Friday, 17 February 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2016: Ralph Ineson and Harvey Scrimshaw in The Witch

Ralph Ineson did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying William and Harvey Scrimshaw did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Caleb in The Witch.

The Witch is an effective atmospheric horror film, though I think they might confirm the supernatural far too early and one character decision later on makes no sense, about a man who decides to go off into the woods alone with his family after breaking off from his colony in early 1600's New England.

Ralph Ineson, the man with the amazing voice, plays William the patriarch of the family. The film opens as he is expelled from his colony for apparently having too puritanical view for even the puritans. He then takes his family off into the woods where they attempt to make a life for themselves secluded from the rest of the world. The Witch attempts to recreate period authentic dialogue which is a risky move to take this approach given it's kind of requiring a sort of Shakespearean performance but without the same well worn material to practice with. This approach though is successful in large part do to all the cast members effectively having a grasp on the dialogue. Not one of the actors struggles with it for more than a few words, and they make it sound wholly natural. Ineson though deserves special mention though for perhaps going full Shakespearean with how naturally the lines seem to flow from his mouth, though again it probably helps that his voice makes them all the more compelling. Ineson, and really the entire cast, Scrimshaw included, manage to merely seem of the period which helps in creating that creepy authenticity within the film.

We are introduced to the family in a rather cold way, and at times in the film it often feels we are given more of an uncomfortable association than an actual empathy with the group. We are kept at a purposeful distance from them. Ineson is effective early on in the film by depicting the sort of presence needed for such a man who is willing to risk the lives of his family for the sake of his skewed principles. Ineson though has this grandeur in himself in these scenes, an innate confidence of a man who is fervent in his beliefs. There is an unquestioned conviction in his eyes and his voice as he states he'd be rid of the colony. Scrimshaw in the early scenes has few lines though and depicts well just a scared boy in a difficult situation, creating the sense of confusion within the general fear of being forced to embark on their journey off into the bleak wilderness. Again a strong contrast against Ineson's portrayal of William which is filled with the pride of a zealot. There's notable scene early on as William leads his family in pray over their new land, and there feels an indulgence in his prayer as Ineson reflects more of praying for a glory to his "accomplishment" than to God.

Their attempt at independence goes very poorly very quickly as their crops fail to thrive, and the paranoia emerges when their youngest infant baby mysteriously disappears, through we as the audience know it has been abducted and killed by a witch. Scrimshaw's performance works very well in reflecting the simplicity of a boy's uncertainty. He presents Caleb's struggle well by providing the confused state that is only made more severe by his growing experiences of lust in addition to the uncertainty of their new life. Scrimshaw's work is very affecting by providing this tragic faulty attempt at bravery within this state. Now one slightly comforting element of sorts is his relationship with his older sister Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), although even this is problematic due those random thoughts of lust. Taylor-Joy and Scrimshaw an effective chemistry though at times where there appears to be an honest love between a brother and sister however brief, and even hidden beneath their other concerns. Scrimshaw and Taylor-Joy though still convey this connection, and even allusion to better times in the brief moments they speak without concern for their lives or their souls.

Ineson defines his performance by slowly becoming more sympathetic by essentially bringing William down to earth as the family's situation worsens. Ineson loses that passion of the zealot and trades it for a sad desperation. Ineson so well internalizes William's realization that he has made a terrible mistake for his family, and reveals just the man underneath the zealot. Ineson ends up showing particularly honest frustrations in the man as he tries to make peace between the ever growing divide between his family. I love that Ineson actually does not really stylize these moments but rather brings some honest humanity in portraying such realistic frustrations in William as he attempts calm the intensity within his family. The intensity only grows though when Caleb also disappears into the woods when he meets a witch in the forest. The scene is potentially ridiculous but the combination of horror and fascination portrayed by Scrimshaw grounds it. Eventually Caleb is found though he appears to be in a catatonic state. He eventually comes to which is a phenomenal piece of acting by Scrimshaw. There feels no performance, which makes it absolutely terrifying, as he first convulses to release an apple from his throat, then breaks into a hysterical prayer. Scrimshaw is absolutely haunting in bringing such a horrifying combination of this terrible glee, and terror as Caleb seems to give his own last rites before his sudden death.

William continues on as he attempts to still to bring them together even as his children and wife are at each other throats by accusing each other of witchcraft. Ineson continues to be so strong in the way he actually just keeps bringing William further from that pedestal he had initially placed himself upon. That pride is completely gone, and even though he's still far from a perfect man Ineson does reveal a genuine concern for his family. Ineson is particularly moving in the scene where William reveals he took and stole his wife's father's silver cup. A point of division between her and Thomasin because she thought Thomasin had taken it. Ineson is great in the scene as he so meekly reveals the truth and he shows William finally looking upon his own sin. There is the unfortunate scene where William locks all his remaining children in with the goat that they all believe may be demonic. It makes no sense not only because why would he put them in there, but it also isn't quite fitting to where Ineson has brought William to at this point in his arc. Frankly Ineson presents just a more reasonable man at this point, again this a case of not fulfilling the plot point, but Ineson's approach feels like the far better approach for the character. One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when we see Willliam praying for his family, this is because Ineson's delivery so different from the first prayer we saw. This one is without that zealotry, rather just a man who is actually pleading to God for help. Both Ralph Ineson and Harvey Scrimshaw give very compelling performances by crafting remarkably honest depictions of these two people. They do not excuse their work by genre or by the supernatural element. They give real people going through unreal events.

64 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Thank you Louis. I knew you'd take to the film and the performances.

Your thoughts on the direction, cinematography, art direction and ratings and thoughts on the rest of the cast.

Charles Heiston said...

I was hoping for a 5 for Ineson. But nonetheless a well suited review.

Robert MacFarlane said...

After having the big twist spoiled for me via memes, I'm not sure this movie is for me.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your top 5 Christopher Walken performances.

omar said...

Louis and everyone: What are your thoughts on the Song to Song trailer?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is Caleb's possession your favourite horror scene since 2000.

Luke Higham said...

Omar: I don't know, It has a terrific cast, but wasn't all that fussed on Malick's very recent work. I'll obviously watch it for Fassbender.

Luke Higham said...

These are probably 2 of the most gratifying requests I've made. I was very worried at one stage, when Louis saw Nocturnal Animals initially & feared my requests would push aside a possibly more deserving performance out of the running and Calvin's original opinion didn't help matters either.

Charles Heiston said...

Omar: It looks decent enough. Fassbender makes it a guarantee watch.

Alex Marqués said...

Luke: You did well requesting them, in part because I don't think the performances in this film usually get the praise they deserve along with the rest of elements in the film.

Luke Higham said...

Alex: Thank you very much. :)

I've had about 18 requests reviewed so far and none of them have gone under a 4. I hope McDowell in Caligula (Which is a gamble) doesn't break that trend.

Luke Higham said...

*15 requests reviewed so far

Luke Higham said...
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Luke Higham said...

Supporting Actor this year on paper looks incredibly exciting.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: Oh the good ol' days of somewhat appreciating NA.

I haven't checked out what it's like on paper, can someone give me a quick lowdown?

Luke Higham said...

Calvin:
Of the films we know of so far.

The Supporting casts of Dunkirk and Three Billboards
Luke Evans in Beauty And The Beast
Patrick Stewart in Logan
Adam Driver and Mark Hamill (could be Lead) in The Last Jedi
Dave Bautista and Kurt Russell in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
Harrison Ford & hopefully Bautista in Blade Runner 2049
Woody Harrelson in War For The Planet Of The Apes
Sharlto Copley in Free Fire

I'm just really hyped for the year in general to be honest.

Luke Higham said...

And Fassbender's definitely gonna be leading in Alien: Covenant.

Charles Heiston said...

Luke: It really doesn't seem as great as 2016 supporting. I'm not as hyped as you, sadly.

Luke Higham said...

Charles: That's fine, it's just my personal opinion. Anyway, it's only February and there are more films we won't know about until the Cannes, Venice and Toronto film festivals.

Luke Higham said...

Charles: Also, this time last year, I was only really excited about the Silence cast.

Do you think this year will have a much better blockbuster season.

Calvin Law said...

Have a friend who saw Logan, he says the central trio is downright brilliant.

Luke Higham said...
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Luke Higham said...

Calvin: Though I haven't seen it yet, I'm feeling very good about Jackman and Stewart's prospects of getting a five. With Keen, I've seen comparisons to Moretz in Kick-Ass, but she'll do really well I think.

Charles Heiston said...

Luke: I sense a better blockbuster season. But i was really hyped for Hell or High Water, Silence, Moonlight, Our Kind of Traitor, and other casts for supporting. While this year, only Dunkirk and Free Fire sort of match my enthusiasm.

Luke Higham said...

Charles: Well this time last year, I didn't take notice of Our Kind Of Traitor and especially Moonlight until later on in the year.

Luke Higham said...

Charles: And No Three Billboards, Neither In Bruges or Seven Psychopaths had a bad performance in them.

Charles Heiston said...

Luke: Same here, but nonetheless i found 2016 to be very strong for supporting actors.

Charles Heiston said...

Luke: To be honest, i have yet to hear about Three Billboards. Although i have heard of the rest you've mentioned.

Luke Higham said...

Charles: 2016 was another terrific year for Supporting Actor and a brilliant one for Acting in general.

Now I think at the beginning of this year, compared to last year, I'm more hyped, though it doesn't mean it will all meet or exceed expectations.

Charles Heiston said...

Luke: I just searched Three Billboards and it looks very promising. Seems like a great cast including Rockwell and Harrelson who were both used brilliantly in Seven Psychopaths. I'd be looking forward to it. But i doubt it will be as good as one of my favorite films of the 2010's, Seven Psychopaths. (Which i mentioned above)

Robert MacFarlane said...

I actually think Harrelson was a big weak link in Seven Psychopaths. Didn't find him threatening or funny.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Really Seven Psychopaths hasn't aged that well for me in general.

Charles Heiston said...

Robert: I find it to be a brilliant comedy that ranks up with In Bruges. But it's certainly not for everyone. What did you think of Walken and Rockwell?

Matt Mustin said...

I liked Seven Psychopaths a lot but it doesn't even compare to In Bruges.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Rockwell was originally my Supporting Actor win in 2012, but as time goes on his performance stays with me less and less. Walken is probably the most unimpeachable aspect in hindsight.

Luke Higham said...

In Bruge is infinitely better, but I like Seven Psychopaths a great deal as well.

Calvin Law said...

Seven Psychopaths has my favourite McDonagh performance, WALKEN, but In Bruges is undoubtedly the greater film.

Luke Higham said...

*In Bruges

Calvin Law said...

I don't think we'll find many contrary opinions, especially since it's Michael M's favourite film.

Calvin Law said...

And that Vietnamese monk/Walken monologue will stay with me forever even if the concept is a bit questionable.

Luke Higham said...

My favourite's a tie between Gleeson and Fiennes.

Charles Heiston said...

Calvin: Walken's performance is one of the strongest aspects i find in Seven Psychopaths. My favorite McDonagh performance too. Also my win for supporting 2012.

Calvin Law said...

Farrell used to be my MVP but I'm moving towards Gleeson as of late.

Calvin Law said...

Charles: Same, very easy win. Dwight Henry is probably my runner-up.

94dfk1 said...

I hated The Tree of Life but really liked The Thin Red Line so I'm not that well-versed when it comes to Malicks films. As it is, I'm not expecting much out of Song to Song. It has a great cast though.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Direction - (Eggers's direction is of course one the highlights of the film as he crafts such terrifying sequences only using the most sparing often minimalist approach to scenes. He never tries to scare with an quick edit, but rather builds to it in a most chilling fashion. Particular credit should be given for making a goat scary.)

Cinematography - (Not traditionally beautiful though very effective in crafting this sense of both openness yet isolation all the same.)

Art Direction - (Very strong in again minimalist yet so effective in conveying both the time but also the plainness of it all. There is something unnerving in the simplicity interestingly enough.)

Taylor-Joy - 4.5(She's very good in just giving a charming often unassuming performance as basically the "sane" one for much of the film. She's good though in reflecting basically her attempts to make the best of it, and even in the scene where she pretends to be a witch she's very good at playing into the joke so to speak. She's strong throughout though in again showing the very sane fear and growing concern as the situation worsens. The hardest side is the final portion, which may seem rushed but I find she pulls it off by portraying just how spent she is at the end.)

Dickie - 4(If you've seen Game of Thrones this performance does seem a little repetitive, using even the same vocal intonation when accusing a younger woman of something. But hey she's very good at being a nut job still, even if it was basically a reprise of Lysa Arryn.)

Grainger & Dawson - 4(The two are an extremely effective and creepy pair. They never over do it, though are very good at the moments where they're kind of full omen, but also still bring just enough of a humanity within still.)

Anonymous:

1. The Deer Hunter
2. Seven Psychopaths
3. The Dead Zone
4. Catch Me If You Can
5. Pulp Fiction

Luke Higham said...

Nice to see some love for the twins and Black Phillip.

Calvin Law said...

So 7 5's in supporting, not as great as last year but still pretty great.

Michael McCarthy said...

In Bruges is one of the only truly perfect films in my opinion (and yes it's my all-time favorite) but Seven Psychopaths is still a film I can watch over and over without getting tired of it. Rockwell gives my favorite performance in the film, but that's partly because I think the writing of Billy as a character is fascinating. He's a supporting character who's totally sure he's the lead of the film.

I'm also a fan of Harrelson's performance. His delivery of "Peace is for queers, and now you're gonna die," during Billy's final shootout monologue was absolutely flawless.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: Nothing's gonna top 2015 supporting.

Calvin Law said...

^that's one of my favourite lines. Interesting theory about Billy.

Also, Tom Waits' cameo rules.

Anonymous said...

Any predictions for who takes the overall?

Matt Mustin said...

Calvin: "You didn't think I was serious just because I carry a rabbit around?!"

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I'm going with Foster.

Calvin Law said...

Matt: That's a great one. My favourite 'we went around the country killing people who went around the country killing people'. Simple yet so darn effective.

Calvin Law said...

Anonymous: Foster, though Neill could upset.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: Was going to ask you on Neill's review, but might you/have you bumped Rachel House up to a 4 for Wilderpeople?

Charles Heiston said...

Luke: I think Foster will take the overall. With Neil or Kubozuka 2nd.

Luke Higham said...

It'll be great to win 2 predictions at once and be the 1st one to do so.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I hope Foster doesn't take it. Ali, Skarsgärd, and the Sielnce trio were so, so much better in my book.

Michael McCarthy said...

I'm rooting for anyone but Kubozuka. And the more I think about it, the more I really hope Ali makes the top 5.

Charles Heiston said...

Robert: I agree. Although i didn't think Foster was bad, (He was good in my opinion) I hope Neil or one of the Silence castmembers take it.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Yeah, I don't think Foster is bad, I just don't think his performance lived up to the hype.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

By comparing the reviews, this is what I'd say the top 5 will look like:
1. Foster
2. Neill
3. Ali
4. Neeson
5. Kubozuka/Ogata