Wednesday, 12 January 2011

“In Search Of A Good Role” : A Top 5 list

Damn, this is overdue. What was it...months ago....that Univarn published this fine list of actors who never get the love they deserve (Castor and Ruth followed with lists of their own). If you’re a good debater you can make a case for any number of actors not getting their due, but sometimes it’s especially piercing when some actors just never get that single role that you could point to as encapsulating all the talent they have....or worse the role will come and no will see the film (or care about the performance) – something as incidental as timing could be their downfall. These five actors immediately come to mind when I think of actors who don’t get their due. Some have already given brilliant performances, but they still have not reached that level of fame that their peers have....who knows why? More importantly they’re all relatively young thespians who seem to have so much potential but never get recognised for it. This is my shout-out to them...
Romola Garai
I was fascinated by Garai’s work in Atonement, she topped my supporting actress list that year...and yet of the five principal players she earned the least buzz for her performance. I’m still not sure why, because I still can’t think of anything in particular that’s off-putting about her performance. Saoirse’s Briony’s strongpoint was her eyes, Vanessa’s was her eyes – what Romola has is a countenance that you can’t help but find sympathetic (which is why she’s the perfect person to encapsulate the imaginary Briony of the middle act). It’s the same sort of thing she does in I Capture A Castle – a film I’m not fond of, but a performance that soars despite confinements from the script.
A 2010 Role She Could Have Tackled: Florence in Greenberg; don’t get me wrong – Greta Gerwig was lovely in Greenberg but wouldn’t that role be lovely for Romola? Effusively charming, adult and yet innocent and altogether winsome without being too perfect. I suppose that if she ever has a chance of getting the fame she deserves she might need to leave the British roles behind (which is a shame, because I think the British are just awesome).
Ben Foster
I’m still absolutely flummoxed as to how Woody Harrelson swept through being nominated for every important precursor last year for The Messenger when Ben Foster turned up at nary a one. Where is the justice? The Messenger remains as one of my favourite films from the 2009, and much of that had to do with the quiet intensity of Foster’s protagonist. What makes him so special, though, is his ability to play quiet and brooding and switch instantly to loud and explosive. And he’s been at it so long, surely he deserves to catch a break.
A 2010 Role She Could Have Tackled: It’s too easy, but I’m calling him for Jem, the role Jeremy Renner originated in The Town. Renner WAS my favourite part of the film, but I’d have loved to see Foster that irrepressible showboating sidekick. If there was one thing I didn’t like about Renner’s Jem was how lacking in personality he was, he was officious enough but never charismatic which is something I think Ben could pull off.
Kerry Washington
I don’t believe that I’m the only one who’s been championing for dear Ms. Washington to get more recognition. Truth is, it’s especially difficult being a black actress in the business – but Kerry’s as adept at playing in the typical black picture as she is in something more generically prestigious. Acting has many facets – voice, body language, facial expressions, but I’m particularly fond of Kerry’s speaking voice. It’s especially crisp and expressive, and she always does well with large bits of dialogue.
A 2010 Role She Could Have Tackled: I wonder what it would have been like to see Kerry take the lead in Veronika Decides to Die. That’s a movie that went by unnoticed (shame) but the quiet passion of Veronika is something I think Kerry could handle beautifully – if given the chance.
Ben Whishaw
Ah, Ben Whishaw. I’m a fan and Bright Star turned me into a raving fanatic. Someone tell me again why that movie went by with so little notice? Actually, don’t tell me – there’s no good reason. It’s clichéd, but Whishaw is like the epitome of the sensitive artist which is perhaps why his Keats’ doesn’t seem like acting – but that deliberate poignancy he puts into his performances (re Brideshead Revisited) is something brilliant to watch.
 A 2010 Role She Could Have Tackled: With all that sensitivity, isn’t he an obvious choice for Tommy in Never Let Me Go? After being floored by he and Carey last year, I’ve put the hopes of seeing the two in a film of things I want to happen...and as fine as Garfield is, Whishaw opposite Carey would have just been incredible.

Rosamund Pike
Rosamund Pike seems sort of ageless to me, since seeing her in Die Another Day all the way through Pride & Prejudice and An Education she never seems to age, if anything she seems younger. It’s weird how her characters seem to be on a mental regression from the steely to the quite silly Helen. It’s her talent as an actor, though, and she doesn’t come off like any of these characters in interviews. She’s able to embody a wide array of supporting players on the sidelines, which proably accounts for her being forgotten.
A 2010 Role She Could Have Tackled: How old is Cattrall’s Amelia supposed to be in The Ghost Writer? I love her in it, but I wonder what someone younger like ROsamund would have done with the role. We know she can handle the ice-queen role well and though the thought of her against Brosnan is not particularly appealing (because Brosnan is terrible) I like the idea of her playing this role.
Which of these five is most overdue for some appreciation? Any roles they should have gotten it for? Any role they could have played?


MovieNut14 said...

Love the inclusion of Ben Foster. I personally love his performance in 3:10 to Yuma.

Univarn said...

I loved Ben Foster at first but over time he's seemed to be more and more repetitive in my eyes. I'd like to see him in a more humble, gentile role than his usual hyper-aggressive attitude.

With you on Rosamund Pike, but I dare say she'll benefit from more Education/Pride & Prejudice and less Surrogates...

ruth said...

Thanks for the shout out, Andrew, and yes I REALLY do like you!

Props for including Romola Garai! She's fantastic, I'd love to see more of her in more contemporary flicks. The two Bens are massively talented, so yes! As for Rosamund... well, something tells me you ought to check out my dream cast post ;)

Simon said...

Washington as Veronika is some kind of brilliance I hadn't even thought of...we must make it happen.

But I liked Garfield in Never Let Me Go. So conflicted.

anahita said...

Agree about Ben Whishaw, but I think Andrew Garfield looks really good in Never Let Me Go so am reluctant to boot him out. Romola Garai and Rosamund Pike ARE amazing, they do deserve more recognition. Personally, the actress I feel this way about is Ginnifer Goodwin. She's epic but so underrated. x

Nicholas Prigge said...

Yay for Romola Garai! I agree that her absence in any and all awards talk that year was mystifying. She had my favorite moment in the whole film, at the bedside of the dying French soldier.

And Rosamund Pike subbing for Cattrall. I never would have thought of it. I like it.

Ryan T. said...

Apart from your suggestion of Whishaw replacing Garfield, I'm down with everything else. Though now I'm picture Whishaw as Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network. Intriguing, no? Probably because I have a need to see him in something more contemporary.

I love your choice of actors, too. I actually really like all of them and agree that they all should've made a bigger splash than they have.

TomS said...

Oooh, Interesting!! Note to Ryan: before I read your comment, I would have cast Ben Foster as Mark Zuckerberg.

Ben Whishaw needs more exposure..loved him as one of Bob Dylan's incarnations in "I'm Not There". Don't know where I would have cast him this year...but I suppose he could have played just about any role in "Inception" and add some sparkle to it.

Candice Frederick said...

totally agree about both ben foster and kerry wshington. shame is right.

Castor said...

Great list Andrew! I totally agree about how Ben Foster could have made a great Jem.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

anna 3:10 to yuma is sort of a blank for me, i only vaguely remember it. should i revisit it?

univarn but he wasn't aggressive in the messenger - he does have an intensity to him, though. sort of like a quiet person brooding that i could see shooting us all up - well, in theory.

ruth i know, i'm waiting for your pitch actually and rosamund is a significant part of that. and on romola, i figure that seeing her in a contemporary flick might make her more "accessible".

simon we MUST make it happen. suggestions?

anahita goodwin is lovely in big love, and though i don't love her she definitely is underrated. she was so sweet in he's just not that into you in 09.

nicholas THANK YOU! i loved that portion, and not just because i get all hot and bothered for the french. that was just some phenomenal acting.

ryan oooh, ben in the social network i'm liking this. tom do you mean foster or whishaw (god, all these bens). i now remember loving whishaw in i'm not there, and though i think i loved bale more at the time i'd probably put whishaw just behind cate today for MVP.

candice lowdown dirty shame.

castor thanks, and yeah that does feel like a bit of a no-brainer - which is of course why it didn't happen.

Simon said...

We contact Paulo Coelho (who's name I never spell right) with an informative slideshow on all the ways Kerry Washington is awesome. And then we wait.

Runs Like A Gay said...

Definitely five actors who should have recieved better this year.

Not sure if next year is offering any better for them either.

Foster's going commercial
Washington's doing very independent stuff
Whishaw's taking a year out
Pike's doing broad comedy.

Only Garai has a movie that looks baity (One Day) and even then she has a thankless supporting role.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

simon you're in the US so i'm expecting you to spearhead this.

runs like a gay on ben, ugh: i wish he wouldn't take a year (a day) off. he's so good and i really just want him to keep working until he gets that break. SOMEBODY CAST HIM.

we'll see what the year brings for the others.