Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Actor Factor, Episode 1: 2004

One of the best thing about those fickle things called Oscars is when you bitch about them with like-minded people. Many have devoted time to critiquing the women, the pictures &etc, but what about the men? Best Actor is often an interesting thing to talk about, so last weekend Luke (of Journalistic Skepticism), Jose (of Movies Kick Ass) and I sat down and discussed the 2004 Best Actor Race. Here’s part
Andrew: Okay, so let's get down to it. 2004. Cheadle, Depp, DiCaprio, Eastwood and Foxx. On a purely superficial level is this one of the most diverse Best Actor lineups of the decade?
Luke: For this category, yes, it appears it's stepped away from its typical "old white guy" tendencies.
Jose: Not really, we've got four real people and Clint Eastwood. Ins't that what they always go for?
Luke: Yeah, except for Eastwood. Being a part of the "Best Actor" lineup seems a little off for him...
Jose: But they always stick him somewhere, whether it be director, producer or actor, I'm honestly surprised he's never won best score or song yet.
Andrew: Well in reality it's not that diverse. As you said Jose, four real people. Tis real heavy; but actor wise – we have the legend (Eastwood), the black comedian (Foxx), the black serious actor (Cheadle), the former teen heart throb (DiCaprio) and the international star (Depp)...
Jose: and four out of five were in Best Pic nominees, so it's rather uninspiring, especially in the face of the ones who were snubbed.
Luke: Very true - and what an utterly confusing lineup for Best Picture... but I guess that's another story, hm?
Andrew: That being said. I guess we'd all agree that Eastwood would be the first one we'd boot off of the nominee list?
Jose : actually not me. He’s my second fave from the nominees
Luke: Oh definitely - I mean, I just saw Don Cheadle's performance for the first time today actually, but I'd already say he was superior to Eastwood - or at least what I remember of Million Dollar Baby.
Andrew: Now you've got me interested, Jose. Who would you say is the worst of the five?
Jose: Worst? Foxx by all means
Andrew: Well to be honest, Eastwood and Foxx are battling it out, but even though I don't agree with the pick I can understand why they fall for Foxx...Eastwood does nothing for me.
Jose: It is such an unnatural performance, not that I've a problem with over the top acting, but he struck me as disrespectful in some aspects
Andrew: What do you think of Foxx in Ray, Luke?
Luke: I'm not a big fan of rewarding impressive impersonations, so Foxx isn't high on my list. I think with Ray I had to keep from letting myself get wrapped up in loving the music and remember that he's not truly giving a great performance. I thought the movie itself was better than he was - especially Regina King. Loved her.
Andrew: I'll agree on that. The thing is sometimes actors can pull off the imitative thing, but the thing with Foxx his comedic talents lay in his impersonations and he was obviously pretending to be Charles and never being him.
Jose: I agree, I rest my case by saying I love the fact that Cate won for playing Kate Hepburn that year looking nothing like the woman, while the praise for the whole clone thing Foxx had going on with Ray is still a mystery to me
Andrew: Foxx just isn't that talented to pull it off and make it work, I think.
Jose: Definitely! He was riding on a goodwill thing, I think he won the Oscar the day Ray Charles passed away.
Luke: Right - it really did just feel like an extended In Living Color sketch or something... it didn't seem like he was taking the "acting" part of the job entirely seriously.
Luke: So I take it we can all agree that Jamie Foxx left a little something to be desired?
Jose: I mean the man won the Album of the year Grammy as well
Andrew: Duly noted, Jose. Eastwood and Foxx would be easily knocked off the list...but what are your thoughts on Depp, gentlemen? He's in the middle for me
Luke: I'm on the fence about it. I thought Finding Neverland was only okay, and this nomination was very clearly a part of the Academy's new love of him (which seems to have faded since Sweeney Todd). It definitely wasn't a good showcase of his talents.
Jose: He was OK, I think it's part of the sudden crush AMPAS and the world developed on him after Pirates. They’d have nominated him for anything to make up for the snubs throughout the 90's.
Andrew: I'm a little fool-hardy about Finding Neverland. I know it's faulty, but I'm still sucked in (like Chocolat, but that's another story).
Jose: Haha me too but it's more about Winslet and Christie than about Depp
Luke: Yeah, that one was totally Winslet's show (and a little bit Freddie Highmore too).
Jose: Right, too bad they screwed it all with that awful Charlie and the Chocolate Factory adaptation
Andrew: A reason I'm so willing to praise Depp is that he doesn't go over board with Barrie like he could. He seems almost willing to be a little on the sidelines.
Jose: You know what my problem with that was? That you could see Depp underacting. The man is all about extremes I think and weird and cooky works better for him than understated
Andrew: On that note of being understated, what do you think of Cheadle in Hotel Rwanda. I have a feeling that AMPAS was trying to throw off their reputation for being anti black with Foxx and I think Don would have been a more deserving (black) winner.
Jose: He's great! But he rides a bit too much on the Sydney Poitier wave of political correctness for him to make too much of an impact
Luke: Totally agree! I was definitely think about Sidney as I was watching it.
Andrew: That didn't occur to me, but now that you mention it...
Jose: I felt like they were consciously trying to make him into a black Oskar Schindler
Luke: It was quite different than what I expected - it had sort of an early '90s filming vibe to it that I rather enjoyed. I think he would've made a far better choice than Foxx.
Andrew: I was telling my sister recently that the thing with Cheadle is that unlike Foxx, Cheadle is not BLACK. He's African American (or whatever), and AMPAS has a way of liking to reward the extremes.
Jose: But yeah I agree, if they were trying to make it about race, Cheadle was worthier than Foxx
Luke: I think that Cheadle's advantage was that he seemed to have the best in show act all wrapped up. I mean, Nick Nolte and Joaquin Phoenix just bugged me
Andrew: But I was impressed with Okenodo. Why doesn’t the woman get more roles?
Jose: But there was Sophie too! I think the film suffered because it was so small
Luke: Can I just voice my confusion about Hotel Rwanda's nomination for Best Cast at the SAGs? Why is it that Phoenix and Nolte were listed out of only four people when there were dozens of other worthy speaking parts in the film? Is it a requirement to be a famous thesp to get a nomination in that category?
Jose: Not if you're in Slumdog Millionaire...
Andrew: Well look at the situation with Precious, all those girls from class were left off and in An Education for some random reason Cara Seymour wasn't mentioned even though she had more lines than Thompson and Williams.
Luke: AND Seymour happened to be one of the best performances in the film!
Jose: But doesn't that depend on the studio submissions? Or is it SAG who chooses who's worthy or not?
Andrew: Does it, Jose? I have no idea.
Jose: If it's the studios it makes much more sense they'd want Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to be SAG winners over people like extra # 1 or guy who's famous in the Middle East
Andrew: How did Brangelina get into this coversation?
Jose: Well I remembered he won this year and she just came into the equation haha
Andrew: Back to 04. You probably know this already, but DiCaprio tops my list easily. I'm a HUGE Aviator fan. Am I over praising him?
Jose: Not at all, he was robbed! And they did it again by snubbing him for Revolutionary Road!
Luke: No, he tops my list too. I think The Aviator has lost some of its steam for me on future viewings, but of this group, he's easily my top choice. Sidenote - I'm watching Catch Me If You Can currently, another performance I thought he was wrongly overlooked for.
Andrew: I think the thing about Oscar, it seems they're willing to reward someone who comes out of nowhere and gives a good (or baity) performance eg, Brodey, Foxx but they won't reward people who've grown up in the business and steadily improved eg. DiCaprio, or even Pitt and Depp
Jose: AMPAS is such a bully that way. They love one hit wonders because they are less threatening to the establishment
Luke: Maybe these steady steam-gatherers are the ones who'll have to wait until they're in their 50s…
Jose: …or get an honorary one in that awful non-televised gala
Andrew: I love how you make AMPAS some like some sinister big brother type, Jose.
Jose: isn't it though?
Luke: For some reason, I just don't see DiCaprio winning anytime soon. It seems like Aviator was that moment in time where it seemed possible. But now, people just don't get as excited about him anymore.
Jose: it's like they're setting him up to fail, like they did with Winslet til last year. when he makes The Departed they nominate him for the hideous Blood Diamond.
Andrew: If I had my way I'd immediately knock out Eastwood and Foxx for Jude, Jim or Javier.
Luke: I would definitely place Jim Carrey in my second spot for the year...
Jose: Jim Carrey won that Oscar in my mind
Luke: I'd throw in Jude and Gael as well
Jose: What about Paul, Andrew?
Andrew: I don't know what it is about Paul in Sideways, but I always feel as if it's a joke that I'm not in on. I like the movie but I don't quite LOVE him in it.  Am I the only one?
Luke: Oh gosh no, I don't understand the appeal of Sideways, whatsoever.
Jose: Perhaps not but I still think Paul was sublime. The movie I don't love as much anymore.
Luke: I just remember being very meh over Virginia Madsen, who at the time I saw it was the frontrunner for the Oscar.
Andrew: People always talk about being moved by Paul and Virginia (of course Paul is more worthy than Eastwood and Foxx) but I find Haden Church and Sandra Oh to be much more convincing.
Jose: I think that had a lot to do with how all the old white guys wanted to screw her and thought "if Paul can..."
Luke: And Paul Giamatti is so uncomfortable to watch... maybe it's because of those trailers for Big Fat Liar where he's the big angry blue dude with equally angry blue goatee. And Sanrda Oh was my favorite in the movie, Andrew.
Andrew: Paul really has gone to the dogs, but I still love him. I'd have chosen him for my 05 Supporting list (over Gylenhaal too)...but that's a whole other post...
Luke: So where are we at guys? It seems we’re not so enthused about, well, anyone in this category. Where do they rank #1-#5 for you?
Andrew: DiCaprio , Cheadle (A-), Depp (B, B+ when I'm happy), Eastwood (C), Foxx (C)... I'm a lenient grader when it comes to acting though, it's more difficult to grade performances than films
Luke: (1) DiCaprio ... (2) Cheadle ... (3) Depp ... (4) Foxx ... (5) Eastwood [fairly similar, there]
Jose: DiCaprio A, Eastwood B, Cheadle B-, Depp B-, Foxx C
Luke: So does this make us bitter people that the nearly unanimous least favorite was the eventual winner?
Andrew: Damn, right. I'm bitter.
Jose: Nah, if you like the Oscars this is actually fairly common, I'm quite used to it by now
Luke: Especially in this past decade. Sheesh.
Andrew: I was so invested in 04 - it was the first Oscar ceremony I was actually predicting, and Cate's win was one of the FEW highlights.
Jose: They tend to reward mediocrity and feel good about it
Andrew: Bening's loss, MDB winning. Aaargh.
Jose: I almost shed a tear when Marty lost
Luke: Oh god - yeah it was a pretty bad waste of a ceremony in terms of winners.
Jose: ...And damn Julia Roberts should never present anything! She's always so happy when the so-so people win
Andrew: She's just a happy person who loves her life.
Jose: Then she should hand out the Globe for Musical or Comedy not Best director at the Oscars... but I forgive her because she was robbed of a nomination that year as well...
Luke: Yeah, is it time to be imaginary yet? To right the wrongs?
Jose: I'm sensing it'll be more interesting than tearing apart the nominees
Andrew: Oh, crap. I though we did that. Okay, throwing it out: my list: DiCaprio and Law, then Carey and Cheadle and the final spot goes to either Javier Bardem or Johnny Depp or Liam Neeson.
Luke: My picks: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator), Jim Carrey (Eternal Sunshine), Jude Law (Closer), Gael Garcia Bernal (Bad Education), and Matt Damon (The Bourne Supremacy) ... I like a hodgepodge.
Andrew: I need to see Bad Education, but Luke's list looks way more respectable than Oscar...
Jose: I'm biased when it comes to Pedro but yes you should. What was Liam in, Andrew?
Andrew: Kinsey...are you serious?
Jose: oh true hahaha, I always forget him and Laura.
Luke: Ah, yes. Bad Education is top-notch.
Jose: Mine would be 1.Jim Carrey 2.Leonardo DiCaprio 3.Gael 4.Ethan Hawke 5.Clint Eastwood
Andrew: Jose...Clint over Jude. CLINT over JUDE (f***ing) LAW - I'm the definition of an obsessed Jude fan, by the way. Be warned.
Jose: I just don't feel like Jude was as good, I loved him in Cold Mountain but he wasn't a stand out in Closer... coming from someone who'd nominated Julia, Clive and Natalie
Andrew: Bastard...I forgive you though.
Jose: Thank you.
Andrew: I'd call this the second/third Actor lineup of the year - along with 02, 05, 06...and maybe even 09 when I think about it?
Jose: I agree, but I prefer 03 over 05
Andrew: Ooops, I mean I’d call this the second/third WORST actor lineup. 2005 was just a baaaaaaaad year, all around.
Jose: I know, 05 and 08 mostly made me want to tear my eyes out in terms of Oscars because they were stupendous movie years
Luke: Talking best lineups of the decade in this category? I'm definitely going to have to go with '03 and '08. Although '07 was also mostly good.
Andrew: My favourite best actor lineup last decade is easily 00. I'd choose anyone from there; but 03 and 07 are close behind.
Jose: I disagree. Depp and Lee Jones over McAvoy can not be good in any way
Andrew: I pretend Tommy Lee Jones isn't there...I really do.

Luke: That's what I meant by "mostly good." I just couldn't get into Michael Clayton like everyone else. You might hate this, but I actually really liked Depp in Sweeney Todd. Sue me.
Andrew: Oh crap, Michael Clayton was 07...? Okay, 07 is out. Hated that year.
Okay dear reader. Do you like this new feature? Any tips? What are your thoughts on the discussion? What did you think of 2004's Actor's Race? Sound off below!


anahita said...

This is the most intellectual cinematic conversation, haha I love it!! I adore you guys for your love of Leo, he is God as far as I'm concerned, and Luke is totally right, catch me if you can is an underrated performance! I have to say though, I adore clint eastwood. The same way johnny depp excels in extreme kooky performances, I think eastwood excels in quiet(ish :P) powerful performances, watching him act is like a force of nature. I guess it's personal taste though (btw andrew, what did you think of invictus?). And yes, Jim Carrey was amazing in esotsm, and was very much snubbed. I'm not the greatest fan of his comedy, so when he gives such a masterful turn in drama, I would have loved to see it appreciated. I tend to mostly disagree with the oscars, I'm much more inclined to agree with baftas on general, although maybe that's 'cos of our shared love of british films?

God I wrote a lot xxx

Simon said...

I very much love this feature. Also, 04 was pretty much a nonevent for me, seeing as how I was ten and utterly uninterested. But now, looking back on that missing year, I'm going to go with Depp, on pure versatility in comparison to his other stuff. Eastwood was a pretty obvious nomination, Foxx I can't stand either way, DiCaprio I thought was a close second, and I haven't seen Hotel Rwanda, so eh.

Honestly, I'm surprised Bernal wasn't nominated. Why does the Academy demote every other country into one film a year? As if only American cinema is worthy of top honors, it annoys me.

In one of these, can you maybe do this year's Best Actress? It really fascinated me, the nominations.

Jude said...

This discussing was totally entertaining and seems like a lot of fun to have. 2004 was kind of a meh year for Oscar's shortlist when it comes to actors, no? It's weird that 2004 also had one of the STRONGEST best actress lineups of the decade. Funny how that works out, isn't it?

TomS said...

Leo Di Caprio is a total puzzle to me. He was astonishing as an innocent in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape", and then for some reason Scorsese picked him as a surrogate De Niro, for which Leo is absolutely no match. I just don't get it. Leo should be playing character roles and light comedy, not action heroes, for which his only acting consists of creasing his brow.

MovieNut14 said...

This whole debate made me realize how stupid AMPAS' desicions have been over the years.

Peter Chan said...

great job guys, that was highly entertaining and made a good retrospective to the 2004 race. keep it up!

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

anahita "most intellectual cinematic" liar! but it stil makes me feel nice. i'm not too hot on eastwood, or invictus. sorry.

simon you should see hotel rwanda i think. it's hardly likely we'll look at the Best Actreses, since the feature is dedicated to the men...but who knows...

jude actually i think the strongest BActress lineup last decade was 2002 without a doubt.

tom ouch. harsh. i'm a leo fan, truth be told.

movienut they have erred many times.

peter thanks.

Twister said...

How did you guys do this back and forth banter? In person? IM?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

twister im/conference