Sunday, February 17, 2013

Best Supporting Actor of 2012

My mind is scattered at the moment as I contemplate the predicament I've placed myself in. With a measly week away from the Academy Awards, I've watched the majority of the nominees, and, as impressive an accomplishment that is, there is a fatal flaw in my progress. I have not analyzed individual nominees, nor have I pitted one against the other in those "versus" comparisons I so enjoy doing. Why? Is my personal life that chaotic and occupied? For the context at hand, I will say, indubitably complicated my life is. Yoda-inversion, I'm sure you are familiar. Anyway, now that we're here, I will not waste additional blank space apologizing. That's all I seem to do lately. Honestly, how can you tolerate me? The most competitive category this year, in the Oscar race, would have to be that of the supporting actors. Each nominee has won an award in the past, a fact that eliminates the possibility for the Academy to bestow its ever-popular pity Oscar. If, for instance, Leonardo DiCaprio were nominated instead of Christoph Waltz, the choice would be fairly obvious. Then again, the Academy, for some reason, does not care for him, based on its shameful decisions before. Indeed, this race has each nominee basically at one another's necks. Of course, there are those who surpass others. I, too, have my opinions on who shall most likely win and who should most certainly win. Indulge me.

Alan Arkin for Argo - As the crusty, no-nonsense Hollywood producer, the veteran actor has absolutely no chance of winning this year, and I have no objections. Not only has he left every major awards show empty-handed thus far--something that does not bode well for an Oscar win--but his performance was very expected. Alan Arkin, generally and overall, plays the same exact character in every movie he appears in, albeit honing a different identity. Either he is a gruff father-in-law, a morose real estate salesman, a surly grandfather, or, as in Argo, a crusty Hollywood producer. Each adjective I used are synonyms of the other, proving my summation of Alan Arkin as an actor. Of course, there is nothing wrong with playing each character with the same monotone and demeanor, but why is this performance worthy of an Oscar nod and not Santa Clause 3 or Glengarry Glen Ross? Granted, the former is a joke of a production, but nevertheless: compare that with his performance in Argo and I assure you, the same character comes to light. That's his method, I suppose, speaking in varying tempos of tone (slow mumbling to start, then a loud Larry David-like manner to finish), and will remain that way until retirement. As for winning an Oscar, I'd advise him to leave the speech at home. C+

Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln
- No. I would end it there, that succinct rejection of him winning, but I really should explain why. The eternally stone-faced Jones has a certain trait that transforms his unapproachable harshness into something amusingly charming. It is that very quality that makes him so likable and even funny in the Men in Black trilogy and in Hope Springs, where a touch of sweetness was added in. There was once a time when I liked Tommy Lee Jones, in the same way I care for Harrison Ford: the center of a joke yet not enough to make him pathetic or foolish. With Lincoln, however, my views have changed. As the belligerent abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens, Tommy Lee Jones became the brusque, cantankerous misanthrope he was aiming to be perceived as for all these years. Because his character was so keen on abolishing slavery, in the distasteful manner of influential patriotism, I associated him with that unlikable type of person. I am not a racist, to assure that I tremble at the thought of being confused as such. Sense the exaggeration to make the point of what our society has morphed us into. Beyond the sort of man he portrays, Tommy Lee Jones did not demonstrate anything remarkable in his efforts here. Like Alan Arkin, his performances are more or less standard: blunt, saturnine, and malevolently humorless, meaning that he makes an effort to find friendliness intolerable. Perhaps my judgment is clouded by the context and tone of the film itself, including Tommy Lee Jones and his character. Either way, my judgment is irrevocable until proven false with an additional viewing of Lincoln, in a year or two. Unfortunately, I have a foreboding feeling that Tommy Lee Jones may win his second Oscar; he has won the Screen Actors Guild award, as well as unanimous appreciation from critics and his peers-slash-voters of the Academy. I'll just hope that ominous feeling is an upset stomach and move on. D+

Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master
- Say, I just watched and reviewed this film. And the performance as well. How convenient. I must say, I truly enjoyed his performance as the charismatic, hypnotic cult leader. The mental hold he harnesses over his congregation is simply spell-binding, and his overwhelming influence is only broadened as he lures Joaquin Phoenix to the Cause. (His character, obviously.) As I've said previously, his performance was so convincing that I nearly feel victim to his preposterous doctrines, thusly justifying his phenomenal talent and success in his trade. (Thusly?) He was approached with the task of portraying the leader of a cult--one much similar to Scientology, but that is neither here nor there nor there--and Mr. Hoffman embodied such a man with the stubbornness of a fanatic and the loony eloquence of a hypnotized hypnotist. Well done. The chance of him waddling up onto the stage on Oscar night is very likely, for he has won several accolades already as well as praise among his peers and viewers. I just hope he has to clear his throat when that time comes. Along Came Polly reference? As for my own tastes of him winning, I would not have a significant issue with that, though I'd rather see one of the following two men receive the honor. B+

Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained - Although the film itself was a sheer and utter disappointment in terms of plot and ending (oh, the ending...), there were three gems in the rough grime. One was the memorably amusing scene involving a Ku Klux Klan-like congregation; another was the charming villain portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio; and the other was Christoph Waltz, who garnered a nomination this year in the role of a silky smooth bounty hunter. In his second collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, Christoph Waltz proves his undeniable talent in the field of cinema once again, dominating each scene as he had done so brilliantly in Inglourious Basterds. As Hans Landa, in the aforementioned Nazi juggernaut picture, the Austrian-born actor commanded his time on the screen with precision and elegance, while also injecting fear into those in his presence, including the audience. Here, as the "good-guy" bounty hunter, Christoph Waltz slips into an ideological shift, character-wise, and he emerges through the screen as a silver fox. He demonstrates absolutely no hesitation in assuming such a different identity, and, in the process, he, once again, captivates the viewer into complete awe. His steady yet deliberate articulation is his most alluring ability, speaking in a manner close to John Malkovich; that quiet, polished speech transpires (up)on the audience in a beguiling lure gone right. That quality alone increases his chances for winning yet another Supporting Actor award for yet another Tarantino film; moreover, he has won both the Golden Globe and the BAFTA so far, two esteemed awards in the races. I, myself, would not mind, and even rejoice, in hearing Christoph Waltz named Best Supporting Actor. Though there is one hiccup: the film. As much as I admired his magnificent performance--and he may very well be the greatest part--but I simply cannot set aside the fact that Django Unchained was a tremendous disappointment. For that unfortunate reason, I cannot honestly name Christoph Waltz my top choice for winning, but he is definitely a close runner-up. If you absolutely must watch this bloody mess of a production, keep in mind that Christoph Waltz delivers an utmost glorious performance, complete with velvet articulation and grace. A-

Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook - Call me a nostalgic sentimentalist, but this man has my highest esteem for Best Supporting Actor. Why call me such a silly term though? This is the legendary actor's--and there is no need to even give him that title, since it is a given and rather overweening--first nomination in twenty years, the last one being in 1991 for Cape Fear, and I would be just peachy keen if he were to grace that stage once again. (The last time he won was in 1980 for Raging Bull. Officially, in 1981, but the film itself was 1980. I'm a technical individual.) I feel that, out of all the nominees, Robert De Niro is without question the most worthy, and, as inane and childish as that may appear, it is certainly a suggestion to the Academy on who to choose. (What a beauty pageant.) Aside from his incredible prominence, the performance in question was terrific: assuming the role of Bradley Cooper's character's sports-obsessed obsessive-compulsive father, Robert De Niro incorporates his signature seriousness while also revealing a remarkably sweet and caring father. I must stress the understated tone of the words sweet and caring, for Robert De Niro displays much more than that. There are no words, really, for how touched I was by his performance; he emanated the prime brevity of fatherly concern and warmth that I and even my tough dad contributed additional awes to an otherwise perfect picture. To envision his performance--if, for some irrational reason, you cannot make time to see this delightful film--combine the stern humor of Jack Byrnes from Meet the Parents with just a tad less suspicion and protectiveness, an amusing and minor obsessive-compulsive disorder, and replace the CIA overtone with one of an Eagles fan. Outstanding yet adorable. And the film itself, as I mentioned, is close to sheer perfection. Earlier in the race, I did not even consider Robert De Niro as a prospective nominee, but then, after the announcements were made and I watched Silver Linings Playbook, he stands as my individual choice for victor. Realistically, I would honestly say that his chances for winning are promising, though mainly for the reason I mentioned in the beginning: his iconic status. Nevertheless, if he does win, I will know that his performance contributed the majority of that glory. A

And deep exhale. There you have it, a thorough analysis of the most competitive, unsure category of this year's Academy Awards. I'll have it be known now that there will not be such a post for any of the other acting categories. For Best Actor, it seems rather obvious who is going to be leaving a three-time Oscar winner--Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln. For Best Supporting Actress, unfortunately and with aggravation I know that Anne Hathaway will win, and all because she cut her hair and sang that one song. I dread that song, and her as well. For Best Actress, I dearly hope that Jennifer Lawrence will win, and her chances seem promising; her only competition seems to be Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty, though, if the Academy shares my judgment, she will not undeservedly receive honors. The film was just as tedious as anticipated. Until the Academy Awards next week, perhaps I shall post a final summation of this productive awards season. Oh, how I hate to see it go. I'll save my nostalgia for that moment. This week, perhaps. No promises. Good evening.

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