Tuesday, February 05, 2008

 

The best best actors...

are finally here.

19. JAMES STEWART (THE PHILADELPHIA STORY)
(31 POINTS) (TIE)

"He’s obviously having a great time, and it’s infectious."
Tina


19. PAUL SCOFIELD (A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS)
(31 POINTS) (TIE)

"One of the few actors capable of playing integrity without coming of as a plaster saint or an idiot. That Voice helps. But it is because Scofield is able to embody the notions of justice and goodness — the idea that Laws should be obeyed by everybody, including leaders chosen by God — that we feel his tragedy emotionally not just intellectually."
David Cassan


18. RAY MILLAND (THE LOST WEEKEND)
(32 POINTS)

"I can't even say anything. This movie made me lose my mind right along with him, and he's in practically every shot of the film. It's awesome, he's breathtaking."
Kelly Chisholm


17. HUMPHREY BOGART (THE AFRICAN QUEEN)
(35 POINTS)

"This is a straight-forward movie star performance — a fastball right down the middle. It's easy to condescend toward a performance like that, but I think this kind of role can be as hard as anything else. It might be a fastball, but you've still got to be able to hit it — and Bogart knocks this one out of the park."
Joshua Flower


16. FREDRIC MARCH (THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES)
(36 POINTS)

"March is usually described as a flashy, scene-stealing actor, but his two finest moments in this movie are played in silence. There's March's expression as he walks into his home and sees Myrna Loy, flesh and blood instead of the image he yearned for through all his time at war. And then there's March's face, tired and hung over, trying to find himself in the picture on the mantelpiece, a photo of a man he will never be again."
Campaspe


14. BURT LANCASTER (ELMER GANTRY)
(38 POINTS) (TIE)

"I don't know if I can defend this on anything other than loving Burt Lancaster, especially when he lets it rip."
Stephen Mullen


14. PETER FINCH (NETWORK)
(38 POINTS) (TIE)

"Simply one of the most brazen, complicated and perfectly and appropriately hammy performances in film history. I love Paddy Chayefsky and his Network screenplay — but his work can be faulted for a complete lack of subtlety. (Ned Beatty, another great scenery chewer in the film, called it "bad Brecht" at the time). But you can't fault Finch here. The emotions, unforced but impossible to ignore, play across his face and he brings out the comedy and the tragedy of his character in full force. No one has ever called bullshit on life in our over-medicated age more eloquently."
Bob Westal


13. ANTHONY HOPKINS (THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS)
(49 POINTS)

"With only 15 minutes or so of screen time, Hopkins does what very few actors could do with triple that amount of time. His Hannibal Lecter dominates every frame of the film and I often find myself thinking about him even when he’s not on screen."
James Henry


12. ADRIEN BRODY (THE PIANIST)
(51 POINTS)

"One hates to overhype a performance — or do so with tired cliches, but Brody does, I think, capture some very fundamental truth about the resiliency of the human spirit. It's a quiet, lived-in performance, not flashy, mostly reactive."
Joshua Flower


11. JEREMY IRONS (REVERSAL OF FORTUNE)
(52 POINTS)

"A hilarious, charming performance in Barbet Schroeder's satire of the American class and legal systems. Irons' debonair Count Chocula is a perfect counterpoint to Ron Silver’s dour Groucho Marx. Despite flashes of guilt or regret, his Von Bülow has a lightness that makes him float over the decadence and venality around him. Irons makes depravity sympathetic. This character deserves his own Busby Berkeley musical, directed by Fassbinder."
David Cassan


10. GEORGE C. SCOTT (PATTON)
(55 POINTS)

"Every time I see this movie I think: 1) It's an average biopic and 2) Thank God they cast Scott or it would have been below average. Given the utter banality of Coppola's script and listless workmanlike direction by Schaffner, this is one of the few movies in existence that can truly be said to be all about the performance."
Jonathan Lapper


9. ALEC GUINNESS (THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI)
(59 POINTS)

"Courageous, pigheaded, utterly bonkers, Guinness carries the weight of a script that has him standing in for all the mythical glories and bloody illogic of imperial Britain. His performance is so superb that the moment you glimpse Nicholson's madness is the moment of his greatest heroism, as he is carried out of the hotbox — the colonel is still fighting for that crisp self-discipline. And you realize, looking at Guinness' wobbly yet triumphant walk, that a sane man would have snapped."
Campaspe


8. JAMES CAGNEY (YANKEE DOODLE DANDY)
(67 POINTS)

"Cagney deserved his Oscar if only for the way he threw himself into this role. I still get a kick out of seeing his dance steps. Even though he's dancing, it still looks like he's coming to kick your ass."
Odienator


7. F. MURRAY ABRAHAM (AMADEUS)
(72 POINTS)

“His subsequent career hasn't been worth anything, but I wouldn't take anything for this performance. Abraham's is a perfectly modulated study in contradictions — someone who can appreciate Mozart's genius, while feeling nothing but jealousy and hatred because it isn't his, someone so tortured by Mozart's genius that he feels compelled both to destroy Mozart, and yet would never allow Mozart's work to be destroyed. And as a simple portrait of jealousy, it's most powerful when you realize how much you can relate to it.”
Daniel Smith


6. MARLON BRANDO (THE GODFATHER)
(95 POINTS)

"Indelible. Holds the whole great movie together."
Dan Callahan


5. DANIEL DAY-LEWIS (MY LEFT FOOT)
(96 POINTS)

"What makes this performance so great is that Day-Lewis never asks for our sympathy; he makes Christy a fully-rounded individual. Plus he drinks your milkshake. He drinks it all up. With his foot!"
Odienator


4. GREGORY PECK (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD)
(99 POINTS)

"Atticus Finch is the man you wish your father was. Played by most actors, he would seem unreal and superhumanly perfect. But Gregory Peck, in the finest performance of his career, makes you believe that such a man could really exist."
Lesley


3. JACK NICHOLSON (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST)
(111 POINTS)

"Nicholson's most salient characteristic as a performer has always been his undeniable charisma — at his worst and most predictable, he tends to coast on it. To these eyes, his singular magnetism has never been harnessed to better effect than in Milos Forman's adaptation of counter-culturalist Ken Kesey's scabrous attack on institutionalism, condemned in both the novel and the film as a force devoted to the suppression of individuality. There's no suppressing Nicholson, however — his expansive personality can't be contained, and he embodies the contradictions of the role with masterful strokes. The sly humor is there of course — along with an element of danger. He makes McMurphy at once both seductive and repellent, smooth and volatile, the only sane man in the psych ward and perhaps its most unstable. Nothing predictable in that."
Josh R


2. ROBERT DE NIRO (RAGING BULL)
(201 POINTS)

"Oddly, my favourite parts of this performance aren’t the big‚ acting moments‚ Jake La Motta punching the walls of his jail cell, or smacking Cathy Moriarty around, or letting Joe Pesci punch him over and over again‚ but those grainy home-movie images of the increasingly paunchy Jake barbecuing and lounging around the pool: a sociopathic bully taking it easy and livin’ the good life."
Paul Matwychuk


1. MARLON BRANDO (ON THE WATERFRONT)
(241 POINTS)

“Brando's performance as meathead ex-boxer turned Hoboken dockworker Terry Malloy made him an icon. This working stiff turned anti-mob informer is one of the meatiest lead roles in American movie history. By finding just the right tone — poised somewhere between romantic stylization and gritty realism — and sticking with it from start to finish, Brando turned Malloy into a paradoxical figure, at once heroic and earthbound, idealized and limited. In a lot of ways it's a bridging performance that honors the older, classical style of movie acting while energizing the movie with Method-type touches (Terry absentmindedly picking up Edie's dropped glove on the playground; the way he cups his chin like a chimp when the character is struggling with his conscience). Kazan may have intended the movie as an apology for having named names in front of HUAC, but his star's work rose above politics and made the tale timeless.”
Matt Zoller Seitz
“The role that gave me my Brando imitation, and gave the world Brando in his purest essence.”
Odienator
“Wishing to be somebody instead of a bum, Brando presents us with the best performance of his life!”
Benjamin Braddock
“This is a performance that's a bit over-celebrated, to the extent that you can only see the iconic scenes and you often lose the quieter, less famous moments that make the movie. To some degree, Brando at that moment was like Wilt Chamberlain when he averaged 50 points-per-game for a season or Babe Ruth when he was hitting more home runs than most teams. He was simply playing a different game. Look at what Brando was doing and compare him to his Oscar competition that year, people like Bing Crosby for The Country Girl and James Mason for A Star Is Born. It's like a whole other game.”
Daniel Fienberg
“I decided to go with only one Brando, what with there being only five spots, but both of his winning performances are incredible. This one, in particular, strikes me as the definitive document of the actor who changed everything about acting for film, finding that raw core that so many of the people who would follow would also try to find. Few have ever done it better. None have done it as consistently.”
Todd VanDerWerff
“I don't know what to say about this performance that hasn't been said before. I think for me, Brando portrays a sweet innocence in the face of hardened cynicism that elicits sympathy for his Terry Malloy even if we don't understand why, after the rotten things he's done, we would ever feel sorry for him.”
Jonathan Lapper
“Forget the contender speech; in that same scene, when Charlie pulls out a gun, the way Brando reacts — laughter instead of fear.”
Jonathan Ara
“A working class hero, sensual, passionate, magnetic, fearless.”
Anna Laperle
“There should be no argument here even if there is one about the subject matter and Kazan and Schulberg's predicament.”
PS Nellhaus
“Brando took the rage of Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire and stripped of the theatrics into something more real and sincere with Terry Malloy. The performance manages to take the big themes of the film and give them some kind of human resonance. It's the Best Actor performance that set the stage for most future Best Actor winners and nominees.”
William
“Brando single-handedly revolutionized the art of screen acting, and with this performance - which shows what breathtakingly simple effects he could be capable of before eccentricity and ennui overtook his talent — it's not hard to see why. On the surface, Terry Malloy is a dumb, inarticulate lug with no claim to nobility or valor; credit Brando that he shows us the helpless sense of yearning, and the dawning awareness of his own hidden potential, that makes the character's transition from zero to hero not only believable, but a true revelation. He captures the essence of every blue collar worker trapped in a life of quiet desperation, painfully aware of the opportunities that have passed them by and boxed in by the forces that keep them in their place. Terry Malloy could have been a contender; the actor playing him had no rival.”
Josh R
“Brando had to be number one, but which to pick — this one, or The Godfather, in which he is equally brilliant? Well, The Godfather is the better movie but like a judge at the Olympics, the Siren is awarding extra points here for degree of difficulty. Simple human decency will never have the glittering, seductive fascination of greed, power and violence. Brando gives us an ordinary man of somewhat less than average intelligence, and makes that man's struggles with his conscience not only interesting, but moving.”
Campaspe
“By the time Brando made On the Waterfront, everyone knew he was a great actor. But this performance is probably his most iconic and is a good representation of his work in the ‘50s. A great Oscar choice, since so many actors win Oscars for some of their least deserving work.”
Mark White
“Calling Brando's performance in On the Waterfront as the best Best Actor winner is the equivalent of calling Citizen Kane the best picture of all time or placing 10 Beatles songs in the Top 20 Songs Ever Made…it's pretty much a "Duh!" statement.”
James Henry
“It's a classic, solidified the legend after his Oscar was robbed by Bogart a couple of years earlier.”
Svanur Pétursson
“Every bit as electrifying, inventive, magnetic, and surprising today as it was 50 years ago. One of the most expressively inarticulate performances in film history.”
Paul Matwychuk
“That bit where Eva Marie Saint accidentally drops the glove, and Brando impulsively picks it up and plays around with it... Subtly, it charges the scene with both tension and a sense of spontaneity. Apparently Saint really did drop the glove by accident. Brando was improvising.”
Goran
“Brooding is perhaps the best word to describe this performance. A supreme example of what emotion this new method acting brought: volatile, sensitive, and magnetic.”
Dave
“The glove scene man, the glove scene!!”
Fox at Tractor Facts?
“Brando at his most open, sensitive and beautiful.”
David Cassan
“I don't think any individual who has been awarded the coveted Best Actor prize ever came close to duplicating the electricity of Brando's performance as the washed-up prize fighter up to his eyeballs in union corruption and is eventually forced to ‘do the right thing,’ as Ossie Davis might say. It's difficult for me to fully embrace this film, because I know director Elia Kazan and screenwriter Budd Schulberg are manipulating me to accept their ‘naming names’ during the HUAC witch hunts by placing their story against a milleu of lawlessness and crime — where I just have to be on Brando's side. But then I remember what author Barry Gifford once said about Waterfront being more about the fight game than any real boxing picture, and suddenly it doesn't matter. Brando demonstrates that he definitely wasn't just a contendah…he could've been somebody…and was…”
Ivan G. Shreve Jr.


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Comments:
"There's March's expression as he walks into his home and sees Myrna Loy, flesh and blood instead of the image he yearned for through all his time at war."

http://intenseguys.typepad.com/intense_guys/2007/12/the-best-years.html

Would have liked to have seen him higher, but oh well. March was the master.
 
Killer blog, although I would have loved to see Roy Scheider's performance in All that Jazz on your list of greats!
 
This was alas a survey only of best actor Oscar winners. While Scheider was nominated and good, he didn't win so he wasn't eligible for the cut.
 
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