Category Archives: Actors

viewpoints and stories on actors and acting

Saying Goodbye To The Career Of Daniel Day-Lewis

It was announced this week that Daniel Day-Lewis will be retiring from acting following the release of his next film. With a film career that has had him working steadily for more than 35 years, DDL has become one of the most respected and acclaimed actors over that period. DDL has amassed five best leading actor Oscar nominations and three wins (the most leading actor wins for a male ever) seven Golden Globe nominations with two wins and six BAFTA nominations with four wins. His dedication to his craft and roles have become things of legend. His depth of knowledge of each character and preparation is most likely second to none. What makes almost all his performances so wonderful is that he has never taken a role for any selfish reason such as money or to receive top billing or to even keep himself relevant. He has no fear as an actor. No fear of failure or in his abilities. He is willing to go several years in between films so that he can work on something he actually believes in. He has been coveted by every top-tier director on the planet and has never disappointed any of them.

I’ve decided to create a list of his top performances in honor of the closing of one of the greatest acting careers ever amassed. With nothing to be ashamed of in his resume (unlike some other heralded actors such as Pacino, Nicholson and Di Nero), it is not a list to be taken lightly but here is my best effort at it.

The Last Of The Mohicans (1992)

Based on James Fenimore Cooper’s classic novel about the French and Indian War, DDL teamed up with Michael Mann to play Nathaniel Poe the adopted half white Mohican. The dying tribe is soon thrust into the middle of the war of which they want no part to rescue the daughters of a British colonel. It is with Mohicans that DDL’s stories of commitment and never breaking character would begin. He learned to live on the land and woodwork with primitively with the tools of the time to aid him. This was his first taste of big budget Hollywood, and to the cinematic world, he did not disappoint.

In The Name Of The Father (1993)

Lewis garnered his second Oscar nomination playing Gerry Conlon, an Irishman living in London who was falsely convicted of an IRA bombing along with his father along with others. Conlon spent fifteen years in prison trying to prove his innocence with the aid of a British attorney. DDL being of half Irish stock himself felt a closeness and need to tell this story and did so spectacularly. He turned down the lead role in Philadelphia to make this deeply personal film. Tom Hanks took the role in Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia and won his first of two consecutive Academy Awards. Had DDL taken the role instead of Hanks we could very well be talking about four leading actor Oscars (or if Hanks had not taken the role).

My Left Foot (1989)

The career of Lewis hit its highest level for the first time in 1989 when he won his first nomination and Oscar playing Christy Brown, an artist born with cerebral palsy who learned to paint and write with his only functioning limb. The physical abilities and what would become a theme in his performances, his commitment to the role would make the cinematic world stand up and take notice and be in awe of him which would not go away.

Lincoln (2012)

Teaming up for the first time with Steven Spielberg, DDL won his third Oscar playing possibly the most revered figure in American history, Abraham Lincoln. We were treated to such a performance that brought to life this figure in a way no one ever had. The former Ed president had been portrayed by a myriad of fine actors in the past but never had the authenticity felt as genuine than when he played him. It felt like the closest thing to watching film of the actual Lincoln, of which there is none. Aside from the physical aspects of Lincoln we were given a peek into Lincoln’s mind and thoughts and struggles. Once again his commitment would shine through in such a way that left the audience transfixed to the screen.

Gangs Of New York (2002)

Teaming up with a fellow Hollywood icon in Martin Scorsese to tell the story of the birth of the world’s melting pot, New York City. Lewis once again played a historical figure when he played William Cutting better known as Bill The Butcher who was known as the leader of a highly corrupted city who controlled all crime and criminals in the famed five points area. Fighting the politicians of the city’s corrupt Tammany Hall, a young Irishman gains Bill’s trust to exact revenge for killing his father years earlier. DDL was so committed to the role of Cutting that when he became ill on set, he refused certain blankets because they weren’t available in the period of his character. He would speak with a New York accent on and off set and never stopped being the butcher.

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece about an unscrupulous oil tycoon at the turn of the century is, in my opinion, DDL’s finest hour. His creation of the character Daniel Plainview and all aspects of his personality is marvelous. The depth of the character leaves the audience in awe and makes you completely forget that it’s even acting that is being watched. The film itself is a work of brilliance, but it is nothing without Lewis in front of the camera it is HIS brilliance that makes it brilliant. It is performances like this that have left so many cinephiles extremely sad at the fact that there will be no more from him at all.

The Whirlwind Life And Career Of Robert Downey Jr.

The life and career of Robert Downey Jr. is more of a roller coaster than any movie he’s ever made. His well-documented legal and addiction troubles nearly derailed an acting career that was skyrocketing complete with an Oscar nomination, a season on SNL and being the lead alongside superstars like Mel Gibson all by the time he was 27. His decent into a life of addiction and prison time almost became more well known than any movie he had ever made. There are four movies that are the most pivotal movies in his life and career all for very different reasons. I’m going to break them down in chronological order and why they are so important in the life and career of Robert Downey Jr.

Before I lay out the list, there are a few films I should mention first that were also important films for Downey but not as game changing. The film Air America was one of the first where he was truly a marquee star. It was a buddy comedy with Mel Gibson who was hitting his peak of fame. The second film was Wonder Boys with Michael Douglas. This movie was one of the first where everyone thought he was really starting to turn the corner. His performance was highly praised, but he was still a few years away from sobriety and the fact that he wasn’t sober overshadowed his performance. Third and fourth came back to back with Tropic Thunder which earned him his second Academy Award nomination and he was the all the talk of the awards that night despite the fact that he didn’t come home with a statue. He was now famously 5 years sober and clearly at the top of his acting talents and showing how truly great he really was. The fourth was Sherlock Holmes which earned him the golden globe and provided the opportunity for his peers to celebrate him and his new life and serious commitment to his career. It was an emotional yet very deserved moment.

1. Less Than Zero (1987)

Less Than Zero was the first time he was billed with Jr. attached to his name and the beginning of some of the legendary party stories for RDJ. He has been quoted as saying this was the first time his drug and alcohol use spilled over into the production and not just during his downtime. Director Marek Kanievska told him and his costar Andrew McCarthy (who battled his own addiction problems) to go out and party to get into character. This direction probably wasn’t the reason his abuses took such a foothold but more than likely they sped things up. The film was panned by critics and even the author of the source material book of the same name. It has since gained more appreciation in the 30 years since its release, but its foreshadowing can’t be ignored.

2. Chaplin (1992)

RDJ blew the doors off his portrayal of the legendary screen icon and gave Downey his first Oscar nomination, and it was well earned. Despite all his faults, he was able to completely transform himself. It would also turn out to be one of the last films for a long time that wouldn’t be plagued by his own demons. Most critics and fans looked at Chaplin as the movie that showed what RDJ could have been.

3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

2003 is the year Downey got sober and finally stayed sober for which he credits his current wife and her support for him. Downey came to realize he couldn’t go anywhere other than prison or the grave and he has famously said that he is allergic to drugs and alcohol, he always breaks out into handcuffs. It would still be 2 years before he would make an impact and headline a major motion picture and prove to people he was more committed to his career than to ruining it. The buddy picture that was written and directed by the writer of the massive hit Lethal Weapon had RDJ star alongside Val Kilmer and proved to be a highly underrated movie and showed Downey’s comedic brilliance.

4. Iron Man (2008)

The superhero resurgence and current domination can be traced to one film, Iron Man. The juggernaut of Marvel Comics becoming kings of the box office is where it is because RDJ WAS Tony Stark. Every embodiment of that character is deep inside him, and he OWNED it. He had been sober for 5 years and was still busting his butt to prove to be people his commitment to acting. He became the biggest star in the world with this movie and solidified himself as 100 percent back in the game. It is wonderful to know that there is a whole generation of movie fans that will only know him at this point in his career. It is forever in his film contracts that he has to provide insurance for the films in the case he was ever to relapse, and his salary is held until the film is complete. He will always have to fight his demons and in a sense will always be paying for his past but thankfully all movie fans he convinced us all that he is back.

50 Years Of Woody Allen, Top 5. Years 2000-2016

woody-allen-e1431651004201This month marks 50 years that Woody Allen has been writing AND directing movies. It all started with 1966’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily?. I thought it only prudent to look at his best films by his eras. Since it is impossible to come up with an all time top 5 or even a top 10 list I’m going to break it down. I’m going to start with his 5 best since 2000 up until right now. So let’s get right to it.

5. Cafe Society (2016)  cafe-society

Released this year, Woody once again touches on his love of nostalgia and a much simpler time. This was his second collaboration with stars Jesse Eisenberg and Steve Carell and his first with Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively. All 4 of them couldn’t have been more perfect for their roles, which has been a standard Woody trademark. The story of 1930’s Hollywood and of love triangles and their long term effects. Check out my full review here.

4. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)  vicky_cristina_barcelona_2008_5309_poster

The second of his three projects with Scarlett Johansson in a matter of just four years, this was right in the middle of Woody exploring filmmaking outside of the United States. Penelope Cruz earned an Oscar for her performance of Maria Elena, this has also become a trademark of his, that is to say so many of his actors go on to win Academy Awards for their work with him.

3. Blue Jasmine (2013)  blue-jasmine-poster

Another one of his wonderful films in the dramatic genre, Cate Blanchett turned in, quite possibly her best performance to date and, of course, won the Academy Award. With a great supporting cast which included the surprising performance from Andrew Dice Clay who showed he can actually act beyond his stage persona. Check out my full review here.

2. Match Point (2005)  matchpoint21

The first of those three movies with Scarlett Johansson, this was a turning point in her career and best film since her breakout a couple years earlier in Lost In Transition. The thriller with a wonderful twist, Woody showed that no matter his age, he is one of the all time great storytellers and can produce great films of any kind. Check out my retrospective review here.

1. Midnight In Paris (2011)  midnightinparis

Midnight would be his most financially successful film and would go on to set records for independent films. This time the man himself would bring home his first Oscar in 25 years, since he had won for writing 1987’s Hannah And Her Sisters. Midnight In Paris is his ultimate love letter to nostalgia and it will go down as one of his all time best films. Check out my full review here.

Celebrity Couples Have Always Been An Obsession

As a society, we have always had an obsession with celebrities and especially celebrity couples. This obsession is most definitely not limited to movie fans, in fact, you could say that there are most certainly, those keeping up with the celebrities lives more than their careers.

imageI wanted to take a look at few couples and on screen duos that have had us captivated for many years. The juicy stories and obsessions go back many, many years, but the first one I’d like to look at would have to be, what is still considered one the most interesting in Hollywood history. The life’s of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn had everyone in the country talking the length of their romance and many years beyond their lives. The controversy was nothing short of shocking for its time. Tracy was a Catholic who refused to divorce his wife despite being exclusive to Hepburn for their entire 24 year long relationship that ended upon his death. The controversy was not as prominent known amongst the general public, but after a while, their love could never be hidden.

imagePaul Newman and Joanne Woodward may have been the greatest true life love story in the history of Hollywood. They were the class of their generation and showed that living a quiet and happy life is possible while being giants of the industry. They were married for 50 years until Newman passed away in 2008. They worked on screen and off screen; together. They set the standard and are still highly revered to this day.

The next couple to look at, brings us to the modern day and the first couple that was never a romantic relationship off screen but one everybody wishes there was. Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet have only made 2 films together, but everyone gets excited every time they are seen together, be it on a red carpet, or out living daily life. There is no denying the chemistry they have and the respect they have for each other can easily be seen. They seem to find a way to thank each other and remember each other when they are being given awards.imageimage

Another couple with multiple onscreen ties, and no off screen romance, is the wonderful Julia Roberts and George Clooney. They consistently appear to love each other and I don’t know if I can find two people who have more fun together on a red carpet than they. They appear like the couple that other couples would die to have over for a dinner party. We only need to look at this past Cannes Film Festival to see the joy ooze out.

Actors George Clooney, right, and Julia Roberts pose for photographers upon arrival for the screening of the film Money Monster at the 69th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
Actors George Clooney, right, and Julia Roberts pose for photographers upon arrival for the screening of the film Money Monster at the 69th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
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While we will always have an interest in the more volatile couples and the guessing the length of their romances, the ones like these are the ones that will be forever remembered and oft talked about. The relationships like those of the Kardashian’s and “Brangelina” hold our interest for the short time we really like to hold on to the ones that are more iconic. I don’t know exactly why I felt this would make a good article. I would love to hear from the film lovers community who your favorite celebrity couples, in any form, are.

Top Five Male Acting Performances Of The Current Century (Re-Post)

It has been 4 years since I compiled this list  what performances would you add to it?

Due to a recent viewing of the Paul Thomas Anderson film, The Master, I was forced to look at what acting performances have been better than the several I just finished witnessing on the screen. This lead to a top five list of the greatest male performances of this century, being from the year 2000 to the present. This list will be a subject of debate but none the less, has what I consider the greatest performances we have seen in the last 12 years.

5.Sean Penn:  Mystic River

After having out grown his “bad boy” persona, but not his passion for what he believes, Sean Penn would team up with Hollywood royalty in director, Clint Eastwood for an adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel, Mystic River. Playing former convict and very small time ring leader of loyal enforcers Jimmy Markum, Penn pulls out one of the most emotional roles of his storied career. This would earn Penn his first Oscar win for which he seemed quite humbled by the honor. Penn’s performance is undeniably genuine and flawless from beginning to end.

4.Leonardo DiCaprio:  Blood Diamond

Leonardo DiCaprio made Blood Diamond amid a streak of fabulous performances in 3 straight Martin Scorsese films. It was the Blood Diamond that, to me, showed DiCaprio’s talent and commitment to every role he undertakes. Playing the role of Danny Archer, a South African smuggler and somewhat of an unforgiving pirate who’s life is turned upside down when he help’s a poor farmer rescue his son from the rebel forces who kidnapped him forcing him to fight. Archer does all of this in exchange for a rare pink diamond found and hidden by the boy’s father. DiCaprio mastered a perfect South African accent and for once, even managed to seem somewhat evil and ruthless, while we believe and see his heart actually change along the way.

3.Christian Bale:  The Fighter

Christian Bale was clearly at the peak of his career and, almost couldn’t help but put out hit after hit when he took on the role of the real life former boxer and crack addict, Dick Ecklund. The physical transformation Bale underwent, while remarkable, is only a side note to his incredible and spot-on portrayal of Dick Ecklund. Between a pitch perfect Boston accent, to the heart warming, in film transformation from sunken crack addict, to passionate and driven boxing trainer, is near remarkable.

2.Mickey Rourke:  The Wrestler

The film and role of a lifetime could never have been done with out Mickey Rourke’s involvement. The story that brought out so many emotions in Rourke, and hit so close to home that it could have distanced Rourke from making the role, that late in his life would define his career. Rourke saw so many similarities between Randy “The Ram” and his life and believed so highly in Darren Aronofsky that he did nothing short of throw himself deep into the role, making for some of the most compelling acting seen on screen in years, with a true reality that makes you feel every emotion felt not only by “The Ram”,  but by Rourke himself.

1.Heath Ledger:  The Dark Knight

Not much can be said that hasn’t already been said about Ledger and his portrayal of The Joker, in the truly epic middle story of Christopher Nolan’s Batman saga. His commitment and transformation not only was superb, but truly frightening in achieving what Ledger and Nolan set out to accomplish, by making The Joker seem so real it would strike fear in all that saw it. No one wanted to see what happened to Ledger after filming, but there is no doubt it’s the film he will be remembered for and it is a movie and role anyone would be proud to have it be their calling card.

Titus Welliver Is The Best Actor You Need To Know About

imageIf you’re a fan of the Amazon original show Bosch, then you know who Titus Welliver is. If you don’t watch the show, you may be surprised to learn that you most likely know who he is too. Fans of the show Lost will recognize him as The Man In Black, a short lived character to but an extremely impactful one.

The reason people will be surprised when they discover that they have seen Welliver and didn’t know it, is because he is one of the greatest chameleon actors working right now. His uncanny ability to take on a completely new persona of a character is what makes it so hard to recognize him from role to role.

I first noticed Welliver’s talent on the HBO series Deadwood where he imageplayed Silas Adams, a close associate of saloon owner, Al Swearengen. Deadwood was filled with a cast of actors with the same abilities as Welliver, such as Brad Dourif, Jim Beaver and Dayton Callie. The cast of Deadwood has said that he is an expert mimic and can do several different impressions. These are great skills and without a doubt major reasons why he is so good at what he does. Welliver has also become quite the favorite of director, Ben Affleck. He has appeared in all three feature films that Affleck has directed and is also cast in his latest effort, Live By Night, which is currently in post production.

imageTitus Welliver is a true actor’s actor. He never appears to take on roles for any other reason than he is interested in exploring a particular character. He has gone from one episode guest spots, to having major roles such as Gone Baby Gone and his current show, Bosch. He flies under the radar by not clamoring for every lead role. He’s not a face you see on talk shows and late night TV. He has clearly let his work speak for itself, and it has a unique and infectious voice. He has worked his way up purely on his skill and natural ability.

To appreciate his range, one only needs to look at his work on imageDeadwood to Sons Of Anarchy and now to Bosch. Not to mention his numerous works in movies. You will not see his name in the credits as a producer or writer or director. He is an actor and he is clearly one of the best ones working. So keep an eye out for Titus Welliver, because he just may sneak up on you and you may not even know it, but you will like it.

Nicolas Cage Top 5 BEST Performances

imageLast week I went into a little detail about how Nicolas Cage wasn’t always making the worst movies out right now. At that time, I created a list of what I felt were the five best directors he had worked with, especially during his prime years. I have now decided to create a list of his five best performances in his career. This list is judged strictly on HIS performance. It may not create many surprises, but nonetheless, I feel I should clarify exactly what I am basing this list on.

5. The Family Man   Jack Campbellimage Continue reading Nicolas Cage Top 5 BEST Performances