NOW PLAYING

in theaters


review index

new on DVD/BluRay


review index

HOT TOPICS



Welcome

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

Powered by Squarespace
Comment Fun

COMMENT(s) DU JOUR
Amy Adams for Janis Joplin

"It's baffling to me that Amy Adams will potentially have as many nominations as Blanchett, Winslet, Maggie Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, Thelma Ritter, Deborah Kerr, Sissy Spacek, and Glenn Close. This is weird, right?" -Aaron

"What is happening with Nina Arianda's Janis film with Sean Durkin? It's still listed as "announced" on her IMDB. Are we to assumed that it is a lost cause?" -Ryan

 

Keep TFE Strong

Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

For those who can't commit to a dime a day, consider a one time donation for an article or a series you are glad you didn't have to live without.

What'cha Looking For?
Subscribe

Entries in Best Actor (108)

Sunday
Jul132014

Tweet of the Capsule of the Dawn of The Planet of the Apes

Of the. of the. of the. Help, stuck in a prepositional loop! I regret to inform that there is no full review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) -- you may have noticed unusually sparse off my game posting -- but I press on with this exhaustively multi-tasking post. It's a list. It's a tweet roundup. It's a review.

I can't go on. I'll go on."
-Samuel Beckett 

Were I to write a traditional review of the surprisingly strong sequel to the surprisingly good Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) it would essentially be some sort of fussy expansion and tangent filled detours of these 10 points:

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul102014

Halfway Pt. 5 Best Performances

Are you getting restless about all these halfway posts? We're almost done. The Power of List compels me. There's one more halfway post to go that's basically 'The Oscar Charts are Updated!' as the coding problem I mentioned is fixed and the updates are happening behind the scenes as you read this. We must get all this halfway business behind us by Saturday morning so that we can ape out all weekend with Andy Serkis & Co and start this second half of the year off right.

Herewith...

THE GREATEST PERFORMANCES OF 2014's FIRST HALF


BEST LEADING ACTRESS: Keira Knightley does her most relaxed and fluid work ever in Begin Again as a musician at a crossroads, never letting any one aspect of the character's situation pigeonhole her emotional responses; Agata Kulesza is an abrasive and evasive presence in her first scenes in Ida as a cynical woman who is too guarded to let her affection for the niece she's just met show but the performance keeps revealing more in each scene, like a window opening up; Luminita Gheorghiu sure can hold the camera and doesn't care what you think of her complicated often unpleasant character in Child's Pose; Marion Cotillard often silent and soulful performance in The Immigrant as a Polish woman who is lured into servitude (sexual and otherwise) is a beauty; and Scarlett Johansson proves herself quite the auteur vessel in her enigmatic, curious, unpredictable, sexual and unsettlingly "off" star turn in Under the Skin.

(This was so difficult to narrow down from ten so my apologies to: Emily Blunt who gives one of the great bad-ass performances even if there's not a lot to her Edge of Tomorrow role beyond that; Angelina Jolie who gifts her wicked witch Maleficent with subtle and unfamiliar affections as well as her usual screen presence for days; Gugu Mbatha-Raw who is so beautiful when righteously aggrieved as Belle; Jenny Slate plays abrasive stand-up well and is even better at believable impulsive decision making on the fly in Obvious Child; and Agata Trzebuchowska as the silent and watchful Ida - and yes both actresses from Ida are named Agata which is funny considering the polar oppositeness.)

BEST LEADING ACTOR: Russell Crowe reminds us he's a movie star with his commanding title performance in Noah, a strange collision of righteous pacifism and violent obsessivenessRalph Fiennes is brilliant as the perfect concierge in Grand Budapest Hotel not quite playing against type but subverting his usual sophisticated cad with new comic energy and a remarkably innocent carnality; It's Jake Gyllenhaal versus Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy and it's easy to tell the characters apart (and argue about preferences) which is a real coup for this perpetually underrated if well employed actor; And finally James McAvoy seriously owns X-Men: Days of Future Past in his second go-round as Professor Xavier, never phoning it in (always a danger with reprisals... his co-stars are much flatter than before) and absolutely committing to the genre, the emotional logic of the highly convoluted plotline and Xavier's combustible feelings for his co-stars and his desire not to feel at all.

 (...and I'm going to stop there at four since I cheated on the next category with six though please note that I also appreciated the work of Aaron Paul who is believably limited in the parental skills department as a grieving widower in Hellion, Pierre Deladonchamps who serves Stranger by the Lake's vision with unobtrusive being on camera as opposite to "Acting!", Chris Evans minimalist but effective leading man skills twice over in Captain America: The Winter Snowpiercer and Colin Firth's Firthishness as filtered through PTSD and bookishness in The Railway Man.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: I cheated with six women (Shut up! I don't do such things once we get official. You know that by now.) but at the moment I'm going with Jillian Bell who is so much the comic MVP of 22 Jump Street that it positively hurts... like a punch to the face; Rose Byrne who is sharp, sexy, funny and alive to all the ways she refuses to play a stock wife character in Neighbors; Laura Dern, The Face, who gives The Fault in Our Stars its most genuine tears; Gaby Hoffman who is a complicating but also soothing and sobering presence (neat trick) in the funny Obvious Child; Scarlett Johansson in Captain America 2 who is getting better and better all the time (and she was no slouch at the start) and proves it by upping her Black Widow game every damn time infusing character, layers and specificity into the mandatory surface sexiness and showmanship; and I'm holding a spot open for Uma Thurman in Nymphomaniac because.... well... let's talk about that one next week since both Volumes just came out on DVD.

(I'd tip my hat to several other ladies too -- how much time do you have? -- but none were quite on this level so let's not list them all. But please know that this does not mean that I am any less obsessed with Tilda (who was possibly genius but also possibly bad... I'm still deciding... in Snowpiercer) or Nicole (whose role was a dud even if her performance wasn't in The Railway Man, sorry about it.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: May I abstain? No. Fine... I guess I'd go with Patrick D'Assumçao for fish-out-of-water directness and unfussy depression in Stranger by the Lake; Song Kang-Ho for embracing the selfish agenda of his character while giving generously to the spark of Snowpiercer; Adam Levine for surprisingly natural ease with acting in Begin Again - no false notes; and Jeff Goldblum and Tony Revolori from Grand Budapest Hotel though I should see the film again before justifying those names with any explicit commentary on their performances; And I'd make those five choices while glancing over at Scoot McNairy (The Rover), Jeremy Renner (The Immigrant), Wyatt Russell (22 Jump Street), Christopher Walken (Jersey Boys), Jake Lacy (Obvious Child), and everyone else in Snowpiercer and wishing all dozen or so men either had more complicated characters to play, more screen time to prove themselves, or were just a bit more transcendent of the limitations of their roles. I like all of these performances but it's been an uneventful year in this particular category. 

LIMITED OR CAMEO ACTRESS: Emma Levie is somehow malevolent and frightening without doing much at all in Snowpiercer; Alison Pill is an atypical joy in one of Snowpiercer's oddest scenes; Susan Prior does a lot with a very little in her extended scene in The Rover as a dog loving doctor - the movie doesn't care about her but she sure cares about the movie; Charlotte Rampling wows and completely elevates Young & Beautiful in one of its last scenes; and Tilda Swinton is sublime and memorable as the horny ancient heiress in Grand Budapest Hotel who sets the plot in motion.

LIMITED OR CAMEO ACTOR: Matthew Goode is believably progressive and stalwart in a very short bit in Belle; Harvey Keitel and Edward Norton are great fun in their small roles in Grand Budapest Hotel; Luke Pasqualino is magnetic in a nearly silent role in Snowpiercer; and Craig Roberts is hilariously deadpan as "Ass Juice" in the raunchy comedy Neighbors

And I'll end with a tweet about Luke Pasqualino because it's uncool that more people aren't talking about him...

 

 

Oh wait one more...
BEST ENSEMBLE: Grand Budapest Hotel; Neighbors; Obvious Child; Snowpiercer; Young and Beautiful

YOUR TURN. Which performances and characters were you just wild for in these past six months?

 

Friday
Jun062014

1964: Rod Steiger in The Pawnbroker

Tim here. Ordinarily, I take this space to talk about animation, but with it being 1964 Month at the Film Experience, I wanted to go someplace else – not least because the state of animation in 1964 was not terribly exciting, unless you’re one of those people for whom a semicentennial tribute to Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear sounds like the absolute best conversation we could be having.

Instead, I’d like to use this bully pulpit to call attention to one of my perpetual favorite picks for Hugely Underrated American Film Masterpiece You All Need to Have Seen, Like, Yesterday: The Pawnbroker, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Rod Steiger, who received an Oscar nomination. It premiered 50 years ago this very month, in competition at the 14th Berlin International Film Festival (they festival’ed differently in those days), not premiering until the following year in the States due to its nudity and generally sour tone. A half of a century has, beyond question, blunted the impact of the movie’s most boundary-pushing elements (not least being the fact that naked women have become so blandly normalized in mainstream film, a development this very movie did a tremendous amount to encourage), and even its then-unprecedented engagement with the Holocaust, including the first scene in an American film set in a concentration camp, feels a little quaint today.

But the grime of humanity isn’t so easily wiped away, and Steiger’s devastatingly committed performance – it’s the best thing he ever did, I’d say, though I’m admittedly dubious about Steiger as often as not – is still a raging powerhouse of human torment. Lord knows The Pawnbroker isn’t any fun, but it’s moving and visceral like few films then or now would dare to be.

More...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
May242014

Cannes Diary: "Foxcatcher" and Best Actor, "Clouds of Sils Maria" and Actresses

Diana Drumm reporting from Cannes for The Film Experience

With the Palme d’Or announcement looming over the Croisette, critics and casual filmgoers are scattering to catch the festival favorites screening throughout the Palais and/or selecting their bets for the Awards ceremony. Yours truly is in a bizarre, hazy limbo between the two, writing up what’s left of my coverage and running to more screenings. Without further rambling, here are two more competition films (an Oscar favorite and an indie to look out for) along with my personal pick for Best Actor. Will Jane Campion and jury agree? 

Foxcatcher
Bennett Miller’s true story drama looks at the relationship between Olympic wrestlers Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) and American old money heir John E. du Pont (Steve Carell), that would lead to a point-blank murder. Opening with black-and-white footage of a foxhunt (horses, hounds, riding gear) on the du Pont Foxcatcher estate, the film then cuts to Mark Schultz in not quite as posh straits, getting paid $20 to give a speech to an elementary school and chowing down on lukewarm ramen. So when he gets the call that John E. du Pont (apparently an avid wrestling enthusiast despite his status and it being a sweaty arm sport) wants to fly him out to meet, Mark leaps at the chance before getting any specifics on du Pont...  

Click to read more ...

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...

Click to read more ...

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...]

Click to read more ...