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LAFCA Honors Max von Sydow with Career Achievement Award

by Daniel Crooke

There’s something inherently epic about Max von Sydow’s body of work, a near seven-decade span marked by performances of quiet magnanimity in tales of biblical proportions, literally and thematically. More often than not, his mere presence – lanky yet lancing, wispy and towering, handsome and weary, often perturbed by the particulars of his environment  – conjures a lightning bolt of philosophical inquiry into each scene.

After exorcising (not to mention playing chess with, and later playing) the devil, portraying a host of priests, popes, cardinals, and apostles, directors and professors, living-breathing ciphers, and the occasional everyman, von Sydow will be awarded the Career Achievement prize this year from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association...

He will receive the honor at the LAFCA awards dinner on January 13.

It’s a tremendous choice, and one that not only honors his work with the dearly departed fellow Swede Ingmar Bergman but still holds steady on the pop culture zeitgeist with his recently memorable appearances in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Game of Thrones. Twice nominated for the Academy Award – his first nomination, Pelle the Conqueror, made him the eighteenth person to land an acting nomination for a foreign language performance; his second, decades later, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, made him one of the oldest – von Sydow is one of those performers who still manages to feel underrated even after bringing so many iconic creations to life. As he nears ninety years of age, he doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down the quality of his work.

What are some of your favorite Max von Sydow performances?

While I love him most in his consciousness-drenched collaborations with Bergman, I’ll give a shout out to one that has always made me weepy: his grief-stricken father in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly who, in just two scenes, sketches a life lived derailed by a life nearly lost.

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Reader Comments (8)

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly hands down. Such a performance. Also makes me cry.

November 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

The Virgin Spring for me.

November 1, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

The Emigrants, The New Land and Pelle the Conqueror.

November 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

I think he is beautiful in Pelle the Conqueror. And he gives a very effective supporting performance in Hannah and Her Sisters as Barbara Hershey's partner. "I don't sell my work by the yard."

November 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

He is probably the reason EL&IC got a pass mark from me, because his mute character just gave the film so much more than the rest of the film was actually giving back to us.

November 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

In a word, he's magnificent. Of course, he is perfection in The Exorcist, providing so much gravitas required for the tale's credibility. A quite lovely feat that is rarely discussed is his work in Hawaii. Breathtaking in its ability to sneak up on you.

November 2, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Excellent choice.

November 2, 2017 | Unregistered Commentergrrr

Amazing actor who brings his particular brand of class to every film in which he appears, even the lackluster ones.

November 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRob

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