Tag Archive: best supporting actor


Django Unchained is Quentin Tarantino’s latest adventure into history following the success of Inglourious Basterds. ‘Unchained‘ delves deeper into America’s past and examines, in a way that only Tarantino could do, the ugly side of American history that is often brushed over in the mainstream.

Jamie Foxx is Django, a slave freed by bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Schultz employs Django to help him bring three overseers of slave farms to their demise and the two grow a mutual respect between one another as they journey. Upon learning of Django’s wife being a slave at Candieland, owned by Calvin Candie, King Schultz decides to train and help Django embark on a revenge mission to free his wife.

It’s a fantastic story of revenge and as you would expect Django Unchained is wonderfully written. Tarantino is famous for his dialogue and while he seems to reign that in here there are still a few scenes where you get the back and forth, quick moving dialogue which is fun to see and listen to. One thing Tarantino doesn’t reign in, however, is his love of violence and gore; the blood flies everywhere at such ridiculous angles and guts come flying out of dead bodies in a way that is hilarious, but that is what makes Tarantino so enjoyable. As a person in interviews he is so over the top and you expect that from his films, it’s brilliant.

Jamie Foxx’s lead performance helps to make Django one of the coolest characters ever committed to film in my opinion. Django is just a complete character, he is so likeable and has so many different colours to his personality which makes him very interesting to watch, so credit to Tarantino for his creation but also Foxx for bringing him to life. There is one scene in particular that springs to mind involving Django and two of the Brittle brothers where Foxx really lets loose all of Django’s pent up anger and this makes this particular scene difficult to watch but so enjoyable at the same time because you’re on his side; there’s a wildness in his eyes.

The rest of the cast is almost flawless too. Christoph Waltz is nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Dr. King Schultz and rightly so, he’s such a likeable character and Waltz’s performance is the root of a lot of laughs due to his mannerisms. Leonardo DiCaprio is one of my favourite actors and it is great to see him playing a villain for the first time in his career and this gives him a chance to really let go of himself and bring a very intense and uncomfortable feel about his character; it’s so different to what he has done before but it is up there with his best performances. For me, there were only two let downs: I thought we would get to see a different side of Samuel L. Jackson after the early hype about him but he was just the same as always and largely disappointing for me; and all the way through I was hoping for a Tarantino cameo but when it finally came it was just underwhelming and restrained.

I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the running time and how Django Unchained sort of falls short because of this but I didn’t feel this to be the case. I did feel like it could have ended at earlier points and been drawn to a close quicker but then what followed those points I really enjoyed and was glad that they carried it on. On the whole, Django Unchained is just a really cool and incredibly stylish film. The beginning is good, the middle is better, and the end is fantastic. Not a realistic choice at the Oscars for Best Picture in my eyes but Tarantino could easily pick up Best Original Screenplay.

All in all, not Tarantino’s best, but far from his worst!

My Rating: 8/10.

Advertisements

I’m pleased to see Affleck getting the recognition he deserves as a director.

The Golden Globes took place last night and Argo was the hit of the night winning Best Drama and won Ben Affleck Best Director. This would suggest that Argo is now the favourite to pick up the Best Picture Oscar (it was already many people’s favourites and this will just strengthen arguments) but will that be the case?

Argo will face tough competition at the 85th Academy Awards from Les Miserables in particular which picked up the Best Musical or Comedy Golden Globe last night. I’m not sure why the Golden Globes feels the need to separate films into drama and musical/comedy but that’s what they do and they infer that Argo will be going head to head with Les Miserables. The cynic in me still thinks that something like Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty will get the win thanks to their very strong pro-American vibes. Last year, The Descendants and The Artist were the winners of Best Motion Picture Golden Globes and The Artist went on to stuff its face with more and more awards in the following weeks, I can’t see the same happening for Argo to the same extent but I wouldn’t say an Oscar is beyond doubt.

However, Ben Affleck is not even nominated for Best Director at the Oscars! I think the Best Director Oscar is well up for grabs and any of the five nominees (Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Michael Haneke, David O. Russell, Benh Zeitlin) could easily win it. But surely it says something that the winner of the Golden Globe for direction is not even nominated for the Academy Award? Personally, I though Affleck’s direction was one of the best features of Argo!

Lawrence is one of the youngest actresses to be nominated for an Academy Award and the Golden Globes suggest this could be her year.

The Best Actor Oscar looks set to be between Hugh Jackman and Daniel Day-Lewis and these are the two people I would have been backing before last night. I do hope that Daniel Day-Lewis wins the Oscar as he is clearly one of the best actors that his generation has seen, and I would go so far as to say he will go down as one of the greatest of all time. Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain will compete for the Best Actress award and Lawrence is nailed on favourite so it’s hard to look past her for this one.

The rest of the Golden Globes correctly predict the winners for me: Christopher Waltz for Best Supporting Actor, Anne Hathaway for Best Supporting Actress, Adele to win for Best Original Song for Skyfall and Quentin Tarantino to win Best Screenplay.

In terms of the acting awards last year the Golden Globes were a certain prediction of the Oscar Awards but only time will tell if this year will follow suit.

January sees the big Oscar contenders come to the UK. Many of these films have already been released over in the states to critical acclaim as you might expect.

 

The Impossible – 1st January

Based solely on the trailer, The Impossible is THE film to see this January. It is the first film to be released that uses the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami at the heart of it’s story, telling the tale of one family caught up with thousands of strangers in a horrible natural disaster. Featuring the brilliant Ewan McGregor and the incredible Naomi Watts.

 

Gangster Squad – 10th January

Finally, the all-star long awaited gangster flick will be arriving on UK screens. Delayed after the tragic shootings in Aurora, Gangster Squad is a film that many people have been looking forward to seeing and now you get your chance. Featuring a cast of Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone among others.

 

Les Miserables – 11th January

A new interpretation of the hit musical comes to the screen this year and if you’ve managed to avoid the adverts featuring Anne Hathaway singing then well done. I think Les Mis is bound to do well thanks to all it’s Oscar buzz and having already been nominated for 4 Golden Globes but it’s not that high on my list thanks to all of it’s competition.

 

Django Unchained – 18th January

And if Les Miserables thinks having 4 Golden Globe nominations is something to shout about then step aside for Django Unchained‘s 5. This is Quentin Tarantino’s first attempt at a full on Western and it certainly will not disappoint! It has been nominated for Best Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz both have nominations for Best Supporting Actor; Oscars are sure to follow.

 

Lincoln – 25th January

Now cynics may think that Lincoln has been made with the intention of winning awards rather than pleasing audiences… that is what I believe as well. This looks like Oscar-baiting in all it’s glory: a film about one of America’s most celebrated Presidents telling the story of a pivotal time in America history. If this isn’t Steven Spielberg shouting “GIVE ME OSCARS” I don’t know what is. It seems to be working though.

 

Zero Dark Thirty – 25th January

Back in 2010, The Hurt Locker surprised everyone to become one of the lowest grossing winners of the Best Picture Oscar ever. Zero Dark Thirty is director Kathryn Bigelow’s follow up film and tackles the events of the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden and his following death. I don’t think this one will do as well as The Hurt Locker but it should make for some interesting viewing at least.

Warner Bros. have this week announced their intentions to push The Dark Knight Rises forward in hope of getting a few Oscar nominations. The Dark Knight won two Oscars and received another six nominations although none of these were in any of the ‘big five’ categories. Disney have decided that they are not going to push The Avengers for Oscar nominations and instead will concentrate on their animated features: Brave, Frankenweenie and Wreck-It Ralph. On the surface of it this seems a strange choice as The Avengers became one of the highest grossing movies of all time and is one of the most well loved films of this year! Have Disney made the right choice?

Acting

There are four categories at the Oscars for acting: Best Leading Actor, Best Leading Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. After you decide who in The Avengers is adjudged to be the Lead Role and who is Supporting then you have to think does anybody really deserve a nomination? Mark Ruffalo came out of The Avengers really well, as did Clark Gregg but none of these really did anything to warrant an Oscar. Before it’s release I was touting Robert Downey Jr as a potential Oscar candidate but I wasn’t blown away with his portrayal like I was in Iron Man. As for the female characters Scarlett Johansson put in a good performance but nothing Oscar worthy. Tom Hiddleston is considered by many to be the best actor among the cast but I think there have been better performances than his in other Oscar-worthy films.

Ruffalo and Hiddleston get along much better off screen!

Direction

Joss Whedon made himself a God among geeks with The Avengers but how good was his direction? He told a fantastic story and put together some incredible set pieces including the unforgettable continuous shot during the final battle. However, his technique came under fire from cinematographer and long time Christopher Nolan collaborator Wally Pfister as his camera angles apparently didn’t make much sense in terms of telling a story. Unfortunately, there won’t be any recognition for Whedon’s direction here.

Best Picture

As I mentioned earlier The Avengers became the third highest grossing film of all time and nobody could avoid the huge superhero mash-up this year. I gave it a 10 out of 10 in my review because it is everything that I could have hoped for, it was easily among the best films of the year! However, it seems to be that more often than not, Oscar winners for Best Picture are usually more serious film and you can see that The Avengers was made to be fun and enjoyable. You could say that, much to its credit, The Avengers was made for comic book fans rather than the critics and that could damage it’s hope of a nomination here, especially seeing as how The Dark Knight didn’t even get recognition in this category.

Best Adapted Screenplay

For me, this is the most likely category that The Avengers will feature in. Joss Whedon is a fantastic writer for television and now he has shown that he can tell wonderful stories on the big screen too. Whedon’s writing was what made The Avengers what it is and his dialogue, character development and interaction was fantastic. I think it is a much more well written film than a lot of what we have seen this year (including The Dark Knight Rises) and I do hope that it does receive a nomination here.

So they’re the biggest categories discussed and my opinions on The Avengers‘ chances. Of the rest I don’t think a nomination is out of the question in categories such as Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design or Best Visual Effects but at the end of the day, who remembers the winners of those awards? I think Disney made the right call not to make a serious push for The Avengers‘ Oscars chances.

Leonardo DiCaprio is undoubtedly one of the best and most versatile actors working today, if not one of the best of all time. He is one of my favourite actors which is obvious to anyone who knows me seeing as how I own almost all of his films on DVD and have watched them all numerous times. But ever since I first watched Blood Diamond it has been, not only my favourite performance by DiCaprio but also, one of my favourite films and I genuinely believe it is one of the greatest films ever made, despite not being received incredibly well by critics (perhaps due to the source material).

Blood Diamond is a story of three very different characters and how their lives and journeys merge together because of the illegal diamond smuggling industry coming out of countries like Sierra Leone (where the film is set) and being financed by a (fictional) company named Van de Kamp back in London, England. The movie is described as a political war thriller and features several political strands, the title itself is an obvious reference to the name given to the diamonds that are sourced from war torn African countries which are sold to finance the conflict. There is also the prominence of children being forced to become soldiers in these war torn countries too. Blood Diamond was set during the Sierra Leone Civil War between 1996-2001 and released in 2006, yet these problems still exist in some African countries which makes the film just as relevant today and the issues it brings to the forefront of your mind even more relevant because nothing has really changed. But despite being a politically fuelled film I don’t believe that Blood Diamond rams issues down your throat and force feeds you opinions because at the heart of it is a very convincing and very entertaining, in the most dramatic sense, trio of heroes.

Leonardo DiCaprio is absolutely phenomenal as Danny Archer, a former mercenary turned diamond smuggler, and upon release of Blood Diamond he received a huge amount of praise for his authentic South African accent. Archer is the anti-hero, yes he helps Solomon find his family but only because of his own motives to retrieve the huge pink diamond Solomon found, steal it, sell it and get away from the conflict to live a very rich and extensive lifestyle elsewhere. DiCaprio was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for the film. His co-star, Djimon Hounsou who plays Solomon Vandy, a fisherman captured by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and forced to work to find diamonds while his family go on the run, his son later being captured and forced to become a deadly warrior. Hounsou got the nod at the Oscars for Best Supporting Actor but I would argue that here Vandy is the main character and it is not DiCaprio’s Archer because it is Vandy we get to know first and it is his story that we care about. Hounsou’s emotionally fuelled performance is one of the best I’ve seen and he really was terrific! Finally Jennifer Connelly completes the trio and she plays Maddy Bowen, a journalist who is trying to expose the illegal conflict diamond trade and change things. Her crush on Danny Archer is mutual and they help each other out a lot throughout the film. Bowen actually helps the character development of Danny Archer; their romantic subplot does not seem forced and thankfully there isn’t a ridiculously placed kiss before Archer leaves just to keep Hollywood happy. The development that Archer goes through over the course of Blood Diamond is a really brilliant arc: in the beginning he is a man out for himself just wanting to make money, but as the film goes on he eventually turns into the guy willing to sacrifice himself so that his new friend (Vandy) can escape with his son and change his life as well as many others too. The relationship between Archer and Vandy is really interesting to watch and grabs your attention right form their first meeting.

The action is fantastic and David Harewood is brilliant as the warlord Captain Poison. For a man who spent most of his career working on British television series’ including Casualty, The Bill, Doctor Who and Hustle it really is quite an exceptional role that he got and a performance that matches those of DiCaprio and Hounsou. But the highlight of the film for me is when Solomon Vandy is reunited with his son Dia. What should be an incredibly happy and joyous moment is taken in a completely different direction by Blood Diamond and it was fantastic to watch. You’re wondering what is going to happen since Dia has been brainwashed into a cold hearted killer but the moment they reunite is beautifully written and is a masterpiece of acting.

Blood Diamond may not have been the most well received film but it is definitely one of my favourites and no doubt always will be. The storyline, the characters, the acting is perfect. I cannot recommend Blood Diamond highly enough!

Benjamin Geza Affleck-Boldt is a name that you may not be familiar with, although when shortened to Ben Affleck it is very difficult to avoid. Ben Affleck is arguably one of the biggest celebrities in the world and has been for some years, both for his work in the film industry and his relationships with a string of big name Hollywood ladies including Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez and his current wife Jennifer Garner. But what I know him for is his acting, writing, producing and directing of some brilliant and some not-so-brilliant, slightly below average films.

One of the most famous friendships in Hollywood: Affleck and Damon.

After appearing in small extra roles in a number of films including Field of Dreams and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Affleck really became known for his turns in Kevin Smith films Mallrats and Chasing Amy, however it was Good Will Hunting in 1997 that made him a household name. Good Will Hunting was nominated for nine Oscars including a Best Original Screenplay win for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon who shared the writing credit and both starred in the film too. This success then allowed Affleck to move into bigger roles and he pretty much became a huge success with all of his films becoming massive hits at the box office; Armageddon, Pearl Harbor and The Sum of All Fears. Affleck was acting among some big names and becoming one of them too whilst still doing smaller films including Shakespeare In Love, Dogma and Boiler Room.

A year after The Sum of All Fearswas released something bad happened to Ben Affleck’s acting career that he has never really recovered from. Ben Affleck states that his favourite comic book when he was growing up was Daredevil so when the chance arose to play the Marvel hero naturally Affleck jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, despite being praised for his casting and his role in the film it is not a very good film at all to be honest (although the director’s cut is actually meant to be a huge increase in quality) and since appearing in Daredevil Affleck has not really tastes any of the huge success he once had as an actor. Instead, he has appeared in a number of critical and commercial flops including Gigli, Surviving Christmas and Smokin’ Aces. He has however had smaller success with Hollywoodland in which Affleck received huge praise for his role as George Reeves in the biographical docudrama.

In order to get his career back on track Affleck decided to get behind the camera and begin directing films. His first feature was an adaptation of the Dennis LeHane novel Gone Baby Gone in which he cast his brother Casey Affleck  (a better actor than himself) in the lead role. The end product worked out brilliantly, the film was praised and Affleck directed it very very well; it is one of my favourite films. Whilst he does still act it is in the directors chair where Affleck is getting a lot of praise, more praise than he ever got as an actor. In 2010, Affleck directed The Town and starred in the lead role as well (ego?) but nonetheless the direction received huge praise again and Jeremy Renner got a surprise nod for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance under Affleck’s direction.

Affleck’s latest feature film as director is Argo and is due out later this year and there is a lot of expectation of the film as it is based on real life events and incorporates a lot of different themes so it will be interesting to see how Affleck brings them all together and whether he is successful or not. Also, and this is just a rumour for now, everyone knows that DC comics and Warner Bros. are trying to put out a Justice League movie after the success of Marvel’s team up in The Avengers but it is being reported that Ben Affleck is being lined up to direct. This would be a master stroke.

There is no doubt that Ben Affleck is a film star, but he should definitely star behind the camera from now on and continue his success in the director’s chair.

Mark Ruffalo is hitting headlines everywhere at the moment. Most recently, he has become the latest victim to the twitter hackers of the internet but that’s not what everyone is bothered about right now. The other reason you might be hearing Mark Ruffalo’s name everywhere you go right now is because he is currently starring in Marvel’s The Avengers and is the outstanding performer of the ensemble. Up until a few years ago, though, Ruffalo was not widely known by audiences, so just where has he come from?

Ruffalo began acting in 1989 (yes he really has been around that long) but he only appeared in one off television episodes, short films or very very minor roles in films. It was not until 1998 that Ruffalo started making waves in the acting world. He managed, by chance, to meet Kenneth Lonergan, a very successful playwright and screenwriter and the two began collaborating on stage productions. For appearing in Lonergan’s play This Is Our Youth Mark Ruffalo was cast in Lonergan’s film You Can Count On Me; Ruffalo gained a lot of positive reviews and was even likened to a young Marlon Brando, for an actor trying to get his break that is not a bad comparison to have.

Ruffalo sporting a whole new look for Collateral

This led to more work in the early noughties for Ruffalo and his film career finally began to take off with some haste. He experimented with genres going from romance with XX/XY to war with Windtalkers; from drama Life About Me to comedy View From The Top working with esteemed actors like Nicolas Cage and Gwyneth Paltrow along the way. Mark Ruffalo also had a part in the critically acclaimed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind alongside the brilliant Jim Carey and he certainly should be used to praise after appearing in another critical hit Collateral with Tom Cruise.

All actors like to prove they are versatile just to improve their CV, make them more preferable for roles, but even so you don’t have to do them all. Unfortunately for Mark Ruffalo he tried and even decided to step into rom-com. If you’re a male established actor usually rom-coms aren’t the way to go, but anyway Ruffalo appeared in 13 Going on 30, Just Like Heaven and Rumor Has It before returning to a more serious side of things in 2007 with Zodiac, a crime drama directed by the amazing David Fincher.

It doesn’t get much better than working with DiCaprio AND Scorsese

In 2010 Ruffalo appeared in four films. Date Night and Sympathy For Delicious can be forgotten about because with the other two he certainly makes up for them. First, there was Shutter Island, a fantastic thriller where Ruffalo played second fiddle to Leonardo DiCaprio and did a terrific job, no doubt about that. Then there was The Kids Are All Right for which his performance saw him nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars.

In 2011 Ruffalo starred in Margaret which, despite its cast featuring Ruffalo, Matt Damon and Anna Paquin, only had a limited release. But now, here we are, the year is 2012 and Ruffalo becomes the third person to portray the Incredible Hulk in as many films. A lot of Marvel fans had enjoyed Ruffalo’s close friend Ed Norton’s performance as Bruce Banner and were wary of Ruffalo taking on the part. How delighted fans are now that he did just that though, becoming without a doubt the best Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk on the big screen.

After the huge blockbuster that is The Avengers, Ruffalo is returning to more dramatic roles in Thanks For Sharing, Foxcatcher and Now You See Me but it is highly likely that Ruffalo has a clause in his contract with Marvel tying him down to several more projects as Bruce Banner so this will definitely not be the last you hear of the brilliant Mark Ruffalo.

Ruffalo became the first person to portray the Hulk on the big screen thanks to the use of motion capture technology.