Thursday, 8 February 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2017: Patrick Stewart in Logan

Patrick Stewart did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for BFCA, for portraying Professor Charles Xavier aka Prof. X in Logan.

Long before the first X-Men film was ever made Patrick Stewart was seen as the one man to bring the comic book telepath and leader of the X-Men to the screen. As expected Stewart did not disappoint in the role however the films rarely seemed to fully serve him as a character, leaving most of the actual exploration of the role to his successor James McAvoy. In the original films they went out of their way to put him out of commission for long periods whether it was due to some green stuff in Cerebro, a lobotomized telepath, or being glittered away by the dark phoenix Stewart was rarely granted the appropriate time to shine. It is notable that before this film it was only his side story portion of Days of Future Past, where it seemed like he was allowed to properly sink his teeth into the part. Finally though Stewart managed to find himself in a more character driven X-Men film through this film as the aged Professor hiding out near the U.S./Mexican border with Hugh Jackman's Wolverine/Logan taking care of him in his decrepit state. This role is not only a departure for Charles Xavier but Stewart in general who is best known for his refined roles usually as a mentor figure.

What Stewart does here is fascinating in that this performance essentially must make sense of a mess of a mind. Stewart's performance has a great challenge in that as written Charles is all over the place because he has dementia and his mind, which used to be the source of his power, is fading away. Stewart needs to not only make these inconsistencies make sense, he must also connect them to the Prof. X we once knew. Stewart must make these dramatic shifts natural by realizing them each as a part of the broken man and in one phase or another of his mind while it is falling apart. The earliest scenes Stewart reveals Charles at his very worst, but not in the same way depending on the situation. In his first scene Stewart is quite great in portraying the man completely caught up on drugs and raving like a complete maniac. Stewart finds even a real tragedy in these ravings by showing this man that Logan, really even the audience, greatly revered into this complete mess of a man. Stewart makes this drugged up state particularly unusual though for a man once capable of reading every person in the world's mind now echoing just random thoughts of a man now lost in them. Charles does have a worst state than that when he undergoes seizures, which Stewart shows as the man just completely breaking down within himself that unfortunately unleashes a shock wave that becomes potentially fatal to everyone within the vicinity, that is only satiated through a direct injection which brings forth a more coherent Charles.

Stewart still does not show this to be the man Logan or we once knew by any margin. He's far more sorrowful and it downright heartbreaking to believably see the professor in this state. A state now where he reveals an actual cynicism when lashing out at Logan which Stewart plays as part mental decay, but also part of failures over the years to genuinely help the man away from his own personal demons. As rough as some of these interactions are though Stewart and Jackman both make use of the chemistry they've built over the long running franchise. The years are inherent within them and their interactions have that vibrancy as there is a glint of tenderness even if it buried over years of suffering. It is within that mess of the mind that Stewart makes such an essential and authentic part of his portrayal though where at times there is that moment of clarity, but others just rambling anger of a jumbled mind. Every switch Stewart makes just part of that jumble and that is what makes him so effective in truly revealing this decaying mind that rarely has a consistent state. The one more concrete change comes with the introduction of Laura aka X-23 (Dafne Keen) a young mutant seeking helping from Logan in order to escape her captors/creators. Stewart is outstanding the way he brings a bit of optimism back to the old professor as he treats Laura with such an absolute uncompromising affection of the man who use to believe in the best of anyone.

That spark that created the notion of the X-Men returns in Stewart's performance, but what makes this even more poignant is how faint he depicts it. He does not suddenly become the old professor, not by a long shot. Stewart still shows the man dealing with his decaying mind in this state but now with the ability to hone in any way towards this young person he sees hope in. Stewart again fluctuates so effectively from times where he brings a grandfather's concern yet still with just a touch of daffiness that had been more overt before. When he speaks to Logan now there is less of an overt cynicism towards him, though it still lies within Stewart's delivery as he urges Logan to do the right thing with a diminished yet still palatable passion towards righteousness. As the two go on the road to help her, Stewart is excellent in the way he shows the professor trying to essentially return to himself once more, these moments are absolutely heartbreaking. He carries himself again attempting to be the man he was and now when he correct Logan Patrick delivers with this level of care to try to encourage rather than discourage. One moment I love in his performance is when he helps ranchers get their horses back into a trailer by for once using his powers effectively again. Stewart is magnificent in this moment as when he looks at Logan he does smile, or act pompous yet for that moment shows the confident and concerned mentor he met in their very first encounter in the first X-Men film. This is only glimpse of clarity for the man as even when he has regained some of his optimism in his final scenes in the film, Stewart still presents this fading mental state overall. The difference though now is with that optimism as he reveals his tenderness not only to Laura but also to Logan more directly. Stewart still shows a man ravaged by his state but now content with it. He is incredibly moving in just the smallest of smiles, and gentle words that now reveal a man looking towards his inevitable demise, but no longer with anger or fear. Stewart finds this moment of clarity of introspection beautifully in his work as finally examines his own mistakes. There is a sadness in the realization of what he's done, but within that Stewart conveys this sense of understanding towards Logan, and his own demons from the past. He reflects this overt sympathy of the professor reducing himself down from his original role for a moment, though in a positive way to place himself inside the same mindset as his most difficult "student". Patrick Stewart delivers an amazing performance here. He takes what was given before and uses it to offer an even more powerful portrait of decay. A vivid depiction of a most unusual mental deterioration made convincing through his exceptional performance. Stewart does not waste this chance to take the character beyond the limits that had been placed by the previous films. He realizes the real tragedy of the Professor's demise both through how far he has fallen, but also just in those minor hints of the man he once was as well as eventually tries to be again.


Luke Higham said...


Absolutely love this performance.

Luke Higham said...

Can't wait for Hamill tomorrow though I now think he's only getting a 4.5 since I expected him before Stewart.

Omar Franini said...

Louis: have you seen other 2017 movies recently?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Phoenix playing The Joker.

Mitchell Murray said...

Yah he's amazing.. I don't mind saying it. Jackman's on my short list for alternate lead and based on what you said here, I can't wait for your review.

Calvin Law said...

Holy crap. He could actually contend with Rockwell.

Calvin Law said...

Prediction for top 10:

1. Rockwell
2. Stewart
3. Poulter
4. Harrelson
5. Duris
6. Dafoe
7. Lynch
8. Dano
9. Hamill
10. Flynn

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I'm even more confident in Jackman getting into the top 5 after this review.

Collin Maines said...

I have been following this blog for many years, and I must say I was so hoping you would not only use Mark Hamill's performance in The Last Jedi but Sir Patrick Stewart's performance here in Logan. He did an excellent job, my fingers are crossed that you pick Hugh Jackman for Best Actor. Keep up the good work!

Calvin Law said...

Looking over this review again I love your analysis but I wish you'd spent a bit more time on his final haunting scene where he realizes what he's done. It's one of the best acted scenes this year.

Matt Mustin said...

Calvin: I agree.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Love this performance so much. He's my #2 of the year behind Rockwell, and I would be over the moon if Louis gives him the win.
Jackman's totally getting a 5, and he'll he the first or second reviewed :).

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Given the several similarities being noted between X-23 and Eleven, how do you think Millie Bobby Brown would have done in the former role.

Louis Morgan said...


THERE YOU HAPPY NOW???...I mean there I fixed the oversight on my part.


A great choice, but I can't say I'm excited at the prospect of a Joker origin film directed by Todd Phillips. I do think you could potentially make an interesting film if you do a Rashomon style film where you have multiple versions of a origin in different styles all played by Phoenix as the Joker. Phillips though still wouldn't be the right choice to direct that either.


Thank you for commenting.


All will be revealed in the results.


Well she would've been a bit miscast ethnically though she definitely has the talent.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the voices of Kathleen Turner, Emma Stone, Lauren Bacall and Rosalind Russell.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Crossing my fingers Hamill can pull off some sort of miracle.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

Loved this performance.

Charles H said...

Awesome performance, will be close between him and Rockwell, but i hope Rockwell finally gets his deserved win.

Charles H said...

I also hope Hamil will be the 5th five of this alternate round. I found him better then Lynch actually.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Is The Shape of Water still a 5 for you.

Calvin Law said...

Oh, thank you Louis. Didn't expect you to tinker with it but I appreciate it very much.

Omar Franini said...

I just watched Phantom Thread and i loved it. Krieps wa my favourite from cast, and both Day-Lewis and Manville were terrific.

Louis: what are your thoughts on the New Year's Eve sequence? And what about Harriet Sansom Harris? I really liked her in the two scenes she were in.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: For your Lead Actor ranking, could you watch My Friend Dahmer.

Calvin Law said...

Omar: I just re watched it and wanted to ask him about ol' Barbara too haha.

Omar Franini said...

Calvin: i really like the whole Barbara Rose scene because i think it's very important to Krieps's character, but i don't want to spoil anything.

Louis: always on Phantom Thread, which is your favourite theme from the Greenwood's score?

Louis Morgan said...


Kathleen Turner, Emma Stone, Lauren Bacall, Rosalind Russell - (Well all four are husky perfection. Turner is honestly an all time great voice though in that regard and it is difficult for anyone to compare to her since one could legitimately use her voice as a verbalization of sex appeal. Emma Stone's pipes are not far away for me though not quite a deep as Turner's to be sure with perhaps more of an overt sweetness to them. I guess Bacall's voice is my least favorite of these four, but that's not saying a lot. It still in itself has this certain power and maturity to it to the point it does feel almost impossible that she was 19 in To Have and Have Not. Now Russell perhaps used her deeper voice to the greatest of effect in her appearance on "What's My Line" past that she kind of has wonderful more gentle type of it, also great.)


Yes, however some of the "magic" wore off on the re-watch, leaving me to care more about how over the top it all is. I will say though this probably wouldn't be a problem if I had waited longer between viewings.


It's something quite special in that I can't help but feel Anderson was perhaps playing a bit into the New Year's Eve romantic/comedy cliche by having the scene where the person rushes off to see his or her lover however colored in through such a different lens. It is downright brilliant as he realizes this through a very different type of relationship, where it's meaning is quite different yet similair in some ways in that one is seeking completion through another however in a different way. The scene of course is masterfully staged by Anderson as is, but the context of it is what makes it so fascinating.

Well Harris is another reason why I would call this a great ensemble since even though she only has a few minutes of screentime she just adds to the film and it's atmosphere so well. Here in her effective portrayal of a completely woman caught within herself where there is not a hint of appreciation for Reynolds's hard work or anyone else. She even speaks of her upcoming marriage with a sort of indifference, it's great, even if very brief, work.

"The House of Woodcock" although I adore the entire score.