Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Alternate Best Actor 1992: Benoît Poelvoorde in Man Bites Dog

Benoît Poelvoorde did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Ben in Man Bites Dog.

Man Bites Dog is a faux documentary that goes along with a camera crew as they follow a serial killer go about his life. Benoît Poelvoorde's performance is not one that attempts to find any sort of reality within the idea of the serial killer, this is not Michael Rooker in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. In fact his performance seems more akin to say Jean-Paul Belmondo in Breathless, and not simply due to his appearance and the fact he speaks French. The reason rather is Poelvoorde playing the character named merely Ben seems as though he is in some way above it all, even though that involves killing people, and unlike in Breathless this involves many many people. Poelvoorde's performance is of course this style through that which seems necessary given the tone of the film, that is at least slightly absurd given the concept at its core. Poelvoorde's approach technically matches this in that this must be an almost unrealistic, though then again The Jinx does exist, portrait of a psychotic. As it is about a man willing to go around showing his methods, and just doing his murders from place to place. Fitting to this Poelvoorde has that casual quality of any comfortable documentary subject who is ready just to give the filmmakers some insight into his day to day life. 

Poelvoorde in this approach does end up being extremely chilling even with this random set up that one would imagine would be more of a dark comedy which is only truly so with this film in terms of the contexts that it places our murderer in. Even with that potential comfort this is an unnerving performance to watch since Poelvoorde is so natural in any given scene whether he is randomly beating down a mail man to death, shooting person upon person, committing home invasions, coming up with new tricks of the trade such as killing a heart patient merely through fear. Poelvoorde's performance is consistently unnerving because of how at home he plays the whole thing, and even though he's not creating a normal reality of this serial killer he does realize the reality within the film. That creates this most unpleasant, yet effective realization of the killer as Poelvoorde makes the character so at home with this life of a specific violent crimes. There is never a real wink to comfort us even with the core setup of the black comedy. Poelvoorde makes the man rotten to his core within the film as he plays with the concept and gives it a life, a peculiar one, but one that is most unsettling to witness. 

Although much of the time is spent killing not all of the film is as we do get to see the man's life past his brutal murders. We spend some time as he visits his girlfriend or sees his parents. Now in these scenes Poelvoorde actually gives a consistent performance to the rest of his work, in that he really is not a different man as he presents the same comfort with a normal life then he does going around murdering. His delivery, his approach, establishes that it is very much all the same time him. To the point Poelvoorde does not even portray much concern just a knowing smile when Ben's mother comments that she would prefer that a murderer, not knowing it is Ben, would suffer the most severe punishment. Poelvoorde's work emphasizes a man who loves his life, and portrays not a hint of true empathy just a man above it all in his sinister amorality. Again though the amorality is not something that sets him back, or slow him down. Throughout the film there are little asides on one subject or another for Ben to philosophize on a bit. What Poelvoorde does is remain once again true to the man he has always established which is to show someone who portrays such joy in whatever it is he is doing whether it is just talking or committing one violent murder after another. There is no separation yet this is effectively so. Poelvoorde's work is this specific to the intention of the film which is to be this documentary subject, and Poelvoorde makes Ben a great one. A man you just get to know and learn about with his unique insights and way of life. Those insight and way of life just happen to be terrifying. Poelvoorde's performance realizes the concept in a vivid and oh so horrible way, yet that is the only way for the film.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

Louis: your top 20 Robert duvall acting moments

Luke Higham said...

1. Coyote
2. Dafoe
3. Poelvoorde
4. Crowe
5. Stoltz

Michael McCarthy said...

1. Coyote
2. Dafoe
3. Poelvoorde
4. Stoltz
5. Crowe

Deiner said...

Louis: I completely agree he's really great. Off-topic can you respost the ratings of the following performances? I looked up on the blog but aside on your comments on some of them I couldn't find your ratings of them.
- Debra Winger and Rosemarie DeWitt in "Rachel Getting Married".
- Emma Thompson and Rosamund Pike in "An Education".
- Julianne Moore in "A Single Man".
- Keira Knightley in "The Duchess".
- Lena Olin in "The Reader".
- Maggie Gyllenhaal in "Crazy Heart".
- Mariah Carey and Paula Patton in "Precious".
- Scarlett Johansson in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona".
- Vera Farmiga in "Up in the Air".

Anonymous said...

Louis: your top 20 peter o toole acting moments

Charles Heiston said...

I love this performance. Helps make the film great to me. He's absolutely essential to his film. I give him a 5.

Calvin Law said...

I'm guessing your 2010s version for this role would be Matthias Schoenaerts, Louis? Also, is this a better film than The Untold Story.

Nguyễn Ngọc Toàn said...

Just saw Dunkirk! Really adore the way Nolan handled all the battle sequences. If only he could do the same task with all the characters, this film could be my favorite of the year. Feeling too bad for Cillian Murphy's character!

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your 1940's and 1950's casts for Jaws.

omar said...

1. Coyote
2. Dafoe
3. Crowe
4. Poelvoorde
5. Stolz

Louis: What are your ratings and thoughts on Gabriel Byrne and Lynn Redgrave in Spider? And what's your rating for Audrey Tatou in Amelie?

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the Leonidas meets Xerxes scene.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: The Glass Castle doesn't appear to be doing well, so what's your current Supporting Actor winner prediction.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I actually think Poulter will go the distance.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your Director winner prediction and your reasons why.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Duvall:

11. Advising his daughter - Tender Mercies
12. "Blue bonnet" - Open Range
13. Campfire - Apocalypse Now
14. Drunken ramblings - The Great Santini
15. Final prayer - The Apostle
16. Tempering Charley - Open Range
17. Confronting De-Fens - Falling Down
18. Asking for his funeral - Get Low
19. Being interrupted - A Civil Action
20. "I need a good judge" - True Grit

Deiner:

2
4
3
3
2.5
2
3
3
2
2.5
2
3

Anonymous:

O'Toole:

1. "They'll Come For Me" - Lawrence of Arabia
2. Killing the murderer - Lawrence of Arabia
3. "No Prisoners" - Lawrence of Arabia
4. Sentencing his sons - The Lion in Winter
5. "Nothing is written" - Lawrence of Arabia
6. Turkish interrogation - Lawrence of Arabia
7. Katherine hurt him - The Lion in Winter
8. Breakdown among the lords - Becket
9. I'd kill them - The Stunt Man
10. Asking for Hector's body - Troy
11. Arguing with Phillip - The Lion in Winter
12. "The trick William Potter" - Lawrence of Arabia
13. "I Liked it" - Lawrence of Arabia
14. Being Photographed - Lawrence of Arabia
15. "Do you think I'm just anyone Ali?" - Lawrence of Arabia
16. Asking for Forgiveness - Becket
17. Reginald's goodbye - The Last Emperor
18. Returning to Cairo - Lawrence of Arabia
19. Something new - Ratatouille
20. Anatomy song - The Ruling Class

Calvin:

MUCH better, and I don't even love this film.

Anonymous:

Jaws 40's:

Chief Brody: Clark Gable
Ellen Brody: Fay Wray
Hooper: Edmond O'Brien
The Mayor: Thomas Mitchell
Quint: Walter Huston

Jaws 50's:

Chief Brody: Kirk Douglas
Ellen Brody: Jane Wyman
Hooper: Tony Curtis
The Mayor: Millard Mitchell
Quint: James Cagney

Omar:

Redgrave - 3(A good fairly straight forward as the tight laced, no nonsense character. She's just there, but in a good way until really the ending where her specific reaction is quite effective.)

I think I covered Byrne before, let me check.

2.5

Anonymous:

Not a very good scene and where the film suffers is really when they need normal conversations. Xerxes is over the top in a way that doesn't work partially due to the performance, and the ridiculous voice. The scene is not helped by Butler really forgetting his accent in the scene and going full Scot. The scene attempts I guess to find a little nuance there, and in that it fails miserably.

Luke:

Steve Carell, I guess.

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

I feel he'll fall into the too despicable to win, a la Ralph Fiennes and Michael Fassbender.

Luke:

Nolan. I feel Detroit is already getting a hard backlash, which when it is this soon that's not a good thing for Bigelow's chances. Dunkirk on the other hand, really doesn't have any major detractors, and has over performed financially. Even if the film does not win picture, the film's praise being centered around his work specifically seems similair to Cuaron, Chazelle and Inarritu's second win. I don't see any of the known competitors being a major threat at the moment. I don't see them rushing for a third win for Spielberg, Payne's film is a kind of sci-fi they've never embraced, Wright probably will suffer in comparison to Nolan, and this does not sound like this will be PTA's winner especially since his films are becoming more divisive.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Yeah, I'm beginning to believe that this will be Nolan's year.

Luke Higham said...

And the British vote should help him as well.

Calvin Law said...

I saw Personal Shopper and while I need to think about the film itself, Stewart is quite great.

Mitchell Murray said...

Going into this year's oscar crop I must admit supporting actor seems kind of iffy. It would be nice to see Willem Dafoe back in the spotlight (The Florida Project), as he's such an interesting and consistently strong actor. But I have my hesitations about Steve Carell in "Battle Of The Sexes". From the trailer he seems to be having a good time at least, but to me he neither looks nor sounds anything like Bobby Riggs. I guess its also because I like Carell more when he tones himself down - I greatly prefer his work in "Little Miss Sunshine" to "Foxcatcher" and even "The Big Short".

Luke Higham said...

Mitchell: Yeah, the majority of us don't care for him much in Foxcatcher and The Big Short.

Matt Mustin said...

Mitchell: He looks terrible in Battle of the Sexes. The movie itself looks aggressively mediocre.

Mitchell Murray said...

I'm still curious about the movie. There's always a chance it could be good and I do like Emma Stone - My best actress vote last year would have gone to Huppert but Stone was great in "La La Land" so I'm not complaining.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Louis: What's your rating on Brendan Fraser in The Quiet American? I actually think his performance aged better than Caine's.

Calvin Law said...

http://www.awardscircuit.com/oscar-predictions/2018-oscar-predictions-best-supporting-actor/

Mitchell: Dafoe is being considered the frontrunner on this website, so you could be onto something.

Calvin Law said...

Also, I have a feeling the Last Flag Flying cast could get some accolades if it's beloved.

Anonymous said...

Louis: your top 10 f murray abraham acting moments

Anonymous said...

Calvin Law: I am very surprised to see the website say that Willem Dafoe is a definite nominee.

omar said...

1. Coyote
2. Dafoe
3. Poelvoorde
4. Stolz
5. Crowe

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

My sister got straight A*'s and A' s in her A levels, I'm so proud. :)

Louis Morgan said...

Mitchell:

I was referring to Last Flag Flying, where he's playing Larry Meadows, the reprise of Randy Quaid's Oscar nominated role. From what I've read awhile ago, when Nicholson and Quaid were still going to return, the part could have quite a lot of potential.

If both films deliver I imagine Carrell will push himself lead for Battle of the Sexes, where I'd say he's probably already a Golden Globe nominee for lead actor.

Robert:

I'd probably give him a 4 there, and I'd agree.

Anonymous:

You can find it Anthony Wong - The Untold Story.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

Louis, since you've seen both the series of Twin Peaks and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, who do you think was better as Donna? Lara Flynn Boyle or Moira Kelly?

Anonymous said...

Louis: For a 1940's version of Hell or High Water, what do you think of McLaglen in Bridges' role?

94dfk1 said...

Schoanearts even kinds of resembles Pooelverde in that picture.

Louis: Your thoughts on "Epilogue/The End" and, um, "Start a Fire" from the La La Land soundtrack?

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the street dance and breakup scenes from Spider-Man 3.

Louis Morgan said...

Giuseppe:

Well it is hard to directly compare the two given that Kelly only even has a few scenes in the film whereas, Boyle had thirty episodes in the role. I will say perhaps Kelly's approach, and casting maybe made more sense for the role given that you wouldn't imagine Boyle, as performed, would exactly be the forgotten best friend next to Lara Palmer. However we don't get to see where Kelly would have been able to take that idea which she stresses in her performance and does quite well with it. Boyle's performance is more just as the best friend in a more straight forward caring for her friend relationship, and I think in that approach she did quite well with as it worked for her character within the series. I will say Kelly's perhaps could have opened more opportunities, but then again the opportunities within her role also come from the allowances of the differing style of the film.

Anonymous:

A great choice, and I feel in his later years there was definitely a bit of often untapped potential in McLaglen evidenced by his work in The Informer.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Bertie's final speech in The King's Speech.

Anonymous said...

Louis: your top 15 jackie earle haley acting moments

Louis Morgan said...

94dk1:

Epilogue - (Might as well be put down on cinema the song. As it is the greatest part of what is such an amazing finale. It is such a wonderful piece using the main love theme then seemingly taking it everywhere with such sheer epic scope to the piece itself. It's masterful as it builds from the piano to the full grand orchestra in creating such a powerfully sweeping movement. As it seems to capture everything from the film with every portion from the outgoing fun, to the overt romantic moments, to the quieter gentle ones, until finishing so poignantly back to the simple melody. A masterful piece of music.)

Start a Fire - (Perhaps one of the most often misinterpreted songs ever used in a film for its purpose, in that it is suppose to be good, but it is obviously not the type of music Sebastian wanted to make. Anyway as a song it's great fun in making use of that electrical synth, making such a fun really rousing piece, that is so very well detached from classical Jazz, yet is great at being what it is.)

Anonymous:

Well I will say the street Dance eeks towards so bad its good, but not quite I'm afraid. No matter what it has no place in any Spider-man movie, or even that spider-man mess of a movie.

The breakup scenes I think are not only tiresome by the plot, keeping Harry's plan a secret makes not sense, but made so horrible through one of the worst ugly cries you'll ever see.

Luke:

I will give Hooper credit for his choice in music as Beethoven's symphony feels like such an effective undercurrent for the scene in that it captures a hope with this undeniable darkness around it. The editing is actually on point as well as the interlacing is effective, as are the performances of Rush and Firth in that scene. Unfortunately those angles, and movements are just awful throughout. They only add a distraction that only takes away from the innate emotion of the scene.

Anonymous:

1. Rorschach refuses to compromise - Watchmen
2. Clocks - Little Children
3. "You're in here with me" - Watchmen
4. Pool - Little Children
5. George Noyce - Shutter Island
6. "My Face" - Watchmen
7. A terrible date - Little Children
8. Marriage - Breaking Away
9. "How many have died during your administration?" - Lincoln
10. Namesake test - Watchmen
11. "They're all meat" - Preacher
12. Punching in the clock - Breaking Away
13. Dogs - Watchmen
14. Pestering Homer - Day of the Locust
15. Killing the competition - Preacher

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Preacher and the cast.

Charles Heiston said...

Louis: Your thoughts on "Get your shinebox" from Goodfellas.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

Don't care for the series really, but I'm still watching it for some reason. It had good moments I suppose, but I find it often to be a mess. It seems confused in what its thematic point is, the point of what any of its characters are, or what it is trying to be. It basically has thrown out the graphic novel beyond just some very loose aspects. It instead seems focused on being the "best" tv show ever by having things that great tv shows have, off-beat moments, musical montages, you name something from a great show this probably has it at some point, but without any substance within it. Almost a bizarre lack of it. The first season I thought was outright terrible by how slow the plot moved, the fact the show seemed hell bent on making every character unlikable, then the way they tossed all out seemed to suggest the creators didn't really know what they were doing with it. Season 2 has been better but they're getting stuck in a rut once again. It's greatest asset are its leads, but even they mess that up a bit which I'll get to in a moment.

Cooper - (Struggles due to the writing, as the show doesn't seem sure what Jesse's suppose to be, and can't cohere it with the more stoic hero of the comic. Cooper does do his best to make something out of that though. In that he gives at least an engaging performance, in that he brings a definite energy to the role even when Jesse's motivations are always a bit too muddled for him to figure them out precisely. The moral nature and point of the character is never quite found. Cooper can just be where the writing sends him and I'll give him credit he's good in bringing whatever emotion or style the part needs at that moment. I just wish he could work with a better defined template.)

Negga - (Like Cooper her performance is at the very least quite engaging in the role. She owns what she has, but what she has again is quite problematic. What is most compelling about Tulip is that she's played by Negga, Tulip herself is written as basically just obsessed with Jesse yet constantly frustrated by him with not much in between there. Any in between comes from Negga herself rather than what she's actually given to do. Negga is always trying to find some nuance to the role where she can find it, which there is not enough of. She's at the very least just fun to watch by herself, but I wish the writing backed her up a bit more.)

Gilgun - (Gilgun is the best part of the show, though I will say the writing also backs him up the most by just making him the supportive and quirky best friend, who's also a vampire. Although I ponder if the show will be able to naturally go to Cassidy's darker side, but just as the best friend side of the character Gilgun is terrific. He's incredibly fun to watch and entertaining all the time. Even as the episodes go on, he's at least a highlight no matter how problematic they might become. He just is everything you want out of the fun sidekick, yet Gilgun really delivers in the more dramatic moments he has as well. Gilgun is always on point even when the show is no where near its target.)

Louis Morgan said...

Charles:

Love everything about the scene as it throws Tommy, who we've seen always before as the volcano everyone tip toes around, to finally bring us a guy who refuses to do so. The dialogue is perfect in every way delivered so well by Frank Vincent who is such a great troll throughout the scene. Pesci's great in briefly showing some restraint in Tommy, even as he's bursting underneath, before he falls apart so quickly and so critically. One of my favorite parts though is Robert De Niro's delivery of the calculated response of "You made fun of him a little bit", that rounds out the scene so beautifully.

Robert MacFarlane said...

How many here watched Community? I've been binging it and loving it.

Matt Mustin said...

Robert: Community is one of my favourite shows.

94dfk1 said...

Louis: Thanks. I unironically do like "Start a Fire", though I understand why it's in the movie in the first place. And "Epilogue/The End" is indeed a whirlwind of emotions.

94dfk1 said...

Robert: I've watched around 40 to 50 percent of the episodes. I hope to properly start from the beginning one day. It's a lot of fun!

Mitchell Murray said...

Thoughts on Emma Stone's possible best actress contention for "Battle Of The Sexes" -

I wasn't head over heels for her "La La Land" performance like you lot, but I will agree its a very balanced, charming, effective piece of acting on her part; a career best in fact.

As for "Battle Of The Sexes" - ehh. Biopics don't seem to be in Stone's comfort zone. She'll probably be competent - she almost always is - but I can see people seeing her own personality being a detriment to playing a real person.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Stone looks like the only good thing from the trailer.

Anonymous said...

Louis: your top 10 kevin spacey and josh brolin acting moments

Calvin Law said...

So apparently Riz Ahmed might be playing Carnage in the upcoming Venom film. I stand by the film being completely unecessary, but I feel like he'd suit Venom more, and Hardy would suit Carnage better.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Stars and Javert's Suicide (Quast and Crowe).

Anonymous said...

Calvin: I'd prefer someone else.
Louis: So, who would you choose to play John Stewart in the Green Lantern Corps movie?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Robert: Community is one of my all time favorite comedy shows. The performances of the study group are all so great, especially the work of Danny Pudi and Chevy Chase.

Charles Heiston said...

Louis: Your top 10 Jude Law & Keanu Reeves acting moments.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

1. At the bar - LA Confidential
2. "Oh he didn't know?" - Seven
3. "I don't Remember" - LA Confidential
4. Greatest Trick - The Usual Suspects
5. DETECTIVES! - Seven
6. Car Ride - Seven
7. Rollo Tomasi - LA Confidential
8. Breakdown - The Usual Suspects
9. Finding the kid - LA Confidential
10. "She is Lana Turner" - LA Confidential

Brolin:

1. "Moto" - Inherent Vice
2. Phone call - No Country For Old Men
3. double talk - Inherent Vice
4. vs Chigurh - No Country For Old Men
5. Meeting with Doc - Inherent Vice
6. Threat - American Gangster
7. Night Terrors - W
8. Confronting Milk - Milk
9. The Plan - Sicario
10. Difficult press conference - W

Calvin:

Walton Goggins is still the only choice in my mind.

Anonymous:

Michael B. Jordan

Charles:

Jude Law:

1. Sending Vincent on his way - Gattaca
2. Encouragement - A.I.
3. The suicide - The Talented Mr. Ripley
4. Goodbye - A.I.
5. The Murder - The Talented Mr. Ripley
6. Diner meeting - Road to Perdition
7. Climbing the stairs - Gattaca
8. Dead Costumer - A.I.
9. Refusal - Anna Karenina
10. Questioning the police officer - Gattaca

Reeves:

1. Bob's break down - A Scanner Darkly
2. "Sage" advice - Thumbsucker
3. Knife Kill - John Wick
4. Lost - A Scanner Darkly
5. "There is no try" - Thumbsucker
6. Night after dog murder - John Wick
7. Roadside - A Scanner Darkly
8. "Die with him" - John Wick
9. The meaning of life - Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
10. "Gotta be seen" - The Neon Demon

Hm to "Woah"

Anonymous said...

Varun Neermul: Louis, what would be your top 15 foreign performances you have seen thanks to the bonus round?