Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Alternate Best Actor 1954: George Sanders in Journey to Italy

George Sanders did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Alexander 'Alex' Joyce in Journey to Italy.

Journey to Italy is almost an anti-Roman Holiday about a couple whose marriage becomes increasingly strained as they vacation in Italy.

George Sanders is best known for his purring villains, whether or not he is playing a literal feline, or at the very least he is an intellectual sort with a biting wit whether or not he's even a sympathetic sort. This performance is again in that vein yet what we see of him here is different from those earlier performances. In that Sanders here is playing a man in a more modest situation with his wife Katherine (Ingrid Bergman) as they travel abroad. Sanders in many ways gives the performance you'd expect from him in that he is his usual suave self particularly when Alex and Katherine are among others. He has that certain wit about him and is properly as Sanders should be. This takes on a different shade though when the two are alone together or alone separately. In that Sanders's has this certain misery within that behavior, his statements being particularly caustic, emphasized as such by Sanders's delivery which lacks that certain joy in the cynicism found in his most of his work. This performance Sanders presents more of such a man that you get to know both when he is "on" in front of the crowd and off when alone with his wife.

Sanders's style is effectively subverted in these moments as we see him essentially as Katherine does which is as the excessively cynical sort, and this is one of the most painful marks on their relationship. Their interactions are notable for their broken chemistry of sorts as they only seem to connect in minor instances of social interaction, or when they are being more directly critical of one another. They lack any real warmth, but what Sanders and Bergman do though is capture this specific sort of coldness. It is not of two people wholly without a history rather there is a familiarity in this but an unpleasant familiarity represented often in a mutual disinterest or an unease in recognizing the faults they see in one another. The film breaks them apart where we see each going off their own where perhaps Bergman is allowed to create a bit more insight into her character partially because she speaks to herself. Sanders does have a few scenes though where we see him pondering a potential affair with a local. These scenes do feel a touch limited at times, and perhaps there was an intentional vapidness in Sanders's work. They don't leave the same impact though in Bergman's similair scenes where we seem to come to understand Katherine more than we do Alex.

Eventually the two troubles come to a head in their final day in Italy. Again this is where Sanders shines along with Bergman for that matter as they so well capture this certain vicious sniping the each make towards one another as the final conflict builds in that day. They once more capture the mutual stress in these moments, and their delivery works as this sudden messy outpouring of frustrations against one another. They work so well in creating this dissolution though along with their sudden switching to basically appease their hosts as their tour continues. The two find the difficulty in their attempts to switch back to their proper social behavior while always conveying their ongoing fight is still weighing on their minds. This eventually leads to the two getting caught up in a religious procession where suddenly their relationship turns around. Although as written there appears to be something missing there, though perhaps that is the point in that both Bergman and Sanders don't quite make that easy in their performance. The reason being that even as they declare their renewed love of sorts there is something off and desperate in the moment that suggests perhaps it is not as happy of an ending as it might seem. Although there seem something missing in his scenes away from Bergman with her Sanders gives a compelling alternative view of his usual screen persona.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Alternate Best Actor 1954

And the Nominees Were Not:

Anthony Quinn in La Strada

Fredric March in Executive Suite

Jean Gabin in Touchez Pas Au Grisbi

George Sanders in Journey to Italy

Alec Guinness in The Detective

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2003: Results

5. Park Hai-il in Memories of Murder - A performance that grew on me considerable with a re-watch as it develops another layer as he presents both a guilty and innocent man as the potential serial killer.

Best Scene: Interrogation.
4. Jason Isaacs in Peter Pan - Isaacs is both an effectively meek yet eventually heartwarming Mr. Darling while also being a properly menacing yet entertaining Captain Hook.

Best Scene: Hook tricks Tinkerbell.
3. Bernie Mac in Bad Santa - Mac gives an hilarious portrayal of his straight shooting security chief who isn't exactly completely on the level himself.

Best Scene: "Half"
2. James Caan in Dogville - Caan's performance delivers this remarkable impact for the finale of his film, as he, in only really single scene, not only establishes a long difficult history with Nicole Kidman's Grace, but also realizes his distinct personal philosophy towards the world.

Best Scene: "Arrogance"
1. Yoo Ji-tae in Oldboy - Good predictions Omar and Calvin. Yoo Ji-Tae gives an outstanding performance that offers a most atypical villain for a revenge thriller, and also delivers his own portrayal of his character's own tale of revenge that ends up oddly  trumping the "hero's".

Best Scene: The Elevator.
Update Overall

Next Year: 1954 Lead

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2003: Park Hae-il in Memories of Murder

Park Hae-il did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Park Hyeon-gyu in Memories of Murder.

Memories of Murder is a brilliant film that follows the search for a serial killer in the South Korean countryside.

Park Hae-il appears rather late into the film as a man who the detectives, Park Doo-man (Song Kang-ho) and Seo Tae-yoon (Kim Sang-kyung), believe may be the killer. His connection to the crimes come in a single song he requested that plays on the radio every time the murders occur though it is also every time it rains at night. Park Hae-il's performance as the subject is a very interesting one, and essential to serving his purpose in the film, which is to be a giant question mark. I have to say what he does here is rather remarkable in that his performance actually forces the viewer into the same viewpoint as Detectives Seo and Park find themselves in. In that the first time I watched the film I was convinced that he was guilty. This was through his portrayal of the quiet dispassion that seemed that of psychopath, there was a sinister distance as he answered the questions as guilty man simply thriving on the knowledge that they have no hard evidence against him. However watching the film again his performance plays a different way which is fascinating. That dispassion can be interpreted less as something sinister. It not only can reflect an earned distaste for the police, earned due to the random brutality of one of their members, but also suggests perhaps just an anti-social man living a difficult isolated life.

Park's performance remains though an enigma, yet his work never feels vague in this. Again in the initial viewing his few later scenes, after his initial interrogation, he is off-putting as seeming to be the killer gloating against his foes for their inability to catch him. On re-watch though this can be as easily viewed as a man already living an unpleasant life becoming understandably ill at ease with such severe accusations being made against him. Again it is yet another brilliant element of this film this idea that it make you get caught up in the evidence, the evidence against the man that you believe to be airtight yet becomes much more flimsy once the emotion surrounding it dies down. Of course again in that initial viewing right when you are with the detectives, in all of their frustrations and pain over the case, there is a desire for some sort of closure somewhere, and the only candidates seems in Park's off putting man. It is then easy enough to get caught up in the final confrontation where detective Seo is about to kill the man in cold blood after another murder has taken place. Again Park's turn only seems to encourage this as the unrepentant killer, who admits his guilt only with palatable disdain in the heat of the moment. Again though on re-evaluation Park evokes a real fear in the scene suggesting that perhaps the man is just fearful for his life, though perhaps through his military life he reacts to fear through some external anger rather than falling apart as most would. This is terrific performance as in a few scenes he creates this captivating figure that is mystery one can't quite decipher. He allows either interpretation of his character to be valid, yet is genuine in his performance. It is truly remarkable since his performance makes his character frustrating in the right way. You can't quite get a bead on him as Park leads with a fork in the road as this unpleasant behavior could be of a serial killer, or man who has no affection for the world yet is harmless. 

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2003: Yoo Ji-Tae in Oldboy

Yoo Ji-Tae did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Lee Woo-jin in Oldboy.

Oldboy is the second film in Park Chan-wook's thematic revenge trilogy. That revenge on the surface appears to be based around the man Oh Dae-su's (Choi Min-sik) search for the man who imprisoned him for 15 years. Unfortunately for Oh Dae-su the real revenge at the center of the film is not Oh Dae-su's for that man, but rather that man's for Oh Dae-su. That man being Lee Woo-jin played by Yoo Ji-Tae. After Dae-su is released from his strange prolonged prison sentence he slowly received messages from a man, that man being Lee. They are slight initially and as mysterious as the prison itself. We only hear Yoo a few times, and see his eyes in a couple of straightforward messages. We only finally see him in the flesh rather suddenly when he initially appears to be a helpful bystander who offers aid to Dae-su after a fight. It is there where we first see Yoo's bright smile he brings to the role, such a congenial grin as he almost treats Oh Dae-su as this old friend, ensuring that he will survive that violent encounter.

Yoo Ji-Tae's casting and his performance offer quite an atypical villain for the film, as he first off he just does not look like this truly sinister man just by a glance then there is Yoo's portrayal. Yoo does not try to exert an overt menace with his performance, and again in fact there is this certain friendliness at times, though in reality more of a familiarity that Yoo expresses. Yoo does not do this to undercut his performance, no instead it amplifies in the way he creates this truly unique antagonist with Lee. That familiarity ends up being rather off-putting in one way Yoo alludes to the way that Lee knows so much that Dae-su does not, far too much in fact. There is even more though as Yoo suggests something even deeper than that even. Of course this also becomes duplicitous as Yoo makes that smile get under your skin as there is an innate smugness that Yoo brings, which again goes further than just making him this smug snake. Yes that is there, but again Yoo makes it seem all the more sinister since the smugness suggest his complete control of every situation in the film, and is imposing in his own way by creating Lee as this man who almost seems impossible to decipher while he apparently has everything deciphered around him.

Yoo, despite being very consistent in creating this sense of certainty in Lee, he is never one note. There are these brilliant edges he brings to his performance, moments that he uses so effectively to allude to more about Lee's nature and his real relationship with Oh Dae-su. These often are slight moments, where we see a real burning hatred, these are in small moments when he turns away for just a second, in those moments though are usually related to either when Oh Dae-su reveals absolutely no knowledge of why Lee is doing this to him, or later on when he begins to call back the memory. In those times though there is that intensity of a hatred, fitting to a man bent on revenge, yet Yoo takes it further as there a certain somberness in this anger reflecting his sorrow connected to the revenge. Eventually we do learn that Oh Dae-su caused a rumor, a true rumor, that Lee and his sister were having an incestuous relationship which eventually lead to her committing suicide. It is in the final confrontation where the film does reveal that it has always been about Lee's revenge, not Oh Dae-su's.

Lee brings throughout the scene that domination of what could be the noble avenger if it was not so twisted, as he breaks Oh Dae-su down with such confidence revealing his plan of revenge that entails Oh Dae-su unknowingly sleeping with his own daughter. The revelation causes a full mental breakdown in Oh Dae-su that leads him to beg Lee not to reveal the information to his daughter. Yoo is brutally effective by how he controls every moment and reveals what that satisfaction and familiarity came from. As Yoo presented as Lee knowing his plan was working but also conveying a certain connection through their mutual incest. Yoo is amazing in the final moment as he laughs over Oh Dae-su bringing such a joy in a man who has apparently gotten everything he desired, and essentially fulfilled what had become his life goal. Again though since this is his revenge story it ends as so many do in what is my favorite scene in this great performance. That being when Lee enters the elevator to leave Oh Dae-su alone in his misery with that smile of pure elation. Lee though hears recording of the pain of his actions which causes his mind to drift back to his sister's suicide which he was present for. Yoo is heartbreaking in his painful demise of that smile into such anguish, the anguish that is all he is left with after having avenged the death, which naturally leads to his own demise. Yoo Ji-Tae's performance here is outstanding piece of work as he successfully is so unlike what you'd expect from villain in a revenge film, yet also succeeds in creating this idea that Lee is living out his own revenge through his surprisingly poignant though still chilling portrait of a man consumed by vengeance in his own way.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2003: Jason Isaacs in Peter Pan

Jason Isaacs did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Mr. Darling/Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

Peter Pan is a very much forgotten though more than decent big budget and fairly straight forward telling of Peter Pan.

Jason Isaacs as fitting to the tradition of the stage production plays both the role of Mr. Darling and Captain Hook. Isaacs seems like someone who ought to have played Captain Hook sometime in his career, but Mr. Darling presents his side shown far less often. Now we are not given too much time with Mr. Darling though Isaacs does manage to make a nice impression in them, in his approach which differs quite strongly from say the Disney version of the character. In that version we have shades of Hook in Mr. Darling before we see Neverland that's not the case for Isaacs. Isaacs plays Mr. Darling as very much a man of Edwardian England, very proper, very meek but with this undeniable earnestness. In his brief moment where we see his frustrations build towards his children, Isaacs actually successfully creates a sympathy, even when being rather humorous, by showing how desperately Mr. Darling wants to impress his employers. Unfortunately the children lead to an embarrassment where Mr. Darling lashes out. Isaacs effectively handles the scene by portraying the frustration as a burst of sudden emotion, that is not purely cruel rather something far more genuine to a man who otherwise loves children.

Of course what we are really waiting for is Isaacs as Captain Hook, which seems perfect casting given Isaacs's perchance for playing evil Englishman. Isaacs though does not merely reprise his Colonel Tavington, which would be far too dark, nor is he even his Lucius Malfoy which would not be quite right for this children's story. Yes the menace is of course there, Isaacs seems to be overjoyed just to be evil at times which comes through. That menace almost seems to be an innate thing and it is merely a given that he fulfills Hook's role as the big bad pirate, but now he goes so much further than that here. Hook is not just any bad guy really there is something more to be had within his various facets, succeeding in those other facets is the true requite for a great Captain Hook. Isaacs sort of having the menace as a given is a great aid as he pivots this to being more than that. In that he brings this certain style of the grand Pirate Captain fitting to the fantastical setting of Neverland. There's this exuberance he brings in his performance, a grandeur of it that has just the right sort of theatrical bent. His Hook isn't just going to kill Peter Pan in his view, he's going to do in a proper flamboyant style.

Isaacs understands the certain pageantry if you will that goes along with the part, which never compromises the needed menace though. He offers both in a properly intimidating though also incredibly entertaining performance. His Hook has the right sense of mischievousness within the more direct villainy. He never allows his Hook to be defined as only the evil pirate, and has so much of the right sort of fun in the role. I have an especially strong affection for portraying the downtrodden, and falsely empathetic Hook who manages to trick Tinkerbell into helping him. Isaacs is properly amusing in his so falsely, yet appropriately earnest delivery of Hook's concern for Peter Pan. Isaacs finds that right balance in his performance in being the villain but doing it in such an enjoyable fashion. This of course also comes heavily into play in Hook's fear of the crocodile who took his Hook. Although this is not given as much focus as the Disney version, Isaacs still is quite funny in portraying the gripping fear in Hook every moment he believes the crocodile is nearby. Isaacs's Hook steals the film with ease, though I will say that is a fairly common occurrence when it comes to Peter Pan. Isaacs is a great Hook though as he balances the part so well to be such almost oddly endearing fiend for the film. Although it is also worth noting his final return as Mr. Darling where Isaacs is actually rather moving in so honestly portraying Mr. Darling's heartfelt apology for his children. His change of heart is entirely earned, since again even before his lashing out Isaacs's reactions were always that of a caring father. Isaacs excels in both roles being a properly sweet Mr. Darling, and a Captain Hook that captures just about all that the great Captain should be.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2003: James Caan in Dogville

James Caan did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying The Big Man in Dogville.

Dogville follows the dissolution of a secluded town through the town's relationship with a woman hiding from the mob.

The woman, Grace (Nicole Kidman), is running from The Big Man played by James Caan. Caan briefly appears in hand, and in voice early on as a dark figure in the back of a car driven by two men who appear to be mobsters. The voice offers a reward for her whereabouts, but then disappears with his men not to return until the final act of the film. James Caan finally appears as Grace, after having been psychologically and physically abused by the townspeople, goes to see The Big Man who is revealed to be her father. Caan's performance is essential to the film as he has much to fulfill in very little screentime. The first being the sheer presence of a figure known as the Big Man, well this being James Caan him being a believable mobster is basically a given, but it goes beyond that. What Caan must also find is whatever this relationship with Grace is in a few seconds, a relationship that we have had some slight indications of but it is not until now that we see what it truly is.

Caan's performance measures up to these expectations particularly in regards to his relationship with Grace. Kidman and Caan are perfect together as they find this complex relationship between father and daughter in only a few minutes. Caan's fascinating in that he does exude this sort of underlying warmth in the way he speaks to her. There is also the right familiarity between the two  as even in this point of a certain difficulty the history between the two is felt through the performance. There is that apparent love of sorts in Caan's manner as he speaks to her, but this is only a facet of it. Their conversation touches their relationship but it is most dependent on the town as the two speak of essentially their different views of the world and people in particular. Caan's brilliant in his approach as The Big Man explains his view that dogs should not be forgiven of their crimes against Grace's initial belief that they essentially do not know better. Caan dominates the conversation in his portrayal of The Big Man's assurance of this view. There is not an inherent morality in this that Caan portrays but rather he presents it as this innate knowledge and in doing so effectively presents his philosophy to Grace. Caan portrays the Big Man wholly in control of this view, and there is a certain passion through not being directly overt about it, bur rather through that sheer control of it. Now within that conversation, that could have been purely cerebral, it is not. As in the presentation of this view Caan reveals The Big Man's history with grace, in that odd tenderness even if he is giving an apology for having shot at her. Caan makes it all the more personal though in the persuasion is less of some devil tempting her view, but rather there is even almost earnestness to accept his view which is to see the world without any blinders, or at least according to him. Caan is persuasive though again not by showing this to be finally a good man, no one is good within Dogville, but rather someone who appears to stand without a single delusion within the film's world. This is an excellent performance by James Caan as he makes his impact that not only establishes his character, his relationship with Kidman's but also realizes the pivotal denouement for the film.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2003: Bernie Mac and John Ritter in Bad Santa

Bernie Mac and John Ritter did not receive an Oscar nominations for portraying Gin Slagel and Bob Chipeska respectively in Bad Santa.

Sadly a connection between these two performances is this marks one of the last performances of both comedic actors who unfortunately both left us far too soon. This at the very least though is a prime chance for both actors to show off their talents. Mac and Ritter play the head of security and manager respectively to the mall that is the next target of Marcus Skidmore (Tony Cox) and Willie T. Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) who play the mall elf and
Santa in order to eventually rob the mall. Ritter and Mac play what would appear to be the opposition to this plan although not all goes to plan in that regard. A funny note about Ritter here is this is his follow up collaboration with his friend Billy Bob Thornton, after the far more serious minded Sling Blade. Ritter perhaps is technically more at home here playing the store manager who doesn't quite know what to do with this new Santa, who he hired just for working for less. Ritter's great in portraying Chipeska as perhaps the man least qualified to deal with Willie's manner, right from his initial hilarious horrified reaction in an initial misunderstanding about Willie's sexual performance. Ritter's specific aghast face is a classic when it comes to that sort of reaction as he looks upon Willie, delivering the lines as though he an barely comprehend what has happened as he inquires what's going on.

After his initial introduction Ritter is a diversion that occasional appears that is always quite welcome portraying such a terrific spineless and queasy reaction to everything that Willie is. His other scenes though he shares most often with Mac's Gin who Chipeska asks to investigate Willie. In these scenes Ritter is so effectively nebbish in portraying Chipeska's very weak way of asking for Gin to take on the investigation, so well emphasizing that any taboo matter, which includes the preferred term for a person with dwarfism, with both a moment hesitation and almost indigestion at the thought. Now where Ritter is a marvelous little diversion Mac's role is a bit a more substantial given he may be the one man to be able to stop Marcus and Willie. As with Ritter, Mac is perfectly cast in this role as Gin and overall Mac and Ritter's scenes together are highlights within the film. With Ritter being so hesitant while Mac is so properly straight forward as Gin from his opening line of "Fuckstick?" when pondering about the new Santa. Mac's performance is hilarious in actually being rather no-nonsense despite being obviously funny. This plays so well against Ritter's work which always accentuates the tip toeing that Chipeska is doing, meanwhile Gin cuts right through it without a second thought.

Mac outside of those great scenes portrays Gin as actually rather competent head of security as he quickly discovers not only who Marcus and Willie really are but also what they are up to. As with Ritter, any time we stop by with Gin Mac is a delight in revealing this casual yet somehow intense style of Gin, that is particularly funny to watch whether he is dealing out specific pedicure methods or taking down a young shoplifter by stealing his Mp3 player. Mac finds this certain balance as he's is indeed commanding as a proper officer of the law, but his intention is not exactly equal to that. It is revealed that intention is even worse though when rather than having the two robbers arrested he decides instead to extort them by taking half of their take. Mac's great in the initial vicious dressing down which he controls with the right proper smug assurance. The best moment in this though perhaps coming in negotiation for the take where Mac manages to find about fifteen different ways to say half, making some comedic gold out of saying the same thing over and over again. Unfortunately for Gin ripping the two off is not so easy due to Willie's erratic behavior and Marcus not wanting to be ripped off. Mac so enjoyably loses Gin's earlier assurance in these hiccups portraying the frustrations of Gin so amusingly when he has to keep helping them. I have particular affection for his complete loss of his command when he has to concede to the diminutive Marcus's logic that he physically would not be able to move Willie himself forcing Gin to do it. Mac's work makes the most out of his side story as does Ritter to the point that I would have loved to have seen more of them particularly together. Nevertheless what we do get is more than satisfactory due to the incredible comedic timing of both actors who deliver incredibly entertaining performances that don't waste an ounce of their material.
(For Ritter)
(For Mac)

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2003

And the Nominees Were Not:

Bernie Mac in Bad Santa

John Ritter in Bad Santa

James Caan in Dogville

Jason Isaacs in Peter Pan

Yoo Ji-Tae in Oldboy

Park Hae-il in Memories of Murder 

For Prediction Purposes:

Mac from Bad Santa

Friday, 30 June 2017

Alternate Best Actor 2003: Results

5. Alex Frost in Elephant - Frost does a lot of important walking while looking bored, then becomes an overt psychopath in the last few seconds of the film.

Best Scene: The special act of walking. 
4. Rémy Girard in The Barbarian Invasions - Girard's performance is often fairly one note as this stubborn and dying intellectual. He plays the role most often in an excessively broad way, as a caricature of a fussy intellectual. When he tones it down a bit he's fairly effective but such moments are rare.

Best Scene: Leaving his classroom.
3. Ivan Dobronravov in The Return - Dobronravov gives an appropriately raw portrayal of the mess of emotions of a boy when his absentee father suddenly appears.

Best Scene: Ivan "conquers" the tower.
2. Daniel Brühl in Goodbye, Lenin! - Brühl gives a charming and delightful portrayal that manages to make his character's most unusual actions not only believable but also deeply affecting. 

Best Scene: Meeting his father.
1. Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa - Good predictions Michael McCarthy, Tahmeed, Luke, RatedRStar, Jackiboyz, and Omar. Thornton gives a great performance as he manages to be absolutely hilarious by in no way softening the edges of his very crude criminal yet his approach also manages to earn the character's transition to a better man by the end of the film.

 Best Scene: "For God's sake it's Christmas"
Updated Overall

Next Year: 2003 Supporting

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Alternate Best Actor 2003: Robert Duvall in Open Range

Robert Duvall did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Boss Spearman in Open Range.

Open Range, despite a slow start, I found to be a pretty strong western about a cattleman and his hired hand facing off against a ruthless land baron.

Well I was originally going to review Rémy Girard in The Barbarian Invasions but since that film is so assured of its own brilliance what use is there even to review it or one of its performances? I'd rather review Robert Duvall in this film. It's actually interesting that, despite seeming a perfect fit, Duvall mostly only really appeared in westerns as villains and that was before his breakout. After his break out his only major performance in a western was in the television miniseries Lonesome Dove, that was until this film perhaps that is why Kevin Costner was supposedly so adamant in casting Duvall in the role. It was really the perfect choice as Duvall seems as natural to the western setting as the rolling hills and the vast plains. From the opening scene Duvall just is this old time cattleman. Duvall carries that striking presence from the outset as he does not need to say much of anything just to exude a man of the time, and place. Duvall though takes this given even further though as he creates a powerful figure as he looks over his men, and his cattle, a man whose power isn't defined so much by strength rather something far more important. 

Duvall in the early scenes as he works his men including the troubled former gunfighter Charley Waite (Costner), the gentle giant Mose (Abraham Benrubi) and the young Button (Diego Luna), Duvall projects himself as a father to the men. Duvall portrays the strength of Spearman very much coming from his respect he grants to his men, which they return to them, even when he is telling them to do something Duvall brings an inherent warmth in his delivery though still with an unquestioned command. Duvalll is essential as he creates the sense of the real camaraderie between the four men before tragedy befalls them when they come into contact with the town of Harmonville. An early fight eventually devolves into all four men being attacked by the men hired by a local land baron Baxter (Michael Gambon) which leaves Mose dead and Button in critical condition. Duvall excels in these scenes as usual as he is able to convey Spearman's distress so effectively without ever becoming overly emotional. In just a few moments and couple subtle reactions Duvall reveals Spearman's pain over his men's treatment but fitting to a man of his place in the old west. Duvall shows a man who has felt many losses over the years, but he knows how to deal with it though this still never leaves him ever truly detached in those quiet moments of sorrow.

The rest of the film proceeds to follow Spearman and Charley as they attempt to find justice for their friends. Duvall is great in an early confrontation between Spearman and Baxter. Again Duvall is excellent in the way he can offer such an emotional power to a moment without even raising his voice. Duvall offers though such conviction in every word in the confrontation, but pivotal to the character there is always this definite sense of righteousness due to Duvall's performance. When he demands action against those who committed the crimes he does not portray a violent anger, but rather this assured desire for justice to be done. Of course the lawman in town are corrupt and working for Baxter and have no desire to turn themselves in. This leaves Charley and Spearman to deliver their justice themselves by attempting to take on all the remaining corrupt men in town. They are given a brief respite due to a rainstorm which leaves the two time to try to prepare for the next day. In this time the two attempt to recruit others and something I love about Duvall's work is the way he sets Spearman apart from Charley, whose accustom to vendettas, by just how cordial he stays. Duvall in doing so though provides this inspiration of sorts as when he asks others to fight against Baxter, there is something so encouraging in his kindhearted in his manner as he asks everyone to merely do the right thing.

Duvall's work here is so good in just how unassuming yet effective he is in every moment. He creates such a power with such ease, and grace that feels so fitting to Boss Spearman as a character. There is a great scene where Spearman speaks about his long lost family and Duvall again plays it close to the chest yet in his slight smile with just a hint of sadness in the eyes conveys just all those memories that still truly mean so much to him. This gives a later moment all the stronger impact, which is when Spearman tells Charley to give a proper goodbye to the local doctor's sister who holds an obvious attraction to Charley. Again Duvall makes the most of so little offering such poignancy in his stern yet encouraging delivery of the moment. Another scene that is essential to Duvall is as they prepare for the showdown they drop by at the store to buy what are potential final gifts for themselves. There's something so wonderful about how honest and earnest Duvall portrays Spearman as he goes about buying and tasting the finest chocolate the shop has. It basically classic Duvall in a way. Duvall is able to portray the simplicity of the joy of the moment but with that still conveys the idea that it might be his final treat within the way he seems to hold directly onto the joy.

One of my favorite moments though actually is just before the battle where Spearman and Charley tell each other their full names. Duvall is hilarious in portraying Spearman's embarrassment and genuine fear of sorts when he reveals his real first name is Bluebonnet. Although the greater fear at his name being let out, rather than death may seem odd it only seems natural to the character due to Duvall's vivid realization of the man. In the final action scene Duvall never is lost in the scene and still makes an impact in a few very important moments. Duvall throughout the sequence does well actually to show Spearman as less comfortable Charley in the attack, but only in terms of portraying some aversion to the violence though he still conveys that conviction to his code in every moment of it. Duvall keeps Spearman as the purely good figure though in an honest way right to when he prevents Charley from killing one of the wounded men, and brings the needed passion in once again revealing Spearman's devotion to his code. Now this is a performance that you'd expect to be great since it is Robert Duvall in a western, nevertheless it is a great performance no matter what. Duvall's work is a testament to his considerable talent as lives up to every expectation one would have of the man in such a role.  

Monday, 26 June 2017

Alternate Best Actor 2003: Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa

Billy Bob Thornton did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Willie T. Soke in Bad Santa.

Bad Santa is a very enjoyable comedy about two criminals whose MO is to work as a store Santa Clause and his elf then ripoff the store's safe.

Billy Bob Thornton is an actor who technically was never defined by a single genre, as before and after his breakout in the drama Sling Blade, he's taken roles in any type film really. It is interesting to see him land on the fully lead role in a broad comedy, and his approach is distinctly Thornton. As with his performance in The Man Who Wasn't There, for much of this film the appeal of his work comes from the consistency of the exact approach he takes. In this case his approach is playing Willie Soke as a man who just does not give a crap. We see this from his first scene where Thornton portrays the minimal amount of effort as Willie performs his duties as a Santa Clause more than halfheartedly coughing out his question of what the kids want for Christmas before kicking them off his lap, while barely even staying in the seat through extreme slough as sitting up straight would seem to require too much of him. Thornton's approach is most fitting to a man who rather pee his pants then bother to go to the bathroom since that would just a be a little too hard for him.

Now as ridiculous of a character as Willie is right from the outset, a man who even when performing the crime itself puts as little effort into as possible spending more energy in finishing off his beer before starting the job, this may seem like Thornton will give a broad over the top comedic performance. Thornton does not do that instead giving a rather down to earth portrayal of this lout, though that is what makes this performance so funny. Thornton makes it so Willie does not need to act so out of place as a store Santa, he merely is completely not right in the part even for a moment. Thornton's hilarious here by staying so true to this approach which is to just be so pure in being Willie as this "scum of the earth". It is a little bit fascinating that in different context this would almost be a disturbing performance but given where he is and what he's doing it is instead comedic gold. Thornton just is this low down sort in everything and it is almost strange how funny he is in this by how he doesn't hold back. When he randomly breaks something because it just for whatever reason is bugging him at the wrong time Thornton goes all in with his anger, but since what he's usually beating up is say a plastic reindeer it is most amusing.

Thornton is consistent in his portrayal of Willie but he is in no way one note as he finds so many ways to reveal just how much of a slob the man is. This is in his general disdain for all things, but he undercuts this so comically with his rabid desires for drink and women which he will not stop seeking just because he's Santa such as with his lusty glances towards any woman whether she wants them or not. Thornton's great though with the complete lack of skill he presents in Willie's whole routine portraying him as a guy who is just going to do what he does and that seems to be it. The thing is though Thornton's approach to give technically a honest though hilarious performance is pivotal to his development of Willie. This being that even at his very worst Thornton portrays always a thick layer of self-loathing in everything that Willie does. When he's trying to have some of his fun it feels less of a thrill and more of some temporary reprieve from his horrible existence. Thornton shows his personality to be specifically toxic by how little joy he reveals Willie has in life and how real his hatred is which alludes to years of abuse even before he tells his story.

Now this performance is rather incredible as Thornton pulls off something quite remarkable even past just being so funny throughout, which is he ends up being kind of moving too. This comes in Willie's relationship with a strange little boy Thurman who Willie starts living with as the boy the lives alone with a senile grandmother in a very large home. Thornton's portrayal of Willie's relationship with the boy is technically where his arc lies, though again Thornton does this in a very specific way. Early on Thornton portrays a fascination with the weird boy that is again hilarious as he depicts in his reactions to the boy. Thornton reveals the wheels turning in Willie's head as he tries to decipher the boy who he can't quite understand yet does see any easy mark in whoever his guardian may be. It is in this relationship though where Thornton actually reveals something important about Willie in that Thornton only plays an overt maliciousness in Willie if someone tries to get in his way of doing what he wants to do, or attempts to call him on it. Although his common state is of a cantankerous misanthrope and he set off very easily Thornton suggests that Willie isn't all bad.

Thornton doesn't simplify Willie by making him this nice guy though, but instead reveals his less awful side by showing it to be the motivation for his awfulness for the most part. There is a genuine pain that Thornton brings in every horrible act to Willie and that sadness technically defines the man more than his slovenly behavior. Thornton's performance reflects this throughout and in doing so earns the change in Willie by the end of the film. The reason being Thornton doesn't make it this overt change in personality rather he just portrays it as Willie finally facing his self-loathing through Thurman who passes no judgements on anyone other than himself. When Thurman beats up on himself that is where Thornton is surprisingly moving yet he makes it work in his character as in his eyes he finds a man seeing a boy suffering his same sort of suffering as his own and not liking it. I love the moment where the Thurman gives Willie a gift as Thornton's performance is so perfect in realizing how this causes a change in Willie. It isn't a clean change of a bad man becoming a good man, but rather Thornton presents a man being forced to look at his sorrow directly since he can't lash out against someone who only ever showed him love. Of course this all sounds a little dramatic and the thing is Thornton stays consistently amusing even as he reveals the better Willie. A great moment near the end is a showdown with his thieving partners who intend on killing him, and Willie breaks down. Thornton does not portray this breakdown out of fear, but rather out of sentiment that they are missing the true meaning of Christmas. This should not make sense as even in this moment it's still pretty funny to see the rough Willie break down, but it is also affecting because Thornton's "dramatic" approach earns it. This is a fantastic performance because it gives you everything you expect you want out of the lead of "BAD SANTA" in terms of the comedy yet brings enough depth to this to allow a heartfelt discovery of the Christmas spirit though in the messy way fitting to Willie T. Soke.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Alternate Best Actor 2003: Daniel Brühl in Good Bye, Lenin!

Daniel Brühl did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Alexander Kerner in Good Bye, Lenin!.

Good Bye, Lenin! is a terrific film about a young man in East Germany taking most unorthodox measurse to protect his mother from experiencing a fatal shock after a coma caused her to be unconscious through the entire German unification.  

Daniel Brühl being a German actor obviously has played his share of Nazis as well as villains in his English language work, and even in his technically sympathetic roles he usually plays rather prickly sorts. It is quite a treat though to see him here in this role where he's not playing a Nazi, certainly not a villain, just a normal guy. Brühl's Alex in the opening scenes of the film is particularly normal young man living in East Germany though he does engage in just a bit of rebellion, the little that there can be against the totalitarian government. Really though Brühl's performance even suggests this is not as a major as it might seem portraying a far greater interest in running into a young woman also at the protest than in the protest itself. There is nothing questionable even in this though as Brühl brings a genuine unassuming charm to Alex, and in this early moment importantly shows his convictions in the moment where he is arrested and simultaneously his mother has her near fatal heart attack from the shock. Brühl is quite affecting in this moment in capturing the son's intense concern for his mother which is pivotal for the rest of the film.

Well that heart attack puts Alex's mother into a coma, which leaves her unaware of the German reunification which Alex and his sister Ariane fully embrace, though Alex continually visits his mother where he also finds that the young woman, Lara, he formerly met at the rally is one of her nurses. Brühl again is incredibly charming by offering such earnestness in both Alex's enthusiasm towards his new discoveries in Germany, but also in his constant concern for his mother. Eventually his mother does awaken but with Alex being given the warning that her next heart attack will probably be fatal. In order to avoid the great shock of the collapse of their old way of life Alex takes it upon himself to hide the German reunification from his mother. Now this is the central conceit to the film and Brühl's performance is essential to not making it feel ridiculous. Brühl makes it work by portraying Alex's devotion to his mother's health so honestly. Although he is lying to her Brühl's delivers these initial lies with only the utmost warmth, and gentle regard always emphasizing that Alex believes this is the only way to save his mother. 

The film then proceeds to reveal Alex's strange game where he takes many unorthodox methods to present everything that his mother sees as still being part of the old Germany. Brühl brings the right energy to the performance as he pulls you right into Alex's mission by making it such a sympathetic prospect. Brühl makes these such engaging scenes though because he reveals everything that comes with them. He has those moments where he is so endearing and encouraging in portraying this ingenuity in Alex as he tirelessly finds ways to create and refine the illusion. Brühl is never one note though in that even when he's in the process itself he does reflect the sort physical effort needed, as with each successive scene Brühl conveys Alex just wearing himself out a bit from it all. Furthermore though he also brings the real frustrations in his arguments with his sister over the illusion as he delivers his counters with that conviction that alludes to his motivation, even while it becomes harder and harder to keep it up his illusion. Meanwhile though I love those moments he has where Alex sees his mother happy, and Brühl so powerfully reaffirms that underlying motivation every time by presenting just the most genuine love towards his mother and happiness at seeing that she is still with him. 

Although his mother's world is crafted by Alex, Alex's own existence is not a constant outside of it. Now one positive aspect of this is in his relationship with Lara to where Brühl makes for a great low key romantic lead. These scenes are pretty modest yet offers the right sweetness to them, though with just the right reservations at times in the persistent argument over Alex's treatment for his mother. Another problem though appears in the form of Alex and Ariane's father who they can now technically reconnect with, as he disappeared to the west when they were children. Brühl has a great scene where he goes to see his father, who has started a new family. In the scene Alex's dialogue is fairly sparse but Brühl's eyes though say it all as they reflect the years of feeling abandoned. He presents this as a sorrow but not anger though suggesting Alex's willingness to potentially forgive the past particularly so that he can bring his father back to see his mother one last time. That moment though is simply the natural state of this wonderful performance by Daniel Brühl as he makes Alex such a likable but also believable lead. He's charming yes but he also offers the right convictions to allow the central conceit to work. He makes you empathize with the young man's plight throughout the film. It's terrific performance and I have to say I hope we'll be able to see this side of Brühl again sometime in the future.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Alternate Best Actor 2003: Ivan Dobronravov in The Return

Ivan Dobronravov did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Ivan in The Return.

The Return follows two young brothers on a strange trip with the intention to bond with their estranged father after a 12 year absence.

Ivan Dobronravov plays Ivan in the most creative naming of a character since Alex Frost as Alex in Elephant. The idea behind such a naming could be to reinforce a certain realism, as the actor should not be as detached from the character, or at least an idea of sort of hiding the acting. Well unlike that other performance from 2003 Dobronravov's performance seems to support this choice. Dobronravov was obviously a child when delivering this performance, and giving any reality to a character is one of the first indicators of a good child performer. There is not any precociousness here, as Dobronravov presents from his first a scene a kid in a fairly troubled situation. We see him early on with his brother, and his friends, or at the very least his peers as they play a game involving heights. Dobronravov is terrific in this opening scene since he realizes so effectively the distress of the situation. In first portraying the intense fear of a child's fear properly, as he breaks down physically in his reaction. Further Dobronravov afterwards captures that terribly shy embarrassment as he shows Ivan attempting to pull himself together, while only falling apart all the more when facing ridicule by those around him.
 
The film then cuts as Ivan and his brother Andrei return home after the incident. We are given just a few moments but Dobronravov and Vladimir Gari as Andrei both create the right inherent chemistry of two brothers who share a strong connection. There isn't a lot said in regards to the matter it is known through the performances as the two both reveal just that right sort of ease with each other, and certain comfort the two share when directly interacting with one another. Their time at home changes suddenly when their father suddenly reenters their lives and swiftly takes them on a strange trip. The central conflict begins through the separate reactions of the brothers. Gari's performance shows Andrei mainly going with the flow portraying an active attempt to become re-acquainted with their father, whereas Dobronravov establishes early on a hostility towards the man. Dobronravov's performance once again works by the sort of intensity only fitting to a child's particular reaction here. Dobronravov importantly creates the right lack of certainty in the emotional state, as he shows the distress that seems to stem from both his feelings of abandonment as they do from his feelings of not knowing how to feel about the situation.

Dobronravov gives a very stubborn performance that is quite effective in showing Ivan refusal to go along or in any way open up to his father. From the moment they set out in the car Dobronravov is consistent in portraying that raw anger of the son towards the father that has the right senselessness in a way, since again it is a kid dealing with this not an adult. As the film progresses though the father's behavior is random as he seems to try to fulfill every role of a father possible in a rapid succession. Dobronravov's performance is often reflexive towards this in portraying the growing confusion in Ivan towards his father's bizarre behavior. His performance does well though as he takes in these moments to gradually worsen Ivan's state as his underlying anger begins to also become confused with feelings of disbelief, paranoia, and even isolation as Ivan begins even losing his connection to his brother. This eventually leads to Ivan acting out in a call back to the opening scene involving a high tower. Dobronravov earns the breakdown as he makes it a powerful release of everything Ivan's been dealing with in a single act, that again is not refined moment of outrage, but rather as messy as it should be for a boy in his situation. This leads to a sudden tragedy and the film suddenly shifts as does Dobronravov's performance. What happens though makes sense for the swiftness of the shift and Dobronravov's fulfills the needed change. That being he shows similair confusion of emotion but now it is defined most strongly by sadness rather than anger, showing the boy still to be lost though now for a different reason. This is a good performance as Ivan Dobronravov realizes this difficult state of this boy through his strange situation offering the needed honesty to the specific drama.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Alternate Best Actor 2003: Russell Crowe in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Russell Crowe did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Captain Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

Master and Commander is a curious special joy for me as every time I watch the film I always somehow seem to forget just how good it is before watching the film again.

Now despite the film's great success with the Oscars overall it received no acting notices, Paul Bettany's snub being altogether mind boggling, but Crowe has seemingly been on the Oscar blacklist ever since his BAFTA altercation in 2002. Then again it may be that Crowe's performance is one that is easy to take for granted, I did that myself when I somehow failed to find him a spot in my alternate lineup, a lineup which included Tommy Wiseau. Why is that though? Well this performance is perhaps not what one might expect just hearing Russell Crowe playing a naval captain, but of course that's what makes this such a marvelous piece of work in all truth. One the great successes of Master and Commander is how vivid life on the ship feels. A great contributor to that is Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey which again just the idea of Crowe as a naval Captain would suggest maybe a more directly intense performance, that is not the case nor is that a problem. Jack Aubrey is of course not a Captain Bligh, or even a Captain Vere, he's a different sort of man, a better sort of man.

Crowe's performance here is atypical and almost the opposite of those performances in which he made his name such as The Insider, L.A. Confidential or Gladiator, where he portrayed a dark determination. There is determination but Crowe does not use it to define the man. What Crowe uses to define him is the idea of Aubrey as this Captain during the Napoleonic wars. Now what I mean by that is Crowe does not define his Captain as only a man of battles. We are introduced in an attack, a surprise attack where Crowe conveys the visceral quality of that moment but he does not dwell upon longer than the battle lasts. Crowe portrays Aubrey as being particularly attentive to what happened in the attack beyond that his French foe got the better of him. As Aubrey examines the ship and most importantly learns of the casualties among the crew there is an essential concern that Crowe brings to every step of Aubrey's duty. Crowe does not gloss over a moment of the process as he brings an needed devotion of a Captain who truly cares for his ship and every crew member aboard it although not in the same exact way though this is just part of the unassuming complexity of Crowe's work here.

Crowe of course brings the strong old school presence as usual, Crowe has the right awareness of that though here, in that his performance uses that knowledge to the point that he doesn't need to attempt to amplify it for Aubrey. Crowe's method here makes Aubrey particularly distinctive in the film and I love the way Crowe simply is in charge. There is no effort required, he is the Captain. This though again is not where it stops for Crowe's work though. He is not just the Captain for the duration of his appearance in the film, but rather Crowe's portrayal evokes the years on the ship. This is seen within basically everything that Crowe does onscreen. There is that ease he portrays in his surroundings as Crowe shows Aubrey move around the ship as it were his home on land. Crowe manages to capture this very exact sentimentalism of sorts just in the way he looks upon certain facets. Crowe brings what is a joy in the experience of being on the ship and enjoying what it is. Crowe importantly shows that Aubrey loves this experience of being Captain as well, which extends even further to his whole life which has been in the Navy. Crowe exhibits a man who owns the ship, but also shares it with all those within it as well.

There is his relationship with every member of his crew. The strongest focus of course being with Paul Bettany's Doctor Stephen Maturin, but more on that later. There is also his relationships with each of his officers each which vary through so strongly through Crowe's performance as he realizes Aubrey's relation with each man separately. With the very young Lord William Blakeney (Max Pirkins) Crowe reveals the utmost earnest warmth of a father, though with a distinct ounce of respect to one of his crew members. There is even his seemingly future Captains, of Lieutenant Pullings (James D'Arcy) and Midshipman Calamy (Max Benitz) where Crowe crafts a differentiation through his slight variation in manner to each. He offers each man the respect of a true comrade but there is a greater simplicity with Pulligns treating him as a man just about at his level whereas Crowe offers the manner of a teacher towards Calamy to aim him towards bettering himself as an officer. There is also the far more problematic relationship with Midshipman Hollom (Lee Ingleby). Crowe is brilliant in his direct interaction with Hollom, as he portrays the held in greater frustrations in the Captain over Hollom's inability to fulfill his duty. Crowe shows Aubrey hides though in an attempt to offer his encouragement in hopes the man will become a better officer.

Crowe is quite different yet so naturally so in his portrayal of Aubrey towards the crew. This is quite the fascinating juxtaposition actually as he very carefully offers similair sentiments but in a different way from the officers to the rest of the crew. Crowe does bring a warmth towards every member of the crew particularly in their successes but he does this with a certain distance. He offers a somewhat less personal delivery and manner. He doesn't become a machine but he does always set the Captain apart. This is an interesting trick which Crowe pulls off flawlessly as he delivers the praise in a more generalized way and even when he specifies it is of this greater commander rather than a friend. He sets himself apart so effectively as he shows the man who knows his duty needs this separation, but still a connection. Crowe creates that connection that makes the Captain more than just a man around the crew, in that he is this specific inspiration to them all. Crowe is outstanding as he captures a Aubrey as being successfully the legend of Lucky Jack when he commands his crew in pivotal moments whether it is saving the ship or preparing for a battle. Crowe's manner has this certain grandeur and undeniable charisma as his words carry such a rousing spirit to the point that you'd feel any man worth a salt would follow Aubrey into battle.

There is yet another side to Aubrey in his friendship with Doctor Maturin. Crowe and Bettany have the truly effortless chemistry of lifelong friends and there is a certain magic in just the slightest interaction such as the fun the two have together when playing strings together. Crowe though is terrific though showing a greater vulnerability in Aubrey in his scenes with Maturin, as in this he reveals the way Aubrey carefully extends himself for this most personal counsel. Crowe and Bettany show the men who see each other exactly as they are and even in their arguments there is always the underlying concern for one another. The two are great in the way they make this relationship so genuine that so much can be unsaid in terms of both performances. When Aubrey denies Maturin wish to explore the Galapagos islands, Crowe face remarks his own disappointment in not being able to help his friend even as he speaks the order to deny him, however later on as he states the order to grant the wish again Aubrey never says it's just for him yet there is such unconditional love in the more officially worded order. Both actors realize this relationship so well that you can predict exactly how they will interact with another given any situation because it feels that you just know who they are as friends.

Now Crowe manages the different sides to Aubrey with such a certain perfection in that he never depicts it as this purposeful method of the man, but rather how the man has come to be from his life in the Navy. He's learned how to be a proper Captain, and exactly what it takes. What is so remarkable is how every facet flows from one to next while always being the single man that is Captain Jack Aubrey. Crowe by achieving this amplifies so much of the film by how vivid he makes everything Aubrey is going through. This leads to such powerful moments through Crowe's performance even though the emphasis isn't always squarely on him given director Peter Weir's careful eye to not ignore any facet of the ship and those aboard. There is not a wasted second as you know who Aubrey is precisely through Crowe's portrayal of him. In a moment where  he makes sacrifice one man to save the ship, there is not a great deal of time spent on revealing the anguish yet it is all there in Crowe's reaction the reflects the difficulty of the act. When Maturin is injured in an accident, Crowe is deeply affecting through his subtle yet so poignant depiction of Aubrey seeing his wounded best friend. There is even two separate funeral scenes which could seem redundant yet they are not in the least, with part of the reason being Crowe. The first Crowe in the few words he says offers the pathos as his call upon Aubrey thinking to his own failure, and his delivery of the words are that of apology as much as they are of remembrance. The second though Crowe offers a more exact approach fulfilling wholly the role of the Captain. It is something he's done before, but Crowe puts no cruelty within this fact just instead infusing the words with the respect the Captain should offer to his fallen men. This is not a performance about a single moments but every moment. Crowe's work simply allows us to be with this extraordinary man, learn exactly who is as a person, as a friend, as, well, a master and commander.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Alternate Best Actor 2003: Alex Frost in Elephant

Alex Frost did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Alex in Elephant.

Not since Gerry have I seen such attention to the detail of walking slowly, here though the film ups the ante by including jogging and eventually even some driving.

One of the random individuals the film focuses on doing nothing for awhile, is Alex Frost as Alex, proving Gus Van Sant's impressive imagination when it comes to naming characters similair to when he referred to both leads of Gerry as Gerry. Oh wait though this film rides on the trivialization of a horrific event through the use of artistic pretension though it is as meaningless as Gerry. Now before one mentions, oh don't you see Van Sant's saying that there is no logic or message to be taken from violent acts, that's not really true evidenced by his scenes that focus on the killers where they engage in playing violent video games, plan their crimes, and kiss one another since it is a film by Gus Van Sant. There is an indicator of a violent reaction to their hollow lives, though naturally in a rather hollow fashion. Now the leader of the two is Alex played by Alex. We get to spend some time with him as he plays piano, but more importantly as he walks slowly around from one place to another. You see that is the most essential element of every life, slow walking, could you imagine life without walking, I'm quite sure life is defined solely by the walks we take. Oh, wait I'm writing about this performance right now, eh I don't know after watching the film I think I'll take a walk, I'll be back in ten minutes.....

What a walk. Hey wait a minute is this an ensemble film, or is Frost lead, I don't care. Anyways back to Mr. Frost again. Well see his performance is very dull and detached. Well this may seem the style of a killer but I could describe most of the performances as also dull and detached. I mean when we see the shooting start the photographer student casually takes a picture, is he too a psycho killer??? No probably not but there is nothing distinctive about what Frost does since almost everyone else is more or less in the same malaise. This even includes when the killing starts and Frost walks from scene to scene as though he is walking to class, I mean show some respect to walking man! Frost's work is indifferent as everyone else is making it so his work in no way stands out, he's also just sort of there. Hey hold on though what about that kissing scene, oh wait he's pretty blasé about that too, never mind. Okay maybe I'm being a bit unfair here, what about his line deliveries, well they're pretty amateurish, though obviously that was Van Sant's intention right, because I really hate those performances that come off like real people or at least engaging in some way. Well eventually through all that pivotal walking we reach a conclusion where Alex corners two students and plays a game to decide which one to shoot first. Frost wakes up to become a psycho killer in this scene, he'd be chilling I suppose if there was any consistency here.  In the scene though Frost becomes a far more active and excited sort ill-fitting to all that he did previously in his performance, but hey if you're not going to care most of the time stay not caring. All I ask for is a little consistency. Eh I'm tired, I think I'll take a walk.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Alternate Best Actor 2003

And the Nominees Were Not:

Alex Frost in Elephant

Rémy Girard in The Barbarian Invasions

Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa

Daniel Brühl in Good Bye Lenin!

Ivan Dobronravov in The Return

And a review of:
Russell Crowe in Master and Commander

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1968: Results

5. Trevor Howard in The Charge of the Light Brigade - Howard gives a properly strict and slightly ridiculous portrayal fitting to a man who cares more about his stature as an officer than for any of his men. 

Best Scene: Strange seduction.
4. Klaus Kinski in The Great Silence - Kinski gives an effective villainous performance interestingly by taking a rather low key approach showing his Loco as always taking a calm and easy approach to his killings.

Best Scene: Loco wins.
3. Ian Holm in The Bofors Gun - Holm makes an impact through his limited screentime by so effectively presenting the incisiveness of the one man willing to confront both his immediate superior and his out of control fellow soldier.

Best Scene: Flynn confronts O'Rourke.
2. Tom Courtenay in A Dandy in Aspic - Courtenay gives a brilliant performance that creates a complex portrait of a spy who purposefully hates everything and everyone as a means of defense, and rises far above the one note villain the film likely would have settled for.

Best Scene: Gatiss visits Eberline in the hotel. 
1. Tony Curtis in The Boston Strangler - Curtis gives a chilling and effective performance which never relishes in the idea of playing a serial killer, instead offering a haunting and vivid depiction of a psychotic.

Best Scene: DeSalvo's breakdown. 
Updated Overall

Next Year: 2003 Lead

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1968: Ian Holm in The Bofors Gun

Ian Holm did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning BAFTA, for portraying Gunner Bill Flynn in The Bofors Gun.

The Bofors Gun I found to be a little bit of a hidden gem about the conflict that develops one night between a recently promoted Lance Bombardier, Terry Evans (David Warner), and a self-destructive Gunner, O'Rouke (Nicol Williamson).

The film focuses on one small section of men through a night where they are assigned to guard a useless gun for an extended period. There is a difficulty to begin with with Warner's Evans being put in charge the small group of men he use to be part of as just one of the regulars. Further complications from Evans's success of the night determines his ability to go home and attempt officer training. Most of the men of the section have little respect for Evans and are at best indifferent to him, his only friend in the group is Holm's Gunner Flynn. Holm makes important use of his early scenes by providing just this warmth in his early interactions with Warner. Holm provides a most genuine support in these moments just providing earnest encouragement presenting Flynn well as just looking out for his friend. This is even found when Evans takes command, and Holm even utilizes a few important reaction shots. In these moments he shows Flynn watching Evans, not looking for flaws to exploit but rather watching with an honest concern hoping his friend will not falter.

As the night goes on O'Rourke's behavior becomes more and more problematic with the other men either partially encouraging it or doing nothing to prevent it, and with Evans hesitating to do anything since it may compromise his return home. Flynn appears for a while as Evans's only solace, but only a solace of sorts as provided by Holm's performance. Holm portrays very specifically a directed delivery representing Flynn attempting to encourage Evans to do the right thing. In each scene we see him in though Holm also reveals a slowly growing frustration in Flynn as Evans keeps avoiding directly dealing with O'Rourke, and allows the problem to continue to grow. Holm builds those frustrations until a scene with Flynn and Evans are alone together, and Flynn tells Evans the blunt truth. Holm is excellent in this scene as he brings such a incisiveness to every one of Flynn's words towards Evans, as he tells him that he is doing the wrong thing. Holm is careful though as he does offer such an intensity in revealing anger towards his friend, but he still shows that Flynn is remaining a friend. Holm's delivery does not go towards hatred just a striking disappointment, portraying Flynn's words as tough love. This stands well as a foil to his scene where he goes and confronts O'Rourke over his behavior. Holm is as incisive in this scene as well but this time offering a strict hatred towards the man. Every word Holm gives a strong coating of venom as Flynn reveals his severe disdain for O'Rourke, and it is cathartic moment through Holm's work as the one man willing to stand up to the out of control O'Rourke. Although the film ends away from Flynn, focusing naturally on a more direct confrontation between Evans and O'Rourke, Holm though in his limited screentime makes his impact particularly through those two aforementioned scenes. Holm gives a terrific performance as he delivers the needed uncompromising sanity that ensures Flynn stands out by being part of the group, but never exactly one of them.