Monday, August 11, 2014

Twice a Best Actor Roundtable: The Complete Series

Today we reached the end of our summer roundtable organized by Fisti over at A Fistful of Films in which we spent each week reviewing the 9 actors that scored double Best Actor Oscars (well, DDL has 3, but we only looked at his first two). It's been so great to watch these films (some of them like Tracy's, Hoffman's, and March's I had never seen prior to this and some like Penn in Mystic River, I never want to see again) and debate their artistic merits with the other members of the panel. I might not have always agreed with everyone (it seems the only week we were all in agreement was with DDL, but he brings people together with his brilliance) and that's what made it so much fun. I really enjoyed getting to know the other bloggers over the weeks through their thoughts on the performances. So if you've missed any weeks, I've linked each below along with a snippet from my own review and the grade I assigned. Please click on them all and get lost in the Best Actor goodness. And, who knows, maybe next we'll tackle Twice a Best Actress...

Sean Penn:

Mystic River "With a Boston accent as authentic as a can of Campbell's clam chowder, he plays each moment one of two ways: explosive, screaming hissy fit or seething, incoherent Brando-like mumble..." D
Milk "In the years since, I've actually watched the stirring Oscar-winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk and have since found that Penn's work isn't quite as convincing when compared to the real man..." C+

Gary Cooper:

Sergeant York "Cooper, at 40 and over a decade older than York was at the time of the film's setting, seems far too mature to be pursuing such a young man's journey." C-
High Noon "There's a lived-in weariness to Gary Cooper's performance in High Noon." B

Dustin Hoffman:

Kramer vs. Kramer "But what Hoffman claims as his most intimate performance comes off more self-indulgent..." C
Rain Man "Hoffman gives a masterclass in the craft of acting in a performance that is nothing but technique and showboating." D

Daniel Day-Lewis:

My Left Foot "His physical transformation and preparation would mean nothing if he hadn’t been able to develop a fully fleshed out character on screen." A
There Will Be Blood "Day-Lewis created an indelible portrait of this despicable man, drawing us into the sticky chambers of Plainview’s mind." A

Jack Nicholson:

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest "Nicholson's natural charisma makes him a believable subject of adoration by the other inmates..." B+
As Good As It Gets "He's never asked to be anything other than Jack Nicholson with the quirk dial turned up as far is it will go." D

Frederic March:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde "March seemed to have missed seizing the opportunity to showcase his range in bringing to life two very different characters in the same film." C-
The Best Years of Our Lives "I only wish that Fredric March as Al Stephenson contributed more to the film's legacy." C

Marlon Brando:

On the Waterfront "Brando and his performance as Terry Malloy are every bit as astonishing as you've heard and he more than lives up to the hype." A
The Godfather "By all accounts the performance shouldn't work as well as it does." B+

Tom Hanks:

Philadelphia "His character is so non-descript that he almost becomes more of a symbol than an actual human being." C
Forrest Gump "Hanks’ Gump, while likable, is little more than a plot device to guide us through decades of American history." C

Spencer Tracy:

Captain Courageous "Tracy's Manuel is like a childhood memory - pleasant, sweet, but a bit muddled and not quite as good as we remember." C
Boys Town "All the rough edges that any actual human being would posses have been finely sanded down until we're left with the harmless wooden figurine that is Tracy in this film." C-


  1. Thanks for being such an important part in this series! I really appreciate it Andrew. I'll get you details on Twice a Best Actress!

    1. Yay! So Best Actress is happening?!? and thank YOU for organizing, executing, and being such a gracious and supportive host!

  2. Loved the series and all the comments. Have my fingers crossed for Twice a Best Actress. It's funny how so many performers, even the ones who are awarded twice, so rarely win for the proper performances.

    1. thanks for following us during all the weeks, joel! yeah, it's frustrating that great actors like hoffman, hanks, and tracy are totally deserving of double oscars...but not necessarily for the performances that they won for. it just goes to show that when it comes to winning, sometimes the performance itself doesn't factor in as highly as it should.