Monday, 27 May 2019

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2013: Colm Meaney in Alan Patridge: Alpha Papa

Colm Meaney did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Pat Farrell in Alan Patridge: Alpha Papa.

Having no exposure whatsoever to the evidently long running character of Alan Patridge, an inept English broadcaster, other than this film, I can only say I enjoyed this feature film featuring the character, though I'd imagine enjoying the particular comedic stylings of Steve Coogan as Patridge is essential for this. 

Anyway this film follows Alan Patridge as he throws under the bus a fellow "dinosaur" DJ in order keep his own job at a radio station. That man being Colm Meaney's Pat Farrell, an irascible Irish DJ. The "DJ" is kind of the distinction for a Colm Meaney's character who is just about always cast as an irascible sort, usually Irish, though not always. In this way Meaney is very much a classical character actor in if you need that irritable sort, call Meaney. There's a good reason for this however, as Meaney is quite good at playing these non too pleasant sorts, which makes him of course ideal for this film. Meaney playing the fired DJ who goes a bit nuts, and takes the station hostage, where it seems only Alan can negotiate a peace with Farrell. Meaney as aforementioned is ideal for this part as the crass DJ, as he brings that so naturally within his typical presence. This role isn't a stretch for Meaney, but it doesn't need to be because it works within his wheelhouse so well. Meaney makes for an enjoyable force for Alan to go "against", as he stands as less of an obstacle and more of a tool of Alan to try to use for his own gain. Meaney is this constant for most of the hostages, in this state of quiet hate that Meaney delivers in this appropriately calm way. This creating the right humorous inclination in his threats as he wears a "I'm going to kill you" eyes, even while maintaining a less intense demeanor. 

That is somewhat in contrast however to his interactions with Alan, as for much of the running time Pat is not aware that Alan in fact was key to getting him fired in order to save his own skin. Meaney though is enjoyable in playing much of these moments with this quiet affable quality as he "hangs" out with Alan even as they are in an ongoing hostage situation. Meaney's performance in these moments works in wonderful contrast as he plays them as though nothing serious is going on, even as he talks to Alan about how he fashioned a special way to kill one of his co-workers with a shot gun. There is a bit more though than having a demeanor ill-fitting to this situation in these moments though as Meaney manages to find a bit more as the film, briefly, looks at Pat's situation beyond his firing. This in moments of pondering on his late wife and how that loss probably compelled this current endeavor. Meaney manages a quiet sorrow in his delivery of these moments as he reflects a depression within the man as he speaks to Alan, this in-between moments of broadcasting from the hostage situation or further berating his less "loyal" co-workers. That is the dynamic of the performance and Meaney does well in both sides. This in part facilitating Coogan's more juvenile efforts by being an effectively hostile straight man of sorts, and bringing just a bit of genuine pathos to the proceedings. This being most evident when Alan sings "You were Always on My Mind" as a sign of repentance to Pat, after the latter discovers the former betrayal. A silly situation most certainly, however Meaney's reaction captures a honest sense of the man's loss as decides against murdering the man. This is a fine performance from Colm Meaney, very much in his wheel house to be sure, but a good example of why that house is his.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2013: Lily Franky in Like Father, Like Son

Lily Franky did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Yūdai Saiki in Like Father, Like Son.

Lily Franky plays the role that is many ways the antithesis of the film's lead character Ryōta (Masaharu Fukuyama). Ryōta being a rich work driven businessman who never seems to find time for his son. This is opposed to Yūdai Saiki who is a working class guy who runs an electronic shop with three kids of his own, but he finds plenty of time to share with them. Although the "outgoing" Yūdai may seem less challenging than pulling off the very reserved Ryōta, Franky's role also presents its own challenge. This is in the wrong hands there could've been the potential to simplify this difference into a potential caricature. The essential element thought to Franky's work then is this naturalism, as there is not a hint of performance in this performance. This idea even can sometimes wrongly be used as an excuse for being boring or simplifying in some other way, however that isn't the idea of Franky's performance that introduces us so vividly to Saiki and his family. This is from the outset of his appearance when he and his wife, show up to meet Ryōta and his wife to discuss what's to be done with the revelation that their sons were switched at birth. Franky's work delivers so much information just within his somewhat shy and awkward demeanor, ill-fitted to these sort of meetings, though with this earnestness within his delivery as he notes the difficultly to properly address the situation. I especially love his wholly genuine reaction of deferring to his wife's notion that even if they were giving up a pet it would not be a simple prospect to switch something you love.

Franky in that more reserved moment even reveals the more open, but also more emotionally honest nature of Yūdai. He's not someone who wears his emotions constantly on his sleeve, but rather Franky reveals someone with just a healthy sense of it. As we explore the family more though we are granted a greater sense of the man though. This is as we see him interact with his children where Franky is simply wonderful. Franky brings such a genuine warmth in the energetic interactions of Yūdai with his three children. There is not a false hint in Franky's work that exudes just a man who loves his family, and adores every moment he gets to spend with them. This isn't something he forces, but rather finds so much texture in the quiet moments of sincere affection, along with those little moments of humorous interactions fitting to an open loving father. In the moments of pure family interaction Franky reveals a man completely in his element, by just essentially giving himself to each and every moment, by always having a second to spare for his kids. Franky is this constant reminder of this different approach to parenting, as his performance creates with such an ease the powerful sense of a father far more in touch with his son than Ryōta ever has been. Franky again never simplifies the role within that, but also in terms of creating the sense of the man Yūdai is. When we see him interacting with Ryōta, Franky's manner changes to exude the strangeness of the situation, but also the separation of class and spirit. It isn't a cold separation but rather Franky's reaction are so effective in offering the sense of near anxiety on how to broach such a different man.

There is a fantastic moment where Yūdai tries to present his side, and I love the meek delivery of Franky's that brings such an honesty as he tries to impart his own wisdom, as gently as possible. His eyes in the moment evoke such a real concern towards the man's business focused mind, though while conveying this sensitivity towards the situation and their separation of class. Although even with this Franky brings that wholly good nature of the man this earned constant as part of his outgoing personality, to the point of trying to make the unique relationship work even with that distance. The only time this breaks is when Ryōta coldly suggests he takes all of the Saiki's children due to their better living conditions, based solely on their wealth. Franky's reaction of sheer disbelief with an undercurrent of horror makes Yūdai's violent reaction of hitting the man natural even to such a cheerful man. Franky in the moment shows so well the horror of such an idea and is only supported by that sense of overwhelming love for his children. Franky throughout the film adds so much to the film by providing this contrast to the central character. He does so by providing this other side of the coin but in doing so providing as honest of portrait of man. He never becomes a caricature of the "fun dad" in the same way Fukuyama never becomes one of the "cold dad". Their performances rather creates that contrast while still being fully embodying these men beyond that circumstance. Although he obviously has a more limited perspective than Fukuyama, Franky's work also finds such a quiet poignancy in presenting Yūdai with an essential reality of a man living through this unlikely struggle, just a different kind of struggle due to the nature of the man.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2013: Bill Nighy in About Time

Bill Nighy did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying James Lake in About Time.

Bill Nighy is an actor I've yet to cover here, though I feel my affection, and really the general affection of the public for him is practically a given. Bill Nighy falls in the category of an irreplaceable character actor, by the virtue as there's no one quite like him. His voice, his manner has this wonderful idiosyncrasy that makes him stand out in the most minor of roles. That is certainly the case here with a meatier role as the father of Domhnall Gleeson's Tim Lake, who informs his son of their family's male members being able to travel through time. This scene, which is Nighy's introduction, very much reveals the Nighy appeal. In that as the mentor father, we get a very different approach in this speech than many approach. This is as Nighy way of broaching it brilliantly plays with the idea of its ridiculousness, by almost side stepping in his slightly hesitant yet still casual way of giving the information. This even with granting a bit of advice on how to use the power to improves one life, which again Nighy delivers with this almost sly sincerity that manages to be both impeccably humorous while offering this quality of a quietly earnest inspiration.

Nighy's role then is this perfect little bright spot of being Bill Nighy within the film. This as he serves most often as a knowing reactor to the events, and Tim's use of time travel. Nighy does so much with just the slightest glances, whether it be adding just a bit more humor, or heart to given situation. I especially love his filled with pride slight smirk when seeing his daughter takes action against a worthless boyfriend via Tim's time powers. Nighy's work is that of this consistency quite honestly as he manages to find just the right tone for the material in question. This is after being one of the few tolerable things in director Richard Curtis's first film, an abomination actually, by being some sardonic need to cut through that film's tsunami of molasses, but here he takes it further though in a different way. This is mind you that this is a better film as written and directed to begin with, however Nighy's work is essential in this. In that his approach manages to tamper the corn on that cob, while still making that corn delicious. In that pure Nighy style he manages to bring the right combination of comedy with genuine heart. This in having the casualness makes this so natural in bringing the humor with the sincere moments between Tim and his father. Yes many moments of Nighy are those knowing glances, and every one of those are worth so much. There are also his own moments of more direct comedy, such as his pondering on his wedding speech for Tim until figuring he best give it another go. A moment that is great as Nighy makes this self doubt double check so human, even if so funny given he rectifies through time travel. The real test of it though comes late in the film where James is diagnosed with terminal cancer, that despite his time travel ability can't prevent it without losing his life essentially. This is already a bit heartbreaking just hearing it since Nighy is such an endearing presence to begin with. Nighy beautifully handles these scenes of pondering the loss, then even after James has died, still doing so. Nighy does so though by again remaining consistent in his approach, but doing such subtle portrayal of grief that is truly something special. Again Nighy does so much with his eyes, and just a slight twitch of the mouth, that reveals James's own sense of loss even as he keeps always the optimistic disposition for his son. Now mind you even in this time he still brings some nice humor, especially his somewhat salacious delivery on why smoking was needed to win over Tim's mother. This is simply lovely work for every scene, and every second of screentime, that is sort of a proper distillation of what Bill Nighy one of a kind.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2013

And the Nominees Were Not:

Bill Nighy in About Time

Colm Meaney in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

Joaquin Phoenix in The Immigrant

Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Lunchbox

Lily Franky in Like Father, Like Son

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Alternate Best Actor 2013: Results

10. Alden Ehrenreich in Beautiful Creatures - Ehrenreich brings such a genuine charm and sincerity in his work that he manages to make up for a mostly bland part. 

Best Scene: The course of his life.
9. Domhnall Gleeson in About Time - Gleeson gives an appropriately charming and endearing turn that manages to balance the film's tone nicely.

Best Scene: Final talk with dad.
8. Toni Servillo in The Great Beauty - Although I had no great affection for his film, Servillo managed to carry me through it in his charming and reflective portrayal of a man trying to find meaning in hollow extravagance.

Best Scene: Finding a great beauty.
7. Sol Kyung-gu in Hope - Although somewhat underused by the film he's in, Sol does deliver in granting the appropriate heartbreak and anger in a father's reaction to a true horror being inflicted upon his family.

Best Scene: Shifting his daughter to another room. 
6. Terence Stamp in Song For Marion - Stamp delivers, even when his film gets a bit corny, offering a genuine portrayal of grief that rises above his material.

Best Scene: "Goodnight My Angel"
5. Ethan Hawke in Before Midnight - Hawke gives an excellent turn continuing naturally in his "maturation"  of Jesse especially in how that is reflected with his chemistry with Julie Delpy as Celine.

Best Scene: Hotel room fight.
4. Simon Pegg in The World's End - Pegg delivers an overtly hilarious performance as a man still living as a high school rebel, though is equally heartbreaking in revealing the sad truth of such a state.

Best Scene: Nothing got better.
3. Christian Bale in Out of the Furnace - Bale gives perhaps his quietest turn and one of his most powerful as a man defined by hardship essentially fulfilling a personal duty through revenge. 

Best Scene: Listening to the tape.
2. Christoph Waltz in The Zero Theorem - Waltz gives a turn completely unlike his Oscar winning ones, through his moving depiction of  of the struggle of an extreme introvert while maintaining the humanity needed for the film's surreal journey.

Best Scene: Turning Down Bainsley's Offer.
1. Masaharu Fukuyama in Like Father. Like Son - Good predictions Michael Patison, Charles H., Luke and Tahmeed. Fukuyama gives a great naturalistic turn that manages to give such a restrained yet truly poignant portrayal of a father coming to term with his faults through some very unlikely circumstances.

Best Scene: Reuniting with his son.
Updated Overall

Next: Supporting 2013

Friday, 10 May 2019

Alternate Best Actor 2004, 2007 and 2013: Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End

Simon Pegg did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Shaun, Sergent Nicholas "Nick" Angel, and Gary in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End respectively.

In this new century of film one of the more notable collaborations between an actor and director has been in the comedic pairing of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. This is slightly more extensive as Pegg was also being part of the behind the scenes creative force as a co-writer of the projects. The two began with the television series Spaced where you can see the two working out their form in a situation comedy. It is perhaps then why the two were able to breakout so successfully with their first feature film together in Shaun of the Dead. A film that worked both as a parody of zombie films and as a zombie film. This followed by the comedic masterpiece of Hot Fuzz which did the same thing for the explosive action cop genre. Sadly, the same cannot quite be said for The World's End, which after watching it again after several years still frustrates me to a certain extent. This is not to say it is a bad film, it however is easily the sloppiest of the three, where its sort of comical juxtaposition isn't nearly as effectively realized as in the previous two films, it is also quite simply not as funny as the first two films. That is in part, I believe, that it doesn't really do a parody of alien invasion films in the way Fuzz and Shaun did for their respective genres, it is more of just a more comedic entry in that genre, but this also seems to be Edgar Wright’s, I'll say mistaken, way of seeming to want to move away from comedies. Although more on the shortcomings of the World's End will be forthcoming.

Pegg's place as a comedic leading man in this thematic trilogy is atypical for a comedic performer and collaborator even. Now as the zombie fighting Shaun, he is the more typical comedy lead, really the type of presence typical for a comedy lead. That being the somewhat hapless average, somewhat underachieving, Joe, who isn't overly smart, but smarter than his even simpler friend. Breaking convention entirely though is in Hot Fuzz where he plays a complete one eighty as the excessively straight laced Nicholas Angel who is an overachiever. He's not even a character for a cop comedy, or a cop film for that matter. In that Angel is kind of who would be the side character cop in many films given his extreme by the books nature. If that is not enough though Gary King manages to be a whole different sort. This can be taken as even a bit of a surprise as he too is a pub dwelling "common man" much like Shaun, however Gary isn't an underachiever, he's a never achiever. Although there is far more to be said there as well. The whole set up to the characters though is notable in itself given their vast differences in nature, though with two common areas, one being that each is brought to life by Simon Pegg, who is a far greater actor than he often lets on and their life philosophy is challenged through some strange events essentially.

Pegg's performance has actually a large physical component that isn't given enough credit. Now in part this is his expert physical timing, which is an essential element when it comes to the very visually inclined humor of Edgar Wright. Pegg is on form in every sense in that regard whether it be as Shaun waves hands in the air at the first sign of "don't call it the z word", Angel's many physical misadventures with the physically fierce trolley boy, or Gary's frequent drunken prat falls. That is certainly part of it and it should not be overlooked at any point. Pegg though grants each character their own physical nature. Well Shaun actually is just a straight forward man, which is fine. Pegg though transforms himself as Nick Angel the "Super cop". This is beyond just physically bulking up for the role, as his whole walk is a man of conviction and duty. He grants a natural intensity which is an special transformation given that Shaun was not all intimidating. He transforms himself to so effectively become this stiff yet devoted man. This is even in just the way he carries his expressions, as he fashions himself the iron jaw of a proper action hero, even though Pegg lacks one, just through his performance. Although perhaps less extreme, his work as Gary King is as impressive. This as he evokes a bent youth in his "rebellious swagger". Pegg portrays Gary as a man still walking down the hallways of a school just bearing the idea that "I'm too cool for all of this". Pegg brilliantly creates a grotesque quality in this as the same manner would be fitting for an 18 year old but is a touch ill-fitting to a man who left school about 25 years ago.

It must be noted that in these comedies, Pegg delivers three hilarious performances. Again, though the exact way of being hilarious isn't exactly the same one again. Now to be sure the quality of Pegg's skill as a comic performer is more than evident in each. A master of the reaction for example. Take whether it his aghast reaction to a steel bar through a zombie girl as Shaun, his reaction to the murder of Bill Shakespeare as Angel or Gary's decapitating a legoesque humanoid on a john. Great reactions aside though here again there is something unique in each comedic approach. In that in Shaun we have that hapless any man which careful pseudo straight man is leaning comic turn, against an excessively straight man as Angel and then a completely extroverted wild man turn as Gary. Although all hold some the same qualities within, that being Pegg is a great comic performer, but how he brings these out in each is wonderfully unique. Pegg brings that normal man performance so effectively within Shaun because he is so hilariously average as a man reacting to the zombie apocalypse. In that he treats it with this just enough clever levity such as his manner of so casually saying "oh there they are" when checking outside for zombies. Pegg though is something else entirely though in finding the humor in Angel's intensity, such as found in his glares of death towards his fellow officers less than professional demeanor when arriving in the small town he's been assigned to. This though is in contrast to Pegg's broader take with Gary and his beautifully excessively exuberant delivery when trying to convince his old school friends to engage in his nostalgic pub crawl idea or his spirited rattling off of every pub name when signing into their lodgings at their old hometown.

Although one should not hide the other constant in this series other than Wright and Pegg, Nick Frost, well actually there's also Bill Nighy and Julia Deakin, but anyways there's Frost. Frost being Pegg's Laurel to his Hardy, his Carney to his Gleason. Although again another inspiration in each film is how this dynamic is laid out for each. This being Frost playing a different type as well for Pegg to play off of, whether it be the layabout, to put it lightly, flatmate Ed in Shaun, the cop fanboy, PC Danny Butterman in Fuzz or the businessman Andy of The World's End. Each with a separation in the approach to where really the comedy from their interactions lie. This is in Shaun we have frankly just some goofy fun in the way the two bring out the same casual friendly quality in their zombie fighting expedition to a pub for protection as they almost would just going to the pub. There they just have this great naturalism of friends, and make so much fun of the simple act of the two going through Shaun's record collection, carefully, to use against a pair of zombies. The punctuate every moment so beautifully particularly Pegg's disgusted "throw it" to the Batman soundtrack or his "I like it" to another record choice. This shifted considerably in Fuzz where Frost brings such an endearing naive energy of a man who has no right to be a cop, meanwhile Pegg is the consistent hilarious straight man in his exasperated glances and reactions to every question measured towards a true "super cop". This is shifted far more though in The World's End where Frost is essentially the straight man, as the straight laced Andy to the mess of the man that is Gary, although their relationship is barely comedic in this one, though this is not a criticism.

On that though it seems right to bring the turn about why two of these films are so great, and why all three of these performances are remarkable even past being three idiosyncratic humorous turns. This is as all three succeed in far greater dramatic intentions which are weaved through the sort of paradoxical sendoffs for the three genres. In Shaun we have our hero treating the zombie apocalypse like a day in a life, which means seeking refuge in his favorite pub.  In Fuzz, the largescale criminal conspiracy merely resides in a neighborhood watch doing everything in their power to win the village of the year contest. Then in The World's End we have the discovery of an alien invasion through old high school friends engaging in their nostalgic pub crawl. That one I'll say is the weakest of the three in that regard since it feels the most forced within the screenplay and does not work nearly as well as the previous two versions. In each though this intertwined with Pegg's journey as each. A journey that is often funny, as aforementioned, but goes further than this. In Shaun we meet a man in a slight depression of existence as he works in his dead end job, has tension with his mom due to his Step dad Phil (Bill Nighy), has troubles with his other flatmate Pete due to Ed, and is losing his girlfriend Liz due to his somewhat aimless existence. All comedic setups however Pegg's performance has fun in its moments but does deliver in offering an actual weight within the idea. In that he expresses the very real heartbreak in his tear broken eyes after being dumped, and his distress when being bluntly berated by Pete for his life choices. Angel's sort of dramatic moments are perhaps fully integrated, rather than naturally segued, for the most part by Pegg, as he makes the intensity the nature of the character which manages to be both effective in the comedy while also providing the man's difficult state of always being "on". The dramatic element is a different matter with Pegg's Gary King, who puts on strong the idea of irreverence in his manner, of course this is only the beginning of his journey to whip together his old friends to live out their "glory days".
The journey of Shaun then is more than a series of many enjoyable humorous takes on zombie situations, as through the zombie experience Shaun must confront his life in a rather unusual way. This is as he must attempt to win Liz back by saving her from the zombies. This not at all made simple in Pegg's performance which brings the awkwardness but also sincerity of his plan to hide away in his favorite pub. When he pleads to Liz, and her flatmates, Pegg's performance is earnest, while not in any way sabotaging the comedy. The real depth of this work though sneaks upon you and on repeated viewings holds all the greater impact. An especially moving moment comes when Shaun's stepdad, almost dead from being bitten, apologizes for their past disagreements. Pegg's reaction is not blithe rather an honest reflection of this moment of connection, making Phil's death rather moving albeit briefly due to zombification and all. Each man's journey though is treated with the gravity it deserves through Pegg's work. Now Angel's is a bit more subtle in a certain sense, in that he essentially who just needs to lighten up, a little bit. This is found mostly through his interactions with Frost's Danny where he slowly lets him through his rough surface a bit. This adds more than humor to the relationship and again the quality in this work is remarkable. This in that the moment of Pegg's delivery of Angel's revealing his aspirations for the law has a quiet tenderness, particularly as he portrays it as this small opening to a man he's started to trust. I'll admit part of my reservations to the World's End choice in tone comes in that Fuzz and Shaun are more effective in their dramatic intentions overall while also being a whole lot funnier. This tone though weighs less on Pegg's work which again is the most colorful turn in that film. This where his dramatic moments are a hidden constant in Pegg's performance, though only comes through occasionally throughout the film. In that within his "full of life" rebellious manner, Pegg delivers an innate desperation both in those comedy moments of how bad of an act it is, but also in his delivery and eyes there is this need that suggests the concept is far more than just a trip down memory lane for Gary. This is as at every turn he continues the pub crawl, no matter how dire this situation, which Pegg portrays as this painful need.

The arc of each man is unique in their exact trajectory however there is an interesting similarity in their final state. This is almost as each man must become their best self without really losing their self. In Shaun's case he is man who must face every "demon" in his life all in one zombie infested day. Take his somewhat toxic relationship with Ed, which has the moment of rejecting his direct behavior by Shaun lashing at Ed for taking a call while being locked out of the pub while being surrounded by zombies. While a funny scene given the situation, Pegg's portrayal of Shaun's outrage is terrific as he captures a proper pent up rage of a friend who had given his friend too many outs. Then again, he brings the same passion in his defense as he goes about trying to save Ed from a zombie Pete, still showing his friendship if perhaps now a bit more measured. Shaun's life though is one in finding maturity within himself, without losing his general affable manner. This is pressed upon as through the process he must suffer his most intense loss as he must not only watch his mother die, but also must have to kill her in zombie form. Pegg is downright heartbreaking in each instance of not holding back in the real pain of the grief in that moment then his haunted expression as he must commit the coup de grace to truly put her to rest. The final then connection with Liz and Ed, as they just barely survive has such a real poignancy to it as Pegg quietly reveals a man who has learned much in this experience as speaks of his love for both Liz, and in his own way Ed. Each with a moment of understanding of Shaun as a man more fully formed, though still with an appreciation for the fun of life. Although this is indeed a comic performance, Pegg's performance does not make an aspect of it slight. Again, this is less of an extreme with Angel, but this too should not be hand waved. This in keeping the man still driven as he under covers the plot of the nefarious town watch but now with a more direct concern. This perhaps best exemplified as pleads with Danny to help him take down the neighborhood watch alliance. Pegg brings that same conviction essentially to justice but with an openness as he looks for support in his endeavor. This leading to the climax, which is mostly comedic, yet also marvelous as Pegg shows a man essentially becoming a true super cop, by basically having a little fun in his final fight. Pegg though brings this eager ferocity brilliantly as he makes as part of this appreciation for Danny, as the two of them take down the NWA through every action cliché in the book. Angel still being a cop who gets things done, but now with the ability to bring a bit of fun to it all. Gary's is again quite different yet easily the most compelling element of his film. This is as Frost's Andy confronts him about almost ignoring the alien invaders in order to stay on his pub crawl. When this confrontation happens that seeded desperation of Pegg comes to the surface and is quite devastating. This is as it is this release of an awful revelation as the tear addled reckoning of a man who recognizes he's wasted his life. Pegg's delivery of Gary's recognition that his life never got better past high school is this truly harrowing expression of a man understanding he wasted his life. This isn’t the climax though where again Gary's transformation isn't a 180 either. This as he confronts the alien entity, who offers the temptation of youth. Pegg is however amazing in this scene, even as it is a shift back mostly to comedy in his spirited defense of humanity and in turn his own faults as he rejects the alien's offer of "perfection". His statement of being the only Gary King being with a founded pride within Pegg's eyes in at least being himself more than anything. This leads to the somewhat sloppy finale; however, I'll defend Gary's ending as a natural fit to the cornetto "hero". Again, Gary is very much himself in the final scene, a man rebelling against society, however now somber and with purpose. Pegg's portrayal carrying that same swagger but now lacking that misery hidden within the act. I must admit looking upon all three of these performances in short order only made me appreciate them more. This is as all three work both as great comic turns but deliver far more emotional potency than intentionally dramatic turns. This in granting a real nuance and detail to their emotional journeys, while also consistently delivering comic gold. Pegg shows his range with each as all three characters are distinct creations, with their own experiences, with the consistency being Pegg's talent is behind each granting three exceptional turns that go far beyond their "slight" expectations. 

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Alternate Best Actor 2013: Ethan Hawke in Before Midnight

Ethan Hawke did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Jesse in Before Midnight.

Before Midnight is the terrific third entry that keeps following the young pair of lovers now middle aged.

This is the third film that shows the progression of the relationship between Hawke's Jesse and Celine (Julie Delpy), largely through conversations. Well it all began in Before Sunrise as the two had a chance meeting through a day in Vienna where the two fell in love and swore to meet each other again. This picks up in Before Sunset, which I'll say plays like an epilogue to the first film, even though it takes place several years later. Hawke's performance in that film is a bit more guarded though rather similar as Jesse's mostly changed only in circumstance. The interplay between the two there is straight forward for the most part as they reconnect casually at first, with conflict very briefly, then more "formally" by the end of that film. I won't say I have to say too much on that one as it is very much the middle chapter to get the two back together. The real leap I find is with this film where the old dynamics are thrown out the window as since the last film, they've been together for years, with two daughters, and a son from Jesse's previous marriage. What is also thrown out is the basic two hander structure, in part, as the day in question is a bit more eventful in a way, evident from the opening which starts with Jesse and his son Hank.

Hawke's comfort with Linklater's naturalistic style once again is immediately evident, but also evident is the apparent change in Jesse as portrayed by Hawke. Although it is not some instance of a night and day reflection, we do not see the carefree young man of the first film, or the attempting to be carefree young man of the second film. Hawke instead expresses so effectively this weight of the responsibility of parenthood as he walks along his son at the airport. This as Hawke captures this perfect distance as he speaks with the overtures of affection, even if slightly sardonically in terms of his son's own distant attitudes, though never to the point of anything truly problematic. Hawke though accentuates the attempt of the connection so effectively, and suggests the warmth even if compromised in some way, Hawke makes it obvious he loves his son, but also accentuates the troubles alluded by the scars of the divorce from his wife, after the events of the last film where Jesse decided to stay with Celine. The fallout of that choice is seen here in Hawke's performance that while not deeply troubled, is without a strict responsibility.

We see Jesse quickly in happier circumstances as we are given the first of the long conversations as we see Celine and Jesse drive to their vacation home, with sleeping twin daughters in the back seat. We instantly see the appeal of their relationship once again, even if their conversation more immediately falls upon their now very adult concerns rather than waxing poetic on any single subject. The chemistry between Delpy and Hawke is sheer perfection once again, as the two have an even greater comfort between each other than in either previous film. The quality of understanding is all the greater than even their overt infatuation of before as we see two true companions. The two are excellent because as much as they have stayed the same in that connection, we also quickly see the differences in terms of the maturation of their relationship. A natural maturation however, and a fascinating one as we see more layers than before. This is as they no longer speak as two people getting to know each other, but as people who now have known each for some time.

In this we have the moments of just the two being right with one another, even as they are so cheery as the two decide to avoid their daughters' hopes of seeing some ancient ruins. As much as that affection in every moment of this intimacy and familiarity there is more to be seen. One instance in this is moments of Celine's more direct criticisms of her very American companion. Hawke is fantastic in these moments as he puts on the charm, but by bringing out a more juvenile spirit more fitting to the 20 something of the first film. In these moments though Hawke is great though by showing it almost as a falling back point, his method to charm her each time, as essentially the man who did so many years ago. Now Hawke doesn't make this a purposeful maneuver, but rather this very fluid manner as simply part of the relationship. This contrasts with as the film expands a bit to include the other vacationers, including literary types now that Jesse has become a successful writer, based on his semi-autobiographical books on the last two films. In these scenes Hawke portrays a contentment very much in his place among the literati. This with him bringing a confident, nearly smug, passion as he discusses his literary ideas, though certainly with a genuine spark that helped to define the young man in the first film. His attitude though is sharply contrasted against what are essential moments for Delpy's performance where Celine seems to have one sardonic remark after another ready to take a bit of the luster off of Jesse.

It all appears in good enough fun, however the consistency of it and the often incisiveness of it suggests otherwise. This goes within their chemistry as the two are equally good in these moments of a couples more problematic moments. This in Celine's small little punctures in Jesse's ego, are so well reflected in Hawke's performance which captures the socially acceptable taking of humor, however subtly within that conveys the right glint of a bit of hostility. This brilliantly perpetuated within the writing, but also both performances. This even as we go on another long walk through various sights, and once again enjoy the company of both. Hawke and Delpy once again making the most mundane of conversations so magnetic in their own way. This time though they do not have a romantic tryst to look forward to, though they expect as much, as their day this time ends in a touch artificial hotel room. This sequence of the two in the hotel room is an amazing bit of acting from both performers as they make it such a natural decay. This is as they are at first going to have sex, however small questions about their future and their relationship to Jesse's son soon brings that seeded hostility to the open. The explosion of hate that is so well performed because neither falls into easy melodrama. They rather fine such an authentic fight as they trade barbs and outbursts with such an honest rhythm. This is as there are moments of humor, even love, within there more intense direct moments of disgust or distress. This is as they show two people who love each other, but within that the fight in turn becomes more personal. I love especially how Delpy brings this directness, against Hawke who shows Jesse trying to defer or re-direct the difficult conversation. That does not end well, but the two have one final moment again, as Jesse essentially tries to "pick up" Celine once again with a similar approach to the train in the first film. Although again Hawke brings that endearing uncertainty in the moment, in his eyes though he brings such a genuine sense of tenderness. This tenderness creating a believable reconciliation, but not by playing an old trick, rather a moment of recognizing why they loved each other in the first place. Both Hawke and Delpy give wonderful performances, as they don't simply reprise the roles, but rather truly revisit the couple as though they never had stepped out of the characters after all these years.