Wednesday, September 13, 2006

2006 (So Far): Best Actor

On Friday The Black Dahlia opens, ushering in --we assume we hope we dream-- an onslaught of quality pics for the cooler months. So we're quickly touring what the year has brought us up until now...

But what exactly has the year brought us in regards to leading actors? Not too damn much. Nevertheless, if the FB Awards (my own) were held today, the shortlist would read:

Chen Chang in Three Times He's serenely watchable. His name doesn't have the marquee value of a Tony Leung or a Takeshi Kaneshiro, but maybe it will someday. You've seen him before even if you don't recognize his name. He played Zhang Ziyi's lover in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Tony Leung's coworker/friend in Happy Together among other quality imports.

Aaron Eckhard as "Nicky Naylor" in Thank You For Smoking He's been typecast to an extent as an amoral devil but can you blame Hollywood? He does it so well and with real bite. Bonus points: We went to the same college at the same time. So I've always felt a little proprietary.

Colin Farrell as "James 'Sonny' Crockett" in Miami Vice I belong to the small minority that thinks that Farrell is good in everything. Even when his performances don't quite work I can usually see him reaching for something (more than can be said for many stars). One day he'll give a great performance.

Ryan Gosling as "Dan Dunne" in Half Nelson This performance makes a great twin set with Gyllenhaal's in Sherrybaby: both shoot for naturalism but they also contain the unmistakable whiff of theatrical ego. Given that their characters are selfish and self-destructive the approach feels right.

Denzel Washington as "Detective Frazier" in Inside Man Denzel has such star magnetism that he could've phoned this one in and most people would be none the wiser. He didn't. This is the liveliest he's been onscreen for quite some time. The fun is infectious.

Still... As much as I like all five of these performances I would be shocked to see any last until my actual awards are handed out.

WHAT OF THE OSCAR RACE?
That contest is the slowest to get started this year, isn't it? There's not one real contender yet. Despite the sluggishness in theaters, the festival reports are telling us that the war for the actual statue is already narrowed down to two men: Forrest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) and Peter O'Toole (Venus). JJ sums it up nicely in this article.

Tags: Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Oscars, films, Academy Awards, movies

19 comments:

Kamikaze Camel said...

I've seen a few good lead actors this year. I really enjoyed Aaron Eckhart in Thank You For Smoking, Gabriel Byrne in Jindabybe (and I usually can't stand Byrne to be honest) and even Shane Jacobson in Kenny was one of the best comedic performances in a long time.

Shame y'all won't get to see it anytime soon. Kenny is probably gonna go down as the funniest movie of the year.

Stephen G said...

Love your picks, Nat. I'm a big fan of The Farrell's talent, even if he doesn't always pull off what he's attempting. And loved Mr Eckhart, who was much better than the movie itself.

It's common with Oscar's Best Actor for 3 or 4 to match up with Best Picture, but I don't see that happening yet. Neither Venus nor Scotland look like sure-fire Picture contenders this year. Then again, neither did Capote till about the first week of January.

The Academy love to validate their Actor winners with a Picture nominee, don't they? Ray is another example. Typical of Hollywood sexism that the Best Actresses are far less likely to feaure in the Picture category since, of course, the "best" Pictures don't have interesting leading roles for women. Or rather, the Actressy films are less valued by Hollywood. But I suspect I'm preaching to the converted here :-)

Of the films being talked about as Picture nominees at the moment (everything from Flags of our Fathers to Bobby to Little Miss Sunshine to Little Children), they don't boast surefire lead Actor candidates.

Which makes me wonder if - heaven help us - Jamie Foxx stands a better chance than assumed of nabbing an Actor slot this year for Dreamgirls. Especially if he sings AND dances (?) AND plays against type as more of a villain.

adam k. said...

I really don't think Foxx will make it. If Richard Gere didn't, he won't. They owe him NOTHING and I feel like many are sick of him... but maybe that's just me...

I think they're more likely actually to make something like Last King of Scotland a best pic contender based on its lead actor than they are to nominate Foxx just cause he's in a best pic frontrunner... if recent history is any indication.

douglas said...

my best actors so far are:
- Ryan Rosling (Half Nelson)
- Gael Garcia Bernal (The King)
- Heath Ledger (Candy)
- Brandon Routh (Superman returns)
- Joseph Gordon Levitt (Brick)

I think I need to see Three times again....

I think Peter O'Toole in Venus has a shot provided that it is as good as they say it is. The academy might think that it is time to finally award him with a real oscar... but the early frontrunner is forest whitaker. lately, early frontrunners are those who win see foxx, hoffman even though there are actors who are far better than them see Bridges (who wasnt even nominated) and Ledger...

Kamikaze Camel said...

Oh, duh. How could I forget Ledger? That was silly of me.

DL said...

It's a shame you haven't seen Brick yet. Not only is it my favorite movie so far this year, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is, not surprisingly, wonderful.

NATHANIEL R said...

dl -i'll give Brick a look soon since people go on and on about it. And I do think JGL is a fine actor --really good in both Mysterious Skin and Shadowboxer

Andy Scott said...

I didn't love Aaron Eckhart in TY4S. I thought he lacked a little charisma, especially in the court scene. He was good...just not good enough, IMO.

Beau said...

THANK YOU for agknowledging the brilliance of Levitt. Gave what I felt was one of the best performances last year in that wonderfully haunting "Mysterious Skin".

and he NAILED the film noir vibe. I get chills just thinking about it. Mesmerizing stuff. (and props to Meagan Good and Nora Zehetner as well)

douglas said...

amen to that, brick is one of my bests this year...

etslee said...

Re: Chen Chang

"His name doesn't have the marquee value of a Tony Leung or a Takeshi Kaneshiro"

Bless you for thinking like this, but we are definitely in the minority. I still have to see Three Times, but I loved him in Happy Together. The sadness in that movie reflected the lost opportunity between his character and Tony Leung's.

vince said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
vince said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
vince said...

Can't submit for this cateory yet.

*a tear*

amir_uk said...

I wish people would stop banging on about Brick. I was so so so incredibly disappointed by it. It is the most pretentious film (with no reason to be) that I have seen in a real while. Absolutely nothing about it worked. OK, there were perhaps 6 seconds of stomachable footage in that scene when the raven flies out into the sky.

But it is pure 1 star shit. Worst film I've seen of the 2006 set... hands down. OK, vitriol over - glad I finally got that out somewhere!

Stenar said...

EckHARD? Was that a Freudian slip?

NATHANIEL R said...

umm....

Anonymous said...

I THINK THAT FOR THIS YEAR FIVE ACTORS COULD BE I FIVE BEST ACTOR IN LEADING ROLE:
PETER O'TOOLE (VENUS)
SEAN PENN (ALL THE KING'S MEN)
FOREST WHITAKER (THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND YARD)
GEORGE CLOONEY (THE GOOD GERMAN)
Bruno Ganz, por Youth Without Youth

BEST SUPPOTING ACTOR
Eddie Murphy, por Dreamgirls
Brad Pitt, por Babel
TOBEY MAGUIRE (THE GOOD GERMAN)
Jack Nicholson, por Os Infiltrados
JAMES GANDOLFINI ALL THE KING'S MEN

BEST ACTRESS
MERYL STREEP
HELEN MIRREN THE QUEEN
Sigourney Weaver, por Snowcake
Annette Bening, por Correndo com Tesouras
Penelope Cruz, por Volver

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