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Tag: al pacino

Editorials

Oscar-Winning Actors Who Deserved Their Award For A Different Role

February 10, 2021
Anne Hathaway

There are many great actors who’ve never won an Oscar – Ian Mckellan, Alan Rickman (who was never even nominated), Annette Benning, Toni Colette to name a few – but there are some actors who have won an Oscar but some people are left wondering if they got it for the right role.

Al Pacino

Al Pacino in The Godfather
Al Pacino in The Godfather // Credit: Paramount Pictures

What He Won For: One of the all-time greats of acting Al Pacino has any number of roles where he deserved an Oscar, but amazingly the role that got him that award was for Scent of a Woman playing Frank Slade. Pacino is an actor who will take things to 11 and this perhaps gets the better of him in this film.

What He Should Have Won For – Without a doubt Al Pacino deserved an Oscar for The Godfather even if it meant depriving Marlon Brando of it. Michael Corleone not only looks like a different person at the end of The Godfather to the beginning, he is a different person. The audience sees the change he goes through from noble war hero who wants no part of the Mafia to the blood soaked crime-boss who shuts out the woman he loves from his life.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street // Credit: Paramount Pictures
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street // Credit: Paramount Pictures

What He Won For – It certainly felt like Leonardo DiCaprio was owed an Oscar and eventually he got it for The Revenant. He plays Hugh Glass a fur trapper who suffers and it seemed like it was suffering that won the award. The Academy can be very impressed by the ordeal an actor goes through for their art and this was certainly the case.

What He Should Have Won For – A very different role to nineteenth century man mauled by bear DiCaprio was brilliant as depraved stock broker Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. To me Belfort is one of the most appalling characters seen in cinema who doesn’t actually murder anyone but the performance is stunning and it is very hard to play so unlikeable a character.

Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway in Colossal // Credit: Toy Fight Productions

What She Won For – Watching Les Miserables was one of the hardest cinema-going experiences I’ve ever had. Admittedly I’m no fan of musicals but Les Miserables managed to tick all the boxes of why that is. Hathaway was on screen for a total of fifteen minutes and perhaps other performances of hers may be more deserving.

What She Should Have Won For – This is very much a personal choice but Hathaway has never been better than Gloria in Colossal. This film deserves to be seen as one of the best of the 2010s but seems to have passed most people by. Hathaway is a sort-of writer with a drinking problem who finds her way back to her old home-town whilst on the other side of the world a giant monster is rampaging through South Korea. These events are not unconnected.

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon in Election // Credit: Paramount Pictures

What She Won For – Witherspoon was very good as June Carter in a Johnny Cash biopic that has not really stood the test of time. Of course in this film it is Cash who is the central character and Witherspoon never gets the opportunity to really shine

What She Should Have Won For – Comedy is harder than drama and these and Witherspoon is a great comic actor and her role as Tracey Flick is in Election is unforgettable. Some aspects of the film have not aged well but it is undeniable that Witherspoon is great, giving a performance of someone who is sometimes on the verge of snapping.

Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy // Credit: Studio Canal
Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy // Credit: Studio Canal

What He Won For – Playing Winston Churchill is a classic Oscar role and something that will appeal to the Academy voters. Oldman’s performance in Darkest Hour was by no means bad but also nothing spectacular

What He Should Have Won For – A role without the fanfare of Winston Churchill but nonetheless a much better performance – George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Solider Spy. Smiley is emotionally restrained to the point of being stationary and I only remember one outburst from him in the film – but that just makes it more effective. Smiley is the sort of character rarely seen in film these days and Oldman plays it perfectly.

Benicio Del Toro

Benicio Del Toro in Sicario // Credit: Lionsgate
Benicio Del Toro in Sicario // Credit: Lionsgate

What He Won For – Del Toro won Best Supporting Actor for playing Mexican police officer Javier Rodriguez in 2000’s Traffic – a solid film but unmemorable.

What He Should Have Won For – Del Toro has a number of roles that would be contenders but his role as Alejandro in Sicario may be my favourite. Alejandro works alongside the Americans battling the drug cartels, his exact position is unclear but it is soon demonstrated that he has no restraint – showing no problems with torture or murder. The subdued anger of Del Toro is something to behold and he is genuinely terrifying.

Also Read: Oscar Worthy Characters [Part 1]: Vito Corleone

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Editorials

30 Years On: The Godfather Part 3

June 13, 2020
Godfather Part 3 [Source: New on Netflix USA]

The Godfather Parts 1 and 2 are considered two of the greatest films ever made. Part 3, however, is seen as the black sheep of the series. But with Godfather Part 3 turning 30 this year, it’s time to see if it has aged well or if it should have ended up like Jack Woltz’s horse?

Synopsis

Years after Part 2’s events Michael Corleone is divorced from his wife Kay and trying to turn over a new leaf. Suddenly in walks Vincent Mancini, son of Michael’s dead brother Sonny. Vincent is feuding with enforcer Joey Zasa so Michael takes him under his wing.

Michael is also working to legitimize the family, but Don Altobello warns the mafia wants involvement in Michaels’s new business venture. Michael attempts to pay the mob bosses off to keep them away. He narrowly avoids an assassination attempt and Vincent realizes Altobello and Zasa are working together. Meanwhile, Vincent begins dating Michael’s daughter Mary. Vincent assassinates Zasa enraging Michael, who tells him not to see his daughter anymore.

The Corleone’s head to Sicily and Vincent defects to Altobello to get information. He discovers Altobello has hired someone to kill Michael. Michael’s business deal is ratified, and he names Vincent as the new Don. With this new position, Vincent decides to swiftly destroy the family’s enemies but have the Corleone’s underestimated their opponents?

Godfather 3 Critical Reaction

As mentioned earlier the first two Godfather movies are seen as two of cinemas greatest films. Both won best picture Oscars. Both have iconic dialogue that’s now part of everyday conversation. They feature incredible performances from some of cinemas best actors (Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Robert De Niro, Sterling Hayden etc.). And both are beloved by the public and critics. They are the second and third best films of all time on IMDb and have a 98% and 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Conversely, Part 3 won no Oscars, currently sits at a 69% critical score on Rotten Tomatoes, and is rated 7.6 on IMDb. An incredible dip in perceived quality. But is that feeling justified?

The Godfather (Source: Films Leaving Netflix)
Iconic poster for The Godfather (Source: Films Leaving Netflix)

The Good

Part 3 does have positives. Firstly, Al Pacino is great as an older Michael Corleone. His cool, ruthless nature from the previous movies now replaced by world-weary wisdom and compromise making him feel like his father from Part 1. Returning players Diane Keaton and Talia Shire and new faces Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, and Joe Mantegna are also fun in their roles.

The atmosphere is also top-notch. The golden tinged cinematography and excellent score help give a nostalgic and operatically tragic feeling to the film. 

And there are some genuinely good story moments. Particularly Michael coming to terms with his horrible past and mentoring Vincent to take over from him. Which gives this entry a great sense of finality. And set-pieces like Vincent’s apartment break-in, Joey Zasa’s murder, and the opera massacre are entertaining.

The Bad

However, Part 3 has a lot of problems. And a lot of them come from it living in the shadow of its predecessors. The plot is very convoluted, like the previous entries, but aside from Michael and Vincent, no one has a compelling motivation to invest us in the action. Compared to the multi-layered characters of previous entries, this film feels generic in comparison.

The first two movies were also effective because of their realistic presentation. The dialogue felt natural and the violence hit hard because it felt so mundane. Here the action is overblown and at points ridiculous (see the helicopter assassination scene). The dialogue also feels unrealistic, with people espousing their motivations rather than using conversations to infer character motivation. There’s also an air of desperation as the movie tries to make Michael sympathetic. The Michael that series fans know, who coldly ordered the murder of his brother and pushed Kay away, is a world removed from his characterisation here. Honestly if not for Pacino’s performance it would come across as a cynical attempt to make the character appeal to a broader audience.

Finally, Sofia Coppola’s performance as Mary is terrible. It’s not her fault, she was essentially forced into it after Winona Ryder was unavailable. But her inability to emote or sound convincing is a major hindrance to the film because she has such a prominent role.

Verdict

Godfather Part 3 isn’t without merit. There are some fun performances, solid atmosphere courtesy of good-looking cinematography; a great soundtrack, and some entertaining moments. But it’s overall incredibly disappointing. Most of the characters are dull, making the twisty narrative a chore. It also lacks subtlety, with the powerful realism of the first two films replaced by overblown clichés and it features an atrocious performance from Sofia Coppola. It isn’t awful but it’s a huge blemish on the Godfather name.

Also Read: Was It Really That Bad? Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker

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Reviews

Review: The Irishman

November 28, 2019

Perhaps the most anticipated movie of the year featuring a cast list covered in Oscars, a director rightly hailed as one of the best there ever was and a writer who’s written everything from Schindler’s List to Moneyball. And it’s on Netflix.

What’s Going On?

The Irishman (source: buffalonews.com)

The Irishman follows the life of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) from meat-delivery driver to well… not in the Mafia, but certainly doing a lot of work for them, after all, he’s Irish, not Sicilian. Frank is effectively brought into this life by Russel Buffalino (Joe Pesci) a high up person in the Mafia. Frank does a lot of work for him up to and including killing people. After a few years, Russel sends Frank to watch over Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), head of the Teamsters union and very much in business with the Mafia. The film follows the course of this relationship and especially how Frank is pulled in opposite directions because of his friendships with Russel and Hoffa.

Behind The Scenes

I’m sure this isn’t a surprise to anyone – the director is Martin Scorsese, certainly one of the best directors alive if not one of the best directors ever. And this is a crime movie with an incredible cast, hardly unfamiliar territory for Scorsese. He’s already directed what in my opinion is the best Mafia movie ever – Goodfellas and expectations are high.

In Front Of The Camera

The Irishman (source: denofgeek.com)

First, there is the key trio of De Niro, Pesci and Pacino, and already that’s amazing. De Niro is the narrator and gives an excellent performance especially as things become strained as the film goes on. Pesci, normally known for his wild, unpredictable and maybe a little crazy criminal characters plays against type as a very calm and, for the mafia, reasonable man. However, it’s Pacino who I think gives the best performance. Hoffa is a man surrounded by criminals, murderers even, and never bats an eyelid. He will argue with them, he will insult them, he’ll get in fistfights with them. He’s a larger than life character and you can see how he ended up union president.

Outside of those three roles, the cast is still full of diamonds. Actors like Bobby Cannavale, Stephen Graham, Jesse Plemons, Anna Paquin, Harvey Keitel and Ray Romano taking on small roles. I was convinced that Plemons was going to go through the movie and not actually have a line. Paquin, and indeed the child actors who play her characters, are excellent and act almost like the conscience of the film, judging the bad people around her, including her father Frank Sheeran. At one point Paquin says a single word that seems to break Sheeran.

Historical Note – Jimmy Hoffa & The Teamsters Union

Jimmy Hoffa was a very famous person in America, and in many ways still is, and I don’t think there will be a person in America who doesn’t already know where the story is heading and Scorsese made this film knowing that. I only knew of Hoffa from references to him in American film and TV but didn’t really understand who he was or what happened to him. After all, union bosses don’t tend to be that famous. Again, I’ve heard of “teamsters” but didn’t really know what that was but it’s enough to say this was the largest union in America at the time, giving Hoffa an incredible amount of power and influence, and in looking after their pension fund, access to literally billions of dollars. My perhaps controversial opinion is you look Hoffa up on Wikipedia before you watch the film.

He Looks Good For His Age

The film shows these characters at various stages of their life Scorsese employed some clever de-ageing special effects which I thought were flawless.

Does It Work?

The Irishman (source: slate.com)

My expectations for The Irishman were very high, not only is Scorsese one of my favourite directors many of the early reviews were saying that was his best film in a long time. Personally I would put this in the second-tier of Scorsese films, with Gangs of New York and The Departed, it’s great but not quite up there with his best. Let’s be clear, it’s a great film, it’s three and a half hours long and keeps you engaged throughout, the acting is all first-rate and is full of brilliant little flourishes – one scene of a person having to psych themselves up to start their car as they were worried it might explode was one such moment. But I was a little disappointed and perhaps thought it was a mistake for Scorsese to return to territory he has already thoroughly explored. I am a big fan of Wolf of Wall Street and see it as a kind of Goodfellas for a different sort of crime and was a good move for him and I think maybe another gangster film wasn’t the best use of Scorsese’s time and talent.

That said if this was a film by virtually any other director I would only be singing it’s praises and really the only problem is it’s Martin Scorsese so you’re hoping for a masterpiece.

Even before this film, the debate about are Netflix films proper films was surely settled and this just adds to the argument that they are. They’ve made everything from Oscar-winning drama like Roma to fantasy special effects-laden frippery like Bright, not everything is gold but the same is true for every studio.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

The Irishman (Official Trailer)

Also Read: For Your Consideration: Sci-Fi, Comedy & Oscar Snubs

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