Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1969: Gene Hackman in Downhill Racer

Gene Hackman did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Eugene Claire in Downhill Racer.

Downhill  Racer is a somewhat interesting film, although one where it seems they were unable to decide what type of film they wanted to make and there is some really sloppy editing at times, about the world of competitive downhill ski racer through the story of a up and coming hot shot David Chappellet (Robert Redford).

Gene Hackman in 1969 was still in his role as basically a known character actor since he was Oscar nominated for Bonnie and Clyde, but he did not become a star until his Oscar winning role for The French Connection. His status seemed set particularly clear since he was nominated for I Never Sang For My Father for best supporting actor even though he was obviously lead. Anyway Hackman technically is in his reduced role so to speak as Eugene Claire who is the head coach of the American team. Hackman does not have a great deal of screen time, even though he is sprinkled throughout the film. Hackman is great in his first scenes as he does not play Eugene as the traditional sort of inspirational, not even in a slightly atypical way like he would later do in Hoosiers, because he's not even necessarily all the inspirational so to speak. In his first scene Hackman presents Eugene as very much a coach with a mission to find the best. Hackman is terrific in the way he coneys the way in his manner that Eugene is watching for talent as he observes them, he is looking for the best rather simply wanting all of those under him to succeed necessarily.

 Hackman's great in realizing essentially the very down to earth nature of this coach and he feels particularly genuine as he hands at the starting numbers to the team members. Hackman is good as he shows the no nonsense approach of Eugene as gives them out. He offers moments of comfort of sorts though Hackman plays these well as more of him trying to set the record straight in that they must earn their position, rather than actually apologizing to them. Hackman's especially effective in his early confrontation with Redford's David who's upset that he had a low placement but ended up doing rather well. Hackman conveys well the complexity of the task of the coach as he does suggest the earnestness of his support as he says he'll fight for David to have a higher place, though carries a certain coldness as he also bluntly attempts to take down David's ego. Hackman is remarkable here because without only a few scenes early on he makes a considerable impact, and manages to portray the method of Eugene's coaching in an incredibly efficient way.

Hackman does not let a moment pass by to simply coast by with the character as he always attempts just to make the character frankly a bit more lived in. Hackman does particularly well in the scenes where Eugene is being interviewed. Hackman's, in obviously he more important interviews, projects an expected although understated enthusiasm as he creates the sense that Eugene is selling his team as he should. When the interviewer holds less importance though Hackman's good in portraying the reduced enthusiasm of the man, with a certain whole exasperation suggesting that Eugene probably has had to do a few too many interviews in his time. Hackman importantly portrays the greatest determination, almost that of a pitchman, as he puts all the passion behind basically the backers of the team, as he is clearly putting it in his all to ensure he is able to get the funds needed to compete the way he wants. Hackman brings the depth into the part with all these different sides that always are so naturally transitioned by him. He's great in one scene where he calmly chews out David again, and Hackman is tremendous in the incisiveness he brings as he calls David out on his reckless behavior. Of course then at the end of the film he does support him and Hackman makes this feel just as genuine particularly his jubilation when it seems he's won the race. What I love is how he contradicts himself yet never feels false or even hypocritical in the role. He is absolutely convincing in every side of the character showing what it takes to be an Olympic coach. It's amazing just how compelling Hackman is here. This work is a great testament to his talent as he effortlessly realizes his character, I'd say considerably better than Redford's does for his despite having much more material at his disposal, in the margins of the film.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1969: Ernest Borgnine in The Wild Bunch

Ernest Borgnine did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Dutch Engstrom in The Wild Bunch.

Ernest Borgnine plays Dutch Engstrom who is the second in command of the wild bunch and the right hand man of William Holden's Pike bishop. Borgnine's performance here is an interesting one in that he really does not have a lot of lines in the film even though he does have a considerable amount of screen time since he's rarely not in a scene with Holden's leading performance, and does even have a few moments without Holden. Borgnine has a challenge as these sort of roles often can be limit the actor by the nature of the role, but that never feels like the case for Ernest Borgnine's performance. He always has a strong presence in any scene in which he appears even when he might not even have more than a few words to say, sometimes no words to say. It's a particularly remarkable achievement by Borgnine since there is nothing obvious about why he stands out, he certainly does not try to showboat here through a lot of over the top reactions, yet he makes an impact in every scene in which he appears for even a moment. It's quite something and worth examining just what makes this performance work.

Borgnine work here is supporting in the most traditional of senses in that what makes his performance so well is the way he supports William Holden's lead performance. This is can be sensed in his earliest scene where he rides into town to rob a bank alongside the rest of the bunch. Borgnine brings that understated determination and is particularly good in portraying the process of the robbery through simply through some slight facial indicators during the heist. After the heist there is one particularly strong moment for Borgnine, even though it is only short one, where Pike asks if they should bury one of their dead members to which two of there members suggest they should. Dutch disagrees though as Borgnine delivers intensely Dutch sarcastic remarks about suggesting hymns for the funeral which get the men to decide again. Although Borgnine certainly does that well what makes it so notable though are the glances he trades with Holden. Borgnine brilliantly realizes Dutch's role as he supports Pike. It's not just Dutch shutting down their idea, it's also Pike allowing himself to look more democratic even though he's completely in line with Dutch who acts as the harsh truth.

Borgnine and Holden both establish this certain connection that Pike and Dutch have incredibly well. Borgnine and Holden are marvelous together as they make you really feel the history the two have had with one another. They capture the certain wavelength between the two so beautifully as they are able to show how each man is able to say a whole lot to one another just through a slight gesture. There is also of course a more verbal moment in this regard which is when they speak to one another at the fireside after finding out that there latest heist only brought them a bag of washers. There is a certain sadness about this as both actors reflect the losses along the way as well as the fact that they are no longer the age they once were, and that society itself is changing around them. In addition though there is striking undercurrent of warmth that Borgnine brings in his interactions as he is so honestly supportive in these scenes as Dutch is a man who will have Pike's back no matter what comes. There friendship is not something that the film exactly constantly dwells on yet both actors are absolutely convincing in creating the powerful camaraderie between the two men.

The one scene where there is an antagonism between the two comes up when Pike defends the technically traitorous former member Thornton (Robert Ryan), but Dutch has no such sympathies for the man. Again the two are exceptional as they both passionately realize how the codes technically are almost the same though how they differ leave the one major disagreement between the two of them. Where Pike is clearly held back by past mistakes, Borgnine is terrific in showing that Dutch is not burdened by this therefore he can't make an exception for Thornton in his mind. Borgnine's work here is outstanding because he does not waste a second of his screen time, especially since he really can't given the technically limits of his part. There are so many slight reactions though that add so much such as when he has to go from a false callousness to a genuine concern when Dutch is forced to give up a member of the bunch who made a mistake, or just his perfect chuckle near the end of the film when it seems like they might make it out of a tense situation. My favorite single moment is his last line which is just yelling out "Pike" one last time. The anguish that Borgnine brings is incredibly moving as he calls back to their friendship in the final moments. This is great work by Borgnine as he makes something special out a role, that in lesser hands, could have been nothing. 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1969: Robert Ryan in The Wild Bunch

Robert Ryan did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Deke Thornton in The Wild Bunch.

Robert Ryan technically speaking seems to fulfill his often played role, particularly in westerns, that of the villain who's bent on undermining our heroes. Well our heroes The Wild Bunch aren't particularly heroic and Ryan's Thornton is not exactly villainous. We first meet Thornton in the opening scene along with The Wild Bunch as they march into town disguised as soldiers in order to rob a bank. Thornton is not with them rather he is with a group of armed men hiding on the top of a building which overlooks the bank. Ryan establishes Thornton's nature quite effectively in this initial scene as he does not express the determination presented in William Holden's performance as Pike the leader of the bunch, or the obvious blood lust found on the other men in the roof with Thornton. Ryan rather exudes a certain disdain Thornton has as he watches the men ride into to town, clearly in no way relishing what is about to take place, as well as clearly has no love for any of the present company he shares.

When the massacre of a shootout occurs Ryan is excellent in the one moments where Thornton clearly has a good shot on Pike but hesitates to take it. Ryan's reaction is perfection as you see in his eyes an understanding towards Pike and he effectively gives a window into his past with Pike. The reason they have a past though is because Thornton was a former member of the bunch before he was captured mainly due to Pike's own carelessness. Ryan does not show ill will towards Pike being the cause of going along with a railroad man's attempt to take down the gang. This rather comes from his desire never again to return to prison where in a quick flashback we see he was flogged. Ryan is very good in the brief moment where Thornton expresses this desire as in the words he realizes the obvious pain and horrible treatment he received in prison. Although we only see one thing he suffered from in the prison Ryan manages to suggest far more. Ryan does well in the moment as he honestly makes Thornton particularly sympathetic, and honestly his motivation is technically far more noble than the bunch who really just want money.

Ryan's very good in portraying Thornton though as essentially the only competent person who is on the trail of the bunch since the men he has to work with seem a bit too focused on their prize. Ryan's does well to express the exasperation in Thornton whether it's directly to the railroad man, or just in his silent distaste in the men's attitude. Ryan again elicits the right sort of sympathy as his passionate hate reflects just how uncouth and incompetent the posse he is given are, but as well exudes that frustration of a man forced to do something he has no desire to do. What Ryan also does particularly well though is create the competence in Thornton with his performance. Thornton constantly saying the men with him essentially are scum, sometimes right in their general vicinity, could make just seem like the foolish villain himself. Ryan though creates the intelligence in Thornton particularly well in the scenes where he attempts to stop the bunch. Ryan's short moments before the start or during the action are superb as he shows Ryan makes it so Thornton's superiority over his men is a well earned given.

The best part of Ryan's performance though is the way he keeps Thornton's relationship with the bunch as a constant even though there is only a single scene where he directly speaks with a member, and past that even the only flashback is only a very short one where he barely interacts with Pike. Ryan though effortlessly finds the connection between Thornton and the men in every instance. When he sees them succeed and ride off in any instance Ryan is excellent in exuding that nostalgia in the men. What I find the most interesting though is that Ryan does not exactly play it as though Thornton wants to be doing exactly what they're doing per se. Rather what Ryan seems to realize though is a longing to be free in Thornton above else, and to be able to be the man he once was. A great moment of his performance is at the end of the film after the bunch takes on about a hundred men too many. Ryan does play the scene as an overt sadness in Thornton but is very moving by playing it as though Thornton accepting that they finally faced the inevitable on their own terms. This is very strong work  from the underrated Ryan and his final reaction is a great sendoff essentially for the bunch as he seems to exhibit one last reminder of the camaraderie they once had.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1969

And the Nominees Were Not:

Gene Hackman in Downhill Racer

Helmut Berger in The Damned

Laurence Olivier in Oh! What a Lovely War

Ernest Borgnine in The Wild Bunch

Robert Ryan in The Wild Bunch

Friday, 27 March 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1969: Results

5. Michael Caine in The Italian Job - Caine gives an appropriately charming performance and that's all there really is to it.

Best Scene: Croker is confronted by Mr.Bridger's men.
4. Lino Ventura in Army of Shadows - Ventura gives an effective withdrawn portrayal of a man who's learned to live in the darkness involved in the methods of the French resistance.

Best Scene: The death run. 
3. Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider - Hopper makes the most out of a rather thin role, and benefits from particularly strong chemistry with his co-stars.

Best Scene: The second campfire with George. 
2. Jean Louis Trintignant in Z - Trintignant gives an effective performance by making a very precise impact in his rather strict role.

Best Scene: The magistrate interrogates the main conspirator.
1. William Holden in The Wild Bunch - Well Holden very easily stood out for me as the best of these nominees and the only person I had to think twice about against the top two from the actual nominees. Holden gives a great performance by being uncompromising in his intense depiction of a violent man while managing to find some poignancy within the man's moral code.

Best Scene: The remainder of the bunch celebrating after their "victory".
Overall Rank:
  1. Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy
  2. Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy 
  3. William Holden in The Wild Bunch
  4. Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 
  5. Jean Louis Trintignant in Z
  6. Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 
  7. Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider
  8. Peter Fonda in Easy Rider
  9. Oliver Reed in The Assassination Bureau
  10. Peter Finch in The Red Tent
  11. Lino Ventura in Army of Shadows
  12. Richard Widmark in Death of a Gunfighter
  13. Elliot Gould in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
  14. Dirk Bogarde in The Damned
  15. James Garner in Support Your Local Sheriff!
  16. Michael Caine in The Italian Job
  17. Walter Matthau in Cactus Flower
  18. Robert Redford in Downhill Racer
  19. Michael Sarrazin in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? 
  20. Robert Culp in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
  21. Woody Allen in Take The Money And Run
  22. Steve McQueen in The Reivers
  23. Clint Eastwood in Paint Your Wagon
  24. James Mason in Age of Consent
  25. Richard Burton in Anne of the Thousand Days
  26. Mitch Vogel in The Reivers 
  27. Peter O'Toole in Goodbye, Mr. Chips
  28. Kurt Russell in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
  29. John Wayne in True Grit
  30. George Lazenby in On Her Majesty's Secret Service
  31. Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagon 
  32. Richard Thomas in Last Summer
  33. Bruce Davison in Last Summer
  34. Wendell Burton in The Sterile Cuckoo
  35. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Hercules in New York
Next Year: 1969 Supporting

Alternate Best Actor 1969: Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider

Dennis Hopper did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Billy in Easy Rider.

I have to admit I was not the biggest fan of Easy Rider the first time I watched it, and a re-watch did the film no favors. At least one third of the film is just filler of the guys driving through various landscapes on their motorcycles with nothing interesting happening while they do it or how they do it, they just drive. Well there's always a song playing which appeared to be quite the dangerous trend in the late 60's early 70's, that being the pointless montage with a contemporary song. It would be fine if there were only say like two of these scenes, or if they were done in an interesting fashion but they're not. Really I can't even get behind the psychedelic Mardi Gras which is an indulgent as well as terribly dated sequence, and not in a good way. In addition anything involving the local hillbillies is way over the top with the violent ending the film being a very random and pretty cheap way to yell "THE END".

Well although I did not really appreciate Hopper's efforts here as a director or writer how about his performance? Well he plays the simply named Billy the biker buddy of Wyatt (Peter Fonda) who after making a considerable amount of money from a drug deal decides to enjoy their freedom on the open road with their destination being New Orleans for Mardi Gras. The dynamic between the two is simple enough as Wyatt is outgoing and willing to be friendly with those around them Billy is essentially the opposite. Hopper plays the role of Billy as though he has somewhat of a perpetual paranoia in regards to all things. Every outsider from them Hopper effectively shows the nervousness in Billy as the way he seems to constantly be watching them, and becomes particularly intense as well as agitated when they are near their secret stash of money within Wyatt's motorcycle's gas tank. Hopper does a good job of portraying the withdrawn nature of Billy and establishes rather well the way he almost seems to shy away from society.

He is good with Fonda as they do have a certain ease to create the sense of the camaraderie between the two. They handle it in a rather unassuming fashion, but it works rather well. When Jack Nicholson comes in a little later as an alcoholic lawyer he also joins the group rather well. Hopper's interactions with him are well handled as Hopper shows the vulnerability of Billy as he inquires intently why the establishment sort of world sees the like of them as a threat. Of course the film, even in between the long riding scenes, is not exactly the most complex story to begin with, that would be fine if it was consistently compelling but I would argue that it is not. Even the scenes that do settle for dialogue it usually is fairly standard often begin quite to the point. The film never bothers to get into much of anything in relation to the pasts of Billy Wyatt. In addition they only really have one major transition which is after the attack by the locals, and decide to continue in a somewhat questionable way. Even in that way Billy stays fairly consistence staying in his same manner of avoidance, and really Wyatt is the one changed by the event.

To be perfectly honest the part of Billy is pretty paper thin as written as there are no major changes, and what there is from the start is not exactly all that compelling. It is to Hopper's credit that he does manage to do something with the role. He realizes Billy as he is in an effective fashion, and does seem to go further than caricature in his honest reactions as the closed off sort of hippie. The fact that he is able to make Billy come to life at all is a testament to Hopper's talent as he at least makes you feel as though you've gotten to know him and makes him interesting enough thorough the film's story, even if that story is not all that interesting in itself. In terms of problems associated with film I can't say anything against Hopper's work as an actor. He gives a good performance as there is nothing to fault him with what he manages to do with the material he has, and he strikes up some particularly great chemistry with both Fonda and Nicholson. I would not have minded seeing those three as the same characters in frankly a better movie than Easy Rider is.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1969: Michael Caine in The Italian Job

Michael Caine did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Charlie Croker in The Italian Job.

The Italian Job is an enjoyable enough heist film, although I do feel it could have more fun with the colorful gang aspect. I mean why even have Benny Hill if you're going to barely use him?

Michael Caine plays cockney crook Croker who's just after being released from prison looks to find a new heist. He finds that in the form of the message of a dead man who gives him the plans on how to rip off an armored car in Italy. After some difficulty in convincing the powerful incarcerated mobster Mr. Bridger (Noël Coward) he heads the plan, with a fairly large team, to go through with the complicated plan while avoiding the Italian mafia who are very much opposed to it. This is not exactly the most complex part Michael has ever played as Charlie is just a carefree crook not at all like the ruthless crook he would play just two years later in Get Carter. Caine's performance is really just all about his charm. He's certainly likable enough in his happy go lucky manner as Croker goes about the early steps of the job, and even smiles his way through a beating at the hands of Mr. Bridger's men after he dared to interrupt his time in the bathroom.

Caine has some down moment of sorts when he's just going through the plan which he handles just fine I suppose. There are also the few moments where he interacts with the mafia boss. Caine is commanding enough in these scenes to deliver some intensity to the standoff and in turn deliver a bit gravity though this almost seems like a pointless effort since the mafia ends up factoring very little into the final conclusion of the film. Most of Caine's performance is strictly based around his charisma, and it is not like he even has really a comic presence here so to speak it's more lighthearted than anything else. Caine is charming here though in his usual slight smile Michael Caine sort of way. As charming Caine performances go I would not necessarily call it his best, as I found him more charming in The Man Who Would Be King just for one example, and that film also bothered to give him more to do than this film does. 

The whole third act of the film barely features Caine actually in that the actors barely factor in when the film depicts the heist. It keeps everything really about the images associated with it and there really are not any character moments for most of the final act. Something finally does happen though in the film's literal cliffhanger ending. It's still pretty limited stuff though but Caine certainly delivers his "great idea" line quite enjoyably. It's a fun little moment to end things on and is rather fitting for his performance which is a fun little performance. Considering the film decides to limited Croker's as a character about as much as it can he still manages to to make something out of almost nothing in terms of material. Caine is entertaining with what he does have, and what he does do works for the film's breezy tone. This is a great distance from his best work as an actor though it is a decent enough showcase for his movie star sort of appeal.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1969: William Holden in The Wild Bunch

William Holden did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Pike Bishop in The Wild Bunch.

The Wild Bunch is an effective film about a group of violent outlaws attempting to find a big score while being hounded by railroad men and losing their place in the increasingly civilized nature of the west.

William Holden is perhaps best known for his portrayals of endearing yet usually somewhat morally questionable or at least sardonic protagonists in films like Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, and The Bridge on the River Kwai. As the head of the group named the Wild Bunch it may seem Pike Bishop might be in a similar vein for Holden. The opening scene though bluntly corrects that false notion as the opening credits are listed as Pike and his crew make their way through a town dressed as soldiers to carefully approach the town's bank. Holden presents Pike as obviously quite determined as his plan seems to being going on through his head as he approaches the target. When he and his men make their move into the bank Holden ends the credits and really opens the film with his vicious delivery of "if they move kill em!" towards one of his men referring to the unlucky individuals stuck in the bank. Holden carries himself with a brutal intensity as in his voice there is the sense of the lack of mercy in the man, and Holden expresses the fact that Pike does not care one iota for the lives of the innocent bystanders.

Holden does not hold back in the opening scene realizing that Pike really is not that rather lovable outlaw that could have been the lead in a western, even in a western of 1969 with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid being very much in that vein. Pike is a hard man and Holden plays him as such. When all hell breaks loose due to an ambush of railroad men accompanied by a former member of the Wild Bunch Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan), the bunch themselves in no way seem concerned about collateral damage. Holden portrays Pike only as a professional in the moment keeping his head with a fierce determination, while in no way expressing much sympathy for all the random people being gun downed in the carnage. Holden brings the remorselessness of a true killer in his performance. Holden does not just simply go along in the action scene but instead always reinforces the nature of Pike through his uncompromising manner. Holden's work matches the violence of director Sam Peckinpah's vision, as he creates Pike Bishop as a man formed by this violence, and as a man who could possibly exist within such a world.

After their bloody escape they have lost more than one man, with one of the men having escaped with them though having been shot in the face while being unable to see. This leaves Pike having to mercy kill the man.  In the moment Holden does not portray it as a great emotional toll on Pike to do this exactly at least in the way one would think. Holden is incredibly effective in the scene as he does not show this as Pike being some sort of psychopath, but rather as very much hardened by his life of doing such things for so long. This is not to say that Holden plays Pike as strictly unemotional in this regard. Holden is excellent in this scene portraying such a searing exasperation in Pike as he has to kill the man. Holden exudes the wear his time as an outlaw on Pike brilliantly as you see in his face years of bloodshed without really anything to show for it. There is a remarkable moment when Pike fails to mount his horse the first time and as he is insulted by his men briefly. Holden's reaction is a perfect as he shows Pike's moment of resignation to frankly being past his prime and having to live with it.

Holden is terrific because he is able to find Pike's particular place in his life as an outlaw. This is essentially summed up after the opening heist where they successfully take the loot and make their escape, though not with rather severe casualties and finding out that all they stole were washers planted in the place of the gold. Holden's performance presents Pike in very much the same way in that his best days are behind him though he's not done yet, after all he still has not been caught. Holden still has the presence and the command in the part making it absolutely believable that Pike is still the leader of the group, and still capable of pulling off a difficult job. At the same time though Holden does bring a whole certain desperation about Pike. He's somewhat pained and Holden suggests that the life is much harder for him than it ever was before. Holden's especially good in his portrayal of the enthusiasm Pike has for the job. Where some of the other members clearly revel in it, there is only ever a temporary glimpse of happiness in Pike, showing that Pike does not necessarily even get much of a thrill out of life anymore. 

Although Pike is an outlaw and really a coldblooded killer technically speaking he is not without a certain code. That code being for his fellow members. There's an honest warmth in the quiet scenes between Pike and his right hand man Dutch (Ernest Borgnine), as they realize the understanding between the two which is even though they live rough lives they are loyal to each other. This creates one thing that does bother Pike in his failures is leaving men behind which is how his old ally Thornton went to jail and came to work for the railroad. Holden brings a surprising poignancy to his silent moments where remembers Thornton and the other people he has left in the past. In the moment Holden brings a genuine sadness in Pike as Holden expresses the way Pike is haunted by these mistakes of the past. Holden finds this as a powerful guilt in Pike throughout, and carefully shows that is something that pains him to his very core since he really is not living up to his personal beliefs. There is one particularly strong moments where Pike defends Thornton which Holden delivers with a considerable passion that seems fueled by his past.

It is really up to Holden to give sense to the final act of the Wild Bunch. They finally have a successful score by helping out a questionable Mexican general, although it leaves one of their own captured although that's entirely his own fault. Holden first is perfect in the scene where they try to celebrate at a brothel nearby and Holden is rather moving actually by showing that Pike still can't find happiness within his accomplishment or even himself. Holden through this makes the final actions of the group convincing as their walk to save their last man is Pike finally truly fulfilling his sense of honor. Holden in the scene shows Pike perhaps at his most determined, and his most assured as he is being a man of his word. Holden really has a very tricky part here given that it would be easy enough to make Pike so despicable that he is too off-putting to watch. What is so compelling about Holden's work is that he no way sugarcoats Pike's character. In portraying his more vicious moments Holden does not compromise showing Pike as the final man he is. Holden is perhaps all the more intriguing in that he is able to create sympathy for Pike through his honest portrait of the man's personal code.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1969: Lino Ventura in Army of Shadows

Lino Ventura did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Philippe Gerbier in Army of Shadows.

Army of Shadows is a most intriguing film depicting the inner workings of the French resistance during World War II.

Army of Shadows, which incidentally took until 2006 to find a U.S. release even finding itself high up on many critics' top tens that year, takes the approach of narrowly following a few members of the French resistance that operated in the darkness. The primary figure focused upon, although not the only one, is Philippe Gerbier played Ventura. The film opens as he is being sent off to an internment camp for problematic French although a camp that seems almost a safety measure to stop them from being further along to Nazis control. The film at first even seems as though it may be about Phillipe's life in the camp. Ventura plays his role as particularly unassuming as he portrays Phillipe as very much a calculated man who in no way seems fearful of what the camp has to offer. Ventura presents basically Philippe as a man in wait just examining his surroundings and waiting for his chance to escape. Ventura supports properly what his character does as eventually Phillipe takes action which involves fatally stabbing a guard then proceeding to run as fast he can back into the city to hide.

After his successful escape Phillipe first course of action is to work with a few of his fellow resistance members to execute a traitor in their midst. Ventura keeps essentially the same reserve for much of his performance which works in creating the way Phillipe operates as a man. Ventura's whole approach works in that he establishes the manner in which Phillipe deals with the fact that they must resort to rather extreme and shadowy methods to maintain their organization. Ventura expresses through Phillipe as a man who is always somewhat aloof in his manner. It is not that he does not care, but rather Ventura shows that he is basically trained himself to not care. This gives sense to the essentially heartless way he goes about the killing of the man as he and his associates openly discuss the manner in which to kill the man who is well in earshot. Ventura's performance realizes the nature of the man that likely he has realized over some time which is that he never has too much of a connection to anything, which allows him to make the tough decisions required to maintain their resistance.

Although I don't hesitate in anyway to name Ventura as lead, the film does focus on several individuals in the organization sometimes moving with them instead of Phillipe as it examines the various tasks each person must take, and how they react to their responsibility as well as deal with the constant threat of death and torture. The film always comes back to Ventura's Phillipe who acts as a steadfast individual within the group. Ventura always keeps a certain level of cold detachment. It is not even though he acts inhuman, but rather he presents him as a man who very much knows his duty following it without much hesitation. Even when he stays over in London briefly for supplies Ventura still presents Phillipe as determined and staying very much heavy with responsibility. Ventura's quite good though in portraying as the method of still essentially a normal man in a particularly intense situation. Ventura still has some very well handled subtle moments such as his quiet fear when he must reluctantly jump out of a plane to return to France. All of these moments are well momentary as Ventura presents him as fixed in his path.

Ventura's emotional moments are sparse and even then they are all that emotional. Some of the more emotional moments Ventura allows is when he reacts with a great deal of happiness from a surprise visit from the head of the organization, or when he portrays a blunt dismay when one of the most brilliant operators has made a foolish mistake that leaves them all potentially compromised. Ventura snaps in and out even in these cases he still keeps Phillipe only just barely losing his manner. It is interesting in that technically his most volatile scene is when captured and set up with others prisoners to run from gunfire by guards as a sick game, the scene ends up about being unemotional. Ventura stays steadfast, and convincingly so as he almost botches a rescue attempt by bothering to maintain his reserve as he at first refuses to run from the guards. It's an intriguing approach and he allows to be rather believable that Phillipe would barely bat an eye as he organizes the plan to kill one of their very best. It's a good performance which stays strictly with the nature of his constrained character almost wholly without a moment of compromise.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1969: Jean Louis Trintignant in Z

Jean Louis Trintignant did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning Cannes, for portraying the examining magistrate Christos Sartzetakis.

Z is an excellent political thriller depicting the assassination and investigation into said assassination of a popular leftist.

Jean Louis Trintignant could easily be argued as supporting in the film, and I would not argue that point long considering her only has a brief appearance for about the first third of the film where he is very awkwardly introduced to the entourage of the politician. I'll argue for his placement though simply for the second half where the investigation takes place as it fairly closely stays with the magistrate as he attempts to decipher the facts. Trintignant's role is unique in the film in that he is in no way politically charged unlike the doomed politician and his supporters who are constantly charged with their outrage and philosophy, or the men setting up the assassination who are consistently charged by their passionate hate for what the politician stands for. The magistrate on the other hand has different concerns. This shown early on in the awkward meeting which Trintignant plays as well as he no way expresses support to their anguish, nor does he suggest any malice towards. Trintignant actually does well by showing that the magistrate hardly feels anything towards them.

The magistrate does not pop back in until after the assassination and he is called upon to investigate what the authorities want at first to be deemed an accident. I must say I cared very little for Trintignant's turn as basically the quite observant lead in The Conformist just one year later, although here Trintigant is far more effective in this understated sort of role. Trintignant manages to make himself compelling by conveying the magistrate as someone taking in the information to decipher what exactly happened. Trintignant does well with a strong incisive glare towards everyone who speaks as it is clear the magistrate is not there to take sides but find truths. Trintignant is technically the one character who has an arc in the film although not in the usual manner still. This is not a personal emotional arc that Trintignant presents rather a strictly professional one. Trintignant never shows the magistrate lose his reserve exactly. He keeps himself consistent as a professional above else as the magistrate wants to find out what happened because it is the right thing to do as well as his job, nothing else is needed for him.

The magistrate even begins taking it as an accident, and adjusting statements that claim it otherwise since there is on hard evidence of the assassination at first. Trintignant does well to keep a certain reserve as he expresses both the magistrate particular method of deriving information as well as his personal distance from the case. Trintignant carefully portrays the actual arc of the magistrate because it is technically a somewhat detached transition. What Trintignant does well is create the calculation within the magistrate and is convincing in the gradual way he realizes the magistrate figuring out what happened. When the magistrate starts allowing to be called a murder Trintignant earns it through his subtle though quite honest reactions to every bit of information that is known. Of course it is not merely about deciphering information but also about deriving it himself through his interrogation of some of the culprits. Trintignant is very effective in these scenes as he plays the magistrate always quietly in control of the situation watching for any misstep, and delivers his more incisive remarks with the utmost precision.

Although Tritignant never wholly loses his reserve in the parts he does have a few great moments where he shows what the magistrate is feeling. Of course again Trintignant does not play these again as a political thing, but rather just wholly involving what is right. In fact that is the way the character must be since it is alluded to that the magistrate's personal political views technically skew closer to the villains, and that is what leaves him protected from scrutiny by the officials. One of my favorite moments in his performance is when he gets the brains behind the operation to say the exact same line that all the conspirators say when describing part of the assassination. His slight smile is just perfect as the magistrate does take some satisfaction in knowing he's gotten the one responsible. Trintignant technically had quite a challenge with this part because the magistrate is technically on a whole different wavelength from every other character in the film. Trintignant uses that to his advantage as his work stands out through his intriguing depiction of a man whose sole motivation is justice.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1969

And the Nominees Were Not:

Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider

Lino Ventura in Army of Shadows

William Holden in The Wild Bunch

Michael Caine in The Italian Job

Jean Louis Trintignant in Z

Alternate Best Actor and Supporting Actor 1929: Results

 Erich von Stroheim in The Great Gabbo - GABBO! GABBO! GABBO! for you Simpsons fans out there. This is perhaps one of the earliest examples of the story of the ventriloquist who becomes a little too convinced that his dummy is real, although this is a bit more low key in that regard than the two Twilight Zone episodes that cover that material or say Magic with Anthony Hopkins. Of course it is Gabbo who is the ventriloquist and the dummy's name is Otto. Although Gabbo is not forced into murdering anyone he just kinda makes some bad decisions that get him into trouble personally and professionally. The film does not have too much to offer really on its own past Erich von Stroheim's performance. von Stroheim just is an enjoyable performer to watch and he has some fun here. Whether it is doing his actual act with such confidence and precision or on the other end of things as he goes a bit nuts confining in Otto about his various insecurities. von Stroheim manages to be fairly entertaining and elevates the film probably as much as he can with his loony performance. 4/5

Overall Leading Rank:
  1. Ronald Colman in Bulldog Drummond
  2. Ronald Colman in Condemned
  3. Eric von Stroheim in The Great Gabbo
  4. Oliver Hardy in Big Business 
  5. Stan Laurel in Big Business
  6. Willy Fritsch in Woman in the Moon
  7. Maurice Chevalier in The Love Parade
  8. William Powell in The Canary Murder Case
  9. Groucho Marx in The Cocoanuts
  10. Paul Muni in The Valiant
  11. William Powell in The Greene Murder Case
  12. Douglas Fairbanks in The Iron Mask
  13. Warner Baxter in Behind That Curtain
  14. Douglas Fairbanks in The Taming of the Shrew
  15. Lars Hanson in The Informer
  16. George Arliss in Disraeli
  17. Gary Cooper in The Virginian
  18. Ricardo Cortez in The Phantom in the House
  19. Harry Stubbs in Alibi
  20. Daniel L. Haynes in Hallelujah
  21. Chester Morris in Alibi
  22. Fuller Mellish Jr. in Applause
  23. Johnny Mack Brown in Coquette
  24. Harry Bannister in Her Private Affair
  25. Matt Moore in Coquette
  26. John Loder in Her Private Affair
  27. Henry Wadsworth in Applause
Louis Wolheim in Condemned -  To be perfectly honest Louis Wolheim does not have too much of a character here as Jacques. He essentially just is Ronald Colman's prisoner buddy who replaces him as the Warden's wife's assistant. Well one could not ask for a better pair at the time with Colman as the lead and Wolheim as the support as both actors successfully transitioned from Silence to Sound since they not only knew how to present themselves towards the camera they also knew how to speak naturally. Wolheim does some good work here merely by just giving some life to a part that under most of the supporting actors from the period would have been as bland as everyone else, or over accentuated everything while being bland. Well Wolheim has a grand presence even in a role like this adding a nice bit of character to a nothing part as he always brings something to every line or action he has no matter how standard they might be. Wolheim manages to make Jacques an endearing sidekick in just a few moments, not really even scenes, and successfully makes his sacrifice at the end mean something even though the film doesn't really even work for it. 4/5
Top Ten Supporting:
  1. Louis Wolheim in Condemned
  2. Walter Huston in The Virginian
  3. Lupino Lane in The Love Parade
  4. Klaus Pohl in Woman in the Moon
  5. Eugene Pallette in The Canary Murder Case 
  6. Fritz Rasp in Woman in the Moon
  7. James Finlayson in Big Business
  8. Gustav von Wangenheim in Woman in the Moon
  9. Eugene Pallette in The Greene Murder Case
  10. Boris Karloff in Behind That Curtain
Next Year: 1969 Lead

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1972: Results

5. Ian Bannen in The Offence - Bannen gives an effective portrayal  of the character's damaged state even if he can't fully realize what the writing demands from the character.

Best Scene: The beginning of the interrogation. 
4. Ned Beatty in Deliverance - Beatty has a particularly thankless role that could have easily been a caricature, but realizes a genuine victim through his performance.

Best Scene: Squeal like a Pig
3. Robert Shaw in Young Winston - Shaw, as usual, gives a striking performance first in realizing the quiet command of his character then later his tragic decay.

Best Scene: Lord Randolph fails to deliver his speech in parliament.
2. Eddie Axberg in The New Land - Axberg matches the naturalism of his co-stars and gives a moving depiction of his character's doomed journey.

Best Scene: Robert goes to the brothel.
1. Bruce Dern in The Cowboys - Dern actually gives a my favorite supporting of 1972 as he creates such a memorable pathetic scoundrel as the man who shot the man who shot Liberty Valance.

Best Scene: Asa Watts does the unthinkable. 
Overall Rank:
  1. Bruce Dern in The Cowboys
  2. Joel Grey in Cabaret
  3. James Caan in The Godfather
  4. Eddie Axberg in The New Land
  5. Robert Shaw in Young Winston
  6. Robert Duvall in The Godfather
  7. Ned Beatty in Deliverance
  8. John Cazale in The Godfather
  9. Richard S. Castellano in The Godfather
  10. Gene Hackman in Prime Cut
  11. Ronny Cox  in Deliverance
  12. Alistar Sim in The Ruling Class
  13. Clive Revill in Avanti!
  14. Nigel Green in The Ruling Class 
  15. Barry Foster in Frenzy
  16. Eddie Albert in The Heartbreak Kid
  17. Alec McCowen in Frenzy
  18. Arthur Lowe in The Ruling Class
  19. Stacy Keach in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
  20. Abe Vigoda in The Godfather
  21. Roscoe Lee Browne in The Cowboys
  22. Peter Boyle in The Candidate
  23. Sterling Hayden in The Godfather
  24. Nicholas Colasanto in Fat City
  25. Robert Duvall in The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid
  26. Howard da Silva in 1776 
  27. Fernando Rey in The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie  
  28. Tony Roberts in Play It Again, Sam
  29. Julien Bertheau in The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
  30. Ned Beatty in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
  31. Edward Andrews in Avanti!
  32. Robert Duvall in Joe Kidd 
  33. Helmut Griem in Cabaret
  34. Alex Rocco in The Godfather
  35. Kenneth Mars in What's Up, Doc?
  36. Donald Madden in 1776 
  37. Paul Winfield in Sounder
  38. Jack Albertson in The Poseidon Adventure
  39. Melvyn Douglas in The Candidate
  40. Gianni Russo in The Godfather
  41. Roddy McDowall in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
  42. John Marley in The Godfather
  43. Anthony Hopkins in Young Winston 
  44. Fritz Wepper in Cabaret
  45. Anthony Perkins in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
  46. Slim Pickens in The Getaway
  47. Bill McKinney in Deliverance
  48. Red Buttons in The Poseidon Adventure 
  49. Jerry Lacy in Play It Again, Sam
  50. Ben Johnson in The Getaway
  51. Ron Holgate in 1776
  52. Arthur O'Connell in The Poseidon Adventure
  53. Herbert 'Cowboy' Coward in Deliverance
  54. Gregory Walcott in Prime Cut
  55. Michael Bryant in The Ruling Class
  56. Micheal Murphy in What's Up, Doc?
  57. Bernard Bribbins in Frenzy
  58. Roddy McDowall in The Poseidon Adventure
  59. Ian Holm in Young Winston
  60. A Martinez in The Cowboys
  61. Harry Andrews in The Ruling Class
  62. Al Martino in The Godfather
  63. Ruy Guerra in Aguirre, the Wrath of God
  64. Ernest Borgnine in The Poseidon Adventure
  65. Del Negro in Aguirre, the Wrath of God
  66. Don Stroud in Joe Kidd
  67. Donald Moffat in The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid
  68. Paul Frankeur in The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
  69. Jean-Pierre Leaud in Last Tango in Paris
  70. William Mervyn in The Ruling Class
  71. Roy Poole in 1776
  72. James Best in Sounder
  73. Ron Rifkin in Silent Running
  74. Ken Howard in 1776
  75. Cliff Potts in Silent Running
  76. John Saxon in Joe Kidd
  77. Don Porter in The Candidate
Next Year: 1929 Lead/Supporting

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1972: Ian Bannen in The Offence

Ian Bannen did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a BAFTA, for portraying Kenneth Baxter in The Offence.

The Offence is a mostly effective film about the mental breakdown of Detective Sergeant Johnson (Sean Connery) after seeing yet another violent crime.

Ian Bannen plays the chief suspect of the crime of raping a young girl as he is found wandering aimlessly the same night. Ian Bannen just has a few moments early on the film as he naturally portrays the somewhat dazed state of the man as he is taken in. The film then cuts bluntly to Connery's Johnson beating Baxter in the interrogation room. Bannen again only has few moments though rather viscerally striking ones as he portrays Baxter writhing in pain along with some crazed hysteria as Johnson continues attacking him. Baxter is later taken to the hospital and later revealed to have died from his injuries as the film focuses on the personal fallout of Johnson as he deals with his personal demons. Bannen though is not wholly absent from the film during this period as it does occasionally cut to the past scene although in these instances only for a second or two. Eventually though as Johnson examines himself the film does finally does cut back to the interrogation in an extended scene. This time it focuses directly on what happened between the two before Johnson beat the man to death in anger.

This scene finally calms down in terms of editing as Bannen is given his one major scene. This time the film follows the calm opening of the interrogation as Johnson at first seems to just try to find out if Baxter is guilty or not. Bannen is good in the opening of the scene suggesting his earlier daze comes from the innate fearful nature of the man. Bannen expresses well Baxter as being clearly a victim of sorts himself as he sadly states his own past of being bullied and Bannen does well to realize the damaged state of the man as he reveals information about himself. Bannen does particularly well to keep the guilt in question as he begins to needle Johnson and the honestly messy state that Bannen portrays in a convincing manner in Baxter. He leaves open to the interpretation of whether Baxter is doing this to Johnson because he views him like a bully of his past, or he is merely taunting him because he knows he committed the crime. Johnson acts out in violence against Baxter's disobedience and Bannen has one particularly strong scene where he basically retires away from Johnson for a moment as shows a genuine fear in Baxter as Johnson reveals his violent side.

The final act of the scene though comes in though as Johnson looks in upon himself and wonders about his own psyche due to how much he has seen. In this moment Baxter becomes almost an odd sort of psychiatrist to Johnson as he strangely comforts him. This is where the writing though falters a bit as Baxter becomes this sinister presence that keeps on prodding Johnson in really too refined of a fashion that feels more like a villain than the broken individual we meet at first. To his credit though Bannen tries his best to make this work, although I won't say he wholly succeeds, although that was perhaps too much of a challenge. Bannen does not truly falter though as even when Baxter is probably saying things that are a tad too incisive for the way the rest of his character is, Bannen carefully never loses the persuasive anxiety within the character, though he still is unable to meld the two conflicting sides presented by the writing. Bannen nevertheless is not bad in these scenes i just does not leave the character as on a powerful note as seem intentioned. The impact of the character is diminished when he unfortunately he is at his pivotal. Bannen still gives a very good performance though the writing seems to prevent him from giving a great one.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1972: Robert Shaw in Young Winston

Robert Shaw did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a BAFTA, for portraying Lord Randolph Churchill in Young Winston.

Young Winston is a decent enough film depicting the early life of Winston Churchill.

Robert Shaw plays Winston's father Randolph Churchill which the film focuses on fairly closely in its first half, although not closely enough that I would consider him lead as the film still keeps a distance from him. Randolph though stands as the role model for Winston in terms of his political career. Shaw is the perfect man to play a man of such stature as Lord Churchill as Shaw has such a commanding presence even when he is not overly trying to. Shaw does not even say anything in his initial appearances yet Shaw still makes Randolph known simply through the strength projected through the way he conducts himself. Shaw exemplifies that English reserve so well, and basically establishes Randolph as almost a legend of sorts in just a few short moments. Although Randolph is clearly as a proper of a man as one can be he is not at all a man who just goes by the official sentiment as shown by his career in parliament as he always does what he believes is right not matter how detrimental it may be to his own career.

Robert Shaw in his early scenes acts in role which he excels in quite well, which is that of the incisive critic. This is seen as Randolph criticizes other men in parliament or even outside of it when they attempt to ridicule him due to Randolph having Jewish friends. Shaw is terrific in portraying the sly retorts of Randolph which are as biting as they should be. Shaw does this in an interesting way as he always keeps the reserve of the proper English gentlemen but in that reserve reveals the fairly vicious distaste Randolph has for fools. Randolph's views force him to take on many opponents even his own part and prime minister as he refuses to compromise. There is one scene where Randolph explains this route and there is such a powerful internal passion that Shaw is able to realize with such ease that it is rather remarkable. Shaw commands every one of his early scenes with such effortlessness as he should as Randolph needs to be a somewhat almost larger than life figure. Shaw meets this demand extremely making Randolph a politician for Winston to truly look up to.

Of course the film also presents the fairly cold and distant relationship Randolph has with his sons. There is one great moment when Randolph is being interviewed about various political issues but the reporter finishes the conversation by asking about Randolph's sons. Shaw is brilliant in portraying Randolph's reaction as he stops for a moment almost having to recall his sons. It is not that Shaw presents him as a father who is no aware of his sons though, as Randolph actually corrects the reporter that he has two sons not just one. What Shaw does so well though instead is convey the certain way Randolph views his role as a father which is that he almost is unable to comprehend the idea that his sons should even look up to him. Shaw does well to present as a cold fact of sorts from Randolph own upbringing perhaps, rather than a direct coldness from the man. It's a difficult dynamic to configure though Shaw manages it quite well. Randolph does eventually go closer to his son but this is only after Randolph attempts to influence the political system through his resignation which worked once before though probably will not this time.

When it is obvious that Randolph has failed this time Shaw is again excellent as he internalizes the pain so well in Randolph. He does not lose his reserve though he does lose the command, and Shaw realizes the defeat in Randolph in such an eloquent fashion. Eventually everything becomes worse when Randolph is diagnosed with a fatal and degenerative illness. In the proceeding scene Shaw is quite moving in portraying Randolph quietly falling apart both mentally and physically. Shaw reveals a greater intensity in him, not of a righteous passion though, but rather from a pained madness as he realizes the irrational way he lashes out at everyone. This actually causes a greater interaction with his son as he has random outbursts towards him, though after one he does try to talk to his son man to man for once. Shaw presents the distance of Randolph as he attempts to advise Winston though he very nicely does bring a certain undercurrent of warmth suggesting even with his pain and the social barriers that Randolph did care for his son. Over some time his illness only becomes worse as he becomes unable even to do his job as a politician. Shaw is very moving in his final scenes as he brings Randolph believably to this point as the former great orator is barely able to conduct himself in a simple speech. It's is sad fall that Shaw creates as he so well realized the strength of the man earlier that it is heartbreaking to see him lose it all in the end.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1972: Bruce Dern in The Cowboys

Bruce Dern did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Asa Watts also known as "Long Hair" in The Cowboys.

The Cowboys is a pretty good western about an aging rancher Wil Andersen (John Wayne) who takes on relatively young boys as ranch hands when his usual help goes off on the gold rush, although I would say the final act probably should be shown as darker than the film allows it to be.

Bruce Dern first appears just after Wil has started off on the trail with his cow herding boys, and being Bruce Dern it seems unlikely this will be a good thing for the cattle drive. This does necessarily seem to be the case though as Asa Watts first approaches with a few other men just claiming to be looking for a job. Dern presents such an earnestness in Asa as he first inquires about the work and proceeds to claim previous experience with cattle drives. Dern's quite good in the moment and the eagerness he brings to the part would probably fool a man softer than Wil, or at least one less informed about the cattle industry. Wil calls him out on his lie about his experience leaving Asa to admit that he and the other men have recently been released from prison and because of that have not found work anywhere else. Although Dern conveys that there is more to Asa than he is projecting, but he's a terrific sneak here as he seems so genuinely heartbroken as Asa asks if Wil is going to reject them like all the rest did due to their criminal record.

After Wil ignores Asa and his group due to Asa's lying he disappears for some time though the impact Dern makes in his first scene ensures that you know that won't be the last we see of old Asa Watts and his longer hair. Well that comes well into the drive when one of the boys wanders away from the others and walks right into Asa and his men. Dern is great in this scene as he first is so perfectly patronizing to the boy greeting him with a pleasant smile and a rather warm introduction as he greets the boy explaining that he's been following their group in secret the whole time. Obviously the men are not following the drive just looking for a job and the boy needs to be silenced, though apparently child murder is not quite in Asa's line. Dern is particularly proficient in this scene as he's a master of turning a smile of a welcoming man to that of a psychotic in an instance. Dern is incredibly chilling as he brings such a vicious intensity into Asa as he threatens to find and kill the boy no matter what if the boy speaks a word of their presence to Wil. There is no question that the boy will keep his word as Dern makes it something to be assumed through how frightening he is in the scene.

The boy stays silent as he should leaving Asa to eventually make his move to steal the cattle as he successfully catches Wil and the boys off guard. Dern is brilliant in this scene as he moves about in such a cocky stride as Asa as Wil exactly where he wants him. There is such a slimy confidence Dern brings as shows that Asa is quite enjoying the fact that he's gotten one over on one man. Dern also carries a considerable menace, not necessarily physically as the film even seems to clothe him in a certain way to diminish his frame as much as possible, but Dern effectively keeps that psychotic undercurrent in Asa creating a sense of the unpredictability of the man. Dern's good in building this around as he control the scene with him showing Asa soaking up the moment perhaps as much as he can as he acts as though he's a far greater man than he is. Eventually Wil does test Asa by punching him which Asa goes along with until it is obvious he won't win. Asa in turn takes a gun and does the unthinkable in a western he spoilers shoots John Wayne to death. Dern performs the scene so well by making Asa such a weasel as he pulls the trigger in a fearful rage at having lost in a fight with a man who is so many years older than him.

After having done the unthinkable Asa goes off with the cattle leaving Wil mortally wounded with his cowboys. This leaves only one thing the young boys to get brutal violent revenge against Asa and his men, with heroic music playing while they do it. Now to be fair Asa has it coming but still the boys all becoming killers at once is still treated a bit too lightly. Anyway Dern still offers some great love to hate moments for Asa particularly when he captures the only other adult who was with Wil the cook (Roscoe Lee Browne). Dern again brings such unwarranted smug satisfaction in Asa as prepares the cook for a hanging, only to have that look so perfectly wiped off his face when the boys come to the rescue. As much as this is a case where you want to see the villain get his comeuppance Dern actually made me feel a bit sorry for Asa when he does. Asa is injured and Dern retreats to the Asa we saw at the beginning and Dern does the duplicity of his pathetic nature so well that he can fool you into thinking his demise is sad. I rather loved Dern's performance here actually as he creates a memorable villain in just a few scenes, and does so not by being some overly cunning figure, rather by being such low down rotten scum instead.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1972: Ned Beatty in Deliverance

Ned Beatty did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Bobby Trippe in Deliverance.

Ned Beatty plays one of the men going on a river rafting trip in the deep south and like the entirety of the cast Beatty non-verbally establishes how his own character, Bobby, views the locals they must interact with in order to get to the river. Beatty plays Bobby as obviously having some clear disdain for them although does not bother to make it quite as obvious as Burt Reynolds's Lewis, though he he clearly expresses a particularly clear discomfort with dealing with the locals. When the trip starts it becomes rather obvious that Bobby is not suited for the outdoor adventure they are on. Beatty's very good in these scenes in a rather understated way. It is obvious that Bobby is suppose to be the one out his element to the point of derision from Lewis. Beatty does well though because although he properly matches the incompetence needed for the character but he doesn't go too far with in making Bobby seem like a caricature. He importantly stays believable and makes Bobby's inadequacies realistic. 

The trip eventually leads to the infamous scene where Bobby and Ed (Jon Voight) are accosted by some armed locals. Beatty is terrific in this scene where he must fulfill a particularly unglamorous role. Beatty is quite good as he begins still with the same slight unease and disdain at the behavior of locals as they at first just seem to be hassling the two men in just sort of general fashion. Quickly enough though when the men do pull the guns on them Beatty is great as he expresses almost a complete confusion at their request for him to strip as though he barely able to process what exactly is going on. When the man actually goes to rape Bobby Beatty creates the horror of the scene through by so effectively realizing that horrible moment where Bobby understands what the man intends to do to him. Beatty does well by capturing the brutality of the scene as Bobby is raped by one of the hillbillies. Before anything worse happens though they are saved by Lewis who kills on the hillbillies leaving the four men to decide what it is that they should do.

Bobby's choice of covering up the death of the hillbilly is made particularly understandable by Beatty's performance as he shows Booby almost running the whole situation in his mind and portrays the intense fear at thinking his rape will come to light in public. Beatty conveys the trauma in a different way that might be expected, but still in a way that feels honest. Instead of portraying a constant overt distress Beatty plays Bobby's manner as man trying his best to forget what happened to him. Beatty still shows that Bobby is irrevocably scared by his experience though he internalizes into him as for the rest of the film Bobby clearly no longer takes anything without some concern. There is a general cautiousness Beatty plays and has a whole unease towards the world that he did not before. When they do go back with the locals Beatty's performance works especially well as he portrays quite a different reaction in Bobby as he deals with the locals now. There's no disdain towards them just a constant friendliness about his interactions, although still with that strong undercurrent fear as Bobby obviously wants to give no form of offense to them for his own sake. This is a very good work from Ned Beatty as he, like his other three co-stars, successfully keeps an honest humanity in the story that in the wrong hands could have just seemed like absurdest exploitation. 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1972: Eddie Axberg in The New Land

Eddie Axberg did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Robert Nilsson in The New Land.

Eddie Axberg plays the younger brother of Max von Sydow's Karl-Oskar who has come with his brother to settle in the west of America. Axberg at first expresses a similar enthusiasm to von Sydow although his is best a bit more reduced suggesting that Robert is not exactly that happy to be under the supervision of his older brother. The film has some short moments that focus upon Robert as he tries to settle his own way into the new land, and he does not quite settle in the way Karl-Oskar is able to. Axberg is good as he portrays a certain adventurous spirit with though a similar strong feeling of apprehension in being a place he's not use to. There is one particularly fine scene for him when he thinks he sees one of the natives. Axberg realizes the concern and fearfulness well in Robert as he rather foolishly shoots at the corpse of a dead native who no one was able to bury. Axberg naturally realizes basically the way Robert is quite out of his depth in this new land, and lacks the same love of the land that his brother has. Robert not finding his place decides to move on to California for the gold promised there, which is not approved by Karl-Oskar.

Axberg creates a particularly believable dynamic with von Sydow. Most of the time Axberg shows Robert being comfortable enough with his brother, and there is the sense of their history together. When this changes though is whenever Karl-Oskar orders Robert around. Axberg is very effective in portraying how every word stings Robert as he is clearly most uncomfortable with taking orders from his brother who is acting as though he is his father. Robert sets out with his friend to California nevertheless and disappears for some time. Eventually he returns and the film reveals what happened in quite a stunning scene. The scene is almost dialogue free though Axberg does compelling work in portraying Robert's progression in the scene. He begins with again an enthusiasm, even greater than before. The trip starts to indications of horror which leaves a fall as Axberg so well loses that enthusiasm once again. This only becomes worse as it seems his survival is even in question and Axberg brings such a terrible despair. Each point is incredibly well met by Axberg's performance as he succeeds in believably makes this transition of his journey all in a single extended sequence that is quite remarkable.

The film then focuses upon Robert back at home with his brother and sister-in-law. Axberg is very moving in these scenes showing that Robert lost so much of himself on his doomed trek to California that left his friend dead. Axberg expresses Robert as a changed man who is now resigned to a certain sadness as he is unable to ever forget what happened to him on the trip. Axberg shows that he no longer even has the will anymore to argue with his brother as he just basically accepts his verbal attacks now. There is one particularly affecting scene where Robert goes to visit a brothel, likely looking to feel some sort of pleasure, and Axberg is terrific as he realizes that Robert can even barely connect with the experience because of how haunted he is by the past. Axberg performance is heartbreaking as he essentially shows that Robert died with his friend, and cannot seem to bear living knowing the things that he has seen. Axberg matches well the performances of Ullmann and von Sydow by giving such power into seemingly such simplicity. Axberg differentiates his work from theirs properly presenting Robert's story as one of a man being lost in a land that was apparently never meant for him.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1972

And The Nominees Were Not:

Eddie Axberg in The New Land

Ian Bannen in The Offence

Ned Beatty in Deliverance

Bruce Dern in The Cowboys

Robert Shaw in Young Winston

Alternate Best Actor 1972: Results

5. Burt Reynolds in Deliverance - Reynolds gives an interesting portrayal that matches yet quietly subverts his character's view of masculinity.

Best Scene: Lewis rescues Bobby and Ed.
4. Jon Voight in Deliverance - Voight gives a sympathetic and moving portrayal of a man who is both physically and mentally damaged by his journey.

Best Scene: Ed shoots the Hillbilly.
3. Robert Redford in The Candidate - Redford gives a strong performance where he transforms from a somewhat acerbic though passionate man to a charismatic though vapid politician.

Best Scene: McKay's laughing fit.
2. Max von Sydow in The New Land - Max von Sydow gives a great performance of beautiful simplicity through a honest depiction of a man's life in a new land.

Best Scene: Karl-Oskar's final moments with his wife.
1. Klaus Kinski in Aguirre, The Wrath of God - Good Predictions Michael McCarthy, Kevin, Luke, GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar, RatedRStar, and GM. Kinski gives a mesmerizing portrayal of a man's descent into madness. 1972 was filled with some great performances but I went with the one I simply loved watching the most out of all them.

Best Scene: Alone on the raft. 
Overall Rank:
  1. Al Pacino in The Godfather 
  2. Laurence Olivier in Sleuth
  3. Klaus Kinski in Aguirre, The Wrath of God
  4. Max von Sydow in The New Land
  5. Bruce Dern in Silent Running
  6. Stacy Keach in Fat City
  7. Robert Redford in The Candidate
  8. Jon Voight in Deliverance
  9. Michael Caine in Sleuth
  10. Marlon Brando in The Godfather
  11. Burt Reynolds in Deliverance
  12. Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris
  13. John Wayne in The Cowboys
  14. Paul Newman in The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean
  15. Gene Hackman in The Poseidon Adventure
  16. Peter O'Toole in The Ruling Class
  17. Michael York in Cabaret 
  18. Charles Grodin in The Heartbreak Kid
  19. Jeff Bridges in Fat City
  20. Clint Eastwood in Joe Kidd
  21. Lee Marvin in Prime Cut
  22. Jack Lemmon in Avanti!
  23. Woody Allen in Play it Again, Sam
  24. Steve McQueen in The Getaway
  25. Cliff Robertson in The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid
  26. William Daniels in 1776
  27. Kevin Hooks in Sounder
  28. Ryan O'Neal in What's Up Doc?
  29. Jon Finch in Frenzy
  30. Simon Ward in Young Winston
Next Year: 1972 Supporting

Friday, 13 March 2015

Alternate Best Actor 1972: Robert Redford in The Candidate

Robert Redford did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying William 'Bill' McKay in The Candidate.

The Candidate is an effective film detailing a first time politician attempt to win the U.S. Senate in California. A minor problem I do have with the film is the opponent Crocker Jarmon is almost a bit of villainous caricature, which seems odd since Bill McKay is not a hero, although I think this problem might have been non-existent if the original choice for the role, Jimmy Stewart, had taken the part since Don Porter gives a wholly charmless performance.

Robert Redford seems as appropriate of an actor as one could imagine to play the role of Bill McKay since Redford already has the look of politician to begin with. The film does not start with Bill McKay as a politician though as he is at first recruited for the job by a campaign manager Marvin Lucas (Peter Boyle) who sees potential in the young McKay who happens to be the son of the former governor of California. McKay at first is a liberal lawyer actively working causes he believes in. Redford does something interesting in his performance here which is he starts out not exactly all that charismatic. He portrays McKay as clearly a passionate sort of man as he espouses his semi-disinterest with Lucas's offer. Redford does not suggest this in a way that is especially endearing though. He does not espouse his views as a man who is trying gently convince a disbeliever of something, but rather just kinda bluntly telling his belief in a way where he obviously believes he is right. Redford does not give a wiggle room there as he pains McKay's personal drive as something that you can either take or leave, it's not something he will paint any other way.

McKay eventually accepts the offer due to Lucas promising McKay that he can say what he wants since he is going to lose to the incumbent Jarmon who is viewed as unbeatable. At the beginning of the campaign trail Redford is rather effective in depicting McKay's attempts to get his message out there. At first McKay rather bluntly states what his exact beliefs are. Redford is good in showing the lack of panache in the way that McKay does this. When he's trying to talk to random potential voters for the camera Redford brings a certain awkwardness about the whole thing. Redford does not show a lack of conviction in his statements, but rather he expresses the embarrassment of sorts in McKay as though he's not quite sure why he's making his statements in the public forums the way he is. What Redford does though is gradually suggest McKay kinda getting the hang of things as the campaign continues forward. Redford begins to project a stronger charisma in McKay ways as he seems simply more comfortable in the whole interactions with the people and the cameras.

Redford still keeps an inherent anger in McKay's manner though as he states his opinions somewhat as the last angry man, and there is still that quality in which would be rather off putting if one does not completely agree with the man. McKay manages to wins his party's primary though the initial polls show that he will suffer a crushing victory when facing his Republican opponent. McKay being against the embarrassment of such a defeat begins to become even more accepting of all of his managers' advice. This leaves McKay to reign his message in a rather peculiar way in which most of his statements become broad generalizations that most people are willing to support. Redford is equally good in creating the gradual change in this sense. At first he portrays some hesitation in his delivery of these tailored made statements, although for the most part is able to move through them well enough. Redford underlies it with some more obvious distaste for it all as there is something seething beneath McKay as he is forced to hide his real beliefs, making it particularly when McKay potentially compromises his gains from a charged outburst at the end of his otherwise standardized debate with Jarmon. 

The need of the victory out weight the needs of the espousal of views in the end for McKay. There is a great scene for Redford where he seems to indicate McKay's final transformation into the true politician. It's in the form of a speech which Redford delivers at first still with some of that past in the man as he opens in a possibly volatile fashion. Suddenly though when he gets into the meat of the speech Redford is excellent as he becomes the man who's ready to win the race. Redford realizes the command and charisma needed for the politician now as he gives a speech with little meaning other than that America is great and electing him will only aid in that fact. Redford finalizes the transformation brilliantly as he makes McKay far more appealing than he was before, and delivers the speech in a rather rousing way that almost seems to cover up just how shallow it is. He becomes the great American he was meant to be no longer seeming champion his personal cause, but rather champions every cause of any person. Of course it becomes far more difficult to decipher whatever it is that McKay believes in or ever believed in.

McKay continues on his campaign and Redford presents a charged man who seems to master the camera and the public through his unending espousing of platitudes as well as his so promising campaign slogan. This is not to say McKay is completely at ease with himself though Redford is terrific in realizing the acceptance of McKay for the most part. He no longer needs to plug the anger away rather he's done away with it into a certain confusion as well as resignation over his own vapidness. He might still have a problem but can do away with most of it in a quiet sigh when no one is watching. His only major breakdown is a great scene for Redford, because the breakdown is not McKay finally lashing out for his true passions, but rather just not being able to help himself from laughing at his own ridiculousness as he tries to turn out a TV ad. Redford gives a very strong performance here as he drives home the message of the film so well. He does not win us over as an audience here as the passionate young man with a purpose, instead he does it as the politician without a purpose but with the ability to make nothing, something one can vote for.