Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Next Year: Best Leading Actor 1994

The Nominees:
John Travolta - Pulp Fiction
Morgan Freeman - The Shawshank Redemption
Nigel Hawthorne - The Madness of King George
Paul Newman - Nobody's Fool
Tom Hanks - Forrest Gump

So, what is your ranking? What is your prediction for my ranking? What are your nominees? What are some notable performances that were snubbed? Comment!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Best Supporting Actor 1976

5. Burt Young - Rocky
Young is painfully forgettable in such a juicy role of Rocky's best friend. He's got a few scenes that really could have been perfect, but they only stay uninteresting. He's very overacted and almost never believable. He failed to portray this character the way it should be, because he simply isn't capable of handling a real human character. It was rather a cartoon, that didn't work for this film...

4. Jason Robards - All the President's Men
Robards is fine. But his character is so boring, that it couldn't be a great performance. On the other hand, there cannot be any complaint about his performance. He did everything the film required of him. But to be honest, it was not very much...

3. Ned Beatty - Network
In one short response and one short scene, Beatty was able to leave such an impression on the Academy, that they nominated him. He wasn't bad. Though he was overacting, he fulfilled the purpose of his character in the film. I mean, it wasn't supposed to be a realisticly handled human being. It should be a nervous wreck. A screaming bundle. And in this he succeeded. But his short moment wasn't anything spectacular to actually get some grand attention...

2. Burgess Meredith - Rocky
Meredith's performance is probably the most iconic out of this year's nominees. His trainer Mickey is a very good character, because he is ambiguous. The first half of the film he's really mean to Rocky and it is the scenes in this part of the film that caused Meredith is the second. He was so much overacting and some of his lines seemed very unnatural. But from the scene of persuading Rocky that is the standout of his performance (and it's really excellent) he becomes more and more believable. And you will simply like his character, at the end of the day...

1. Laurence Olivier - Marathon Man
Though it's not the most memorable villain that I have ever seen, it is an effective one. And the most important thing is that he's so human, that we almost empathize with him. Because of the subtlety, that Olivier had chosen to play Szell with, it becomes a very creepy villain. And the final scene is great!

My nominees:
1. Marty Feldman - Silent Movie
2. Laurence Olivier - Marathon Man
3. Robert Duvall - Network
4. Ron Howard - The Shootist
5. Burgess Meredith - Rocky

Louis, since your prediction was right, you can choose the next year I'll do...

Monday, 14 April 2014

Best Supporting Actor 1976: Laurence Olivier - Marathon Man

Marathon Man is quite an effective thriller according to the time it was made in, but the storyline isn't very strong. Another thing is that Dustin Hoffman in the leading role is obviously a miscast, since his character is more than a decade younger than he was at the time of shooting. He's definitely trying to do his best and he's actually very fine, but still it was strange. I just couldn't believe that he was young. He just wasn't.
Luckily, Laurence Olivier in a supporting turn of Marathon Man's villain is not a miscast. In fact, we need to wait quite a while to finally see Olivier on screen and when he does appear, he doesn't have a lot to do in his initial scenes, therefore there's not much to go wrong at.
First time he has got some place to show off his talents is the famous scene of torture. Though he's only got to say one line: 'Is it safe?', it is in fact a very juicy scene. A mediocore actor would have become flat. But Olivier was able to get the most out of this situation and even become evil.
In fact, Olivier's portrayal is very subtle. He only goes over the top in two short responses that are easily forgivable. His entire performance is very subtle and that's what is so terrifying about his character Dr. Szell. With his gentleness he becomes creepy. And that's why his performance works so well.
On the other hand we can look at the same thing differently. Because of this subtlety, his performance lacks some memorable moments. Even the legendary torture scene was too subtle to be something extraordinary. The subtlety worked greatly in the film, but after watching it you may easily forget his performance. If you compare it to some other villains in movie history, the most memorable ones were always a bit overacted, while Szell is not. That might be the reason, why he doesn't stand among the Joker, Keyser Soze, or Hannibal Lecter.
But it is still a very effective performance. He might be too human to really leave deeper impression on the audience, but that's the guilt of the script and the director. Olivier stays very realistic almost thoughout his whole performance and that's why it works. It may not be the most memorable villain in the history of film, but a very decent one, yes! And what makes this villain different from the most of villains is that his behaviour is rational. He is greedy, that's all. It is so simple, that it is perfect, because we can more easily understand him. He shows this perfectly in his last scene that is also the climatic scene of the film. That might be the only, or the most memorable scene of this portrayal.
The chances of winning an Oscar: I believe that he was the second. He's won a Golden Globe and after almost thirty years he must have been an overdue...

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Best Supporting Actor 1976: Burgess Meredith - Rocky

I'm ashamed to admit it, but this is the first role I have seen Meredith in. I feel sorry for that, because it probably isn't the standout of his career. Or hopefully. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I didn't like Meredith's performance, I didn't like his character.
First we get to see the trainer Mickey, he's very mean to Rocky. It seems rather irrational at this point and we wonder why is that. Meredith is very overacting this scene. His anger and nuisance seems rather forced in this scene. This happens in more moments in the first half of the film. He's unkind and he's overacting the situation.
In one particular scene we find out what is the reason of Mickey's behaviour. (I don't consider it a spoiler, but if you do (and you haven't seen Rocky, which would be ridiculous), skip this clause.) He's bad to Rocky, because he wastes his talents. In this scene we should feel some kind of satisfaction from the fact we finally know something we haven't before. But we don't. I don't know if it's the screenwriter's fault, or Meredith's (I think it's the fault of both of them), but we only keep asking: what? I just never felt that he could be mean in this way for such an improbable reason. Any trainer would probably be angry about his apprentice, if he'd wasted his talents, but I doubt it would be this way. He wouldn't be irrationally angry, he would try to do something with that. Unless it would be a very dumb person. And since we can't cast out the fact that Mickey is dumb, we cannot blame Meredith for this irrationality. That's why I wrote that I can't say I dislike Meredith's performance. It's rather his character I don't understand.
Approximately at the half of the film, there is a scene, in which Mickey tries to persuade Rocky to become his trainer again (though he had refused it before). This particular scene is a standout of Meredith's performance. He portrays emotions, I mean real emotions in this scene so effectively that I simply can't have any complaint against it. He suddenly changes his attitude and is nice to Rocky. But it's all mercenary, because even Mickey would have profit from training Rocky.
From this moment his performance is much better than in the first half of Rocky. He drops off the overacting and leaves a very good impression on the audience...
The chances of winning an Oscar: I believe he was the third. Just before Beatty and Young...

Monday, 7 April 2014

Best Supporting Actor 1976: Ned Beatty - Network

Sidney Lumet was a strange director. He stands behind some really cult films that are going to be praised forever, but on the other hand there are some very inconsistent films among his filmography. Fortunately Network belongs to the first category. When I was watching it for the first time, I really loved it. Now, a few years later I found it a bit boring, but it still was quite effective.
1976 must have been a very weak year for supporting male performances. There is no other way I could explain performances such as Beatty's being nominated. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike his performance. But I found it just not enough for an Oscar nomination. Why?
Beatty has only got two scenes in the film. One being very brief with only one sentence from him and other one lasting about five minutes. I don't tend to underestimate performances by their screentime, but Beatty did not get very much to do in this time.
After I finished watching Network for the first time, I almost loved Beatty's work here. I liked his over the top performance so much, that I kept declaring that she should have won an Oscar, though I hadn't seen The Maranton Man (and still haven't). But times have changed and so has my opinion about him.
During his only important scene he basically has one long monologue. What is really unforgivable is not the 'overness' of it, but the fact that in spite of his overacting, my mind kept running away and I was thinking about different things. I had to rewatch it in order to be objective. And I must admit that his overacting was quite enjoyable and it was obvious that he was enjoying this part as well, but was it enough for an Oscar nomination? Not at all. He was very fine, I liked his presence, but there must have been better performances that year. One being Robert Duvall's in the same film.
The chances of winning an Oscar: I'd say they weren't very high, but his category was the only acting category, in which Network didn't win. But he was fourth, maybe fifth, anyway...

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Best Supporting Actor 1976: Burt Young - Rocky

Rocky is a...well it is a decent film. It actually was the first film of its kind. Of the kind I don't very much appreciate. Because the way the story goes has now become a big clishé. A very annoying clishé. But Rocky was the first film to show this, so it couldn't have been a clishé. But in these times the film just isn't working as well, as it used to in his times. It tells a story of an ordinary boxer, who has got a chance to fight against a world champion Apollo Creed. And apart from that he falls in love with his friend Paulie's sister Adriana.
Burt Young plays Paulie. First thing that is needed to say is that it is a very good part to play. It would be a really juicy part, if a good actor would have handled it. I'm not saying Young is a bad actor, besides of Rocky I haven't seen any of his films, but from his performance I didn't have a feeling he could handle a character.
On the paper Paulie is a very well written character. And it's obvious how he should be. He is a simple man, who wants to make good money and he mostly cares about himself. What is really interesting about him is the relationship with his sister. These two live together, he makes money, she cares about the household. But he is really tyrannical to her. He always must have what he wants and she must listen to him. On the paper his character is a real despot. But Young failed to leave that kind of impression on me. For example he scene, in which he forces Adriana to go out with Rocky. He should have been really cruel in this scene. But Young has chosen to overact the situation, instead. This is actually the scene that forms the character of Paulie, but Young's creation is different from what Paulie should be like. He just failed to portray Paulie the right way.
There is also a scene at the end of the film, where Paulie has an emotional outburst. He really feels desperate and jealous for Rocky, but Young is only screaming out his lines. I never believed Young a single move, a single line, a single gesture in this moment.
To be fair, I admit that there are some scenes, in which Young is fine, but it's more that he doesn't do anything bad, than he does something good in them. They are also very brief to make the final impace of his performance better for me.
The chances of winning an Oscar: There is no way this performance had a chance of winning. He was the last...

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Best Supporting Actor 1976: Jason Robards - All the President's Men

All the President's Men is a great film about the journalists, who investigate the circumstances of the famous Watergate scandal. It is a very enjoyable film and the leading performances of Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford are really strong.
Jason Robards plays Ben Bradlee, the editor of The Washington Post, the newspapers, in which these journalists work. It is kind of a mystery for me, how Jason Robards got nominated. He must have been really famous in his times and he was probably an overdue for a nomination (this was his first). Because I can't imagine that he got his nomination just for his performance. It's not that it was bad, but there is just nothing to play.
As an editor, Robards doesn't get a chance to show off his talent. There is not a single scene that would allow him to really do something important. He an editor and he knows that what these two journalists are doing might be dangerous, so he's very careful in terms of what to have printed. But except of this, he doesn't do much in All the President's Men.
I mean, this is such an unjuicy role that it's a shock that it was ever nominated, not even that it won. If you look at some of the character, that the actors played and won the best supporting actor Oscar for it, Ben Bradlee stays in the corner. Next to Vito Corleone, Béla Lugosi, The Joker, or Hans Landa, Ben Bradlee seems to be a bad joke.
The fact is that I have nothing to complain about, when we're talking about Robards's performance. He really did everything the film required. But that's not very much, to be honest...

Friday, 7 March 2014

Next Year: Best Supporting Actor 1976

The Nominees:
Burgess Meredith - Rocky
Burt Young - Rocky
Jason Robards - All the President's Men
Laurence Olivier - Marathon Man
Ned Beatty - Network

So, what is your prediction for my pick? What is your prediction for my ranking? What is your ranking? What are your nominees? Comment! 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Best Leading Actor 2013

5. Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street
It was a surprise to find out that DiCaprio was capable of such comedic performance. This performance required a great physical comedy acting, in which DiCaprio excells. On the other hand I was disappointed how much the film and DiCaprio let the character of Jordan Belfort be drab. It never gets deeper into his character. He's just having fun and so are we, but there not much more to this performance...

4. Bruce Dern - Nebraska
Dern is very fine in his mysterious character. We never know, why is he behaving like this. Is he just stupid? Or is he being senile? Is he just stubborn? We never get to know the answers for this questions. He keeps having a glazed look in his eyes and we keep asking ourselves: How is his mind working? It's a very likable character that I enjoyed well enough, but it might be too subtle to be remembered long enough. It lacks memorable scenes, or something that would make it memorable...

3. Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club
McConaughey uses his juicy role and Dallas Buyers Club becomes an exhibition of one man. His great and complex performance is something nobody would expect from him five years ago. His character of Ron gets through many changes and they never seem forced. What seemed forced to me, was McConaughey's voice use. It was too over the top sometimes. As if he the voice getting through different situation than his body. But it wasn't such a big failure...

2. Christian Bale - American Hustle
Under the makeup, wig and the weight gain, there is a very complex performance. It evokes exactly the feelings that it should. He is probably the only one in the show, who stayed in his character throughout the enitre performance. And he was able to fight with his against type casting, as he really disappeared in the character...

1. Chiwetel Ejiofor - Twelve Years a Slave
Ejiofor wins this great year with the most complex performance that was supposed to really lead his film and he was able to do so without overshadowing it. It is a very subtle performance that (except of one short moment) never gets over the top. He is realistic and he moved with the audience so much, that they sometimes couldn't handle it. It is a performance that should be remembered for ages...

Best Leading Actor 2013: Christian Bale - American Hustle

I enjoyed American Hustle well enough. Everybody in it gives a very passionate performance and though the screenplay is a bit weak, the actors make it a very fine experience. But the truth is that every actor in a film seems to be a miscast. But I read somewhere an idea that seems very logical to me. Everyone is miscast on purpose. Because the film tells a story of people, who play various roles, the actors cast in a film were against their type, so that they also have to play the role. Every actor is obviouly playing his character.
Christian Bale plays a Jewish businessman Irving, who has to cooperate with police in order to save his own ass. He's got a wife (Jennifer Lawrence) with a son, but he's cheating on her with his co-swindler Sydney. Though he definitely was cast against his type, Bale makes you forget this fact. That's why his performance works so well. He somehow managed to disapper in his performance.
Many people compare this performance to Robert De Niro's style. The truth is that I haven't seen that much from De Niro's career (10 films), but it never seemed to me so. Bale just chose the same acting method and the character allowed him to act the way De Niro might have used to, but I don't think he played Irving with 'De Niro style' on purpose.
You may say I'm insane, how I notice the acting with the eyes about the actors, but that's just a coincidence of this year's best leading actor's lineup. The four of the nominees actually used their eyes wonderfully. There is a lot of makeup work done on this character. But it never destroys the performance. Under the makeup, weight gaining and wig there is a very complex performance. He is actually the best in show. He only was able to build a complex character, in which he stayed throughout the entire film. The other actors sometimes tended to act according to the situation, not the character. But Bale always stays in his character.
At the end of the film Irving feels sorry for Mayor Polito. I actually didn't have problems believing that he really felt sorry about the whole thing. That's a proof that it's not just a showy performance with no soul.
There's an interesting thing I've noticed. Bale sometimes seemed to me, as if he didn't want to become a part of this game everyone else is playing. As if all of the other actors were enjoying the party, but Bale not. But it somehow makes sense, according to this character. Irving was forced to became a part of this game that detective is playing. He had to become a part of it, if he didn't want to go into jail. But he didn't want to. And that's great about this performance. It actually evokes in the audience the feelings it was supposed to.
The chances of winning an Oscar: He was happy to be nominated...

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Best Leading Actor 2013: Chiwetel Ejiofor - Twelve Years a Slave

I'm glad Twelve Years a Slave won best picture. But I'm not happy why it won. I think that it really was the best film among the nominees. But I don't think the Academy thought the same thing. The fact that Gravity won almost every technical award possible proves it. I'm happy Twelve Years a Slave won, but I'd be happier, if for example Gravity would have won, if I knew that the Academy voted for it, because they liked it.
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, who used to be a free man, a violin player, but after some unpleasant circumstances he was forced to become a slave. What happened to this character is very tragic. But Ejiofor never overdoes the situation. His performance stays subtle and realistic even in the most strain moments. He actually plays only with his eyes most of the time. You can see such range of emotions from a simple look in hi eyes. I actually never thought of Ejiofor that he would be capable of such performance.
At the beginning of the film, we see Solomon with his family. He makes his living with playing the violin and he lives quite an ordinary life. Ejiofor is great in showing how he cares about his family, but he never thinks about some changes in his life and it would not even come to his mind that one day he'll be a slave.
When he wakes up in the dark room in chains, he doesn't understand what's happened. He keeps telling to the guards that he's a free man. Ejiofor is great in showing this confusion and then his stubbornness, till the moment he's being tortured. In these scenes Solomon's behaviour changes very quikly. Firstly, he's an ordinary and mediocre man, then he's happy because he seemed to get a good job. Then he's confused, yet very self-aware and stiff. And after that he must accept the fact, that he can't do nothing about it. These feelings that there injustice committed on him, but he cannot do anything about it are wonderful.
Solomon was a bit naive character at the beginning of the film, but later on he transforms into a very rational character. This transformation is perfect and it never seems forced. It just happens.
Playing this character means playing a lots of scenes with grief. Ejiofor doesn't have a problem with that, because he's always very believable and he is able to make us feel so sorry for him. One of those is the scene, where everybody is singing "Roll Jordan Roll". It might one of the best moments of this performance and also a proof of how wonderful this performance is.The fact that the film is so powerful and that many people couldn't handle it (and left the cinema, or said that they never want to see the film again) is also Ejiofor's credit. It is a great and very complex performance.
At the beginning I wrote that he never is over the top. Maybe it wasn't so much truth. Because there in one and very short moment that actually was a bit overacted. It is his Oscar clip. The moment that is also in the trailer and it's the moment when he says that he won't fall into despair. It actually is believable and very well handled, but I thought that it was a bit "too much" in comparison with the rest of his performance. But that just a very short, little and forgivable detail...
The chances of winning an Oscar: He might have been the second. He is the leading character of the best picture winner and he makes that film. He must have had quite a good chance...

Monday, 3 March 2014

Best Leading Actor 2013: Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street is a crazy film. Really! It's a three hours long, comedic biopic directed by Martin Scorsese. It tells the story of Jordan Belfort, who becomes a millionaire. You would probably expect that the film will follow his way to becoming a millionaire, but that's where the story begins, actually. It rather follows the way he uses the money he's got. DiCaprio, of course, plays Belfort.
All right, let's be honest. Leonardo DiCaprio has shown us better performances throughout his entire career, than the one she shows us in The Wolf of Wall Street. Many people wished to see him on the stage accepting the Oscar. Of course he's a talented actor, who deserves to have an Oscar of his own, but this is not the right performance for such an occasion. Let me explain.
From the first minutes of The Wolf of Wall Street it's obvious that DiCaprio is not much acting. He is rather just having fun. What I'm trying to say is that DiCaprio didn't have to make any effort playing this role. It wasn't any challenge for DiCaprio to play this part. It would actually not be a challenge for any actor.
DiCaprio didn't try to play this role realisticly. He didn't choose to play it with method acting. He just played the things the screenplay wanted him to. All is want is The Academy to stop rewarding such performances. He was good, he enjoyed his role and we enjoyed the film. We liked him. But it was so easy to play that's it simply doesn't deserve any award's attention.
On the other hand I must admit that it was surprising for me to find out how well did he handle a comedic part. He wouldn't be the first person that comes to mind, when I think of such comedic creations. He showed off a great comedic potential part and he shocked me with his physical acting in some scenes (I'll mention the one with DiCaprio getting into the car). It could be used in some of his potential following films, but I would appreciate a lot better and juicy character for that.
To sum it all up, I have to say that DiCaprio is very good in this role. He's quite enjoying. But it's an actor that is capable of more complex performances with much better and more challenging roles. Having him in this role in this film is a waste of a talent. If they wanted to reward him with a nomination, he had a more challenging role this year in The Great Gatsby.
The chances of winning an Oscar: He might have been the forth, maybe the third. It's great he didn't win. The awards are not made to reward these types of performances...

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Best Leading Actor 2013: Bruce Dern - Nebraska

Bruce Dern doesn't give a leading performance in Nebraska. I usually don't care about category frauds, but this one really pisses me off. Not the one with Dern (he actually is a co-lead), but the one with Will Forte, who was pushed into the supporting category. which he certainly doesn't belong to. I think Dern would fulfill the meaning of collocation 'supporting actor', because he really rather supports the leading Forte's character, than is the leading character himself. And if my opinion here counts, I think that if he had been classified as supporting, he would be the one to beat Leto this year. But that is just my speculation that isn't important here.
What is important here, is the quality of Dern's performance. From the beginning it's clear that his character is going to be a little nuts. He wants to walk through the entire country, just because he got a letter that says that he has won a million dollars. You might say he's pretty naive, but we can't say that. Because we never get to see what's happening inside Woody's head.
In fact, we never get the answer to the question: Why does Woody behave like this? We never know, if it's because he's old, or becuase he's just stupid, or naive, or insane, or alcoholic. We never see behind what we see on the screen. Woody's character is a kind of mystery.
There is a particular scene in the film, in which Forte's character tells Woody not to tell anyone in a bar about the money. But Woody tells it everyone. He's childishly defiant.
It must be a big challenge for an actor to play such character. Because not having a reason for some behaviour and nevertheless play it realisticly is really hard. But Dern succeeded in this with such ease, that it almost seems that this character was a piece of cake to portray.
I really love how he uses his eyes. He keeps having a glazed look and that makes you think of what is going through his head. But there are some scenes, in which he expresses his emotions, as well. And they're equally good. What I especially appreciate about Dern's performance is that it never seems forced. Even though he has got seems that could have been overacted, or stand out of his performance (in a bad way), he always stays equally subtle and great.
The only blame I'd have is that because his performance is equally great, it lacks some memorable scenes, or the moments that I would think about a long time after watching the film. This way it's just a great performance that disappears from your mind a month after watching the film. And that's a pity...
The chances of winning an Oscar: I think he's the third. But he is a dark horse of the race, so he might upset...

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Best Leading Actor 2013: Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club is a very good film about a homofobic man Ron, who happens to be tested positive of HIV virus. Suddenly his life attitude changes and in order to help himself (and others) he starts to sell illegal medicine for curing this virus. Indeed, Matthew McConaughey plays Ron.
First thing that is needed to be said, is that this is a very physical performance. McConaughey lost so much weight for it and a big part of it is actually made by the makeup artists. But I must add that there is much to this performances, than a juicy look.
At the beginning of the film Ron behaves as a very unresponsible man. He lives a very promiscuous life, he cons people and he is not very kind to people. He only cares about himself. When after some circumstances he gets to the hospital, he is told that he had been tested positive of HIV. The scene he finds it out is actually wonderful in McConaughey's hands. The way he uses his eyes and he interacts with the doctor played by Jennifer Garner is really excellent. I also loved his reaction when the doctor said to him, that he only had thirty days left. He calms down, he bows his head and just stay silent for a few moments. As if he was realizing what did the doctor just tell him. Then he stands up and says it's just not true. I really loved this moment, because I really believed, that this is probably the way anyone would react, if he was told to be HIV-positive.
Firstly Ron does nothing with this new information he had just got. He acts as if nothing happened, so he stays promiscuous and enjoys life. I never had problems believing McConaughey that this is actually what anyone would do, if he was in Ron's situation.
Then later he realizes that there's need to do something, but when he feels that the standard medicine doesn't work, he tries the alternative. You know, McConaughey is great in portraying these parts, because he always stays the same egoistic man. He starts to trade with this medicine, but he only does it because of his eagerness, because he wants to make the money out of it. This is actually not an easy thing to show off. Ron had to change a little bit, because of the illness, but he stays as egoistic, as he was as the beginning. And so does his attitude toward homosexual change. It's a very slow change, but it is happening. And it's alway very realistic and it never seems forced from McConaughey.
As I said, I really loved the way he used his eyes in the particular scene. I actually loved it throughout the entire performance and I also loved how he uses his body. The only thing that seemed to me a bit forced, is how he uses his voice. If you have already seen the film, you probably know what I'm talking about. The way he changes the tone of his voice, as he speaks up and then speaks down, it didn't seem very natural in some scenes. But that is just a detail that bothers me about his otherwise very compact performance. You know, a few years ago I would never have said, that he would be able of such precise character building.
The best scene of his performance would very probably be the one I have mentioned above. The scene, in which Ron finds out that he is HIV-positive. But there are more really great scenes in the film...
The chances of winning an Oscar: He seems to be the frontrunner right now...

Monday, 24 February 2014

Next Year: Best Leading Actor 2013

The Nominees:
Bruce Dern - Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor - Twelve Years a Slave
Christian Bale - American Hustle
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street
Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club (predicted winner)

What are your opinions about this year's nominees? Who will win? Who was snubbed? What is your ranking of the nominees? Who should win? What are your nominees? What is your prediction for my ranking? Comment! 

Best Supporting Actress 2013

5. June Squibb - Nebraska
There is nothing wrong with this performance. It is likable and sometimes funny. But Squibb never does anything more. She is an old actress that seemed to be too lazy to do something with this performance that would make it remarkable, or at least to fix the screenplay's mistakes. No, we don't want lazy performances to be rewarded! 

4. Lupita Nyongo' - Twelve Years a Slave
I don't understand so much awards's attention. Her performance has got three phases: 1) She has got nothing to do. 2) She has got something to play and she uses is very well. 3) She has got something to play, but she fails to handle them well. There are scenes I didn't believe her antyhing, or she didn't act while she was supposed to. There are a few scenes that are fine and the chemistry between her and Ejiofor is good, but she was technically bad in some moments. And that's not something that should be rewarded...

3. Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine
The chemistry between Hawkins and Blanchett is really not very good. It's very improbable that they come from the same family. It's not just the actresses who is to blame here, because it's mostly the screenplay's fault, but the ladies failed to fix or hide these mistakes, so that they wouldn't be so obvious. And though Hawkins is trying and does everything the script wants her to, you won't remember her performance a long time after watching the film.

2. Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle

Yes, she's obviously acting. But she was a miscast, because it's a character written for an older actress. So probably the only possible way to handle this character was the was she had chosen. She's so much enjoying this role, that though it has got some mistakes, you'll be happy to forget them and just sit back and enjoy this character with her. And one thing is absolutely true: Once she's on the screen, you won't feel bored...

1. Julia Roberts - August: Osage County
Roberts easily wins this year for me, as she always hits just the right note for me. She's self-aware and rational woman, but make her angry and she'll get to know you about it! She sees herself to be the protector of her family, but her private life doesn't work the way she'd want to. And she still loves her husband. This everything (sometimes at once) and even more is perfectly portrayed by Roberts in this flawless performance!

My Nominees:
1. Julia Roberts - August: Osage County
2. Sarah Paulson - Twelve Years a Slave
3. Scarlett Johansson - Her
4. Melissa Leo - Prisoners
5. Sharon Stone - Lovelace

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Best Supporting Actress 2013: June Squibb - Nebraska

Nebraska is certainly an enjoyable film, but it gets a bit boring at some moments. I liked some performances of it, but it's too slow to really touch me. I also didn't get why it was black and white, because there is no purpose of it, it just makes the film less entertaining and more bland - not in a good way.
June Squibb plays the mother of the actual leading role of the film played by Will Forte (no, Bruce Dern isn't leading, but I'll talk about it later, in his review). It is the funniest character of the film. She the type of a nice old lady that surprises you with very eccentric behavior.
I mean, this is a juicy role, but in Payne's direction and in Squibb's hands it becomes extremely lackluster. It could have been a scene stealer (and she was announced as it) and it is so much forgettable that I don't understand how did it earn so many nominations. It si so boring that it's even hard to write something about her.
All right, I can't say it was a bad performance. That wouldn't be true. The fact is that her performance is very fine. Her character is very likable (her performance is, as well) and she did everything that was needed for the film. But it seemed to me as if she was lazy to do something more. That she was lazy to give a bit more energy into the her performance, something that would make us think about it a long time after watching the film.
I also must add that I didn't like her character, at all. There is a scene at the cemetery. She speaks about the dead people and at the end of it she speaks about a man she had a crush on years ago. After she finishes, she lifts up her skirt to show the dead man what did he lose back then. This act of her seemed to me rather forced. As if it was there just to make us laugh. It seemed very unnatural. And Squibb failed to fix this screenplay failure. As if said to herself: My job is to act, not to fix the screenplay's mistakes. And that is the laziness of her performance that I was talking about before.
Her best scene would be probably some of her brief scenes at the beginning of the film.
The chances of winning an Oscar: I don't think they're big. She is the fourth, or the fifth. Fortunately...

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Best Supporting Actress 2013: Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle

I remember one thing going through my mind, while I was watching American Hustle. If this film doesn't deserve Oscar nominees in all acting categories, then I can't imagine another film that does. I mean, the film itself really is a mess and you don't care about the storyline. But I loved watching it, because the actors are so much enjoying their work that it's unbelievable.
Jennifer Lawrence plays a wife (Rosalyn) of the leading character played by Christian Bale. The first thing I need to say is that just like almost everybody else in the film, she's a miscast. This is a very strange situation when all of the actors are wonderfully playing the characters that are against their type. Lawrence is a young actress that is enjoying herself and has no worries. But her has more problems that are usual in random marriage and an actress should be a bit older for such part.
Her marriage is about fights and sex. Her husband is a con man. She used to be a single mother. Her husband is cheating on her. But she's a self-aware woman, who can fight for what she wants and who can find her way to enjoy life. She's also a bit rotten, because in fact she's using her husband and she manipulated him.
Everyone keeps saying that this performances is not good enough, because she never became that person. I agree about that, that's for sure. But I have to argue. She was cast badly. How could she really became a worried and an older woman, when she's never lived through such situation? She can't even imagine, she's a carefree actress at the top of her career. This is a part for an older and more experienced woman. And what everyone takes for granted is the fact, that Lawrence handled this inappropriate part with such ease and energy that you can't resist her. I mean, she really gave everything into her performance. Maybe her effort is visible, but she's not the one, who's to blame here.
There is almost an iconic scene in the bathroom, in which Amy Adams's character touches her weakest part as she finally tells Rosalyn how rotten she is. This scene has such strength, as Lawrence finds to way to hurt the other person even more than she was hurt. That's what she does again o her husband. She starts to cheat on him. Not because she would want to, but because she wants to give it to him back.
So everything that is wrong about this performance is not Lawrence's fault. There's either the casting director or the director to blame. And therefore we should not malign her performance...
The chances of winning an Oscar: It is a fight between her and Nyong'o. And though she's second and though a second consecutive Oscar would rather harm her career, she would be the more deserving one...

Monday, 27 January 2014

Best Supporting Actress 2013: Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine

Once you see a great performance, you can't stop thinking about it. It's so much powerful and natural that you will never forget how flawless the performance was. It's only about capturing the character or being realistic. You have to enjoy the performance not just while you are waching the film, but also afterwards. Unfortunately, it is not Hawkins's case. 
She plays Ginger, the younger sister of the leading character Jasmine (played by Cate Blanchett). They are not actual sisters, they were just raised by the same parents. The first problem I have, is that I just couldn't believe that these two ladies came from the same family. Jasmine is a snobbish lady that can't stop living in luxury, while Ginger is a simple-minded and very rational woman that only lives her life for a day. She doesn't live in delusions, but she still is a bit naive and she likes to enjoy herself. It is so improbable that these women would be raised by the same people that it's a hard thing to believe in. Therefore the actresses had twice as difficult thing to do, to persuade us that this is actually very random and ordinary situation.
They failed. Though the chemistry between the actresses is really good, I had a hard time believing that these two women spent their childhood together. They seem as if they had nothing to talk about. But they were raised together, they spent every single day together and now they just can't talk together? I just thought that Woody somehow overdrew their relationship.
All right, I have to admit that everything that is wrong with this film has something to do with the script or the directing. So we can't really blame the actors that the film doesn't work. I also have to admit that Hawkins is really trying to do her best to make her character at least endurable and she succeeded. I would never say she was bad. But her character is just so unwitting, that I doubt if Meryl Streep would do something with it. Sally is overacting sometimes and it seemed to me that her character was just a variation of her character in Happy-Go-Lucky, only less delusional and less happy.
At the end I must apologize to Sally. Maybe the problem is on my side, because I never liked her very much, so it might be just that her acting style doesn't fit me. But she somehow failed to fix the screenplay's script and though she is very much trying to, you will forget this performance a week after watching the film.
I'm so sad for this year's supporting actress lineup. There were so many perfect performances this year and they all were snubbed in favor of very unsatisfying performances given by Hawkins, or Nyong'o for example. The Academy is no longer what it used to be. Though the times of strong lineups (2000) aren't so long time ago, they seem to be gone forever...
The chances of winning an Oscar: There aren't any...

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Best Supporting Actress 2013: Julia Roberts - August: Osage County

I really enjoyed August: Osage County. I definitely must be a masterpiece on the stage, because on the screen it loses a bit of its potential, but it still is very moving and touching film. The reason, why I don't think it should have never been done, is the ensemble. If the film hasn't ever been made, we would never have the chance to see Meryl Streep, Julianne Nicholson, or Julia Roberts playing such juicy roles.
Julia Roberts plays Barbara, who is actually a co-lead along with Meryl Streep's Violet. So I definitely think her placement in supporting category is another great example of a category fraud, but if she was considered lead by the Academy I don't think she'd get nominated for it. So I don't complain.
All right, I'm not going to beat around the bush. I thought Roberts is just a perfect choice for this role. I can't imagine any other working actress in her age that would be more suitable for this character. It is a self-aware woman, who acts very rationally and doesn't want to live in delusions. She has suffered a lot, she's divorced and has a problematic daughter (and a mother, as well) and sometimes these problems make her overreact the situation a bit, though she thinks she's doing the best and she's trying to do the best she can. She's trying to solve her troubles as soon, as possible and as reasonably, as possible.
What I really love about Roberts's performance is the way she could handle her character. It actually is a very good part for an actress to play. But it must be handled naturally. You have to believe the actress in what she's playing. Because if you don't, the whole conflict of her character disappears. I have witnessed many times that an actor was playing naturally and it became a boring performance. This didn't happen with Roberts's performance. She isn't boring even for a minute. It's a real pleasure to watch her acting. And surprisingly she isn't even overacting. She finds the way between being boring and being overacting and she still can be very realistic and enjoyable.
She is many times acting only with her eyes. There is a quite long and important scene of dinner in the film. In this scene it happens many times that an actor doesn't speak, but there is a cut to him and he has to react with his expression, with his eyes. There is almost the whole cast involved in the scene and it beautifully shows, which actors are really deep-seated in their characters and which are only 'playing' them. Roberts is simply flawless in this scene. You can absolutely see what is she thinking just through her eyes. It's not an easy thing to do and not many actors and actresses would do it with such perfection. You can see, how Barbara's cup of patience is getting fuller and fuller with every minute that she's forced to sit behind the table. And it's always realistic. This is how that woman - Barbara would actually react. I can't even describe it, it's simply a first-class performance.
There is also a rivality between her and her future ex-husband Ewan McGregor. They are trying to fight together for their daughter's attention. It is wonderfully expressed in on particular scene of fight between them, while they are going to get some chairs from a garage (or whatever it is). Both actors handled this scene greatly and though their lines are sometime too theatrical and I don't know if this is how the situation would look like in the real life, in their hands it seems as if they really were a future ex-couple. They actually fix the problems of the script.
I also loved how gently and subtly she portrayed the fact that though her marriage is really problematic, she still loves her husband. You know, love is not an outright feeling and she portrayed it so wonderfully, that I believed her everything. Though she reacts contradictably, it never seems unnaturally or made just by the script. It's there, because Barbara is a human being and she really feels this way.
Before the end of the film, Barbara finds out a secret about one of the family members. In the scene, in which she finds this out, she really is shocked. It won't surprise you that I loved her reaction. This is the way an actual person would react in such situation. And maybe even better is the way she reacts after this scene, now that she knows what other family members do not. It's hard to describe, you need to watch it. Immediately!
The chances of winning an Oscar: Unfortunately, they are not very high. Maybe Harvey could pull her forward in the race, but I still think she's the third at the best. It would be a shock, if she won. But a very pleasant shock in my case...

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Best Supporting Actress 2013: Lupita Nyong'o - Twelve Years a Slave

Twelve Years a Slave is a wonderful film about the problem of slavery showed in one particular case of Solomon Northup. It is excellently directed and has got some perfect performances from the entire ensemble cast.
Lupita Nyong'o has received a lots of praise for her performance in this film. She's won many critic's awards and after a snub of Oprah Winfrey she doesn't seem to have strong competition among the nominees, so we can expect her to win her first Oscar in March. The more sad I am to proclaim that she one of the few among the ensemble, who wasn't so perfect.
First time we get to see Patsey is when Michael Fassbender's character is talking about her. What I really found strange was the fact that Lupita keeps a poker-faced expression throughout the whole scene. As if she wasn't even present there. As if he wasn't even talking about her. I know that Patsey was supposed to be afraid of him, but she seemed as if she was thinking about the lines she has got the scene that was about to be shot after this one.
Patsey should be a very tragic character. It's not enough that she's a slave, her master is somehow keen on her and he keeps raping her. There is a particular scene in the film, in which she asks Solomon to end her life, because she is suffering in this life. I didn't believe Lupita for a second. She chose to portray Patsey in such a passive way that it's hard to believe she really suffers. It seemed to me, as if she didn't have any attitude towards what's happening around her.
Her Master Epps played by Michael Fassbender has got lots of female slavers. But Patsey is the favorite of him. He is really keen on her and he actually prefers her to his wife. I just never saw any reason, why would he adore her so much. What is so special about her. Nyong'o fails to show off some charm or something that would make her stand out of the other slavers.
To not be only critical I have to admit that there are some scenes she handles fine. For example the scene she's being vexed in. The whole scene, including the fight between her and her master is very well handled, but she's being a bit overshadowed by everyone, who's on the screen with her. And other scene that is good is the scene of raping. But I feel about it that it's somehow great. There's just nothing wrong about it.
Another fine thing about her performance is that when we finally (throughout Solomon's eyes) get to leave her at the end of the film, we realize that we have built a relation with her. We realize we are going to miss her. But I also give credit to Ejiofor for this, because it is a proof of good chemistry between them.
While I was watching the film I thought she is not an experienced actress, she is a random person chosen for this film (like Quvenzahné Wallis and Dwight Henry for Beasts of the Southern Wild). But then I found out she is a trained actress that actually has got some experience from theatre. That made me very surprise, because she couldn't handle this character as well, as I can imagine. I can think of so many better choices for a nomination in her category (even among her colleges in Twelve Years a Slave) that I can't believe she really got nominated.
The chances of winning an Oscar: Surprisingly, they are very high. I'd say she's the frontrunner right now. But her speech at the BFCA was great, so I won't be so disappointed...

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Next Year: Best Supporting Actress 2013

The Nominees:
Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle
Julia Roberts - August: Osage County
June Squibb - Nebraska
Lupita Nyong'o - Twelve Years a Slave (predicted winner)
Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine

And what are your opinions about this year's nominees? Who will win? Who was snubbed? What is your ranking of the nominees? Who should win? What are your predictions for my ranking? Comment! 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Best Supporting Actor 1998

5. Geoffrey Rush - Shakespeare in Love
Rush's performance works perfectly for the film's purposes, but it is a minor part. The thing is that it's a comedic role and Rush didn't choose in the depth of the character, but he is only trying to be funny. But the truth is that it's just enough for the film and his drunk scene gives him some credit more...

4. Robert Duvall - A Civil Action
I liked Duvall more than I expected. It is a very subtle portrayal of the only comic character that appears in the film. His lawyer is very calm and makes no big deal out of his case. This calmness is not only believable in Duvall's hands, but also work perfectly and they actually are funny. But the truth is that you want be thinking of this performance very long time after watching the film, because it's so subtle and calm. But it's also a great job! 

3. James Coburn - Affliction
Coburn is really great in portraying a truly cruel man, but also is very natural while doing it. Though the father of the leading character is evil, he is human in Coburn's hands. He mirrored this abusiveness so realisticly, that it's hard to believe that he wasn't that abusive in real life. On the hand, if he's character is not having one of his attacks, he really doesn't have a lot to play. But he's very good at portraying the egoism and carelessness his character needed to have... 

2. Ed Harris - The Truman Show
Throughout the most of his performance, Harris is very stoic and doesn't show off his emotions. He acts, as if he didn't care about Truman, at all. But when he finally does it at the end of the film, suddenly we understand all of his previous behavior. And that's what proves how good he was in that film. To act irrationally and then change his manners and stay convincing during it, requires a truly skilled actor to give a truly wonderful performance. And that's how Harris's performance actually was...

1. Billy Bob Thornton - A Simple Plan

Thornton wins this strong year for his performance of Jacob, a simple man that kind of complicates the situation of his brother, the leading character of the film. And though he is simple, he isn't stupid. He knows exactly what he wants and he is determined to achieve it. And he's also very sad and maybe a bit tragic character. And at the end of the film we realize that we actually feel sorry for him. Is there need to giving more reasons, why this performance was so great? I don't think so...

Best Supporting Actor 1998: James Coburn - Affliction

Affliction is a small, yet very interesting film about the circumstances that preceded the disappearance of Wade played by Nick Nolte, who happens to be the brother of Willem Dafoe's character, who is the narrator of the story. James Coburn play the father of these men.
Wade's father is a very abusive man. He's really the householder that tyrannizes the entire family. He is an alcoholic and he really only cares about himself. He's very mean to his sons and his wife. The first time we meet him is when he gives a work to his sons and he only stands besides and yells at them. Coburn is really great in showing the cruelty of his character. I mean, on the first side you can see that this man is kind of a satrap.
The following part contains spoilers! Then we see him a few years later. He is sitting in the living-room, alone and he says that his wife is upstairs. But we later find out that she is lying dead in her bedroom, because she froze. It happened because Coburn character didn't have it fixed. Then just before the funeral he swears to his family members. The end of spoilers. 
What I'm trying to say is that from this behavior it seems as if he was just a pure evil. But nothing is just black, or just white. In such character it must be very hard to find humanity. To find an apology for his behavior. But Coburn portrays his character in a very convincing way. There actually are people like his character that were raised in very old-fashioned opinions. They really believe that this is right and that men should rule their families and be really strict and harsh. And Coburn was really successful in showing this.
On the other he really spends a little time on the screen. His role is also not as juicy, as it might seem. Apart from two scenes (both of them I mentioned before), he doesn't have a lot to play. But his presence in the film is really great.
I have to say that this win is very similar to those traditional veteran wins (e.g. Alan Arkin, Michael Caine). The role that is not very juicy or showy, but the actor handles it very well. Though Coburn definitely had showier part than Arkin, or Caine it still wasn't the role an actor would kill for. But I still enjoyed his performance very much...

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Best Supporting Actor 1998: Billy Bob Thornton - A Simple Plan

A Simple Plan is very enjoyable film. That's a fact. And it's also not very well directed. That's another fact. I mean, Raimi is not a bad director, but he certainly isn't the most skilled one the present time. And he really isn't very suitable for this genre. The film tells a story of three men, who find the bag full of money in the middle of the crashed plane, that's in the middle of a forest. And they decide to keep it. If you were to choose the director for such story, whose is the first name that comes to your mind? I don't know, but to my mind it's the Coen brothers.
But that's another story and I should write about Billy Bob Thornton's Oscar-nominated performance. He plays Jacob, one of the three men. This is actually a very juicy role to play, especially in terms of getting the Academy's attention, because Jacob is slightly mentally disabled. He's not retarded, he's just very simple. In a very similar way Forrest Gump was simple.
And now put such character into the situation described at the beginning. The situation the entire plot is about. It might not be good idea to have a mentally disabled person involved in taking someone else's money. So it is quite obvious that Jacob will behave unpredictably. And that is very dangerous and suspensive.
If you had to play a character that behaves unpredictably, because of a mental illness, you really need to get into the character. You really need to feel it and actually be the character. Because if you do not, the unpredictable things you do might seem unnatural, as if they were there just because it is written so in the script. I was a bit surprised myself, but Thornton really succeeded in all of it. Jacob interacts insensibly, but somehow it seems completely natural.
What I really enjoyed about this performance was the absent-minded look in his eyes. We really don't know what Jacob is thinking about, unless he says something. Thornton achieves this so greatly, that it seems as if he did it with no effort, at all.
Under all of these things, Jacob has his feelings and dreams. There is also a depth in Thornton's portrayal. When sometimes he is supposed to show off the sadness, he does it. And it's not only believable, but also not boring to watch. This is actually that case of performance I would call a scene-stealer. But he isn't that kind of scene stealer that wants to have the viewer's attention just to himself. He is simply so great, that he steals the viewer's attention. He is the best in show. Jacob in his hands is extremely likable. There's just no way you won't like him...
The chances of winning an Oscar: I think he was the third. After Duvall and the actual winner, Coburn...