Monday, 30 October 2017

Alternate Best Actor 1988: John Neville in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

John Neville did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying the titular character in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a rather enjoyable fantastical adventure film following the Baron through his proclaimed travels that are more than a little farfetched.

John Neville throughout his film career mostly played minor roles with this film being a notable exception. It seems that Neville intended to make the most of that opportunity given the performance he grants any viewer of this film. Neville seems to call upon his inner C. Aubrey Smith to create the legendary, in his own words, Baron Munchausen. We initially meet the character as he introduces himself during a play about his life, which the elderly Baron does not approve of. Although Neville is highly enjoyable in delivering a most refined series of disapproving scoffs towards those failing to properly produce a play on his life, along with some particularly lustful glances towards the young women in the play, this is but a warm up to full force of Neville's performance as the titular man. This comes as the Baron tells the story of one of his previous exploits, that incurred a war with the Turks going on still during the play's performance, which in turns leads to a new adventure by the Baron. This somehow also returns him to a more youthful appearance and we are granted the undiluted legend by John Neville.

Neville's performance here is a sort of marvel in his crafting of the outrageous Baron. This is a full bodied performance in every sense as he makes no waste of his vibrant costuming, or his gigantic nose embracing them fully. What Neville does though is match all that with the sheer spirit of his portrayal of the Baron. Neville's work is of a legend in the making as there is such a grandeur to every aspect of work. This is from his posture that seems almost excessively straight proper for a real man of the very highest order. Any single gesture in the entirety of Neville's performance is something worth noting because it is though he is posing for a painting of a great hero in every moment, in any swing of the sword or moment of declaring one thing or another. Neville performs not as a man on top the world, but actually far above it. In terms of his physical work though my favorite aspect probably is that glorious mile wide grin Neville brings to the part. It is magnificent and fitting to a man who lives life in a way that no one else possibly could.

John Neville continues his marvelous approach though in his magnificent deliveries throughout the film. Again the grander the better seems to be Neville's idea here and I'm inclined to agree. In almost every statement, particularly those when it comes to naming his next move as an adventurer or even more so when he is speaking about his own greatness, Neville grants them a booming boasting voice filled with such overwhelming confidence. Neville grants this earned confidence almost in way through the sheer refinement of it all, since you must just accept that he know what he's doing, and what he says is true since it all sounds just so good coming out of that golden throat of his. Neville fashions in his performance a man who in all of his facets as a man matches the nature of the stories he tells, and the story we witness him in. Neville is downright amazing as his performance is somehow never overshadowed by director Terry Gilliam's outrageous vision. Neville instead brilliantly stands on top of it at every turn since somehow the Baron just seems a bit more than even the most wildest of his "dreams". 

This is actually a rather curious performance to follow for such an adventure film as more often we follow a hero who isn't really use to the insanity, yes this is partially represented through the Baron's stowaway sidekick Sally (Sarah Polley), but the Baron is the true lead. The Baron is atypical since rather than discovering these various incredible places and people, the Baron is fashioning them in a way. Neville's performance though makes this absolutely work for this film in going about amplifying everything through the daring of approach that matches the daring of the Baron. Neville's performance is a performance that is simply so much fun to watch given how well he captures the style of this insane character. It becomes quite entertaining just to go along with him in this way where Neville offers such great spirit in every action scene by portraying a man who just lives for it all. I also do love his just ever so slightly altered approach when a woman comes along as he depicts the same overwhelming enthusiasm yet adjusts it to a lower key charm, well a lower key charm for the Baron it's still pretty outrageous for the average man. Neville is also consistently hilarious so often in this unabashed take, I have particular affection for his completely without shame delivery of "Yes" after one of his old servants accuses the Baron of having left him to rot in a cage yet still expects him to follow him. Neville makes it convincing that the servant would still follow the unrepentant Baron since his charisma is a bit magical. This is not a performance about a character arc, really the only thing that occasionally happens is the Baron gets down on himself and occasionally seems to accept his demise. Neville doesn't make these moments too serious showing them more of just a grumpy reaction to a potential reality setting in than a true loss of the man's spirit. That's just fine though as the film is entirely about going for the grand gestures in every respect, and Neville's whole performance is a singular grand gesture. I loved every second of this performance by John Neville as he simply becomes a man who perhaps died on more than a few occasions, but don't worry he's always alright in the end.

52 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Love this performance and I'm relieved you gave him a five.
Louis: Thoughts on the cast.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Do you think John Hurt would've been perfect for this role.

houndtang said...

An under-rated film and Neville was very good. I think Peter O'Toole was the original choice. - it's easy to imagine him in the part.

Anonymous said...

Louis: your top 10 judy parfitt and john ritter acting moments

Charles Heiston said...

LOVE this performance. I'm glad they chose him for the part, although O'Toole would've been great too.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Your 90s and 00s cast for Rogue One?

Henry W said...

Terrific performance he gave. Wonderful.

Btw, guys, what are some actors that don't need to do ANYTHING and still affect you. Like they could be just staring at something and their stares are so electric. Basically, who are the most effortlessly powerful actors?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Well, House of Cards has been cancelled.
At least sexual abuse allegations brought down one (albeit fictional) US president.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Which of Stranger Things's seasons do you like more, and your top 5 Winona Ryder and David Harbour moments.

Anonymous said...

Henry W: Clint Eastwood.
Louis: Your thoughts on this Dirty Harry scene:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ertFbWNOQas

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Polley - 4.5(To begin with she gives a nice charming turn that manages to be endearing when such a sidekick can easily go quite wrong. I quite enjoyed her performance as I found she made for a pretty good "straight man" against the Baron and everyone else for the matter. As opposed to say Craig Warnock in Time Bandits whose decent yet he often just blends in, I found Polley managed to often stand out well in portraying her own moments of disbelief and especially her direct frustrations towards the Baron whenever he gets distracted.)

Pryce - 3(Does a decent bit of sleaze, though I'm not quite sure what he was doing exactly with his accent but honestly that works just fine considering the semi-ambiguous setting of the film.)

Reed - 3(For Reed as a violently angry Vulcan I guess I was a little disappointed by him here, just because I expected a whole lot more. He's still amusing enough, but eh with that casting I think this could have been better on his end.)

Williams - 3(His performance is amusing enough even if it definitely feels like Robin Williams shtick time then truly becoming the character of the King of the Moon so to speak.)

Cortese - 3.5(Unlike Cortese who I thought managed to be fairly amusing while still managing to temper enough to embody the crazy fantasy character in a way that Williams doesn't quite do so.)

Purvis, McKeown, Dennis - 3(All enjoyable in their small little ways, though they are a bit overshadowed by Polley, Neville and Idle.)

Thurman - 2.5(She's fine but I can't quite say she's really there for her great acting ability in this instance.)

I'll save Idle for the time being.

I'm sure Hurt, and especially O'Toole, would've been very good, but Neville was perfect.

Anonymous:

I've only a seen a couple of films each from them, so top ten isn't ideal.

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

90's:

Jyn Erso: Joanne Whalley
Cassian: Antonio Banderas
Krennic: Jeremy Irons
Chirrut: Sonny Chiba
Baze: Ken Takakura
Bodhi: Alexander Siddig
Saw Gerrera: John Amos
Galen: Rutger Hauer

00's:

Jyn Erso: Kate Beckinsale
Cassian: Benicio Del Toro
Krennic: Hugh Laurie
Chirrut: Jackie Chan
Baze: Chow Yun-Fat
Bodhi: Irrfan Khan
Saw Gerrera: Yaphet Kotto
Galen: Ciaran Hinds

Tahmeed:

I'd say the First Season perhaps was more cohesive in terms of the three story strands, where is say the Jonathan/Nancy strand this time around wasn't all the strong, however I found other aspects just as a strong if not stronger in that regard as well. In addition I'd say the budget helped in created more effective set pieces particularly I felt in terms of the climax. Overall they were basically on more or less an even keel for me.

Harbour:

1. Flashbacks while rescuing Will
2. Message to Eleven
3. Bar Scene
4. Fight With Eleven
5. Making a deal

Ryder:

1. Debating Arctor - A Scanner Darkly
2. New-Path - A Scanner Darkly
3. Visiting Will's hideaway - Stranger Things
4. Seeing Donna - A Scanner Darkly
5. A Certain Agreement - The Age of Innocence

Anonymous:

It's one of the few scenes where Eastwood actually seems awake in that film and we get a little bit of classic Harry, even if the reactions by both prisoners are just a little over the top.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Thanks! I like the choices for Galen and Jyn in each.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on You'll Never Walk Alone from Carousel.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the shaky camera technique.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Are Waterston and McBride still 4s for Alien: Covenant. If not, what's their new rating.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Is The Man Who Killed Don Quixote one of your most anticipated films of 2018.

Omar Franini said...

Louis: your thoughts on the I,Tonya trailer?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Haven't seen Carousel.

I'd lower Waterston to a 3.5, McBride's still a 3.5.

Well given that The Zero Theorem felt like an upswing for him, yes, also given its most difficult development process one has to hope for the best.

Anonymous:

In the most general sense I hate it. It is so often used by directors to cover up their inability to direct truly kinetic actions scenes, or sometimes just direct a normal scene by making it look "real". It's one of the most misused techniques around and often just feels like lazy film making. I will say I don't think I even like it all that much even when it's used properly since I don't think it is required to make something seem like a documentary or to make an action scene truly visceral. For the latter there are many others ways, and for the former the just slightly less than perfect camera work used by say William Friedkin in The French Connection is far more effective than full blown shaky cam.

Omar:

Well just for the teaser it seems to be the approach to the material I wanted, which is a satirical somewhat irreverent subversion of the traditional sports movie. Looks very promising particularly for Janney's and Robbie's performances.

John Smith said...

Rewatching 'American Beauty'. Seeing Spacey portraying this character is really weird now hahaha. I keep looking at the ceiling when he talks to Jane's friend.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your rating for Sean Penn in Bad Boys.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: And Denzel Washington in Remember The Titans.

Anonymous said...

Just before the awards season starts Louis what are your updated acting lineup predictions?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Penn - 2.5(He doesn't have many performances I'd consider wholly good, but he will have good moments in overall unsuccessful turns.)

Washington - 3.5

Anonymous:

Best Actor:

Gary Oldman - Darkest Hour (Winner)
Daniel Day-Lewis - Phantom Thread
Harry Dean Stanton - Lucky
Jake Gyllenhaal - Stronger
Chadwick Boseman - Marshall

Best Actress:

Meryl Streep - The Post (Winner)
France McDormand - Three Billboards
Saoirse Ronan - Lady Bird
Emma Stone - The Battle of the Sexes
Margot Robbie - I, Tonya

Best Supporting Actor:

Willem Dafoe - The Florida Project (Winner)
Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards
Mark Rylance - Dunkirk
Ben Mendelsohn - Darkest Hour
Steve Carell - Battle of the Sexes (He's officially moved)

Best Supporting Actress:

Allison Janney - I, Tonya (Winner)
Laurie Metcalf - Lady Bird
Kristin Scott Thomas - Darkest Hour
Melissa Leo - Novitiate
Holly Hunter - The Big Sick

I'd replace Hunter with Vicky Krieps, however she's currently being pushed lead.

Luke Higham said...

I hope Rylance gets in, because I can't see him getting reviewed otherwise.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What percentage would you give Nolan and Dunkirk in winning for Director and Picture respectively.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Well at this stage hard to go about throwing percentages out however I would give him probably a good 60% for director since Dunkirk is seen as such a director's achievement the same way Gravity, The Revenant and La La Land were. I'd say 35% for picture at the moment, though it is strong in the running, it can win, splitting seems to be a trend, and I could see that happening with Dunkirk (though I don't know the alternative yet.)

Calvin Law said...

Praying for Poulter to somehow get in. I'd love to see Rockwell and Stanton get in though.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Detriot could get revived by industry precursors, however the backlash against it almost instantly became louder than the praise for the film, which incidentally also made Zero Dark Thirty merely a secondary contender last time. Sadly if Poulter even got in at say SAG or BAFTA, that backlash would probably get strengthened all the more, and prevent an Oscar nomination for him.

Omar Franini said...

Louis: talking about Detroit, is Boyega still saved? And could Algee Smith go up to a 4,5?

Robert MacFarlane said...

I think you're drastically underestimating CMBYN's chances in the acting categories. Also, I've heard some stories about The Post's early screenings, and... there's a reason we haven't gotten a trailer yet,

Calvin Law said...

Robert: I think the best shot for Call Me By Your Name is in Stuhlbarg. Hammer and Chalamet are excellent but I would say they have things against them (category confusion, and youth), whereas Stuhlbarg, despite having a much smaller role, has quite an Oscar-y one as well. In a different year I'd even say he could win.

Louis Morgan said...

Omar:

Yes to both.

Robert:

Well I'll believe Chalamet when it happens since the academy doesn't mind ignoring young leads, despite what some of his supporters say who have almost a cult like admiration towards his performance.

Right now I'm not predicting Stuhlbarg or Hammer since neither have been singled out, yet. If the precursors start selecting just one of them I'll start predicting that one.

Anonymous said...

When does awards season technically begin, like what is the first awards ceremony where you go "the journey has begun"

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Although there is usually a few before I really feel it starts with New York Film Critics.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I think the NBR and NYFCC winners will be announced at the very end of November/beginning of December and the Golden Globes on the 7th of January.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I think Chalamet will get in the same way Eisenberg got in for The Social Network. It was an acclaimed performance, but the only way Eisenberg got in was because the film was such a huge contender. I believe CMBYN is going to be a MASSIVE player, so I think he's definitely in.

As for the supporting players, I can definitely see Hammer snubbed, but Stuhlbarg feels like the only sure-bet Supporting contender this year outside of Dafoe and Rockwell. Fatherly roles are popular in the category, and his big speech at the end is mentioned about in ever rave as a high point for the film.

Calvin Law said...

I wouldn't say Rockwell's all that sure a bet yet. He's gotten praise for Three Billboards and is great, but most of the attention seems to have been focused on McDormand.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Calvin: He's being predicted by every Oscar pundit. There's an "overdue" narrative that's been going around on Twitter lately.

Calvin Law said...

Robert: Didn't know that, that's great to hear.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

Well it will be interesting to see how industry awards respond to it, since I do think it will probably win plenty of Critic's prizes, as will Chalamet. What gives me pause, in terms of predictions, is the age of consent facet, which could potentially hurt its chances. Although I'll admit it is difficult to not predict it for Best Picture merely based on the nature of Adapted Screenplay this year.

Anonymous said...

Do the academy really think of Rockwell as overdue? I certainly hope so.

Calvin Law said...

Anonymous: I don't think he's ever really been a contender in the past, but he could definitely have a narrative going as the unheralded character actor.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: The only time he was ever in contention was for Conviction.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: have you ever watched Freaks and Geeks?

Louis Morgan said...

Nein

Calvin Law said...

Yeah, I'm watching it now and it really wouldn't be your thing (though I'm digging it).

Luke Higham said...

Guys, could you make a list of TV shows that you wish were never cancelled and reached their conclusions.

For me, Deadwood, Hannibal and Rome come to mind.

Nguyễn Ngọc Toàn said...

Louis: Your thought about Tatsuya Nakadai in Human Condition: A soldier's prayer.

Luke Higham said...

Nguyen Ngoc Toan: He's reviewing him for 1961.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your ratings for Tom Cruise in Taps and Top Gun.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your rating and thoughts on Keith David in The Nice Guys.