Tag Archives: daniel day lewis

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.

*DVD/BluRay Release Re-Post* Daniel Day-Lewis Breathes Life Into Lincoln

Lincoln-2012-Movie-PosterSome of the best working directors tend to make a film every few years to further ensure they produce the best they have. Along these lines, Daniel Day-Lewis similarly takes on a role just every few years and rarely makes a movie twice in the same year. His commitment to the character and need for the right project are just a couple of the reasons for his long hiatus’ in between projects. Fortunately we have been graced with a Daniel Day-Lewis project this year and not surprisingly he has once again blown our minds.

Steven Spielberg is the director at the helm for the epic film, Lincoln focusing on the 16th president. The story focuses on the push to pass the 13th amendment to end slavery which ultimately would end the civil war. The war is in it’s 4th year and is exhausting the country of all it’s fine men, young and old. The whole country is suffering and president Lincoln can see this and understands the need for this to end quickly. Slavery being at the crux of the war, the 13th amendment would make slavery illegal and all but end the war.

The inside look at Lincoln’s struggles to pass the amendment can be an ugly one. Anyone who didn’t think politics was an ugly, dirty game, even for those considered to be the “good guys” like Lincoln has to be kidding themselves.xxx-lincoln-mov-jy-0529-4_3_r560

Much of the movie is different cabinet meetings with the president and discussions on what is needed to pass the amendment, which can give it a fairly slow tone. None the less it is Daniel Day-Lewis who truly breaths life into the film. A very fine supporting cast worthy of all the accolades give the film it’s authenticity but make no mistake Daniel Day-Lewis incredibly real and what I can only assume is a perfect portrayal of Abraham Lincoln is why I was glued to the seat for the entire 2 1/2 hours.

The acting effort brought forth by Mr. Day-Lewis is 100% worth the price of a ticket. To so intimately see Lincoln in live motion unlike ever before, not that it hasn’t been done several times, you have never felt so transported before when it comes to those films.

With all that praise said let me just say, this movie is  not for everyone. Many will find it boring and uninteresting. The target audience is one of those interested in history and the other group is those who love great acting and when someone puts there whole being into a role. This is truly a movie that will find it’s way into classrooms from now until the civil war and slavery is no longer taught about, which is another way of saying, forever. It is one the perfect historical films in history and will be regarded as so. As far as it’s awards and praise goes, thats a difficult area. It’s acting awards are more than deserved but as far as every other award I’m not sure it’s at that level. Nothing spectacular beyond acting and maybe costumes went into this movie. The script can be found in many history books and I don’t find much difficult in filming scenes in courtrooms or boardrooms, those scenes are all the actors doing and this isn’t much different. But don’t be surprised to see Lincoln covered in gold on Oscar night as it’s the kind of movie the Academy adores.

Oscar Prediction Acting In Leading Roles

e983667e-93af-340d-8d2c-62c50c60fad7To continue my look at the major categories of the Academy Awards this year I examine two races that are possibly the least tight amongst the major six. The leading actor and actress awards seem to be a little more clear cut.

The most decisive of all the races is the best actor award. I fully believe and have fully believed that this award will go to Daniel Day-Lewis for his incredibly brilliant portrayal of the beloved president in Lincoln. Daniel Day-Lewis is without question the most talented and greatest actor currently working in Hollywood. His track record is second to none and amongst the most respected. However his fellow nominees pull out performances that in any other year would be runaway winners most likely. Joaquin Phoenix makes his triumphant comeback in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master as a lost veteran who is drawn in by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s group of followers.joaquin-phoenix-the-master

Bradley-Cooper-in-Silver-Linings-Playbook-2The other fantastic performance that stands out is Bradley Cooper in Davis O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook as a released  bi-polar patient with a history of criminal issues directly resulted from his condition. His performance and the film is maybe one of the most important this year due to its subject matter with a sensitive subject in the mental health category. His nomination is without question an award to him and all who benefit from this excellent film.

jennifer_lawrence_silver_linings_playbook_a_lThe lead actress category has a slightly tighter case but this years award season has shown quite a bit of separation. Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook plays almost perfectly opposite Bradley Cooper. Lawrence has clearly been on the rise the last couple years and this is not her first nomination. She came to the forefront with her role in the haunting Winter’s Bone. She looks to go head to head against Jessica Chastain from the years political triumph Zero Dark Thirty. Despite both being phenomenal performances it’s clearly Jennifer Lawrence’s award to lose. She is without a doubt Hollywood’s future and her ability to play a wide variety of roles is the reason she is such a hot commodity.jessica-chastain-zero-dark-thirty

It’s a breath of fresh air that this will most likely be Silver Linings Playbook only award of the night that is a great thing because of what the film represents not only form a movie making aspect but how it may help others understand people suffering from mental illness despite how serious it may be.

One thing will be for sure look for two wonderful acceptance speeches from both of them who have delivered some of the best of award season so far.

2008’s A True Year Of Diversity And No Genre?

Any fan of movies new that it was just a matter of time before the visionaries that are the Coen brothers would one night rule the Oscar party and in 2008 (movies made in 2007) they did just that, taking best director(s) and best picture and best adapted screenplay all for No Country For Old Men. It truly was master Coen brothers movie, blending their sharp yet dark humor with fine acting and dialogue with characters not to soon be forgotten. So we examine was it the best movie of the year?

One thing is for sure, it was a banner year for nominations. In fact it was one of the years that may have lead to the expansion of the category.

One of the most visually stunning and at times harrowing films was Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of the Upton Sinclair novel Oil! With a lead role that solidified Daniel Day-Lewis as possibly this generations most talented actor. It had one of the most unique musical scores in recent memory which gave the movie a haunting quality and lead to a fear of Day-Lewis’ character. It’s truly a love it or hate it movie but it was without question well directed and acted therefore leading to it’s nomination.

Keeping in theme with the diversity of the movies on the list next is the legal thriller Michael Clayton with multiple nominations including best supporting actress winner Tilda Swinton. The twisting thriller surrounding corporate law firm Kenner, Bach and Ledeen features Tom Wilkenson as manic depressive attorney who turns on his own client in an effort to expose their greedy yet deadly practices while fellow attorney Michael Clayton played by George Clooney attempts to clean up yet another mess dumped on the partners while he can’t keep the aspects of his life in order. Featuring one of the last and great performances of Sydney Pollocks extensive and diverse career, it was an engrossing movie with razor sharp dialogue and confrontation scenes that left you enthralled from the first minute.

As always there is usually a great surprise and a movie that in a way is honored just by having it nominated. The light hearted story of Juno Macguff was this movie. with a heartfelt script of an all too common dilemma faced by too many young women today in the form of teenage pregnancy and that not everyone let’s it ruin their life and how it can become the joy of another’s. A breakthrough role for young Ellen Page and fine night for first time screen writer Diablo Cody.

As per usual the finely acted British film made it’s way in with the WWII love story, Atonement based on the best selling book. With a unique look at love it won the hearts of many women but not the Academy on that night.

Still many others didn’t receive the recognition they so justly deserved. Most notable was the Sean Penn helmed Into The Wild based on the true story and book by John Krakhauer. With a dynamite soundtrack exclusively by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder it tell about a man who gives up all earthly possessions to live in the Alaskan wild to leave off the land and truly be a happy person in nature.

Also of honorable mention was the directing debut of Ben Affleck who directed his brother in the movie based on Dennis Lehane’s novel, Gone Baby Gone. Back to a root he knows, south Boston, he showed the tough living and tough life of the locals as they rally around a local missing child.

Ridley Scott again teamed up with Russell Crowe in American Gangster alongside Denzel Washington as longtime Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas and Crowe as the detective who stumbles upon him and his massive operation and then becomes his attorney.

Also left to at least be mentioned was the Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Whalberg in We Own The Night about police and their fight on drugs in NYC in the early 80’s. Charlie Wilson’s War told the story of a playboy congressman who single handedly fought the Russian communist in a covert way to help the Afghan’s defeat them. Last was Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck in the western story The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford based on the novel which had elements of truth to it with a very visually engrossing and beautiful picture of the American west.

So what was the best? No doubt a case could be made for almost all these movies. With the diversity and quality in this year it seems only fitting that the duo that is the Coen brother’s would win since their movies are the most diverse and have been called a genre of their own. The biggest misstep by the Academy was not giving former bad boy, Sean Penn more recognition. If not a best picture nomination most deserving of a best director nod. It is a year rife with debate possibilities only the fans could decide the best for this year.