Saturday, 2 November 2019

Alternate Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor 1952: Update

Well here are some supporting turns I rather enjoyed. 

James Mason in The Prisoner of Zenda - Well as to be expected Mason takes on the role of the villainous Rupert with great relish. In the 37 version we had Douglas Fairbanks Jr. out of his typical element stealing the show, here we get Mason very much in his element. Although this performance is less of a surprise to be sure, he steals the entirety of the film wholesale with his turn where he very much emphasizes just how much fun the man is having as tries to find a way to rule a kingdom he has no right to, or at least benefit in its power plays in some way. Mason is cheerfully evil here, in a classic Mason way, and you can really get the sense of the joy of performance in Mason's work here. It is very much Mason in his most well known element, and in turn he of course does not disappoint. This as he shows a man who loves the games he gets to play for his schemes, perhaps more than the prizes he may gain from it. I especially love his work in two elements in particular. This being his relationship with his co-villain, the attempted usurper Michael's mistress. Mason does his lusty sleaze with such a devious style by playing the whole moment into how Rupert just finds any way to enjoy himself quite frankly. This of course even with Mason pulling off a bit of that charm of his, though funneled through some expertly performed creepiness. The other element are the action scenes where Mason isn't content to just be in them, but owes them with granting such a sense of sheer joy in every moment of Rupert's attempts at murder.
Ralph Richardson in The Sound Barrier and The Holly and The Ivy - Speaking of actors I suppose in his element here Richardson in two roles that share a great similarity yet are very different. In each film, for much of the film, Richardson's character is assumed to be something by the other characters in the film. In David Lean's The Sound Barrier, he's a research scientist whom his daughter views as heartless as he takes part in experiments that lead to the death of one test pilot after another, many of whom are very close to both of them. Richardson here has a purposefully limited role for much of the film, though that isn't to say he isn't still remarkable in the role throughout. Richardson projects this cold conviction rather effectively and in his eyes delivers that determination of a man intent on changing the world. His performance though is this time bomb of a way, as it builds up until the daughter confronts her father for what she perceives as uncaring and unconcerned. This is until she actually sees him as he listens to an ongoing test and a potential pilot death. Richardson in this moment is fantastic in portraying the sheer distress within the man eyes, powerfully showing the very real weight of the sacrifice within the man who is well aware of what is being lost. This only be amplified by his subtle yet striking silent relief in his expression as he hears one of his pilots survive. Richardson showing the good man within the cold conviction in a particularly believable way, because he portrays the moment not as a different man but rather this honest reflection of how this type of man who reveal his empathy.

This is essentially the same structure, though a very different character in The Holly and the Ivy, an early, and effective, example of the ennui filled family reunion genre. Richardson though here played a white haired parson, who for much of the film is man who is seen, but mostly spoken of by others. Richardson serves the role well actually by just portraying his part as a man who appears contented in the presence of quite simply his life. This with the occasional interested, curious if not perhaps concerned interest in his children as they visit, though they speak too little to him for him to be able to speak more. Of course as his family visits for Christmas, all with their own personal problems, they all assume that their pastor father will not understand their problems. This is until he directly confronts his son and daughter who both went drinking the night before Christmas. This as each first assume he will not know anything based upon two separate issue. The first with his son assuming he cannot understand troubles as a pastor. Richardson is downright amazing in the scene by playing such genuine befuddlement at the claim, which is followed by such outwardly moving portrayal of empathy. This being a far more open empathy than seen in his aforementioned performance, fitting to the pastor who is nothing by a loving caring father. I love Richardson's delivery of the pastor's response to his son, where his delivery finds this eloquent combination of disbelief but also the utmost sincerity as the man only speaks words of care and support towards every problem his son reveals to him. This soon followed by a similar conversation with his daughter, who believes him unable to understand her feelings of doubt towards her faith, because again of his place as a pastor. Richardson again is fantastic in the moment in now showing even more this sense of disbelief. Again within this Richardson wraps in this loving warmth in this though of a man hurt, though only hurt only towards his own apparent inability to prevent his family from misconstruing his personality and the nature of his faith. Richardson again excels though in only depicting a fundamentally good man, even as he speaks of his religion not in boisterous piousness, but rather through quiet reasoned words of a man whose own struggles helped cement his beliefs. Richardson is terrific as he once again makes this considerable impression, as this impeccably placed performance, by delivering the essential brunt of his film's emotional impact in one major revelation. In each, Richardson earns the build up, and doesn't waste the surprise in granting two powerful portrayals of two rather different men poignantly revealing their true natures.
Updated Lead Overall
Updated Supporting Overall

Next Year: 1999 Lead


Emi Grant said...

Louis: Any chances of John C. Reilly going up for Magnolia? I think he'd make a great review.

Matt Mustin said...

Nicolas Cage in Bringing Out the Dead
Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut
Anthony Hopkins in Titus
Ralph Fiennes in Sunshine
Jim Broadbent in Topsy-Turvy (I'm assuming he's lead)

Michael McCarthy said...

I was kind of hoping to see an upgrade and write up for Chaplin in Limelight, I ended up loving that turn.

As for 1999, my main hopes are for a HUGE upgrade for Denzel and a great review for Heath Ledger in Two Hands.

Calvin Law said...

Thoughts and ratings for Celia Johnson in The Holly and the Ivy? So glad Ralph has impressed you again :)

Calvin Law said...

And your overall thoughts on the two films of his.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your ratings and thoughts on Millard Mitchell in My Six Convicts?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your 1952 Female Lead and Supporting top 10s with ratings.

Ratings and Thoughts on Battisti, Mitchum and Poujouly.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your 1952 wins. Rating and thoughts on Bjornstrand in Secret Of Women.

And thoughts on Umberto D., The Narrow Margin and Forbidden Games.

RatedRStar said...

Tom Cruise - Eyes Wide Shut
Jim Broadbent - Topsy-Turvy
Nicolas Cage - Bringing Out The Dead
Ralph Fiennes - Sunshine
Heath Ledger - Two Lifes

And Ray Winstone - The War Zone

RatedRStar said...

Louis: Very very quick thoughts on Ivanhoe, My Six Convicts, Hans Christian Anderson, Plymouth Adventure, Park Row and The Lusty Men?

GM said...

Jim Broadbent, Topsy-Turvy
Allan Corduner, Topsy-Turvy
David Strathairn, Limbo
Ralph Fiennes, Sunshine
José César Monteiro, The Spousals of God
Ewen Bremner, Julien Donkey-Boy
Nicolas Cage, Bringing Out the Dead
Sergi Lopez, An Affair of Love


And My Nominees Were Not:
- Jim Broadbent in Topsy-Turvy
- Nicolas Cage in Bringing Out the Dead
- Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut
- Bob Hoskins in Felicia's Journey
- Ray Winstone in The War Zone

Luke Higham said...

1999 Lead
Jim Broadbent - Topsy-Turvy
Nicolas Cage - Bringing Out The Dead
Tom Cruise - Eyes Wide Shut
Denis Lavant - Beau Travail
Ray Winstone - The War Zone
Ralph Fiennes - Sunshine
Bob Hoskins - Felicia's Journey
Terence Stamp - The Limey
Anthony Hopkins - Titus
Heath Ledger - Two Hands

Anonymous said...

Louis, ratings and thoughts on Simone Signoret in Casque D'or and Ingrid Bergman in Europe '51.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Can Alan Rickman go up for Galaxy Quest?

Anonymous said...

And Brigitte Fossey in Forbidden Games.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Could I have your thoughts on the Chinese restaurant scene from A Christmas Story? I've seen quite a few articles that decry the film on that scene alone. Even if the reaction I have is nowhere near that extreme, (the film isn't mean spirited or malicious at all), do you think there's any merit in re-evaluating scenes like that from a modern lens/context? Because while I'm personally not offended by it, I can definitely understand and sympathize with those who might.

Tim said...

the only ones i would really like to read Reviews of are
Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense
Tom Hanks in The Green Mile
John Cusack in Being John Malkovich

otherwise i would like to know whether or not you are planning to update your Overall ranking of the nominees, since the last tim that was updated was 2014 and we've had some Pretty strong years, especially in Lead Actor where 2016 would surely be #1 now. And since some people like Jesse Eisenberg got rated up, that 2014 list is not really accurate anymore, i would be w´very happy to see your updated thoughts. The best way would probably be to make the update after next year`s ceremony

Luke Higham said...

Tim: That list was incredibly unwieldy and the positioning of some performances
didn't make sense to me.

Malkovich was reviewed in Supporting first time round. And it's unlikely that Hanks and Willis are going up.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on The Narrow Margin?

Tim said...

Luke Higham why is it unwieldy?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Tim: It's a ranking of over 400 performances each for both Lead Actor and Supporting Actor. Ranking all of those performances is a Herculean task in and of itself, and moreover, Louis's opinion on a lot of them may be reevaluated as the bonus rounds continue.

Anonymous said...

Please, Louis! Only 5 nominees. Please, Louis!

Luke Higham said...

Tim: What Tahmeed said.

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I want 10.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your rating and thoughts on Saburi.

Louis Morgan said...

Emi Grant:

Not out of the question.


Johnson - 4(I thought she actually probably had the least interesting role out of the family, as her concerns were just trying to fulfill a single responsibility while being torn with her own needs. Johnson though can do so much though with even a relatively simple character and brings such a potent humanity within the character nonetheless. This making an impact and realizing her part so vividly even if in terms of the scheme of the story should force her to be overshadowed by the others.)


Mitchell - 4(Mitchell wholesale steals his film as sort of the earthy yet likable convict who most seems to come to understand the doc. Mitchell just brings a vibrant life to his part here and gets to nicely stretch a bit past the less interesting authority figures he typically played. Mitchell brings a vibrant life to his character and really offers a bit more depth and even reality very much needed for the overarching approach of the story. It's a moving turn, and I only wish more of the convicts made the impression he did.)



1. Maureen O'Hara - The Quiet Man (Upgraded to a 5)
2. Claire Bloom - Limelight
3. Ingrid Bergman - Europa 51 - 4.5
4. Kinuyo Tanaka - The Life of Oharu
5. Shirley Booth - Come Back, Little Sheba
6. Joan Crawford - Sudden Fear
7. Susan Hayward - With a Song in My Heart - 4.5
8. Bridgette Fossey - Forbidden Games - 4
9. Katherine Hepburn - Pat and Mike - 4
10. Jennifer Jones - Carrie -4


1. Eva Dahlbeck - Secrets of Women - 4.5
2. Anita Bjork - Secrets of Women - 4.5
3. Maj-Britt Nilsson - Secrets of Women - 4.5
4. Olivia deHavilland - My Cousin Rachel
5. Edith Evans - The Importance of Being
6. Margaret Leighton - The Holly and the Ivy - 4
7. Celia Johnson - The Holly and The Ivy
8. Mildred Natwick - The Quiet Man
9. Gloria Grahame - Sudden Fear
10. Miki Odagiri - Ikiru

Battisti - 4(Like Maggiorani in Bicycle Thieves, it is a limited but moving performance. A performance that is very much is the "cog" in the machine of the film that more of thrives upon the perspective of the situations, which is brilliantly realized. Battisti's work is this consistency of portraying the quiet humanity of the old man who is hurt and frustrated by his struggle to keep himself and his dog thriving in some way. His work is moving to be sure, however purposefully nearly static in portraying this state. This again though working so well within the film's vision of the man existing in his state of mind even as so many seem to not care, or have some other concern rather than pay attention to the man.)

Louis Morgan said...

Mitchum - 4(Not the most complex turn of Mitchum, more of just a proper man's man turn from him which he delivers as to be expected. Mitchum of course does go further in portraying the character's of vulnerability which he excels at. I only wish there had been a bit more of him in the film in general, as he is easily more interesting that Kennedy doing a fine version of his typical thing, but alas it is what it is.)

Poujouly - 3.5(It is what it is. He's fine, and certainly convincing, which is a hump a child performance needs to get over at least. His performance though only goes so far in portraying just a convincing portrayal of youth that didn't move past that for me. Fine enough as is, but I didn't think there was anything notable past that.)

Bjornstrand - 4(Good as per usual, but really just excels in the best segment of his film through his specific and wonderful chemistry with Dahlbeck. In that we get a whole sense of their relationship, both the good and the bad as the two interact with one another. It is a sweet, yet also moving portrayal of the conflict, and comfort. Bjorstrand doing well in portraying this on the more reserved ends, but with often comical "releases" of emotions that are quite effective.)

Umberto D. - (A highlight again in terms of the vivid and textured direction of Vittorio De Sica, who places right within the old man, and within the city of Rome so powerfully so. Again sort of the intimate detail he is able to capture is what is so striking, along with his again truly remarkable balance between sort of the blunt uncaring nature of society, along with those moments of the best of humanity indicating some sort of home.)

The Narrow Margin - (Even with the best of B movie actors as the cast, it is just a terrific taut thriller, that managed to actually surprise me a bit with some of its twists. More than anything it just holds one's attention through every minute, with an effective combination of tension and humor throughout.)

Forbidden Games - (The opening is pretty unforgettable and notable for the intensity of that moment. I guess I didn't find the rest of the film as memorable, though certainly not a bad realization of sort of youth trying to retain its purity within the destruction of innocence. Perhaps I was just expecting more given its reputation, it is without a doubt a good film, but really it was only the first 10 minutes that really hit me hard however.)


My Six Convicts - (Interesting to see an early film try to tackle mental health in a prison. Doesn't succeed all that much outside of Mitchell's performance unfortunately, though Henry Morgan makes for a fine psychopath as well. It tries to hit a lot of marks, but only really hits any of them regarding Mitchell.)

Louis Morgan said...

Ivanhoe - (Basically an alternate version of Robin Hood 38 right down to the very vibrant colors, unfortunately Taylor is no Flynn, though with the double act of Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Fontaine, to make up for the latter's sister. A good villain in Sanders, and it is interesting as it tries to tackle similar themes though with more reality and depth. In that end that doesn't really matter as it just an adventure film, which has some fine action for the time, but in the end, I'd rather watch Robin Hood 38.)

Park Row - (I'll take it over the bigger budget Deadline USA, though both fall too often into big speeches about how important the newspaper is. It is interesting though to see an attempt at sort of All The President's Men style film at the time. In that way there is a bit of something to be had from just looking at it investigate matters of journalistic integrity, which was obviously not the typical cinematic subject for the time. It occasionally hits onto something there as a unique artifact for the time. Again though it does sort of fall apart a bit in its big speeches that come one after the other, also the romantic subplot is kind of weird idea of "loving the villain" yet kind of cheats there rather than really realizing something special in the relationship. Messy, but what works does work.)

The Lusty Men - (Probably my favorite Nicholas Ray honestly, though that isn't saying too much for me. Having said that I thought it managed to really draw its characters well, along with capture a sense of the unique life of the rodeo, even if it hammers in the dangers of it one too many times. Still a good film, that certainly broke a bit of new ground for the time.)


Signoret - 4(By sheer virtue of her presence did I feel she managed to make an impact in what I thought was a role not quite worthy of her talents. This in it is a fairly straight forward "woman in a bad relationship" part, however Signoret does everything that she can with that as limited as it is for her. This is as no reactionary moment is wasted for her, and she managed to steal the film in my mind, even though her part I don't think was the best written.)

Louis Morgan said...

Bergman - (Her then husband seemed to strive to get as naturalistic turns from her as possible, which plays to her strengths. Although the actual narrative of the film I thought was a touch repetitive I thought Bergman excelled in granting an anchor to it all through her portrayal of a growing sense of responsibility. This of course in combination with a woman just trying to live her life initially though with a nuanced portrayal of the early mental strain as it is far from perfect. Bergman though carries well into portraying the slowly growing conviction of concern, but also appreciation for the poor that she visits.)

Fossey - (She's great in the opening few minutes and the final few minutes. This as she is wholly convincing in capturing the sheer devastation of the little girl's situation that is rather powerful to be sure. The middle portion though she still is effective to be sure in portraying sort of the specific attachment to the boy as the two attempt to maintain a certain innocence, this while Fossey never shows her exactly becoming a normal little girl again. This capturing sort of the broken state where she borders on tears often, and only in their games do we see any semblance of normalcy that is well drawn in her work.)


I mean anyone can be offended by anything, some things more reason than others. This includes a scene from a certain era being seen with a modern lens, though I always do believe one should leave the offense to be taken by those actually offended, rather than speaking an assumed offense, which can be patronizing. I don't think a single potentially insensitive scene alone should condemn the entirety of a film however. I also don't think that scene is something like a Breakfast At Tiffany's situation for example, which far more pervasive. In fact, I find the humor of the scene is more tailored around the frustrations of the Chinese manager, without really the family laughing at the singing for example. Having said that, one can do this, although I've noticed sometimes an overuse of it, sometimes people wrongly assuming the perspective didn't already exist. For example, recently one can hear several places that Tropic Thunder could never be made today based on Downey Jr's character, however all those issues were brought up when the film originally premiered. My point is one should always take a measured approach, and outright condemnation shouldn't be brandished without nuanced thought.

Omar Franini said...

Louis: have you seen Lo Sceicco Bianco? Sordi would be my runner-up in supporting and there's also a nice cameo from Giulietta Masina as Cabiria.

Your thoughts on the score and editing of Motherless Brooklin, i thought the latter was rather messy especially during Baldwin's character introduction or the first car chase.

Can you also post your thoughts on "The Belt of Faith" scene in Parasite.

Louis Morgan said...


Unfortunately I couldn't find a decent copy of it, I find the "missing" criterion films from the criterion channel quite vexing sometimes.

I rather liked Daniel Pemberton's Jazz infused score which I think helps infer the film's tone rather effectively. This through rather literally the jazz that is involved in the film but also the 50's NY setting. I think Pemberton balances it well through sort of the breezy quality of appreciating the genre so to speak with some really beautiful pieces, namely the titular piece, and also bringing some of the needed intensity to the story as well. That intensity that is very much needed to at least makes up a bit from the struggles in the following department.

The editing was, besides Mann and Baldwin's performances, the weakest part of the film for me. Editor Joe Klotz has mostly done dramas, and the film lacks sort of the precision you expect from a proper noir. I think this also stems a bit from Norton's direction where he seemed to slightly misinterpret Chinatown's editing, which allows scenes to linger, however only for necessary information and atmosphere building. Norton frequently holds on the latter idea a bit too much, or at least Klotz occasionally makes it feel too languid. I would also agree it is occasionally just a bit sloppy, particularly the two scenes you mentioned that struggle to convey the information in a precise fashion. I never thought the editing was atrocious, but a better editor/edit could've definitely improved the film.

The Belt of Faith scene is just a downright brilliant bit of direction by Bong Joon-ho, as he directs the sequence like a miniature heist sequence, though built around essentially poisoning someone. Bong maneuvers throughout it with such fantastic eloquence in very much orchestrating the scheme to the music with such an effortless combination between the moments of dialogue, and the "movements" of the family. Just an amazing sequence in a film filled with them.

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