So we reach the penultimate part of the Oscar Missables. A pleasantly mixed bag too, with a few out-there options as well as some that were pretty obvious – to us not voting that is. The Queen of Oscar Nominations also shows up here – so no, she was not nominated for everything she did…
We tend to forget about Amanda Seyfried as an actress. She was the mean girl that couldn’t catch a ball, has sang wth Meryl Streep and Eddie Redmayne, she was Red Riding Hood, and very recently took it upon herself to hang out Mark Wahlberg and Ted for some reason. One of her finest performances as an actress is in a very recent, seemingly also forgotten movie, Lovelace. Opposite Peter Sarsgaard (the asshole top casting choice it seems), Seyfried plays the infamous adult film star Linda Lovelace in a kind of What’s Porn Got To Do With It, a rather typical, but worthy enough, warts-and-all celebrity biopic. Taking two very different narrative tones of the same era of her life (remember Deep Throat?), essentially telling her story in the early 1970s, it goes from Lovelace feeling beautiful before flipping over to Lovelace being brutalized. I had no doubt Seyfried has an acting talent, and here it is shown in mouthfuls (Oh I had to), she brings a bright shining light to the naive, self-appreciation of Lovelace, making you respect and like her regardless of her profession, before going even deeper (sorry) to show the true depths of pain and despair her life journeyed to. The Academy were going nowhere near this though, as the film seemed to pop it’s head up and then disappear completely. Which sucks.
Meryl Streep for The Hours (2002) – – – Jazz Tangcay @jazzt
Meryl Streep is without a doubt the greatest actress alive. She holds the record for most nominations and has won three, her most recent win was for The Iron Lady in 2012. Her work is extraordinary, few people might say she’s over-rated, but let’s face it, there are years when she has been the best of the crop and rightfully deserved the nomination. There are a few roles where Streep was snubbed, and one was notably for her performance in The Hours. Tariq Khan wrote a great piece on why Meryl missed out that year for The Hours. Streep gave an amazing performance as conflicted lesbian editor, Clarissa Vaughan tending to her ex-lover played superbly by Ed Harris. She takes you on the journey of pain and conflict and it’s another Streep great, every scene, every moment. Co-star Nicole Kidman took home the Best Actress honor that year. The prosthetic nose she wore to transform into Virginia Woolf would rule. Streep would have to make do with a nomination for the other film she appeared in, Adaptation. The entire female cast gave some of the best performances that year, but let’s just look at some classic moments from The Hours.
The Oscar-winner won many accolades for his complete immersion of the infamous revolutionary, in a role that he along with Steven Soderbergh, Laura Bickford (and one point for a long time, Terrence Malick) have brought to the screen that is reminiscent of vintage historical epics held together by a sterling central performance. Portraying the practicing doctor turned solider from his arrival to Cuba and meeting with Fidel Castro to his end in Bolivia, Del Toro gives a tour de force in embedding a man who is single-minded in his purpose to bring a revolution to Latin America, and then the world, but also infusing that purpose with a personal vision anchored by desire, a personal honor and most importantly, love. ‘The most important quality a revolutionary can posses is love,’ and Del Toro’s performance in a labor of love, giving his performance of Che touchstones of personal and physical notifiers that is carried throughout – from the way he glances at his watches, to the way he smokes, speaks, embraces others and addresses them in his violent manifesto to everyone all around. It’s a physical endurance of an acting job in a physical epic, and Del Toro shows us that the further Guevara goes further up the river of darkness in his revolution, and the more maligned it becomes. He deteriorates, mentally and more to the eye, physically until he is but a shell of himself. But still, he forges onward. An entirely captivating job by a reclusive but top-tier award winner at his height of his craft, and given the year and the noted nominees of the Oscars in 2008, it stands out even further on not being considered accordingly.
Jean-Louis Trintignant for The Conformist (1970) – – – Paddy Mulholland @screenonscreen
Three of the great cinematic artists collaborate on one of the finest films of its era – The Conformist, written and directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, shot by Vittorio Storaro and starring Jean-Louis Trintignant. The French actor had earned his dues as the lead in well-received political thrillers with his turn in Costa Gavras’ Z the year prior, and the visibility that provided him, alongside this film’s Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, ought to have earned him a nod also. Trintignant is riveting as a man forced by both his own weak will and the increasing political aggression shown by society to disguise that weak will as the opposite of itself; his performance is beautifully shaded, projecting equally the tone of manufactured confidence that almost convinces his acquaintances, and the tone of simmering doubt and fear that is directed at us, the viewers, and that helps immeasurably to construct The Conformist‘s delicate, tangibly tense atmosphere. The film is one of similar dichotomies, those of political, gender, artistic and sexual natures, and the innate duality of Trintignant’s character makes it a particularly rich one, a challenge perfectly met by a particularly talented actor.
Robert Shaw for Jaws (1975) – – – Robin Write @Filmotomy
From the moment his fingernails claw across the blackboard, until long after the great shark takes him, there is a heroic and lasting impression left by Robert Shaw’s Quint. A character who ultimately grows on you more than you would have imagined as Jaws progresses through it’s small-town horror tale and becomes something of an encouraging, convincing buddy movie. Quint’s shocking, brutal death becomes all the more bittersweet in the end, no offence to Hooper or Brody, as he is the man you long to survive and be standing come the film’s close. Shaw brings the raw charisma and confidence to Quint not many other actors could have pulled off so effectively. With surprisingly only one single acting Oscar nomination to his name (A Man for All Seasons), Shaw was classic Supporting Actor material here. But we are sadly all too aware of the travesty of the Jaws Oscar coverage. Neither Roy Scheider nor Richard Dreyfuss made the acting short-lists, neither did the writers Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb, not to mention of course the film’s super-talented director Steven Spielberg. Like his remarkable career, Spielberg’s neglected Academy Award journey still had a way to go.