Monday, 1 April 2013

Encore Awards (2012 in Review): Actor

I’m finally heading towards the end of my celebration of 2012 in film only half a dozen weeks or so later than I had initially planned. Like my 2011 Actor ballot (HERE) my slate of nominees this year is made up of five men who saw little to no significant appreciation from awards bodies for their work, which is a shame considering how excellent their turns were. Also, random trivia, four of the five performances are in a language other than English.

Check out Craig's recently posted top 10 Male performances of 2012. We intersect on tw.

Click on photos for reviews of films.


Garrett Hedlund in On the Road (as Dean Moriarty)
It is not that Dean Moriarty is written more sharply than his fellow drifters – the entirety of On the Road develops its characters in a hazily constructed deference for the source material. But, Hedlund aggressively renounces any element of affectation in the character excellently crafting an attractively beguiling image of destructive force and bravado justifying Sal (and the narrative’s) obsession with him.

HIGHLIGHT: The narrative’s obsession with his volatile man renders any scene of his worthy as an example of his effect seeing that he’s richly characterising throughout but the final dejectedness which he carries himself with in that final scene manages to against all odds suggest a tragic hero from where there should be none.

Denis Lavant in Holy Motors (as Mr Oscar)
On one hand, the nature of the film means that there is no connecting line of emotion tying the strands of the characters Mr Oscar embodies together. On the other hand, even if the film becomes an exercise in acting for acting’s sake – what acting! Then, there’s the more consistently played arc of sombre Mr Oscar in the limousine which adds a base of successive melancholy throughout making the transformations not just impressive but against all odds moving too.

HIGHLIGHT: On the acting for acting’s sake side the sheer wonder of Monsieur Merde shall not escape me but the tortured scream when he sees a certain corpse lying on the sidewalk is just perfectly done.

Anders Danielsen Lie in Oslo, August 31st (as Anders)
Inarguably a significant portion of the film’s effect depends on his work so that like with Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea I could argue that any actor in this role would be at least good. But like with Weisz the beauty of the work is that in the performance he settles not just for a good performance and is devastatingly on-point with every nuance of emotion Anders feel from the day’s opening to its mournful close.

HIGHLIGHT: Fantastic throughout, of course and very game in key dialogue sequences like the visit with his best friend or the interview but he’s at his best when forced to simply observe the world around him with the emotions playing over his face like that party scene or the morning at the pool.

Matthias Schoenaerts in Rust and Bone (as Ali)

Ali’s abrasiveness makes him a difficult character to love, and I suspect, a difficult one to play but Schoenaerts lack of self-consciousness in the characterisation is much appreciated. From him Ali does not become a would-be hero but a flawed man unapologetic about his issues.

HIGHLIGHT: For all the inherent melodrama of the moment, especially considering how it’s not quite analogous with his emotions during the rest of the film, it’s hard for me to argue against that moment in the ice with his son. We’ve already seen him play closed off to excellent results. The emotion in the scene works because of his dedication to character.

Jean-Louis Trintignant in Amour (as George)

He does a great job of carving a man who is not unkind but not especially docile either. George is no Ali but I like how not dissimilar to Schoenaerts my favourite thing about his performance is his disinclination to hide George’s harsher qualities. It’s a difficult thing navigating through responding to his wife illness whilst showing how much it’s wrecking him and key moments like his roughness opposite his daughter reveal so much about his character.

HIGHLIGHT: That fateful scene with him and his wife is my favourite of the film and it manages to work without feeling deliberate or unearned because of how much Trintignant is investing in the character.

I toyed with versions of my top 5 which included Pitt, Hawkes and Phoenix which goes to show what a great year for the men it was.

FINALISTS: Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook for excellently grounding his film and delivering a performance that surprised me with its earnestness; John Hawkes in The Sessions for a performance of profound charm and sincerity despite being horizontal for the entirety of the film; Tom Holland in The Impossible for playing childlike fear and hope to great effect; Logan Lerman in The Perks of Being a Wallflower for underplaying expected dramatic tics and turning in a more poignant performance for it ; Brad Pitt in Killing Them Softly for using the concept of his coolness to create a memorable man worth more than his pithy quips; Joaquin Phoenix in The Master for an unnerving and jarring portrait of instability

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Paul Dano in Ruby Sparks; Dane DeHaan in Chronicle; Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln; Emile Hirsch in Killer Joe; Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables; Tommy Lee Jones in Hope Springs; Sam Riley in On the Road

Previous Citations: Actress / Audacious Cinema / Cast and Casting / Cinematography / Forgotten Characters / Memorable Scenes / Openings / Sound and Music / Supporting Actor / Supporting Actress / Writing

Which of my Best Actor nominees would you make a case for? Who is missing?


Anonymous said...

Great call on Anders Danielsen Lie! Such a marvelously lived in performance that never resorts to theatrics to sell us on his character's plight.

Amir said...

Yes Yes Yes on your call with Lie. My number 1 from last year. Your write-up is ace.