Onto part two of the battle between the actress / actor versus the movie in which they play. And where the acting wins every time. At least, in the opinion of some of us here at Filmotomy. You have a comments section below if you want to fight back.
Jennifer Garner / Peppermint
Peppermint is a film with a dire plot and nothing new to add to the revenge subgenre apart from some well executed action scenes. Jennifer Garner’s excellent performance on the other hand, nearly single-handedly carries the whole film. As Riley North, she is utterly compelling as a grief-stricken mother turned revenge seeking warrior fighting her way through an army of gangsters to get the guy at the top.
While the film only touches on Riley’s mental state, Garner delves deeper and explores the rage and heartache that she is feeling in a really subtle way. Her outburst at the court as the men who murdered her family are let go is especially moving as her grief leads to confusion and then to anger. Garner plays it so incredibly well and the result is one of her best performances. – – – – – JD Grant @EIPJD
Stellan Skarsgård / Exorcist: The Beginning
When an early cut of Paul Schrader’s Exorcist prequel failed to impress the producers, who wanted a more conventional horror flick, director Renny Harlin was asked to deliver a completely retooled film. With a new script and cast. The only part that survived the recasting was Father Merrin himself, played in both versions by Swedish star Stellan Skarsgård. The characterization may have been severely watered down (Merrin’s spiritual suffering is a key component of Schrader’s film, eventually released as Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist), but Skarsgård gives it his all nonetheless.
Effortlessly lending a semblance of dignity to a project marred by shoddy plotting, non-existent tension and truly appalling CGI (even by 2004 standards). Such is his commitment, even a scene that would feel more at home in the Scary Movie franchise leaves his performance unscathed, and he single-handedly prevents the film from dethroning Exorcist II: The Heretic as the worst entry in the series. – – – – – Max @IMDBorg
Eva Green / Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Sin City 2 is a poor sequel to a film that really wasn’t that great, if you think about it. It’s an over stylised Noir wannabe which is simply a poor imitation of far superior films and novels. The sequel was a commercial failure, which left many fans and critics unsatisfied and quite frankly bored watching it. Eva Green’s performance as Ava Lord (a dame that yes, you would kill for) is the most memorable in the film. She oozes style and sophistication, in a film that is tacky and takes itself far too seriously. Green is aware that this film and her character is meant to be a cartoonish depiction of a femme fatale, and she chews the scenery and spits it out in glee.
It’s clear that Green is having fun here, and isn’t taking herself too seriously (how can you take your role within a film like Sin City seriously, especially when you spend the majority of your screen time naked?). Amy Nicholson of LA Weekly also championed Green’s role within the film stating that, “Eva Green is sexy, funny, dangerous and wild – everything the film needed to be – and whenever she’s not on-screen, we feel her absence as though the sun has blinked off.” Green is so good as an actor, that she can even make Frank Miller’s awful ham-fisted dialogue sound like Shakespeare. – – – – – Bianca @thefilmbee
Kirsten Dunst / The Beguiled
Kirsten Dunst’s career has long been a thing of wonder: in its astonishing expanse, in how the Academy has neglected it for decades. However, if there’s one thing that has characterized it, it has been Dunst’s willingness to go ‘big’: in the nihilism of Melancholia, the bloodthirst of Interview with the Vampire, the frivolity of Marie Antoinette, or the ebullience of Bring It On.
But in The Beguiled – a Civil War-set film marred by a lack of interest in complicity and race – Dunst is something completely different. She is restrained, doleful, and shrinks from the screen. Almost wordlessly, she imbues the film with wells of sadness; with what-could-have-been. In a pivotal scene, Dunst sounds a silent cacophony of emotions: panic, sorrow, resentment, guilt, resignation. And then, just before she exits, one shot: a hunched, pitiful Dunst, her face convulsed mid-cry – supplicating before Nicole Kidman on behalf of someone else. – – – – – Kamil @kamuleosaurus
Robert Downey Jr / Chaplin
Although a beautiful, well-crafted film, Richard Attenborough’s biopic, Chaplin, has definite flaws. It is overlong, and distractedly segmented, especially using the somewhat droll scenes with older Charlie Chaplin and a fictional biographer to tell the story. That said, it has it’s glorious moments too. John Barry’s affecting score being one of them. The film really belongs to Robert Downey Jr, giving a phenomenal performance – an actor at the time with a damaged reputation, given his extra-curricular activities.
This was all about the acting. Taken on the role of the Little Tramp in all his comic and controversial glory, is no easy feat. Chaplin was a unique entertainer, and Downey Jr pretty much nails those slapstick elements on-screen. The actor also shows us the free-spirited, opinionated, and sentimental persona underneath the mustache. Chaplin’s personal life is unflinchingly depicted, and Downey Jr captures every nuance of the man’s journey through his movie success, relationship with women, and his more troublesome moments. Had Al Pacino not finally got his hands on gold, Robert Downey Jr might well have claimed the Best Actor Oscar. – – – – – Robin @Filmotomy