Monday, 31 January 2011

Encore Awards: Memorable Characters

This category would probably take the prize for being the most indecisive, even more than choosing favourite performances and whatnot it takes a special sort of projection to distinguish what characters will emerge as memorable. The list is not quite arbitrary, though it’s difficult for me to say what makes this list a solid representation of the quirky characters presented in 2010. Originality of character plays a role, as does profundity – although great performance are not necessarily indicative of great characters (or vice versa). It’s as personal list as any, but let’s peruse...
(click on the photos for reviews)

(from Animal Kingdom) Grandma Smurf; played by Jacki Weaver)
It’s difficult to distinguish Jacki Weaver from the woman she plays, her big eyes constantly watchful of everything around is a key part of her role in this quasi-family quasi-crime drama. As the most important female of the lot, Jeanine prevents the narrative from being bogged down by all the testosterone present and though I think it’s the slightest bit insincere to consider her as the mastermind behind the family – her role is key. I still cannot succumb to hatred of her, for in her devious ways she’s protecting her family the only way she knows how – at whatever cost.

(from Black Swan) Nina Sayers; played by Natalie Portman
In a way the credit should just go to Tchaikovsky for the creation of the paradigm the character is based on, but I won’t nitpick. The psychological mess that is Nina Sayers is difficult to resist, inasmuch as being fascinated by characters go. She has an entire narrative at her whim and Aronofsky exploits the chance to have her react to everything around her. Her journey is a singular one, but it’s fascinating.

(from The Kids Are All Right) Paul; played by Mark Ruffalo
Paul traipses around with a look of perpetual surprise on his face that’s never really, actually, surprise – just sort of a vague look of confusion. Expressions are sort of Ruffalo’s key to defining the character and I hate that Blumberg and Choledenko have taken such a beating from audiences for their alleged anti-male stance. It’s hard not to think of Paul as the most sympathetic of the lot – especially when his directionless wandering is not something he does maliciously but the evidence of an underdeveloped mind.

(from The King’s Speech) Lionel Logue; played by Geoffrey Rush

From his first scene Rush defines Logue by only subtle quirks, a man intent on presenting a vaguely animated personality but with a palpable melancholy to him. It’s possible that Logue emerges as more interesting than Bertie because the narrative tells us less about him – although, that’s not definitive. Seidler always avoids turning him into too much of a maverick and Rush’s sincerity underscores that. 

(from Rabbit Hole) Becca; played by Nicole Kidman
 Becca is a special type of mother – a childless one, but that’s not what defines her. Nicole Kidman already has a general aloofness to her that’s attractive, but Becca is defined by an even more caustic countenance and a general composedness that belies a damning character of speaking before she thinks. It’s weird watching her, because you feel as if this is someone you know – or could know.

FINALISTS: You sort of get the sense that Amenbar is a bit too in love with Hypatia (Rachel Weisz) in Agora – but not only does Weisz sell the brilliance she makes it seem like this is the sort of woman who’s every word is significant (or is that just the British accent) ; in a way Dickie (Christian Bale) in The Fighter is a dime a dozen – a coked up former star trying to recapture his former glory, but more than those general moments of lowness it’s the relationship he has with this family that makes him memorable; The Ghost (Ewan McGregor) in The Ghost Writer is someone we know extremely little about – we never even know his name, but that doesn’t cause the film from failing around him. It has a lot to do with McGregor playing the role but it’s the sort of character – eternally mysterious that holds our interest long after the credits roll;

SEMI-FINALISTS: Abbie (Chloe Moretz) is the typical old soul trapped in a youth’s body in Let Me In; Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas) in Nowhere Boy; Knives Chow (Ellen Wong) in Scott Pilgrim vs the World; Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) in The Social Network
Which characters have defined 2010 for you? The ones you look at for quotable quotes, those that act as a good example of reacting to situations in life (regardless of how dubious their actual choices are)? Which characters, ten years from now, will be remembered from 2010?


Brandon (Twister) said...

I got a few...

Abby from Let Me In

Olive Penderghast from Easy A

Charlene Fleming from The Fighter

Lily from Black Swan

Aldous Snow from Get Him To The Greek

Phil and Claire Foster from Date Night

Simon said...

What I liked about the Ghost is that he was mysterious, but not obviously so. You didn't really he didn't even have a name until the credits. A very interesting way of going about it.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

brandon olive was lovely.

simon you say it best. polanski doesn't overplay the mystery there.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Smurf and Nina are destined for cinema immortality.