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...