Thursday, February 23, 2012

LowRes 2011 Movie Awards: The Actors, Part 2

The 2011 LowRes Movie Awards: 25 Amazing Moments / Best Trailers / Best Techs (Visual) / Best Techs (Audio) / Screenplays / Supporting Actor + Actress / Lead Actor + Actress / Breakthrough + Cameo + Ensemble / Top 10 Films

Michael Fassbender - Shame
Ryan Gosling - Drive
Woody Harrelson - Rampart
Peyman Moadi - A Separation
William Shimell - Certified Copy

Fassbender and Gosling were really riding parallel lines in 2011, weren't they? Both delivering multiple well-received performances en route to climbing the Hollywood ladder of success and recognition. Both getting critical acclaim for auteurist movies that audiences found alternatively riveting or pretentious. Both giving signature performances in said films as isolated, taciturn individuals tormented by inner/outer demons and carrying on complicated relationships with Carey Mulligan. Both the thinking person's sex symbol of the moment. Both ultimately turned down by Oscar voters. To me, Fassbender's was the performance of the year, at least among lead actors. Gosling is ever-so-slightly the beneficiary of a weakish year, but even though I may have found his character's nameless remove a bit writerly, he brings charisma like crazy and fills in a lot of the script's gaps.

For as much as I was cool on Harrelson's Oscar-nominated performance in The Messenger, I'm equally passionate about the work he does in Rampart. If only the buzz could have been flipped. He's monstrous in ways that are unnervingly typical. You get the terrifying sense that if you were ever in the same room as him, he'd have you bullied onto his side within minutes. And he modulates the performance so well depending on which characters he's in a scene with. Lots of avenues to drive down with this guy.

I was surprised to find out that Shimmel was an acting novice given how well he was able to keep up with Juliette Binoche as they dance their dance of shifting reality. And Moadi manages to shine among a VERY strong A Separation ensemble with a performance that gets to the pride and helplessness at the root of a good man who lies to himself so he can remain as such.

Runners Up: Jean Dujardin (The Artist); Paul Rudd (Our Idiot Brother); Tom Hardy (Warrior); Brad Pitt (Moneyball); Gary Oldman -(Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy).

Juliette Binoche - Certified Copy
Viola Davis - The Help
Elizabeth Olsen - Martha Marcy May Marlene
Anna Paquin - Margaret
Charlize Theron - Young Adult

As thin as the herd was among the lead actors, Best Actress is pretty well stacked, with former Oscar winners like Theron and Paquin digging into all-too-rare roles that were worthy of their talents, plus this year's possible Oscar winner in Viola Davis. I've wondered, in the months since I saw and had complicated reactions to The Help, if I'm more willing to throw accolades at Viola's performance because her character, Aibleen, so deserves accolades of her own. Maybe. That's a woman who's earned some good news. But Davis brought her to life, with notes of pride and anger and irreconcilable ties on both sides of a divided society.

I've probably bored you all to tears already with how much I loved Juliette Binoche in Certified Copy, from her bra straps to the well-worn soles of her shoes. (They do a LOT of walking on cobblestones in that movie.) She's perfection as so many of the film's most affecting scenes play out right on her face.

Olsen is another face that told a lot of story, even if that story was mostly in how much she couldn't tell. I'm still flummoxed at how she somehow didn't get the new-star breakthrough acclaim that a Rooney Mara or even the far inferior Felicty Jones got. Still, she's lined up years' worth of work thanks to the film's Sundance success, so she'll have plenty more chances. She's kind of in a position that Anna Paquin was in back when Margaret was made. Seriously, finally getting to see her work in Kenneth Lonergan's movie fills in some crucial career gaps and helps me really GET the whole Anna Paquin thing. As for the performance itself, t's a thrill to see her finally deliver a character so maddeningly confident in her own certainty.

My vote for a winner would go to my beloved Charlize, though, who broke open the flourescent tube that was Mavis Gary -- all harsh and ugly brilliance -- and released toxic fumes out to anyone who entered her orbit. She's savagely funny, remorselessly mean, and choking on her own mid-level success. She's got the audience's admiration and revulsion clenched inside the same fist, squishing them tightly until we can't tell the difference.

Runners Up: Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin); Michelle Williams (Meek's Cutoff); Adpero Oduye (Pariah); Vera Farmiga (Higher Ground); Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia).

1 comment:

Will said...

I thought Theron gave the performance of the year (so breathtakingly sour) until I saw Yoon Jeong-hee's performance in Poetry. Agree with Paquin (really revelatory, and you're right that it fills in a lot of the gaps re: her acting subsequent acting choices) and Binoche (I don't think any other actress alive could've pulled this off). Davis too, but I still think that's a supporting role. I'd put Wiig up there.