Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
My Overall Thoughts:
This is a year where there was an early front runner from September who was eventually overtaken by two other performances that are completely transformative. The final two nominees are both fine, but there were better choices than the two of them in the wide field of great lead acting performances this year.
5. Willem Dafoe
4. Viggo Mortensen
3. Bradley Cooper
2. Christian Bale
1. Rami Malek
5. At Eternity’s Gate – Really boring film that is super slow and relies too heavily on existential themes instead of giving us an interesting story. Dafoe does a nice job with the role and I can understand how he could get accolades for his performance, but that doesn’t make this any easier of a film to watch because it’s incredibly slow and boring and doesn’t add anything to what I already knew about the life of this famed artist.
4. Vice – Bale is mesmerizingly creepy in the title role and gets totally lost in the role. The story works quite well in order to give us a clear picture of how things played out over the course of his rise to power. McKay’s approach to dumbing down the story for the viewer works a bit better here than it did in The Big Short (2016), but something still is missing that would have made this film even more engaging and enjoyable. Supporting cast work quite well in capturing some of the personalities of characters who are known to everyone due to their exposure in politics.
3. Green Book – Interesting premise that works much better than I had expected it to. I had envisioned a Driving Miss Daisy (1989) for the 21st Century, but they manage to give us some great characters who are developed quite well over the course of the film. Mortensen and Ali are both superb in this film and even though it is quite clear where the story is heading, it’s still quite a pleasure watching them take the journey to that place. The story does a wonderful job transporting us back the the early 1960’s and we get to see how racial relations were viewed both in the North and the South nearly a century after the Emancipation Act. Quite enjoyable, but not one of the very best films of the year.
2. Bohemian Rhapsody – Great biopic that gets more and more intense as things move along. They give us an amazing portrayal of the bombastic yet lonely life of a musician who just wants to make music. Malek is amazing in the lead role and does things so perfectly throughout. The way that they recreate the music of Queen along with the way that we get to see how the band’s popularity grew over the years is so enjoyable to watch. This is not a perfect movie but it comes quite close because of the feelings that it is able to create while watching this story unfold even if one knows what eventually happens. Definitely one of the best films of 2018 even if it isn’t the best.
1. A Star Is Born – Excellent version of the story that is even better than every other one put to film over the last 80 years. Cooper and Gaga are both superb in these roles and their onscreen chemistry is so enjoyable to watch because it seems so realistic. The music is amazing to listen to and both of the leads have great voices so that enhances the songs and the audiences feelings for everything going on here. There is so much hype about this film right now, and I have to agree that this film is superbly done from numerous perspectives. Cooper has made his vision a reality and this film is right now being seen by many as the film to beat at the various upcoming awards ceremonies including the Oscars. Supporting cast is also great and I loved seeing Clay in a role so very different from what we expect from him. Elliott gives one of his finest performances here too and I really hope he gets some recognition for his wok here when they start announcing nominations. Definitely one of the best films of the years so far and might very well stay on top.
Do I agree with the Oscar winner? – Most Definitely! Malik is superb in BR and despite the fact that CB also was able to transform himself physically for his role in Vice, Malik’s performance will always be remembered as a tribute to Mercury while Bale’s Cheney will also be seen as a parody.
Let me know what you think about these films and my rankings!