movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

2005 HUMBY'S: actor

This was a great year for lead actors, so it was really difficult to narrow it down to just ten. Unfortunately I couldn’t include great performances like Cillian Murphy (BREAKFAST ON PLUTO), Ralph Finnes (CONSTANT GARDNER), Christian Bale (THE MACHINIST & BATMAN BEGINS), Robert Downey Jr. (KISS KISS BANG BANG), Bill Murray (BROKEN FLOWERS) and many others. But I did narrow it down to my ten favorites… and here they are…

10. Jeff Daniels – THE SQUID AND THE WHALE

Jeff Daniels has had a very successful career, but has never really been recognized for his ability. That is, until he got a hold of this great role and totally owned it. He plays a terrible father, a pompous prick and someone you just pity while watch him. You can’t help but love watching him strut through his life, grasping onto his past glory as a mediocre writer. He uses phrases like “It’s an elegant house”… “The fillet of the neighborhood.” He talks like he writes, but no one actually talks. He just pulls it off and makes you believe this larger than life character.

9. Bruno Ganz – DOWNFALL

Bruno Ganz has the difficult task of portraying one of the most hated men in the history of the world as the lead of the film. As Adolph Hitler, Ganz captures more than just a monster. He presents Hitler as a man. That might not sound like much, but Hitler is considered simply a monster and evil incarnate. To convincingly portray this man as a fully developed person is such a great accomplishment. I got to the point where I not only could understand him, but also feel for what he was going through. That might seem silly to say that I could empathize with Hitler, but that is just a testament to the power of Bruno Ganz.

8. David Strathairn – GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK

As Edward R. Murrow, Strathairn has to play a legend of broadcasting. Not only is he playing a real man, he is playing a man that the entire world watched every week on television. He maintains realism, but the performance is not simply an imitation. He makes it his own. You can feel the weight of the world on his shoulders. The responsibility that Murrow felt to tell the truth and stand up against injustice can be seen in every frame of this film. This is an important film and an amazing and understated performance from a great character actor.

7. Joaquin Phoenix – WALK THE LINE

Just the fact that Joaquin’s portrayal of Johnny Cash is number 7 on my list is a testament to the caliber of performances this year. Phoenix is simply amazing in this film. He not only captures a great singer/song writer, but he plays the guitar and sings all of the songs in the movie. I have talked a lot about Joaquin in several blogs so I won’t say anymore. He is great.

6. Russell Crowe – CINDERELLA MAN

James J. Braddock is what Seabiscuit wanted to be… This is a great character and a model human being. Crowe delivers one of his very best performances in this film. This is not a movie about a boxer, but a movie about a man fighting for his family. He would do and does every and anything for the wellbeing of his wife and children. He trained for a year to pull off the physicality of the role and you never doubt that he could hold his own in the ring. The performance is so much more than that. It is all about what is not said and how he handles himself outside of the ring. He is such a strong man, great father and husband. This is a powerhouse of a performance and a study in reacting and non-verbal acting.

5. Eric Bana – MUNICH

Avner is such a tough and complex character that travels an amazing arc throughout this film. This is not just a film about revenge. It is about the effect on countries and on people involved. What does it do to a man to become an assassin? How does that responsibility weigh on one’s conscious? This is difficult to get across because so much of it can’t be verbalized. Bana begins this journey of vengeance sure of his actions and loyal to his country above all else. This makes him appear stoic and maybe a little dull at times. As the mission goes on and doubts rise to the surface, Avner begins to lose that faith and assurance. This is when the performance really takes hold and you take notice. He is great throughout, but shines in the last 45 minutes of this film. Avner is a good man put in a really difficult situation.

4. Terrence Howard – HUSTLE AND FLOW

“It’s hard out here for a pimp!” There is so much more to Howard’s portrayal of D Jay than that line from the song. He is a man with a dream… a dream of becoming more than he is. He has a passion. Because of the realism and passion that comes out in his performance, we get to know D Jay and we really care about him. We root for him. When it looks like things are slipping away, it breaks our heart. This is a great movie and the thing above all else that makes it work is Terrence Howard. This is an amazing year for him. I believe that he will have an amazing future and this work will stand as a shining moment in a great career.

3. Tony Leung – 2046

I first got to meet “Chow Mu-wan” back when I saw the wonderful and heart-breaking IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE. Now, this year, we follow his journey in the amazing 2046. Leung plays a damaged man… a man who finds true love and then loses it. This destroys him as a person and 2046 is his journey. As a result of his pain, he is incapable of finding love and leaves a wake of pain with everyone he comes in contact with. He is (on the surface) and ass and emotionally abusive to women, but since you know him, you understand exactly why he is that way. You want him to get better, but you know that he will never be able to unless he lets the past go. Leung is pitch perfect as Chow. He captures the pain, the longing, and the torture that he goes through. He becomes like a good friend that you want to stay with until he is okay again. You just don’t know if that is going to happen.


Heath surprised me like I wish every movie could. I had no idea he could come anywhere near this level of acting. This is a performance filled with many little moments. When you put all of these little moments together you get the portrait of a man. Ennis Del Mar is not a man of many words. Okay… he really almost never speaks and when he does, he almost never shows all of the emotion that is just underneath the surface. We understand all of this emotion though through facial gestures, body movements, the way he breathes, a look, and what he can never say. Fear dictates his life and this is evident in everything he does and hides from. This is an amazing portrayal of a tortured man who knows what he wants, but fear keeps him from every fully attaining the love that he deserves.


Hoffman is one of the best actors around and through his best performance (so far) he is finally getting the recognition that he deserves. He transforms himself in every possible way to BECOME Truman Capote. Capote is one of the most colorful characters of the year. Flamboyant… Extremely intelligent… Enormously talented… Morally ambiguous… Viscously manipulative… and the toast of the town. He is not a good man, but you can’t not look and pay attention to him. He puts his book and his self-proclaimed genius above everyone around him. A fascinating character and in the hands of anyone else he would become a caricature. In the hands of Hoffman, he becomes real. I forgot that it was Hoffman and felt like I was watching a documentary. This is an incredible portrayal of a fascinating man and stands as the best performance in a year of phenomenal performances.


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