Saturday, 30 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 2008

And the Nominees Were Not:

Brendan Gleeson in In Bruges

Colin Farrell in In Bruges

Michael Fassbender in Hunger

Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino

Leonardo DiCaprio in Revolutionary Road

Friday, 29 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1985: Results

5. Jeff Daniels in The Purple Rose of Cairo- Daniels gives a very strong performance as both as the actor and his character. He does a particularly wonderful job portraying the subtle differences between the two.

Best Scene: Gil Shepard and Tom Baxter meet each other. 
4. Jonathan Pryce in Brazil- Pryce has a difficult role being a film very much controlled without question by the director. Nevertheless Pryce stands as the solid straight man of the film, giving a likable as well as moving portrayal of a normal man in an overly complex world.

Best Scene: "Brazil"
3. Tim Curry in Clue- Tim Curry gives a very enjoyable performance where he infuses a great deal of energy in every scene as well as he works wonders with the rest of his cast.

Best Scene: Wadsworth recreates the night's events. 
2. Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future- Fox tempted me greatly into giving him the win with his absolutely terrific performance in this film. He carries the film brilliantly with his perfect performance that adds both weight and humor to the film.

Best Scene: "Earth Angel" 
1. Raul Julia in Kiss of the Spider Woman- This is an especially shameful year for the academy who nominated several mediocre performance when they could have nominated this terrific line up instead. This was also particularly hard to decide on my ranking on the bottom three, the top two, and even the overall number one. Julia though I give both the win here, as well as the overall along with his co-star Hurt, because what makes both of their performances as tremendous as they both are because of the truly fascinating relationship they create with each other. Both are completely amazing in their roles, but I still should say Fox is right behind them with his equally great even though very different performance.

Best Scene: Kiss of the Spider woman. 
Overall Rank:
  1. William Hurt and Raul Julia in Kiss of the Spider Woman (Tie)
  2. Tatsuya Nakadai in Ran
  3. Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future
  4. Eric Stoltz in Mask
  5. Griffin Dunne in After Hours
  6. Aleksei Kravchenko in Come and See
  7. Tim Curry in Clue  
  8. James Mason in The Shooting Party
  9. Jonathan Pryce in Brazil
  10. Ken Ogata in Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
  11. Jeff Daniels in The Purple Rose of Cairo 
  12. Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider 
  13. Klaus Maria Brandauer in Colonel Redl
  14. Albert Brooks in Lost in America
  15. Harrison Ford in Witness
  16. Jeffrey Combs in  Re-Animator
  17. Mel Gibson in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome 
  18. Tsutomu Yamazaki in Tampopo
  19. Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club
  20. Paul Reubens in Pee Wee's Big Adventure 
  21. Rutger Hauer in Ladyhawke
  22. John Cusack in Better Off Dead 
  23. Nicholas Rowe in Young Sherlock Holmes
  24. Gordon Warnecke in My Beautiful Laundrette
  25. Jeff Bridges in Jagged Edge
  26. Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club   
  27. Timothy Hutton in The Falcon and the Snowman
  28. Ethan Hawke in Explorers
  29. Bobby Fite in Explorers
  30. David Huddleston in Santa Clause
  31. Sean Astin in The Goonies  
  32. William Ragsdale in Fright Night 
  33. Alan Cox in Young Sherlock Holmes
  34. Mickey Rourke in Year of the Dragon
  35. William Peterson in To Live and Die in LA 
  36. John Getz in Blood Simple
  37. Sylvester Stallone in Rambo First Blood Part II
  38. Emilio Estevez in The Breakfast Club 
  39. Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf 
  40. Val Kilmer in Real Genius
  41. Dudley Moore in Santa Clause
  42. River Phoenix in Explorers
  43. Sylvester Stallone in Rocky IV
  44. James Garner in Murphy's Romance
  45. Jon Voight in Runaway Train 
  46. Sean Penn in The Falcon and The Snowman
  47. Tom Cruise in Legend 
  48. Matthew Broderick in Ladyhawke
  49. Gabriel Jarrett in Real Genius
  50. Robert Redford in Out of Africa
  51. Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's European Vacation 
  52. Roger Moore in A View To Kill
  53. Jack Nicholson in Prizzi's Honor 
  54. Bruce Abbott in Re-Animator
  55. Mark Patton in Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
Next Year: 2008

Alternate Best Actor 1985: Michael J. Fox in Back To The Future

Michael J. Fox did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Marty McFly in Back To The Future.

Back To The Future is one of my favorite films as I can watch it time and time again, and enjoy it every single time that I do. For those who don't know Back to the Future details Marty McFly's efforts to get back to the present after using his friend Doc Brown's time machine (Christopher Lloyd) as well as act matchmaker for his parents (Crispin Glover, Lea Thompson) after he inadvertently stopped the event that originally brought them together.

Michael J. Fox certainly is not an actor when his name is mentioned one thinks of acting greatness, but I would say many myself included think firstly of Marty McFly. Marty most certainly is his most memorable, and most iconic role, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. Marty might not be the most dramatically weighty role ever, but it still is a challenge in its own right. Also this is one performance that I would never ever want to sell short since Fox carries one of my favorite films on his shoulders, and really he is responsible  for making many of elements of the film come together as well as they do.

Marty is really not suppose to be an excessively unusually high school student. He is just pretty normal actually he has a girlfriend, has the occasional discipline troubles, has some greater dreams that he is not so sure about, and family that may not be in perfect condition but still love him. The only really peculiar element to Marty is his friendship with the wild eyed scientist inventor of sort Doc Brown, which puts him in the situation that eventually causes him to travel back in time. In the way he is written in lesser hands Marty really could have not sat well if played too straight, such as apparently that is why Eric Stoltz replaced, Fox though knows exactly how to portray McFly in an original fashion.

Fox is a very charming in this film, and he portrays the part of Marty in a rather low key fashion. Early on he has a certain style in the role that is very watchable, and makes Marty very likable and easy to follow through his entire journey of the film. Fox was originally cast because of the slightly sitcom like approach he took to the part, and that actually what does work so well about his performance. Now it should be said this is a good performance in that style, and he most certainly does not go over the edge with it either. Fox uses it just the right fashion to be able to always bring a bit of humor to the role at almost all times, but he keeps the right tone to bring the weight to the scenes that need them as well.

Fox is both fun in the role, but still he portrays Marty as really a real person before anything else with actual problems. Fox never fails to bring the right method to any scene that he is in, no matter how strange the scenes may be in regards to his character. The strangest problem being that his mother becomes attracted to him after a mishap following Marty pushing away his father away from the fateful car that brought them together, where he gets hit himself instead. A mother being interested in her son, even though she does not know any better technically speaking, certainly is very tricky material, but the film deals with it wonderfully as written and particularly by Fox's portrayal of Marty's reactions to it.

Fox knows just how to play these scenes that certainly build up the awkwardness within Marty himself, and keeps the film from becoming so itself. His reactions to this are carefully comedic, but all the while Fox still manages to show the very real troubles that Marty feels over having to deal with such a situation. It is a very effective portrayal of this because Fox never overplays it, or underplays it. He never tries to make it too funny that it takes it out of the character, nor does he ever make too heavy of a situation. Fox keeps the whole complex situation grounded, as well as keeps it tasteful while still having fun with it as well.

Fox is just effective in bringing us through the whole time travel story when he first arrives into the past and is quite taken aback by what he sees. Again Fox really is just perfect here in bringing us to the past, as well as doing the same by reflecting what would be most anyone's reaction to being in the same exact situation. He effectively conveys Marty's distress by finding him in such an odd situation, that is in many ways disconcerting. Fox again though brings humor in some of the moments as Marty for example makes some of his 80's references that are unknown in the 50's. He again does not overplay them but keeps them in just that perfect tone that both brings the appropriate weight and humor to these scenes.

Two key relationships in the film are the ones with Marty's father and with Doc. Fox quite interestingly portrays Marty's own relationship with his past father. What is interesting about it is that Fox actually makes Marty the mentor of his father, and Fox does this believably so. The greatest difference between the father and son is that Marty will stand up for himself and his father will not. Fox and Glover have a really great chemistry with again a slight comedic edge since Marty is teaching the father life lessons. Fox again maneuvers this brilliantly by actually showing that Marty very much does care for his father and desperately wants to help more than just for his own preservation, but as well Fox realistically creates the relationship but has fun with the whole strange affair as well.

His relationship with Doc though which is most important to the series as a whole is also particularly well handled by both Fox and Lloyd. Although you never see Doc and Marty meet for the first time, and you never learn why they became friends but nevertheless both actors have natural chemistry and create a moving relationship between the two. Both actually show just an honest friendship that work because both actors are so comfortable in their scenes together. Fox is quite good in his scenes with past Doc as there is always the hanging feeling of dread suggested over the fact that the present Doc has been killed, Fox portrays this well portraying a genuine concern and care for his friend that is quite meaningful. Once more I must say that they are also a great comic duo as well as they place each other's style marvelously in the way Lloyd will up play a moment, and Fox will effectively downplay his own. The sorta mentor, sorta protege relationship just works wonderfully, so much so that it not only manages to carry this film but the other two as well.

This really is just a great performance by Michael J. Fox and brings to life his character Marty McFly brilliantly so. It is an entertaining, enjoyable, and very likable portrayal by Fox, and never once does he take the wrong approach to a scene. He is always absolutely on the mark in every scene, and his style works absolutely perfectly. He can go in in one scene of showing the harrowing moment in which he is starting to be erased from existent and he can seemingly carry this to his hilarious rendition of Johnny B. Goode. There is never a disconcerting effect to any moment in his performance and he seamlessly blends the various types of scenes of the film in complete harmony. This is truly great work by Michael J. Fox that succeeds completely with his part which brings this great film together.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1985: Jeff Daniels in The Purple Rose of Cairo

Jeff Daniels did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Tom Baxter and Gil Shepherd in The Purple Rose of Cairo.

The Purple Rose of Cairo is an enjoyable film but also horrifying in its depiction of film characters who are sentient but still forced to reenact the same scenario over and over again. Anyway it is about a woman Cecilia (Mia Farrow) who tries to escape the troubles of the great depression by escaping in films, but finds one of the characters notices her and walks right out of the screen.

Jeff Daniels portrays both the character who comes out of the screen Tom Baxter, and Gil Shepherd the man who portrayed the character of Tom Baxter for the film. Tom Baxter really is not based on any particular character as the Purple Rose of Cairo is not poised as any sort of masterpiece. Instead it is shown to be clearly an especially lightweight piece of work, which is reflected well in the character of Tom Baxter. Something that is interesting actually about Daniels's dual role is that he does not portray them especially differently like say Peter Sellers plays his three parts in Dr. Strangelove. This is not a criticism though, because although his portrayals are not massively different they are not the same either.

As Tom Baxter Daniels portrays a very simple character who is suppose to be simple by the nature of that he is suppose to be a fairly simple character in the film within a film. Daniels is quite believable as this character within this film, which is just a character who is suppose to be a wide eyed optimist. Daniels plays up this fact in his portrayal as that is exactly what Baxter does. He looks at things in a wide eyed almost always happy fashion, and with a constant interest with his new surroundings once he finally decides to go and leave film. Daniels manages to bring the charm what is fitting in the role by just playing up how simple and nice the character of Tom Baxter is suppose to be.

Daniels actually has a very particular posture and style of movement for when he is Tom Baxter that emphasizes the fact that he is a film character, and not a really person. He always is very much proper in his posture, and his movement are always tight and distinct very much like the way the actors would move at the time. One thing he never does is ever really convey his emotions with his body more of just fairly simple facial expressions. He is always proper as the character's in those films were so often portrayed as there is not a hint of method acting in Tom Baxter. This actually a brilliantly handled aspect by Daniels, as he never brings to much attention to it, but still manages to show how Baxter is otherworldly.

Now of course Daniels also portrays Gil Shepherd the actor, and as I said he does not portray them all that differently. The truth is though he really should not portray him in an exceedingly different fashion though since Gil Shepherd is not suppose to be any sort of Laurence Olivier, in fact in many ways is suppose to be a fairly stock actor therefore he is not an actor with a great degree of range who becomes inseparable from a role. He is not even suppose to be a star actually, and Daniels therefore only really has small subtle differences between his two performances. One of these being his posture is more lacking, as well as he does express his emotions with his body quite often something that Tom never really does.

It is quite amazing actually the way Daniels so carefully pulls off the difference between the performance and the performer but he does it marvelously. Their other main difference comes in their attitudes and Daniels shows their differing personalities well. Gil is not a simple optimist in anyway instead he is a very self involved actor. Daniels is quite good here as well because he does not overplay this and make Gil some sort of self indulgent pompous jerk. Instead he portrays him fairly realistically downplaying the whole ego aspect, but still making it clear that Gil is always contemplating in his head his thoughts about his career first.

This is particularly well handled in his scenes with Mia Farrow. Daniels still has a certain charm as Gil, but there is always a particular drive in his performance that always seems to move toward something about himself. Daniels shows that even when Gil is talking to her pleasantly enough he only really comes to life whenever there is something mentioned about how great he was in something. On the other hand Daniels portrays that Tom is always light up in every moment he shares with Cecilia no matter what the situation. He never loses that simple outlook and his romantic love he shows for her is always absolutely genuine even if rather simple.

Jeff Daniels performance here is quite an achievement actually because of how carefully he does portray the two different men. He creates an interesting portrait of both a fantastical creation limited by the constraints of the black and white world he comes from which contrasts well with his realistic portrait of an actor who is very concerned with his own image and career. Both of his characters are both interesting in their own right, and Daniels manages to never overplay either character even though both could have been heavily. This is a strong performance that manages to bring  life to this quite peculiar story.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1985: Tim Curry in Clue

Tim Curry did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Wadsworth in Clue.

Clue is a very enjoyable film based on the board game about a group people stuck in a mansion one storming night who try to find the murderer of their own blackmailer, but the problem is anyone of them could be murderers.

Clue is a film that probably has the greatest comedy ensemble period. I have heard some feel that Curry here is not lead in the film but rather supporting since the group of Wadsworth and the pseudonym using guests could all be leads. The problem is there are so many of them therefore it is a film where there is no true lead therefore everyone is supporting. I can understand this point especially in the middle of the film where Curry very much is just among the others, and seems to have equal importance. The reason I don't subscribe to this feeling though is the beginning and the end of the film Curry becomes the ringmaster of the circus, and absolutely leads the film.

Tim Curry portrays not one of the board game characters but rather the butler Wadsworth who invites everyone to the mansion to air out the secrets of everyone, as well as invite their apparent blackmailer Mr. Boddy. Tim Curry's role actually is quite a mystery and at first he just seems to be a butler who is doing his duties while getting all of the guests settled. He is certainly prim and proper enough to be the butler role, and there is no reason for us to assume that he is anything but. Soon enough though it appears Wadsworth is the one who in fact invited everyone to in fact expose Mr. Boddy as the blackmailers of the rest.

When Curry begins to expose the others' various weaknesses that cause them to be blackmailed it is here that Curry takes his very proper place within the arrangement of the cast. That placement being always the smartest one in the room, as well as the one who always stands on top in any battle of wits the others attempt to muster up. Curry is excellent in portraying the sharpest mind and he never has a missed timing when making Wadsworth seem smarter on the other seeming a lot dumber. He is sufficiently superior without  ever seeming smug or obnoxious in any way. Instead Curry in fact comes off as the most likable of the entire cast.

Curry is just great in the role and has a terrific chemistry with the rest of the cast. His method of bringing every little quip, and reaction into perfect harmony with who ever he is working with is simply wonderful. Curry in the role never fails to bring the laughs into every scene, with his perfect timing throughout the film. He is incredibly entertaining, and really in a way he is the glue that keeps everything working as Wadsworth does stay in charge for almost the entire film. There is not a moment where Curry is for a moment lacking, he brings something humorous to almost anything that he says. He even does this when talking about Wadsworth's wife suicide by the hilarious delivery of his line that said his wife had friends who were socialists.

This is an extremely energetic performance by Curry which livens every scene that he is in certainly, but even more so this sort of portrayal is what makes the final act of the film work. The final act consists of Wadsworth recounting the whole night, and coming to the conclusion of who the killer is. This is one big recreation of the whole night, and really it is a strange idea for a rather short film to spend its ending recounting the rest of the film, but it works. The reason it works is because of Curry's portrayal of it. He never loses a minute of time with his manic method of telling the story that is constantly funny and very entertaining the whole way through. Whether it is constant almost crazed physical movements, or his quick humorous impressions of rest of the cast it is just a joy to watch.

Eventually the finale comes three times with a different ending each time. Curry in the first two keeps up that same comedic energy, and the reveal about his character is not really any sort of stretch and makes sense considering Wadworth's action and Curry's portrayal. The final time though it is very much different and it turns out that in fact spoilers, that Wadsworth is in fact Mr. Boddy the black mailer all along. Well I must say Curry certainly can pull of suddenly being the villain, since after all he's Tim Curry, but frankly he really does not lead up to it technically speaking the first two endings fit in more accordingly to Curry's portrayal.

Nevertheless this is not a big deal being a comedy, since it would have been impossible to have really have both ways anyways, and plus Curry still remains enjoyable particularly his very funny delivery of his final line. This is just a fun performance from Curry throughout that adds considerably to his film. In the scenes where he needs to act with the rest of the cast he plays off of them marvelously, on the other hand when he needs to lead the film he handles it just well never leaving any question about his ability as well as doing it always with a great deal of comedy. This may not be an overly complex performance, but it is a very entertaining one which is exactly what it needed to be.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1985: Jonathan Pryce in Brazil

Jonathan Pryce did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Sam Lowry in Brazil.

Brazil is a fascinating film about an excessively complex world where a bureaucrat has an extremely hard time attempting to fix an administrative error.

Brazil is pretty much the definition of a director's film. Every inch of the film is in service of Terry Gilliam's vision of the film, and with these sort of films a great performance can be difficult. The reason is that performances are usually not their for the actor really explore their character and show off their abilities. Instead their performances are just used for the director's vision and only to enhance his projection. In this case most of the performances are very much as strange as the backgrounds just like many of the supporting players in A Clockwork Orange, and they are completely absurd. This is not to say these are bad performance, they most certainly are not, but they are simple and to the point.

Just like A Clockwork Orange though these limitations on the actors does not carry over to the lead performance here with Jonathan Pryce as Sam Lowry the bureaucrat who attempts to fix an error. Jonathan Pryce is the non absurd character actually, and instead stands as the straight man for the entire film. His character rather being just part of the environment as most of the others seem to be, Lowry stands as the man that we see in the environment. He is not comfortable with it like those who seem perfectly natural in it, and he is the only character that the audience can really identify with.

Jonathan Pryce actually has a surprising important role here because he is necessary for the success of the film. If there was this character who we could go along with the film might become maybe too much of a cluster to understand. Pryce knows that his character needs to be an anchor for the audience, he needs to be a normal person, and that is exactly as Pryce portrays him. Pryce does not go for any sort of flashiness in his performance. He takes a down to earth approach for his character, and just tries his best to show how an average man who behave given the circumstances of all the madness that is going around him at all times.

Interestingly enough Jonathan Pryce's Sam Lowry just like the leads from Kiss of the Spider Woman also spends a great deal of time escaping his current reality with fantasy and dreams. Pryce though even in his imaginary scenes where he is dressed in a gaudily made costume with giant wings flying where he tries to save a damsel in distress and fights various monsters puts on emphasis in reality. Even in these completely bizarre moments he still is completely straight forward in the matter, he portrays these scenes even as simply a down to earth hero, Pryce always keeps a straight face in these dreams no matter how odd they get.

Pryce is really perfect in the role as he acts just as anyone would given the situations he gets involved in. Even in the scenes that are really pretty much acts of physical comedy. In these moments Pryce does not overplay them and in fact allows them to be humorous well still stressing the more disturbing qualities of that is around him. He grounds every scene in a realism even when everything around him is anything but. Pryce realizes the stresses of these situations as a combined degree of stress, fear, and exhaustion as well. Although Pryce does suggests that Lowry is partially used to this structured madness, he still gets across the idea that the lunacy can still surprise him.

Due to this down to earth approach it is very easy to sympathize and follow along Sam's attempts to try to wade through the curious bureaucracy and save the literal woman of his dreams. His largely romantic adventure is extremely well portrayed by Pryce with a great deal of genuine truthful love in his performance showing that Sam's intentions are purely love. He though does have a nice degree of humor to when she fakes her own attraction to him, and Pryce reaction is just perfect. Pryce though is terrific because he absolutely is convincing in this love Sam has for this woman he barely knows, and actually makes what he does for her believable.

Jonathan Pryce with this straight forward approach makes a likable protagonist, and a moving portrayal of a man moved by emotion in a world that is moved along by anything but. It also succeeds in making the eventual fate of this normal man truly something heartbreaking. In his very final scene his final look on his face and the way he sings the song Brazil at the end is something that is truly haunting. Pryce really is essential to this film's success because of he is the central figure we can attach to within all of the over complexity around him, and stands as a man who the individual who falls victim to machinations of the state. Pryce's work here may not be a performance that forces attention upon itself, but it is one that absolutely serves its much needed purpose to its fullest extent.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1985: Raul Julia in Kiss of the Spider Woman

Raul Julia did not receive and Oscar nomination for portraying Valentin Arregui in Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Raul Julia despite nominated for the golden globe with William Hurt, as well as winning the National Board of Review for Best Actor along with him, Julia found himself without an Oscar nomination. I don't think he suffered from category confusion either, since back then the academy would nominate two actors from the same film as they did just the previous year with Amadeus. He was in a Best Picture nominee yet he still was forgotten by the academy, although thankfully Hurt reminded them, but it certainly is a huge misstep by the academy. This is made especially true considering the lackluster nominees as well the fact that William Hurt's performance depended greatly on Julia's.

Raul Julia's Valentin and William Hurt's Luis Molina are from completely opposite worlds and lives even though at the moment they both share the same cell in the same South American prison. We see the incredible difference of these two men from the opening scene of the film. Starting out we see Hurt as Molina making broad gestures in a decorative robe telling dramatically a tale of romance, but on the opposite side we see Valentin on his bed crawled into a ball in darkness with sweat and blood stains on the back of his rather ratty shirt. In all of Hurt's long elegant description of the romantic film, Julia tears through into the scene from the darkness with a simple decidedly unromantic cynical joke.

Raul Julia's role early on is that of the cynic against the romance of Hurt's Molina, and their dynamic together is what makes the film as special as it is. Julia is excellent here bringing to life fully Valentin here who at first is a very bitter, and angry man. Valentin who is in prison as a political prisoner for his involvement in an underground movement against the government, and just before we first see him has repeatedly been tortured in the prison as a form of interrogation. Julia is intense as he portrays the angers and frustrations he has over being treated the way he has been, and Julia effectively shows how it really does consume in a way that brings out his cynicism as well as his own way of lashing out at Molina, and his beloved Nazi propaganda film.

In every way that Hurt portrays the sentimentality found in Molina's dreams and fantasy Julia comes back with Valentin's harsh realities. Every statement by Molina, Julia fires back with a cold efficiency showing Valentin's discontent in the cell.  Julia is blunt and to the point all the while in his performance that contrasts Hurt's performance perfectly. Where Hurt early shows Molina's head seems to be in the skies, Julia though always shows that instead Valentin cannot escape the present. There is always a certain drive there that makes always on target as a man for his cause. Julia is especially good in the way he shows that Valentin is at times very much on the watch for tricks, as he sharply questions whenever something seems slightly off.

What is so special in the film though comes in the way both actors move away from their initial ways early on where Molina starts to open up more about his own realities, whereas Valentin does start to indulge a bit more in the fantasy expressed by Molina. Julia is excellent here because he makes this transition subtle one, that never just moves his character one way. He never cheats his character of Valentin, he moves Valentin's transition to opening up about himself slow deliberate very much fitting a character who endured great torture just to keep his secrets. Whenever Valentin does open up a little Julia realistically portrays it, it never feels forced in any way, because even in these moments he never completely lets go the harsher tones brought upon from Valentin's history.

In the moments when Valentin does open up more later on Julia creates a complex and moving portrait of the man. He creates a somber showing of where the anger really does derive from that is seen so strongly in his other moments as he opens up to Molina about one of his lovers. Just like Hurt, he makes this man's past something that both comforts and haunts him as well. There is a depression in Julia's portrayal over not being able to see the woman he truly loves ever again, but interestingly shows even a bit of shame in his performance as well because the woman is technically against his own revolutionary ideals. Julia realizes this past in just a few moments brilliantly, that really brings to life where this man came from.

The most powerful moments of course come from the interactions between the two men. Their relationship is never made simple by either actor. Both actors are pitch perfect in creation of the relationship. At first they are, as I said before, opposites as Julia makes Valentin tower emotionally over Molina in his way by either attacking him in petty or more proper fashions, that Julia does show result both from Valentin's background as well as just his state that is forced upon him. Slowly but surely the men come closer together, but what is so fascinating about the two actor's portrayal of this is that it is not one sided. Both men influence each other to really open up into their deepest needs, and desires, as well as it changes more toward the other's view without completely giving up on their original feelings either.

Julia shows that Valentin comes to understand Molina's own love of the fantasy, and the escape that it provides from their difficult realities. It is a beautiful transformation that Julia shows as he expresses so well the relief the troubled Valentin finds in the fantasies created by Molina and himself. It is a truly wonderful sense of awe both actors create in showing how the men create these adventures in their own minds. Eventually the two men come to an understanding among one another, and begin to really understand one another. Again the both Hurt and Julia are marvelously in showing the two coming together. The two never simply the relationship but rather than ease into it naturally.

The two actors turn their relationship into something truly special. It is a deeply moving portrayal as the men find themselves finally understanding the others. Julia just as Hurt does show that the two connect in more than any attraction actually, since Julia never really ever portrays it that even though technically speaking it becomes sexual that is not really the important part of it. It is instead frankly purer understanding he portrays that he has with Molina that brings him into truly loving the man. Their relationship in the end is not made memorable through their single sexual scene, which the film carefully and quickly deals with anyway, but rather the mark they leave on one another that the actors brings to life so well. Raul Julia's performance is simply incredible, absolutely succeeding with every aspect of his character, and as well working with perfect harmony with William Hurt to create an unforgettable impression.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1985

And the Nominees Were Not:

Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future

Jonathan Pryce in Brazil

Raul Julia in Kiss of the Spider Woman

Tim Curry in Clue

Jeff Daniels in The Purple Rose of Cairo 

A year without a single actor yet to be nominated for an Oscar, good luck on your predictions.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1993: Results

5. Jeff Bridges in Fearless- Bridges shoots for the sky but never quite reaches the heights that his performance wants to reach.
4. Kevin Costner in A Perfect World- Costner in a very atypical fashion dominates his film well, as well as gives a moving portrait of a man wounded by abuse.
3. Bill Murray in Groundhog Day- This is just a great performance by Bill Murray that is both a hilarious joy that makes this film enjoyable to watch all the way through, but as well does realistically portray his character's life changing realizations.
2.Michael Douglas in Falling Down- Douglas who gives both an incredibly viscerally effective performance that pierces through every scene, but he as well shows a moving portrait of a man completely lost in the ills of modern society.
1. David Thewlis in Naked- Thewlis gives an outstanding performance that is a fascinating portrayal of drifter, that is extremely watchable.
Overall Ranking of the Year:
  1. Jeff Daniels in Gettysburg 
  2. Anthony Hopkins in Shadowlands
  3. Daniel Day-Lewis in In the Name of the Father
  4. Daniel Day-Lewis in The Age of Innocence 
  5. Liam Neeson in Schindler's List
  6. David Thewlis in Naked
  7. Michael Douglas in Falling Down
  8. Bill Murray in Groundhog Day
  9. Leslie Cheung in Farewell My Concubine 
  10. Tatsuo Matsumura in Maadadayo
  11. Robert Duvall in Falling Down
  12. Kevin Costner in A Perfect World
  13. Max von Sydow in Needful Things
  14. Jesse Bradford in King of the Hill
  15. Clint Eastwood in In the Line of Fire
  16. Kenneth Branagh in Much Ado About Nothing 
  17. John Lone in M. Butterfly
  18. Donald Sutherland in Six Degrees of Separation
  19. Anthony Wong in The Untold Story
  20. Harrison Ford in The Fugitive
  21. Jeremy Irons in M. Butterfly
  22. Jason Scott Lee in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
  23. Anthony Hopkins in The Remains of the Day
  24. Sam Neill in Jurassic Park
  25. Kevin Kline in Dave
  26. Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire
  27. Johnny Depp in Benny and Joon
  28. Kevin Conroy in Batman Mask of the Phantasm  
  29. Fengyi Zhang in Farewell My Concubine
  30. Tom Cruise in The Firm
  31. Kurt Russell in Tombstone 
  32. Nicolas Cage in Red Rock West
  33. Al Pacino in Carlito's Way
  34. Jeff Bridges in Fearless 
  35. Johnny Depp in What's Eating Gilbert Grape
  36. Danny Elfman in The Nightmare Before Christmas
  37. Chris Sarandon in The Nightmare Before Christmas 
  38. Bill Pullman in Malice
  39. Tom Berenger in Gettysburg
  40. Ed Harris in Needful Things
  41. Mike Myers in Wayne's World 2 
  42. Charlie Sheen in Hot Shots Part Deux 
  43. Aidan Quinn in Benny And Joon
  44. Sean Astin in Rudy
  45. Trey Parker in Cannibal The Musical
  46. Carey Elwes in Robin Hood Men in Tights
  47. Tom Hanks in Philadelphia
  48. Will Smith in Six Degrees of Separation
  49. Alec Baldwin in Malice
  50. Laurence Fishburne in What's Love Got To Do With It
  51. Denzel Washington in Philadelphia
  52. Francis Capra in A Bronx Tale
  53. Lilo Brancato in  A Bronx Tale
  54. Max Pomeranc in Searching for Bobby Fischer
  55. Arnold Schwarznegger in Last Action Hero
  56. Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger
  57. Sylvester Stallone in Demolition Man 
  58. Bob Hoskins in Super Mario Bros. 
  59. Ernie Reyes Jr. in Surf Ninjas
  60. Omri Katz in Hocus Pocus
  61. Tom Guiry in The Sandlot 
  62. Dan Aykroyd in Coneheads
  63. Thomas Ian Nicholas in Rookie of the Year
  64. Austin O'Brien in Last Action Hero 
  65. Chris O'Donnell in The Three Musketeers
  66. Mason Gamble in Dennis Menace
  67. John Leguizamo in Super Mario Bros.
  68. Christian Slater in True Romance
  69. John D. Lemay in Jason Goes to Hell
The Next Year Will Be 1985

Alternate Best Actor 1993: Jeff Bridges in Fearless

Jeff Bridges did not receive and Oscar nomination for portraying Max Klein in Fearless.

Fearless is film about a man dealing with his new found fearlessness after surviving a terrible plane crash, the film itself is well made, but I always felt it was never nearly as moving as it wanted to be.

Jeff Bridges is an actor I must admit I liked more before I started reviewing his performances. This really is mainly because most of the performances are saw of him beforehand are relatively lighter performances where is unique charm and humor came into play. When he goes for more complex portrayals I can't say he always succeeds. Here Bridges goes for something unique as well as quite strange as he portrays the man who lost all his fears because a traumatic accident. Bridges actually attempts to show almost an otherworldly quality to his performance as the character of Max Klein frankly feels between the world of the living and the dead.

I hate to say it, and I know many will disagree with me, but I just was not all that impressed by his performance here which is for a great while rather repetitive. He keeps giving that same stare as if he is looking between life and death a lot of the time, while usually smiling in his Bridges sort of fashion, while still seeming to be perfectly detached at the same time as well. His detachment goes away randomly, but it does goes away at times. Sometimes in the form of anger at those seeking to trivialize the tragedy, or just at those who do not understand because they were not part of it. There is not really a lot of method to this side of Max, but nor does there really need to be.

Now what did not astound me about this performance is I never really felt Bridges achieved that otherworldly quality he most certainly is looking to portray. He certainly tries to but I more of saw always as Bridges just being stuck in the same slightly out of it stare for most of it. Now I do not want to be mistaken I do no think in any way shape or form Bridges is bad here, especially achieving what Bridges is going for here is most certainly not easy task, but nevertheless I have to say I never did feel Bridges reached the place in his performance. Because he does not reach the point he needs to the performance never quite comes to life as vividly as it needs to be.

In the scene where he does break the mold actually do work well enough, they do not have a great deal lasting impact on the overall characterization really since Bridges portrays them as random as they should be considering his character's state of mind. Bridges shows the quick outbursts of anger pretty well as they are quick sharp and to the point, less impressive for me is his big scene where he tests his fear by standing on the very edge of a building looking down. This scene should be the powerful pivotal moment for the performance, but Bridges whole portrayal of it seems like he is just going through the motion of a powerful scene more than making it a truly powerful scene.

There is not anything about this performance that ever became as outstanding as it should be, he never really drove the film to the degree he should have. Much like the film itself it is always a work that wants to be more than it really ends up being. Bridges though really is never bad though either I should point this out as he does still portray the emotions as they should be I suppose for the character in mind, but as you might notice I am mentioning this in a very technical fashion because it only ever felt Bridges' performance to be technically good in almost every aspect, never turning into a great one.

Bridges does have one moment in his performance that I feel shows what might have been the rest of his performance which is when it shows the scene on the plane just when he it is about to crash. In this scene Bridges finally does seem to achieve that otherworldly quality, and shows exactly how good the rest of his performance could have scene. It is a very remarkable scene and Bridges finally creates this feeling of being in the in between. This scene only really serves in showing just how good he possibly could have been through the entire film, but for me this is the only great moment in an otherwise adequate performance.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1993: Bill Murray in Groundhog Day

Bill Murray did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Phil Connors in Groundhog Day.

Groundhog Day is a very enjoyable film that tells the story of a weatherman who covers the groundhog ceremony in Punxsutawney, but finds he is reliving the same day over and over again and he is the one who knows it.

Groundhog Day is much like It's Wonderful Life, and even more so like A Christmas Carol in that it is about the main character having a growing realization, and change for the better. Bill Murray performance entails the journey of this realization of Phil Connors, but since it is Bill Murray pre-Rushmore he is going for laughs all along the way as well. Here Murray screen persona of the time is perfect for this role, and from the beginning he could not be better as the snarky meteorologist prima donna who thinks very very little of his assignment to a small time to cover an event he has absolutely no respect for whatsoever.

Murray really is a master at playing a jerk in the film. What works so well about his portrayal is the fact that he most certainly does not avoid portraying the more negative qualities, and his smug and cynical behavior is always on full view. What is interesting though is that even though he avoids being a jerk in the role, Murray still manages to be likable nevertheless and very funny. Murray plays the moments when Phil is suppose to be obnoxious such as when he is constantly ridiculing the idea of the Groundhog Day with perfect wit and sarcasm that he both still fits what his character needs to be doing as well as still not being ever actually obnoxious at all.

Eventually though the story springs into action and Phil finds himself reliving the same day over and over and over and over again and again and again. Murray is excellent in this process and he brings us right in there with him as this is one of the very best examples of Murray's particular charm. Yes of course he was smug man just minute ago, but since Murray played that with humor he still is very easy to follow along the rest of the way. Murray particular comedic presence is perfect for this situation, since unlike many comedians Murray's whole style rarely has him act out in just a look at me sort of fashion, even when he screams Murray still makes it grounded within a character.

Murray makes his way through every one these days with excellent precision. Early on when he is mostly just confused by this very strange thing that is happening to him, Murray does actually realistically portray this. He shows that Phil is not horrified, since after all this is not a horrible day, but Murray appropriately convinces us just how taken aback he is by the entire process. In the early days Phil just decides to exploit the day since he faces no consequences for whatever he does. Murray here simply has a lot of fun, and is consistently funny as Phil just does random stuff for the thrill of it.

In the middle though he sets on his sight on his kind but in some ways no nonsense producer Rita (Andie McDowell), and tries to gain knowledge from an infinite amount of encounters to try to seduce here. Again Murray is terrific here as he shows Phil has pretty much just a one track mind, but also more deeply this is quite the shallow pursuit at the moment. There is no want for a deeper connection here just more of a chance to score pretty much, and Murray makes no excuses. Interestingly despite the fact that the group of moments are technically repetitive they never get boring because Murray consistently keeps them fresh with his always enjoyable reactions and little jokes he makes in every realization.

After his repeated failures we have a set of scenes in which Phil commits suicide in various ways to try to end the cycle, but finds he has absolutely no results. This actually here is an outstanding achievement on Murray's part because not only do these never seem in bad taste their in fact hilarious all because of Murray's portrayal. What is fascinating though is Murray even does show the depression fittingly for his situation, but nevertheless his well for the lack of a better word delivery of the suicide scenes are pitch perfect hilarity. Everyone of these could have gone terribly wrong, but Murray makes everyone go absolutely right.

Once his suicides all fail to end the cycle, he finally instead just tries to better himself, and be the best that he can actually be. What works about this is Murray does not really show it to be Phil becoming a new man, but rather making a transition to really what he always could have been. Murray is excellent here because he does not become boring, but frankly his wit is still there is just comes to serve better things. It is a realization that Murray portrays not a change. Murray genuinely shows that Phil simply does find the beauty, and the joy  to be had of his surroundings that was always there.

This is a terrific achievement by Bill Murray because he not only is a great comedic performance, but it does actually is a emotionally convincing one as well. He is the perfect jerk as well as the charming romantic lead, even though I should say his chemistry with McDowell works a great deal because it is not overly romantic, but that really is the perfect tone for the relationship. Really if the lead actor was not someone who is such a joy with to be with through everyone of the groundhog days the film would have not worked. Murray brings this joy to every scene though with his truly memorable work here that is probably his personal best.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1993: Michael Douglas in Falling Down

Michael Douglas did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying William "D-Fens" Foster in Falling Down.

Falling Down is an about an unemployed man who lashes at what sees as the flaws of society. At the same time a Detective (Robert Duvall) on his last day before retirement attempts to follow his path of destruction.

Although one can easily look at Falling Down at an easy exploitation feature without all of the scenes taking out flaws and annoyances of society such as traffic, seemingly pointless construction, gangs, bad fast food and more, it is kept from that through the lead performances and characters by Robert Duvall and Michael Douglas. Douglas is always a man in the role of William Foster the former defense contractor worker before being a force of nature against society. I should also say that Robert Duvall is also great in that nearly as flashy role, but important in ground the film as well as acting as the other side of the coin of Douglas's character.

At the beginning of the film we know nothing of Foster other than he seems to be a white collar worker who seems to be stuck in traffic. Douglas from the very beginning though shows that this man most certainly is ready to crack at any moment. You can see all of the pressure building inside of him. There really  is a great dynamic between his clean cut hair cut and his proper shirt and tie, compared to Michael Douglas' face although also in many ways technically proper, after all he is not screaming out yet, but there is most certainly some sort of hell going on inside of this man's mind. It is a initial image that perfectly sets up the rest of Douglas's portrayal of Foster.

After this opening sequence we he finally just up and leaves his car to walk home is when his rampage begins. Douglas's slow and deliberate rampage is a peculiar one but brilliantly portrayed. His path begins small enough and at first he really is not instantly hostile just trying to do things as he clearly always had beforehand which is being a proper man in society. Douglas interestingly shows that this is that Foster really is all a bit of a stiff, and Douglas brilliantly portrays him as such. This is brilliant though because Douglas knows how to be a stiff without a being dull or boring which certainly would be the easier approach. Douglas  though always has this incredible energy always bubbling just underneath.

In every one of his scenes of outbursts Douglas is extremely effective, and makes the scenes work as well as they possibly could actually. In all of the scenes there is the same troubled emotional state there, which slowly becomes worse and worse as he gets closer to home. Douglas shows how Foster every scene with the utmost efficiency, and his style pretty much goes along with the severity of the societal annoyance. Douglas mediates the rage perfectly in the role to bring out the right reaction in each and every one of his scenes. What is amazing though is that he is both harsh at times fittingly when he does yell showing the rage of Foster at society, but as well he keeps quieter moments in these scenes as well.

Douglas is incredibly chilling in these scenes when he is cold and very blunt in basically showing Foster coming up with judgments regarding dealing with the people. In particular his moment where after a group of gang members fail to kill him in a drive by and crash Douglas does not in anger confront the last living one rather he shows it in a more business like approach, since at the moment Foster is in charge completely. His target practice with the gang member's leg is made frightening by Douglas by just how much he underplays the moment, and shows just how incisive Foster he is about the whole thing.

Something truly special about Douglas's performance though is that he even manages to bring some humor to his performance strangely enough. Obviously the humor of his performance eventually leaves where he gets closer and closer to the end of his rope, but Douglas miraculously manages to bring it even in the roughest of scene without it ever seeming out place. This is really because Douglas takes the few comedic lines he has in along with all of his anger in a quick precise places the work in perfect harmony with the rest of the scene. He doesn't overplay these small moments but he still makes them noticeable that in fact stop his performance from being overbearing as this character easily could have been.

Although this is an extremely effective performance in a visceral sense, but what makes this performance truly something special is the portrait of this man whom Douglas creates. Even though in the end Foster is the villain after all, Douglas never portrays him as such, and instead successfully turns him into a tragic character. Douglas even though does portray Foster as unstable, but not necessarily in nature a terrible man. Douglas rather portrays him as having gone this way in a great number of circumstances, on being his own belief in basically the American dream that he never achieved despite desperately trying to do.

Douglas's final scenes where Foster and Duvall's finally meet is the pivotal moment of the film. Douglas here shows the full extent of how the day has finally worn Foster into a psychotic rage, and his final breaking point at the end of the day. It is a complex moment because he does not turn him into just the rage, but always constantly as well there is the pain of seeing everything that he has lost to bring him to this point. When he is finally confronted by Duvall, Douglas is absolutely heartbreaking in the moment when he realizes he is the bad guy, and that all of what he has done in life has amounted to almost nothing, even though as he puts it, he did everything they told him to. It is surprising moving moment, considering what Foster likely was going to do, but Douglas makes this way because he shows that it just did not have to be this way. This is a great performance by Michael Douglas it is powerful work with a tremendous impact that creates a complex memorable portrait of this man.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1993: Kevin Costner in A Perfect World

Kevin Costner did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Robert "Butch" Haynes in A Perfect World.

A Perfect World is an effective film about the man hunt for a man who has escaped from jail who takes a young boy hostage but ends up becoming a surrogate father to the boy.

Kevin Costner is not a favorite actor of mine as his only actual Oscar nominated performance found itself very close to the very bottom of my overall ranking of leading performances nominated for best actor. I can't say this is just a case of an actor being nominated for his worst though since I have not particularly cared for him in many other roles such as Waterworld and the Untouchables. My usual problems with his performance is there seems to be a distinct lack of conviction or interest in the roles themselves. For me this causes him to either come off as an excessively weak even when he is not suppose to be, or just plain dull as he was in Dances with Wolves.

Luckily though this is an unusual turn in many ways for Costner, and watching the film his performance most certainly acted as a pleasant surprise for me. In the role as the intelligent escaped convict who was abused by his father, who is trying to escape the law Costner has the one thing here that he tends to lack in the role which is conviction. Kevin Costner here actually has a strong presence through the film and it is easy to follow him all the way though his attempt to avoid capture while trying as well to be a father figure to a boy who never had a good one just like himself. This is not a vastly different performance by Costner than his others in terms of his actual style but it is in terms of execution.

Costner still actually does sort of do his average man routine as he does in many of his films for better or in most cases for the worse, but here there is just the right twist in that he is portraying a criminal. He never portrays him as a thug of any sort and in most ways he treats him like a smarter but normal person who happen to go that path. I say most ways though because Costner actually infuses in his performance just the right amount of volatility and danger with his presence. Even though he makes Haynes seem like a nice enough man for the most part, there is always an underlying tension in Costner's performance to show Haynes's ability for violence when needed.

What I really like about this performance though is the intelligence of Haynes which Costner effectively brings to life. Costner keeps this rather all rather quiet through his performance as Haynes never shows off the fact that he is intelligent, he merely is. Costner brings this along well in his performance as he conveys the inner workings of Haynes through the film, he is a man who is constantly thinking, and attempting to figure a way out of his predicament. Costner also interestingly has the power in this performance he usually lacks. Here there is the similar type of presence that for example Clint Eastwood had in his younger days, which works perfectly to show strength of Haynes.

The main aspect of this performance though is Haynes's attempt to be a surrogate to the father he kidnapped, as well as dealing with his own feelings he feels toward his own father who abused him. I will say there is one big thing against Costner here and that is in the portrayal of the boy named Phillip played by T.J. Lowther. The problem is Lowther's performance at best is only okay, but rather bad when at his worse. Whenever there is a scene where he really is pressed to show emotional pain, or being distraught he just kind of makes a weird face like Eastwood was desperately trying to get something from the kid but that was the best he had.

Even with a lackluster co-star I still quite liked Costner's portrayal of Haynes's attempt to be a father. Costner is careful in that he does not overplay it to be some excessively heartfelt man ready to instantly become this boy's father. Costner instead shows a wounded soul just trying his best. He is never overbearing  in any way, and he shows it as just a natural reaction on Haynes's part. There is though just the right amount of warmth in his performance as he does his best to act in the father role for the boy, even though the connection never becomes quite as strong as I would like. The reason is though because of Lowther, if a better actor had been in that role it could have been astonishing. As it is though it stands as still moving due to Costner's effort but lacking on a whole due to Lowther.

Costner gives a strong performance throughout but the very highlight of his work comes in the very end of his work as the more violent side of Haynes appears when seeing a man habitually abusing his son as he had been. Costner is excellent here actually as he shows Haynes's rage over his own past his own hate at his father which becomes a intense hatred at this man just like his father. In this scene we gain a window into the troubled past of this man incredibly well handled by Costner. He really shows just how wounded this man is that has brought him to the terrible point in his life. For me this is a powerful work by Costner, and I was surprised how moving his final scenes actually ended being for me. This easily Costner's best work that I have seen, although that technically speaking seems like a low standard, this performance raises my view of Costner considerably.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1993: David Thewlis in Naked

David Thewlis did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Johnny in Naked.

Naked is a bleak but fascinating film about a drifter of sorts who flees from Manchester to London where he drifts some more. I do have to say though the evil landlord subplot and character was a bit much, or maybe it was just Greg Cruttwell's performance which seemed a little too cartoony especially considering the rest of the performances in the film.

David Thewlis was not nominated for his performance despite winning Cannes and several important critic awards including NYCC for best actor. This I suppose it easy enough to explain as the Oscars sometimes aversion to negative characters, although it should be noted Laurence Fishburne was nominated for portraying an abusive husband, but I suppose his character was domineering. Thewlis perhaps is just a little too haggard and downtrodden for the academy, or maybe it is because he is not obviously evil like Ike Turner was in this film, and his character is in many ways one big gray area.

Thewlis in this film really does not learn any lessons as David and almost seems to be in the same place at the end as he was at the beginning of the film. His various experiences seem to effect him very little, and it seems almost everything that he does is basically because there is nothing better to do with his time. He recognizes the fact of his place in society and life, he is sort of angry about, but he is never going to do anything about it either. He really is a character without a purpose yet he is the character we follow through most of the film, and the only think that seems to really get a rise out of him is a random beating.

Thewlis therefore has quite a challenge on his hands in his performance as Johnny, as he must carry a film as a character who at times just regulates himself to a chair and stare to pass the time. Thewlis though meets this challenge with his performance as Johnny as he has a strange charisma and magnetism in the role. It's hard not to watch Thewlis as Johnny as there is a certain way Johnny moves, and talks that it is immanently watchable. Thewlis does not do this though by trying to show some sort of more likable aspect of Johnny, he consistently makes Johnny as shaggy as he should be, but he brings us in with his unique presence nevertheless.

Thewlis creates a vivid and memorable portrait of this drifter. He never quite says exactly what has brought Johnny there, but he does not need to because of his flawlessly creation of this man's current state. Thewlis never strives away from all of Johnny's flaws which there are many of. Thewlis is always very casual in the role, nothing seems to be the most important thing for Johnny at any moment. Whatever Johnny happens to be doing, Thewlis usually displays the slightest bit of disinterest in Johnny at all times. Even when he goes and seduces a woman for some immediate pleasure, Thewlis is clear at showing as not some big broad gesture of love, but just something to reduce boredom.

If there is a cause or basis for Johnny's behavior it might in fact be something he can not do anything about such as a clinical depression, and Thewlis suggests that this just might be the case for Johnny. Thewlis amazingly actually makes this possibility far more painful but subtly suggesting that having it as an overbearing factor. This depression always seem to be underlying in his eyes which leads to his lack of interest with so many things, and his inability to ever becomes something. Thewlis shows a certain pain always bearing on him that he never seems to shake in the way he is always so cramped in his stance like he is sick, or the way even when he smiled that even seems a tad forced even when he means it.

What is important about this performance though is that although Johnny usually is quite a bored individual this is never a boring performance by Thewlis. There is lyrical quality at times to his work that really brings to life Johnny uncommon outlook on life. I particularly love his long scene with a night security guard with tedious duties who invites Johnny in to talk. As odd as it might sound it is quite a joy to watch Thewlis bring out Johnny various opinions on so many subjects whether it is the end of the world, God, or the tediousness of the security guard's job. It is incredible and unique fashion that Thewlis goes off on all of these subjects and no matter how far off the deep end Johnny might be it is made fascinating by Thewlis.

Thewlis never becomes dull in the least in his portrayal even though his character is in a funk through almost the entire film. The only time he breaks out of this funk is actually caused by a group of men who randomly decide to attack and beat Johnny for awhile. Here Thewlis is absolutely amazing because he shows that his casual constant depression is broken, and all of his deepest fears held by that finally come out. Thewlis shows bluntly the pains of Johnny all coming out at the same in an absolutely striking sequence, as he falls apart losing that disinterest that permeated through the rest of his portrayal.

The important part of Thewlis's performance in the end is that he shows that even after the beating, all that Johnny decides to do is regain that form of distance and disinterest and revert to it. Thewlis is not afraid to shows that Johnny really has learned nothing from his various adventures, and meetings with the different people. All Johnny as been doing according to Thewlis is going about the same drift, the beating only breaks that for a moment it does not cure, as the way it should be. This is just an amazing performance by Thewlis, wit a role that very easily could have gone a numerous ways. Thewlis though keeps this as a truly compelling performance of a man lost in London as well as in his own mind.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1993

And the Nominees Were Not:

Kevin Costner in A Perfect World

Michael Douglas in Falling Down

Jeff Bridges in Fearless

Bill Murray in Groundhog Day

David Thewlis in Naked

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1971: Results

6. Dustin Hoffman in Straw Dogs- Hoffman performance is not overly interesting early on but he more than makes up for it in his brutal last act change.

Best Scene: David loses it. 
5. Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry- Eastwood gives a incredibly strong performance as both a commanding and humorous leading man, as well as in his portrayal of a driven police officer.

Best Scene: Harry tortures Scorpio. 
4.  Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory- Wilder gives a entertaining performance that is both darkly funny as well as genuinely heart warming.

Best Scenes: The tunnel of madness and the final confrontation/reveal of his plan.
3. Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange- McDowell gives a terrific unforgettable performance that creates a truly disturbing portrait of a youthful man who gets his joys through violent depravity.

Best Scene:  "I was cured all right"
2. Michael Caine in Get Carter- Caine gives incredible performance as a cold professional killer, whose want for revenge is unshakable.

Best Scene: Carter watches the porno. 
1. Richard Attenborough in 10 Rillington Place- Well this was close until I watched 10 Rillington Place, and I still think the performances of Caine, McDowell, Wilder and Eastwood are some of the best ever given. Richard Attenborough turn in this film is perhaps the most terrifying performance I've seen in a film.

Best Scene: John Christie gives Beryl Evans her "abortion".

  1. Richard Attenborough in 10 Rillington Place
  2. Michael Caine in Get Carter
  3. Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange
  4. Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  5. Paul Scofield in King Lear
  6. Oliver Reed in The Devils
  7. Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry
  8. Max von Sydow in The Emigrants
  9. Gene Hackman in The French Connection 
  10. Clint Eastwood in The Beguiled 
  11. Richard Harris in Man in the Wilderness
  12. Charles Bronson in Red Sun
  13. Toshiro Mifune in Red Sun
  14. Dirk Bogarde in Death in Venice
  15. Topol in Fiddler on the Roof
  16. Clint Eastwood in Play Misty For Me
  17. James Coburn in Duck, You Sucker!
  18. Peter Finch in Sunday Bloody Sunday
  19. Warren Beatty in McCabe & Mrs. Miller 
  20. Michael Jayston in Nicholas and Alexandra
  21. Timothy Bottoms in The Last Picture Show 
  22. Dustin Hoffman in Straw Dogs 
  23. Gary Bond in Wake in Fright
  24. Al Pacino in The Panic in Needle Park
  25. Jack Nicholson in Carnal Knowledge 
  26. Jon Finch in Macbeth
  27. Robert Duvall in THX 1138
  28. George C. Scott in The Hospital
  29. Bud Cort in Harold and Maude 
  30. Richard Roundtree in Shaft
  31. Peter Ostrum in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  32. Rod Steiger in Duck, You Sucker!
  33. Sean Connery in Diamonds Are Forever 
  34. Dominic Guard in The Go-Between
  35. Luc Roeg in Walkabout
  36. Donald Sutherland in Klute
  37. Woody Allen in Bananas
  38. Walter Matthau in Kotch
  39. William Tepper in Drive, He Said 
  40. Richard Burton in Villain

Alternate Best Actor 1971: Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Gene Wilder did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a very enjoyable, and darkly funny film about a poor kid Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) who gets a rare chance along with a few other children to visit the never open to the public Chocolate Factory as well as its eccentric owner.

Gene Wilder portrays this eccentric owner who actually does not show up in the film until about forty minutes into a film that is an hour and forty minutes long. I consider him lead though since his character influences almost all of the actions before he appears, and he as well completely takes over the film the very moment he appears on screen until the end of the film. This is one unique performance from Wilder and from the very first moment Wonka appears on screen seemingly decrepit and weak than suddenly while seeming to fall instead doing an energetic somersault shows the unpredictable nature of both the character, and Wilder's performance as well in a single gesture.

Wilder's turn here is interesting because really in this version we know almost nothing about Wonka before we enter the factor other than he is holding a contest and doesn't like to have his ideas stolen, nothing more. When we do finally meet him Wilder still keeps his character quite the enigma, but never in a unsatisfactory fashion. Wilder though most certainly is never underwhelming in his characterization and his Wonka is a full fledged character, but only Wilder seems to know exactly everything about him. He always stays a mystery even at the end of the film. Wilder always manages to tell enough without ever giving away the inner workings of a man who frankly is the sort of character who does not need to tell you all of his secrets.

Wilder is simply entertaining in the part as he shows that Wonka never wishes to give any extra time to people who do not deserve it. He makes sure everything goes his way, and when questioned on it he outsmarts them with some double talk, nonsense or a foreign language. What works so well about Wilder's performance is that he shows that Wonka never leaves any openings for anyone to ever get the better of him he always is in charge of the tour and his factory. Wilder as usual has his manic energy in his performance, in his eyes you never know just how sane Wonka really is, but nevertheless Wilder controls every scene. Even with all of what is going on the background of scenes Wilder always makes himself that most magnetic part of the film.

This is an exceedingly entertaining performance by Wilder and never fails to make every single moment of his performance enjoyable. Every inane gesture or quick comment at the expense of his guests Wilder brings the most out of every one. He mixes it up interestingly from when he more directly and manically scares the people such as in his completely insane moment in the tunnel of horror that is unforgettably portrayed by Wilder. Wilder though some how brings it in the role when he has the much simpler smaller moments in simple dead pan cynical moments. He handles those moments with just as much precision though, as he brilliantly goes off the deep end in the tunnel scene, and it is all part of the same character.

This is just a hilarious performance by Wilder and he constantly earning his jokes without every once trying to force them, it is a completely natural performance oddly enough even though he is portraying Wonka who seems to be quite off his rocker. He still though manages to convey the more magical qualities of his character such as his performance of pure imagination. Wilder effectively shows that even though Wonka takes no prisoners when dealing with individuals he has absolutely no respect there, Wilder does show an underlying passion in his portrayal that does emphasize the more wondrous qualities of Wonka. This more childlike side of Wonka is somehow still blends perfectly with Wonka's more devious side due to Wilder's portrayal of both which always still feel interconnected.

My favorite part of his performance though is the very end of his performance where he tests Charlie to see if he really could inherit his factory. His first moment where he first attacks saying that do not even get what was promised with the tour is effectively and intensely portrayed by Wilder showing bluntly the attack that is the final test against Charlie. This works perfectly though in turn when he comes out in joy to say that Charlie finally won, telling him he plans to give him the factory when he retires. Even with all of the darker cynicism before Wilder still manages to bring a genuinely heart warming quality to the final who that wonderfully shows that even behind all the insanity beforehand there still was a good man behind it all.

This is an absolutely terrific performance by Wilder as he makes the entire last hour of the film as entertaining as it possibly could be. He stands as a memorable guide for us to follow through, well as being appropriately impossible to calculate what's next at any time. This really could be a role that could go wrong in so many ways. The idea of a man luring kids into his chocolate factory is ripe for creepiness. Just look at Johnny Depp's terrible performance as Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In all ways that Depp failed Wilder succeeds with his incredible performance that never once falls into any problems the role easily could have, even though there is not a moment in which Wilder plays the role as safe.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1971: Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry

Clint Eastwood did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Homicide Inspector Dirty Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry.

Dirty Harry is a very effective police thriller about a San Francisco Police Officer attempting to catch a serial killer known as Scorpio (Andrew Robinson).

Clint Eastwood did not receive a single Oscar nomination for portraying his arguably signature role of Dirty Harry. Although to be perfectly honest the only time where he really should have been considered is for his initial performance. Although I should note that Eastwood gives solid leading performances in Magnum Force, The Enforcer, and Sudden Impact still having strong presence and conviction in the role. Only in The Dead Pool does Eastwood give a lackluster performance never seeming particularly invested in the role in that film looking tired practically during the entire film. His first performance as the character stands as the best which is probably helped by the fact that it is the best film, as well as the most character driven.

I would say this is one of if not the most memorable role of Eastwood's because of how well his style for the role. Eastwood is a unique actor in his ability to dominate a scene without saying word, he can express more in a single glance than some actors do in a whole scene. This style is perfect for Dirty Harry who is the best officer on the force seemingly, and he says a lot in every scene he is in even when he does not have that many lines total. This is perfect for the role in the many scenes where Harry has to deal with his far less able superiors who question his methods, and go on in foolish ways to attempt to deal with the psychotic killer who is constantly making demands. Eastwood's quick piercing stares of complete discontent show strongly Harry complete lack of respect for their inefficient methods.

This is a terrific leading performance though by Eastwood and he brings through the film the whole way without question. Eastwood always controls every one of his scenes with seemingly no effort at times with his remarkable unique presence. Eastwood is absolutely on throughout the entire film, and gives a wonderful performance that surprisingly does a lot more than he even needed to do with the role. Frankly his part could have been settled as just a police officer with tremendous drive, something Eastwood most certainly shows but I will get to that later, what is amazing though is the amount of natural humor Eastwood brings to the part.   Eastwood says everyone of his Harry's without the utmost efficiency that brings humor to his role, while never making it seem out of the place in the film.

Eastwood interestingly never makes the part as lightweight though as many other actors might have considering this is not about the folly of the officer's conviction as Gene Hackman's performance in the French Connection was partially about. Interestingly Eastwood is able to connect both a star leading sort of performance along with a performance genuinely as part of an actual character, and not just a star's persona sort of performance. Eastwood always is Dirty Harry in this film, and certainly brings to life the hard boiled inspector. Eastwood as Hackman also did this year shows tremendous drive to the character. Eastwood actually carefully doesn't shows that Harry is like Popeye Doyle that his conviction is to the point of fault, Harry after all is always right, but nevertheless Eastwood shows the same power in his performance.

As an actor Eastwood usually has a great deal of intensity in his performances, and with only the possible exception of Unforgiven there has never been a better use of it than here. Eastwood here brings to life the unstoppable force that Harry can become when he is set off, and Scorpio certainly sets him off, perfectly. Again with only possibly the exception of the final tavern scene in Unforgiven, and maybe not even that, there is no more intense of a scene than when he interrogates (tortures) Scorpio to find the location of a girl that he kidnapped. In that scene Eastwood's stare, and delivery is absolutely chilling. It is an unforgettable scene because of Eastwood unyielding brutality that he brings to the scene, showing the complete devotion Harry has to finding the girl as well as the rage he has toward the low life killer.

I suppose I should mention since I did in the last three reviews how Eastwood portrays Callahan's attitude to the violence he commits. Eastwood is actually quite careful in his portrayal of this as there is certainly no hesitation in his actions, or when he kills someone. Eastwood though never portrays this lack of hesitation as any sort of indication that he genuinely likes violence, or doesn't like violence necessarily, Eastwood rather is able to convey the fact that Harry is simply doing his job. Like Caine in Get Carter though there is the moment in which it does become personal and the wraith of Callahan is well portrayed. This is of course only in one killing at the end of the film, and Eastwood shows that Harry indeed needed to reach this point, and the man had to be a horrible enough person to earn his hatred.

This is a great performance by Eastwood because of his ability to blend this well realizes portrait of a career officer who probably has seen a little too much in the line of duty, but as well gives a very enjoyable and entertaining performance at the same exact time. Eastwood is able to bring the same humor to a certain scene as well as also bringing the weight of other scenes just as effectively. There is never a disconnect to the Dirty Harry who says that he knows a beaten person wasn't beaten by him simply because he looks "Too Damn Good", to the Harry who somberly sees that after all his efforts the victim of the killer he puts his all into stopping still ended up dead. This really a magnificent achievement by Eastwood in his creation of Dirty Harry Callahan, that leaves no wonder in my mind why many consider this his signature role.