Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Alternate Best Actor 2010: Martin Sheen in The Way

Martin Sheen did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Dr. Thomas "Tom" Avery in The Way.

The Way is fairly predictable however I ended quite liking the film in its inspirational intentions following a father following his deceased son's footsteps by taking a pilgrimage on an ancient spiritual tale that his son died on.

Martin Sheen after his period during the 70's as a leading man came to become perhaps best known mostly for often unassuming supporting roles in terms of his cinematic output. This is a notable exception naturally coming from a collaboration with his son Emilio Estevez as the film's director. Incidentally though the last time I covered a Sheen performance was also in a film about a rather different kind of trek in Apocalypse Now, however this one seems to evoke an attempt to transcend towards a certain heaven rather than a descent into hell. In a film about such a journey though we don't begin with Martin Sheen's Tom Avery as a deeply unhappy man. Instead we just see him briefly living his life, and Sheen shows him just to be an affable enough man before being devastated from hearing about the sudden death of his son Daniel (played by Estevez of course). Sheen is terrific though in portraying the sheer weight of his original sorrows from hearing about the death of his son. Sheen is moving yet he carefully approaches these scenes in showing just how lonely and cold the sadness in the scene. He internalizes very effectively by portraying directly the way all Tom can feel over this and his relationship with his son is that sorrow. Sheen establishes well this state of Tom's grief before and while he collects his son's remains in Europe.

In Europe though he discovers how his son died, and decides to help him finish the way of St. James by taking his ashes while walking it himself. On the journey I must say how much I appreciated Sheen's performance because of how he does not allow the film to veer off into excessively sentimental or corny material. Naturally there are elements to basically turn this film into that sort of thing as par for the course he comes across a few other pilgrims including an acerbic chain smoking divorcee Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger), a goofy Dutchman Joost (Yorick van Wageningen), and a slightly daffy philosophical writer Jack (James Nesbitt). These three could easily lead the film astray, and not so much due to the performances, but just the nature of the characters. Sheen though offers just the right balance by carefully never becoming flamboyant in that way, and there are certainly opportunities for some over the top "seasoned old guy" lines. Sheen though stays reserved properly and plays off them well by offering such a down to earth portrayal. In turn Sheen stays true to the character by keeping alive his grief as the underlying factor in the character. Sheen rightfully keeps this as a weight right down to his very physical performance that creates the sense of that sorrow even in the lighter moments.

Sheen captures so well the spiritual and religious journey of the character. Again this is where another actor may have gone very broad but Sheen does so well to keep the journey a fairly subtle one. He creates a real sense of the pilgrimage in portraying Tom trying to come to terms with his sons death throughout the film, rather just being a simple fix at any point. In turn Sheen does well in that he grants moments where there seems joy is coming from the experience, but just as well makes his moments of exasperation as well as confusion of his state just as natural. The one broader scene by Sheen is one I actually thought he pulled off well. In that it is the scene where Tom lashes out at the other pilgrims for their inadequacies after failing to really respect his loss in a proper way. Sheen I felt earned this as in those previous moments where they bring up his son his reactions properly take in some of that distress from their somewhat accidental carelessness, and disregard for his real loss as they get so caught up in themselves. Sheen in the outrage scene instead delivers the proper outburst who has just enough of their little asides, as well as still suggests the anger is part of that same anguish from the death of his son. It is far more cathartic as it might have been as Sheen builds towards in all of the previous interactions making it feel as a natural growth in his relationship with the others.

The most powerful aspect of the film for me though is the continuing portrayal of dealing with the direct grief from Sheen, and surprisingly made the potentially ridiculous moments of Estevez randomly appearing to him throughout the journey rather poignant since he makes you understand what this really means. This is helped by a pivotal flashback scene where we see the two talking before his son originally left to Europe. The two together in that single scene is something special as they manage transport such a genuine relationship into this moment, and sense the history between the two. Although it is a tense scene there is still a sense of warmth, and love between the two even within the words of the conflict. Sheen's performance takes this further throughout the journey though as he depicts the changing state in Tom. Sheen brings such real power to every moment where he leaves some of his son's ashes at one of the landmarks or has to retrieve them from a thief and raging water. In those moments the intensity of the grief Sheen grants to his passion towards his son so beautifully. Past that though throughout he gradually loses that isolation that defined his original sadness. Sheen slowly shows in his eyes a man no longer only looking at the loss, but rather the memory and appreciation for his son as he makes it further on his trek. Sheen never loses sight of this idea and brings such a real heart to center of the film. His devoted and earnest portrayal in every moment of the film anchors it, and makes it resonate far more than it would have otherwise.

60 comments:

Charles Heiston said...

Louis: Your thoughts and ratings on the rest of the cast.

Bryan L. said...

Rotten Tomatoes score for Justice League is 43%. They announced it on their Facebook show.

Anonymous said...

I had the chance to watch Justice League. Surprisingly it's a okay movie in my opnion. Not as good as Wonder Woman but better than BVS and Suicide Squad. It has a lot of problems including the villain who sucks, it's far from a great movie, but I've also seen good things in him and shows some improvement for the DCEU. And I found it better than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your top 5 Jesse Eisenberg and top 10 Emma Stone acting moments.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your thoughts on this scene. I think Eisenberg should get upgraded for it alone.
https://youtu.be/mehUC5l-lGM

Michael McCarthy said...

Anyone else seeing Three Billboards tonight?

moviefilm said...

I saw it last week.

Calvin Law said...

Saw it a couple weeks ago as well. Hope you enjoy it Michael!

Louis Morgan said...

Charles:

Estevez - 3.5(Although obviously very brief screentime I thought he managed to make the needed impact in his one major scene, but his reactions as the man in spirit are made quite moving. I particularly love his sort of smiling head shake when he appears in the police station.)

van Wageningen & Nesbitt - 2.5(They could have been a lot worse to be sure. They're not bad though, even mildly amusing at times however they don't completely reject the somewhat caricature nature of their character's roots.)

Unger - 3.5(She manages to elevate past the caricature, despite some rougher beginnings that I at first was rather worried about. Unger though in the later scenes tones it down properly and ends up giving a pretty poignant portrayal of her character's own heartbreak in her scenes directly with Sheen.)

Tahmeed:

Might as well wait until I watch Easy A for Stone.

Eisenberg:

1. The minimum amount - The Social Network
2. Saverine's breakdown - The Social Network
3. Ending - The Social Network
4. Opening - The Social Network
5. Only Friend - The Social Network

It's a outstanding scene, which got me thinking that really Fincher and Sorkin were the perfect match in creating this certain balance as Fincher's natural cynicism rids of any of Sorkin's potential sentimentalism. Anyway in terms of this scene directly it just about perfection in terms of the quality and incisiveness of the dialogue delivered so well, along with the editing that makes it all the more precise, and even the score which quietly gradually amplifies the tension. This is all in a scene that if just described in simplest terms could sound extraordinarily boring. Eisenberg is perhaps the highlight of the scene. We get the full extreme of jerk Mark and really how powerful that personality is. What's remarkable though is in the turning to the rain moments Eisenberg brilliantly shows us the vulnerable guy beneath it all, before turning back to be the cutthroat CEO he feels he needs to be.

Michael:

I'd sure like to...eeeeeeehhhhh.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: the wait will make it sweeter hopefully.

Anonymous said...

The Rotten Tomatoes score for Justice League is now 36%.

Anonymous said...

To any Dragon Ball fans that commentate here on this blog, I've got bad news: The Japanese voice actress of Bulma, Hiromi Tsuru, passed away. :(

Henry W said...

Guys, your thoughts on the actors that remind you of Montgomery Clift?

Psifonian said...

Joaquin Phoenix is Monty Clift reborn.

Anonymous said...

I watched Justice League. Mediocre film, better than BVS and Suicide Squad, but still very problematic. Whedon and Sanyder's blended styles make the movie a mess. But still ... It's better than BVS and SS. And villain is horrible (Ciarán Hinds)

Anonymous said...

(poor Ciarán Hinds)

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your ranking of Francis Ford Coppola's films, and your top ten favorite directing moments by him.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

I know I’m super late on this, but I’ve just finished Stranger Things 2 and I loved it. Don’t really get the backlash against Episode 7, I actually thought it was pretty great.

Michael McCarthy said...

Psifonian: I've been saying the same thing for years.

Also I saw Three Billboards last night and am still in ecstasy.

Calvin Law said...

Michael: Glad you loved it too. Not gonna ask about cast on here, but what was your favourite scene?

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

Coppola Ranking:

1. Apocalypse Now
2. The Conversation
3. The Godfather Part II
4. The Godfather
5. Tucker: The Man and His Dream
6. Bram Stoker's Dracula
7. The Rainmaker
8. Rumble Fish
9. Finian's Rainbow
10. The Godfather Part III
11. The Outsiders
12. The Cotton Club
13. Jack

Directing Moments:

1. Ride of the Valkyries - Apocalypse Now
2. Do lung Bridge - Apocalypse Now
3. Vito kills the Don - The Godfather Part II
4. Union Square - The Conversation
5. Hail Mary and isolation - The Godfather Part II
6. Arriving at Kurtz's compound - Apocalypse Now
7. Killings/Baptism - The Godfather
8. Hotel Room - The Conversation
9. Favors and the wedding - The Godfather
10. Opening - Apocalypse Now

Hard to narrow it down, and could easily do a top 25 of only his top four.

Luke Higham said...

Hi guys, back from London. Greatly enjoyed my time there.

Calvin: Have you ever been to Queen's Theatre in the West End. I went to see Les Miserables on Wednesday and it was a really great experience, though annoyingly the one disappointment I had was the singing from Javert. The actor's voice was too deep for my liking.

Went to the 02 yesterday for the ATP World Tour Finals. Saw Roger Federer play for the first and only time and the atmosphere was terrific. :)

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I wholly agree with your analysis of The Way, yet I greatly prefer James Nesbitt whenever he has a leading role in a production, though I did like the moment he had with Freeman in An Unexpected Journey.

Michael McCarthy said...

Calvin: If I had to choose, it would be between Mildred's introductory scene and Dixon reading Willoughby's letter.

Calvin Law said...

Michael: Those are two great ones. For me it'd be Dixon reading Willoughby's letter, Mildred in her daughter's bedroom, The tracking shot scene, The bar scene, the ending, the Catholic Church rant...yeah there's really no easy way to choose one eh.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: I have. It's fantastic isn't it - when I went as well, the cast was pretty much entirely on point.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: My favourite performance was probably Steven Meo as Thenardier. The guys who played Valjean and Marius were really good also.

And the guy who played Javert was an understudy.

My favourite moments were Bring Him Home and Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Your 2000s cast for Hell or High Water? I'm thinking Ethan Hawke for Toby and I'd like to see what Martin Sheen would do with the part of Marcus. The only actor I can think of for Tanner is Giovanni Ribisi. Oh and your 80s cast and director for Birdman?

Louis Morgan said...

Watched Justice League and Mudbound, one was better than the other.

Bryan L.:

McConaughey for Tanner, the rest are a great fit.

Birdman 1980's directed by Milos Foreman:

Riggan: Adam West
Shiner: Chris Sarandon
Jake: F. Murray Abraham
Laura: Anjelica Huston
Sylvia: Melinda Dillon
Sam: Holly Hunter
Lesley: Dyan Cannon
Tabitha: Eileen Heckart

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Thanks! I'm already hearing "Only assholes drink Mr. Pibb" in Matthew McConaughey's voice.

Also watched Justice League. There's only one (1) scene that brought anything positive from me; the rest is a mess. The action sequences were nothing but noise, and as for the film itself: bland.

Affleck-3
Momoa-3
Gadot- A strong 3
Miller- 2.5
Hinds- 2.5 (He does try to give the film some presence, but he could only do so much.)
Cavill-2.5
Fisher- A solid 3
Irons-3
Simmons-2.5
Adams-2.5

Robert MacFarlane said...

Does anyone else think early-to-mid 00's Billy Crudup would have been a perfect Superman?

Omar Franini said...

Louis: your thoughts on Mudbound and ratings and thoughts on the cast?

Calvin Law said...

Louis: thoughts on Justice League and the cast/ratings.

Henry W said...

Guys: Your choices for a 1950s Manchester by the Sea, with a new director and editor as well.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

Well now that you mention it, yes.

Calvin:

Justice League is a bit of strange bird. In that it is a film cut down to its bare minimums although you can tell it was edited down to the bare minimums rather than naturally built to be that. I wouldn't say the film comes off as Snyder than Wheedon scenes, instead every scene is a somewhat curious blend of their very different styles. I do think Snyder needs a co-director, but not after the fact. This film though overall is just sort of disposable entertainment in an extremely pure form, where they just seem to go "here's our team movie...well here it is....enjoy". As such it isn't great, as the character dynamics do feel rushed, the villain is an awful CGI man, the score never quite works despite the return of iconic themes and the storytelling is haphazard at best. Having said that I really didn't have any trouble getting through it, and it at least suggests there could be potential in the sequel for Wonder Woman (obviously), and the solo films for Flash and Aquaman.

Affleck - 2.5(The weakest link though I didn't think it was really his fault. Affleck though always seems a few seconds behind whatever the film wants him to be. At times he's Batman, at times he's Tony Stark, at times he's Captain America. Batman should have a brooding quality and in their attempt to lighten things they went too far with his character. He really should have been much more of a straight man to the other characters, instead he's a strange combination of ideas rather than a cohesive Batman or Bruce Wayne.)

Momoa - 3(His character's major moments where rushed as written however his approach to essentially be himself as Aquaman, which isn't Momoa's usual approach to be fair, does make for an original superhero take, and manages to fun even in his limited view. I hope his own film lets him effectively explore this more.)

Gadot - 3(Once again good in the role. Really doesn't have many scenes that stress her one way or another however this is a fine reprise.)

Miller - 3.5(I have to say I was genuinely surprised here since Miller is such a hit or miss actor in my view. I thought he hit here in doing the overactive routine in a way that ended up actually being fairly entertaining. I will say though this rating is truly for his single reaction where he notices someone is almost as fast as he is.)

Fisher - 2.5(I know he was going for a machine coldness however it just didn't quite come together for me. He's not bad really but he just didn't make Cyborg come to "life" for a lack of a better term.)

Cavill - 2.5

Adams - 2.5(Thankfully she's spared any bizarrely conceived scenes this time around, however she's barely in it, and I still not sure this role was for her.)

Irons, Crudup, and Morton are all good in their extremely limited screentime. Simmons is fine, but doesn't make too much of an impression as Gordon.

Louis Morgan said...

Omar:

Mudbound I don't think is a great film. It is very much a fifties melodrama that could have been made in the fifties for the most part, but hey I can like a fifties melodrama even if it's not a great one. The characters are pretty broadly drawn for the setup of the situation, with only really one character truly elevating all the way to something more, partially due to the performance behind it. It is far more "pristine" than I expected it to be given the title, and is more glossy than gritty strangely enough. Again I would say I liked it well enough, but it it no way elevated itself beyond its trappings.

I'll save Mitchell. I'll also save Hedlund because I have to for the moment.

Mulligan - 4(Notable that I always like Mulligan in general so this should be no surprise. This character is that of the country housewife who will do everything you'd expect to do throughout the film. Within that context though I still really liked the grace that Mulligan managed to bring to the film, and brought an emotional honesty even in scenes that perhaps telegraphed themselves just a bit too much at times.)

Clarke - 2.5(Truly thankless role in every respect and it does not help that he becomes thinner the film goes on. His performance though is mostly based around period mannerisms and accent never making the character more than just the "hard farm husband" type.)

Blige - 3(Touch overrated as I found her performance in silent moments wholly inadequate as she just sort of has this set facial expression in those moments. When she needs to be active in scene she does deliver however when she's just there, just really just is only there.)

Banks - 2.5(Eh I could go lower honestly as he goes so hard into the caricature here, in playing up every vicious moments that he becomes more ridiculous than scary after awhile.)

Louis Morgan said...

Henry W:

Manchester by the Sea directed by Elia Kazan:

Lee Chandler: Montgomery Clift
Randi: Shelley Winters
Joe Chandler: Franchot Tone
Patrick Chandler: Dennis Hopper
Elise Chandler: Merle Oberon
George: Timothy Carey

Calvin Law said...

Louis: the way you've worded the Mudbound review makes me intrigued as to who impressed you, Mitchell or Hedlund.

Calvin Law said...

Also, are Affleck and Milligan leads, or is it an ensemble for both.

Louis Morgan said...

Ensemble for both.

Psifonian said...

So "Mudbound."

I really didn't like it. To quote what I wrote elsewhere, it kinda baffles me how people seem to be riding high on this film, because it is exactly the sort of try-hard Oscar-baity schmaltz that we tend to deride. It is a treacly, manipulative story, with paper-thin caricatures in place of characters. The cinematography is noteworthy (if a bit over-reliant on chiaroscuro) and Jason Mitchell turns in a very capable performance, but beyond that, there’s surprisingly very little worth in this one. And I really don’t get why we keep trying to make Garrett Hedlund happen. Also, Mary J. Blige's character is interesting insomuch as on paper, it's the sort of role that was genetically crafted in a lab to create the super-baitiest supporting mother role imaginable, and yet somehow the part manages to make so little impact in the film that I wonder what people are seeing in her performance to give her so much acclaim.

I dunno, guys. I think this is going to be one of those films that everyone lauds and I'm one of the lone detractors.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your cast and director for a 1950's Mudbound.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Mudbound directed by Stanley Kramer:

Laura: Julie Harris
Henry: Robert Ryan
Jamie: Marlon Brando
Pappy: Lon Chaney Jr.
Ronsel: Sidney Poitier
Florence: Juanita Moore
Hap: Juano Hernandez

94dfk1 said...

Louis: Your Top 10 Leading Performances in Superhero films?

Luke Higham said...

94dfk1: That list needs to be saved until we get both Logan reviews.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: I'm intrigued to see where Jackman would rank on there. I'd rank mine as:

1. Hugh Jackman in Logan
2. Dafne Keen in Logan
3. Jackie Earle Haley in Watchmen (I consider him lead)
4. Chris Pine in Wonder Woman
5. James McAvoy in X-Men: Days of Future Past
6. Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises
7. Robert Downey Jr. in Captain America: Civil War
8. Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool
9. Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman
10. Ron Perlman in Hellboy

Calvin Law said...

Luke: I consider him supporting. If I took into account supporting as well, it'd be a very different list.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: Misread the previous comment by 94dfk1.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I saw Mudbound too. I liked it, though I probably would have cut a good half-hour and focused on the Mitchell/Hedlund story. I disagree with Psfonian's assessment of it being "treacly". If anything I found it a tad too cold at times. Cast ratings:

Hedlund - 4.5 (could go higher)
Mitchell - 4.5 (could go higher)
Mulligan - 4
Clarke - 3
Brown - 3.5
Blige - 3
Banks - 2

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your predicted winner for Original Song. I'm going with This Is Me from The Greatest Showman.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Dear lord, I hope it isn't that song. Listening to it on YouTube was ear poison.

Luke Higham said...

Robert: I wasn't fond of it either but I fear that's what they're gonna go for.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Do you think Russell Crowe would've been a great Javert in Les Miserables (Non-Singing) in the mid 2000s. He does bear quite the resemblance to Philip Quast and he could surely bring over his look in Master And Commander to the part, except his hair colour is brown instead of blonde.

Calvin Law said...

I'm predicting Mystery of Love from Call Me By Your Name.

Michael McCarthy said...

I also saw Mudbound last night. As a film, I pretty much agree with Louis and Psifonian about it on most accounts, and honestly as I was watching the film I completely forgot that Blige was supposedly a major awards contender. My only major disagreement is about Hedlund, who I thought was pretty strong, particularly in his scenes with Mitchell.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your top ten most badass quotes from either film or television.

94dfk1 said...

Luke: Fair enough. Can't believe it'll have been almost a year once Louis reviews Jackman and Stewart since the movie came out haha.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the final confrontation in I Saw The Devil.

Henry W said...

Guys: Your choices for a 1950s Bullhead with a new director.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

1. "Two too many" - Once Upon a Time in the West
2. "I want my father back you son of a bitch" - The Princess Bride
3. "Cooper. Two coffins... No, maybe three." - Yojimbo
4. "you gonna pull those pistols or whistle dixie" - The Outlaw Josey Wales
5. "Do I feel Lucky? Well do ya Punk?" - Dirty Harry
6. "Are you not entertained?" - Gladiator
7. "There are two types of people in the world – those with a gun, and those who dig." - The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly"
8. "I'm your huckleberry" - Tombstone (The fact that this is badass is another testament to Kilmer's performance)
9. "They call me Mr. Tibbs" - In the Heat of the Night
10. "You're locked up in here with me" - Watchmen

Tahmeed:

An amazing scene for Choi's, and Lee's performance in each reflecting what it is that has brought each to the point. Both are essentially broken but in different ways with Lee trying to keep everything in except a hatred towards Choi's Jang, and Choi being such mess of everything as he tries to intimidate, tries to be sadistic, tries to plead in his own way, while trying not show his overt fear. It's too people completely consumed by their own forms of insanity, created in ways by each other, with both of their emotional intensity matching the brutality of the confrontation.

Henry:

Well since Belgium didn't really have much of a film industry then, I'll consider it a American premake.

Bullhead 1950's directed by Robert Aldrich:

Jacky: Anthony Quinn
Lucia: Ida Lupino
Diederik: Jack Palance
Dumb Mechanics: Ernie Kovacs and Cesar Romero