Friday, July 16, 2010

Good Performances and the Academy Awards

I'm sure you've encountered this from time to time. You keep seeing lists involving performances that got (or should've gotten) Oscar recognition. And I'm throwing in three more lists.


Cate Blanchett in The Aviator
Although I was questionable since there wasn't much resemblence between them, Blanchett makes up in doing a dead-on portrayal of Katharine Hepburn. She got Hepburn's accent dead-on, which, in my opinion, is hard to do. Believe me, I've tried (and failed).

Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront
If there's one performance I just adore, it's Brando's role of the trouble minded Terry Malloy. Like I've said before, all you have to do is watch the famed taxi cab scene and it'll show how Brando got Oscar gold and immortality with the role.

Robert De Niro in The Godfather Part II and Raging Bull
That's right, two performances. Why, you ask? Because De Niro's THAT good of an actor. He really knows how to get into character. In The Godfather Part II, he embodies Brando so perfectly I thought he was Brando. In Raging Bull, he transforms himself into Jake LaMotta.

Faye Dunaway in Network
Dunaway's part of Diane Christenson is definitely one of the better female performances I've seen. She's power-hungry and demanding, yes, but she knows what she's doing.

Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote
Hoffman's portrayal of Truman Capote is flawless. There, I said it. There were times in the movie I had to remind myself that this was an actor and not Capote himself. That's how brilliant Hoffman embodies the role.

Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire
Leigh's performance of the fragile Blanche DuBois shows how vunerable a person can become. It's also a tragic part considering Leigh practically became Blanche towards the end of her life.

Sean Penn in Mystic River and Milk
Much like with what I said about De Niro, Penn really knows how to get into character. In Mystic River, his character of Jimmy Markum finds himself falling back into his criminal ways to find out who murdered his daughter. In Milk, the likeable personality and intelligence of his portrayal of Harvey Milk garners him friends (as well as the occasional enemy).

Tim Robbins in Mystic River
Robbins' role of abuse victim Dave Boyle is absorbing and painfully real. The memories of abuse haunt him to no end. You don't really know what the extend of the abuse was, but it managed to leave Dave as a hollow shell of his former self.

Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby
Swank's part of aspiring boxer Maggie Fitzgerald is edgy and raw, something not that common for a female part. The final scenes of the movie are rather uncomfortable to watch, but Swank's performance is what keeps you watching it until the very end.

Dianne Wiest in Bullets Over Broadway
Wiest's role of actress Helen Sinclair, like I stated on the review, is somewhat of a homage to Sunset Boulevard's Norma Desmond: self-centered, arrogant and flamboyant. She steals every scene she's in as well, from her poetic thoughts to her explosive anger.


Montgomery Clift in From Here to Eternity
Lost to:
William Holden in Stalag 17
Although I liked Holden's work, Clift delivers his best work as Pvt. Prewitt. You feel sorry for him when his commanding officers push him to the limit, and yet he keeps his vigil steady.

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator
Lost to:
Jamie Foxx in Ray
I've said before and I'll say it again: this is my favorite performance from DiCaprio. His portrayal of Howard Hughes is perfect, and his descent into madness is both stunning and heartbreaking.

Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List
Lost to:
Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive
This one bugs me the most and for good reasons too. For starters, Fiennes delivers the most chilling performance I've ever seen. And yet, he gets nothing for his best work. His role as the sadistic Amon Goeth just solidifies his status as an actor. To sum it up, Fiennes is fucking brilliant.

Colin Firth in A Single Man
Lost to:
Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart
Although I did like Bridges' performance, but I prefer Firth's performance as the greiving George Falconer even more. The scene where he learns of his lover's death made my heart ache.

Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate
Lost to:
Patty Duke in The Miracle Worker
When you think of a self-centered person who's hellbent on controlling everyone around them, you don't see a woman being that kind of person. But Lansbury's Mrs. Iselin is just that.

Shirley MacLaine in The Apartment
Lost to:
Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8
There's some debate about Taylor's win for Butterfield 8. Many say that it's a sympathy win because she kept getting sick. If they went with the best performance for that year, it would've gone to MacLaine. Her character of Fran Kubelik manages to keep the movie uplifting because if she wasn't in it, The Apartment would be pretty darn depressing.

Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People
Lost to:
Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter
Moore's performance of grieving mother Beth Jarrett is unique. She's an actress better known for her comedy and here she's playing a woman who practically shut off her emotions in response to her son's death. That's dedication right there.

Paul Newman in The Verdict
Lost to:
Ben Kingsley in Gandhi
I was tempted to go with Cool Hand Luke, but I thought, What's Paul's best role? And that would be as alcoholic lawyer Frank Galvin from The Verdict. He's pretty much hit rock bottom, but he doesn't consider his life and career over yet.

Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity
Lost to:
Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight
Stanwyck's Phyllis Dietrichson is the classic femme fatale: beautiful but manipulative, stunning but dangerous. One look, and you're done for.

Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard
Lost to:
Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday
Apparently, Mr. Wilder knew how to write for the women. Swanson got a career revival from portraying washed-up Hollywood star Norma Desmond. And it's the final line of the movie that earned her newfound respect: "All right, Mr. DeMille. I'm ready for my close-up."


Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca
I think this is one of the biggest Oscar omissions ever. How could Bergman's performance of Ilsa Lund not get recognized? I mean, I'm aware that same year she was recognized for For Whom the Bell Tolls, but Casablanca is one of her most recognizable movies.

Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Comedians doing drama is pretty common now, and one of the best examples is Carrey's role of Joel Barish in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He takes a huge step away from the comedies he did back in the '90s.

Tom Cruise in Collateral
As I've mentioned on the review for Collateral, I have a thing for charming yet chilling characters. Cruise's role of Vincent managed to become appealling to me, regardless of the fact that he's a cold-hearted hitman.

Tony Curtis in Sweet Smell of Success
Usually when an actor is cast against type, it's pretty much make or break. Thankfully for Curtis, his role of sly and sleazy press agent Sidney Falco managed to put him on Hollywood's A-list.

Johnny Depp in Ed Wood
I've stated time and time again that I just love Depp's optimism throughout. If he's told that his current movie is doing very poorly at the box office, he'll say cheerfully that his next one will do better (which it doesn't). And he doesn't look that bad in an angora sweater, skirt, heels and blonde wig.

Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby
You know how most horror movies have the women just screaming their lungs out and yelling nonsense? Well, yes, Farrow does that here, but her role of Rosemary Woodhouse is different compared to, say, Shelley Duvall in The Shining. Rosemary's accusations of bearing Satan's child may make you think she's insane, when in reality she isn't.

Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild
Hirsch's portrayal of adventurer Christopher McCandless is astonishing and hypnotic. You're drawn to him the minute he appears on screen. I honestly can't think of who else could do the part other than Hirsch.

Grace Kelly in Rear Window
Kelly's part of Lisa Carol Fremont has the elegance of Audrey Hepburn but she has her own unique style of wit. She has ideas of her own, but she puts them aside to help those who need help.

Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot
Monroe's character of depressed singer Sugar Kane is definitely different from her previous roles. Kane has a background of failed relationships, which is what brought on her depression and drinking. When she finds love, she's on top of the world; when she gets dumped, she falls back to earth. That said, Monroe deserved some recognition for this groundbreaking work.

Kim Novak in Vertigo
Novak's performance as Madeleine Ester is a fine example of the classic Hitchcock femme fatale. Before she becomes a victim, she takes matters into her own hands.

Well, that's thirty-two performances for you right there. I found it harder when I was thinking of female performances. Then again, I haven't seen that many Meryl Streep or Katharine Hepburn movies.

So what about you? What are some performances you like that got, should've got or didn't get the Oscar recognition they deserved?


  1. I think Linda Blair should've won Best Supporting Actress for The Exorcist over Tatum O'Neal for Paper Moon. Tatum should've been in the leading category, she was hardly supporting. I also don't care that Blair didn't actually do the "Exorcist voice". She still said all the lines and did a very scary part for a 12 year old. That one always comes to mind first.

    Also James McAvoy should've been nominated for The Last King of Scotland.

  2. Oh MY GOD. Monty for the win. That snub just saddens.

    Le sigh.

  3. I remember reading up on some of the criticism in "The Verdict" and some vehemently saying that this is 'Paul's taking advantage of getting old.' I haven't seen all of Gandhi, but I respect that performance.


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