Friday, 15 January 2016

Best Supporting Actor 2015: Sylvester Stallone in Creed

Sylvester Stallone received his second acting Oscar nomination for reprising the role of Rocky Balboa in Creed.

Creed is the excellent seventh film in the Rocky series that follows Apollo Creed's son Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) as he tries to make his way as a professional boxer.

Sylvester Stallone once again returns as Rocky, though for the first time Rocky is in the position of the supporting role of the film. Now Rocky has been through a lot as a character, he started out so meekly, became champ through two difficult fights, had to beat Mr. T, bought a robot, fought a giant Russian, climbed a mountain to defeat said Russian, was in a horrible sequel, then was in a much better sequel that seemed made just to erase that terrible film out of memory. Rocky's never gone completely stale as a character, now I'll admit part of that is that he is a bit fluid or he has been over the films in terms of his IQ, as well as his physical conditions. Of course one more time could be one too many, it was for five though six fixed that. How about seventh? Well on the point this is very much the continuation of the down to earth guy found in the original and Rocky Balboa. Stallone is as comfortable as he's ever been in the role as Adonis first comes to see him at his restaurant with Rocky being unaware of who he is. Stallone though does not merely just come in and play Rocky from scratch again. Stallone instead represents a Rocky who's gone through all the films (perhaps a more down to earth rocky IV), and more.

Now what made Rocky one of the one iconic of all movie characters can once again be found in Stallone here. That very certain charm that Rocky has is once again evident. Now I have to be honest I've in the past not really given proper credit to this in some of Stallone's other turns as Rocky. Rocky's charm is not that of Stallone's per se, Rocky is not like any other characters Stallone has played or actually like Stallone himself. There is something that Stallone does so well in portraying Rocky's certain simple sensibilities and the fact that Rocky is not exactly the smartest guy who ever lived. Stallone does something special with this, which is evident in Creed, particularly in one exchange about the location of a "cloud", as it was in the original Rocky, which is he allows you to laugh about these certain shortcomings Rocky has without it seeming as though your laughing at him. A reason for that is Stallone who always plays Rocky as a man who's aware of these shortcomings, and is able to embrace them himself. Stallone makes Rocky a man truly without any pretensions over himself, and honestly is barely able to believe the position he has been able to attain for himself. Stallone is naturally endearing here, and once again makes Rocky just a hero you want to see succeed.

Rocky this time of course has no boxing match to fight himself, and instead it is about Rocky taking Adonis under his wing as a trainer. Rocky technically is now fitting into the role once fulfilled by Mickey (Burgess Meredith) in the original film, but this is in no way Stallone's attempt to copy that type of mentor role. Instead there is something very different in the methods of Rocky as he tries to help Adonis best he can. Rocky is and has always been a fairly easy going guy and Stallone correctly keeps this as the central idea as he earnestly though slowly shows Adonis the ropes on how to prepare for a big fight. What's so special that comes from these scenes is the development of the relationship between Adonis and Rocky. Technically speaking the two of them just being tossed together shouldn't necessarily work, but oh does it thanks to Jordan and Stallone's performances. The two develop fantastic chemistry together and they make it instantly convincing that they two so naturally become friends, when in reality the film makes it really a given. Stallone and Jordan allow it to be this way though as they work so well in tandem with one another, with Stallone's more unassuming approach with Rocky making such a great foil against Jordan's more eager and aggressive approach with Adonis.

Now again coming back to this being a reprise of Rocky, Stallone does not waste the fact that he had six other films with the character. Stallone in Rocky's early conversations with Adonis about the past in regards to Apollo, as well as the scenes where he mentions in passing his wife or his best friend Paulie, is incredibly affecting. Stallone carries this quiet melancholy in Rocky suggesting the memories of his past losses are just a part of him that he has to live with now, but within that unconditional optimism that just seems to be just a part of his soul. Stallone does not depict Rocky as really dwelling upon them as he goes about his day, but rather it as just a part of life now. Eventually yet another tragedy befalls Rocky in the story when he is diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Stallone makes the moment absolutely heartbreaking through his reaction. What's so devastating about it is Stallone does not portray Rocky as someone breaking down from the news, but instead Stallone plays it as though he knew something like this was coming sooner rather than later, as though it is just the one last thing for him to lose. It is in this scene and the succeeding ones where Stallone depicts Rocky without that glint of hope in his eyes as it finally seems that Rocky would rather just give up on this fight.

Eventually this leads to Adonis confronting Rocky on Rocky just giving up. Stallone is outstanding in the scene as Rocky finally allows the extent of his sadness out, having kept inside for so long. It's such a powerful moment due Stallone's work as Rocky reveals how much he misses the past, not due to his stature as a boxer, but in his inability to ever see his wife again. What's so special is Stallone echos the romance that was so pivotal in the past films, as Rocky speaks, as Stallone realizes those glimmers of joy within this moment of despair. It's such a moving moment as Stallone finds just how much what was left behind meant to Rocky, but actually even how much Rocky means to us. Rocky's turn around though, motivated in large part by Adonis, isn't given a precise moment. Instead again Stallone is amazing in the way he just gradually brings back that spark in Rocky, that has always been a pivotal part of his character, as he guides and encourages Adonis to live his own dream. The warmth in this Stallone finds in a genuinely inspiring fashion, as he finds what helping Adonis really does mean to Rocky by the end. The film ends with what is often one of the most emotional moments in any Rocky film, that being when he runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. This time though Rocky does not run but walks, with some help by Adonis, to get to the top at least one last time. Even the physical trouble that Stallone moves as a man of old age, shows all that's Rocky been through, and even though its not a triumphant rush to the top, it still feels like a victory. The contentment in Rocky's eyes is something that Stallone has justified through all of Rocky's terrible hardships. I have heard the blanket statement that reprising a role is easier. Although it's true the actor has been there before, its even harder to bring something new, and this is the seventh time. Stallone's great performance does this as he not only takes Rocky to a new place in his life with his work as Creed, which works all within the context of Creed alone but also acts as a statement on the whole life of Rocky Balboa throughout the entire series. 

69 comments:

Luke Higham said...

YESSS! :)
It's certainly gonna be the best Supporting year ever, overall.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Very glad you loved him.

Calvin Law said...

I had a feeling, from the overall tone of this article, that the re-watch of the film improved your views on it all-round? Also thoughts/rating on Jordan...unless you're saving him.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Have you seen any other films for 2015 in the past week.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Please save Jordan. He's really stuck with me a lot more than I thought he would. In fact, probably my #3 this year for Lead Actor.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

That would be a correct assessment, and I'll be saving Jordan.

Luke:

Child 44
The Gunman

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Thoughts on the films and ratings & thoughts on the casts.

Michael McCarthy said...

Even though Stallone's probably my second favorite out of the nominees behind Hardy, I still kinda really want him to win.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Honestly it's not even close for me of this lineup. I'm actually terrified of the thought of him losing to Ruffalo in some sort of freak last-minute voting surge.

Calvin Law said...

Jordan is my #6 for Lead Actor and am seriously considering replacing Fassbender with him.

Anonymous said...

If he wins, I certainly hope no one complains.
Louis: Overall, what do you have to say about Errol Flynn, Richard Widmark and Gary Cooper as actors?

Augusto Bsf said...

I'm just wondering what Louis is saying about Redmayne, since he found Ruffalo mannered performance that unnatural. Comparing to Redmayne's, Ruffalo is almost a master class of naturalism.

And just to add: what an awful movie is Danish Girl. Vikander is nominated by the wrong performance. She's pretty good on it, and kind elevates her material, but, boy, isn't she WAY more remarkable in Ex Machina!? Gotta add too that Amber Heard is a scene-stealer in this, with a little more of screentime, she would have benn MVP.

RatedRStar said...

Ye I will definately be saying Redmayne will finish 5th I think.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: If it isn't Hardy, Rylance or Stallone, I'll be really pissed off.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: The Program is on Putlocker.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Well, I think it's a three-race between Hardy, Stallone and Rylance. Can't see Bale or Ruffalo getting it. If Stallone wins, I bet some people are going to complain just because he's mostly known as an action star.

Luke Higham said...

The Program
Foster - 4.5
O'Dowd - 3
Plemons - 3
Rest - 1/1.5/2/2.5

It was far too short.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Can I have your thoughts on Gleeson and Poulter in The Revenant.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: I feel a bit ashamed to say this, but I'm bumping DiCaprio back up to a 5 for The Revenant.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: It's your own opinion and shouldn't be ashamed by it. Me and you are a bit alike, we sometimes find it difficult to decide on a rating for most performances.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: Agreed. I'm also a bit annoyed at having to do this, but...re-watching Creed, I have to bump up Jordan into my top 5 and take Fassbender out. And for supporting (definitely an even tougher choice), removing Elba and Hardy for Jackson and Goggins.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: That's OK. :)

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Child 44 is one of those films were it seems like any one of its plot threads could have been interesting enough, particularly the Soviet army trying to find a serial killer, but the fact that it tries to add them all up at once just makes the whole thing a mess.

Hardy - 3.5(His accent is pretty good, though I would not say Viggo Mortensen good, but few ever are. Nevertheless Hardy importantly does not let that control his performance, though unfortunately he is very much limited by being pushed in every direction by the plot. Hardy is able to keep things as much together as he can and does have some very good moments in there particularly when he comforts his wife at the shooting range or when he offers to take in some orphans. Hardy actually is trying very hard to make an interesting portrait of a good man living in a bad system, the film just keeps getting in the way)

Rapace - 3(She's also good though again that plot just pushes her every which way. She keeps up best she can, though it is unfortunate the film purposefully avoids allowing her and Hardy to strike up any real chemistry)

Kinnaman - 1(One of the worst villains of 2015 as the character successfully gets in the way of a much better villain. I wished the whole time his plot would just go away but it just kept rearing its head. Kinnaman is once again so bland in the role that he's not even good at being an obnoxious weasel of a villain. I just simply could not stand watching him.)

Considine - 3.5(Considine is actually quite chilling in realizing the deranged pleasantness of his man, but unfortunately the film barely cares about particularly with what happens to him at the end)

Oldman, Cassel, and Dance were wasted, though I'll admit I thought it was pretty funny that Dance seemed to have completely rejected the idea of doing a Russian accent unless he had to speak a Russian name.

The Gunman I don't think is as terrible as its reputation suggests, I think it got an extra degree of venom because it is most definitely a bit of an ego trip for Penn. It's not that bad, but it's also not very good. It honestly seems like a better edit could have saved it since it just lacks the urgency you want in this sort of story, and the whole structure felt a bit disjointed.

Penn - 3(I really thought he was decent here as he avoided his two worst types of performance traits that being bland smugness, or pure histrionics. Though the film may have been made to just show off the muscles he bothered to get, Penn does bother to give an investment in the story, and surprisingly his ego never comes off from the performance itself)

Trinca - 2.5(As foreign beauty stereotype she's not bad, not particularly good either)

Bardem - 3(His whole character's brief arc is extremely rushed but I found that he did as well as he could in giving some emotional honesty to his character's breakdown.)

Winstone - 2.5(A little too standard of Winstone. He's not bad though, just there's nothing really there either)

Rylance - 3.5(I'm afraid I'm giving the plot away by saying he's the rich businessman that you think is the one Penn's side but is in fact evil. Actually I'm not its pretty obvious. I wish the film gave Rylance a great evil monologue to really sink his teeth into, but instead he gets bits and pieces of them. Rylance offer a bit of gravitas to the proceedings and makes for a good villain, though he's also a bit wasted nevertheless)

Idris Elba is in it, but does almost nothing.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Have you seen The Program yet.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Flynn - (He had a carefree charm that went for miles, and usually could get away on just that. To his credit though in a purely silent or physical way Flynn knew how to convey some severity in a given situation. Whenever he needed to speak lines that said this though it always came off very flat as though he was purposefully trying to keep his charm at bay)

Widmark - (I've yet to see a performance of his come close to his Oscar nominated turn. Nevertheless he usually was a reliable as a leading man even if some of his performance felt a bit standard, they never were bad either)

Cooper - (Cooper was a good silent actor but I've never felt he was very capable at delivering lines in the very least. There was usually a certain discomfort or lack of interest that always seemed behind it all. Not always mind you, but often enough.)

Luke:

Gleeson - (I did not feel he was miscast at all, especially since Fitzgerald noted that he probably had his position bought for him. Gleeson I think was very good in conveying just a nervousness and weakness in an attempted confidence. What I liked so much about his performance though was he never made this a simplistic caricature. Gleeson shows the way the Captain cared for everyone of his men, and if you watch in that opening attack you see every death in Gleeson's reactions. Even past that he had some great moments that just conveyed the severity of the situation, particularly when he's about to execute Glass, as well as gives the right intensity to the Captain's outrage when he learns of what Fitzgerald did)

Poulter - (His performance is a great balancing factor for the film as he keeps understated yet is very affecting in depicting Bridger's quiet emotional turmoil as he's forced to be an accomplice with Fitzgerald's actions. Though one I do wish is if the film had brought him along on the hunt for Fitzgerald as well, as it could have offered more of a conclusion to his character than we got.)

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Not yet.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Just one final question about thoughts on actors. What are your full thoughts on Paul Muni, John Barrymore and Gregory Peck as actors?

Alex Marqués said...

hey guys which are your favourite acting performances in tv shows? for me it's a tie between bryan cranston in BB and ian macshane in deadwood

Luke Higham said...

Alex: Cranston in Breaking Bad or Rylance in Wolf Hall.

Anonymous said...

Alex: I'd say Rylance in Wolf Hall.

Luke Higham said...

Alex: I'll give the nod to Rylance. :)

Alex Marqués said...

Now you have convinced me to watch Wolf Hall :D

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Have you finished Wolf Hall, if so, can I have your thoughts on it in general and your thoughts on the cast.

Anonymous said...

John Smith: Saw The Hatefull Eight:

Leigh: 5 (Mvp)
Goggins:5
Jackson:5
Madsen:4
Bichir:4
Dern: 4
Russel:4.5
Tatum:4
Roth: 4

Robert MacFarlane said...

I saw Hateful Eight myself. For my money, Jackson was MVP (and lead).

Michael McCarthy said...

It's really close between Jackso, Russell and Leigh for me.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Russell and Dern were right behind him for me. Need to think about Leigh some more. Didn't get why you all love Goggins so much.

Matt Mustin said...

Robert: Glad you liked Dern.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Yeah, I was taken aback at how much humanity he allowed Smithers. Way more nuanced approach than I was expecting.

Michael McCarthy said...

Robert: Well for one thing I found the whole sleazy Southern sheriff act very entertaining all on its own, but I think the most special thing about his performance was that he found a way to make his sort of 180 in regards to Jackson's character believable. It wasn't a change of heart about black people in general, but a combination of their shared goals and his growing respect for the fact that Warren was as much of a shameless bastard as he was.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Yeah, I get that, but frankly I didn't find his shtick that funny.

Calvin Law said...

I think Goggins had the most fascinating arc and complex performance, but that Jackson gave the most memorable performance. If that makes any sense.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: When is the review.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What are your top 5 worst actors currently working.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I'm pretty sure Ansel Elgort is on that list.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I'm quite confident that Joel Kinnaman's gonna be on the list as well.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Yeah, I think he'd be on that list as well. Never saw the Robocop remake, by the way.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: Who do you hope gets reviewed next. I'm dying for Hardy.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Hardy too.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: With the time Louis' taking with the next review, I think Bale's coming last.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Probably.

Anonymous said...

Luke: It's hard to believe that David Bowie and Alan Rickman passed away recently.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I'm still quite heartbroken, Rickman especially. :(

I hope one of them or Christopher Lee is shown last in the in memoriam montage.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I think Lee will be on the memoriam montage.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I know that, but I hope one of the three gets the honour of being shown last on the montage.

Calvin Law said...

The Danish Girl (not expecting anyone to agree with me, but):
Redmayne: 4
Vikander: 4.5
Schoenaerts: 3.5
Whishaw: 2
Koch: 3.5

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I'll give you Vikander, but Redmayne really underwhelmed me.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Redmayne is downright bad in it.

Calvin Law said...

He worked for me, what can I say. I expect and have nothing against any backlash against me.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I assure you that I've no problems with your opinion on Redmayne (I still like him in The Theory Of Everything). :)

RatedRStar said...

Louis: You know for the bonus rounds, is it possible that one year aside from 2011 could have ten reviews, because I have found a year that could easily have 10 nominees =D. Also did you check out any of the spreadsheets that I posted, just wondered what you thought of them?

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: What year is it. :)

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: Your top ten film scenes of 2015.

RatedRStar said...

Luke: 1979

Um I dont think I could list them as I dont think I could rank them lol.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: Any scenes from The Revenant that made a significant impact on you.

RatedRStar said...

Luke: Probably the scene where Hardy just sits at the table and doubts what could have happened.

Anonymous said...

I really didn't like Redmayne. Actually while I was watching the movie I didn't truly mind him but after thinking about it I was shocked by how shallow is his work. His best moments in my opinion are the ones as Einar slowly discovering his desire to be a woman but still he has some unconvincing moments and he made the character's realization of his true nature rather random and sudden, without ever hinting before that there was something missing in his life. But what truly ruins his performance are his scenes are Lili - he is mannered and overcooked and he never truly injects the life needed for the role - he's all poises and smiles with nothing behind it. He's fine in his last scene but I wouldn't give him more than a 2.5 probably.

Robert MacFarlane said...

His problem as Einar for me is that he's TOO relaxed in those scenes. There should be no slow realization; there should be internalization of Einar being the false persona. If the script claims that the Einar persona is playacting, why does Redmayne's performance barely hint at it? The film's treatment of Transsexuality is already sloppy by going from fetishizing it, to treating it like Disassociative Personality, to vaguely appearing like the real thing. Redmayne makes it all the worse by playing into the scripts missteps entirely.

Anonymous said...

@Robert: You're absolutely right. Lili should be his true self, something that has always been inside him, but he just makes it as something he starts to be as soon as he wears female clothes for the first time. There's no hint in his performance that suggests that Lili has always been his true identity while Einar was a false one. He certainly wasn't helped by the terrible screenplay (I really hate the movie, I think it's a mess and not even an enjoyable one) but really his characterization is all wrong.