Monday, 6 November 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1988: M. Emmet Walsh in Clean and Sober

M. Emmet Walsh did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Richard in Clean and Sober.

M. Emmet Walsh, the other great character actor along with Harry Dean Stanton, seems almost a guarantee of something worthwhile to the films he appears in, even often in a very marginal quantity. Walsh, like Stanton though, is always fascinating to see when he is allowed a bit more material to work with given his success with such minor roles. Walsh here isn't given a major role, but there's more than enough for him to make an impact which we see in the opening of the film. The film opens apparently in a support group where we see Walsh's Richard speaking about addiction, which we return to one other time, I actually wish we had gotten more of these scenes throughout the film. These are some of the best moments in the film though due to Walsh's performance. Walsh reveals Richard as vulnerable former addict creating such a strong sense of his past decay in the somber quiet pain such as when speaking of looking in the past for the headlights of his drug dealer, or when his nose was misshapen from a drug bender. He creates a vivid sense of the man's history as in every word there are these memories of this terrible time filled with a palatable anxiety and loss over the broken man he once was. Although these scenes initially have no connection they are essential to the film, and Walsh uses them brilliantly to establish the man Richard was before we meet him in the central story.

Walsh's Richard appears in the main story as a man who offers his services as a sponsor to the hesitant addict Daryl (Michael Keaton). I love the whole presence that Walsh brings his scenes that are actually essential to make it convincing that Keaton's Daryl could beat his addiction. Walsh's approach is remarkable in the very specific way he handles these scenes. He has this interesting way of offering this certain intensity in all of the scenes, as he delivers his lines towards Keaton with a definite incisiveness. His eyes pierce towards him with a real examination of the man as though he is trying to decipher him but Walsh never makes that all Richard is doing. His intensity he fashions always carries this real warmth. In every word there is this definite care and tenderness to it even when speaking harsh truths to him. In his eyes there is a strict empathy that Walsh brings that creates Richard as a man who is there to always help Daryl, through this rather forceful support. It's a moving performance because of how genuine every moment of the work is through Walsh, and he gives a real honesty to a role in the wrong hands could have seemed just a one dimensional plot mechanism. Walsh, as typical for him even if his role is only a minute long, gives a real life to the role that fulfills his purpose so well yet develops him far beyond that purpose. It's terrific work from him, and as usual I only wish we had gotten more of him as it would have probably resulted in a stronger film overall.

21 comments:

Charles Heiston said...

A performance that only needed more screentime.

Louis: Thoughts on the cast

Calvin Law said...

Charles: he already posted them on Keaton's review :)

Louis: What about The Thin Red Line's use of narration? Although you could argue it's not really narration, I guess.

Louis Morgan said...

On a side note on Walsh, as much as I love the film, anyone else think Walsh's Bryant should have had that scene with Gosling in Blade Runner 2049 instead, since it seemed a little out of character for the mysterious Gaff to be so straight forward.

Calvin:

I don't consider it narration since it isn't used to tell something to the audience in a direct way. It is just their thoughts, as though they were just thinking them in a normal way rather than telling us part of the story. If I was considering any voice over it certainly would have made the list since I find it to be one of the most powerful aspects of that film, particularly Dash Mihok's moment after he kills the Japanese soldier.

Calvin Law said...

Louia: I agree. Having Gaff in the scene seemed to be more of a fanservice since Gaff definitely has more fans than Bryant.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Louis: Gaff's cameo is my least favorite scene in the film (well, either that or Leto's first scene). Pointless winking to the original, and Olmos wasn't even trying.

Also, rating and thoughts on Raul Julia in Tequila Sunrise?

Mitchell Murray said...

Just so I'm clear on this year's potential nominees:

Actor: Oldman, Day-Lewis, Gyllenhaal...
Actress: McDormand, Stone, Robbie, Hawkins (1 of 2 movies)...
S. Actor: Dafoe, Rockwell, Hammer or Stalburg...
S. Actress: Janney, Scott Thomas...

Who am I missing? Because those just seem to be the strongest candidates at the moment.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

Julia - 3.5(His role is bizarrely written and only makes any sense through Julia's madcap energy that he is able to do well. Julia can easily throw in some palatable menace even while being completely jovial, and almost comedic at the same time. The character is extremely random in the way the film views him yet Julia almost makes it work because Julia makes some sense of that randomness, and also at the very least makes it entertaining to watch.)

Mitchell:

Actor:

Timothee Chalamet
Steve Carell (Last Flag Flying)
Andrew Garfield
Chadwick Boseman
Harry Dean Stanton

Maybe:

James Franco
Christian Bale

Side Note: Can't really include Tom Hanks, when the Academy just doesn't seem to care.

Actress:

Saorise Ronan
Meryl Streep
Judi Dench
Jessica Chastain

I'd say all of the top eight have a legitimate chance.

Maybe:

Vicky Krieps

Supporting Actor:

Mark Rylance
Bryan Cranston
Jason Mitchell
Richard Jenkins or Michael Shannon
Will Poulter
Ben Mendelsohn
Steve Carell (Battle of the Sexes)

Supporting Actress:

Melissa Leo
Laurie Metcalf
Holly Hunter
Claire Foy
Octavia Spencer
Tatiana Maslany
Mary J. Blige
Hong Chau

Maybe:

Lesley Manville

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your thoughts on Lead and Supporting Actress so far this year and could it potentially be one of the best in either category.

Anonymous said...

Luke Higham

Louis: Have you seen The Triplets Of Belleville.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Since 2010 Lead is coming after this, I'd like to know your thoughts on Mads Mikkelsen as an actor before his Valhalla Rising review.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: your thoughts on the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I watched a few episodes back in the day and found them pretty funny.

94dfk1 said...

Luke: 2010 is the next year of reviews? Nice. That year does look a little thin haha.

Luke Higham said...

94dfk1: 2010s is the next decade and 2010 was the 3rd year that he covered last time after 11 and 12.

Have my Lead lineup finalised as well.

Ahmed
Mikkelsen
Ryan Reynolds - Buried
Martin Sheen - The Way
Stellan Skarsgard - King Of Devil's Island

Alt.
Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine - Tucker And Dale vs Evil
Joaquin Phoenix - I'm Still Here
Casey Affleck - The Killer Inside Me

Calvin Law said...

Kind of hope Reynolds isn't reviewed. It's a good performance but there's not much interesting to talk about in it.

94dfk1 said...

Luke: For sure. Reynolds in Buried would make for a good review I believe.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I wouldn't have a problem with him not being reviewed. I'll still suggest him but I'm quite interested in Tudyk and Labine.

94dfk1 said...

Watched Ingrid Goes West last night. Serves as a great showcase for Aubrey Plaza.

Plaza-4.5 (Pulls off the difficult task of making us root for an unsympathetic character. Great timing and pulls of the black humor well.)

Olsen-3.5 (One-note but she plays that note very well.)

Jackson Jr.-4 (I found him successful in playing along with the tone the movie creates, and creates chemistry with Plaza.)

Magnussen-3.5 (Found him serviceable, but his confrontation with Plaza's character bumps him up a .5)

Russell-3.5 (His role is limited, but I thought he was good in his confession with Plaza)

Klementieff-2.5 (Just there)

Calvin Law said...

Question for everyone: does anyone have any Original Song choices they've loved so far this year? For me, it'd be the two songs from Call Me By Your Name, 'Mystery of Love' and 'Visions of Gideon', plus loved what I've heard from 'Greatest Showman' so far.

Omar Franini said...

Louis: your thoughts on Babel's score?

Robert MacFarlane said...

I saw The Florida Project. It was pretty good before it decided that pulling a Radio Flyer was a good way to end it.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Actress is starting out pretty strong so far, and I haven't seen the majority of the top contenders. If all those contenders deliver this certainly good rank up there with the best years for leading actress performances.

Supporting Actress so far is a little above average, though again I'll see how the other contenders turn out.

Luke:

No.

Well Mads Mikkelsen can be said as a performer whose presence is innately interesting which is always a major plus. Although he has mostly been cast as villains in his western work he's even shown quite the range there in rather limited roles. Most actors would have been absolutely nothing in Rogue One, and Dr. Strange for example, yet Mikkelsen managed to make an impression. His emotional range is absolutely remarkable as he is quite able at such wildly differing roles, and naturally offers such a striking intensity no matter what.

Calvin:

It has been hilarious so far, although it is all dependent on how much funny situations David can come up with and who it is that he is improvising with. Well it seems he's saved up quite a few, and working mostly with his mainstays has been highly beneficial while some particularly smart guest actor choice, particularly Bryan Cranston as the bizarre psychiatrist. He's actually often recycling jokes from Seinfeld yet he's finding new ways for them to be funny. This is not breaking any ground but it's consistently hilarious.

Omar:

I found most of it to be pretty bland and forgettable mood music except that great portion at the end that probably won it the Oscar, of course that portion was already a best original score winner with The Last Emperor.