Monday, 13 November 2017

Alternate Best Actor 2010: William Shimell in Certified Copy

William Shimell did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying James Miller in Certified Copy.

Certified Copy follows a British writer as he goes along with a French woman (Juliette Binoche) through an Italian village.

Now that description of the film's plot sounds excessively simple as it does not articulate the complexity within the film, which on one hand seems like a chapter of the Before series with two people talking in a European locale however, this film lacks the context of those films on purpose. The most context we are given before the initial direct meeting between the man and the woman is that the man is a British writer who has written a popular book, in Italy, on the nature of copied art, meanwhile the woman is at his public reading with a disruptive son. That is all we know before they later meet seemingly as strangers. We are never given the name of the woman, making the man's name technically equally meaningless in this story. It is then in what they speak to one another and the performances in which we are to gather some sort of understanding of the pair's relationship. This is a notable pairing at the center as we have the seasoned actress Binoche as the woman with William Shimell. Shimell is not a seasoned cinematic actor or even a traditionally dramatic actor. His background being as a baritone opera performer with his only previous onscreen credits being in TV filmed performances of operas and oratorios. This choice may seem strange but seems pointed to the intentions of the film.

The film never informs the viewer what is going on exactly. The pair appear to be strangers, or at best minor acquaintances, at first yet the conversation gets increasingly familiar between the two of them as the film goes on.  Of course this directly relates to the title of the film as well as the novel that James has written. In that it examines that issues of authenticity in art are meaningless as all art must be copied from somewhere. This gathers doubt to the nature of this relationship that we are witnessing whether it is authentic, or is it a copy, which by the charge of the book, perhaps the film as well, is just as meaningful as the real thing. Then again of course it is a copy of real relationship if one were to also keep in mind the nature of a fictional film. This eventually brings me to Shimell's performance, which that context is needed to understand fully his work, as well as I'd say his casting across from Binoche.  Shimell's performance is not on the same level of Binoche's. Binoche's work is fascinating as she plays the part from so many angles, sometimes with the playfulness of a game, sometimes deadly seriously, and with so many in between. She allows multiple interpretations yet never seems vague in her approach. Shimell's allows for the interpretations however his work is far more direct and precise in this sense.

Where Binoche's performance is in this state of constant flow, Shimell portrays more of an exact set of phases, though with this they do carry their own ambiguity because of this. Although he's certainly subdued most of the film you could almost describe as operatic in that Shimell focuses on the overtones. Initially Shimell is quite good honestly in presenting just the straightforward intellectual writer giving his views first in the formal way at a public reading, then later when he initially encounters the woman. Shimell delivers his lines with a casual quality even within philosophy or even if it is approaching sensitive material. The man seems careless as though he is just with a stranger, even a fan of his work, but of course the conversation continues. Shimell does bring one overarching quality in his performance is there is a detachment about it, and presents everything seemingly exactly as you should see it. Although what makes this ambiguous in his own way is his transitions throughout the film. As we continue Shimell becomes more distant the more intimate the conversation becomes. Shimell actually allows you to read two ways, properly so, in that he is a man either tired of this charade, or he's tired of his situation with who is potentially his wife.

Shimell is consistent in the way his detachment defines the man relationship with the woman as really the woman's investment defines her relationship with him. She seems to be after something from the conversation, while the man avoids it. In turn Shimell only portrays a greater investment in terms of greater frustration seemingly seeking detachment. He more or less becomes less affable than anything even towards the end, when there seems to be any sort of reconciliation between the two. Even in that moment Shimell only really reduces his frustration seemingly giving in to whatever he is giving in to only a moment, but still with a detachment as he essentially says he has to leave soon no matter what. This performance honestly probably wouldn't quite work on its own yet it does as a foil to Binoche's performance. What she does works effectively in creating this strange window into this mysterious relationship, and she almost works against him as this wall of sorts. Again it comes back to the casting as Shimell's work isn't that of a seasoned veteran actor. His work isn't on the same level as Binoche's yet it works nonetheless in creating this particular dynamic. Now is it possible that an equally complex turn could have worked with Binoche's performance? Yes. Would that have been better? Maybe. Nevertheless Shimell's performance in tandem with Binoche's succeeds in creating this fascinating if enigmatic relationship that essentially is the film entire.

47 comments:

Deiner said...

I think I liked him slightly more than you did. What are your thoughts and rating on Binoche and what did you think about the film as a whole?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Thoughts on Binoche.

3. Sheen
4. Affleck
5. Shimell

Calvin Law said...

1. Ahmed
2. Mikkelsen
3. Sheen
4. Affleck
5. Shimell

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

1. Mikkelsen
2. Ahmed
3. Sheen
4. Affleck
5. Shimell

Omar Franini said...

1. Mikkelsen
2. Ahmed
3. Sheen
4. Affleck
5. Shimell

John Smith said...



1. Ahmed
2. Mikkelsen
3. Sheen 
4. Affleck
5. Shimell

Bryan L. said...

Everyone: I got a question regarding Silence. SPOILER alert for those who haven't seen it.

Did Rodrigues and Garrupe understood that there was a chance that Japan would eventually be their final destination, if they did find Ferreira? Or did they think that could eventually make their way back home? I know Father Valignano told them it was too dangerous, but it's just something I've been wondering.

Michael McCarthy said...

I dug this film a lot, and i would probably give Shimell a really strong 4.5 if it weren't for the scene where he has to be slightly hysterical. That bit kind of broke the vibe of what was otherwise an incredibly naturalistic and finely tuned performance. It's also nice to see an opera singer succeed this much in a film performance, it gives me hope.

1. Martin Sheen
2. Riz Ahmed
3. Casey Affleck (though the film is indeed a garbage fire)
4. Mads Mikkelsen
5. William Shimell

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/nov/13/lord-of-the-rings-amazon-tv-show-confirmed?CMP=fb_gu

Louis: Your thoughts on the news above.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Michael: Could I have your ratings and thoughts on Sheen, Ahmed, Mikkelsen and Affleck?

Henry W said...

1. Ahmed
2. Mikkelsen
3. Sheen
4. Affleck
5. Shimell

That Lord of the Rings Amazon TV show looks really ehhhh. I really don't know. I prefer it as it is, no TV show.

JackiBoyz said...

1. Ahmed
2. Sheen
3. Mikkelsen
4. Affleck
5. Shimell

Robert MacFarlane said...

1. Ahmed
2. Mikkelsen
3. Sheen
4. Affleck
5. Shimell

Anonymous said...

Luke Higham

Henry W:
They're more likely to be filming Silmarillion stories like Beren & Luthien, Elrond & Elros and The Downfall Of Numenor than remaking the whole saga.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I like your Valhalla Rising background image. :)

Louis Morgan said...

Deiner:

Binoche - 5(Easy 5 and perhaps her very best performance. What Binoche does here is fascinating given how effortless her work feels despite everything that she is doing. The one scene really where she is mostly direct is the one with her son where she reveals an exasperated mother so well, however even there is a bit of duality when speaking towards the writers talk. The rest of her performance is this absolutely brilliant balancing act in terms of both keeping the enigma alive, but also making genuinely powerful as well. In that she creates so main threads there in at times where she seems to speaking as this woman with real hardship in attempting to gain attention of her husband, yet in other moments seeming an aloof with either a playfulness of someone who doesn't care, or someone who is almost being driven just a touch bit mad by the situation. It's outstanding work as she manages to reveal the poignancy in this potentially real relationship yet also play with the idea of fashioning one for some strange comfort as well.)

I liked the film a great deal as a whole as I thought it worked as this more romantic comedic creation of a relationship, as a dissection of a broken marriage, beautifully lensed with that extra something through its atypical mysterious approach.

Tahmeed:

Well I would have hoped for tales of the blue wizards but alas. Nevertheless the Silmarillion is not inherently cinematic, or even televisual in the least. They could make a good series using just ideas from them though, again they need someone with their own original vision who can fashion something new out of preexisting material like what Noah Hawley did with Legion.

Bryan L.:

I took it as their primary objective was to find Ferreira however they also wished to continue the mission in Japan where he had left off. I don't think they intended to go home exactly because of that, though not in a suicidal sense.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What did you think of Plummer's Comments on Spacey.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

I think it's best not to read too deeply into them. I think he was just trying to be diplomatic without dwelling on the subject.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I agree, I just wanted to make sure that no one on here took his words as if he's condoning his actions.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I'm going to London tomorrow morning, so before I leave, did you see any more 2017 films in the past 8 days.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Finally got around to Trainspotting 2.

Calvin Law said...

What did you make of it overall? And your thoughts on the cast and ratings

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Thoughts on the film and the cast.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

The film itself I found to be an effective companion piece to the original film though really more as an epilogue than a true sequel that stands on its own. I do think there is some interesting involving sort of false nostalgia in terms of Renton and Simon's story. It isn't all the cohesive though in that they feel more as vignettes to "member this", but it does work in that sense. Also Boyle's excesses didn't annoy too much this time.

McGregor - 3.5(Technically probably the weakest reprise of the three boys because perhaps he's just a touch too low key at times. In that there are moments for a greater pathos in regards to missed opportunities, and mistakes yet he never delves that deeply in that regard. He is good though in portraying his role in a largely reactionary way in dealing with each of his co-stars recreating their old chemistry quite effectively in each case.)

Bremner - 4(The arc that feels best realized in the film as I did find he found that needed power within portraying the sad state of his character, that was largely used for comedic performances in this film. Bremner's pretty moving though in portraying the loss of essentially the joke of the character which only diminishes all the more the older he gets.)

Miller - 4(Again effectively recreated the chemistry of the love/hate relationship with McGregor quite well. Although he manages to take it further he well by essentially replicating his original performance for the most part in their initial interactions yet slowly growing a certain maturity before his final scene involving Begbie and Renton that I found surprisingly poignant due to Miller realizing this change in Simon.)

Carlyle - 4(His performance is probably the most consistent to his original all though he technically changes the ante a bit by showing not even a hint of humor or even much sadistic joy in his vicious antics this time around. Although this time around they make him more directly a villain, and Carlyle certainly pulls this off.)

Nedyalkova - 2.5(An introduction that I really didn't find brought much to the film, and frankly felt like a distraction from the richer revisiting aspects of the film.)

Macdonald - 3(Her performance ends up being only a cameo and I did like what she brought here in alluding to both the now maturity of the character though just a hint of the old in her interactions with McGregor. She felt a little wasted though in the scheme of things.)

Bryan L. said...

Louis: I'm glad you liked Trainsporting 2, considering your past experiences with Boyle's movies. Have you given you ratings and thoughts on cast of The Lincoln Lawyer? I can't seem to find them. Oh and who would you have cast instead of Ryan Phillippe, since I noticed he's low in the rankings for that year?

Luke Higham said...

McConaughey - 4(Rock solid leading turn by McConaughey. He brings the needed charisma as you'd expect, and really owns the film every step of the way.)

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

Giovanni Ribisi or Dash Mihok.

Calvin Law said...

Initial JL reactions do not look good. Apparently Elfman just recycles themes and Affleck becomes jokey wisecracking Batman.

Anonymous said...

I have heard the Justice League reactions were mixed, although the website posted a bunch of positive and negative reviews, Calvin where did you find these reactions?

RatedRStar said...

1. Ahmed
2. Mikkelsen
3. Sheen
4. Affleck
5. Shimell

Bryan L. said...

Luke: Thanks.

Calvin: I heard those same things as well on a Reddit post. This doesn't look good.

Calvin Law said...

Anonymous: I've been on reddit, like Bryan.

Charles Heiston said...

Changing all the way, here.

1. Ahmed
2. Mikkelsen
3. Affleck
4. Sheen
5. Shimell

Matt Mustin said...

Louis: Just out of curiosity, what's your general rule for including short films in your rankings? Because I know Six Shooter is included for 2005, but I was wondering if that's some kind of exception or if you've just not seen that many short films in general?

Michael McCarthy said...

Matt: I think it's the latter. Another Fine Mess is a short film and it's on Louis's rankings.

Tahmeed: I don't have ratings at the moment, I'll try to get you thoughts sometime tomorrow.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Thoughts on the following scenes-

Snape's memories- The Deathly Hallows Part II
Hagrid's Introduction- The Philosopher's Stone
Harry brings the body back- The Goblet of Fire
Epilogue - The Deathly Hallows Part II
Tied to a chair and everyone calming Will- Stranger Things 2

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your top 10 Jackie Gleason, Klaus Maria Brandauer and Angela Lansbury acting moments.

Anonymous said...

Louis: your cast and director for a 2010s The Apartment and In The Heat of the Night

Calvin Law said...

Anonymous: I'll give both of these a go.

2010s The Apartment directed by Taika Waititi
C.C.: Domhnall Gleeson
Fran: Jena Malone
Sheldrake: Jeff Goldblum
Dreyfuss: Taika Waititi

2010s In the Heat of the Night directed by Jeff Nichols
Virgil: David Oyelowo
Gillespie: Bill Camp
Sam: Charles Baker
Endicott: Keith Carradine
Mrs Colbert: Sarah Paulson
Oberst: George Griffith
Ralph: George McKay

Alex Marqués said...

To be honest, I can't really see any modern actor playing CC Baxter.

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

Snape's memories - (Although Radcliffe's performance doesn't quite carry the weight that it should in terms of his own reaction the rest of the scene. That's because the rest of the scene is quite great in achieving essentially the emotional pay dirt of Snape's journey and Rickman's performances throughout the series. The memories themselves are so well realized in crafting a bit of nostalgia even though mostly through the pathos of revealing strange state with the pinnacle being that heartbreaking moment where we finally see Rickman/Snape break in the moment of finding the Potter massacre.)

Hagrid's Introduction - (Chris Columbus I wouldn't say ever quite makes the perfect representation of a particular scene though there are a few times where he comes close and this is one of them. Although the CGI is perhaps a little shoddy with the pig tail for example however the build up to the appearance and Coltrane's performance beautifully realizes the wonder and mystery of the scene.)

Harry brings the body back - (There are many many strange choices by Mike Newell throughout the film however this scene actually is rather well handled by his use of restraint while focusing on the performance. Not Radcliffe who overcooks it a tad in the moment, however Jeff Rawle does deliver with Newell letting that just play out in an affecting fashion.)

Epilogue Harry Potter - (A problem at book level to begin with but things are not helped here. Trying to shove us into caring about the concerns of the new class doesn't create much resonance even in the awkward way Harry likes to speak his kid's full name. What's worse though is the terrible aging of everyone which only amplifies the weaknesses of the scene. It attempts to tie everything up neatly and in doing so seems to cheapen everything that came before particularly the battle.)

Tied to a chair and everyone calming Will - (A good scene that calls well upon the relationships that previously in the season where not as directly focused upon. We instead get moments with each with Will that really are rather moving. In addition though the setup is effective in creating that duplicity between between the false Will and the real one in Schnapp's performance.)

Anonymous:

Gleason:

1. Final Game - The Hustler
2. ACTING - The Honeymooners
3. Fat's Introduction - The Hustler
4. "natural" recreation - The Honeymooners
4. Tv gunshots - The Honeymooners
5. "I brive a dus" - The Honeymooners
6. A Moax - The Honeymooners
7. One punch knock out - The Honeymooners
8. Christmas - The Honeymooners
9. Golf practice - The Honeymooners
10. The mambo - The Honeymooners

Brandauer:

1. Vision of the future - Hanussen
2. Court - Hanussen
3. Stopping the suicide - Hanussen
4. Too accurate of prediction - Hanussen
5. Weeding out the plant - Hanussen
6. Fire - Hanussen
7. Final moment with the doctor - Hanussen
8. Spotlight - Mephisto
9. Helping make escape - Mephisto
10. Rejecting criticism - Mephisto

Lansbury:

1. Programming - The Manchurian Candidate
2. Bombastic arrival - The Manchurian Candidate
3. Salome's testimony - Death on the Nile
4. Confrontation with Jordan - The Manchurian Candidate
5. Knowing the murderer - Death on the Nile
6. Party - Death on the Nile
7. Rejection of her son's plans - The Manchurian Candidate
8. Salome's arrival - Death on the Nile
9. Contract - Pirates of Penzance
10. "Beauty and the Beast" - Beauty and the Beast

Anonymous:

Switch up with location.

2010's Apartment directed by Lenny Abrahamson set in England:

C.C. Baxter: Simon Pegg
Fran: Rebecca Hall
Sheldrake: Rupert Everett
Joe Dobisch: David Wilmot
Dr. Dreyfuss: Sacha Baron Cohen

2010's In the Heat of the Night Directed by Neil Jordan set in Ireland:

Virgil Tibbs: Payman Moaadi
Gillespie: Colin Farrell
Sam: Cillian Murphy
Endicott: Brendan Gleeson
Harvey: Jack Reynor
Ralph: Barry Koeghan

Calvin Law said...

Louis: there any moments which you thought were well-acted by Radcliffe in the Potter films?

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

He's fine in the more straightforward scenes of the series, and creating at least a sense of discovering in the wizarding world. I can't think of a major emotional moment where he didn't immediately break into histrionics or was severely underwhelming in some other way. I always go back to one of the reasons why I love David O'Hara's performance in Deathly Hallows, because he showed exactly what was lacking in Radcliffe's performance in that regard in the scene where he's looking over Umbridge's files.

Calvin Law said...

I completely agree. I feel like he can't ever do much with more reactionary and sort of 'straight man' roles like Harry and Allen Ginsberg. Seems like he needs to be some sort of weird talking corpse or loopy paranormal demon to be interesting.

Calvin Law said...

Louis your thoughts on this scene from The Social Network? Just re-watched it and I have to say that Hammer's performance really grew on me this time round.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3JtmZugzl4

Robert MacFarlane said...

Calvin: It's one of my favorite scenes in the film, and Hammer is totally brilliant in it. It's a great illustration of The Winklevoss' twins sense of entitlement, but it also allows layers in dynamic between the two. Up until this point Cameron had been the more self-aware of the two, noting how he knows how they look in earlier scenes (i.e. the Karate Kid line, which he actually said in real life). Here he's confused to why Summers won't bend over for him, whereas Tyler clearly sees it's bullshit from the start. Tyler is entitled like his brother, but he just accepts it. He knows they're spoiled and wants to used their wealth to their advantage.

Also, what really makes this great is that it's one of the few moments that really happened. Summers confirmed it.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

I'd say Robert pretty much covered it. One of my favorite scenes as well for the exact reasons he outlined.