It's time for the second installment of The Actor Factor, last month Andrew, Luke and I discussed 2004.
This time we discuss the 1964 Best Actor Oscar race.
Jose: I was thinking about the historical context these movies came out in and it's such an odd time to imagine living in
Luke: True. Tumultuous... Duly noted.
Jose: and just plain weird! Hahaha we had hippies and wars and then musicals making huge business at the box office, it just sounds prehistorical in a way.
Luke: It's true - this category just doesn't seem fitting considering the changing times.
Jose: So OK, what did you think of the category as a whole?
Luke: I'm going to go against the grain - since I fear I'm generally over-positive about, well, everything - but I really didn't like this line-up!
Andrew: It's a mixed bag for me, it's diverse...and no one's really BAD but I still don't like it.
Jose: Really? I actually think it's a banner year for actors.
Luke: Oooo... I sense a heated convo coming.
Jose: why don't you like it?
Luke: I guess my feelings on the five range from acceptable to dislike. It definitely doesn't scream "best" to me I guess...
Andrew: I'm in the middle then, I guess. I think the group is fine and a good judge of the year...but I don't think that the year was that good to begin with.
Jose: but then again all of the actors arguably were at their pinnacle; Sellers never was as brilliant after that and even Harrison used his limited vocal range to deliver his most legendary performance
Luke: You know, I don't think has anything to do with the actors for me. I'm a fan of most of these gents in other scenarios... perhaps its the lackluster movies that didn't hook me.
Andrew: Ummm, well yeah Sellers hasn't been as good since, and same goes for Harisson. But I don't think that either of them are excellent actors.
Luke: The trouble for me is that of the five, Peter O'Toole is the only one I have a real attachment to I guess (which I know contradicts what I just said...)
Jose: but that's what makes it so good, we have three of the greatest actors in history going against two so so actors who gave the unexpectedly good performances AMPAS loves so much.
Luke: Uh-oh... which ones are you referring to as "three of the greatest actors?"
Andrew: It's weird, (I may be rushing here) but I find O'Toole and Burton to be two of the three best here...but yet they've been eons better than they were here.
Jose: O'Toole, Burton and Quinn
Luke: I'm sensing I'm going to step on some toes when we start talking about Mr. Burton...
Andrew: Those toes may be mine...
Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Andrew: Honestly, I'm no fan of Dr. Strangelove...is that like a blasphemous statement or something?
Jose: how come? It's perhaps the funniest movie ever made.
Luke: On first viewing, which was a forced one by my father who loves it, I didn't understand the appeal whatsoever. But on repeat viewing I drew more from it.
Andrew: I always feel really guity about not liking it. I understand what's nice about it...and why is would be funny...but nope. Nothing. I don't hate it, it's obviously a good movie. And Sellers REALLY impressed me playing the President.
Luke: I think it's good enough. But in this case, I honestly like George C. Scott better than Sellers. Is that crazy?
Jose: Haha I guess there's no crazy in this case, I love Sellers playing the British officer.
Luke: So I'm getting the sense that we either admire or love Sellers' performance? Or maybe even admire isn't the right word...
Andrew: Maybe respect is a better word...
Luke: There you go!
Andrew: I've never been hot for Sellers though...
Jose: perhaps his performance was too weird for Oscar? I mean they were impressed by the gimmick but perhaps didn't know what to do with him.
Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton in Becket
Andrew: I could write a thesis on Becket...those are two of MY FAVOURITE ACTORS: I always remember Burton for being a ham, and O'Toole for being subtle...but in Becket we have it inverted. Burton goes subtle and Peter plays the ham...and it's a little weird. The film works best in the first hour when they were young.
Jose: I had trouble deciding who was better. I kept deciding that O'Toole was supporting and go with Burton, but then O'Toole would impress me and I was so confused.
Andrew: I give the edge to Burton because he makes those maddening soliloquies work (I admit they got insufferable sometimes).
Luke: Brace yourselves - I thought Becket was insufferable!
Luke: It just dragged on and on and I couldn't stand their chemistry - it was so overwrought and drove me batty.
Andrew: You're making me laugh, even if I am offended.
Luke: Though I generally love Peter O'Toole, Richard Burton does nothing for me outside of Who's Afraid. I know, I'm loathsome.
Andrew: Burton doubter? I object.
Jose: I don't like the movie either, I think they're fantastic but the movie is too damn theatrical (like A Man for all Seasons)
Luke: Thank you! That's an excellent comparison!
Andrew: Yikes, I like A Man For All Seasons...
Jose: but then I do love The Lion in Winter.
Luke: We're such selective melodramaphiles, apparently. It's hard for me to be impressed with these types of historical dramas I guess... so many of them seem so identical, and it's tough to see anything fresh and unique I guess.
Andrew: But The Lion in Winter is good because it doesn't take anything seriously...I like Becket (as I've admitted) but I like it all the while I notice the faults. Like how the hell was Geiguld nominated for an Oscar? WHAT THE HELL DID HE DO?
Jose: be John Gielgud I guess, all these theatrical adaptations got the weirdest nominations come Oscar time, like Gladys Cooper in My Fair Lady.
Luke: Ha - yes what the hell is up with the Cooper incident?
Andrew: But as least Cooper was a bit fun if My Fair Lady...
Jose: respected actor does a bit part in an important theatrical adaptation=instant Oscar nomination.
Luke: Bottom line - Richard Burton reminds me of Liberace in every movie of his that I see... and I can't get on board with that degree of kitsch...
Anthony Quinn in Zorba the Greek.
Andrew: Quinn is in the top three with the Becket boys.
Luke: Quinn has never been so great in my book (maybe I haven't seen the right performance), but I thought his Zorba was at least acceptable.
Jose: I heard in his biography once that losing that Oscar was a huge blow for him. I mean he already had two but he really wanted a Lead Actor statuette like Michael Caine.
Andrew: What the hell? Who cares? Leading, supporting? It's a freakin' Oscar.
Luke: True that. So what do we think of Quinn's performance then?
Jose: I think it's good and iconic like a male version of Auntie Mame.
Andrew: I think he's good...as I said he's in my top three...but I don't like his performance as it comes down to the end. I will give it that - the iconic thing can play a big part in retrospect. (Good comparison there.)
Luke: Hmmm... Unfortunately I have sort of little to say about this one - the movie didn't really resonate in any way for me. Maybe I was in a sour mood or something, but it all seemed very "meh."
Jose: The movie might be a bit too cliché in its representation of non-Westerners being barbaric.
Andrew: Like after he comes back and is all angry at Alan Bates, etc I just get bored with the film and his performance. But Quinn does a great job underplaying all the chauvinist and racist clichés
Jose: yes, I think Bates was an accessory, a cardboard cutout could've played his part, they just needed a British guy to make Zorba work.
Andrew: I'm not sure I prefer Kedrova to Irene Papas. Am I wrong on that too?
Jose: I guess both could've been nominated although I do prefer Kedrova, she was heartbreaking.
Luke: She was probably the best part of the film for me.
Andrew: The women were the best part.
Jose: I think that might have a bit to do with our last man. Have you noticed how the category is very male centric?
I mean, other than the Rex Harrison flick, most of the other movies barely have women.
Andrew: And in addition, all the men don't like women (or enough to marry them, and love them).
Luke: Or they just don't like women.
Jose: even Kedrova and Papas are just "used" to move the men's stories forward. Feminists must hate this year.
Andrew: Can I just cut in to ask though, as good as I think Burton is in Becket, he should have been nominated (and won) for Night of the Iguana. And that was ALL about the women...
Jose: I think in this case he should've won because of how good he was in Iguana.
Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady
Luke: I have to say - though his speak-singing is pretty ridiculous (and the fact that no one seems to be using their own singing voice for anything here), at least he played the part to a tee. Even though the part itself is troublesome...
Jose: but is that really the actor's fault? Remember how insane Jack Warner was.
Luke: No, it's not his fault. It just makes it more difficult to like his performance. It's pretty one-dimensional.
Andrew: ...that's not why I don't like the performance...at least not only...
Reading the play (which I did first) you get the sense of a cad who's still charming. A bit like Jude Law in The Talented Mr. Ripley or Errol Flynn in...anything.
Jose: or Leslie Howard in Pygmalion even?
Andrew: oooh, yes. Duh.
Luke: Wait - Leslie Howard is charming in something?
Jose: well no, but he's more charming than Rex. I find him too passive in everything.
Luke: Sorry - I can't think of him as anything else other than wilting flower Ashley Wilkes.
Jose: but Andrew, straying from the play doesn't have to be bad...I like what Rex brought to Higgins actually.
Andrew: It's just all so lazy with Rex, at the beginning I want to slap him and at the end I want to slap him. No development. When he sings "I've Grown Accustomed..." It's so unreal I feel the urge to just fast forward.
Jose: he's detestable but Audrey's performance is so good that we believe she sees something in him that we probably never will.
Luke: It's true. His change of heart doesn't really make sense. I don't know if that's the fault of his performance or the director. But Audrey is fantastic.
Andrew: Audrey's okay, I guess. I don't know. I find her to be so bland really...good...but bland.
Jose: why do you think he won then?
Andrew: Well isn't it obvious? BIG musical, split votes with Burton/O'Toole; Quinn has two Oscars and Sellers was just too avant garde. And George Cukor is just so goddamn fun, how can you vote against his actors? (unless they're Katharine Hepburn, and Cary Grant).
Luke: Was it a campaigning thing?
Jose: Audrey wasn't even nominated!
Luke: One of the bizarre snubs of Oscar history...
Jose: I think that he got a career Oscar for playing "against type" or "against genre" in this case, [about Audrey] it's not so bizarre, AMPAS loves its vendettas.
Luke: Ha - but just the fact that they drooled all over My Fair Lady and its centerpiece was ignored.
Jose: because of the Julie situation, again damn studio system!
Luke: Ah yes... don't mess with Julie.
Andrew: I know we're veering off, but who'd you boot off to include Audrey? Sophia Loren, Debbie Reynolds, Julie and Anne are all good to me.
Luke: Weeeeeeell.... I haven't seen enough of the nominees to make an informed decision I suppose.
Jose: omg Debbie Reynolds! That movie is so dull.
Andrew: Really? I remember it fondly, but I saw that a long time ago.
Jose: so who do we think should've won the Oscar that year?
Andrew: 1964 is just a dull year.
Jose: Let's try to be as objective as we can haha.
Luke: Yeah, I'm finding that as well.
Andrew: Dull, dull, dull and yet they didn't nominate the men who deserved to be there...
Luke: Out of these nominees, who should've won?
Jose: I'm gonna say Richard Burton
Andrew: I say Burton, Burton and Burton again.
Luke: Well....I'm going to go with Sellers.
Jose: How would we rank the performances?
Andrew: Ranking them it would be Burton (B+), O'Toole and Quinn (B), Sellers (B/, Harrison (C/C+)
Jose: 1) Burton A- 2) Sellers A- 3)O'Toole B+ 4)Quinn B 5)Harrison B-
Luke: Sellers - B ... Harrison - B- ... Quinn - B- ... O'Toole - C ... Burton - C-/D+ ...
Andrew: Okay, who should have been nominated...? I have a few.
Jose: I'm gonna be insane and say Dick van Dyke [for Mary Poppins]
Andrew: I agree!
Jose: also Mastroianni [for Marriage Italian Style], considering they went ahead and included Sophia and also Burton for the other movie.
Andrew: Dick Van Dyke, Burton in Night of the Iguana, Mastrioianni definitely...
Luke: Well I've got nothing - I'm just a fusspot with nothing to back it up or replace it with. I'm just assuming there had to be SOMETHING better that year. How about Cary Grant in Father Goose?
Andrew: Well, there were better choices I guess...
Jose: I'm also gonna go on a crazy limb here and say Nino Castelnuovo for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, now that's a musical performance Rex Harrison!
Andrew: I never saw that, never even heard of it to be honest.
Jose: it's one of the greatest musicals ever made!
Jose: so any final thoughts?
Luke: "Underwhelmed and underwhelmed," said The New York Times.
Andrew: Not so much underwhelmed, I guess, as a bit disappointed...bored...
Luke: Call me when 1964 is over....
What do you think of this Oscar race? Any favorites? Have you seen the performances? anyone you'd loved to have seen win?