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Greatest Supporting Actors who WEREN'T nominated this decade

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Saturday
Oct272012

Oscar Horrors: Martin Landau in 'Ed Wood'

Oscar Horrors continues was Beau looks at one of his favorite performances of all time.

HERE LIES.. Supporting Actor Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's 1994 masterpiece, Ed Wood.

Martin Landau. Holla.

Martin Landau's performance in Ed Wood is a joyous celebration of its time period. The manic energy with which Landau performs as Bela Lugosi mirrors Tim Burton's marvelous pacing and infectious love of the genre in this, his career-best. Bela Lugosi was a legend. He is primarily known today for his signature role, Dracula, but Lugosi was in fact a very ambitious actor. (He has said in several interviews that he always wanted to be the lead of romantic comedy.) His failure to diversify reflects a typecasting and stereotyping in 1950s Hollywood that helped set the foundation for how business is done today. It's not a matter so much of whether or not Lugosi was good enough to try different roles. It's about the compartmentalizing of the personality, boxing it up, shipping it out. Maintaining hold.

Landau's gruff drug addicted depiction of Lugosi is a treat. My generation is not well acquainted with the works of Ed Wood or b-movies from the 1950s and I'm no exception, so  I couldn't take as much enjoyment from the reenactment of certain moments as I might be able to, in say, the upcoming Hitchcock in terms of Psycho. The central joy of watching these kinds of mimick'ed performances is seeing an actor that you're familiar with side-by-side with a legendary performer -- two contrasting takes -- but it's not the only joy. Landau understands that to successfully play Bela Lugosi is not to simply imitate or mimicking him, but imbibe him. You can get drunk so easily watching Martin Landau drink a case of Bela Lugosi. His Oscar win is one of the best choices the Academy ever made in Best Supporting Actor.

"Look into my eyes"

Tim Burton's direction eerily mirrors and compliments the ferocity with which Wood approached each and every project. The beautiful thing about Ed Wood, is the fact that this man who was completely oblivious to the fact that he had no true talent still managed to let his passion drive him through his life. In a very interesting way his story is not so much a cautionary tale for storytellers, but a map. In the 21st-century with production values taking precedence over narrative structure and any of the foundational building blocks of great films young independent filmmakers are looking to one another to trust in each other to build themselves up. With the advent of video-on-demand, filmmakers are discovering new outlets in order to release their product and story out into the world. You can market it a certain way. You can advertise a certain way. You can sell it with your passion for the project. One could go so far to abel Ed Wood as much of an auteur as Alfred Hitchcock or Howard Hawks. There are distinct notes, unique trademarks and fingerprints that are over every single frame in his films. Andrew Sarris would drop dead reading this, but it's true. Ed Wood is a hero to the American cinema because of his love for it.

Landau's contribution to the film is the spark that reignites Ed Wood's fire. And for that, in a very roundabout way, I am eternally grateful.

 

Oscar (ACTING) Horrors
[S2]
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Angela Lansbury
Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte - Agnes Moorehead
Shadow of the Vampire - Willem Dafoe
Rebecca - Judith Anderson
[S1]
Rosemary's Baby - Ruth Gordon
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane - Bette Davis
Carrie - Sissy Spacek
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Fredric March

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Reader Comments (5)

Easily one of the best picks the academy ever did for supporting actor.

"Karloff? Sidekick? FUCK YOU!!!"

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZé Vozone

A brilliant performance in what it's probably Burton's best all around movie.

October 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

love the bit about "imbibing" him. It's perfect because it's so vampiric a performance.

October 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternathanielr

Yes, yes, yes! One of the best supporting actor Oscar wins EVER. Where is the love for Martin Landau around these parts?

HOLLA!

October 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStein

I've been never a huge fan of Tim Burton movies but I saw this movie many more time and I think this is the best movie which was made by Burton form the last 20 years. Martin Landau's performance was great and amazing. I recommend it for everyone.

October 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve75
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