Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Best Supporting Actor 2015: Tom Hardy in The Revenant

Tom Hardy received his first Oscar nomination for portraying John Fitzgerald in The Revenant.

My fellow writer on ....uh... films and performances, Calvin Law, aptly compared Tom Hardy's cinematic style to that of a combination of Gary Oldman and Toshiro Mifune. Like Oldman Hardy always seeks to disappear in his roles, rarely ever keeping the same voice or mannerisms from part to part, but somehow, like Mifune, he carries a physical presence that is most definitely all his own. In the role of Fitzgerald, Hardy once again changes his accent this time to a thick Texan drawl which effectively suggests his background in addition to making him seem right in place given the film's time period. Hardy in addition past this carries himself in a particular way that emphasizes the survivalist that Fitzgerald is. There's a constant aggression in terms of his physical demeanor as he's always eager to occupy someone else's space, and never allows another person to stand on higher ground than him. Hardy presents Fitzgerald as a man whose not only ready to attack, but he's also always very watchful of an attack. There is a sense of paranoia that Hardy conveys in Fitzgerald that rarely leaves him that again suggests so well Fitzgerald's troubled history that most certainly started long before he ever started upon the troubled hunting and trapping expedition lead by Captain Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) or came in contact with Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Now as threatening as Hardy makes the man in simply his nature, Hardy adds to all of this through his domineering screen presence. Hardy can hold a scene all in his own way, even in some his earliest work like Black Hawk Down and Layer Cake he stood out making his characters seem far more important than they were, and in 2015 he made a scene of just mutely indicating how he wanted guns passed to him completely captivating. On a quick side note I can't help but feel that his performance in Mad Max is becoming criminally underrated as though his performance was just a given. Hardy has more lines to deal with in this case but once again commands his place in the film in that fashion so unique to Hardy himself. Hardy adds to the threat and menace of Fitzgerald as a character through this. Hardy's great because he never allows Fitzgerald to seem second to anyone, as he even when he's taking orders from Captain Henry, he always seems to exude a control of his own domain. Hardy gives Fitzgerald the needed impact to be a great villain, and probably even without saying anything Hardy could have been able to make Fitzgerald a worthy adversary for his rival survivalist of sorts Hugh Glass.

Hardy with the setup of the character, just in his physical manner, and that dominance he exudes so well makes Fitzgerald a palatable threat throughout the film. What I love perhaps the most though is that Hardy in his depiction of Fitzgerald's most active scenes does not portray him as this evil mastermind, but instead plays him...as well to quote Marty McFly in Back to the Future 3 "he's an asshole". In the early scenes, even before anything goes wrong, Hardy is terrific in playing up just how consistently miserable Fitzgerald makes everyone else with his focus on just his own personal pelts. Now what's so great about what Hardy does with this is actually how unrelenting he is in making Fitzgerald such a pain in everyone's backside. Hardy doesn't mind showing exactly what Fitzgerald is with most his behavior, which is that of a single minded jerk. This could have seemed too much, but I have to give Hardy the most credit as in his depiction of behavior he's only ever reminded me of people I've known with a similair self absorption. Hardy's loud and that's the only way to be with a man like Fitzgerald who really wants everyone to know quite clearly he only cares about himself. One of my favorite moments in Hardy's performance is his reaction to seeing Glass's mauled, it isn't concern, its just that of lout who's annoyed that this will probably inconvenience him in some way. This might not have worked but Hardy makes it so brutally honest that it absolutely does.

Hardy takes this feature in Fitzgerald and makes it almost too genuine. Hardy's so good because he shows it to be such casual behavior, though actually ties into the mindset of a survivalist, as he can't even wrap his head around the idea that he should ever put someone else first. Hardy makes it so perfectly plain that the first concern for Fitzgerald is always Fitzgerald. Another one of my favorite moments in this performance, I have lots of them I must confess, is when they are struggling to keep moving Glass and it is decided that three men must stay with him. The first two being volunteers, who even will put up their own pay for the sake of Glass, but the third does not come forward. No one will take it until the Captain, and the two men basically offer a great sum of cash to the third man. Hardy's reaction again is flawless as he shows Fitzgerald's face light up. Again Hardy does not keep it as a master plan, he does not suggest that Fitzgerald already has plans for Glass, rather he really makes even worse by so blatantly putting it that Fitzgerald just doing the whole thing for money. When he does end up trying to get Glass to agree to death, Hardy's once again marvelous by finding such a callous indifference to life, this time not even due to malice rather due to impatience, though once again from being concerned only with his own life.

Now with that comes Fitzgerald's most heinous act, which is brilliantly performed by Hardy. This is again because of something atypical Hardy does, that once alludes to the nature of his character. In the moment there is a viciousness but only as though its his instinctual reaction to being attacked, especially by a native. Hardy only emphasizes this all the more as a second or too later basically acknowledes that he went overboard, not through genuine empathy but rather through an especially cruel shrug. That instinctual reaction though is given sense by Hardy when Fitzgerald recounts to the other man who stays to watch Glass, Bridger (Will Poulter), when he was scalped. It's a beautifully played moment by Hardy as he once again keeps Fitzgerald's tone of voice as a bit indifferent and a bit hateful, but in his eyes, that are away from Bridger, you can see that he's about to cry, and is actively trying to keep his composure. Hardy reveals the pain in Fitzgerald from his past, and is even moving in the moment as Fitzgerald only reveals to himself the sensitive man traumatized by his mistreatment. From this though Hardy creates the sense of much of the man's motivation which above all else is his survival. This is reflected all the more in perhaps Hardy's best scene as he recounts to Bridger a story about Fitzgerald's own father finding God in a squirrel. It's an outstanding scene for Hardy as he recounts the story with an underlying warmth, and manages to be genuinely inspiring as he speaks the words. What's so fantastic about it is that Hardy does not compromise the character. It's still all about himself though as he presents the words in a way that it is Fitzgerald in fact comforting himself with the story. Hardy is so good because he does not hold back in terms of the villainy of the character yet still gives him depth. His final scene is a grand example of that as he's so downright pitiless as he even takes away anything Glass could have gotten from his revenge, by bluntly stating the futility of it, yet Hardy still brings a very real fear in face all the same. Hardy balances it all so well, and its astonishing that he even can bring a bit of levity to the proceedings while still maintaining the character without question. This is outstanding work from Hardy, and I loved every second of this performance.

33 comments:

Michael Patison said...

This sounds like it'll take the year, and be right around the top come the alternates round as well. Given what some of us think will be the outcome of the alternate lead category, could we see Hardy win both categores?

Robert MacFarlane said...

I liked him a lot, but for a different reason entirely. I actually found him somewhat tongue-in-cheek. The Yosemite Sam voice, the thousand yard stare, the gleeful delivery of lines like the squirrel monologue and the infamous "little bitch" line. He took a ridiculously evil character and ran with it.

mcofra7 said...

Really glad you liked him. I would not mind at all if he won for the year, even if it means that my predictions are wrong.

Matt Mustin said...

So...I watched Joy...that's all I got.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I seem to be the only one who thought Joy was okay (well, the second half at least). I guess I spent all my scorn on The Danish Girl and The Big Short.

Matt Mustin said...

I don't have any vitriol for it, it's just such a non-event. Like, I guarantee you, tomorrow, I won't even remember I saw it.

Psifonian said...

In rewatching Hardy’s performance, I noted how his lean features and half-scalped noggin made him look like a mangy cur. It’s a brilliantly animalistic performance, one that’s fueled by a deliciously gleeful intensity on Hardy’s part. It’s such a beautifully inspired nomination. The second time around, I giggled a bit the second he showed up, in mid-piss. Everything's an inconvenience to Fitzgerald.

conmanatthemovies.com said...

Suggestions for ALTERNATE BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 2015

Benicio Del Toro - Sicario
Paul Dano - Love & Mercy
Idris Elba - Beasts Of No Nation
Nicholas Hoult - Mad Max: Fury Road
Michael Shannon - 99 Homes

(Save Jacob Tremblay in Room for LEAD)

Michael Patison said...

Robert: I'm confused. When I shortly discussed the lack of diversity in the nominees, you said you completely disagreed with me, and yet what you ended up saying made it seem like you basically agreed with me on some key points. For sake of reference, here's what was written:


There all of this talk about a lack of diversity in the Academy's choices, and while that's true, including minorities just for the sake of it is stupid. They have to deserve it, just like everybody else. But the Academy done fucked up because, as has been mentioned here time and again, there were at least two: Elba and Del Toro, and they were snubbed horribly in favor of Ruffalo, who is indeed just plain horrific (haven't seen Big Short, so I can't comment there).

@Michael: Disagreed entirely. In a year like this with the worst Best Actor lineup since maybe the 80's and at least six or seven black leading men who would have been better than all five of the nominees combined, the indignity is entirely justified.


What I really don't get is how you can so vitriolically oppose what I'm saying and then talk about something completely different. It almost seems like you read none of what I wrote.

Also, I completely disagree with your last assertion. The indignation is NOT justified seems to be solely because of the color of the actors' skin, not necessarily about their performances. Even if the Academy picked the 5 absolute best performances in each category, if all 20 were white, I feel like we'd be hearing the same thing now. It's not about how good they, it's about what they look like and I'm not okay with that.

The problem is the lack of great parts for minorities, who are, more often than not, there to fulfill an equal opportunity employment quota. Your later point about not spending enough campaigning for minority actors doesn't ring true for me. Will Smith failed to get nominated. The only actor for whom I saw more campaigning than him was Redmayne. As far as Michael B. Jordan, sure there was no campaigning, but there was really any for Stallone either as far as I saw. And how is Netflix supposed to campaign?

Michael McCarthy said...

Michael: If I may jump in, there are some points I would like to make about this. Yes, nominations should be based on merit more than diversity. But here's the thing: I don't think anyone was ever disputing that. The #OscarsSoWhite campaign speaks out against the lack of diversity because there were plenty of actors of color who gave much better performances than several of the white actors nominated.

What I'm trying to say is that the reason the campaign is focusing solely on the lack of diversity is that it is a given that more deserving performances from actors of color were snubbed. I can't think of a year in my lifetime where there wasn't at least one performance by an actor of color that deserved to be nominated, and that's not statistically likely to ever change. If all 20 of the nominees were both white and deserving nominees, this would be a different conversation. But that's never been the case.

L Rime said...

Hardy's performance in Mad Max is probably my favorite of the year and I agree with the Louis that it's criminally underrated. Probably because of how much hype Charlize Theron got for her role. Don't get me wrong, she was fantastic, but I actually think Hardy was better. I view that performance very highly. Kind of want Louis to review it in an entire post, but I doubt that's gonna happen.

As for The Revenant, I haven't seen it yet. Not for any reason in particular, except that I've been watching a lot of movies lately. Trying to catch up on everything. I'll get around to it soon.

Brennan said...

Feel like Hardy is a nominee because he was in 2 Best Picture nominees and had a dual role in Legend. This is a nomination is the reward type thing. His mumbling is awful, his physical presence (meaning commanding, look at me style) doesn't fit the film at all and stands out in a bad way, and he tries to steal every scene he's in to the detriment of the film as a whole. Hardy was simply the wrong choice. And should have been replaced here by Elba or del Toro who both act circles around the garbage that is Tom Hardy in The Revenant.

Alex Marqués said...

I haven't seen The Revenant yet, but I just can't imagine Tom Hardy being garbage in a movie...

L Rime said...

I certainly can't imagine him being worse than Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight, to the point that Brennan would rather have Hardy replace than Ruffalo.

But, I guess I'll see for myself soon.

Calvin Law said...

Thanks for the shoutout Louis :)

Robert: 'That Yosemite Sam voice'...Robert please. Just when I'm starting to come close to really liking this film another amusing thing comes up...

With regards to the whole 'White Oscars' thing, all I have to say is the best performances are best performances, but they're always subjective, and that the likes of Elba, Jordan, Coogler and Jackson should've been nominated, but because they gave great performances. Not because of their ethnicity.

Michael Patison said...

Michael: Point taken, sort of. I've been taking the whole campaign as people saying that a taken black guy should be in there just for their skin, not for the quality of their output. That was my main issue with the whole thing. If I'm reading something into it that's not there, then I'll be happy to stick my foot in my mouth.

Alex Marqués said...

I'd like to see the people in that campaign giving their opinions about who should and who shouldn't have been nominated and why, from a perspective that isn't race related but in terms of the QUALITY of their work.

RatedRStar said...

I always feel that people who mock Tom Hardy for mumbling can't think of a legitimate criticism so they just use that same one every time, people cant seem to quite get it that Tom Hardy is the future of this industry.

On that OscarsSoWhite stuff, I think you could easily make a case for the academy being prejudice, but not this year I don't think, as aside from Idris Elba, who else was there, because Will Smith deserved nothing, and everybody else was never in contention in the first place because they weren't Oscar films anyway lol.
Idris Elbas snub is actually very easy, its Daniel Bruhl syndrome, a small film getting recognised for just one thing loses more momentum as the big boys turn up.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your thoughts on Ronald Colman and David Niven as actors?

Michael Patison said...

RatedRStar: That's sort of my thoughts on it too. Michael B. Jordan doesn't work because his thunder was stolen by Stallone, and I don't think that'd have been any different even if he'd been played equally well by a white guy.

Luke Higham said...

Looks like I've won this prediction. :)

Hardy was brilliant, nuff said. :)

RatedRStar: Your top tens for each acting category and for best film.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: MACBETH'S ON PUTLOCKER. :) :) :)

Have you seen The Program.

Luke Higham said...

Michael Patison: Hardy will come at least 3rd for Legend.

Calvin Law said...

I actually think Hardy will win for Legend, can't think of anyone else really.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: If Hardy is to win out of the two, then Lead's more likely, as he has stiff competition from Del Toro, Jackson and possibly even Jenkins in Supporting.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I think DiCaprio's gonna be reviewed first out of the Lead Nominees.

RatedRStar said...

Luke: Because I am at work I will post one at a time.

Best Supporting Actor
1. Tom Hardy - The Revenant
2. Sylvester Stallone - Creed
3. Adam Driver - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
4. Mark Rylance - Bridge Of Spies
5. Benicio Del Toro - Sicario
6. Walton Goggins - The Hateful Eight
7. Nicholas Hoult - Mad Max
8. Idris Elba - Beasts Of No Nation
9. Samuel L Jackson - The Hateful Eight
10. Paul Dano - Love & Mercy

RatedRStar said...

Luke: Actually ill input that list a bit later on when I am at home, same with Supporting Actor as I dont have time at work to type it and had to think off the top of my head, since I dont really think Paul Dano is supporting and for me is Co Lead.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Michael P: No offense, but I'm not really interested debating a semi-political issue on a movie blog comment section.

Robert MacFarlane said...

What you said.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Have you finished Wolf Hall.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Colman - (One of the best actors from his period as he had a ease in his performance that you rarely found from the period. Colman though was capable of more, like in his Oscar winning role, and actually had quite a bit of range past that of the charming lead man)

Niven - (Niven's someone I always could fall into just pompous instead of charming, though sometimes he could charming and his performances could genuinely work. He also had some dramatic abilities to though I've seen fewer examples where that was actually called upon)

Luke:

Not yet.

Anonymous said...

Damn it.
Louis: What are your thoughts on these Westerns and their respective ratings?
The Gunfighter
The Searchers
My Darling Clementine
The Ox-Bow Incident