Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Best Supporting Actor 2016: Michael Shannon in Nocturnal Animals

Michael Shannon received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Lt. Bobby Andes in Nocturnal Animals.

Nocturnal Animals is a glossy hollow film about an art gallery owner Susan (Amy Adams) who receives a manuscript from her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), which was written from his heart, a broken heart no doubt!!!!

Nocturnal Animals tells two stories, one of the vapid woman who reads the manuscript and ponders on the vapid choices that lead to her vapidness. A wholly inert story filled with terrible overacting from the majority of the cast, awkward dialogue, a jump scare, and people in their late thirties as college students, which attempts to get by through asking the audience to think of what does it all mean??? We also are given the story of the manuscript about a man Tony (Gyllenhaal as well) whose family is abducted by three men after their car is run off an isolated rode. This half of the film is the stronger half, but that isn't saying much. Alone it is an excessively straight forward and derivative thriller. Anyways in the story Tony finds help in the local law enforcement and this is where Michael Shannon comes into the picture as the lawman tasked to try to help the man find his family. Now in the film there is an attempt by most of the supporting players to give a stylized performance a la a David Lynch film, and I don't like even mentioning Lynch's name in connection to this film since it fails so miserably to replicate that type of style.

Michael Shannon is a very good actor, though now if you only knew him by his Oscar nominations you'd think he only ever played quirky supporting roles in not very good films. He's capable of much more, but he does know how to make at least something out of weak material. Again there is that stylized quality to all the supporting performances and it is found in Shannon's work as well, he's just better at it. Shannon plays the Texan police officer who likes to get justice done his way. Shannon delivery automatically is a little atypical and plays it up here just a bit in his casual drawl as he investigates the disappearances that quickly are revealed to be murders. Shannon's a man with presence, a naturally intriguing one, to the point that you expect more from one of his characters even if there is very little to them. That does come in handy here just as Andes goes about asking Tony various questions about the crime. There is something naturally engaging about Shannon asking the questions with those steely eyes of his along with that slight lisp.

On that point I will admit upon my initial viewing of the film I found Michael Shannon to be the strongest element of the film, and perhaps that hasn't changed, yet it does not mean a great deal. This is not a great performance by Michael Shannon, though he is no way helped by the rote character he is given.  He's the gritty officer who has the occasional one liner to deliver some exposition, then later gets to go all Death Wish on the criminals to help the man avenge his family. There is little depth past that even his eventually revealed fatal cancer is more of there for a plot device to enable him to go full Death Wish. Shannon's task therefore is just to kind of be there to make some very banal notes sing. He does so by playing into the style, which does not make a realistic performance, but in a film where the tone doesn't work anyways, you have to take what you can get. Shannon is indeed somewhat entertaining in playing into the type, I have to say on re-watch his entertainment value decreased though, and I fear if I ever saw the film again its terribleness may infect his work all the more. I will also grant a bit of credit in that there is some nuance in his work. In the moment where he finds Tony's family, he grants a bit of emotion in his melancholy glance, after Tony inquires about his daughter's fate, and later offers some anguish behind the intensity as he says that he's changed indicating towards his fatal condition. It doesn't add up to all that much but I appreciate that it is there. He's mostly there to grumble out a few choice lines, which he does well enough, and give some deadly intense stares, which I'm pretty sure is Shannon's resting expression. It's not a great performance, but for me he at least offered something in an otherwise unpleasant experience.

87 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Ratings and thoughts on ATJ. Thoughts on Jackie and the cast.

1. Bridges
2. Ali
3. Hedges
4. Patel
5. Shannon

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What's your rating for Gyllenhaal now.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Seems like a fair enough rating. He did fine with an underwritten role. Also, please tell me you downgraded Gyllenhaal.

Psifonian said...

I just… I feel like I should write an itemized list of everything I didn’t like about "Nocturnal Animals", but a.) that’d be quite the long list, and b.) it’s not worth the effort. I genuinely don't understand how people could crap on someone like Refn for being "style over substance" and yet praise Ford, when his sins are far more egregious. Whoever denounces Refn for being a "perfume ad director" needs to take a long, hard look at this fucker. I always thought "A Single Man" was slight (good performance from Firth or no, it's little more than a beautifully shot and scored How-To video on grieving), but this... Jesus. I don't really know where to begin.

The Adams-centric storyline was so stilted and hamfisted, with none of her reactions feeling natural or real at all, and the bulk of her performance is looking pensive after reading a passage in a book. None of her interactions also sounded genuine at all ("Oh, I didn't know you had an ex-husband. Did you love him?" WHO TALKS LIKE THAT?). It was also horrendously edited to stall the Gyllenhaal-centric story at precisely the worst times imaginable. Which brings me to the Gyllenhaal stuff. Not only was police procedure laughable to the nth degree (a police lineup in the SAME room as the witness?!), but it was written like a C-minus pulp thriller, with many plot and character inconsistencies that made me wonder how it got published . . . unless it was self-published on the Internet. There. That must be it. Which I'd have no problem with, except Adams feels so brutally affected by the story, despite not even thinking about Edward for most of their twenty-year separation. And the addition of the stupid-ass jumpscares... oy.

When it comes to Shannon, I was massively disappointed. The guy has been so much better than in this one-dimensional part, one that feels like a pallid imitation of the brilliant work Jeff Bridges does with a similar archetype. Moreover, I find Shannon's performances this year to reveal something of a hypocrisy in him. Did you see his comments regarding Mark Rylance's win, and how Rylance "did nothing"? And yet, there is nothing of note or interest that Shannon conveys in any of his performances in 2016, including this one.

I know this isn't a particularly well-plotted or well-written critique on the film, but as "Nocturnal Animals" wasn't a particularly well-plotted or well-written (or well-anything) film, I don't really feel I need to put in the effort. It was an infuriating viewing experience, especially as someone who was actually looking forward to the project since it was announced.

P.S. Also, whoever decided Adams and Gyllenhaal could convincingly play college students AND a divorced couple nineteen years after the fact should be fired.

P.P.S. What the hell, Laura Linney?

Mitchell Murray said...

Shannon seems to give two types of performances depending on the movie: One is brooding and explosive (Boardwalk Empire, Man Of Steel), the other is quiet and compassionate (Most of his work with Jeff Nichols). His does both quite well but I favor the latter personally.

Is "Take Shelter" your favourite performance of his, Louis? It is mine.

Robert MacFarlane said...

His performance in Take Shelter dethroned Phoenix in The Master as my #1 Lead Actor of this decade.

Robert MacFarlane said...

@Psifonian: I think the shot of the corpses that looked like a perfume ad was the exact moment I wanted to set fire to the screen.

moviefilm said...

My prediction:
1) Jeff Bridges
2) Mahershala Ali
3) Lucas Hedges
4) Michael Shannon
5) Dev Patel

Charles Heiston said...

He'll rank last, A wasted nomination if you ask me.

Luke Higham said...

Charles: I'm not sure if Taylor-Johnson will be rated any better.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'll step up for Taylor-Johnson. It is undoubtedly a broad performance, but he is the only actor in the film who actively tries to give it any sort of tone. He does swing between campy and menacing, but given his surroundings, it's more than justified. Plus it's nice to see him with some actual energy instead of the sentient block of wood he usually is.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Give me a bit of time on Jackie, and Portman.

Taylor-Johnson - 2.5(I have to say if the re-watch hurt Shannon, it destroyed Taylor-Johnson's performance for me. There is the occasional second of brilliance where he captures this real seedy type of scum that feels wholly authentic and gets under you skin. Unfortunately he then quickly off-sets it with some Cletus the slacked jawed yokel nonsense that completely spoils the whole thing. I ponder if there is actually a great performance on a theoretical editing room floor, since there are hints of one.)

2.5(I'll be generous)

Psifonian:

I don't think I've ever been more baffled than hearing that people genuinely loved Linney's performance.

Mitchell:

Yes it is.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What would've been your ratings for Shannon and Taylor-Johnson on your initial viewing.

Psifonian said...

Louis, I actually compared Taylor-Johnson to Johnny Knoxville in "The Ringer," but Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel isn't far off the beaten path. There were times he was legitimately intriguing, but those times lasted all of two seconds before he did something clinically retarded.

As for Linney, her "performance" amounted to nothing but a beauty-queen bouffant and a baaaad Southern-belle impression. It's the worst thing I've ever seen her do, though, and this is a woman who was in "The Life of David Gale."

On that note, the accent work in this movie really frustrated me, too. The only person who I thought really got the accent right was Shannon, but that was pretty much the extent of his performance for me. People can crap on Jeff Bridges for basically recycling his Rooster Cogburn for "Hell or High Water" (which I thoroughly disagree with), but at least he brings something much more innate and lively there to enrich his character. Shannon, for whatever reason, failed to do that. "You look different." "I shaved." Good detective work there, Mike.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Don't be generous to Gyllenhaal. His line readings bordered on Star Wars prequels.

Charles Heiston said...

Gyllenhaal a 2.5? Very big disagreement, I'd downgrade him 2.5 more points.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I legitimately lost a lot of faith in him as an actor watching Nocturnal Animals. Every single moment is so miscalculated by him.

Luke Higham said...

I guess no one will be voting for him for Demolition then.

Luke Higham said...

My top 3 choices for Alternate Lead are:
Garfield (Silence)
Robert Downey Jr. (Captain America: Civil War)
Adam Driver (Paterson)

Michael McCarthy said...

1. Bridges
2. Ali
3. Hedges
4. Patel
5. Shannon

Deiner said...

I'm loving every single comment about how much you guys hated Nocturnal Animals, for real. I personally didn't hate it, but I can't say I loved it either. I must agree on the characters being one-dimensional / underdeveloped, Shannon included and 3.5 it's a perfect rating for his performance here.

Louis: I'd be surprised if you liked Portman in Jackie considering you usually don't care for her as an actress (Black Swan included).

Michael McCarthy said...

Also Louis, I really hope you love Jackie as much as I did as a film. I'm still a little shaken by it.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I really hope Ali takes this over Bridges for Louis, but it's slim. For me even with his abrupt exit, the absolute power of his scenes was more than enough. Juan was such a beautifully contradictory character, and a hard role to sell.

Deiner said...

Louis: Since he wasn't nominated (and I highly doubt you'll cover his performance in the Alternate Lineups) can you give your thoughts and rating on Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins?

Charles Heiston said...

No one out of these 5 will take the overall, Neeson for Silence will walk away the rightful winner.

Psifonian said...

Charles, I wouldn't count out any of the other "Silence" gents. Seems that there isn't a consensus on who was MVP. Some love Neeson, some love Ogata, some love Asano, some love Kubozuka. I'm very curious to know who I'll gravitate towards.

Luke Higham said...

Psifonian: Louis' given out 4.5s to the latter two.

Charles Heiston said...

Psifonian: When do you plan to see Silence and where? It won't release on any online rental services till Feb-March. I saw it in theater.

Psifonian said...

Charles: I'm getting married next week, and my soon-to-be-wife and I are making plans to see it on our honeymoon in Niagara. I wouldn't watch a screener of something I've been waiting for well over a decade to see.

As a side-note, Louis, one really cool thing I'd like to see here is a "recast the nominees" post where we, well, recast the nominees. For "Silence," let's say, I'd suggest Joaquin Phoenix and Oscar Isaac as Rodrigues and Garrpe (I pictured Phoenix back when I read the novel five or so years ago) and Daniel Day-Lewis as Ferreira (as he was initially tapped). Just an idea.

Charles Heiston said...

Psifonian: My brother refused to go see it in a theater, He said he'll watch it online or on video from Netflix or something, Pretty horrid choice.

Louis Morgan said...

I'll post my thoughts on Jackie tomorrow.

Robert:

Woah woah woah are telling me you have problem with the way he says the line "When Someone Loves you, you have to be careful with it!" because I do, and that's a line, what the heck.

Deiner:

Grant - 4(He's undoubtedly lead, but he is the best of that film. It's in his wheelhouse to be sure, but he plays well and alters enough to be period fitting so to speak. He keeps his Grantisms tempered in the right way, yet still is incredibly charming the role. He has just the right type of fun with particularly in his very particular reactions to when Florence's sings during the film. Grant also I feel managed to make his character's arrangement always seem honest, though it could be construed otherwise. Grant though makes his devotion to Florence always genuine as a very straight forward and heartfelt affection. It's a good performance, and I wouldn't minded if he had gotten in over Shannon.)

Luke:

I'll show my cards a bit, I'm reviewing Kubozuka, his performance has stayed with me too much not to.

Psifonian:

I'll keep that in mind.

I hope you get the chance to see in the theater, if there is a film that demands it, it's Silence.

Varun Neermul said...

1.Bridges
2.Ali
3.Patel
4.Shannon
5.Hedges

Giuseppe Fadda said...

I'm changing my prediction a bit:

1. Ali
2. Bridges
3. Patel
4. Hedges
5. Shannon

Giuseppe Fadda said...

Btw on a rewatch my admiration for Nocturnal Animals cooled down quite a lot. I still like certain elements of it (still love Aaron Taylor-Johnson), but others really aged badly with me (Linney, certain aspects of the screenplay).

omar said...

1. Ali
2. Bridges
3. Patel
4. Hedges
5. Shannon

Mike Hannigan said...

Fair enough, I think better of Shannon's performance (just imagine this terrible movie without him), but I like your comments on Taylor-Johnson. I think someone told him to play another version of Heath Ledger's Joker. Very bad performance, indeed, almost caricatured.

What are your thoughts of Laura Linney? I hardly believed she's the mother of Amy Adams, who is only 10 years senior, but I think she made the most of very poor material.

My line after Shannon's review:
1. Ali
2. Bridges
3. Hedges
4. Patel
5. Shannon

RatedRStar said...

Shannon was going to get a second nomination at some point so, I did like Shannon and I am glad he finally has a second nomination.

BTW if it is me and not me on my account then it means I am at work while typing this lol.

1.Bridges
2.Ali
3.Patel
4.Hedges
5.Shannon

Alex Marqués said...

1. Bridges
2. Ali
3. Hedged
4. Patel
5. Shannon

JackiBoyz said...

I would probably give him a 3.5 as well, maybe a 4, I did think Shannon was the best performer.

1. Bridges
2. Ali
3. Hedges
4. Patel
5. Shannon

Alex Marqués said...

Going by my initial reaction, I'd give Shannon a 4 at least, but I agree that his work really didn't amount to anything by the end (the movie's fault of course). Bridges performance was better, but we should remember he had a waaay better script to work with. Shannon did as well as anyone could with that part, at least for me. Then again, maybe I would like the movie less on rewatch (and I'm not a fan to begin with).

RatedRStar said...

Certain people seem to have mixed feelings towards Casey Affleck's performance, umm I wonder if that will apply to Louis, no no it cant be possible I must keep the thought in my head that it is the greatest year for lead ever, it must be... IT HAS TO BE lol =D.

Alex Marqués said...

@Psifonian First, congratulations!
Second, where did you find those comments about Rylance?

Mike Hannigan said...

Hey RatedRStar:

As I'm probably the main Affleck's hater here - but I have some arguments, I suppose - I'm also curious what Louis thinks. I would be particularly interested in confronting Affleck's performance with Robert Duvall's one man show in "Tender Mercies". Duvall was flawless in his minimalistic approach, very natural and believable, but in Affleck's character I see acting all the time.

Calvin Law said...

Yeah, I re-watched this too. I'll keep 4.5's for Shannon and ARK, but Jake has gone WAY down.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

1. Bridges
2. Ali
3. Hedges
4. Patel
5. Shannon

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Psifonian: Congratulations :)

Calvin Law said...

Oh yeah, congrats Psifonian. Missed that. As for Silence, my favourite of the supporting cast is now Kubozuka, but I still adore the performances of Neeson, Ogata, and Asano.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I can't help but feel Shannon's much better work in 99 Homes (which I give him a 4.5 for) contributed to him getting nominated this year.
Also, on Hacksaw Ridge. It's my second favorite film of the year, and Mel Gibson's directing choices are pure genius.

Garfield - 5 (If he is apparently better in Silence, then I am all the more excited. Garfield makes Doss so damn likable in an an endearing way, and I feel his accent worked perfectly. His performance in the first half of the film kind of reminded me of Montgomery Clift's all time great work in From Here to Eternity, and while he is great here, he's even better in the second half. His reactions were so spot on, and added a lot. I particularly loved his reaction when *spoiler* Smitty gets killed, and his brief crisis of faith before he becomes the legendary hero. Garfield totally makes this all believable without a hint of sanctimony, it's just great work.)
Hugo Weaving-4.5 (close to a 5. Weaving is brilliant here at showing a man who has never forgotten his past in the war, and his trauma is chillingly depicted as something that he can't help, yet shows a man who wants to change but can't)
Sam Worthington - 4 (Great work at showing hostility towards Doss for much of the film, and he eventually does break the act to show a man who cares for his men. His change in attitude towards Doss was also well lead up to and transitioned to, and his final scene with him was perfect)
Teresa Palmer-3.5 (Didn't have a lot to do, but she did have terrific chemistry with Garfield, and she hits the right emotional notes on regards to their relationship, even if there aren't too many of them)

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Vince Vaughn - 4 (One of his better performances. He is so damn good at being the intense drill sergeant, maybe not R Lee Ermey good, but that's a high bar to reach anyway. He sells his no nonsense attitude well, but I think my favorite scene of his is when he sympathetically tries to convince Doss to give up. His reactions in the battle scenes add so much, and Vaughn makes you believe in it all, this is a good performance)
Bracey - 4 (Bordering on a 4.5. He's really terrific at the beginning at showing his hostile attitude towards Doss, and he and Garfield have a great dynamic together. However, his performance gets all the stronger through his small reactions that indicate his changing attitude towards Doss. His best scene is his conversation with Doss in the hole, Bracey is great at showing the history of the man and how he became so bitter, and he shows his respect for Doss, which was skillfully built up by him.)

Calvin Law said...

If Weaving had like one or two more scenes, I'd probably give him a 5.

RatedRStar said...

Psifonian: Congrats as well :)


Trainspottings getting positive reviews, this is goodddd =D/

Calvin Law said...

RatedRStar: I'm really excited for that!

I'm writing about Dev Patel in Lion now and I'm realizing how much I really loved the film. I really hope Louis gives him a 4 at least.

Mike Hannigan said...

Calvin Law:

Don't put pressure on him:) I enjoyed the movie, too. I like Patel, he was charming and introverted enough, although I don't think he did anything special, anything more than the script required.

What do you think about Kidman? I'm not her biggest fan, but I was positively surprised. She has indeed some weird moments - a monologue about ghost seen when she was 12 plus dreadful hairstyles - but I like her reactions. It was sort of surprise for me that she is still able to show all the emotions on her face in such a beautiful way.

I would give Kidman 4. Patel is 3.5.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

I honestly did not think the monologue was weird. It's not really about ghosts, she just pictured in her head an image of her future. It's not that weird, and actually that scene is probably my favorite of the whole movie.

Mike Hannigan said...

Giuseppe:

The first part of her monologue when she explained why she had adopted Patel's character is indeed very strong. But at the end, I started to think if she's mentally stable. It wasn't the point, I guess.

But overall I like Kidman's performance.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

@Mike: obviously you're entitled to your opinion and I'm glad you enjoyed the performance :)

Robert MacFarlane said...

I actually found Patel to be the best thing about Lion. His performance showed a level of emotional maturity that I've never seen from him before.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I saw Manchester by the Sea for the first time. While I did like the film quite a lot, I did find it a bit too slow-paced at times. There were some passages in the movie where the flashbacks really had no cohesion. In spite of that, I really did appreciate Kenneth Lonergan's directorial efforts, even though I thought Patrick's subplot with his 2nd girlfriend was subpar.

Affleck-5 (Robert was spot on when he described it as one of the best portrayals of grief in recent memory. Affleck is so subtle and understated here, he could not have been more natural or believable. I'd say two of his scenes [which I don't want to talk about out of fear of spoiling] featured some of the best acting of the year. He's my #2 behind Viggo Mortensen)
Hedges-4.5 (While I do think the rock band and second girlfriend subplot seemed a bit poorly executed, I can't blame Hedges as he does hold those scenes and make them somewhat bearable. And outside of that, I thought he was great; he had an outstanding dynamic with Casey Affleck, and he is completely convincing as how a fairly ordinary teenager would react in his situation. On top of that, he handled his Boston accent well, which is something rather rare in regards to my film viewing experience)
Williams-4 (She doesn't have a lot of screen time, but in the brief time she has, she greatly depicts the tumultuous marriage that Randy and Lee have had. Her "big scene" may have belonged to Affleck in terms of impact, but she does hold her own and powerfully displays her character's regrets. Although I must note it would have been impossible for any actress to not be at least slightly overshadowed by Affleck's work)
Chandler-4 (He holds the flashback scenes well with Affleck, and they both create their big brother dynamic well enough. I wish the film had given him slightly more time in the flashbacks to explore his frustrating marriage with his ex-wife, as Chandler did give hints of it with one or two reactions.)
The rest of the cast was solid, and I didn't feel anyone detracted or diminished the strength of any scene. Affleck's performance is reason enough to watch it.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I do have to note that I'm far more lenient with my ratings of performances than most of you guys though, and I wouldn't be surprised if Hedges got a 4 or even a 3.5 from Louis.

Calvin Law said...

Mike: I thought she was tremendous too, and her scenes with Patel are the best scenes in the film.

Lezlie said...

Tahmeed interesting observations about Hacksaw Ridge, it seem to had the opposite effect on me :D

Well I found the film overall well-crafted, there were things that really bothered me about it. Firstly, some of the dialogue felt really cringy and phony, the overuse of unneeded slow motion annoyed me and about the acting...
I too think Garfield was really good here and deserving of a nomination, can't wait to see him in Silence. The rest of the cast were mostly fine if a bit one-note, at least some of them. However, my biggest disagreement with you is on Weaving's performance. For me, it was just waaay too over the top, and while I felt he found the right emotional notes, he just overdid the whole thing. For Garfield, I would give a 4.5, the rest of the cast a solid 3, and Weaving, well, a 2 at best for trying.

On the other hand, I found Hidden Figures a lot more enjoyable than I thought I would, I mean, sure, it wasn't anything groundbreaking but it was a nice little feelgood film that exceeded my expectations.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I dislike Hacksaw Ridge the more I think about it. It's unbearably hokey.

Calvin Law said...

I feel the 'phoniness' of the dialogue was intentional. Very much in the vein of one of those 40s, 50s earnest, All-American dramas. Plus unlike some of you I thought the whole cast sold them all, from Garfield to Palmer, and actually special credit to Sam Worthington. As I've said before, forgive me for interjecting whenever Hacksaw Ridge is discussed here, but it's a film I will defend forever.

Has anyone seen Free State of Jones, by the way? I seem to remember Matt saying he did.

Robert MacFarlane said...

In hindsight, Worthington was my favorite performance in it. He at least tLked like a believable human being.

Alex Marqués said...

Robert: I thought you really like Weaving. Your opinion about it has gotten so much worse, I remember when you said you liked when you saw it haha (I haven't seen it so can't comment)

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I have, it's an okay civil war drama with a really good performance from McConaughey and solid work from Ali and Mbatha-Raw.

Robert MacFarlane said...

@Alex: You're right, I forgot about Weaving. Thinking back, he did have a few overwrought moments, but I'll concede he was the most moving element in its best moments.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Robert: I actually like Hacksaw Ridge the more I think about it. While I admit that much of the cast's work wouldn't have fit well in a film with a different tone, but in this context I felt everything clicked effectively.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I just think Gibson's style as storyteller and filmmaker is just not for me, and I don't think it ever will be.

Alex Marqués said...

Has anyone seen "Breathe"? It's the second film Mélanie Laurent has directed, and I must say I was quite impressed by it.

Louis Morgan said...

On Jackie. You know after watching the film I must say that I am rather perplexed there were those pundits, who had seen the film, who began touting it as a film that was going to be a major player in several categories and that it was a done deal for Portman to win a second Oscar. As this film is very cold as biopics go especially, and the portrayal of Jackie is of a far more prickly figure than the typical depiction of an historical figure that leads to an Oscar winning performance.

Having said that I kind of loved the film, outside of a single nitpick which was this technique used a couple of times where the camera slowly turned from person to person rather than cutting between them or using a pan. Credit already needs to be given for covering just a period of a person's life, it is rare for the cradle to grave approach to actually work. This takes the most intriguing and rather effective approach of basically a series of painful memories that form a nightmare of sorts. I have a particular affection for that broken orchestra score, which I'm surprised the Academy went for, that was a subversion of more typical inspirational underscore. I found the film to be a most fascinating introspection in not only grief, survivor's guilt, and post traumatic stress, but also this idea of attempting to craft some digestible image for the public to take out of it all.

Portman - 5(This performance actually seems rather terrible on a cursory glance, and in a way Portman seems to play into her weaknesses as a performer. In that she has a very stilted walk and that voice seems most unnatural, as almost the image of a proper first lady. Portman ends up being rather brilliant by utilizing this idea into her work that in any given scene, depending on the audience, her performance drifts one way or another. Here's the most remarkable part of it though is that she also is doing almost a sub accent below the overt one, that comes out when she's in a more personal situation or most effectively when her grief causes her shell to break down a bit. I especially loved the procession of scenes with John Hurt where she begins full Mrs. Kennedy then slowly drifts out into Jackie. The same is true in her scenes with Crudup where she presents herself yet conveys the way her emotion forces a more natural presence to reveal itself occasionally, though she always attempts to build herself up again. It's an excellent technical exercise to be sure, but also in the end found it to be a powerful emotional work as well in those moments where she shows the real broken person behind the image of grace.)

Sarsgaard - 3.5(Rather appreciated that he underplayed the Massachusetts accent though still utilized it actually, and carefully avoided the dreaded Jeffrey Donovan in J. Edgar territory. Past that I felt he gave a rather affecting portrayal of someone suffering deeply yet just barely keeping it together to attempt to be the strength for someone else.)

Crudup - 3.5(I really liked his performance as he conveys so well the strange position of the reporter. I loved the unease in his attempts to try to find exact path in order to broach the subject without causing too much distress, while also portraying the certain silent recognition of a greater story as he hears her off the record parts of the story.)

Hurt - 3.5(Hurt seems perfect for a priest in this film as you won't find too much comfort from him, yet there is something rather compelling as he conveys the priests very careful attempts to console the widow.)

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What's your Lead Actress top 5.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: And I'm happy as hell that you felt she gave a really great performance for a change.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: With Portman's five, you're probably even more infuriated with Amy Adams snub.

Charles Heiston said...

I saw Free State of Jones awhile back in 2016, I don't recall much of it, I remember i didn't like it.

Psifonian: Sorry i missed that, Congratz.

RatedRStar: On a second viewing of Manchester By the Sea, My thoughts on Affleck have gone down a bit.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

@Psifonian: Congratulations!

Michael McCarthy said...

So glad you loved the film like I did, I especially agree about the score. I'd even say you're nitpick about the camera was something that worked for me as far as building tension.

Luke Higham said...

Michael McCarthy: I love the score as well. My favourite track is 'Walk To The Capitol'.

Alex Marqués said...

The composer is Mica Levi, who did an amazing job with the Under The Skin score.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

1. Emma Stone - La La Land
2. Natalie Portman - Jackie
3. Isabelle Huppert - Elle
4. Amy Adams - Arrival
5. Isabelle Huppert - Things To Come

Yes it is most unfortunate. A filler Streep nomination is always a bit tiresome, but in a great year for actress it is egregious.

Luke Higham said...

I hope Adams will get an upgrade as well.

Charles Heiston said...

Adam's snub was horrible at The Oscars.

Anonymous said...

Psifonian: Congratulations, pal.

Charles Heiston said...

Come on man, R.I.P Mary Tyler Moore.

Luke Higham said...

R.I.P. Mary Tyler Moore

Mike Hannigan said...

I've just seen "Hacksaw Ridge" which had some pretty good reviews here. Don't wanna review the movie, but Garfield's performance is very troublesome to me. For the half of the movie I was wondering if he's playing Forrest Gump's pall or something. I can see he's acting, that's the main problem. His accent, his looks, his body language - everything is very unnatural to me. He's like Ruffalo last year, ruining more or less realistic tone of the story.

Garfield is 2.5, the movie itself is bit too pompous as for my standards. Weaving was fine, though.

Michael Patison said...

Just realized I never made any predictions. I'm putting them here so they're more likely to be seen, but I'm making them after Ali's review, so count them only if you want, Louis.
1. Mahershala Ali
2. Jeff Bridges
3. Lucas Hedges
4. Michael Shannon
5. Dev Patel