Davis, de Havilland, Flynn, Cagney, Bogart ...

Davis, de Havilland, Flynn, Cagney, Bogart ...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Overlooked at the Oscars -- Part Two

"Geez, I lost?  Waddya mean?  I was workin' with ya here!"

*This article contains plot spoilers*

When I settled in to watch the 1996 Oscars, I just knew for sure that William H. Macy would win Best Supporting Actor for Fargo. With all the truly fine performances in that movie (including a well-deserved Best Actress award for Frances McDormand), Macy practically carries the show as the ultimate weasel, Jerry Lundegard -- a character who at first seems like a pathetic clown, someone to laugh at and pity.  However, as the story evolves, Macy makes us shiver as he creates the true character of Jerry -- a greedy loser who can't even embezzle money successfully, a cruelly indifferent husband and father who puts his sweet, dimwitted wife in mortal danger and never even thinks of the effect his actions will have on his young son.  Watching Macy's face carefully, the viewer can see that in every scene, every situation, Jerry's eyes are as dead as any killer-for-hire, not the eyes of a normal person.  Jerry, the passive-aggressive criminal, eventually wreaks murderous havoc on every person he involves in his scheme.  And yet, he still makes us snicker and snort throughout -- until his last scene, when we begin to laugh, then stare in shock at Macy's acting chops with Jerry's reaction to the punishment for what he has done.  To my mind, it was the best performance of the year.

So what happened?  "And the Oscar goes to....Cuba Gooding, Jr. for Jerry Maguire."  What?!!  You've got to be kidding...  Now I know Jerry Maguire was a very popular movie, and Gooding was, well, good.  Not great, but good.  His performance paled against Macy's primo portrayal of a difficult character to play.  I remember thinking that Gooding was new and popular that year, and so often that affects votes during Oscar time.  So, in my opinion, a good performance was lauded over a great one.

Last month's movie for Overlooked at the Oscars post, White Heat, was an easy one in which to highlight one scene of  fantastic acting.  Fargo doesn't really offer that -- it's a totality of performance that shows it.  However, I chose a favorite scene in which Macy runs most of the gamut of Jerry's character, all the time with those eyes that remain dead and expressionless, no matter what the face is doing.







My next installment in "Overlooked at the Oscars" will be a little different -- about a great film artist whose entire body of work was Oscar-snubbed!

23 comments:

  1. Becky, William Macy is such a good actor, but he gets overlooked, I think, because he is not showy - just real. I am not a huge fan of "Fargo," but I agree that he was one of the best things about the film. As for Cuba Gooding - really now - anything would have been preferable. Can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve for your next entry!

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    1. I think you are right, Chick. Macy is one of those actors who blends in with the character so well you almost forget he's acting. Robert Duvall was always like that. Now he is always recognizable, but for so much of his career he was a blender too! That's great acting! I think you'll like what I'm hiding in my sleeve for next time!

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  2. Becky,
    I couldn't agree more on Macy getting jipped for his performance in "Fargo". Shoot, even Buscemi's performance was better than Gooding's. And notice what Gooding has been appearing in since then where as Buscemi and Macy have gone on to give us brilliant performances consistently. Karma! ha ha

    On a side note: I became a big fan of Frances McDormand after "Fargo" I just recently saw the Golden Globe nominated film "Moonrise Kingdom" which she was in. Loved that film!

    I had forgotten all about this year until now so thanks for the reminder. I'll be looking forward to your next installment and bring my opinion, of course. : )

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    1. Now that you mention it, what DID happen to Gooding? Maybe I just missed something, but I have not seen him in ages.

      I love McDormand too. She is just wonderful in everything.

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    2. Gooding was in a couple of good films after his Oscar win as Rich mentions below but keep in mind his other films, Snow Dogs, Boat Trip (A dog with flees) Norbit (Stands on it's own as the worst of the worst) then Daddy Day Camp. Grrr

      I don't want to disparage Gooding here because I do like him and I thought he was funny in As Good As it Gets.

      Keeping good thoughts that he will find a good role, that Hollywood hasn't cast him aside as they did Halle Berry. Holy Tinsel! I sat through her recent film, Deep Tide a few weeks ago and her co-star was that loser lover of hers, Olivier Martinez. What a painstaking hour or so that was. When you're an Oscar winner you really should turn that crap down.

      That's my two cents, for now anyway. ha ha
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  3. Post-Jerry Maguire, he was in As Good As It Gets, Men of Honor and American Gangster, but he was also in a whole lotta mediocre comedies, soggy action films, and embarrassing wanna-be Oscar-bait. That said, however, I watched Maguire again recently and if you look past the mugging and the 'show me the money' antics, he is very good in that movie. Great chemistry with Regina King.

    But yeah, WHM was way better in Fargo. Did you see him in The Sessions?

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    1. Rich, I do remember him in As Good A It Gets, and he was very good in that. Love that movie! I didn't see the others you mentioned. It's been so long since I saw Jerry Maguire. I've never seen Macy in The Sessions. Is that a newer movie?

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  4. Becky, Poor Cuba Gooding, Jr., his name seems to surface whenever "How did that happen?" comes up in conversations about past Oscar wins. My two favorites for Best Supporting Actor that year were Wm. H. Macy and Edward Norton who broke out with "Primal Fear."

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    1. Oh, LE!
      Becks asked me who January Jones was in comments for my latest post of the film "The Girl". I did my best to explain but I did think of you so the rest is up to you. Go get her, girl. ha ha
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    2. Go Get Her, Girl? Boy you are ruthless! So I never watched Mad Men (right?)? Cant a girl not recognize a beautiful young actress (I saw her pic from Eve on your blog, Page.)

      Eve, Edward Norton also did a good job that year. Interesting movie!

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  5. Please do a post on Jean Vigo, Yasjirou Ozu and Val Lewton being overlooked by the Oscars, please. They made major contributions to cinema but they were snubbed. What the heck, Hollywood!

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    1. Matt, I am a huge Val Lewton lover -- I'll have to look into that. I've never heard of the other 2, although perhaps I've seen them and didn't know the names. I'll look into that too! Thanks for the suggestions!

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  6. A few days ago I watched a William Macy, interview. I have not seen much of his work, but.. he really impressed me, he seems like one of the bad boys that you can not help but love. Now.. I will be looking for his performances.

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    1. He is such a fine actor, Dawn, and has been in many movies. Definitely worth checking out. Thanks for visiting!

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  7. Dawn,check out William H. Macy in two very different films Air Force One, and Pleasentville. As for Cubba the only good films are Radio, and Red Tails , every thing else has been dreck

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  8. Becky, you will get no disagreement from me. But then, there are often stunning surprises in the supporting performer categories. As much as I like Judi Dench, she was in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE for a couple of minutes and wins an Oscar. What's up with that?

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    1. That's a good example of Overlook at the Oscars, Rick. I had thought that Lynn Redgrave would win for Gods and Monsters. She was so wonderful in that. You are right on with Judi Dench -- being a legendary actress doesn't mean a few minutes earns you an award. But you are right -- Elizabeth Taylor won for Butterfield 8, a pretty lame movie, just because she had beens sick -- there are all kinds of examples of that!

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  9. I think it's time for Halle Berry to form a production company and control her own destiny. She is in danger of disappearing, same as several other Oscar winners of recent years. I'd hate to think it had anything to do with skin color. Oscar winning can be a kind of curse and I've always wondered why.

    I've always liked William H. Macy though he is usually a bit scary - those eyes! I am not a fan of FARGO, it's just not my kind of movie, but I have to say I've never seen Macy give a bad performance. He is the consummate professional. He deserves better from the Oscars.

    A note: I have a really hard time with Edward Norton's speaking voice. Eek.



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    1. You have a really good point, Yvette. Berry and Gooding both didn't soar in their careers after the Oscars, did they? But I don't think it has anything to do with color. One-hit wonders happen all the time, whether it's Hollywood or rock 'n roll. You're so right about Macy's eyes -- creepy, and especially so in this movie.

      I have to ask -- I really like Edward Norton, but I can see that his voice could be offputting ... What made you think of him? Maybe you are just doing stream-of-consciousness thinking -- happens to me all the time when I'm having a conversation!

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  10. William H. Macy is such a great actor as it his wife. FARGO is a great film but Macy never, and I mean never, gives a bad performance. He was superb in films like THE COOLER, DOOR TO DORE (TV Movie), EDMOND, PANIC, PLEASANTVILLE and so many others.

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  11. That is suppose to be DOOR TO DOOR!

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    1. Oh, I thought you meant from Door to Dore Schary ...LOL! I was so impressed by Macy in The Cooler, just marvelous. Do you know, I've never seen Edmond or Panic. Better update my to-watch list!

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  12. Macy does these deliciously smarmy, ethically squishy losers. I've seen him a number of movies and always smile when his name is in the titles.

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