Sunday, 15 November 2015

Best Leading Actor 1994: Nigel Hawthorne - The Madness of King George

The first scenes of The Madness of King Geroge are giving a very good introduction to its leading character. It is going to be funny, comic creation of an actor (if he can handle it and use it well) and you realize that this biopic might not be taking his persona too seriously, which should be fine.
Nigel Hawthorne chose to play this character more like a funny old man, than a real human character. You could perhaps call it a caricature. You see, it's certainly not method acting, yet it wonderfully works for this role. The screenplay is not trying to make this a true biopic, at which you'd find out something important about a historical figure. This one includes scenes of the king trying to fart and the queen trying to help him to do so.
The first and most important thing about Hawthorne's performance is the main issue of the film: the actual madness. Hawthorne is great in showing this. We constantly guess if he really is mad, or is he just pretending it. But you definitely see, why everyone around him found his behaviour inconvinient.
You know, as Hawthorne is showing this, he was able to achieve something extraordinary. As he is acting out his madness, it is very funny and enjoyable sometimes, yet when needed to, it can be also heartbreaking. Hawthorne perfectly showed off his sense for comedy that he uses very well. On the other hand, he can pull off and emotional outbrust that is believable and is not disturbing us in the context of the performance. One such scene is the one on the roof, when he's talking to the queen. Both of the actors made this situation memorable, yet Hawthorne showed, how deep his portrayal is. He was able to express the fears and the inner feelings of his character very subtly, yet hilariously.
There is only one complaint I have towards this performance. As the king is getting better, Hawthorne's performance becomes a bit dull. I know that the film pushes him into the corner, but he lets the film do it. It's not any fatal mistake that would make this film worse. It is still a wonderful performance that was very refreshing to see in such genre.
The chances of winning an Oscar: Despite the support from Bafta and the british voters, Hawthorne was just happy to be nominated.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Best Leading Actor 1994: John Travolta - Pulp Fiction

I don't know if it's need to talk about Pulp Fiction. It's a fucking great motion picture, the one that belongs to the best of the best. Tarantino's a genius and it's visible in this film.
John Travolta's character Vincent is a type of character we had seen plenty of times before and after. It's worry-free man, who's doing his duties, but is bored enough from his job and probably is able to imagine something a lot more interesting to do right now. It is portrayed before the introductory scene of killing, as well as at the bar with Marcellus' wife Mia. Travolta is actually very good at showing this off. Not only with his facial expressions, but even with his body movements. The way he's walking across the bar proves it the best. Tarantino took this type and made it shine with the fact that the bored man is in fact a criminal. That makes it more absurd and gives an amount of black humour to it.
Travolta, as probably an actor who has the most screentime in Pulp Fiction, must me able to have a good chemistry with his colleagues. He succeeded very well. There is something great about Tarantino that he is able to make actors work wonderfully together, even if their performance might have not been that great. I'm not saying Travolta isn't great in his role. Travolta shares the screen mostly with either Jackson, or Thurman. With both of them, he was able to create excellent couples. With Jackson, he certainly is the subtler one, but it doesn't mean he would be overshadowed by him. They are both very valuable players.
There is an interesting thing I noticed about his performance. The moments he plays when Vincent is under drugs, his performance gets subtle. Even subtler than the rest of the performance. And strangely enough, I didn't mind. It worked in this case.
Travolta showed us a perfect sense for comedy with this performance. For example the legendary dance scene with Uma Thurman. The way he dances, or look at Thurman is hilarious. I also loved his performance, when he is saving Mia Wallace. The anger and despair is portrayed with a perfect comic timing.
This character itself is not very showy, actually. Travolta's portrayal is subtle, but he isn't overshadowed by any of his co-stars (maybe a bit by Uma Thurman, but that's because the sequence is written that way). He doesn't have that many scenes, in which he could show off, but when he does, he uses everything of them. It happens, when Vincent is forced to solve some huge problem. Travolta is really enjoying these scenes and it's pretty obvious.
It is not a flawless performance. Sometimes I wouldn't mind Travolta acting a bit more obvious. Maybe going over the top a bit. But even this subtle portrayal is doing justice to its film and works just perfectly for it.
The chances of winning an Oscar: I think he was the third, right behind Newman.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Best Leading Actor 1994: Paul Newman - Nobody's Fool

It's not a secret that I don't like films without a plot. Nobody's fool has got a very weak storyline. It's about Sullivan (played by Paul Newman), who...lives in a small village. And that's it. There's nothing more about this film. The script focuses on Sully's relationships with some of the other residents of the village. The biggest problems with it is that most of the supporting performances are pretty bad. In fact, Newman's performance (along with Jessica Tandy's) is the only watchable performance of the film.
When I say 'watchable' I really mean watchable. Not great, nor extraordinary. The leading character of Sully is not a boring character. His storyline just isn't interesting enough to set an entire film around him. It seems to me, as if the film was made just to allow Newman shine in a leading role.
Newman is fine. He is very realistic in his portrayal and he has definitely got enough charisma to lead to film. No matter with whom does he have a scene with, he is the centre of our attention.
It's all very fine, but the fact is, that it's a pretty forgettable performance. You know I don't like performances (or films) that are so authentic, that they are boring. And this is exactly that case. I even think that it's always better to watch a bad performance that you'll remember, than a good performance that you'll easily forget.
This is such a boring performance that I don't even know what to write about it. Because the only two things that are worth mentioning are, that it is realistic and that it's forgettable. You want me to point out one scene that is the standout of his performance? There's no chance I could do it. There is simply not a single scene that would even have a potential to be such. And a nomination for best original screenplay seems to be a very bad joke...
The chances of winning an Oscar: There must have been high I think. It's a film about him, as he is the centre of it and it was a long time since he had won before. He was the second or the third, at the very least...

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Best Leading Actress 2014

5. Marion Cotillard - Two Days, One Night
I adore Marion Cotillard as an actress very much, but this is probably her most boring work in years. She is realistic, she handles all the emotions quite well. But it's just a copy of real life and that's it. She doesn't help the film from its deadliness. In fact I would nominate her, but for a a better work she gave in The Immigrant.

4. Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Reese Witherspoon was well cast in this role and she handles a difficult role very well. She has to carry the entire film on her shoulders and has got a good chamistry with her co-stars, as well as with the random people she meets during the hiking. Her voiceover is fitting for the film's purposes and her flashbacks are realistic. This is a performance I don't have many complaints to, just that she might be a bit forgettable (a long time period after watching the film you won't remember her, nor the film itself).

3. Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
This is an unshowy part and she is technically just a facility to let the male lead shine. But Jones makes the most out of it. She is charming, likable, has a great chemistry with her colleagues and she gives a very heartbreaking portrayal of a suffering, but loving wife.

2. Julianne Moore - Still Alice
I won't complain about this Oscar win, even though it was a one for an overdue actress and the film was nothing more, than a vehicle to make her finally win. But Moore is wonderful in the film. The development of an Alzheimer disease is perfectly showed and weren't there for a few overacted moments, this would be a flawless performance.

1. Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
What a performance! At the first sight it might seem conventional, but underneath it's a layered portrayl of a woman, who has got her needs and willings and weaknesses. She was so mesmerizing throughout the whole film, I couldn't take my eyes off of her. She created a real human being and it's an extremely difficult character to pull of . She handles all the twists and secrets wonderfully and is able to bring humour into her portrayal.

My nominees:
1. Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
2. Amy Adams - Big Eyes
3. Jessica Chastain - The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
4. Marion Cotillard - The Immigrant
5. Julianne Moore - Still Alice

Best Leading Actress 2014: Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything

When people talk about The Theory of Everything, they tend to mention Eddie Redmayne first and it's not difficult to understand. It's a very juicy part that could easily be misplayed. But we cannot forget about Felicity Jones, who received her first Oscar nomination for playing Stephen Hawking's first wife Jane.
The role of Jane is not thankful at all. It rarely allows Jones to truly shine and show off her talents. What I really liked about this creation though, is that Jones fights this unthankfullness and never lets her film overshine her. An example of that is a scene at Hawking's parents' house at the beginning of the film. It's those subtle reactions in her eyes that make this performance special. The scene itself is not that important for the film, yet I quite enjoyed it, because of the tiny acting decisions given by both of the co-leads.
As Stephen's disease is proceeding, it has an impact on Jane. One of the first such scenes is when they plays crocket together. It's again a very subtle acting here, yet again great.
When there appears Charlie Cox's character in the film, he falls for Jane. Felicity Jones lets the viewer wonder, if she is also in love with him. It is later revealed in a great moment, in which both of the actors (Cox and Jones) give us honest and outstanding performances.
There is a scene, in which she tries to comunicative with Stephen by a board of letters. Jones shows a huge determination in this scene. She is realistic and really fascinating to watch here. She is a caring woman, exhausted of the difficulties, she has has in life and Jones is heartbreaking here. Just as she is it in the scene with a doctor, in which she explains him that she will do everything for him.
The most fascinating thing about his performance is that it has got its layers. We constantly wonder, if Jane would have done all of this, if she has knew that Stephen will live so long. We wonder, if she loves him anymore.
This is revealed in the late scene of an arguement that led to the divorce between Stephen and Jane. Just as for Redmayne, I consider this to be Jones' best scene. It is a touching and fantastic moment handled extremely well by both of the actors.
The chances of winning an Oscar: Throughout the season I thought they are higher, than they appeared to be. She was young and pretty and the Academy loves to reward those in this category. But then I saw the film and realized how unshowy this role was, so I guess she was the fourth (at the best)...

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Best Leading Actress 2014: Reese Witherspoon - Wild

Wild is very decent film about a woman, who has had a difficult life and she's trying to 'find herself' on a journey into the wild. The first thing you notice is that the plot of the film is not very original, but it's based on a true story, so you probably can imagine, why it was even made. It's basically a little less interesting Into the Wild with lots of flashbacks and some wonderful work from editors and sound mixers. And a powerful leading performance given by Reese Witherspoon.
While many people have a problem with Reese's Oscar win, I think she gave a very decent performance. I can't say now, if I'd give her my win, but her performance definitely was very fine. This was her second nomination since and the funny thing is that she only gets nominated when she is in dramatic film, yet she's considered to be a great comedic actress.
The first time I watched the film, I found Witherspoon's performance to be like a roller-coaster. Some scenes were outstanding, some were too boring. This time I didn't have this problem. I thought that her performance is keeping its quality throughout the entire film.
A decent part of her performance is the voiceover. Since Cheryl is alone in the nature, we get to know her thoughts from the voiceovers. Witherspoon handles them quite well. Her voice always corresponds with her facial expressions and she is able to express emotions with her voice wonderfully. She never overplays it, so that she never seems like a narrator a it is something that must be mentioned, because that might have happened easily.
What I really liked about Witherspoon approach to her character is that she doesn't portray Cheryl as a strong woman, who is so perfect that she easily hikes that long distance. Cheryl in her hands is a woman with mistakes and she's as weak, as you and me. It's important to humanize such characters and Witherspoon succeeded in that.
She is also great in portraying the issues she had had before he stared hiking. The film itself helps her a lot with flashbacks and the editing, but there's something we can't take her. And it's the fact that the film stands on her shoulders. Just like Into the Wild, or 127 hours few years ago, the film is equally good as its leading peformance. Thankfully, Witherspoon make justice to her film. It's not a performance that would make you stand and clap, but it's a great turn from an actress that will soon be worshipped, if she stays proving her talents in good enough films.
The chances of winning an Oscar: She has won recently, so it lowers down her chances. It's not a performance showy enough to win Oscars. I think she was fighting for the fourth slot with Jones.  

Friday, 13 March 2015

Best Leading Actress 2014: Julianne Moore - Still Alice

Still Alice is a very fine film that made a strong impact on me. It shows how an disease can change you and according to my past health issues it touched me deeply. But I realize that as a film, it was not a special one. It's one of those films that are just as good, as their leading performance. Fortunately, Moore was really great.
This is a very difficult character to play. (Interesting thing is that both of this year's leading acting winners had very difficult thing to do, because they had to play disease, though both of them had a different issue to solve.) At the beginning of the film, Alice is relatively healthy. There are only some small circumstantial evidence about some starting disease. But at the end of the film we see Alice at an absolute breakdown, when her illness is controlling her absolutely. This change is very slow and it is not an easy thing to stay realistic in this reinvention. But Moore is so great that we are not even realizing the change. It is not that she would underplay it, but she really sensitively shows the little steps that the Alzheimer's disease is making. As an example of this change, the first scene of the film shows Alice lecturing. And then, later in the film, when the disease is advanced, she has a speech in front of other people affected by it. The difference is very big and Moore handles it quite great.
What I really adore about this performance is its authencity. Many scenes are very subtle, but Moore finds something interesting in them and transports it into her performance. For example the scenes at the doctor are simply fantastic. He asks her some questions and before she answers, we can absolutely see her thinking about it. What is also perfect about it is the way she tries to look as healthy, as possible. That is probably just the way everyone would react and Moore is perfect in showing this.
Disease as such would certainly affect your personal life. That's why it's very important to have chemistry with your co-stars. Her husband is played by Alec Baldwin and I must admit that I didn't like him very much. He was very bland in his role and I think he didn't really catch what would a man in his situation have to go through. But his chemistry with Moore is surprisingly very good. It might be because it's really difficult to not have chemistry with Julianne Moore. Also her chemistry with her children is very good, though the direction doesn't really focus on them, except from the one played by Kristen Stewart. It would be Stewart's chemistry with her siblings that I would have had complaints to, though she was really very good in her role, as well.
Though Moore was authentic most of the time, there are a few moments in which she overacts a bit. It's some kind of habit of Moore's that she always has a few scenes throughout her performance that are overacted. For example even her SAG clip was one of those moments. But that is really a negligible mistake and to me it's even sympathic...

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Best Leading Actress 2014: Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl

WARNING: The following review cannot be done without spoilers. So if you haven't seen the film, I recommend not reading it.
David Fincher definitely can create a fantastic and chilling atmosphere, especially in his late films. Gone Girl really is a fascinating story about and an unconventional relationship. Apart from the atmosphere, screenplay, or technical achievements, the performance of Ben Affleck is probably the most fascinating thing about it. I'm not going crazy about it, but it certainly is a very fine performance that even has got its depth, which is shocking from Affleck.
But the performance that really stands out of the otherwise very solid ensemble is Rosamund Pike's. She plays Amy, Affleck's character Nick's wife, who disappears. Before the twist, Amy is portrayed as some sort of femme fatale. As a beautiful and intelligent young woman, though very mysterious. She is mysterious in an inviting way. You won't have a hard time understanding, why Nick fell for her. Pike is great in portraying this kind of woman. She creates such atmosphere around her, that we want to find out, who is this woman? How does she think? In a metaphoric way, we fall in love with her through the screen.
Before the middle of the film, there is a twist. In that we find out that she rigged the missing and is on her way away from her husband. Though we find out something more about her, there is still a mystery around her. That is something I should probably criticise, but there is no reason to. She portrays Amy as a human being. I mean, every woman (or simply everyone) has got secrets. We never get under them, just as we never get under the secrets of people around us.
Amy is a very cruel woman. She not only does something to make his husband suffer for the marriage they had, but is in fact able to kill. Despite this I completely understand, why is this film so beloved among feminists. It shows woman, who has got her needs, feelings, cravings, as well as mistakes. That's why this performance is so human. Though she does something that is very bold, when she is threatened, she just as defenseless, as everyone else would be (the scene she is being robbed in).
There is a scene at the end of the film, where Amy watches Nick on TV confessing that he was cheating on Amy. Pike's acting the reaction is actually fantastic. She not only stays realistic, but her reaction is also very funny. We see that she's in shock, she doesn't understand what she's watching right now and she thinking about how it changes her plan and what must she do now. She achieves all that in just one look.
A great performances stays within you a long time after watching a film. But I can't think of any other performance in a while that would hit me that much. I was thinking about Amy, as I would be thinking about a strange person, if I met one. My attitude towards Amy was the same as towards a real person. That's something I cannot say about many performances and it might be the biggest proof of a fantastic performance...
The chances of winning an Oscar: The would be the second choice after Julianne Moore. But Julianne seems unbeatable right now...

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Best Leading Actress 2014: Marion Cotillard - Two Days, One Night

Many people ask me, why I don't like European or indie films. The answer is very simple. They are too life-like. Why do people watch films, or go to the theatre? So that they can escape reality and watch the other people's problems and enjoy watching it. So what is the purpose in making films, in which we witness the storyline so real and the performance so realistic, that it really seems as if we were watching reality shows? I see that many people worship that, but I only get bored by it. That's why I usually avoid European and indie film, because most of them (I'm saying most, because definitely not all of them) are just too naturalistic.
Unfortunately, Two Day, One Night is exactly that kind of film. Authentic and extremely boring. This one is even so unbearable, that I had moments, when I thought I need to stop watching immediately and never continue again.
Marion Cotillard plays a young woman, who had some psychical issues and therefore she was forced to not go to work. Now she's feeling better and wants to start working again, but she found out the situation is not that easy. It's either her working again, or her colleagues don't get the money bonus. So she takes an utterly exciting trip all around the neighbourhood and tries to explain all of her co-workers, how much she really needs the job.
Cotillard is a great actress. Since her Oscar win for La Vie en Rose she has been snubbed many times. It's a pity she got nominated exactly for this performance, since it's far from her best work since 2007 and it's even further from her most interesting work.
I know, her peformance is technically flawless. And that's it. That is all I can write about this performance, because there is nothing more to it. She copied the real life and now we can see it. The thing is, we don't want to see it. I know it's not her fault and in terms of acting, there can really be no complaint said. know...when I think of this performance, the first word that comes to my mind is not 'perfect', but 'boring'. And that is definitely wrong.
No, I wouldn't nominate this performance, not even by an accident. I think we have Harvey to blame here, because she gave a better (and more interesting performance) in The Immigrant, whose campaign was unaccountably low. In that film she not only gave a better performance, but she even played a better character. This is a strange thing that happens often at the Oscars. An actor has two great performances in one year and he gets nominated for the worse one (e,g. Sean Penn in 2003). But what can we do?
The chances of winning: In fact they are higher than I'd appreciate. She's probably the third. But it would not look good in history, if she won her second Oscar for this particular performance... 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Next Year: Best Leading Actress 2014

The Nominees:
Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore - Still Alice (predicted winner)
Marion Cotillard - Two Days, One Night
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl

So, this year's nominees are announced now. We have a surprise (Cotillard) and some snubs (Aniston, Adams), but anyway. Who do you think will win? What are your predictions for my pick? What are your nominees and winner? Tell us in comment!