Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Best Actor 2016: Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge

Andrew Garfield received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Private Desmond T. Doss in Hacksaw Ridge.

Hacksaw Ridge tells the unbelievable yet true story of Desmond Doss, a consciousness objector who went on to earn the medal of honor during World War II. Although I was a proponent of the film after my initial viewing of the film I have to say...................I am still just as supportive of the film.

Andrew Garfield, in a banner year, plays the first of his two roles of 2016 where his character's faith plays a pivotal role, though in rather different ways. The role of Desmond Doss is a challenging role though the type of challenge that one is rarely given credit for. The real Desmond Doss was a rather atypical sort of guy not just because of his heroics, but also just everything about him. Garfield intends to capture that personality that was Doss, which was unusual but that's who he was. Garfield doesn't just do a Virginian accent he does a rather thick one which is only fitting to the real Doss's very thick accent. He actually probably just eases it up just a bit to make it a little easier to hear him. Garfield is rather consistent in his use of the accent. He stays true to it and makes it natural to where his character is from. Garfield work though goes further though in his whole demeanor is defined by optimism. Garfield exudes just a general joy of existence in his Doss, which I'd say is most fitting to a man who can wear a smile on his face after describing removing blood from a man's eyes.

Hacksaw Ridge has received criticism for its supposed sentimental depiction of the early scenes of the film which take place in early 30's/40's Virginia. I would say this has been overstated most obviously because there is nothing sentimental about the depiction of Tom Doss (Hugo Weaving) a man permanently scarred by World War I, who lashes out against his family. After watching it again I also noticed that the thing that can most obviously be construed as corny is the depiction of Desmond's relationship with his girlfriend and later wife Dorothy (Teresa Palmer). The dialogue in these scenes is about as old fashioned as they come, though I must say I don't think this seems ill-fitting to Doss. Garfield matches it essentially by offering a truly sincere portrayal, giving every single hokey word coming from Doss's mouth as the truth at least from this guy who simply loves this woman. Garfield in these scenes does very much call back to an older Hollywood type of romantic, kind of a Henry Fonda in Young Mr. Lincoln quite honestly, and again it suits the character.

Again though this is not Garfield just playing a guy who is happy all the time, even if he tries to be happy all the time. We do see the scenes of him dealing with his alcoholic father who most commonly goes from fits of depression to fits of violent anger. In these scenes Garfield gives us a less openly positive Doss conveying the difficulty within the relationship. Garfield presents Desmond most often conveys a quiet troubled sympathy for his father, portraying almost a resistance to hate more than any direct affection for the man. Garfield does not avoid complication in Desmond rather he accentuates that optimism is basically his natural state, which is what he returns to if no other factors are present to dissuade the position. This feels essential to give an understanding to Desmond, particularly once the film moves onto his enlistment into the army where he attempts to join as a combat medic. As Desmond initially only faces the usual drill Sergeant treatment, Garfield again keeps his earnest approach to Desmond who takes this in stride.

This does not last though as Desmond is singled out when he openly refuses to carry a gun yet also refuses to be kicked out of the army based upon the usual grounds. Garfield delivers the needed honesty in Desmond's words and brings the powerful conviction that needs to be in Doss. After all the film is more about conviction than faith. Garfield makes all of his Desmond cohesive as a single man and the conviction in turn does not feel sanctimonious. There is instead a modesty in Garfield's portrayal of it, his major speech explaining his position Garfield with the right quiet eloquence rather than passionate grandstanding. He wears it with only an internalized pride, but never a boastful one. Garfield gives us a man whose goodness is wholly genuine yet I would not say simplified. In order to take his stand Desmond must endure purposeful mistreatment by the army, in an attempt to get him to quit or to pick up the rifle, they even go so far as to take legal action against him. Garfield is excellent because he doesn't simplify this, by showing Desmond does fully understand the severity of the situation. He portrays well the anguish of his treatment, suggesting that Desmond does suffer from the brutal way he is often treated, though he maintains always just that small spark of the man's nature even at his lowest point.

Doss earns his spot on the battlefield which is in no way a reward as the horrors of war quickly become evident on the titular hacksaw ridge where the Japanese troops are heavily fortified. Garfield is not always front and center given that the film covers the various facets of the battle though it always comes back to Doss. Garfield still maintains his position within the carnage though by offering an effective depiction of Doss dealing with the battle. He captures the wear of in his portrayal of Doss. He actually never really breaks down here at all instead excels in wearing it just beneath the surface as though Doss is absorbing it though not allowing it to overwhelm him. He helps to convey the intensity of the battle yet he also is convincing in giving us this man who would be willing to run back into the hell fire after all others have retreated in order to save wounded. This is when the focus does become closer on Garfield and he's great in essentially providing the connection to every moment of Doss's heroics. This is in Garfield still expressing fear of his reactions in the close calls with Japanese, the most minor joy in his face as he saves each man, the physical wear as he pushes himself to the limit, and most importantly the underlying passion that fuels the man in his seemingly impossible task. There are but a few moments after the perilous rescues. They are incredibly well used by Garfield. He does not give us a Doss who has given up, or one who has become filled with vanity over what he has done. Garfield instead gives us a man who has done good, yet has still been through hell in his haunted eyes. This is an exceptional performance, I don't mind saying it, especially since I quite honestly would find it difficult to see any other contemporary actor in this role, or seeing another approach that would have fit Desmond Doss. Although I wonder if he had an even greater work in 2016? Eh, I'll remain silent.

114 comments:

Luke Higham said...

YESSS :) 2 fives in the same year for Garfield.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Edge Of Seventeen and the cast.

And where would you rank Kidman overall for Supporting Actress.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is Weaving a 4.5.

Charles Heiston said...

A 5 for Garfield BABY! This is what i'm talking about! =D

Psifonian said...

Good man. This performance is on track for being the most underrated Best Actor nominee of the century already.

By the by, Anthony Perkins would've crushed it in a 1956 version of this film directed by William Wyler.

Luke Higham said...

Garfield would be my 2010s Norman Bates.

Charles Heiston said...

Yeah, If they remade Psycho again i'd pick Garfield as Norman Bates.

Charles Heiston said...

Oh, And Robert will not be happy about this.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Boo. Worse than Ruffalo last year.

Mitchell Murray said...

Holy hell.. Most of my predictions had Garfield at a 3 or 3.5, but wow.. I never expected Louis to like him this much.

Garfield as an actor I find capable but immature, with many of his performances having a few over wrought moments. His best work that I've seen would have to be 99 Homes. But after reading this, my curiosity has spiked.

94dfk1 said...

Unless Gosling also gets a 5 and Louis likes him more, RIP my predictions! :(

I was predicting a 4.5 for Garfield. I really did like his performance though.

Psifonian said...

"Robert MacFarlane said...
Boo. Worse than Ruffalo last year."

That was uncalled for.

Robert MacFarlane said...

@Psifonian: Worse than Redmayne last year!

Charles Heiston said...

Robert: That's going too far. As Norman Bates would say 'We all go a little mad sometimes' And i think that's what you're going.

Luke Higham said...

Armond White 2.0

Robert MacFarlane said...

WORSE THAN ERIC ROBERTS IN RUNAWAY TR

Okay, no, that one is going too far. But I do put him at the same level as Ruffalo and Redmayne as startlingly miscalculated work. When Tug Speedman played Simple Jack, at least he didn't get nominated for it.

Mike Hannigan said...

Louis: You're far too good for them this year. I'm starting to miss old harsh Louis, who was unaffected with much bigger boys than Garfield.

I heard some compliements about Garfield's work in "Silence", but haven't seen the movie yet. In "Hacksaw Ridge" he's nothing special, one dimentional and over-mannered in early scenes, at least in my opinion. But I hate this movie, to be honest. For me, Garfield is 2016 Ruffalo.

Mike Hannigan said...

...or Eddie "The Danish Girl" Redmayne

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your thoughts on Peter Cullen's voice work as the Predator?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

I really enjoyed Edge of Seventeen, it slightly reinvented the genre while fulfilling by being far better than most films in the genre, well done.

Steinfeld - 4.5(I could actually go higher. I thought her entire performance was absolutely pitch perfect. Her comedic timing was absolutely immaculate, and she managed to strike just the right balance in tone. In that she managed to be intolerable yet wholly endearing at the same time. I don't know exactly how she pulled it off, but she did. At the same time I felt she excelled in keeping the more dramatic undercurrent alive in her performance suggesting the very real angst in the character without making it feel unnatural to the rest of her more humorous performance. She gives a great performance.)

Harrelson - 4.5("I was actually just drafting my own suicide note just now", "You need to watch out for run-on sentences" Harrelson gives one of the funniest performances of 2016 with his downright hilarious acerbic or deadpan delivery. He creates such an amusing presence with the way he just exudes this quiet disdain and exasperation towards Steinfeld's Nadine. I will say he most effectively bridges the his character to the "real" version so to speak, in that the film essentially has the supporting characters slowly reveal themselves to be less the caricatures Nadine sees them in. Harrelson does this the best revealing his character's warmth in just such an elegant way while still maintaining just the right comedic undertones. "So I'm just come right out and say it, get out of the car".)

Jenner & Sedgwick 3.5/3(These two I find less effectively bridged the gap also were not as entertaining in caricature form either. I did find though they both did well in revealing the desperation of the "real" people they were, I thought Jenner in particular excelled in the final scenes particularly his confrontation with Steinfeld.)

Szeto - 3.5(Enjoyable in offering just a different kind of awkwardness that plays so well off of Steinfeld's performance. He's pretty good in just combining the right shyness with an over enthusiasm to make him a most peculiar mess.)

I'd rank Kidman sixth overall.

Yes.

Robert:

I guess my original prediction regarding what your opinion would be turned out to be right in the end.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: And where would you rank Steinfeld.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Fifth.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Would you say this has been a stronger year for Actresses than 2015.

Michael McCarthy said...

Go higher for Steinfeld. You know you want to.

Luke Higham said...

And Adams & Beckinsale. (Whenever you get the chance to watch it again)

Michael McCarthy said...

Also, I can see why someone would think Garfield was overwrought in Hacksaw Ridge, but I actually think he has some great subtle moments that make this performance really special. Like the way he laughs at the drill sergeant, he manages to make it the laughter of someone who is so unassuming but he can't help but be amused by someone trying so hard to be imposing, it never feels like actual mockery. There are other moments like that in his performance, but for some reason that's the one that's stayed with me the most.

Louis Morgan said...

Mike:

Well if they had nominated Jake Gyllenhaal, trust me, you would have seen old grumpy Louis again.

Anonymous:

Didn't know he voiced the Predator, but I have to admit I always found the predator speaking scenes to be extremely goofy.

Luke:

I'd say they are on an fairly even keel for me.

Charles Heiston said...

Matt: You remind me of Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda 'Don't call me stupid' hehe. =D

Mike Hannigan said...

Louis: Well, you still have Washington to maltreat :P

Matt Mustin said...

Charles: Huh?

Luke Higham said...

Mike: I think he's getting a positive review.

Mike Hannigan said...

Luke: He has never given a positive review of Washington's part. It's seemingly not his favourite actor. I don't wanna believe he likes this year's much over-the-top, one-man-show performance in a very theatrical fashion.

But after Garfield... everything is possible. :P

Luke Higham said...

Mike: Well, we'll see. A 4 rating is still positive in my book though.

Mike Hannigan said...

Luke: And what do you think about Denzel?

Psifonian said...

I'm 95% sure all five of these gents get 5s.

Luke Higham said...

I think it's easily the best performance he ever gave and I personally do like him, though his two oscar wins were undeserved in my opinion.

My favourite performance of his before Fences was Man on Fire and I would only give him a 4 for that.

Don't forget, Louis might not be a fan of an actor, yet still give them a five. E.g. Vanessa Redgrave, Spencer Tracy, Gregory Peck etc.

Luke Higham said...

In Psifonian, I trust.

Anonymous said...

Washington is definitely getting a 5 for Fences.

Michael McCarthy said...

I'm still holding to my ludicrous prediction that Washington is winning this lineup.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I think I'm predicting Denzel to take it for Louis too.

Psifonian said...

I think he'll ultimately go Mortensen (or Garfield), but Washington is a distinct possibility. It's definitely Denzel's finest hour and the only time I'd be fine with him winning from his nominations.

Charles Heiston said...

I think Louis will give Washington a 4. He was very 'Look at me, I'm acting' Louis will pick Viggo or Andrew i believe.

Luke Higham said...

Okay, I really want Denzel's review to come next.

Charles Heiston said...

Matt: I meant to say that to Mike.

Calvin Law said...

'I can't hear you...'

Powerful, powerful stuff.

Calvin Law said...

Also, love this review, but you know how much I love the film Louis :D

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Paterson is online.

RatedRStar said...

Best Year ever for lead everr duh da duh da da duh daaa =D very happy with this.

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Calvin Law said...

Oh yeah Louis, just read your comment on the last review...yeah The cameo was unnecessary but I treated it as a Tarantino sort of indulgence.

Calvin Law said...

Also I dunno people always says Denzel didn't deserve his two wins, but who should've won over him in 1989? Landau was category fraud, Ackroyd was a coattail nominee, Brando was forgettable. Aiello was really good but I'd still place Denz over him.

Then for Training Day, I sincerely believe he was better than Crowe, and Wilkinson, excellent as he was, was never gonna win. And since Crowe had that whole fuss about his behaviour, had it not gone to him it would've gone to...Will Smith, Ali. SEAN PENN I AM SAM.

Calvin Law said...

And lastly, blasphemy:

Desmond and Dorothy is my favourite on-screen romance of 2016.

Calvin Law said...

And Gary Cooper as Doss Sr.

L Rime said...

Luke:

Pretty sure Louis didn't like Tom Cruise at one point either. Which might as well be the knee jerk reaction everyone has when mentioning Cruise as a good actor. It's really easy to think he's not.

Though to be fair, he's been pretty consistent about Denzel over the years. Cruise changed his mind. Denzel never did.

Luke Higham said...

L Rime: Oh I agree, but if Louis does give him a 5, I highly doubt he's gonna be that positive again for any future performances.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Sweet, sweet vindication. I love the film and Garfield's work dearly. I actually think all these guys are going to get 5's now, although I'm not still sure about Gosling or Washington.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Calvin: Your favorite scene of Garfield's in Hacksaw Ridge and Silence

Calvin Law said...

Tahmeed:

HR: 'I can't hear you...'

Silence: Reflection in the pool of water.

Anonymous said...

I can see Denzel getting a 4 potentially a 4.5 but not a 5.

Michael McCarthy said...

I'm bizarrely confident in Denzel's chances for a 5, couldn't tell you why. And I know this is probably pushing it, but I'd love it if Louis loving Denzel in Fences caused Louis to see some of his past performances in a more positive light.

Also, I had a horrible dream last night that Louis upgraded Affleck to a 5 for Dawn of Justice.

Calvin Law said...

Yeah I have a good feeling about Denzel too. I know people who generally dislike him who found this to be a great performance.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: And he has played the role multiple times on stage, so he's had enough time getting to the heart of the character.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: Exactly. Though based on clips I've seen of the stage productions, he's actually varied his performance a lot for the silver screen.

Deiner said...

This is really surprising, considering a lot of people hated this film and Garfield. I even heard someone say this is the worst acting nominated performance in years! Really looking forward this film.

Off topic: does anybody knows in which post are Louis thoughts and ratings on the cast of Batman v. Superman?

Luke Higham said...

Deiner: I'll get you those thoughts momentarily.

Calvin Law said...

As a massive proponent for the film, I can understand hate for the film more than hate for Garfield, to be honest.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on BVS and the entire cast are missing. It was on the Finch/Macbeth review and it just disappeared.

Michael McCarthy said...

Maybe he's just trying to erase all of his memories of it?

Luke Higham said...

Michael: :)

Charles Heiston said...

Calvin: In the category of supporting 1989 Denzel was deserving. But overall...I'd pick Bruce Dern who was not nominated.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I really want Mortensen to be reviewed next.
Louis: Is it possible that you might upgrade Garfield for either 99 Homes or The Social Network?

Luke Higham said...

Tahmeed: I'd like to think that he could do for The Social Network, but he's 17th for 2010 and he's 20th for 99 Homes in 2015.

I'd rather have Mortensen reviewed after the next one or even last because it's a certainty that he's getting a five, whereas I'm less sure about Denzel and Ryan.

Anonymous said...

Viggo Mortensen always has the coolest reaction shots to his award nominations, always waving giddily or fist pumping like he did at SAG.

Anonymous said...

I love the cheer that Viggo got at the SAG awards lol.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

To the surprise of no one, La La Land wins PGA. YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!

Charles Heiston said...

La La Land with another big win.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Do you think Casey Affleck's personal life (those allegations) contributed to him losing SAG?

Luke Higham said...

Tahmeed: I've been re-watching Affleck and Washington's acceptance speeches from the globes and sag respectively and Brie Larson's reactions in presenting both could not be more different.

Charles Heiston said...

Luke: Haha, Glad you noticed.

Luke Higham said...

Charles: I can't see the academy ignoring the allegations against him now.

Charles Heiston said...

Luke: Me neither.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

While assault and abuse is unforgivable, I do believe that an actor's work must be viewed objectively regardless of their personal life. (Not to mention the charges were not proven in a court of law)
Just to note: won't be the first time Denzel wins after an actor's personal life fucked up their chances.

Luke Higham said...

Tahmeed: I agree, I said to Daniel a couple of years ago to separate the profession from the person when he was at war with Joaquin Phoenix and thankfully, he took my advice.

Luke Higham said...

Tahmeed: What happened with Russell Crowe was unfortunate, but what's done is done, even though my choice that year was Wilkinson.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Luke: I know, it's just that Russell Crowe was so much better than Washington that year. His performance still moves me to this day, so I didn't take his loss well at all back in the day xD. Even though my overall choice now, would be Gene Hackman.

RatedRStar said...

My choice would also have been Tom Wilkinson, its helps that In The Bedroom is the only great film in the 2001 Best Actor category so the actors are helped a lot more.

Now me and Joaquin Phoenix are secretly lovers =D.

Michael McCarthy said...

I would be really irritated if unsubstantiated claims were the reason Affleck loses the Oscar, but that's kind of personal to me since a person I'm close to was put in prison for a sex crime he didn't commit a few years back.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Michael: That's absolutely awful, I'm really sorry.

Luke Higham said...

Michael: Was an appeal put forward.

Michael McCarthy said...

Long story but he got out after a year. It happened a while back so it's not like a current event for me, I just get really pissed off when I hear about similar cases.

Luke Higham said...

Michael: Glad to hear that. :)

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Michael: Happy your friend got out :D.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear your friend got out.

Charles Heiston said...

Glad to hear that, Michael.

RatedRStar said...

Michael: That is good to hear =D

I honestly dont think that Denzel winning as anything to do with Affleck and the allegations, I simply think it is a case of Denzel being a huge star and the committee really gunning for him getting a 3rd Oscar.

Calvin Law said...

When it comes to awards show, I see them as basically rewarding the work of the artist, and not necessarily a commendation of the artist him or herself. Like, I think Polanski's scandal is definitely something that needs to be properly addressed at some point, but I don't deny him his Best Director win in 2002 because of that.

Charles Heiston said...

RatedRStar: I think it's a mix of both. Affleck's personal life will affect him like it did Crowe in 2001. Also as you said because they want to give him a 3rd Oscar. And rank him in the caliber of Day-Lewis and Streep. And i think a 3rd possibly could be a race-case.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Probably accidentally deleted it when getting rid of some spam.

Tahmeed:

No.

It is worth remembering Washington had never won a SAG before either so that probably gave him a boost. Though I will say a problem for Affleck, with those allegations, is that he's just not that charming of guy. As if that's weighing on a voters mind seeing him give a speech will no way change their mind, so the allegations probably did hurt him.

I personally wish they had no influence. One reason being it should be about the performance. The second reason being a lot of people are acting like he's definitely guilty, because he settled out of court, yet it's not that simple. One should never rush to judgment.

Charles Heiston said...

Louis: True.

Anonymous said...

Just watched split...hard not to give mcavoy a 5

RatedRStar said...

Casey Affleck is very shy, you could say he isn't charming lol I would say just very introverted and clearly uncomfortable with the spotlight.

Calvin Law said...

Yeah I hate that 'who'll give the best speech' thing. And yes, we shouldn't be too quick to judge.

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar:

Oh I'd agree that seems to be the case, he could be very charming in a different situation for all I know.

Think about James Mason, who seemed so terribly shy in interviews, yet could project confidence and charm so well on screen.

Calvin Law said...

'Probably accidentally deleted it when getting rid of some spam.'

Ideally that would happen to Jesse Eisenberg's performance and 'Martha' for all our minds.

Calvin Law said...

I think Ben Whishaw is the best example I can think of, quiet in big press junkets and stuff, but so incredibly witty and charming when in a one-on-one interview scenario.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Could you give quick thoughts on Affleck in BVS again, since he's the only decent thing about that crapfest.

RatedRStar said...

Louis: I am having nightmares about James Mason on Password again lol

Calvin: Ben Whishaw when he won the Bafta was adorably shy and witty lol

Michael McCarthy said...

Just watched Paterson and Elle. Elle was fascinating and I think I'd make Huppert my runner-up for lead actress. Paterson was an interesting enough film, I won't say I thought Driver gave an excellent performance but certainly a compelling one.

Charles Heiston said...

At this point i think Denzel has secured his 3rd Oscar since it seems like Affleck has been taken out of the race because of his personal life.

Louis Morgan said...

I may be crazy, and am predicting Washington to win, but I do think there is just an outside chance for Ryan Gosling. Now hear me out. If there is an actual race between Affleck and Washington and they split the votes enough Gosling could take the victory through "I love La La Land" ballots (where the voter just goes down the line for the film), though I do believe it to be unlikely.

Luke:

He does his very best to try to get that material to work, which is impossible, and worse is that Batman might be the most poorly written character in the film given how odd his personality is. Affleck does offer some gravitas and even gives the intensity for Batman, with even a bit of charm with the little we see of public Bruce Wayne. The film never helps him, but you can see that he probably could pull off a great Batman if left to his own devices.

Anonymous said...

Luke: Irons was also fine.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I didn't get enough of him to be honest.

Anonymous said...

Luke: But I think he did well with what he was given.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I'll give him a 3 and that's that.