Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Best Actor 1998: Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan

Tom Hanks received his fourth Oscar nomination for portraying Capt. John Miller in Saving Private Ryan.

Saving Private Ryan certainly is well made in some aspects, most certainly, but I feel the writing fails to be really all that great. Although when it originally came out it was praised for a lack of cliche, and although John Wayne is not the leader, the crew is just as cliched in a lot of ways than the ones in some of his movies that I have seen. There is the straight laced religious sniper, the crusty right hand man, the cynical guy, the wet behind the ears guy, the cannon fodder, or basically the one dimensional guy besides a token scene or one aspect of the character. 

 Tom Hanks is the leader of the small group of men searching for Private Ryan to bring him home. Hanks works as the normal man in an extreme situation who can be followed throughout the film. He maintains presence in the film despite the fact that it is a big war movie, and an ensemble piece in some ways. He does work as the common man well, and can be fairly well identified with. I never fully believed Tom Hanks as a World War II solider, but that is hardly his fault, and his performance is good enough to get around this. He keeps realism in the film, and despite Miller being a standard character in a few ways Hanks still allows room for development.

Much of his performance are reactions though, whether it is to the battles he is in, to what he sees, reaction to his men, or something else. Hanks' reactions are always authentic, and always properly reinforce the feelings of the scenes he is in. Hanks is able to find the right tone for the scenes, and even can handle the scenes of a little humor well without spoil the tone of the film by ever seeming to actory in his performance. Despite many of his scenes being mostly functional such as giving orders or being in the action, or reactionary Hanks still finds moments in which he shows Miller's development and complexity. He never really says everything about Miller but he suggests incredibly well, especially when speaking of the man he has possibly saved or his quiet reactions to the deaths of his men.

The other main aspect of Miller that Hanks does a good job handling is his leadership. He is not a loud or imposing leader who calls out his orders, rather a more quiet man who is quiet in his control and motivation of his troops through his own respect he sort of earns. Hanks seems believable as a leader, and as a quiet leader like this. A leader who resolves his issues quietly. I would say though when he is doing a few scenes of the large command he is less believable. Especially at the end when he organizes the plan, I just did not at all fully believe his performance there or a few other scenes where he perhaps could have used just a little strong command. Still though a very good performance, still sticks out in a film of this type, and fulfills his role for the most part and adds more when he can.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

I believe this is the performance that Hanks should have won for -- not 93 or 94. Here, he's at his most understated -- real and genuine Hanks, without any real gimmicks or baity devices attached to the role (despite the disturbing images around him).