Friday, 2 February 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2017: Hugh Grant & Brendan Gleeson in Paddington 2

Hugh Grant did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite receiving a BAFTA nomination, for portraying Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2.

Paddington 2 is a most delightful sequel to the previous film about the little marmalade loving bear and his various endeavors while living with a family in London.

This film, as was the case for Nicole Kidman in the original, calls upon an actor to have what would be described as a "blast" while playing the film's villain. Hugh Grant is that actor, who I've yet to cover in any of his romantic leading turns with all their blinks, smiles and stutters. Not that I have a problem those performances, in fact quite enjoyed him in last years Florence Foster Jenkins where he stole the show and was rather cruelly snubbed when compared to a few of his competitors. I won't bury the lead and will begin with that this is the most I've liked Grant in anything though, and it might be because it allows him to go all the way with his particular set of skills. This is not to say Grant is doing his usual thing exactly, but it is kind of the starting point except more than that. We see this in Grant's first scene in the film where he declares a carnival open while meeting out titular lovable bear voiced so well by Ben Whishaw. Grant is impeccably charming with his grandiose yet sunny delivery of his little speech. He even laughs off a couple of accidental insults by Paddington with only a few slight shakes of the head and a grand reveal of his impeccable pearled whites. Grant brings that trademark charisma he is known for and just takes it up a notch more to represent an actor of a, no offense to Grant, a grander scale more of a Laurence Olivier or Daniel Day-Lewis type.

That is the man who is Phoenix Buchanan who literally prays to old "Larry" Olivier, who after an accidental tip by Paddington becomes a thief in order to uncover a series of clues in order to unlock a treasure trove. Phoenix goes about stealing the clues he needs which leaves poor Paddington with his paw prints on the scene of a crime and sent to jail. Grant is the evil villain here, but I write that with all levity. This performance by Grant correctly understands the tone of this film which that it is all in very good fun. Grant's marvelous here in bringing to life his dastardly fellow through expressing the strongest ego possible for an actor, which obviously is rather substantial. Grant matches the task quite well portraying such a strangely endearing lack of shame in every moment of his portrayal of Phoenix. He goes grand, he goes ham, in the most delicious of ways. Every moment he plays as though Phoenix is ready to deliver some grand monologue. His delivery is always filled with bravado and his face filled with such explosive self-satisfaction and vanity. Grant will make you believe that man can accidentally expose himself to scrutiny through the sheer intensity due to how he so admires himself. Every moment there is such a powerful sense in Grant's work that Phoenix is in love with one thing, well one man, himself. This is a deeply impassioned love as Grant puts his every being into it and it couldn't more entertaining to watch.

There can be a fatal, well not fatal, but a severe mistake that some actors make when playing the villain in a film like this which is they can potentially lose out on the fun of it all. Grant makes sure he does not make that mistake at any point. I have particular affection for every one of his "creations" of the various characters that he uses to pull of his scheme as well as falls into personal conference with. Grant is most enjoyable as converses with himself with one character accent after another. I actually find that Grant is great here because he doesn't go too over the top with these voices, mind you that is a strange sacle, as Phoenix is suppose to be a good actor just a self-indulgent one, and Grant captures that with effortless style. He ensures that old Phoenix is just as entertaining as any other part of the film, and makes sure that just because he's our villain doesn't mean we cannot have agood time being around him. He even manages to do this in the final act where Phoenix's villainy becomes more overtly threatening technically speaking. How? Well that's a question Grant is more than willing to answer which is to play the part as though he's Basil Rathbone taking charge of his situation. He technically does create enough of a pseudo menace, no real menace is intended or required, as Grant so embraces the madness of the man living out his parts with such pertinacity. I especially love his tremendous pride when naming his level of fencing skill while showing it off as a proper swashbuckler should. This is a truly wonderful performance by Hugh Grant that makes the most out of his oh so agreeable fiend.
Brendan Gleeson did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Knuckles McGinty in Paddington 2.

Well just for an extra bit of joy for this already joyful experience of a film look no further than the always reliable Brendan Gleeson. Gleeson, evidently being a bit more prudent in his talking animal film choices than his son Domnhall however I digress on that point. Here we get Brendan Gleeson as Paddington is sent to jail for his alleged crimes, and he goes face to face with the cook in order to lob a complaint. That cook is non other than Gleeson who also intends on being incredibly delightful here. This time through his extremely endearing portrayal of a hard boiled criminal. Well hard boiled for this film anyways. Gleeson though is hilarious even in the way he projects his intensity, going a bit absurd in just the right way he questions Paddington's complaints with one deadly stare after the other. Now doing this sort ridiculous acting is not given enough credit when done properly, as you can easily flop into the wrong direction of just being ridiculous rather ridiculously entertaining. Well like Grant, Gleeson successfully is the right kind of ridiculous here as he so strongly puts up this front only to have it initially broken through the tasting of some of Paddington's marmalade. The expression pictured above kind of says it all, does it not? Gleeson's hilarious in this almost primal moment of transcendence he conveys in the tasting, only bested by his rather enjoyable way of pronouncing the word as mah ma lade.

Gleeson's transformation of hardened criminal to loyal friend to Paddington couldn't be more endearing. It is rather hasty due to the nature of the film, but also still just perfect really in the few moments we get to address this. First with Gleeson's nonchalant disparaging of Paddington's aunt's advice, which leads to a most unfortunate stare to which Gleeson's reaction of sheer fear is something rather special. This though leads to the warming of old Knuckles in such a splendid way as Gleeson reveals just this overabundance of warmth in his interactions with dear Paddington. You'll believe friendship between a killer and bear, that is for sure through every little comedic gem you get in their interactions. I quite enjoy Gleeson keeping the hard edge of the man whenever it may benefit he and Paddington in their quest. This performance isn't all fun, okay it mostly is and a lot of fun it is. There is just a bit of drama that one must bring here in the few scenes where Knuckles warns poor Paddington that his family may forget about him in prison and encourages him to lead an escape. Gleeson's work though even delightful in this by making these conversations just so genuine on his side as though wasn't even talking to his mah ma lade loving bear. Gleeson interactions have this certain conviction in these moments that somehow makes everything all the more entertaining through it,even while being completely heartwarming as well. Gleeson's reactions when he hears of Paddington's troubles bring such real empathy that is comical coming from this brutish sort, yet still moving in its own way through the conviction that Gleeson brings. Gleeson also has just the right kind of fun here as well. He definitely realizes Knuckles as proper character that fits right into the life affirming substance that is Paddington 2. 

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your casts for a 70's and 80's version of Watchmen?

Luke Higham said...

Great reviews Louis.

Mitchell Murray said...

Huh.. perhaps I should give this movie a whirl. Grants not normally my cup of tea but I will acknowledge his good performance in FFJ. He certainly deserved to get in more than Shannon but thats as far as I'll go.

Charles H said...

I might check this film out as well. Seems worth it.

Calvin Law said...

Oh yes, Knuckles' cowering in fear at Paddington was a riot and a half.

Robert MacFarlane said...

1. Poulter
2. Hamill
3. Dano
4. Grazer
5. Grant

Anonymous said...

Louis: Rating and thoughts on Lee Remick in No Way to Treat a Lady and The Detective and Perry Lopez and Joe Mantell in Chinatown.

John Smith said...

1.Poulter
2.Dano
3.Hamill
4.Grant
5.Grazer

houndtang said...

You should review him in About A Boy - underrated performance in underrated film

Bryan L said...

I really want to check this one out now, since it has now made Louis' Top Ten.

Anonymous said...

Louis and you guys: Your top five actors with an intense, animalistic physicality which boosts their work. And please explain why it helps these actors.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

1. Stewart
2. Duris
3. Craig
4. Flynn
5. Lynch

1. Poulter
2. Hamill
3. Dano
4. Grazer
5. Grant

Luke Higham said...

1. Poulter
2. Hamill (Trying to be optimistic here)
3. Dano
4. Grazer
5. Grant

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Who would you like to see play the villain for a possible threequel.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Could you also watch The Death Of Stalin if possible.

John Smith said...

Louis, you top 20 Oliver Stone directed moments?

Calvin Law said...

Louis: thoughts on this 1960s cast for Paddingtons 1 and 2?

Paddington: voiced by Tom Courtenay
Mr Brown: Michael Redgrave
Mrs Brown: Rosalind Russell
Judy and Jonathan: Pamela Franklin and Martin Stephens
Mrs Bird: Celia Johnson
Millicent Clyde: Deborah Kerr
Mr Gruber: Ralph Richardson
Mr Curry: Ralph Richardson
Phoenix Buchanan: Laurence Olivier
Knuckles McGinty: Harry Andrews

Calvin Law said...

Oops, maybe Trevor Howard as Mr Curry then.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Is Three Billboards your favorite performance by McDormand, or is it Fargo.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin & Tahmeed: I think Skargard's the only review that may end up with a 4.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

70's:

Rorschach: Robert Blake
Nite Owl II: Chris Sarandon
Silk Spectre II: Adrienne Barbeau
Silk Spectre I: Ida Lupino
Dr. Manhattan: Sam Waterston
Ozymandias: David Bowie
The Comedian: Burt Reynolds

80's:

Rorschach: Michael Parks
Nite Owl II: Michael Keaton
Silk Spectre II: Jamie Lee Curtis
Silk Spectre I: Janet Leigh
Dr. Manhattan: Peter Weller
Ozymandias: Jeremy Irons
The Comedian: Tommy Lee Jones

houndtang:

I'll keep that in mind.

Anonymous:

Remick - No Way to Treat A Lady - 3.5(Her role is fairly limited within the film though she shares a nice chemistry with Segal. Her charm is really enough to carry that there isn't too much to the character overall. She manages to adds something through her presence within the film even though she doesn't have a great deal to work with.)

The Detective - 3(Her role is all the more limited here as we just get brief views into her relationship with Sinatra's character. She more or less exudes whatever that needs to be but it is so limited we more of get an idea of a character than a real tangible person despite Remick's best efforts.)

Lopez - 3.5(He's pretty good in being as much as he can be in the limited perspective of the character. In that Lopez shows the way the man so intensely works within the system in a technically problematic fashion. He though finds the right nuance though in portraying just the slight sense of conflict in the most extreme circumstances particularly in the ending where he shows him doing the wrong thing though in no way happy about it.)

Mantell - 2.5(He doesn't have much to do beyond looking a little uncomfortable as he watches his partner act out. He nails that final delivery though of the famous line though.)

Anonymous:

Now you wouldn't be writing any essays for say some course now would you....?

Luke:

Russell Crowe as some sort of military man, as I can imagine rather clearly Crowe barking the most intense orders at an unphased Paddington.

Yes when possible.

John Smith:

1. Meeting with X - JFK
2. Breaking down the day of - JFK
3. Summation - JFK
4. Final battle - Platoon
5. Ferrie's last day - JFK
6. First Attack - Platoon
7. Martin's testimony - JFK
8. Elias's End - Platoon
9. Hate for Everyone - Talk Radio
10. Through the looking glass - JFK
11. The village - Platoon
12. Clay Shaw deposition - JFK
13. On the border - Salvador
14. Testing the gun theories - JFK
15. What's in the box - Talk Radio
16. Greed is Good - Wall Street
17. Opening - JFK
18. Strange visitor - Talk Radio
19. Plane ride - JFK
20. Barnes's visit to the drug tent - Platoon

Calvin:

I can approve of all these choices, particularly Redgrave as Mr. Brown and Olivier as Buchanan.

Tahmeed:

Fargo's my favorite from her.

Calvin Law said...

Could Jared Leto have been a good Ozymandias you reckon? Fassbender would obviously be the perfect choice though.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: That would be amazing to see. :)

Crowe's reaction to Paddington's Hard Stare would be worth the price of admission alone.

Calvin Law said...

Anonymous: I can't think of 5 off the top of my head but I will say that Dave Bautista and Matthias Schoenaerts have a very primal, viscreal hunter's instinct in their acting styles which amplifies performances in many ways.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Maybe, but it is fairly easy to have been better than Goode at any rate.

Elliott Folds said...

I’m pretty sure Paddington 2 is eligible for next year’s Oscars, so fingers crossed Grant gets some love then.