Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2005: Jeffrey Wright in Broken Flowers

Jeffrey Wright did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Winston in Broken Flowers.

Broken Flowers is an enjoyable and moving film about the an old womanizer aptly named Don Johnston (Bill Murray) trying to discover which of his old flames sent him a letter indicating that they had a son together.

Jeffrey Wright is one of those actors who is always already giving very interesting performances, yet always flies under the radar for one reason or another, though that may be changing at least at the TV level due to his outstanding work Westworld, but I digress. Wright here plays the neighbor and friend to Bill Murray's Don. His character is a very amateur detective who loves crime fiction, and who takes a particular interest in the letter sent to Murray's character. The character is technically here to serve the purpose of sending Murray on his mission of sorts, and he in turns bookends the film with his "investigation". In perhaps the style of director Jim Jarmusch no one can simply serve just a purpose there always has to be more than that, there is certainly more than that to be had with Winston particularly with Wright in the role. Wright is a delight, and hey that rhymes but don't pay too much attention that statement. The point is though that Wright certainly makes Winston quite a character to say the least, which is not saying enough in this case.

Wright plays the part with a somewhat overt, though I wouldn't quite say broad accent, that already fills Winston with an abundance of color from the outset. Wright absolutely makes this accent his own and just adds to the very idea of Winston is this somewhat kooky neighbor. Wright plays the part as one almost completely comedic side of this dramatic comedy, most of the other major characters are filled with more than a little pathos in one way or another, offers the right presence with that in mind. There's a real sense of fun that Wright brings as he shows so much honest enthusiasm in Winston going about the task of investigating the letter and cracking the case. I love just how brightly optimistic Wright is throughout his performance that plays off Murray's dour style so well. Wright is quite amusing because of just how earnest he makes Winston in every moment as he dissects the case for Don, as though he really is in the middle of a truly important situation. This is all with this unabashed sweetness to Wright's work that presents Winston as a friend who only wants to help his friend, even if he perhaps gets too much joy out of the investigation itself. He's especially effective in realizing that in a moment near the end of the film, as Wright infuses such genuine concern as he apologizes for the problems he inadvertently causes. Wright isn't in the film all that much, though I enjoyed every minute he appeared and missed him when we left him. This is a role that could have been easily overblown but Wright finds just the right approach to make Winston only ever one endearing screwball.

18 comments:

Robert MacFarlane said...

1. Min-Sik
2. Massoud
3. Reeves
4. Murphy
5. Wright

Luke Higham said...

1. Min-Sik (5)
2. Massoud (5)
3. Murphy (4.5)
4. Reeves (4/4.5)
5. Wright

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Though I completely trust your judgement, if you are reviewing Massoud and Norton next, please watch the Director's cut instead of the theatrical cut.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

I've never heard anyone prefer the theatrical cut, so I'll definitely be viewing the director's cut.

Calvin Law said...

You should definitely see Angels in America Louis, I hear Wright, Pacing and Streep all give career-best work in that.

Calvin Law said...

1. Massoud
2. Min-sik
3. Reeves
4. Murphy
5. Wright

Matt Mustin said...

Calvin: Wright is amazing in that. I haven't watched the whole miniseries (I have read the play though) but the scenes I've seen from him are extraordinary.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

Completely agree with everything here. I find the movie very problematic bit he's funny and endearing.

94dfk1 said...

Louis: Has Aliens improved your view of James Cameron as a filmmaker? I've noticed that you're not a big fan of his, and I just read your Film Thoughts post on the movie.

Anonymous said...

Angels In America looks like a series in which nearly everyone seems to be great in it, look at all of those Emmy acting nominations!!

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your top 10 favorite films of the decade so far.

Alex Marqués said...

Mary Louise Parker is a standout in Angels in America as well.

Anonymous said...

Who gives the worst performance in Angels In America?

Alex Marqués said...

It's been a while since I saw the first episides, but I don't remember anyone giving a bad performance.

Alex Marqués said...

episodes*

RatedRStar said...

I really loved Angels in America when I last saw it, I think all of the main cast members were quite good.

RatedRStar said...

I could see a lot of people hating it though and using the heavy handed tag to describe it.

Louis Morgan said...

94dk1:

No, I just really like Aliens, though I am open to revisiting the Terminators, but nothing will change my mind on his last two efforts.

Tahmeed:

1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Drive
3. Birdman
4. I Saw the Devil
5. Skyfall
6. Snowpiercer
7. The Wolf of Wall Street
8. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
9. The Social Network
10. Inside Llewyn Davis