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Entries in Joaquin Phoenix (20)

Sunday
Dec212014

FYC: Josh Brolin in "Inherent Vice" for Best Supporting Actor

And so we come to the end of our individually chosen FYCs. Amir, our team coordinator, is off for a month long holiday (!) which leaves myself, Nathaniel, your immortal but ever running-late host to wrap things up. To recap: we asked each team member to write up a personal favorite longshot* from one specific category. Here's the final entry in the series, a performance I really love in a film I really don't.

Why highlight a film I don't care for? Because it's important to remember during all-or-nothing awards season that each individual element of a film is different than the big picture and ought to be treated as such for the purposes of awardage.

Which brings us to...

See, it wasn't just the eternal sunshine of California or the vast vistas of desert land and salt water. It wasn't even really the hazy hash-filled air that P.T. Anderson's troupe was breathing. But I was parched and hungry the whole time I was watching Inherent Vice. I needed a fresh water oasis in the salty Pynchonian desert and Josh Brolin came to my rescue as "Bigfoot". Repeatedly. Fortunately he was also hungry, orally fixated you might say, and an eager lunch companion.

Like many characters in the film he's introduced with wonderfully descriptive prose that one assumes is lifted from the novel for voiceover. Brolin's introduction is in glorious widescreen longshot. The V.O.:

Like a bad luck planet in today's horoscope, here's the ol' hippie-hating mad dog himself in the flesh, Lieutenant Detective Christian F. "Big Foot" Bjornsen, SAG member, John Wayne walk, flat top, of Flintstone proportions, and that little evil shit twinkle in his eyes that says 'civil rights violations'" 

Brolin just owns this, presenting as a black & white Western rectangle stiffly inserting itself into the movie's otherwise geometrically ragged and fringed array of colorful people. Of course you can't see an evil shit twinkle in someone's eyes in long or medium shot but you can hear it in their voice.

Congratulations hippie scum! Welcome to a world of inconvenience"

Immediately we move to Bigfoot's office where the detective taunts Doc Sportello with carefully chosen words and obscene self-lubricated hand gestures; he's always shoving things into his mouth: frozen bananas, fingers, diner food. Brolin's line readings aren't just well delivered but perfectly balanced and heaped, as if he's collecting the best syllables on a fork, whichever wons have the most condescending flavor. The actor captures how natural all of this comes to Bigfoot now, that its both performative for Doc and completely innate in Bigfoot's character (we instantly register that the performance is now the reality after numerous pre-movie variations of these same conversations between the two detectives) since he's even doing the same things when he's out of view on the phone or half lost in his own strictly business thoughts when he's eating.

BigFoot's buzzkill nature would be suffocating if Brolin didn't find so many ways to play the notes. And though Bigfoot is mean to stand in opposition to the movie's other characters, he'd be totally at odds with the movie's loose hippie daze tone if he also weren't so damn funny. There are a great many people who think Inherent Vice is a good time movie in and of itself. Whether or not that proves to be your experience know this: it's a far greater party every single time Josh Brolin shows up to crash it.

Motto pankēki!" 

*I selected Brolin before his BFCA nomination so perhaps he's not quite as improbable as expected in a low key supporting actor competition, so I'm crossing my fingers... or licking them in Bigfoot's honor.

RELATED
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR CHART  

Each Longshot FYCs In Case You Missed Any
Actor, Locke | Actress, Belle | Supp. Actress, Gone Girl | Supp. Actor, Inherent Vice
Picture, Obvious Child |  Adapted Screenplay, A Most Wanted Man 
Sound Mixing, Grand Budapest HotelCostume, The Boxtrolls 
Cinematography, Homesman | Prod. Design, Enemy | Editing, Citizenfour  

Short-Lived Longshot FYCs = Academy Thought Otherwise
Makeup, Only Lovers Left Alive (eliminated) | FX, Under the Skin (eliminated)
Screenplay, The Babadook (ineligible) | ScoreThe Immigrant (eliminated)

Tuesday
Oct142014

Top 10 Things We Learned from the 52nd New York Film Festival

To close out our New York Film Festival coverage for the year, a quartet of takeaways from this annual highly curated celebration of international cinema. NYFF doesn't have a broad selection like a lot of festivals but there were goodies. I've asked each member of our team to send me a top ten list of things they learned (we did not consult each other on our lists).

I'll start

NATHANIEL'S TOP TEN NYFF TAKEAWAYS

1. 17 years after Boogie Nights, Julianne Moore is still 'the foxiest bitch in the world'

2. Birdman has a smorgasbord of quotable lines. My favorite on first viewing:

Popularity is just the slutty cousin of prestige."

3. Marion Cotillard is getting so mesmerizingly authentic onscreen pretty soon she's going to walk right off of it in character like she's reenacting The Purple Rose of Cairo. (I apologize for the image: no one wants to think of the Dardenne Brothers going 3-D.)

4. You should never ever sit in the middle of a row of a long-ass Mike Leigh movie if you are feeling sick. My half-apologies to my row mates who you have no right to take up aisle seats if you're uncomfortable moving for the people in the middle.

More including Whiplash, Birdman, Inherent Vice, and Channing Tatum's boots after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct132014

NYFF: A Conversation About "Inherent Vice"

Hello dear readers. Your host Nathaniel here for our penultimate article on this year's New York Film Festival. I hope you've enjoyed the reviews from Glenn, Michael, Jason and me. Several people have asked why none of us reviewed Inherent Vice or if any of us had seen it. Strangely we all were there. But then no one claimed it so we've opted to have a conversation about it at least in part to figure out what held us back. Let's begin...

NATHANIEL R: It just goes to show you you never know. Alejandro G. Innaritu is one of my least favorite wildly acclaimed auteurs and Paul Thomas Anderson is one of my all time favorite wildly acclaimed auteurs. And yet here I am at the end of New York Film Festival after screenings of Birdman and Inherent Vice and guess who provided cinematic ecstacy and guess who gave a bad trip? It's Opposite World!

I reach out to you Glenn, Jason, and Michael to help me parse my feelings since you've also been devouring the NYFF. The Inherent Vice screening was a full week ago and I am no closer to writing anything about it. I keep hearing that it's a perfect stoner movie.  Do I not like it because I am not into weed (so perfectly capturing that feeling would be lost on me) or because it's simply not good: shapeless, meandering, super-indulgent, and purposefully incoherent?

[more]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Mar132014

Thoughts I Had... While Staring at Lindsay's Lohan's Alleged Sex Partner List

Maybe you're one of those ready-first-thing types? To the rest of you I apologize. If you were online yesterday (and when aren't you?) you probably saw this list which is rumored to be in Lindsay Lohan's own all caps writing, detailing her sexual history.  

After the [NSFW] jump, thoughts I had in the order they came to me

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan292014

We Can't Wait #5: Inherent Vice

[Editor's Note: We Can't Wait is a Team Experience series, in which we highlight our top 14 most anticipated films of 2014. Here's Amir Soltani on "Inherent Vice."]

Inherent Vice
Doc Sportello, a perennially buzzed detective in Los Angeles at the beginning of the 70s, gets himself tangled up in a mess with former lovers, low life gangsters, prostitutes, billionaire crooks, a ship called Golden Fang and a whole lotta people with really weird names.

Talent
One of America’s greatest filmmakers, Paul Thomas Anderson, is behind the camera and one of America’s greatest actors, Joaquin Phoenix, is in front of it. Cinematographer Robert Elswit is collaborating with the director again after a one-film break, as is composer Jonny Greenwood. Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Martin Short, Reese Witherspoon and P.T.'s partner Maya Rudolph fill out the rest of the cast list.

Maya Rudolph in "Inherent Vice"

Why We Can’t Wait
With Paul Thomas Anderson’s name attached, little else is needed to drum up excitement. In my opinion, he has directed three spotless masterpieces (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood and The Master) and the rest of his filmography is as compelling as it is provocative. His is a singular and vital voice in modern American cinema. But there’s another factor at play here too: Inherent Vice is one of my favorite novels of recent years, and one of Pynchon’s most polished and coherent works. Its relatively modest scale should lend itself better to adaptation than the rest of his bibliography.

It will also be interesting to see Anderson in a more relaxed mood again. Vice has the potential to take him back to the Altman-esque structure he so successfully utilized in Boogie Nights, both because of its sprawling cast of colorful characters and its bitter humor and casual insight into the Angelenos counterculture. Few directors can get an ensemble to click as comfortably as Anderson does and it’d be a shame if he never used that gift again. If adapted faithfully, Doc Sportello is more central to the narrative than Dirk Diggler was, but there’s still plenty of meat for everyone else to chew on here. Plus, look at that cast! It’s mouthwatering. So good, in fact, that I’m willing to forgive the presence of Reese Witherspoon!

But We Do Have To Wait
Warner Brothers has the distribution rights, but we know we have to wait a while. None of Anderson’s films have been released earlier than mid-September on the calendar, and chances are this one won’t be an exception. A festival bow in Venice is likely; one in Toronto is almost inevitable.

Previously on "We Can't Wait"
06 Into the Woods
07 Snowpiercer
08 Nymphomaniac
09 Boyhood,
10 Big Eyes,
11 The Last 5 Years,
12 Gone Girl 
13 Can a Song Save Your Life 
14 Veronica Mars 
runners up  just missed the cut.