Sunday, February 26, 2017

In Character: 2016 Oscar Nominees Edition

With the Oscars set to role today, I thought it’d be fun to take a quick look at the careers of all the acting nominees. Be sure to let me know your favorite performances by each nominee!

Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Notable Roles: To Die For, Good Will Hunting, The Assassination of Jesse James…, Gone Baby Gone

Best Role: Manchester by the Sea, no question. What eternal dread the man encapsulated.

Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Notable Roles: Boy A, Red Riding 1974-1983, Never Let Me Go, 99 Homes, Silence

Best Role: Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network. I still can’t believe he wasn’t nominated for that.

Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Notable Roles: The Believer, The Notebook, Half Nelson, Drive, The Place Beyond the Pines

Best Role: Blue Valentine. I adore him in Half Nelson, but his transformation in Blue Valentine devastates me.

Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Notable Roles: The Indian Runner, The Lord of the Rings, Eastern Promises, The Road

Best Role: I’ll always be most drawn to his secretive Tom Stall in A History of Violence. There’s just something about that movie I absolutely love.

Denzel Washington – Fences
Notable Roles: Glory, Philadelphia, The Hurricane, Training Day, American Gangster, Flight

Best Role: Malcolm X. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow – it will always be Malcolm X.

Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Notable Roles: Violette Nozière, Time of the Wolf, Abuse of Weakness, Louder than Bombs, Things to Come

Best Role: Huppert’s filmography is full of perfect performances. She’s genuinely one of the finest actors to ever grace the screen. I’ll go with The Piano Teacher. But her work in Elle should be regarded as some of the best she’s ever done.

Ruth Negga – Loving
Notable Roles: Breakfast on PlutoWorld War Z, Jimi: All Is by My Side, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Best Role: Loving, no question. She’s likely to have a career surge following this nomination.

Natalie Portman – Jackie
Notable Roles: Leon, Star Wars Episodes I-III, Garden State, Closer, V for Vendetta

Best Role: Portman carries Jackie, and does some of her finest work to date in it, but her work in Black Swan was next-level dedicated.

Emma Stone – La La Land
Notable Roles: Superbad, Zombieland, Easy A, The Help, Birdman

Best Role: I love her angst in Birdman, but she stole my heart in La La Land. I have no problem calling Mia her best work.

Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins
Notable Roles: Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, Adaptation, The Devil Wears Prada, Doubt

Best Role: You could pick any of the roles I already mentioned, but I’m sticking with The Deer Hunter. Such innocence, such longing.

Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Notable Roles: The Place Beyond the Pines, Treme, House of Cards, Luke Cage, Hidden Figures

Best Role: Tough call. I’ve loved his work on House of Cards, but it’s unfair to judge the hours of screentime he’s had on that show against supporting film performances. Noting that, I’m going with Moonlight.

Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Notable Roles: The Last Picture Show, Starman, The Fisher King, The Contender, Crazy Heart, True Grit

Best Role: My favorite: The Big Lebowski. His “best”: too tough to call.

Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Notable Roles: Moonrise Kingdom, Labor Day, The Zero Theorem, The Slap

Best Role: It isn’t Manchester by default. It’s Manchester because they kid is so damn good in it.

Dev Patel – Lion
Notable Roles: Skins, Slumdog Millionaire, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Newsroom

Best Role: In Lion, Patel showed dramatic acting chops I didn’t know he had in him.

Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals
Notable Roles: Bug, Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, Mud, Boardwalk Empire, 99 Homes

Best Role: So difficult to choose. I’ll stick with Revolutionary Road, but any of those performances I listed (and a handful others, too), would be justifiable picks.

Viola Davis – Fences
Notable Roles: Antwone Fisher, World Trade Center, Doubt, The Help, How to Get Away with Murder

Best Role: For me, it’s always been her one scene wonder in Antwone Fisher. Until I saw Fences. Ms. Davis, your Oscar is waiting.

Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Notable Roles: 28 Days Later, Miami Vice, Skyfall, Southpaw, Spectre

Best Role: Paula in Moonlight. And to think, she filmed her entire role in three days. Incredible.

Nicole Kidman – Lion
Notable Roles: To Die For, Eyes Wide Shut, Moulin Rouge!, The Hours, Birth, Margot at the Wedding

Best Role: The insurmountable grief she brought to Rabbit Hole is something I haven’t seen from her before or since.

Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Notable Roles: Bad Santa, Coach Carter, The Help, Snowpiercer, Black or White, Mom

Best Role: The compassion and restraint she brought to her Fruitvale Station character is something I’ll never forget.

Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea
Notable Roles: Dawson’s Creek, Brokeback Mountain, Wendy and Lucy, Take this Waltz, My Week with Marilyn

Best Role: Blue Valentine. Similar to Ryan Gosling, Williams has delivered numerous stellar roles in her still-young career. But the anguish she brings to her Blue Valentine character is so palpable.

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  1. Yeah Gosling in Blue Valentine was insanely good. So ridiculous how this he wasn't nominated for but prancing around and playing keyboard he is. Each year in Oscar competition is different but sometimes when you look back at what loses (Fiennes in SL) and what wins (probably Ali tonight) it's just...unbelievable.

    1. I agree. It's beneficial to keep perspective. A lot of times, no one is even talking about who or what won Oscars 6 months later. A good movie/performance is just that, whether it was awarded or not.

  2. Looking forward to the awards...and always good to see your picks!

    1. Thanks Dawn! Great to hear from you! Was fun tweeting with you last night.

  3. Great picks. Some of these are really impossible to choose a favorite for. Here are my picks as well.

    Best Actor:
    Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
    Andrew Garfield - The Social Network (I definitely agree with you here. That snub was unbelievable. He was fantastic in this movie.)
    Ryan Gosling - Drive (I just love this movie and Ryan was perfect in it.)
    Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises
    Denzel Washington - Training Day

    Best Actress:
    Isabelle Huppert - I have not actually seen a single movie she has been in. I need to fix that.
    Ruth Negga - Preacher
    Natalie Portman - Black Swan
    Emma Stone - La La Land (It was a hard choice between this and Birdman, but in the end it was her charming performance here that won me over.)
    Meryl Streep - Adaptation

    Best Supporting Actor:
    Mahershala Ali - Moonlight (But i must also mention his excellent performance in Luke Cage. That show nosedived the second he left.)
    Jeff Bridges - The Big Lebowski
    Lucas Hedges - Manchester by the Sea
    Dev Patel - Slumdog Millionaire (I have not gotten around to watching Lion yet)
    Michael Shannon - Boardwalk Empire (This was an almost impossible choice. He is definitely one of my favorite actors working today.)

    Best Supporting Actress:
    Viola Davis - Fences
    Naomie Harris – Moonlight
    Nicole Kidman - Eyes Wide Shut
    Octavia Spencer - Fruitvale Station (She was snubbed for her performance here.)
    Michelle Williams - Brokeback Mountain

    Looking forward to hate watching the show tonight.

    1. GREAT picks. Definitely track down a Isabelle Huppert when you can. She understands melancholy so well. Hard pressed to think of another current performer who can better tap into it.

  4. Best Actor:
    Casey Affleck – Definitely Manchester by the Sea. Can't forget that performance easily. I need to watch asap The Assassination of Jesse James.
    Andrew Garfield – The Social Network too.
    Ryan Gosling – Tough call between Blue Valentine / Half Nelson. So glad you included The Believer.
    Viggo Mortensen – A History of Violence too, but even with little screen time I loved his Freud in A Dangerous Method and his performance in The Indian Runner.
    Denzel Washington – You said it: Malcolm X. He was Malcolm X. Can’t believe he didn’t win for that one. I know it went to Pacino, and he's one of the best, but that role deserved an Oscar.

    Best Actress:
    Isabelle Huppert – The Piano Teacher. I think it’s one of the best performances in cinema history. I also adore her in many Chabrol films. Have to watch Elle yet.
    Ruth Negga – Have only seen her on Breakfast on Pluto and World War Z. Can’t wait to watch Loving.
    Natalie Portman – Black Swan / Leon because she was so good there for her age.
    Emma Stone – Birdman. I simply love ‘Sam’. That character is close to me in some aspects and it has stuck with me.
    Meryl Streep – The Deer Hunter. You described it perfectly.

    Best Supporting Actor:
    Mahershala Ali – I have only seen him in The Place Beyond the Pines. Can’t wait to watch Moonlight.
    Jeff Bridges – I’ll go with Peter Weir’s Fearless. But it’s so hard to choose… it’s one of my mother’s favorite actors (and now mine too) so I’ve seen his entire filmography with her since I was a kid.
    Lucas Hedges - Manchester by the Sea, he was very good there.
    Dev Patel – Have only seen him on Skins and he wasn't bad there.
    Michael Shannon – Tough too, as it happens with Bridges he's one of my faves and he's done plenty of good roles on films I like… I’ll go with Take Shelter because he made me care about him and be afraid of him at the same time. And your list reminds me I need to watch Shotgun Stories.

    Best Supporting Actress:
    Viola Davis – I’ve only seen her in little roles like Solaris, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Prisoners, World Trade and other bunch of films and I’ve always liked her. Hope to see Fences soon.
    Naomie Harris – I didn't like her much in Mandela but I didn’t even like Idris Elba as I expected as the film/script was a bit of a mess for me, so I’ll have to wait to watch her in Moonlight.
    Nicole Kidman – The Portrait of a Lady and second would be Birth. Adding Rabbit Hole to my “must watch” list.
    Octavia Spencer – Fruitvale Station.
    Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine is my favorite too. But I also loved her little roles from Shutter Island and Manchester by the sea.

    1. AWESOME! Love your praise for Huppert in that movie. I mean... everytime... wow.

      Streep in The Deer Hunter!! Great stuff. And Portrait of a Lady is an interesting pick for Kidman. I haven't seen that in so long. Need to check it out again. Actually a Directors post on Jane Campion seems woefully overdue...

  5. Jesus the awards were rough. These are cool to see tho, and yeah, I can't get Blue Valentine out of my head since I saw it last year.

    1. Yeah they were somethin' else, for sure. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Glad you like Blue Valentine! One of my favorites.

    2. Oh if you're interested, I posted a reaction and my own awards earlier, if you could let me know what you think that'd be awesome xD

  6. I can't believe that Andrew Garfield didn't get nominated for Social Network either, he brought the emotion to the story arc. And Blue Valentine is so depressing but Ryan Gosling makes everything work.

    Great post and great blog!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Lauren! Blue Valentine is such a gut punch but I absolutely love that movie.

  7. Love when you do these posts. Another great entry into the series. Gosling and Williams in Blue is right. Glad you picked that film for both of their bests. I'm also very glad you correctly picked the performance in Fruitvale Station as Spencer's best and NOT The Help. I need to see Lion. It's just really tough to wrap my head around the idea that Dev Patel gave an Oscar nominated performance. And yes, yesterday, today, and tomorrow – it will always be Malcolm X.

    1. Thanks man, I'm so glad you like them! Yeah, The Help... not a film for me. I thought it was the literal definition of whitewashing. Bleh. Lion really surprised me. It tapped into my heart in a way I wasn't expecting. Patel gives a good performance, but I wouldn't have nominated him over other supporting roles from last year. Chris Pine & Ben Foster, Ashton Sanders, Shia LaBouf, Liam Nesson, were all more impressive to me.

  8. Tremendous post, Alex! I was totally moved by Octavia Spencer in Fruitvale Station, and I was convinced that she'd get nominated, but that movie as a whole got shut out.

    Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road was absolutely remarkable. It's unfair that he lost to Ledger's joker, who honestly should have been a lead role rather than supporting.

    1. Thanks Courtney! See, instances like 2008 supporting actor make me wish the Academy would release the vote percentages once the awards are over. They would never do it, but I'd love to see how many votes each nominee got. I honestly bet Robert Downey Jr was second. But who knows, damn tough category that year.

  9. Now that I'm back as I'm aware that I'm posting this nearly 2 weeks after the Oscars. Here is my breakdown:

    Best Actor

    Casey Affleck-Manchester by the Sea
    Andrew Garfield-The Social Network
    Ryan Gosling-Drive
    Viggo Mortensen-A History of Violence
    Denzel Washington-Malcolm X

    Best Actress

    Isabelle Huppert-The Piano Teacher (I have a soft spot for her performance in 8 Women and I Heart Huckabee's)
    Ruth Negga-Not enough to really give a formidable opinion
    Natalie Portman-Black Swan
    Emma Stone-La La Land
    Meryl Streep-The Devil Wears Prada

    Best Supporting Actor

    Mahershala Ali-I've only seen him in The Place Beyond the Pines but I can't really give an opinion as I need to see more of him.
    Jeff Bridges-The Big Lebowski
    Lucas Hedges-Manchester by the City
    Dev Patel-Slumdog Millionaire
    Michael Shannon-Midnight Special

    Best Supporting Actress

    Viola Davis-I haven't seen a lot of the films she's been in so again, my opinion is moot
    Naomie Harris-28 Days Later
    Nicole Kidman-To Die For
    Octavia Spencer-Fruitvale Station
    Michelle Williams-Wendy & Lucy.

    1. I appreciate the comment all the same, believe me!

      Wow we have a lot in common, and I dig it. Really groovy choice for Michael Shannon. I need to watch Midnight Special again. Only saw it the one time in the theater.