Monday, 11 February 2019

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2018: Russell Hornsby in The Hate U Give

Russell Hornsby did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated and winning a few critic awards, for portraying Maverick 'Mav' Carter in The Hate U Give.

The Hate U Give follows a teenage girl, Starr (Amanda Stenberg)'s, struggle after witnessing the death of her best friend by a the hands of a police officer. The film certainly has many more than decent elements however struggles a bit by funneling all of these through YA trappings.

Russell Hornsby, who made a fine impression a couple years ago as Denzel Washington's much older son in Fences, plays Mav Carter the father to Stenberg's Starr. A role similar in intention to Laurence Fishburne's Furious Styles in Boyz n the Hood.  A man who has made mistakes in his past and intends to make sure his family survives and thrives. This is made abundantly clear through the film's striking opening scene where Mav outlines how to handle when being pulled over by the police. Hornsby's in turn makes quite the impression in this scene delivery through this monologue with a strict intensity. He creates the right sense of the danger of it through his hollow method, though shows within it the sort of conviction with his work to support the sense that all for the good of children. Hornsby lays it down bluntly with all the seriousness of a man preparing them to survive most of all, and doesn't even make a glint of anything else. Within this also there is this sort of inherent harshness he brings within his presence that effectively suggests a man who has had his own hard life, and that this too is part of this point blank conditioning. Hornsby in his eyes captures this certain weight of a difficult life as he explains this, making quite the powerful first impression in the film.

Hornsby naturally reduces that overt intensity in his next scene, though it is always something inherent in his performance, effectively so. This is as he manages to convey the loving father who tries to give his children a blunt truth for their lives. Hornsby brings this warmth just as this rather subdued yet potent quality in the character. Hornsby almost makes this the exceptions in a sense as these moments of ease when he can find them to show his affection for his children openly. Hornsby finds the right balance in this and does a particularly good job of in finding just brief subtle moments when watching his children this sense of an unconditional love. This is always intertwined with the harshness of the man's past and how that has influenced Mav's present view. Hornsby again though portrays well the way this informs a certain adamant passion in the character. This is as we see it as he explains his views of the drugs being pushed into the neighborhood by outside forces where Hornsby's delivery accentuates this as another blunt truth to Mav who wishes to instill an understanding to this perspective in his children. These moments could fall into posturing, but Horsnby really ground it well through his performance which always makes it this expression of this internalized experience of the man.

After the inciting incident occurs Hornsby's is perhaps too much of a secondary character much of the time. Every moment he appears though is a strong one due to his devoted work. One of the best moments being when he comforts his daughter from a nightmare after the shooting. Hornsby's great in the scene as he plays it more like a soldier comforting a fellow comrade with PTSD than just a concerned father. He importantly doesn't overplay this though again making it rational by making the state of Mav such a vivid one. This is not shown to be always a positive thing as we see him fight with his wife (Regina Hall), and shows his own limits of tolerance when Starr brings home a white boyfriend. The former scenes Hornsby brings the right determination again within the spirit of the character that he attaches to a conviction to protect his home, much as he protects his family, that he shows to be stubborn though based within an earnest belief. The latter Hornsby is great in as it could've been a moment that easily devolved to some over the top act. Thankfully Hornsby realizes this so well as he portrays not so much a disappointment in his daughter, but rather in himself in his expression of the scene as one of self-loathing surrounding the mistakes of his past. I wish the film had focused more on his character as his scenes are the best in the film. The film gets unfortunately a little muddled in its portrayal of the conflict between the family and an old drug dealer acquaintance of Mav's where that YA influence becomes evident. This in that the drug dealer, despite being played by the reliable Anthony Mackie, feels more like a YA villain than a realistic menace. This simplifies the interactions of the conflict and unfortunately makes most of Hornsby's late scenes pretty limited in scope and potential for him. Now he's still very good in every moment he does have and brings as much of a reality and weight to even the more contrived moments. This is especially in the scene of the "giving hate" speech, that while it seems more reminiscent of something more like a speech from the Hunger Games, than something from Boyz N the Hood, in its approach. Hornsby's though is so very genuine in his switch from an intense hate to an adamant love that he does make up for that to an extent. Hornsby's consistently grants an honesty to these moments even as the narrative becomes a little unwieldy in its overarching tone. His performance though is a consistently potent element in the film that is frankly of a greater film than the one he appears in.


Calvin Law said...

One of the trickiest roles of this type and I thought he pulled it off wonderfully. Do agree with the tonal dissonance of the film though. Thoughts and ratings for the rest of the cast?

Robert MacFarlane said...

As didactic as the YA elements were, I’m really hoping this one gains a following. In someways, I feel its after school special tone works in its favor. It may not be the greatest example of a movie in this vein, but it will be accessible to a wider audience without compromising as much as it could have.

Hornsby is just goddamn amazing. Maverick was such a great character and he pulls off such a great balance. I’m an easy mark for paternal figures in Supporting Actor, it seems.

Michael McCarthy said...

Yeah I’d agree with this assessment and rating. I also love the picture you used.

Mitchell Murray said...

Even months after first watching the film, my opinion of Hornsby has remained virtually the same; A strong, nicely modulated turn that always strives for authenticity, and leaves a big impact even in the smallest of scenes. I just wished the movie brought the same solemnity and earnestness as Hornsby's work, which is still a notable effort, and one of the better supporting performances to be found within the modern YA genre.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I really, really need to see this. My predictions for the top ten:

1. Yeun
2. Bridges
3. Pullman
4. Waits
5. Grant
6. Crowe
7. Hoult
8. Nelson
9. Roache

Bryan L. said...

Welp, they're really doing it...

Cinematography, Editing, Live-Action Short and Makeup & Hairstyling will all be awarded during commercial breaks.

Interesting that Disney, which owns ABC, doesn't have a nominee in any of those categories. Hhmmm...

Psifonian said...

Gonna throw out my own suggestions for Best Actor performances that likely won't be as heavily requested as others:

Joe Cole, A Prayer Before Dawn
Ben Dickey, Blaze
Paddy Considine, Journeyman

Charles H said...

My prediction, but Yeun and Bridges will be very close and may change down the line.

1. Yeun
2. Bridges
3. Pullman
4. Grant
5. Waits
6. Crowe
7. Nelson
8. Hoult
9. Roache
10. Nivola

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Thoughts on Crimes Of Grindelwald, ratings and thoughts on the cast and your thoughts on the twist ending.

Luke Higham said...

Cole and Considine are musts for the Bonus round lineup. Dickey, I'd assume would be a really good one to review later on as well.

Anonymous said...

High Life had a 2018 release in France. Pattinson is a bonus round review as well.

Bryan L. said...

Luke: Would it be safe to say that you don't particularly care what happens from now on in the cash gr...err...franchise that is Fantastic Beasts? :o

Luke Higham said...

Bryan: I'll probably still watch them but no. I hope they'll bounce back with the next film though it just isn't likely.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Destroyer is online.

Bryan L. said...

Luke: They should get a director with a more exact vision, since Yates seems like he's a British Ron Howard. Thanks for the heads-up regarding Destroyed btw.

Louis: Not sure if you're familiar with the following common complaint, but if you are, can I have your thoughts on "It would've been better as a mini-series" that's thrown around a lot after a bad/overstuffed film?

RatedRStar said...

Thought I would come back early, cant stay away from this blog lol, especially since I forgot that the Oscars are next Sunday, feels so much earlier than usual.

Calvin Law said...

RatedRStar: I know right? This ceremony’s gonna be one helluva clusterfuck.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: What do you think are ten examples of films with very good screenplays, which were prevented from being better films by poor direction, a la The King's Speech?

RatedRStar said...

Hong Kong film awards have been announced =D.

RatedRStar said...

So happy that Chow Yun-Fat and Sam Lee have returned =D.

Bryan L. said...

Tahmeed: The Founder comes to mind. Should've gotten Bennett Miller or Fincher to direct.

RatedRStar said...

Some thoughts:
- I predicted all 5 Best Actor nominees, very surprised by that,
- 3 correct for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor
- 2 for Supporting Actress although one of my predictions was in a different category (Catherine Chau),
- Tracey not nominated for Best Picture is a shock.
- Dante Lam always getting an acting nominee for his films was correctly predicted but I incorrectly picked Supporting Actor rather than Supporting Actress.
- Sam Lee with his first nomination in 20 years, incredible lol.
- Chow Yun-Fat with his first since his snub curse (Let the Bullets Fly) started.
- Charlene Choi with a shock nomination over Tang Wei, Wei must not have been in contention.
- Liu Kai Chi sneaking in with a nomination as always.

Louis Morgan said...


Stenberg - 4.5(I have to actually give a bit of extra credit for her devoted turn as she tries so hard to play the character and make it work within the film's tonal difficulties. As much as the scenes don't cohere I'll give her credit for making her performance consistently work to make the scenes work essentially. This is as she does find a real foundation within her performance of an emotional honesty that helps even the most grandiose YA speech she is given have a certain level of conviction on her end anyways. In addition though she is just effective in creating an honest depiction of the anxieties and fear that grow and fester from her situation.)

Apa - 2.5(Right out of the YA genre in every way, he's not horrible so I won't pick too hard.)

Mackie - 2.5(Just a terrible role for him sadly. He tries but he's working with one note as written. I'll give him credit as he's not bad even though his role honestly is almost impossible to get a decent performance out of.)

Smith - 3(He manages to make his impressive effectively here, though after watching Detroit it is a little hard to believe the line "He liked to sing even though he couldn't".)

Common - 2.5(Common essentially gives the same performance in every film I've seen him in thus far. This is no different however he borders on breaking out that in his explaining the police mentality moment.)

Hall - 3.5(Severely underused throughout however she brings a charismatic presence and certainly adds to her scenes even though she is a bit wasted.)


The Crimes of Grindelwald's screenplay makes Infinity War's screenplay look the Godfather, in terms of being a cinematic piece. Where Infinity War was a climatic episode of a series, Crimes is a messy table setting episode at best. The screenplay is this atrocious thing that never even becomes a film, it's just like the bits that should be important later and nothing else. Now an author can make mistakes with continuity but the amount here just makes Rowling seem lazy. She's evidently not much of a screen writer as though the first film had similar problems, those are amplified to a ridiculous extreme. By the time the movie ended, I thought isn't it going to start any time soon? Now that twist was idiotic as it was illogical. The whole script was just nonsense honestly.

Louis Morgan said...

Redmayne, Waterston and Fogler - 2.5(Shame all three seem like extras here as they seem to search to see what the film is even about.)

Sudol - 2(Boy was that twist bad, and her attempts to sell it sadly were worse.)

Miller - 2.5(He actually was a little better here, a shame that his character is so poorly realized.)

Kravitz - 3(Though I'm still wondering what the point of her character, and her story really were, I'll give her credit for actually manage to purge anything out of the abysmal material.)

Law - 3.5(Shame the trailers lied as he makes for a pretty good Young Dumbledore. Mind you his scenes end up feel superfluous in a film that is entirely superfluous. He's good though in bringing a nice easy going charm with the right sort of internalized emotional intensity.)

Depp - 3(The strangest thing is he's perfectly fine here honestly. In fact his speaking scenes, as much as they extremely questionably written, are very well delivered and he really manages to try to convey the charisma of the man. He's fine here.)


Well I think it is a better fit for overstuffed films, and think it's a fine criticism there. It can be overused as it is not a cure all, if something is bad in short form it's not going to be good in long form. I think it is legitimate thought against something like Gattaca or Widows, where the film seems in a rush to try to cover every single plot point, while never having enough time to really explore them in detail. This is despite these story lines being very potent or having a lot of potential.


The Founder
Husbands and Wives (Some of Allen's worst direction)
The Man With the Goldn Arm
The Great Gatsby
The Stepford Wives
The Limey
The Hospital
Altered States (Though more misguided than "Bad" on Russell's part)
Runaway Train
The Prisoner of Second Avenue