martedì 27 giugno 2017

Best Actress in a Supporting Role 1975

And the nominees are...

Ronee Blakley - Nashville
Lee Grant - Shampoo
Sylvia Miles - Farewell, My Lovely
Lily Tomlin - Nashville
Brenda Vaccaro - Once is Not Enough

What are your predictions for my ranking? How would you personally rank the nominees?

giovedì 22 giugno 2017

Best Actor 2016: Ranking

5. Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge
Garfield is perhaps a bit cloying in the movie's early scenes and he's a bit limited by the fairly one-dimensional nature of the role, but there's no denying that he still gives a compelling and harrowing portrayal of his character's faith, nailing every single reactionary moment in the battlefield scenes.
Best scene: "Help me get one more"

4. Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea
Despite being in an extremely problematic movie, Affleck delivers a magnificent portrayal of his character's grief. It's a subtle, intelligent portrayal of an extremely difficult role that could have come off as dull in the hands of someone else. Plus, he shares a terrific chemistry with Lucas Hedges.
Best scene: Lee accidentally bumps into Randi.

3. Ryan Gosling in La La Land
Ryan Gosling delivers an underrated and wonderful performance that is every bit as effective as Emma Stone's. It's a charming, entertaining turn, he sings and dance with energy and passion and he shares a terrific chemistry with his on-screen partner, but he also brings significant depth and nuance to the role. It's a quietly powerful portrayal from a great actor.
Best scene: Argument at dinner.

2. Denzel Washington in Fences
Washington is not usually a favorite of mine, but this performance of his is nothing short of astonishing. It's dynamite work that is absolutely captivating from beginning to end: as usual, Washington is not afraid to go big but, unlike other times, he also brings aching complexity to the character. It's a brilliant, layered performance.
Best scene: Troy's outburst after his lover's death.

1. Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic
Viggo Mortensen delivers an absolutely unforgettable performance in Captain Fantastic, adding realism and believability to a potentially absurd story. He brings the needed passion, determination and convinction to the character and then he's heartbreaking as he is forced to second-guess his ideals. A truly wonderful performance.
Best scene: Ben interrupts Leslie's funeral.

Honorable Omissions: Andrew Garfield delivers an absolutely astonishing performance in Silence, realizing perfectly his character's complex arc as well as effectively bringing to life his moral dilemma. It's a truly fantastic achievement - I don't even think the movie is flawless, but his portrayal certainly is. The two leads of The Nice Guys are absolutely terrific: Russell Crowe gives a great deadpan performance while bringing a certain depth to the material as well; but I was even more impressed by Ryan Gosling, who delivers one of the funniest performances I've seen in recent years with such a terrific timing both verbally and physically, while he too gives pathos and real emotions to the part; of course, neither performance would work as well if it weren't for the other: they share a fantastic chemistry which truly makes the movie work. Shahab Hosseini gives a marvelous performance in The Salesman, conveying excellently his character's painful state and leading up wonderfully to the movie's unforgettable closure. Adrian Titieni is brilliant in Graduation: it's an extremely difficult role that he pulls off wonderfully, never trying to making us sympathize with him but giving nonetheless an understanding to his questionable actions and bringing real honesty to his love for his daughter. Joel Edgerton gives a beautifully subdued performance in Loving, sharing a tender chemistry with Ruth Negga and conveying every single emotion in such a powerfully restrained manner. Adam Driver gives a realistic and genuine performance in the lovely Paterson, while Chris Pine delivers a terrific and underrated turn in Hell or High Water, being almost as impressive as Bridges and Foster in the same movie. Gaspard Ulliel is the quiet centerpiece of It's Only the End of the World - with very little dialogue, he's heartbreaking in his portrayal of his character's aching, lonely soul. Michael Fassbender is very good in The Light Between Oceans - he delivers a subtly effective portrayal of his character's emotional turmoil and he shares a wonderful chemistry with Vikander. Sunny Pawar gives a wonderfully naturalistic performance in Lion and Eddie Redmayne delivers his most effortlessly charming and entertaining performance in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Dev Patel (Lion) and Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water) were nominated in the supporting category, but really they belong to this category. 
The next year: Best Supporting Actress 1976.

My Best Actor Ballot:
  1. Andrew Garfield, Silence - 5/5
  2. Ryan Gosling, The Nice Guys - 5/5
  3. Shahab Hosseini, The Salesman - 5/5
  4. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water 
  5. Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
  6. Denzel Washington, Fences 
  7. Adrian Titieni, Graduation - 5/5
  8. Ryan Gosling, La La Land
  9. Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
  10. Joel Edgerton, Loving - 5/5

lunedì 19 giugno 2017

Best Actor in a Leading Role 2016: Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge

Andrew Garfield received his first Oscar nomination for his performance as Desmond Doss in Hacksaw Ridge.

Hacksaw Ridge depicts the true story of Desmond Doss, a WWII American Army Medic who served during the Battle of Okinawa without using any kind of weapons due to his pacifist beliefs. Personally, I think the movie is more than decent with uniformly solid performances from the whole cast but I still think it is severely flawed: I found the early scenes to be a little bit too corny for my taste and I felt the war scenes, despite having a certain effectiveness, were needlessly graphic and occasionally overdone. I was not a fan of the screenplay either, as I thought most of the character were one-dimensional or clichéd and I felt the way it conveyed its message was a bit too heavy-handed. There's very little subtlety to be found in the movie, but that said I still felt it was okay and I won't deny that some scenes leave a strong impact. 

The character of Desmond Doss is an incredibly challenging one actually as it could have easily been unbelievable and unrealistic. Right from the beginning, he is shown as an almost impossibly kind, optimistic and good-natured person, without any single flaw to his personality: Desmond Doss was obviously a great person, but the thin screenplay of the movie depicts him as so pure that it might have taken away any credibility from the character. Andrew Garfield's acting in the early scenes is not quite perfect: as I mentioned above, the screenplay especially in the beginning is both clichéd and cheesy, and Garfield can't quite escape them. There are a few moments in which I perceived his performance as slightly forced, as if I could see his efforts in trying to channel James Stewart's performance from the 1940s, and he crosses the line that divides charming and cloying a little bit too often. But even if I'm not fully supportive of his performance in the first scenes, there are definitely certain aspects he does get right: he adopts a thick Virginian accent that, despite a couple of iffy line deliveries, is fairly consistent and resembles quite well Doss' actual accent; he shares a lovely chemistry with Teresa Palmer that manages to make their romantic scenes work in spite of the extremely old-fashioned dialogue; and he does capture the good-hearted nature of the character as well as his deep faith that he portrays with honesty and sincerity. Also, I should give credit to him for trying to find some nuance in his character in spite of the paper-thin screenplay, such as in his scenes with Hugo Weaving, who portrays Doss' alcoholic father: Garfield does a good job at showing both his sorrow regarding his father's condition but also his affection towards him. Sadly, the movie doesn't give much space to his relationship with his father (who disappears midway through the movie), but Garfield and Weaving certainly make the most out of their limited screen-time together. 

I found myself more invested in Garfield's performance once Doss enlists in the Army and his pacifist beliefs get him the disdain of his fellow soldiers. I found Garfield's performance to be rather moving in those scenes as he portrays extremely well both the physical and emotional pain in Doss due to the harassment of the other soldiers while conveying the right sort of resilience and inner strength the character requires. There's an underlying energy, a quiet fire in his portrayal that makes it engaging and compelling and Garfield brings such a great deal of passion and honesty to the role that you never doubt the sincerity of his faith. Garfield certainly has a great understanding of the character's mindset - even in the few moments in which I think he's not totally convincing, it's impossible to deny his commitment and dedication to the role. I found him to be particularly impressive in the trial scene, in which he brings the needed power and sincerity to his speech. 

As I mentioned early on, I'm not particularly fond of the battle scenes and actually I think I would have completely hated them if it wasn't for Garfield, who carries them beautifully and bringing them a certain pathos that would not have been there otherwise. First off, his physical acting is nothing short of outstanding as he delivers such a realistic and impressive depiction of his character's growing exhaustion: but he's especially good at portraying his restlessness and determination to help others - even in the moments in which he's at his weakest physically, Garfield still brings a certain life and energy to Doss, conveying perfectly his drive to complete his mission. In the hands of a lesser actor those scenes might have felt a little repetitive but Garfield avoids that by giving such a compelling performance, and he also deserves a lot of credit for managing not to be overshadowed by the overblown special effects and editing, keeping the character as the emotional crux of the events. He makes every single reaction count and he's excellent at portraying both the severe impact that the violence he witnesses leave on him as well as his happiness whenever he manages to save one of his fellow soldiers. He brings the needed power to the one moment in which Doss seems to lose hope for a second, powerfully portraying his desperation and confusion in that moment and then his regained faith after he pulls himself back together. And I was also impressed by his chemistry with Luke Bracey, as a soldier who initially despises Doss but grows to admire him: the scene in which the latter apologizes to Doss is a very welcome moment of quietness and the two actors bring an aching tenderness to it. 

In the end, I think this is a very good performance from Andrew Garfield. It's not a perfect performance, there are a few moments that don't really work and the paper-thin nature of the screenplay does limit his performance quite a bit: but the performance keeps getting better and better and there's no denying that he carries the movie entirely on his shoulders from start to finish. It's not his best performance from 2016, but it's nonetheless an extremely strong achievement that certainly succeeds in being the inspiring performance the movie requires.