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Entries in Best Actor (129)

Saturday
Jan032015

National Society of Film Critics Swings French for 2014

The NSFC has announced its "Best" and we have another treat for glum Marion Cotillard. She may have been fired from her job in Two Days One Night but the world's critics would love her to be gainfully employed for years to come.

The NSFC is composed of "many of the country’s most distinguished movie critics" and were once the third holy in the critical trinity (with NYFCC and LAFCA) before the days when every single city in the nation was naming their best a development which has significantly dulled the power of critics awards altogether... or  at least confused what it is about critics awards that anyone pays attention to anymore.

The most interesting thing is that though this critics society has "National" in its name, the members were just not that into American films this year. They've crossed the Atlantic for their major prizes handing Jean-Luc Godard's 3D experiment Goodbye to Language the year's best film (in a narrow one point victory over Boyhood), Marion Cotillard wins Best Actress (by a huge margin for her Belgian feature with the Dardenne brothers as well as The Immigrant). The other mild statement this weekend is two prizes for the British Mike Leigh film Mr Turner with wins in Best Actor and Cinematography.

This last burst of recognition for Timothy Spall (interviewed right here) in a very tight Best Actor race and for Marion Cotillard who remains a longshot for Best Actress since the precursors roundly favored the exact same five women (Julianne, Reese, Felicity, Jennifer, Rosamund) keeps things exciting. At least a little bit. If AMPAS is still asking for recommendations at all, mind you. Still, we know of at least one über famous Academy member who is rooting for Marion. 

 

 

Thanks, Jane! 

Otherwise the NSFC prizes were the standard winners you've seen everywhere else: Linklater, Simmons, Arquette, Citizenfour, and Budapest for Screenplay. All this agreement has been bizarre for such a rich film year but what can you do? (If you're interest in voting data, I've included it after the jump... and you can also visit their official site here.)

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan032015

Meet the Contenders: Oscar Isaac "A Most Violent Year"

Abstew continues his weekly look at acting contenders as their films open...

Oscar Isaac as "Abel Morales" in A Most Violent Year
Best Actor

Born: Óscar Isaac Hernández was born in Guatamala, but the internet can't agree on the actual date. It's either January 5th, 1980 or March 9, 1979

The Role: The setting is New York City, the year is 1981 - on record as a time of one of the highest crime rates in the city's history. The third feature film from Oscar nominated writer and director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, All Is Lost) stars Oscar Isaac as Abel Morales, the head of a lucrative heating oil company that has found itself the target of theft and violence. His trucks are being hijacked, the oil being siphoned, the series of events inhibiting his plans to expand his company with a profitable purchase of a new building with a prime location. His method of handling the problem also puts him at odds with his wife Anna (Best Supporting Actress contender Jessica Chastain), who is the daughter of a Brooklyn mobster and has her own ideas of how things should be taken care of...

Trivia, Critical response and Oscar chances after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec302014

Interview: Oscar Isaac on "A Most Violent Year" And His Alien Future

Oscar Isaac was not an overnight success. He made sporadic appearances in movies from the mid 90s onward and the roles and films grew, slowly but surely. Moviegoers have discovered him piece by brilliant piece each time. There wasn't even one particular year that made him a star though Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) is to date "the signature role". In contrast, his new character Abel Morales' rise to power isn't half as slow and steady. It's all compressed into one dramatic make-or-break year in J.C. Chandor's moody gripping 1981-set drama A Most Violent Year

I spoke to Oscar about burrowing inside this guarded businessman, working with his schoolmate Jessica Chastain, what casting directors think of him, and his obsession with the mutant supervillain he'll be playing in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). Our conversation is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec272014

Interview: Timothy Spall on "Mr. Turner" and Fathers and Sons

Mr Turner, Mike Leigh's long gestating dream project about the romantic painter J.M.W. Turner recently hit theaters in limited release but it's buzz began back in the summer when Timothy Spall took home the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his grunted commitment to this fusion of great artist and unsavory man. Last month I had the opportunity to sit down with the Mike Leigh favorite (this is their fifth big-screen collaboration). It'd be impossible to list all the ways in which the man and role are different but the physical strikes you first. Spall has slimmed down considerably since playing what he calls this "toby jug of a man." 

The generous friendly actor, a thousand times more articulate than his current character, talked about the hazards of working with Mike Leigh, and beautiful fathers and son relationships both on screen and off. 

Nathaniel R: I’ve talked to a few actors who’ve worked with Mike Leigh. You always hear about the months of prep work and not knowing how large your role will be. You're the lead this time but is it frustrating to do the work and then just have a small part? 

TIMOTHY SPALL: I think it is. I’ve been in situations where other actors have worked a long long time and because of the way the film is structured they’ve ended up working for three months for one scene. That’s just the way it goes. It is a hazard when you work with Mike Leigh and he doesn’t hide that fact. In all the 33 years that I’ve worked with him, he’s never guaranteed I’d be the center of the piece

Well this one you had a good idea...

Unless he was shooting another film secretly in the evening about Constable.

Or a film about the Academy.

Or about Tina Turner.

Kathleen Turner

One of the Turners. [Laughs]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec192014

The Theory of Cocktails

Theory: I enjoy them. Will put it to the test tonight.

BEST ACTOR & BEST ACTRESS & ACTUALLY EVERY DAMN OSCAR CHART IS UPDATED ICYMI. 

please drink (and comment) responsibly this weekend 

Friday
Dec052014

Team FYC: Tom Hardy in Locke for Best Actor

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's David on Tom Hardy in Locke.

You hear Tom Hardy’s Ivan Locke before you see his face. Hardy has spoken about the mistaken origins of his attempt at a Richard Burton-esque Welsh brogue, but the dialect is the least important aspect of how the choice functions in acting. Locke’s accent makes his voice measured and plaintive, remaining a calmly placating force across his telephone conversations as he journeys across the British Isles one fateful night.

Steven Knight’s surprisingly tense script sets the groundwork for the surprising tension of Locke, but it’s Hardy’s performance that creates the compelling emotional drama out of events as mundane as a concrete pour. Any singular character piece like this inevitably relies heavily on its sole performer, and Hardy proves himself both actor and star, contorting his charisma so that Locke’s passion for his abandoned job and his complex dedication to both his wife and the other woman he is travelling to see are clear just by the way Hardy’s eyes shine. 

Knight’s chamber play doesn’t even allow Hardy the luxury of standing up once he enters the car at the beginning, limiting the actor even further. It’s a remarkable acting challenge, but the emotional delicacy Hardy is able to develop from just his voice, face and hands is an incredibly graceful experience. Locke is a character defined through his relationships to the people on the end of the phone (and a ghost in the backseat), and the way Hardy softly modulates his voice across the course of seismic emotional shifts creates an intimacy that Knight’s script might otherwise have precluded through its decisive audio choreography. Simply watching the contours of his face and how different they have become by the film’s end is more compelling than the majority of films released this year.

Other FYCs 
Original Screenplay, The Babadook
Original Score, The Immigrant
Supporting Actress, Gone Girl
Visual FX, Under the Skin
Cinematography, The Homesman
Outstanding Ensembles

Saturday
Nov292014

Meet the Contenders: Benedict Cumberbatch "The Imitation Game"

Each weekend a profile on a just-opened Oscar contender. Here's abstew on this weekend's new release, THE IMITATION GAME.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game

Best Actor

Born: Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch was born 19 July 1976 in London, England 

The Role: Norwegian film director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) makes his English-language film debut with this film starring Cumberbatch as real-life British mathematician Alan Turing, who during WWII was in charge of a team that cracked Germany's Enigma code, thus making it able for the Allies to win the war. The film jumps back and forth between three periods in Turing's life, primarily focusing on his work during the war, his early days as a lonely youth in boarding school, and his post-war conviction for gross indecency after admitting to his homosexuality.

The film had been in development for a few years since Graham Moore's script topping the annual Black List in 2011. At one point Leonardo DiCaprio was attached to star and directors such as Ron Howard and David Yates had shown interest before eventually landing with Tyldum and Cumberbatch.  

Click to read more ...