The Immigrant is a film of interesting duality: it feels like both a silent film in its approach and yet operatic, a strange fusion of Chaplin and Coppola. And nowhere is this more apparent than his genius casting of Marion Cotillard, whose haunting beauty and old-school look made her the perfect person to portray Ewa, a Polish nurse who finds herself in desperate circumstances when she emigrates to America. Cotillard is the closest thing we have to a modern-day Garbo; she knows how to convey a soliloquy’s worth of emotion with a single glance, and Cotillard’s mournful, ethereal presence is used in full force here. Her dialogue is minimal, mainly reactionary save for her confessional, and yet she says more in this performance to express her situation than many actresses have in their entire careers. Cotillard has dipped a toe in this era before, and the fact that she has the throwback beauty that would’ve made her a star even in the silent days makes her presence in this film all the more soulful. (Also, full props on the French actress mastering the Polish accent, even whilst speaking the language!)
There is a scene with Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine where I really fell for her - not a big scene - she has those and not an improvised scene she has those too, but a Michelle Williams special - the small scene, small great choice. She is telling a very offensive joke to a character she doesn’t know that well - and she avoids eye contact as the punchline gets closer because she’s focused on telling it - NOT selling it. She isn’t seducing or manipulating him (or us) and at the end well, she laughs at her own joke - she earned it.
That scene represents her whole performance where she has to make you respond to her candidly detailed and measured work - her home life, love life, work life, married life, motherhood. You will laugh, cry, and feel but she’ll get you there honestly - nothing easy and no seduction or manipulation required.
Cage said: “I see him as a Don Quixote-esque figure who the movie portrays as misguided and bumbling. But I also see him with some of the innocence and heartbreak of a child in a man’s body. I wanted him to still be someone that audiences could connect to in a car crash sort of way.”
With outsized cartoon zeal, Cage imbues Gary Faulkner’s patriotic vision quest with constant, pedaling energy. Cage’s high-pitched blathering is meant to be partly obnoxious and his long, kooky body language is impressively hilarious - a caffeinated, jingo Tati? The bonkers, broad fun is almost infectious for those willing to stick with Cage thru it. Besides the laugh out loud lampooning in the performance, it’s miraculous how Cage finds nooks of such sweetness and sensitivity inside the silliness. He’s ignited by this mock-heroic fantasy partly you can see as a way to avoid the illness he has and as a last grasp for purpose. The gullible shrinking we see in him when confronted by “God” is another tell at his tenderness. He pulls off this contrast - an affecting heart against a spastic, committed cannon of comedics and energetic daring that would exhaust any other actor. This perf is another testament to Cage’s nonpareil creativity as a performer.
An utterly brilliant performance, impressive on multiple levels. For one, it's an impossible-to-shake transformation from Carell - a shock coming from someone with such a known light warmth to them. The stillness and squirm of his body language, the underslung drawl of his speech, his piercing vacant stare. Every scene he stands out… a posturing presence in his wrestling utopia. Carell details John Du Pont richly (no pun intended); he can be extremely creepy, madly and sadly pathetic, and he has the tantrums and attention-seeking behavior of a child. He desperately wants to be a man respected, but only looks small in that image. You can watch and rewatch and pick into his impulses, repression, psychosis, his self-made meltdown. Completely aligned with the tone of the movie and its themes - you can’t name another performance like it.
Matt Dillon's performance is like the film itself: perverse, demented and darkly funny. With each segment he adds various different touches to his performance (tics, stutters, etc.) as his character becomes more and more psychotic. But he also never takes his role very seriously and embraces the black humour found throughout the film, rewarding the viewer with some very funny sequences. His performance epitomizes the grotesque, cynical and sardonic tone of the film.
If there was ever a term to describe Sakuro Ando in Shoplifters, it would be natural. She gives a wonderfully nuanced and calm performance as a woman who along with her husband lives in poverty, but she never lets this fact dissuade her. Even near the end when she’s all bruised-up and teary looking, you can still tell that she’s standing strong, and that’s part of what makes her work so compelling. She’s a real force of nature, and manages to light up the screen anytime she has a chance to shine. I especially loved seeing her relationship with Yuri, a girl that she and her husband Osamu try to adopt. It was very sweet, and she played it off well. It’s one of those performances that really catches you off guard.
Adele Haenel has the task of embodying a character with an extraordinary level of complexity. Heloise is young and naive, having never experienced much of what life has to offer outside of the confines of a monastery and an isolated island off the coast of Brittany. She is also incredibly wise beyond her years. There's a sadness to Heloise, a woman carrying the weight of a future life of forced subjugation. There's also a fierceness; she will not accept this prison sentence willingly. This rebelliousness must convey a shade of youthful petulance alongside the spark of growing eternal strength. She has moments of pride and ego, moments of hurt and disappointment, moments of unbridled passion and joy. And all of these conflicting emotional states and three-dimensional traits must be played with the utmost of restraint, not only to match the austere tone of the film but also to authentically portray the discretion the setting and scenario necessitates. Openness of one's true feelings was a luxury ill-afforded to women of the time. To state that Adele Haenel succeeds in her task is a massive understatement. Her performance is an absolute masterclass in eliciting titanic torrents of emotion out of moments of utterly controlled subtlety. It's a performance of paramount precision. It's been many years since I've seen an actor do so much with seemingly so little. In her hands, the slightest glance or flicker of the eyes or curl in the lips will break your heart and set it aflame more passionately than what most actors could possibly achieve in the showiest of theatrical monologues. The brilliance of her performance cannot be overstated, and if she doesn't yank some tears out of you in that showstopper of a finale, you might just want to check your pulse to make sure you still have some blood pumping through your veins.
We all love a great menacing villain -- and few from the past decade were as memorable and as riveting as The Revenant's John Fitzgerald, realized in all of his of hateful, rancorous glory by Tom Hardy at his career-best. While it was DiCaprio's long overdue Oscar-winning role that was the acting attraction of The Revenant, it was Hardy's supporting role as the film's antagonist that absolutely stole the show, tearing up the screen whenever he's on it like an animal ruthlessly devouring its prey. Bigoted and brutal to an over-the-top degree, Fitzgerald is a role that could've been easily turned into a redneck caricature in the hands of a different actor, but there's something about the almost cartoonish nature of the character that's a perfect fit for Hardy's level of commitment and oft-mocked verbal tics. Delivering on a plethora of iconic moments including a hilarious monologue about a squirrel and a number of one-liners tantalizingly delivered in an exaggerated drawl, Hardy's endlessly nasty and cruel villain becomes a glorious thing to behold, impossible to look away from as we watch both with disgust and fear.
Michael Shannon's Oscar-worthy turn in Jeff Nichols's moody sophomore effort Take Shelter is at once commanding and disarmingly vulnerable. Portraying a family man plagued by horrific apocalyptic visions, who also fears he may be developing an inherited schizophrenic disorder, Shannon is given the difficult task to balance these deep-rooted fears and anxieties with a façade of masculine stoicism- a trait too many men feel the need to carry. It is in this portrayal of the everyman, a genuinely good man who wants for nothing more than to protect his family even as he inadvertently pushes them away, that the true power of Shannon's layered performance shines through. There is so much humanity in his portrayal of Curtis, evidenced through the tender moments he shares with onscreen wife Jessica Chastain, and his deaf daughter, who he "still takes off his boots not to wake". But there is also the fear, the frustration, the internalized feeling of inadequacy that define Curtis, all of which boils over in a standout monologue towards the end of the film that Shannon absolutely lights on fire. "You think I'm crazy?!" He bellows. "Well listen up, there's a storm comin', and not a one of you is prepared for it!". Much like the proverbial storm, Shannon's performance in this film is an earth-shattering cataclysm of emotion that we as audience members were not prepared for..nor were we worthy of.
Just about the funniest, wickedest spin on motherhood you’re likely to get these days. If The Babadook works both as a horror movie and a dark comedy on sexual frustration, single parenting and midlife crisis, it’s only because Essie Davis makes it work on all these levels. Her natural charm makes her sympathetic to the audience, but it’s her wit and comic timing that make this performance great. Her relationship with her child—his wildness, the tantrums, motherly protectiveness giving way to nervous breakdowns—have psychological resonance. (The damned kid who won’t even let her pleasure herself in peace, depriving her of all privacy). But when she emerges as a Monster-Mother to rival Freud’s worst nightmares, she’s much more than an archetype. This masterly performance takes the character to its logical conclusion: love and hate, the symbiotic mother-child bond unravelling and turned against itself. Particularly memorable: her frenzied, insatiable nightly channel-surfing!
Post by Johnny_Hellzapoppin on Apr 27, 2020 14:47:22 GMT
Glad to see Shannon and Davis made it. I'd have loved to have seen Shannon finish far higher up the list. Ando was great in a film I was really cold on. No negativity allowed, so I'll leave Hardy alone.
A deceptively simple take on the rejected artist role. The rampant hostility in this Coen Bros’ masterpiece has Isaac’s performance as its emotional center. Cynical and self-destructive yet bizarrely spirited, the poetry of this turn is its total displacement. His mere existence, the “outdated” non-commercial nature of the music he produces can only amount to an absurdist’s idea of defiance. (Triumph isn’t in the cards here). But there’s a danger to the performance—the possibility of his heroic commitment to artistic integrity defiling him. He makes an enemy of the world. Isaac understands the vanity of the character and gives it shape: the character acts as if he’s the last Artist standing; this self-view is damning. It’s not just that the world’s gone vacant, bankrupt—his soul’s in jeopardy too, despite the beauty of the songs. Are they enough to save him?
Barry Keoghan’s performance as Martin in Killing of a Sacred Deer is so grotesque, slimy and off-putting that you can’t look away from it. Emotionally vacant, Martin wears his feigned boyish innocence like a mask, concealing through sickly ingratiation the sinister intentions behind his cold dead eyes. He’s got issues. Serious psychological issues.
Defined by a physical, distinctly youthful energy, as well as haunting emotional depth, Timothee Chalamet's performance as Elio has been one of the performances that has stayed with me the most from the last decade. Unafraid to play up the more unlikeable aspects of his character, while succeeding in breaking our hearts in the film's final minutes, Chalamet gives one of the best performances I've seen from a young actor. Vibrant, complex work that is largely what makes the film around him as strong as it is.
Rachel Weisz’s Sarah Churchill is not a woman you want to mess with. She’s cold and calculating, menacing and macabre, and yet she’s the only character in the film whose solicitations come from a place of sincerity and she's ultimately the one we most sympathize with. That’s a tough dynamic to nail down but Weisz rises to the challenge, imbuing Sarah with viciousness and vulnerability in equal measure.
An actor is like a chameleon, he changes constantly and adapts to every role as requested. But he is also an artist and thus imbues the character he is portraying with a part of his own personality. No two actors will play the same role the exact same way, especially if it's a role that so encompasses the essence of being an actor like that of Monsieur Oscar. Denis Lavant takes the role and makes it an avatar of himself and instills into it all the aspects that define him as an actor. His physical style of acting, mostly depicting emotions through gestures and motions, is spread all over the film and, thus, through the role of Monsieur Oscar, he gives us his own perspective on the art of performing.
Post by Johnny_Hellzapoppin on Apr 27, 2020 14:52:18 GMT
Great bunch altogether. Keoghan and Lavant were both in my Top 10, so I'd obviously have liked to see them make it higher, but still, it's good that they're here. Weisz is wonderful and I wish I could have voted for her. The other two lads are fine.
There’s something wonderful about when the perfect role finally happens for an actor. Bruce Dern waited for his for almost seventy-seven years… but everyone, including Bruce, knows that it was well worth the wait. As Olivia Newton-John once sang... every face tells a story. And no face can tell a story like an old person’s. Once an actor reaches a certain age, they make you (or maybe just me) question how much of their performance is really acting and how much of it is just them being old. It’s a unique line to toe… and not many actors have ever pulled it off better than Bruce Dern in Nebraska.
In his hayday, Dern was an actor who would never have been accused of being too subtle. But under Alexander Payne’s direction, he hardly needed to say a word. But when he does… he’s hilarious, he’s heartbreaking, he’s real. He’s so damn real that Woody Grant will eerily remind you of someone you know… even if you don’t have a senile old drunkard in your life. Someone get this man his million dollars.
Probably one of the most underrated director-actor duos has to be Schrader and Dafoe. Paul has given him a wide range of roles from "Light Sleeper" to "Auto Focus," but here in "Dog Eat Dog” he finally lets Dafoe show his wild side and when you give him a meaty part like this, he's killing it like no other. In a career full of diverse roles and projects, Dafoe always found a way to surprise the audience. If you've woken up to his greatness only recently because of Van Gogh or old wickie, don't hesitate to check out his lesser known and underseen roles. Even if you end up hating the movie, there's no denying that the man is delivering a delicious, legendary, and all-around terrifically entertaining performance here.
Physical, frightening, taunting performance. Like a storm even during its stiller breaks we feel a ferocious threat lurking. Look at the scene with the Doctor - how Choi feels he’s being talked down to and, unblinkingly, his intimidation starts to rev. There’s a deep confidence to his sick compulsions. The length of the movie and amount of time we spend with him gets us under his skin, and he gets under ours. Choi is one of the two masterclass actor talents out of South Korea - next to Kang-ho Song - but Song has never delved like this into the dark.
There’s one rule I always maintain when it comes to differentiating between good acting and great acting and that’s the eyes. You can shed 60 pounds, gain 60 pounds, get the best dialect coach around, dye your hair, eat real dog shit; it doesn’t much matter if you don’t convince us with your eyes. Do you think Ingmar Bergman’s chamber dramas would be even remotely convincing if he chose actors who couldn’t act with their eyes? A close-up is an opportunity and few actors can embrace that opportunity as well as Marion Cotillard (pretending her role in The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t exist for a second). Her giant, expressive eyes give you everything you need to know about her characters. She invites us in with the comfort of her eyes, but also with the mystery that lies behind them and that’s never been more true than with her work in Rust and Bone. It’s a performance of two halves: one before a tragedy and one after. The one before is a free spirit full of ferocious independence and allure, however real it may be; the one after is a shedding of that guise and pouring out all the misery that was dormant within. That goes to say if great acting is expressing the character’s emotions with the eyes, then phenomenal acting is expressing the character’s façade with their smile and actions but keeping a constant truth within their eyes at the same time—like an internal battle. Cotillard transcends that ability here, creating a fully realized performance and one where if you want to know the truth of the character, all you have to do is look into her eyes—and in her eyes, the mystery and beauty of the character and of the film you will find.
Surely one of the least pleasant roles of 2011 (and I mean that in the best way), Dunst amazingly manifests the agonized numbness and personal resignation of untreated, severe depression through her aching, weary performance here. The avatar of the end, ready for the collision long before it hits.