Thursday, 15 February 2018

Alternate Best Actor 2017: James Franco in The Disaster Artist

James Franco did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for SAG and winning a Golden Globe, for portraying Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist.

Oh hai everyone. The circumstances of this review, they're crazy, almost as if I started reviewing me underwears. Alright maybe not  that much ahahaha. What a story, ahahaha as I go from reviewing the original performance by Tommy Wiseau for its infamous quality to the performance as that performance by James Franco which was nearly Oscar nominated. Before I unpack the story behind the room filled filled with spoons I must admit my own feelings towards the inception of this project. After being delighted by the book of the same name as this film I'll admit my anticipation for the adaptation perhaps matched the extent to which chocolate is known to be the symbol of love by society, which as we know is almost unqualified in that vast belief. In short I was excited. Upon hearing James Franco optioned the novel, who I have never been the biggest fan of and I certainly did not see him in the role as the football while wearing tuxedos playing aficionado. Upon also hearing of Franco casting it as this beautiful party. Where he invited all of his friends in cameo or even leading roles, while that might have been good thinking to Franco, but that along with the first teaser was leading me almost to scream your tearing me apart James Franco!

I was concerned more than a strange man/boy creature should be who bought drugs from the wrong oddly named drug dealer. As Tommy Wiseau would be an easy enough character to get wrong because on and off screen he is so ridiculous it would be easy enough to only be the caricature of the man. I must admit though before I started throwing my TV out of a window only for it to fall in a way that is against the laws of gravity, I saw the extended trailer and eventually the film which changed my tone faster then when you don't want pizza but pizza was already ordered for you. Although I won't quite say I said oh hey James Franco I didn't know it was you, upon the opening of the film Franco comes close to becoming the realization of the man who will incorrectly act like a chicken right to your face. We see this as Tommy Wiseau represents the idea of the fearless actor to Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) as they meet in an acting class. Franco of course cannot tell you the secrets of Tommy Wiseau, they're confidential after all. He instead must be the enigma of the man that is quite unlike your typical hu-man being. A man who will randomly say "How's your sex life" as a normal trait of human behavior, this is course a representation of Tommy more so than the legendary character of Johnny the banker from The Room, although these things can blur a bit.

Franco seems to have it all down, I mean the strange saunter, the mysterious glares, the unknowable accent...what's going here? Well Franco seems to have captured Wiseau past the surface level of his strange sunglasses, and even stranger wardrobe. There is that exact way of speaking even past the NOOOOWEORLLEANS accent, but the exact way his voice has these variations depending on the mood of the man. In this capturing of the man that is enough to make it interesting, this is a comedic performance in the sense that it is naturally funny the same way Tommy Wiseau is naturally funny in his strange way of navigating the world. The man who will go about saying "I'm tired, I'm wasted...I love you Baby" that isn't what one typically states in any circumstance, however the real Wiseau isn't far from that strange I'll say atypical juxtaposition of words and emotions. Now as much as the real Wiseau may wish for me to keep my comments in my pocket his very being is quite hilarious just as Franco is here, since he captures that same strange wavelength that the rest of us could only hope to achieve. For example I'm sure Wiseau understands the logic of the flower shop scene in his own mind, however we ponder every word, its very existence, except for perhaps the inclusion of doggie one of the better actors in that film. Franco simply finds the state of being that is Wiseau which is highly entertaining to watch, better than dropping off the earth anyways, that's a promise.

Of course before I go off to eat the delicious delicacy of haaaa, I must ponder if this performance is above a standard impression. Well I would say it is to the extent that it is one of the best impressions one probably has seen of the frequently impersonated Tommy Wiseau, although what takes this further beyond just an entertaining impression is any potential humanization of the very alien Tommy. This is of course as odd as introducing then dropping a cancer subplot through a single line, because Tommy's reactions are not so simple. I mean few people chuckle at hearing someone get beat up so bad they ended up on a hospital on Guerrero street, no one goes cheep cheep to imitate a chicken, well except Tommy Wiseau. Franco's work then must attempt to bring out some strange inner truth of Tommy. In this sense Franco's portrayal of the other sides of Tommy are within his relationship with Greg played by his brother. This friendship is even atypical as the encouragements of Tommy towards Greg are strange in themselves demanding silence on questions about his past while also requiring the return of his own support. There is some strange vulnerability that Franco captures in more subtle moments, within this purposefully extroverted work. A sense of some desire for kinship though very much internalized towards these single moments of earnest friendship mixed in mostly within Wiseau oddity. Franco finds those moments but also uses them to essentially work towards the creation of the more problematic Tommy, that is only lightly touched upon here.

It is there which Franco fashions, for the feel good take to the material, to show it as a jealousy in Tommy towards losing his friend than the more inherent nature of the man who actually made the original film. It does work as such though in this is a return to The Room form, as we see Tommy/Johnny echo themselves as they become fed up with their mutual worlds. The overcoming of this, which is less dramatic for Tommy than it is for Johnny, is merely found in Tommy achieving equilibrium after Greg returns the encouragement to Tommy by showing that his passion project of the Room is beloved even if it is not in the way he intended. This again is Franco still as Tommy and his reactions seem right if perhaps limited in that we do never fully understand who he is past a certain point, to the point that it is obvious Franco never learned the whole truth either. This is an enjoyable representative of Wiseau, and enough of a realization beyond simply an impression to at least feel we've seen something of Wiseau in this film beyond simply being entertained by his unique antics. If James Franco were to ask "What do you want from me, huh? HUH?" about this performance, I'd say what he gave was more than enough. Now one might have a point of view that is so different than mine in regards to this performance. That is fine, as long as we can still love each other, you don't even have to say it, but one should just always remember that if a lot of people love each other, the world would be a better place to live. 

36 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Had a feeling you wouldn't give him a five. It's great work and am abit disappointed but at least this means Jackman's definitely in the top 5.

Luke Higham said...

Great review anyway as always. :)

Luke Higham said...

So, Franco technically still has one five in 11.22.63.

Mitchell Murray said...

Anybody else read this with Wisseau's voice in their heads? In any case, I'll once again have to withhold my thoughts but am not entirely flabbergasted by the review. And the final quote was a nice touch.

Calvin Law said...

This review has lifted my spirits on a bit of a rough day, thank you Louis.

As for the performance, like the film itself I'm still not sure whether I find it to be great, or just extremely entertaining. Him and Oldman have the same issue for me, although The Disaster Artist definitely held up better on re-watch.

Calvin Law said...

Mitchell: Same although halfway through I began reading it in Peter's voice when some of the more refined analysis comes in.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the voices of Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, James Stewart, Henry Fonda and Gregory Peck.

Luke Higham said...

As much as I liked Stan, for the sake of my prediction, I hope he doesn't finish above Renner.

Michael McCarthy said...

I was probably a little overzealous in making Franco my win for the year. I do still find his the most entertaining performance of the year (and I've seen the film twice) so for now I'll keep him at a five, but if I'm honest with myself it's certainly not as impressive on a technical level as Gosling or Day-Lewis.

I guess now I'll root for Song to get that fifth spot, though it would be kinda cool if Stan snuck in there.

Chesil said...

Luis: Any thoughts about "Mudbound"? Haven't considered reviewing Garrett Hedlund, for instance? For me, this is the best movie of this Oscar season.

Bryan L said...

Chesil: He gave them when he first watched the movie, and his thoughts on Hedlund and Mitchell later on.

You can find them here:

For the movie:
http://actoroscar.blogspot.com/2017/11/alternate-best-actor-2010-martin-sheen.html

For Hedlund:
http://actoroscar.blogspot.com/2018/01/another-year-and-another-official-lineup.html

For Mitchell:
http://actoroscar.blogspot.com/2018/02/alternate-best-supporting-actor-2017.html

Mitchell Murray said...

I think I speak for most of us when I say "Mudbound" didn't leave the biggest splash this year, and that goes double for Blige's nomination.

Chesil said...

For me, "Mudbound" was stunning. I gave it 5, along with "Three billboards". I get my taste might be different when I had noticed how high the PT Anderson movie was praised here.

Thanks for the links, Bryan.

Anonymous said...

Louis: While I know you're not fond of the material, what do you think of a 50's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf with Leigh in Taylor's role and Olivier in Burton's role?

Bryan L said...

Chesil: You're welcome. I myself thought the movie was fine and didn't mind watching it.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Chesil: I liked Mudbound just fine, and I actually liked Hedlund a lot like you did. He and Mitchell were my favorite parts of the movie.

As for Franco, it's a funny performance, but I honestly thought his brother gave the more interesting turn. The movie itself I have issues with, especially with how it ultimately absolves Wiseau of his horrible tendencies and toxic behavior.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the cast of The Drop including Hardy if you’ve not given them? If you have, do you know where I can locate them?

Bryan L said...

Anonymous: You can find them at these links

The movie:

http://actoroscar.blogspot.com/2015/01/alternate-best-supporting-actor-1965_5.html

For Gandolfini:

http://actoroscar.blogspot.com/2015/02/alternate-best-supporting-actor-2014_8.html

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your updated top 10 male supporting performances of the 2010s decade.

Bryan L said...

Louis: Your expanded thoughts on David Lynch in Louie?

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: It's likely that Hardy's gonna be reviewed for The Drop.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Could I have your rating and thoughts on Edward Furlong in American History X? And could I have your thoughts on THAT infamous scene from the film.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your cast and director for:
Get Shorty (40's version)
The Birdcage (60's version)
Milk (80's version) (With Pacino in the lead role)

Calvin Law said...

Just saw Lady Bird and I adored it. I really hope Metcalf wins the Oscar, though Manville is still my win and haven't seen Janney. It really hit home hard for me even though Lady Bird's situation and my own at that age were different there's so many little things in it I found so compelling, moving, heartfelt, funny, bit of everything really. Also should've been nominated for editing.

Ronan: 5
Metcalf: 5
Hedges: 3.5
Chalamet: 3/3.5
Letts: 4
Henderson: 4
Feldstein: 4
Rodrigues: 3
Smith: 3

Robert MacFarlane said...

Black Panther was aces. Easily my favorite MCU film.

Calvin Law said...

Robert: Seeing it in an hour's time. Hope we concur.

Mitchell Murray said...

ok well since I can't seem to find a watchable copy of "All the Money in the World", I'm moving on to the best actor nominees for the time being. Just thought I should say something.

Bryan L said...

Mitchell: Same here. I hope I find a good copy online before the Oscars though, since Plummer is the only acting nominee I haven't seen.

Chesil said...

Did Louis review "I, Tonya". I just saw it for my personal supporting actress ranking, and I am curious what he thinks about Janney.

For me, well, it was too monstrous to digest, in that way that she never wants to know neither why she is so toxic, nor whether she has any better side. Janney plays her character in unidimensional, deadpan way, exactly how one would expect seeing her photos. She remains the same from beginning to end, and although some comic elements do appear this is not because of her, but due to the movie convention which seems to be very close to "The Big Short".

My ranking is as follows. What is yours, Louis?
1. Manville (5)
2. Metcalf (5)
3. Blige (4)
4. Spencer (4)
5. Janney (3)

Luke Higham said...

Black Panther was exceptionally good. The writing is some of if not the best I've seen in an MCU film. Boseman was very strong and is now synonymous with the role. Duke was funny, Wright was very good and Jordan quite easily made the greatest impression on me. I need some time to consider putting him above Keaton though it's very close.

Luke Higham said...

Robert: What did you think of the cast.

Alex Marqués said...

Chesil: while I found Janney entertaining, I agree with you about her performance overall. It's a shame that The Wolf Of Wall Street 2.0 wasn't interested in giving her more than a crass sitcom routine plus one big scene (especially considering the potential of the different perspectives of the story, including her own). Margot was clearly the standout for me.

Bryan L said...

Chesil: Here ya go :)

http://actoroscar.blogspot.com/2017/12/alternate-best-supporting-actor-1965.html

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Well I think, as the Edward Albee suggested, James Mason would have been the ideal choice for George, not sure about his choice of Bette Davis though. Leigh would have been great in that role, though it probably wouldn't have helped her psyche, I could see "The Entertainer" Olivier being amazing as well.

Bryan:

Well Lynch is just hilarious in every way in that way only Lynch can be. I love the slightly menacing quality in his own Lyncian way in that he seems absolutely in control of this conversation even in the way he never breaks his stride so to speak. At the same time, in the same tone he delivers this wisdom in a strangely eloquent way that again only in a way Lynch could perform. My favorite moment of his work though is doing the late show routine example for him, as suddenly you go, well I guess Lynch could be a late show host as well with that introduction. It's a brilliant piece of Lynchian madness for every second he's onscreen.

Tahmeed:

Let me update both in lead results.

Furlong - 3.5(It's a good performance from him as he manages to find the right middle place in his portrayal from potentially being the same man Derek was in his early scenes, but with the right false bravado against still the kid who could go the right way. He's great in his scenes with Melinda Dillon in realizing the innocence still there, while also naturally evoking the harder edges as well.)

Well many basically only speak of that scene from that film for a reason. One being the film really isn't great but the scene it is an effective piece of absolutely horrifying brutality as it shows how much can be taken from implication only.

Anonymous:

Get Shorty 1940's directed by Billy Wilder:

Chili Palmer: James Cagney
Harry Zimm: W.C. Fields
Karen Flores: Jean Arthur
Bo Catlett: Paul Robeson
Martin Weir: Edward G. Robinson
Bones Barbone: Humphrey Bogart (George Raft in movie version)
Doris Saffrin: Hermione Gingold
Bear: John Banner

The Birdcage 1960's directed by Stanley Kramer:

Armand: Peter Ustinov
Albert: Jack Lemmon
Louise Keeley: Katherine Hepburn
Senator Keeley: Spencer Tracy
Agador: Russ Tamblyn

Milk 1980's version directed by Stephen Frears:

Harvey Milk: Al Pacino
Cleve Jones: Robert Downey Jr.
Dan White: Jeff Bridges
Scott Smith: Kevin Bacon

Chesil:

I would disagree on Janney. First her comedic moments should not be hand waved, they do not just appear only from the material the performance needs to deliver them properly. Not every character needs some secret silver lining, not every person has some, and I took her horrible behavior from her character's own bitterness towards her own horrible life. She doesn't change but I thought she was great as a largely static character who was largely static according to all real life testimonies as well. Also that convention is from "Goodfellas" not the "The Big Short"

My Ranking:

1. Manville
2. Janney
3. Metcalf
4. Spencer
5. Blige

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Bette Davis & Barbara Stanwyck - (Both technically a more common voice for the time though Davis more refined perhaps yet easily parodied, while Stanwyck is kind of the more naturalistic, for whatever reason, of Davis.)

James Stewart - (Well shucks, just honest joe incarnate.)

Henry Fonda - (Americana incarnate)

Gregory Peck - (Burton's American equivalent in terms of power of vocal precision alone.)

Bryan L said...

Louis: Thanks. I like how he played the part as sort of a cautionary warning for the world that Louie is entering, since he would've had to change quite a bit if he would've gotten the gig. Pretty much all his lines are great quotes. Oh and the subtle salute to Blue Velvet in Lynchs' first scene =D

"No genius! Sit in the hosts' chair for crying in a cup!"

"Tune in every night folks: It's The Crying Cleaning Lady Show!"

"Sent here? What are you: a letter?"