Thursday, 4 January 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1965: Claude Rains, Charlton Heston and Donald Pleasence in The Greatest Story Ever Told

Claude Rains did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Herod the Great in The Greatest Story Ever Told.

The Greatest Story Ever Told takes a grand scale approach to telling the life of Jesus although perhaps too grand as there is something lost in terms of finding the power directly within the personal story of Jesus.

There is perhaps something gained though in the grand scale as it gives time to character who might not be granted as such with a more intimate portrait of Jesus. The film has an all-star cast that surrounds Max von Sydow, then unknown to American audiences, as Christ. This approach in the casting is actually largely effective in giving life to minor character except a few instances that a bit problematic, well mainly John Wayne as a Roman centurion is more than bit distracting. Thankfully though this also had the film include Claude Rains in his final cinematic turn. Rains in his final turn obviously never lost a step as previously shown in his shrewd work as the political operative in Lawrence of Arabia, this though hearkens back to Rains's earlier roles as a more maniacal character. Rains in his first, of only a few scenes, greets the three magi looking for Jesus at his birth. Rains is terrific in this scene in his eyes conveys such an inherent madness in the man though he does not allow this to overwhelm his portrayal. As Rains in his delivery effectively uses his refined manner to hide Herod's intentions quite artfully. Rains even this though suggests a certain ego even when speaking in a way to hid what  his real actions will be, as he states his own piousness as a rules. Rains brilliantly both reveals and attempts to hide the evil man in the same scene. Rains in his following scene though is incredibly entertaining though genuinely menacing as well as he shows Herod no longer hiding his intentions. Rains is a master of this combination of sort of being both overt and very subtle at the same time. There is grandness in his gestures, and again those fantastic mad eyes in the role, yet in his delivery brings such a cold incisiveness in every word. He's quite chilling in fact as he describes his order for the deaths of children with such certainty of man who believes he can avoid fate. Rains only has a brief final scene yet it is perfection as Herod is delivered news of the massacre. Rains bringing only a fear in his face before his soldier delivers his news to which Rains grants the most diabolical grin fitting to man of Herod's corruption. This is a brief performance to be sure yet makes such an impact in just his three scenes. It is one final reminder and a worthy swansong by the great Claude Rains of his unique talent as the invisible man provides one final cinematic sinner.
Charlton Heston did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying John the Baptist in The Greatest Story Ever Told.

Charlton Heston obviously never the stranger to the biblical epic having played the lead as Moses in The Ten Commandments, and the titular character of Ben-Hur, who crossed paths with Christ on a few occasions. This is a change for Heston in biblical epics, but also in general as he gives supporting performance when usually playing the lead. Although it is true there are many cameos from other leading men from the period this is not a cameo by Heston. John the Baptist is a substantial role within the film, and Heston offers a particularly interesting contrast to von Sydow's portrayal of Jesus in the film. Where von Sydow is very quiet and subdued, Heston is the opposite though this is fitting to John the Baptist seen by as a crazy man in the desert. Heston as expected brings his everything to his delivery here though, and particularly powerfully here. As he would late show in Hamlet there can be something very special when Heston evokes a greater emotion in his so confident delivery. His often repeated words of "repent" is that of a truly zealous prophet who intends on others to know his truth through force rather than gentle encouragement. The only thing that silences him is the appearance of Christ which is fantastic moment for Heston. Heston quiets in this moment in his reaction that creates such a sense of this recognition of the one who would come to succeed him. Heston is wonderful in the moment as he embodies both a sense of familiarity of a cousin but also the awe of the devoted servant. After that initial sequence though Heston continues as this dramatic warrior almost of Christ's message putting every ounce of himself it seems into speaking it. John's story does not end there as he comes afoul with Herod's son Herod Antipas (Jose Ferrer), where it must be said Heston makes John sort of what is best described as the badass prophet. This entirely works though for the role as he so successfully shows a man absolutely aware of his personal beliefs. I especially love his two scenes of directly facing down Ferrer. Heston brings such a tremendous intensity in every line, and absolutely brings such a potency to every single one of his comebacks to Herod's various threats. Heston makes every word pierce as it should and this actually leads to these two scenes being among the best in the film. This is a very strong performance by Heston as it plays into his strengths as a performer, and suggests perhaps he should have taken on a few more supporting roles throughout this career as usually makes such an impact with them.
Donald Pleasence did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying the hermit in The Greatest Story Ever Told.

Pleasence first appears as Jesus fasts in the desert running into the hermit waiting in a cave, of course he is no ordinary hermit. It must be said Pleasence is one of the all time great cinematic creepers to begin with. He's particularly unnerving in his approach though in how quietly he approaches this initial scene. Pleasence utilizes his naturally off-putting physical manner so well engaging those haunting eyes of his and devious grin from the start to allude to an otherworldly demonic spirit. Pleasence though employs such a soft delivery though in the temptation, showing the allure of the temptation. When commenting that Jesus's climb was hard there is a genuine concern Pleasence brings to this even if his intentions are not noble. As he doesn't try to demand Christ takes from his food or drink, he rather so nicely suggests the act. When he prods him to behave contrary to his quest Pleasence brings such a sinister tenderness as he so earnestly encourages Jesus to fall to his wishes. As with Rains, Pleasence makes an impression in his first scene but he appears occasionally throughout the rest of the film. Every one of Pleasence's later appearances are particularly dynamic moments throughout the film particularly as the hermit watches over as Jesus is being marched towards his death. Pleasence stands out as this figure of darkness in these moments so well especially in his venomous delivery of the hermit's request for crucifixion that leads the crowd to wish the same. Pleasence brings such a certain joy in the call among the crowd. Pleasence embodies a certain kind of evil here as the hermit is never a despicable man but this unnatural shadow that chases Jesus wherever he goes either to tempt or to destroy him. Pleasence offers another terrific supporting turn within the film, though while I wouldn't say that this quite makes this film a true success it makes it whole lot more interesting than it otherwise would be.

88 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Will you be able to see The Post and Phantom Thread soon.

And did you see any 2017 releases yesterday or earlier today.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: With the My Wins post, you should wait until the comments section on the results page becomes too cumbersome.

And I can't wait for Shaw.

Luke Higham said...

And thoughts on the rest of the cast.

Calvin Law said...

Oh deary me, that picture of Pleasance is creepy.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Don't know exactly when, but I'm sure before nomination day.

Wonder Wheel

Ferrer - 3.5(Not quite as memorable as Rains as the elder Herod, but he's far better villain here than is in Ship Fools from 65. He's decent in doing his own separate form of arrogance, but he's best in his scenes with Heston through his reactions that show the way John's words are getting under his skin particularly his final "repent".)

Savalas - 3(He's a decent Pontius Pilate in bringing enough of a nuance in terms of creating the sense of conflict as he proceeds with dealing with prosecuting Jesus.)

Landau - 2.5(Apparently many of his scenes were cut leading him not to make the proper impact, though he's fine in the few scenes he does have.)

McCallum - 3(Here is where the intimacy of the story is particularly lacking as Judas, he is often the most figure character, is left far too quietly by the film's script and direction. McCallum does what he can within the margins but Judas is a role that needs more than the margins.)

Heflin, Schildkraut, Wynn, Mineo - 3.5/3/3/3(All are good in portraying different forms of reactions to Jesus's miracles on themselves or to the man in general. Heflin is particularly powerful in this however Schildkraut is quite good in a properly more subdued approach, as are Wynn and Mineo also in a more overt fashion.)

Poitier and Wayne - (The two cameos that don't quite work, though Poitier's almost works it is still distracting considering when he appears. Wayne is at his most miscast since The Conqueror.)

Omar Franini said...

Louis: your ratings and thoughts on the cast of Wonder Wheel.

Luke Higham said...

And the film.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Could Ustinov and Pleasence potentially go up for 1978 Lead.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Wonder Wheel is among Allen's worst, and definitely his least cinematic effort despite Vittorio Storaro trying his best to try to make something out of the extremely limited scope. Storaro's work is the only thing truly worthwhile about the film, but having good cinematography with him at the helm is basically given. The rest of the film are plodding retreads of other Allen plots mushed together into a flimsy stage play they bothered to film.

Omar:

Winslet - 1.5(This performance I actually found to be the film's nadir. Winslet is the first actress to try to go for the Allen surrogate turn, which isn't really a good idea anyways, and she gives possibly the worst example of it. Her whole performance feels like an overcooked act from her first scene to the last. There is not a moment she does not telegraph at its broadest point, and is ridiculous in every scene she's in. She never finds a bit of genuine emotion as her turn is all surface posturing without a hint of real substance under covered. She's not working with the best material, but I think there was probably potential for a decent performance at least. Winslet degrades rather than elevates anything she has to work with, and this easily one of her worst performances, though she's had quite a few of those in the past two years.)

Temple - 3(The best part of the film performance wise as she manages to create a believable person within even her limited material. She bothers to find something reasonably moving in her eager to please yet rather afraid former gun moll. It isn't much because of the limits of the role, but she finds something there.)

Belushi - 2.5(He basically plays Danny Aiello's character from the Purple Rose of Cairo and plays it as Danny Aiello more or less. He's also kind of playing it as the stage play. He's a bit too much at times, but I will say he actually manages to deliver a bit of emotion into his work by portraying his late scenes of concern for Temple's character in a genuinely moving fashion.)

Timberlake - 2(He actually does have some decent moments here and there, but too often he plays hard into caricature himself. In fact he seems somewhat brought down by Winslet in their scenes together except for his last one where he manages to bring some authenticity to the shut down of her delusions. Those decent moments though are not enough to make up for the rest of his work which is a little bit too over the top.)

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

No.

Mitchell Murray said...

Do you like Winslet in general, Louis, because I find her to be great much of the time and have been vastly disappointed by her post-Steve Jobs career.

Luke Higham said...

Mitchell: She seems to be a mixed bag for him. She's a 5 for Eternal Sunshine, a 4.5 for Sense And Sensibility and 4s for Hamlet, Little Children and Steve Jobs.

Luke Higham said...

The only performance of hers that I'm looking forward to getting his opinion on is in Heavenly Creatures.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What do you think of a 1940's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest with Cagney as McMurphy?

ruthiehenshallfan99 said...

Louis: May I have your thoughts and rating on Dorothy McGuire in The Greatest Story Ever Told, along with the cinematography and score?

Bryan L. said...

What's the rating for Winslet in The Reader? I only saw a couple of moments of from that film when Louis posted his Top acting moments of hers.

Louis: What do you think of these choices for the two leads in The Place Beyond The Pines for the 70s through 00s? I've posted them before but I'd like to know your thoughts on them. Otherwise, whom would you switch out?

Luke/Avery

James Caan/Harrison Ford
Mickey Rourke/Mel Gibson
Nicolas Cage/Tom Hanks
Joaquin Phoenix/Matt Damon

Giuseppe Fadda said...

I completely agree with you on Wonder Wheel Louis. I think it’s one of Allen’s worst screenplays. I have to say I liked Winslet more than you (a 3 for me) because I found her to be occasionally quite impressive but overall I thought her performance lacked any subtlety or complexity. It’s just showboating (which sometimes worked, at least to me) with little to no substance. I liked Juno Temple a lot though. I’d honestly give her a 4 as I found her to be verg moving and the only actor in the movie who felt like a real person.

RatedRStar said...

Good old Rains =D.

RatedRStar said...

I always think that Woody Allen's films are either very good or terrible, never an in between.

Anonymous said...

How will everyone react if Denzel Washington does get nominated at the Oscars? because surely people will not be happy.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I'm not worried yet I would be pissed off. Nobody's happy with a lacklustre nominee.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: What are the shortest performances by overall screentime you've given 5's to (in all categories).

Mitchell Murray said...

I haven't seen his movie, but from the reception its got I'd be a little worried. And given how strong he was last year in "Fences" that would make it even easier to criticize.

Mitchell Murray said...

(RatedRStar) I've noticed Allen seems to make one noteworthy project for every four or five movies. Since his last successful feature was arguably "Blue Jasmine" I think we're about due, that is of course if he keeps working.

Luke Higham said...

Tahmeed: Supporting Actor: Ernest Borgnine in From Here To Eternity

Anonymous said...

The fact that Louis had Washingtons film in the top ten worst of the year is very worrying, Washington does not seem like an actor who can rise above a bad film and give a great performance.

Mitchell Murray said...

I'll give Washington credit in that he has a charisma and presence all his own, but he certainly needs a quality script and director regardless.

RatedRStar said...

One thing that is against Washington from a historical point of view is that there has only been two best actor nominees i believe from films which have rotten scores from Rotten Tomatoes in their films, they were Sean Penn (2001) and Richard Harris (1990).

RatedRStar said...

I believe that is true not 100% on that fact

RatedRStar said...

Love Story is rotten on RT as well but in terms of recent history and i am not sure that counts since Love Story was like mega popular.

Calvin Law said...

Right now, Gold Derby has Gyllenhaal and Hanks above Washington in the potential 'upset' stakes.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Personally detest Gold Derby, most of the forum posters there aren't 10% as civil or rational as the people on this blog.

Anonymous said...

This blog has the best minds in all of the Oscars, and the thing is, nearly all of us are like 20 - 25 years younger than the people at Gold Derby lol.

Bryan L. said...

Anonymous: I'd be disappointed if Washington does get a nomination tbh, and I really do like him as an actor.

I tend to lurk around awardscircuit.com more than Gold Derby, but they too have Denzel in their Top Five, with Chalamet and Kaluuya right behind him.

Luke Higham said...

I've hated Gold Derby for years. Can't stand Tom O'Neil or Pete Hammond who like most journalists have just as much to blame along with the studio campaigns for many deserving performances being passed over for trash like Sean Penn in I Am Sam or all of George Clooney's nominated performances. With the changes in membership in the Academy with more diverse, younger voters, I don't see the point in them anymore.

Luke Higham said...

Awards Circuit and Awards Daily are fine.

Luke Higham said...
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Luke Higham said...

Louis: What's your opinion on these prediction sites like Gold Derby and Awards Circuit.

Your thoughts on the PGA nominations.

And Ridley Scott directing a film on Merlin.

Luke Higham said...

And yes, I'd rather be on here and have fun with you guys than have a miserable time being attacked for my opinions on Gold Derby or even YouTube, which I've never commented on.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I wouldn't rely to heavily on Awards Circuit or Awards Daily for any predictions. Sasha Stone is an idiot. Clayton Davis is a nice enough guy, but he is BAD at predictions.

RatedRStar said...

Yes it is lovely on this blog =D,

Luke what are your thoughts on Claude Rains? you.....like him... dont you =D lol

RatedRStar said...

Robert: I have seen a few of your um.. disagreements on awards circuit in the past lol.

Luke Higham said...

Robert: Yeah, I'm not fussed on Stone's articles either yet I don't mind quickly checking those sites.

RatedRStar: Who on here doesn't love Rains. :)

RatedRStar said...

Luke: (Puts knife away) good.. good =D, jk =D.

My main problem with Washington being nominated is that it potenitally could take out one of the very deserving actors that have never been Oscar nominated like Chalamet, Kaluuya or even long shots with the surprise nomination like Dean Stanton and Pattinson. Wouldnt Washingtons nomination feel like a wasted opportunity.

Alex Marqués said...

Awardswatch is a pretty accurate predictions site IMO.

Luke Higham said...

Alex: It's quite decent actually, though have they updated it recently because they have The Last Jedi in 5th for Adapted Screenplay.

RatedRStar said...

Alex Marqués : Looking at their predictions, I must say overall they do very well, nearly all of them have them guessing 4 out of 5 which is impressive, especially ones like Tom Hardy getting in.

RatedRStar said...

They actually predicted that Idris Elba wouldn't get nominated, very bold decision.

RatedRStar said...

For the first time in a while I will actually watch the Golden Globes, I am doing one of those go to bed really early, wake up really early to watch it.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: I'll probably watch it on Monday Afternoon at the earliest.

Bryan L. said...

AwardsWatch has Kaluuya, DDL, Oldman, Franco and Chalamet getting in, while AwardsCircuit (updated today) has Chalamet, DDL, Oldman, Franco AND Denzel.

Calvin Law said...

Saw All the Money in the World. Found it exceedingly choppy and the editing verged on being bad at some points. Strong acting though for the most part.

Mitchell Murray said...

Thoughts on the cast, Calvin?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

The right choice.

Mitchell:

Luke's correct that she's very hit and miss for me.

ruthiehenshallfan99:

McGuire - 3(Again here is another part where the scope diminishes what should be more substantial within the narrative. McGuire is good in portraying the warmth and support of the mother best she can, however it is actually a little odd how from a far we see here. We never really get her as a mother directly to Jesus, but she does what she can.)

The cinematography is a rather strong element within the film as it captures the grand scale of certain sequences quite brilliantly particularly in the crowd miracle sequences. It is also notable with its dynamic lighting in some key sequence particularly the Last Supper and Donald Pleasence's first scene pictured above. I guess one could argue it is slightly inconsistent in only that there are some truly amazing shots within the film while other moments are more of the standard cinemascope look. Having said that it looks good when looking standard and looks great otherwise, it never looks bad.

The score is a little curious for the time considering all of the preexisting music it uses which is a little atypical for the period particularly for an epic. That overall score which a beautiful piece of work. It is definitely within a similair style heard in Ben-Hur, particularly in terms of the choice in instrumentation, but an excellent example of it. It is beautiful in creating that real sense of a biblical grandeur to the proceedings. It is particularly remarkable in sort of its original creation of its own hymn styling that supplements the more general epic of the time portions of the score. The additional use of adagio for string for example is actually quite powerfully done and arranged so it flows with the rest of the score rather well.

Bryan:

She's a 4.

Caan/Ford - Perfect.
Rourke/Gibson - Perfect, especially Rourke.
Cage/Hanks - Hanks is fine, but for Luke you need someone with more of an inherent cool so I'd say either Brad Pitt or Denzel Washington.
Phoenix/Damon - It works.

Tahmeed:

Borgnine, Ben Johnson in The Last Picture Show, John Carroll Lynch in Zodiac, William Holden in Stalag 17 and Peter Lorre in M as lead actor performances go.

Luke:

Not sure about Scott with Merlin as I wonder if he's going to go for sort of the gritty fantasy more a kin to the Robin Hood look, or he'll try his hand at pure fantasy once again as he did with Legend.

In regards to PGA nominees for the race eleven nominees with that amount it certainly hurts Logan, The Florida Project, Phantom Thread and Darkest Hour in terms of their picture chances. Needed boost for Call Me By Your Name, The Post. Three Billboards, Dunkirk, Get Out, The Shape of Water, Lady Bird and The Big Sick continue to do well. Wonder Woman feels like a Deadpool so that's one you can probably knock that off. Major get for I, Tonya, and particularly Molly's Game which with its WGA support maybe Chastain has an outside chance for an actress nomination, and maybe Robbie will contend for the win, we'll see. Last year no film got into picture without a PGA nomination, usually one film can sneak in, however that seems even harder with eleven citations. The best picture nominees will probably be among these 11, however with just an outside chance if Phantom Thread or Darkest Hour over perform on Tuesday.

Opinion wise I'm fine or very happy with these choices, particularly the I, Tonya surprise, however I still think Wonder Woman and The Big Sick, while good, neither need to be cited as the best of the year.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I thought Johnson was a 4.5 for The Last Picture Show, because I actually do remember you giving him a 5 initially and downgrading him sometime after.

You'll need to change his rating picture to 5 Brennans.

Luke Higham said...

As a superhero film, Wonder Woman would be in my personal top-ten of all-time, but yes, they should've given the nod to Logan.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

I read the question, as ever having given a five to the performance.

Calvin Law said...

Hm you're right, Holden doesn't actually have all that much screentime in Stalag. Testament to his talent I suppose.

Mitchell:

I'll have a think about Plummer.

Whalberg - 2.5 (not terrible but terribly miscast, he has a few okay moments like his last scene with Christopher Plummer but is otherwise very much out of place)

Williams - 4 (excellent reactionary performance and makes portions of the film far more intense than they had any right to be)

Duris - 4 (stellar work too on all fronts as both the intimidating kidnapper and sympathetic scoundrel)

Charlie Plummer - 3 (one-note but effective in his growing desperation)

Hutton - that was Timothy Hutton?

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Thanks. I'm wary of using Pitt when it comes to stoic roles, but if he'd find a way to bring some of his character-acting skills for the part, then I definitely see it.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Who would be the rest of your cast for that 40's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest with Cagney as McMurphy? And who would be the director?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Directed by William Dieterle:

Nurse Ratched: Kathleen Byron
Chief: Chief Thundercloud
Harding: Pat O'Brien
Billy: Montgomery Clift
Charlie: Thomas Mitchell
Max: John Carradine
Martini: Peter Lorre

Calvin Law said...

I'd suggest Sonia Dresdel as Nurse Ratched.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: who would you have picked in Whalberg's place for All the Money in the World? I'm thinking Joel Edgerton, Patrick Wilson, Kyle Chandler or Corey Stoll.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Any of the above, maybe frequent Scott collaborator Russell Crowe. My personal choice would be Guy Pearce, as his negotiation moments could have used an Exley sort of edge to them.

Apparently Brendan Frasier is playing the part in the Danny Boyle tv version of the story. He also wouldn't be my first choice, though his work in The Quiet American suggests even he might be the better choice.

ruthiehenshallfan99 said...

I would love to see Kathleen Byron as Nurse Ratched.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Do you think Dicaprio would be a fit for any of these roles, and your reasons as to why or why not?

Norman Bates
Randle McMurphy
Sonny Wortzik
Lou Bloom
Joe Buck (Midnight Cowboy)

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your top ten auteurs overdue with the Academy

Also, film history roles for Matthias Schoenaerts?

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

Bates - (Possibly as we've only ever seen him play a more overt villain, and this would require a more subtle approach. I think he certainly could pull it off, or go way to ridiculous potentially, however he definitely was the right type for the role in the 90's and early 00's.)

McMurphy - (I think this is an interesting one and I think he actually could pull it off if he were to go fully into that star energy he has yet doesn't tap into enough. If he went full wolf, but adjusted it enough for the more overt dramatic moments, without falling into his tendencies in those moments, he could be a great McMurphy.)

Wortzik - (This is one I don't see as he has to be someone both basically running a show and emotionally falling apart at he same time. I'm not sure he would find the right balance and might go too heavy the whole time, which Pacino so artfully avoided.)

Bloom - (He could've been a great Lou Bloom, again take his approach in Wolf but just remove any hints of human emotion which could be something quite chilling.)

Buck - (The wrong physical type for the role. Buck needs more of an inherent ability to project a certain machismo naturally as part of the role which is not in DiCaprio line.)

Anonymous:

This is regard to their work over the years in general without taking into consideration their current output.

1. David Lynch
2. PTA
3. Christopher Nolan
4. David Cronenberg
5. Werner Herzog
6. Wim Wenders
7. John Carpenter
8. David Fincher
9. Terrence Malick
10. Terry Gilliam

For Schoenaerts:

Hawkeye - The Last of the Mohicans
Stanley Kowalski
Pepe Le Moko
Joubert - Three Days of the Condor
Fiedler - The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your 5 best and 5 worst film critics.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Well rather make an exact listing I think it better to offer my thoughts towards the film critic types. Of course this begins with the separation between verbal (television) and print critics, as the value in this there is a distinct separation. As with televised critics what can be offered is differed greatly, as there should be an inherent entertainment value in simply their reviews, however they should be informative in this as well. The more exceptional in this form are without a doubt Siskel & Ebert (combined), and Mark Kermode. The three discuss the films in an informative fashion, but usually entertain, although most often with terrible films. They however don't lose that spark with good films, and able to verbalize their passion well usually logically, which what I care most about, while also, usually there are exceptions with Kermode, fulfilling the presumed requirement behind all critics, paid critics anyways, which is whether or not they recommend the film. Now there are many poor examples in this form. This includes those who try so hard to make the review entertaining it becomes this obvious and rather unfortunate act. The most egregious in that being the punny Gene Shalit, however there are less extreme examples of that such as Joel Siegel. There is also always the threat of simply speaking in soundbites, which Leonard Maltin's onscreen reviews fall into. Of course there are the utter failures who simply are horribly dull in their onscreen attempts to ape Siskel and Ebert, such as Rex Reed, Michael Medved, Ben Makiewicz, Jeffrey and Ben Lyons. Richard Roeper I will say at least understood the medium when with Ebert, however his often petulant style, which seemed to even get on Ebert's nerves at times, failed to offer a real sparing partner Ebert in terms of creating an interesting discussions, defending his own points, or challenging Ebert's own views which Siskel did so well.

I'll be back with print in a little bit.

Anonymous said...

Louis: What are your predictions for the Golden Globe winners?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

With print I would say there is a fundamental divide in critical technique to those who directly review the film, and those who offer a more personal dissertation that often includes what the film relates to society, film making as whole, and the life of the filmmaker. Of course there are blends within this however the success of each is the use of the method naturally enough. The former usually relates to the opinion of the reviewer which can be unreasonably, illogically positive, say someone like Pete Hammond who writes excessively positive and always balnd reviews. Examples of effective critics in this vein are critics like Leonard Maltin, his reviews work better in print form than when spoken, and Gene Siskel. They are very direct and precise, getting across their opinion without much divergence.

There is the opposite end of the spectrum of the critical dissertation said to be pioneered by Pauline Kael, though if you look at the work of Graham Greene as a film critic that might be somewhat overstated. I would say these types of reviews are most often going to be interesting in itself. They however can be problematic. I would say as contemporary reviews, when a film is just coming out, they can almost be dishonest to the position of a critic which is that they are paid one would assume in the end to recommend the film to the reader or not. These types of reviews can become so sidetracked into the sometimes egotistical ramblings of the critic that this point is lost. This type of reviewing is what encourages someone like Armond White whose reviews are an exercise in trying to legitimize contrarianism than honestly examine the film, or someone like John Simon who so indulged that he would include ad hominem attacks on filmmakers and actors. Kael did the same in her almost vendetta style reviews against certain filmmakers that tests the limits of good taste. In general I think the most excessive type of these reviews should be left to retrospective examinations. Roger Ebert, though there are a few times he did this in a contemporary review, usually left these to his "Great Movie" reviews of the films, which I think was the right way. On Ebert though he, and more currently Manohla Dargis, are excellent examples of print reviewers who include elements of this style, while still conveying directly their feelings a properly digestible form for their readers. They do not overwhelm essentially the "recommendation" part of a review, but succeed in making the reviews more interesting.

Anonymous:

(Drama) Picture: The Post
(Musical/Comedy) Picture: Lady Bird
(Drama) Actor: Gary Oldman - Darkest Hour
(Drama) Actress: Frances McDormand - Three Billboards
(Musical/Comedy) Actor: James Franco - The Disaster Artist
(Musical/Comedy) Actress: Margot Robbie - I, Tonya
Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards
Supporting Actress: Laurie Metcalf - Lady Bird
Director: Christopher Nolan - Dunkirk
Screenplay: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Score: Dunkirk
Song: "Remember Me" - Coco
Animated Feature: Coco
Foreign Film: First They Killed My Father

Calvin Law said...

Just re-watched Good Time. Have no idea how I held off a 5 for Pattinson first time round, and the film really grew on me overall.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

To all the anime fans here, I wholeheartedly recommend the 2016 show Erased. There's also a Netflix live action adaptation, which I will applaud for casting Japanese actors instead of going all Ghost in the Shell over it.

Omar Franini said...

Louis: before you finish 1965 could you watch Io la conoscevo bene (I Knew Her Well) and Vaghe Stelle dell'Orsa (Sandra)?

Calvin Law said...

Sweet baby Jesus yes, Kaluuya's won another Best Actor award, National Society of Film Critics :)

Luke Higham said...

Happy for him, not bad for a man who played Rowan Atkinson's sidekick in Johnny English Reborn. :)

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your cast and director for a 1960's The Shape of Water.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Any recent viewings and are there any other Female Performances from 1965 with a 4+ rating that you could give thoughts on.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Carradine played Big Daddy on stage in the 70's. How do you think he would have fared in the 50's movie adaptation?

Anonymous said...

I wonder what peoples reaction is gonna be if Daniel Kaluuya doesnt get nominated and in fact has his place taken by Washington because I can so easily see that happening, the well respected actor getting in over the unknown actor.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis: What's your rating and thoughts on Francois Cluzet in Round Midnight?

Louis Morgan said...

Omar:

Yes.

Anonymous:

I'm sure he could've been great, though I don't think anyone could have bested Burl Ives who seemed born for the role.

Luke:

Let me hold onto those until the results.

Anonymous:

The Shape of Water 1960's directed by Michael Powell:

Elisa: Moira Shearer
Giles: Fredric March
Zelda: Cicely Tyson
Dr. Hoffstetler: Joseph Wiseman
The Asset: Ricou Browning
Strickland: Lee Marvin

Calvin Law said...

I'll take a crack:

Directed by Guy Green

Elisa: Elizabeth Hartman, might be too young though. Shearer is perfect.

Zelda: Ruby Dee
Strickland: Sterling Hayden
Giles: Jack Albertson
Hoffstetler: Richard Attenborough

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

The Snowman, for some reason.

Matt:

Cluzet - 2(Although I have found him to be charming in his later performances, I haven't seen him tap into that in these early performances of his. Cluzet somehow feels even blander than Dexter, definitely not an actor, Gordon, and carries no real weight within his character. He always feels just like he's kind of there, making the central relationship particularly tired and underwhelming.)

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the film and the cast.

I'm dreading Fassbender's rating.

Michael McCarthy said...

Calvin: I actually love Hartman for Elisa. I could also see Robert Ryan as Strickland.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Well I should have seen this one coming everyone gave me all the clues. There is an intriguing mystery, the mystery of how so many talented people make The Snowman. Unfortunately while trying to solve the mystery I was left on the middle of a frozen lake screaming "WHERE ARE YOU!" trying to find that missing talent in vain.

Where Book of Henry was a complete baffling film, this is baffling in its incompleteness, it's rare that an unfinished film gets a wide release, but here we are. There is no competition this is the worst edited film of the year, but given that it is edited by Thelma Schoonmaker, I'll have to assume she was using all the footage she had. It's still awful either way though, the opening scene in particular was mind boggling with the sheer amount of awkward cutting in a sequence that made little to no sense. That was the whole film though where we had just many threads tied around into a nonsensical ball of nothingness. How Tomas Alfredson went from this to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, is mind boggling, I'll have to assume filming went something like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs3bXmPVy-U

Fassbender - 2(No one is really allowed to seemingly act here, because this film just goes, it never starts, it just sort of happens in front of your eyes. Fassbender is reduced to looking tired and distressed throughout the film. These are his only expressions. I couldn't tell you anything about this character other than he was tired and distressed. That is all that is here, nothing more, nothing less I guess, but wow. Also since apparently you are not suppose to pronounce his last name as a hole, that just is another bizarre level of incompetence in the film.)

Kilmer - (Speaking of incompetence in the film. It is very sad and unfortunate that Kilmer's practically lost his voice. That does not excuse the production of at least finding someone who sounds similair to Kilmer to dub him.)

There isn't much to be said about anyone else, I mean they're there. Many of them I don't know why they are there but they are.

I do want to give credit though to cinematographer Dion Beebe who managed to do his job, outside of a few weird camera movements in otherwise basic speaking scenes, his work was pretty good.