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Entries in Best Actor (104)

Saturday
May032014

First Round Oscar Predix: Leading Actor

Oh how I love this time of year. When anything is possible...

There's no easy way to break down what might come to pass in 2014's Best Actor race. Numerous Oscar winners like Russell Crowe, Tommy Lee Jones, Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, Christoph Waltz could be in play if they or their films deliver. Actors who've been nominated but have yet to win like Robert Downey Jr, Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, and Ralph Fiennes could also be campaigned for gold.

What's more exciting about 2014 is the plethora of men who've never been honored from comebacks like Michael Keaton  (in a possibly plum fusion or role and star in Birdman) to a handful who feel like they're at just the right career moment for the Academy to say "Join the club!", either because they're in demand right about now or because they've been doing fine work for a long time without walking the red carpet much.

In this latter category several of them are playing real life roles which is often a leg up with Oscar... unless everyone is playing a real life role in which case, that advantage is cut off at the knees, don'cha think? Consider these seven never nominated players:  Tobey Maguire as chess prodigy Bobby Fischer; Eddie Redmayne as theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in Theory of Everything; Benedict Cumberbatch as gay codebreaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game; Timothy Spall as the eccentric painter Mr Turner; Steve Carell as wealthy schizo benefactor John du Pont in Foxcatcher; Jack O'Connell as soldier/Olympian Louis Zamperini in Unbroken; and Chadwick Boseman as singer James Brown in Get On Up.

And that's just scratching the surface...

 

The Chart!
Which of these men are you most looking forward to seeing in their new roles? And if you controlled the tier rankings, who would you place up top as Most Likely To Be Nominated at this ridiculously early juncture? Sound off. 

Monday
Apr282014

Tribeca: Locked Up with Daddy Issues

More Tribeca reporting from Abstew

Later this year, young British actor Jack O'Connell has the potential to breakout in a big way when he takes on the lead role as real-life hero Louis Zamperini in the Angelina Jolie directed Oscar-bait film, Unbroken. But before seeing him in the noble prestige film in December, O'Connell gets down and dirty in David Mackenzie's excellent prison drama Starred Up. Eric Love (O'Connell) is a 19-year-old inmate that despite his young age is such a violent threat that he has been 'starred up' to join older convicts in a high security adult penitentiary. O'Connell bites into the role, and quite literally - in an early tussle with the the guards he clamps down on one of their testicles. O'Connell makes his dangerous young prisoner unpredictable and unsettlingly charismatic.

Although we are never informed of what Eric has actually done to land him in prison, judging from the way he quickly acclimates himself in his new cell (fashioning a weapon out of the melted end of a toothbrush and the blade of his safety razor, knowing the perfect hiding place to store it when he needs it), it's not hard to imagine prison has already played a large part in shaping his young life. Perhaps his issues can be traced back to his own convict father? As fate would have it, Eric's new confines include none other than his fellow inmate, dear ol' dad, Neville (Aussie actor Ben Mendelsohn once again bringing nuance and complexity to the role of a volatile thug, as he did in both Animal Kingdom and The Place Beyond the Pines).

More...

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Wednesday
Apr092014

Mickey Rooney (RIP)

I came to the news of Mickey Rooney's passing late due to my offline vacation but it wouldn't be right to not mention it here at the musicals-loving The Film Experience. My first exposure to Mickey Rooney, as far as I remember, was Babes in Arms (1939) for which he was Oscar nominated at 19. I think my parents took us to see it at an awesome revival house in Detroit. Tweens and teenagers, who always fear being uncool, aren't supposed to love old black and white movies made many decades before they were born but cinephiles and/or musical-fanatics are a different breed and I had no shame whatsoever about seeking them out. [More...]

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Monday
Mar242014

Monologue: Sterling Archer, Burt Reynolds & Dead Bodies

Have you ever watched Archer? I had tuned in here or there but hadn't ever committed. This weekend I binge watched about 10 episodes and now I'm madly in love. I'm beginning to think it's one of the great sitcoms, each character is so fully defined and there are jokes of so many varieties, not just verbal but visual and physical and recurring and always true to character. One of my favorite recurring gags is Archer's obsession with Burt Reynolds. In the Season 2 episode "Pipeline Fever" he keeps talking about Gator (1976) since he and his ex-girlfriend/coworker are going to the swamp. They're arguing about the element of surprise when Archer gets distracted.

Which is why mobility is key. And how will we achieve mobility, huh? An airboat, Lana. Just like Burt Reynolds in White Lightning. Not to mention Gator! Which... even though it's a sequel I think it's the stronger of the two films.

Remember Jerry Reed's character in Gator? McCall? No? Well, whatever. Check this out, I stol--borrowed it from Woodhouse? RIGHT! It's just like in Gator.

Archer has blown their cover by pulling a gun and an air marshall is now pointing a gun at them. Later in the episode he shows up in an outfit that read suspiciously like Burt's insanely memorable rubber vest from Deliverance (1972) though it's not remarked upon.

Which brings us to a Burt Reynolds speech from that great 70s picture

What to do with a dead body... what to do? That's always a (movie) question. Fifty-three minutes into the classic Deliverance (1972), the shit has hit the fan or, rather, the men have already squealed like pigs. Four increasingly unhinged friends are now freaking out over the fresh corpse in their midst. Drew (Ronny Cox) in particular wants to be done with their time in the woods and turn things over to the law. Burt Reynolds has the answer in his greatest pre-Boogie Nights role (the one he was famously Oscar snubbed for).

 

You let me worry about that, Drew. You let me take care of that. You know what's going to be here, right here? A Lake! Far as you can see. Hundreds of feet deep. Hundreds of feet deep!

Did you ever look out over a lake? Think about something buried underneath it. Buried underneath it!

Man, that's about as buried as you can get.


It must have been tempting to film Burt's take-charge moment entirely in tight sweaty closeup. That's exactly what a modern filmmaker would do, beholden as they now all are to constant closeups and the TV-centric emphasis on the dead center of each frame, as if stardom can't be grasped if more than one person inhabits any frame. Thankfully, director John Boorman, his Oscar nominated editor Tom Priestley and the great cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond trust that alpha male star Burt Reynolds doesn't need any help in seizing a scene.

Instead we get a riveting and creepy mix of longshots, closeups, and slow pans which never let's us forget any of the players, their specific relationships to one another ...and especially the unsettling constant presence of that intruding dead body, draped inelegantly across a tree branch.

 

previous monologues

 

Monday
Mar032014

The Beautiful People

The Class of 2013 via The 86th Academy Awards,  March 2nd, 2014!

Damn, that's a good looking bunch. It occurs to me that there was more than just a little bit more of a consensus this year behind "shoulds" when it came to acting winners, hence the repeats from ceremony to ceremony. That was true even here at The Film Experience. Though McConaughey didn't win his reader's poll here (he came in 3rd in a tight race for 2nd with Chiwetel, both behind Leo), the rest were your preferred winners as you can see on their percentage totals on the individual charts. And Cate and Lupita were also my gold medalists in the The Film Experience's long running Film Bitch Awards, too.

Group Tidbits & Trivia
• Cate and Matthew are the exact same age (44) and I wonder when or if that's ever happened before with the lead winners? It probably doesn't happen often given Oscar's double gender standards when it comes to what age its appropriate to honor male and female actors; generally speaking, women win most often when they're in their late 20s to mid 30s wherease men have much better luck in their 40s.
• The lead winners are both married and both have three children. The supporting winners are both single and keep publicly joking about the rumors that they're dating

Jennifer and Lupita reenact the last month of the internet backstage!

• another cute Lead/Supporting divide. The leads brought their spouses to the Oscars and both Lupita and Jared brought a sibling!
• Interesting gender divide in terms of origins. The women are international (Australia and Kenyan/Mexican) while the men are both from the Southern US (Texas and Louisiana)
• All four went to college --  so since Ellen went there with a joke: stay in school, kids

Jared Leto photobombing Anne Hathaway

• Cate is the old pro (6 noms / 2 wins) but the other three are all 'first time's the charm' winners
• I interviewed 75% of this group, alas not a perfect fab four: ICYMI my chats with Matthew, Jared, & Lupita
• Four different zodiac signs but we have two waters (Matthew & Lupita) and two earths (Cate & Jared) and yes, I have insomnia, or else why else would I be looking this up?!

Wednesday
Feb262014

4 Days Til Oscar. 4 Time Acting Nominees Leo & Julia

If Oscars were given out for consistent box office performance (there's already a prize for that and it's called "money") Julia Roberts would have won her Oscar in the 1990s when everything she churned out was a $100 million slam dunk and Leonardo DiCaprio would have followed suit right about now for a long run of the same incredible trick. Most of Julia's big triumphs were in the popular thriller or romantic comedy genres but Leo seems to be a special case making practically anything (save the dimly lit dim of wit J. Edgar) into a $100 million grosser whether it's a foul-mouthed 3 hour comedy, a mixed review prestigious literary adaptation, or any other genre really. He might be the only mega star who is worth his full asking price given that his marketability doesn't seem to be tied to anything but his beloved creased-brow face. 

Julia and Leo both, who received their first nominations in 1989 and 1993 respectively, both won their fourth nomination for acting this year (One of Leo's five nods is for producing) though their hits far outnumber their Oscar kudos. Let's share our four most favorite performances by each. For me that's like so:

LEO: 1) Gilbert Grape ...followed by a small gap and the rest bunched together... 2) The Departed 3) The Aviator 4) Romeo + Juliet fuzzy memory now but I remember being impressed... does it hold up? Wolf of  & Catch Me would battle it out for fifth but this is a top four. So that battle will remain a draw.
JULIA: 1) Erin Brockovich 2) My Best Friend's Wedding ....followed by a huge gap, then... 3) Pretty Woman 4) Closer

Yours?

Oscar Isaac and Bruno Delbonnel on the set of "Inside Llewyn Davis"

The other 4 time nominee in their field this year is the cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel nominated for Amelie (2001), A Very Long Engagement (2004), Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009), and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). He recently completed work on Tim Burton's Big Eyes (2014) so maybe he'll be back for a fifth next year? 

Are you rooting for any of these three to win?

Monday
Feb242014

Interview: Matthew McConaughey and the Body

McConaughey and those haunted eyes in True DetectiveIt's hard to get a moment with a major movie star. They're tightly scheduled and you have to go from 0 to 60 once you're in front of them, recorder on. Nevertheless the stars themselves usually seem relaxed enough through their long promotional efforts for Oscar films as the world's slowest seated wedding line commences with one journalist after another sitting down with them one by one for a quick conversation. I'm sure our faces all blur together forming one lumpy mecha-journalist for the star. Their faces, on the other hand, remain individualized and imprinted in each of ours from frequent exposure and mythology.

The first thing I notice about Matthew McConaughey in person, apart from the inevitable "how much weight has he gained back?" instant check, is his eyes. They're blue, sure, but the darkest blue I've seen up close and more than a little intense. They're so inky blue, in fact that they look dangerous and unfamiliar despite years of movie appearances. (I hadn't yet seen True Detective in which they reappear). The voice counterbalances them surprisingly well, instantly familiar and Texas friendly.

I sat down with McConaughey last year as his Oscar buzz was building for Dallas Buyers Club (he was on a weekend break from filming Interstellar when we spoke). I was surprised to hear that despite his busy schedule he's been getting the weekends off which he says he needs though he was sacrificing some to support his now Oscar nominated film "Which I am happy to do!" he added, quickly. I had planned to stay off the topic of weight loss (he lost 47 lbs for the role), which has been discussed too often for an award-winning performance that is most impressive for its emotional content, but I made the mistake of leading with it. And it's a topic he kept drifting back to. But then, why shouldn't he? His body has hardly been easy to separate from his acting, either, whether he's playing hunky romcom leads, male strippers, pumped up dragon slayers, or, as recently, an emaciated AIDS patient or an eerily stiff and sinewy police detective.

Our interview after the jump

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