him. What Bridges conveys so well is the certain discontent of a man who's not quite happy with his life, but he's also basically come to accept it for what it is. Within that though I like how Bridges finds a bit of room for Jack not to be as dour as he might have been otherwise. There are moments where Jack is spending time with his old dog, or with the neighbors daughter who looks to him as a father figure where there does seem to be something there for Jack. What's interesting though is that Bridges does not obviously have these moments where Jack becomes more open and outgoing or anything like that. Bridges rather very effectively carries just a certain ease and warmth in these scenes that very quietly shows that there is some things in his life that he enjoys. For the most part though he is forced just to continue through his routine but eventually even the Fabulous Baker Boys act becomes even a little too old for the crowd they play for leaving the brothers to take on aspiring singer/ former call girl Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer).

Her addition does rejuvenate their careers but Bridges does well not to show any sort of immediate change in Jack, as at first he just seems to keep going along the way things were. He does quietly begin to bring some life back into some of the performances, though Bridges carefully keeps it in a muted way. There is rarely a time where Jack still seems to absolutely accept anything, and Bridges maintains that even when they are doing well Jack is still obviously not exactly leaving up to his own dream by constantly following his brother's very specific instructions. What Bridges portrays though is that Jack is more than anything energized by Suzie's  presence, as Bridges only really shows this other side to Jack when he is interacting with her or reacting to her. Bridges still keeps it low key but quite palatable. At the same though he keeps Jack as almost too opposing ends because there does seem to be some happiness there with Susie, he also portrays Jack having even worse moments of moodiness when interacting with his brother. Bridges never takes Jack wholly out of that hole he has been in from the beginning. 

Bridges and Pfeiffer have an unusual chemistry together technically speaking. For most of it they don't speak directly about it but the two really say more than enough in their glances between one another. This is especially true in the "Makin' Whoopee' where there is something so sensual about the two together that it almost a dance even though all Bridges does in the scene is play the piano. This even goes so far that the fully romantic scenes between Susie and Jack are silent yet the tension so to speak in the moment could not be more keenly felt. Of course this leads to the last act where Jack frankly acts like jerk. This could have potentially fallen flat as these scenes sometimes can feel quite forced, but Bridges's work makes it work. A reason for this is that Bridges never has Jack change completely with Susie, and is convincing in that he shows how Jack just can't fall out of the routine of his life. His one night stands have been meaningless so again that's all that he treats as since that's all he's ever been use to. Of course Bridges is great in how he shows that now though the routine seems to grate on him more than ever.

Bridges makes the final scenes of the film believable because he's always been honest with the character making his final transition feel particularly earned. What Bridges presents it as is not a frustration that changes Jack, but rather shows that Jack finally taking action is what relieves his frustrations. I particularly love one scene where he visits his brother after the two of them have had a terrible fight. The two of them finally remember their old times and it allows Jack to think about the fact that he did not always hate it. They even go so far as to sing a quick song together which is a wonderful scene for both Bridges as you witness the old days of Baker boys in their faces and in their voices. In that Bridges naturally progresses Jack to finally lose that dourness, although importantly he still does keep him as the low key guy Jack happens to be. This leads to his last scene with Susie which is a fairly understated reunion. There really is not a moment where there's the dramatic declaration of love. The two's fantastic chemistry comes in again and their final reconciliation simply feels just right. The same is true for Bridges's whole performance which always feels genuine and gives complexity to a character that in the wrong hands could have been just one note of gloom.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thoughts/ratings on the other Bridges and Pfeiffer?

Anonymous said...

What are everybody's ratings and thoughts on the Best Actress nominees for 2010? I'm very interested. Mine would be:
1# Lawrence - 5 (She nails the though nature of the character and her headstrong attitude never becomes annoying or repetitive despite being a very prominent part of the character. I love the way she portrays her character's drive to find her father, and how she slowly taps into the vulnerabilities of the character who's still just a young girl. To me this is Hailee Steinfeld's performance in True Grit done right)
2# Nicole Kidman - 4.5 (She's brilliant in her showy scenes and all of her outbursts and breakdowns are perfectly acted. I love even more though her quieter moments with Miles Teller as she conveys all the pain and grief of the character with subtle expressions while showing a nice bit of warmth into their relationship. What I love the most is the dedication she brings to the role as she really seems to believe into the movie and its message which makes her work all the more honest)
3# Michelle Williams - 4.5 (She's phenomenal although maybe slightly overshadowed by Gosling, but still she's really great in the role. She is rather sweet as the two build up the relationship and then shifts wonderfully to a truly devastating and hard-hitting performance as their relationship falls apart)
4# Natalie Portman - 4.5 (Much subtler performance than I expected, which I definitely appreciated. Portman is very good in creating such an insicure and vulnerable character in such an understated fashion and then does a great job in portraying her growing insanity as she explores the darkness of her own mind. On the top of that she shares a oddly intriguing chemistry with both Cassel and Kunis)
5# Bening - 3 (Easily the weak link to me. She's alright in the first 2/3 of the movie but she barely does anything noteworthy. She is quite great in her few scenes after she finds out about the affair but it's still too little too late. I also don't really care for the movie which I think is not very well-written).

luke higham said...

Louis: Your Female Lead/Supporting Top 5s for 1983 and 1984 with ratings.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'd give him an easy 5, but I can live with this. I'm always surprised he got the least amount of praise from the cast by critics. Sometimes I wonder if his performance was just too understated for their tastes.

Calvin Law said...

1. Williams (5)
2. Kidman (4.5)
3. Lawrence (4.5)
4. Portman (3.5)
5. Bening (3)

Similar thoughts to you but on differing levels.

luke higham said...

1. Lawrence (5)
2. Williams (4.5/5)
3. Kidman (4.5)
4. Portman (3.5)
5. Bening (2.5)

luke higham said...

Louis, RatedRStar & Calvin:
Steve Jobs Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufMgQNCXy_M

Calvin Law said...

Luke: I am still not completely sold but I'm intrigued. Looks very similar in tone to The Program and The Social Network (obviously).

luke higham said...

Calvin: I could see Fassbender's performance as the Oyelowo/Selma of 2015, where the resemblance isn't 100% spot on, but is able to embody him incredibly well.

luke higham said...

Calvin: I'm intrigued as well, but Macbeth's gonna win out for me regardless of the final product.

luke higham said...

Calvin: To Clarify, I'm speaking of Fassbender's performances in both.

RatedRStar said...

Ye I am fairly looking forward to Steve Jobs and Fassbender (as usual he is one of the actors I can shout BEST IN THE WORLD to without people raising eyebrows), I think Danny Boyle is the right choice to direct, it needs a stylishness to it I think which he provides, I will say that The Program has me even more excited simply because Foster just looks intensely creepy.

RatedRStar said...

What is everybodys top 5 favorite trailers of 2015 so far?

luke higham said...

RatedRStar:
1. Macbeth
2. Legend - Running Scared/Roy Orbison
3. The Program
4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
5. Steve Jobs (Most Recent)

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I'd absolutely love it, if by next February, Fassbender (Macbeth) & Foster have 4 5s and Hardy (Revenant, Legend and Mad Max) and Cotillard (Rust And Bone and Macbeth) with 5. My Respect and Admiration for Louis Morgan will be incredibly high (If it isn't high enough already), if that happens to be the case. =)

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I'll add the Mad Max: Fury Road Trailers as honourable mentions.

Michael McCarthy said...

Harry's great but I don't really see him getting a 5 for Mad Max. I still assert that if anyone deserves a 5 in that film it's Nicholas Hoult.

luke higham said...

Michael McCarthy: It's Hardy not Harry, and Louis did say that he might give him a 5 at some point in the near future. I'm actually thinking of requesting him for 2015 Lead and yes, Hoult's excellent and there's no doubt in my mind that he deserves a review.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I don't think Hardy was THAT great to be honest. He's only a 3.5 for me. Granted, I don't seem to be as big on Hardy as the rest of you.

luke higham said...

Robert: For Shame. =)

Anonymous said...

I really liked Hardy and he'd be a 4.5, but a steady 4.5. If anyone is close to a 5 for me from that movie, it's Theron. She was fantastic. Robert, what would you give her?

luke higham said...

Anonymous: She's very close for me as well.

Michael McCarthy said...

I know Louis said he might upgrade Hardy, but I don't think he will. I think he'll look at Hardy's other 5-worthy performances (some of which might come from this year) and see that his performance in Mad Max isn't quite on that level. And I really don't think it's a good idea to request him until we've really gotten a chance to see what the year has to offer.

luke higham said...

Michael McCarthy: I plan on waiting another 6 months, but If the Academy really make a mess of their lead lineup, then I'm sure Louis will do ten for the year anyway.

Robert MacFarlane said...

@Anonymous: I'd give Theron an easy 4.5, bordering on 5. Same for Hoult.

Michael McCarthy said...

Luke: I can get behind that.

Hardy: 4.5
Theron: 4.5
Hoult: 5

Anonymous said...

Ratings/thoughts on Marie Dressler and Jean Harlow in Dinner at Eight?

Anonymous said...

Hardy: 4.5
Theron: 4
Hoult: 4

Robert MacFarlane said...

I must be the only one here who is in general less impressed with Hardy when he's in physical intimidation mode. Or in general find his accents off putting.

Michael McCarthy said...

The one instance where I felt like his accent was a little off-putting was in Warrior. Apart from that, I don't share your reservations. Yes his accent was wobbly in Mad Max, but I thought it worked because it gave the impression of a man who just wasn't used to talking very much.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I mean, even when he's great like The Drop the accent is still off. Sometimes his weird choices when it comes to them can be endearing in odd ways (Bane), but Warrior he practically gargles his lines. I get that he tries to make up for it a lot in physicality, but frankly it becomes tiresome after the 8th time.

Matt Mustin said...

But see, again I don't think he cares as much about perfecting the accent technically as he does about creating something that portrays where the character's coming from.

Calvin Law said...

I'll be the first to admit some of Hardy's accents are a very odd, but wobbly? I have to disagree, and if you're going to critique that aspect of acting then Fassbender is also guilty of that, to a much more significant extent. In The Drop, Lawless, Warrior, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Bronson and The Dark Knight Rises he maintains the very precise sort of oddity to his voice/accent/mannerisms that make the characters really click. Locke and Mad Max? Very off-kilter accents but I felt they emphasised the very particular, enigmatic qualities of those characters.

Having said that, though Hardy is one of my favourite actors I do think a review for Mad Max should be considered only if Louis has any new thoughts/upgrades to make, since Hardy is almost certainty guaranteed to be reviewed, Alternate/Oscar, for The Revenant and Legend. I will say the sole performance I've seen so far this year that BEGS for a review is Ian McKellen for Mr Holmes, I won't request him yet though because I'm praying for him to be nominated, don't wanna jinx it.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: Watched 3 episodes of Wolf Hall.

Rylance is amazing, literally some of the best acting I've like ever seen. Also brilliant are Claire Foy, Jonathan Pryce, Charity Wakefield, Joanne Whalley and Mark Gatiss.

I will say though Damian Lewis...isn't bad, just takes a bit of getting used to. It's certainly an interesting take on Henry.

Calvin Law said...

My favourite scene so far would be the one between Cromwell and Mary Boleyn in episode 2. Masterful acting.

luke higham said...

Calvin: In regards to Fassbender, I do agree with you in terms of accent work, which can be over the place at times, otherwise, I still personally think he's a fantastic actor, although at this moment in time, I do prefer Hardy.

One reason why, I would like to request Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road, is if he actually does go up to a 5, I want to know instantly, instead of asking Louis numerous times, whether he's been moved up to a 5 yet.

Finally, I too want McKellen reviewed and it sucks that Louis could only go up to 10 for the alternate lineup, due to time and work constraints, plus being completely burned out by the end of it.

Robert MacFarlane said...

You know, the praise he gets for Warrior probably mystifies me the most. Accent aside, he doesn't add nearly as much to his role as Edgerton does. Though I admit the film itself grants Edgerton far more opportunities to stretch his character than Hardy did.

luke higham said...

Calvin: I'm really happy, that you've started watching it and I'm glad that you found Rylance amazing. =) Can I have your ratings & thoughts on the cast members after you've finished.

John Smith said...

A request for bonusreviews:

Joseph Gordon Lewit/Mysterious Skins

luke higham said...

Calvin: Let's hope that the Academy do a near perfect selection this year, e.g. 2013, since if McKellen doesn't get nominated and you request him for the alternates alongside Hardy, Louis would have no choice but to do 10, which would be a win-win for everyone. Plus I don't think we're getting more than ten 5s for 2015 Lead.

John Smith: He's already been requested.

Robert MacFarlane said...

You know, concerning Fassbender's accents, the only time I thought it was distracting or bad was The Counselor.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: Of course.

Robert: X-Men First Class was fairly distracting when he started wavering between his natural/Magneto's accent. Although again I don't seem to be as big a fan of Fassbender as most people on this blog are.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Oh yeah, that. I always forget about First Class existing. It's like Days of Future Past wiped it from my memory.

Calvin Law said...

Robert: Same. I will say though, even though his accent in The Counselor was bad, he was still one of the better elements of the film.

mcofra7 said...

John Smith: I already requested that performance

RatedRStar said...

One of the reasons I love actors like Fassbender, Hardy, Whishaw and Foster, is that you have to think, the future of films need actors like these, and these four are young actors, below 40 nowadays I would consider young because they have so much time left, because actors like Miles Teller and Tye Sheridan could easily turn into bad actors when they are much older.

The future of films lies with actors like these four, theres probably more of course, although Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch for me are good but limited.

Thats why I keep shouting "BEST IN THE WORLD" when it comes to actors like Hardy and Fassbender, these guys are gonna be leading men for the next ten to twenty years and will consistently pick good Oscar caliber films as they mostly have done so far.

RatedRStar said...

I would expect plenty of Oscar nominations for Hardy and Fassbender in the future if they keep going (an Oscar nom for Whishaw and Foster would open the floodgates) because I would say the first nomination is harder to get than the second and third.

I mean does anybody believe that in 30-40 years or wherever, someone will write "Michael Fassbender recieved his only Oscar Nomination for portraying Edwin Epps in 12 Years a Slave"

Anonymous said...

I've just seen Lust, Caution. Louis (and everyone else) you really need to see it. It's amazing, beautifully directed and written. It's just so compelling (and also stunning to look at) from beginning to end. Tony Leung is great in his role, and Tang Wei is phenomenal to say the least. She's my pick for Best Actress 2007, and I have seen Cotillard.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: We really need to savour this generation of talent to the full, in what is for me a third golden age. (30s/40s and 60s/70s) The last 4 years alone have been proof of that.

Those A-Holes at the Academy took nearly 30 years to give Gary Oldman his first nomination.

RatedRStar said...

Lust Caution is a darn good film indeed =)

Yes that is sad indeed Luke.

Michael McCarthy said...

Calvin: I only used the word "wobbly" to describe his accent in Mad Max, and I agree that it worked for the character.

Calvin Law said...

Michael: My bad, I should have used 'off'; I actually agreed with your remark haha

Calvin Law said...

Everyone: any recommendations for Head-to-Head matchups? I'm working on a BIG Sherlock Holmes one so in the meantime any smaller recommendations much appreciated.

Michael McCarthy said...

Calvin: This would probably be a bigger one, but have you done a Poirot lineup yet?

Calvin Law said...

Nope, that sounds like a good idea. So that'd be Finney, Ustinov, Suchet, and...?

luke higham said...

Calvin: Molina or Holm.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Bridges - 4(He gets the more flamboyant part though somewhat thankless since he must often play the fool. Bridges does it well though as he always makes it feel like an actual guy who just has become far too set in his ways rather than a caricature. In addition though he has some great moments where he gives the other Baker some depth such as one he quietly talks about his family, as well as his final scene with his brother that again is just wonderful)

Pfeiffer - 4.5(I guess I don't love her as much as some just by virtue that I don't give her a 5. I do want to note though that I certainly like her a whole. It needs to be said that all of her performance scenes are beautifully rendered and the "Making Whoopee" is about as alluring as something gets thanks Pfeiffer. Outside of the performance scenes though Pfeiffer nicely plays into her character's quirks without ever making it too much, just rather nicely brings color to the character. In addition she bridges this well to the vulnerabilities of her character which always feel honest due to Pfeiffer's performance)

Luke:

I should say I watched Mad Max again. I loved it just as much. The ratings for the performances are the same for though, and they feel right to me.

1983:

Actress:

1. Meryl Streep - Silkwood
2. Shirley MacLaine - Terms of Endearment
3. Anne Bancroft - To Be Or Not to Be
4. Julie Walters - Educating Rita
5. Sumiko Sakamoto - The Ballad of Narayama

Supporting Actress:

1. Melinda Dillon - A Christmas Story
2. Cher - Silkwood
3. Tess Harper - Tender Mercies
4. Jamie Lee Curtis - Trading Places
5. Alfre Woodard - Cross Creek

1984:

Actress:

1. Lily Tomlin - All Of Me - 4
2. Sally Field - Places in the Heart
3. Judy Davis - A Passage to India
4. Heather Lagenkamp - A Nightmare on Elm Street - 3.5

Supporting Actress:

1. Nastassja Kinski - Paris, Texas
2. Sigourney Weaver - Ghostbusters
3. Suzanna Hamilton - 1984 - 4
4. Aurore Clement - Paris, Texas - 4
5. Tuesday Weld - Once Upon a Time in America

RatedRStar:

1. Spectre
2. Legend (Teaser)
3. Mad Max
4. Star Wars (Second Teaser)
5. The Program (Just love the way Foster says "I have never tested positively for performance enhancing drugs)

Anonymous:

Harlowe - 4(She does the extremely dumb blonde act incredibly well, and her whole performance is a lot of fun)

Dressler - 4(In turn she does the very smart old broad act incredibly well, and makes her one liners sing just as they should)