Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1974: Richard Harris in Juggernaut

Richard Harris did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Lieutenant Commander Anthony Fallon in Juggernaut.

Juggernaut though starts a bit slow is a rather compelling thriller, once it gets going, about a cruise ship being held for ransom after being armed with a series of time bombs.

Now what gets the film truly going is Richard Harris as bomb dismantling expert Fallon. There is perhaps that character that just seems "right" for an actor and this seems to be the one for Harris. There is that role that seems in tune with their onscreen persona, and for Harris here his off screen, or at least, interview persona. This requires a bit of an explanation I suppose though I would just suggest one should go watch Harris in any of his interviews as he is one of the most effortless and entertaining actors in that setting. That charm brings so wonderfully in that setting he transfers here as Fallon, perhaps this was even hoped for by the filmmakers given that they have Fallon being a particularly fond of an alcoholic beverage now and again. Harris to begin with brings such a natural quality to his work with the sheer ease of his performance, and brings a natural levity to the film, despite the severity around his role. Harris is simply naturally entertaining to watch here in a role that he just makes his own in that very special way from the point that in that outset it seems to become quite evident that only Richard Harris could have possibly played this part quite like this.

This is not to say Harris is coasting here, far far from it in fact, in a way it is pretty astonishing how Harris brings himself to the role while fully developing Fallon as his own man. This includes Harris's own bountiful charm for sure, but this is actually part of the character in a two fold way. In part Harris through this shows the confidence of the character that by his charm is wholly endearing, and makes sense out the man who we initially meet as he's casually disarming a far less impressive bomb. Harris though goes further with the idea than just showing Fallon as this expert. There is more in that Harris conveys this lightness in his work often in some of the more intense moments actually. In these scenes Fallon constantly makes humorous side remarks, which Harris does deliver in a genuinely funny way however he goes further with this. Harris in these moments suggests this as partially a defense mechanism of sorts for Fallon in dealing with the situation. This is because Harris never delivers them in a way that seems tonally awkward or ever out of character in the slightest.

Now a reason for that is Harris's overall approach to the part particularly in the bomb disposal scenes which are the highlight of the film, and Harris is a major reason for this. Although Harris projects that confidence so well, along with that humor he doesn't downplay the severity of it in Fallon's mind. In even the moments where he makes his little jokey asides Harris's eyes convey very much the very real concerns for Fallon. Harris is never static here instead his whole performance alludes to a man who has gone through this particular line of work, and has found his way of dealing with. That partially includes his humor, but Harris never simplifies it. I love an early moment where Fallon espouses on his talents in this particular line of work and mutters he wishes he was as such a success in a different line of work. Harris doesn't deliver this line with an overt sadness or anything like this but rather an amused shrug which so well emphasizes the way Fallon has come to terms with this. When Fallon is pressed by the ship's captain (Omar Sharif) on his attitude though we get a bit of a darker side to Fallon, which potentially could've become a confusing aspect to the character, however Harris's firm grasp on the material ensures that it is not.

When something goes wrong or Fallon's methods are questioned Fallon delivers some darker views in regards to the technical insignificant amount of lives in the scheme of the entire universe. These moments much of the time are still with the other members of the bomb squad where Harris still brings a more comedic bent in this philosophy, but with the captain, after Fallon's lost another one of his men, Harris matches the darkness of the message. The callousness though that Harris delivers though comes through an insincerity in attitude in this moment. Harris in part suggests one that he is not terribly impressed by the Captain's concerns, since Fallon is more keenly aware than anyone in regards to the severity of the situation, but it also actually reinforces his personal way of dealing with his particular line of work. Again Harris usually adds that humorous touch to this but in this moment Fallon understandably doesn't bother with easing the words. Harris though shows with that humor and insincerity though the fashioned belief the man uses, not to truly delude himself, but rather to help himself deal with his job where he could die at any moment therefore he needs to be a little insensitive now and again just to be sane in his work.

What we came to the film for though was to see Richard Harris disarm a bomb and we get that in style with Harris. He is down right mesmerizing in these scenes, and he is essential to the film's success since the parts of the film that truly work are the disarmament scenes. Harris again is brilliant in that he layers his performance as noted in bringing a real depth actually to the character's manner during these scenes however he still ratchets the tension up in every moment. Harris is particularly great near the end of the film where the situation becomes more dire and he could be killed at any moment. Harris is fantastic in doing so much tension through his performance by slowly losing some of that comfort in Fallon right down to the final scenes where he loses his humor, and physically Harris reflects the real fear in the situation. Fallon never falls apart, but Harris is great by realizing that he's still a man doing a very dangerous task. My favorite moment of Harris's performance and the film is at the end with naturally one last wire to cut. Harris builds to the moment so effectively, and then releases the tension with his final moment of comfort and perfect delivery of Fallon's very much earned self-congratulatory "Fallon is the champion".  I love the line because as much as it is a genuinely, for the lack of a better word, a cool moment for Harris, he also does brings that sense of a sigh of relief along with it. Harris absolutely owns this part from beginning to end creating such a captivating character that steals the film without question.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1974: Bruce Dern, Scott Wilson, and Roberts Blossom in The Great Gatsby

This adaptation of the Great Gatsby though it could have used a little more vibrant direction, and there is a black hole at the center of it I still found to be a rather compelling film. This is in part due to the screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola but also due to the overall ensemble. Although there is that black hole in the center of it with Robert Redford in the titular role, who despite being well cast seems indifferent to the film, which is rather problematic for Gatsby a man with a passion infused purpose. The rest of the performers though make up for this including two of the main supporting actors of the film, and technically a minor one.

The two major ones though are Bruce Dern who was not Oscar nominated despite being nominated for a Golden Globe for portraying Tom Buchanan the lecherous husband of Daisy (Mia Farrow) the object of Gatsby's affections, and Scott Wilson who was not Oscar nominated as George Wilson the working class husband of the woman, Myrtle (Karen Black), Buchanan is having an affair with. Both roles honestly could have been simplified through the performances. In Dern's case Tom is a truly despicable character who even beyond his lechery indulges in brief physical abuse of his mistress, and espouses on his views on white supremacy. Meanwhile Scott Wilson's George is a fairly simple minded gas station owner who only slowly comes to even realize that his wife his having an affair despite the fact that she and Tom do little to hide it. In both circumstances they avoid any simplicity that lesser performances could have entailed. Dern in no way hides the miserable nature of Tom portraying the vile smugness when espousing his beliefs, and the limited selfishness when berating his mistress. Dern still makes Tom a human being if a vile one. In even his cruel scenes with Myrtle Dern portrays it less as Tom being intentionally sadistic, but rather depicts it the troubling reaction of a spoiled man who is not getting something exactly as he wants it. This is pivotal though in Tom as he does love Myrtle and this is shown in Dern's performance. I also love Dern in the scene where he spends time with Gatsby and Daisy. Again Dern's terrific by not playing into a villain but rather bringing an awkwardness and even shyness in Tom as he tries to hide his distress while struggling with his wife's infidelity. Obviously what Dern brings to the role doesn't make Tom any more sympathetic, even his pains involve a severe hypocrisy but what he does do is create a three dimensional role that could have been a one note villain. This leads to there even being some real power to Dern's performance particularly when a terrible tragedy occurs as Dern realizes the heavy loss in Tom, which doesn't make him a better man, but does show that he's human.
Scott Wilson, as usual really, excels with his brief screentime initially revealing just a real earnestness in his George. Wilson brings the right simplicity of attitude that grants an understanding to his initial blindness. He delivers his early moments just with the proper friendliness of a man of his nature where it would be beyond him to second guess his wife. We don't see him learn of the truth but we do see him after he has discovered it. Wilson is great in revealing just the quiet subdued pain in the man who really doesn't want anyone to know about his foolishness, yet Wilson brings such a palatable distress as the man speaks to finally figuring everything out. Wilson's George ends up carrying out the second most horrific act in the film, however what he does in the role creates a direct sympathy for the poor man's plight. Even when committing the violent act at the end of the film. Wilson is very moving by portraying the sheer weight of the emotional anguish that propels the man to his horrible actions. Again a role that could have just been the fool, or just a plot device. Wilson is neither as he offers a real insight into George's suffering, and makes him a victim rather than a villain.
Roberts Blossom did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Mr. Gatz in The great Gatsby.

My favorite performance in the film though is a rather short one by Roberts Blossom, yes then old man in Home Alone, who offered something rather special to that film as he does the same here. Blossom doesn't appear until the last ten minutes of the film as Gatsby's father with Gatsby's real last name Mr. Gatz. Blossom appears late after the tragic death of his son. What Blossom does here is absolutely remarkable in such short time, and yes I'll admit I have a particular affection whenever an actor can do so much with so little. He appears and underlying to begin with he is wholly heartbreaking in every moment as the loss of his son is felt in every moment of his performance. In every halted breath, and stumbling moment in his physical performance Blossom exudes the sheer grief that the man is suffering through. The extent of his sadness is so well realized as Blossom shows a man just barely keeping it together as he attends his son's funeral. This is not merely a heartbreaking depiction of grief, which it is, but there is such a richness to this portrayal that goes beyond that despite how potent and poignant that aspect of his performance may be. Blossom brings a certain discovering in his depiction realizing the man finding out what it is his son became though with that there is a sense of confusion of the man trying to come to terms with what his son became. Blossom finds that confusion but also a bit of pride as he speaks of his son's ambition and his search for his son. Blossom finds everything that that his son meant to Mr. Gatz, and everything that his loss meant to him. Although he's only onscreen for a few minutes I found his worked resonated more than any other in the film. It went even beyond that because as much as this performance works as such a powerful portrayal of a father's bereavement he also made me care more about Gatsby than Redford ever did. Blossom finds the tragedy of the man who gained everything only to lose it all, and he didn't even play that character. This performance is a testament to what a great character actor like Roberts Blossom can do even in the most minor of roles.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1974: Ken Takakura in The Yakuza

Ken Takakura did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Ken Tanaka in The Yakuza.

Ken Takakura enters the Yakuza as the man to help the American Harry (Robert Mitchum) navigate the Japanese underworld in order to rescue Harry's businessman friend's daughter. We see the film through Harry's eyes, however with an edit of the film it would be easy enough to establish Tanaka as the main character though in a way this would be a different film. In the story we see Harry coming to terms with his past, while trying to deal with the future. Mitchum makes Harry a very open hero however Takakura's Tanaka is far more constrained. We initially meet him teaching at a dojo and Takakura's performance is very exact in his realization of the expression of Tanaka as a man. On the surface when speaking about the job he'll help Harry do, since he owes him for saving his "sister" long ago, Takakura portrays sincerity in his pledge to help. He portrays a man seemingly ready to help, however underneath this Takakura carries a greater complexity. From his first glance to Harry Takakura evokes in his eyes pain of the past in regards to the man, and carries this certain underlying tension in his interactions with the man.

Takakura's performance works particularly well as a companion work to Mitchum's and a contrast to it. On the one side of it Takakura is very effective, as Mitchum is, in the action scenes. He brings the right type of "cool" so to speak in these scenes though Tanaka takes on foes with the sword while Harry uses a gun. As with Mitchum the action scenes are never something taken lightly within Takakura's performance, although he technically goes even further with this partially due to the overtly physical nature of the action he participates in. Takakura brings a real weight to every moment by portraying every ounce of the battles in his own performance. This is in part due to realizing the physical exasperation of the fight, particularly in the final duel, but he also captures the emotional intensity involved. The fight becomes very personal for Tanaka, partially due to honor partially due to loss, and this is never lost in Takakura's performance. In every moment of the fight what motivates the man is keenly felt and makes every action scene all the more compelling because of this.

Again the contrast against Mitchum though is what is truly remarkably in this as Harry is the man we know pretty quickly, but Tanaka is the mystery of the film, the mystery who slowly unravels in order for us to understand. Takakura's performance is always in an exact tandem with this unraveling and through this makes the most compelling aspect of the film. After the initial rescue, which only leads to greater problems for Ken, which Harry tries to help him with. There's a great scene for Takakura where Harry tries to counsel him on what to do with his severe problem involving honor and the Yakuza where Ken's life is on the line. Takakura is amazing in the scene because every line of delivery has an abruptness, even a coldness of a man who doesn't care much about what Harry is saying, and just will do what he needs to do for himself. In every words about Harry, particularly when Harry speaks about his "sister's" concern for him, there is such a palatable anguish within Takakura's eyes. Takakura is deeply affecting as a reveals the real man suffering beneath essentially the requirements of honor, alluding to what the man is really going through even before we learn what that is.

Takakura is terrific in keeping in this dual nature of the man as he does portray an absolute conviction within the honor, yet there is always the sense of the sacrifice this entails. Takakura keeps in mind this idea throughout his performance though in every moment large or small, in even a slight reaction such as watching Harry being embraced by his "sister", there is those subtle hints to the far more vulnerable man who is burdened by his giri, his obligation, due to when Harry's past actions saved his "sister's" life. Eventually we learn the truth of the man which is that Harry never had saved his sister but actually his wife, and his honor left him to support Harry even as the two had an romantic affair. This revelation is bluntly revealed in a heartbreaking moment as grieves over the death, due to a gunfight, of his thought to be niece but was in fact his daughter. Takakura reveals the severity of the loss in revealing the out pour of almost the full anguish of the man's life. That is not only an incredibly powerful moment in the scene itself, but looking at the revelation naturally grants an understanding to the whole of Takakura's performance.

With this mystery revealed Takakura's performance is interesting in that it is the same yet with the perspective of knowing the truth you see every moment of the man in a different and very poignant light. In that way we are much like Harry in the film who by the end comes to fully understand the sacrifices of Tanaka himself. This leads to the two men coming together to realize a friendship between the two. It's a great scene for both actors though especially so for Takakura. Takakura in the moment loses that tension between the two sides of the man as Harry offers his apology. Takakura opens up most honestly emotionally in the moment, no longer is directed around any pain, no longer with the distance to the man who both righted and inadvertently wrong him. There is such an earned tenderness and respect in his delivery of "No man has a greater friend" which is both heartwarming and devastating as we see that two men finally fully knowing one another. This is a great performance by Ken Takakura as he provides the hidden heart of the film through his slow dissection of this initial enigma of a man that grants a real substance to the film that elevates the potentially pulpy story.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1974: David Warner in Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs

David Warner did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Dennis Charles Nipple in Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs.

Ah old David Warner the actor always giving such compelling work in the margins of any film he may appear, shining so well if he's ever allowed the center of a film. Thankfully we are granted some undiluted Warner here in about three or four scenes as one of the friends of the titular Malcolm (John Hurt), the recently kicked out of college pseudo thinker trying to create a phallic based political party. We are introduced to Warner's Dennis Charles Nipple last out of the principal players as he engages in a philosophical, and somewhat practical conversation on the quality of a jacket. As I mentioned in my review of John Hurt's performance in this film the script still feels very much of the stage. Like Hurt, Warner is such a great performer though that he manages to elevate the script and alleviate this problem to the certain extent through his performances. The monologues are perhaps too long, but they aren't too shabby when delivered by an actor of Warner's caliber. Warner is engaging simply to watch and speak in this role to begin with, however Warner takes this further through his successful approach to the role of Mr. Nipple.

Although before that I must commend the film for the costuming on Warner here which is something special in itself. Warner does not waste that useful starting point from the first scene on. Now his performance works best in terms of specifically how it relates to John Hurt's not only in terms of their chemistry but also how he makes Dennis differ from Malcolm. Now on one end you see how these two are friends as they meet each other in terms of their love of philosophical argument, although each seem to get something different out of this. The argument itself that opens their first scene together is quite useless about knowing "proper corduroy" though the two great actors make the most of it in certain terms in that is rather amusing to see both men bring such a misplaced intensity in this conversation. The nature of the intensity is a bit different though in that Hurt portrays a real frustration in not being able to convince Dennis on his belief, whereas Warner portrays a different dynamic. Warner portrays always a certain thrill, a real pleasure of just having the conversation itself, he brings just a little bit of frustration towards Malcolm, but Warner captures that natural friendly frustration when trying to get a point across, something I experienced myself quite recently in a discussion over whether Mother! is a masterpiece or a piece of trash, but I digress.

Past their direct arguments over their own specific viewpoints there is also a difference in the nature of the stance and frankly the use of their philosophy. Warner makes the passion in Dennis far more genuine and shows that the man doesn't use his personal views to build any facade for himself. Warner depicts a real comfort in his views and even when they may be ridiculous in his own way Warner makes Dennis rather endearing by making his passion so honest. When describing his own dreamlike experience from not eating Warner delivers this was such a sincerity, as a man trying to share his own wonderment, and potential illumination rather than force upon them like Malcolm. When Warner speaks Dennis's words there is the spirit of a man truly of this nature as Warner portrays Dennis wholly at comfort with himself. This is in stark contrast to Malcolm, but also Malcolm's other two friends Wick and Irwin whose connection isn't as fellow amateur philosophers, but rather are there for Malcolm's guidance. Warner's terrific when they enter as he shows very specifically that Dennis is only there for the discussions with his friend, through his reactions where he establishes just how unimpressed he is with Malcolm's followers.

Dennis sticks around for the beginnings of Malcolm's political movement, however the way Warner's maneuvers these scenes are key. Warner takes on an endearing curiosity and even playfulness suggesting Dennis sees it just as a game, and mostly there to just spend time with his friend. Warner keeps the right distance as just a man really playing around, which is in an effective sharp contrast to the bluster of Malcolm, and the blind devotion of Wick and Irwin. The one moment Dennis really does speak up early on is to offer a different more respectful view of women through one of his stories, which Warner again brings a gentle passion that stands against the viciousness of Malcolm's party. Dennis not really being into the phallic party is what leads to Warner's final scene where he is put on trial for his "crimes" by Malcolm and the other two. In this scene Warner once again begins with Dennis not taking too seriously as he protests the claims against him with the concern of playing game, however this changes when Malcolm sentences Dennis to ostracization and "death". Warner in this moment importantly captures the man outside the game in a way by so well expressing his eyes the growing sense in Dennis that there may be something seriously wrong with Malcolm. Warner is rather heartbreaking even in capturing a realization of the severity of the game, and the simple betrayal of friendship Dennis assumed they shared. Warner gives wonderful work here as he is not only one of the watchable aspects of the film, he alleviates some of its problems, and is pivotal in creating a wholly sympathetic, though still atypical, man to provide almost the antidote to the venom of our central character.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1974

And the Nominees Were Not:

Ken Takakura in The Yakuza


Richard Harris in Juggernaut

David Warner in Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs

Christopher Lee in The Man With The Golden Gun

Roberts Blossom in The Great Gatsby

Alternate Best Actor 1974: Results

5. Bruno S. in The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser - S. creates a proper enigma as he is always at a certain distant yet is always compelling.

Best Scene: Philosophies.

4. James Caan in The Gambler - Caan gives a terrific performance where he plays with his usual image to create a man at odds with himself as essentially meek man deluding himself with the risk his gambling addition entails.

Best Scene: End of the game.

3. Robert Mitchum in The Yakuza - Mitchum is a proper badass as you'd expect yet he finds a real substance within the role by so effectively exploring the history with the man.

Best Scene: Amputation forgiveness.

2. John Hurt in Little Malcolm - Hurt gives a downright brilliant performance that makes sense of his potentially unwieldy material, and is always engaging even as the film loses steam.

Best Scene: Malcolm delusions are confronted.

1. Warren Oates in Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia - Good Predictions Luke, Charles, Robert, Tahmeed, Omar, RatedRStar, Matt C., BRAZINTERMA Prêmio Fictício, Anonymous and Calvin. Oates easily wins this lineup for me for his dynamic and daring portrayal of a man already on the edge falling off.

Best Scene: "Because it feels so good."
Updated Overall

 Next Year: 1974 Supporting

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Alternate Best Actor 1974: Bruno S. in The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

Bruno S. did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying the titular character of The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser is an interesting film that follows a strange young man appearing in a town with only a odd note in hand.

Bruno S.'s performance, as typical for a Herzog lead, is as a man that is either an extreme himself or in an extreme situation. This is the former for the strange man at the center of the film. This is not a film where we are meant to necessarily emphasize with the outsider, Herzog positions us technically closer to the view of the town's people trying to decipher the man. We are only given slightly more information then they are initially since we at the very least see Kaspar as he is in his confinement in a dank basement, and is taught some strange lesson by a man even more mysterious than Kaspar himself. The man leaves Kaspar in the town with the note, and teaches him to repeat a single phrase about becoming a gallant rider, and that is all. After that we are much like the town just trying to understand the man, and it is with this idea that Bruno S.'s performance is built around. S.'s performance is to give us the behavior, but only he is to understand it, not us. In the opening scenes, and his initial moment in town S.'s whole physical performance is of this strange specimen that we're are not expected to fully know. He grants Kaspar wide eyes that seem to take in everything around him, and his body language is distinct almost statuesque. He is a curiosity just from looking at him, which is exactly as Kaspar should be.

Bruno S. succeeds in being compelling just in himself as you watch there is just something about him that intrigues and captivates even beyond his strange note and past. This is essential to the character given that everyone becomes so interested him to the point they present him in a show despite there technically being nothing overtly abnormal about him physically. It isn't just the story though as S.'s performance also brings that strangeness so effectively to life. S. creates the sense that there is a mystery there even though he never tells you what it is. S. gives us a man who has been in an experience that does not relate to any other man in his state of this distance, but it is a certain type of distance that he expresses. S. is carefully not to be off-putting in the early scenes as his whole state of being has this naivety only to Kaspar himself. He's not exactly a child yet there is an innocence to him that makes it as though you not only want to learn more  of the enigma even though S. gives you few additional clues through his own performance to what the man is.

The film has a time jump where Kaspar has learned to easily communicate at least verbally with others, however that in no way removes the mystery of the man. S. portrays the growth in communication is only to a point as even the way he delivers the lines still is more at others, or even to himself rather than with another. He never loses that certain stare of his that now seems to come less of a man who wishes to observe everything around him, but rather of a man whose sight is of some other plain. S. keeps the man as much of a mystery still not allowing you into his plight or to really emphasize with him. Herzog and S. instead keep you still with those around him attempting to decipher what is the story to this man. Every moment of S.'s performance keeps this self containment of the man is. When Hauser mentions his own views on things these are delivered bluntly just as almost random thoughts, and S. portrays these distinctive emotions of the man. He never emotes as a normal person exactly he almost emotes in this particularly intense yet still abrupt and remote way that again keeps him far from an attachment. The main different in the time jump even is that in a way Kaspar becomes less innately likable since now one knows he can communicate yet chooses not to. S.'s performance technically though is of the same man who has just the only difference was his vocabulary of words and knowledge of the world has grown. This is a idiosyncratic performance by Bruno S. as he just is as Kaspar should be. He purposefully is never quite relatable, instead S. gives a performance that succeeds in bringing to life a true enigma that is impossible to fully comprehend.