The transformation of Christian Bale into hyperactive motor-mouth Dickie Eklund, is no mere ‘surface level gimmick’ as some would probably assert. It is lived in, dynamic and complete. Bale is fully immersed in this drugged up loser, still living off his past glories, in a town and with a family that haven’t the heart to tell him that he’s past it…if he ever really had it to begin with. The performance is big and brassy, but underneath the flashy facade, Bale gives Eklund a warmth, softness and sadness. Eklund is a shambolic failure, but we sympathize with him, as he is not a bad person thanks to a towering performance from Bale.
Javier Bardem couldn’t have gotten a more maddening character than what he got himself stuck with in “Biutiful”. This part - presented in a baffling way from scene to scene - a guy whose typical day takes him from being tough and intimidating among the worst criminals, in the next scenes being convincingly romantic and deeply loving ex-partner, a sensitive father even playful with the kids…...all with a ravaging disease and a haunted guilty conscience while evoking an aching sadness that often isn’t even discernible in the script specifically!
It’s seemingly impossible to pull off and yet Bardem never once misses a beat in connecting those scenes to this character and keeping him consistently believable as the same guy throughout. It evokes no one so much as Brando, but not Brando in any one role but as an archetype without imitation. It’s an acting miracle in transforming words to embodiment, incredibly soulful and poetic.
Possibly the most original performance of the decade—a triumph of subversion. Huppert’s Michele plays with people for the sheer pleasure of taking in their reactions: to see how emotions affect them. She herself is unaffected. She nurtures violent, taboo sexual fantasies involving her own rapist. (As the head of a videogame company, she demands that the rape scenes in the games be more “orgasmic”). And yet the genius of the performance is that the provocation lacks malice or intent of any sort: she’s so disarmingly, intuitively amoral that we accept this as her idea of personal freedom. Huppert has rarely been funnier or sexier (her mastery of tone in the Christmas scene is breathtaking, a warped comedienne): it’s one killer star turn, too. And what, ultimately, is she articulating? Huppert herself refuses to call the character a feminist or a victim. The performance suggests plotless, virtuoso defiance—to classify it would be a loss.
To call this trio featured in The Favourite one of the best of acting groups of the decade is an understatement. It is the best trio for my money and Stone has the furthest arc to carry throughout the film and is firmly capable of doing such a thing… and is especially remarkable being the only non-Brit of the bunch. In the beginning of the film Stone plays into her character’s kindhearted nature incredibly genuinely... so for her to turn conniving and capable of doing incredibly repulsive things as the film goes on might seem against her nature... but her descent into the power trap never feels unnatural. There are incredibly brief moments in the waning stages of the film that her doe-eyed selfless nature shines through, namely the single tear of gut wrenching guilt after reading Sarah’s letter. Emma Stone had probably the biggest output as far the cinematic landscape goes for young actors this decade and this is a perfect culmination of her accomplishments and meteoric rise throughout it.
There are some performances that as soon as you see them you instantly know that the actor in question is going all the way to the Dolby… and J.K. Simmons as Fletcher in Whiplash is one of those performances. It is a performance so fierce, so frenetic and so ferocious that it practically reaches through the screen, grabs hold of you and never lets go, violently shaking you throughout and making sure you’ll never forget it. And yet, despite all this, J.K. produces a couple of beautiful quieter and soulful moments that almost make you forget that this is the same man who just an hour earlier launched a piece of furniture at our protagonist for being slightly off tempo.
At this point it has been said almost ad nauseam but it is worth repeating, the best villains are often the ones who believe they are truly in the right, and Fletcher is one such of these characters. He truly believes that the way he treats his students is the best thing for them and that they will thank him for it later down the line... in other words, the ends justify the means. Subsequently, this philosophy that Fletcher holds is brought forth with seeming ease by Simmons, effortlessly blending together the loud and the quiet, the large and the small, the brazen and the controlled aspects of his performance to form a fully fleshed out character that will stand the test of time.
Post by therealcomicman117 on Apr 27, 2020 15:15:47 GMT
Damn, I wish Denzel could have cracked the top 20, he's excellent in Fences. Rosamund Pike is also brilliant in Gone Girl. Great write-up too notacrook , I think you really pointed out rather well why she's so good in the film.
Post by Johnny_Hellzapoppin on Apr 27, 2020 15:18:31 GMT
A bit of a mixed bag there. Bale is far too low, and while I enjoyed them, I think Huppert and Simmons are too high. This is fair for Stone, even if I prefer Wiesz a little. I think it's great all three ladies made it (I presume).
Al Pacino doesn’t look or sound much like the real Jimmy Hoffa did but he is Jimmy Hoffa. Not engaging in cheap mimicry but like his monumental Roy Cohn, he embodies themes of this movie within his own performance creating nothing so much as a grand, tragicomic Shakespearean figure.
A part that on paper plays to his formidable strengths - big speeches, emotional nuance with several quirky character traits, Pacino is giving the kind of performance that etches itself in the memory in its specificity. He’s hysterically funny and sadly foolish, heartbreakingly unaware of his fate in a way that somehow evokes many of his great previous characters yet here seems entirely fresh and new. His energy level is extraordinary and if he fails in selling Hoffa this movie would stall - he kickstarts the whole film and when he leaves it you’ll never, ever forget him.
Gary Oldman plays former agent George Smiley, called out of retirement to investigate the possibility of a double agent within the MI6. Nobody seems to question Smiley’s motivations, and he embarks on the task and narrows it down to four agents.
Tomas Alfredson depicts a world where the system was fundamentally flawed, the uncertainty, the paranoia and the corrosive feeling was a fact of life, which reflects why Smiley and his colleagues were basically moving shadows with lonely existences that nobody notices, and watching Oldman is watching a movie and actor work at the same pace. On the surface, his performance looks and sounds like a Guinness tribute (although in interviews he also said to be inspired by John Le Carré himself), but does way more upon reflection.
His Smiley is a practical man when he sees the events unfold in front of him, not giving a false step at any moment and when someone has something he needs (valuable information), the pressure he puts on them is precise and calculating. He’s in constant contact with powerful and intelligent men and yet on more than one occasion he reduces them to tears, and that’s only because he sees them as obstacles to his mission, even when he interacts with other members of the group, Smiley does not give any personal information, Oldman delivers a masterful exercise in restraint.
Quite simply, it’s my favorite performance I’ve ever seen. Endlessly luminous in her capture of a swoony tale of falling in love and utterly heartbreaking in her longing for home. Intoxicating to view each emotion in her dazzling portrayal of the exuberant charm, the delightful laughter, the withdrawn look of homesickness, the budding enlightenment of romance, the weeping breakdowns, the weight of each life decision is worn on her face. Just lovely in every way.