Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1999: Peter Sarsgaard in Boys Don't Cry

Peter Sarsgaard did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying John Lotter in Boys Don't Cry.

Peter Sarsgaard portrays the central role of the film of one of the eventual rapists and murderers of the central character of Brandon (Hilary Swank) after discovering Brandon to be transgender. Sarsgaard's performance, though overall small within the overall scope of the film, is an essential facet of it. Sarsgaard's performance is interesting in that he has a limited amount of material to work with however does make a striking impact, well beyond the obviously horrible actions of the man. Sarsgaard's work isn't that of the traditional timebomb, that of the slow descent, but rather that of a landmine. This is as we first meet John as appears to be at least a slightly charming good old boy who befriends Brandon. Sarsgaard manages to deliver a very convincing charisma in the role. It isn't something that is too overt, yet it penetrates his scenes effectively with this strange allure. We see this particularly early on where he encourages Brandon to break the law by attempting to out run police through a dirt road. Sarsgaard's prompting has this cunning ease about it in that he is very much tempting the situation however Sarsgaard does well to downplay the moment. This in this particularly lurid prompting that makes his suggestions to do bad seem like the right thing to do as it seems just so easy. Of course Sarsgaard is also just good in portraying the seeming comfort of the man in the moments of cordiality between seeming friends and family. Sarsgaard portrays an amiability of a man when all things appears to be just fine for everyone, most importantly himself.

Sarsgaard though is a landmine though in that this in the portrayal of man slowly swallowed by his worst intentions. Sarsgaard rather reveals the real threat of the man throughout the film in moments of outbursts, aka any situation in which anyone causes John the slightest inconvenience. Sarsgaard depicts a chilling immediacy to these moments with a viciousness in the moments merely where John becomes slightly annoyed. In those instances though Sarsgaard depicts the intensity of a killer just set in a different direction. Sarsgaard delivers the vile hatred even in the moments of just kicking people out of a car showing the true nature of the man simply as something dormant, but also ready to come out at the slightest push. That push coming out in full force once John discovers the truth about Brandon leading first gang rape then the eventual murder. Sarsgaard is terrifying in these scenes of sheer brutality by delivering the visceral hate of the actions, but also just the lack of any hesitation. Sarsgaard portraying the ease of the act due to it simply being the nature of the man he had shown throughout the film, but had not allowed one to realize its true terrible potential until it was far too late. Sarsgaard avoids any cliche regarding the character, particularly for basically a psycho hillbilly, rather presenting directly both a real man and a real killer.

83 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Any rating changes.

Emi Grant said...

Louis: So, would you say that in some ways this is James Jordan's role in Wind River done right?

Robert MacFarlane said...

I’m far more enthusiastic about this performance. Something about this performance just feels so uncomfortably real. I guess playing the least sympathetic character in film history that isn’t Amon Goeth helps.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Now that you’ve rewatched this film, what would be your thoughts on James Mangold as a filmmaker? It seems as though the two films you liked the most of his are Westerns/Western-influenced, so maybe that’s where he shines best?

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

No.

Emi Grant:

Yeah, sort of.

Bryan:

I think you're thinking of Girl, Interrupted.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: I don’t know why I made that connection. Anyways, your thoughts on Mangold as a filmmaker?

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

Well Mangold as a filmmaker, rather than specifically a writer or director, is an interesting question. This is as I'd say Mangold is very much a "moviemaker" and I don't mean that as a degrading term. This is rather his focus appears to make something that sort of "goes", not a pacing thing, but rather hitting these more familiar cinematic beats to tell a story. This isn't a criticism, but rather speaks to a certain technique, though is perhaps a limitation. Therefore, yes he's best in films that thrive in plot development and sequences. 3:10 to Yuma, Cop Land and Logan are his best films and each serve well in that forward momentum of their plot through his storytelling. Whereas Walk the Line suffers because it just hits the beats of Johnny Cash, where a more contemplative approach would've been better for that subject matter.

It should be noted Mangold doesn't always write his films, however that isn't really a determining factor on whether or not his films are good, although I will say in Identity he's doing his job the problem is he's working with one of the worst twists ever to grace mankind.

Mangold I'd say as a director fits in somewhere between a workman and a true William Wyler type, where there isn't a known vision yet creates a clear vision for each film. I wouldn't say he's as talented as the latter, but he does have at least some aptitude in creating a vision per film. It is never that striking, it sometimes is diminished like in the Wolverine (although that speaks to studio interference) again though each has that same technique of that kind of movie making. This in very much creating audience pleasers through straight forward approaches(moronic twists aside). This simply serves some stories better than others, however with the right material it really works.

Emi Grant said...

Louis: Your thoughts on this wonderful commercial and its respective episode?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqnHtGgVAUE

Bryan L. said...

Emi: I have special affection for the "masked threat" gone wrong and "the sting" in that episode.

Bryan L. said...

Or to be more accurate, gone sideways

Emi Grant said...

Bryan: As someone who initially didn't like Badger, those opening 5 minutes completely turned me around on him. Probably the hardest I laughed throughout the series.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the No Time To Die trailer.

Mitchell Murray said...

Luke: Honestly.. it did almost nothing for me. It just looks so tired and derivative of Mendes' previous films, and even Craig doesn't look as invested in this one as I would've hoped. It does have Rami Malek as the villain, which will surely be a draw following "Bohemian Rhapsody", and I imagine he'll give a more quiet and intense version of his "Until Dawn" performance (Great turn from him). That said, I simply have very little faith or excitement in the film, and it will take a lot for that to change.

Calvin Law said...

Messy trailer but I’m intrigued.

Lupita winning NYFC is just wonderful, though I doubt it’ll do much in the long run.

Bryan L. said...

I guess 2020 will be like 2015 when it comes to spy films. At the very least, it looks like it’ll be well-made and there’s already a couple of great shots in that trailer alone.

Mitchell: To be fair, Craigs’ Bond is supposed to be retired at the beginning of the film, so maybe he’s taking a weary approach that’ll play better in the film with full context.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Just for fun, what kind of action film do you envision costarring The Rock and Schwarzenegger? Since the former is more or less his heir apparent.

RatedRStar said...

Rami Malek was the only thing about that trailer that had me curious, everything else I hope he is doing what he did in the game Until Dawn as Mitchell said which was a really good turn. As for everything else, it looks fine but generic.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Thoughts on the cinematography of the first two Terminator films?

Louis Morgan said...

AFI Top Ten:

“The Farewell”
“The Irishman”
“Jojo Rabbit”
“Joker”
“Knives Out”
“Little Women”
“Marriage Story”
“1917”
“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”
“Richard Jewell"

Good gets for Knives Out (which will probably do well with Globes and could sneak into SAG ensemble), Little Women, Jojo Rabbit, Joker and once again Richard Jewell, which just might be a real contender. Irishman, 1917, Marriage Story, The Farewell, and OUTH continue to perform to expectation. That special award for Parasite, to ensure a reward for it, is also a good sign. The major miss is Two Popes, but worth noting that McCarten scribed Bohemian Rhapsody and Darkest Hour also missed NBR/AFI top tens.

Also quality wise a very strong set from what I've seen, though I don't think Joker needs to be there.

Regarding NYFCC

I'll say I wish Parasite had won here because it needs all the critical support it can muster to ensure voters know it is a thing a la Mad Max, though I don't think it'll be too detrimental, though Irishman is a great choice.

Regarding the Safdie's director win, yes I want to see it already, why oh why does it have such a late release?

Banderas winning here, doesn't say too much to the overall race, as the last Cannes winner that also won NYFCC was Timothy Spall, which obviously didn't translate to even an Oscar nomination. Still keeps some momentum for him.

Great choice in Nyong'o and at least stops a sweep for Zellweger, still she seems more like a Regina Hall/Rachel Wesiz than a Cate Blanchett or even a Saoirse Ronan. Actress is open in that fifth spot though, and this boosts her profile a bit at least.

Dern seems like a crowning of the Oscar winner, though I don't think it's a done deal...yet. Shame that Zhao Shuzhen or one of the Parasite ladies couldn't have taken to raise their profiles a bit.

Then there's the PESCI, that helps him a great deal, but honestly more than anything it hurts Pacino. Not from the nomination, but if they're truly vote splitting it does neither any favors. Still think Pacino has the win in the end, but this does get in his way...a little bit.

Emi Grant:

Perfect ode to bad lawyer commercials for any locality in that commercial. That episode though is quite frankly one of the best episodes, as a purely fun episode. Odenkirk of course rules in it as perhaps the greatest comic relief in any tv show and is terrific in showing the varied ways of Saul, as both comical but also competent. Add to that the opening, and the absolutely hilarious heist scene, dumb Walter being a highlight, just makes for a great episode.

Luke:

Aesthetically looks fine, if not particularly new, not sure about Malek but willing to give him a shot. The film seems to be carrying a lot from Spectre unfortunately, and hopefully it doesn't get bogged down by that. I hope it returns to Casino Royale/Skyfall form, but that doesn't appear to be the case just from that snippet. I don't hate Quantum or Spectre, but I'd prefer if Craig went out on a high note, although then again the only Bond that ever did was one shot George Lazenby.

Bryan:

I would honestly say just throw him into a Hobbs/Shaw/Schwarznegger would be ideal, for the action/comedy that the two are in their comfort zone for. Both are capable of a bit more however putting them together it would be best to go for something safe.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Since David Copperfield might end up being a 2020 release, you've now seen all the films from your 2019 Most Anticipated, and the only one that disappointed was Ad Astra. Pretty good success rate.

Lucas Saavedra said...

Louis: your thoughts on the Avenue 5 teaser?:

https://youtu.be/Emu0I2hNfUk

Considering most of your 10 best over the top performances were villains what are your top 10 non - villain over the top performances?

What are your 11 - 20 Rachel Weisz acting moments?

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Terminator's cinematography actually think is pretty poor as an attempt to be a Dean Cundey style shot film. Adam Greenberg is no Dean Cundey, as instead of the shadows creating a dynamic image, the scenes often just appear to be poorly lit. These's the occasional shots, momentarily, when Greenberg hits something close to Cundey, but for the most part it does have kind of a cheap look about it. This is not to say it is horribly shot, it still serves its functional purpose, but more so on Cameron's end then the attempts of Greenberg to amplify that vision.

Greenberg does a far better job with Terminator, and no doubt a bigger budget. Although here it isn't even playing with shadows so much with far more lighting going in every scene, and in general the film going for that 90's prestige look more than anything. Greenberg does his job on his end, though I still don't think it is an amazingly shot film, however works in servicing the sort of slick actioneer style of the sequel than the dark more horror oriented mood of the original film.

Bryan:

Yes, not bad at all.

Calvin Law said...

I saw Love, Antosha and Apollo 11, both were great.

Mitchell Murray said...

Speaking of "Knives Out" I finally caught up with the film. I really liked it, and I like any good mystery, I could definitely imagine myself re-watching for details. It simply is a pulpy, stylish movie of its genre that manages to keep a solid pace, suitable direction and a decently conceived story to boot. I don't think its nearly as smart as some of its fans (or even Johnson) believe it to be, but its certainly a good, well made film.

Armas - 4.5
Craig - 4.5
Evans - 4
Plummer - 4
Shannon - 4
Curtis - 3.5
Collette - 3.5
Johnson - 3.5
Langford - 3
Stanfield - 3

Mitchell Murray said...

Also, I might as well draft up my top 10 list of the year thus far:

1) Avengers: Endgame
2) Knives Out
3) Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
4) Joker
5) Zombieland 2
6) Captain Marvel
7) Glass

Bare in mind that I'll likely be checking out "Marraige Story" and "The Irishman" very shortly.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I saw The Irishman and Marriage Story today. More or less with the rest of you on The Irishman. Marriage Story is kind of a hodgepodge of great moments mixed in with Baumbach not being able to help himself. Johansson MVP.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Do you think you'll be able to watch Richard Jewell any time soon?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the Sound Editing award potentially being merged with Mixing to become Best Sound.

Matt Mustin said...

Luke: Well, they always go the the SA.e movie anyway, so I can see their thinking, the problem is they're not actually the same thing.

Matt Mustin said...

*same

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

I'll probably be able to see it next weekend, and intend to do so. Although if Uncut Gems is also playing near me that will get priority, however I intend to see both films.

Luke:

HATE it. I mean I myself will sometimes give both wins to one film, but that isn't always the case. They are separate achievements done usually by different people. It is possible to separate the achievements with just a mild education on the subject. It would make more sense to narrow the voting body in that category to just the sound editors, since the full voting body doesn't appear to be educated on what the difference is given Bohemian Rhapsody's Sound Editing win last year (One of the worst tech wins of all time).

Calvin Law said...

Luke: one of the stupidest choices in recent memory.

Anonymous said...

Louis: your thoughts on each season of better call saul

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

So I just finished watching Marriage Story. It's certainly an experience, to say the least. The film is strongest when it focuses on the two central performances, and I think Driver and Johannson were both excellent. It also has what I think, is the most emotionally devastating and well-acted scene I've seen all year.

That being said, there are some issues. More than a few of Baumbach's indulgences are present, and I can't help but feel that cutting back on them could have only been for the better. Also, if there's anyone from the supporting cast who should be getting any attention, it should be Ray Liotta, not Laura Dern.

Ratings-
Johannson- 5
Driver- 4.5 (He could easily go up)
Dern- 3
Alda- 3.5
Liotta- 4 (only wish he was in the film more)
Shawn- 2.5

Calvin Law said...

Part way through and I have to say that I’m hating a lot of the supporting minor characters’ dialogues and performances, just feels so out of sync with the approach Baumbach is trying for.

Mitchell Murray said...

I'm not seeing it until this afternoon, so for the mean time, I'm just going to avoid reading this comment section until I do.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Calvin: Those were the indulgences I was alluding to.

Calvin Law said...

Okay so I think I liked it? I definitely loved some scenes, agreed with Tahmeed that the narrower the scope was the better the film got, I actually liked the courtroom scene too and the lawyer stuff once I got used to the more BROAD approach they were using. But I really hated the stuff with Nicole's family which really felt out of place, the television and play stuff really irked me after awhile, and honestly the singing scenes too. So overall a real mixed bag but there were plenty of things I liked, even loved.

Johansson - 4.5
Driver - 4.5
Dern - 3.5
Alda - 3.5
Liotta - 3.5
Hagerty - 1
Weaver - 1
Shawn - 2
Kelly - 1.5

Bryan L. said...

“The narrower the scope was, the better the film got”

This is going to sound weird...but this film kind of sounds like The Revenant haha

Anonymous said...

Calvin, Like 2016, do you think it'll be exceptionally difficult for the Academy to fuck up the Lead Actor lineup.

Calvin Law said...

Eh I’m not as huge on Phoenix as most but yeah otherwise I think it’ll be a strong if not amazing lineup at the very least.

Also have you guys seen the Detroit Film Critics? Pesci really seems to be currying more favour than Pacino so far, and Paquin got in for Supporting Actress which is a bit much to be fair. Dafoe getting some much needed support though.

Matt Mustin said...

Calvin: I suspect Paquin got in as an attempt to shut people up, which I'm actually fine with. Hooray for Pesci, who deserves it more than Pacino, I think.

Omar Franini said...

Louis: before you finish 1999 could you watch L’Humanit√©? I wouldn’t really suggest it but would like to read what you think about it. I’ve seen it a couple of weeks ago and i really disliked it.

Calvin: I’d go lower for Kelly in Marriage Story, couldn’t stand her.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I guess I was a bit harsh on Dern, which wasn't really helped by a hamfisted monologue she has in the film that felt really.....forced, even if it had the right intentions.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Yeah, I said elsewhere my issue with the supporting cast of Marriage Story feels like they’re in an entirely different film than the leads, Alda being the exception. Wasn’t fond of Dern outside of the admittedly riveting trial scene. She was kind of just doing a variation of what she does on Big Little Lies, just with less overt scenery chewing. Also agree on the 1 for Hagerty, Calvin. That is definitely one of the worst performances I’ve seen this year.

Calvin Law said...

Omar: I didn’t hate her performance as much as some of the other caricatures since I kinda understood what she was going for...but I certainly didn’t like her.

Tahmeed: Giving more thought I completely understand what the writing was trying to do with that scene, I just couldn’t help but feel it was jarring as well.

Calvin Law said...

Robert: Thank you. I’ve liked her in stuff I’ve seen before but that was legitimately awful.

Calvin Law said...

Matt: Eh I guess, but nominating her over the quality performances of McKenzie, Zhao and Lopez just feels a bit lazy in my opinion.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: If you've seen Marriage Story yet, your thoughts on the film, and ratings and thoughts on the cast.

Emi Grant said...

To add my two cents on Marriage Story, I didn't mind much of the indulgences as much of you guys and I didn't quite mind the most of the supporting cast (I will agree with the caricatures, even if they didn't truly bother me).

Aside from that and some other minor quibbles, it's up there with the best of the year for me. Though, that might be because I personally felt I was watching a horror film the whole time. Might not say much about it besides that.

Driver: 5
Johansson: 5
Alda: 3.5
Dern: 2.5
Liotta: 3.5
Wever: 1.5
Hagerty: 2

Louis Morgan said...

Omar:

I'll say the subject matter doesn't really give me a "rush" to see it at the moment.

Tahmeed:

I thought the actual Marriage Story in Marriage Story was outstanding, I'm just not sure what those cartoon characters were doing there.

Johansson - 5
Dern - 3
Liotta - 3.5
Hagerty - 1
Wever - 1
Kelly - 1

I'll give my thoughts, in a little bit.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What a turnaround for Johansson.

Bryan L. said...

Luke: Indeed, and a possible upgrade for JoJo Rabbit as well.

Also saw the film; I echo everyone's thoughts.

Louis Morgan said...

Johansson - (In terms of the likely Oscar competitors put me firmly in her column over Zellweger, although after watching it I'm getting perhaps even greater doubts about the former not winning as Johansson can be wrong accused of playing "herself" by being an actress whose been divorced. Anyways though this is a great performance by Johansson by capturing such a strict emotional honesty throughout her performance. This in any given scene she just feels so tangible even in the scenes of such raw and intimate emotional turmoil. Johansson's work always has a purely genuine quality that is powerfully moving by portraying in this both the positive qualities and weaknesses of almost any person in a way. This is as it is important to note I also think she's great in the quieter moments, and the moments of happiness as well. She's as believable there, making the moments of descent into anger and bitterness so striking and painfully convincing at every point. Any given scene Johansson's work is able to bring out the complexity of it, I especially love her portrayal of the divorce papers scene, even with the unneeded performances also in it, as she finds the awkwardness of the moment with such remarkable sincerity. This is the truth of every single one of her scenes though throughout the film.)

Dern - (She's terrific in the court scene where her showboating plays so well into the idea of the cocky lawyer who essentially puts on the best show possible to make her client look great and her client's husband to look terrible. The problem is she doesn't tone it down outside of these scenes at all and brings that same heightened quality. This isn't as jarring as other performances, but she could've toned it down a bit. She's at least better than Bening, but there's so many performances more deserving of the win this year.)

Liotta - (I'll say he does benefit as we only see his character in strictly lawyer mode, however even then I did like how he toned it down a bit in the moment with Dern before they entered into proceedings. Then he is just as on as Dern in the actual courtroom scene, and the two are terrific in playing the two pros bouncing off each other by taking every possible cheap shot in the books.)

Hagerty - (You know I was wondering what happened to her a few months ago, and not to sound mean, but I kind of found out why here. This is a horrible performance as she plays it as broadly, maybe broader, than her performance for the Zucker brothers. She is a cartoon for every second she is onscreen, and even as a slightly loopy mother she comes off as a false, and just plainly ridiculous. The script for her might have not helped things, Baumbach also should've told her to tone it down, but even with that everything she does is playing for the cheapest seats in a film that mostly is about the front row.)

Wever - (Same as Hagerty, however there's less of her. She still though is doing broad comedy for some reason. It would've been okay to be funny in these roles, but they are not from any reality here. They are in only the broadest of comedies, and then they're not even funny.)

Kelly - (YIKES three of them. Okay it is amazing how they could have a trio of horrible comic performances in what is otherwise a great drama, but here we are. I don't know if she is the most detrimental, but she's at least horrible in a different way. This doing this also over the top attempt at a deadpan routine. What an awful performances once again, where we keep running into these caricatures who seems so strange interacting with our characters at the center of the film. These performances should really bar it from being even being nominated at SAG ensemble quite frankly.)

Luke:

Indeed.

Bryan L. said...

I’m actually a bit forgiving of Wever, since I blame Baumbach more for her main scene, as it could not have been more awkward. Still a 1.5 for me though.

Louis: In other words, a similar situation to Redmayne and Keaton during that awards season? Re: Johansson and Zellwegger

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

Yes pretty much, though hopefully Judy will not over perform outside of Zellweger, as right now the Best Picture lineup could be stellar, and a breath of fresh air compared to last year for me (Where I was only truly enthusiastic about one film).

Calvin Law said...

I think this mean Driver’s a 5.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Did anyone thing of The Assassination of Jesse James while they were watching The Irishman? That's what it reminded me of thematically: A somber deconstruction of its own genre that feels like a eulogy to it. It even has similar story beats.

Calvin Law said...

Agreed, especially that third act denouement, and the whole De Niro/Pesci dynamic reminding me of the Ford brothers and Hoffa/Jesse James the legendary figurehead.

Bryan L. said...

Robert: Not while I was watching it...but now that you mention it...

Calvin Law said...

I will also say it was sad to see Alda sealing with Parkinson’s but it was also lovely that he gave such a nice small performance, thinking more about it he’s probably my favourite supporting performance in the film. And yeah will probably upgrade the lead’s.

Bryan L. said...

Calvin: So does this mean Keitel would be Shepards equivalent?

Emi Grant said...

Robert: Absolutely. I remember thinking at one point during my second watch of the film that an alternative title could have been "The Assassination of Jimmy Hoffa by The Irishman Frank Sheeran".

Calvin Law said...

Bryan: you’re onto something.

1980s Marriage Story directed by Lawrence Kasdan
Nicole: Sissy Spacek
Charlie: Jeff Goldblum
Nora: Anne Bancroft
Bert: Ralph Bellamy
Jay: Philip Baker Hall

Matt Mustin said...

I'll probably see Marriage Story maybe tomorrow, but I just want to quickly say I saw Knives Out again, and it MORE than holds up on a second viewing. I was noticing little clues I didn't notice the first time, the plot still seems fairly airtight, but honestly, it is just so damned entertaining that at a certain point I just stopped trying to reassemble the puzzle and just enjoy it again.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Your 70s cast and director for Marriage Story? And your present film roles for Humphrey Bogart?

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

Isn't that Shoot the Moon? Which Marriage Story is a much better film than I'd say, though both have tonal issues, though I'd say the former are far more severe.

Bryan:

Also will avoid any Kramer vs. Kramer sentiments, a more consistent film tonally (though that does have that "I met your son" scene) than Marriage Story, though I definitely prefer the latter.

Marriage Story 1970's directed by Sidney Lumet:

Nicole: Liza Minnelli
Charlie: Christopher Walken
Nora: Lauren Bacall
Bert: Jimmy Stewart
Jay: Robert Mitchum

Bogart:

Frank Sheeran (Also truly impossible Irishman Hoffa (Cagney), Bufalino (Robinson)
Rick Deckard
The Man - All is Lost

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Thinking about it more, I'll upgrade Driver for Marriage Story, and exchange Alda and Liotta's ratings.

Louis: Could Michael Caine go up for Sleuth? I saw it again last night, and I felt he really does dominate the second half of the film.
Also, could I have your thoughts on the direction and production design of the film?

Robert MacFarlane said...

At the moment I'm torn between Kelvin Harrison Jr. in Waves and De Niro in The Irishman as my Best Actor choice. The latter gave some of the best work he's ever done, but I was SO taken aback by Harrison. Even though he dealt with directorial overkill, he still managed to give such a vibrant, layered portrayal of a nightmarish downward spiral.

Matt Mustin said...

I'm really struggling between The Irishman and Parasite as my Best Picture choice. I may just cheat and do a Picture/Director split.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Deciding between Parasite and The Irishman was also tough for me. By a razor's edge, I prefer Parasite, largely because of its pitch perfect pacing and editing, whereas there were scenes in The Irishman which didn't exactly fly by.

Mitchell Murray said...

A bit of a late comment but I too saw "Marraige Story" today, and I thought it was pretty strong. When the story actually hones in on Charlie and Nicole, it really becomes an effective piece, because it is so balanced in its depiction of the divorcees. I have to give Baumbach major credit because it would've been so easy to demonize one side or the other. But instead, we're offered a far more realistic portrayal in the lingering bond between the couple, the imperfections of both partners, and the stress that lawyers add to the situation.

That said, I will also have to echo Louis in that we could've done without the caricatures of Hagerty, Kelly and Wever. Because they are so broad and one-note they hurt the scenes their in, since the film is going for such a strict realism every where else. Now in terms of the other Baumbach quirks they didn't bother me that much, due to many of them being derived from Nicole and Charlie. The little bits of humour feel rather earned from them because of the messy nature of the whole situation; Thus, those caricatures stick out that much greater and really keep this film from achieving the overall excellence it would've found otherwise.

Driver - 5
Johansson - 5
Alda - 3.5
Dern - 3
Liotta - 3
Hagerty - 2
Wever - 1.5
Kelly - 1

Mitchell Murray said...

Also, some expanded thoughts on the main cast:

Driver gives great work here, and what I found especially intriguing about the performance is how he handles Charlie's level of sympathy. This is in the sense that Driver doesn't really make him this perfect guy, or even an overly charismatic one, but instead plays him as both a believably flawed man in regards to his marraige, and an empathetic one in regards to his fatherhood. In the scenes with Charlie's son Driver really shows his desire to be a good dad, but also hints at every trial and nervous thought buried behind those eyes. Driver finds this wavelength throughout and offers a genuinely moving turn. He completely realizes Charlie's growing distress in his legal battles, and the strain on his relationship with Nicole. Also the scene that he fully breaks down in is superbly handled.

Johansson also gives a great performance, and its easily her finest work to date. This is a dramatic turn from Johansson that completely works, and is so very authentic to every emotion and sentiment Nicole undergoes. There is not a wasted second in her portrayal as she grants such vividness to her emotional state, through every tearful episode, in every awkward interaction, and in every frustrated outburst. Johansson finds an incredible vulnerability here without ever becoming self aware in the performance, and without straying into blandness or repetition like some of her weakest work. No, this is instead the performance of a more matured and inspired actress, that stands well above any of her previous outings. I really was quite taken by Johansson's portrayal, and every plaudit that will probably come its way would be more than deserved.

As for the supporting cast there a little weaker, strictly speaking, but only because of the minor nature of the parts, and the way in which two of the lawyers are forced to take sides.

Dern was good but I feel the intense buzz for her performance might be a tad overblown, because it really is a straight forward turn in many ways. More importantly, its also a heightened performance that seems specifically tailored for a more traditional "brash" lawyer type, and less a realistic and layered depiction that would complement most of the movie's tone. Dern is decent in her part, don't get me wrong, but it just seems slightly miscalculated given the seriousness of the subject matter, and she also couldn't overcome the heavy handedness of her big speech.

Similarly, Liotta gives an enjoyably crude and exasperated turn - its nothing spectacular, but it does function well enough for the role. Out of the three lawyers in this film, I myself was most drawn to Alda, personally. Perhaps this is because I just loved seeing him on screen again, or maybe its because Alda just conveys such warmth in his relatively simple role. Like Dern and Liotta its nothing that complex or outstanding, but its still a nicely endearing piece of work from an beloved veteran.

And as for Hagerty, Wever and Kelly...well...I refuse to say anything beyond my ratings above.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the sound design and score from Scanners.

Calvin Law said...

Saw Motherless Brooklyn. What a waste of amazing source material, turning back the clocks and changing it to a poor man's Chinatown mystery was just so aggravating even if it is at times a somewhat decent crime thriller. Did like most of the performances though, and the aesthetic and score, and Norton is actually a fine director, I just kind of hated what he did with the screenplay even though it's technically not awful.

Norton - 4
Willis - 3
Mbatha-Raw - 3
Baldwin - 2
Dafoe - 4
Cannavale - 2.5
Williams - 3.5
Mann - 2
Suplee and Roberts - 3

Calvin Law said...

Also seeing Honey Boy later.

Calvin Law said...

Also just realised that Godzilla was snubbed from the VFX shortlist, while Gemini Man, Terminator and Lion King made it. What the fuck.

Bryan L. said...

Louis: I noticed you omitted a couple of the roles for that retrocast. I wonder why......

Anyways, your thoughts on any missed opportunities of Sigourney Weavers career?

Bryan L. said...

Although I guess Hagertys part in conception could’ve worked, but neither Baumbach or Hagerty helped matters

Mitchell Murray said...

Okay, I finally caught with "The Irishman" today, and it was well worth the wait. Honestly it might be my favourite film of the year (from what I've seen), as it not only justified its staggering run time, it simply realized the full scope and weight of its subject matter. Scorsese is obviously in his element here but he does avoid making this a retread of "Goodfellas" or "Casino"; It certainly shares many of the themes of those two, but I feel "The Irishman" can stand on its own in its more somber and meditative tone. Every technical choice that was made - right down to the annotations regarding each character's fate - really emphasizes the brutality and futility of the life Sheeran found himself in. Also the de-aging CGI, say for that street scene, was handled quite effectively and never became all that distracting for myself. Overall, I really just adored this film and would definitely hold it to the same standard as Scorsese's best.

De Niro - 5 (He is presently my best actor win, by the way)
Pacino - 5 (Verging on supporting actor win with Robert Downey Jr.)
Pesci - 4.5/5
Romano - 3
Cannavale - 3
Plemons - 3
Paquin - 3

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Sound design is of course key in the film with the mixing creating a disorienting quality befitting a film about messing with minds and blowing them up. It is in typical Cronenberg form in having a grit and grind in the sound, though never too far to be bad, but rather off-putting in the right way that amplifies the nature of the piece.

The score is similar in this sense by Howard Shore that too very much borders always on potentially being too much in being a combination of jarring sounds and anxiety ridden pieces. It is anything but beautiful, however completely works in amplifying an alienating and insane atmosphere for the film.

Bryan:

Giving a bit more time I actually don't think the characters were all that flawed as written, in that they were comical but not the lines/characters weren't the problem. In fact the observer didn't even necessarily need to be comic even as written. The problem was how they played them which is more towards the performances and Baumbach's direction, which should've toned them down.

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

Not taking the Piano was probably he missed opportunity, however I don't think she would've been better in Hunter in that role, so it was all for the best. Otherwise I don't think she had many major missed opportunities as he career went well until she hit the wall any actress not named Meryl Streep runs into, that is all the plumb older female roles are taken up by Meryl Streep.

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

Not likely, though I do like him a lot, though Olivier firmly has it for me the whole way through.