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...