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The Great Performances: 2005

Posted by · 5:07 pm · December 18th, 2009

2005 was the year of Heath Ledger’s beautiful, moving performance in “Brokeback Mountain,” which I saw for the first time in Toronto.  It instantly became the talk of the festival, and the film became the one to beat for the Academy Award. Ledger was astonishing as the taciturn cowboy who is more surprised than anybody […]

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The Great Performances: 2004

Posted by · 6:35 pm · December 11th, 2009

In Alexander Payne’s “Sideways,” Paul Giamatti gave the best performance by an actor in 2004, so said the New York Film Critics Circle, and how right they were.  So why, why, why was the actor denied an Oscar nomination?  Granted, it was a strong year, but his work was at the top of that heap […]

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INTERVIEW: Bryce Dallas Howard

Posted by · 12:47 pm · December 9th, 2009

Bryce Dallas Howard dominated M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village” with a beautiful performance of intensity, ferocity, gentle sensitivity and vulnerability.  She made the audience fall almost instantly in love with her character, the blind, though all-seeing Ivy. With her flowing red locks, warm smile, and imposing gaze, the young actress appears to be to be […]

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INTERVIEW: Ben Foster

Posted by · 5:18 pm · December 8th, 2009

Ben Foster became an actor I knew I would watch for a long time during an episode of the now canceled TV drama “Boston Public.” Foster was cast as a high school student dying of cancer and had an extraordinary monologue about wanting a Christmas with no crying, with no tears; he wanted his last […]

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INTERVIEW: ‘Valentino: The Last Emperor’ director Matt Tyrnauer

Posted by · 12:30 pm · December 7th, 2009

For 17 years, Matt Tyrnauer worked for Vanity Fair writing up profiles of major artists and pop culture figures such as architect Frank Gehry, producer Robert Evans, writer Bret Easton Ellis, actor Greg Kinnear, designer Tommy Hilfiger, Martha Stewart (her post-prison cover story) and legendary designer Valentino Garavani. That final name has made an impact […]

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The Great Performances: 2003

Posted by · 9:14 am · December 4th, 2009

There is little doubt in my mind I am going to take some heat this week, so let’s kick it off right away with my belief that Sean Penn deserved his Best Actor Oscar for “Mystic River,” a performance of overwhelming ferocity and staggering emotional power. Yes, I too loved Bill Murray in “Lost in […]

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The Great Performances: 2002

Posted by · 9:45 am · November 27th, 2009

2002 was probably one of the greatest years for performance excellence in film history, from leading actor right through all the supporting players. They could have easily nominated 10 actors in each of the four acting categories, and still missed some. Though Adrien Brody won the Oscar for “The Pianist,” which was a huge shock, […]

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INTERVIEW: Willem Dafoe

Posted by · 7:30 am · November 23rd, 2009

I have thought about little else since seeing Lars Von Trier’s “Antichrist” at TIFF a few months ago.  The astonishing, beautiful images are in my head once a day, the performances have never strayed from my mind. At this writing I still do not know if I liked the film, but I do feel it […]

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The Great Performances: 2001

Posted by · 6:23 pm · November 20th, 2009

In one of the weakest years in memory, not just for performances but for great films, 2001 saw Denzel Washington and Halle Berry knock “two birds out with one stone,” as the former declared on Oscar night, as two African Americans won the top acting prizes for the first time ever.  And it was difficult […]

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The Great Performances: 2000

Posted by · 7:14 pm · November 13th, 2009

Michael Douglas was robbed. The already Oscar-christened actor gave a career-best performance in 2000 in Curtis Hanson’s “Wonder Boys,” but he got no love from the Academy. Worse, his performance was easily among the five best of the year and won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Actor prize. That having been said, I […]

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The Great Performances: 1999

Posted by · 9:18 pm · November 7th, 2009

1999 was a strange year.  And it’s hard to believe a full decade has slipped past since.  There were some great award-winning performances, to be sure, but there seemed to be just as many not nominated that certainly should have been. Ten years later, I remain stunned that Reese Witherspoon was not nominated for her […]

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The Great Performances: 1998

Posted by · 2:03 pm · October 30th, 2009

For all my bitching about Roberto Benigni winning Best Actor in 1998 for his incessant mugging in “Life is Beautiful,” I was also thrilled the Academy watched enough films and paid enough attention to realize that Edward Norton was deserving for his magnetic turn as a neo-Nazi who sees the light in “American History X.” […]

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The Great Performances: 1997

Posted by · 8:03 am · October 23rd, 2009

1997 was a great year for actors, but a tough year for Oscar; how do you choose when there are so many deserving nominees? It’s that age-old issue that some award-worthy performances are going to be left out, which though unfair and sad, is very much part of the Academy Awards and frankly what makes […]

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INTERVIEW: Michelle Monaghan

Posted by · 3:44 pm · October 22nd, 2009

Of all the actors I’ve spoken to over the years, I do not remember having such a great time as I did with Michelle Monaghan, currently on screens in “Trucker” and generating some awards chatter for her work. The actress is funny, honest, refreshingly frank and grateful for her career, unaffected by her fame, and […]

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The Great Performances: 1996

Posted by · 10:15 am · October 16th, 2009

1996 was an odd year, a year when the independent cinema dominated the weak product emerging out of Hollywood. I am going to confess right off the top of this article (as I have numerous times before) that I was not a fan of “The English Patient,” which for me remains one of the most […]

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The Great Performances: 1995

Posted by · 4:06 pm · October 10th, 2009

Based on some of the comments I received last week regarding my article on great acting, I took the suggestion of a young lady and am kicking off a series of articles, one per week, that will explore the best performances ofeach year, beginning today with 1995.  So let’s go back and work our way […]

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On acting

Posted by · 10:11 am · October 2nd, 2009

What constitutes a great performance?  What makes it something that puts it head and shoulders above the rest?  What does an artist do to go to that level of art and achieve something that is both extraordinary and rare? Does the Academy, or rather the branch that nominates the actors, look as closely at performance […]

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THE LISTS: Top 10 Robert Duvall performances

Posted by · 8:06 am · September 29th, 2009

With “Get Low” bringing actor Robert Duvall back to the spotlight, and Sony’s purchase of the film no doubt landing him in the Oscar race for Best Actor (whether released this year or next), I thought perhaps a look back at the legend’s substantial carer and best performances might be fun. Since his first brilliant […]

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