Saturday, July 05, 2008

1/2 Way Mark: The Acting

These are not Oscar predictions. They are my preferences -- the five performances in each category I have loved most this year from the 50 films I've screened. I'm doing this since the year is half over... and also just begun. (Oh, you know how Hollywood waits and waits to release the juicy stuff...) Unfortunately none of them will get any traction for acknowledgements later in the year when various groups start giving prizes. It's all in the timing...

Best Leading Actress
Amy Adams -Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day (review)
Irene Azuelas -Burn the Bridges
Famke Jannsen -Turn the River (interview)
Frances McDormand -Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day
Julianne Moore -Savage Grace (review)

Watch out people. Julianne comes roaring back into psychosexual territory and none too soon. I need redheads experiencing mental breakdowns in dramas like most people need warm blondes falling in sweet love in romcoms. I just do. Adams and McDormand are appealing if not extraordinary in Miss Pettigrew (though I was tempted to replace one of them with Katharine Heigl who was ready to do a lot more for 27 Dresses if the film or screenplay had only figured out what to ask of her), Azuela holds all the threads of Burn the Bridges to her bosom like a protective makeshift mother (any Mexican readers know anything about this young talent?), and Janssen announces again that Hollywood isn't properly utilizing her talents. She's strong in Turn the River.

Best Leading Actor
Robert Downey Jr -Iron Man
Colin Farrel -In Bruges
Brendan Gleeson -In Bruges
Espin Klouman -Reprise
Dominique Pinon -Roman de Gare (review)

[note: Before anybody gets their panties in a twist: I have not seen The Visitor. I do enjoy Richard Jenkins work generally so...] The hyperbole was really out of control on Robert Downey Jr's Tony Spark/Iron Man spin. It's not like he was reinventing the wheel. Still it was thrilling to see this great actor headline a big star vehicle for a change. Every other performance here was more surprising in a way but you can't fault RDJ for being reliable. He's been consistently charismatic and spot on since way back in the 1980s.

The other men didn't get even 1/100th of RDJ's praise but they deserve some as well. Colin Farrel especially. He gives his best performance yet in the deceptively simple but intricately enjoyable In Bruges (from the amazing playwright Martin McDonaugh --I'd also highly recommend his Oscar winning short film Six Shooter.) He plays a hitman with a guilt-ridden conscience and it's amazing to see him drift away from his sadness whenever something amuses or surprises him (dwarves, drugs, women) only for it to snag hold of him again as his mind invariably snaps back. There's so much happening in his face. Gleeson partners him well. Klouman (in his first major role) is beautifully attentive to all of his scene partners and a true natural. Finally, Pinon improbably transforms his weird self into something resembling a romantic leading man. Wow.

Best Supporting Actress
Audrey Dana -Roman de Gare
Shirley Henderson -Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Claude Sarraute -The Last Mistress
Charlize Theron -Sleepwalking (review)
Victoria Winge -Reprise

My apologies have to go out to Patricia Clarkson in Married Life (review), Eva Amurri in The Life Before Her Eyes (review) both of whom I talked up previously but I couldn't do without Henson's mesmerizing schemer, Sarraute's hilarious horny grandma, Dana's accidental muse, Theron's film stealing mojo and Winge (stealing a line from Pajiba here) "who looks like Björk if Björk was from Earth"

Best Supporting Actor
Eugenio Derbez -Under the Same Moon (review)
Ralph Fiennes -In Bruges
Val Lauren -True Love (previous notes)
Victor Razuk -Stop-Loss (review)
Channing Tatum -Stop-Loss

I am commentless at this moment.

Best Cameo / Tiny Role
Steven Coogan Finding Amanda
Ernesto D'Alessio Under the Same Moon
Henrik Mestad Reprise
Jérémie Renier In Bruges

I couldn't think of five but these men added wonderful notes to their films.

Drrrty (Most Indecently Luscious)
Asia Argento -The Last Mistress
Angelina Jolie & James McAvoy
Gilles Marini -Sex & the City: The Movie
Julianne Moore & Stephen Dillane & Hugh Dancy & Eddie Redmayne & Elena Anaya & Unax Ugalde
-Savage Grace (Too bad they're all such pervs)


Which of these performances have you seen? Were you impressed? Whose acting reel (circa 2008) would you watch again?

Related Post: top ten of the year so far (Jan-Jun)


Arkaan said...

Acting from 2008 I enjoyed.

--Julianne Moore in Savage Grace (Redmayne was interesting too, but his character was poorly written).

--Louis Garrell and Ludivine Sagnier in Love Songs

--Andrew Garfield, Peter Mullan and James Young in Boy A

I haven't seen anything else this year. I'm so behind.

Hayden said...

It's really thrilling to see Julianne Moore return to old territory. She was really brilliant in Savage Grace and I'm sure it'll be one of her underrated performances in the vein of Safe and Vanya on 34th Street, but I'm just glad to see she's still got it.

Barry said...

Jena Malone, Laura Ramsey - The Ruins
Liv Tyler - The Strangers

I have only seen 3 2008 movies =(

J.D. said...

Anamaria Marinca and Laura Vasiliu in 4 Months (I count it as '08) + Gabe Nevins and Taylor Momsen in Paranoid Park top the list for me, LOL.

Also worth mentioning:
- Amy Adams, Miss Pettigrew
- Cate Blanchett, Indy 4
- Danny Glover, Be Kind Rewind
- Sally Hawkins, Cassandra's Dream
- Anton Yelchin, Charlie Bartlett

God, I can't wait for the consistently exceptional movies to get here.

Bernardo said...

- Inés Efron (Lead Actress) for XXY
- Ben Kingsley (Supp Actor) for The Wackness

Those are the only amazing performances I've seen so far...

Carl said...

Glad to see Amy Adams is not forgotten. Will her performance in "Miss Pettigrew..." enhance her credibility and chances at a nomination in Supporting for "Doubt" if she delivers the goods in a competitive year?

Anonymous said...

Best Actress = Asia Argento in Last Mistress

Adam said...

I'm glad Asia Argento has 'The Third Mother' and 'The Last Mistress' out at the same time, just for counterbalance. She's basically slumming it in 'The Third Mother,' even if it's her father's film. Quite literally she swims in shit (mind you I love Dario most of the time). In 'The Last Mistress' she really gets to use her natural ferocity. The way Breillat lingers on her tears and guttural screams really make that film.

Liz said...

I really enjoyed RDJ in Iron Man. The performance was understated in a lot of ways, and he makes most action stars look terrible by comparison.

JS said...

The robotic arm from Iron Man gets my Best Supporting Actor nod so far. It had so much personality! Great job technical department.

Nate Tyson said...

I really want to see In Bruges.

I stand by my love of RDJ's seemingly effortless awesomeness.

Rural Juror said...

Oh, how I loved Viktoria Winge.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen many movies so far, at least any truly good ones, but Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway were pretty entertaining and fun in Get Smart.

I also liked Melonie Diaz in Be Kind Rewind.

mrripley said...

sigourney weaver for the girl in the park,miss weaver proves yet again when it comes to late 50's versatility she should be getting some of meryls work,i'd have loved/preferred to have seen her in doubt!!!

Kamikaze Camel said...

The only performances that will be getting anywhere near my best of the year would be

Jamie Bell, Hallam Foe

Anders Danielsen Lie, Reprise

Gabe Nevins, Paranoid Park

Julianne Moore, Savage Grace

Tell me 'bout it!

Beau said...

If we are counting '4 Months...' as 2008, then Anamaria Marinca deserves recognition hands down, I have to agree with J.D. on that.

Moore is beautiful and breathtaking in 'Savage Grace' and Redmayne had a nice presence about him as well.

I know I'm in the minority for this, but 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' is, IMO the best thing Apatow has had his name on since 'Freaks and Geeks'. It's consistently entertaining, avoids many of the cliches that would follow such a film and features a pretty gosh-darn appealing turn from Mila Kunis...

but the best supporting work I've seen thus far in the year came from Russell Brand. Took that character and RAN with it. I mean sprinted a fucking marathon. I haven't laughed harder this year than watching him moan over that Hawailian shirt... absolutely priceless. A comedic turn on par with Kline in 'Wanda'.
But that's just me, and I know that's high praise indeed because Kline is such an involving actor even when given subpar material (made a castle out of a shack in 'Life as a House') but Brand was so effective that I just... I don't know. I adored him in that part.

Rob said...

Let me second the love for Russell Brand. He's fantastic in "FSM"...

Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"

Thomas Haden Church, "Smart People"

Naomi Watts, "Funny Games"

Catinca Untaru, "The Fall"

Anonymous said...

Sally Hawkins in "Happy-Go-Lucky", but I suppose you'll have to wait a few months to see it.
And I agree with Colin Farrell. Too bad he can't usually make better choices.

I'd really like to know what is C+ worthy in 27 dresses because the screenplay was so terrible that despite trying hard, I couldn't enjoy it for longer than a minute. It looked like some kind of remake of already dumb "How to lose a guy in 10 days" and was so silly and predictable I ended up disturbing the audience by laughing maniacally in 'wrong' moments. It seems like there was an idea, but it got completely lost.
I tried to focus on costumes but it didn't work either. D- for me, not F because I could see Katherine Heigl trying.


Dave said...

Have to second arkaan on Andrew Garfield in particular for Boy A, who was outstanding. Also Jamie Bell in Hallam Foe, Sally Hawkins in Happy-Go-Lucky, Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Isla Fisher in Definitely, Maybe (I may be a little blinded by infatuation there, but so so charming and funny), Bill Milner in Son of Rambow, Gwyneth Paltrow in Iron Man (seriously), and most of the cast of The Edge of Heaven (still the best film so far for me).

Anonymous said...

For cameos/short turns, both Sigourney Weaver and Steve Martin were priceless in "Baby Mama" with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Dame James Henry said...

-George Clooney & John Krasinski, Leatherheads
-Natalie Portman & Kristin Scott Thomas, The Other Boleyn Girl
-Dame Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins & Imelda Staunton, Cranford (TV movie but still worthy)
-Isla Fisher, Definitely, Maybe

I doubt any of these will make it to my year-end lists. I hope the last half of the year is better than the first.

Anonymous said...

Lead Actor:
-Jamie Bell, Hallam Foe
-Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man (WINNER)
-Louis Garrel, Love Songs (Runner-up) – Yes, maybe you love more Jenkins or Gleeson but he’s terrific, he sings, he acts and he’s hot French future star… He’s great in the film
-Andrew Garfield, Boy A - Unfortunally he's out of Oscars for TV release in UK
-Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Honorable mention: George Clooney, Leatherheads

Lead Actress:
-Irene Azuelas, Burn the bridges (Runner-up) – Between Manrica and her, I choose her because I’m mexican
-Anamaria Manrica, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 days
-Frances McDormand, Miss Pettigrew lives for a day
-Julianne Moore, Savage Grace (WINNER)- She has an interesting year
-Ludivine Sagnier, Love Songs
Honorable mention: Katherine Heigl, 27 Dresses - Terrible movie but good performance

Supporting Actor:
-Brendan Gleeson, In Bruges (WINNER)
-Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Stop Loss (Runner-up) – He’s a long time overdue actor
-Vlad Ivanov, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
-Victor Razuk, Stop Loss
-Channing Tatum, Stop Loss
Honorable Mention: Eddie Redmayne, Savage Grace

Supporting Actress:
-Amy Adams, Miss Pettigrew lives for a Day
-Cate Blanchett, Indy 4
-Kim Cattrall, Sex & the City (Runner-up) The film was disappointing but she’s fantastic and I love the serie
-Chiara Mastroianni, Love Songs (WINNER)
-Naomi Watts, Funny Games - I hate the film but she's great
Honorable Mention: Amy Poehler, Baby Mama

Anonymous said...

Irene won the Ariel (mexican oscar) for best Actress this year (Burn the bridges). She was actually born in London.

Ernesto D'alessio is better known for me as a musical actor, he won a mexican award for Les Miserables and so...

Fer from Mexico.

SammyJo said...

Hayden, sweetie, Vanya was on 42nd Street.

I'd have to go with Jamie Bell for Mr.Foe as well...
also, I agree with the Sigourney Weaver statement that she should be getting some of Streep's roles!
Julianne Moore as always.
I thought Evan Wood gave an outstanding supporting performance in Life Before Her Eyes...and secondly, then Eva Amurri in the same movie! Perfect chemistry between those two.
I also loved Paltrow in Iron Man, and Blanchett in Indy 4!

Rob said...

Andrew Garfield was very strong in "Boy A," but the movie hasn't opened in the U.S. yet, so doesn't really qualify as the first half of the year.

The Isla Fisher love for "Definitely, Maybe" must be entirely due to infatuation, since she alternates between bland and annoying that whole movie.

But let me second Bill Milner (and Wil Poulter for that matter) in "Son of Rambow."

Notluke said...

I am meaning to ask you every time you praise Reprise, Nat: have you seen Danish Reconstruction by Christoffer Boe from five years back? IMO it is superior (it's easily one of my personal top three movies this decade, in fact) and I think you'd be surprised how similar to Reprise it is at times, both stylistically and thematically.

As for the main topic, I have to agree with the commenter who mentioned Anika Noni Rose. I don't care that No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is technically a TV production - the girl delivers absolutely flawless comedic performance.

That's about it so far, unless I cheat and start putting 2008 releases of 2007 or older films... But I am sure I'd add Robert Downey, whom I adore, if only I hadn't missed Iron Man in theatres down here. Alas, I foolishly thought the blink-and-you-missed-it releases were reserved for arthouse films, not blockbusters.

Arkaan said...

re: Boy A

True about the release date, but given that the Weinsteins are gonna give it a mini-release, and that's done the festival circuit (and it airing on British TV last year), so I thought it wouldn't matter. But Garfield's amazing enough that I do hope he gets more roles, because I don't think I've been as impressed by a young actor as I was with him in a long time.

Anonymous said...

EW has Cynthia Nixon as a Best Supporting Actress contender for "Sex and the City: The Movie". That's . . . interesting, but good for her anyway.

My picks right now would probably be Richard Jenkins for "The Visitor", Amy Adams for "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day", and Ryan Phillipe for "Stop-Loss". Yeah, that's it. And huge amounts of love for "WALL-E", though that wouldn't count here for acting.

Robson said...

In addition to the highlights already mentioned:

Favorite duet: Asia Argento and Michael Madsen, two exes in loathe with each other, and yet they can't help but fall subconsciously into their old, lamented erotic routines, in BOARDING GATE

Favorite Kisses: Norah Jones and Jude Law, MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS

Rach said...

Jack Black, "Be Kind Rewind"
Robert Downey, Jr., "Iron Man"
Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"
Mos Def, "Be Kind Rewind"
Ryan Reynolds, "Chaos Theory"

Kate Beckinsale, "Snow Angels"
Uma Thurman, "The Life Before Her Eyes"
Liv Tyler, "The Strangers"
Naomi Watts, "Funny Games"
Jess Weixler, "Teeth"

Kristen Davis, "Sex and the City"
Bette Midler, "Then She Found Me"
Emily Mortimer, "Chaos Theory"
Laura Ramsey, "The Ruins"
Charlize Theron, "Sleepwalking"

Thomas Haden Church, "Smart People"
Danny Glover, "Be Kind Rewind"
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "Stop-Loss"
Michael Pitt, "Funny Games"
Tim Roth, "Funny Games"

lola aronovich said...

I think that, by not seeing The Visitor, you not only missed the best performance of the year but also the best movie so far...


i shall see it soon