Saturday, 28 February 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1956: John Wayne in The Searchers

John Wayne did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Ethan Edwards in The Searchers.

The Searchers tells the story of two men in the old west trying to track down their loved ones after kidnapping by a native American tribe. The Searchers has some impressive sequences but is certainly rather inconsistent and often problematic. There are many dated elements, and not at all in a good way, such as the particularly corny romantic scenes, the attempts at comedy that don't involve Ward Bond and the atrocious performance by Hank Worden as the wacky daffy Mose Harper.

One facet of the film that is always above these inconsistencies is the character of Ethan Edwards played by John Wayne. Obviously Wayne is no stranger in the western particularly not ones directed by John Ford, but Ethan is very much against Wayne's usual type. Wayne in the various westerns would play the likable hero who usually is a bit more sensible than anyone else in the story. His character would usually be quite similar in the films but that's not the case here. Ethan Edwards initial arrival seems to indicate this as it's a bit colder than the standard way in which Wayne usually rides up in the opening of the film. There's not that big welcoming smile or that usually friendly demeanor found to the usual characters played by Wayne. Wayne carries himself from the beginning with a far colder demeanor than usual showing from just his somber way of riding up that Ethan's life has not been a good one. There is just the most minor bit of Wayne's more common persona in simply the kinder attitude he presents in Ethan in the way he treats his brother's children, but Wayne only really shows this to be more of courtesy towards children than anything else.

In addition to that there is something that Wayne does especially well early in the film which is convey the relationship between Ethan and his brother's wife. Wayne specifically shows that the way he interacts with her is far more than the usual kindness between a man and his sister-in-law. Wayne is terrific as he gives the distance of the troubled past while still an obvious desire for her. It is made known that they obviously had an affair at one time, which is never stated out loud even once in the film itself. Wayne does great work by establishing that past relationship, which explains some of Ethan's distant relationship with his brother and some of his later motivation. Wayne does much with little early on as he creates the rawness of Ethan personality who still refuses to admit surrender in the Civil War and has clearly been robbing banks just before he arrived to his brother's home. Ethan's has had a rough life and that is worn by Wayne incredibly well. His life has not been the adventures of the usual character played by Wayne who still seems to have love of life even in bad situation, Wayne is quite effective as he seems to create Ethan as a man who seems like he might hate life.

Eventually the Comanche tribe seems to have attacked some cattle which leaves Ethan and his adopted nephew Martin (Jeffrey Hunter) to join a posse to track them down while the rest of the family stays home. It turns out though that the Comanches only created a diversion to attack Ethan's family. Wayne has one particularly memorable moment when much of the posse goes to protect another potential target while that leaves Martin and Ethan to rush make the long way back to the Edwards's home. As Martin rushes off in the heroic fashion more fitting of probably the normal heroic Wayne type character Ethan rejects the idea. Wayne is brutally hard boiled in his delivery of Ethan's harsh wisdom as he states that their horses need rest and it is impossible to make the journey in time. Wayne does not hold back in portraying the cruel reality in Ethan as he basically says that he won't be the hero since there is absolutely no way in which to be one. Wayne though is very moving though as in the moment, unseen by anyone else and in complete silence, Wayne does express the reserved heartbreak in Ethan. In his eyes you see that Ethan knows that his family is doomed, but also knows that there is nothing that he can do about it.

The family is indeed massacred although it appears that Ethan's two nieces have survived and been taken by the tribe leaving the posse to take after them. Wayne is amazing in these scenes as he begins to reveal just how Ethan has been shaped by his interactions with the Comanche which likely started when they murdered his mother. Wayne does something particularly unique, for the time in particular, which is that he does portray Ethan quite bluntly, and I would say intentionally so, as a racist. Of course Ethan is given allowance for his feelings towards the Comanche, as revenge is often a good motivator for a hero, and that is usually considered acceptable. Wayne actually rejects this route because it is not the stoic type of hatred usually associated with that sort of character. Wayne makes it much more extreme, an absolutely searing thing which is a constant in Ethan towards the Comanche. Wayne does not make it a pretty hate no not all one. One scene exemplifies it the best where they find one of the dead Comanche raiders buried and Ethan goes about shooting out the corpse's eyes which the Comanche believe are needed to enter the afterlife. Wayne is amazing in the moment portraying a sadism in this, his hate is about more than revenge, he hates the people seemingly as notion.

What makes much of Wayne's performance so effective is that he never is the simple revenge seeking hero. He's really a mess of a man in all honesty and Wayne is convincing in creating the damaged mindset of Ethan as the story unfolds. One element so fascinating about his performance is that he never really shows an exact grief in Ethan. In the scene where Ethan has found that one of the nieces was in fact murdered, and probably worse. Wayne does not react with sadness but instead as almost a contained madness as Ethan mimes the burial and just another thing seems to snap in Ethan as he clearly thinking about another thing that he has lost to the Comanche. Wayne shows him to be a man, who's lost so much, that he's perhaps he's given up on grief leaving everything else but fuel to encourage his vendetta. Wayne carries himself with the needed intensity to convey just how much hate really is in Ethan's heart. One of his best scenes is when he comes face to face with the war chief Scar (Henry Brandon). It's a great moment as both men stare daggers into each other and we see the two men meet who have both been created in a way by each other, or at least men like them. I would actually say that the film would have benefited greatly if it developed the dynamic even more between Ethan and Scar.

That is sort of obvious though since all of the moments of the film that could be described as masterful involve Ethan, unfortunately the film takes its detours away from its compelling protagonist and leading performance. The detours are not good, although they don't harm Wayne. For one thing often he's just kinda to the side in these scenes, and when he is forced to interact he treads carefully enough to avoid being tarnished by them. The film does force him to be away from his darker side in moment but Wayne never forgets that side importantly. Actually some of his more memorable scenes are when Ethan gets slightly poetic. Wayne though makes Ethan's "That'll Be The Day", or "We'll find 'em. Just as sure as the turnin' of the earth.". Wayne makes sense of this, and delivers them quite brilliantly as coming technically from that same narrow view of Ethan. Wayne develops this in an outstanding fashion suggesting that Ethan is almost nothing without his violent intention. He succeeds in making the film's marvelous final shot honestly poignant as Ethan is left alone no longer with the purpose of the search or even revenge, left to drift since there is no place for him in decent society. Wayne creates a unforgettable subversion of his usual screen persona here giving a powerful portrait of a man truly created by the harshness of the west.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1956: Sterling Hayden in The Killing

Sterling Hayden did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Johnny Clay in The Killing.

The Killing is terrific heist film, well except for the unfortunate studio mandated narration, about a group of men who come up with a complex scheme to make off with a huge sum of money from a race track.

Sterling Hayden is no stranger to the heist film in fact the last time I review a lead performance by him it was for the Asphalt Jungle where he also played one of the men in a complex heist. In that film though Hayden played the guy who was only there to be the muscle and just was considered to be a thug. Hayden takes almost the opposite role this time playing the brains behind the operation. Hayden makes this considerable leap quite effectively actually. Hayden is of course still the always imposing specimen but Hayden adjust his performance well to no longer being the thug. Hayden honestly just comes off as a lot smarter of a sort here quite naturally. This is even before he says much of anything but instead of carrying the bluntness harshness of the muscle he carries the confidence of the brains. Hayden effortlessly setting up the character of Johnny Clay as he does is quite essential as The Killing is an extremely tightly wound thriller in that it basically goes from one essential point to another essential point with the utmost precision.

Hayden's performance really is all about efficiency here as everything has to be very much to the point. Well is pretty terrific here in playing that style. He's a master of the hard bitten dialogue that Johnny Clay has as he sets up every part of the plot, giving each gang member their duty, and even hiring an extra guy to shoot a horse for an extra bit of distraction. Hayden delivers these well as he shows that above else Johnny's a true professional. Hayden plays it with a certain cool style that's really quite effective while bringing a certain edge to still convey the dark territory his plan involves. Hayden though never makes it feel like simple expository dialogue, even though technically that's what much of it is. Hayden brings a life to it in his whole demeanor. He is the professional but Hayden also brings a life around the words really. A particularly like the scene where he hires the horse assassin as Hayden just brings something a bit extra that's hard to describe, but it makes the whole scene play out in a far more interesting way than simply just getting part of the plot ready to go.

There is even some emotionality to this performance which is also very brief and to the point. Johnny has a girl who we spend a little time with near the beginning of the film. It's not overly emotional but Hayden is convincing in still setting up the relationship, and creates enough of an investment to care about the two of them potentially making it off with the cash. In addition there is a scene just before the eventual heist where he speaks to one of his guys as they are about to go off to perform their individual parts of the mission. There is suddenly a sweet moment where between Johnny and one of the elderly partners in the plot and they have sort of a heart to heart. Well Hayden absolutely delivers in the moment making it a surprisingly poignant scene. In just really a second Hayden realizes the whole surrogate father son type relationship between the two which really was not given much time at all before this point. Hayden makes it feel natural to Johnny and natural to the film, and again it is only a very brief moment.

In terms of the actual heist Hayden certainly knows how to make movement spellbinding as he carries these scenes especially while despite only having some relatively lines to go with him. His best scene though comes at the end of the film when he's trying to leave the country with a very large container of cash. Hayden's great in portraying the stress within the attempt to stay cal as he tries to talk the airport to allowing him to carry the very large suitcase. Then eventually when the misfortune involving the suitcase Hayden is just about in portraying Johnny's reaction of disbelief as well as urgency as he knows he has to get out of there fast. This is only trumped by his brilliant last moment where Johnny, rather than fighting or running, accepts his fate knowing there's no point in escape. Hayden is quietly moving in showing basically the professional Johnny being professional to the bitter end. This is not the easiest performance to review, even though I really liked it, because it seems so simple yet that's kinda the magic in the performance. Hayden hits every note of his character so quickly yet so flawlessly and stays compelling every minute he is on screen.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1956: James Mason in Bigger Than Life

James Mason did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Ed Avery in Bigger Than Life.

Bigger Than Life is a mostly effective film, although Nicholas Ray's direction can be somewhat heavy handed at times, and Christopher Olsen's inadequate performance as Ed's son does hurt the film.

James Mason plays the role of Ed Avery that seems like a simple enough character. He plays Ed Avery who is merely a teacher, although one who has a work a second job as a taxi dispatcher merely to make ends meat, who lives a simple enough life with his young son (Olsen), and wife Lou (Barbara Rush). Mason importantly makes Ed immensely likable in these scenes. He bring his usual charm to the role although shifts it slightly to be more fitting to a guy like Ed who is mostly unassuming. Mason naturally portrays the best most moments as Ed merely just a good man who on the surface is comfortable enough with his life. This is exceedingly important for Mason to do, considering where his character goes later in the film, but Mason does an exceedingly great job of making Ed someone worth caring about. He makes him just a man quietly passionate about his life and makes him quite believable as a man who would in no way complain even about some of his rather severe problems that begin to surface. 

Other than Ed's financial problems which clearly cause him to overwork himself he also seems to have a far worse physical issue. Mason is incredibly effective early on as he gives the sense of always at least a slight discomfort. Not enough at first for him to be obviously noticed by others, but clearly something that is always nagging at him. Mason though does give moments where the pain becomes far more severe in moments and depicts this in searing detail. Mason is terrific by showing that intensity of the pain and clearly the severity of his situation. Eventually Ed is unable to hide his ailment from his family and friends when he has blackouts that lead him to hospitalization. Mason does some very strong work in these scenes that easily could lead to some excessive over acting. Mason though plays the scenes very much on point just going about portraying the physical anguish in Ed in an natural fashion. He makes the suffering come to life rather well through his performance without ever trying to oversell Ed's problems. It's great understated work by Mason.

Ed eventually receives his diagnosis which is that he has a rare condition involving inflamed arteries that usually leads to death within a year. The diagnosis is a very moving scene for Mason as he just quietly reflects Ed's fear in receiving an apparent death sentence. The diagnosis though does not seem as grim though when Ed is recommended a miracle drug Cortisone which apparently will save him though he'll have to take it apparently for the rest of his life. Almost Immediately after the drug starts taking effect there seems to be a new life in Ed. Mason does well to bring about a certain exuberance in the early scenes of the apparently now recovered Ed. Mason portrays Ed behavior in the succeeding scenes with an intense exuberance fitting for a man who has just been given a new lease on life. Mason shows it to almost be so much that is overbearing but still he makes it feel genuine to Ed'a mental state. Mason though begins to allow something to be slightly off about Ed after taking the Cortisone. Mason though handles it especially well though by still leaving it to be either just Ed maybe just understandably overjoyed and enthusiastic to enjoy life again or perhaps it something else.

The enthusiasm Mason portrays though creates the motivation for Ed as he begins Cortisone as though he wishes to take more of the drug to continue this particular high he has in the moment. The intensity of the "happiness" though Mason shows as an unsustainable thing which does not exactly continue once he ups his own dosage of Cortisone going even so far as to forge prescriptions in order to meet his desire. Mason slowly conveys that the high almost seems to transfer slowly to something else as other changes begin in Ed. Mason actually calls upon his often seen screen persona that being the intellectual superior. This rears its head at first at a teacher/parent conference where Ed is no longer his unassuming self but rather an egotistical philosopher who broadly states that children are stupid and that the whole education system is fundamentally flawed. Of course Mason is excellent at being so commanding and incisive merely with words making Ed appropriately vicious in this moment. Mason brings out that ego so effectively showing an apparently changed man. Although Mason calls upon the qualities of what made his performance in The Seventh Veil so well, he's not coasting on them.

Mason absolutely delivers as the cold intellectual as expected, but that's not what Ed really is exactly. This is shown from the start in Mason's performance as there is such a fervor in his speech. The intensity is not of a man who is slightly having a joke himself at his talk of intellectual superiority or in anyway enjoying the torment of others with his words. Mason instead portrays without an ounce of humor and the spirited way in which he delivers his words to be especially off-putting. Ed continues in this way as after that he even goes to his wife espousing that he is so above it all that he should even leave his wife because she his intellectual inferior. Mason is marvelous as he portrays this as a sickness in Ed's mind as he speaks of a man not within his own world anymore. There is the occasional moments of clarity still which Mason brings about naturally where Ed gains his sense for a moment, but only a moment. The reason being that Ed has not changed because he now considers himself invisible or actually feels this way but his Cortisone abuse is having a terrible side effect. That side effect being that it is causing Ed to fall into a psychotic state.

Mason is amazing as he continues to realize the way the madness grows in Ed. Mason slowly creates less and less of a pause in the behavior as Ed's ideas only become more deranged as time passes. Mason is completely chilling in the way he portrays the purity of Ed's sentiment as he begins to even speak about the murder of his son, because his son is starting to look as though he is no longer fit to live. The fact that Mason still keeps his manner mostly refined, although he quite effectively does create the sense of a greater physical tension as another side effect of his medication, makes him all the more disturbing. Mason portrays him as still keeping himself almost too well together well enough physically but he is a complete mess mentally. Mason is brilliant and quite frightening in portraying the uncompromisable state of Ed as he is completely consumed by his demented state. Mason visceral impact is striking as Ed decides on murder as well as suicide and Mason realizes how far gone Ed is. What is particularly remarkable is that Mason interjects this somberness still conveying that above all Ed's mind is a mess of emotions. Ed is stopped just in time and the film leaves on a 50's note where in terms of the script it seems that Ed's all better and just needs his Cortisone monitored in the future. Mason though does leave it a bit more complex than that with his work though. Mason allows it to be more bittersweet as he does suggest the old loving Ed at the moment though there is still something off about him, and sadly it might just be a temporary moment of clarity. Mason leaves there an interpretation to be allowed on whether the good man there once was in Ed really will remain. Mason's performance here is extraordinary. Mason carefully creates the detailed and powerful portrait of a cursed man.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1956: Toshiro Mifune in Samurai III: Duel At Ganryu Island

Toshiro Mifune did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Miyamoto Musashi in Samurai III: Duel At Ganryu Island.

Samurai III: Duel At Ganryu Island is thankfully the satisfying final entry, after the disappointing and messy Samurai II, in the trilogy of films depicting the adventures of legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi this one ending with a rousing climatic duel against his most worthy adversary.

Toshiro Mifune is obviously no stranger to playing samurais and what I find so impressive about his performance is he never seems to simply copy his performance even if the roles are technically fairly similar. Here he plays the same exact role three times in a row within three years. Mifune though actually creates a character arc through the three films. The first beginning with the brash young Musashi who desires to take on any opponent with his considerable but unrefined skills. The second brought Musashi as a proper samurai have a more understood skill though still confused about what exactly he should do with his skills. Mifune naturally brings Musashi to the final version of Musashi we meet in this film. He could not be more different than the almost crazed brawler we originally met as now he's basically gone full Mister Miyagi, he catches flies with chopsticks and everything, and hey I think you may be able to see Mifune rendition of that character here since he missed that part in the Karate Kid out to Pat Morita.

Now what I mean by that is that the way Mifune portrays Musashi in Samurai III is that of a man who has basically become self-actualized. Mifune is terrific in that he rids his performance of that fiery uncontrolled emotion that was such a part of his performance in the first film and an element of his work in the sequel. Here that is gone, and that is not to say this is unemotional performance by any means. Mifune rather coneys the way that Musashi has lost the impetuousness of youth, and very effectively portrays the maturity of Musashi as a man. He is no longer driven by anger, or some sort of pride of being the greatest fighter, he instead shows himself to be a man mostly content with his life as it is. Although for review purposes I must look at this performance all on its own just within this film what Mifune does so well though is suggest the other films in his portrayal of Musashi. Mifune does not play Musashi as merely having been this way his whole life but rather he suggests the effort and wear involved in the process.

Mifune's face wears the past so well as he expresses the considerable wear that Musashi's life has left on him. It is not that Mifune shows Musashi to be a man of exhaustion or bitter or anything of that nature. Mifune though does wear the  suffering he has gone through as well as the effort he had to bring to become the man Musashi is in this final film. As the final phase of Musashi Mifune is wonderful in realizing the man that Musashi has become. Musashi by this film is a true master as a fighter, but unlike before Musashi no longer wishes to fight for any sort of glory or revenge. Musashi now only will fight when there is no other choice. Mifune carries himself perfectly in having this certain grace about Musashi here. Mifune does not show that Musashi is simply above the problems he faced when he was younger, but rather what Mifune creates is an effortless sense of understanding in Musashi. The way Mifune portrays the reactions of Musashi's he presents a man who is almost always watching any way in order to strive for the best most peaceful outcome for all involved.

Mifune is excellent here in creating the great wisdom of Musashi in this film. He manages to make feel very much earned in the unassuming yet palatable manner in which he does show Musashi to now be usually the wisest man in the room. Mifune brings an authentic tenderness in the way Musashi interacts with various people in the film. Whether it is his young apprentice who he always quietly prods along to do the right thing, or even just some ruffians who are taken aback by the brilliance of Musashi. Mifune carefully never creates a sense of superiority in Musashi, even though he technically is better than most everyone else, but rather he is incredible in creating Musashi as a man who would rather gently enlighten his opponents rather than kill them. Mifune is absolutely convincing in making Musashi this philosopher which is especially remarkable since in the first film he began as just an aimless somewhat bloodthirsty young man. There are two nagging elements of Musashi's past though one in his unrequited love Otsu (Kaoru Yachigusa).

The romance of sorts carries through the films where at the first film Musashi rejects Otsu due to circumstances, and then at the end of the second film Otsu rejects him. Here they continue to have their problematic dance. Interestingly when they finally come together the film as well as Mifune and Yachigusa take a fairly low key approach to the moment. It actually though makes sense, as they basically both were well aware of the feelings, and it is quite affecting as both Mifune and Yachigusa show how they quietly finally accept each other. The other element is his reputation as a master swordsman which leaves him as a target of his chief rival in that regard who insists on a duel which Musashi does accept. This leads the climatic duel and Mifune is outstanding in his performance of the duel. Mifune is great in that he does not show a personal hate against the man but still a needed determination as his life is on the line. His physical performance is absolutely compelling in the scene and helps the film achieve it's memorable climax. Mifune's best moment though comes after the duel as he shows that Musashi feels no glory from his victory, but just a poignant sadness that the rivalry had to end in death. If I took Mifune's combined work over the three films this could probably rank up with his best work. Taking into account his work alone though this is still a very strong performance leaving the role of Miyamoto Musashi on truly a high note.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1956

And the Nominees Were Not:

James Mason in Bigger Than Life

Sterling Hayden in The Killing

John Wayne in The Searchers

Toshiro Mifune in Samurai III: Duel At Ganryu Island

Paul Newman in Somebody Up There Likes Me

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1982: Results

5. Jerry Lewis in The King of Comedy - Lewis gives a natural yet still funny portrayal of the rather painstaking measures a man takes in dealing with his celebrity status.

Best Scene: Pupkin invades Jerry's home.
4. Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn - Although I do feel he is underused somewhat Montalban creates an imposing villain while also giving a fairly striking portrait of a man consumed by obsession.

Best Scene:  "From hell's heart i stab at thee"
3. Michael Keaton in Night Shift - Keaton turns a potentially obnoxious character into only an endearing, very funny and even occasionally moving screwball of a man.

Best Scene: Breaking down prostitution.
2. Mickey Rourke in Diner - Mickey Rourke succeeds in proving to be a definition of cool in his very charismatic and quietly humorous performance.

Best Scene: Boogie is threatened.
1. Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner - Good predictions Psifonian, GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar, and Michael Patison. Rutger Hauer easily gives the best supporting performance of 1982 in his portrayal of Roy Batty. He is properly menacing and certainly creates a memorable villain, but he goes even past that giving a heartbreaking depiction of the humanity in an artificial creation trying to find a way to stave off his demise.

Best Scene: "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe"
Overall Rank:
  1. Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner
  2. James Mason in The Verdict
  3. Mickey Rourke in Diner
  4. Michael Keaton in Night Shift
  5. Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  6. Wilford Brimley in The Thing
  7. Jerry Lewis in The King of Comedy
  8. William Sanderson in Blade Runner
  9. Charles Durning in Tootsie
  10. Daniel Stern in Diner
  11. Jack Warden in The Verdict
  12. John Lithgow in The World According to Garp
  13. Lou Gossett, Jr. in An Officer and A Gentleman
  14. Edward James Olmos in Blade Runner
  15. Keith David in The Thing
  16. Richard Crenna in First Blood
  17. James Earl Jones in Conan The Barbarian
  18. David Warner in Tron
  19. Burgess Meredith in Rocky III
  20. Dan O'Herlihy in Halloween III: Season of the Witch
  21. Joe Turkel in Blade Runner
  22. Bill Murray in Tootsie
  23. Ian Charleson in Gandhi
  24. Joel Polis in The Thing
  25. Brian Dennehy in First Blood
  26. Kevin Bacon in Diner
  27. James Mason in Evil Under the Sun
  28. Brion James in Blade Runner
  29. T.K. Carter in The Thing
  30. Roshan Seth in Gandhi
  31. Milo O'Shea in The Verdict
  32. Max von Sydow in Conan The Barbarian
  33. David Keith in An Officer and A Gentleman
  34. Dabney Coleman in Tootsie 
  35. Robert MacNaughton in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  36. John Gielgud in Gandhi
  37. Steve Guttenberg in Diner
  38. John Carradine in The Secret of NIMH
  39. Carl Weathers in Rocky III 
  40. Thomas G. Waites in The Thing
  41. Sydney Pollack in Tootsie
  42. Richard Masur in The Thing
  43. Derek Jacobi in The Secret of NIMH
  44. Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan 
  45. David Patrick Kelly in 48 Hours
  46. Paul Winfield in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  47. Arthur Malet in The Secret of NIMH
  48. James Remar in 48 Hours
  49. Peter Strauss in The Secret of NIMH
  50. Vincent Gardenia in Death Wish II
  51. M. Emmet Walsh in Blade Runner
  52. Dom DeLuise in The Secret of NIMH
  53. Bill Kerr in The Year of Living Dangerously
  54. Martin Sheen in Gandhi
  55. Bruce Boxleitner in Tron 
  56. Paul Reiser in Diner
  57. Tony Randall in The King Of Comedy
  58. DeForest Kelley in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  59. Charles Hallahan in The Thing
  60. Mr. T in Rocky III
  61. Roddy McDowall in Evil Under the Sun
  62. Wayne Robson in The Grey Fox
  63. Donald Moffat in The Thing
  64. George Gaynes in Tootsie
  65. Richard Dysart in The Thing
  66. Daniel Day-Lewis in Gandhi
  67. Tim Daly in Diner
  68. Tim Curry in Annie
  69. Ken Pogue in The Grey Fox
  70. Peter Weller in Shoot the Moon
  71. Denis Quilley in Evil Under the Sun
  72. James Doohan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  73. Kevin Kline in Sophie's Choice
  74. Barnard Hughes in Tron
  75. James Garner in Victor Victoria 
  76. John Shea in Missing
  77. Burt Young in Rocky III
  78. Peter Coyote in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  79. Michael Murphy in The Year of Living Dangerously
  80. Walter Koenig in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  81. Bill Macy in My Favorite Year 
  82. George Takei in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  83. John Amos in The Beastmaster 
  84. Mako in Conan The Barbarian
  85. Richard Belzer in Night Shift
  86. Charles Durning in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
  87. Charles Cioffi in Missing
  88. Henry Jones in Deathtrap
  89. Joseph Bologna in My Favorite Year
  90. Rip Torn in The Beastmaster
  91. Jack Starrett in First Blood
  92. Nicholas Kay in Evil Under the Sun
  93. Dom DeLuise in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
  94. Gerry Lopez in Conan The Barbarian
  95. Hulk Hogan in Rocky III
Next Year: 1956 Lead

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1982: Mickey Rourke in Diner

Mickey Rourke did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning NSFC, for portraying Robert "Boogie" Sheftell in Diner.

Diner is a very enjoyable film about the various misadventures into maturity of a group of college age friends in the late 50's who always meet back up at their local diner.

Diner marks Mickey Rourke's first major role in a film after having done some minor roles including his very memorable though brief work in Body Heat. This performance can be seen as the kickoff for the Rourke's early image as here he plays Boogie who is renowned and very much acknowledged ladies man of the group. Rourke is best described with one word here which simply is cool. In terms of realizing Boogie's character Rourke really is flawless in conveying the breezy sensibilities of Boogie. He just kinda wants to enjoy life with the ladies, and his friends without really dwelling on the matter much at all. Rourke though very importantly does not portray Boogie as some sort of excessively shallow womanizer even though the character could have been interpreted as such. As questionable as his behavior could possibly be Rourke conveys a youthful naivety about it. There's no malice to his mischief and really it is the behavior of guy who's just learning about being adult as he still is kinda playing things by ear as a teenager probably would. 

It needs to be said of just how great Rourke is at being Boogie. He's so perfectly slick in the part and Rourke has such a bountiful yet easy going charm it makes him especially endearing. There is certainly is no need to question Boogie's status in the group because well Rourke simply is as Boogie is built up to be without question. He has such great charisma here that he really could not be more convincing in this role. Of course Rourke does well to show why Boogie happens to be so particularly appealing to the women in the film past the more obvious reasons. In the scene where he comforts one of his friends wives and even alludes to them possibly having an affair. Rourke brings such a genuine sweetness to Boogie that's it's hard not to like him even when he might be doing some rather questionable things. Rourke somehow pulls this off even when he is explaining to his date why a certain appendage of his ended up in a box of popcorn there. The whole explanation is absurd yet Rourke somehow manages to make feasible that Boogie could still win her over because there just does not seem to be a disingenuous bone in his body which is especially funny since Boogie is lying through his teeth.

Rourke never comprises Boogie's character in any moment but is terrific in staying consistent without being one note. Rourke realizes Boogie's whole manner in a natural fashion who is technically cool to be sure, but he also does purposefully keep it himself. Rourke's good in showing it not to be a facade really, but there are obviously times where he has to keep it up despite himself. Rourke shows the logic of Boogie to always be understandable to him as he tries to keep everything in his life pretty casual no matter what. Rourke makes complete sense out of Boogie's behavior which includes constant betting which puts him into considerable debt which he only tries to get out of by gambling some more. One of my favorite scenes of his performance is when he actually gets confronted by the bookie and Rourke shows Boogie trying to just play it cool even as the man obviously won't have it. When the man violently accosts Boogie to show the severity of the situation it is actually a surprisingly moving scene. Firstly it's hard to see something bad happen to Boogie since Rourke makes him so likable, but also Rourke conveys such a sadness in the scene as Boogie struggles to retain his usual demeanor as he clearly suffered more than just physical pain from the attack.

Rourke handles Boogie's maturation very effectively because he does so in such an intensely quiet fashion. Boogie never does lose his cool entirely and he seems very much for the most part at the beginning of the film as he does at the end. He does make some decisions that suggests a change in Boogie which are not explained through the film in words really. Rourke though in only subtle indications does portray Boogie finally accepting that he does need to take some responsibilities for his actions. These are never spelled out but never does it feel underwhelming because Rourke manages to still convey the idea with a particularly great ease. One such instance is when he must face his debt again. Rourke still keeps that cool but in his eyes the severity and understanding is clearly known to him as now he intends to face his problems head on. Rourke gives a very strong performance and I did not even mention the very enjoyable yet unassuming comic nature of some of his scenes. Rourke thrives though once again keeping the funny moments so naturally part of Boogie's character while still being quite amusing. This really is just a splendid and entertaining reminder of how charismatic and talented of a performer Rourke was in the early stage of his career.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1982: Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner

Rutger Hauer did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Roy Batty in Blade Runner.

Blade Runner is a very stylistic and rather compelling film about a police officer Deckard (Harrison Ford) who specializes in hunting rouge androids known as replicants.

One of Rutger Hauer's earliest major English language films was as the chief bad guy in the action thriller Nighthawks starring action hero mainstay Sylvester Stallone. In the earliest appearances of Roy Batty in the film it seems that in Blade Runner Hauer is again playing a role in the same vein. Once again here he is playing the seemingly main villain against another action star of the 80's this time Harrison Ford. Roy Batty seems set up to be the antagonist for our hero here as Roy is the defacto leader of the renegade replicants, as well as considered to be the most dangerous as his model was made for military service therefore he is both highly intelligent and extremely dangerous. Even in his first scenes that seems like that might be the case for the character of Roy with his dark leather coat, really his particular name, the ominous way he appears as well as one of his earliest scenes where he goes to interrogate one of the men involved with the process of making replicants which seems to set him up as villain, and of course that Roy is played by Rutger Hauer.

Rutget Hauer happens to be an actor who just is naturally a bit imposing to begin with so smartly here Hauer knows that he does not need to overplay things. Hauer carries a palatable menace with such particular ease here as Roy. Hauer makes Roy seem quite dangerous without even needing to commit any actual onscreen violence until fairly late into the film. Hauer's whole manner is quite effective here as he brings such a confidence around Roy. The threat is not even what Roy might do but rather what Roy can do and when he will do it. Hauer shows that Roy is well aware that he was basically made to be the ultimate weapon, and likely has had experiences to support this fact, and this sort of knowledge is shown in Hauer's performance. When he goes about terrorizing the technician early on in order to derive some information from him, Hauer does not at all actually try to be actively imposing, he just simply is. Hauer creates the threat of Roy so delicately by making the threat of Roy being that Roy is merely well aware of the threat he is, and has no reason whatsoever to second guess this thought so kinda casually prods the humans he encounters with this idea.

Hauer actually does not have that many scenes for the first two thirds of the film as the film more closely follows Deckard's effort to kill Roy's fellow replicants. Hauer though makes a considerable impact in his few scenes early on that his presence is never forgotten and he carries some potential of danger when he does appear. Of course what it is that Roy is actually after is hardly the standard desire of the villain. He's after no gold, or glory he does have a desire to be sure but the only desire of his is merely to live. All the replicants are given a death sentence in that they have four years to live and the reason Roy is tracking down the people in the corporation who made him is to find if there is a way for him to extend his life as well as the lives of his fellow replicants. In fact all the replicants did before, to cause them to be marked for death, was to rebel against there owners as they were no more than slaves before it. In fact what is the most remarkable about Roy Batty and Hauer's excellent execution of this strange idea which is that well maybe Roy is the hero and Deckard is the villain. After all what's Deckard's motivation to kill the replicants, nothing, other than that he's doing his job.

Early on Hauer creates the sense of Roy being far more than simply the robot made for killing that he was essentially made to be. There is a subtle though strong passionate drive that Hauer conveys in Roy as he inquires about the due date and what can be done about. There is a quiet sense of urgency that Hauer conveys in portraying the desperation in Batty not of some rogue android without purpose but a sentient creature who does not want to lose his life. This is not even a selfish desire though as shown by the moments after one of his fellow replicants dies. The scene where Roy talks about how few of them are left after the deaths of two more of them Hauer is quite moving in portraying only genuine loss in Roy's expression. When he speaks their names Hauer conveys a sadness in Roy as he reflects how Roy is truly hurt by their demise as well as the fact that he has lost the only things he has ever connected with. Hauer is outstanding in the moment where we see Roy directly react to the death of one of his comrades. There's no evil in Hauer performance but rather he expresses the striking humanity in Roy so beautifully as he simply mourns the death of someone so close to him.

An incredible scene for Hauer is when Roy comes face to face with his creator Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel) who is his last hope for salvation. Hauer is amazing in this scene as he loses much of that confidence as he suggests the gravity of someone meeting that which gave them life. Hauer is astonishing in portraying the repentance of a prodigal son who's returned home with again that desperation of a dying man, and Hauer almost shows him to be a man praying to technically his God for a reprieve from his ultimate fate. When Tyrell rather bluntly puts it that there is nothing that can be whatsoever Hauer presents Roy as nothing at all simply. Although he bring a frightening intensity in Roy as he realizes that he is indeed doomed and lashes out at the doctor. It is not only hate that Hauer expresses though. Roy kisses the doctor before he brutally murders him and Hauer makes sense of this odd sentiment. On one end Hauer expresses a final love Roy is giving to the man who technically gave him a life he would never have had, but at the same time he viciously expresses the anger at the man who technically gave him only short life where his only purpose was one of violence and servitude.

As great as Hauer is in all his previous scenes that seems only the warmup to the final scene where he confronts Deckard after all his friends are dead, and he knows he will die soon. This is not a typical villain hero face off. What Hauer does here is spectacular as he portrays Roy basically going down to the basics as he goes about chasing Deckard through an abandoned building. What is so notable about this is how Hauer suggests that this is a game for Roy. Hauer shows that Roy, knowing his end will be soon, that he might as well have some fun in his final moments since he seems to know quite well that he can kill Deckard without much trouble. Everything about Hauer in this scene is spellbinding as he almost brings Roy to his most basic physically in his animalistic manner while he chases and taunts Deckard down. Hauer conveys the joy in Roy as he takes pleasure in making Deckard suffer getting some revenge for his comrades while perhaps putting Deckard in his mindset which is waiting to die. In the end though when Deckard is about to fall to his death Roy actually reaches out and saves him as he falls. In the moment Hauer suggests a bit of compassion as though Roy is almost rejecting what he was made for with this final act. With Deckard saved we have the final scene where he pays witness to Roy's final moments. Well this is the scene of Hauer's performance for a reason because it is a thing of beauty. "I've… seen things you people wouldn't believe" is not Roy gloating at Deckard but rather seems to be him stating the worth of his experience of life. Hauer describes Roy's experiences with such magnificent eloquence of man looking into his past one last time while he has no future left. There is even a smile Hauer brings to Roy's face glad perhaps that at least Deckard has heard him and will witness his demise. Roy's final line, which Hauer came up with himself "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain" is heartbreaking as Hauer realizes Roy's death as the death of a villain, or even the death of a replicant but as the death of a man whose life did have value.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1982: Michael Keaton in Night Shift

Michael Keaton did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Bill "Blaze" Blazejowski in Night Shift.

Night Shift is an decent enough comedy about a nebbish morgue attendant Chuck (Henry Winkler) who after taking over the night shift finds himself getting involved in the world of prostitution.

Night Shift was Michael Keaton's first substantial role in a film. His role technically is a bit of a well worn one that being the comedic side kick who is foil to the main character. Keaton plays Bill who is the new attendant on the night shift just as Chuck becomes the supervisor of it. As I wrote in my review of Keaton's great performance in Birdman that Michael Keaton is an actor I usually like anyways even though the films he's in are not always great. Well Night Shift is in that vein, although I'd say its certainly better than many films in Keaton's filmography. Keaton has a challenge with Bill Blazejowski though in that it is very easy to see how the character could have been extremely grating with a different actor in the role, thankfully for the film though it is indeed Michael Keaton in the part. Michael Keaton has such a wonderfully off beat screen presence that is perfect for a part like this as Bill is suppose to be obviously quite an off-beat sorta guy, particularly in his way of doing his job which is to dress informally, listen to music constantly and run a limousine service using the morgue vehicles.

Keaton is great from the start because Keaton whole manner onscreen makes the various quirks about Bill seem particularly naturally rather than a checklist of wacky sidekick characteristics which he very well might have been. Keaton actually manages to be far more endearing than obnoxious in portraying Bill's method of constantly talking at Chuck without really waiting for any sort of response from him. Keaton brings his unique style of energy though that really makes this work in his favor while still realizing why he might annoy Chuck. Keaton though early on has a moment where there is a possibility for a bit more depth for Bill when Chuck chews him out telling him basically to stop talking and leave him alone. Keaton's reaction is great and surprisingly moving as he shows just how hurt Bill is by the rejection. Keaton portrays an honest sensitivity in Bill as his only response is that to tell Chuck that he thought they were friends. Keaton in this brief scene is really quite good in suggesting that Bill's personality in part is that he is kind trying to win someone over at any point.

Now to be sure most of his performance is about being funny as the film shows Bill constantly scheming and eventually convinces Chuck to basically use the morgue as an office for prostitution as the two of them will act as pimps. One thing that Keaton does so well is bring such a pleasant earnestness in this scheming. There is no malice in Keaton depiction of Bill's technically somewhat unsavory scheme as Keaton has a whole excessively optimistic naivety towards the enterprise. Of course much of his performance is kinda boiled down to the one liners, which is fine since Keaton executes them with such comic precision. Even when he's barely part of the scene Keaton steals it, such as when he reacts to Chuck having slept with one of the prostitutes, Keaton's surprised look is absolutely hilarious. Keaton does not miss an opportunity and I found myself laughing pretty much whenever Keaton bothered to open his mouth. Keaton though when is given a bit more focus is equally funny such as his brilliantly, almost deadpan, speech as Bill rather ineptly lines out the whole prostitution project for the prostitutes.

Keaton is constantly amusing here with such an ease of his performance as Keaton keeps that relaxed style of performance which works so well. He manages to make Bill a particularly likable screwball actually and not at all the annoying or forced presence these types of characters can often be. Keaton even has a particularly dramatic moment where Bill talks about the mistreatment of his father, not unlike a moment in Birdman actually, a coincidence, I don't  know maybe, anyway Keaton once again is surprisingly moving shifting to the more dramatic tone with such ease while giving some poignant depth to the character that does not seem out of character. Keaton takes that and makes feel wholly natural to the rest of Bill and manages to even convey the idea of how that might actually cause Bill's behavior. This is quite a strong comic performance by Michael Keaton. Every joke big or small Keaton tries to get whatever he can out of it, and often he gets quite a lot. He is able to enliven every scene he is in, and really this is just delightful work from start to finish.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1982: Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Ricardo Montalban did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is the far superior sequel to Star Trek The Motionless Picture but having said that I'm hardly infatuated with the film. I find the whole plot structure flawed as the attempt to meld Khan's revenge with the Genesis plot line doesn't quite work, and makes it feel a bit like Khan is the sub plot.

Ricardo Montalban is the only actor to play the main villain of Star Trek film after having previously played the role in the television series. Khan appeared in the original series as a superhuman from Earth's past bent on some new domination before he is stopped by Captain Kirk (William Shatner), through mostly the use of a particularly plastic looking pipe, and marooned on an apparently suitable planet. That's shown to not be the case early in the film when Khan is stumbled upon by another ship's Captain and one of Kirk's former men. Montalban's initial appearance, where he removes an elaborate mask, is so built up that technically Montalban has a great deal to live up to right from the start. Well Montalban lives up to this. On the surface at least Montalban brings back similar elements from his performance in the original episode. Montalban in the role is very cleverly menacing as he still has a very naturally charming manner in terms of his voice and whole manner. He's still kinda a perfect gentleman, but he also happens to be a very intimidating one.

Montalban though of course also shows a great deal of change in Khan expressing what is that Khan and his people suffered after being left to fend for themselves by Captain Kirk. From his first scene Montalban establishes the desire in Khan for revenge against Kirk quite effectively. Although he still keeps his refined demeanor for the most part Montalban conveys the searing hatred in Khan as he asks about Kirk and that bit of venom in his voice when hearing he is now an admiral is perfection. Montalban though does well though not to show this as just Khan being an evil bad guy, who did not like that he was defeated in the past sort of anger though. Montalban makes it much stronger than that, something far more personal. One of my favorite moments in his performance is when he mentions the death count caused by the only remaining creature on the planet a parasitic worm. When Khan says that one of the casualties was his wife Montalban is excellent as he expresses that the strongest emotions in Khan are in that breath. Montalban shows that he's not after Kirk simply because he beat him, but because he truly wronged him.

Khan then proceeds to become almost in a different movie in that we only ever see him outside of scenes with Kirk and crew except for over the communication screen. That's kinda enough just for as Montalban is concerned, although I do think the film would have benefited if Khan had been a more active and physical presence throughout the film. Anyway though Khan becomes technically a particularly self-indulgent revenge seeker purposefully seeming to want to be Captain Ahab. This might have come off as a bit much if it were not for Montalban's brilliance in the role. Every single one of Montalban's dramatic deliveries of Khan's soliloquies is pretty amazing to be sure. He makes each one a little gem of its own as he brings so much conviction into every word. It does not seem to be a man who's just kinda acting out his literary knowledge for fun, no Montalban portrays it with an absolute determination that Khan sees himself as such a character and sees his quest against Kirk as something of far greater importance that technically it really is. Montalban technically does show it to be ramblings of an obsessed madness while doing it with such wonderful style.

Montalban has just enough fun in the role because he basically channels into the "fun" Khan is having while he's taking his vengeance against Kirk. Montalban suggests Khan as completely relishing every moment in which he sees Kirk suffers, and believes that he will find his satisfaction at last. Montalban in turn makes the various setbacks rather satisfying for the audience as he shows such a striking disbelief and fear of losing what he's waited so long for whenever Kirk ends up tricking Khan one way or another. Although I do believe the film could have utilized Khan more in the film Montalban does succeed in making his presence always a factor in the film even when he's off screen by making such an impact when he's onscreen. Montalban though does create a great little personal story for Khan, which again don't feel connects enough with Kirk's story as one would think that it should or at least could. Montalban though is terrific though as his performance here is what turned Khan into probably the most memorable villain from the Star Trek series and one of its most iconic characters. Also just on all its own Montalban gives a fairly remarkable portrait of a man consumed by his obsession.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1982: Jerry Lewis in The King of Comedy

Jerry Lewis did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a BAFTA, for portraying Jerry Langford in The King of Comedy.

Jerry Lewis is perhaps best known for his wacky comedies like the Nutty Professor, but there's nothing wacky about his performance here. Lewis has said that he is essentially playing himself here and the parallels are quite obvious right down to the same first name. Langford though is a successful comic just as Lewis is, and Lewis even hosted a variety show in his career not unlike the show hosted by Langford. Langford has a dual contradictory nature in the film. The first side is that of the fantasies of the fame obsessed celebrity wannabe Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) and the more sexually charged fame obsessed Masha (Sandra Bernhard). In this regard Langford is seen as he is seen on stage. We get the scenes of Langford doing his show where of course Lewis is particularly believable. This is not merely a given though and Lewis deserves credit for creating the scenes as the charismatic, somewhat sardonic talk show host, even if he has done the same thing in real life. A funny example but a good one for why this does deserve credit is if one watches Siskel & Ebert on I believe Sesame Street. They are both technically just doing their show with a slight twist but if you watch it Gene Siskel replicates that in a fictional setting in a natural way whereas Roger Ebert's performance is actually a little labored.

Lewis of course deserves credit anyway because technically he does his talk show manner more like Johnny Carson, where is his normal hosting method still was bit closer to his wacky onscreen persona. In addition though we get some more scenes of the fantasy where Pupkin dreams himself to be Langford's superior confidant. Lewis is good in fulfilling the false fantasy as he portrays this Langford as somewhat needy in the way that Pupkin is as he in reality. Outside of the fantasy though Lewis shows Langford in a far different light particularly in regards to his interactions with Pupkin. There is one particularly strong scene in the film where it shows Jerry walking around in downtown Manhattan where he is frequently spotted. Lewis is terrific in this scene, which included even real calls out to Lewis himself, as he shows the manner in which Langford must go about the normal routine of walking down the street while being so well known. Lewis is good in his body language as he portrays a slight hurry in his step in order to never quite be caught though while still having an ease in his manner. In his interactions Lewis is great in portraying a detachment as he always seems to stare somewhere else while still smiling, and trying to be friendly enough. Lewis presents the manner in which Langford tries to be as courteous as he should be well still maintaining a healthy distance, which unfortunately does get him into trouble. 

The worst person for Langford is Pupkin who refuses to leave him alone. It begins in a ride home where Pupkin keeps selling his right to be on Jerry's show. Lewis keeps that same general calm as he tries to get rid of Pupkin as calmly as he possibly can. This leads to problems though when Pupkin keeps hounding the staff of Jerry's show and eventually even goes to Jerry's home. The scene at Jerry's house is a great moment for Lewis as he shows rather bluntly that Langford now is fed up with Pupkin. Lewis actually manages to be a bit funny, in a purposefully painfully awkward scene, as he basically portrays such an intense rage in Jerry as he sees that a man's celebrity obsession has now even invaded his home. Lewis seems to suggest that Langford is about a step away from really hurting Pupkin but will keep it all pent inside as he struggles to calmly tell Pupkin to get out and never return. This naturally gets Langford kidnapped by Pupkin, so Pupkin and Masha can get what they want from him. Lewis again does well as he shows Langford just trying to calmly talk himself out of the situation. He effectively express the quiet fear in Langford as he attempts to keep Pupkin or Masha from hurting him. Lewis might actually be the cause of the funniest scene in the film which is when Pupkin forces Langford to deliver a message by cue cards. Lewis is hilariously deadpan, while staying true to his realistic depiction, in portraying Langford subdued exasperation as he tries to delicately explain Pupkin's mistakes with the cards. Lewis then is restricted to being taped to chair while Masha has a bizarre dinner with him and Pupkin gets to finally do his act on the show. Lewis does a great job of reflecting my own pained reaction at watching Sandra Bernhard's performance which properly culminates with him punching her out with a chance. Lewis only gets a single final reaction for Langford as he watches Pupkin's act. That's enough as the hate in his eyes sums up Langford's disgust at seeing Pupkin cheat his way to the top. Lewis does some very strong work in the film as he simply realistically portrays the reaction of a man in Langford's position and situation while managing to be naturally entertaining.

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1982

And the Nominees Were Not:

Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner

Mickey Rourke in Diner

Jerry Lewis in The King of Comedy

Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan

Michael Keaton in Night Shift

Monday, 16 February 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1982: Results

5. Albert Finney in Shoot the Moon - Although Finney can't escape some of the film's problems he still gives an effective portrait of a man facing a midlife crisis.

Best Scene: George connects with his eldest daughter.
4. Mel Gibson in The Year of Living Dangerously - Mel Gibson gives a charming leading turn that carries his film nicely well bringing the needed dramatic weight to some pivotal scenes.

Best Scene: After the execution.
3. Kurt Russell in The Thing - Russell is appropriately bad ass in the role but also still gives an effective depiction of the fears and paranoia of a man facing such a threat.

Best Scene: Making the tape.
2. Robert De Niro in The King of Comedy - De Niro creates an appropriately off putting yet fascinating depiction of a man desperate to live his dream as a celebrity.

Best Scene: Getting his audition tape back.
1. Richard Farnsworth in The Grey Fox - Good Prediction koook160. Richard Farnsworth once again brings such a effortless charm, perfectly fitting to the gentleman bandit, but here also effectively creates a striking darker edge to the character.

Best Scene: His farewell to Kate. 
Overall Rank:
  1. Paul Newman in The Verdict
  2. Richard Farnsworth in The Grey Fox
  3. Robert De Niro in The King of Comedy
  4. Ben Kingsley in Gandhi 
  5. Jeremy Irons in Moonlighting
  6. Kurt Russell in The Thing
  7. Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie
  8. Mel Gibson in The Year of Living Dangerously
  9. Harrison Ford in Blade Runner
  10. Peter O'Toole in My Favorite Year
  11. Sylvester Stallone in First Blood 
  12. Peter Ustinov in Evil Under the Sun
  13. Henry Thomas in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial  
  14. Albert Finney in Shoot the Moon
  15. Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours
  16. Robin Williams in The World According to Garp
  17. Jack Lemmon in Missing
  18. Nick Nolte in 48 Hours
  19. Jeff Bridges in Tron
  20. William Shatner in Star Trek II: The Wraith of Khan
  21. Henry Winkler in Night Shift
  22. Robert Preston in Victor Victoria 
  23. Charles Bronson in Death Wish II
  24. Richard Gere in An Officer and A Gentleman
  25. Tom Atkins in Halloween III: Season of the Witch
  26. Albert Finney in Annie
  27. Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III 
  28. Robert Hays in Airplane II: The Sequel
  29. Peter MacNicol in Sophie's Choice
  30. Michael Caine in Deathtrap
  31. Burt Reynolds in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
  32. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian
  33. Christopher Reeve in Deathtrap 
  34. Mark Linn-Baker in My Favorite Year
  35. Marc Singer in The Beastmaster
  36. Maxwell Caulfield in Grease 2
Next Year: 1982 Supporting

Alternate Best Actor 1982: Albert Finney in Shoot the Moon

Albert Finney did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe, for portraying George Dunlap in Shoot the Moon.

Shoot the Moon is a film about dissolution of a marriage. It seems like there is the potential for a good film in there, but has a problem with the scenes of involving serious marital strife.

Albert Finney plays the patriarch of the family involving four rather rowdy daughters who also is a successful author. Finney actually takes an effective approach in terms of the conception of George's problems. In the early scenes Finney is good in portraying the innate sadness in George as he just goes about the day to day interaction with his family. There is this quiet defeat about his manner as he expresses George's dismay at his life. Finney does not show a specific problem but rather does well to just convey the unease George has in dealing with his often misbehaving girls or his wife Faith (Diane Keaton). Finney portrays the detachment he has from them in the moment, and that there is an awkwardness he can't shake including the moment in which he attempts to tell a joke to his wife early on which feels like a horrible attempt to connect with her. What Finney continues to well is also in the portrayal of George's interactions with his mistress.

Finney does not show any great happiness when George is with his mistress either though, just a little less unease, he does not love her it is obvious it just is merely something he is doing to apparently alleviate the pain he feels in his home life. Finney does well to not portray George's affair as what he really wants either, but just more of a byproduct of the mid-life crisis he seems to be having. Finney is good in establishing this through his performance, and he even continues well enough in the early scenes, only the early scenes, where he is fighting with his wife. There is nothing sensible about the arguments exactly it is just raw emotion and give the fight the needed intensity. Finney also does allude to George's actual intentions when it seems Faith is moving on from him. In these moments Finney shows George as attaching himself actually for once. He loses that distance from the early scenes, as well as the ones with his mistress, and shows that George does still care about his family even though he does not seem to know how exactly express this.

Of course things also fall apart a bit as Alan Parker's direction becomes a bit bizarre to say the least. There is one scene that seems to have a great deal of potential where Faith's father is sick and George reveals that he very much cares about this. The one scene involving this though is so rushed feeling including Finney's performance which becomes manic in a second that it unfortunately amounts to very little. That is only the tip though as the film decides to depict any later fights within the family to be so over the top that they come across as unintentionally absurd. If they were meant to be absurd that is problematic since the film becomes quite serious before and after these sequences. For example when George goes off spanking his daughter, even with a wire hanger, that is done in a way that is unfortunately more oddly funny than harrowing, but right afterwards it becomes very somber when he tries to apologize. Even if these moments were suppose to be comic it makes no sense whatsoever. I'll give Finney credit in that he tries to give it his all, but he can't overcome the problematic nature of these scenes.

The film of course calms down outside of these scenes even acting like they never existed really. Finney is even quite great in the last act of the film when his eldest daughter comes to him for solace after a fight with her mother. Finney is very moving in the scene by showing the fatherly side of George to finally come out and in the moment the disconnect seems to break as we see that George finally seems to be comfortable with his family life. Everything almost seems to end well as Finney continues to express this sentiment in George as he speaks with his wife one more time, of course all this is thrown out the window with one more act of absurdity that the film decides to end on. Thankfully for the actors this is wholly action based so they don't need to get histrionics too much. Albert Finney's performance I actually do rather like for the most part as in terms of the overarching characterization Finney takes an effective approach. Unfortunately his performance lapses in to troublesome territory when the film does the same. Due to that this is most definitely imperfect work by Albert Finney but still more than decent performance on the whole.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1982: Robert De Niro in The King of Comedy

Robert De Niro did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a BAFTA, for portraying Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy.

The King of Comedy tells the story of a fame obsessed man stalking a successful comedian and talk show host. The film is technically a very odd mix up of such unpleasantness though with a comic streak at apparently the character's expense, although I'm not quite sure that the film really balances it quite right.

The King of Comedy marks the fifth collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. Once again he plays a character who is purposefully unpleasant in nature, although he actually I think was suppose to pleasant in New York, New York but that's besides the point. Rupert Pupkin though is very different from the wannabe gangster Johnny Boy in Mean Streets, the taxi driver suffering likely from PTSD, or the jealous boxer Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. In all of those cases De Niro technically was closer to his perceived image of the Italian tough guy. Rupert Pupkin though is not a tough guy in fact he's quite the opposite. It's interesting how there still is a strong physicality to his work, which is often what De Niro is noted for, in his physical manner as Rupert. There is a sense of desperation merely in the weak way he walks about and talks to people. When it is someone he wants to talk to someone De Niro almost seems to cling to that person, without touching them, while if Rupert is being told something he does not want to hear, by someone he really does not care about, De Niro effectively portrays Rupert as sort of withdrawing into himself.

Rupert Pupkin is a deranged man which is known from the start. Pupkin's oddity though is a bit different from say Travis Bickle who was in part damaged by the very real problems in the realities around him. Pupkin is rather a man who lives in his own reality, the film even takes detours where it depicts Rupert's daydreams, and De Niro is particularly good in establishing this idea with this performance. The way De Niro speaks is very off putting in that De Niro rarely expresses an attachment of the moment in Pupkin's manner of speaking. De Niro shows this well as Rupert always trying to be in his version of the reality that even when he is speaking to someone not of that reality De Niro still expresses Rupert in on a different wavelength than that person. There are times though where Rupert is forced into reality though due to the insistence of someone else. In these moments De Niro is especially good in portraying a volatility in Rupert. There's a quick and intense pain almost that De Niro portrays in these moments as though Rupert only suffers when he is forced to accept the truth of his situation, and wishes to snap himself back to his dream as soon as he possibly can.

De Niro often does do something quite interesting in his performance, conveying the intent of Rupert as a man, which is he often plays Rupert much like the comedian he stalks Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis). Although Rupert wants Jerry to put him on his show, Rupert does not really want to work his way on the show or through the show, he just wants to be as famous Jerry instantly. De Niro presents Rupert often in terms of his walk, his smile, his whole manner like Jerry. Not Jerry as he clearly is as a man in his personal life, but obviously like Jerry just when he is in act of being the talk show host. De Niro one ups that showing that Rupert's whole act to be all too much for his own good. De Niro shows Rupert already in a way living his dream out, after all he often is in his dream, and really is already performing since in his mind the dream should only be a matter of time. De Niro is quite good at being grotesque. I'll admit this is one of his colder performances, and De Niro is hardly known for his fuzzy personality, but the reason it is so cold is because De Niro portrays the demented state of Rupert to make him have only tunnel vision. De Niro expresses the tunnel vision in Rupert, he's unable to see any reality except his distorted reality.

Now the awkwardness and discomfort of certain scenes is ramped up to probably eleven. Now I have to say this is particularly unpleasant viewing although that is clearly the intent. Which does not alleviate this is technically that De Niro is outstanding as Rupert because he realizes Rupert's insanity in a fashion that feels almost a bit too authentic at times. One great scene for this is when he receives fairly positive advice, although rejection, from Jerry's assistant. De Niro is terrific in the scene by conveying a searing aggression in De Niro as he questions the assistant's credentials. What is most notable about it though is how De Niro shows the way that Rupert refuses to really break his whole manner and just keeps trying to prod the assistant while keeping his pleasant demeanor. This only painfully continues though when they must call security to ask Rupert to leave, and again De Niro only extends the pressure through keeping something so problematic about a man who acts as though he's just an eager guy. The continued eventually does lead to a breaking point of sort when Rupert along with a female stalker of Jerry, Masha (played atrociously by Sandra Bernhard), kidnap Jerry in order to live their mutual dreams of celebrity. 

Rupert organizes his television debut which ends up being a moderate success. De Niro is technically great in this scene by just giving an average stand up comedy performance, not great, but decent enough for him to win over the audience. His stand up routine, as well as a dream involving a former school principal, show that Rupert's past seemed to have been rather troubled. Well De Niro never breaks the act though perhaps in part of the pathetic nature of the man there is a certain sadness in De Niro's portrayal even though he tries to cover that up with his whole act. The film is definitely not a truly refined piece as I don't think the film quite hits the right stride in terms of tone which is not helped by De Niro's overacting co-star. I must admit though I did find De Niro's performance consistently compelling even when some of the scenes did not quite work. In fact he's even occasionally rather funny, such as when he yells at his mother for interrupting his fantasies or when he fails to give Jerry proper cue cards. I don't think the film technically makes the most of the potential of Rupert Pupkin. De Niro is the one that makes that potential through the way he physically makes this sort of man, and realizes the mental state as absolutely unnerving yet still quite fascinating.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1982: Jeremy Irons in Moonlighting

Jeremy Irons did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Nowak in Moonlighting.

Moonlighting is an effective film about a group of Polish workers doing a job, for cheap labor, in England just before major unrest takes place in their home country.

This review was originally going to be for Mel Gibson in The Year of Living Dangerously, but after watching that film I change my mind. To be sure Gibson gives a solid performance in that film though I thought the most remarkable element of that film was Linda Hunt's Oscar winning performance. Gibson is properly charming, he's got interesting chemistry with Sigourney Weaver, and does certainly still bring the dramatic weight needed for the film particularly the film's final moments. I have no complaints, but Gallipoli was a more notable somewhat similar performance from him. So I decided to instead examine Jeremy Irons's performance here in Moonlighting. Irons has a rather interesting task to start in that he must play a Polish worker in England which seems like a miscasting as Irons must be a non-Englishman in England, and Jeremy Irons happens to be someone who one of those actors that happens to be a bit of a personification of the country comes from. Well surprisingly though Irons is able to overcome his innate Englishness.

Irons is particularly good in overcoming this first hurdle. He nicely uses a very understated accent that does not try to bring too much attention to itself while still muting his own accent enough to make Nowak's background believable. Irons interestingly kinda does a form of one man show that is a bit out of the ordinary. The reason it is out of the ordinary is there are plenty of other characters around the town house, at the store, and of course the other polish workers that he is the foreman to. These characters though are all unimportant really in that it is only Nowak that truly matters, and even the people that factor into his story don't exactly have a lot say. We first follow Nowak as he and his men go to England to try to complete the house in a few days with a very tight budget. Irons's performance is quite clever in the way he establishes Nowak as a person. He shows Nowak to be rather unassuming in terms of being in England as Irons is quite effective in portraying the unease and uncertainty of a foreigner who knows the language but not really the land.

What's so compelling about that though that Nowak is completely in command of the workers who do not speak English. Irons though does create the intriguing dynamic that Nowak has with his men. Irons does exude the needed sway in his performance as Nowak, although meek himself, somehow seems like a bastion of domination when around his men. Irons is brilliant in the subtle way that he just has the air of command in the scenes with the man. There is nothing obviously demanding about it, but the fact that he is in charge over them is oddly not in question despite Nowak's general nature. Irons is rather fascinating in the ease in which he establishes the odd way that Nowak controls the men. He is the one who sets up the time they work as well as makes sure they don't smoke and follow other rules, as well decides what food they should have, and even specifically gives out the coins for collection in church. Irons's great because he's not warm yet he's not cold either towards the men. It's a very unusual yet so remarkable as he establishes this very peculiar relationship he has with the men. 

Most of the film's lines come from Irons's narration which itself is somewhat atypical as Irons speaks the lines as though he is reading a journal of the events. Irons does well in this regard though as he reads it as though it's almost Nowak's personal report on his job, even though it extends into more personal matters as well. A sudden change in the job comes about though when comes turmoil in Poland. Nowak, to finish the job on time, takes some extreme measures such as not telling the men about it, even taking measures to hide it, as well as even going so far as to steal from the local market in order to keep the job in budget. Nowak ends up being a bit of a personification of the sort of government oversight in Poland at the time as he directs the men dispassionately though not in a purposefully antagonist or selfish fashion. Irons is terrific because he makes this whole idea seem natural to Nowak's personality as he portrays the perhaps somewhat absurd mindset of Nowak seem wholly logical to his manner. Irons does not play it as absurd but very natural creating the sort of man created through the system he has been living in.

Although Nowak is distant this is not a cold performance by Jeremy Irons. Irons is actually quite endearing and makes Nowak a likable lead, despite some of his actions, by bringing such genuine earnestness in what he does. There is not malice in his manner, even when stealing, Irons rather just shows Nowak as a man just doing his job the only way he sees fit. Irons also delivers some poignancy in his quiet portrayal of Nowak thinking about his troubled home as well as his love that is far out of reach in England. Irons is moving conveying that there is a honest concern in Nowak towards the problems in his country even though he does put the job as a priority over these problems. Irons manages to be completely convincing in portraying the weird state of Nowak. He is properly sympathetic as he never shows Nowak just to be some strange cog even though he is blunt in showing the problematic way Nowak views as how he must perform his duties. This memorable work by Jeremy Irons as he successfully carries the film and creates a rather clever depiction of the ways a man does not lose his country even when he leaves it.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1982: Kurt Russell in The Thing

Kurt Russell did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying R.J. MacReady The Thing.

The Thing is an excellent horror film set at a scientific outpost in Antarctica that is invaded by a strange creature that takes the form of its devoured prey. 

The Thing marks Kurt Russell's second theatrical collaboration with director John Carpenter after the dystopian thriller Escape from New York. Kurt Russell once again seems pegged to portray the hero of the film, and to be sure MacReady is the maverick of the base as the helicopter pilot who has his own base. Russell does not just simply copy Snake Plissken who was the action hero who seemed to have some sort of problem with everyone. Russell's importantly adjusts his performance here because MacReady is not an action hero. In fact the first time we meet MacReady is when he is just casually drinking and loses at electronic chess to his computer opponent. Russell does not portray MacReady as some guy who's ready for action, but rather merely just kinda a tired guy doing a pretty standard job. You can feel MacReady's time on the isolated base just in Russell's eyes and his manner that time in a frost bitten land with only the same exact people to communicate with have certainly worn on MacReady.

The minutia of the life on the base though takes an odd turn when they discover some truly odd things after investigating two Norwegian men who died trying to kill a dog that ran to the American base. The film focuses at first on the men trying to make sense of the odd occurrence by visiting the desolated Norwegian base. Russell is perhaps the best of the actors in the film in terms of just simply portraying the reaction to the, at first eerie things he sees. Russell does some great work in just conveying the quiet unease in MacReady as he looks over the destruction of the base, and Russell very much grips the film in a reality as his reactions are only as such. Of course the signs stop when the alien itself rears its head in the form of a mutating dog that tries to infect the other dogs in the base's kettle. Well there was potential for the film to go into absurdest territory because although the visual effects are remarkable they're not exactly the most subtle depictions of a creature. Pretty much the entire cast does a fantastic job of grounding these scenes by simply playing the fear as how an normal person would react to seeing such things.

As the threat grows the men deal with the situation in different ways, and Russell is does well to create MacReady's dynamic with the other men. That being he does not have too much of one really. Russell creates a certain distance in the scenes together with the other men as Russell suggests not a hint of camaraderie. It is not that he is actively unlikable, but rather Russell portrays MacReady's attitude as that of the loner that keeps him from having no particular connection with the other men. Russell by having this certain coldness does well to set up MacReady as the leader for the crisis. This seems like an odd idea that the man who isolates himself further from the men to be the one in charge of the group, but it ends up making sense because MacReady's distance allows him to be the only one who can do what is needed. What is needed is a dispassionate view in terms of trust since MacReady does not trust anyone especially in particular he will not give anyone the benefit of the doubt. Russell is very convincing in creating the idea that MacReady's able to control the situation,  as much as he can, by giving such intensity to MacReady's individual will to survive.

Now because of that we are given a few moments where MacReady does kinda get to be the hero of the film since he is always the one taking down the alien after every trick that it pulls. Russell does not compromise his character at any point even though MacReady ends up being a bit of a bad ass, but hey he can't help it. Well in that respect Russell is best described as being sorta awesome in the role by bringing such conviction to certain lines of his such as "Now I'll show you what I already know" when referring the confidence he has in his blood test, or the determination in "We're not gettin' outta here alive. But neither is that Thing", and of course his line just before blowing up a massive version of the creature. Russell delivers them all with absolute precision yet he makes these moments come naturally from the character. They never feel out of place and fit the character he created. Russell as well though never lightens the situation in these moments though because it is not that of a relaxed cool in how MacReady deals with the monster, but rather Russell always still portrays a sense of desperation in the man.

Russell excels particularly well in portraying MacReady's physical and mental degradation throughout the film. Russell expresses well the decay in MacReady through the film since he never gets any sleep and is only worn away even more by the cold. Russell though is also particularly effective though in also depicting the growing paranoia in MacReady as well as his realization and acceptance of his death as long as it means the death of the creature. Russell is terrific by carefully growing the sense of distress in MacReady as the situation only becomes worse throughout the story. There is one scene where MacReady leaves a tape recording to warn any future visitors to the site. Russell infusing the scene with a surprising amount of poignancy by so honestly delivering the repressed fear and despair that is in MacReady. Russell gives a strong performance here as he manages to amplify the horror of the situation by only offering genuine responses to the creature. Russell nicely offers the mild comfort of the film by making MacReady a compelling lead, and always keeps the character of R.J. MacReady firmly as a resilient but still flawed man.