Best Actor 2014

Who would you pick as Best Actor of 2014?

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher
3
10%
Bradley Cooper in American Sniper
5
16%
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game
3
10%
Michael Keaton in Birdman
19
61%
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything
1
3%
 
Total votes: 31

Uri
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Re: Best Actor 2014

Postby Uri » Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:15 am

Mister Tee wrote:I can't recall a year where the actual nominees looked so milquetoast compared to alternatives that were fully mainstream and in the discussion.


I’d argue that as far as puzzling best actor lineups go, 1988 was at least as weak as this year’s. They could go with Jeff Bridges (Tucker: The Man and His Dream), Daniel Dey Lewis (The Unbearable Lightness of Being), William Hurt (The Accidental Tourist), Jeremy Irons (Dead Ringers), Michael Keaton (Beetlejuice), John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaison), Forrest Whitaker (Bird) – hell, even Kevin Costner for Bull Durham – and they went with Edward James Olmos? Tom Hanks is the only truly deserving nominee on that list (Hoffman and Hackman were solid but way too meh compared with the alternatives and Von Sydov’s nod was totally arbitrary in the context of his career).

Maybe sometime we should rate the quality of these lineups – from the heights of 1939 actresses or 1974 actors to the depth of 2005 actresses. If we still have the stamina.

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Re: Best Actor 2014

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Mar 16, 2015 11:26 pm

When these threads were begun, I felt like I'd just covered the material in the one-by-one categories, and couldn't work up the enthusiasm required to go through it all again. However, for the record (especially since I was cited by name in here):

I, like BJ, would have been happier with an almost entirely different slate: Jake Gyllenhaal, Timothy Spall, Ralph Fiennes; Oscar Isaac and Joaquin Phoenix, both for the second year in a row -- I can't recall a year where the actual nominees looked so milquetoast compared to alternatives that were fully mainstream and in the discussion.

And milquetoast is the very word that sums up my feeling about Eddie Redmayne's performance. Of course he 's not BAD; he acquits himself adequately, and does the physical stuff with full competence. The problem I have is that so many people equate this kind of physical transformation with taking some huge risk -- where, as I see it, Redmayne as an actor almost completely avoids risk, by practically begging the audience to love him. (I've felt this about him almost everywhere I've seen him) Throughout this performance, I see him looking at the camera as if to say "Aren't I adorable?" This is why it so galled me to hear people compare him to Day-Lewis in My Left Foot -- beyond the strenuous physicality, Day-Lewis just about DARED the audience to like him; his behavior was by and large inexcusable. Yet, somehow he got people on his side; that was the miracle of his performance. Redmayne, to me, just coasted on the natural sympathy for Hawking's condition, and batted his eyelashes in puppy-dog cuteness.

Okay: that's the last time I'll trash Redmayne here. Until he turns up again next year.

Steve Carell is perfectly believable but, beyond his initial scene, not especially interesting. The problem with having such a recessive character is, there's nowhere to go with him. Miller and Futterman are partly to blame, for not giving us any real insight into why this guy underwent such a climactic explosion.

For me, Bradley Cooper's work meets the definition "solid" -- he carries the film without effort, making his character feel fully lived-in. But he (properly, I believe) has no breakout scenes, and best performance of the year requires at least something of that, for me. I'm quite interested to see what he does next, but hold back on him, here.

Like BJ, I end up with Cumberbatch in second place, though I don't entirely disagree with dws's take, either. It's a showy sort of performance -- a turn -- but it's an entertaining one and (okay: one more Redmayne slam) it doesn't cheat by hinting to the audience he's deep-down lovable. The role is fairly thinly written (I think Uri had it right, analogizing Imitation Game to one of those Young Adult versions of historical events he -- and I -- used to read back in grade school), but Cumberbatch does what he can within the conception.

Anyway, nobody's close to Michael Keaton, who takes command of his film from the opening and never lets go. Keaton has always had a gift for rapid-fire dialogue, as in Beetlejuice or Night Shift, but here he manages to toss off the lines while conveying a wealth of subtext -- about his feeling for what he's doing, his contempt for his past, his dissatisfaction with and guilt over his human relationships. This while, of course, effectively playing three roles: Riggan, his onstage character, and Birdman. And if you're looking for an Oscar scene: that bit where he confides details of his childhood, completely convincingly, to Norton, only to turn around and declare it complete bullshit in the next breath, can stand alongside anything anyone did this year. This is my easiest choice in all the top categories: Keaton for best actor. I only wish the Academy had thought the same.

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Re: Best Actor 2014

Postby Sabin » Sat Mar 07, 2015 2:46 am

Voted for Bradley Cooper. I wouldn't nominate any of these actors but Bradley Cooper would get the closest. I think he's operating on a level the rest of the film is not, conveying subtleties the film doesn't entirely know what to do with, and unlike anybody else in this category he's showing a new side to himself. Just as quickly as he banishes all traces of "The Hangover Guy" with his manic collaboration with David O. Russell he turns around and does this. I still think his work with Russell is better but he gets my vote in this field.
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Re: Best Actor 2014

Postby Kellens101 » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:01 pm

The Original BJ, you are sooo right about Eddie Redmayne. He wasn't bad, but his performance was so startlingly overrated throughout awards season. I was really hoping Michael Keaton would win this for the best acting performance of the year IMO.

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Re: Best Actor 2014

Postby The Original BJ » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:35 pm

The most competitive acting category, but for my money, the one that ultimately turned out the weakest. I think Jake Gyllenhaal, David Oyelowo, Timothy Spall, and Ralph Fiennes would have been more interesting choices than many of the actual nominees.

I don't have the overall problem with Eddie Redmayne that Mister Tee does, but I think his work here is easily the least impressive of the five. Numerous times I heard from people in my real life something like "Eddie Redmayne was incredible -- he LOOKED so much like Stephen Hawking!" I'm afraid I didn't see much more to the performance than physical resemblance/disability, and it struck me that that went a long way with a lot of people.

It's a little thing, but I was quite impressed by Bradley Cooper's accent in American Sniper -- it felt completely natural without any trace of affectation, a lot like the performance itself, which is quiet and lived-in, and perhaps the one place in the movie where I felt the contradictions American Sniper's biggest fans claim are its thesis. But I don't think the performance makes as exciting an impression as his last two nominations, which felt far more singular achievements to me.

From his first scene in Foxcatcher, it's clear this is not the Steve Carell we're used to seeing. It's not just that he looks different, it's that his entire presence seemed to come from a completely different center of gravity than anything else he's done. But as the movie went on, basically every scene after that was essentially another version of that first scene -- I don't think he ends up showing much range across the film.

Almost by default, Benedict Cumberbatch would be my runner-up. He's obviously a talented actor, and I found him a strong presence throughout the movie, with a physicality that could have gone over-the-top (thanks to the verbal tics and lumbering gait) but never felt strained to me. I don't think the script provides him with the most complicated version of this character it could have -- and it's a problem that Cumberbatch feels utterly sexless throughout the movie, given what ultimately led to Turing's downfall -- but he makes a decent enough meal out of what he's given.

My easy choice, though, is Michael Keaton, whose performance in Birdman is just a snappy burst of energy. He's terrifically funny yet also full of sadness, takes command of the screen but is generous enough to allow his scene partners to shine as well, and portrays a character losing control of his life to fantasy while keeping his character's emotion grounded in reality. It's a great riff on his own persona, but it's also so much more than that -- so much funnier, deeper, and imaginative than I would have expected. I think he towers over the field, and it was a big disappointment to me that he lost.

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Re: Best Actor 2014

Postby mlrg » Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:41 pm

Keaton

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Re: Best Actor 2014

Postby dws1982 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:21 pm

Cumberbatch gives the kind of performance Damien would've called mannered. You can definitely get the sense of an actor at work here, trying to convey great intelligence, social awkwardness, repressed feelings. Good actor, but no vote. Keaton is good, but I never saw this as a must-win performance, just like I didn't see Mickey Rourke's work in The Wrestler as a must-win performance. Probably would've been more positive had I liked Birdman more. Carrel is in a problematic film, but he's very good playing a very very dark version of Michael Scott--someone desperate to be "loved" and "popular" but who doesn't have the proper social skills or self-awareness to function and be liked on his own terms. The difference is that while Michael Scott was lovable in the end, DuPont was a true psychopath

I've said before that I liked Redmayne a lot in The Theory of Everything. (And yes, he's been a widely acclaimed and sought after actor for several years now. He just hasn't done a lot of movies, but his theatre credentials go back a solid decade, and were what had Hooper, DeNiro, et al, looking to cast him in their projects) Clearly there's a lot of technique to the performance and it's very carefully choreographed, especially in the later scenes as he's confined to a wheelchair, but I think the technique is pretty well hidden and it still feels very human and alive. From the time Hawking loses all ability to speak to the end, a lot of actors would've played it a lot more simply: He gets depressed at his declining, then finds hope with his caretaker, but I don't know of many others who would've been willing to let him come off so coldly while telling his wife he's fallen in love with another woman and yet still (thanks to Jones) wrung so many conflicting emotions out of the scene. Other than Daniel Day-Lewis, he's my favorite winner in this category since Adrien Brody.

He is my runner-up though, to Bradley Cooper. Cooper's Chris Kyle is full of contradictions, but Cooper isn't quick to externalize them--he can say something offensive and racist just as easily as he can do something selfless; his upbringing shaped his worldview and left him haunted; he's someone who, despite fitting in perfectly with everyone in the military, ultimately finds himself unable to respond to anyone else or do much other than sit alone at a bar without any real understanding of why he feels so shut off from everyone. The contradictions are there, and they shape the character in a lot of ways, but they aren't all there is to him. It's a great portrait of a type of man who most movies never bother to look at. Body language, accent, and physical mannerisms are all spot-on as well. Easy vote, although Redmayne is very deserving as well.

My picks will be from among the following:
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Paul Eenhoorn, Land Ho!
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Brendan Gleeson, Calvary
Oscar Isaac, A Most Violent Year
Tom Hardy, Locke
James McAvoy, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him
Earl Lynn Nelson, Land Ho!
Jack O'Connell, Starred Up
David Oyelowo, Selma
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

With several others left to see.
Last edited by dws1982 on Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Best Actor 2014

Postby FilmFan720 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:53 pm

I think he was on a lot of voters radars before the Marilyn Monroe movie, and that he has some built-up respect. I don't think they voted for "the guy from Red," but I think that he has been more of a name than a lot of people give him credit for.
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Re: Best Actor 2014

Postby CalWilliam » Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:43 pm

FilmFan720 wrote:
CalWilliam wrote:Eddie Redmayne, who is even a luckier guy. Falling in love with Marilyn, singing to French Revolution and impersonating Stephen Hawking was enough for the Academy to give him this accolade, but that won't be enough for us, apparently.


I am getting a little tired of everyone talking like Eddie Redmayne has made three films and that is his entire career. Before this triumvirate of high profile films, he had a storied stage career with a lot of acclaim and a Tony Award! He is a well respected actor, and this was another step along that way.


You're right, and thank you for saying that, but do you think that the Academy keeps in mind his stage career in order to consider him as an Oscar winner? I don't think so.
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Re: Best Actor 2014

Postby FilmFan720 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:33 pm

CalWilliam wrote:Eddie Redmayne, who is even a luckier guy. Falling in love with Marilyn, singing to French Revolution and impersonating Stephen Hawking was enough for the Academy to give him this accolade, but that won't be enough for us, apparently.


I am getting a little tired of everyone talking like Eddie Redmayne has made three films and that is his entire career. Before this triumvirate of high profile films, he had a storied stage career with a lot of acclaim and a Tony Award! He is a well respected actor, and this was another step along that way.
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Re: Best Actor 2014

Postby CalWilliam » Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:58 am

It's a pretty good selection, though with David Oyelowo and Timothy Spall or even Oscar Isaac it would have been stellar.

What a lucky man Bradley Cooper is. Three nominations in a row are not a free present and he'll probably win an Oscar soon. As Chris Kyle, he delivers some subtlety and strong containment that are always welcome, but I don't think this is such a challenging performance that needs further consideration. Anyway, he's better than the movie he is in, and so is Eddie Redmayne, who is even a luckier guy. Falling in love with Marilyn, singing to French Revolution and impersonating Stephen Hawking was enough for the Academy to give him this accolade, but that won't be enough for us, apparently. He looks younger than he actually is, he has charm, he enjoys the race, he loves her wife and Mr. Hawking and his family respect him. These are easy motivations in order to give an award that don't have anything to do with acting, and considering acting, he is able to show emotions, with honesty, and he respects his own commitments, but that doesn't mean his performance in The Theory of Everything deserves an Oscar, nor this year, nor any other. And for sure next year he'll be back again with The Danish Girl and Tom Hooper.

Going away from charming, Steve Carell does make a better effort to me. Foxcatcher is a very uncomfortable movie to watch, and he is creepy enough for disturbing the audience and for letting both Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo to perform at the same level, so this is more an ensemble achievement than an individual one, and the performance itself works better along with the other two, though it's a pretty respectable citation anyway. And, he is leading. Considering Steve Carell supporting in Foxcatcher (as Bafta did for campaigning reasons) would be like considering Bette Davis supporting in All about Eve. Yes, weird, but it's an example that works to me.

I admire Michael Keaton's performance a lot, and it's really sad he didn't win considering Birdman's victory, and I could vote for him any other day, but Benedict Cumberbatch's portrait of Alan Turing is there, and someone MUST vindicate this performance higher apart from The Imitation Game. I tend not to consider performances based on the material they have to play with, because an actor must be intelligent enough for creating a character with some more of what he has been given, and that's what Cumberbatch has done in The Imitation Game, in what I see as a truly nuanced and expert performance, full of dignity and understanding, and also quite affecting. He gets my vote with enthusiasm.
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Best Actor 2014

Postby Kellens101 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:27 am

Who was the Best Actor of 2014?


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