Monday, 3 February 2020

Alternate Best Actor 2019: Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems

Adam Sandler did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning several critics' awards and being nominated for an Indie Spirit Award and Critic's Choice award, for portraying Howard Ratner in Uncut Gems.

Uncut Gems is a fantastic film that tells the story of a Jewish Manhattan jeweler.

It must be said that Adam Sandler is a performer who there is kind of a different mindset about. This is that while he is well known for his long list of Schlocky comedies, there are many actors who are known for such things, however there seems to be a greater frustration regarding Sandler. The reason for this perhaps is an awareness of a potential that he too often seems to squander within the nonsense. One of the most notable examples away from this previously was as the romantic lead in Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch Drunk Love, which cleverly played into Sandler's typical roles. That role playing into something obvious in Sandler even in some of the least of his comedies, which is an inherent intensity. Well this makes Sandler the ideal choice for the Safdie brothers' followup to their high strung thriller Good Time, about a young criminal trying to make everything right for himself and his brother by digging a hole deeper as an attempt to be okay on the opposite side. A film with a sort of seventies vibe with a very flawed hero at this center. Here we have something similar with Uncut Gems, though honestly this comparison seems slightly wrong when this film is considerably better than the films closest to it from the seventies The Gambler. Nevertheless what we have here is that one of a kind of protagonist that is Howard Ratner, our hero who is definitely anything but that, one for Adam Sandler to really sink his teeth into, and oh boy does he.

I suppose one can instantly voice their frustrations towards the clouds with seeing Adam Sandler on the screen here, as the moment he steps into frame here, we see a dynamic presence. This being something that Sandler too often hides within material that doesn't seem to ask him to provide a hint of his talent. Here we actually get Sandler, to you know, act and what a pleasure it is. This is that Sandler not only has presence, but he has such a unique screen presence. This as there is something inherently compelling about him when he is tuned in, in this way. This as he pulls you right in, something particularly important for the Safdies' fast moving narrative style, as Sandler must be described as magnetic here, because that is simply the truth of the matter. This is not relying on any obvious tricks, like a goofy voice, or some weird accent, we just have Sandler portraying a man, and creates the essential core that pulls you right into the world of Howard Ratner. I will say I love the casting of Sandler here, even beyond the fact that it actually uses him as an actor, though because it is so immediate that you are granted a sense of who this guy is, his background, his place in life and more. This of course is absolutely amplified by Adam Sandler who is absolutely just within this part. Sandler doesn't take any time to get used to in this purely dramatic part, he just his Howard this long time, "high class" jeweler.. There is an immediate sense of history in Sandler's work in his vibe and demeanor that accentuates a whole life of quick, high powered deals, making life through cash and the most precious metals.

What I suppose is one of the great achievements right off the bat with this performance is that I instantly forgot I was watching Sandler playing outside of his expected zone. I didn't think about it, as Sandler has the confidence and ease onscreen as though this was another great performance in just a line of them. This I suppose is where the idea of sort of the 70's lead comes in though in that Sandler definitely is an atypical leading man, particularly here, yet there is such an immense charisma here. This frankly similar to say a prime Jack Nicholson in the sheer watchability in his work that is something so compelling in Sandler here just by virtue of his existence. This of course being absolutely fundamental for the character of Howard, who by all accounts is horrible, but Sandler very much gives us that buy in through that charisma. We want to watch Sandler here, making it so we want to watch Howard, even as it becomes quite obvious how deeply flawed he is. This as in one of the opening scenes is where we see him as a philanderer, chewing out his shallow mistress Julia (Julia Fox) for sleeping in late and having little concern with his actual personal problems. This is enough to reject a protagonist for some, but Sandler is so captivating here it is impossible to do, although I'll admit it is easy to empathize one's interest in Miss Fox...but I severely digress. This relationship even though will say so much about Howard, and as wielded by Sandler's work.

Sandler storms onto the screen though as we see the first day in the life of Howard as he comes into his jewelry store, where he is slightly accosted by a pair of thugs, hired by his brother-in-law Arno (Eric Bogosian), this that Sandler shows Howard playing off as only a minor inconvenience at first. This though as we see his eyes far more drawn into potential prospects, the first that shows up as NBA superstar Kevin Garnett (as himself) comes into his shop. Sandler is outstanding in portraying sort of this peculiar sort of showman in his shop. This with the sheer amount of glee he throws around his goods, having a sale for each, along with his whole manner that has this quite aggressiveness of a man trying to cook up a deal. Sandler creating this incredible sense of sort of the fascination of Howard in the deal, and Sandler himself is extremely compelling to watch just as this man in his element. This in a life of high stake deals that Sandler plays in an essential, fascinating way, which is this intensity, Sandler's trademark, so effectively used here, in creating the sense of pressure within himself. This is not reflecting a concern with making the deal with Garnett, but rather just this pressure that seems to invigorate the man. Sandler's work is brimming with this incredible energy of a man who thrives in the higher margins of cost and price. The problem is we see this even out of his shop as we see some initial trades for more trades, trading things he doesn't own for pawn, for gambles with money he can't afford to lose, however Sandler delivers this with the same ease as his legitimate business.

Before I get to the core of this performance, that so compels the existence of his work though, it needs to be said however varied and nuanced Sandler is here, even if the character in a certain sense seems single minded. Take the brief, but very important moments with his children or his wife (Idina Menzel). Sandler's great in portraying in moments with his sons and daughter. A real sense of affection for them, though a compromised sense. This as there is so consistently the sense of just a thought in his eyes of being somewhere else, even if he is not completely absent in the moment. This also the severity in his eyes instantly as he sees Arno's thugs attending his daughter's play. The immediate sense of concern is palatable, as is the rage as he lashes out at them for their display of an unsaid threat initially. Sandler shows the absolute viciousness in the moment accentuating the concern for his family. This though in creating just as vivid this sort of detachment from the family despite the attempt. This in his scene with his daughter where Sandler brings a broken eagerness of someone who is making the effort, but really just the basic effort. The same as he attempts to let his son find a bathroom, near his personal apartment in Manhattan, that typically houses his mistress. Sandler creates the palatable tension of the borderline shame as he attempts to keep his son from it, however Sandler brilliantly takes this on as the secondary thought to the primary concern of that selfishness that defines who Howard is when you break him down. The greatest moment within this though is his major scene with Menzel, where he attempts to talk her out of a divorce. Sandler is outstanding in this scene by portraying really a sense of the old charm that perhaps won her over in the beginning, in his attempt to apologize for his mistress. Sandler's eyes speak the truths of Howard in the moment, yet a compromised truth as his whole performance captures so well this weakness of apology, of a man who does mean it to himself, yet is just another old excuse for his wife.

The core of Sandler's performance that, which takes him to the next level, is where he is most closely aligned with the Safdie's previous lead Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson). What connects the two men is they both thinking that digging deeper is the best way out of a deep hole, but they differ in a few ways. One major one is that Connie's cash needs is a throwaway bet for Howard, instead of one long night, it is a few, but the major difference is motivation. Now in part we see the connection as Sandler is equally thrilling in creating that same free Jazz style into Howard as he makes one deal after another. With Howard though it is one crescendo after another however, and with Sandler there is the amazing way he plays it with this grand mania to the deals. Connie has to think about it, at least a bit, Sandler portrays in Howard this willingness and need to just run with it. This befitting Sandler's overall masterful way of realizing the nature of Howard. This as he's not in it to free his debts, the debts are hardly the issue, he's in it for the win. Sandler makes this so honest in his creating such an innate intensity within the character as we see him in the moment of money "management", to use that term as loosely as possible. This in an early scene where we find Howard ignoring one of his employees basically saying he will quit unless he gets a bit of support, to look through a box to find his uncut gem, a prized black opal. The line "I'm gonna cum" at the sight of the prize should be absolutely ridiculous, but Sandler makes it work by playing it so truthfully towards who Howard is. The obsession in his eyes as he uncovers it is only that prelude to the finding of it, which to him is his "best" life. This in the sheer glee of satisfaction at what appears to be a sure thing winner.

Sandler's realization of the sort of ideology of Howard is essential in both understanding the man, but also in making him as captivating of a presence as he is. This as we see Howard at home watching a game he had a bet on, the man here is fully connected and into the throws of it. Sandler watches not just as a sports fan or gambler even, but as though the game is his whole life passing through in the moment. This as he presents it almost religious experience as he believes an early bet has paid off. This as he weaves it into this essential ownership of life in a peculiar way that Sandler makes tangible. This as we see him in his scenes with Julia immediately after this win. Sandler portrays these moments not a distraction as the winning Howard takes on her as he would the prize of his bets with the thrill of those bets weaved right into his sexual drive. This is as they are one in the same for Howard, and Sandler manages to make this a natural idea in creating such a powerful sense of that sheer bliss in Howard that comes from the win. This in Sandler portraying those moments as the man simply never being more alive than then. Sandler makes an essential separation for many similar portrayals of compulsive gamblers, as many there is the sense that they gambling as though it will make their problems go away, for Sandler's Howard, gambling is his problem, but it is also his lifeblood most fundamentally. The way Sandler realizes this fixation is incredible in the sense of the constant state of finding a way to get his prize, every prize. This is that Sandler has that same incisive laser focus even in high value auctions, where he is expressive without words in his eyes of creating that same life through that exchange of value. This is when it appears that Julia may be cheating on him, Sandler's breakdown is impeccably performed as this completely irrational and extreme reaction. Sandler doesn't depict it as a heartbreak but rather this rejection of a "loss", that is in itself a potent emotion as portrayed by Sandler, but without a sense of lost tenderness within the portrayal. It is rather a man bent by essentially a bet gone wrong with the relationship he chose. This is where Sandler is genius in creating the sense of the only real distress in Howard comes from moments of direct physical harm, by Arno's goons, or when a win doesn't seem possible.

When for example the aforementioned auction goes wrong, where he attempted to inflate a bit by Kevin Garnett, and was beaten by Arno's goons for coming short again, we see Howard at his lowest point. This in Sandler finally lets loose on the stress of the situation, and he is tremendous in portraying the mess of emotions of the man in the moment. This again in showing the irrational near tantrum of defeat with a horrible hopelessness in the moment as Julia, who has returned to him, attempts to console him. This is even as Julia shows a devotion to him, Sandler depicts just a pathetic uneasiness of a man without a chance seemingly still broken by his experience. When Kevin Garnett though shows up with a deal for the opal after all though, Sandler is sheer perfection in portraying the change in Howard. This as life springs and influxes within him with outpouring enthusiasm, and we even see more of his relationship with Julia, as his glee is only supported by Julia basically being an enabler in that thrill. This as he invites Garnett in, in what is an astonishing scene for Sandler. This as his eyes fill with this conviction suddenly, a joy of nirvana with a man seemingly with a win almost in his pocket. Sandler carefully showing that this has nothing to do with hopes of solving things, but rather the idea of the game continuing, this as he prods Garnett to win in his next game where the odds are against him. I adore the moment of Sandler's expression of jubilation when Howard describes his philosophy in explaining his games is "how he wins". This delivery expressing a sheer insanity, but this adamant belief in Sandler's performance. This as Howard maneuvers one "last" huge bet by having Julia run off with his cash, while imprisoning Arno and his goons in his automatic doors. This is one of the most gripping scenes of seen in some time, and so much of it is owed to Sandler's exceptional work. His portrayal of the final game is of this full bodied almost otherworldly experience. Sandler marks every moment with such a sense of this being Howard experiencing his existence for all its worth through a single bet. This in watching every set back as a horrible wound, though with every win as this near, for the lack of a better word, orgasmic joy. Sandler's outstanding in making his mania so vivid and vibrant, with always the sense of the win being this fervent need in the man, and never is it just for the cash. The highlight of this perhaps being his response to one of the incredulous goon's query of "having a good time" and Sandler's quick "yes", being of one of nearly inexpressible euphoria. This as Sandler's portrait of Howard isn't the portrayal of a man who is sucked down by his weaknesses through sorrow. This rather is this dynamic portrayal of a man destroyed by that which gives him life. This is an extraordinary turn by Adam Sandler, and needs no qualifications though, as this would qualify as unforgettable work from any actor. 

97 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Incredible work.

Matt Mustin said...

Amazing performance. He's my runner-up behind De Niro, and in many other years he'd be an easy win.

Bryan L. said...

:')

Louis: Your thoughts on the ending for the film? And the title track from the score?

Bryan L. said...

And thoughts on the vocal cameo of a certain British actress? The funny thing is, I could actually see the Safdies making a similar film about HER character, even though we only know her by voice.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your rating for Julia Fox.

Emi Grant said...

My runner-up behind Pattinson in The Lighthouse. I was actually expecting to be blown away by him, but he even exceeded my expectations. He has to be in the top 3 for sure.

Charles H said...

He'd be my #3 for the year behind the Lighthouse leads. Easily his greatest work.

Calvin Law said...

Am I happy...*yes*.

Charles H said...

Louis: Your updated top 20 Robert De Niro acting moments

Calvin Law said...

What I really like about this performance is you don’t need to like the character at all for it to work (Kermode talked about this in length).

John Smith said...

Adam Sandler is the most frustrating actor around because of his true capabilites. Im glad that you mentioned that in the review. This is my favorite performance of last year.

Anonymous said...

Louis, your updated thoughts on Bogosian and Garnett? I just noticed that they both have been bumped up on the ranking.

Calvin Law said...

And Keith Williams Richards

Jack Narrator said...

I think Sandler will be Ethan Hawke (First Reformed) of 2019 ... he will be in 3rd place or maybe in 4th place.

BRAZINTERMA said...

Louis and others reading my comment, tell me which are the 10 best posters of 2019

Anonymous said...

Louis: This is something that has never really made sense to me. For example, I've seen so many people saying that English dubs of anime that take place in Western-looking settings adds a lot more authenticity to the show. I know that you don't really watch anime aside from a few exceptions (movies of course), but does that make sense to you, or? When it comes to live-action, Valkyrie is a movie about Nazi Germany, but it's in English, but would a German dub be a lot better because the characters are actually German?

Lucas Saavedra said...

Louis: any rating changes for the rest of the cast?

And what directors would you like Sandler to work with?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

The fact that he's my #4 really speaks to the strength of this year. That helicopter sequence was astonishing.

Luke Higham said...

Can't wait for my most anticipated review of 2019. I would love it if Louis gave both the win.

Anonymous said...

What are your best leading and suppoting female performances of 2019?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Anonymous: Louis will post them both in the results.

Bryan L. said...

Fun fact: Both this film and Avengers: Endgame have scenes (all of them in the formers) that take place in 2012 NYC and feature the same prominent British actress in a cameo.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Do you intend on seeing Hamilton in October.

Matt Mustin said...

Lucas: He NEEDS to work with Tarantino.

Bryan L. said...

BRAZINTERMA: My top 10 film posters of 2019 would be (unranked)...

Parasite
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Uncut Gems
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Us
The Peanut Butter Falcon
The Lighthouse
1917
Dragged Across Concrete (The one with the vans' headlights on)
Knives Out

HM: The burning ship/escaping pilot poster for Midway looks good.

RatedRStar said...

BRAZINTERMA: I honestly couldnt answer for 2019, In general I always liked the posters for films from 1985 films for some reason lol.

RatedRStar said...

Louis: We always love a surprise come Oscar time especially for acting, what are some of your favourite surprise acting winners?

Bryan L. said...

RatedRStar: Olivia Colman in The Favourite HAS to be one of them.

Luke Higham said...

Colman in The Favourite and Rylance in Bridge Of Spies are two of the most recent for me.

RatedRStar said...

Its always tricky to name people from before we were born, but I will go with William Hurt in Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Calvin Law said...

I’m praying for one this year, particularly in the supporting actor.

RatedRStar said...

I do want Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to win an Oscar, it was my favorite film of the year, a hair in front of Little Women and Parasite, possibly due to the Rick Dalton storyline which I felt resembled my own personal story in some ways. Pesci would get my vote generally, which would make me want OUATIH to win Production Design.

Anonymous said...

Luke, if you've seen The Lighthouse, what would be your thoughts on the film?

Jack Narrator said...

BRAZINTERMA: My top 10 film posters of 2019 are:

Ad Astra
Avengers: Endgame
The Farewell
The Lighthouse
Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood
Parasite
Joker
Midsommar
Glass
Doctor Sleep

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

I love the ending, in the sheer extreme shift of it and brutality of the moment itself. Touching about the other character so smoothly and I also love the touch of though left ambiguous, it is obvious Phil isn't likely to escape Howard's shop either. The finale being a highlight though again in sort the pull into Howard again into the mythical obsession that is the opal.

Wonderful exasperated work that manages to make an impact even though with strict limitations. And, I agree, in fact I'd love to see another Safdie film of even "higher class" subject such as that.

Luke:

Still don't feel I can soundly grant that.

Charles:

1. Russian Roulette - The Deer Hunter
2. The Phone Booth - Goodfellas
3. Jail cell breakdown - Raging Bull
4. Finding Nick - The Deer Hunter
5 .I got a dress for you - Goodfellas
6. Not quite a confession - The Irishman
7. Getting his audition tape back - The King of Comedy
8. Meeting with the Don - The Godfather Part II
9. Breakfast with Russell - The Irishman
10. Johnny Boy's threat - Mean Streets
11. Standup - The King of Comedy
12. Attempted apology - Raging Bull
13. Impromptu game of Russian Roulette - The Deer Hunter
14. Leave the door open a little bit - The Irishman
15. Explaining his Watch - Midnight Run
16. Everyone spending money - Goodfellas
17. Breakfast with Iris - Taxi Driver
18. Job offer - Angel Heart
19. "It's what it is" - The Irishman
20. Conversation with a candidate - Taxi Driver

Anonymous:

My thoughts on Bogosian are the same, but he does do A lot in every one of his reactionary moments. Garnett's performance was more striking the second time around as I felt he really excelled in granting the sense of the spiritual power of the opal, and honestly love everything he does against Sandler in their final scene together. This in each incredulous look, but also portraying the same sort of discontent from being denied the win. Although occasionally a stilted line still, but definitely impressive work.

Calvin:

Regarding Richards, my original thoughts stand however I think the impact he even makes as the thug are notable in both being extremely menacing but doing so with so much character. What really made me upgrade him as much as I did is EVERYTHING he does in his final scene, as his eyes say so much throughout the scene, as he shows Phil's coming to his conclusion, even as he awaits Howard's ploy.

Brazinterma:

Ad Astra
A Hidden Life
Honey Boy
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
The Lighthouse
Parasite
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Uncut Gems
US
Velvet Buzzsaw

Anonymous:

Well dub in live action is always quite a bit different in my mind, in that there are very limited examples of it being done remotely well, but broad stroke, no such a dub would not be fitting or make snese.

Lucas:

Those noted, I'd upgrade Menzel to a 4 as well.

Tarantino (and yes I'm sure he would've been better than Roth as the Bear Jew), David Fincher, The Coen Brothers, Edgar Wright.

Luke:

In two years...sure.

RatedRStar:

Colman
William hurt
Adrien Brody
Marisa Tomei
Chariots of Fire

Louis Morgan said...

Bryan:

The track is brilliant in being part horror, part mythic, part Vangelis part Carpenter, and everything that I love honestly. It is this mix really of what you'd hear in Escape from New York mixed in with Chariots Fire and Blade Runner, in a stunning thing of a simple beauty, as it is this requiem of sorts in a most unique way.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Louis: The Safdies said that Arno is inNarcotics Anonymous, which gives some of his scenes new context. I did notice some of his stares near the end seemed to be that of recognition. That he was seeing something too familiar in that gambling addiction.

Also, it’s okay to admit you weren’t impressed by Fox, I found her the weak link by a wide margin.

Bryan L. said...

I also LOVE the final shot of Sandlers' face after what happens happens, as in, his face didn't register what Phil was about to do as he was on a HUGE emotional high.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Are filmed versions of plays or musicals eligible for your Lead/Supporting overalls?

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

Well I will say any raves for her work are going WAY too far, as she is genuinely very stilted at times throughout her performance, it's one where I think even that is horribly detrimental because it kind of plays into the idea of the supposed shallowness of the character, but I doubt that this was an intentional "choice". In fact kind of the idea of the character I think is that she wasn't shallow all along and there is suppose to be turn in the final act, but this doesn't really come across properly through her own performance, so I'm with you on this one.

Tahmeed:

I mean James Whitmore was Oscar nominated for such a thing. I'll say for me though it is dependent on the nature of the filming/release. If it is just like a live stream, or a one time only thing, I'll say probably no, but if it is actually made into a purposeful sort of packaged theatrical release, then maybe yes.

Calvin Law said...

Huge disagree on Fox but I see what you guys mean.

Speaking of which, what are your thoughts on Bryan Lyndon's death scene in Barry Lyndon? I honestly think that's a genuinely great scene for not just Kubrick but O'Neal as well, but I completely understand if you don't agree.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Who would be your choices for Winslow and Wark in a 50's The Lighthouse (directed by Charles Laughton of course)= I was thinking John Carradine would be terrific in the latter part, or maybe Boris Karloff.

Anonymous said...

Calvin: That's one scene where I have to agree with you. That's easily my favorite scene of O'Neal in the whole movie and he completely nails it.

Calvin Law said...

Definitely. To be honest I’ve looked more kindly on his performance the more I think about it.

Also your thoughts on these two retrocastings?

2010s Barry Lyndon directed by Yorgos Lanthimos 
Narrator: Jared Harris 
Barry Lyndon: George MacKay 
Lady Lyndon: Jessie Buckley 
Chevalier du Balibari: James Smith 
Captain Potzdorf: Jasper Pakkonen 
Lord Bullingdon: Kodi Smit-McPhee 
Belle: Lesley Manville 
Reverend Runt: Andrew Scott 

2010s Judgement at Nuremberg directed by Tommy Lee Jones
Chief Judge Dan Haywood: Tommy Lee Jones
Dr Ernst Janning: Damian Lewis 
Col. Tad Lawson: Barry Pepper 
Hans Rolfe: August Diehl 
Frau Barthold: Martina Gedeck 
Rudolph Peterson: Adam Sandler
Irene Hoffmann-Wallner: Scarlett Johansson

Anonymous said...

Louis: From his work here, would you say that Sandler would be a good fir for the main role in "The Gambler"? and how do you feel Sandler would fare as the Hoffman role in "Midnight Cowboy"?

Anonymous said...

https://youtu.be/MJEAGd1bQuc

Anonymous said...

Louis: Could I have your thoughts on this SNL skit? https://youtu.be/MJEAGd1bQuc

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: One of the most unique films, especially in this day and age that I've seen. It brings that classic 30s/40s B&W Gothic Horror to the 21st century and is just an outstanding film in every regard. Whether it's the cinematography, production design, sound, direction, screenplay or its monumental performances by the two leads. It also had my favourite trailer of 2019 (Watch ya spill yer beans).
It's my #3 of 2019, just behind Parasite and 1917.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on this. No matter how hard he tries, I can't take Chris Rock seriously as a dramatic actor.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FWiUQp0yM34

Bryan L. said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the following scenes from this film?

-“I disagree, I disagree Gary” (Love the cameo here)
-The car argument (Arno and his goons vs Howard)
-The club fight
-The faulty door (When Garnett and co. can’t get into the shop)
-The auction

Mitchell Murray said...

So, something interesting was said to me yesterday...I was talking about "Marraige Story" with a group of people, and one person said that they weren't all that amazed by it. A fair enough opinion, I felt, but they then went on to say they had seen the famous "fight" scene in the film, and it was something that - quote on quote - their parents could've done...

Now correct with me if I'm wrong, but if the person was reminded of their parents - you know, an actual married couple presumably - by Driver and Johansson, doesn't that mean they succeeded in portraying a realistic couple? I'm still trying to process the meaning behind their statement. It kind of begs the question of what viewers have been conditioned to see as great screen acting, and whether its detached at all from realistic acting, no?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What do you think of a Safdie Brothers directed 'Joker' instead of Todd Phillips.

Bryan L. said...

Luke: I mean, Louis did once choose the Safdies as directors for a 2010s Taxi Driver haha

Bryan L. said...

In all seriousness, I think the Safdies would've included more scenes where Joaquins actions resonate on the other characters (hypothetically), like with Menzel, Bogosian and Garnett vs. Sandler in this film.

Emi Grant said...

Mitchell: Welcome to the dumbest performance related film controversy of 2019. You have no idea how much that kind of comment irks me, personally.

Álex Marqués said...

Regarding Marriage Story; maybe it's just that shoutfests have become such an easy way to create Oscar-ready clips that people are tired of seeing them as the absolute proof of an actor's abilities, especially when the tricky part that makes great work stand out usually lies in subtly creating a character aided by a script and direction (or even against them, in some cases). And it's something that I think both Driver and Johansson manage to do in the movie without the shouting. But you don't see those criticisms against Song Kang-ho in Parasite or Ana de Armas in Knives Out, for example. The truth is, many people (not including Louis) lazily judge a performance based on a "money scene" (usually a loud one, which is the problem), rather than the acumulative effect of said performance during the film, which usually leads to rejecting and trivializing an actor/actress work. Of course, there's also a lot of dumb people who are ready to judge something as "masturbatory" or "showy" without knowing the context.

Álex Marqués said...

Also, for the record, my Best Actor line-up is: Banderas, Walter Hauser, Sandler, De Niro and Pattinson.

Calvin Law said...

I just got back from re-watching The Lighthouse and have to say it all but solidified my tie for the year. Pattinson’s rant at Dafoe about his smell and farts might just be one of the great comedic scenes of the decade.

Also...how about a Todd Phillips Uncut Gems? Should be a masterpiece!

Alex: inspired lineup.

Bryan L. said...

Calvin: Hhmmm...a Todd-Phillips-directed Scorsese-influenced film with a comic actor turned serious whose character is greedy to the core...isn't that War Dogs?

Calvin Law said...

Bryan: if you close your eyes in certain parts for Uncut Gems you can almost see and hear how Jonah Hill would’ve been in the part. Honestly though Joker has made me appreciate War Dogs and the Hangover films more. At least those films regardless if you like them or not there’s a clear direction and take on the genre that he’s aiming for.

Bryan L. said...

Calvin: Yeah, I could almost hear him calmly pleading Dinah (a younger actress in Hills' version) to give him another shot haha.

Luke Higham said...

The longer this review takes to write, the more sure I am of either winning.

Mitchell Murray said...

Alex: Your spot on, honestly. Any time there are segments of grand emotion needed for a performance, its not just about how the actors handle those big notes. Its also about them granting the proper drive/build up for each of those loud moments, and when those come together they result in something truly impressive, I feel.

Consider the oscar nominated turn of Naomi Watts in "21 Grams". For myself, that is a rare dramatic performance of her's that doesn't fully work, and reasons for that are two fold; The more superficial reason is that I don't believe the breakdowns she has in that movie are her very best. The second reason, though, is due to that character having a surprising lack of background info given to each of her tragedies. Because of the structure and direction, there simply was a limited context or focus allotted between her bigger moments, and it left Watts strangely lost in some of that down time. She didn't get the chance to show the anger/sadness slowly brimming in the character, and without those scenes, those louder notes just don't have the same impact.

On the flip side you have someone like Angelina Jolie in "Changeling", another nominated turn with a number of emotional moments. In a similar fashion to "Marraige Story", that is another performance that was criticized as overly dramatic - possibly by those having not seen the whole film. When I watched the movie, however, I didn't find the over the top theatrics I was lead to expect. Instead, I actually found a performance that really worked in the context of the real life story. Collins was a real woman who lost her son, and was cruelly treated by those she sought to find him. In turn, Jolie actually portrayed the resulting mess of emotions quite well, as she had the time she needed to grant Collins dimension and complexity. She had those quiet moments to build on her plights as a desperate mother, but also her anger and frustrations as mistreated woman of the era. For me, her performance found that balance and really made me connect to the story on an emotional level, regardless of the weaker elements in the film itself.

Mitchell Murray said...

Oh, and in regards to Emi's comment, that is yet another internet controversy I'm staying FAR away from.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: it’s basically two full reviews in one, I can’t wait. Might even crack it into my top 10. Incidentally what’s everyone’s top 10 Louis reviews? For me,

1. Adam Driver in Paterson
2. Billy Zane in Titanic
3. Matt Dillon in The House That Jack Built
4. The Cornetto Trilogy
5. Harry Dean Stanton in Lucky
6. Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water
7. Michael Redgrave in The Browning Version
8. Alex Frost in Elephant
9. Nicholas Hoult in Mad Max: Fury Road
10. The Lawrence of Arabia supporting cast

Mitchell Murray said...

Calvin: Most every one of those that you mentioned, in addition to the duo of Tommy Wiseau in "The Room" and James Franco in "The Disaster Artist" (The latter mainly because of that Wiseau-style intro).

Also guys, what would be your ranking of the Saoirse Ronan performances you've watched? Mine would be as followed:

1) Brooklyn
2) Little Women
3) Lady Bird
4) Atonement
5) The Grand Budapest Hotel

Still haven't seen "Mary Queen of Scots", "The Lovely Bones" or even "Hannah" which I hear is decent.

Calvin Law said...

1. Little Women
2. Brooklyn (interchangeable)
3. Lady Bird
4. Atonement
5. Mary Queen of Scots

And yeah snubbed the Wiseau accidentally, that would be my #3

Luke Higham said...

Mitchell: I'd replace GBH with Mary, Queen Of Scots and I am in full agreement.

Calvin Law said...

RIP Kirk Douglas.

Luke Higham said...

RIP Kirk Douglas :(

The last male screen legend of the golden age. Now we only have De Havilland left with us.

Mitchell Murray said...

103 years old...really makes one think about everything he would've experienced in his life time.

Rest in piece, Mr. Douglas.

Bryan L. said...

RIP Kirk Douglas

Fuck, I was watching Paths of Glory last night too... :’(

Emi Grant said...

Fuck no...

R.I.P. Kirk Douglas

Bryan L. said...

Calvin:

I'll agree with your 7 of your Top Ten Louis reviews, although take out the other three and put in Joe Mantell in Marty, Gosling in BR: 2049 and the JFK ensemble instead.

Mitchell:

1. Little Women
2. Brooklyn
3. Lady Bird
4. Mary Queen of Scots
5. Atonement (Interchangeable with 4)

RatedRStar said...

RIP Kirk Douglas

Thank you so much for everything, you have been a wonderful legend and you lived a life that so many could only dream of, you are now in eternal peace.

Matt Mustin said...

RIP the LEGENDARY (cannot be overstated) Kirk Douglas.

Calvin: I love his review of Raul Julia in Street Fighter.

Bryan L. said...

Calvin: Should’ve specified; take out Hoult, Redgrave & Lawrence, add in the three I mentioned, and keep the other 7 for me. All great though!

Shaggy Rogers said...

RIP Kirk Douglas

PS: 103 years lived and no victory on this blog. Louis Morgan should be ashamed!

Emi Grant said...

Shaggy: That's highly inappropriate. Please refrain from such statements.

Toan Nguyen said...

Have you guys seen the movie The Invisible Guest? Thoughts and ratings of the movie and casts?

Luke Higham said...

Shaggy: I'm tired of reading that BS now. :(

Calvin Law said...

Shaggy: Come on, let’s not get into this.

Calvin Law said...

Toan: Afraid not but the reviews look strong.

Shaggy Rogers said...

If I were Louis Morgan I would have taken Alec Guinness (The Bridge on The River Kwai) and given Douglas victory in Paths of Glory.

PS: In my opinion Douglas was better than Guinness.

Toan Nguyen said...

I recently watched it and found the plot worked effectively. Love the lead performances as well!
Shaggy: FYI Louis loves many of Kirk's performances, the winning thing doesn't matter that much, to be honest.

Emi Grant said...

Shaggy: That's ok, just take into account that this is not the time for it.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Rest in peace Kirk Douglas.

Calvin Law said...

Shaggy: I agree with you actually but this is not the time nor place and it’s his rankings. The beauty of diversity of opinions is such.

RatedRStar said...

To be fair Louis did give Kirk Douglas an official Oscar win for Lust for Life in a tie with Olivier, as well as Champion.

Luke Higham said...

Shaggy: I agree that it's his best performance, but don't treat Louis or anyone else for that matter like dirt if his/their opinion is separate from yours.

Anonymous said...

Good grief, some users just can't accept the fact that Louis has his own opinions. It's fucking annoying.

Anonymous said...

Luke, what are your Top Ten Louis reviews?

Luke Higham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: I need some time to think about it but my number one is probably Alex Frost in Elephant. Reason for it being was that not only did I laugh much from it but it was also posted on my birthday.

Michael McCarthy said...

Adam Driver in Paterson has gotta be #1.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Winslow: Robert Mitchum
Wake: Boris Karloff

Calvin:

Well as much as admire Kubrick focusing on the acting for the scene, and O'Neal reaction at least bringing something, I will say his vocal delivery of the scene still takes me out of it far more than I would wish, as Kubrick otherwise fashions something powerful in staying on Neal, and his use of music in the scene.

Well definitely love the Lanthimos cast, so I'll also imagine he doesn't write it.

Judgment at Nuremberg very promising as well I will say, and the type of material that would suit Jones both as a performer and director I think.

Anonymous:

Yes, though that character quite frankly is a weaker Howard Ratner in my mind. Ratso though is something more remarkable, and based on Uncut Gems I could certainly see it, as again Sandler has that intensity that is so incredible when he uses it properly.

Anonymous:

Honestly pretty effective horror of sorts. Terrifying in a way.

Luke:

Honestly came off as a parody, from Rock trying to be serious to Jackson's "wanna play games". I have hopes for Rock to pull off dramatics (for the first time, as I've never thought he's come even close) given his lead role in Fargo, so fingers crossed there.

Bryan:

I disagree - (Well Sandler's lack of hesitation in the bet is perfection, and I love the warning of the bookie, and a great bit of non-actor acting in Francesa there, in fact I love so much of the non-actor stuff the Safdies do throughout, particularly everyone on the jewelry street.)

Car Argument - (Fantastic in the intensity but also the comedy of it "I've never resurfaced anything" with the viciousness of the goons, though loving Bogosian's sort of trying to play the part of the boss, while having these moments of hesitation.)

The Club Fight - (Well love that cinematography, but great in how natural the breakdown feels in Sandler's complete irrational breakdown.)

Faulty Door - (I mean sheer brilliant filmmaking that can make a door not working so gripping and frankly never racking. This as the Safdies pass it like a Hitchockian moment of tension to which there's no release until he gets it open. This as you so keenly know what the Opal means in that moment and you're right there with Howard.)

The Auction - (Love it on again how to craft tension with such modest ease, here in just some great editing, some great acting from each party, also love Hirch's concerns and frustrations that are great as well, would've loved to see more of ole' Gooey honestly. Again though the mere idea of the setup makes it so gripping, just brilliant film-making.)

Luke:

I mean much better, but they'd re-write the whole thing. They're examples of taking the ideas of the 70's crowd and finding their own voice, where Phillips is a copy/paste artist, and a sloppy one at that.

Calvin:

Please no regarding Phillips's Uncut Gems.






















RIP Kirk Douglas.

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