Wednesday, 20 April 2011

“Man to Man”

This idea had been ruminating in my head for some time, but it was watching the pilot for Boardwalk Empire again, the other day, that really solidified it in my head – films with duo male leads. I’m curious to see what will happen when the Emmy’s come around, I suppose Buscemi will be a shoo-in for a nod – but I’d love to see Michael Pitt get some love, although I’m almost certain they’ll push him in the Supporting Category and perform ultimate category fraud.
One of the great things about duo male leads, though, is seeing two fine actors play off each other. This week’s top 5 includes some actors at the top of their game playing off their peers.
Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington in Training Day (2001)
On the earlier note of category fraud, few are as glaring as Hawke’s supporting actor nomination for Training Day (he’s actually my choice that year for Best Actor); but I’ll be honest – I’m glad he even got nominated. It’s my favourite performance from Washington, and the two play excellently off each other. Fuqua’s debut is well directed but

Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy (1969)
None of the other films on the list are as indicative of male camaraderie as this one. I still think Voight and Hoffman are an odd pairing, and truth be told I don’t quite love the Midnight Cowboy (just like it fairly much) – it’s buoyed by the chemistry the two share, though. It’s a shame neither won their Oscars for their work here.

Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole in Becket (1964)
Jose, Luke and I had a go at this a few months ago – and I stand by my belief (regardless of what Luke thinks) that O’Toole and Burton are just brilliant opposite each other. I’ll admit, Becket sags on occasion but whenever Pete and Dick are at it – unencumbered by the somewhat iffy supporting cast – the film is at its best.

Paul Newman and Robert Redford in The Sting (1973)
Even though Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is the one that seems to have endured in (American) pop culture, I much prefer the Newman/Redford duo in The Sting, and not just because it won the Best Picture Oscar.The Sting is just a slick movie all-round, it's not Newman's best performance but this type of sleek alpha-male is the type of role he slinks into easily and he's great opposite Redford who's at his best here.

F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce in Amadeus (1984)
I won’t argue that Abraham was a commendable Oscar winner, but I always feel badly that so few care to remember that Tom Hulce was more than just competent as Mozart. It's an excellent juxtaposition, not only of characters but of acting styles. It's also the lone of the five films here where my favourite isn't glaringly obvious, in  fact I still can't say which of the two I prefer.
Which duo impresses you most? Any suggestions to augment the list?


TomS said...

One of the best pairings ever: Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, "Brokeback Mountain". Finally the innuendo buried in the Newman-Redford romps and even the Joe Buck-Ratzo Rizzo tragedy is handled openly and sensitively. Of your choices, my personal favorite IS Midnight Cowboy-- the unlikely pairing works, and the film, which challenges us with its uneasy view of a once-veiled underworld, and its troubled characters, gets better with each viewing.

Nicholas Prigge said...

All right, I'm comin' way outta left field here but how about George Clooney & Brad Pitt in "Ocean's Eleven/Twelve?" Too cool for school yet totally likeable. The bromance has sort of had a run in the movies but this is its pinnacle.

MovieNut14 said...

I'm going to be bringing up an older one. That would be Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot. Their personalities are on completely different parallels and yet it works.

Peter Chan said...

On the creepier end of things, Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck in 'The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford'.

Dan O. said...

I'm glad to see that you put Amadeus here, because these two do an amazing job together and shows that Abraham really did deserve that Oscar. Good List!

Jose said...

Actually none of these do anything for me. I guess I'm more actress oriented when it comes to onscreen duos. I think you missed Newman and Redford in Butch Cassidy though and how about father/son duos like the one in Bicycle Thieves?

Castor said...

Are you a wolf or are you a sheep?

M. Carter @ the Movies said...

I'm glad somebody else will give props to Hawke for his performance in "Training Day." He's really the film's moral center, but because Denzel gives such a towering inferno of a performance, Hawke was overshadowed.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

tom for some reason brokeback mountain didn't even occur to me.

nicholas hmm, i like that choice. not a fan of clooney, but his danny ocean is one of my favourite of his. but, he's such a camera-hog so pitt ends up being shifted to supporting instead of co-lead like the picks here.

anna that's a worthy contender. and i know how big a fan of that one, you are.

peter that actually DID cross my mind, but i figured i already had the creepy mozart/salieri pairing at #1... :)

dan but i wish it were a tie!

jose i'm really not big on butch cassidy and the sundance kid...and i don't know why.

castor cheers and applause for great quoting.

meredith THANK YOU. the fact that denzel has the stronger character doesn't necessarily mean that his performance is stronger.