Thursday, 1 September 2016

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2011: Brian Cox in Coriolanus

Brian Cox did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Menenius in Coriolanus.

This version of Coriolanus removes itself from its original ancient times setting by placing it in a modern state in its telling of the rise and fall of the troubled soldier Caius Martius Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes). Now this has been done before to a degree with Ian McKellen's Richard III, still made period just a different period, and of course how could one forget Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, as I much as I'd like to. Now treating Shakespeare with a modern bent is a challenge in itself. I will say playing the roles of a blunt and intense soldier the more traditional approach seems wholly fitting. A soldier is one thing though, but a senator is another. A politician of  then is not exactly equal to the politician of now. So who to find the proper approach, well none other than the one and only Brian Cox. By the way on rather unrelated note would someone get the man a part on Game of Thrones. If Brian Cox of all people wants a part on your show, get the man a part, come on! Anyway back to Brian Cox in this film.

Cox plays the role of Menenius a leading Roman senator and a definite supporter of Caius Martius. We first meet Menenius as he goes to visit the home of Caius well he is away and sees Caius's mother Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave), wife Virgilia (Jessica Chastain) and his son. From this first scene one can see that Cox is magnetic as usual. There is just something about the way he maneuvers a scene it's captivating, now Cox goes even further here with his approach to Shakespeare. Now I have to admit even before seeing this film Cox is someone you'd expect to do well with the Bard anyways. Cox's ability though perhaps surpasses that expectation. This is because he successfully modernizes it in every sense except literally changes the words to modern equivalents. Cox masters the words in a most remarkable fashion. There is such an effortlessness and ease about it. Cox makes every word seem so utterly natural. The man of modern clothing speaking the old words, which Menenius is always in, never seems a gimmick or out of place due to Cox. Cox makes it so it seems this is exactly how the man should speak.

Cox's ability in the role goes past that mastery though, as he takes the part of Menenius who seems like he is there often to delivery exposition or perhaps set up the more emotional moments for the other characters, particularly Caius. Cox never allows this to be a limitation, through his exceptional approach to the part. Again the idea of modernizing the character is key to Cox's work. Cox does not play Menenius as a senator of old, but rather as a modern elder statesmen. Cox brings that grace that you'd expect from such a man. Cox finds the needed eloquence about him, in there is even this lightness to him fitting for man who specializes in easing situations rather than exacerbating them. Cox presents the right type of confidence in the man in that it's not confrontational. Cox instead exudes the pivotal quality of a different kind of leader, as the emphasis is not on command but rather a definite charm underlined with a definite sense of empathy for those he speaks for.

Now something I love about Cox's work is how honest he makes Menenius as a character throughout the film, it's especially nice change of pace considering how often Cox plays the duplicitous sort. There is such a warmth in every scene with Caius's family. You really feel his history with every family member, and Cox gives understanding to Menenius's motivations throughout. In the moments where Caius acts out in such anger, Cox is so effective in realizing a genuine concern in Menenius, not only for the state but for a man he cares for. There's a great scene for Cox where he speaks to other politicians of the state, less supportive of Caius, and Cox nicely downplays the overt charm revealing a more directly incisive sort ready to deal with those who wish to stab Caius in the back. This is no unveiling a facade by Cox instead he only reinforces the earnestness of Menenius's support of Caius, as he portrays the intensity of the man's passion as he argues to support Caius. Again there is very little time exclusively spent on the development of Menenius's character, luckily that the little there is more than enough for Cox. Cox does not waste a reaction or a line, as he portrays the gradual decay of Menenius in a different way from Caius's decay. As the Roman authorities continue to betray Caius, Cox gradually reveals a growing depression in the senator as he sees everything he worked for is crumbling around him. After Caius is banished, only to come back to wage war against Rome, Menenius is sent as the envoy to attempt to negotiate a peace with the man. Cox's outstanding in the scene as he plays a definite desperation in Menenius as he tries to bring back his old charm, and warmth as he attempts to call upon his old friendship with the man. Cox is affecting in the way he shows this to all fall apart as Caius's cuts off his old friend with a simple "away". Cox depicts a shock in Menenius and a real pain as his face wears a true sense of despair. After the meeting Cox is heartbreaking as presents Menenius as man without place or purpose, haunted by his failure to serve either his country or his friend. This is a truly inspired Shakespearean performance by Brian Cox. This is not only in terms of his new approach to the old text, but also in the complexity and poignancy he finds in his portrait of character who would be nothing in the wrong hands.

88 comments:

Calvin Law said...

Finally, a 5 for Mr Cox. Most excellent.

Robert MacFarlane said...

New prediction:

1. Cox
2. Worthington
3. Hiddleston
4. Coster-Waldau
5. Oswalt

Calvin Law said...

Louis: I know you don't like predicting too early in advance, but based on what we've seen so far who do you think will be the standout of Rogue One? And also, now that you know what a wide range Boyega has with both Attack the Block and The Force Awakens, how do you imagine they'll utilize him in VIII? Because while I can kind of guess what arcs Ridley and Isaac will undergo and Kylo Ren we know is going to complete his training, Boyega's seems very up in the air.

94dfk1 said...

What did you think of Cox in Adaptation?

I'm predicting a 3.5 for Oswalt and a 4 for Hiddleston.

Deiner said...

Great review Louis, and I agree. He is simply brilliant.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'm predicting Jones to be the standout of Rogue One myself.

As for Episode VIII, I think Finn will probably have something like a mecha suit due to his injuries from the last one. My guess is that Boyega will take a less comical, more solemn tone to his work, possibly to imply PTSD and missing Rey.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Alright, since you asked, Jiang Wen, but honestly everyone looks pretty promising from the trailers.

I imagine his story will probably be a maturation for his character from the hapless hero he was in the first, to someone a bit more like say Han Solo in Empire, though I'd say he will probably be a bit more somber.

94dk1:

A hilarious one scene wonder. I would not have minded seeing Cox perform the entire screenwriting seminar.

Deiner:

Thanks.

Robert MacFarlane said...

The guy he's based on in real life is even more of a hack than the movie portrayed him as. I'm not kidding, this man has written angry fanfiction over critics he has grudges against.

Calvin Law said...

Jiang Wen for me too, but I'm also intrigued by how little of Mendelsohn and Ahmed they've shown so far, and of course ol' Mads. I like your and Robert's ideas a great deal.

94dfk1 said...

Calvin: I predict Jones to be the standout as well. I'm keeping an eye out for Whitaker and Mendehlson though. And I've only seen Boyega in Star Wars 7 tbh but I want to see what Rian Johnson does with him.

Robert: I would like to see that in Finn in Episode 8.

Calvin Law said...

And seeing as we're on a Brian Cox post I'd love to see him pop up in the Star Wars universe at some point too.

I was a bit unsure about Jones at first but I really like where they seem to be going with her character.

Anonymous said...

Finally, Cox got a 5.
Louis: What are your thoughts on Chris Latta as a voice actor?

RatedRStar said...

Louis: Jiang Wen eh, he recieved only 2 HK acting nominations, one of which you know of, and the other for which he won. Alternate Supporting Actor 1997 looks kinda weak doesnt it, would you perhaps be interested in seeing Jiang Wen appear in that lineup for his HK win?

RatedRStar said...

I actually would like to see Finn more considerably sadder and depressed in the sequel, which would make sense, he could be very upset that he isnt the hero or the chosen one which could work very well if written correctly, like he has no skills in combat and then manages to overcome them.

Luke Higham said...

1. Cox
2. Worthington
3. Hiddleston
4. Coster-Waldau
5. Oswalt

Alex Marqués said...

1.Cox
2.Worthington
3.Hiddleston
4.Oswalt
5.Coster-Waldau

Giuseppe Fadda said...

Louis do you think that Laura Linney is leading or supporting in The Squid and the Whale?

Anonymous said...

1. Cox
2. Worthington
3. Hiddleston
4. Coster-Waldau
5. Oswalt

Calvin Law said...

Louis and everyone: thoughts on the score to Seven Samurai. Listening to it today again and it really is marvelous.

Alex Marqués said...

Calvin: I think it's wonderful. In my opinion, the shot of the flags with that piece of music at the end is a high point of cinema in general.

Anonymous said...

Louis I hope you dont mind but I have another votes question for you, 1960 Best Supporting Actor looks like a boring category but there were like so many controversies like the Chill Wills campaign, Peter Falk thinking he had won when the name Peter was mentioned and then firing his agent, Sal Mineo desperately wanting to win when you look at his nervous praying reaction in the Ustinov win video, how do you reckon the votes went?

Robert MacFarlane said...

RIP Jon Polito

Alex Marqués said...

RIP Jon Polito

Anonymous said...

R.I.P. Jon Polito

RatedRStar said...

RIP Jon Polito

Giuseppe Fadda said...

RIP Jon Polito

94dfk1 said...

Damn I just saw him in Miller's Crossing and The Man Who Wasn't There within the past week. RIP Jon Polito.

Luke Higham said...

RIP Jon Polito

Louis: Your Lead Actress Top 5 for 2016 so far.

Michael McCarthy: Your Lead Actor Top 10 for 2016.

Anonymous said...

Louis what are your thoughts on Barbara Stanwycks performance in Sorry, Wrong Number and the final scene of the film?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: Stanwyck - 3(I thought she was fine for the most part, but her performance never gripped me the way it should have. I thought Agnes Moorehead did much more with the role in the radio version. Although it should be noted that this version additions feel like the worst kind of additions)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, in which case Louis just the final scene, your thoughts on that?

Louis Morgan said...

RIP Jon Polito

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar:

Sure.

Giuseppe:

Supporting for me.

Anonymous:

If I had to guess:

1. Peter Ustinov
2. Sal Mineo
3. Chill Willis
4. Peter Falk
5. Jack Kruschen

I imagine it was close. Ustinov though was a previous nominee, well respected, and Spartacus over performed that night. It seems like its love was at a high point right at that moment. Mineo's film was not beloved by the academy, and the loved almost dried up completely. I'd say buzz from his Globe win probably put him second. Willis's absurd campaigning probably got him votes, but lost him plenty as well. Falk was his film's sole nomination, and a pretty grisly role. The type of role where the nomination is usually the reward, unless your film is strong enough and Falk's wasn't. Kruschen's film was the most popular, but he was a coattail nomination.

Anonymous:

Again the radio version was far more effective. The extra elements to the story not only make it bloated, but also take away from the suspense leading up to that final moment. It's not nearly as effective as it should have been because of that.

Calvin:

An excellent atmospheric score to be sure.

Luke:

I've seen the following:

Blood Father
I am Not A Serial Killer
Hell or High Water

Actress:

1. Mary Elizabeth Winstead - 10 Cloverfield Lane
2. Elle Fanning - The Neon Demon
3. Helen Mirren - Eye in the Sky
5. Margot Robbie - Suicide Squad
5. Ruby Barnhill - The BFG

Robert MacFarlane said...

Is Winstead a 4.5 or 5? Because her performance has stuck with me stronger than the film has.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

I agree as the film's kind of fading with me, but she's not. A strong 4.5, at the moment but if I re-watch it she could go up.

Anonymous said...

Louis: You forgot to answer my question about your thoughts on Chris Latta as a voice actor.

Michael McCarthy said...

Louis: Are you saving the leads of Hell or High Water? Also of course your thoughts on the film.

Luke:

1. Jeff Bridges-Hell or High Water
2. Ben Foster-Hell or High Water
3. Chris Pine-Hell or High Water
4. Viggo Mortensen-Captain Fantastic
5. Anton Yelchin-Green Room
6. Daniel Radcliffe-Swiss Army Man
7. Robert Downey Jr.-Captain America: Civil War
8. Hugh Grant-Florence Foster Jenkins
9. Ryan Gosling-The Nice Guys
10. Russell Crowe-The Nice Guys

The top 3 are basically interchangeable.

Matt Mustin said...

Ratings and thoughts on Gibson in Blood Father and your thoughts on the film?

Robert MacFarlane said...

You consider Foster co-lead?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Latta - (Kudos to his creating the original Mr. Burns voice, though he was never able to do much with it given the first season of the Simpsons plays like a drama. His most iconic roles of course were Starscream and the less nuanced version of that voice with Cobra Commander. It's a very memorable voice though that works for the screaming villain but even more so for the pathetic traitor. Those who have tried to imitate his Starscream fail to bring those quieter moments to his work, that make him all the more devious)

Michael:

Oh I'm definitely saving all three, not exactly sure on Foster's placement though.

Loved the film. It's my new #1 of the year with ease. Taylor Sheridan, who also wrote Sicario, knows exactly how to craft a compelling narrative while realizing the characters within a story with real forward momentum. I will say, like Sicario, Sheridan can just ever so slightly overplay his hand in terms of presenting the message. Luckily this is balanced well by, something else, and David McKenzie's intelligent and nicely subdued direction. I loved the presentation of the southwest as he created such a sense of beauty and isolation at the same time. The bank robberies are intense yet they are brilliantly underlined well with a certain sense of levity. The characters are never compromised as the film makes it so easy to emphasize with both the cops and robbers. I was with both sets the whole way through, and I absolutely adored that final scene.

Matt:

The film isn't anything special. It is very much a b-picture and the only thing that elevates the film is the element that prevented it from possibly getting a wider release. The story is only ever moderately compelling with the central relationship being weakened severely by a terrible co-star. The direction is decent though, as the action scenes have the needed visceral sting to it. To the most notable element though.

Gibson - 4(Gibson's on form again, though this time the focus is not on his old charm like it was in Get The Gringo, but rather a powerful emotional intensity. Gibson seems especially fitting to the role as he presents a honest portrayal of a man who seems to be constantly suffering from his past sins. Gibson does his absolute best to offer some real poignancy to the father/daughter relationship, and he made me invested in the film even in its weaker moments.)

Michael McCarthy said...

I definitely consider Foster co-lead. His larger than life wise-cracking but troubled outlaw with nothing to lose I felt was the foil to Bridges's crusty, wisecracking sheriff with something to prove. I feel like I'd have to either put them both in lead or both in supporting.

I'm thrilled you share my love of the film Louis, what I loved most about it was that it rejected the idea that a gritty low crime drama with a serious message can't also be wildly entertaining.

Calvin Law said...

I doubt Hell or High Water is coming anywhere near me anytime soon, which is a shame. I might really have to watch this one online.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: what about I Am Not a Serial Killer? Christopher Lloyd in anything sounds interesting.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

I will admit Lloyd is the reason I watched the film, and he is the most engaging part of it. The film never quite finds the right tone otherwise though, and the genre bending never quite comes together. It has a couple of effectively creepy scenes, but most of it all falls flat. It has a central concept that's interesting in terms of the main character's motivations, but the potential there never is realized. I will save Lloyd for the moment though.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Which cartoon do you think was better written: G.I. Joe or Transformers?

Calvin Law said...

Speaking of Lloyd I'd never realised he was only in his late forties when making BTTF.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Gil Birmingham in Hell Or High Water.

Alex Marqués said...

Arrival is getting very good reviews :D

94dfk1 said...

As is Scully, albeit only five reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. A 96 minute runtime for the movie was a really smart choice, IMO.

Really looking forward to Arrival and Passengers.

Anonymous said...

So, I just saw Hell or High Water. I was very impressed by it.

Calvin Law said...

Just saw The Deer Hunter for the very first time. Fantastic, fantastic film.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Rating and thoughts on Paul Freeman and Johnny Yong Bosch in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Have you decided on a rating for Elle Fanning in The Neon Demon.

Anonymous said...

Vafun Neermul: Calvin: How would you rank the cast of the 'The Deer Hunter' and also your mvp of the film.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Just saw Light Between Oceans. It's not perfect, and it's about 20 minutes too long, but I liked it more than most critics. Both leads are pretty damn good.

Luke Higham said...

Robert: I know you don't give ratings, but are they both in the 4-4.5 range for you.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Both would be around 4.5 for me, yes. Whether or not they have staying power remains to be seen.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

@Robert: I'm glad you liked the movie and the leads. How is Weisz?

Calvin Law said...

Varun - hmm,

1. Walken - 5
2. De Niro - 5
3. Savage - 5
4. Streep - 4.5
5. Cazale - 4.5
6. Everyone else - 3 to 4

Calvin Law said...

Reviews for Hacksaw Ridge coming in. Slightly less positive than I expected, but by all accounts it's great in the war scenes and I'm hoping the other scenes will hit me in the old fashioned sweet spot.

Robert MacFarlane said...

As the blog's resident Gibson-skeptic, I remain wary.

@Giuseppe: She's good. I could see another actress doing more with the role, though.

Calvin Law said...

I'm not a huge fan of Gibson as an actor (though I have yet to see Gallipoli), but I do love him as a director.

By the way, started on Stranger Things. Great stuff.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'm the opposite: He's a fine actor and a terrible director.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Transformers, neither of them are exactly Chinatown though.

Luke:

Birmingham - 4(Out of the four main characters he gets the least dynamic role to work with. He's good though in just giving a very low key, naturalistic performance. He fits in well as the guy who technically has the least at stake, it seems, though portrays this part well just man supporting his friend throughout. He has excellent chemistry with Bridges making their philosophical conversations feel wholly genuine, and their little back and forths really build to something special in a very subtle way.)

No to your second question.

Calvin:

The reviews are about what I expected them to be given that it's Gibson. The fact that most of them are positive is a very good sign given that Gibson's a very easy target for a critic with an axe to grind.

Anonymous:

I think I covered them before. Anyway though Freeman is the best kind of over the top, not taking it seriously in just the right sort of way. Bosch isn't anything too remarkable, but he at least brings a sense of humor to his portrayal.

Anonymous said...

Louis: In your opinion, what is the easiest way to tell if a character is one-dimensional?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is Jeremy Irons a 4 for The Lion King.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Yes.

Anonymous:

If the character is defined solely by a single trait or behavior without any depth to that trait or behavior.

Calvin Law said...

Well I absolutely loved Stranger Things. Might be my favourite anything I've seen this year so far. The whole cast ranged from solid to great, but I'd rank the main cast as thus:

1. Brown
2. Matarazzo
3. Harbour
4. Heaton
5. Wolfhard
6. Ryder
7. Dyer
8. McLaughlin
9. Modine
10. Keery

Loved the top 6, really liked Dyer and McLaughlin, and quite enjoyed Modine and Keery too.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: Which was the iffily dramatic moment by Wolfhard for you?

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

When they think they've found Will the first time.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous, Michael & Calvin: I've made my mind up on what I want to request, yet I'll announce it by the end of the year.

It is a supporting performance and there should hopefully be more strong contenders for the alternates, but my love for the film and ? has grown in stature for me.

I'm actually hoping for 2 standouts from the Rogue One supporting cast so that Louis may extend the lineup again, like last year.

Calvin Law said...

I'm intrigued as to what it is :)

Luke Higham said...

My Oscar Predictions
Best Picture
La La Land
Billy Lynn's Halftime Walk
Arrival
Loving
Silence
Fences
Moonlight
Lion
Passengers

Best Director
Chazelle
Lee
Villeneuve
Scorsese
Washington

Best Actor
Affleck
Keaton
Washington
Gosling
Gyllenhaal

Best Actress
Stone
Davis
Negga
Adams
Lawrence

Best Supporting Actor
Neeson
Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)
Ali
Eckhart (Bleed For This)
Henderson

Best Supporting Actress
Linney
Dern
Williams
Harris
Stewart

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: It's a film you liked fairly well, (I have to tell you, it's not in your ranking for 2016, though you have seen it) and I've been badgering Louis for months to watch it.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: true, that was a bit weak. Which did you find the strongest acted scene?

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

For Wolfhard? His final scene alone with Eleven.

Anonymous said...

Can I ask is Silence definitely coming out this year? since its now September and ive heard nothing yet?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

It is not currently on Paramount's release schedule for the year. Scorsese has basically said that it will be ready in time before the end of the year though, and I believe it is currently being edited. I do think it is going to be released this year, the studio probably is just waiting to be sure that it's a clear awards player.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

It also might depend on how Allied and Fences are received.

94dfk1 said...

Luke: I think Joel Edgerton will make some noise for Loving, and could sneak in instead of Gyllenhaal.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is there any films that you plan on seeing in the next 2 weeks.

Luke Higham said...

94dfk1: Edgerton's #6 and him and Gyllenhaal are interchangeable.

RatedRStar said...

Moonlight is how a trailer should be done, dont give much away but keep the viewer intrigued.

I would probably say for the moment that Jake is probably slightly ahead of Edgerton simply because of the overdue second nomination card and Jake being a bigger star.

I am wondering who out of these contenders for the acting categories looks like they could give a bad performance, ummm.

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling all of the buzz for Loving will go to Ruth Negga while Nocturnals buzz will be for Tom Ford and Jake Gyllenhaal since Tom Ford easily got Colin Firth an Oscar nomination.

Anonymous said...

Louis: If Gable hadn't died in 1960, what do you think might have happened to his career?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

It all depends on what comes out near me.

Anonymous:

He may have retired or acted very infrequently. Gable seemed like he would have wished to remain the leading man as long as possible, though he did allow his characters to be aged. I think he would have continued to try to find those leading roles which might have occasionally lead to something substantial, but often would have been in more obscure fare.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: what do you think of Steve Martin in general?

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Martin - (He has a few misses on his record but for the most part I find him an entertaining performer. He's great at doing the straight man, but also quite capable of a broader turn like in Little Shop of Horrors. There is often a dramatic undercurrent in his performances such as those pivotal scenes with John Candy in Planes Trains and Automobiles. He's someone I'd be interested in seeing do a fully dramatic performance, I'm not sure that's what his role is going to be like in Billy Lynn, but apparently he has an important role so I'm intrigued.)