Friday, January 7, 2011

Oscars of the Aughts: Best Actor 2007

Its been a long time since I've done one of these, hasn't it? I'll try to keep these up a little better than I have in the past.
Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
I'd like to say that, given the truly gifted actors that make up the category and the excellent performances every one of them turns it, it was a close race, but it was far from that. Sure, we could talk about Jones' little-talked-about (a nomination-announcement surprise) work as Hank Deerfield, which falls into some of the grieving-father cliches but is handled with delicacy that makes it work more often than not. And there's plenty to say about Depp's surprisingly not-disasterous, actually-terrific work in Sweeney Todd, despite not having much vocal range; he really nails the acting part more than the singing. One would be remiss to forget Mortensen's bravery as Nikolai, a Russian mobster, and his infamous nude fight scene, which is more than just visual shock but also lays out the complexity of the character. Then there's Clooney, who's a class-act as a corporate lawyer forced to come to grips with his own morality, a task that he handles with the utmost nuance that demonstrates that Clooney really does belong to the classic-movie-star model. And in any other year, I'd support him winning the Oscar for Best Actor. But then along came Daniel Day-Lewis, who gives the performance of the year, nay, decade as Daniel Plainview, a hopelessly, fascinatingly corrupt businessman who devotes his life to oil, sinking further and further into deprivation with every scene. He is truly a marvel to behold, a masterwork of acting that should be shown to every drama student in the country and told, "THAT is how you create a character and stand by him." He keeps the viewer glued to the screen, wondering what this one-man dark-side-of-the-American-dream will do next. Too bad those other four guys couldn't have had their films released in another year; individually they're incredible performances, but next to Day-Lewis...there just isn't a comparison.
My ballot is as follows:
1. Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
2. George Clooney, Michael Clayton
3. Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises
4. Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
5. Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah

1 comment:

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Oh, DDL. It's definitely the decade's best, an instant classic, an icon, a legend, a masterpiece! 2007 has to be my favorite Oscar year of the decade.

My picks:

1. Daniel Day-Lewis
2. Tommy Lee Jones
3. George Clooney
4. Johnny Depp
5. Viggo Mortensen