Saturday, 6 August 2016

Alternate Best Actor 2011: Daniel Henshall in Snowtown

Daniel Henshall did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying John Bunting in Snowtown.

Snowtown tells the true story of a teenager who falls into a small of group of men who go on a murder spree.

The film's perspective is from the teenager Jamie (Lucas Pittaway) who, along with his brothers, suffers from sexual harassment, from one of his mother's boyfriends, and Jamie is even raped by his older brother. His mother, as well as Jamie, find a form of justice in their minds through his mother's new boyfriend John played by Henshall. Daniel Henshall work is interesting in that he does not set an alarm initially as he played John as basically an Australian good old boy. Henshall is not excessively charming though he does have a distinctive charisma with his coy smile and gentle banter. He's convincing in his portrayal of the way John worms his way into the family, since all he does is give a nice smile while stating exactly what Jamie and his mother want to hear. Of course what they want to hear which involves a plan to harass the former boyfriend until he leaves the neighborhood. The funny thing though is from the outset John states some more severe plans to handle the situation, though he does it in a most peculiar sort of fashion.

There are a few pseudo town hall scenes where John handles a meeting between the locals as they discuss what should be done with the people they perceive as undesirable. Henshall is brilliant in these scenes as he so warmly encourages the towns' people to speak their minds. Henshall very cleverly inserts the manipulations in John as he constantly pivots off some of the remarks by the other neighbors in order to encourage them to even more extreme measures. What's most chilling about this though is that John gets the people to come up with their own violent ideas. Henshall's realization of John's method is especially off-putting as he presents it in such a friendly way. Henshall does not have John bark at the other neighbors, at least the one who agrees with him, bur rather is just so encouraging with such a gentle touch. He keeps his delivery calm as he adds a few violent ideas to those already presented, or prods someone else to make their idea for an "undesirable" all the more vicious.

John's early endeavors amount to acts of vandalism until the neighbor leaves. These acts though include cutting up Kangeroos to adorn the man's house. John has Jamie help him, and Henshall again is very effective by the strange way he's magnetic. Again it's not something overt, yet his character's sway is never questioned as Henshall projects this amiable dominance over Jamie. As John gets Jamie to go along with it, it's though he's just having the boy work with him on a special project between the two of them. As the film continues so does John's crusade, despite getting the neighbor to leave rather quickly. John's crusade quickly takes an even darker turn as he initiates Jamie further by having him kill a dog, which happens to be John's own dog. The scene is incredibly disturbing as Henshall's work, and Pittaway's makes the scene all too believable. Henshall is especially unnerving as he reveals the true sadism in John.

The film after this point proceeds forward following John with a few accomplices and Jamie as they go about murdering one person after another. The motivation for each becomes thinner, as the details eventually boil down to one torture then killing after another. Now Henshall reveals the true extent of vile nature of John but not in the way you might expect. Henshall does not portray this as John dropping a facade. Instead he is perhaps even more troubling as he instead shows this to only be the man we've always known just a little more unencumbered. Henshall still projects some of that good old boy sentiment, even as he's violently assaulting people. Henshall instead only portrays that intensity, which was always there in his words of encouragement, grows as he essentially gets to do the thing he loves. Henshall depicts in the moments of murder nothing more than an eerie contentment in a man who absolutely enjoys his work. After a certain point the film does become repetitive, though with purpose, as the killings continue. Jamie ends up being the one who changes in this process, while John is a constant though the film begins to focus on him less frequently. Henshall's work still is notable as a dominating presence that constantly reinforces the overwhelming sense of despair. This is fitting given the film ends technically with John still at large, their capture is handled only by a final text. Honestly I feel the closing text undercuts the film slightly in that it does give some form of closure which seems opposed to the intention of the film's final images beforehand. Those images portrays Jamie now lost with the others as John only continues his "work" with no end in sight. Henshall's performance succeeds not as a portrait of a serial killer exactly, but rather as the crux in the progression of a malicious hate.

52 comments:

Robert MacFarlane said...

Glad you liked him. I wish his career picked up more after this movie.

Calvin Law said...

Pretty great performance.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Rating and thoughts on Pittaway.

Luke Higham said...

Michael McCarthy: Your ratings and thoughts on Lewis and Skarsgard in Our Kind Of Traitor.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Seen any new films.

Calvin Law said...

Pittaway was great too.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your overall thoughts on these actors:
Claude Rains
Frank Morgan
Harry Dean Stanton
Dennis Hopper
Lee Van Cleef
Sterling Hayden

94dfk1 said...

The Place Beyond The Pines cast rankings, Louis and anyone? Oh and 1970s retro casting? I nominate Sidney Lumet for director.

Calvin Law said...

Martin Sheen in Gosling's role, Harrison Ford in Cooper's role.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Saw Indignation. Lerman's really good. The movie isn't.

Calvin Law said...

Rewatched Suicide Squad. I'm definitely going to conclude that I like it as a film even though it's deeply flawed in so many regards.

Louis, if you're downgrading Leto below a 2, you should do the same for Kinnaman. On re-watch I actually thought he was even more detrimental to the film. The whole cinema let out a collective groan when he came back in the bar scene.

Michael McCarthy said...

Kinnaman was a drag, but Rick Flagg was kind of a stupid character anyway. For someone who's supposed to be such a rigorously trained professional, he did a lot of dumb things and seemed pretty useless in the fights. And as for Leto, I agree that his interpretation was pretty ineffective but to be fair, he wasn't given a lot of Joker-y things to say.

94dfk1 said...

Ford would've been great in Cooper's role. I thin De Niro also could work in Gosling's role.

Anyone looking forward to Hell or High Water? I haven't seen much of Pine's work but it looks like he could shine in this drama. And of course, Ben Foster. Hopefully the film is a hit so he could get some awards attention. Lone Survivor was a hit, but it was seen as more of an ensemble.

Calvin Law said...

I am but have no idea when it's coming out in my vicinity.

Agreed about Flagg Michael which is why I rather they'd picked someone who could play the role more tongue-in-cheek sort of style, a posturing tough guy. As for Leto there is one line delivery of his I really liked, 'All that chit chat's gonna getcha hurt'. Almost everything else was terribly off.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, Leto's Joker was going to have more screentime. I'm kind of glad we didn't see more of him.

Alex Marqués said...

Has anyone seen Stranger Things? I'm two episodes in, and I'm really digging it.

Deiner said...

@Alex Marqués: I LOVED Stranger Things.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Pittaway - 4(His performance is extremely reactionary, despite being lead, as he really only has the occasional line, which Pittaway almost always delivers in a muted way. This is fitting to his meek character who believably is controlled by John. Pittaway is affecting throughout the film though in conveying the way the events of the film slowly change him. This includes not only how he becomes distant and detached from his reality in a way, but also the overwhelming distress that brings him to this detachment that stems from the situation.)

Anonymous:

Claude Rains - (Honestly one of the original scene stealing actors who helped to establish what exactly a great character actor was. Of course Rains also did leading turns as well. Rains though was an actor who as always able to stand out in limited roles, and whenever there was a bit of substance he could find it. A performer whose mere presence enlivens basically all of his films in some way. He was so capable in finding depth in his roles whether it was there or not while simply being a captivating actor to watch.)

Frank Morgan - (From what I've seen of Morgan he basically played a fairly limited set of roles. Older gentleman, usually with a bit of power, that usually our main character has to argue with over something. Morgan did this well with an energy not always seen in lesser character actors from the period. There are roles where he maybe went too far, but more often he was an entertaining actor to have around. Evidenced by his work in A Shop Around the Corner though he actually had quite the emotional range as well.)

Harry Dean Stanton - (An all time great character actor as he's guaranteed to bring something to his roles no matter how small. Even in the most minor of roles Stanton gives his characters a life of their own, he is never simply there. He's capable of stealing scenes that were never meant to be stolen by how lived in his characterizations tend to be. When given the chance for more like his rare leading role in Paris, Texas, he proves himself to be one of the greatest living actors of any type.)

Dennis Hopper - (Hopper is an actor who never had a consistent career in terms of the quality of the films he appeared in. However even through all those rough spots, which there were many, no one quite has a presence onscreen like his. Even in his early work in the 50's Hopper's work stood out despite little focus being given to him. As the roles got more substantial Hopper had his own form of mad magnetism that made him one of a kind. He could go too far for sure in a bad film, but with the right role Hopper was able to achieve heights like few others could replicate.)

Lee Van Cleef - (Cleef spent his early career just as thug number 2. Now he was fine in those roles, as fine as someone could be, yet it proved to be a stroke of brilliance when Sergio Leone gave him a chance with For A Few Dollars more. Not only did he prove he could be a leading badass, but also showed a surprising ability to bring out the underlying emotional vulnerabilities of such a role. Next was The Good the Bad and the Ugly where he proved more able to be a villain than the majority of the fiends he was a henchman to. I have not seen much past that in terms of his substantial roles, but with those in mind, he was a considerable hidden talent that thankfully got the chance to shine.)

Sterling Hayden - (Hayden made his own disparaging remarks about acting and it seems to show. There is a hard, I don't give a damn attitude that shows in all of his performance. However with the right roles to attach that to it ends up working out just fine. And really to his credit in his best roles there are clear glimmers of an actor who perhaps does give a damn just in his own way.)

Alex:

Yes I have, pretty much loved it.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Stranger Things and thoughts on the cast.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on:
Adam Driver
Jeremy Irons
Alan Rickman
Richard Harris
Peter O'Toole
David Warner
Peter Cushing
Christopher Lee

Anonymous said...

Luke: He's already given his thoughts on Irons, O'Toole and Harris.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: Thanks. :)

Louis:
Adam Driver
Alan Rickman
David Warner
Peter Cushing
Christopher Lee
Ian McKellen
Sean Bean
Chiwetel Ejiofor

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: Could you post those thoughts again, because I'm struggling to see them anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Jeremy Irons - (Had one of the most impeccable runs for an actor during the 80's and I don't know if enough people remember how much range he showed during that time. He proved himself to be one of all time greats though it is a shame he seemed to get pigeonholed hole in bland standard roles or just as the villain. He could be good in these roles too, but a devoted Irons is something to behold. That is, I'll say it again, why I'm certainly looking forward to Batman V Superman since Irons looks he's not phoning it in)

Harris - (It must be said that Harris was one of the most entertaining actors that one will see in an interview. Now past that he was a rather talented actor though I would say somewhat unwieldy, just as his personal life evidently. In that Harris always seemed like this ball of raw talent that if pointed in the right direction would result in great dividends though there's not a performance of his that I've seen that I would consider outright bad though he had a few somewhat hammy tendencies at times though again even those would be rather entertaining to see.)

O'Toole - (A great deal like his old buddy Harris yet the more refined, at least onscreen. O'Toole has the higher heights as a performer though I'd say in his lows he's less inherently entertaining the same goes for interviews. O'Toole though when he hit the heights he was one of the all time greats though, and had such a considerable talent when the material allowed him to call upon it)

Louis: Your cast and director for a 1950's version of Gettysburg.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: Your predicted ratings for 1993 Lead & 2007 Lead and Supporting.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: Thank you. :)

Michael McCarthy said...

Luke: I'll be brief with these for now due to personal commitments.

Lewis: 5 (Is terrific in portraying the cold intellect and professionalism of the British investigator, but what is most exceptional is how he shatters the expectations of the character's nature by slowly revealing Hector to be anything but cold over the course of the film. I particularly loved the moment when he speaks about his own family, and you can finally see that his job takes more of an emotional toll on him than one would initially think. His last scene where he realizes he's succeeded in his task could have seemed contrived, but I could it to be very satisfying because of how honestly Lewis realizes Hector. He makes for a great moral compass in this rather bleak film.)

Skarsgard: 5 (I would say first he's very good at playing against type as sort of hedonistic gangster figure. He gives a very energetic performance that's quite entertaining at first and he does a great job of transitioning to a more emotionally charged performance as the film goes on. He's quite moving it showing how underneath the larger-than-life surface is a loving family man, who makes his relationship with McGregor's character into something quite special, and makes the film's ending quite devastating.)

Michael McCarthy said...

...That was less brief than I thought it would be. Also Louis, I'm pretty sure you're going to love this film considering your reaction to A Most Wanted Man.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I personally found Our Kind of Traitor forgettable in the scheme of JLC adaptations, but man oh man did Skarsgård and Lewis knock it out of the park.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Rating and thoughts on Roberts' performance in Erin Brockovich.

Calvin Law said...

Really regret not checking out Our Kind of Traitor when it was out in cinemas. Think I'll wait for the DVD release. Should be interesting as I've never read the book, which would make it a much different experience to TTSS, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold.

Calvin Law said...

Also, Damian Lewis is a splendid actor. I haven't watched Homeland yet, but we know how great he is in Wolf Hall, and I'd recommend his beautiful turn in Keane to anyone who's a fan.

Anonymous said...

Rating/thoughts on Jean Heather in Double Indemnity?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Which 5 or 10 Actors (Male or Female), would you be most eager to watch, no matter what reception the film or series have.

Michael McCarthy said...

Robert: I didn't love it but I liked it, I was just saying I think Louis will love it. Do you at least agree that that ending was a gut punch?

Calvin: Lewis is outstanding in the first two seasons of Homeland, and he was good in the third even though they kinda wasted him.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Tom Hardy is number one and the only real answer at the moment for me in terms of actors working currently. After all I watched Child 44 and London Road.

Adam Driver - (Don't really have much to say since I've only seen four of his performances, one which I reviewed, and two being bit parts. I'll say he seems to be an interesting actor I look forward to seeing more from him)

Alan Rickman - (Rickman's interesting in that you could almost describe him as a deadpan serious performer. There is a style of Rickman as an actor that is all his own with his often slow delivery and tired expressions. It's amazing he was able to utilize this to such a menacing and entertaining in his cinematic debut with Die Hard. Through the rest of his career he remained more often than not an interesting performer though I'm not sure if he ever topped his debut.)

David Warner - (One of the most underrated actors around. No matter where I find him he turns in a compelling performance. In a way he's kind of the British Harry Dean Stanton in that he also does so much with so little. Warner seems exceptional at finding whatever he can in the margins no matter how thankless his roles may be.)

Peter Cushing - (I have not seen a considerable amount from Cushing. From what I've seen though, he seems quite the expert at giving some gravitas to the potentially absurd.)

Christopher Lee - (Also actually have not seen that much of him either. However it has to be always said one of the all time great voices, and he made use of it to bring some memorable villains to life. Sometimes not even with a voice like Dracula. Lee's one of the actors that I'm particularly interested in finding any roles where he might have had more to work with.)

Ian McKellen - (Well purely going by his post-1989 output McKellen is a consistently compelling performer. At the very least he's basically a guarantee of some dramatic weight no matter the subject matter. When given a part that he can sink his teeth into he's an absolutely captivating presence whether it's as a maniacal villain or a heartwarming mentor)

Sean Bean - (The man who dies. Well in that department, before his departure in any given film Bean knows how to make himself more than a corpse. Bean though is often picked for the thankless role usually succeeds in finding the depth within them.)

Chiwetel Ejiofor - (Again someone I have not seen all that much of. However Ejiofor is an interesting one to ask why he has not broken out more. As Ejiofor not only delivers absolutely in terms of being able to deliver the needed dramatic heft in his serious roles, but also is quite the charismatic performer as well.)

Louis Morgan said...

Stranger Things:

Harbour - (I've liked Harbour in a few things just in minor roles as a character actor. I'm glad he was given this opportunity as he knocks it out of the park. Harbour's performance throughout the show is brilliant as he so successfully depicts exactly what Sheriff Hopper needs to be for the show. As the depressed Sheriff he delivers the exasperation at his initial task, but effectively portrays the gradual investment of him as the case goes on. As the story continues Harbour is outstanding the way he so quietly finds a purpose and becomes sort of a 80's movie hero though in a convincing fashion. Harbour never simplifies the character at any moment, and he's absolutely heartbreaking when we see what haunts the man.)

Ryder - (A point of division for the series I've noticed. I don't think her approach is wrong at all. It makes sense for her character to be hysterical given the situation. She's perhaps goes slightly too far too fast, but I never thought her performance was bad. In fact her portrayal of the hysteria ends up really working later on. I'll admit I found her quieter moments the strongest though, whether it is the flashbacks depicting her love for her son, or some of the later scenes where she portrays a certain optimism in pivotal moments.)

Modine - (His actual performance does not make much of an impact. What's more memorable is that he looks like David Cronenberg for some reason which is scarier than his performance really. I don't think his own work was detrimental at all, but nor does it add much either.)

Heaton - (As the loner type I thought he managed to carefully not overplay the cliche. I actually like that he does not compromise the character in this way either, and allows him to be off-putting in a certain way rather than the more common cool loner type. Within that though he succeeds in keeping the substance of the character, being rather moving in depicting his character's concern for his brother being the driving force behind him)

Dyer - (As the conventional "good girl" I liked her performance which also managed to avoid the cliche, while still technically fulfilling the type. What stood out most for me in her work was her chemistry with Heaton which is anything but straight forward. I liked how both showed a differing wavelength between the two, while still finding the even ground that made their relationship work.)

Louis Morgan said...

Wolfhard - (There is just one dramatic moments that was slightly iffy, but still not bad. The rest of the time he's very good at being the earnest "lead" while never overplaying it. Then there are the quieter yet just as important pivotal moments that he absolutely succeeds with. The best part of his performance though comes from two sets of chemistry which I'll get to down below.)

McLaughlin - (The weakest of the boys I found, though that might be because his character is made to be distressed most often. Again not bad but just not say Jacob Tremblay good.)

Matarazzo - (The best of the boys. He's incredibly entertaining but always in a completely natural fashion. He's the best type of comic relief in that not only is he funny, but it never feels forced. What is most remarkable though is that he does have some genuinely poignant moments in there to that he handles so well. They never break the character. They rather always flow with the rest of what he does. Of course the most important thing is how good all three of the boys together whether it is in terms of conflict or friendship, you always believe them. They're so genuine together that I simply loved just spending time watching them interact.)

Brown - (Her performance is absolutely amazing. She does so much while rarely speaking. I loved how she managed to tread this fine line between being actually menacing herself while being genuinely sympathetic figure. The pain of her past is felt in every moment, and her history as basically a lab experiment is so well realized in her distant interactions. When she does speak she's so effective in showing that distance of someone whose never really had conversations certainly not pleasant ones. She's truly affecting in her portrayal of the way she gradually acclimates to a semi-normal life, while never losing that fear due to the past. Her chemistry with Wolfhard, as well as the other boys is exceptional. The conflict and the friendship is always earned without a false moment within the journey. She was series MVP without question for me, though I will say David Harbour was close.)

Anonymous:

Gettysburg 1950's directed by William Wellman

Longstreet: Robert Ryan
Joshua Chamberlain: Kirk Douglas
Lee: Spencer Tracy
Kilrain: James Cagney
Thomas Chamberlain: Harry Dean Stanton
Armistead: Van Heflin
Pickett: Lee J. Cobb

Anonymous:

I could swear I've covered Roberts before.

Anonymous:

Heather - 3(I've always found it funny that she was featured in the very light hearted Going My Way the same year. I like her performance actually, even though it is similair to her work in Going My Way. I think she works well as a contrast to the shady nature of those around her, even if her work is fairly thin compared to them.)

Michael:

I'll be sure to watch it when I have the chance.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your thoughts on the cinematography of Once Upon A Time in The West?

Luke Higham said...

Michael McCarthy: Your thoughts on The Witch.

John Smith said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Ralph Fiennes, Harry Dean Stanton, John Travolta and Stellan Skarsgard.

Alex Marqués said...

He gave his thoughts on Stanton in this same page.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: For alternate 1993 lead, all I hope for is Anthony Hopkins in Shadowlands.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: Before the final 2011 rankings, if you've time, please check Intouchables out. Not sure if you'd definitely like it, but it's certainly a difficult movie to hate.

RatedRStar said...

Luke:

1993
Wong (4.5) Go look up The Untold Story =D the stuff of nightmares
Hopkins (5)
Day Lewis (5)
Branagh (4.5)
Cheung or Depp (4)

2007 Lead
Amalric - 5
Leung Chiu Wai - 4
Gosling - 4.5
Riley - 4.5
Markovics - 4.5

2007 Supporting
Graham (4)
Von Sydow (4.5)
Diehl (4)
Cheng (4)
Yun Fat (4)

RatedRStar said...

Speaking of The Untold Story, ohhh wouldnt it be a quite daring choice to have the scarred killer from Ichi The Killer make an appearance on this blog lol possibly.

Calvin Law said...

I'd say Wong could easily get a 5, I'm not a huge fan of the film itself but his performance is fairly incredible. Could see Leung getting a 4.5 and Amalric getting a 4.5, due to the nature of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly as a film controlled by the directorial vision of Julian Schnabel.

Calvin Law said...

I really need to check out Ichi the Killer.

RatedRStar said...

Calvin: Only one Hong Kong performance has received a 5 so far so 4.5 felt like a safe bet. I had Leung at 4 because well his performance is so similar to his performances in both In The Mood For Love and 2046, except he is more vicious in this one, its like in each film he has a slight more coldness to him but he essentially plays the same sort of role, I also think Tang Wei kinda takes most of the focus as well, as for Almaric I guess its the creation that will really score high, you just sort of look at him and go OMG like its real, that is real lol that sort of reaction, but ye maybe 4.5 I actually think he will win in that lineup though.

RatedRStar said...

The reason I have Asano being possibly a party pooper to 2001 lead is that 2001 is such a weak year for Best Actor nominees lol, at the moment I have both John Cameron Mitchell and Kevin Spacey joining Liu Ye, Mark Rylance and Anthony LaPaglia and I am just not convinced by those 2, Spacey because the film got pretty underwhelming reviews and Mitchell because I was a little disappointed in his performance.

Michael McCarthy said...

Luke: I found The Witch to be a pretty great and atmospheric ghost story. It took a lot of risks, particularly in the style of dialogue, but I found that practically all of them paid off. The cast brought to life the horror and mystery of the witch as much as any effect, and beyond that I found it to be an engaging study of the effects of religious extremism on the family dynamic.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Stunning work all around. It captures the epic scope of the very best westerns with some truly memorable movement. For example the reveal of the town or Frank's entrance. The composition is often beautiful, or atmospheric (like Cheyenne's first scene). It's grand yet intimate. No close up seems standard, no wide shot underwhelming.

Anonymous:

Ralph Fiennes - (Very hard for him to do wrong in my book. He is one of the finest in terms of deeply troubled roles, one of finest with a comedic performances as well. In fact he be both emotional charged and hilarious as shown through In Bruges. He's also a supremely charming performer if he feels like as shown through The Grand Budapest Hotel. He almost does it all and pretty much does it all well.)

John Travolta - (The negative out of the way, he's one of the worst villain actors of all time. He goes pure HAM no matter what the role calls for, and he's not good a ham. What Travolta does work as is a very endearing leading man. He can even find variation in this as he did with Pulp Fiction and Get Shorty. His charm is his greatest asset, though he has more emotional range than many give him credit for, and it's shame that he so frequently denies it through his heel turns.)

Stellan Skarsgard - (Have not seen any of his leading performances. From what I've seen he's very reliable character actor, and fits his type well, which is usually the less than trust worthy type. Although perhaps too well in Dragon Tattoo's case, but that's more to do with casting. I've liked him in most that I've seen, and I look forward to finding his more substantial roles.)

Calvin: Will do.