Monday, 5 September 2016

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2011: Patton Oswalt in Young Adult

Patton Oswalt did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Matt Freehauf in Young Adult.

Young Adult tells the story of a "young adult" ghost writer Mavis (Charlize Theron) who goes to her hometown in order to steal her boyfriend back, despite him being married with a child.

Young Adult is a film I thoroughly disliked, and no it's not because the film's central character is unlikable. There are plenty of films I love with technically unlikable leads. The film seems to have a distinct disdain for all of its characters, even the ones presented as happy in some way are presented in a detached fashion as caricatures, though that may have been unintentional. The film's most fervent desire seems to be to make one as uncomfortable as possible while watching it. The majority of the actors are stuck in one note roles, and do not overcome that problem. Charlize Theron tries her best though I would say struggles to find balance with the writing behind the character who too often becomes just a full blown cartoon due to the script. The only other actor with a part that even comes slightly close to breaking out of the square is of course Patton Oswalt.

Patton Oswalt is probably best known for his standup comedy, and just generally being an enjoyable comedic presence in whatever he appears in whether that is a film, tv show, or just in an interview. Now part of the role here plays into that with his portrayal of almost a sitcom "best friend" to Theron's character. The set up isn't exactly that, but Mavis ends up making Oswalt's Matt her confident since she tells him what's she's exactly up to in her homecoming as well as due to his certain supply of alcohol he has at his disposal. Oswalt is often there to offer a few one liners and sardonic remarks at Mavis's expense or at the expense of her idea. Oswalt to his credit does this quite well, and importantly never overplays this element. He allows the humor to come very naturally throughout his performance. He never makes it feel like a zinger exactly, making it feel rather like what Matt would actually say in any given situation.

Mavis and Matt's connection though technically goes a bit deeper than merely their mutual appreciation for a yeast based beverage. The connection stemming from their inability to forget about high school. For Mavis this is seen through her disillusion in regards to her own popularity to the point that she firmly believes that her old flame Buddy (Patrick Wilson) will immediately drop his family to get back with her. Matt's inability to forget is caused by something a bit more concrete in that he was permanently injured due to a vicious attack by bullies in high school. Oswalt is very effective in the two moments where he specifically describes the attack as he reveals the pain in Matt, without breaking down, but as he speaks of the attack Oswalt portrays the very real scars left on Matt. Oswalt never forgets this essential element to his character, underlining it throughout his performance.

In even his lighter moments Oswalt still brings a shade of the bitterness fitting to a man broken due to others' senseless hate. Now with this Oswalt offers two things the film very much needs, a likable presence in the film, and a three dimensional character who never devolves into a cartoon. Oswalt's Matt lives past the frame as you understand his past, even while you enjoy some of his jokes in the present. Now in terms of Matt's relationship with Mavis, Oswalt makes it convincing in terms of his depiction of the sort of the desperate attachment to the past. Where the two end up doesn't exactly work, but to Oswalt's credit he does his absolute best to make the scene in question feel natural on his end. Oswalt doesn't save the scene nor can he save the movie. He improves the film best he can though, acting as the clear standout with his nuanced yet amusing performance.

74 comments:

Calvin Law said...

I just don't think Jason Reitman is your thing, Louis. Nor is he mine, to be perfectly honest.

Calvin Law said...

What rating would you give Theron?

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Hey, I like Thank You For Smoking, but yeah you're right.

3.5.

Calvin Law said...

I liked Speak a lot and completely agree with your thoughts. As for Thank You For Smoking, I enjoyed that, but more for Aaron Eckhart than anything Reitman did direction-wise. I do really like Up in the Air though.

Robert MacFarlane said...

This film I'm actually more indifferent to than Reitman's other works. Which is practically a compliment, since I more or less loathe his works (except maybe Juno if I'm being generous).

Calvin Law said...

Also I think the concept behind the film would've been great in another director's hands. I know you don't adore Alexander Payne either, but he'd have done a much better job with this sort of tale.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I actually hate Thank You for Smoking quite a bit. Too smug to be funny, satire too broad to make any sort of point. I honestly didn't even like Eckhart in it.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Oh no, Payne would have made the misanthropy even worse. That man has active loathing for 90% of his characters.

Calvin Law said...

Only things I liked about Juno were J.K. Simmons and some of the music. And I guess I kind of enjoy seeing Michael Cera in anything.

Calvin Law said...

Robert: He does, but he's also a much better writer...in my opinion of course.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I actually thought Bateman was the best part of Juno. Both his performance and the writing on his character hint at a more nuanced, mature film than the rest of it.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Oh I'd agree there as well, Reitman really doesn't seem to have any idea what the point of the story is.

I could see Thomas McCarthy possibly making the story work.

Calvin Law said...

Great idea. With maybe Peter Dinklage in Oswalt's role (awesome). Or Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight mode (eh).

Anonymous said...

Louis: Since you disliked Portman in The Black Swan, who would have you picked over her?

Robert MacFarlane said...

Someone asked me yesterday day what ratings I'd give the Light Between Oceans leads. Thinking about it more, I realized Vikander is my new Best Actress choice at the moment.

94dfk1 said...

I agree with the audience score for this movie on Rotten Tomatoes. And I actually quite liked Up in The Air.

Louis: Not a fan of Portman in Black Swan? Oh and speaking of Payne, what are your thoughts on him as a filmmaker? I frankly didn't care for Sideways, Election or Nebraska, but I did like Citizen Ruth and About Schmidt. The Descendants wore down on me on a re-watch.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Of the Payne movies I've seen, Election works best for me since he at least owns the misanthropy of it and goes for broke. I initially loved The Descendants, but in recent years was troubled by how the film bends over backwards for its horrible human being of a protagonist and how poorly it treats its side characters. Sideways isn't nearly as misanthropic, but I don't see the big deal outside of Paul Giamatti. Nebraska I'm mixed on. On one hand we have a complex exploration of an awkward father-son story. On the other hand, odious comic relief abound and caricatures abound. It's like watching two movies at times. And no, I do not like June Squibb or her snarling and sitcom table-read line deliveries.

Calvin Law said...

Don't care for About Schmidt and The Descendants, though I do like the lead performances in them. Sideways is fine, and really like Election. Nebraska is in need for a re-watch for me, but it did grow on me the more I thought about it after watching it

Matt Mustin said...

I kinda hated The Descendants.

Calvin Law said...

Though I liked his performance, I find it odd Clooney was considered one of the front-runners for the Oscar that year. He would have been far more deserving for Up in the Air two years previously.

Also, The Descendants sucks big time in one department. The ensemble. I don't even mind Greer and Lillard, and liked Robert Forster as always, but those kids and that doofus boyfriend were just pretty bad.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Greer and Lillard were the only two cast members I'd praise.

Matt Mustin said...

Yeah, I liked Robert Forster.

94dfk1 said...

Robert: I actually liked Haden Church more than Giamatti. But I don't really see the big deal about the movie tbh.

About Schmidt is an ok movie on its own, but old Jackie really elevates it.

Anyone see Hologram for the King? The film isn't anything special, but Hanks does a good job in the lead role. I'd give him a 4.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I found Church's shtick incredibly tiresome in Sideways. Baffling he got a nomination when Giamatti didn't.

Calvin Law said...

Louis, and all: So apparently Joe Wright's directing a biopic of Winston Churchill, and guess who's rumoured to be playing the lead role? Gary Oldman.

Intriguing to say the very least. Would love to see how he compares to the likes of Finney and Gleeson.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: It's good to see him in a lead role again. :)

Deiner said...

I haven't seen this film in a long time and I kinda liked it. I completely disagree with you on Theron, since she would be Actress choice of that year.

Anonymous said...

Oldman as Churchill? This ought to be interesting.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Rooney Mara, Mia Kirshner, among others.

94dk1:

Nope.

Payne - (Impossible to really discuss his work as a director without examining his work as a writer as well. Payne is a director who seems to take the Billy Wilder philosophy in that the visuals should never distract from the story. There is a definite greater attachment to the story given Payne's hand in writing almost all of his films. Now Payne is no Billy Wilder, but he's not a workman either. It is worth noting that Nebraska is probably his film where you can most clearly see his vision as a director, and he did not write that film. That film has a particularly strong sense of place through the atmosphere that Payne creates and it almost seemed like Payne was able to break that usual bond somewhat. Of course examining that further, due to Payne having not written Nebraska it seems he's naturally compelled to a certain kinds of story. That being an intense focus on the main character with thin characterizations to the side characters, with basically the actors' efforts deciding whether or not they will be full blown caricatures or not. This method is problematic especially since there indeed can be a sense of misanthropy in his writing and direction. Breaking down his films, haven't seen Citizen Ruth, Election is an enjoyable film but different in that it keeps it a broader tone allowing the Payne's style to feel far more natural. About Schmidt suffers with everyone being so one note outside of Nicholson, Sideways has those flaws in there still but over time I've found its strengths outweigh them, I hate the Descendants almost whole sale since there is not even a solid lead to hold onto, and I like a lot of what Nebraska has to offer though the inherent flaws of Payne are again still present)

Calvin:

I'm not crazy about the creative team, but I'm happy to see Oldman get a leading role again.

94dfk1 said...

Louis: I liked Portman in Black Swan, but then again, I feel like other actresses similar to her would've done an equally good job in the part (Rooney Mara indeed would've done great, now that you mention here). I feel like she didn't own the role, but I liked her enough. To each their own!

About Payne's tendencies to have a strong focus on the lead(s) while everyone else has a thin characterization, that is exactly what you'll find in Citizen Ruth, should you get around to it sometime. Dern gives a pretty daring performance but everyone else seems a bit too cartoonish.

Louis and anyone: Would you consider Jeremy Renner and Josh Brolin as each other's contemporaries? They both had breakout roles as a lead in a Best Picture winner, and have delivered strong work in supporting roles since (Brolin in Sicario, Everest, Inherent Vice, Milk; Renner in The Town, American Hustle, The Immigrant). The movies they've been the lead in since THL and NCFOM have been a little mixed to say the least as well (Brolin in Jonah Hex and W., Renner in Hansel & Gretel and his Bourne installment.) Just realized like with Hardy and Fassbender, their trajectories have been pretty similar starting in the late 2000s.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your thoughts on Anna Paquin as Rogue in the first three X-Men films?

Calvin Law said...

Watched The Duellists. Cheers for the recommendation, Louis; cracking film. Kietel and Carradine were both great, I was surprised actually by the relatively little screentime the latter had but it didn't matter. Some of the most stunning cinematography and sets, the snowtime sequence and the final duel were truly cinematic brilliance. The only nitpick, and it really is a nitpick, is that I thought some of the scenes transitioned too abruptly into the titlecards noting the time/place, and in all honesty that might've been intentional.

Anonymous said...

I have just seen the Collateral Beauty trailer, all I have to say is YUCK!!!

Calvin Law said...

I was anticipating it but that trailer has put it down a couple notches. Smith, Norton and Mirren look good. I'm a Keira Knightley fan and this doesn't bode well, she seems to be going back to some of her more negative tendencies as an actress here.

94dfk1 said...

Calvin: Would you mind elaborating more on Knightley's negative tendencies?

Fortunately, I'm not lactose-intolerant, because that trailer was cheesy as hell. But we'll see.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I watched the trailer. I refuse to believe it's a real movie and not an elaborate Jimmy Kimmel skit.

Calvin Law said...

94dfk1: Just the way she over enunciates her lines and tries to 'express' everything too forcefully. She works much better as a less histrionic actress.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I honestly thought Winslet and Norton looked even worse. Hell, they all looked awful in it.

Louis Morgan said...

In regards to Collateral Beauty, I must concur with Robert, felt like a parody.

94dk1:

I think I could agree to that as they do share a very similair stature.

Anonymous:

(Her accent is all over the place in the first film, and it is hard to understand why. She's fine in terms of portraying the pain connected to her character's condition though she perhaps focused too much on that as she remained oddly stale. It's not hard to see why her part was severely reduced in the later two to the point that it's easy to forget she was even in the third film. She's entirely fine in both of those films, but she never managed to make Rogue really stand out as a character despite the intensity of the focus from the first film)

Calvin:

Glad you liked it.

Calvin Law said...

I've always thought Jena Malone would make a great Rogue.

Calvin Law said...

I think I'll watch it for Mirren as based on the trailer, she seems to be taking a lighter approach to the material that could be something.

94dfk1 said...

Norton's and Knightley's line readings do feel forced on re-watch and the actor who plays Time seems laughable. Mirren looks like she'll be good in this, though.

Will Smith looks like he's trying a little too hard. Winslet and Pena seem ok.

If you put a laugh track on this, you might convince someone it is indeed a Kimmel sketch.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Mirren looks terrible too. Every line reading of hers made me cringe.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: Is Dreyfuss for Jaws a merely solid 4.5, or is he close to a 5? Because I re-watched the film today and I feel like he's every bit as essential as Scheider is to the excellence of the film. Shaw's always the MVP, and he still is, but I feel ol' Richard's work is a tad bit underrated in it.

Calvin Law said...

Plus, additional credit to the screenwriters for turning Hooper from a terrible, one-note alpha male caricature in the novel to a great character in the film.

Alex Marqués said...

@Robert: I just rewatched The Tree Of Life. Man, you were absolutely right (and I liked it the first time).

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your thoughts on the score of To Kill A Mockingbird?

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'm so glad you agree. I just can't help but be so moved by it every time.

ruthiehenshallfan99 said...

I saw the Collateral Beauty trailer. Looks very Oscar Baity to begin with and it feels more forced than most of those types of movies.

Varun Neermul said...

Saw the trailer for Collateral Beauty and i'm afraid...

Anonymous said...

Louis: Have you seen X-Men: The Animated Series? If so, what are your thoughts on the voice cast?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I finished Stranger Things in one go tonight, and I must say, Louis and Calvin were absolutely right about it. It was damn brilliant and I'm glad it got renewed for a second season.
My ratings for the cast:-
Harbour- 5 (A fantastic leading performance. Harbour made the transition from cynicism to complete investment feel absolutely earned, and he was incredibly moving in showing the reason behind his heartbreak)
Bobby Brown- 5 (One of the finest minimalist performances I've seen in a TV show, and easily the series MVP)
Ryder- 4.5 (Slightly overdone in the first few episodes, but I have to admit that her performance really grew on me throughout the show. She had great chemistry with both Harbour and Heaton, and she also managed to be compelling and heartbreaking as well)
Heaton- 4.5
Wolfhard- 4.5
McLaughlin-4
Materazzo- 4.5
Dyer- 4.5
Modine-3 (I felt his performance was rather limited, but his screen presence alone made him a menacing enough character)
Keery- 4

Calvin Law said...

If I had to give ratings,

Bobby Brown
Harbour - 5
Ryder - 5
Materazzo - 5
Heaton - 5
Wolfhard - 4.5
McLaughlin - 4.5
Dyer - 4.5
Modine - 3.5
Kerry - 3.5

Calvin Law said...

*Bobby Brown - 5

Giuseppe Fadda said...

I haven't finished Stranger Things yet, but I have to say I actually loved Ryder from the beginning. She is indeed a bit over-the-top but I think it's fitting to the character. The scene with the Christmas lights was breathtaking.

Varun Neermul said...

Louis, thoughts and ratings on Dunaway in Barfly

Anonymous said...

My kids (10 and 15) have been interested in watching Stranger Things, I would like to as well but can I ask everyone would it be suitable for them, what with there being a monster in it and all? also can I ask, whats the monster like?

Calvin Law said...

Anonymous: Hm, I would say that it's suitable in the same way that something like Gremlins, I'd consider, is suitable for children. In that though there's plenty of scary and intense moments, and peril, there's enough humorous and family-friendly moments to offset it. Besides the horror and some violence that can get quite disturbing, not so much in terms of graphic gore but more slime, etc, there's not much that's inappropriate besides one very brief buildup to a sex scene, and some swearing. The whole concept of the series on the whole, though, is quite mature, and I wouldn't consider it directed towards children in particular. I wouldn't worry too much though, try out the first episode and see what you think.

The monster itself is actually not that scary looking in itself, but the way it's presented can get quite intense.

RatedRStar said...

Calvin Law: You thought of your winning request lol I dont think anyone has put theres in yet xD?

RatedRStar said...

Calvin Law: Actually ignore that message I just saw the requests lol haha.

I honestly think that Michael Redgrave and Kevin Bacon would have been reviewed if they weren't requested, I mean there are really arent that many contenders in 1994 supporting and as for 51 Lead, I think Redgrave was as much a lock as what Howard was, of course I could be wrong so maybe best to be safe lol.

Calvin Law said...

I was originally going to request Howard, but Redgrave's since overtaken him for my 1951 win. Also, it's bloody hard to track down a copy of 'Outcast of the Islands', so I don't want to force Louis to locate one unless he's compelled to on his own, whereas 'The Browning Version' is very easily accessible.

RatedRStar said...

Calvin Law: Good point lol, its always safe to get people in, I guess I will have to rely on my Hong Kong instincts for my winning request.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: thoughts/ratings for Tom Waits in Ironweed and The Fisher King.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin:
I've found a copy.
https://archive.org/details/OutcastIslands

RatedRStar: I'll officially make my request around December or January and it's one of two performances from The Witch.

RatedRStar said...

Luke: Excellent =D

Could it be that actor who was on the UK version of The Office playing the most unlikable character ever in the whole series =D.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-2BFjSMVsU

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: My lips are sealed. :)

Calvin Law said...

Luke: Ah lovely. I have the DVD myself, but it's good to see it can be viewed online via archive.

Calvin Law said...

Unrelated but a re-watch of The Hateful Eight has pushed it to my 2015 win. Haynes and Mara are still my wins though.

Calvin Law said...

A re-watch of Carol or Fury Road could bump either back up though.

94dfk1 said...

The trailer for The Promise has been released. From the director of Hotel Rwanda and starring Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac. Isaac could make some noise during awards season, as he's been taking Hollywood by storm and he's due for a nomination after terrific performances in Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year and Ex Machina. We'll see whether he campaigns as Supporting or Lead.

The Free Fire trailer came out today as well, and it looks like it'll be really entertaining. Burn After Reading meets Reservoir Dogs. I know Louis isn't the biggest fan of hammy acting, but if Sharlto Copley plays it just right a la Oldman in Leon: The Professional, I could see him pop up in Alternate Best Supporting for 2017.

Live by Night also released it's first trailer. I could see this getting nods for Production Design, Costume Design, Editing, and maybe even a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, since crime movies have a good track record in that category. I hope the end result is closer to Donnie Brasco and Goodfellas rather than Gangster Squad and Public Enemies.

Matt Mustin said...

Every film Affleck has directed so far has received a nomination for acting, so I wouldn't count that out this time either.

RatedRStar said...

I am glad that a lot of Oscar contenders have got trailers now, please Silence, please release a trailer soon, Oscar trailers usually get released 3-4 months before the release date so it needs to happen soon.

94dfk1 said...

Matt: I could see Zoe Saldana get a nom for Best Supporting Actress. I think whether Gleeson gets nominated or not depends on the amount of screentime he has in the film.

RatedRStar: Passengers should definitely get a trailer by the time The Magnificent Seven comes out. Maybe they're being careful with the marketing for Silence, since it is pretty heavy material.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Very strong 4.5. I could easily upgrade him.

Ironweed - (What's not to like about some good old Waits. Waits manages to make a real impact despite being a truly side character. Waits though makes the alcoholic state of the character feel so vivid, and even though we don't spend much time with him , I really felt for him by the end.)

The Fisher King - (Not enough Waits. This is not a great role, and would be instantly forgettable with most actors. Waits can never be forgotten though, and adds a nice bit of Waits weirdness in his few minutes of screentime)

Anonymous:

Downright beautiful score. There is such majesty to it, yet with a certain unmistakable somber quality. It's grand though with this intimate mysterious aspect to it. Hearing the score instantly makes me think of the atmosphere of the film since it matches and amplifies the content so effectively.

Anonymous:

I have but that's a rather large cast. I will say most of the voices is the way I find that the character should naturally sound for the most part. There can be the occasional cheesy line reading, but for the most part the cast is uniformly solid.

Varun:

I feel as though I've covered Dunaway for that film before.