Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Alternate Best Actor 1938: Claude Rains in White Banners

Claude Rains did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Paul Ward in White Banners.

White Banners is a fairly standard drama of the period about family finding more than to be expected from a homeless woman who becomes their housekeeper.

The film is technically positioned around the various influence of the somewhat mysterious housekeeper Hannah (Fay Bainter), who in particular endeavors to help the family patriarch/teacher/inventor Paul Ward by Claude Rains. Rains is firmly in non-villainous mode here, which he can ease into as easily as when playing a fiend. Rains making for a rather charming lead to be expected with his refined manner that feels just right for this certain type of intellectual. As usual Rains goes further though than is quite required by the role as he has a bit of fun with the idea of the professor as being slightly a bit eccentric within his inventions. Rains doesn't overplay this but rather brings this certain flourishes, particularly charming flourishes, of a bit of a cheeky style. This nicely grants a bit more towards the character who overall is what one can refer to as a "great guy", who just wants to help those around him for the most part while also making his inventions. The "worst" thing about the man is that he is slightly frustrated that no one takes his inventions seriously, although Rains even portrays this as the man taking it all with rather good humor suggesting that perhaps he doesn't even take it as seriously as he could.

The main thrust of the story then is essentially the housekeeper Hannah pushing those in and around the household to be their best selves including encouraging Mr. Ward's inventions. This leads only a pretty minor arc to work with for Rains as he goes from a quietly passionate charming generous man, to a more openly passionate charming generous man. Rains does this well to be sure but there isn't too much asked of him other than to be his charming self. Now that is sort of more than enough for Rains to make an impact as Rains is rather delightful in these sort of roles bringing such a joyous energy that he works so naturally within his usual refined manner. The only hiccup within the arc is when his protege inventor Peter (Jackie Cooper) lies to him and gives up the secrets to their inventions which other steal. Rains even portrays his moment of anger as wholly reasonable and within character for Ward. Rains is actually particularly good since he conveys the anger of such a man so well by creating as this very internalized direct intensity for the moment that is very reserved fitting for a man who tries never to be angry. This is quickly fixed though leaving only Ward to take over Hannah's role by encouraging her back in the end, and this Rains excels with since he already stood as such a warm figure from the outset. In the pantheon of Rains's performances this is not an overly notable one, but it is a good one to be sure, as to be expected.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Alternate Best Actor 1938

And the Nominees Were Not:

Jean Gabin in Port of Shadows

Raimu in The Baker's Wife

Charles Laughton in Sidewalks of London 

Claude Rains in White Banners

Erich von Stroheim in Les Disparus de Saint-Agil

Friday, 22 June 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1991: Results

5. William Sadler in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey - Sadler offers a particularly unique and rather enjoyable presence by appropriating the right amount of both goofiness and gravitas for his death.

Best Scene: "Yes, way."
4. Patrick Swayze in Point Break - Swayze truly owns his role as a zen bank robber by bringing so much conviction and charisma that somehow makes sense  of his illogical role.

Best Scene: Bank robbery gone wrong. 
3. Robert Patrick in Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Patrick gives a brilliant progression of the unstoppable android performance by representing a different type of machine, as well as his facade, and just a bit more.

Best Scene: Finger wag.
2. Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - Rickman essentially trolls his own film, for the better, in his wildly over the top, yet absurdly enjoyable performance that seeks to entertain the audience knowing his own film is struggling to do so.

Best Scene: "Call off Christmas"
1. Joe Pesci in JFK - Good predictions Omar, Tahmeed, Calvin, Luke, Jackiboyz, Charles, and Emi Grant. Joe Pesci gives an endlessly fascinating performance worthy of his fascinating and mysterious figure. Pesci realizes the complexity of the man's within the conspiracy but takes this even further by offering a heartbreaking portrait of a man swallowed by the very conspiracy he helped to create.

Best Scene: "All I wanted in the world"
Updated Overall

Next Year: 1938 Lead, not sure if I'll do a full lineup so please just give me any recommendations for both lead and supporting.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1991: Patrick Swayze in Point Break

Patrick Swayze did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Bodhi in Point Break.

Point Break tells the story of FBI Agent/Former star quarterback Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) attempting to infiltrate a group of renegade surfers/bank robbers.

Now describing the plot of the film makes Point Break sound very stupid, and well it is. The thing is the film is very entertaining once again proving that often times with films it isn't so much the story, but just how you execute it. This idea needs a bit more appreciation I feel and Point Break is great example of such an approach. The pinnacle acting wise of this being 80's/early 90's heartthrob Patrick Swayze. Where Keanu Reeves is particularly out to sea in this film, his delivery of "I am a F......B.......I......Agent" being legendary in its stilted quality, he carefully surrounded by one form of madness or another in order to facilitate the film's peeling tone bro. One form of that is found in Gary Busey as his FBI partner, the other half by Swayze as half zen-master half bank robber mastermind. This is interesting casting for Swayze who typically played the romantic lead, which is somewhat in Bodhi's vein however Bodhi is distinctly a villain in terms of his actions throughout the film which offers quite an unusual presence for the character as well as just for any typical action film. In a way what Swayze does in the role was pivotal in terms of what helped to ensure Point Break was set apart from other action fair from the time.

Now Swayze is already a charismatic dude, however what he does here is to essentially to weaponize this as this absurd embodiment of a wild man charm. This evident from his first unmasked scene in less problematic circumstances where he meets up with Johnny just seemingly as a "totally tubular" surfer. Swayze though is indeed the most tubular of all surfers though just with how brimming he is with this certain indescribable ability to make the most banal philosophical lines seem absolutely poetic in some sense of the word. This is perhaps much of how the film itself is effective as Swayze's turn "owns" the ridiculousness of the concept of the character not by winking to the audience that this is stupid, but rather playing it to the deepest level of conviction. Swayze never blinks and never laughs at his character. The way he so confidently projects Bodhi's philosophy he accomplishes two things that are actually quite remarkable. One is he makes the friendship between Johnny and Bodhi wholly convincing, but he takes it a step more by honestly not coming off as a full on, well douche for the lack of a better word, as this guy who rationalizes his criminal behavior by trying to be a man who is truly "free" from it all by committing his bank robberies.

The overarching success though is form Swayze's conviction within the role to create the most intensely mellow man you will ever meet. That contradiction somehow forms this foundation that makes Bodhi far more likable than he ever had right to be. It also some creates any logic within the man's personal style which should be some antithesis. This isn't to say though that this conviction disallows variation in his performance. In fact I think Swayze's conviction adds to it greatly in moments particularly in the third act where he tries to control Johnny by kidnapping his former girlfriend/Johnny's current girlfriend to make the agent comply with him as he goes bank robbing. The actual threat moment is a great one for Swayze as he delivers his lines with that certain mellowness still even as he is threatening Johnny, however Swayze subtle realizes some uncertainty within Bodhi's eyes not in the plan but rather reflecting the man's sense that he isn't wholly comfortable in taking this path. Swayze from that point forward is effective in then showing the man attempting to maintain his sense of righteousness even as things quickly fall apart. Swayze is surprisingly astute the role in finding logic within essentially an illogical part. I especially love his performance when Bodhi goes too far in a bank robbery and finally truly gets blood on his hands. That moment Swayze is terrific in as again he maintains that delusion of being above it all yet carries enough of a doubt just in his eyes just before he goes beyond the pale. After that point though Swayze is quite good in portraying Bodhi as doubling down on his delusions, and is very good by amplifying every facet except the doubt. His interactions with Reeves are particularly, and one could argue might have certain undertones, as reveals a certain madness in Bodhi by expressing a man so full of self certainty that it becomes dangerous. He however never loses that sense of zen that he someone grants a truth to even as his actions suggests quite the opposite, to the point Swayze earns the extended epilogue in granting Bodhi his desired demise since he's made come to understand his ways as odd as they are. Swayze's work is weird to be sure, and strange performance in many ways, honestly it is hard to see how anyone else could have made Bodhi work as well as he does other than Swayze who has just the right menace, swagger, and style needed for the role in this film.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1991: Kevin Bacon, John Candy, Jack Lemmon, Joe Pesci, Michael Rooker and Donald Sutherland in JFK

Kevin Bacon, John Candy and Jack Lemmon did not receive Oscar nomination for portraying Willie O'Keefe, Dean Andrews, and Jack Martin respectively in JFK.

One of the great assets of JFK is its large ensemble. A technically star studded cast, however what is important here is this is less towards making cameos, and instead is about  granting importance to every individual within the film no matter how small the role. The performances back this up in terms of giving the film this certain vibrancy within the characters, even though the plot is the central thrust of the film. This is to every minor character, even the most brief of witness. Three notable witnesses within the film are of very different men that lead New Orleans DA Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) onto the trail of a mysterious man Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones), who he eventually attempts to prosecute for the assassination of the president. All three are played by notable actors of the time, with two being potential distractions, but never as such due to the strengths of the work of the actors. The first being Jack Lemmon who appears as a low grade private eye Jack Martin who claims to have been pistol whipped by his partner, and former FBI man Guy Banister (Ed Asner) shortly after the JFK assassination. Lemmon's performance is a proper representation of the strength of the ensemble though through a specific type of approach. In one part Lemmon's natural presence offers a sense of who is Jack Martin is even beyond the small perspective we see him in. Lemmon brings the right bafflement and general awkward demeanor not only of perhaps a bit of sous, but even more so a man of no importance who is bearing witness to something very important. Lemmon's simple reaction in the flashback scenes are notable of a man completely out of his element if not a little scared. His essential scene though is his words to Garrison which Lemmon delivers so effectively in this paranoid, and hesitating delivery, not of an insane man, but rather coming to understand what he was indirectly part of. Lemmon's work vividly recalls these moments, but also importantly delivers this growing sense of dread through this witness.

Now a rather different witness though comes into play with Kevin Bacon Willie O'Keefe a male prostitute who Garrison visits in prison, and who also claims to be able to connect various men within the conspiracy. Again what is remarkable here is that what is offered in the character, and Bacon's performance is not just this bland slate there to deliver some important information. There is so much more there even though most of what he says is important for the plot. Bacon though fashions his own personal style as Willie brandishing a certain level of flamboyance fitting for such a man who openly brags about his life choices. The swagger that Bacon brings though is only a facet that naturally realizes the man who ostensibly wants to show off a bit towards the government men who have come to visit him. This is a bit different from the Willie Bacon plays in the flashbacks where he is more or less a "boy toy" for Clay Shaw. Bacon actually creates this minor, very subtle, arc within these scenes as we see him very much put up this overt pleasantries and lustful attitude in these interactions. He plays the man trying obviously just to please his John in a way, but there is more when the conversations turn towards the assassination/philosophy. In these moments Bacon effectively breaks that showing this very naive curiosity in his reactions of someone who really doesn't fully understand what he is listening to, but wants to be part of it. This in turn gives a logic towards his explanation for his motivations for coming forward not to expose the truth for justice, but rather to allow the world to know why Kennedy was killed in his mind. Bacon recites this speech as a true fervent zealot, but that of the simple student who believes he's learned something from his master.

Another performance in service of kicking off the case comes with John Candy as New Orleans lawyer Dean Andrews who claimed to have been hired by a man named Clay Bertrand to represent Lee Harvey Oswald. This casting is perfect actually in terms of Candy as Andrews, however it is very much out of the type of roles Candy typically played especially at that time in his career. It was a bit of a departure, but also a sad reminder of the under appreciation of the star's dramatic talents before his untimely death. This is a dramatic character role that Candy excels with in his two major scenes. The real Andrews had a style all his own, very much steeped in New Orleans, and Candy realizes this beautifully. He brings the right tempered style within his accent but his whole demeanor as sort of this southern dandy lawyer. Candy makes him properly a strange character though with a definite charisma who either might just be part of a vast conspiracy or just be willing to make up a phone call. Either way Candy is a proper "character" in the best sense of the word bringing to life such a strange sort of man, yet in a convincing fashion. Candy particularly excels with Andrews's somewhat more stylized dialogue. He does wonders with it first outlining it with this breeziness of a man just enjoying his own eccentricities until Garrison continues to pester him for more concrete information. There Candy brilliantly segues to bringing this serious emphasis by dropping just a bit of the more surface flamboyance. Candy conveys so effectively the severity of the real knowledge Andrews has in this shifting of tone, and reveals the man terrified for his own well being underneath all the false bravado. Candy proves his talent beyond what he knows for and this performance is another sad testament of the lack of appreciation for that talent while he was alive. Candy, Bacon and Lemmon, other than all being all named after delicious foods, show the strength of the ensemble. Not one of them has a lot of screentime yet in each they offer a distinct and memorable witness who live beyond the conspiracy, while also adding their own important contribution to the central thrust of that element of the film.
Michael Rooker did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying New Orleans Assistant District Attorney Bill Broussard in JFK.

Well changing gears a bit in terms of performances we have the very talented Michael Rooker who plays one of Garrison's team of investigators who are trying to make the case. The role of Bill is a composite character and is technically there to serve a purpose that actually feels expanded upon because of Rooker's performance. At first though Bill seems to be just one of the team working with the other members in an attempt to trying to unlock the secrets of the conspiracy. Rooker though is effective as such in essentially presenting a blunter aspect within these scenes who is not quite as squarely in line with Garrisons's thinking as the rest. Rooker's interactions and reactions say a lot more than just merely being part of the scenes. He firstly properly shows the genuine weight of certain moments to create the right sense of the investigators motivation from moment to moment as he tries to understand the plot himself. There is an overarching difference though where Bill is often a voice of dissent, and some would say reason, even in the early stages of the investigation such as even pointing out the lack of credibility of some of the witnesses he has found. Now this is key in Rooker's performance because there was a chance, particularly with Oliver Stone at the helm (though he's particularly on point as a director with this film), for a simplification of this character.

What I mean by that is the specific delivery of the objections, and points of reality brought on by Bill as the "devil's advocate" for many of the early scenes, even as he is shown still to be pretty dogged investigator. Rooker does not for a moment allow Bill to be some simple straw man by providing such straight forward quality within his delivery of his objections and concerns. Rooker doesn't show them as this perpetually naysayer, but rather provides the right substance of consideration just for the facts when he does so. He creates that right basic ability for doubt, but Rooker wisely portrays this as Bill just being less fervent in his belief in the conspiracy rather than in support for Garrison. Rooker creates the right dynamic as this force of dissent in the scenes of Garrison's group discussions. He offers the alternate viewpoint as this convincing perspective by making every initial frustration and reaction of disbelief as something wholly genuine. Rooker by taking this approach makes the pivotal choice in terms of Bill's transition as he is approached to essentially spy on Garrison lest his own law career be sacrificed. Rooker is great in this offer scene as he does not present as this the easy choice of a weasel. Rooker instead finds in the emotional intensity of the moment the right conflict as he speaks. He delivers the sense of a real unease with considering the offer as it mean betraying his boss, but also a frustration knowing that he doesn't want to sacrifice his own career for an investigation he doesn't fully believe in. Although it is a somewhat brief moment Rooker captures so effectively the conflict in Bill in that moment, and again offers more substance within the role than there may have been otherwise.

Bill stays on a spy however Rooker thankfully does not immediately become this villainous force. When espousing on his new discoveries though there is this slight half-hearted quality within Rooker's delivery that properly alludes to his state of mind. He also brings this when he is questioned about his devotion, where Rooker brings the right extreme snap back at any accusations that isn't over the top rather the expected reaction of a man with a guilty conscience. Rooker's best moment comes though as Bill launches into his own alternative theory that involves the mob rather than the entire U.S. government as Garrison proposes. Rooker is great in this scene though as he passionately advocates Bill's view in two frames of mind. One being a genuine passion towards the idea but also this unease towards accepting such a nihilistic view of the government. Rooker fashions another layer though even beyond that to show this certain desperation in his delivery not in terms of selling his idea, but rather towards Garrison's own safety. Rooker does not make it this selfish diversion, but rather shows some better side to Bill making the alternate conspiracy as much of a plea as anything else. Rooker in this way does not make Bill's turn this simple revelation of a bad guy in the wings. Rooker instead offers a real humanity in the changes by showing Bill painfully taking each step from the doubting Thomas before becoming the full blown Judas. It's a terrific performance as Rooker realizes this arc so well within essentially the margins of the film.
Joe Pesci did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying David Ferrie in JFK.

Joe Pesci plays one of the most pivotal roles in the film, technically as important as Jones's Clay Shaw, as one of the men alleged to be part of the cabal who helped to execute Kennedy's assassination. His first appearance though is when he is brought into Garrison's office, long before he begins his formal investigation, stemming from a vague clue about the man David Ferrie for having taken a trip to Dallas the day Kennedy was killed. Pesci in a way has a challenge from the outset with the rather, different, appearance of Dave Ferrie with eye brows of an odd sort, and his ill-fitting blonde wig. Pesci of course is more than up to the task being rather idiosyncratic himself. Pesci is a unique quantity as an actor, indispensable when it comes to comparison, as there is no one who can deliver what Pesci delivers quite like Pesci. This is essential for the role of Ferrie who is suppose to stick out like a sore thumb both in terms of appearance but also really everything about the man. Pesci doesn't just play into this but owns it with his New Orleans accent he uses to only amplify the jarring style of the man. Pesci makes Ferrie very much a man who not only might be part of an assassination plot, but also would probably be the easiest to identify due to his personal style which is anything other than subtle. This is clear from his first scene which Pesci is sheer perfection in every stumbled delivery, and nervous reaction, or false interaction, setting up as a man with clearly something to hide though just smart enough not to fully blurt it out.

After that scene though we see Ferrie in two distinct lenses though those of the past from the recollections of Garrison's witnesses, and the present with Garrison's few interactions with the man. In the flashback scenes we get quite a lot of classic Pesci in his realization of Dave Ferrie as the homosexual "bon vivant" and a military conspirator. Pesci portrays this in an interesting way as this mess of a man though in his mind yet somehow comforted within his place in his world. As the "bon vivant" Pesci actually elicits this overt comfort in the life projecting as a peacock showing Ferrie essentially where he seems most at home wholly being himself in the homosexual underground of New Orleans, rather than the awkward man we meet in Garrison's office. As the military conspirator Pesci is fantastic in delivery that trademark intensity of his of course in the moments of Ferrie going on his long flights of mental fancy that both take him towards killing Castro and eventually Kennedy. Pesci brings this extreme zealotry that he also plays with a certain intriguing duality. Pesci offers this clear conviction within his vicious words of anger and distress over being pulled from his anti-Castro efforts, but when it turns to Kennedy there is an even more obtuse quality Pesci infuses. It is this madness that Pesci finds of a man speaking words with a belief to be sure, but steeped in this insanity that suggests Ferrie doesn't even quite understand the full ramifications himself.

Those past scenes essentially are the seeds to the Ferrie we find in the present that Pesci gives us a proper paranoid mess when he contacts Garrison's men after their investigation, including his name, has leaked to the press. This leads to a stunning scene for Pesci's performance where he brings sort of that same visceral power to his work that was so remarkable in his Oscar winning performance, though translated here for a very different role and purpose. Pesci instead of using that for such an imposing figure, he instead brings that unpredictable violent energy in creating the extreme vulnerability of Ferrie in the moment. Everything about Pesci from his hastened tone of voice to his manic movements echo a man burdened by many things. We see the fear in his eyes in every reaction from every unknown that Pesci makes fitting to a man on the brink of some death, but within that we also have that burden of the past. Pesci creates this increased agitation within his physical portrayal of Ferrie as he begins seemingly to speak of his connection to the assassination. Pesci is astonishing in the way he captures this though as this stream of consciousness of a man neither healthy of body or mind. He constantly changes in these moments from second to second so naturally from moments seemingly of mania, to others of only of terror, and occasionally these wholly lucid moments that seem to reveal some of the secrets he holds. Pesci though always makes him the madness we saw before but amplified ten fold as he reveals the full weight of the assassination on Ferrie as he shows us a man struggling with both what he became a part of and his own actions. The most powerful moment of Pesci's incredible work though comes when Ferrie finally seems to come to calm with an instance of clarity. Pesci delivers this moment as Ferrie reflecting on his own guilt while seeming to look towards some other path he could have taken in his life. Pesci is downright heartbreaking in the moment by so quietly portraying this moment as this brief sobriety in an insane man, as he ponders on his desire to become a priest which never could have been. What makes the moment so poignant though is how naturally Pesci finds it through his vivid tragedy he creates of a man who essentially lost himself through the conspiracy.
Donald Sutherland did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying X in JFK.

Of all the figures in a film filled with mysterious figures the most elusive maybe Donald Sutherland's character who merely goes by the name of X. He differs though then the named of the mystery men as he is a deep state deep source ally to Garrison offering him his own insight on the assassination on one long walk around the grounds of Washington D.C. He is essentially the film's "Deep Throat" who is another real life figure unnamed in the film there to offer the most secret information however while refusing to offer himself as a witness for the investigation. The difference between Hal Holbrook's Deep Throat from All The President's Men and X, other than meeting in broad daylight, is that X delivers all of his information in a single scene. The scene one could argue and simplify as the biggest exposition dump of all time, however it never comes off as such due to the film's brilliant use of editing and Donald Sutherland's performance. Donald Sutherland's performance is explaining, a whole lot of explaining, but some of the most captivating talking one will witness in any film. X is essentially there to give a deeper insight into more a black ops perspective that Garrison is not privy to. This leads Sutherland to give a most fascinating performance on every front. First of all that great voice of his has never been better used as he rattles off detail after detail with such eloquent, and precise delivery.

I could frankly listen to Sutherland break down every single detail of the assassination by how well he phrases every single word. Sutherland brings more to the role than that, and I'm not just referring to his few flashback scenes where we get a more of the moment X as he reacts in confusion towards first being sent on a wild goose chase then later fear at discovering the assassination. Sutherland creates such varied demeanor that grants us a sense of X even as he never for a moment loses that dramatic thrust of his monologue that remain effortlessly compelling in his hands. There is a fascinating combination of tones that Sutherland realizes as this certain blithe quality within his work, suggesting properly a man long within the black ops, but somehow still the sense of severity of his words within this. Sutherland delivers this very controlled passion of a man adamant to let the right information out to Garrison while also still having just the right shred of indifference as though it is X's way of coping with the coup d'etat that he could do nothing to prevent. Sutherland brings this bluntness through this approach as both a man clearly concerned for what happened, but also with the sense to know there is very little he can do about what happened given the forces against him. Sutherland's work here is immaculate in not only just making every bit of exposition meaningful, but even still managing to make X more than a mere exposition machine. It is outstanding work from Sutherland as he leaves such an undeniable impression on the film in such short order. Sutherland again creates the sense of the greatness of this ensemble because he doesn't just serve his purpose within the film by making his scene fascinating, but also in turn makes X as fascinating as this mysterious presence within the film. His work creates a highlight within a film filled with highlights, and is one of Sutherland's best performances.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1991: Robert Patrick in Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Robert Patrick did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Terminator 2 is the effective follow up, though I still don't view in quite as highly as most seem to, to the first film about a machine designed for death being sent back to kill the future leader of mankind.

The difference this time around is the machine is this time sent to kill the boy John Connor (Edward Furlong) rather than his mother Sarah (Linda Hamilton), and that the original type of terminator the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has been sent back also to protect the boy. In this we have the advancement of the villain, but also the advance of the performance of the murderous android. An early instance of that being Yul Brynner in Westworld which was a heavy influence on Arnold Schwarzenegger's performance in the first film. In both of those instances they were playing personifications of bulky brute force who were more intended to intimidate rather than blend in. Notably the performances of both mostly stressed though the idea that these were machines acting the role of a human not a mix of the two, again other than a few minor hints to the contrary. Robert Patrick is allowed to continue this tradition, though in a very different way as the T-1000. What is continued in the tradition is that idea of the machine being the overarching characteristic, which Patrick also uses in his performance, but the thin Patrick, a far cry from the bulky Schwarzenegger, requires a rather different approach to create a menace within the machine.

Now one form of this is the ability of the T-1000 blend in not only in terms of taking the form of some of his victims as a disguise but also to pretend to be a normal human being. This is shown initially within the film when we are first introduced to the character, which I believe was even an intended twist ruined by marketing, that there are no early indications that the T-1000 is a machine as we see him operate looking for John Connor as a police officer. Patrick is terrific in terms of realizing this sort off strange style of T-1000 as he assumes human interaction which portrays as good enough, but not quite. In that he shows that while you'd probably accept the T-1000 as human in a quick conversation things would seem a little off once you spend a bit more time with him. Patrick though does some careful here within his physical performance, which is a major facet of his work here, which a lack of aggression. He moves and speaks with almost too much ease and calm to the point it is unnerving knowing he is an evil machine, though it wouldn't immediately raise any flags for a normal human. Patrick efficiently creates a disturbing illusion as it isn't quite right, a machine assumption of what a human want to see rather than the genuine article. The highlight of this side being his horribly off-putting yet soft delivery of "Say, that's a nice Bike" to a police officer he's likely going to rob and murder.

Nearly the rest of his performance though is defined even more fully about this machine with the one purpose to kill his target with no regard for anyone or anything in its way. Patrick's physical performance brilliantly embodies this idea in every aspect. He creates an artificiality, however notable as this unique artificiality against say the more bulky machine movement previously seen in Schwarzenegger, and Brynner's performances. Patrick develops this idiosyncratic style within the entirety of his physical work that rather fascinating. He moves not efficiently though as human would move, but in his own way. This right within his running in particular that Patrick makes it seem appropriately swift yet wholly unnatural within how precise his movements are, but also how they are not of a typical runner either. This of course amplified by his complete lack of fatigue, but the very motions help to create the menace of the run that is unnerving. My favorite aspect of this though is probably the consistent face that Patrick bears. Patrick fashion a terrifying grimace that feels that of a bird of prey, and again is perfectly inhumane. He makes it this horrible creation of a machine fashioning this expression to put terror in his targets, and how he keeps it with only this singular emotion of a distant hate makes both his work remarkable but also likely contributed towards the iconic nature of the character. Of course this is not a great deal of variation beyond that, but nor should there be as Patrick is playing a machine with a singular purpose.  There is perhaps one moment that suggests otherwise at the very end of his performance where has been repeatedly shot by Sarah Conner and nearly killed until she runs out of bullets. This leaves his one action one could argue has some sentience as he does not simply go to kill again but first wags his finger seemingly to indicate his dislike of what she did. An outlier, though perhaps Patrick's greatest moment. It not only is creepy as Patrick maintains his unique expression, but even the finger wag is actually a great bit of acting by him strangely enough. He doesn't wag it only using the finger as human would, but rather more machinesque using the entirety off his hand to give the menacing gesture. I'll admit that's a lot on a single moment but I adore that moment. This performance, despite being in a bit less of the film than I remembered, I find it more impressive the more I think about it. Patrick completely reinvents this type of villain into a brand new original form, that uses ideas of his predecessors however in a brand new and wholly distinct villain.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1991: William Sadler in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey

William Sadler did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying death aka the grim reaper in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.

Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey though certainly isn't a great film is perhaps the somewhat underappreciated sequel to the original film about two dofus wannabe rockers as pivotal as John Conner to the future of mankind. Or to be more fitting to the movie it's a totally tubular romp back with the dudes, dude.

Now a great deal of affection for the film comes with the creativity of the sequel which in no way rehashes the original, despite also being a designation of travel in the title. The very idea that they literally kill the protagonists in the first half hour alone is hardly the choice you'll find in the "two dumb guys" genre of films. Now another one of these choices is the inclusion of death in the film, specifically referencing the Bengt Ekerot's version of the character from Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal. The part here being played by William Sadler then probably best known for playing villain in Die Hard 2. Sadler first appears in the film after Bill and Ted (Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves) have been murdered by their evilrobotusis, a common ailment we all may face one day. Sadler initially actually appears as though he is replicating Ekerot's performance more or less with his dark and solemn stare, even some generalized Norwegian accent. A man of little to no emotion, but there is something ominous within the presence that he exudes. Of course this is quickly broken when the boys, to get away from death, give him a "Melvin", aka a forward aimed weaponized wedgie. Sadler's impeccably delivered comical cry of anguish at this assault though rather shatters such an image as he is briefly taken out of the picture.

Death returns when Bill and Ted try to escape hell by challenging the Reaper to game. A game initially it seems may have just a bit of that slightly more intense style to it as Sadler initially reappears again with that same ominous style, though perhaps a bit less effective in this attempt now we've seen him melvined. Of course it isn't one game, but several children's board games they play to challenge death to which Sadler is hilarious in very trying to stay somewhat in the realm of Ekerot, while also playing battleship. Sadler's approach is especially entertaining because he brings so much conviction within death being completely within a wholly inappropriate situation, and speaking rather inappropriate phrases. One being after his loss at battleship demanding another game to which the boys say "No way", then Sadler is comedic gold by delivering with such intensity in his eyes and his voice as retorts "yes way". The game sequence is honestly probably my favorite in the film as it focuses so closely on Sadler. Whether it be his timing of "I said plumb" when claiming to have guessed the right answer to Clue, or his frustrations as he attempts to contort impossibly while playing twister. Sadler is an absolute delight in being completely silly, yet still with the sense of some rather deeply hidden gravitas at this point.

Now again I must give credit to the film for its creativity, which doesn't only have death as a character, but then decides to keep him on as an ally of the boys after they best him just one too many times. This thankfully gives us more of Sadler as he goes along with the boys to support them in their quest to destroy their evilrobotusis, and of course make it to the battle of the bands. I will say on re-watch I don't think the film used that as much as it could have in terms of making death part of the action however Sadler's little moments throughout the last act of the film are typically the highlights of the scenes. I thoroughly enjoy the way he plays death begrudgingly losing his more stern manner both in these amusing moments of frustrations at the boys, but also eventually in getting enjoyment out of their adventure as well. Although nothing is really made of it within the story, other than death Melvining the main villain, Sadler actually does create an arc for death in that he naturally portrays death finding his smile, and enjoying himself along with the boys. Most importantly though his realization of this is actually just funny. I also would be remiss if I didn't mention though the little gems sprinkled of Sadler throughout that are just hilarious little bit so well delivered by Sadler. My favorites being his over eagerness when guessing "Butch and Sundance: The Early Year" before switching to shame for having mentioned that film, or his so perfectly blunt yet casual way of saying "see you really soon" to a smoker he passes by. This is just an altogether, for the lack of a better word, fun performance that adds a needed extra element to this bodacious sequel. Hopefully Sadler will also "face the music" along with the boys if that third film is actually getting made.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1991: Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Alan Rickman did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning BAFTA, for portraying George aka the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Robin Hood: Princes of Thieves struggles as it is far too timid in embracing a more flamboyant, if not even a bit more goofy, tone leaving a severe inconsistency between some extremely dark, and some extremely absurd moments.

One man who is not at all confused by what the tone of the film needs though is Alan Rickman who to quote his BAFTA winning speech gives "a healthy reminder to me that subtlety isn't everything". Alan Rickman's performance is his very own personal example of "watch me act" a potentially dangerous idea, however used in the right circumstance can be a true gem of the partially absurd. There needs to be a few ingredients for this recipe for it to come out just right, and not a pile of overcooked Terl shaped nonsense. One is a legitimate actor, which we have in Alan Rickman who proved himself quite capable of a more subtle turns from 1991 whether it be the romantic ghost, the manipulative interrogator, or a cuckolded husband. Rickman acquitted himself properly in each role despite their differences, though this is treated by many as his crown jewel from this year. Well that brings me the next ingredient to this difficult recipe. This is such a film that just won't accept itself as a fun adventure, despite so many silly elements, so Rickman chooses to provide the entertainment. This performance also needs the right character for this approach, which we have in this film's Sheriff of Nottingham. Of course all those element are for naught though if one is missing the final key element, which is the proper execution of a "watch me act" performance.

Well thankfully all those ingredients are all found in this honey glazed prime slice of ham that just tastes so very good. Rickman's performance has a keen awareness that the Sheriff of Nottingham isn't just a villain, but an absolute fiend without a hint of a redeeming element as written. He seems to take this as a cue then to make up for such potential simplicity in the character by absolutely owning every moment of the character's villainy. Take even his opening scene where he invites Robin Hood (Kevin Costner)'s father (Brian Blessed) to join his ranks. Despite the white robes Rickman in no way wishes to hide Nottingham's black heart as his eyes are overflowing with a maniacal intensity, and he bears a sneer that only a proper vicious psychopath could wear. This murder of Robin's father though is but a diabolical preview of the madness that is to come. A madness that is of a certain sort, that Rickman grants to we the audience, that we should be more than eager to accept with humble gratitude as Raul Julia would say as M. Bison, a spiritual brother of this performance in many ways.

There is the idea of the villain, the start of an idea and only that. What Rickman demands is that the audience get so much more than that. Rickman delivers the requisite villainy. He has the menace, he has that intensity, but really those are not the true focus of this performance. They are just an underlying aspect because Rickman knew that just being a good villain would not be good enough for this film. This film needed a bit more spice than that, it needed something a bit more "hamtastic" shall we say. Rickman delivers that with aplomb in his way of playing the Sheriff not only pure evil, but pure evil in a way that couldn't be more enjoyable. Everything about what Rickman does is an actor giving it his all, and is such a glorious fashion. Rickman even physically embodies this, as I love the way he rarely seems to sit still portraying it as though the Sheriff is just constantly annoyed by everything and everyone around him. Rickman delivers this great unpredictability through that physicality. He goes beyond any limits of any scene to properly chew, but in a way that is something so wonderful. The way he stomps and storms around is a marvelous display that one could argue grants the Sheriff a certain petulance that is rather enjoyable, also it just incredibly entertaining to watch Rickman do it even beyond that. 

Of course what is a performance like this without some delicious line readings, and these are some of the most delicious you'll see in a film. I mean you have Rickman's already magnificent voice then you have it pumped up to eleven to garnish every scene he is in with such beautiful gems, either ad-libbed by Rickman, lines he specially had friends write for him, or just made so by what he brings to them. Now I don't know if I should even begin to state the lines because there are just so many things made so very special by the sheer monstrous absurdity that Rickman grants them, well speaking them with such beautiful relish. Eh what the hey, there's the peculiar threat "Locksley. I'll cut your heart out with a spoon." gives such fierce insanity, his especially specific time orders for his wenches "You. My room. 10:30 tonight.You. 10:45... And bring a friend" with such smarmy disregard for all decency, his quieter yet as intense instructions to make his stitches small that Rickman grants with such excessive vanity, and of course let's never forget the holiday classic line of "call off Christmas" the oh so fret less and hilarious demand as improvised by Rickman. Evidently Rickman only took on the part after being given free reign with the role, apparently correctly believing the script to be terrible, and essentially sought out to ensure the audience is entertained by him at the very least though. Rickman in a way is kind of trolling a film he knows is bad, but he is doing it in a way to make sure everyone who watches it will get something to enjoy from it. A most notable effort that he does pull off, and I'll say it the right approach. I mean take the finale of the film where we have the Sheriff's attempted rape of Maid Marian a scene that frankly shouldn't be in any fun adventure film. Rickman takes the terrible idea and decides to make work. How, well by playing it as absurdly as possible with every digression, usually of the Sheriff being exasperated by yet another interruption as though he's guy way past his deadline on some important project. Rickman very oddly makes it work because he keeps the scene from at all embracing the very dark implications, and keeping every moment as ridiculous as it should be. I especially love the way in the end how Rickman sword fights Costner in sort of this free style way. It is emblematic of his whole performance where Rickman is performing some great jazz while nearly everyone else is playing rusted some poorly written orchestral piece with rusty instruments that are out of tune. Rickman may be on a different wavelength, but he knows what he's doing to the point he makes something wholly worthwhile in what otherwise would be a completely disposable series of pictures.