Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Rickman Hamtylerdurden, Sep 15, 2012.
He was Jack Ryan, Indiana Jones, and Han Solo, for Jim's sake!
''The scene of him breaking down in The Sand Pebbles is a pretty unforgettable, and his back is to the camera!''---JTB
And that role did get him his Oscar nomination. But the cynic in me says we'd be seeing his face if he had true breaking-down range. Ah, well. I tend to get suspicious when things are unseen or ''heard.'' It's the Ally Sheedy MADE TO ORDER principle: when you're not convincingly crying, the audience can tell by the sound. I blame bad direction in that case.
^ But as Clint Eastwood said in "Inside Actors Studio" about why he turned away from the camera in "The Bridges of Madison County", which everyone said would've been Oscar bait. Paraphrasing him, any actor can cry their eyes out and sob on camera. You just tell them to think of their family dog that died when they were six and they turn into a tear fountain. The skill is in knowing when not to cry, or when to hide it to shift the focus to someone else to add power to the scene.
The thing about sobbing is that it doesn't convey anything about the scene. It's so emotionally overwhelming that the only context it has is the context we can infer from knowledge of the situation that caused it. In that regard it's like uncontrollable vomiting. Give any actor a good whiff of the right odor and they'll bend over and vomit uncontrollably. You could replace them with anyone off the street and the vomiting would be the same. The acts feel emotionally powerful but the information content is scant except for saying "What just happened felt really emotionally powerful, and I'm puking now."
ETA: I guess I'm saying that a sobbing scene is a very poor way to judge an actor, because we can all do those with equal power and sincerity. Kind of like pooping a monster turd.
When he's good he's very very good, and those are the two best examples. But when he's bad...
I thought he was terrible in King Kong (but then most people in King Kong were) amongst other things.
Not sure whether this counts or not (but if we can discuss Black why not) but I'd say Ralph Finnes. By all accounts a bit of a dick, but a fucking fantastic actor, and in this world where actors effectively play themsevles irrespective of the film, he stands out, for me at least.
Just try watching a double bill of the Constant Gardner and In Bruges. From timd, noble beaten down civil servant to foul mouthed vicious gangster.
I always wondered about the Oscar Tommy Lee Jones got for The Fugitive. I mean, yeah, it was great, and I loved him in it, but an Academy Award for it? Just never occured to me.
Like Sean Connery in THE UNTOUCHABLES, it was a popular choice for Best Suporting Actor. But at least in Jones's case, his role was really a co-lead. Or as his Gerard character would say:
I agree. In fact, if you look at the other performances that year - Pete Postlethwaite for In the Name of the Father, John Malkovich for In the Line of Fire, Leo DiCaprio for What's Eating Gilbert Grape and Ralph Fiennes for Schindler's List - I would say Tommy Lee's performance, enjoyable as it was, was by some way the slightest and least deserving.
And I can't believe I omitted Daniel Day-Lewis and Johnny Depp in my list of current stars who are likely to be in such a list in 40 years.
I agree with Starkers re Ralph Fiennes on the quality of his acting, though he seems to have (deliberately?) moved away from leading man roles and into interesting character roles. Certainly, when you compare his monster Goeth in Schindler or his gangster in In Bruges with his naive but greedy character in Quiz Show, it's hard to believe it's the one man.
My fault for focusing on the back-turned bit; it's a directorial choice that's just the culmination of some very powerful scenes by McQueen. By that point, he has established Jake Holman as so independent and emotionally isolated that showing him full-on weeping would be too much. He wouldn't allow his best friend to see him in that state; giving the audience a pass would seem exploitative and intrusive. Holman crying alone in the fireroom with his face unseen not only reinforces his isolation but also that he is not a fully-formed person, he is missing something important. The fact that McQueen has sold this character so thoroughly and naturally is maybe not an indication of range, but it is some impressive acting.
I once read an old interview with Steve McQueen on the subject of his acting style. He sounded quite a bit like Eastwood above. McQueen talked a lot about not doing "too much" in front of the camera -- about allowing the camera to "do the work for you".
Awareness of these principles is what has made guys like these two, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery, and, as someone else mentioned, the up and coming Daniel Craig, so compelling to watch. None of these guys have shown much "range" but none of them need to in order to present a memorable performance on screen. They didn't, and don't, ever do "too much".
If I were some young hunky looking actor type, looking to get into to film acting, I would watch every Eastwood or McQueen movie and read every word these two have ever spoken about film acting. There are very few who have delivered more on screen than they.
Good idea for a thread.
Have to disagree with you about Arnie though. Yes he's a good actor and a kick butt action adventure guy... but his douchebaggery kind of kicks that off a cliff. So he wouldn't make my list these days... Kindergarten Cop and the Terminator movies aside.
Clark Gable -- 'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn...' That line from 'Gone With The Wind' alone makes a cultural impact. It's still remembered after all these years, not to mention that he's one heck of an actor.
Maybe Method actors are more prone to weeping. Look at Marlon Brando in THE GODFATHER or ON THE WATERFRONT or Sean Penn in TAPS, STATE OF GRACE and COLORS. I was getting so used to seeing Peen weep over dead co-stars that it shocked me when HE bought it for the first time in CARLITO'S WAY.
My next post tonight will reveal the next four choices.
For me it doesn't get any better than Daniel Day Lewis. Guy is an absolute beast and tops any actor list I make.
His work in There Will Be Blood is absolutely mesmerizing. You can't take your eyes off him. Just brilliant.
Daniel Day-Lewis's sister Tamasin should get a thread on famous chefs whose siblings went into acting.
My post now WOULD have revealed the next four choices had the expletive deleted list not have been left at work.
Hang in there just a bit longer. My apologies.
^ Well go back in and get it!
Consider it donut.
40. Arnold Schwarzenegger
39. Spencer Tracy
38. Steve McQueen
37. Gary Cooper
36. Daniel Craig
35. Errol Flynn
34. Sean Penn
33. Richard Burton
32. Tom Hanks
31. Edward Norton
Edward Norton in front of Tom Hanks, Richard Burton, and Sean Penn?
Certainly. He doesn't have longevity yet, but the talent is potentially stratospheric. Look at the four stages of his single character in AMERICAN HISTORY X. More chameleonic than Hanks, more sober than Burton, and less weepy than Penn. But now I'm attempting to remember if any Norton characters have ever died, and I can't think of any except for his long-dead uncredited masked cameo character in KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Are there others?
Separate names with a comma.