Friday, 12 August 2016

Alternate Best Actor 2011: Jake Gyllenhaal in Source Code

Jake Gyllenhaal did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Capt. Colter Stevens often as Sean Fentress in Source Code.

Source Code is entertaining mind bending thriller despite a lame villain and wasting a great ending by unnecessarily going on for a few more minutes.

We first meet Jake Gyllenhaal in the film as a man on a commuter train. Gyllenhaal's performance begins as a proxy for the audience as the man attempts to figure out why he's on a train, and what exactly is going on. Gyllenhaal is effective jumble of thoughts as the man attempts to gain his bearings which are difficult to obtain when he sees someone else's reflection in the mirror, and the train he's riding on explodes only a few minutes later. The man wakes up to find himself in an odd chamber where he is told by a military operative (Vera Farmiga) that he is being used to essentially quantum leap into another man's body in the past in order to discover the source of a terrorist attack. Gyllenhaal's performance works well here as he manages to give reality to the concept immediately by portraying such paranoia in the task, and such confusion as he wonders how exactly he ended up with the task in the first place. Gyllenhaal's own task in the role is to keep up with the film as it continues at a fairly rapid pace as the soldier Colter Stevens keeps getting sent back into the man Sean Fentress in order to find who set the bomb that blew up the train.

Stevens's "handlers" constantly push him to stay on task despite his myriad of questions especially after he learns from a news report in the past that Stevens also has been declared dead. Gyllenhaal basically must constantly be switching intents as Stevens still goes about trying to solve the mystery while trying to attempt some sort of personal closure as well. Gyllenhaal maneuvers this firm pace rather flawlessly as he goes from either in Fentress as he narrows down suspects to Stevens who is kind of broken due to learning about his state. When Stevens "plays" Fentress there is not even a single set manner that Gyllenhaal establishes. Gyllenhaal instead succeeds in matching whatever he needs to be given Fentress's situation in the past. Gyllenhaal importantly never loses the sense of severity as he searches for answers, though he does well to convey a proper variation of it depending on the moment. Whenever he's reminded of the loss of life when he knows that the explosion is about to happen Gyllenhaal gives it the necessary gravity.

Gyllenhaal is never one note as just a hysterical man finding a bomb or a terrorist, even though he does that quite well when it is asked of him as well. Gyllenhaal again plays the part of Fentress in a way and does so brilliantly. This even includes a rapid fire romance with the woman Christina (Michelle Monaghan). Gyllenhaal whips out a bit of required charm for this and makes it convincing, though one should also note Monaghan certainly helps a lot by portraying Christina as being infatuated with Fentress from the beginning. Gyllenhaal is equally efficient in transitioning to the man who will do what it takes to get the job done. Gyllenhaal manages to bring the proper intensity and even menace as he goes about interrogating a few of the passengers to find the culprit. There's even a bit of humor that Gyllenhaal effortlessly find from time to time just within the awkwardness of this man attempting to be so many things at once, I particularly enjoy his false bravado when he pretends to be a train marshal by using a regular wallet.

The final element of Gyllenhaal's performance is when Stevens is in the "chamber" and when he is directly attempting to cope with his bizarre physical state. Gyllenhaal is rather moving by depicting the strange agony. This again is all in rapid succession of one another yet Gyllenhall's portrayal of any of these sides never feels vague or underwhelming. This all culminates to a final trip to the past as Stevens attempts to live a perfect final eight minutes, basically pulling off the last day of Groundhog's day. Gyllenhaal just exudes such a earned confidence as he owns scene while Stevens own the situation. Gyllenhaal presents a man in absolute control of everything in the moment and it is wonderful to watch him basically make the absolute best of his final minutes. This includes one powerful moment when he calls his father. Gyllenhaal infuses such poignancy to the conversation as honestly portrays finally gaining a certain sense of closure as Stevens says his goodbye. Gyllenhaal is outstanding as he builds to the final bittersweet ending of triumph by achieving all he could with his remaining time. The film for some reason goes on, but hey that's hardly Gyllenhaal's fault. This is a very strong performance by Jake Gyllenhaal which is pivotal to the film's success. He not only is an endearing leading man, but keeps its core concept grounded in a very human reality.

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, wasn't expecting this.
Louis: What do you think of the score for Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm? I think it's quite great and underrated.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Wow. Also, Arden was a lame villain, but check out clips of him as Quasimodo in the stage version of Hunchback. He's great there.

Michael McCarthy said...

RIP Everyone's predictions

Robert MacFarlane said...

By the way, saw Sing Street and loved every second of it. Might be my #1 for the year. I think you'll like this one more than Begin Again, Louis.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Eh, I've always been terrible at that.

Deiner said...

Omg, yes! He's fantastic. I also liked the film and i agree with you on the ending (although i understand why they didn't leave it there, it would have been too dark, maybe?). Can you give your thoughts and rating on the rest of the cast?

Deiner said...

*ratings

Oh, and I've seen Sing Street as well. I didn't love it as much as Robert but it has its moments. The actress who plays Raphina was really good though.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'll probably be the only one on the blog who loves the lead actor, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. Great transition from the typical blank-faced teen protagonist we usually see to the confident, out-going kid we see at the end of the film. Plus his singing voice sounds 80's style. I also loved every second of Jack Reynor.

Calvin Law said...

I really liked Sing Street too. Reynor was my favourite of the whole cast, but everyone else was good too. 'Drive It Like You Stole It' was great.,

Calvin Law said...

Also glad you took to the film. What are your thoughts/ratings for Monaghan, Farmiga and Wright?

Calvin Law said...

Also glad you took to the film. What are your thoughts/ratings for Monaghan, Farmiga and Wright?

94dfk1 said...

Louis wasn't a fan of Begin Again? I did notice that Mark Ruffalo is rather low in the Overall 2014 Best Actor rankings.

Calvin Law said...

Also: Louis on what scene would you have ended the film?

Anonymous said...

I really like the look of Nocturnal Animals, I really think that either he or Casey Affleck will get that long overdue second nomination this year.

Calvin Law said...

The more I hear about Leto's alleged behind the scenes antics the more I dislike his work. At least Eisenberg didn't go around harassing people in increasingly vulgar ways.

Alex Marqués said...

Louis: If O'Toole is a 4 for The Stunt Man, why is he higher than some 4.5 performances in the supporting actor ranking? Also, would you still rank Hutton in Ordinary People above Pesci in Raging Bull?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Alex: Louis doesn't necessarily have the same score for a performance that is borderline lead or supporting. For example, Barry Fitzgerald is a 4.5 in leading, but a 5 in supporting for 1944. O'Toole is a 4.5 in supporting, I believe.

Luke Higham said...

Alex: On the 1980 Supporting Oscar results page, Pesci's above Hutton.

Luke Higham said...

Alex: http://actoroscar.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/best-supporting-actor-1980-results.html

Luke Higham said...

R.I.P. Kenny Baker

Alex Marqués said...

Oh sorry, my mistake.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

I'd say the score is better used than the score that inspired it from the 89 film, since it was never interrupted by the tonally inconsistent Prince music. The score takes Elfman's initial inspiration and effectively branches off from that well retaining the same style.

Robert:

I will give it a watch, I hope you're right.

Deiner:

Monaghan - 3.5(Again she importantly makes the romantic element work well by establishing basically from the first look she gives Gyllenhaal. Although she has a very limited context to work in I thought she succeeded in never making her character seem thin despite her performance being almost entirely reactionary. Her reactions always feel authentic, and she makes the most out of her role.)

Farmiga - 3(Her performance is serviceable most of the time though I did feel she managed to pull off her character's minor arc despite having basically no time to work with it.)

Wright - 3(I usually like Wright to begin with, and I'll admit he maybe comes a bit too close to going full Ham here. However I still enjoyed what he did in the role even if it might have been a little too much at times.)

Arden - 1.5(I'll agree with Robert that he is quite good as the Hunchback of Notre Dame, at least from what I've seen in the youtube clips. It should also be noted that the villain aspect of the film is not exactly the highlight in terms of the film's writing to begin with. Arden does not help things with his downright ridiculous delivery of his monologue where he explains his motivations. He was not menacing in the least.)

All the background players, and the original Quantum leaper Scott Bakula are also good in their very minor parts.

94dk1:

I'm afraid not.

Calvin:

I feel it should have ended on the freeze frame kiss which to me would have been a great bittersweet ending






















RIP Kenny Baker

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Have you Watched any new films lately.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Born to Be Blue, since I'm saving Hawke I don't have much to say about it. It's a decent enough biopic on its own, but nothing substantial as a film.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Can you give a list of all the performances you've saved so far, for both Lead and Supporting..

94dfk1 said...

Louis: Would I be too far off in believing that you thought Ruffalo's performance in Begin Again was too mannered and calculated? It seems to be a recurring thing for Ruffalo, where it either works (Foxcatcher) or it doesn't (Spotlight). The film was just fine IMO though and I enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your thoughts on Mark Hamill as an actor?

Robert MacFarlane said...

I thought Ruffalo was good, though I did think he overplayed it at first with making the character as pathetic and sleazy as possible.

Michael McCarthy said...

I just saw Florence Foster Jenkins and enjoyed it a lot, although due to the subject matter I was admittedly biased. Streep and Grant were actually pretty great, Helberg on the other hand was kind of ridiculous in a character that could've been very affecting.

Louis Morgan said...

94dk1:

I don't hate his work there, nor did I think it was all that mannered. I just did not find he made for a particularly endearing lead.

Luke:

Lead:

Michael Shannon - Midnight Special
Robert Downey Jr. - Captain America: Civil War
Anton Yelchin - Green Room
Jake Gyllenhaal - Demolition
Ethan Hawke - Born to be Blue

Supporting:

Alden Ehrenreich - Hail Caesar!

Anonymous:

Hamill - (An exceptional voice actor based on his work as the joker alone. He was a good, and actually somewhat undervalued as Luke. As an onscreen performer I've only seen three of his non-Luke performances. It is a shame he became so typecast since his Big Red One turn is a strong indication that he possibly had quite a bit of untapped potential.)

Michael McCarthy said...

Gyllenhaal's dropped all the way down to #9 for me in my Best Actor ranking for this year, the impression he left just didn't last very long.

And as for Mark Hamill, I think he's terrific as The Joker and as Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Does he ever voice characters that aren't villains though?

Michael McCarthy said...

Also Louis, did you ever decide on a rating for Fanning in The Neon Demon?

Louis Morgan said...

Micheal:

I'll admit some of those lead spots probably won't make it to the alternate line ups, but I prefer to have a surplus.

For Fanning I still need a re-watch.

mcofra7 said...

Glad you liked this performance

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your top 10 male/female screen pairings.
Mine would be:

1. O'Toole and Hepburn in The Lion in Winter
2. Gable and Leigh in Gone with the Wind
3. Burton and Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
4. Cotten and Wright in Shadow of a Doubt
5. Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca
6. Gable and Colbert in It Happened One Night
7. Brando and Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire
8. Carrey and Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind
9. Nicholson and Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
10.Howard and Hiller in Pygmalion

Alex Marqués said...

Saw Immortal Beloved yesterday, one of my favourite Oldman performances and that's saying a lot. So much power.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your ratings and thoughts on Gosling and Crowe in The Nice Guys.

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

I suppose it would be something like this:

1. Gable and Leigh - Gone With The Wind
2. Olivier and Fontaine - Rebecca
3. Gable and Colbert - It Happened One Night
4. Loy and Powell - Everything
5. Brando and Marie Saint - On the Waterfront
6. Sheen and Spacek - Badlands
7. Grant and Dunne - The Awful Truth
8. O'Toole and Hepburn - The Lion in Winter
9. Nicholson and Dunaway - Chinatown
10. Bates and Caan - Misery

Luke:

I'm still saving them as well.

Michael McCarthy said...

So I just saw Hell or High Water and LOVED it. I may be writing a full review of it later if anyone's interested.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Which actors would you have chosen over Murray and Franciosa?

Luke Higham said...

Michael McCarthy: Pleased to hear it. Your ratings for the cast.

Anonymous said...

*in A Hatful of Rain?

Robert MacFarlane said...

Saw Pete's Dragon. Really cute, and absolutely gorgeous. Weak villain, though. Really liked the kid who played Pete.

Michael McCarthy said...

Pine: 4.5/5 (Leaning towards a 5, I might need a rewatch.)
Foster: 5
Bridges: 5
Birmingham: 3.5

Calvin Law said...

Saw both Our Kind of Traitor and Keanu. Good films, though the former's first act felt a bit rushed and the latter had a slightly muddled beginning to the third act, I really quite liked both.

Ratings subject to change and can give thoughts on them if desired:

McGregor - 3.5
Harris - 3.5
Skasgard - 5 (my #3 for supporting)
Lewis - 5 (my #2 for supporting, and just let me say that this man has one of the most unique personal styles I have seen out of any actor this century)
Abdalla - 3
Von Rittberg - 3

Peele - 3.5/4
Key - 4
Haddish - 3.5
Method Man - 3
Forte - 3.5 (did NOT recognize him)
Britt Gibson, Mitchell, Neighbors - 3
Guzman - 3
Farris - 3.5 (tempted to go up, she's a hilarious one-scene wonder)


moviefilm said...

I saw Sausage Party. It's a crazy film not for everyone's tastes though I enjoyed it. It has some fine voiceacting:
Seth Rogen (4)
Kristen Wiig (4.5)
Edward Norton (5)
Michael Cera (4)
Salma Hayek (4.5)
James Franco (3.5)
Bill Hader (4)
Danny McBride (2.5)
Jonah Hill (2.5)

Anonymous said...

Louis, can I please get your thoughts on these actors:

Ralph Fiennes
Jeff Bridges
Tommy Lee Jones

Gus B. said...

Allied teaser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=59&v=22PY59GHQgU

What do you think, guys?

Kompucer said...

He is the best actor

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Maybe John Cassavetes in Franciosa's part and Ben Gazzara in Murray's.

Anonymous:

I covered Fiennes a couple posts back.

Jeff Bridges - (Bridges is an actor I find works best in roles which play to his naturalistic qualities as a performer. In roles that either force him to reduce his normal presence or go too broad I don't usually find him all that engaging. In the right roles though he's a compelling performer as he offers a unique charisma and effortless humor.)

Tommy Lee Jones - (Jones is an actor with a specific range. He fell out of it occasion, to a certain degree in JFK, which I felt worked, and to a more severe degree in Batman Forever and Blown Away which did not work. Jones is best in his wheelhouse as the sullen or grumpy Texan. He's good in the smaller roles that stress this, but is also capable of something greater within the same type as he finds a considerable emotional range within it.)

Gus:

Looks like it could be good even though I have not loved anything from Zemeckis for a very long time, and I prefer Pitt out of the straight leading man type. But hey I'm interested, after all Cotillard rarely does wrong on a performance level.

Michael McCarthy said...

Louis: I think you're opinion on Bridges might change if you see Hell or High Water, this is far and away the best of his crusty roles that he's kind of been reduced to since Crazy Heart.

Louis Morgan said...

Michael:

I can't wait to see it, though I'll admit I already wanted to see it when I heard Foster was in it.

94dfk1 said...

I'm looking forward to Allied. I do like Brad Pitt more in character roles where he can just unleash, but he's a fine leading man. Cotillard can do no wrong with me (besides The Dark Knight Rises). And I think Foster is a good bet to appear in Alternate Best Actor 2016.

Calvin Law said...

Would Source Code make your top 10 for 2011, Louis?

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Possibly, I'm going to update the list when I get to the lead results.

Anonymous said...

What the hell is Johnny Depp doing to himself? just idiotic

Calvin Law said...

This Depp/Heard thing can't go away soon enough.

Saw Genius. Firth is fine, Law alternates between very good and awkward, Linney, Pearce and West are decent but underused, Kidman is dreadful in a terribly written role. Film itself is a fairly standard biopic, with a good script bar some one-note characters, and quick plot contrivances. Its best moments come in the moments it delves on the process of writing/editing.

Firth - 3.5
Law - 3.5 (I would also consider him co-lead)
Kidman - 2
Linney - 2.5
West - 2.5
Pearce - 2.5

Robert MacFarlane said...

Really? I heard that was one of the year's worst films and Law was Wiseau worthy.

Calvin Law said...

Law has some really strong scenes. Unfortunately he also has some bad ones which are far more evident than the strengths. I suppose I might be a bit kinder on the film than some given I love the topic matter.

Calvin Law said...

Kidman could easily be bumped down to Wiseau territory though. 2 is actually far too generous for her.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

@Calvin: Too bad for Kidman. I've heard her final scene with Law was actually quite effective. I've heard Law was much worse.

My ratings for Suicide Squad:

Smith - 3
Leto - 2
Kinnaman - 1.5
Robbie - 4
Davis - 3.5
Delevingne - 2 (I didn't think she was awful per se, she just had a terrible script to work with)
Hernandez - 3
Courtney - 2.5

Matt Mustin said...

Louis: What are your thoughts on Robin Williams as a standup?

Calvin Law said...

Actually after rumination, yes I need to bump Law down to a weak 3.

Matt Mustin said...

Calvin: I was gonna say, I thought you made a typo. Even you admitted his weaknesses were more evident than his strengths and I was just sitting there going "Since when does 'the bad outweighs the good' equal a 3.5?"

Louis Morgan said...

Matt:

His standup was great, I particularly enjoyed his appearance on Inside the Actor's Studio.