Friday, 30 September 2011

Best Supporting Actor 2007: Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson's War

Philip Seymour Hoffman received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Gust Avrakotos in Charlie Wilson's War.

Charlie Wilson's War depicts the efforts of  congressman Charlie Wilson to bring U.S. aid to Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.

Philip Seymour Hoffman aside from his first scene where he fights with another CIA official Hoffman basically plays the role of the main CIA operative helping Charlie Wilson, in an almost completely dead pan fashion. Where many of the actors really play much of their characters in a rather obtuse fashion, Hoffman is far more effective by downplaying his part in this fashion fairly effectively.

In his first scene Hoffman establishes Gust as a fellow who speaks his mind, and hates stupid people. After that scene he establishes himself as rather intelligent man, who always offers solutions and ideas about problems in a very low key, and a rather dead pan fashion. Hoffman stays consistent, and believable in this way, he always clearly shows really that he is the smartest guy in the room no matter what room that happens to be.

This is not a great performance, or an overly complex performance, but Hoffman finds the right way to play the character and stays with it as he should. He was the character I found the most interesting in the film, and managed to sell the dialogue that is always attempting to be witty in some way the best because of his deadpan approach. Hoffman never overacts the part, and although this is not amazing performance or role even Hoffman makes Gust the best part of the film, even if that is not saying all that much.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Best Supporting Actor 2007

And the Nominees Were:

Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Hal Holbrook in Into The Wild

Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men

Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson's War

Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton

Best Supporting Actor 1980: Results

5. Judd Hirsch in Ordinary People- Hirsch is fine in his performance of the psychiatrist who helps Timothy Hutton's character with his problem, but he never becomes more than just fine.
4. Michael O'Keefe in The Great Santini- O'Keefe has some good moments, and his relationship with Robert Duvall's character is well realized, but when the part demands more O'Keefe shows some inexperience.
3. Jason Robards in Melvin and Howard- Robards gives a very short performance by a very interesting one. He makes his Howard Hughes a fascinating enigma of a man that I actually would have liked to see more of.
2. Timothy Hutton in Ordinary People- Hutton although really is lead in his film, that does not make this win any less deserving. Hutton is amazing from beginning to end in the film. It is fascinating how fully he realizes Conrad as a character, and the fact that he never, not even for a moment, fails to bring absolutely authentic emotions to the part despite the enormous changes Conrad goes through and Hutton must show during the film.
1. Joe Pesci in Raging Bull- Joe Pesci really gives the best supporting performance this year. Pesci's performance is a great performance that works wonder with his co-star Robert De Niro, fully realizing the two characters' relationship.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1980: Joe Pesci in Raging Bull

Joe Pesci received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Joey Lamotta in Raging Bull.

Joe Pesci portrays the brother of Jake Lamotta (Robert De Niro) who attempts to help Jake best he can in his boxing career. Joe Pesci has quite the problem to begin with in this film, and that is to be able to stand out against Robert De Niro outstanding performance, considering he shares much of his screen time with De Niro usually interacting with him directly.

Pesci though overcomes any potential problems easily though. Although I can't say he steals any scenes from De Niro that would be impossible, but Pesci always manages to keep his ground in every scene with De Niro. This is certainly helped by Pesci's distinctive voice, but also by the way he realizes his character of Joey almost as well as De Niro realizes Jake. There are many similarities to the men, that both actors bring to their character showing that their brothers, and from the same background.

Pesci shows that Joey is much like Jake in that they are both very abrasive men. There is not a question what Jake is feeling that is for sure, and this is mostly true for Joey as well. Pesci brings out the emotional force just as De Niro does, showing simply the brutal nature of the characters. Pesci is great in showing how Joey is similar to Jake, without copying De Niro though, instead making the same type of character but in his own distinct way.

Pesci certianly excels in showing the similarities between Joey and Jake, but even stronger I think is Pesci careful depiction of what makes Joey different than Jake. Although hot headed himself, he is far more sensible than Jake in many ways. Because of this Pesci and De Niro have an interesting dynamic as Joey and Jake. With Jake being far more blunt and hardheaded instantly, where Pesci shows Joey is always sort of undercutting what Jake says, as well as prodding him to do what he believes is the right thing to do. There is a hostility between them because of this that both actors make natural, and true to emotional state of their characters.

A pivotal part of Pesci's performance though is Joey's relationship with Jake's wife Vicky (Cathy Moriarty). Pesci carefully creates Joey's treatment, and affection for his sister in law perfectly. It is hard to say exactly how far his affection goes for her, whether it is more than just being a good brother in law. Pesci keeps it appropriately ambiguous, making it so you can't be sure one way or the other, but for it to be enough for the very jealous Jake to take it as such without much question. 

What is best in Pesci's performance though may be his two last scenes where it shows a different side of Joey, where the whole abrasive behavior of he and Jake are no longer in full front. Pesci is great in his small moment where he watches Jake lose his belt, estranged from Jake due to Jake beating Joey. The moment is great because it shows that there was a genuine love for his brother in his sadness over watching Jake lose, as well as a sense of loss sense he worked hard with Jake to win the belt as well.

His best single scene though may be when we see Joey years later still estranged becuase of what Jake did to him. This scene could have fallen flat as it is the only time we see the only Joey, but Pesci is completely convincing in showing Joey as a very different quieter Joey. His and De Niro's scene where Jake tries to ask Joey to forgive him is amazing. Pesci is great in showing how the attack changed Joey in the he quietly resists Jake, until sort of forgiving him in a very moving moment naturally showing a much softer side of the man. This scene exemplifies how well Pesci supports De Niro's great performance, something he does throughout the film, making this really a just about perfect supporting performance. 

Best Supporting Actor 1980: Michael O'Keefe in The Great Santini

Michael O'Keefe received his only Oscar nomination so far for portraying Ben Meechum in The Great Santini.

O'Keefe plays the son of the Great Santini Bull Meechum (Robert Duvall) who deals much of the brunt of the abuse Bull Meechum puts down on his family. The main focus of the film is actually the father son relationship between Ben and Bull, making O'Keefe's performance quite essential to the entire film. O'Keefe performance though is not the great achievement that perhaps it might have or could have been able to.

There are certainly strong moments in his performance though. His chemistry, and dynamic with Duvall does feel authentic enough, as he usually quietly reacts to the Great Santini's abuse, but at times with more hatred does he address the abuse. These moments are carefully handled by O'Keefe and are effective. He shows through this that this relationship has been going on for a long time, and only when pushed past his limit does he really completely cry out against what his father does to him.

What is interesting though also is O'Keefe does not portray Ben relationship with Bull and entirely negative one. There still is a love a between them, even though it is greatly reduced do to Bull's abusive behavior. Both actors do manage to make this strange and difficult relationship work. They are natural together, and since their fights never seem like something new, they make the relationship seem quite authentic despite the oddity of the relationship.

The problem in O'Keefe performance comes though when he really is pressed in his big emotional scenes. They are not utter failures by any means, but they are a lot less than they could have been. O'Keefe in these scene unfortuantely is not natural as he needs to be, and the fact that he is acting the scenes unfortuantely comes through a little bit, unlike say how Timothy Hutton handles similar scenes in Ordinary People.

It is not that O'Keefe is not bad by any means, but these scenes unfortuantely show an inability, and inexperience in his performance. If he was able to really bring out the emotional strength possible in these scenes they could have been amazing, rather than just fine. This goes for his performance to, there are a lot of good moments, and the overall performance is good I would say, but I also think it could have been great.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1980: Jason Robards in Melvin and Howard

Jason Robards received his third and final Oscar nomination for portraying Howard Hughes in Melvin and Howard.

Melvin and Howard tells the odd story of a milkman who accidentally saves a man who claims to be Howard Hughes, and appears to end up in Hughes' will.

Jason Robards is only in the very beginning of the film as the mysterious old man Melvin comes across in the desert, and briefly at the end. The old man claims to be Howard Hughes, and apparently he really is. Robards has a brief role, but really a rather fascinating one. Robards plays the part as a bit of an enigma it is hard to tell what exactly the deal is with Hughes is.

Robards through his short scenes it is hard to tell what he is, and Robards effectively creates the mystery of this strange man. In the mystery though there is something you find out about Hughes from Robards, not a lot but just the right mount to keep his mysterious quality, but at the same time not make him overly ambiguous either. It is a difficult dynamic to pull off, but Robards manages to pull it off with ease.

There is clearly a slight bit of insanity going on inside his eyes, but as well as the history of Hughes is suggested as well. There is a definite history suggested there, a troubled one, but possibly a better one  as well, as there is a certian charm Robards has that perhaps shows a indication of how Hughes use to be.

This is not an amazing performance, after all it is very limited by not only screen time but what he is allowed to do. He mostly just reacts to what Melvin does, and speaks out only a little about what he does. Robards does take what little he does have, and makes the most of it. It is not a great performance, but Robards does his best to leave a memorable impression.

Best Supporting Actor 1980: Judd Hirsch in Ordinary People

Judd Hirsch received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Dr. Tyrone C. Berger in Ordinary People.

Judd Hirsch's performance as the psychiatrist is a rather simple role. His whole purpose in the film is react to Timothy Hutton's Conrad, and attempt to help Conrad the best he can. There are only small very small indications of his life outside of his office. Hirsch really is there just for Hutton's character. Hirsch though does manage to make a really person though, just a real person we only get a limited view of.

As a psychiatrist Berger is portrayed in an entirely positive light only there to help Conrad, nothing more. Hirsch in the role despite being an entirely positive character does not portray him in a one dimensional fashion. Hirsch portrays Berger's approach as a rather tough approach. He never acts overly easy toward Conrad always pushing and prodding Conrad to release his feelings.

Hirsch does a fine job in realizing this whole technique and certainly has some very good scenes with Hutton as they explore his issues, as well as a single scene with Donald Sutherland where he helps Calvin as well. The only thing he does not make the scenes Sutherland and Hutton really makes the scene. Hirsch is good in these scenes and adds to them, but he does not make the powerful moments. He is merely an aspect of them, just like he is an aspect of the film, a fine aspect of the film, but only just that not more.

Best Supporting Actor 1980: Timothy Hutton in Ordinary People

Timothy Hutton won his Oscar from his only Oscar nomination so far for portraying Conrad Jarret in Ordinary People.

Ordinary People depicts the troubled lives of an upper middle class family after one of their sons has died and another son attempted suicide.

Timothy Hutton is not supporting to anyone in the film, and really is the lead in the film. Yes there is also Donald Sutherland, but he is merely also lead. His misplacement is especially clear if you compare his screen time to that of his co-nominee Judge Hirsch. This is an example of category misplacement that I do not mind all that much though, because of performance itself is one that is very much deserving.

Hutton has a unique character to play as he is a teenager who is given the focus of the film without it being some kids film, or some dumb comedy. Conrad Jarret is a unique character who Hutton brings fully to life with his performance. What really is so good about Hutton's performance is not only how raw emotionally his performance is, since he really does not hold anything bad really, but also how natural he is as well.

There never is a hint of Hutton acting throughout his entire performance which is incredible. Conrad is a character who goes all over the emotional scale from highs to lows, and everywhere in between. There is not a single emotion that Hutton fails to achieve in an entirely natural fashion. There is not a single calculated line, or feeling in this performance. Every emotion that Hutton conveys in this performance is absolutely honest.

Hutton never falls on the urge to play the part on one note of pain, or sadness. In fact in the dimensions of pain and sadness Hutton conveys a multitude of facets in his pain and sadness. But anyways Hutton also shows in many scenes his attempts to be able to attempt at least to return to his life before his suicide attempts, and his brother's death. Hutton never overplays this part, instead just showing him act like a normal young man in the circumstances, not overly special but still unique in his own way.

Many key moments showing his struggles though are with his psychiatrist (Judd Hirsch). These are difficult scenes, but Hutton never slips once. Hutton is utterly convincing in showing how deeply Conrad's troubles has wounded him, and made him desperately in need of help. Hutton never fails for a moment not to make Conrad's struggle exceedingly moving to watch, without ever seeming trying purposefully to make them so. His final meeting with Hirsch is especially moving it is a scene where Hutton covers a multitude of emotions and Hutton brings everyone to life, making this scene especially heartbreaking.

Pivotal moments in Hutton's performance come in his reactions with his parents with his cold mother Beth (Mary Tyler Moore) and his warm father Calvin (Donald Sutherland). In his scenes with his mother there is a distinct lack of chemistry the two have that is perfect for them. Their scenes together are frankly hard to watch, because of how cold and awkward they are to watch, both actors a brilliant though in bringing out this lack of connection, despite Hutton's showing an earnestness to try to make one.

On the opposite hand are his moments with his father. For most of the film they actually only share short moments together. Much of their time together is only a struggle, as Conrad attempts to convince his father of his mother's coldness. There is always a better understanding the two actors again achieve, even if more underlying until the very end of the film. Sutherland's and Hutton's final scene together though is just about perfect where the two finally come together showing how much they mean to each other.

Hutton performance is great here. He realizes the various aspects of his performance very effectively. There is not single false emotion that Hutton portrays in any scene in the entire film, despite the incredible challenge of the role. Every emotion, and every complex aspect of Conrad Hutton absolutely brings together into a fully realized character. Hutton never acts alone in his performance either, and always manages to find the right dynamic with his co-stars as well.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1980

And the Nominees Were:

Jason Robards in Melvin and Howard

Judd Hirsch in Ordinary People

Timothy Hutton in Ordinary People

Michael O'Keefe in The Great Santini

Joe Pesci in Raging Bull

Best Supporting Actor 1965: Results

5. Ian Bannen in Flight of the Phoenix- Bannen is barely noticeable, but when you do see him he just mugs to the camera.
4. Michael Dunn in Ship of Fools- Michael Dunn performance never amount to more than the plot device he is in the film.
3. Martin Balsam in A Thousand Clowns- Balsam is in an awful film, and many time through the film submits to the same awfulness in his performance, but on occasion he rises slightly above it.
2. Frank Finlay in Othello- Finlay is basically just fine in the role Iago. He does seem to fulfill the requirement of the role, but only at minimum. He stays in his place throughout the film, never even for a moment displacing Olivier as the more interesting or entertaining lead.
1. Tom Courtenay in Doctor Zhivago- Good Prediction RatedRStar. Courtenay is in a different league than the rest of the performances is this category. Courtenay gives just about a perfect supporting performance in Pasha. Giving an amazingly powerful performance as he shows a once warm and earnest man become a chilling hallow shell of his former self.
Deserving Performances:
Rod Steiger in Doctor Zhivago
Oskar Werner in The Spy Who Came in From The Cold
Ian Bannen in The Hill
Harry Andrews in The Hill
Ian Hendry in The Hill

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1965: Frank Finlay in Othello

Frank Finlay received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Iago in Othello.

Frank Finlay portrays Iago who actually has more lines, and more scenes total that Laurence Olivier who portrays Othello. Iago is not a supporting character but leading along with Othello. The whole plot of the story revolves around Iago's plan to turn Othello basically mad with jealously.

Finlay's performance actually is probably the least theatrical in this film version. Basically no one tones down their performances from how they would portray the part in the theater, and the rather fail to utilize the medium of film. The reason Finlay really is the least theatrical probably comes down to the fact that Iago is a less theatrical character than many of the others, since he purposefully hides his emotions and true feelings, always acting collected to more easily influence others to fall into his plan.

Finlay though just is not the schemer I would like him to be. Yes he has that sinister stare, and head twist done, as well as the classic way in which he is always leaning over Othello's shoulder to convince Othello that Desdemona has done wrong, but I always wanted more from Finlay. There just not enough charisma in his performance really to make me fascinated with Iago. Yes Finlay appropriately makes Iago's front of confidant, frankly I wanted much more from his malicious interior though, and I really I still wanted even more from his front as well. 

His interior maliciousness was lacking to me, I found not a great enough emotional drive in his plan. Yes there was a subdued hatred, but in his small moments alone Finlay could have perhaps really broken lose showing the true extent to Iago's feelings of anger and jealousy, but Finlay stays a tad too reserved. Also in his swaying of others Finlay is convincing enough, but never more than that. He never becomes a true unforgettable schemer, just a satisfactory one.

That really is the whole problem with Finlay's performance for me. Although he is consistently fine, despite a few small moments of overacting that are only ever extremely brief, he never is more. For example when he shares a scene with Olivier as Othello, Olivier always steals the scene with his weird but entertaining performance. I do not think it had to be this way, Finlay with charisma, or a greater emotional pull in his performance, could have made the scenes his but, he is never able to do this always making Olivier the most interesting performer.

Finlay is just fine as Iago, but only just fine. He has the language down well enough, but he never brings it to life as well as Olivier. He is a schemer sure, but never one on say the level of again say Laurence Olivier in Richard III. He conveys Iago's emotions technically, but never in a manner that makes his performance more than just suitable. He is able to be convincing enough, but he never is truly compelling in the role. He is never truly bad, but he is never truly great.

Best Supporting Actor 1965: Michael Dunn in Ship of Fools

Michael Dunn received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Carl Glocken in Ship of Fools.

Ship of Fools is a film that lacks subtly and I believe Michael Dunn's Carl Glocken exemplifies this fact. He is a dwarf who breaks the fourth wall at the beginning and the end of the film to you know make the film "deep" by saying everyone is a fool, than saying it does not have anything to do with anything, but you know really it does wink wink, becuase you know it really is a very meaningful film you know.

Dunn's Glocken is one of those meaningful men in the film, he though is special with his ability to see the audience, making very perceptive, and observant of all those fools you know. Well enough you knows, Glocken is not part of the Oskar Werner/Simone Signoret storyline therefore he is stuck in an awful film. Dunn though has even more against him because he is stuck as simply a plot device and barely has a character to begin with.

Dunn mostly observes others while making the occasional "deep" response to them. He never does much more than that, and really his performance never makes more out of his one dimensional  character than there is. It is not that Dunn is bad, but his whole character never amount to more than it is, which is only a plot device used by the director never a real honest person on his own. 

Best Supporting Actor 1965: Tom Courtenay in Doctor Zhivago

Tom Courtenay received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Pasha Antipov/"Strelnikov" in Doctor Zhivago.

Doctor Zhivago depicts the Russian Revolution.

Tom Courtenay plays Pasha who at the beginning of the film is an idealistic revolutionary encouraging it through peaceful demonstration. He is also the sort of fiancee of Lara (Julie Christie). In his first scene Courtenay has the right honest earnestness in showing Pasha's belief in the Revolution, as well as in seeking his relationship with Lara. Courtenay has a great deal of genuine warmness and love he shows in this scene, which he appropriately establishes to rid out of Pasha later.

After his peaceful demonstration is ended by government troops violently Courtenay shows a changed Pasha when he meets Lara afterward injured from the attack. Courtenay is effective because he does not immediately show a completely different man yet. Courtenay shows that his earnestness has mostly been turned to anger, but that there still is a little of it left, and also that this anger is partially an instinctual reaction from the trauma of the attack.

In later scene for example when he runs into Laura who is going to attempts to kill Komarovsky (Rod Steiger). When he first runs into her there is still some of that love and earnestness left in him, so much that she helps her away after her attempt. Courtenay shows Pasha's old love for Lara is reduced greatly though by understanding that she had an affair with Komarovsky. In his silent scenes afterward there is coldness in the way he looks at her, only marrying her because of the love he once felt that has drifted very much away from him.

Except for a brief moment during World War I, he still shows the same earnestness of old when he leads the troops into battle. Afterward though Pasha shows up once more no longer Pasha, but calling himself Strelnikov. Courtenay is amazing in his single final scene where he shows how cold of a man Pasha has turned into. It works well because Courtenay indicated this change all the way through his performance beforehand, and what happened in the war is the appropriate cause for his final change into Strelnikov.

Courtenay is absolutely chilling in this final scene, and it is made especially effective because of the difference from the beginning to this scene. There is no warmness left in Courtenay's performance. There is only a hallow shell of a man, with only his violent mission left for himself. Courtenay is amazing here because he truly becomes a man who has loss any indication of his old self really, he shows there is nothing left in Pasha except for his hatred. His final scene fully realizes his whole portrait of the Pasha's fall, which Courtenay brilliantly worked toward throughout the entire performance.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1965: Martin Balsam in A Thousand Clowns

Martin Balsam won his Oscar from his only nomination for portraying Arnold Burns in A Thousand Clowns.

I hate A Thousand Clowns which is about an obnoxious man named Murray, and his even more annoying nephew Nick who might be separated because Murray wont get a job.

A Thousand Clowns is a terrible film because it is one of those films that thinks it has a profound message but comes off as just pretentious, as well as because it is one of those comedies that after it tells its "jokes" you don't laugh at them, but oh boy do those characters laugh at them. Martin Balsam plays the brother of the obnoxious Murray, who also acts as his agent as well.

Martin Balsam is a character actor that I sort of like, not one of my favorite but he usually adds to a film rather than take away from a film. Here though Balsam cannot really overcome the material which is at hand. Although Arnold is considerably less annoying that Murray or Nick that does not stop him from begin pretty annoying himself. Although he is not all the time, Arnold has his annoying moments where Balsam overacts a great deal.

These overacting moments come really from the material where he finds Murray's antics funny or is required to bring attention to a joke that he has made as well. Balsam over does his facial reactions in all of these moments that come off as just obnoxious opposed to anything entertaining endearing. Balsam's performance is not entirely overacting though.

Balsam does have a few minorly better moments when he questions Murray's philosophy. There is certain degree of sensibility as well as satisfaction suggested fairly subtly within himself that refreshing in the face of Jason Robards' theatricality as Murray. Balsam though is only refreshing at best though, his performance still amounts to very little in the end, and in many moments fails to overcome the awfulness of the film.

Best Supporting Actor 1965: Ian Bannen in The Flight of the Pheonix

Ian Bannen received his only Oscar nomination for portraying "Rat Bags" Crow in The Flight of the Phoenix.

The Flight of the Phoenix tells the story of a group of passengers attempt to create a new plane to fly after their old one crashed making them stranded in the middle of the desert.

This simply is one of the oddest nominations ever in this category. I have no idea how the academy managed to single Bannen out in this film, and nominate him. First of all there were many many actors more deserving than Bannen in this film in many other films this year, secondly they could have nominated almost anyone else in the cast of this film and that person would have been more deserving, thirdly if they had to nominate Ian Bannen why would they nominate him for this rather than his far far far (all three are required) superior performance in The Hill as one of the few good men running a military prison.

I say all this because the very first time I watched the film solely to watch the film I did not even notice him. When I read he was nominated for an Oscar for his performance, I could barely remember that he was in it much less recall what he really did in the film. Now that I watch it again, and purposefully watched it only to see him in the film, and I still had trouble noticing even when I was especially watching just for him. When I did notice him though all I saw him do was mugging to the camera as well as attempting to be comedy relief I guess by saying every line in an over the top fashion, never anything. This is just a bad, unmemorable performance that did not deserve to be recognized.

Best Supporting Actor 1965

And the Nominees Were:

Ian Bannen in The Flight of the Phoenix

Tom Courtenay in Doctor Zhivago 

Martin Balsam in A Thousand Clowns

Michael Dunn in Ship of Fools

Frank Finlay in Othello

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1938: Results

5. Basil Rathbone in If I Were King-Rathbone sometimes just gives a rather dull villainous performance, but other times he gives a needlessly strange performance as if the King was a crazy old man.
4. John Garfield in Four Daughters- Yes it is true Garfield has an intense on screen presence, but unfortunately in this case he does not serve it to really create a character. Instead he only ever scratches the surface with his performance, and unfortuantely at the end of his performance he overacts a great deal.
3. Gene Lockhart in Algiers- Lockhart is able to be pathetic enough as Regis the informer, but unfortuantely he always seems miscast in the role. This is because he never seems like a truly convincing slimy rat he should be.
2. Robert Morley in Marie Antoinette- Morley gives a good humorous performance in his first half, and than an effectively sad performance in his second half. It never is quite a great performance, and he is forgotten for a good deal of the picture, but it remains a good one.
1. Walter Brennan in Kentucky- Yes Walter Brennan is one actor the academy got absolutely right, every time he won, he deserved to win. Brennan gives an effective performance as an old man with a grudge, as well as love. Brennan who transforms himself to almost double his age seamlessly also manages to show the grudge as something the old man simply cannot shake since it has been something with him for so long, as well as his love for horses as something just as deep as the hatred, even deeper, since Brennan carefully shows it overcome his feelings of hatred.
Deserving Performances:
Pat O'Brien in Angels With Dirty Faces
Edward Arnold in You Can't Take it With You

Best Supporting Actor 1938: Robert Morley in Marie Antoinette

Robert Morley received his only Oscar nomination for portraying King Louis XVI in Marie Antoinette.

Marie Antoinette tells of the rather troubled life of the Queen of France.

Robert Morley plays the rather pathetic King Louis XVI who is in over his head from the very moment he appears on screen to make his speech to Marie Antoinette, and barely even being able to do that well. In these moments Morley brings out the right humor from just how pathetic, and incompetent Louis is, something Basil Rathbone was not able to do nearly as well as another Louis. Morley makes Louis the right kind of overgrown child, particularly in his first private talk with Marie (Norma Shearer) where he talks about caring far more about being a lock smith than a King or a husband.

Unfortunately for Morley, Louis is forgotten about for a good long time, and when he does show up he just is not humorous as he was before, since the routine eventually does get a little old. He mostly is just there for a great deal of the film, and it is very easy to ignore him. His big scene where he finally speaks up against his grandfather the King, is done well enough by Morley, but I think it could have been a great moment either in terms of comedy, or character development, but it just never reaches that height.

Later on the film when he becomes King his incompetence no longer is funny and just really is very sad. Morley actually handles this transition very well, and does fairly effectively create a portrait of a little boy who simply never should have been King. He has the right degree of sadness, in all of these moments as he finally must face his people, a particularly standout scene is when he completely fails to rally his troops behind him, Morley excels in simply the failure of Louis. Morley gives a good performance that manages to avoid the stuffy feeling of much of the rest of the film, although it could perhaps been an even better performance it stands as a good one.

Best Supporting Actor 1938: Walter Brennan in Kentucky

Walter Brennan won his second Oscar from his second nomination for portraying Peter Goodwin in Kentucky.

Kentucky tells the story of two families of horse breeders the Goodwin's and the Dillon's who have an old feud from the civil war, the youngest members of the two families though begin a romance.

Walter Brennan plays the one who truly holds the feud over the years for Peter Goodwin saw his father killed by one of the Dillon's. One thing Walter Brenna with absolute ease in this film is play a man much older than himself. Brennan who was only around forty-four at the time of the film plays a man who is suppose to be around eighty. Brennan is entirely believable as someone almost twice his age, his voice most certainly aids this, but Brennan makes his age entirely natural through simple but effective mannerisms in the part.

Walter Brennan actually plays a rather angry character, very angry over what happened to his father a long time ago. Brennan does not act angry all the time, instead he only shows a great deal, of anger when the Dillon's are mentioned in front of him.  Brennan is actually pretty intense in these scenes where Peter shows just how much he hates the Dillons. His degree of intensity actually works for the role, as well as makes sense, since it shows not only how long Peter has held this hatred, but as well how deep it really is in him.

Brennan as usual shows why he is one of the better, if not one of the best character actors of the period because there is a great deal of charm in his performance. Brennan being in the film only adds to it, but really it does even more than that in this case, since he really manages to create the most interesting character in the film. This is not saying a great deal alone, since there others are not particularly special, but Peter could have been the same but Brennan manages to get the most out of him.

The most effective part of Brennan performance is showing Peter's knowledge, as well as love for horses. Brennan again portrays it well because he is able to to show his knowledge, as well as his love is something that has grown well with Peter's age showing that it is really the most important part of him. Brennan brings out the right honest joy that Peter gets out of proving his knowledge right about horses, as well as by seeing one of his own horses succeed.

This might not be the best performance by Walter Brennan, but it is a good one that manages to be able to easily stand out past the rest of the film, since Brennan is the only actor who managed to make a more rounded character, as well as the only character I honestly cared about in the film.

Best Supporting Actor 1938: John Garfield in Four Daughters

John Garfield received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Mickey Borden in Four Daughters.

Four Daughters starts as a light comedy about the relationships of four daughters of a musician (Claude Rains), and in the middle abruptly turns to melodrama.

The cause of the abrupt change to melodrama is the character of Mickey Borden a cynical song writer played by John Garfield. He comes in and with his low grade charm quickly sweeps one of the four Daughters Ann off her feet so much that she dumps the person she was about to marry and runs away with Mickey. The only problem is John Garfield does not really make this turn of events all that believable. Garfield is simply not that charming in the role even in a  low grade fashion, and lacks any real chemistry with Priscilla Lane as Ann.

John Garfield most certainly has screen presence there is no doubt about that, he does stand out in the cast above everyone else, Claude Rains might have but he is given too little to do. Garfield standing out though is not a great accomplishment in this lackluster film. The more performances I actually see of Garfield the more I find problems with his acting actually. Although Garfield acts well enough to be believed, his acting never seems to pierce down deeper into his characters, which is most certainly true about Mickey.

He plays cynical well enough with Mickey, but that is about it. There is never enough more to his characterization of Mickey to show why he was able to lure one of the Daughters away so easily and abruptly. Than all of the sudden he feels guilt for his action later, this transition is not earned by Garfield, and feels especially lacking. After that he has an insanely overacted scene where he goes crazy, or at least that is the way Garfield plays it with an over the top face and everything. Garfield's whole performance is lacking. Yes he does stick out among this cast, but that was very easy to do among this cast. There is never a single moment that really breaks into the core of the character, instead he always stays very much on the surface.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1938: Gene Lockhart in Algiers

Gene Lockhart received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Regis in Algiers.

Gene Lockhart in Algiers plays Regis who acts as a police informer inside of the criminal infested native quarter known as the Casbah in Algiers. Gene Lockhart is a recognizable character actor who was really best at playing either softhearted or spineless fellow. As Regis Lockhart really is miscast as the street smart, slimy informer Regis, who tries to trick Pepe Le Moko (Charles Boyer) into a trap.

I simply never believed Lockhart as this sort of street rat individual, he simply does not fit the bill. Now someone like say Peter Lorre would have been perfect for this role, but Lockhart never for a moment seems right for the part. The only piece of the part he really gets right at all is just the pathetic qualities of Regis, but never the real sneaky or conniving qualities really needed for the part, something that someone like Peter Lorre could easily have brought to part. Lockhart is not awful or anything, but always missing the qualities the part requires even though he most certainly does try.