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Halfway House 2012. Lead Actor (Thus Far)

It's part three of our Halfway Mark rundown as we survey the film year thus far from January through June releases. It's been crickets thus far in terms of possible Oscar players (with the exception of one of these men -- but we'll get to him in a minute.) but that doesn't mean there isn't work to appreciate.

If I was forced to draw up a ballot right now...

explanations and Team Experience commentary after the jump

  • Dane DeHaan, Chronicle
    This clever story of three teenagers who are suddenlycursed with superpowers in the form of flight and telekinetic muscle, isn't what you'd call an "actors film" so DeHaan is much better than anybody would require him to be as the isolated misfit at the center. For him the new power is something like a Pandora's Box; almost any and all emotional reactions to the miracle seems possible... at first. 
  • Woody Harrelson, Rampart
    [not eligible for Oscar consideration] Yes, I'm aware that this is cheating since this bad cop drama was given a one week qualifying release (damn them!) in 2011. But he nearly made my ballot last year so I wanted to bow down again. He keeps getting better with age and he was gifted to begin with.
  • Dwight Henry, Beasts of the Southern Wild 
    He's the only true Oscar contender from this batch... but chances are he'll campaign as supporting, being the co-lead rather than the lead. So we've yet to see a Best Actor candidate in 2012
  • Matthias Schoenaerts, Bullhead
    [not eligible for Oscar consideration] Heartbreakingly withdrawn and sad as an imposingly muscular cattle farmer mixed up in a web of crime and emotionally stifled by a childhood tragedy that he has never been able to see beyond. This was an unusual Best Foreign Film nominee last year but a worthy one. If you haven't seen yet it's on DVD and it'll definitely get you excited for Shoenaerts next big role opposite Marion Cotillard in Rust & Bone
  • Channing Tatum, Magic Mike 
    His subtlest performance in his showiest role. Soderbergh really can pull the goods from people.

 My apologies to Anders Danielsen Lie from Oslo 31 August who I'm reasonably certain would have made the list had I seen the movie given what he did in Reprise, his previous collaboration with writer/director Joachim Trier.

I also polled Team Film Experience contributors. Which actor gave your favorite performance so far this year? Glenn of Stale Popcorn answered "It's times like this that I realise 2012 has been woeful for acting contenders" but Team Experience soldiered forward and answered the difficult question.

Craig:  Robert Pattinson - Cosmopolis... Pattinson really breaks free of his sparkly vamp confines, showing how good he can be with rich, arch dialogue and an aura of slick self-satifaction. He steps up his game brilliantly for Cronenberg.

Jose: Willem Dafoe in The Hunter. What does he have to do to get some real awards traction?

Amir: Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street. This year is likely to boost Tatum's stock considerably with the box office success and critical approval of his films. Much of that is owed to this measured comic turn and his spotless chemistry with Jonah Hill. 

Jared Gilman acting within Wes Anderson's style like a pro


Michael:  I was going to say there were no leading male performances of note thus far in 2012 when I remembered Jared Gilman's perfect delivery of "No. I said what kind of bird are you," Along with Kara Hayward, Gilman carries Moonrise Kingdom on his shoulders while the all-star adult cast takes a back seat. His unrestrained beachside dance is the most glorious expression of cinematic moment joy I've seen in a long while.

Beau: Jared Gilman - Moonrise Kingdom. For accurately portraying the arrogance of youth, the confident naïveté, the heroic leader wafting through hormonal waters. For nailing Wes' distinctive style without being too decorative or obtuse.

Which Lead Actor did it for you in the year's first half?
Or did you find the pickings far too slim?


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Reader Comments (14)

I agree with you about Tatum .. but No Oscar!!!

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Yeah, I'm definitely sure you would have mentioned Andres Danielsen Lie if you'd seen the film. I refrained from choosing him as my favourite because I saw the film last year, but he's just so graceful and marvellous.

I also haven't seen Magic Mike yet, but now I'm excited to see what Tatum does there.

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Liam Neeson will most likely make my year end line-up. He was stunning in The Grey. Best performance in that kind of horror in decades.

Dane DeHaan also makes my list so far. I'd round it out with Greg Kinnear in Thin Ice, and Mark Duplass in Safety Not Guaranteed. I can't think of another performance to add on.

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Dane DeHaan is an inspired choice and I completely agree. I would add, for myself, Ewan McGregor in Perfect Sense.

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I think this has been a very slim year for lead actor so far; there are more lead actress candidates that I love. But I can fill out 4/5ths of a ballot (although I wouldn't be sad if none of these performances made my final five by the end of the year):

1. Adam Scott for "Friends with Kids"
2. Thomas Doret for "The Kid with a Bike"
3. Mark Duplass for "Your Sister's Sister"
4. Liam Neeson for "The Grey"

I'd give the fifth slot to Mark Duplass in "Safety Not Guaranteed," but I usually stick to the Oscar rule of one nomination per category. So the last spot would probably come down to Jared Gilman for "Moonrise Kingdom," Steve Carrell for "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," or Guy Pearce for "Lockout." Yes, I'm serious. For me, that's the best, most entertaining "star" performance of the year so far. Moreso than Channing Tatum in either 21 Jump Street or Magic Mike.

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

Dwight Henry definitely has the leading performance. He's the one who does all the acting in the movie!

Oh, and I'm one of those people who are only so-so on the movie itself.

Liz - Guy Pearce is great in Lockout - so glad you mentioned him.

My favorite male performance of the year, though, is Michael Fassbender in Prometheus. His icy precision - and his bemused, childlike curiosity - is exactly what the role required. If only the rest of the movie were so carefully considered and flawlessly executed!

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I know I sound like a broken record (!) but Ron Eldard in "Roadie." Anyone?

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

My lineup:

-Ewan McGregor, Perfect Sense
-Liam Neeson, Th Grey
-Robert Pattinson, Cosmopolis
-Matthias Schoenaerts, Bullhead (WINNER)
-Channing Tatum , Magic Mike & 21 Jump Street

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleon

I haven't seen it yet, but wasn't Jean Louis Trintignant in "Amour" highly praised? I love that guy. My favorite of his is The Conformist, which always links in my mind to Chinatown, two perfect movies of that era with two superb performances.

The other favorites are Confidentially Yours, My Night at Maud's, Z, Three Colors: Red, A Man and a Woman, and I've just bought Le Voyou. I know it's impossible to say before seeing the movie, but this is a wonderful actor. And perhaps this story is in the age range of many Academy voters?

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteradri

adri -- yeah, i'm excited to see it too but i think it's not out until december?

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Yeah, there's been a lot of good leading male performances but nothing amazing yet. I'd also add to this round-up Paul Rudd in "Wanderlust." Overall he's his usual mix of charming, bratty and befuddled, but then he breaks out into this one crazy monologue in the mirror to practice dirty talk before sex. It becomes so ridiculous and hilarious and shows a commitment to the material that rivals McConaughey in Magic Mike. It's one of my favorite moments in movies so far this year.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Watched Bullhead on DVD and it's definitely one of best movies this year or last year. Schoenearts' performance is tough to watch because he holds all his sadness in. His hulk of a body is like a paradox, physically impressive but stripped of masculinity internally. I thought the plot could be simplified for greater effect, but a first-rate Shakespearean tragedy. Also, even though the only important female character has very little lines, I thought the actress plays her intelligently. The most revealing performance though, is Jacky's friend, who witnesses the tragedy and has to suffer the guilt throughout his life.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLars

Yes, of course, sorry. I was confusing released in the US and Oscar-eligible with "seen at Cannes" which are two different things. So it will be in with the glut of December releases. That's the fun part about looking at the first half of the year, you're not always seeing the usual suspects.

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteradri
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