Friday, 28 February 2020

Alternate Best Actor 1951: Claude Laydu in Diary of a Country Priest

Claude Laydu did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a BAFTA, for portraying Priest of Ambricourt in Diary of a Country Priest.

Diary of a Country Priest follows a young priest attempting to deal with a parish, doubts and a physical ailment.

Claude Laydu, making his film debut, portrays the priest merely known as his title of the priest of Ambricourt, the town in which he has been assigned. Laydu, who was in his mid twenties when making the film, immediately evokes a curious dynamic within the film, as the man's manner is that of a older more burdened man even being so youthful in terms of his actual age. It is a fascinating place, though fitting to the character's state that is with trouble even before his trials have even begun. Laydu's initial scenes are the man going about his duties, while also habitually writing in the titular diary to relate his experiences and his internal monologue. Laydu's performance is an interesting one for a debut, in that so much of the film is a burdened upon his shoulders, that which is furthermore within an extremely subdued performance. Such thoughts though should be forgotten when witnessing the performance. This as Laydu's work immediately not only captures the spirit of the priest initial state, but simply seems within the man from the outset of the film. His work realizing this state of a quiet anxiety, that being the basic state of the man, this man who has a weight of the world, and perhaps even more upon his shoulders, yet still technically being such a young man. This even the idea of his physical ailment being ever present, though withdrawn and internalized in his work. This living pain being an innate train, just really within the glint of his eyes, when it is not manifesting more overtly to punish the man.

There is more to his performance that just that state of anxiety however though as Laydu portrays within his soft eyes this certain curiosity but also soulfulness. This being essential because as the man is suffering it is not that of a purely downtrodden individual. It is within this sense of interest that senses the man of the priest as someone whose burden is beyond the physical as he attempts to deal with affairs both the worldly and otherworldly within his mind. This reflected within his journal entries that Laydu performs with the sense of a solemn duty as though is respecting some sense of history and record, though that which he himself is confused for its exact purpose. The man's purpose though being paramount within this performance, and so much of the power of this work being within his reactionary work within the film. This as Laydu does deliver the expected empathetic sense within his presence, and compassionate eyes. The reactions though are not simplified by him, but rather particularly engaged within the film. This in creating in fact a greater sense of the pain of the man as no circumstance is merely just that in Laydu's work. There is rather this greater connection, or at least attempt of connection at congregation that creates that burden within the man. This as Laydu realizes a man who cares, however this is even with a difficult inadequacy in his conviction.

This in that his portrayal of doubt is a remarkable one, of his presentation of the man's state. This is not in a simple foundational doubt, but rather this striking sense of apprehension of this inability for comfort. Laydu's work is astonishing in the way he is able to lean towards an extreme emotional distress yet in this he never actually goes beyond it, yet never does it feel inadequate. He rather finds such an impact within the reserved nature of the man. When he hears of a death his performance is incredible in the way he creates the nature of the reaction. This in the onlooker could assume a certain detachment, however Laydu rather crafts a man who is too attuned towards humanity in a way. This as he borders immediately on falling apart entirely through any loss. This in the man whose examination cannot comfort him, as he too much feels for those he sees suffer, or even if he is not able to find quite the appropriate connection to it. Laydu's work finding the increasingly difficult state of the man who cannot exist without this connection yet the connection is in a way leading towards his death. Laydu creating this penetrating obsession of a unique sort of his eyes. An obsession of duty, as he speaks towards others so drawn within their world, which is so profoundly reflected in his eyes more befitting of an elderly man than a young priest.

The priest's connections do not reward him as he becomes strangely implicated within the death, and in a way as oddly ostracized more so than already existed the distance between the priest and his "flock". Laydu's own manner working in this near constant physical distance, though this too is fascinating in the intensity of it. This as the way he looks away is not a man who is truly alien, but rather forcing himself to be in this attempted state lest he suffer all the more or at least fail to fulfill his duties. Laydu's performance is one that even as he only listens in a scene, it is difficult not to watch him in a given scene. This as his performance has such a power within the man's terrible state. This as his words comforting, or critical others, along with his reactions to them, is that of a quiet ferocity in a certain sense. This as Laydu shows a man in a way who is both devout despite being a doubter. This as Laydu portrays the method as pure within the man, within that state of ever lasting spiritual anxiety, but also suffering through the lack of comfort that spirituality actually grants himself. Laydu's work is outstanding in the way he is able to create a certain, wholly sympathetic, hypocrisy in a certain sense. This in a man who is so fashioned by his beliefs, yet in the same way struggles to be a believer. Laydu's work then is this creation of an internalized chaos that is the man. This while being so reserved, yet never limited. This in showing the man's state of unwellness as ever present within the man attempting to live his calling, a calling he claims he cannot hear the voice of. It is a brilliant work as this strange quality is given sense, but also exudes so notably from his work. This as the man's journey is so tangible, while being so difficult. Laydu grants a real sense, understanding a poignancy within the man however. This in a portrait of essentially of the priest imploding within himself by being unable to reconcile his existence. The man dying from the inside, both mentally and physically. Laydu's work being a descent marked by that ethereal intensity, that always grants you a real sense of the character. This is never just an idea as Laydu's performance humanizes it in to such a truly stunning portrait of a most idiosyncratic self-destruction.  

Monday, 24 February 2020

Alternate Best Actor 1984: John Hurt in 1984

John Hurt did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Winston Smith in 1984.

1984 is not quite definitive, but certainly an effective adaptation of George Orwell's tale of a dystopian future, where thought itself is strictly regulated.

Returning again to the great John Hurt, in his banner year of 1984, where he made for a surprising, yet convincing, sporting lead in Champions, a notable against type turn as a cunning hit-man in The Hit, and here in the role Winston Smith, a character very much created with the intention to be our average man in this world. We follow Winston Smith as he enters into the world seemingly content to be part of it, as we open the film by watching him watch the government propaganda broadcast. This being part of a mass hysteria, albeit less intense one, supporting the violent causes of the their government against the apparent traitors. Hurt only showing a minor hesitation, a minor hesitation of any free will, and with that we have our man that is Winston Smith. The early scenes of the film are as we come to experience the existence through John Hurt's performance. This where he delivers in a way perhaps one of his most straight forward performances, this to the point that he even seems to ease back on his throat just a bit, that which typically carried a harsher tone even as relatively younger man. John Hurt emphasizing though effectively the average nature of Winston, he is not a man who is of some great note, and Hurt plays into this, however he does not use this as an excuse for a boring performance. Hurt rather excels in finding what is special within the observation of the average man in this society.

John Hurt manages to find what I would describe as a careful humanity in Winston. This as he looks upon his world so often just a man, but with a minor curiosity. A curiosity that alludes to where he eventually ends up, but also truly subdued in a man who initially only is simply part of the populace. This with much of a passive manner that Hurt brings with, though within that his eyes do conduct the minor element of discontent merely in that he isn't entirely a drone. This as we see him initially notice of Julia (Suzanna Hamilton), that is with this minor interest. This is alone though is major with the society of detachment, and in a way this alone spells doom for Winston. His initial tryst with her is portrayed curiously though quite effectively by Hurt, as this sort of breaking of a state. This as it begins almost as a game of sorts with the two following each other into a field for sex. Hurt's portrayal of Winston's wish for sex, presented through words of corruption against the words of purity as pushed by the state, are nearly stilted, though brilliantly shows of a man exhibiting this emotion, within such a deep seeded repression. This revealing the man's real lust within his delivery, though still controlled fitting to a man who is engaging in something entirely new within this type of rebellion. Their second rendezvous is quite a bit different, and less animalistic. This reflected in Hurt's reaction to seeing her in a dress, this with a simpler, more humane appreciation of her beyond simply a lust.

It is interesting as the two's chemistry actually becomes one less of an extreme passion and slowly more of sensitivity towards one another. Hurt's performance revealing just this modicum of more humanity within these interactions revealing more of a normal man in Winston, and in turn less content within the society. This though is not portrayed as a heroic journey, but rather one of a simple discovery of humanity. This even as he seems to discover outlawed texts, Hurt presents this as a greater appreciation seemingly for life in general. This with a greater attachment to the words that note the controlling society he lives in, but also just in his connection with Julia. Again a simple connection but a very tender one as found in the performances. They which create the sense of discovery within each other just the affection for one another. This as they begin to show as though they have a sense of happiness, as Hurt speaks with hope for the future as people, this of course being right before they are immediately arrested by the thought police. This leading to Winston to being "interrogated" separately by O'Brien (Richard Burton), a man he formerly believed to be a rebel. This involving much physical and mental torture. Hurt, as he previously showed quite memorably in Alien, is a master of depicting extreme physical pain. This in Hurt making these scenes extremely visceral alone on the sense of the torture of the man, being so brutal in Hurt's work that makes every moment of it feel almost unbearably real at times.

Hurt's performance is brilliant, though honestly quite hard to watch, throughout the torture sequence of the film. This as the collapse of the man's resolve is brought within his wilting delivery, and his eyes that are of a man slowly shattering before our eyes. The intensity of his work capturing the extreme nature of the situation but also showing essentially the act of exploiting the man's state. Hurt's work shows this not be a heroic man, but rather that of extreme suffering once again. The suffering granted an excruciating detail, given that Hurt somehow manages to show that there is a descent even from that extreme he begins at. This in his moment of confession Hurt's work is indeed heartbreaking by portraying this vulnerability of a man only able to bare himself at this point. The emotions of his love he did have true, but now wrapped in each moment with such agony. This as then the act becomes not Winston turning into the man he was at the beginning of the film, but almost a creature crafted by the state. This to be first wiped away to almost nothing, something crafted so terribly, in an incredible way, by Hurt's work as the decaying corpse he becomes, as few are able to do broken as well as Hurt. Hurt shows a man wholly broken in mind and spirit at the end of it, so gripped in pain that his delivery of the pain becomes internalized, as though he is so weakened he can barely speak.

This as Hurt shows the man turning into a hollow husk, his eyes representing a man gone to nearly unfeeling due to that suffering he has endured. This leaving seemingly at the end, yet there is one more test still, as O'Brien brings him to the dreaded Room 101, where he threatens to feed him to rabid rats. Hurt makes the scenario truly horrifying, as not only is the fear so gripping within his expression, and his voice just now this whisper of a man begging for his life. That being the end of the torture, where we find the "rehabilitated Winston" meeting the "rehabilitated" Julia. Hurt being wholly haunting, as now he is detached again, but now with this greater passive quality, and eerie contentment. A man seemingly without himself, as he callously ignores Julia, and speaks the party lines with conviction yet as robotic. Hurt showing a man alive but seemingly now without a soul. The film ends though, with a slight departure from the book, though even this is by leaving just a bit of ambiguity. This in itself is found in Hurt's performance, creating the most powerful moment in the end of the film, as we see Winston say "I love you" one more time. In the book this refers directly to the state represented by big brother. Hurt's performance though offers an alternate interpretation, though no less tragic, as his eyes bare emotion again, pathos and sorrow. This alluding to that he may still love Julia after all, as this is the only show of emotion. Of course, tragic still as in Hurt's expression it is that of a hopeless love that will never be experienced again.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Alternate Best Actor 1934: Harry Baur in Les Miserables and updates

First to note the backlog is ongoing but thought I'd jump ahead to open for another series of recommendations for a year that it is unlikely I'll be doing an official lineup for but first...

Harry Baur did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jean Valjean and Champmathieu in Les Miserables.

This nearly five hour version, while one of the better adaptations of the story I've seen I cannot say is definitive as it is often heralded as. This as the length in itself, where the film is essentially paced like a miniseries, is a double edged sword. There are elements where it takes its time that do leave a memorable impression, the barricade sequence and the Thernardier robbery attempt in particular, however it also spends a strange amount of time with some more meaningless moments in terms of the overall narrative, and yet still excises major elements of the story. The most unforgivable, that keeps it from being definitive in my mind, is its simplification of Javert. While Charles Vanel does what he can with the role as written here, he is just a general policeman for much of the film, and much of the greatness of the character is sadly lost in this adaptation.

As many times one can argue that Javert is the secondary lead in many versions, that is not the case here, again a mistake I think as I find him the most compelling figure as written, however this seems to be in service in focusing even more so on Jean Valjean's personal journey. Typically Valjean begins as a rough, hardened convict in appearance, then later is "cleaned up" more towards a dashing hero type in terms of the casting of the likes of a Hugh Jackman, Liam Neeson or Frederic March. Well Baur is quite different as his physical presence is that of a peasant convict, accustom to harsh life who we discover as he is leaving his physically straining time in prison. Baur's work delivers a rougher portrait of Valjean, who isn't just bitter, yet the whole state of the man is filled with a sense of bitterness. His eyes don't reflect of a sorrow of injustice, but rather an anger towards all that he has suffered. An anger that is not of a righteous attitude but one hateful towards the world he believes has abandoned him. This as when he initially comes across the kind Bishop in this version, it is with an innate hostility, and a disbelief in his eyes as the Bishop notes his humanitarianism. Baur portraying this as a fundamental quality within his manner, as someone viewing the man as completely foreign and suspicion in these ideals, something that is not to be trusted. Baur establishing this state so purely, makes then the Bishop's action all the more powerful in this version. This as after Valjean robs the Bishop, and is immediately, caught, the Bishop not only ensures that he is let go, he gives him valuable candlesticks to have him change his life.

Baur's reaction in the moment of the Bishop's charity is a particularly powerful one in this version. This as Baur expresses in his eyes both the shame in his action compared to the Bishop's reaction, but more so this sense of the man being shattered by these words. This as his old world view founded by bitterness and distrust is lost, as his expression creates the sense of confusion, but also this moment of revelation that carries with it a real poignancy. We then of course jump to Valjean as the mayor of a town and a factory owner. This where Baur successfully fashions seemingly just a reserved but dignified older businessman. This man who exudes a certain grace of charity even if in this Baur still portraying a more subdued hardship effectively. When it comes to his knowledge that there is a man who has been arrested as Valjean, Baur is excellent in his scene of questioning his decision and what he should do. This as it is not a simple righteous action again, as we again see a hesitation in his manner as man seriously considering taking the selfish way out. As he continues to examine though we again see that connection to the priests words, and there is a terrific moment where Baur manages to convey Valjean's conclusion through a struggle expressed through almost entirely his eyes. This leading him to go to make sure the man does not take the fall for him, and leading the film to one of those sequences that seems an odd place to spend a lot of time in. This being the trial of Valjean's doppelganger Champmathieu, I suppose the easiest explanation is the filmmaker wanted to grant a greater showcase for Baur, which we do get.

This as we get a drawn out scene of Champmathieu on trial, even before Valjean gets there. This seems to be here mainly for Baur to work out his comic chops a bit, as he is amusing in portraying the simple and somewhat daffy manner of the man. This that is completely innocent and completely alien to his work as Valjean. This as an effective comic turn, though I'm not sure we needed so much time devoted to it. Nonetheless we then get the scene of Valjean taking charge of the courtroom to exonerate the man. Again the scene seems oddly drawn out, however Baur uses it well in terms of portraying a self-actualized Valjean. This in that he carries that grace of the good man, but with this sense of understanding of his harder life. This as he portrays it as the man wields it as a strength in a way as he speaks only in truths as he technically condemns himself to save another. This though with a greater conviction than ever before, and Baur carries himself with a strict confidence. As with most versions, after this point Valjean's role becomes more reduced as the observer of the more substantial actions of others. This though with the pivotal moment in his actions that change the course of the lives for others. Baur delivers on this by carrying the man who in a way becomes this force for good. This whether fighting off criminals, protecting his now adopted daughter Cosette, or trying to help her eventual love in Marius. Baur's performance captures the sense of duty within the character as he carries this purity of belief and intensity within that conviction to honoring what the Bishop had done for him. Baur's physical work is notable here in that he brings such striking emotional quality within every scene by virtue of his presence, as nothing merely happens around Valjean, rather you really get the sense of how the man takes it all in. His best moment though comes though in his one major scene of talking to Javert, after he has spared his longtime pursuer, and now Javert is left with whether to do the same for Valjean. The strength of this moment really makes me wish they hadn't largely wasted Javert as Vanel and Baur are great in realizing the dynamic of the character's that is largely missing. This being in the man of justice being so suspicious in the goodness of the criminal, while Baur brings this fundamental honest in his brilliantly blunt delivery of the man explaining his actions are without lies or trickery, just blunt charity. Baur gives a strong rendition of Valjean as his work naturally realizes the true transformation of the criminal to the hero, not making a simple step, but a real journey for the man.
Updated Overall

Next: Continuing with the backlog, but please offer your recommendations for 43 lead/supporting.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Alternate Best Actor 1968: Nicol Williamson in The Bofors Gun

Nicol Williamson did not receive Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a BAFTA, for portraying Gunner Daniel O'Rourke in The Bofors Gun.

The Bofors Gun follows a long night of watching a defunct gun and the power struggle that develops between a NCO and an insubordinate soldier.

Nicol Williamson is a fascinating actor to explore into his specific career which was one of perhaps a slow downfall. This as he fell towards a certain obscurity, even within his passing, despite the acclaim during his early career. This was not example of an actor wasting his talent, but one torn down by his own ego and vices. Looking into his life suggests two things, one that there ought to be a film about Williamson (even if in a perhaps everything except name fashion), and the strange similarities between himself and his character of Gunner O'Rourke within this film. One being rather superficial as Williamson himself took the rank of Gunner in his time in the armed forces, but more so in this figure that is O'Rourke, who may share a similar, albeit far more extreme, case of self-destructive tendencies. Now Williamson here is actually secondary lead to David Warner as the milquetoast Lance Bombardier Terry "Lance Bar" Evans, whose been recently promoted, and is given the strange duty of leading the men to "protect" the defunct gun. The problem is Terry is more interested in getting home to England by trying to avoid any trouble in the night, but for that there is one major thorn in his side. The thorn in his side being Williamson's O'Rourke who comes into the film, marching towards the duty, with a mocking walk, along with an outrageous cry as he takes his place along the line, Williamson setting up instantly that O'Rourke is likely to be a problem.

Williamson is brilliant from his first disagreement as he asks the purpose of their duty to guard the useless gun, from the non-existent enemy. Williamson asking the question with an intensity illustrating a false sincerity in questioning the need. There is in that already a sense of something else in Williamson's performance, something unnerving that goes beyond simply being cynical about his strange duties as a soldier. The following scene though is that of the greatness of Williamson, and in that perhaps something so unfortunate about his own career as an actor. This is in the following scene where he bullies another soldier into changing beds, without permission from Terry, nor protest. Williamson is this force of personality with such ease. He captures the moment with such a powerful force of space, of a man who in this reveals so effectively O'Rourke. This as a man of this fierce personality, however he uses it in a way only seemingly to tear down his environment for the sake of the action. Williamson, mind you, controls that environment with such effortless power, however with such limited purpose. Williamson showing a man who much succeeds in being larger than life, a quality potentially useful in a soldier, however with little purpose in this. As the men begin to mock Terry, to which he says little, Williamson brings the most pronounced insults as he mocks the bombardier. This with the most natural venom, and Williamson using those eyes of his to make even a mockery some severe act of a violent in a way, through how piercing they are alone.

It is rather fascinating just how striking Williamson can be in a scene even when laying on his back, just adding a few words of derision, as the men discuss Terry's position. Williamson's voice used to such potent purpose, as he makes O'Rourke's verbal attacks brutal, even in seemingly the most casual asides. Of course O'Rourke does go beyond even deriding Terry, as he attacks another of his disobedient soldiers for his sexual fixations, where Williamson brings this callous dominance seemingly of the proper soldier, however used without any sense of one. When it seems in this moment of mutual insult, Terry himself throws one casually O'Rourke's way. What follows is a truly astonishing bit of acting from Williamson, in his eyes shift from a casual disregard to a vile hate, as his eyes become that of killer all just within Williamson's work. Williamson is genuinely terrifying as this shift is so naturally realized as he appears to aim himself towards Terry. What follows though is an act of violence, not towards Terry, but rather towards himself as he grabs a hot coal for several seconds before declaring his disdain for all. Williamson is amazing in as he captures the violence of one man for another, externalized in the sharpness of his delivery, but internalized in his eyes that seem to indicate towards some deeper chaos within the man. O'Rourke retiring in the moment, in a way that Williamson suggestst as his only option, that seemingly would've otherwise resulted in his own breakdown or the violent end for Terry.

O'Rourke I'd say honestly is a role most actors would struggle with, not only because the part requires as striking of a presence as Williamson, but it would be so easy to make the actions of the man just random moments for the sake of performance. That is never even remotely the case for Williamson's work which crafts a logic in this seeming illogical man. This is as Williamson's performance captures this specific nature of the man vividly. This as any action comes from the same core that is the man.This is as even early on when he sings a jovial song, or seemingly jokes, there is even that this intensity Williamson brings to it. The attempt at something jovial seems real enough however Williamson's portrayal of it is this though still as some anguished act all the same. Williamson making O'Rourke's unwieldy state as a natural state of nature for where the man is. There is a moment where O'Rourke questions Terry's authority directly while also telling him he should essentially preemptively have him locked up. Williamson delivers the derision with the incisiveness in his words and his disregard in his eyes, however when speaking of the suggestion, there is nothing mocking in it. There is almost a cry for help in Williamson's portrayal that has this derangement within it, yet a sense of clarity as he makes the suggestion for Terry to not let him go be free into the night. Williamson in these two acts is able to reveal the man who is a particular dangerous combination as he most willing wishes to disobey, yet is as keenly aware of the problem of this.

The reason for this is briefly reflected in a moment where O'Rourke notes that the night will mark his birthday, as well as his time of turning to the age of 30. Williamson is simply incredible in the moment as his eyes capture a man truly looking into a nihilistic void as the man remarks how he'd never wish to turn 30. Williamson delivering this as a fundamental philosophy of a man, who as hostile as he is, Williamson alludes to within this a horrible depression.The rest of the night essentially becomes this prolonged suicide, that Williamson realizes with a terrible vividness. This as he does not portray it as exact, anything but as the man is both quite assured in his "mission" while not at all assured in the exact method. O'Rourke delivers this potent id within the man, that portrays a destructive style that means to destroy all in his path, himself included. Williamson delivers this emotional wretchedness of the man as he speaks of killing within the army, yet seems to be looking towards only an emptiness. His random destructive actions become of near animalistic violence. Not quite though as Williamson quite simply is outstanding in these scenes as it is not a singular emotion of violence, that is there, along with these moments of temporary joy, those that only delay a profound decay that Williamson returns to as O'Rourke basic expression. All other actions being these temporary delays towards his inevitable fate he has declared for himself. That depression that is brutally, yet powerfully depicted within Williamson's performance. This as he does not make this momentary lapse, but this seething quality of a man who has long determined himself, or at least his existence, to be useless. Williamson is amazing as the way he manages to show even a descent within this idea as the man becomes messier and drunker throughout the night. Williamson delivering the only respites towards O'Rourke's own depression, being his hate towards others.

Williamson creating this searing since of self-destruction as this crutch of anger towards others that he holds onto, as that intense emotion is the only relief from his own self-hatred. What oddly becomes the most off-putting moments are when O'Rourke attempts to return to joke, that become these unnerving asides in Williamson's portrayal, as the man willing almost to say anything given he intends to leave the world quite shortly. When Terry threatens to turn him in, Williamson delivers O'Rourke's lack of concern towards the consequences, as wholly earnest, as a man content to waste away. The final minutes of the film are this extreme that Williamson makes so vivid as he creates the mania of O'Rourke. This as he threatens Terry himself it is with a maniacal loathing in his eyes towards Terry, but just as much towards himself. Williamson brings a hostility to every one of O'Rourke's words to Terry, who attempts to talk sanity into him. Williamson speaks each word with a painful combination of treating the world as an abomination but doing himself with the same treatment. Williamson delivering this sincere outrage towards Terry's selfishness for his fixation on his promotion however he does not make it as this arbiter of justice, but rather a man clawing at anything he can find as he intends to lose it all. As he pushes Terry to name why he is suicidal as a game, I love how Williamson, as much as he is so despairing towards Terry's opinion, there is this as powerful desperation as though there is a glint of need that Terry would really be able to give O'Rourke a semblance of an answer for his own self-destruction. The final few seconds of Williamson work shows the sheer brilliance of his performance. This as he does not turn O'Rourke into a device to challenge Terry, but rather shows that this is very much O'Rourke own personal journey to the end. This as hateful as the man is, the humanity in his own suicide is kept ever prevalent in Williamson's performance. This as we see as he is about to stab himself, there is that vile hate again in his voice, yet in his eyes we see the profound sorrow in the man accepting destruction, not with ease, but with the suffering one would expect. This is a brilliant performance by Williamson as he manages to give one of the most captivating portraits of self-destruction committed to film, as he never makes this simple act, but a complex irrational feast of decay within the man's mind. 

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Alternate Best Actor 1973: Sean Connery in The Offence

Sean Connery did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Detective Sergeant Johnson in The Offence.

The Offence is a non-too pleasant though not ineffective film following a policeman losing a grip on his sanity.

Sean Connery is an actor who is more so known as a star than an actor, however the latter element is something that while could be forgotten in some of his more disposable commercial fair, is something that should not be when looking at his overall abilities as a talent. One director that seemed to see the potential of Connery was Sidney Lumet who cast him twice in two roles that were, while not entirely against type, pushed Connery past a comfort zone of the "man's man" presence of James Bond, to something far more notable, while working within the idea of a man partially defined by his masculinity, however not so simply. In The Hill, Connery showed an imprisoned soldier who individuality and cynicism led him towards a power struggle in a military prison. We once again return to a potentially more typical Connery role as a police detective who who get his men, even violently, however this is not treated in the way of your standard action film. We find Connery here as Detective Sergeant Johnson, a man who perhaps at one time lived for more romantic ideas of heroics, however as we enter the film we see something quite different, and in turn we see something quite different within the work of Sean Connery. Connery being an actor who thrives on his confident cool, here completely disposes of that here, to portray from the outset just this sense of anxiety within his eyes as we see the man just approaching the scene of a likely brutal crime in the opening of the film.

Connery does speak to his fellow officers with a ferocity of a former hard-boiled cop, although the anger within this seems even more severe than that in Connery's delivery. An anger alluding to something that has been festering within him for sometime. It is fascinating to see Connery here as his performance manages to create the surface of the tough police officer, but subtly within his eyes evokes a desperation within the man. This is something that brings itself to the surface as Johnson finds the latest victim of a pedophile. Connery's performance within the search is that of fear but also something a bit more uneasy as he finds the victim. Connery's performance in this scene is amazing, and such a different side to himself as a performer. This portraying this demented moment in his work that portrays a mental breakdown within his attempts to comfort the girl, making it any thing but comforting to the viewer. Connery manages to depict this strange fascination within the moment as he eases the girl into some sense of security. It isn't heartwarming, in Connery's performance that while does project an attempt at a sincere solace, also manages within his eyes this near insanity of the man as though he is living out in some detached state of fantasy. This brilliantly alluding to some deep seeded wound within Johnson's psyche that goes beyond this single instance of a such a horrible sight.

Outside of this more intimate scenario Connery returns Johnson seemingly to his fashioned state of the dogged detective, however even this is not Connery on auto-pilot, but rather depicting a man going on auto-pilot. Connery playing within the idea of a sledge hammer for the law, something that Connery is obviously able to support with his fierce presence as a performer, however once again here it is something far less pleasant than his usual heroes, and Connery in his own way even makes these moments carry this unpleasant intensity that make them their own strange act of desperation. His state is eventually tested as they seem to find the likely culprit Kenneth Baxter (Ian Bannen). Although we initially see glimpses of his interrogation of the man, this as Connery brings the violent imposing rage of the interrogator, however only glimpses as he attacks the man before being sent away for his actions. We our to return to that moment, but before that we see Johnson attempting to live out his night. We see him return home where Connery is simply incredible in delivering years of discontentment, along with the wounds of the night as he yells at his wife. Again Connery's performance is unrelenting, and effectively so, in showing a man who bordering on a complete mental breakdown, only living through violence of a certain kind.

Connery is outstanding in the moment as he proudly speaks initially of attacking the man, which Connery delivers as though it is this official recitation, and a long labored monologue to defending his actions. This as he continues the words it is with again a mania that creates a sense of complete derangement that Connery conveys before returning to a sense of clarity for a moment. This before when asked of the victim herself that the pains of the man return again to Connery's performance. His work is truly remarkable as he delivers an unexpected vulnerability as he speaks towards this pain regarding seeing so many horrible victims. Connery though goes further in showing the cracked state of mind as he keeps speaking as Connery's expression delivers this state that goes beyond pain, but rather this fundamental chaos of his mind that cannot fully comprehend how what he's gone through has changed him. Connery's performance not only expresses the strange situation of the mind of Johnson within the scenario, a man twisted within his work, and shows a completely different side of himself as a performer. This is not by going entirely against his type, but rather rather garnering a different type of depth to a potentially more typical Connery role. This part pushes Connery, and he goes along with it to show his greater potential as an actor.

This as Connery creates a different portrait of the brutal detective, here as we see Johnson slowly unravel himself in front of us. This as in the final scenes of the film where he himself is interrogated by a superior Trevor Howard, where Connery certainty in his initial candor slowly breaks down to just a sorrow of his state of a man. This as we see the interrogator interrogated, and Connery depicts a brilliant mess of sorts as he delivers this attempt at this stake of that confidence, however always falls towards this harrowing vulnerability. Connery making this grotesque, yet still natural state of the man attempting to be one thing, yet in a way torn down into another, by that attempt. We see this even more so in the final scene of the film where we flashback to his one on one interrogation of Baxter. This as Connery begins as the "good cop" however this act as he speaks to the man, it is with a false bravado of a man speaking towards his own pains even as his words are a man supposedly easing the man into the interrogation. Baxter's lack of relaxation quickly resorts to Johnson manhandling Baxter, however even this physical act is a stroke of brilliance on the part of Connery's performance. This as he handles certainly with violent intensity, as you'd expect, however it is less striking, and almost sexual as this act of control and dominance, rather than of just harm. Baxter though strikes back, not through violence himself, but rather words as he speaks towards Johnson's broken mind through his growing state of becoming like the men he has been tracking for so long. In this moment Connery brings back the forceful detective, however even this is still of this wretched act, of a searing emotion. This as his eyes of a blind demented state before himself breaking down which Connery depicts with a sincerity of the man giving into those demons that have been underneath the surface throughout. This before returning to violence where Connery's state is not one of cool emotion, but a emotional mess of a man filled with both a strange sadism and masochism wrapped within the act. Connery delivers a great performance here as he manages to create the real complexity of this man being broken by the vices he himself attempts to destroy. Connery makes this a convincing descent and in doing so, also provides a striking reminder of his talent that goes beyond that of his star persona.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Best Actor Backlog Volume 1

And the overlooked performances are:

Nicol Williamson in The Bofors Gun

John Hurt in 1984

Claude Laydu in Diary of a Country Priest

Al Pacino in Scarecrow

Sean Connery in The Offence

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Alternate Best Actor 2019: Results

10. Kelvin Harrison Jr. in Waves - Harrison delivers a remarkable performance that grants a understanding, though not a sympathy, of a seeming average person's descent towards violence.

Best Scene: Failing texts.
9. August Diehl in A Hidden Life - Although limited by the choices of his director, Diehl does give a powerful portrayal of a deep familial affection and conviction of one's beliefs.

Best Scene: Speaking to the judge. 
8. Roman Griffin Davis in Jojo Rabbit - Davis gives a hilarious portrayal of a boy's foolish fanaticism, and a moving portrayal of slow maturation built around love.

Best Scene: Red shoes.  
7. Aaron Paul in El Camino - Paul returns to Jesse Pinkman without losing any sense of the character at any phase of story, while offering a powerful new chapter as a man initially broken but slowly finding hope through a potential escape.

Best Scene: Duel.
6. Robert De Niro in The Irishman - De Niro delivers for much of the film as the reactionary/observant lead, that helps to realize the masterful work of his co-stars, however too makes his own remarkable impact in his heartbreaking realization of a different kind of epilogue for a gangster film.

Best Scene: Not quite a confession.
5. Shia LaBeouf in Honey Boy - LaBeouf gives an incredible raw realization of a portrait of essentially his own father, that is a powerful depiction of both desperate need and a pathetic envy in in his relationship with his son.

Best Scene: AA speech.
4. George MacKay in 1917 - MacKay gives a brilliant "in the moment" performance that rarely ever stops moving, yet makes every sequence of the film all the more vivid, while also never failing to realize his soldier as a man.

Best Scene: River of death to salvation. 
3. Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems - Sandler delivers an extraordinary turn in creating such an effortlessly captivating and intense depiction of a man with a singular obsession that rules his existence.

Best Scene: Final game.

1. Willem Dafoe & Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse - Good prediction moviefilm, Jack Narrator, Omar and Toan Nguyen. Together Dafoe and Pattinson deliver two masterful turns that craft a unique tone and fashion such idiosyncratic characters of another era. This capturing their journeys within both the mythical mania and a more human desperation. Typically I am conflicted over deciding such winners, however have currently a strange contentment regarding a tie for Dafoe and Pattinson, as I love their work equally, and both thrive within their dynamic, disturbing and even hilarious chemistry with one another.

Best Scenes: "HARK"/Confession
Overall Ranking:
  1. Willem Dafoe & Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse (tie)
  2. Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems
  3. George MacKay in 1917
  4. Adam Driver in Marriage Story
  5. Shia LaBeouf in Honey Boy
  6. Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  7. Robert De Niro in The Irishman
  8. Aaron Paul in El Camino
  9. Roman Griffin Davis in Jojo Rabbit - 4.5
  10. Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory
  11. August Diehl in A Hidden Life
  12. Kelvin Harrison Jr. in Waves
  13. Daniel Craig in Knives Out 
  14. Matthias Schoenaerts in The Mustang
  15. Anthony Hopkins in The Two Popes
  16. Paul Walter Hauser in Richard Jewell 
  17. Luca Marinelli in Martin Eden
  18. Peter Mullan in The Vanishing
  19. Mel Gibson in Dragged Across Concrete
  20. Matthew Rhys in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  21. Taron Egerton in Rocketman 
  22. Noah Jupe in Honey Boy
  23. Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  24. Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes  
  25. Christian Bale in Ford V. Ferrari
  26. Dean Charles Chapman in 1917 
  27. Bartosz Bielenia in Corpus Christi
  28. Joaquin Phoenix in Joker - 4
  29. Eddie Murphy in Dolemite is My Name
  30. Jonathan Majors in The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  31. Jack Lowden in Fighting With My Family
  32. Zac Efron in Extremely Wicked, Shocking Evil and Vile
  33. Sam Rockwell in Richard Jewell
  34. Jesse Eisenberg in The Art of Self-Defense 
  35. Willem Dafoe in Togo
  36. Casey Affleck in Light of My Life
  37. Shia LaBeouf in The Peanut Butter Falcon 
  38. Adam Driver in The Report
  39. Kris Hitchen in Sorry We Missed You
  40. Ewan McGregor in Doctor Sleep
  41. Tom Hanks in Toy Story 4
  42. Kelvin Harrison Jr. in Luce
  43. Daniel Kaluuya in Queen & Slim
  44. Edward Norton in Motherless Brooklyn 
  45. Tory Kittles in Dragged Across Concrete - 3.5
  46. Brad Pitt in Ad Astra
  47. Michael B. Jordan in Just Mercy
  48. Matt Damon in Ford V. Ferrari
  49. Gerard Butler in The Vanishing
  50. Adam Driver in The Dead Don't Die
  51. Bill Murray in The Dead Don't Die
  52. Sam Rockwell in The Best of Enemies
  53. Zack Gottsagen in The Peanut Butter Falcon
  54. Louis Ashbourne Serkis in The Kid Who Would Be King
  55. Andre Holland in High Flying Bird 
  56. Zachary Levi in Shazam
  57. Connor Swindells in The Vanishing - 3
  58. Tom Holland in Spider-man: Far From Home
  59. Jason Statham in Hobbs and Shaw
  60. Dwayne Johnson in Hobbs and Shaw
  61. Keanu Reeves in John Wick 3
  62. Asher Angel in Shazam
  63. Oscar Isaac in Triple Frontier
  64. Jimmie Fails in The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  65. Randall Park in Always Be My Maybe
  66. Justice Smith in Detective Pikachu
  67. Ryan Reynolds in Detective Pikachu 
  68. Hugh Jackman in Missing Link
  69. Zack Galifianakis in Missing Link
  70. Tom Burke in The Souvenir - 2.5
  71. Kyle Chandler in Godzilla: King of the Monsters 
  72. Ben Affleck in Triple Frontier
  73. Timothee Chalamet in The King
  74. Eddie Redmayne in The Aeronauts
  75. Mena Massoud in Aladdin 
  76. Jay Baruchel in How to Train Your Dragon 3
  77. JD McCrary in The Lion King
  78. Donald Glover in The Lion King
  79. Tye Sheridan in The Mountain
  80. Seth Rogen in Long Shot - 2
  81. Mark Ruffalo in Dark Waters
Next: Waiting, though followed by perhaps a missed great performances lineup and 1934 (Just for recommendations as I won't be doing a lineup.)

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Alternate Best Actor 2019: Robert Pattinson & Willem Dafoe in The Lighthouse

Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe did not receive Oscar nominations, despite being nominated for Independent Spirit Awards, for portraying Winslow and Wake in The Lighthouse.

The Lighthouse tells thee one lighthearted fable of two lighthouse keepers who slowly discover more about each other.

Tis with this review a grand constriction has now been lifted as I may broach the performances of this here film. This found in the work of veteran Willem Dafoe who must be welcomed with open arms to any role which shall bear his credit, and Robert Pattinson, who after Good Time, proved many wrong, by proclamin' to be a great actor that immediately tore away any concerns relating to his early work as one of those glittering vampires. These two then be off to portraying the pair of lighthouse keepers, for a 4 week stay, during some inexact age but certainly long weathered away period of time. Tis within this idea where we have the initial brilliance of the performances of Dafoe and Pattinson in craftin' these wickies. These are just not any men, but rather must become themselves part of the film's profuse atmosphere. Tis within the script by Robert and Max Eggers, that is brimming in archaic phrase and slang, and might by most unwieldy within itself.  It is that which requires the most immediate challenge in crafting a Shakespearean grace to thee language, though for words that are neither modern or Shakespearean. Dafoe and Pattinson can allow one to forgot this  is perhaps even what one may say be a risk by Eggers, as the two not only speak the language but speak it as though they have been so their entire lives. They simply be native speakers of this semi-ancient style English, and there be no more than that which needs to be said on that account. Allowing the language to not only be easy to decipher for we modern land lovers, I mean viewers, but grants such a profound sense of time within the semi-sea dogs of Winslow and Wake. Dafoe and Pattinson deliver performances what ooze this strange period beyond just that minor hint, this be as each transform themselves towards the role of the light-keepers, the veteran Wake and the newcomer Winslow. Tis at the moment in which they wander off their ship and onto the island to begin their, seemingly brief, tenure of maintaining the grounds and the lighthouse. Pattinson's eyes filled with an eeriness of man discoverin' something quite new, though perhaps not something he'd care to discover as he walks upon the solemn earth of the lighthouse, while Dafoe carries a contentment within the return, of a man who has many a time come upon these shores. It be this that one sees them, establishing, without a word, each man at the beginning of their stay, and a certain schism within them from the outset.

This old land lover would be wrong not to overstate the importance of the vivid creation of the men that we witness from both Dafoe and Pattinson, tis sheer brilliance from each actor, in fashioning something what be akin to perhaps a silent or early talkie horror show, however with a distinct bend towards this idea, in craftin' something wholly their own to each man. Pattinson, who was perhaps once derided for what be known as vacant expressions, carries a world of them here within his realization of Winslow. This as his face, before we enter anything regarding the Lighthouse itself, speaks volumes within a storied history. The man with eyes worn by seemingly a harsher age, but perhaps there be a bit more. Dafoe's eyes carry the same, character simply be it by nature, though with a bit more wily quality within them I'd say, denoting his own storied history as well, though with perhaps with a stranger clarity from it. Each man feels as though they walked out of a picture or perhaps more accurately portrait of this period, this in so seeming of the past, yet still so tangible in that these men be alive for certain as we see them. Well what is as we come across their voices, which are so wonderful in themselves in again creatin' this overwhelming sense of place along with what must be cried as an overwhelming sense of character. In Pattinson there be something he does brilliantly with his accent work, however his basic one of this light, however passive yet still strained voice what sounds as though he stumbled out of a Jack London novel. Dafoe is immediately broader, yet so richly so, in his voice what put the salt truly in the salty sea dog. Dafoe so fiercely embraces it that tis just serve to craft the sense of who Wake be, tis also just quite honestly so enjoyable to hear him speak within his unique cadence. Tis be a voice so thick as the film's atmosphere and so equally delicious, for a lack of a better word, in makin' the language be all the more digestible.

As impressive as this crafting of the character's exterior existence be alone, that is not all there is to either performance, and one of the great joys of this film is seeing these so vivid individuals come to exist within the enclosed space. Tis one of the elements that this land lover adores within the film as though it has a symbolic/allegorical basis the film properly succeeds in stokin' the symbolism in a way that compliment the characters, just as the characters compliment the symbolism, tis the way it should be. Tis here we have Robert Pattinson's portrayal of Winslow work as just a young man attempting to make his way in this new life, starting new as thee may say. What in exuding a frustration in this space and weariness of it that is so profound. This in his captivating portrayal of the man who be building up his anxieties in the walk of each individual duty. Tis in turn that Dafoe be tremendous in presenting the authoritarian and punitive boss. This in barkin' his orders out with a slightly trollin' manner towards a man as each order has a slight accentuation of what be a put down towards Winslow. Dafoe creating an innate viciousness about it that be with the sheer ease of Wake's way of prodding Winslow a bit with each minor remark about that proposed fact of being a dullard as he sees it. This be with Dafoe pressing an ego into every word of a man who be so firm in his belief of the system of Winslow being below him, but tis also with this sense of superiority as though the work be not only below him, however it also be as though Winslow is somehow still not capable of it. Dafoe capturing a beautifully intolerable boss, where Pattinson be the haggard employee. Tis a highlight of this being when Wake compels Winslow to paint the very high lighthouse, to which Pattinson coneys the very real fear and frustration of the task, while Dafoe be nothing more than that of a pestering imp, all while toying the lighthouse company line in the sheer pride of his statements as he suggests the men make the lighthouse look as beautiful as it can be.

The nature of these performance craft a duality and dynamic, as each is reflective of the other, but they differ in crafting the realization of each man's state of being on this here island. A major element that defines each man be seemingly a striking repression, though not even of a single kind. Pattinson in those frustrations creating a festering intensity that perhaps alludes to a bit more than a man simply angry of his mistreatment. There be an intensity there that alludes to something else, worn now within the attempt at appearing as a young lad, hat in hand, calm former timberman ready to become a wickie. Dafoe be equally captivating in suggesting a different, if as dangerous, repression in his portrayal of the man Wake, as he barrages Winslow with his initial duties, but there is a mania that springs forth when he speaks of the more spiritual nature of the sea. When first he commands Winslow avoid killin' a seagull given that they host a lost sailors soul according to Wake, Dafoe launches sharply into a more violent anger of a man whose faith be questioned, when Winslow offers any disregard for this claim. Tis my favorite moment though in the shift Dafoe brings in that there eyes of his in the glance of a man whose perhaps revealed himself a little too openly for the moment, pulling it back into towards a calmer, more meek reminder not to touch the seagull. Tis even as the chaos of what will come, there be the importance of grantin' at least a bit of humanity of each man, that's not the worst of humanity mind yeh. When ole' Winslow describes his hopes upon his job as a wickie there is wistful hope of something for the man that Pattinson inscribes a purity within it, even if it be perhaps not wholly truthful. The same be granted to Dafoe, who seems to memorialize his own love of a woman, that he lost in his greater love for the sea. Dafoe though reckons this with what be a greater tenderness in the man, an honest love to be true, even if spoken as an accepted love to be nearly forgotten.

Well then what have yeh then two pronounced performances that are indeed mean to clash, and clash they do. Tis such color as each men seem to each open within the oddity of their whole affair. Mind yeh, Pattinson for example, he be captivating in his depiction of the man exploring the island as he performs his duties with that there frustration. There be more than hopes of land in this though, as we bear witness to his eyes that tell of a man filled with what be a primal lust of the flesh. This barely held within his frame, and often coming out in masturbatory moments that he portrays with more rage than pleasure, as a man that be as imprisoned within this release, as he would be without it. This be more than a bit different from the sea dog as we see what be the older man's release as we bare witness to Wake within the head of the light beam. We pay witness to a man releasing of a different form of Dafoe's expression that evokes a entrancement of what be a sexual nature, however that be equally within the mythical. Madness perhaps, yet there be such a profound sense of calm in Dafoe's portrayal fitting of a man whose come to accept some other female grace than what one should expect from a far more earthly female. Tis with that though that Dafoe's eyes that are of a possessive keeper, this as he speaks with a secretive glance and a protective eye that extends beyond what be a simple light. Dafoe and Pattinson show what be two men defined by this existence. There be a repression of a different form in each, that be telling to each man, realized with brilliance from each performer. Pattinson in the repression as it relates to earthly desire in turn a earthly distress, and with Dafoe a repression through spiritual acceptance, tis a comfort in worship however still a distress that be lay bear outside of what be in his state of worship.

What cannot be overstated is the greatness of each turn here though fascinating they be in each unique role that each man partake in to craft this grisly tale. Pattinson be the one with whom the perspective be shared, to whom it is that we cannot know what the man sees be reality or a fiction of the mind. The performance of Pattinson though crafts a strange grey state as he is neither sure himself of what be real and what be false. His eyes gripped in a fear, however not a simple fear of one's life but a greater one of an emotional attachment to what it is that he sees in front of him. This be those sexual repressions leadin' him to the embrace of a demonic mermaid, a frightened anguish of sexually induced horror, or the perhaps even more insidious stare Pattinson delivers as the man looks upon with a pervasive guilt of the past marked by visions of logs. Dafoe be the performance that words cannot be made to say more than just in the way this old sea dog speaks them. Tis Dafoe's accent that one can receive boundless joy just from hearin' him speak the words of Wake, markin' what be a grand impact from a single utterance. This portrayal of Dafoe's broachin' of Wake be endlessly fascinating in purposefully being the enigma, against the more knowable Winslow. Each man is what compliments the other however, in a pairing made in Davy Jones's locker for the men, though for we viewers one crafted in paradise. This as their game is a compelling one realized within each interaction between the performers. Dafoe and Pattinson have a chemistry what be one of a great distress but also be one of great connection. The connection be in the state of tenderness in their interaction that near sexual connection at times. That which is not portrayed as homosexuality per se however more within the eyes of each man a fantasy of some woman that be out of reach. Each man speak though nearing a tenderness, a comfort for each between a state of isolation. Tis not pure, but tis palatable in each actor. There be a brilliant display of physical performance by Dafoe and Pattinson, in a moment where the two go from a literal slow dance to marquis of queens bury rule of boxing in a quick shift from romance, to what be a most "manly" display. The shift be natural if still insane reflective of each man's madness through only finding solace within an often hostile companion.

The nature of each be an outstanding realization by each actor in portraying the dissection of man by Pattinson and the purposeful mystery within what defines Dafoe's performance. Pattinson's revelation of the man include his accent, to return to that thar point, where he be fashioning a thicker North American accent, one more fitting of a man with his own pride, not nearly as meek, and more readily capable of what must be some great violence, that his eyes appears to allude. This in fashioning a man with this edge, whose frustrations run deeper than a simple annoyance. Dafoe's work brilliantly elusive in crafting what be a different state, as his work is seen within the eyes of Winslow. Dafoe craftin' the sense within his work of a man who could be gas-lighting Winslow, completely bonkers himself or perhaps an innocent man of sorts himself. The first be in Dafoe's expertly venomous ways as Wake, not only in his orders that he barks with such dominant disdain, but more so the switching states of the man. This never seeming inconsistent within the man, but would be disorienting within the gaze of Winslow. This man who can project a seething rage as he destroys their only boat, but can engage in the strictest innocent eyes when remarking what he claims is the madness of Winslow. Dafoe makin what be a true anxiety in the viewer, as it is for Winslow, in being so unnerving in how truthful the man appears. Tis of course what perhaps alludes to purely being what is bonkers himself as Dafoe's work portrays that strictest devotion to the sea, and to the light. The eyes of a man who be stricken blind to the world other than that which he claims to see. Then again this may be just the delusions of Winslow that craft such a man, as again Dafoe be as convincing in portraying the man who stare in what be a severe disbelief at the confessions of Winslow.

Speakin of the confessions of the timberman, Pattinson's performance of Winslow's confession, of having murdered his previous employer, is one of the most captivating moments of performance I've been witness to in some time. Tis as he speaks with sorrow for the extreme of the deed however not quite a full regret. There be this startling intensity in his eyes still as though he be rationalizing the act just as he still revisits with a sense of guilt. Pattinson finding within that the aggressiveness of a killer, and perhaps the degree of detachment that can be one again. Tis as his work neither offers a pure apology nor be it bereft of honest regret. It be instead human, deeply human, of a man unable to cope with his own flaws. Dafoe not to be undone by a monologue that be infused with a deep pathos, even seems to be as impactful in just the utterance of "Why'd you spill your beans" words he delivers with an eerie power of both a manipulation of the spirit and an accusation of an uncaring soul. Before, I be wrong to get ahead of meself, it would be worthy of treason if I ignore the tonal genius of both performances. This be as each actor carries scenes of great emotion, horror and comedy, however with an astonishing ease and grace. Take the moment where Winslow unleashes every word of hate against Wake, this be a natural explosion of the festering rage in the man, and what is a speech both of hilarity and truth. This be in the man hiding no accent nor disdain in his listing of every flaw and fault of his companion, within just a mess of repression unleashed forth. Pattinson's portrayal be honest, yet wholly humorous, both without compromising the other, while still telling of the man's mental state of decay. Take perhaps the even greater moments of the two within a drunken stupor, a drunken stupor of delight that each actor embrace in what be a grand dance of fools worthy of the highest praise, however falls apart when Winslow casually remarks on Wake's cooking ability. First we are granted one of the funniest reactions that one can pay witness to in 2019, in the sheer disbelief in Dafoe's eyes and only the utmost genuine fear in his expression of Wake's horror that Winslow don't like his cookin. Tis the most mesmerizing moment of acting that I have bared witness in some time that springs forth as Dafoe calls into the air a triton's curse upon Winslow. Dafoe be as terrifying as he was amusing, in his eyes staring directly into your soul, as he speaks with haunting, guttural incantation. In this moment Dafoe himself makes you a believer in the spirits of the deep, as his eyes behold a terrifying mysticism and make thee believe a sea curse be tangible. Tis capped off with yet again a moment of comic gold, in Pattinson's low key and blunt delivery of "all right have it your way, I like your cooking". These be performances of great wonder that weave together a tapestry that does realize themselves as symbols of repressed sexuality, a deranged masculinity, obsessions, regrets of life, representations of a the guard of the godly fire and Prometheus, the duplicity of a man's mind, but also most importantly as men in this odd yet also not wholly alien situation. The final scene fitting of each mind you, as the men reverse power after an altercation, and both performers make the most of this changed state. Pattinson brimming with the cruelty of a hateful master, with Dafoe as a whimpering dog, now chanting his curse as a plea for mercy. This reversal natural to each man broken down towards nothing. This leaving only a cruel end for each, violence again for a former boss of Winslow, and Winslow finding his pride, in again a moment of masterful reaction worthy of any of the great silent thespians of old. His expression evocative of being overwhelmed by a sight he is neither worthy of nor capable of comprehending. Each performer is enthralling as stylistic work of wonder together, and separately. Each man though be set on being both amazing in their broad crafting of these denizens of the lighthouse, but also stunning as their peculiar yet vibrant reflections of humanity...So, yeah I enjoyed their performances.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Alternate Best Actor 2019: Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems

Adam Sandler did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning several critics' awards and being nominated for an Indie Spirit Award and Critic's Choice award, for portraying Howard Ratner in Uncut Gems.

Uncut Gems is a fantastic film that tells the story of a Jewish Manhattan jeweler.

It must be said that Adam Sandler is a performer who there is kind of a different mindset about. This is that while he is well known for his long list of Schlocky comedies, there are many actors who are known for such things, however there seems to be a greater frustration regarding Sandler. The reason for this perhaps is an awareness of a potential that he too often seems to squander within the nonsense. One of the most notable examples away from this previously was as the romantic lead in Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch Drunk Love, which cleverly played into Sandler's typical roles. That role playing into something obvious in Sandler even in some of the least of his comedies, which is an inherent intensity. Well this makes Sandler the ideal choice for the Safdie brothers' followup to their high strung thriller Good Time, about a young criminal trying to make everything right for himself and his brother by digging a hole deeper as an attempt to be okay on the opposite side. A film with a sort of seventies vibe with a very flawed hero at this center. Here we have something similar with Uncut Gems, though honestly this comparison seems slightly wrong when this film is considerably better than the films closest to it from the seventies The Gambler. Nevertheless what we have here is that one of a kind of protagonist that is Howard Ratner, our hero who is definitely anything but that, one for Adam Sandler to really sink his teeth into, and oh boy does he.

I suppose one can instantly voice their frustrations towards the clouds with seeing Adam Sandler on the screen here, as the moment he steps into frame here, we see a dynamic presence. This being something that Sandler too often hides within material that doesn't seem to ask him to provide a hint of his talent. Here we actually get Sandler, to you know, act and what a pleasure it is. This is that Sandler not only has presence, but he has such a unique screen presence. This as there is something inherently compelling about him when he is tuned in, in this way. This as he pulls you right in, something particularly important for the Safdies' fast moving narrative style, as Sandler must be described as magnetic here, because that is simply the truth of the matter. This is not relying on any obvious tricks, like a goofy voice, or some weird accent, we just have Sandler portraying a man, and creates the essential core that pulls you right into the world of Howard Ratner. I will say I love the casting of Sandler here, even beyond the fact that it actually uses him as an actor, though because it is so immediate that you are granted a sense of who this guy is, his background, his place in life and more. This of course is absolutely amplified by Adam Sandler who is absolutely just within this part. Sandler doesn't take any time to get used to in this purely dramatic part, he just his Howard this long time, "high class" jeweler.. There is an immediate sense of history in Sandler's work in his vibe and demeanor that accentuates a whole life of quick, high powered deals, making life through cash and the most precious metals.

What I suppose is one of the great achievements right off the bat with this performance is that I instantly forgot I was watching Sandler playing outside of his expected zone. I didn't think about it, as Sandler has the confidence and ease onscreen as though this was another great performance in just a line of them. This I suppose is where the idea of sort of the 70's lead comes in though in that Sandler definitely is an atypical leading man, particularly here, yet there is such an immense charisma here. This frankly similar to say a prime Jack Nicholson in the sheer watchability in his work that is something so compelling in Sandler here just by virtue of his existence. This of course being absolutely fundamental for the character of Howard, who by all accounts is horrible, but Sandler very much gives us that buy in through that charisma. We want to watch Sandler here, making it so we want to watch Howard, even as it becomes quite obvious how deeply flawed he is. This as in one of the opening scenes is where we see him as a philanderer, chewing out his shallow mistress Julia (Julia Fox) for sleeping in late and having little concern with his actual personal problems. This is enough to reject a protagonist for some, but Sandler is so captivating here it is impossible to do, although I'll admit it is easy to empathize one's interest in Miss Fox...but I severely digress. This relationship even though will say so much about Howard, and as wielded by Sandler's work.

Sandler storms onto the screen though as we see the first day in the life of Howard as he comes into his jewelry store, where he is slightly accosted by a pair of thugs, hired by his brother-in-law Arno (Eric Bogosian), this that Sandler shows Howard playing off as only a minor inconvenience at first. This though as we see his eyes far more drawn into potential prospects, the first that shows up as NBA superstar Kevin Garnett (as himself) comes into his shop. Sandler is outstanding in portraying sort of this peculiar sort of showman in his shop. This with the sheer amount of glee he throws around his goods, having a sale for each, along with his whole manner that has this quite aggressiveness of a man trying to cook up a deal. Sandler creating this incredible sense of sort of the fascination of Howard in the deal, and Sandler himself is extremely compelling to watch just as this man in his element. This in a life of high stake deals that Sandler plays in an essential, fascinating way, which is this intensity, Sandler's trademark, so effectively used here, in creating the sense of pressure within himself. This is not reflecting a concern with making the deal with Garnett, but rather just this pressure that seems to invigorate the man. Sandler's work is brimming with this incredible energy of a man who thrives in the higher margins of cost and price. The problem is we see this even out of his shop as we see some initial trades for more trades, trading things he doesn't own for pawn, for gambles with money he can't afford to lose, however Sandler delivers this with the same ease as his legitimate business.

Before I get to the core of this performance, that so compels the existence of his work though, it needs to be said however varied and nuanced Sandler is here, even if the character in a certain sense seems single minded. Take the brief, but very important moments with his children or his wife (Idina Menzel). Sandler's great in portraying in moments with his sons and daughter. A real sense of affection for them, though a compromised sense. This as there is so consistently the sense of just a thought in his eyes of being somewhere else, even if he is not completely absent in the moment. This also the severity in his eyes instantly as he sees Arno's thugs attending his daughter's play. The immediate sense of concern is palatable, as is the rage as he lashes out at them for their display of an unsaid threat initially. Sandler shows the absolute viciousness in the moment accentuating the concern for his family. This though in creating just as vivid this sort of detachment from the family despite the attempt. This in his scene with his daughter where Sandler brings a broken eagerness of someone who is making the effort, but really just the basic effort. The same as he attempts to let his son find a bathroom, near his personal apartment in Manhattan, that typically houses his mistress. Sandler creates the palatable tension of the borderline shame as he attempts to keep his son from it, however Sandler brilliantly takes this on as the secondary thought to the primary concern of that selfishness that defines who Howard is when you break him down. The greatest moment within this though is his major scene with Menzel, where he attempts to talk her out of a divorce. Sandler is outstanding in this scene by portraying really a sense of the old charm that perhaps won her over in the beginning, in his attempt to apologize for his mistress. Sandler's eyes speak the truths of Howard in the moment, yet a compromised truth as his whole performance captures so well this weakness of apology, of a man who does mean it to himself, yet is just another old excuse for his wife.

The core of Sandler's performance that, which takes him to the next level, is where he is most closely aligned with the Safdie's previous lead Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson). What connects the two men is they both thinking that digging deeper is the best way out of a deep hole, but they differ in a few ways. One major one is that Connie's cash needs is a throwaway bet for Howard, instead of one long night, it is a few, but the major difference is motivation. Now in part we see the connection as Sandler is equally thrilling in creating that same free Jazz style into Howard as he makes one deal after another. With Howard though it is one crescendo after another however, and with Sandler there is the amazing way he plays it with this grand mania to the deals. Connie has to think about it, at least a bit, Sandler portrays in Howard this willingness and need to just run with it. This befitting Sandler's overall masterful way of realizing the nature of Howard. This as he's not in it to free his debts, the debts are hardly the issue, he's in it for the win. Sandler makes this so honest in his creating such an innate intensity within the character as we see him in the moment of money "management", to use that term as loosely as possible. This in an early scene where we find Howard ignoring one of his employees basically saying he will quit unless he gets a bit of support, to look through a box to find his uncut gem, a prized black opal. The line "I'm gonna cum" at the sight of the prize should be absolutely ridiculous, but Sandler makes it work by playing it so truthfully towards who Howard is. The obsession in his eyes as he uncovers it is only that prelude to the finding of it, which to him is his "best" life. This in the sheer glee of satisfaction at what appears to be a sure thing winner.

Sandler's realization of the sort of ideology of Howard is essential in both understanding the man, but also in making him as captivating of a presence as he is. This as we see Howard at home watching a game he had a bet on, the man here is fully connected and into the throws of it. Sandler watches not just as a sports fan or gambler even, but as though the game is his whole life passing through in the moment. This as he presents it almost religious experience as he believes an early bet has paid off. This as he weaves it into this essential ownership of life in a peculiar way that Sandler makes tangible. This as we see him in his scenes with Julia immediately after this win. Sandler portrays these moments not a distraction as the winning Howard takes on her as he would the prize of his bets with the thrill of those bets weaved right into his sexual drive. This is as they are one in the same for Howard, and Sandler manages to make this a natural idea in creating such a powerful sense of that sheer bliss in Howard that comes from the win. This in Sandler portraying those moments as the man simply never being more alive than then. Sandler makes an essential separation for many similar portrayals of compulsive gamblers, as many there is the sense that they gambling as though it will make their problems go away, for Sandler's Howard, gambling is his problem, but it is also his lifeblood most fundamentally. The way Sandler realizes this fixation is incredible in the sense of the constant state of finding a way to get his prize, every prize. This is that Sandler has that same incisive laser focus even in high value auctions, where he is expressive without words in his eyes of creating that same life through that exchange of value. This is when it appears that Julia may be cheating on him, Sandler's breakdown is impeccably performed as this completely irrational and extreme reaction. Sandler doesn't depict it as a heartbreak but rather this rejection of a "loss", that is in itself a potent emotion as portrayed by Sandler, but without a sense of lost tenderness within the portrayal. It is rather a man bent by essentially a bet gone wrong with the relationship he chose. This is where Sandler is genius in creating the sense of the only real distress in Howard comes from moments of direct physical harm, by Arno's goons, or when a win doesn't seem possible.

When for example the aforementioned auction goes wrong, where he attempted to inflate a bit by Kevin Garnett, and was beaten by Arno's goons for coming short again, we see Howard at his lowest point. This in Sandler finally lets loose on the stress of the situation, and he is tremendous in portraying the mess of emotions of the man in the moment. This again in showing the irrational near tantrum of defeat with a horrible hopelessness in the moment as Julia, who has returned to him, attempts to console him. This is even as Julia shows a devotion to him, Sandler depicts just a pathetic uneasiness of a man without a chance seemingly still broken by his experience. When Kevin Garnett though shows up with a deal for the opal after all though, Sandler is sheer perfection in portraying the change in Howard. This as life springs and influxes within him with outpouring enthusiasm, and we even see more of his relationship with Julia, as his glee is only supported by Julia basically being an enabler in that thrill. This as he invites Garnett in, in what is an astonishing scene for Sandler. This as his eyes fill with this conviction suddenly, a joy of nirvana with a man seemingly with a win almost in his pocket. Sandler carefully showing that this has nothing to do with hopes of solving things, but rather the idea of the game continuing, this as he prods Garnett to win in his next game where the odds are against him. I adore the moment of Sandler's expression of jubilation when Howard describes his philosophy in explaining his games is "how he wins". This delivery expressing a sheer insanity, but this adamant belief in Sandler's performance. This as Howard maneuvers one "last" huge bet by having Julia run off with his cash, while imprisoning Arno and his goons in his automatic doors. This is one of the most gripping scenes of seen in some time, and so much of it is owed to Sandler's exceptional work. His portrayal of the final game is of this full bodied almost otherworldly experience. Sandler marks every moment with such a sense of this being Howard experiencing his existence for all its worth through a single bet. This in watching every set back as a horrible wound, though with every win as this near, for the lack of a better word, orgasmic joy. Sandler's outstanding in making his mania so vivid and vibrant, with always the sense of the win being this fervent need in the man, and never is it just for the cash. The highlight of this perhaps being his response to one of the incredulous goon's query of "having a good time" and Sandler's quick "yes", being of one of nearly inexpressible euphoria. This as Sandler's portrait of Howard isn't the portrayal of a man who is sucked down by his weaknesses through sorrow. This rather is this dynamic portrayal of a man destroyed by that which gives him life. This is an extraordinary turn by Adam Sandler, and needs no qualifications though, as this would qualify as unforgettable work from any actor. 

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Alternate Best Actor 2019: Robert De Niro in The Irishman

Robert De Niro did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a few critics awards, for portraying Frank Sheeran in The Irishman.

The Irishman is Martin Scorsese's return to the mobster genre, this time focusing on a "house painter"'s (hit-man) relationship with the mob and teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).

The Irishman is similar to Scorsese's previous gangster films of Casino and Goodfellas, as the story is told by our main character who tells us of his life with the mob. The difference here is where in those films it was relatively recent events for the figure, here we enter with Frank Sheeran as he lives out his last days alone in a retirement home. This film marks De Niro's return to Scorsese since the 90's, along with his old co-star Joe Pesci. Where Pesci's career was one mainly of absence since then, De Niro's career has often not been one of the most intriguing. This in just slowly sliding returns, with only the momentary relapse towards his older performances, of an actor just going through the motions. This thankfully is a return to a younger De Niro, and not because of the de-aging technology, in that he actually seems to care again. Although one would imagine this would have to be the case as the film itself had long been a passion project for De Niro. His passion project however left him largely ignored, outside of his position as producer, although I can't say I was terribly surprised by this. This as his Frank Sheeran is the often quiet center of the film, and this meek sort of element of his character honestly relates to the overarching thematic place of the character within the film. This is that the film is not this story of a man who made history, really, he rather was someone who was off to the side of it, following the order of others who were the one's who "mattered"

Now this performance is a rejuvenation for De Niro, and not due to the de-aging technology. That technology which I will briefly say is least impressive with De Niro, as opposed to Pacino and Pesci, partially due to Scorsese flying too close to the sun by also giving De Niro blue eyes that don't befit him, and because his role is the most physically demanding. Part of this is more than acceptable as De Niro's physical age mostly works in evoking sort of a hulking man who slowly stomps around, rather than smoothly maneuvers things in his killings. The one scene where this falters is where we see De Niro's Frank beat down a shopkeeper for touching his daughter, although I put this more so on Scorsese who filmed the sequence in a way that accentuated De Niro's age rather than hiding it. Putting that moment aside, De Niro's work though does show a younger De Niro, in that we actually see the actor who cares about his roles once again. There is just an investment and life in his work that we just haven't seen too often in sometime. This is even in the first scene where he casually meets Russell Bufalino (Pesci), at a gas station. De Niro actually reveals a real life in his work once again in the interaction that suggests the beginnings of a friendship, even as it is rather perfunctory, the old life to De Niro's work is once again evident, and a welcome return it is.

De Niro is engaged again, and in turn is engaging again. This in actually bringing any charisma in finding something compelling in his presence. In fact looking at this performance in isolation it actually can make one craft a greater negative view upon some of his other work from the past two decades, as alive De Niro seems almost like another actor here, the man of his prime, though again this isn't referring to anything to do with the de-aging. We also get a return to De Niro working with Pesci, in a way that actually we haven't quite seen before. This as we saw their brothers' difficult dynamic in Raging Bull, the mentor of sorts in Goodfellas, or even the hostile pseudo friendship of Casino, but here we see an actual friendship. De Niro and Pesci manage to strike up a new chemistry naturally between the two, and to De Niro's credit here he is effective in portraying the earnest appreciation of this almost fatherly friend within Pesci's Russell. The two together though are effective in crafting a different type of gangster relationship that is actually built upon by warmth, a warmth that is actually without a real exception within this. Their earliest scenes of speaking, De Niro and Pesci create the sense of the bond the two have, that goes beyond Russell pulling Frank into the underworld he is an essential part of. Although he is doing that, both show it is more than that in their honest moments of a shared camaraderie.

Now with De Niro again here, despite being lead, this is a largely passive performance, which is saying a lot given that Frank does do some very violent things. His actions though throughout the film are almost entirely prompted by others, whether it be due to local thugs, Russell and eventually Pacino's Hoffa as well. The man exists as a man built by World War II, who basically exists by following orders. De Niro's performance is an appropriate reflection of this and not a simplification of it. This in portraying very bluntly that Frank is not necessarily as the deepest thinker or most adamant player. This idea is not simplified though as De Niro portrays the sense of confidence in the man that he gains from basically being...well told what to do. De Niro portrays the comfort of this. This is where De Niro's narration of the film that comes into play most importantly, as like any proper Scorsese narration it is infused with a real character along the words. This is essential because again as the observing thug there are limitations however the additional information of the narration adds a great deal through De Niro's delivery. This delivery that is well portrayed as this nostalgia induced near sort of ramblings of an elderly man, going through his life as a long past reflection. This is important as De Niro remarks and accentuates moments with certain appreciation that both shows the place of where the story is told, but also helps to give us an understanding of Frank as a man almost in awe of the world that he sort of stumbled into. This not portraying the sense ambition of Liotta's work as Henry Hill, but rather this comfort of a life without questions, and the only answers being "yes sir".

This isn't to say Frank is an empty shell but rather someone who lives almost vicariously through those around him who leave a great impact, and in this De Niro's work is again so much more alive, as it has to be given that so many scenes are where he is almost adjacent to the action. This becomes particularly true when Pacino's Hoffa enters the picture, and Frank is assigned to him first as a henchmen of sorts then his personal bodyguard. De Niro's work in these scenes is very much as the listener, this as we don't even see him scheme to drink in front of the teetotaler Hoffa for example, we see him just follow along, just as we see the man there to observe and listen. De Niro doesn't waste these moments though in managing to reflect the sense of admiration within his reactions to Hoffa, and the growth of a sense of kinship with the man. De Niro is effective in creating the growing connection between them just as he brings this greater ease, with the admiration as a constant for sure, but with this brotherly connection. This is when Frank begins to speak more, which De Niro always delivers initially with a modesty. This is even in a scene where he is angry at Hoffa, for thinking Hoffa was yelling at him, De Niro's portrayal of Frank's frustrations are rather hilarious by how meekly he actually depicts the reaction. This again though emphasizing that more than anything Frank defers so even in disdain. De Niro shows the same acceptance of an apology of Hoffa with as much ease, as a true follower who will do exactly as he's told. Even as the follower though, De Niro accentuates those connection as he becomes a minor consultant to Hoffa, as Hoffa begins to lose power.

De Niro's depiction of Frank even in Hoffa's fall though is with these weak willed moments of trying to encourage Hoffa one way towards safety. The fiercely willed Hoffa obviously taking little of what Frank says too strongly, though De Niro's effective in showing that even in that there is that constant respect in Frank as the man who has that confidence in his new "General Patton". De Niro's work though is reflective of the difficulties of this relationship, along with his almost conflicting one with Russell and the mob, as Hoffa loses favor with the mafia. With Russell, De Niro is good in portraying sort of the blindness of loyalty to Russell, as he makes earnest pleas for Hoffa, against Russell who in turn only has a minor concern for him. This against his scenes with Hoffa where De Niro is terrific in portraying the slowly growing unease for his friend's safety. I love for example his laughing delivery of "Jimmy have you lost your mind" when Hoffa throws away negotiations with mobster Tony Pro (Stephen Graham) by falling into verbal insults and physical aggression at a negotiation. In that scene we still see the observer, but the observer trying to make any little influence he can make by trying to diffuse the situation, and of course failing to do so. The sense of the divided loyalties comes to a head at a gala to honor Frank, where the mob brass is all present, as is Hoffa. De Niro's work again is one of reflection as his eyes do capture still the deep appreciation of both Russell and Hoffa, but now marked with an anxiety as he sees Hoffa refusing to step down and moving towards his death. In his final two conversations with Hoffa, before he tasked with killing him, De Niro offers a scene partner to Pacino's work, in accentuating in his eyes only the most genuine concern towards his friend in these moments, and his words as the most explicit warning to his old friend. De Niro in this sequence portrays well the weight of the friendship in just his subtle expressions of his growing pain that he knows things are not going to end well with for his friend. This until Russell calls for Frank to kill Hoffa himself, where De Niro is able to convey a man protesting entirely through reaction, because he can only follow orders in words. De Niro shows the tear within the man's soul as Russell gives the command, and gravity of the moment of the acceptance of Hoffa's fate, which he himself is told to deliver. This again accentuating a man who does have his own thoughts, but is willing to forgo how he feels to follow orders as he always has done. This is right within his later call to the widow of Hoffa, that De Niro delivers as man fumbling in every word, tiptoeing around his guilt, and more than anything failing again to take any stand. I will say until his last scenes with Pacino and Pesci, this is a very good performance by De Niro. It is just nice to see him properly verbally accost a guy again, bring some real menace just in a single expression, or even portray joy in his performance. That is nice, but more than anything his performance acts as a facilitator to the masterful work of his co-stars. This is not a criticism against De Niro, he delivers on being the man who listens and does based on others, rather than acting himself. Now that is essential for the epilogue of the film, which is solely De Niro's show, and what the rest of his performance leads to.

This as we see the old hit-man, no longer around the big personalities and "great" men of history. He is now just a man. De Niro's work is technically still largely of reaction, but there is such a power in this reaction now. This as he delivers the sheer anguish of the years that have left him alienated from his family particularly his daughter Peggy who refuses to speak or even see him. De Niro's portrayal is heartbreaking as we see the hollowness in his eyes of a man who is essentially now just fading. This as we see him slowly failing physically and essentially only preparing for his own death. De Niro's work in the scenes of picking out his own coffin are harrowing in the matter of fact resignation of this existence as he speaks now only of this preparation. This as he has nothing left otherwise. This as we even see him asked about his past by the FBI as we still see the front of the loyal soldier, and the perfect smile that comes to De Niro's face of a man laughing at himself, still following now meaningless orders for long dead men in his silence. De Niro reveals a vulnerability in his work that has not been seen for some time, and is particularly poignant as he does so within the idea of aging towards nothingness. In his scenes with his priest, De Niro's work captures such a moving sense of internalized regret, that he makes particularly striking by showing in his face a man torn inside, yet still remaining silent in voice based on those old meaningless loyalties. This creating such a vivid painful state of a man who essentially lived a life at the behest of others and the detriment to his own, yet still unable to break from it. De Niro's best moments are in his final one where we just see a doddering old man, this with a pleasant little reflection on the good things of his past in looking at pictures of his daughter and Hoffa, but still a oh so palatable sorrow that evokes all the regrets without saying a word to them. These regrets being a finality though in De Niro's eyes, as we see the man weekly trying to find solace, but failing to do so in his last days. De Niro's work in the epilogue is among his best, where there is to be no distraction of effects, or even other actors. Where Casino, and Goodfellas, end with the leads regretful just over being back to being near nobodies, here De Niro crafts the portrait of the man whose whole life is a regret, and is just left there to await the end of the meaningless existence he let consume him.