Saturday, 29 January 2011

Encore Awards: Body of Work

Though she didn’t end up with any love from the top awards’ bodies last year was all about Marion Cotillard for me. Her general brilliance turned Public Enemies into something much better than it could have been, and her brilliantly performed Luisa Contini was a beacon in the already good cast of Nine (she made my supporting actress shortlist for both performances). Anyone can star in a slew of performances in a given year, but it’s something better when an actor can deliver two (or more) performances in a year that have something good to see in them and assume different sensibilities*.

THE NOMINEES
Annette Bening (in The Kids Are All Right; Mother & Child)
It might be easy to mistake them for extensions of the same character, but whereas Nic quietness is indicative of the uncertainty she wishes to hide, Karen’s quietness is more of a conscious decision to observe those around her. Both performances stand somewhere at the top half of her career, making her one of those indelible proofs of actresses getting better as they age.
               
Helena Bonham Carter (in Alice in Wonderland; Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows; The King’s Speech)
In a way, it annoys me that she’s turned into a sort of ultimate supporting actor implying that her natural personality is best taken in small doses and even though she supports in a period piece in The King’s Speech it’s neither reminiscent of her early Merchant Ivory work nor suggestive of her recent kooky characters. Each character she played this way, in their own way, is a woman before her time but she doesn’t make that define them. There is a palpable sense that she’s being served up too little on each occasion, but it’s the sort of acting from the sidelines that does not define the picture but still augments it significantly.
             
Patricia Clarkson (in Cairo Time; Easy A; Shutter Island)
Her supporting turn in Shutter Island is a bit of a blink and you’ll miss it one – and yet, along with Williams and DiCaprio, she leaves the biggest impact on you. You rarely ever seeing Patty being loud and obnoxious, always opting for a quiet sincerity which is her ace-in-hole when it comes to Cairo Time which she makes so much more important than you expect her to be. And then opposite Tucci she offers up one of the best screen-mothers of the year in Easy A. Truly, a great body of work.
                
Aaron Johnson (in The Greatest; Kick-Ass; Nowhere Boy)
It’s been a while since I had this much interest in watching a young male star’s star rise. It’s been a stratospheric year for Johnson and more than turning out three performances this year, it’s impressive how the running thread between them is so thin. There’s little to find that’s palpably similar between his Lennon, his  John and his Dave. True, acting doesn’t necessarily mean mastering accents, but I’ll give him credit for pulling off the American one so well, nonetheless.

Kerry Washington (in For Colored Girls; Night Catches Us; Mother & Child)
I don’t know – the fact that each film has landed with almost no sound makes me rethink the sentiment – but, perhaps, Kerry is on her way to stardom, opting for the slower path. She pulls out three performances that rests on internalising grief and pain and performs each brilliant. Sure, she thrives best in Mother & Child, but even in the huge cast of For Colored Girls with the storyline that seems least important she carves something special. (And story issues aside she and Mackie are beautiful to watch in Night Catches Us.)
               
FINALISTS: Michelle Williams for offering up a brilliant supporting turn in Shutter Island and a haunting lead performance in Blue Valentine; Andrew Garfield for offering up two good (if similar) turns in The Social Network and Never Let Me Go and James Franco for being a beacon in two lead roles in Howl and 127 Hours.
                 
Which actor ruled 2010 with their ability to jump from performance to performance?

* Just in case you're wondering, Johnny Depp would win the alternative award here. He's easily the worst thing in The Tourist and Alice in Wonderland (yep, even worse than the Wasikowska's bland work in the latter.) He sinks Angelina's attempts to be at least interesting in the former, and other than a glimmer of goodness opposite HBC he's terribly vile in the latter. I hope it's not the beginning of a trend for him...

4 comments:

Candice Frederick said...

nice list! i'd also add leonardo dicaprio (shutter island/inception)

Luke said...

I'm glad to see Patty in there (I loved her in Shutter Island), but I am a bit saddened to see Andrew Garfield relegated to the finalists list. But all in all, Kerry Washington is a fantastic choice for this particular prize - she was great in Mother and Child and no one noticed! (Except you apparently.)

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

candice i sort of hated leo in inception. sort of.

luke i'd have included andrew, but his performances (both good) seem to be somewhat in the same register. it was between him and annette and aaron and i think the latter two had a more "eclectic" mix of performances than he.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

I need to see more Washington and Johnson :(

But Bonham-Carter for the Silver? As someone who felt she saved Alice in Wonderland, I stand behind this 100%. Excellent, Andrew!