Saturday, 6 February 2016

Best Supporting Actress 2015: Kate Winslet - Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is a wonderful biopic about one of the most interesting figure of the recent history. In 2013 we've had an opportunity to see a film about him, starring Ashton Kutcher, but this one is much better, which was obvious just by the look at the name of the director.
Kate Winslet plays Joanna Hoffman, a Polish assistant of Steve Jobs. Winslet herself has said on various occasions that this woman looks nothing like her or talks like her in real life. I would probably say she was a miscast before watching the film. But then after doing so I have to admit that Winslet is able to overcome the differences between her and the woman she's portraying. Though sometimes her accent comes off as a little bit inconsistent, it's forgivable, as it doesn't distract you from the scene.
Winslet wonderfully understands the tone of her character and is very supportive to the plot, as to Jobs as a person. She knows, where her place is and she doesn't try to steal any scene for herself, because she knows it wouldn't fit the film. Except from one particular scene, in which she confronts Steve about his daughter. This scene is focused mostly on her character and this is an opportunity for Winslet to shine. We uses it perfectly and we are witnessing a perfect piece of acting. If I were to choose an Oscar clip, I'd certainly go with this scene.
What I love about Winslet in general, is her excellent screen-charisma. It is visible here, as well and Winslet uses it greatly and it's a pleasure to watch her working (just like any other time).
Joanna Hoffman is the only woman is Jobs' life to have an influence on him. She's the only one, who stayed there for him, who supports him. All of this is very well portrayed in Winslet's performance.
The cherry on the top of this film (and performance) is her chemistry with Michael Fassbender. These great actors are a pleasure to watch. I take for instance the scene at the very beginning of the film. They start the film with such energy that stay with it till the end.
The chances of winning an Oscar: As the time goes on, they seem smaller and smaller. She's won a Golden Globe, but it doesn't seem to matter. I guess she's the third, or the fourth. But this year is so wide open in this category that she might upset.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Best Supporting Actress 2015: Rachel McAdams - Spotlight

Some performances get rewarded and I will never understand why. You all know I'm not a fan of too natural performance (e.g. Paul Newman in Nobody's Fool or Marion Cotillard in Two Days One Night), but I can give some credit to them (both of the performances received four points from me), so that I'd stay objective. But there is something that I can't reward. It's the roles that give an actor nothing to play and when an actor is lazy to do something about it. Unfortunately, that is the case of this Oscar-nominated performance.
Rachel McAdams plays her character exactly, as it written. This might have been a compliment, if the character hasn't been written blandly. There is really nothing to this role. It's a woman. That's all I can say about it. The role of Sacha Pfeiffer has only got some lines that reveal simply nothing about the character. (It's not the only such character in the film. In fact, all of them are so.) But the biggest blame against McAdams is that she doesn't add anything to her character. She reads her lines (and she reads them just fine, to make that clear), but we don't find out anything about her character's character.
She has got some better moments, for example in the scene Sacha comes to the priest. She shows just the right amount of energy and eagerness as a young reporter, who wants to squeeze everything out of the story she's working on. But that's probably it. On the private matter, we don't find anything out about her.
I'm thinking, why she even got recognized is that she's the only woman in an ensemble full of men. It's not a bad performance. It's just a weak one.
The chances of winning an Oscar: Let's just hope the best picture heat is not going to push her to the win. I guess, it won't. She's the last one in the game. 

Friday, 15 January 2016

Best Supporting Actress 2015: Alicia Vikander - The Danish Girl

The Danish Girl is a fine film, though it's my least favourite Tom Hooper film. He's somehow underusing his usual techniques that I enjoyed in his previous films. This way it's only a well told biopic that is not special by almost anything.
This performance has been nominated for Golden Globe and for Bafta in a leading category and I think that's the right place to put her in. Though argument could be made, since it is role of a supportive wife and the true lead is Redmayne. But I guess nobody could make any complaint, if she was nominated in lead.
Vikander in fact is very good as a supportive wife. It's clear that she love Einar (played by Redmayne) and that she cares about him. She only wants the best for him and even though the situation is very difficult for her, she is willing to sacrifice it for Einar's good.
Unfortunately, she didn't get enough space to show her inner confusion. There are few such scenes in the film and in these Vikander uses everything that is given to her, but the final thoughts were a bit inconsistent.
The beginning of the film is a little bit silly. The film was a contender for my personal Razzie nominaees – so crazy and improbable it all was. Luckily, it change later on, but what I have to mention is that Vikander wasn't able to overcome the silliness of the film.
If I was to choose the best scene of this performance I would point out one short moment, in which Vikander desperately comes to Hiddlestone's character and she's waiting for his to come. When he appears, Vikander's excellent in her reaction. The pure despair and confusion of what's happening to her in life right now is simply excellent. I wish there were more such scenes for Vikander to show off her talents.
Do you remember last year, when I was disappointed by the fact that Marion Cotillard was nominated for Two Day, One Night, rather than The Immigrant? This is a similar case. Vikander gave a very good performance in The Danish Girl. But there were two performance she gave this year that were better. In Testament of Youth and especially Ex Machina. Though all three performances are lead, the one closest to this category is in Ex Machina and apart from that, it's the best one. So I would prefer her to be nominated for that performance...
The chances of winning an Oscar: I guess they are not so great. Category confusion also doesn't help. I think Vikander is going to be Oscar-nominated many times in the future and this time she'll have to be satisfied with the fourth place...

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Next Year: Best Supporting Actress 2015

The Nominees:
Alicia Vikander - The Danish Girl
Jennifer Jason Leigh - The Hateful Eight
Kate Winslet - Steve Jobs
Rachel McAdams - Spotlight
Rooney Mara - Carol (predicted winner)

What do you think about the nominees? Who are your nominees? Who are you rooting for? What are your predictions for my ranking? Tell us in comments! 

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Best Leading Actor 1994

5. Tom Hanks - Forrest Gump
This is not a very favourite performance of mine. Hanks' acting choices are rather strange, as he tries to deliver jokes as jokes and he doesn't identify with them. He has got some fine moments, we care about Forrest and easily sympathize with him, but I simply missed the dedication to the character from Hanks...

4. Paul Newman - Nobody's Fool
This is another one of those technically flawless, but boring as fuck performances. Newman is realistic (he was probably playing himself), but in the bad, boring way. There is nothing wrong with this performance, but then nothing particularly memorable...

3. Nigel Hawthorne - The Madness of King George
This is more of a caricature than a realistic portrayal of a human being, but it's working this way. Even though over-the-top, he's still very charming and some of the scenes are so emotional that you pity the character. It is a very well done performance, with a few easily forgivable flaws (such as occasional overacting, or dullness).

2. John Travolta - Pulp Fiction
So much has been said and written about it performance that it seems useless now. Travolta is wonderful in this iconic character. Sometimes he is too realistic for such crazy character, but it's just a small complaint. He makes a great lead of fantastic cast...

1. Morgan Freeman - The Shawshank Redemption
A few years ago I wouldn't have believed that Freeman would win this year. He's got a brilliant chamistry with Robbins and create a believable and great friends with him. Freeman is also a believable and respectable leader of the co-prisoners, which I found a bit surprising, but Freeman was able to achieve this.

My Nominees:
1. Tim Robbins - The Shawshank Redemption
2. Morgan Freeman - The Shawshank Redemption
3. Johnny Depp - Ed Wood
4. Kenneth Branagh - Frankenstein
5. John Travolta - Pulp Fiction

Best Leading Actor 1994: Morgan Freeman - The Shawshank Redemption

Morgan Freeman received his third Oscar nomination for playing Red, the narrator of The Shawshank Redemption. The first thing I must mention is that I'm surprised he was placed into the leading category. Not because he isn't lead, he's a co-lead along with Tim Robbins. But today the studio would have probably put him in the supporting category, so that he would make room for Robbins to be nominated in the leading category.
Freeman really makes a great narrator. It's not only his deep iconic voice that fits the film. It's also the charm he gives into the narration. He always stays within the character, so he doesn't become a boring documentary-style narrator.
Red is a very respected man among the prisoners. He's known for being able to get you anything you need in prison and is some kind of a leader between some group of prisoners. To be honest, I had never thought of Freeman as a type for playing such leader-types. Can't really explain why, it's simply the way I view Freeman. Surprisingly, Freeman was very believable at this. Somehow he was able to endure respect, just through his screen presence. The way he walks and uses his voice, or mimicry made him a very natural leader.
The fact is, Freeman doesn't have many emotional moments to really shine. And yet he still manages to create a wonderful character. He brings so much charm into his role that there is no way you won't sympathize with him. Along Andy, he is probably the most likable character of the film. And that was not easy to achieve, according to the fact that he doesn't get many opportunities to do so.
Freeman also creates a fantastic screen chemistry with Tim Robbins. These two create true friends and they are the standouts of their films. I'd have a hard time deciding, which one do I prefer. A great example for this is a scene, in which Red reveals that he's already institutionalized by the prison. If I had to choose Freeman's Oscar clip, it would be from this scene.
The following section contains spoiler. So if you haven't seen the film (you must live on another planet), I recommend not to read it.
At the end of the film, when Red gets out of the prison, Freeman is particularly excellent in showing the frustrasion Red is going through. He'd spent the majority of his life in prison and now he can't figure out what to do with the freedom.
To sum it up, I must say that I watched The Shawshank Redemption for the third time to write this review. Every time I have watched the film, this performance has grown on me. After the first time, I found him just fine. The second some I called this performance great and this time I'd have a hard time not saying this performance is flawless. Wonderfully fitting to the character and the tone of the film.
The chances of winning an Oscar: I think he was the fourth, according to the fact that the film wasn't so huge among the Academy voters.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Best Leading Actor 1994: Tom Hanks - Forrest Gump

What to say about Forrest Gump? The film has already become a cult and it's so famous that I find it useless to write anything about it. I enjoyed it well enough, though it is a bit flawed. What I am very grateful is that by its scheme there very made many better film that I almost loved (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Walk, but especially Big Fish).
The first thing you have to notice in the first minutes of Forrest Fump is Tom Hanks' accent. He's using southern accent, the same as Sally Field in the film, but Hanks' is way too mannered. I know he speaks slowly because his IQ is lower, but the probability of someone speaking like this is very low, in my opinion.
It's not just his accent that is over-the-top. The most of his screen presence is over-the-top and unfortunately, not enjoyably so. For example the scene, in which Forrest finds out that the segregation is over. This short moment is worthy of a Razzie award, not an Oscar. What is even worse than this moment, is the fact that Hanks delivers some jokes, as jokes, which is the worst possible thing a comedy actor can do. He does it with too declamatory way. (Just like Patti Lupone does in theatre – where it is forgivable, or like Octavia Spencer did in The Help – which is not so forgivable.) Take for instance the scene, in which Jenny is showing Forrest her breasts. The way he looks is just too obvious.
It's funny that these kinds of performance work on people so well. Though technically they are not very good, yet they somehow become so likable. I understand it in a way, because even though these mistakes are obvious, somehow you cannot be angry on Hanks for them. He simply is too cute, or adorable to despise him.
There is one thing I must give Hanks credit for. It's the way he's dedicated to his role. Though his performance is technically not very good, he was able to stay consistent throughout his entire presence. The way he moves, or overuses his eyes. It's something that, though is overacted, is also repeating and makes this performance somehow complex.
There is something so true about the famous line from Tropic Thunder: You should never go fully retarded. And Hanks didn't. He stayed somewhere in the middle. Nor was he normal enough, nor retarded enough. And I think that is the main problem I have with this performance. It is not bad. It has got its better parts, but it's too obvious and it's begging for our tears so evidently that we don't shed a single tear.

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...