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...