Thursday, 4 February 2016

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2015: Nicholas Hoult in Mad Max: Fury Road

Nicholas Hoult did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Nux in Mad Max: Fury Road.

Mad Max: Fury Road is quite possibly the greatest action film ever made which is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and is about the drifter Max (Tom Hardy) who accidentally ends up with a group of women, lead by Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who are attempting to escape from a tyrant named Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).

Fury Road as a cinematic accomplishment has received a great deal of praise though if you ask me, not enough! Often a criticism lobbed at the film is the simplicity of its plot, of course this often comes from the same people who complain about films which plots are too complex. The film in a way is cinema incarnate in that it's visual storytelling is only possible with film. There is an abundance of depth found within its imagery, and the well chosen words that are spoken in the film. It is not only within the way every character and object seems uniquely crafted in terms of appearance to already allude to a history, but the film's ensemble as a whole only furthers this. There is often a bit of a snobbery towards action film's acting, as though if its good it's good for an action movie, but really if its good for any film. Now actually I think almost every performance has a bit of something to offer in this film, the one I'm focusing on here perhaps gambled the most of all. Now nothing should be taken for granted from the excellent internalized performances of Theron and Hardy, there are also several extroverted performances in the film, but none are given more focus than Nicholas Hoult's turn as Nux. He is one of Immortan Joe's warboys, who are basically his cannon fodder for any fight, but they worship him as their god.

Nux is the warboy we follow through this delusion. We are first introduced to him as he lays dying due to his cancer, which all the warboys are suffering from, only finding sustenance through the use of a human blood bank, which happens to be Max. Hoult is an unlit match until he hears that Immortan is going after Furiosa who has driven off with Immortan's wives, and a war party is being made to go after that. Nux's spark returns at hearing the chance to die on the Fury Road and Hoult's performance is burning red hot with life. To describe Hoult's performance as energetic would seem to be undercutting it a bit, this is more than that, this is a super nova of excitement as Hoult presents Nux as a man who is indeed living every second as any second may be his last. Although he is playing a man who is willing to give his life at a moments notice, there is nothing dour about this in Hoult's hands. The intensity is that of someone driven by a desire not for greatness in this world but rather the next. There is no time to think about this world if he's going to make it to the next as shown through Hoult's beautifully rendered mania. As when the sky runs red with blood and destruction there is but great glee in Hoult's expression and voice as he utters those immortal lines "What a day! What a Lovely Day!", as it could be nothing else for Nux.

This performance is almost magical in how perfectly Hoult captures the madness of man enraptured into a warrior cult. Though there is a sort of indirect humor that is a result of this, what's so remarkable is how pure Hoult makes this mentality of Nux. When Immortan Joe just by chance glances his way, Hoult reaction is sheer brilliance as he suggests that Nux was truly just noticed by his Lord and Savior. A whole life being raised in this belief is evidenced in Hoult's unending passion that he carries in any moment especially when a possible glorious death is possible. When a fellow warrior is sure to die, though might just have enough energy for a suicide attack against his enemies, Hoult is downright inspirational in that empathy he projects, wanting to his fellow warboy succeed in his final moments. There is an absolute zealous delight in his eyes when he witnesses the man's demise. Hoult makes Nux a man captured in a complete hysteria in order to earn his place in Valhalla. The climatic moment of this comes when he is addressed directly by Immortan and even given an chance to earn a personal journey with his god. As Immortan blesses Nux with a ceremonial spray of chrome paint. Hoult is outstanding in realizing a man whose achieved his purpose in life through his face which is filled with a true euphoria, so powerful that he even sheds a tear of joy.

Nux fails, quite hilariously actually, yet what's so fascinating is that Nux's dreams of grandeur at this point have been made more than just a joke by Hoult's performance. In fact Nux would have already been one of the all time great henchmen, but there's more to him than that. When he is found as a stowaway, on the war rig commandeered by Max and Furiosa, by one of the wives, Capable (Riley Keough), Hoult is actually rather moving. It is a broken man that Nux has become, and there is such a tremendous despair that Hoult shows, a man who has failed his god, and failed his last attempt to achieve his life long dream of another life through death. Yet there is something wonderful in the tenderness of the moment as Capable listens to Nux, and Hoult presents Nux's eyes slowly being opened to a world that was not created by an old man in an oxygen mask. Hoult's transition is less of reformation of Nux and rather a broadening of his world view. As he helps the runaways, Hoult still brings that enthusiasm, not muted, but changed. No longer narrowed by a single viewpoint, as well as brings rather a calmer happiness, as Nux is finally enjoying what there is in this world rather than merely what might await him in the next.

Hoult tempers his performance brilliantly as he gradually escapes the grip of Immortan's religious sway. What's so special is that this is never said, it does not need to be said, Hoult finds the rediscovery of life all in the margins, some of it which comes from the graceful relationship with Capable which becomes surprisingly poignant despite being quite brief. It is incredible as Hoult does not lose his footing in the last act of Nux's story, despite already having been such an entertaining and engaging enemy, and even manages to bring the character full circle in a most unusual way. In the end Nux once again sees something special in death by the end, but it is all in Hoult's portrayal of this that finds the difference. Hoult's eyes are not that of the fervent fanatic, but instead that of just a man who is trying to make a difference with the life he has for the people he loves. His final somber delivery of "witness me" is heartbreaking as it is no longer looking to see that he is noticed for the afterlife, but rather that he will be remembered by those for doing something meaningful with his life. Now I must admit when I was originally asked for my thoughts on the film and its performances, I was going to give some quick thoughts on Hoult, but as I wrote I knew that was not enough. This was a performance that deserved to be examined on the Fury Road, I mean in a full review, since it needs to witnessed, as Hoult earned his place within the gates of Valhalla.

70 comments:

Robert MacFarlane said...

Of the cast, he'd be the one I'd call MVP. Possibly the most affecting character arc of 2015.

Psifonian said...

You are awaited in Valhalla.

GM said...

"Mad Max: Fury Road is quite possibly the greatest action film ever made."

That's it.

Is Hardy also a 5 for you now?

Luke Higham said...

BEST SUPPORTING YEAR EVER!. :)

Can't wait for Driver.

Alex Marqués said...

Great review Louis! MMFR is just a masterpiece, and I usually don't like Hoult but he was perfect here

Connor Olen said...

My personal #1 of the year.

Calvin Law said...

Thoughts/ratings on cast members you haven't covered yet? He's my #3 of the year now.

L Rime said...

Hardy had the best performance in the movie but Hoult most certainly deserves that 5.

Anonymous said...

Louis, Since you did give your brief thoughts on Hardy before, could you please give a bit more of a longish post, not a review but like, a long comment of what your thoughts and final rating would be?

Michael McCarthy said...

Wow...yeah It think he's gonna win this.

I loved the whole cast, but the reason Hoult was the best of all of them was because of how perfectly he captured the energy of the film. He's vibrant, enthusiastic insanity incarnate but beneath it all is a very human story of an individual being warped by the only life he's known, and you get so much of his history without it ever being explained.

There are so many brilliant moments in this performance that weren't even covered here. Like when Capable unshackles him and he gives her a quick peck on the cheek before running off to do his part, he shows what a sweet, well-meaning boy he's always been behind that insatiable lust for glory. And then when he says "There's high ground, just beyond that thing," it's not only the funniest moment in the film, but also an incredibly affecting one as it highlights the fact that Nux has been brainwashed to be nothing but a soldier by his culture for so long that he doesn't even have any idea what a tree is. Hell, I'll say it, I thought he gave us more character in the short scene where he pensively observes a beetle before quickly eating it than DiCaprio did in the entirety of The Revenant.

I can definitely see how someone could just find it really funny when Nux fails after Joe's speech, but I also found it a little heart wrenching because of how powerful Hoult's reaction was to the thought of being awaited in Valhalla. That was, in my opinion, the best acting moment of the year. This is not only my favorite performance of 2015, but I think I'd go so far as to call it my favorite supporting performance of the decade so far.

Anonymous said...

Great, great review. He sure was excellent.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: He's certainly in my top 5 of the year. :)

Luke Higham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luke Higham said...

Does anyone here, think Driver's getting a 5.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I'm starting to believe that he will.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I think the top 5 in no particular order, will be:
Del Toro
Hardy
Hoult
Jackson
Jenkins

Anonymous said...

Luke: Still think Hardy's gonna be first.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your thoughts and ratings on these films?
Doctor Doolittle (1967)
Inherit the Wind
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Judgment at Nuremberg
Ship of Fools

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: He's my personal pick and would be very pleased to see him win, yet 5 star ratings matter a great deal more to me. I would love to see Hoult win though, as he hasn't been a favourite of mine prior to Mad Max.

Calvin Law said...

Yeah, starting to think Stallone might not make it into the top 5 which is a shame.

Would be happy with anyone winning to be honest, I didn't love Hardy quite as much as Louis but thought he was great too. I was a bit dubious before about what rating Del Toro would get, as Louis' initial thoughts towards the film were a bit tentative, but suffice to say it seems to have grown on him a great deal since so I'm expecting a 5 for him.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: Like every year, I honestly don't mind who Louis chooses for the overall win.

Calvin Law said...

If I had to make a wild, wild guess:

1. Hoult
2. Del Toro
3. Hardy
4. Jackson
5. Stallone
6. Jenkins
7. Russell
8. Isaac
9. Rylance
10. Cohen
11. Driver
12. Sheen
13. Tucci
14. Elba
15. Schrieber
16. Keaton
17. Schoenaerts
18. Fox

Calvin Law said...

Definitely do hope Hoult wins though now, he's my #3 in a very strong year and it's clear this is a performance that's very special to Louis.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: What are your revised top 10 for the acting categories.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: You forgot about Goggins.

I expect Ford and Roth to be upgraded and I would place Dern ahead of Elba.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I hate having to rank these, as it's been an incredible year for acting, so I'll give mine in no particular order with ratings. I will name my winner though.
Supporting Actress
Leigh - 5 (Winner)
Cotillard - 5
Vikander - 5
Debicki - 4.5
Banks - 4.5
Leigh - 4.5 (Anomalisa)
Winslet - 4
McAdams - 4
Thompson - 4 (Creed)
Blanchett - 4 (Cinderella)

Supporting Actor
Hardy - 5 (Winner)
Del Toro - 5
Hoult - 5
Jenkins - 5
Jackson - 5
Rylance - 5
Stallone - 5
Driver - 5
Isaac - 5
Sheen - 5
Cohen - 5
Goggins - 5
Russell - 5
Elba - 5
Tucci - 5

Lead Actress
Mara - 5 (Winner)
Ronan - 5
Theron - 5
Larson - 5
Blunt - 5
Blanchett - 5
Mulligan - 5 (FFTMC)
Rampling - 4.5
Mulligan - 4.5 (Suffragette)
Ridley - 4.5

Lead Actor
Fassbender - 5 (Macbeth - Winner)
Hardy - 5
McKellen - 5
Segel - 5
Attah - 5
Bateman - 5
Jordan - 5
DiCaprio - 5
Mendelsohn - 5
Tremblay - 5
Foster - 5

Anonymous said...

Luke: With so many fives, I don't care who wins either.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is Fury Road your favourite film of the decade so far.

JamDenTel said...

Well, in two days you've given my #1 (Isaac) and my #3 (Hoult) 5s. I can't wait to see what you give my #2--Walton Goggins.

I think in years to come, Hoult's will go down as one of the most underrated performances of this year. He's so damn good and none of the awards groups so much as sniffed at him.

Luke Higham said...

3 fives in one year. That's an extraordinary achievement. God I Love Hardy. :)

Louis Morgan said...

GM: Yes.

Calvin:

Keays-Byrne - (My only trouble in regards to examining his performance is I do think a great deal comes from the voice amplification. However what he still does still only adds to old Immortan as those eyes of his are rather striking, and he does help to create the other worldly presence needed for Joe.)

Huntington-Whiteley - 3(Despite being sort of the "head" wife she incidentally gets the shortest amount time and perhaps the least development. However I still find she brings the needed underlying passion to Splendid as well as says a lot in just that trade of glances she gives Immortan)

Kravitz & Eaton - 3(Find they do the least with their time yet I still find they distinctly represent the natures of their positions as the wives rather well. In addition it should be noted they are all good in having a certain chemistry together as you understand their mutual connection through their abuse by Immortan)

Lee - 3.5(Really like how she seems to show the wife who most detests Immortan the most as she suggests such a venomous hatred in her, I particularly love just the way she lobs her insult when she sees him again)

Helman - 3.5(Slit is made a pretty good troll by Helman, and I love just how obnoxious he is as he tries to bring everybody down. I particularly like the disdain in his voice as he hand waves one of his fellow warboys's death)

Jones - 3.5(He's a memorable Lenny type and realizing the simpleton giant rather well especially in his interactions to getting hit as though he has to take a moment it to understand what's happened to him for a moment. And of course one should not forget his memorable delivery of "I had a baby brother")

Howard & Carter - 3/3.5)(Both are memorable as they find their own personalities in Immortan Joe's side underlings and I love that even in just their short interactions with him you can see two people who are not fooled by him. Extra .5 for Carter for absolutely nailing the madness of the moment when Bullet farmer forgets about any other purpose but revenge)

Sampson - 3(Like the slight sardonic quality he brings to his comments, and as with his underrated work in Fargo season 2 makes yet another memorable character in just a few moments.)

Jaffer - 3.5(She gets the most time, but all of the women in the desert are good. She brings the right sly glee to her comment on her shooting ability, but as well brings the right earnest heart when mentioning of her seeds as well as a potential better time)

It is a testament as well to Miller's direction that not a single person seems just like an extra in any scene. There's a devotion in every scene that one rarely sees, as everyone seems invested.

Anonymous:

Well I might have to take some time in Hardy's review for Legend for that, so I guess it'll be triple mint gum then.

Anonymous:

Noted.

Luke:

Yes I believe so.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is Driver's review coming tonight.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Do you plan on watching Hardy's next project Taboo.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Yes I probably will.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your thoughts and ratings on Adolphe Menjou in The Front Page? Wolheim was the original choice, by the way.

Alex Marqués said...

Just watched Mr. Holmes, and I must say I really enjoyed it especially at the end, especially due to Sir Ian McKellen, who was simply magnificient. He would be a very worthy winner in the overall list.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

I reviewed him, he was Oscar nominated.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Although you have given two fives for Bogart and only one for Cagney, do you prefer the latter over the former?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Yes as Cagney was far more consistent, I think probably had more range, and has the highest height with Angels.

Alex Marqués said...

Out of the few movies I've seen from last year, I think Attah, McKellen and Fassbender stand as my favourite leading male performances (still haven't seen The Revenant, Room or Legend, among others). Bateman, Mendelsohn, Reynolds and Dano are great too.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Was he close to getting a 5 with White Heat? He's easily a 5 for me in that movie.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: If you were still working on the blog, ten years from now, could you see Hardy surpassing Oldman in terms of fives.

Luke Higham said...

Alex Marques: Is Attah gonna be one of your 3 preferences for the Lead lineup.

Alex Marqués said...

Luke: Probably, but I want to watch those three I mentioned first (and also The End of the Tour and 45 Years if I can)

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

A re-watch could easily bump him up for that.

Luke:

That would be quite possible, I'd say.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Although he definitely has less range, do you prefer Wayne over Fonda?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

I don't think Wayne had as little range as so many claim, I mean he couldn't play Genghis Kahn, but I doubt Fonda could or most actors would have been able to pull that off well in that film. My favorite performances of his are actually when he pushed his boundaries in the right direction though whether that was being the romantic lead (The Quiet Man), going darker (The Searchers), or being more introspective (The Shootist). I like Fonda too, and he was probably a bit more consistent. They both have lows, though due to the Conqueror Wayne's is probably the lower low. Their heights are about equal in terms of Once Upon a Time in The west for Fonda, but Wayne does have more those for me with the three previously mentioned and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Really I don't have a straight answer for you.

tahmeed chowdhury said...

Louis: Out of Peter Seller's three characters in Dr Strangelove, which one do you think was the best?

Robert MacFarlane said...

Louis: What are some of your favorite Simpsons episodes?

Anonymous said...

Louis: Are there Oscar-winning performances you liked that surprised you for having won?

Louis Morgan said...

tahmeed:

Muffley though I like all three quite a bit.

Robert:

Marge vs. The Monorail
Homer the Vigalante
Last Exit to Springfield
$pringfield
A Streetcar Named Marge
Cape Feare
Homer Loves Flanders
Homer's Triple Bypass
You Only Move Twice
Homer Badman


Anonymous:

Well here are some I'd considered inspired wins as the actors played characters they usually did not go for, though in terms of precursors and such they probably weren't surprises.

Kathy Bates - Misery
Jeremy Irons - Reversal of Fortune
Ronald Colman - A Double Life
Fredric March - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Anthony Hopkins - Silence of the Lambs
Kevin Kline - A Fish Called Wanda

Anonymous said...

Louis: I'd say Niven in Separate Tables is a surprising win for me.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Since Driver's coming next, has Ford gone up on a re-watch and is Fisher a 3.5 or higher.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Which Historical Figures, would you love to see Ben Foster, Oscar Isaac, Michael Fassbender and Tom Hardy play as.

Plus, I would love to see what Foster could do with a British character.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Oscar Isaac as anyone when they inevitably adapt Hamilton into a movie.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I could see Fassbender playing T.E. Lawrence.

Alex Marqués said...

Ben Foster desperately needs to be cast in a movie that truly does justice to his talents.

Luke Higham said...

Tom Hardy as Napoleon Bonaparte.

Louis Morgan said...

I suppose I should mention I saw Hail, Caesar.

Ben Foster - Audie Murphy
Oscar Isaac - Meyer Lansky
Michael Fassbender - Oliver Cromwell
Tom Hardy - Jack Churchill

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Thoughts on the film and ratings & thoughts on the cast.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is the next review coming tonight.

Anonymous said...

Louis: I agree with you that Welles would have been the perfect choice for Ahab in Huston's version, but who would you cast as Father Mapple? I'd cast Massey.

Louis Morgan said...

Maybe to your second question.

Hail Caesar almost comes off as a response to Trumbo in a way, like its saying forget your stinkin' messages and just make a movie already. The only way the film really can be described is as a love letter of the 50's era of movies, with the especially warm recreations of scenes from the various genres of the time, as Hollywood is made a particularly welcoming, though certainly still seedy, place here unlike the more claustrophobic one presented in Barton Fink. The set pieces are given time to be enjoyed and they are indeed enjoyable. I always find it strange when movies are so bad at making fake movies, yeah I'm looking at you Youth, but the Coens know how its done. Its definitely a "slight" one for them, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I might have to just save Ehrenreich, though I will mention he is indeed MVP.

Brolin - 3.5(I rather liked Brolin as he made his particularly way of speaking actually seem natural, and I liked the way he projected this certain softness in what was technically a tough guy character. He's a good straight man of sorts, though he is downright hilarious in the scene where he has to step in and set something straight)

Clooney - 3.5(I did like him here doing a similair vapid routine that you'll find in his other collaborations with the Coens. This is a good example of it, but he also deserves special mention for his delivery of his final speech)

Fiennes - 3.5(Could go up but he's very funny in portraying the excessively fastidious director. He particularly has one very enjoyable back and fourth with Ehrenreich which might have been my favorite scene in the film)

Hill - 3(Brief performance but did find his deadpan delivery rather amusing)

Johansson - 3(Enjoyable as going from so graceful on screen to just the crass starlet when off)

McDormand - 3(Another funny one scene wonder as she's appropriately crusty as the editor whose been in a dark room for a little too long)

Swinton - 3.5(Gets to do her Hedda Hopper times two and quite liked the slight switch she found between them. The one being the cold cunning manipulator you'd expect and the other having this certain honest desperation to stand out. I could have gone for more of her, but that's true of many of the characters in the film)

Tatum - 3(Absolutely delivers with his song and dance number. Although we see him out of this, he's never in exact focus)

The even briefer supporting appearances all add a bit of something as well, even Christopher Lambert.

moviefilm said...

My ratings for the cast:
Theron - 4.5
Hardy - 3.5
Hoult - 2.5

Everyone else was forgettable.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Oh moviefilm. Whenever I fear I'm becoming too much of a curmudgeon, you're always there to upstage me.

Anonymous said...

Louis what are your ratings and thoughts for these films?

Mildred Pierce
Pickup On South Street
The Parallax View
Night Moves
Baby Doll
The Comedians
The Whisperers

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Noted.

moviefilm said...

Robert: Don't worry, I will always be there for you. It's just the matter of an opinion. I didn't like Mad Max at all as a film and I've definitely seen better action films. Then on the other hand I liked Redmayne's performance in The Danish Girl, which most of you despise. We're all different and we all like different things. That's what's beautiful about art.

Anonymous said...

John Smith: I just watched Anomalisa and it made me feel so fucking empty, happy, sad, confused and so on. I guess i loved it.

P.S It has one of the most emotionally engaging sex scene i have ever seen. It felt so real... and i saw it in an animated movie with puppets.

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