Saturday, 31 October 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1995

And the Nominees Were Not:

Angus Macfadyen in Braveheart

David O'Hara in Braveheart

Patrick McGoohan in Braveheart

Don Cheadle in Devil in a Blue Dress

Kevin Spacey in Seven

Sam Neill in Restoration

Gene Hackman in Get Shorty

For Prediction Purposes:

Take McGoohan from the Braveheart men.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1995: Results

10. Johan Widerberg in All Things Fair - Widerberg gives a fine performance that certainly realizes his character's personal journey even if it left me cold.

Best Scene: Watching the newsreel.
9. James Earl Jones in Cry, The Beloved Country - Jones gives an appropriate grace and certain emotional poignancy to his character.

Best Scene: Kumalo meets Jarvis.
8. Jonathan Pryce in Carrington - Although the film oddly keeps a distance from him Pryce gives a compelling realization of Lytton Strachey even in the film's somewhat narrow focus on him.

Best Scene: Carrington reveals her feelings to Strachey.
7. Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise -Hawke gives a very good performance that fits right into the wavelength of both the film's style as well as with his co-star's performance.

Best Scene: Celine and Jesse decide on what to do.
6. Kenneth Branagh in Othello - Branagh gives an intriguing depiction of Iago by presenting of a man of many masks that hide his evil intentions.

Best Scene: Iago reveals his true self.
5. Mel Gibson in Braveheart - Gibson gives a passionate and powerful portrayal that is fitting to the film's presentation of William Wallace as a romantic hero.

Best Scene: Killing the Sheriff.
4. Bruce Willis in 12 Monkeys - Willis gives a captivating portrayal of a man on the constant brink of insanity, while being gripped by his time bending mission.

Best Scene: Cole attempts to explain himself.
3. Richard Harris in Cry, The Beloved Country - Harris gives a heartbreaking and convincing depiction of a man being changed for the better despite suffering a horrible tragedy.

Best Scene: Jarvis meets Kumalo.
2. Ian McKellen in Richard III - McKellen gives a brilliant Shakespearean performance as he finds new ground with the character by merely taking his villainy to almost an absurd extent.

Best Scene: Richard's final meeting with the Queen.
1. Morgan Freeman in Seven - Good Predictions Luke, Anonymous, Jackiboyz, and Michael McCarthy. I'll admit this is another year where I am torn by my top two as I really do love McKellen and Freeman's work equally. Freeman though also gives a great performance as he realizes the style of his character so well without falling into an obvious cliche, while realizing the pessimism of the man in such a compelling fashion by finding the humanity within the man that creates it.

Best Scene: The finale.
Overall Rank:
  1. Morgan Freeman in Seven
  2. Ian McKellen in Richard III 
  3. Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas
  4. Richard Harris in Cry, The Beloved Country
  5. Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects
  6. Bruce Willis in 12 Monkeys
  7. Mel Gibson in Braveheart
  8. Brad Pitt in Seven
  9. Kenneth Branagh in Othello
  10. Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise
  11. Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking
  12. Jonathan Pryce in Carrington
  13. Liam Neeson in Rob Roy
  14. James Early Jones in Cry, The Beloved Country
  15. Tom Hanks in Apollo 13 
  16. John Travolta in Get Shorty
  17. Laurence Fishburne in Othello
  18. Clint Eastwood in The Bridges of Madison County
  19. Joe Pesci in Casino
  20. Pierce Brosnan in GoldenEye 
  21. Bruce Willis in Die Hard With a Vengeance
  22. Denzel Washington in Devil in a Blue Dress
  23. Al Pacino in Heat 
  24. Samuel L. Jackson in Die Hard With a Vengeance
  25. Robert Downey Jr. in Restoration
  26. Michael Douglas in The American President
  27. Gabriel Byrne in The Usual Suspects 
  28. Robert De Niro in Heat
  29. Denzel Washington in Crimson Tide
  30. Tom Hanks in Toy Story
  31. Tim Allen in Toy Story
  32. Johan Widerberg in All Things Fair
  33. Robert De Niro in Casino 
  34. Dustin Hoffman in Outbreak
  35. Chris Farley in Tommy Boy
  36. Richard Dreyfuss in Mr. Holland's Opus 
  37. Hugh Grant in The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain
  38. Bill Farmer in A Goofy Movie
  39. Antonio Banderas in Desperado 
  40. Bill Pullman in While You Were Sleeping
  41. Damon Wayans in Major Payne 
  42. Steve Martin in Father of the Bride Part II 
  43. Daniel Stern in Bushwhacked
  44. Will Smith in Bad Boys
  45. Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys 
  46. Mel Gibson in Pocahontas
  47. Jason Marsden in A Goofy Movie
  48. John Candy in Canadian Bacon
  49. Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
  50. Anthony Hopkins in Nixon
  51. Robin Shou in Mortal Kombat
  52. Robin Williams in Jumanji
  53. Val Kilmer in Batman Forever 
  54. Jonny Lee Miller in Hackers
  55. Bill Pullman in Casper
  56. Kevin Costner in Waterworld
  57. Malachi Pearson in Casper 
  58. Tom McGowan in Heavy Weights
  59. Sylvester Stallone in Judge Dredd 
  60. Woody Allen in Mighty Aphrodite
  61. Adam Sander in Billy Madison
  62. Woody Harrelson in Money Train
  63. Wesley Snipes in Money Trains 
  64. Chevy Chase in Man of the House
  65. Johnny Depp in Nick of Time
  66. Richard Gere in First Knight
  67. David Spade in Tommy Boy
  68. Jason David Frank in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie
  69. Jonathan Taylor Thomas in Man of the House
  70. Dylan Walsh in Congo 
  71. Ryan Slater in The Amazing Panda Adventure
  72. Hal Scardino The Indian in the Cupboard 
  73. Steven Seagal in Under Siege 2: The Dark Territory
  74. Ron Melendez in Children of the Corn III 
  75. Daniel Cerny in Children of the Corn III
Next Year: 1995 Supporting

Alternate Best Actor 1995: Johan Widerberg in All Things Fair

Johan Widerberg did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Stig Santesson in All Things Fair.

All Things Fair tells the story of a illicit relationship between an older teacher and student set during World War II. The film has interesting moment though it is a bit too slow going in finding its climax, and the impact of the story ends up being fairly muted.

The film itself begins with Stig played by Widerberg, who is also the son of the film's director, as he is beginning school though he's mostly only interested in sex. Widerberg plays these early scenes without complication just presenting Stig as basically a lusty teenager though with just the slightest hint of a smooth unassuming charm, although really not much of it. This soon leads to the affair with his teacher Viola (Marika Lagercrantz) which happens very quickly. This is not a criticism of the film even though it might seem like a bit of a fantasy though only from Stig's perspective, the ease of the affair does not come from any actual seductive ability of Stig's rather it comes from Viola's personal desperation that we learn more about as the film proceeds. The early scenes are in the view of the fantasy though and Widerberg presents them as just seeming a dream of sorts for Stig who just is enjoying every one of their secluded engagements, which is very different from his family life which is troubled due to his brother being in danger due to the war.

Widerberg attaches the whole affair well to basically just an escape for Stig as there never seems as though he really recognizes the reality of his situation rather just embracing a certain immaturity that is allowed from it all. This changes though when Stig is caught multiple times by Viola's husband and it soon becomes obvious that he is aware of the affair, he just does not care. Thing are only made more complicated as both the husband and wife decide to share their insecurities with Stig, and Widerberg is very good in these scenes by showing basically Stig being forced to snap into reality. The abundance of pleasure as he goes about his days becomes severely muted in Widerberg's performance, and most importantly of all Widerberg slowly moves away from being just that lusty teen. Widerberg subtly conveys a maturation in Stig through his reactions to the desperation that he sees forcing him to realize his own, which only seems to become worse since he is no longer able to escape it through the affair.

One scene that is particularly effective in terms of Widerberg's work is when another girl, one who happens to actually be his age, attempts to seduce him, and Widerberg in his reaction portrays the exact maturation of Stig as he denies the girl, something that would not doubt seem ridiculous out of the Stig in the opening scenes of the film. This is a natural transition made by Widerberg as he presents the boy becoming the man in the way he no longer avoids the complications of life. This soon changes though as well when he stops the affair, causing a great deal of bitterness with the teacher, and Widerberg is good in changing Stig into being defined by a resigned frustration as he can do nothing to change his plight. That is until a more severe tragedy befalls him which instead forces him instead into a sadness, which Widerberg plays well again with that same resigned quality as though Stig is finally aware of what he can and cannot do in life. This is a good performance though I must admit that it is one that I was always oddly detached from. It hits all the appropriate points through the film though it just never quite took that next step for me, although I can see why one could potentially love this performance.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1995: James Earl Jones and Richard Harris in Cry, The Beloved Country

James Earl Jones did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a SAG, for portraying Reverend Stephen Kumalo in Cry, The Beloved Country.

Cry, The Beloved Country tells the story of a South African Reverend who lives in the country and goes to the city to find his family only to discover his son has committed a terrible crime that also effects the reverend's wealthy white neighbor.

Jones plays the Reverend Kumalo who we first meet as a seemingly simple enough Reverend who goes about his life. Jones is a particularly good actor at simply seeming dignified from almost nothing and this presence of his certainly works well for the part. Even before Kumalo does anything we seem to already understand him through just that natural grace that Jones can exude so easily. Jones does not just leave him as just the good Reverend though, and importantly even before he goes to leave there is something wrong with him. Jones is very effective in the way he conveys that underlying distress in Kumalo that pains him. Jones portrays it well as a silent distress, one Kumalo tries to only burden himself with, a fear for his family, particularly his son, as well as concern for the whole nation of South Africa as Jones shows that Kumalo is unable to know what to make of the problems and apparent changes facing his people.

In order to relinquish some of his burdens Kumalo decides to make the journey into the city of Johannesburg. Jones is very good in the scenes of Kumalo trying to navigate the city as he is creates an honest sense of Kumalo's inability to really inhabit this world he's in. These scenes could have potentially come off poorly if Jones had overplayed Kumalo's surprise and confusion as he tries to maneuver in a city he does not understand. Jones not only depicts this in a way that feels honest but also reveals Kumalo's detachment from this world. Jones does this well because it never feels as though Kumalo is purposeful in this or is being stubborn in any way as he seems so out of place. Rather Jones is very effective by showing this disconnection out of Kumalo's own nature which does not fit in the rough the city, since there is too much goodness in him which Jones realizes in an fashion that never feels sanctimonious.

Richard Harris did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying James Jarvis in Cry, The Beloved Country.

A quick note on the proper category for Harris. I'd say I'm wholly open to one considering a supporting or leading player in the film. I do feel he's lead because the film ends up following the story of both men as Harris is frequently given perspective although he has considerably fewer scenes that follow him than Jones, so I can understand if one were to place him supporting instead as he's right on the border for me as well. Anyway onto the actual performance. Harris is actually introduced in the film before Jones as he rides by a child who's going to deliver a message to Jones's character. Harris's work is easy enough to take for granted in these early scenes, but the way he establishes Jarvis in the early scenes is essential to the journey of his character in the film. Harris is good in the scenes where Jarvis reacts to his black neighbors or speaks about discrimination. Harris does not deliver these scenes with an obvious passion, even when Jarvis questions his son's unprejudiced position, but rather as a man whose just is going with the status quo which he simply has never questioned during his life time.

Jarvis is also forced to go into the city when he learns that his son has been murdered by someone. Harris is excellent in the scene where Jarvis is told the news as he makes the grief palatable in his incredibly moving reaction. Harris makes it particularly notable as he does not shed a tear rather is heartbreaking in portraying the way Jarvis is falling apart as he's trying to hard to hold his reserve together so badly. Even though his initial comments towards his sons were against his actions which involve helping the black community of Johannesburg, Harris reveals Jarvis's love for his son in this beautifully rendered moment by Harris. Quickly though Jarvis must go onto the city as well to identify the body, and attend the funeral while possibly finding out who the killer is. Harris shifts the sadness in a convincing fashion to a subtle though powerful anger he continually demands to know from the police whether or not they have captured those responsible for his son's demise. Harris shows the way that this may take Jarvis down only a darker path though this is only until he starts to learn more about his son's activities.

The connection between Kumalo and Jarvis unfortunately end up being that Jarvis's only son was killed by Kumalo's only son in a botched robbery. As the film progresses Jones continues to fulfill the needs of his character, but I have to say Harris ends up overshadowing Jones somewhat, despite having fewer and shorter scenes in his depiction of Jarvis's story. Kumalo is a constant man, and does not change throughout the story being only ever the pillar of goodness and faith that he was at the beginning of the story. It must be said that Jones does this well, and he never makes you question this resolve for even a moment. Harris though makes the greater impact through his depiction of Jarvis as he deals with the death of his son. Harris creates the sense of bitter hate in Jarvis as he goes through the worst moments of his life, but while doing this he begins to see what his son was trying to do. That initial way Harris depicted Jarvis's indifference to discrimination plants the seeds to establish the potential for Jarvis's transformation, but Harris still never allows any simplicity.

Harris is outstanding the way he portrays the slowly waning anger in Jarvis as it just is not natural to the man, which quietly changes back to his grief that Harris presents as making Jarvis trying to connect with something about his son. This ends up being his feelings towards the blacks, and Harris is terrific in making this gradual change in Jarvis to recognize that his son was right all along. I love the way though that Harris does not make this an easy change still. Harris portrays well the way Jarvis seems to still be defensive against the sentiments as though his own upbringing is keeps trying to prevent him from recognizing the truth, but being forced to see what his son saw is slowly wars down this barrier  that Jarvis never truly believed in. Harris is particularly great in the moment where Jarvis somberly tells his wife about some of his son writing said basically that his parents taught him nothing, and Harris makes it such a poignant moment by his reaction that suggests that Jarvis is not hurt by his son such a thing but rather for having never been a better example for him.

The test of Jarvis's change comes when Kumalo accidentally stumbles upon Jarvis due to an entirely unrelated matter. It is an amazing scene in both of Jones and Harris's performance. Jones is tremendous as Kumalo as wholly loses that reserve as he falls into an intense sadness as he sees the man who he knows has suffered an unforgivable tragedy due to his own son. Harris is equally good in the same moment when Jarvis realizes who this man is. The moment where Jarvis turns away for a moment is brilliantly handled by Harris as he does reveal his own intense reaction, though that of rage though only momentary as Harris plays it as though Jarvis is weeding out his final bit of hatred in himself to be the better man his son would have wanted him to be. Harris makes the scene much more remarkable by wholly earning the understanding in Jarvis as he continues to respect Kumalo as an equal and a father while refusing to avoid falling back into his earlier sorrow or hatred. The connection between the two is made believable by both Jones and Harris and likely would not have worked without them. The film itself makes some odd choices in terms direction, and at any moment the film could completely fall apart. It does not through the work of Jones and Harris. The final moments they share later do not even have many spoken words but Jones and Harris manage to say more within the silent interactions between the two as it becomes clear that the two no longer are burdened by any rift caused by society. Of course this is a matter of remaining steadfast in regards to Jones, which again he does well. Watching the film again though Harris leaves an even stronger impression through his remarkable transformation that never feels cheap or forced, but rather carries the inspirational quality it should. Jones's performance should not be hand waved as he gives a good one, but it must be said that Harris gives a great one.
(For Harris)
(For Jones)

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1995: Morgan Freeman in Seven

Morgan Freeman did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Detective William R. Somerset in Seven.

Seven is an excellent thriller about two homicide detectives trying to catch a killer who bases his murders on the seven deadly sins.

Morgan Freeman plays the elder detective on the case who also just happens to be a few days away from retirement, who also has to deal with his fresh over eager new partner Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt) who just transferred into what one would assume is the country. Somerset has obviously been the detective in the city for some time, what city exactly is never named. It seems to be a dank pit of place where it seems to always rain, and the dirt never seems to come off representing apparently the worst of any urban environment. Seven is very interesting in the way that it does actual have a very distinct style yet always feels as though it is in the realm of reality. This passes onto the main character of Detective Somerset who has a certain style about himself that it well realized through Morgan Freeman's performance. Somerset does have a way of speaking but what Freeman does so well to begin with is he never allows this to overwhelm his performance, or in any way make this seem a forced element in the character. The old time detective style of the man feels wholly natural in Freeman's performance, and he makes it simply the man who Somerset is. He completely internalizes the style in quite a fascinating way, by having it there, but never letting it define the character or his performance.

Freeman manages to do this, in part, in the way he brings it into the man created through the experiences that Somerset no doubt has had while as a homicide detective. Freeman presents the method of Somerset particularly well in his performance just in the way he maneuvers in a crime scene or examines a piece of evidence. Freeman portrays this in a particularly fluid manner as though this is just almost instinct at this point for Somerset in the way he goes about his duties. Freeman shows it as a man who is in his element as a detective, for better or worse, as it is something he seems wholly comfortable with in terms of going through the motions of his work. This is of course in stark contrast to how he feels emotionally about the work. Freeman is outstanding in depicting just how exasperated Somerset is. What's special about what Freeman achieves though is that he does not just play it like Somerset is just tired of everything and wants to quit. Freeman makes more than that in his presentation as something existential in terms of what the world of the city seems to represent more than even just his own experience, as every painful reminder he receives in random crimes, Freeman conveys a resigned understanding as though this is just the way things are.

As the investigation progresses the film also depicts the relationship between the two new partners as they try to work together despite their rather different personalities. The young Mills is a short tempered man though seemingly with a simpler and more optimistic view of the world which is well presented in Pitt's eager and energetic performance. This plays particularly well against Freeman's far more reserved work, and I love the way Freeman interacts with Pitt throughout the film. This is not a buddy cop duo who are trading insults between each other while carrying a mutual affection, rather the two are opposed and connected in a far different fashion. Where Mills seems extremely energetic in order to solve the case as quickly as possible, Freeman carries Somerset in a very stately manner as which fits his way to try to take each clue at a time to exhaust all possibilities. There is a harder edge, though interestingly he's the far less brash sort, that Freeman realizes in just the way Somerset seems to expect to see something horrible at all the crimes scenes. Freeman is excellent in the way he so honestly portrays Somerset's point of view as he so bluntly attempts to warn Mills away from his own job because he's too aware of what the job entails.

Freeman's work is remarkable as he does not make Somerset merely just someone who is merely trying to scare Mills off the job as well as apparently trying to change his more uplifting view of the world. Freeman, even while Somerset is telling Mills exactly how little he things of people's morality in general, brings still an abundance of warmth in this strangely enough. Freeman makes it extremely effective though and Freeman suggests always that Somerset is trying to tell Mills these things for his own good and not simply because he's bitter or something. Freeman always brings a genuine sense of concern in Somerset as he departs his wisdom to Mills both towards detective work as well as towards life. Freeman carries this past in a few scenes that Somerset shares with Mills's wife Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow). Freeman especially earns the bit of tenderness that these scenes entail because he does not compromise Somerset in the moment. His world view is never forgotten even in these moments as he still states his beliefs in such a somber matter of fact fashion. Nevertheless Freeman does again reveal that there is always a heart within this pessimism that in fact is what seems to pain Somerset the most, as Freeman shows that really he'd rather view the world with optimism but he just can't bring himself to do so.

Of course the film is entrenched in the investigation where every murder is almost absurdly grisly in nature all following a theme. Freeman presence carries us through each room of horror and is fascinating in the he manages an emotional connect in each. What's fascinating about it is that Freeman does stay reserved establishing Somerset's thick skin regarding what it is that he sees. Again though Freeman does not make Somerset a hollow man whose lost all connection to these things. Freeman instead brings such power just in very subtle moments that reveal Somerset's true feelings towards what he sees. He's especially poignant in just his silence in one point where Somerset interrogates a traumatized man who was forced to become a living tool in one of the killer's murders. Freeman brilliantly keeps this until the climax of the film where Somerset and Mills are sent with the killer to one final destination. Now Freeman's importance in the scene is made all the greater, because the finale happens to be the scene where Pitt unfortunately falters a bit. Freeman does not especially in the pivotal moment where Somerset opens a box containing the remains of the killer's last victim. Freeman makes the moment all the more chilling and devastating by showing that this one thing that even seems to break Somerset's reserve. Freeman continues to be amazing as Somerset tries to convince Mills to do the right thing as there is such a striking severity in his voice, and is incredibly moving as he also quietly conveys just how devastated Somerset is from the revelation as well. Somerset's final please are perfectly delivered by Freeman as he has Somerset so earnestly attempting to save Mills's own soul. This is a great performance by Morgan Freeman as he matches the strength of his material and being essential in realizing its emotional core in heart wrenching detail.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1995: Mel Gibson in Braveheart

Mel Gibson did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying William Wallace in Braveheart.

Braveheart is a film that's suffered in reputation over the years leaving even its qualities that should be unimpeachable, the production design, the costume design, the score, and the cinematography oddly forgotten despite their quality. Now I'll put it out there I think its an excellent film, and that Gibson's work in terms of the battle scenes in particular is probably more influential than given credit for. Of course Braveheart did do the worst thing that a film can do for its reputation, that's of course win Best Picture, nothing will derive quicker hatred than that. This is only compounded by being consistently attacked for its historical accuracy, something that tends to only matters if a person likes the film to begin with. I actually find that particularly baffling since the film itself states its falsehood in its opening narration. The idea of the film itself seems misunderstood when measured in accuracy as though the film itself is striving to be a historical document or even a realistic telling of a man's life. That's not the case in the least, although I would hope one would notice the fact that it is called Braveheart after all, its about the creation of a legend. The final nail in Braveheart's reputation as a deserved Best Picture though comes with its director and star who happen to be the same man.

Now Mel Gibson's personal reputation has suffered even more than the film's reputation, which I'll admit is more deserved than the film's loss. This has extended to making anything he's associated with, for some, to be blighted in some way, and has become a bit of someone to kick around an extra bit, even being Razzie nominated for The Expendables 3 despite giving the best performance in that film. This hatred can easily extend to his work in Braveheart as a director and particularly an actor. I'll start with what's easiest to be seen in a negative light in regards to this performance. I'll admit that Gibson has a very modern look about him that does not make the hair or the clothes to seem perfectly fitting for him. Then of course there is a matter of the accent which is an unforgivable point for some. Again I'm never an excessive stickler when it comes to accents to begin with, but I'll admit this is not clearly an authentic Scottish accent. Then again Wallace's accent, as told by his background in the film, which was living in all sorts of countries with his uncle, which actually would likely result in a slightly wonky Scottish accent, you know like Christopher Lambert's accent.

Well with all that out of the way let's examine the rest of his performance. Again Braveheart is not really about an actual depiction of the real William Wallace, but rather an image of him as a romantic hero. This follows suit with the way his early adult scenes are depicted as he just wishes to live a simple life in Scotland, but man those English just have to keep getting in the way. Gibson in the early scenes though just presents Wallace as a simple likable sort of man falling upon his usual charm in an effective fashion. In the tragically brief relationship between Wallace and his wife Murron (Catherine McCormack) Gibson realizes just the simplest of warmth and love in these scenes. The interactions between the two most certainly are not all that complex though they carry a natural sweetness that establishes the proper motivation for Wallace when Murron is swiftly murdered by the English. The scene where Wallace gets his revenge by taking the English encampment and killing is an outstanding moment for Gibson. Gibson does not just go through the motion rather he depicts the sheer intensity in Wallace of the moment, and the emotional quality in the attack. Gibson is especially strong just before he kills the man responsible for Murron's death, as the sheer hate, as well as sadness in his loss, can be seen in his eyes as he makes the killing stroke.

This sets Wallace on a quest for Scottish independence taking the fight directly to the English. Gibson does bring the needed presence for a man such as Wallace, and brings the necessary command as well as ease in camaraderie that would ensure Wallace's popularity as a leader. As the battles wage Gibson continues to carry the film and importantly never loses the emotional quality to his performance since it is never just a simple duty for Wallace to fight the British. Gibson realizes Wallace as the romantic hero he needs to be for this film. With that though Gibson matches any quality the film needs to bestow upon this Wallace. There are even a few comic moments thrown in there which Gibson is able to quickly and naturally just make them part of Wallace's personal style. There is even the other romance, which I think should prove the intentions of the story, which again Gibson delivers in bringing the right tender quality that does succeed in creating the relationship, and importantly a different one than he had in Murron. It's less true love and more of an eloquent understanding that Gibson realizes. The most pivotal aspect behind the man though is his unquestionable determination, which Gibson completely captures with his performance. This is perhaps best shown in what is probably the most noted moment in the film which is when Wallace rallies some fearful Scots into facing the large English army. Gibson absolutely brings the needed passion and persuasion into the speech, and the speech would not be as iconic as it is without Gibson's delivery which matches the power of the words.

Braveheart is an epic and Gibson matches the duty of carrying such, which I often find is an undervalued in appraisals of such performances. Gibson certainly never becomes lost in the spectacle of the film, and is essential in keeping the story grounded in the right fashion. The moments where Wallace recalls his lost love are made particularly poignant, and once again Gibson does so much within his expressions as Wallace, as the real weight of Wallace's personal losses is keenly felt. Gibson attaches what each battle means with his portrayal of Wallace's own vendetta but also his own belief in what is to gain from every encounter. Eventually Wallace is betrayed and captured by the English leaving only one last thing for a hero of legend to do, which is to die in a grand fashion. Of course this is made difficult through the level of torture that Wallace must endure in an attempt to break him. Again Gibson is fantastic in his portrayal of the scene. He certainly gets across the resolve of Wallace in the moment, but what's most remarkable is how he manages to amplify the severity of the scene. In this sequence Gibson, as director, actually stays fairly reserved shying away from the graphic details, but Gibson offers them nonetheless as an actor. This is seen best in the castration scene, which we do not see even a slight detail of visually, but we do not need to because of Gibson's reaction which is almost too effective. Gibson does not hold off on the pain in his depiction of Wallace, though still being convincing in keeping Wallace's refusal, and making his final words quite powerful by showing it to be from the last ounce of strength man has. This may not be a performance for everyone, but I think Gibson more than makes do with his own compromise, he actually had to play the central role in order to direct. Gibson as an actor and director go hand in hand in painting a compelling portrait of a man, not of history, but rather of legend. Now I know what the Braveheart fan will say who has lost hope "The haters are too many!". To that I saw, Aye, fight for the film and you may lose credibility in their eyes. Agree, and you'll maintain it... at least a while. And lying about opinion, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell all those haters that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR love Braveheart.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1995: Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise

Ethan Hawke did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jesse Wallace in Before Sunrise.

Before Sunrise depicts the one night together of a young man and woman in Vienna after they randomly meet on a train. I really liked the film which means my hatred of Boyhood has been legitimized, correct?

Speaking of Boyhood that film might have worked if Richard Linklater had someone managed to make it about Ethan Hawke from the 80's to 90's. Instead of doing some impossible time bending though the two's collaboration started with this film. Hawke plays a young man Jesse on a trip with Europe who comes across a young French woman Céline (Julie Delpy) who happen to strike up a conversation on the train but before their paths uncross Jesse encourages her to spend the rest of the day with him in Vienna as his plane leaves from there the next day. She agrees and the rest of the film is the progression of their relationship mostly through their conversations as they go from one place to another in Vienna. Now the role seems simply enough in that Hawke just plays a young guy who does not have any serious problems in his life, and at worst has just a bit of pretense that a young man of his age can possibly develop, though nothing too worrisome. In fact I think Hawke does something very important in his very first moment of his performance, which is one of my favorite moments of his performance, is he does not set Jesse up as just some smooth operator. This is shown just in his very honest moment just before he first speaks to Céline, as he shows the hesitation and frankly just the effort needed to find the courage to speak to her.

Hawke putting this before the rest of his performance is essential in helping the audience sympathize with him once he takes the next step to invite her to his day, which he has nothing planned. It must be said that Hawke and Delpy have fantastic chemistry with one another particularly the way they play with it throughout the course of the film. The two realizes an undeniable connection just in the sheer comfort the two have in their interactions with one another, but importantly neither actor simplifies this into an abundant love too soon. The two are remarkable in the way they portray the progression of this really in each and every conversation throughout the rest of the day. As the proceed the two slowly begin to break down the awkwardness of strangeness and proceed to grow an even stronger warmth in their interactions with one another. They fall in love in such an unassuming and eloquent fashion. Although again something that is quite special about this, past what they already achieved which in itself is special, is that the two though also do manage to also create some of the problems that arise from the familiarity as it grows. Their fights are not severe though two make it so genuine in their portrayal of just the certain tensions that become more problematic, but give their relationship a natural depth.

Now I say Hawke could have Boyhood work, not only because with the real Boyhood Hawke made the scenes that do work in that film work, but also because Hawke just seems to understand Richard Linklater's wavelength as a writer and director, although apparently Hawke and Delpy both contributed to the writing of this film as well. What Hawke does so well though in regards to Linklater is make the words simply just work. Well here's the thing in regards to Before Sunrise, which in a way is a bit different from many films that focus on mostly speaking, is that the film is not necessarily excessively witty, though it certainly has insight. This is not a criticism of the film in the least, and it is notable that the film manages to make the conversations as engaging as they are despite not being particularly imperative in nature. A great deal of credit for this belongs to Hawke and Delpy because they both make it feel completely in the moment, and without even the slightest hint of anything being put on. Something that Hawke does that's rather risky is that he even allows Jesse in a way to have unlikable qualities at moments, though Hawke makes these feel an actual part of the guy that do not overwhelm rather just adds up into just who he is. Hawke and Delpy are wonderful in that they make the relationship and both people feel absolutely true. Although what they talking about does slowly gain greater importance there is never a tonal shift, but the two manage to make what they say to one another only mean more as the film progresses. The investment we feel only grows as their investment in one another does, and their final goodbye is quite moving without the film ever trying to enforce the emotion of the moment upon us. This is a terrific work from Ethan Hawke, and it is not surprising that he went on to become such a frequent collaborator with Linklater, as Hawke understands Linklater's vision and knows exactly how to bring it life through his performance.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1995: Bruce Willis in 12 Monkeys

Bruce Willis did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying James Cole in 12 Monkeys.

The 12 Monkeys did receive attention for the performance of Brad Pitt as the crazed Jeffrey Goines but Bruce Willis was ignored in the film's central performance as a man from an apocalyptic future sent back to gather information that created the virus that caused the societal collapse. Willis begins the film in a way in which it seems like it might be a character more normally in his wheel house that being a man with a mission. Willis though even in these early scenes set in the future does not portray Cole as one of the hero types. Willis instead portrays him as a rather exasperated man as you can feel the wear of a man that would come from having lived in such a desolate place for the majority of his life. Also even to start though Willis conveys a definite desperation about Cole, as he seems constantly haunted by the past, and not just simply because he's currently living in a prison of sorts. Willis does not try in anyway to play the part like a Willis type hero, apparently even the directory Terry Gilliam gave Willis a list of Willis's own usual tricks that he was not to employ in this performance. Well that direction certainly pays off as even before Cole takes his mission Willis gives us a real sense of the horrible condition Cole is in as well as basically the horrible condition of the world through the individual state of this man.

The film then proceeds to jump after Cole has apparently made his journey into the past. We do not witness the time travel, but it appears it is a bit less pleasant than taking a drive in a DeLorean. When we see Cole again he has found himself in a mental institution where a psychiatrist Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) attempts to help him. Willis is excellent in his first scene as he is restrained in a room having been arrested after attacking police officers. Willis, unlike a certain co-star, portrays the "madness" of Cole incredibly well. Willis shows the way his body seems to be completely wasted almost by the journey in just the wretched state he is in. Willis though importantly depicts the ramblings of Cole especially well by conveys the extreme fear in Cole's voice as he just tries to tell the doctor his mission. Obviously trying to tell someone your from the future is not easy. Willis is terrific in making even more difficult in a believable fashion by so well realizing not only what the time travel has done to him, but also portrays just the amount of the anxiety gripping him knowing the importance of his mission. Willis also establishes instantly that this most definitely will not be a typical Bruce Willis performance.

Bruce Willis continues to be almost surprisingly good in the scenes set in the mental institution making Pitt's performance, which on re-watch come off even worse on re-watch and pretty much is just a bad version of Dennis Hopper's performance in Apocalypse Now, look quite amateurish by comparison. Willis does well to realize the whole state of Cole in these scenes within a brilliantly internalized intensity of being in a situation he does not quite understand, while still being burdened by the purpose of his mission. Along with that though Willis portrays so well the daze that Cole is in caused by the drugs that the institute is giving him. In all of that though Willis is still able to create the sense of Cole attempting to break out of all it in his attempt to find out the information he needs in the future. Willis is particularly good in a scene where he attempts to explain his purpose once again, this time calmer though also likely medicated, in front of the panel of psychiatrists. Willis conveys so well the single minded nature of Cole as well as the incredible sense of urgency as he tries to put it clearly to the psychiatrists. Willis is excellent because he does still sound completely insane, though if one believe he is from the future Willis shows the painful situation that Cole is in.

Eventually the future takes Cole back only to send him back into the past again, with the process only making Cole worse every time he is thrown through time, even at one point being shot after accidentally being sent back to World War I. Willis portrays well just how severe this treatment is damaging Cole as he presents an even more jumbled man than before. Willis plays it as though Cole is still not sure where exactly the time has left him only that he must try to finish his mission either way. He's the right jumble of emotions as he can't quite comprehend what exactly he's been through even while being wrecked with fear of the upcoming demise of humanity, as well as that nightmare that never ceases to stop haunting him. Willis though also carefully begins to show the way that Cole is finally attempting to break out of the web that he's caught in through his attachment from the future. The moments where Cole becomes violent Willis makes particularly natural as the actions of a very scared man lashing out. As well though Willis is very moving in the few instances of comfort he finds in the past, presenting him just as man trying to find a bit of comfort.

During this time Cole kidnaps Dr. Railly, and Willis is marvelous in making Cole such a mess to the point that he would much more likely be seen as a deranged mental patient. The two though technically become a bit of a Hitchcockian duo, fitting considering at one point they hide out at a Hitchcock marathon. They especially fit well into the 39 Steps duo with the kidnapping and with Railly being quite skeptical of Cole's claims. Willis and Stowe are fantastic together as Stowe acts as the very scared straight man to Willis's portrayal of Cole that is insanity though he never loses a certain sense that there still is more to him than that. What's so exceptional about both performances is how well in tune with one another as the two gradually switch positions as Railly starts to support Cole's ideas about the future, while Cole begins to doubt them as to try to fight against his apparent insanity or perhaps fight against the oppression nature of his future. I love that as Cole attempts to accept this Willis makes him even more withdrawn as a man struggling very deeply to keep his mental instability in check, all the while Stowe becomes far more manic as Railly starts to believe the severity of Cole's mission. Most remarkable of all though is how well they realize the romantic element between the two which does not really stop to declare itself but rather is well earned through just growth of understanding as well as warm that Willis and Stowe realize so wonderfully through their performances. Willis also is great in that this attachment seems to find Cole some comfort even as every new development keeps him in a state of confusion. His final scene is a tremendous final moment for Willis to finish his great work because he leaves Cole as just going through the motions of his fate of sorts that he has apparently been stuck in since the beginning, but finds just right poignancy in the moment through that one connection he does make before meeting his destiny.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1995: Jonathan Pryce in Carrington

Jonathan Pryce did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning Cannes and being nominated for a Bafta, for portraying Lytton Strachey in Carrington.

Carrington depicts the unusual relationship between painter Doar Carrington and writer Lytton Strachey. The film itself has interesting enough characters though it makes some odd choices, particularly in the overbearing use of its score.

Jonathan Pryce plays Lytton Strachey a homosexual writer who comes to living in the country where he comes across the somewhat peculiar painter Dora Carrington (Emma Thompson). Pryce plays Strachey himself as a bit of a character so to speak. There's very much an eccentric quality that Pryce gives the part in the way he physically portrays Strachey. Pryce gives him a very purposeful and proper sort of walk about himself. Pryce plays Strachey as very much the intellectual who is perhaps just a little too well aware of his position as an intellectual. Pryce's whole manner has a certain distance he brings in that Strachey seems to separate himself from all others just due to this very structured way he acts. This approach Pryce takes actually works quite well for the film's depiction of Strachey which is as a man who is completely aware as his position as an important writer so to speak as he goes about how he's forced himself to be a voice against the war for example. Pryce's approach matches this excessive thought that Strachey basically puts into his whole being.

Pryce though does not leave there and this is certainly not a depiction of an uptight Victorian sort of a man, as Strachey is known during the period even for his sexual preferences. Strachey does not hide this and nor does Pryce in his performance. Pryce actually comes up with a rather interesting dynamic of his character as he's two seemingly opposite things all in one in terms of both his proper manner for the time along with his purposeful rejection of that in terms of his personal preferences. Pryce portrays the scenes with Strachey presents his interest in men as especially obvious in his depiction, maybe playing it just ab it more to be the man that everyone says he is. Pryce does not go over the top, but rather carefully realizes a man who does like to make a bit of a spectacle of himself on purpose. Pryce importantly shows that it is something also very natural in Strachey and it is still him very much acting out in just the way he desires to. This extends even right to starting out one moment to being quite keen in seeing what he thinks is a boy only to suddenly be aghast to find out that it is in fact a woman, this being first time he sees Dora in fact.

Now the central element of the film is the relationship between Strachey and Carrington which has a problem in that she is unquestionably in love with him while the problem remains that Strachey just has absolutely no interest in her physically. Now Pryce is excellent in that he is able to find what it is that causes Carrington to be so fascinated with him. The interesting part though is Pryce does not suggest this when Strachey is acting out as the writer or as a passionate lover. Pryce instead finds this in the quiet moments between the two as Pryce reveals just a gentler man which carries an abundance of warmth whenever it is he drops his most overt passions as a writer or as a man. Thompson and Pryce are very good in creating that underlying connection that seems between the two, at the same time making the disconnect seem just as honest. The two though in there pivotal interactions seem just on this certain wavelength, yet Pryce importantly keeps a certain reservation or even confusion at her continued interest in him while he is simply unable to fake something that just is not there in him.

The two attempt to resolve their peculiar situation by involving a bi-sexual man which creates probably more problems than it solves since neither exactly gets what they desire. I have to say though as the film proceeds Pryce is oddly often forced into the background, as the film does keep a much close focus upon Carrington than it does Strachey, while after all Carrington is the title. It seems like a somewhat missed opportunity as at times the film feels like its forgetting about the more fascinating aspect of the film which is the relationship between Strachey and Carrington. Whenever there is a moment where the two do reexamine their positions Pryce and Thompson are great in that the two just really make sense out of the connection and the difficulties that both motivate and pain the two of them. The film never quite fully makes use of this to make something truly special leaving the final scene of the two seeming a bit simplified. To Pryce's credit he is rather moving in depicting Strachey in a state where he has absolutely no pretense, and just reveals the actual truth without reservation. It simply never quite narrows in on the greatness it seems to be trying to circle, leaving Thompson and Pryce without quite the material to go the next step themselves. Nevertheless this is a very good performance, I can't help but feel though that a much better film could have been made utilizing Jonathan Pryce's remarkable depiction of Lytton Strachey.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1995: Ian McKellen in Richard III

Ian McKellen did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe and a Bafta, for portraying the titular character in Richard III.

Richard III is a rather effective adaptation of Shakespeare's play which sets the story in an alternative version of 1930's England.

Well from perhaps Shakespeare's second most famous schemer to arguably his most famous. Richard III was previously adapted by Laurence Olivier in 1955. Olivier's version was in itself a particularly interesting adaptation for him. Unlike his Hamlet, which was cloaked in fog and smoke, or his Henry V with its most unusual way of setting the stage, the artistic license Olivier took with material was perhaps his most subtle, though also his most effective, as I say his Richard III was his most assured example as a director. This version, perhaps knowing that, takes the approach of throwing basically all subtly out of the window in order to tell the story of Shakespeare's most famous villain. McKellen, who also co-wrote this version, seemed to be well aware that successfully bringing something out of the material, without seeming to try to ape Olivier, would be to take the character to a new extreme. Now this is really saying something as Olivier did not exactly soften the nature of the character with his absurd hair, apparently modeled have the same tyrannical theater director that the Big Bad Wolf was modeled after, his blood red costumes, and of course the character itself is written to be be an obvious villain, so where is it that McKellen can go?

Well before we get to that it must be said that McKellen is another master of the language. It comes off his tongue so naturally, and with such ease. McKellen never allows a line to seem laborious or forced no matter how often repeated, Richard's opening line in particular is overused, but McKellen delivery gives it purpose once again. Back to the question of where McKellen can go. Now I would be curious to see a purely subtle approach for the character, that would actually be opposed to the point of the character. McKellen, astonishingly does find somewhere to go though, without going in the opposite direction. This even goes to his other contribution to the film as screenwriter as the film which is considerably shorter than Olivier's version, as well as a simpler telling of the play. In addition though McKellen basically sets the stage for things by having Richard opening action be him crashing a tank through a wall, and personally executing the men who are standing in his brother's way from absolute power. If Oliver's Richard was a 10 out of 10 on the evil scale again where does that leave McKellen to go? well up even more where else? If Olivier's Richard is a 10 level of evil, McKellen takes old Richard all the way to eleven.

McKellen carries himself with purposeful broad strokes in his character from the opening speech which McKellen first delivers all the bluster and proud presentation of a great general promoting his King. Of course this is instantly washed away when he finishes the speech in the bathroom while relieving himself. McKellen brilliantly changes the tone to a biting insult as he makes rapidly evident that Richard has no respect for his brother, and seems him ill fitting for his position as King. In these early scenes we are given Richard's two faces, of sorts, by McKellen particularly in his interactions with his other imprisoned brother as well as sort of with his soon to be wife. What's interesting though about McKellen's performance is that he does not necessarily do a great job of portraying the sides of Richard, but this seems intentional and is extremely effective in creating his version of Richard. McKellen makes it all a bit obvious in terms of the presentation that Richard gives to others as though it is indeed just the act of an evil man trying to look one way or another in order to fulfill whatever purpose that will bring him more power. This probably should not work, but McKellen somehow realizes it in a rather glorious fashion.

McKellen succeeds in just how much he embraces the villainy to the point that he somehow transfers it into such a persuasive personality. With his interactions with his prisoner brother McKellen throws an over audance of warmth, that's a bit too much, though why not buy into since he is giving away so much of it. Then even in his "proposal" to Anne, despite having just murdered her husband, and even making this proposal of his around his corpse McKellen somehow makes it somehow work. Again McKellen would be ridiculous if he wasn't so good in the scene, as the over the top romantic routine that McKellen makes is efficient while being so wholly false. What McKellen does is make Richard a great actor above else since even though you know its fake, he happens to do it so well that they just have to believe it. One of my favorite moments with this is when he rejects then accepts his place of King in a moments notice as McKellen again puts on such an overt show of the quiet and dignified man who will only accept power in the right circumstances, to instantly switch back to his only natural state that of the power hungry mad man using every trick to become King.

McKellen does not use these tricks to define Richard though, because it is evil that McKellen uses to define him. McKellen plays into this as much as he can, even seeming to want his place as King almost just for the suffering he can inflict on others through it. Even before he's become King I love the scenes which he shares with his sister-in-law the queen, since he believes her to hold no threat, McKellen is amazing has he brings such venom to every word as Richard makes it quite plain that he holds her in no regard whatsoever. What McKellen though does with Richard is essentially bring out more and more of Richard's true self the more he gains. It is not that he is being changed by the power, rather McKellen plays it quite bluntly that the more power he gains the more he can simply be himself. Now, like Olivier, Richard's monologues are also addressed to the audience. There's a major difference though where Olivier used them as though Richard was outlining his scheme to us, McKellen does it rather differently. McKellen never focuses a whole scene on this with his performance rather hitting some very specific moments by turning to the audience not unlike the traditional way one breaks the fourth wall in a comedy. This works brilliantly though because McKellen always uses these moments as actual punchlines as though Richard just has to take the moment to tell the audience his disdain for a particular opponent. It must also be said that McKellen also makes them work as punchlines because whenever he does this it is quite hilarious. McKellen, it must be said, is altogether ridiculously entertaining in the role because of his choice to display Richard's evil.

As he rises through the ranks, and is allowed to make himself all the more obvious McKellen let's loose all the more, and only the audience indeed benefits from this as McKellen is so much fun to watch. McKellen plays the completely unabashed evil of the man so well, since he always takes it a measure more. Whether this is just the enjoyment he seems to get from looking at the photos of a dead opponent, his complete lack of concern when his former ally is brutally murdered, or especially his continued mistreatment of the former Queen as he takes some rather uncouth liberties with his farewell kiss only to mockingly laugh at her after she has left. This is a fascinating performance to watch because McKellen proves that a simplification can be a masterstroke when done right. Instead of trying to challenge Olivier with some other reexamination, he places the focus on the character's fiendish nature and runs with it. McKellen never compromises this either even with the two moments in play that potentially give the character some humanity. The first being his nightmare as he is haunted by his victims. McKellen treats this as an unfortunate nuisance, that only acts as a slight bother. Then of course there is his demise, which might be favorite moment out of this entire performance, which is really saying something. That being when this Richard is cornered and certain to face death, McKellen plays it as Richard still refusing to accept any mistakes or blame instead taking just one more chance at villainy by going out his way. That is to fall back into the literal flames of his chaos, and what he has gotten out of this final cheat of sorts is represented through McKellen's absolutely perfect grin as he sinks into the fire. This is a great performance by Ian McKellen as proves taking a character to what might seem like a ludicrous extreme can sometimes turn out beautifully.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1995: Kenneth Branagh in Othello

Kenneth Branagh did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for Sag, for portraying Iago in Othello.

This is an effective adaptation of Othello which takes kind of Franco Zeffirelli style of approach for the adaptation.

This version of Othello does hold two things in common with the 1965 version starring Laurence Olivier. That being both star famous Shakespearean actors, Olivier and Branagh, who usually tend to direct their own adaptations, but in this case leave it in the hands of another. One other thing in common is just like Frank Finlay in the 65 version, the award recognition for Branagh came in the supporting category even though the story follows Iago's perspective as well as he has the most dialogue, in addition to having the most influence over the story. The similarities end as the 65 version basically took on the aesthetic of a filmed play, whereas this version attempts the Zeffirelli's approach of putting it in a setting most seem to imagine it takes place in. One other major difference, which also holds true for the Orson Welles version as well, is that the "bigger" actor plays Iago rather than Othello. Although one could argue otherwise in regards to Laurence Fishburne and Kenneth Branagh in the grander scheme of things, that certainly was the case in regards to the actor's stature in regards to Shakespeare.

This makes his Sag replacement even more ridiculous though since this version seems like it perhaps gives even more focus to Iago than usual, which is really saying something. Iago is perhaps Shakespeare's second most infamous schemer, I'll be getting to the most infamous one soon, even though this version takes a bit of a similair approach that Olivier took in his depiction of that other schemer. Like in that film, this film makes it almost as though the audience itself is a co-conspirator with Iago since Branagh instead of delivering his monologue to himself or to the stars or something, he delivers them right to those watching as though he is speaking directly to us. Now because of this perhaps Branagh takes a very distinct approach in realizing the character. Roger Ebert claimed Branagh played the role as though Iago was gay and interested in Othello, and at least in his review with Gene Siskel acted as though this ruined the film. Although apparently it seems Ebert himself may have been tricked by Branagh's approach for the character, which is not as simple as that.

Branagh plays Iago as a man of many faces, and is excellent in his realization of how it is that Iago works as a manipulator. In his scenes with the hot headed Roderigo Branagh plays them as though Iago is a bit of the man's personal instigator, always just prodding him along with some negative encouragement to make some rather harsh decision which he naturally hopes will cause him to fight the prideful Cassio, which in turn Iago hopes will cause Cassio to lose position of confidence with Othello. Now with Cassio perhaps one could interpret Branagh approaches gay, though I find it is more of the over enthusiastic hanger on, as Branagh plays Iago towards Cassio as a very soft man who just seems to be wowed to be in his presence, simply encouraging any foolish action through just how how supportive he seems. Branagh does this well as in both instances there seems to be no threat of a manipulator since he basically seems to just tell Cassio and Roderigo what they want to hear, even though that all just turns to what he wants to happen.

Branagh even continues this with the two main women of the story the first being Iago's own wife Emilia. Branagh again is terrific by showing Iago just playing with her the whole time as when she tries to give him affection he treats her as though she is a bothersome bore, but when she offers any aid in his scheme Branagh changes Iago to the passionate lover as though Iago is giving her motivation in to ensure she continues to aid in his schemes. With Othello's wife Desdemona Branagh instead portrays it as Iago is just the perfect sort of best friend in for her to espouse her fears to, and the most gentle shoulder to cry on as Branagh only suggests such an honest in his interactions with her, though without a hint of hidden motives except of course when she's not looking. The most important relationship though is obviously with Othello himself. In the early scenes, before Iago has created the trouble, Branagh presents Iago as the man with the warmest of smiles whenever Othello is around, and only ever there to lend a hand of support to his commander. Of course as Iago plants the seeds of doubts in Branagh still conveys such a trusting element in Iago, as he stays calm, even in Othello's outbursts, and just seems there to offer the righteous support of a honest right hand man. Every one of these faces shown to these people though is wholly false, and the true Iago that we see is when he addresses the viewer, which are my favorite moments of Branagh's performance. Branagh is ice cold in these moments as Iago marks out each step of his plan clearly having no emotion whatsoever in regards to the suffering he is about to cause. The only strong emotion Branagh reveals is a palatable hatred in Iago towards Othello, and this devious joy Iago seems to derive from his manipulation possibly revealing what motivates him. Although I would not necessarily classify this as one of the very best Shakespearean its very strong work, and is another example of Branagh excelling in finding an effective variation of one of the Bard's most notable creations. 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1995

And the Nominees Were Not:

Morgan Freeman in Seven

James Earl Jones in Cry, The Beloved Country

Jonathan Pryce in Carrington

Kenneth Branagh in Othello

Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise

Rank Those Five or These Five or Both:

Mel Gibson in Braveheart

Richard Harris in Cry, The Beloved Country

Ian McKellen in Richard III

Bruce Willis in 12 Monkeys

Johan Widerberg in All Things Fair

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1940: Results

5. George Sanders in Foreign Correspondent - Sanders gives a very entertaining performance that finds just the right tone to both lighten the mood while still bringing the needed gravity for the thriller.

Best Scene: ffolliott saves Van Meer.
4. Frank Morgan in The Shop Around the Corner - Morgan gives a funny but also surprisingly nuanced depiction of a man whose vulnerabilities slowly get the better of him.

Best Scene: Matuschek apologizes to Alfred.
3. Herbert Marshall in Foreign Correspondent - Marshall gives a very effective performance that realizes the twist involving his character, but also never allows this to simplify his character. 

Best Scene: Fisher goes to see the captured Van Meer. 
2. George Sanders in Rebecca - Sanders gives a great performance by being just so enjoyably despicable as his selfish and vapid character.

Best Scene: Favell tries to blackmail Maxim. 
1. John Carradine in The Grapes of Wrath - I must not that this again is a year where I could go with any of my top four in any order. At the moment though my winner is John Carradine for his especially compelling and moving depiction of a former preacher attempting to find the truth again.

Best Scene: Tom meets Casy again. 
Overall Rank:
  1. John Carradine in The Grapes of Wrath
  2. Walter Brennan in The Westerner
  3. George Sanders in Rebecca
  4. Herbert Marshall in Foreign Correspondent
  5. Frank Morgan in The Shop Around the Corner
  6. George Sanders in Foreign Correspondent
  7. John Qualen in The Grapes of Wrath
  8. Joseph Schildkraut in The Shop Around the Corner 
  9. Walter Catlett in Pinocchio
  10. Cliff Edwards in Pinocchio 
  11. Donald Crisp in Brother Orchid 
  12. Edmund Gwenn in Foreign Correspondent
  13. Frank Morgan in The Mortal Storm
  14. Russell Simpson in The Grapes of Wrath
  15. Ralph Bellamy in His Girl Friday
  16. Edmund Gwenn in Pride and Prejudice
  17. Robert Benchley in Foreign Correspondent 
  18. Akim Tamiroff in The Great McGinty
  19. Emlyn Williams in The Stars Look Down
  20. Basil Rathbone in the Mark of Zorro 
  21. Edward Rigby in The Stars Look Down
  22. William Demarest in The Great McGinty
  23. Christian Rub in Pinocchio 
  24. Hay Petrie in Contraband
  25. Eugene Pallette in The Mark of Zorro
  26. Shemp Howard in The Bank Dick 
  27. Ralph Bellamy in Brother Orchid
  28. John Qualen in His Girl Friday
  29. Thomas Mitchell in Our Town
  30. Albert Bassermann in Foreign Correspondent
  31. Randolph Scott in My Favorite Wife
  32. John Carradine in The Return of Frank James
  33. Claude Rains in The Sea Hawk 
  34. Humphrey Bogart in Brother Orchid
  35. Felix Bressart in The Shop Around The Corner
  36. James Stephenson in The Letter
  37. Henry Daniell in The Great Dictator 
  38. Frankie Darro in Pinocchio
  39. Leo G. Carroll in Rebecca
  40. Herbert Marshall in The Letter
  41. Charley Grapewin in The Grapes of Wrath 
  42. Melville Cooper in Pride and Prejudice
  43. Charles Judels in Pinocchio
  44. Henry Daniell in The Sea Hawk
  45. Jack Oakie in The Great Dictator 
  46. Roland Young in The Philadelphia Story
  47. Paul Hurst in The Westerner
  48. C. Aubrey Smith in Rebecca
  49. John Halliday in The Philadelphia Story 
  50. J. Edward Bromberg in The Mark of Zorro
  51.  Nigel Bruce in Rebecca
  52. Bela Lugosi in Black Friday
  53. Jackie Cooper in The Return of Frank James
  54. Guy Kibbee in Our Town
  55. Reginald Gardiner in The Great Dictator
  56. Gene Lockhart in Abe Lincoln in Illinois
  57. Reginald Denny in Rebecca
  58. William Tracy in The Shop Around the Corner
  59. Harry Davenport in Foreign Correspondent
  60. William Tracy in Strike Up The Band
  61. John Howard in The Philadelphia Story
  62. Harry Carey in They Knew What They Wanted 
  63. Edward Ashley-Cooper in Pride and Prejudice
  64. Fred Stone in The Westerner
  65. William Gargan in They Knew What They Wanted
  66. Robert Young in The Mortal Storm
  67. Robert Stack in The Mortal Storm
  68. William T. Orr in The Mortal Storm
Next Year: 1995 Lead

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1940: John Carradine in The Grapes of Wrath

John Carradine did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jim Casy in The Grapes of Wrath.

From what I've seen John Carradine had a certain chameleon quality about him. This was isn't necessarily about a change of accent or anything like that, as Carradine always had that great booming voice of his. Carradine rather just seemed to know how to wholly alter his presence that he seemed like a different man from film to film. This was even the case in his earlier films with Ford even though he mostly played the villain or the very least a pompous sort of character such as in The Prisoner of Shark Island, The Hurricane, and Stagecoach. Carradine here plays a role that's quite the distance from those roles as Casy one of the first people that Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) sees on his way home after being released from prison. In Carradine's first scene Casy explains to Tom how it became that he no longer is a preacher. Carradine as per usual does just makes himself seem wholly different this time without that imposing quality he brought in his earlier performances in Ford's role, instead he brings a whole different sort demeanor about himself that instantly suggests the history of the man even before we get to know much about him.

In the scene Carradine is rather outstanding in just how much insight he allows into the character as he shows both the past and the current state of the man. In the moments where Tom calls upon Casy's old days as a preacher Carradine suddenly realizes a man truly in his element as a man. In the way he moves so unusually it seems as though he is being motivated by the lord himself in his strange though quite spirited way he moves and speaks when reacting an old sermon. There is an extra bit of showmanship so to speak in this moment, as a memory of the past, because something that's so effective about Carradine's performance is the way he acts which is peculiar though works extremely well in realizing the character. That is that Carradine always portrays this certain quality that Casy has never stopped being a preacher exactly, in that he's just never lost the manner in the way he speaks and behaves. What's so remarkable is the way that Carradine is able to tread this fine line for the character that on one side his behavior seems like it could be that of a man whose half mad, or it is of a truly righteous man as there is something otherworldly in Carradine's portrayal of Casy. 

Carradine captures this certain way for the character that is essential in that he makes every line of his absolutely work no matter how stylistic it may be. Anything that Casy says seems wholly honest through Carradine's delivery. Carradine makes nothing one note about this and through this even is able to allude to what lead to Casy's loss of faith. In his early talk with Tom he discusses his relationship with women, and Carradine through the enthusiasm twists his state as a preacher as it is not a religious sort of pleasure he felt when causing these women's, ahem, spiritual awakening. Carradine is able to suggest this misuse as a weakening of sorts, as it was obvious not wisdom he was giving them, and with that as Casy explains he gave up preaching due to not knowing the answers there is a resigned melancholy about. Carradine presents to be a man who no longer has a place as he still has never lost the preacher's mindset, that to be looking for something else, something more perhaps, which keeps him a distance from being just man, while also being too unsure of himself to be what he was meant to be.

As the film progresses Casy ends up going with the Joads in their journey to California to find some sort of prosperity and everyone is stuck in a certain mindset looking for a better life except Casy who comes along as well. Casy says basically that something is calling for him, and Carradine begins to portrays a spiritual re-awakening as he begins the journey with the Joads. Carradine is not given considerable individual focus in these scenes, yet if you watch him within them he adds a great deal to the power of the them, even past simply the vibrancy of Casy due to Carradine's portrayal of him. As the Joads suffer hardships or hear of the troubles of others Carradine's reactions are tremendous in the way he shows Casy taking in each story, and in a way each seems to strengthen his faith once more as though he's beginning to see his path once again. Casy is eventually separated from the Joads though Tom finds him again being part of a group of men leading a labor strike. The end of Casy's journey is powerfully realized in this final scene as Carradine creates this sense of enlightenment as Casy seems to be preaching the truth again, though a different truth than he had known before. The quick exit of Casy is made especially heartbreaking as Carradine makes into a shining light being snuffed out in a instance. This is a great performance by John Carradine.