January 14, 2007

MOVIES: Best of 2006 -- actor

On the whole, I wasn't dazzled by most of this year's award front-runners. I should note again that I haven't seen Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland, but even a brilliant performance there can't keep this from being a weak year for leading men. Like the lead actress category, the final choice was a tough one.

The runners-up:
  • Steve Coogan, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond
  • Vin Diesel, Find Me Guilty
  • Will Ferrell, Stranger Than Fiction
  • Patrick Wilson, Hard Candy

The finalists:

  • Christian Bale & Hugh Jackman, The Prestige -- a marvelous double act. Bale and Jackman play off each other beautifully, impeccably navigating every twist and turn of the complicated story -- and of the complicated relationship between their characters.
  • Peter O'Toole, Venus -- Maurice's obsession with a woman 50 years younger could easily have become too creepy for words, but O'Toole never allows the fascination to be just about sex; it's about the eternal appeal of youth, the thrill of the chase, and the actor's unending need to be loved. And of course, it's about the legend of Peter O'Toole; the same role in the hands of an unknown wouldn't have been nearly as heartbreaking.
  • Clive Owen, Children of Men -- one of the greatest acting challenges: playing a man who's almost completely shut down his own emotions and personality. Owen makes Theo's transformation and re-awakening convincing, and doesn't give in to the temptation to overstate it; the changes in Theo are large enough to be noticed, small enough to be believed.

And the winner:

  • Aaron Eckhart, Thank You for Smoking -- I could easily have gone with O'Toole or Owen, but we don't pay enough attention to comic acting, and Eckhart's work here is top-notch. He's perfectly cast as the smooth-talking spinmeister; you can see the wheels turning as his mind races to stay one step ahead of his mouth in each of his many verbal duels.


mary_m said...

I saw Children of Men this weekend, and was too emotionally traumatized by it at the time to appreciate the performances, but you're absolutely right. I'm curious to see if Owen or Caine gets a nomination. What a great movie...

Keith said...

I don't think it'll happen. Caine, maybe, has an outside chance, but Owen doesn't have even that.