Thursday, February 24, 2011

LowRes 2010 Movie Awards: The Actors, Part 3

The 2010 LowRes Movie Awards: 30 Amazing Moments / Best Trailers / Best Techs (Visual) / Best Techs (Audio) / Screenplays + Director / Breakthrough + Ensemble + Cameo / Supporting Actor + Actress / Lead Actor + Actress / Top 10 Films

Jesse Eisenberg - The Social Network
James Franco - 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling - Blue Valentine
Edgar Ramirez - Carlos
Ben Stiller - Greenberg

It wasn't the strongest Best Actor field this year, which is a stark contrast to last year. I'd throw almost any of the current Oscar nominees overboard for some of last year's runners-up (Sam Rockwell in Moon? John Krasinski in Away We Go? Ben Whishaw in Bright Star? Come ON!). But now is not the time to bag on my current Top 5 for 2010. Each of these guys did something special this year, be it raise their game beyond their own well-traveled neuroses like Eisenberg or lay down enough dangerous charisma to power a six-hour behemoth of a movie like Ramirez.

In a year that was less enamored with stuttering monarchs and grizzled lawmen, Ryan Gosling probably would have been recognized for playing the other half to Michelle Williams in their captivating dance to the death.

For someone like Ben Stiller, the achievement isn't just that he made a good movie -- or a quieter movie, or a halfway "serious" movie. What I loved most about his Greenberg is that way in which he toned down; most comedic actors go "serious" simply by stifling all their comedic impulses or powering down. But rather than leave that void, Stiller puts something new there, and I found his layered misanthropy pretty fascinating.

My favorite lead male performance of the year manages to combine all these factors together. James Franco stretches beyond his usual borders; he commands the screen with some unreal charisma; and he builds layers into a character who, for story purposes, only exists because of what happened to him. I would have loved 127 Hours a billion times more if they'd have just left the camera on Franco and let us watch him work.

Runners Up: Stephen Dorff (Somewhere); Jeff Bridges (True Grit); Tahar Rahim (Un Prophete); Michael Douglas (Solitary Man); Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter).

Annette Bening - The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole
Lesley Manville - Another Year
Julianne Moore - The Kids Are All Right
Natalie Portman - Black Swan
Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine

Here's how (over-)seriously I take these silly "awards": I agonized over who I'd name in this list. Even expanding the nominees to six, it actively pains me to relegate Jennifer Lawrence and Carey Mulligan to runner-up status. I shuffled and re-shuffled, and the only two actresses who never left this top 6 were Lesley Manville (perfectly, boozily heartbreaking while never softening Mary's irritating edges) and Julianne Moore (who really got the shaft this awards season in terms of love for her movie). The other four all happen to be Oscar nominated, and along with Lawrence, they make up one of the more fearsomely talented Best Actress lineups ever.

Ultimately, I couldn't live without Portman's extreme physicality and the way she kept the darkness around the edges of her character, even when she was at her most fragile. Or Williams, who made sure we got to see the weight slowly accumulating on her character until her marriage buckled underneath. Or Kidman, who indulged the peculiarities of her character and showed us a woman whose mind was always slightly elsewhere. Or Bening and the way she showed us Nic's inherent sense of justice and how much it hurts when that sense is betrayed.

Runners Up: Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone); Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go); Naomi Watts (Mother and Child); Ruth Sheen (Another Year).


Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

It's weird, I'm the exact opposite with you on this year's Actors. Ben Whishaw and Viggo Mortensen ruled last year for me but other than them I think this year trumps that (although, seeing your love for Somewhere I was really hoping for some Dorff love - but runner-up is fine).

(Those two sentences on Bening and Kidman are just perfect.)

jessica said...

I'm with you on Franco. Colin Firth is fine, and I really enjoyed The King's Speech, but if I were handing out the Oscars, Franco would get it in a walk.

As for the actresses, I think I would give it to Bening. I didn't love the movie, and I didn't love any of the characters in it, but man oh man did I love Bening's performance.

Leo said...

You forgot Tilda Swinton and her hYpnotic, mesmerizing nipples in I Am Love, and Isabelle huppert's mad woman in White Material.

Joe Reid said...

I actually didn't get to see White Material. I...saw I Am Love.