Thursday, 7 July 2011

Best Actor 1988: Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man

Dustin Hoffman won his second Oscar from his sixth nomination for portraying Raymond Babbitt in Rain Man.

Rain Man tells the story of a young amoral foreign car salesman Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) who reexamines his life after he goes on a road trip with his Autistic Savant brother Raymond who he never knew he had until after his father's death.

This film really is not about Dustin Hoffman's character, but about Tom Cruise's. It is Cruise's arc as a character that is the centerpiece of the film, whereas since Hoffman plays an autistic man he is not allowed any sort of change as a character. He starts as he ends, which the film makes abundantly clear by his interview scene near the end of the film. Hoffman's whole performance is his character creation, a character creation that he does indeed keep consistent, and persistent throughout the film. Whether or not he portrays autism accurately or not, or even portrays a savant accurately or not technically does not really matter all that much. What matters is does it seem like obvious acting, or does it seem natural enough to work for the film.

Hoffman's whole performance is filled with a lot of tics, and mannerisms throughout. Whether it is his various ahh, and ehhs, his gotta watch Wapner, or his freak out scenes. Hoffman does keep these all very consistent, and whenever they repeat they repeat exactly as they had been before, therefore keeping Raymond technically as he should be. Hoffman although I knew he was Dustin Hoffman most certainly throughout the viewing of the film, I must say I never really felt that it was completely obvious acting despite the fact that it really should feel like one. These types of performances if consistent really are up to each individual viewer's personal reaction to the performance.

I all I can say is that what Hoffman does technically does work well enough, and for some reason it never had that grating quality these performances can have like say Robert De Niro in his later scenes in Awakenings. It does actually work in context of the film, and in support of Tom Cruise's performance. Hoffman's performance does develop a bit of an endearing quality in all his various mannerisms, and I did grow to like the character as played by Hoffman. Hoffman is able to create a certain charming quality in Raymond without compromising the character. This is still not a great performance, but it is one that is good enough. I can't say it is ever amazing, but it is properly handled by Hoffman for the film.


joe burns said...

For a 2nd, I thought you might like him more. I guess he'll be third or fourth, depends on how the weak the year begins.

Anonymous said...

Not a fan of this performance at all

RatedRStar said...

this year is really tricky to predict lol =) glad u chose it

Fritz said...

I not a fan, too.