Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Best Actor 2017: Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman won his Oscar from his second Oscar nomination for portraying Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour.

Darkest Hour depicts the first few weeks of Winston Churchill assuming the position of prime minister of Great Britain during World War II.

The great Gary Oldman joins a short, but increasing longer line of actor depicting the legendary prime minister as the main character in a biopic. Churchill is a figure who has yet to have a great film about him. There's been okay films, even a few decent ones, I'd call this film okay, but there's yet to be one that borders on greatness. He's a figure where there seems to be a hesitation to fully unravel the man, much like George Washington in terms of American figures though at least Churchill has had a few attempts, as even when the film is explicitly about him it rarely truly feel as though you've completely gotten to know the man. This is yet again the truth for Darkest Hour, the second Churchill film of 2017, after Churchill featuring Brian Cox in the role. Both of these films, as well as most of the other films including Young Winston featuring the man's early days, seem to focus on his achievements, or attempted ones, as a historical document rather than attempting a true insight into who he was. This is contrast to films about say Abraham Lincoln where we usually go from the inside out, where we learn about his troubles with his wife, his potentially tragic love affair of old, before we discover the "great man" we all know. There is strangely this distance even in this film's case, which takes a somewhat strange approach to the subject matter.

Lincoln from a few years ago featuring Oldman's contemporary Daniel Day-Lewis as the man, is an exceptional example of probably what this film should have been. In that film Lincoln is fully formed as a person, and in the way he operates and lives as that person we discover more about him, and feel as though we truly get to know him. In this film writer Anthony McCarten, who previously penned the razor thin biopic of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, makes an odd choice to make this sort of a hero's arc through this story. Although this at least grants Churchill more of a presence within his own story than was granted to Hawkings, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense as an approach nor does it really allow us any insight into the man. It would make more sense, given Churchill's age at the time of the story, to portray a far more decisive leader who needs to work his methods in order to seize power within his party, and build his country up towards victory. In very much the same way we saw Lincoln as the complicated man react to his situation, we should have seen the same for Churchill here. It instead positions him as someone who specifically has some tribulations he must overcome in a two hour running time, and that's the story of this Churchill.

Gary Oldman more than willingly throws his glass cup filled with whiskey and large cigar into the ring of playing Churchill. Oldman is notably a bit different than his most recent contemporaries in that in the cases of Brian Cox, Albert Finney and Brendan Gleeson they have been in at least some general sense are of the same physical type as Churchill. Oldman's is that of a full transformation, as typical for Oldman, with the aid of dynamic prosthetics, which in watching the film again look rather amazing except for whenever Oldman moves his chin down wherein his double chin looks a little too much like a balloon. That's what is though, and what matters more in this review is what Oldman does in the role. He wishes to match the audaciousness of his makeup in capturing the essence of the man in his work, which is quite a risk as evidenced by Timothy Spall's utter failure in the role in The King's Speech while taking a similair approach.. Oldman in terms of the surface mannerisms, such as in Churchill specifically slurred speech, and pronounced gait, captures them quite effectively. Oldman, unlike Spall, doesn't attempt to adhere to a strict accuracy, but rather a kind of accuracy which is usually the approach of all the best performances of this ilk. He sounds like Churchill and moves like Churchill but filtered through Oldman, in a way that makes him feel natural while not being an exact copy.

Oldman has Churchill's personal style well established then the question becomes what shall the film do with him? Well it is mostly to reveal, outside of the arc which I will get to, the different recorded of shades of the man positioned in scenes really only there to show him in these shades. These includes his few scenes with his wife Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas) where we get the gently pure love the man has for his wife. Oldman certainly delivers this in claiming some nice low key chemistry with Thomas, granting a gentle humor in his slight teasing of her, and does affirm the strength of their relationship even if it is for only for a few scenes that are not given any great importance, they just seem to be there because they are required to be. We get the curmudgeon employer in his initial scene with his secretary Elizabeth Layton (Lilly James) as he chews her out for slight errors in her work. Oldman again delivers on this side of Churchill delivering the ease of the way he is incensed, and the lack of courtesy in Oldman's delivery as he scares the woman away. Again Oldman delivers this as fitting to the style of a man who has been through many a secretary, yet once again this scene seems that of a requirement for a Churchill biopic, as no such situation ever comes up again within the film.

The loving husband doesn't come up again nor the curmudgeon, this is not any lacking on Oldman's part but rather the strict requirements forged by the underwhelming screenplay which proceeds to reduce Churchill down to this somewhat curious arc. This aspect of the film reminded me most of Benedict Cumberbatch's work as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, in which that film also took a more dynamic character as established by history and simplified it be essentially a "movie hero" in that he just needed to get over his few character flaws in order to become famous for the thing that he is famous for. It is a problematic simplification there and here it is again, but an actor's job isn't there to fix poor writing, it is to try to make it work. Gary Oldman thankfully is a great actor and goes head first into his task towards elevating what he is given. That is Oldman at the very least goes about making some sense of this version of Churchill he is given who everyone seems to doubt yet everyone requires him to be prime minister at this moment. Oldman is effective in fashioning each side of the man that he is allowed within his realizing of Churchill's journey through setting up the way he maneuvers within every group he must work with.

In his most public moments, such as that of addressing the commons or his radio broadcasts, Oldman delivers his speeches with all the grandstanding one should expect from the great politician, with all the vigor needed to drive his people in victory. This contrasts though to his more private sessions of either writing the speeches, or personally examining his place as prime minister. Oldman realizes a more subtle approach properly as he conveys the unease and fear within the man as he examines the colossal task in front of him. Oldman finds the right middle ground in the scenes of meeting with his war staff to discuss their next path finding particularly strong opposition from Lord Halifax (Stephen Dillane) who wishes to sue for peace. Oldman does capture the intensity of these scenes and properly knows how to approach every moment, even though I feel all these scenes are about to become great yet don't get there. Oldman's terrific though in finding the right blend though of the bluster and calm as he tries to enforce his policies, but also intertwined with a greater sense of reality as he must face the hard realities of war A favorite moment of mine actually is Oldman's reaction when it seems like Halifax is baiting him to say the wrong thing, and Oldman in that moment is excellent in revealing a cunning in Churchill as he nips it in the bud. I wish there had been more moments like this, however Oldman does make the most out of that one.

For much of the film the script treats Churchill as he's just leaning to become prime minister and politician in general which makes little sense. For example there is a scene where he meets the French prime minister and awkwardly tries to speak French at first, as though Churchill never had to deal with a foreign diplomat before. As written it is utterly ridiculous, but I will give Oldman credit for doing his best to sell it and even find the bit cheap comedy within it. It isn't all as bad as that scene though in portraying the growth of confidence in the man in both private and public though. For example I find Oldman particularly effective in his scenes with Ben Mendolsohn as the king as his delivery and manner slowly becomes less formal the more they speak to one another. Oldman's work does convey the lessening of tension between the two and understanding as almost friends in their last scene rather brilliantly. Again though this is yet but just one facet, and even that has some silliness where the king goes "go to the people" like it is some concept Churchill could've never imagined, despite apparently giving him the advice originally. It once again though is not the fault of either actor.

Oldman's efforts are more than admirable in delivering what the script demands no matter what it might be particularly with the confidence arc even as silly as it is through the way the film depicts it. Oldman though shows well how that public confidence slowly wains all the more, as it even reduces itself towards his semi-public scenes as the war effort continues to fail. Oldman has some great scenes within this context. His call to FDR is perhaps his best scene in the film where Oldman's face expresses his growing fear brilliantly just as he maintains a certain diplomatic air while speaking though even the fear begins to weigh in there as he receives no real help. The same is true for his scenes in the war council. As much as his yelling scenes, which Oldman is a capital grade A yeller when it comes to incisive yelling, and technically speaking the moments warrant it, it is his quiet moment of resignation that is the most powerful within these scenes. The moment where it appears he will accept a negotiated peace, Oldman does effectively bring Churchill to his lowest point. The film of course takes a rather ridiculous approach as this scene might as well be Rocky Balboa telling Adrian "I'm scared alright" in terms of the structure of the film.

As much as Rocky needs an inspirational dream from Mickey, Churchill needs the same in the form of a group of onlookers riding the underground in London. A scene that might as well be that one from Hook where all the kids in Neverland go "I believe in you Peter" to get Robin Williams's Peter Pan to fight Hook. The scene is unbelievable and is a scene that screams "this never happened" from the moment it begins. It is made even sillier as this instrument of confidence boost for Churchill as though he's in a sports movie. Oldman though to his credit does his absolute best to sell it, and is very charismatic in the scene. He brings to life the energy of Churchill now really playing with the crowd, and being essentially a man of the people. It's a ludicrous scene but Oldman does what he can to at least make some sense of it. This of course leads him towards Churchill to finally secure his confidence to knock out Ivan Drago and defeat the Soviet Union....I mean deliver his final speech and secure his position as prime minister. Now in that final speech Oldman gives it his all, and is effectively rousing. Of course even this the film insists on making a bit silly, even as the speech itself is of reality, by having him walk out of the cheering commons as though he's a badass walking away from an explosion without looking back. Again though with all the flaws of the film I must give Oldman credit for managing his consistently engaging portrayal of this rather thin depiction of Churchill as written. This isn't a definitive Churchill, this isn't Oldman's best work by any margin, but it's a compelling leading turn by an actor who is not given enough of them.

Best Actor 2017: Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out

Daniel Kaluuya received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Chris Washington in Get Out.

Get Out is an effective horror film, though I still feel it stumbles in its conclusion in part due to the inclusion of essentially a sketch comedy scene just when the tension should not be letting up, about a young black man going with his white girlfriend to visit her parents though of course not all is what it seems.

Daniel Kaluuya is a rarity for a best leading actor nominee in being nominated for a horror film, however he is not completely unprecedented in terms of Oscar history. Jason Miller was nominated for The Exorcist in supporting however that was in reality a leading turn. Both actors are essentially the "straight men" discovering this supernatural element that is the essential terror of the film, and the characters both share the burden of having lost their mothers which heavily weighs on both of them. It is still notable that Kaluuya secured this nomination for this role, as it is purposefully the least flashy performance in the film. Chris is meant to be just a pretty normal guy. In the early scenes of the film Kaluuya plays the part without manner or unneeded extravagance. He realizes just a bit of anxiousness as he asks his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) about the upcoming visit however he only carries just a bit more unease than the average man would feel in such circumstances. Kaluuya though presents him as rather calm though and does particularly well in portraying Chris as wholly smitten with Rose bringing a real honesty towards the relationship at every step. He establishes he obviously loves her a great deal, and importantly does shows that this relationship is very important Chris, important enough to stay even when things start to get weird.

The overt weirdness doesn't start right away though as he meets her whole family with her overeager father (Bradley Whitford), easily embarrassed mother (Catherine Keener), and just slightly screwy brother (Caleb Landry Jones) greet him with fairly open arms. Aside from unneeded "accommodations" by the family around his skin color the situation initially isn't anything too off the beaten path. Kaluuya's performance though is effective in that he manages to exude a certain level of embarrassment when asked about his relationship with their daughter, or his smoking habit. Kaluuya makes these though very natural in his work as just a generalized tension of still meeting new people. This is in slight contrast though to when Rose's father constantly seems to make remarks slowly due to Chris being black, and not necessarily unpleasant remarks however he over emphasizes them. Kaluuya's very good in these moments in his reactions kind of internalize this slight eye roll within presenting just a courteous enough manner in his interactions. Kaluuya's great as he meekly kind of delivers his "it's fine" when responding to the behavior as he so well portrays that Chris is being made somewhat uncomfortable by this however he more than easily attunes himsel to just letting it go.

Unfortunately for Chris things begin to get much stranger though as he comes across more people within the circle including the family's African American servants who are not quite right in any sense, and later a large group of elderly friends. This sequence reminded me most of The Wicker Man where our main character attempts to understand what's going amidst a group of people who seem courteous yet quietly hostile at the same time. Kaluuya's work here becomes a performance of really pitch perfect reactions. Kaluuya on one end just does terrific work in creating just a growing unease in Chris with every strange person, and does so well to slowly become gradually all the more nervous the weirder questions he is asked. Kaluuya though also finds a bit of humor at times in these reactions, that are interwoven well at first where he depicts Chris at first thinking maybe just a few of the people are asking odd question. When they all start asking the odd questions Kaluuya effectively moves towards a more overt yet still internalized terror in the man. That is until the titular moment of the film where he meets yet another oddly acting African American man who suddenly lashes out at him. Kaluuya properly delivers the sheer intensity of the fear and the outright confusion in his every being as it becomes clear that something is not right.

The one major challenge, past that of the requirements of the horror straight man, is found within Chris's past involving the death of his mother in a car accident which is realized through the best scene in the film, and the best scene of Kaluuya's performance where he is covertly hypnotized by Rose's mother. Kaluuya is fantastic in this scene as he manages to naturally depict Chris slowly falling into the trance of the hypnosis while also conveying within that constriction the emotion flooding within Chris as he relives the death of his mother. Kaluuya uses his tears so effectively here as he realizes Chris's terrible anguish even while so well depicting him becoming caught within the trap of hypnosis. This leads to the iconic image of the film, which Kaluuya deserves a lot of credit for which is Chris getting lost into the "sunken place". That expression is perfection as it is this summation of this hollowed terror. Now as impressive as that single scene is it is also pivotal in terms of giving understanding to Chris's actions as he stays at the house far longer than sanity should allow. This best realized in his final romantic moment with Rose who eases his fear. Kaluuya's very good in this final scene as he reveals his vulnerabilities to her, however in this moment shows how this assuages his fears. Kaluuya importantly delivers this sense of need in his tenderness in Rose, showing a sense of comfort in their connection not only for the present situation but also in regards to the death of his mother.

The final act of the film is when the most overt horror begins, as do the spoilers, as Chris finds himself the volunteered donor of his body for the highest bidder. Kaluuya here wholly delivers on his end, even as the film too often cuts away diminishing the scenes somewhat, in portraying the completely overwhelming fear in Chris as he learns the truth. He carries this properly creating the true sense of horror as he learns of his true purpose for the family. Kaluuya properly keeps this as a constant even as Chris attempts to make his escape, which he carefully does not make Chris suddenly some sort of action hero. Kaluuya instead realizes this man fighting for his life in a particularly visceral sense. Every moment of his personal battle Kaluuya keeps building the tension by bringing such a palatable sense of desperation in Chris as he essentially goes from one threat to another. Kaluuya keeps the emotions very much alive as throughout the climax builds the wear in Chris even beyond just how exhausted he is. Kaluuya makes the brutality that Chris himself must deliver to survive takes something out of him, and exudes the pain it takes in him as he witnesses this death and destruction as well as is forced to take part in it. His best scene in this sequence is perhaps in the end where he faces down the revealed to be sociopath Rose. Kaluuya as he attempts his personal revenge is outstanding in bringing the initial hatred of his betrayal in his eyes as he chokes her, however so well depicts his old love for her, which was real on his end, fade into his mind that keeps him from killing her. By the end of the film Kaluuya shows all that Chris has been through as he exits the film, though he has survived, he reveals the toll that all of it has taken on him. Although his work is the least overtly showy within the film Kaluuya delivers the best performance in the film acting as this needed anchor that not only allows the horror to get under your skin, but also anchors it to a real emotional core within his character.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Best Actor 2017: Denzel Washington in Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Denzel Washington received his eighth acting Oscar nomination for portraying the titular character of Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. is Dan Gilroy's followup to Nightcrawler which followed an anti-social character through the world of scandalized news, this film attempts the same though through the legal world. Unfortunately this film is far less successful with its unfocused narrative that has several threads that could potentially be compelling in themselves however none of them receive proper development leaving the film aimless.

A consistent element within both films is it casts in its lead a noted thespian in a role that tests their range as an actor through an idiosyncratic character. Jake Gyllenhaal's Lou Bloom, who lead Gilroy's last effort, was an ambitious sociopath who attempted to conquer the world in his own demented way. In this film we get Roman J. Israel, a legal savant, with a personal style of yesteryear, and a personality that likely lands him somewhere on the autism spectrum. The role at the very least offers something very much out of Denzel Washington's comfort zone as an actor who, while having played many different types of roles over the years, generally plays confident very socially competent men. Roman is meant to standout like a sore thumb with his 70's afro, his constant use of head phones, prominent teeth, oversized glasses, and grape colored suits. Roman is a sight to behold all on his own so it only makes sense that we are not going to get a typical Denzel Washington performance. This is almost kind of a weird choice as Washington's charisma is one of his great assets as a performer so it is perhaps an odd choice to rip that from him, however it does give us Washington a challenge that we've never seen him before partake of.

Washington's performance exists in a bubble and perhaps that is for the best as the film surrounding him is a bit of a mess. Roman does stand apart in a way that I will say allows Washington to give it his best with a certain degree of consistency even as the film takes such a scattershot approach. Washington goes head first into his performance here and I have to say there is a certain interest in just watching Washington approach this character. In the opening scene of the film, well after a cryptic narration that establishes where Roman might be heading by the end of the film, we first meet Roman as he goes about his legal work in a two man law firm where he specializes in preparing cases while his partner handles the actual courtroom work. Washington plays Roman as a man with a certain mental deficiency in the way he exhibits the character's attention. When he working Roman plays a man completely focused into whatever he is doing on the paper, however this is not with a typical dogged emotional determination. Washington instead depicts it as this detached focus who has to mentally position himself into this single activity. The intensity of this focus is great, but Washington effectively portrays this without the weight of sentiment in a way. The man just is in his element as he does this work but also a man who is wholly in a world of his own, on a mental plain that just is not the norm.

When he hears some terrible news that his partner in law has had a heart attack Washington realizes this unique state all the more, as his reactions shows that the man barely hears the news. He takes a moment, a moment where he seems to process this new direction for his mind and this portrays almost this dysfunction in Roman's way of thinking as he has to go from one frame of mind to another. Washington in this does something rather interesting in that he portrays this conflict within the moment as most of still has this upbeat focus on his current legal activity, yet there is a completely separate emotion creeping separately from that state that he expresses as something that grows and builds until Roman suddenly becomes sorrowful. Washington is convincing in portraying this wholly different way that this man processes information. This is consistent factor and rather interestingly this is something he shares with Gilroy's previous "protagonist" Lou Bloom, in that Roman also simply doesn't function on the normal human level of thought. The difference though is where Gyllenhall's showed that Lou seemed to attempt to take steps in order to imitate normal human behavior, in sort of wearing literal faces type of way, Washington portrays Roman as blissfully unaware that he is at all different from the average person.

We see this throughout the film with the way Roman handles clients and courtroom procedure. Washington consistently portrays the manner of Roman as this specified directness as though the man can only focus on one thing at a time properly. Again Washington is actually quite effective in realizing this personal style of the man as he goes about negotiating plea bargains and dealing with court procedure. Washington makes Roman wholly without proper manner, how with this very exact conviction in every delivery of a master of legalities. At the same time though Washington makes this completely without social sensibilities so when any sort of tact is required Washington lacks that and does well to show how it is that Roman consistently gets himself into trouble nonetheless. Washington depicts Roman with the confidence of a genius but without the ability to convey this genius in any useful fashion much of the time. The passion in Washington's delivery is specifically within the words that directly convey his message without any time spent to smooth them over towards whomever he is speaking with. Washington does well to make Roman his own worst enemy who obviously has some great ability in him yet is completely unable to soften it in a digestible form for those around him to make it of any use.

We see this in Roman in every facet of his life even beyond when he is not directly acting as counsel. After losing his legal partner is forced a couple of options that leave him to work with the hot shot attorney George Pierce (Colin Farrell) or attempt to return to his grass roots days of old. Although the whole angle of the grass roots is poorly conceived I will say Washington is great in the scenes that involve them. His first scene where he goes to seek employment there by meeting with one of the workers Maya (Carmen Ejogo) and he attempts to describe his old days while being basically turned down for the job. Washington has a terrific moment where he reveals the clash in Roman's mind where he tries to evoke his professional method yet the somberness of reflecting his old days reveals itself through seeming almost a random emotion in his years. Washington makes this feel natural within Roman's way of dealing with emotion which again is as this clash that reveals itself in an unusual fashion for a normal person yet is consistent to everything we know from Washington's development of Roman's character. Roman once again being a man who can only really operate with one frame of a mind at any time, and anything forcing a mix Washington depicts as leaving him as a bit of a mess.

Now the film itself is again unfocused but I will say Washington's approach does its best to at least alleviate this within the character of Roman. Technically speaking Roman suddenly decides to misuse his legal privileges, suddenly decides to work with Pierce, suddenly reveals his potentially earth shattering legal reforms, everything is very sudden and to a ridiculous extreme. Washington to his credit manages to make sense of these wildly diverging choices because he does make sense of Roman's way of dealing with his world. He takes the bribe because Washington shows that Roman gets caught in the mindset of cynicism after losing his friend, and almost his job with Pierce. We get a moment of conflict in this betrayal of his morals but this is shown through Washington again revealing at this problematic clash in his mind, a moment of intense emotion that Roman again doesn't seem to know what to do with it so instead focuses on making money from misusing information from a client. Every extreme action makes sense as Washington shows it as it becomes that narrow focus that controls Roman's actions. When he loses the crowd at a town hall, Washington portrays it very well as Roman getting caught on the idea of being what he feels is courteous and just can express any nuance in the moment. His treatment of Pierce as sometimes a sorta foe, other times an ally Washington successfully reveals as whether Roman is caught in his ideals, or caught in his ego. Washington manages to give life to Roman's unique behavior and makes sense out of it. His performance as it stands alone is compelling because he pulls off this tricky role made trickier by the material. The film has its lead, it unfortunately doesn't know what to do with him. Washington to his credit though never get overwhelmed by the film's shortcomings in fact he does his absolute best to amplify the few qualities it has. Washington tests his range here, as he also did in Fences, and once again delivers. It's a shame that his work is not in a successful film, however as it stands alone it is strong work from Washington who I hope continues to take these chances.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Best Actor 2017: Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread

Daniel Day-Lewis received his sixth Oscar nomination for portraying Reynolds Woodcock in Phantom Thread.

Phantom Thread is a stunning film in every regard about the relationship between a famed fashion designer and a mysterious young waitress.

Three time best actor Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis delivers here his self-proclaimed final cinematic performance, announcing his retirement long before the film's release. We of course have been down this path before with Day-Lewis's foray into the world of professional cobbling in the late 90's before he returned again to the world of acting. Of course acting is not a simple thing of putting on an act for Daniel Day-Lewis, it hasn't been for some time, instead it is this full bodied devotion to his art. An act that some may believe to be ridiculous, or pretensions, but you cannot argue with the results. Day-Lewis through his performances over the years, in a select group of films, has crafted a reputation greater than any other actor living currently. Day-Lewis's name has become synonymous with "great actor". It is then interesting to examine Day-Lewis's work in this film where he also plays an artist so fervently devoted to his craft that it seems to guide his entire life. I suppose you couldn't ask for a better actor to fulfill the role though perhaps this time where the acting begins and Day-Lewis ends might blur a bit. This is his first role in some time where Day-Lewis uses his native accent for a role, and bears no concealing facial hair. The period costumes even seem similair those he wears are closest to where the public most often sees Day-Lewis outside of a film, which is at award shows.

Does Day-Lewis play himself here? No I don't believe so, however it is fascinating to see Day-Lewis, an actor known for his transformative work in general, take on a role that demands he work with a character and material that far more closely hones towards his own existence than he did as a hunter in the French and Indian war or an oil man during the early 20th century. Who better then than Day-Lewis to reveal the level of ambition for a man who so devotes himself to his art. In the opening scene of the film we see a day in the house of Woodcock, which is neither the setting of a pornographic film nor one starring Billy Bob Thornton. Day-Lewis does not disappoint in this inherent intensity he brings to Reynolds. The sheer devotion of the man seems to take up his very being, as one could argue Day-Lewis does when playing a part. There is not just single facet of the man that evokes this determination towards perfection. Every element in Day-Lewis's work represents a man consumed in his art as in his eyes seem to examine every piece of fabric to ensure not a single flaw exists, his physical manner all drawn into the act of creating this perfection, Day-Lewis creates this sense of the man's very soul being sewn within his clothing. The act of making the dress is not a single bit of threads, needles, and material, it is almost of a man risking his very existence as he goes about this precarious exterior surgery of the human form.

After the initial sequence of seeing Reynolds in his full devotion we are left with the man outside of the act at its greatest purity. There is however not a respite in this act as we tend to see Reynolds rarely without his notebook penciling his next masterpiece, just as Day-Lewis himself does not drop character between takes. Day-Lewis captures essentially this burden of the artistic spark within the man that rarely seems to grant him any respite. Day-Lewis as he draws in the pad does not reveal any great joy in Reynolds rather he reveals a strict devotion to every stroke. There is the sense of a required need towards it as though he must be immersed within this work at all times. It is his existence and the years of this weight of a assumed responsibility bears itself within Day-Lewis's work. Just as Reynolds must craft his next immaculate dress, in a way Day-Lewis needs to craft this immaculate performance. This intention to their mutual enterprise offers perhaps a view of the idea of ambition like few other performances have every approached, other than perhaps Day-Lewis in his last venture with Paul Thomas Anderson in There Will Be Blood. Where that film and Day-Lewis revealed a man who tore apart the earth itself to satiate his greed, Day-Lewis reveals a man as driven, but in a way far more internalized.

Day-Lewis vividly reveals the man whose state leaves only a small window for others to inflict themselves within his world. We see this early on as Reynolds's current romantic partner attempts any sort of conversation or distraction while Reynolds's works. There is not a glint of affection or care that Day-Lewis grants as he allows his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) to quickly dispose of the woman from the grounds. There is a replacement for her forthcoming when he journey into the country coming across a waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps). It's a pivotal scene where they meet particularly towards the way Day-Lewis depicts this. In that there is not overt moment of attraction until he notices her from a mistake she makes while working. There Day-Lewis grants a most interested view and perhaps a sense of a chance for affection as he speaks to her with an initial tenderness. The evening with Reynolds though is not that of merely a joyful conversation or even love making rather he takes upon himself to examine her most closely. In every moment Day-Lewis is transfixed towards here. Day-Lewis creates at least enough of a sense of an infatuation yet there is most certainly more within that. There is an analysis within his eyes as he stares at her seeming as though he trying to find something through her.

What is that Reynolds seems to be seeking may be found as he begins to fashion a dress for Alma, and begins to prepare her as one of his models. The dressing down, then re-dressing of Alma is a particularly important moment in Day-Lewis's realization of Reynolds's initial use of Alma in a way. He essentially dissects her elements with the cold precision of an utmost professional in every step of his process, however there is the glint of warmth and real pride in Day-Lewis's delivery when Alma expresses her lack of breasts, and Reynolds affirms he shall give them to her. Day-Lewis reveals Reynolds initial interest of a man to realize a perfection in this woman, though a perfection through his own creation. Their process of courtship becomes his work towards making her an essential element within his masterworks. When we see this process Day-Lewis once again brings that conviction seemingly within Reynolds's work effort. There is never a lack of devotion. His interactions with Alma though there is a sense of desperation in these interactions. Day-Lewis offers this in particular the way he shows Reynolds stares at her, once he's dressed her, seeming to be of a man looking for the slightest imperfection, and being almost terrified at the prospect. This is until a final photograph session where we see Alma seemingly having achieved sheer perfection while Day-Lewis fully projects a palatable admiration in Reynolds towards her, yet only for a brief moment which Day-Lewis portrays as though Reynolds has made his accomplishment but now quickly loses his attention.

Day-Lewis simply presents Reynolds as ready to resume his existence and move onto whatever his next masterpiece will be however Alma remains. Her moments of the slightest indiscretions that lead to distraction in Reynolds, Day-Lewis reveals Reynolds to be really a rather contemptible if not intolerable sort. Day-Lewis however is downright brilliant in how effective he is in creating the vicious edge of the man who is so absorbed within his work. That absorption that Day-Lewis creates such a tension within that anything that disrupts that specific equilibrium creates a shock wave matching that level of tension within it. Now these scenes are perhaps what some might go to see a Day-Lewis performance for. Day-Lewis's performance is not built around these scenes and moments by any means and what makes them so special is his realization of how naturally they are a part of revealing the nature of Reynolds. The insults and barbs Reynolds unleash pierce like few you might see in cinema due to the incisiveness of Day-Lewis's voice. Day-Lewis cuts through anything with this as he unleashes this exact anger and frustration like few can onscreen. It is something more here something that reveals itself within how much every word carries such a meaning in Reynolds's hate. In a scene where Alma surprises Reynolds with a date, much to his dismay, Reynolds tears into her, though with a specific wording as though she's somehow harmed him, with a request for her to reveal her weapon she intends to kill him with. Day-Lewis thrusts forward this technically petulant hatred that goes much deeper than a simple annoyance, but rather is representative of the man's defenses when it appears anyone would wish to shatter this world that has been created around him and for him.

This behavior though alludes to something more within Reynolds that can be found within his relationship with his deceased mother. Every moment where Reynolds speaks of her Day-Lewis realizes the sheer depth of the weight of her on the man's life. Whenever he speaks of her Day-Lewis's eyes are that of a haunted man but not in a way of just merely having lost someone he loved. There is something far more within this as there is a certain pain just as much as he speaks potentially admiring words Day-Lewis does not deliver them as though he simply loved his mother, there is something far more complicated in this that Day-Lewis realizes in his interactions with Manville's Cyril and Krieps's Alma who both perhaps represent sides of his mother in a very peculiar way. With Cyril we see a facilitator for Reynolds, but also the one who limits his own aggression. Day-Lewis in his interactions with Manville depicts this sense of submission even within seeming control as when he speaks of one of his decisions Day-Lewis looks upon her with the desperate need for an authoritative guidance that will suppose his petulance at times. When she denies Day-Lewis reveals this pain and attempt at a hatred as he attempts to assert his control yet is routinely denied his outburst by her. He granted only the calmest of assurances by her that Day-Lewis shows calms Reynolds's anger, but perhaps that is not enough. In Alma there is more. There his outbursts are more severe, more intense, but Alma doesn't back down and keeps challenging Reynolds. Day-Lewis portrays these simpler challenges as only revealing this hatred towards that personal closed economy of his mind. It is only when she goes beyond a simple break of it to a larger one does Day-Lewis reveal an appreciation for her. This pivotal though in that Day-Lewis shows the reduction of the man to essentially a boy in these moments who seems to understand his punishment revealing the greatest of affections when given these lessons. These lessons that would be more fitting of a mother, such acting as a brat, you go to bed without supper, Alma does a bit of a subversion of that, refusing to go to a party, you are left alone to stew in your room. It is after these punishments Day-Lewis projects a most powerful love the for her, a love that he had only known fully once before in his mother, where he is never supported for his indiscretions, but is also rewarded for learning to overcome them. The, what could be described as a twisted state, is granted such vibrancy and reality within Day-Lewis's performance. This element of the film is not really spoken past a few words yet wholly realized through Daniel Day-Lewis portrait of this man. The truth is Day-Lewis merely introduces us to the man he's become in this film, Reynolds Woodcock. That is the man we come to know. There is no performance here is there fully embodied and tangible. The sheer greatness of this work could almost be overlooked by some by the ease in which Day-Lewis encapsulates such a complex figure. It should not be hand waved be though as no one could deliver this performance as Day-Lewis does so here. Day-Lewis can be taken for granted but he should not be. What he taps into here is something special that only he perhaps fully knows as an actor. I will admit I framed this performance over Reynolds is relation to the real Day-Lewis to ease the construction of this review, however I do think there is something to why this is potentially the final performance by Daniel Day-Lewis. I don't think Day-Lewis is like Reynolds as a person, I don't believe he was about to become Ronald Colman in A Double Life, however there is a definite connection in terms of that devotion to one's art. The fact that we get to see this personified through his work here is a true treasure to behold, and this is a masterful turn that could only be delivered by Daniel Day-Lewis.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Best Actor 2017

And the Nominees Are:

Denzel Washington in Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name

Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour

Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread

Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out

Best Supporting Actor 2017: Results

5. Richard Jenkins in The Shape of Water - Jenkins gives a wonderful performance very much as the type of truly "supporting" supporting performance by offering just bit of extra humor, warmth and emotion to the film.

Best Scene: Repeating the signs. 
4. Christopher Plummer in All the Money in the World - Plummer's post-last minute work here stands on its own, past the unorthodox nature of his casting, through his captivating portrayal of the world's richest man who he brings to life as indeed a commanding miser, but with a sense of humanity even within his most despicable behavior.

Best Scene: Fletcher confronting Getty.
3. Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project -Dafoe delivers one of his best performances through his earnest and always genuine portrayal of decent man trying to keep his optimism through much adversity. It's quietly poignant portrayal of an honest warmth within a rather harsh environment.

Best Scene: Dealing with a pedophile. 
2. Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Harrelson grants his character here a notable charisma and brings out the best in his film's humor. He goes further though in giving a rather heartbreaking portrayal of a man facing his own mortality.

Best Scene: Interrogation room. 
1. Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Good Predictions Mitchell, Giuseppe, Tahmeed, Luke, Jackiboyz, Maciej, RatedRStar, Omar, Robert, GM, Michael McCarthy, Anonymous, Matthew C. Well for me Rockwell tops this fantastic year for supporting actor nominees. Rockwell as expected brings such an energy through his performance, and where Harrelson excels in the verbal humor though Rockwell does that too, Rockwell is dynamite with the physical humor around his character's buffoonery. Rockwell's work is most remarkable though in successfully delivering his character's arc from a terrible man to a broken man finally starting to see his mistakes.

Best Scene: Dixon brings news to Mildred. 

Best Supporting Actor 2017: Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Woody Harrelson received his third Oscar nomination for portraying Chief Bill Willoughby in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri tells the story of Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), the mother of a murdered teenage girl, who rents three billboards in an attempt to force the local police force to solve the murder. I will say I loved Three Billboards the first time I saw the film, though I had a few reservations, however over time the film has come under intense criticism. Of course this likely would not be so fervent however given that it once claimed the best picture front runner position, without having any assumed "importance" in a general sense, which in the days of social media leads to more scrutiny on the film than would be received by a recently discovered Vincent van Gogh painting. Well, finally re-watching the film, with all this negativity swirling around,  I have to say...my appreciation for the film has only burgeoned. Now with the entire film in perspective I can see it is not about the heroic mother fighting for her daughter in the slightest, as I will admit I wrongly assumed it was in my initial viewing, there are no heroes here only flawed people trying to make due with their losses. Now there is major facet of the backlash I haven't dealt with, but I'll get to that with the second review.

First let's have a nice easy time looking at Woody Harrelson successfully breaking the over twenty year gap of having no two supporting actors in a single film nominated. Harrelson, despite having the smaller role, managed to find his way into this lineup even with so much praise going to two of his co-stars, one in the very same category. Harrelson's achievement then is notable and it becomes readily obvious why he was able to break that trend through his work here. On the surface it seems we might get just a good old Woody Harrelson performance as a good old boy. Not that there isn't anything inherently wrong with that as Woody Harrelson only need compete with Matthew McConaughey when comes to the primary actor for a good old boy role. In fact Harrelson quite excels in that facet particularly as it relates to director/writer Martin McDonagh's humor, which is technically is a touch more low key in this film than his previous efforts. Harrelson's comedic timing is perfection for what is to be had through Willoughby's quiet way of venting his frustrations over the situation, whether it be confusion over "a lady with a funny eye" lodging a complaint over the billboards, or in his attempt to explain to Mildred the makeup of his police force.

Now this good old boy routine goes a bit further here with Harrelson's performance as he needs to establish why everyone seems to love Willoughby, and why does everyone hate Mildred's signs for calling him out by name. Harrelson does so by being quite charming here and delivers the needed charisma to this "great" man. This includes when Willoughby is dealing with his worst man where he brings almost a fatherly manner in his reprimands and his defense of their shortcomings. Harrelson portrays Willoughby as someone willing to listen and ready to look for the good in people whether he should or not. Willoughby even when dealing with the very hostile Mildred delivers these lines particularly well. As he offers a definite sympathy even within the frustrations as he explains his legitimate reasons for his failures to catch the killer, and his disagreement with her use of the billboards. Harrelson reveals Willoughby as this inherently likable mediator who is evidently trying his best even if not given credit for it. On a slightly side note it also must be mentioned that Harrelson is particularly great in the two scenes he has with Willoughby's daughters brings such tremendous heart in every moment of his earnest interactions with them, making Willoughby a genuine and wholly believable great literal father as well.

The real key to Harrelson's work though is his portrayal of the chief dealing with his terminal pancreatic cancer diagnosis. We are first introduced to this when he brings it up to Mildred in their initial conversation. Harrelson is amazing in this scene as he more overtly reveals Willoughby's vulnerabilities to her and he is particularly affecting in revealing in his eyes just how distraught he is as she initially offers no sympathy in return. This facet of the character is something Harrelson elegantly weaves into his work even when he not directly dealing with it. One of my favorite scenes of Harrelson's is when he checks out the report on the murder near the billboards. Harrelson doesn't say anything about his own upcoming demise, yet his moments of examining the shadow of the sign as though it marks the grave of the victim he conveys the sense of Willoughby quietly seeing his own mortality in the context that he knows he'll never solve the case. Harrelson does not waste the more overt moments though which uses well as the brief times when the man simply cannot hide it anymore, or is forced to not be able to. He's downright heartbreaking when he suddenly spits up blood as Harrelson so honestly apologizes, and reveals the intensity of the very real overwhelming fear of the moment. The same is true in the scene where we see him essential make his final decision when briefly left alone at the hospital. After having just a brief moment of warmth with his wife (Abbie Cornish), where Harrelson once again projects Willoughby's seemingly unshakable charm, when alone his breakdown is incredibly moving as the complete sorrow in his expression reveals a man who knows he has no hope for survival. Harrelson exits the film soon afterwards physically though he has a few more vocal scenes through letters Willoughby left for a select few people. Harrelson delivers these in a pretty straight forward way, as a man proof reading his letters basically, though still these are rather emotional letters so this is not in a hollow sense, it is effectively handled to the point he gets one more laugh out of me even when leaving one last good-natured insult to one of the recipients. The general ideas of the letters though is Willoughby's continued influence on the story despite his departure. Well Harrelson also continues his influence on the film despite his early exit through his hard edged yet heartfelt portrayal of the tragedy of a man out of time yet with still so much left to do. 
Sam Rockwell won his Oscar from his first Oscar nomination for portraying Officer Jason Dixon in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Well this brings me to the more complicated part of the review, which would be quite different if say I was reviewing this performance in a few years from now. I could just go about looking at the performance, but unfortunately there is a bit baggage that needs unpacking. The strongest backlash of the film has been built around the character of Jason Dixon. One faction of this criticism is completely ridiculous, those who believe Rockwell should not be rewarded for playing a racist. Well I guess stop everything and re-write every acting award as best performance as a nice character and rescind the Oscars given to Anthony Hopkins, Kathy Bates, Heath Ledger and so many others for playing such despicable sorts. I'll admit that is only one faction though, the second faction requires a bit more effort to broach their criticism. This criticism against the redemptive arc of Jason Dixon as a character despite being a racist. One being it is illogical and impossible. Well that's just not the case, one can look no further than the true story of John Newton who went from slaver to abolitionist, that is frankly a far more extreme conversion than the one you witness in Three Billboards. There's of course more to this, but I'll be touching upon this in the actual review of the performance, and not just the character.

Sam Rockwell to start off takes the right approach to the role of Dixon which is to make to sure to emphasize the sheer stupidity of the character. This is from his opening scene of inspecting the billboards where he questions the men putting up the new signs on the billboards without the candor of someone you would describe as a seasoned detective. Rockwell mumbles the delivery of Dixon attempting to question the men and is rather amusing in his bungled way of attempting to threaten one of the men with arrest for improper bucket disposal. Rockwell's performance purposefully constructs the role from this outset so that we laugh at Dixon never with Dixon. In this scene there is no incisiveness as he asks them but rather we see the sheer idiocy of the man in his attempt to be any sort of cop. We see this continued in Dixon's way of speaking casually offensive language most related to homosexuals and the mentally handicapped, though notably he mostly avoids anything towards African American even attempting to revise Mildred's language, only speaking offensive words in his explanation to stop it, though more on that later. Rockwell's delivery of these words are not as comical jabs, but sloppy ramblings of a fool. He makes them just the words he's probably been saying, and taught by his mother to say as just a second nature. It's not a pretty sight and Rockwell plays it as such.

Rockwell does give a often comedic performance but this is in a very specific fashion. That is Rockwell makes every comical moments related to Dixon being something you laugh at and again never with him. When Dixon is attempting, and failing at his tough cop routine, as realized through Rockwell's approach as this over eager idiot attempting to be far more than he is. He's very funny though when ever he shows Dixon kind of fall out of this act whenever someone mentions his mother. Rockwell's hilarious in his way of slipping in thought and immediately becoming a real mama's boy in his sudden switch to this very petulant manner. Rockwell's great as whenever this happens it is an immediate almost instinctual return seemingly to a school ground dope as he either defends his mother, or awkwardly attempts to say she has less influence on him then they claim. As much as Rockwell excels with the few verbal "spars" that come from Dixon's incompetence the real comedy gold comes in his physical performance. As usually is the case for Rockwell, he's a very energetic and dynamic performer in this sense. He's terrific here in almost being a classical silent buffoon in his depiction of Dixon being a bungler in body as well as mind. This is in the more overt moments such his fearless dancing, which is always a Rockwellian treat, but more importantly in every moment Dixon is trying to be intimidating.

That can be in fairly simple ways just as the way Dixon sits back in his chair is as though he's this "badass" cop, but in fact just looks like a hapless layabout. Two favorite moments of mine is when Mildred comes to confront him, and Rockwell does this attempted dramatic get out of his chair yet get slightly caught up while doing so, or his later moment is when Dixon attempts to find his badge. Rockwell's timing just couldn't be better in making Dixon such a fool. Every one of Rockwell's little physical pratfalls is a delight that thankfully seems spring of the moment, even though they probably were not, and again is so good at reinforcing the sheer idiocy of the character that we are meant to laugh at. Of course this isn't just an entertaining look at a incompetent bully. There is that arc of the character that has become such a point of controversy in the film, making Dixon perhaps the most controversial character in any film in 2017. I stand by the idea of the reformed racist is in reality possible, but I also think what Rockwell does in the role contributes to making it feasible within the context of the film and character. The point of contention that probably most damns Dixon is the accusation that Dixon tortured an African American suspect in prison. We never learn the truth of this matter in the film, in fact Rockwell portrays the moments where this is brought as an desperate defensiveness. A defensiveness that seems ill-fitting to a truly unabashed racist, who would more likely be smugly prideful over their accomplishment, Rockwell's approach once again suggests maybe the charge is not wholly true or at least not so simple.

Of course there is evidence against old Dixon when we do see him beat a couple of people, the two whitest people in the film the main one is even called Red (Caleb Landry Jones), but that's not the point. It is important though to remember the context of the sequence. Red, the man the beatings is aimed at, is the person Dixon has been pressuring specifically due to his allowance of the billboards that Rockwell has always emphasized his distaste most strongly within the use of Willoughby's name. When Willoughby exits it is important to note Rockwell's portrayal of a complete breakdown and grief at the loss of the chief he clearly so respected. The sequence of Dixon going about beating Red, Rockwell portrays as a man with a mind set towards some act of revenge for the chief, but not a lick of intelligence within the act. Now even with having said that Dixon is not a good person, and Rockwell portrays him as such. The question though comes into the transformation of the character, which actually begins right after the beating Red scene. Rockwell reveals a real sheepishness when called upon his actions by being immediately being fired and his reaction is as though Dixon thought he was going to be thanked for "avenging" Willoughby. Dixon is instead fired leading to an important scene for Rockwell's performance. That is as his mother goes on like usual, Rockwell portrays Dixon finally with any introspection for his actions. Rockwell shows that obviously he isn't instantly changed, but is finally focusing on some of his mistakes. There's a specific modicum of shame that Rockwell finds when his mother suggests with racist mindset to get rid of the new chief who is black. His reaction infers a sense that Dixon is finally at least starting to see what his mother's words have gotten him, not that he's suddenly some progressive hero. Rockwell instead in these few scenes just reveals a pathetic man without anything really left except for his self-loathing as he seems to realize he's done wrong.

Rockwell already establishes that before Dixon gets his own letter from Willoughby that encourages him to try change his ways and solve the murder case. He is immediately greeted to a wall fire, created by Mildred via Molotov cocktails to burn the station not to hurt Dixon, leading to his first set of injuries. Dixon's first real act of change comes in the hospital where the equally injured Red comes to see if the bandaged Dixon is okay. Rockwell delivers Dixon's initial apology as just naturalistic swell of emotion as a reaction towards someone giving him sympathy despite his brutality towards them. Dixon after these scenes still doesn't become some super man in fact Rockwell shows a man drowning in his sorrows of the sorry state of his life when he's in the bar who just happens to come across as man bragging about a vicious rape. The idea of Dixon doing what the man he respected so much asked him to do is made believable. Again Rockwell doesn't make him suddenly this virtuous saint, but rather a pretty pitiful man just trying to do one thing. Rockwell is outstanding in his scene of presenting the evidence he received to Mildred. Rockwell revealing of a slightly changed man is of this timid sort with his delivering emphasizing his awkwardness of a man just trying to do what he believes is the right thing. Rockwell makes even this is still a sad state as Dixon is clearly still mostly a screw up. There is one great moment where Dixon attempts to speak some wisdom about learning things, and for a moment seems to go back to his casually offensive remarks almost by instinct. Rockwell is great in his reaction as he shows Dixon after that line just one again recognizing his past again as he holds his head in shame. Rockwell doesn't portray Dixon as finding new life as a hero, but just doing one thing his old boss asked him to do. Rockwell even in his near final sign reveals just a man in near suicidal state clearly overcome by his past, hardly as this new reformed sort, but rather a man just finally aware of the many mistakes of his life.  This is an fantastic performance by Sam Rockwell. One gets some classic Rockwellian moments, which are always nice, and he adjusts them to this character, but really what is most remarkable is his successful realization of Dixon's arc. An arc that is not of a bad man to a good man, but a bad man who is slowly realizing he's done wrong.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Best Supporting Actor 2017: Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project

Willem Dafoe received his third Oscar nomination for portraying Bobby Hicks in The Florida Project.

The Florida Project focuses on the denizens of a low grade motel near Disney World during the summer.

The Florida Project doesn't hold back, well other than in its questionable ending, in terms of portraying the state of its impoverished characters. It doesn't ease this by giving them hearts of gold. The mother is a violent crude prostitute, the daughter's favorite hobby is vandalism, and random creeps are a norm in and around the motel. The one breath of fresh air within the entire film is Willem Dafoe as the motel super Bobby. This is interesting as Dafoe usually is cast as duplicitous sorts including in 2017, such as his death loving demon in Death Note, or even as one of the suspects in Murder on the Orient Express. Dafoe even in some of his more sympathetic roles can often be as colder men, so it is a nice change of pace to see Dafoe in this role. Now on the surface though this role might not seem like a whole lot. Dafoe is technically in quite a few scenes but on the whole he doesn't have an excessive amount of lines. Dafoe is usually there in some way or another though, and what Dafoe does here that is so special in finding the exact presence that Bobby brings to this rather dingy place.

Dafoe first appears as he settles a dispute caused by the often unaccompanied kids. I love Dafoe from this very first scene in the way he handles Bobby's method of dealing with the problem. The thing is Dafoe doesn't portray it as some angelic saint in the moment as he brings a realistic demanding quality as he requests the mother sort it out as well as is particularly blunt in his delivery of threatening to kick her out for smoking in their room. What Dafoe though does do is portray this inherent sympathy in Bobby's attitude not as just a guy doing his job, even though he is doing that, but also someone who is doing his best to do the right thing. Dafoe is great at being a downright great guy. I love his scene of dealing with a blackout in the motel where he depicts a genuine frustration of course when it first occurs, but carries so naturally this good nature of Bobby as he fixes the problem, despite the less than positive attitude of everyone else around. Dafoe makes this believable because he shows the effort in the right way. It's not in terms of the "effort" of his performance, nor does it show that Bobby is faking either. Dafoe rather has this way within his reactions where he turns for a moment like he's going to get mad, but smiles instead. It's not a false smile but rather Dafoe realizes the thoughts of the moment as though Bobby always finds his way into a bit of optimism whenever he can.

Dafoe's performance is this balance he finds in his work through his portrayal of a guy who is trying to make the best of his situation at every point. Dafoe is terrific in this because he makes it so convincing in every scene. It is not as though he is without moments of melancholy however Dafoe presents these moments as Bobby seeing the reality around him but not being overwhelmed by it. Dafoe's work is this great portrayal of a man always looking for the bright side of life. In this sense he is always this source of relief whenever he appears onscreen. Dafoe isn't one note in this and it's remarkable how much he can do within his seemingly limited part. Dafoe offers not only that relief but also some natural humor throughout the film. This includes his way of dealing with the kids directly which are all minor gems. Dafoe brings the energy of an adult who wants the kids to enjoy their childhood, though too much, and bringing the right sense of fun every time he speaks to them. Whether it is directly allowing them to play, such as giving them a hide and go seek spot, or kicking them out of his office for sloppy ice cream eating Dafoe delivers every line with a real warmth. His whole manner towards the kids is as technically proper father should be as there is enough of a stern quality in Dafoe portrayal but always with this sense of a real concern no matter what the interaction may be.

The good nature of the character is never one note or simplistic. One scene that I adore on Dafoe's end is when he insists on counting a tenets money despite her protests against it. Dafoe's great though as he does reveal a sense of frustration in the complaints but even within the frustration is oh so endearing as there is this emphasis on the positive even when there are no positives through Dafoe's approach. Dafoe makes Bobby this mediator in every moment as trying to find the right option in dealing the situations. Two particularly strong scenes for Dafoe are in this way one where he deals with a john where Dafoe manages to have this forcefulness despite always carrying this certain ease as he calmly points out the man and the woman's wrongs separately in turn. The second being when he dispatches a pedophile who has invaded the child filled property. Dafoe again realizes so well this method of Bobby as he gets the man away from the kids through this smoothing things over by so earnestly offering a drink, though Dafoe's eyes always show the real disgust in Bobby, until he's gotten him sufficiently away before lashing out just enough to scare the man off. That's what Dafoe does so effectively throughout which is showing this guy just smoothing everything out best he possibly can given his situation. Dafoe also though is always as this decent man in really an indecent place, and this facet of his work is especially poignant. Dafoe in his moments of just reacting to what's going on around him with Bobby only getting involved when it is right to. Dafoe never wastes a second in any moment, particularly towards the end as Dafoe reveals such a sense of the real pains of the place just through Dafoe's subtle portrayal of Bobby's humanity. He doesn't have a moment exactly in the final scenes yet I found him easily the most resonate aspect of the ending because he makes that sense of concern in the man so honest every moment he is onscreen. Dafoe delivers a great understated performance here as he successfully makes Bobby such a cathartic character. Although he not exactly the focus you get to know his Bobby, and you particularly start to like him a great deal as he stands as this true bright spot within candy colored darkness. Now this review should be over, but I would be remiss if I did not mention his scene of wrangling a few large birds. It's hilarious, we need more scenes of Dafoe talking to birds. That is all.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Best Supporting Actor 2017: Richard Jenkins in The Shape of Water

Richard Jenkins received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Giles in The Shape of Water.

The Shape of Water follows the story of a mute janitor, Elisa (Sally Hawkins), for a government facility finding love in the aquatic creature imprisoned there.

The Shape of Water is not a very subtle film. It focuses on the grandiose broad strokes in its overarching romance, including even a dance musical number, but also in terms of its social  commentary angle. The oppressed are the good guys whether they be the mute woman, the African American woman, the secret communist, the sea creature, and of course the gay man. Meanwhile the straight laced "average man" of the fifties is an evil psychopath. That's character's name is Strickland that pretty much sums up the film's approach in this regard. Now most films with such an overt approach I might take some umbrage with, however it works in this film because of the overarching stylistic realization of the film by director Guillermo del Toro. The film in every facet is that of a heightened reality to begin with enabling for such a broad approach. In a way it takes an old school musical Astaire/Rogers musical approach to telling the story of the creature from the black lagoon...in love. This includes in the character of Giles played by Richard Jenkins, originally intended for Ian McKellen which says something about the nature of the role. It isn't so much the gay best friend of a romantic comedy, though is that as well, but also the best friend characater in those musicals of old who probably would've played by Edward Everett Horton.

Richard Jenkins's role is therefore set within in a certain set of requirements of the tropes, although perhaps this is a bit more of challenge to begin with for Jenkins as this role is not his typical onscreen presence as Jenkins is more often cast as fathers or minor authority figures. Jenkins attunes himself nicely within the part adding sort of these instances minor flamboyancy in his physical mannerisms and delivery. Jenkins carefully doesn't over do this making it just natural facet of the character while relating the mostly unsaid background of the character rather effectively. Jenkins lets you know who Giles is, but doesn't bring any unneeded excess to the role. Well after that though he is set to portray the gay best friend, or old school musical friend, as required. This has a few different facets to it. The first being charm. Well Jenkins, when ever given the opportunity, is a very charming actor, and this comes naturally here. Jenkins is simply an actor with a certain on screen charisma to begin with so he's a particularly well equipped for that requirement. The second requirement is chemistry with his co-star. Jenkins and Hawkins have this in spades. Jenkins provides such a natural warmth in every interaction and the two are delightful together. The third is of course the delivery of comedic one liners, and plenty of them. Well Jenkins handles this with with aplomb, and thankfully doesn't over accentuate these lines rather finding humor in them properly though also just as a natural part of what Giles would say.

Of course there is a bit more required with whole social subversion aspects of the film, and the plot of rescuing the fishman from his evil captors. This tests the trope slightly, or at least demands a bit more from Jenkins who is more than up to the task. Jenkins effortlessly delivers a bit of pathos, even within those one liners, as there is an overarching somberness in his slight hangdog expressions, and sardonic deliveries. Jenkins delivers the sense of Giles own loneliness even while he entertains Elisa and the audience. Jenkins is able to effectively shift to the more dramatic moments particularly when Elisa asks him to help her. Jenkins is terrific in the scene as he brings such a strong sense of empathy in his own re-delivery of every one of her signed lines, and expresses Giles recognition of her words in very moving fashion. The one major scene though that relates to Giles's own plight is when he attempts to connect with a local diner owner. I will say this scene is perhaps even a bit over the top even for this film where the diner owner reveals his hatred for African Americans and homosexual in a matter of about six seconds. Having said though nothing can be faulted towards Jenkins's performance where he successfully embodies that hope for an end to his loneliness as he so joyfully speaks to the man, but then is rather affecting in reveals his distraught state when so intensely rebuffed. After that scene though he is set back into his supporting role as he helps Elisa try to rescue then release the fishman. Jenkins though still remains an integral part of every scene he's in always still bringing that charm and palatable warmth in every moment. Jenkins is there essentially to amplify every emotional moment, and he does this through his quiet yet impassioned work. I will say I particularly love his opening and ending narration where Jenkins brings such a gentle yet powerful poignancy to his delivery. The delivery fitting to a fairy tale in the elders voice speaking it, yet Jenkins delivers it also as the man who has lived the experience with someone he loved. In the end is this the most original character? No, nor is intended to be. Richard Jenkins works within a specific type of role here, but grants Giles his own distinct life through his wonderful performance.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Best Supporting Actor 2017: Christopher Plummer in All the Money in the World

Christopher Plummer received his third Oscar nomination for portraying J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World.

All the Money in the World is a more than decent thriller detailing the true crime story of the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty III the grandson of the then richest man in the world.

Christopher Plummer's third Oscar nomination for this film is quite notable, and not just because he's become the oldest nominee in any acting category. This is the first time an Oscar nominee was literally not part of the original final cut of the film being the last minute replacement for persona non grata Keyser Soze better known in Latin as a sicine subrepsti. Plummer though technically was not even a last minute replacement he was a post-production replacement in an attempt to salvage the film just a few weeks before its official release date. There have been replacements into filming, most famously Eric Stoltz was replaced by Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future, but never something quite like particularly not with a role this substantial. That narrative, that required Plummer to take over the role so quickly, and with utmost efficiency, is likely what ensured his Oscar nomination, given that the film has been only a minor critical success otherwise. Now putting that narrative aside though, because years from now that information will be an interesting anecdote, but little more, the real question is how will his actual performance stand, even when separated from the unusual circumstances surrounding his casting.

Christopher Plummer plays one of the substantial roles in the film and the one that makes the story as significant as it is. J. Paul Getty being the richest man in the world at the time is part of it, but the more important facet is that he was a notorious miser who refused to pay the kidnappers of his grandson. It is interesting then that the film, and Plummer seem to take somewhat different approaches role. I write this because from the outset the film's buildup of Getty is of this larger than life figure who we initially meet beyond a quick flashback when one of his estranged sons comes looking for a job along with family including his wife Gail (Michelle Williams) and his son the eventual kidnapee. The music chosen for this scene is dark and foreboding as though they are coming to see some malevolent force, perhaps they were in the original cut. Now Plummer in his entrance is imposing indeed, but not only that. Plummer naturally carries a certain presence as an actor to begin but here he projects this all the more. There is a dominance that Plummer brings through ease of this presence. There's a care free quality in Plummer's physicality, a welcoming outgoing element to his manner that Plummer converts to this striking power of a man who despite bearing so much responsibility reveals such a comfort in his own state as a man.

Plummer's approach is particularly effective in that he is indeed intimidating however he does not vilify the character as much as the direction of the scene seems to imply that he should. Plummer's seeming refusal is the right approach, and makes Getty far more interesting than if he was this one note curmudgeon we simply had to deal with. The early scenes offer a better, though no more optimistic in terms of choices of the film's score, as we see him spend time with his grandson. Plummer delivers a genuine warmth in his encouraging smiles, and exuberant embrace as he shows his grandson around old ruins in Rome. Plummer is terrific here in that he neither demonizes nor does he canonize Getty in this scene. He shows that the love is honest through these interactions however in every word that is filled with adoration for his grandson, there is this pride that Plummer beams at the same. The pride that Plummer exudes in that same smile is a little off-putting as he emphasizes that every moment he speaks of his own greatness as though he is some resurrected warlord of the past. Plummer in this scene brilliantly humanizes Getty as a man who cares for his grandson, but perhaps cares for himself, and his own image more.

When the actual plot begins Plummer is a frequent and welcome detour within the film as the younger Getty's mother attempts to bargain for her son's release only aided by a seemingly indifferent agent of the elder Getty, Fletcher Chase (played by a seemingly indifferent Mark Wahlberg). Plummer in these scenes carefully reveals two different sides of Getty, though both problematic, but dependent on whether he is in public or private. In public, such in the scene where Getty almost seems to mock the kidnappers and his grandson by openly stating he will not pay for his release, Plummer reveals the brazen qualities of a true robber baron. There is no shame, not a hint of it, but there is this strength in the man's personality as Plummer inflicts every line with such confidence, when he says "nothing" to indicate how much will pay, you can see that he absolutely means it. This does contrast though with his private scenes where he discusses the matter, Plummer presenting him carefree as always. When questioned about his wealth though is where we see the most compelling choice by Plummer as performer, which again refuses to set Getty as just this one note villain. In these scenes of choosing not to bargain for his grandson's life, or any moment where he reveals his miserly ways, Plummer never plays them as an unreformed Ebenezer Scrooge. He instead portrays them as this seasoned mentor, he projects warmth in these moments. When describing the corruption of wealth, or even his process of doing his own laundry, Plummer either beams a great smile or infuses a genuine passion of a man who believes he's imparting wisdom to whom ever he is talking to.

Plummer makes this the absolute truth in Getty's mind and importantly shows that in his mind what he is doing is for the good of everyone. Of course he's not, but Plummer shows properly a man who has never been questioned. There are only a few times in the film where his worldview is shaken and each Plummer grants the severity of these in terms of questioning the man's worldview. The two most notable of these being near the end of the film. One being when Chase questions him most directly by invading his personal space for but a moment by grabbing his arm. Plummer is great in this moment by revealing the intensity of the fear in the man of this brief intrusion, the fear of a man who has not felt such vulnerability in a long time. The other scene is his final scene of Getty gasping out his last breaths while admiring a painting, he bought instead of giving the full ransom for his grandson, featuring a small boy. In this moment Plummer finds naturally the man's infirm state. Plummer now depicting the man without that physical power or confidence, but just a remorseful sadness staring into his only company in death, his possessions. When I started this review I asked how Christopher Plummer's performance stands beyond the unusual circumstances of his casting. Well the answer is it can stand entirely on its own. Plummer delivers a terrific performance that not only goes beyond those circumstances, but seems to infuse the role with complexity and tragedy possibly not evident before his worthy contribution.

Best Supporting Actor 2017

And the Nominees Are:

Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project

Richard Jenkins in The Shape of Water

Christopher Plummer in All The Money In The World

Thursday, 18 January 2018

My Wins

1935:

Picture: 39 Steps
Director: John Ford - The Informer
Actor: Victor McLaglen - The Informer
Actress: Greta Garbo - Anna Karenina
Supporting Actor: James Cagney - A Midsummer's Night Dream
Supporting Actress: Elsa Lanchester - Bride of Frankenstein
Ensemble: The Informer
Production Design: Bride of Frankenstein
Sound Editing: Bride of Frankenstein
Sound Mixing: Mutiny on the Bounty
Score: The Informer
Editing: 39 Steps
Visual Effects: Bride of Frankenstein
Costume Design: The Black Room
Cinematography: Bride of Frankenstein
Makeup and Hairstyling: Bride of Frankenstein
Original Screenplay: The Ghost Goes West
Adapted Screenplay: Bride of Frankenstein
Song: "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat

1937:

Picture: Grand Illusion
Director: Jean Renoir - Grand Illusion
Actor: Robert Montgomery - Night Must Fall
Actress: Irene Dunne - The Awful Truth
Supporting Actor: Erich von Stroheim - Grand Illusion
Supporting Actress: May Whitty - Night Must Fall
Ensemble: Grand Illusion
Production Design: Lost Horizon
Sound Editing: The Hurricane
Sound Mixing: The Hurricane
Score: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Editing: Grand Illusion
Visual Effects: The Hurricane
Costume Design: The Prisoner of Zenda
Cinematography: Grand Illusion
Makeup and Hairstyling: Make Way For Tomorrow
Original Screenplay: Grand Illusion
Adapted Screenplay: Make Way For Tomorrow
Song: "Someday My Prince Will Come" - Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

1938:

Picture: Angels with Dirty Faces
Director: Michael Curtiz - Angels with Dirty Faces
Actor: James Cagney - Angels with Dirty Faces
Actress: Wendy Hiller - Pygmalion
Supporting Actor: Pat O'Brien - Angels With Dirty Faces
Supporting Actress: Lisa Delamare - La Marseillaise
Ensemble: La Marseillaise
Production Design: The Adventures of Robin Hood
Sound Editing: La Marseillaise
Sound Mixing: The Human Beast
Score: The Adventures of Robin Hood
Editing: The Adventures of Robin Hood
Visual Effects: Alexander Nevsky
Costume Design: The Adventures of Robin Hood
Cinematography: Alexander Nevsky
Makeup and Hairstyling: The Adventures of Robin Hood
Original Screenplay: La Marseillaise
Adapted Screenplay: Angels With Dirty Faces
Song: "Jeepers Creepers" - Going Places

1947:

Picture: Odd Man Out
Director: Carol Reed - Odd Man Out
Actor: Pierre Fresnay - Monsieur Vincent
Actress: Claire Trevor - Born to Kill
Supporting Actor: Louis Jouvet - Quai des Orfevres
Supporting Actress: Kathleen Byron - Black Narcissus
Ensemble: Odd Man Out
Production Design: Black Narcissus
Sound Editing: Brute Force
Sound Mixing: Black Narcissus
Score: A Double Life
Editing: The Lady From Shanghai
Visual Effects: Black Narcissus
Costume Design: Black Narcissus
Cinematography: Black Narcissus
Makeup and Hairstyling: Black Narcissus
Original Screenplay: Miracle on 34th Street
Adapted Screenplay: Odd Man Out
Song: "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South

1948:

Picture: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Director: John Huston - The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Actor: Richard Attenborough - Brighton Rock
Actress: Olivia de Havilland - The Snake Pit
Supporting Actor: Walter Huston - The Treasure of Sierra Madre
Supporting Actress: Claire Trevor - Key Largo
Ensemble:  Brighton Rock
Production Design: The Red Shoes
Sound Editing: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Sound Mixing: Drunken Angel
Score: The Red Shoes
Editing: The Treasure of Sierra Madre
Visual Effects: Portrait of Jennie
Costume Design: The Red Shoes
Cinematography: The Red Shoes
Makeup and Hairstyling: The Red Shoes
Original Screenplay: Drunken Angel
Adapted Screenplay: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Song: "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface

1949:

Picture: The Third Man
Director: Carol Reed - The Third Man
Actor: Toshiro Mifune - Stray Dog
Actress: Olivia de Havilland - The Heiress
Supporting Actor: Alec Guinness - Kind Hearts and Coronets
Supporting Actress: Mercedes McCambridge - All the King's Men
Ensemble: The Heiress
Production Design: Battleground
Sound Editing: Battleground
Sound Mixing: The Third Man
Score: The Third Man
Editing: The Third Man
Visual Effects: Battleground
Costume Design: The Heiress
Cinematography: The Third Man
Makeup and Hairstyling: Kind Hearts and Coronets
Original Screenplay: The Third Man
Adapted Screenplay: The Heiress
Song: "The Headless Horseman" - The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

1951:

Picture: Scrooge
Director: Alfred Hitchcock - Strangers on a Train
Actor: Michael Redgrave - The Browning Version
Actress: Vivien Leigh - A Streetcar Named Desire
Supporting Actor: Karl Malden - A Streetcar Named Desire
Supporting Actress: Kim Hunter - A Streetcar Named Desire
Ensemble: A Streetcar Named Desire
Production Design: The Tales of Hoffmann
Sound Editing: Ace in the Hole
Sound Mixing: Strangers on a Train
Score: Scrooge
Editing: Strangers on a Train
Visual Effects: Scrooge
Costume Design: The Tales of Hoffmann
Cinematography: Strangers on a Train
Makeup and Hairstyling: The Tales of Hoffmann
Original Screenplay: Ace in the Hole
Adapted Screenplay: Strangers on a Train
Song: "The Cool Cool of the Evening" - Here Comes the Groom

1954:

Picture: On The Waterfront
Director: Akira Kurosawa - Seven Samurai
Actor: Marlon Brando - On the Waterfront
Actress: Giulietta Masina - La Strada
Supporting Actor: Toshiro Mifune - Seven Samurai
Supporting Actress: Eva Marie Saint - On the Waterfront
Ensemble: On the Waterfront
Production Design: Rear Window
Sound Editing: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Sound Mixing: Seven Samurai
Score: On the Waterfront
Editing: Seven Samurai
Visual Effects: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Costume Design: Seven Samurai
Cinematography: Seven Samurai
Makeup and Hairstyling: Seven Samurai
Original Screenplay: Seven Samurai
Adapted Screenplay: On the Waterfront
Song: "Three Coins in a Fountain" - Three Coins in a Fountain

1957:

Picture: The Bridge on the River Kwai
Director: David Lean - The Bridge on the River Kwai
Actor: Alec Guinness - The Bridge on the River Kwai
Actress: Deborah Kerr - Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison
Supporting Actor: Sessue Hayakawa - The Bridge on the River Kwai
Supporting Actress: Isuzu Yamada - Throne of Blood
Ensemble: Tokyo Twilight
Production Design: Paths of Glory
Sound Editing: Paths of Glory
Sound Mixing: The Bridge on the River Kwai
Score: 3:10 To Yuma
Editing: Paths of Glory
Visual Effects: The Incredible Shrinking Man
Costume Design: Throne of Blood
Cinematography: The Bridge on the River Kwai
Makeup and Hairstyling: Throne of Blood
Original Screenplay: Wild Strawberries
Adapted Screenplay: The Bridge on the River Kwai
Song: "The 3:10 to Yuma" - 3:10 to Yuma

1960:

Picture: Psycho
Director: Alfred Hitchcock - Psycho
Actor: Laurence Olivier - The Entertainer
Actress: Jean Simmons - Elmer Gantry
Supporting Actor: Eli Wallach - The Magnificent Seven
Supporting Actress: Jean Simmons - Spartacus
Ensemble: Rocco and His Brothers
Production Design: Psycho
Sound Editing: The Time Machine
Sound Mixing: Psycho
Score: Psycho
Editing: Psycho
Visual Effects: The Time Machine
Costume Design: Spartacus
Cinematography: Peeping Tom
Makeup and Hairstyling: Eyes Without A Face
Original Screenplay: The Apartment
Adapted Screenplay: The Entertainer
Song: "The Green Leaves of Summer" - The Alamo

1963:

Picture: High and Low
Director: Akira Kurosawa - High and Low
Actor: Paul Newman - Hud
Actress: Ingrid Thulin - The Silence
Supporting Actor: Tsutomu Yamazaki - High and Low
Supporting Actress: Patricia Neal - Hud
Ensemble: High and Low
Production Design: The Haunting
Sound Editing: From Russia With Love
Sound Mixing: The Haunting
Score: The Great Escape
Editing: High and Low
Visual Effects: Jason and The Argonauts
Costume Design: The Leopard
Cinematography: Hud
Makeup and Hairstyling: An Actor's Revenge
Original Screenplay: Winter Light
Adapted Screenplay: High and Low
Song: "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition

1965:

Picture: The Hill
Director: Orson Welles - Chimes at Midnight
Actor: Terence Stamp - The Collector
Actress: Elizabeth Hartman - A Patch of Blue
Supporting Actor: Tom Courtenay - Doctor Zhivago
Supporting Actress: Simone Signoret - Ship of Fools
Ensemble: The Hill
Production Design: Doctor Zhivago
Sound Editing: Thunderball
Sound Mixing: Doctor Zhivago
Score: For a Few Dollars More
Editing: The Hill
Visual Effects: Thunderball
Costume Design: Chimes at Midnight
Cinematography: Doctor Zhivago
Makeup and Hairstyling: Red Beard
Original Screenplay: Red Beard
Adapted Screenplay: The Hill
Song: "What's New Pussycat" - What's New Pussycat

1968:

Picture: Once Upon a Time in the West
Director: Sergio Leone - Once Upon a Time in the West
Actor: Burt Lancaster - The Swimmer
Actress: Katherine Hepburn - The Lion in Winter
Supporting Actor: Jason Robards - Once Upon a Time in the West
Supporting Actress: Shelley Winters - The Scalphunters
Ensemble: Once Upon a Time in the West
Production Design: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Sound Editing: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Sound Mixing: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Score: Once Upon a Time in the West
Editing: Once Upon a Time in the West
Visual Effects: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Costume Design: Romeo and Juliet
Cinematography: Once Upon a Time in the West
Makeup and Hairstyling: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Original Screenplay: Once Upon a Time in the West
Adapted Screenplay: Romeo and Juliet
Song: "What is A Youth" - Romeo and Juliet

1971:

Picture: 10 Rillington Place
Director: Richard Fleischer - 10 Rillington Place
Actor: Richard Attenborough - 10 Rillington Place
Actress: Liv Ullmann - The Emigrants
Supporting Actor: John Hurt - 10 Rilllington Place
Supporting Actress: Cloris Leachman - The Last Picture Show
Ensemble: The Emigrants
Cinematography: McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Score: Duck, You Sucker!
Sound Mixing: Fiddler on The Roof
Sound Editing: THX 1138
Makeup & Hairstyling: The Devils
Production Design: McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Costume Design: McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Editing: The French Connection
Visual Effects: THX 1138
Original Screenplay: Dirty Harry
Adapted Screenplay: A Clockwork Orange
Song: "Pure Imagination" - Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

1973:

Picture: The Exorcist
Director: Nicolas Roeg - Don't Look Now
Actor: Jack Lemmon - Save the Tiger
Actress: Tatum O'Neal - Paper Moon
Supporting Actor: Robert Shaw - The Sting
Supporting Actress: Sarah Miles - The Hireling
Ensemble: The Friends of Eddie Coyle
Production Design: The Holy Mountain
Sound Editing: The Exorcist
Sound Mixing: The Exorcist
Score: Papillon
Editing: The Exorcist
Visual Effects: The Exorcist
Costume Design: The Holy Mountain
Cinematography: The Spirit of the Beehive
Makeup and Hairstyling: The Exorcist
Original Screenplay: The Sting
Adapted Screenplay: The Long Goodbye
Song: "Live and Let Die" - Live and Let Die

1974:

Picture: Chinatown
Director: Terrence Malick - Badlands
Actor: Gene Hackman - The Conversation
Actress:  Sissy Spacek - Badlands
Supporting Actor: John Cazale - The Godfather Part II
Supporting Actress: Valerie Perrine - Lenny
Ensemble: The Godfather Part II
Production Design: The Godfather Part II
Sound Editing: The Conversation
Sound Mixing: The Conversation
Score: The Conversation
Editing: The Conversation
Visual Effects: Young Frankenstein
Costume Design: Chinatown
Cinematography: Badlands
Makeup and Hairstyling: Phantom of the Paradise
Original Screenplay: Chinatown
Adapted Screenplay: The Godfather Part II
Song: "The Hell of It" - Phantom of the Paradise

1975:

Picture: Jaws
Director: Steven Spielberg - Jaws
Actor: Jack Nicholson - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Actress: Glenda Jackson - Hedda
Supporting Actor: Robert Shaw - Jaws
Supporting Actress: Louise Fletcher - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Ensemble: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Production Design: Barry Lyndon
Sound Editing: Jaws
Sound Mixing: Jaws
Score: Jaws
Editing: Jaws
Visual Effects: The Hindenburg
Costume Design: Barry Lyndon
Cinematography: Barry Lyndon
Makeup and Hairstyling: Barry Lyndon
Original Screenplay: Nashville
Adapted Screenplay: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Song: "I'm Easy" - Nashville

1984:

Picture: Amadeus
Director: Milos Foreman - Amadeus
Actor: F. Murray Abraham - Amadeus
Actress: Kathleen Turner - Crimes of Passion
Supporting Actor: James Woods - Once Upon a Time in America
Supporting Actress: Nastassja Kinski - Paris, Texas
Ensemble: Amadeus
Production Design: Amadeus
Sound Editing: The Terminator
Sound Mixing: Amadeus
Score: Once Upon a Time in America
Editing: Amadeus
Visual Effects: Dune
Costume Design: Amadeus
Cinematography: Paris, Texas
Makeup and Hairstyling: Amadeus
Original Screenplay: Paris, Texas
Adapted Screenplay: Amadeus
Song: "I Just Called To Say I Loved You" - The Woman in Red

1985:

Picture: Back To The Future
Director: Akira Kurosawa - Ran
Actor: William Hurt & Raul Julia - Kiss of the Spider Woman
Actress: Geraldine Page - The Trip to the Bountiful
Supporting Actor: Christopher Lloyd - Back to the Future
Supporting Actress: Madeline Kahn - Clue
Ensemble: Clue
Production Design: Brazil
Sound Editing: Back to the Future
Sound Mixing: Ran
Score: Back to the Future
Editing: Back to the Future
Visual Effects: Young Sherlock Holmes
Costume Design: Ran
Cinematography: Ran
Makeup and Hairstyling: Legend
Original Screenplay: Back To The Future
Adapted Screenplay: Ran
Song: "The Power of Love" - Back to the Future

1987:

Picture: The Princess Bride
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci - The Last Emperor
Actor: John Lone - The Last Emperor
Actress: Maggie Smith - The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne
Supporting Actor: Mandy Patinkin - The Princess Bride
Supporting Actress: Joan Greenwood - Little Dorrit
Ensemble: The Princess Bride
Production Design: The Last Emperor
Sound Editing: Predator
Sound Mixing: The Last Emperor
Score: The Last Emperor
Editing: Angel Heart
Visual Effects: Innerspace
Costume Design: The Last Emperor
Cinematography: The Last Emperor
Makeup and Hairstyling: Robocop
Original Screenplay: Wings of Desire
Adapted Screenplay: The Last Emperor
Song: "Life Fades Away" - Less Than Zero

1988:

Picture: Grave Of The Fireflies
Director: Robert Zemeckis - Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Actor: Jeremy Irons - Dead Ringers
Actress: Sigourney Weaver - Gorillas in the Mist
Supporting Actor: Kevin Kline & Michael Palin - A Fish Called Wanda
Supporting Actress: Sarah Polley - The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Ensemble: A Fish Called Wanda
Production Design: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Sound Editing: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Sound Mixing: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Score: Cinema Paradiso
Editing: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Visual Effects: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Costume Design: Dangerous Liaisons
Cinematography: The Last Temptation of Christ
Makeup and Hairstyling: Beetlejuice
Original Screenplay: A Fish Called Wanda
Adapted Screenplay: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Song: "Hairspray" - Hairspray

1991:

Picture: Barton Fink
Director: Joel Coen - Barton Fink
Actor: John Turturro - Barton Fink
Actress: Jodie Foster - The Silence of the Lambs
Supporting Actor: John Goodman - Barton Fink
Supporting Actress: Judy Davis - Naked Lunch
Ensemble: JFK
Production Design: Barton Fink
Sound Editing: Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Sound Mixing: Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Score: Beauty and the Beast
Editing: JFK
Visual Effects: Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Costume Design: The Addams Family
Cinematography: Raise the Red Lantern
Makeup and Hairstyling: Naked Lunch
Original Screenplay: Barton Fink
Adapted Screenplay: JFK
Song: "Beauty and the Beast" - Beauty and the Beast

1992:

Picture: Unforgiven
Director: Clint Eastwood - Unforgiven
Actor: Clint Eastwood - Unforgiven
Actress: Sheryl Lee - Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
Supporting Actor: Gene Hackman - Unforgiven
Supporting Actress: Marisa Tomei - My Cousin Vinny
Ensemble: Glengarry Glen Ross
Production Design: Dracula
Sound Editing: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
Sound Mixing: The Last of the Mohicans
Score: 1492: Conquest Of Paradise
Editing: Unforgiven
Visual Effects: Dracula
Costume Design: Dracula
Cinematography: Unforgiven
Makeup and Hairstyling: Dracula
Original Screenplay: Unforgiven
Adapted Screenplay: The Player
Song: "Thankful Heart" - The Muppet's Christmas Carol

1993:

Picture: Schindler's List
Director: Steven Spielberg - Schindler's List
Actor: Jeff Daniels - Gettysburg
Actress: Holly Hunter - The Piano
Supporting Actor: Richard Jordan - Gettysburg
Supporting Actress: Christina Ricci - Addams Family Values
Ensemble: Schindler's List
Production Design: The Age of Innocence
Sound Editing: Jurassic Park
Sound Mixing: Jurassic Park
Score: Schindler's List
Editing: Schindler's List
Visual Effects: Jurassic Park
Costume Design: The Age of Innocence
Cinematography: Schindler's List
Makeup and Hairstyling: Mrs. Doubtfire
Original Screenplay: Groundhog Day
Adapted Screenplay: Schindler's List
Song: "Poor Jack" - The Nightmare Before Christmas

2003:

Picture: Return Of The King
Director: Peter Jackson - Return of the King
Actor: Russell Crowe - Master and Commander
Actress: Charlize Theron - Monster
Supporting Actor: Sean Astin - Return of the King
Supporting Actress: Yum Jung-ah - A Tale of Two Sisters
Ensemble: Master and Commander
Production Design: Return of the King
Sound Editing: Return of the King
Sound Mixing: Master and Commander
Score: Return of the King
Editing: Master and Commander
Visual Effects: Return of the King
Costume Design: Return of the King
Cinematography: Master and Commander
Makeup and Hairstyling: Return of the King
Original Screenplay: Dogville
Adapted Screenplay: Return of the King
Song: "Going Home" - Gods and Generals

2005:

Picture: The Proposition
Director: John Hillcoat - The Proposition
Actor: Ray Winstone - The Proposition
Actress: Julia Jentsch - Sophie Scholl : The Final Days
Supporting Actor: Ed Harris - A History of Violence
Supporting Actress: Emily Watson - The Proposition
Ensemble: The Proposition
Production Design: Kingdom of Heaven
Sound Editing: Kingdom of Heaven
Sound Mixing: Kingdom of Heaven
Score: The Proposition
Editing: Sin City
Visual Effects: King Kong
Costume Design: Kingdom of Heaven
Cinematography: The Proposition
Makeup and Hairstyling: Sin City
Original Screenplay: The Proposition
Adapted Screenplay: A History of Violence
Song: "The Rider Song" - The Proposition

2008:

Picture: In Bruges
Director: Christopher Nolan - The Dark Knight
Actor: Brendan Gleeson - In Bruges
Actress: Maria Heiskanen - Everlasting Moments
Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
Supporting Actress: Amy Adams - Doubt
Ensemble: In Bruges
Production Design: The Good The Bad The Weird
Sound Editing: The Dark Knight
Sound Mixing: The Hurt Locker
Score: In Bruges
Editing: The Hurt Locker
Visual Effects: The Dark Knight
Costume Design: The Good The Bad The Weird
Cinematography: Let The Right One In
Makeup and Hairstyling: Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Original Screenplay: In Bruges
Adapted Screenplay: Two Lovers
Song: "The Wrestler" - The Wrestler

2010:

Picture: I Saw The Devil
Director: David Fincher - The Social Network
Actor: Choi Min-sik - I Saw the Devil
Actress: Yoon Jeong-hee - Poetry
Supporting Actor: Taika Waititi - Boy
Supporting Actress: Jackie Weaver - Animal Kingdom
Ensemble: Of Gods and Men
Production Design: Shutter Island
Sound Editing: Inception
Sound Mixing: Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Score: The Social Network
Editing: The Social Network
Visual Effects: Inception
Costume Design: Let the Bullets Fly
Cinematography: Valhalla Rising
Makeup and Hairstyling: The Way Back
Original Screenplay: Animal Kingdom
Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Song: "Ramona" - Scott Pilgrim vs The World

2011:

Picture: Drive
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn - Drive
Actor: Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Actress: Rooney Mara - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Supporting Actor: Mark Strong - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain - Take Shelter
Ensemble: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Production Design: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Sound Editing: Take Shelter
Sound Mixing: Drive
Score: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Editing: Drive
Visual Effects: Melancholia
Costume Design: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Cinematography: Drive
Makeup and Hairstyling: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2
Original Screenplay: A Separation
Adapted Screenplay: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Song: "Star Spangled Man" - Captain America: The First Avenger

2012:

Picture: The Hunt
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson - The Master
Actor: Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
Actress: Marion Cotillard - Rust and Bone
Supporting Actor: Christopher Walken - Seven Psychopaths
Supporting Actress: Bae Doona - Cloud Atlas
Ensemble: The Master
Production Design: Cloud Atlas
Sound Editing: Zero Dark Thirty
Sound Mixing: Berberian Sound Studio
Score: Cloud Atlas
Editing: Cloud Atlas
Visual Effects: Life of Pi
Costume Design: A Royal Affair
Cinematography: Skyfall
Makeup and Hairstyling: Cloud Atlas
Original Screenplay: The Master
Adapted Screenplay: Lincoln
Song: "Skyfall" - Skyfall

2013:

Picture: Inside Llewyn Davis
Director: Joel & Ethan Coen - Inside Llewyn Davis
Actor: Oscar Isaac - Inside Llewyn Davis
Actress: Marion Cotillard - The Immigrant
Supporting Actor: Ben Foster - Ain't Them Bodies Saints
Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton - Snowpiercer
Ensemble: The Wolf of Wall Street
Production Design: Snowpiercer
Sound Editing: Gravity
Sound Mixing: All is Lost
Score: Only God Forgives
Editing: The Wolf of Wall Street
Visual Effects: Gravity
Costume Design: The Immigrant
Cinematography: Inside Llewyn Davis
Makeup and Hairstyling: Snowpiercer
Original Screenplay: Inside Llewyn Davis
Adapted Screenplay: The Wolf of Wall Street
Song: "Do You Want Build a Snowman?" - Frozen


2017:

Picture: Blade Runner 2049
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson - Phantom Thread
Actor: Harry Dean Stanton - Lucky
Actress: Frances McDormand - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Supporting Actress: Lesley Manville - Phantom Thread
Ensemble: The Death of Stalin
Production Design: Blade Runner 2049
Sound Editing: Dunkirk
Sound Mixing: Blade Runner 2049
Score: Phantom Thread
Editing: Phantom Thread
Visual Effects: Blade Runner 2049
Costume Design: Phantom Thread
Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049
Makeup and Hairstyling: Logan
Original Screenplay: Phantom Thread
Adapted Screenplay: The Death of Stalin
Song: "Remember Me" - Coco

2018:

Picture: First Man
Director: Joel & Ethan Coen - The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Actor: Ryan Gosling - First Man
Actress: Olivia Colman - The Favourite
Supporting Actor: Jeff Bridges - Bad Times At the El Royale
Supporting Actress: Elizabeth Debicki - Widows
Ensemble: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Production Design: The Favourite
Sound Editing: First Man
Sound Mixing: First Man
Score: First Man
Editing: First Man
Visual Effects: First Man
Costume Design: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Cinematography: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Makeup and Hairstyling: Mandy
Original Screenplay: The Favourite
Adapted Screenplay: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Song: "When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings" - The Ballad of Buster Scruggs