While “award-season” is now on, just know that whether or not an actor or crew member “ultimately wins” an Academy Award still may not mean jack. Knowing which performances and techniques were most effective is all part of the craft, and this is surely one of the most subjective arts in technological performance history. “The Truman Show” has already debuted 20 years ago — mindboggling — can you believe how many parallels it has to present-day politics, reality television and even “fake news”?
Being at least as tangential as that, let’s take this topic on a similar feminist timeline to examine my own favorite five current performances (main/supporting actor/actress COMBINED) from the past 20 years — *SPOILER ALERT* — whether or not the Academy affected its final outcome:
5. Guy Pearce, Memento
4. Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Christopher Nolan burst onto the scene with “Memento,” in one of the most mind-blowing films structured both end-to-beginning *AND* prior-to-start forward until both collide. Guy Pearce plays a memory-lapsed Leonard so well in his environment, around the many textured supporting characters, that you can actually understand how some of his decisions might be made.
As for Richard Linklater’s own time-bending film, “Boyhood,” Patricia Arquette mastered her protective motherly persona over the span of twelve years that filming actually progressed while Ellar Coltrane grew up.
3. Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
2. Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
I’d like to compare two performances, one not even a nominee: Tom Hanks vs Daniel Day-Lewis. In Hanks’ last scene, he’s so in character, essentially shell-shocked and unable to fully react and speak to a nurse, but his emotions take over while he lies there for first examination post rescue. It’s true humanity, Paul Greengrass-style, reminiscent of “United 93” as well.
Day #157 | Captain Phillips 2013 | Directed by Paul Greengrass Now that is a good Greengrass film. The story is real and it is incredible. Tom Hanks shows how he is never out of shape. Barkhad Abdi surprise amazing performance. It's just a great film. It takes its time. It builds up. And it really delivers. Powerful film. Scared of boats now. Watch it? For sure. It's an intense journey and it's worth it. 8.5/10 (Pirates man) www.imdb.com/title/tt1535109/ #movies #amovieaday #amad #cinema #film #10s #2010s #2013 #drama #thriller #truestory #story #somalia ##merchant #navy #merchantnavy #us #maersk #alabama #favourites #captain #tomhanks #barkhadabdi #academyaward #nominated #paulgreengrass #captainphillips #pirates
Meanwhile, a richly deserved winning performance was Lewis, whose villainous plight takes over his need to love a son when an oil blast inflicts deafness. Entire characters are invented and enveloped by Lewis; there’s a reason he’s now a 3-time winner.
1. (tie) Mo’Nique, Precious
1. (tie) Charlize Theron, Monster
Both #1 spot grabbers are the most three-dimensional portraits of payback you can imagine, to the point of becoming a psychopath. In “Precious,” Mo’Nique feels a horrible need to find revenge upon her daughter for no fault of either of them — I’ll at least give you that much respect — her decision why is where the chaos begins (surely it had prior?) in her mind. Her speech to the therapist, played by Mariah Carey, shows raw emotions rarely seen.
In “Monster,” Charlize Theron portrays a true person that became the first documented female serial killer, and the background of why is depicted, with the humanizing, depiction, falling in love, protecting her girlfriend with future gunfire for money, and so forth, becomes part of the tragic downfall.
Honorable Mentions: Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight; Paul Giamatti, Sideways; Dale Dickey, Winter’s Bone; John Goodman, The Artist; Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Sand and Fog; J.K. Simmons, Whiplash; Corey Stoll, Midnight in Paris; Lois Smith, Minority Report