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[not eligible for Oscar consideration] Heartbreakingly withdrawn and sad as an imposingly muscular cattle farmer mixed up in a web of crime and emotionally stifled by a childhood tragedy that he has never been able to see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.
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?