Tag Archives: jessica chastain

James Gandolfini’s Film Career Remembered

48987-james-gandolfini-637x0-1Wednesday June 19, 2013 the entertainment and acting world lost a true giant when James Gandolfini succumbed to a massive heart attack and fell asleep in death. Gandolfini will forever be remembered as Tony Soprano on one of the greatest television shows of all time and his character may be one of the best as well. Tony was superbly written and thought out. The depth that went into the character could only be written so deep, Gandolfini brought it to a different level all together.

While being remembered as Tony Soprano is a phenomenal legacy to have, it is also a little bit sad that some people will never know what a terrific actor Gandolfini was. Tony Soprano is a key example of how great he really was but only looking at his other work shows how good he really was as Tony. I’ve decided to take a look at some of my favorite Gandolfini roles and some of his most diverse.

5. The Mexican (Winston Baldry)th-4

Winston is a hitman, true, and that is close to the Soprano character but Winston has a twist, he’s gay. He not only is gay, he has a conscience and doubts his way of life. He brought a humanity to the character that was desperately needed. It was the character that stood out and made the movie better than it was.

welcome_to_the_rileys01 4. Welcome To The Riley’s (Doug Riley)

Doug Riley is stuck in a 30 year marriage with a wife who has never gotten over the loss of their 15 year old daughter and while Doug has become numb to his life as well he begins to show signs of breaking out. On a business trip to New Orleans he unexpectedly get’s hooked up with a 16 year old prostitute and begins to help change her life. This character is so complex on the inside while being bland on the outside and near emotionless. He does a beautiful job letting his inner self come through a little bit at a time.

3. Zero Dark Thirty (C.I.A. Director)james-gandolfini-zero-dark-thirty

There isn’t much more opposite of the head of a mafia crime family than the head of the C.I.A. Therefore when he played the Director in the award winning film about the 10 year hunt for Osama Bin Laden his brief time on film had to make an impact. The few words he spoke resinated and gave credibility to different characters and where they stood and what empowered them. Usually when a bigger name actor is cast in a smaller role it is because the expertise is needed despite the size of the role. His expertise was just what that character and film needed and got.

allthekingsmen3 2. All The Kings Men (Tiny Duffy)

When I said that being C.I.A. Director was as opposite as you could get I meant it but playing a crooked southern politician in 1950’s Louisiana is just about as opposite as well. Tiny Duffy is a crooked man working with major politicians to help swing an election but when it doesn’t go their way he is forced to join the man trying to bring them down and he has all but become his lap dog. With a pretty decent southern accent he had the ability to play the character with the confidence of Tony Soprano until it was needed for him to be brought down to the low level and he filled those shoes just as well.

1. Cinema Verite (Craig Gilbert)cinema-verite-poster

Gandolfini returned to HBO for this film which did well at the Golden Globes and various festivals. Craig Gilbert was a true life person who was a television producer who is credited with creating what is now known as reality TV. He had the idea to follow a seemingly normal family and when the cameras come the normal goes away. He struggles with the morality of what he is doing and trying to keep his feelings for the wife and mother of the family, in check.

Gandolfini will be greatly missed and it is safe to assume now that a Sopranos movie is not going to happen. So as we reflect on his career and the things he did, remember these words from The Sopranos theme song: “ She said, you’re one in a million. You got to learn to shine.” Shine he did.

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.

Michael Shannon Truly Emerges In Take Shelter

Every now and again an actor takes his career on an almost perfect journey and you can see them become a better, wiser actor in the process. Anyone who remembers Michael Shannon as far back as his bit role in Groundhog Day, has seen this happen to him. Early in his career he took roles whose purpose was purely to act and not necessarily all that selective, but hey, an actors gotta work. No one would have watched Kangaroo Jack and predicted that he would be one of the best and most under appreciated actors working today. He was and is a hard working actor that has since proved his ability to make his mark in a film and now carry one on his back.

It wasn’t until 2008’s Revolutionary Road that people really started realizing his great ability as an actor when he played the mentally challenged John Givings for which he received and Academy Award nomination.

Michael Shannon has hit an all time high in his latest film with director Jeff Nichols. Take Shelter is the story of a hard working family man named Curtis who begins having dreams and at times what he feels are visions of the beginning of the end of the world. Unknown whether he needs to protect his family from these events or if he is the danger. His attempt to learn about what is happening leads him back to his schizophrenic mother and to a doctors office. After his actions and feelings cost him his job and quite nearly his family he begins to accept the help his wife pleads with him to get.

While the film is not one that will appeal to a wide variety and almost certainly not to the casual movie goer, it is non the less engrossing and, in a sense, addictive. Take Shelter is one of the most over looked movies of the year and certainly so is Shannon. While it was a massive hit on the festival circuit, commercially it wasn’t a hit by any means.

With beautifully directed dream sequences and lead acting roles with Shannon and Jessica Chastain as his wife, it will pull you into his life and visions having you question what the truth is the whole time. You are side by side with the main characters feeling what they feel through the extent of the entire film.

The art house feel will not appeal to all but truly is a film just short of true cinematic brilliance. It is a movie that should be given it’s due justice and given a chance by all fans of fine movie making and anyone who wants to witness what most likely will be one of the best actors for years to come. Look for this one to be a major player at the Independent Spirit Awards the night before the Oscars.