“The balls roll funny for everybody, kiddo.” – Eddie Felsen (Paul Newman) “The Color Money”
“The balls roll funny for everybody, kiddo.” – Eddie Felsen (Paul Newman) “The Color Money”
I intended on making a list of Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress (I did start with Supporting Actor). But I thought it would be better to lump them all into one solid and concrete list. I’m sure there is going to be much disagreement. So, let me know what you guys think.
25. – Richard Gere as Billy Flynn in “Chicago”
I honestly think Gere gets a bad rap – he’s an extremely talented actor who began the second act of his career with “Chicago”. They found the most unbelievable actor to sing and dance – and he knocked it out of the park. Gere supports this film on his shoulders and completely holds it together. His performances in this film paved the way for his roles in “The Hoax”, “I’m Not There”, and “Brooklyn’s Finest”. And what’s with “rom-coms”? Can people stop fucking saying that? It’s so annoying.
24. – Anne Hathaway as Kym in “Rachel Getting Married”
I didn’t see this film until about a couple of months ago. I don’t know why I strayed away from it for so long. I’ve always had this love for Jonathan Demme (even though I think “Silence of the Lambs” is grossly overrated and “Manhunter” is a far superior film). The way Hathaway breaks out of her typecast and breaks our hearts is wonderfully painful to watch. A quick note: I love the movie a lot, but the part I find most distracting (no, it’s not the wedding montage, I liked that part) is the actor who plays the best man of the wedding is like this shitty hybrid of George Clooney and Kevin Spacey. Weird.
23. – Ray Liotta as Henry Oak in “Narc”
Ray Liotta has made a whirlwind of shit. He’s always enjoyable for me, even if he is walking through his role in “Wild Hogs”. I can’t help but always be captivated by him, I think he’s an incredible actor and has this way of commanding your attention. His performance in “Narc” is just fantastic. He plays the clichéd rage induced cop who’s seeking the killer of his partner. Liotta gained about 40 pounds for his role – and what adds to the gaining of weight, is the realism of the flashback sequences where Liotta’s character appears fit and trim. If you haven’t seen this film, do so soon.
22. – Robert Downey, Jr. as Paul Avery in “Zodiac”
This seems like an easy sell, Downey, Jr. playing an alcoholic, drug addicted and charming beat reporter. But this was really the first role that he got to sink his teeth into since he’s troubled past. With his past experience with drugs and alcohol I feel as if Downey, Jr. could really play this character that spirals out of control to full authenticity.
21. – Mickey Rourke as Randy the Ram in “The Wrestler”
This is one of the best performances I have ever seen. What keeps this from getting higher on my list is the fact that I’m not sure how much actual “acting” Rourke does. I think he took elements of his personal life and mimicked them to Randy the Ram’s life. I know some people disagree, but I think that Penn’s winning his second Oscar for “Milk” was the correct performance to reward. Without “The Wrestler” Rourke would have fallen back to Eric Roberts land.
20. – Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb in “Requiem for a Dream”
The fact that Burstyn lost to Julia Roberts makes me sick. I like Julia Roberts, she’s cute, funny, and has an amazing sparkle in her eye. That being said: she’s not an Oscar winning actress (although more so than Bullock or Berry). Ellen Burstyn gives the performance of her career in this film. This film may be the roughy of all roughies – and due to her performance this film will stay in my mind forever.
19. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Jack Slavin in “The Ballad of Jack and Rose”
Day-Lewis gives a remarkable performance in his most flawed film. He balances inner rage and compassionate love for his daughter Rose. You find yourself loathing his character due to his selfishness and incest riddled relationship with his daughter – yet you find it in your heart to forgive him, and to understand his true love for Rose.
18. – Paul Newman as Jack Rooney in “Road to Perdition”
Newman should have won a Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in this film. I felt that Cooper winning was his make-up Oscar for not even being nominated for “American Beauty”. I feel that Newman gives one of his most subtle performances in this film. He’s the loving father figure to Tom Hanks, but has to chose between his own son (Daniel Craig) and Tom Hanks. One of the most heartbreaking scenes ever filmed is when Tom Hanks finally catches up with Newman.
17. – Daniel Craig as James Bond in “Casino Royal”
This is how you reboot a franchise! I am a James Bond super freak and I own them all. I’ve had a liking for each individual Bond (even George Lazenby). I’ve felt that the producers have always gotten it right for 007. I remember being pissed when they signed Craig, I was a strong supporter of Clive Owen (who I still think would have been a great Bond – check out ANY BMW Films add on Youtube and you’ll see my point). Daniel Craig gives us the perfect James Bond. He’s a stone cold killer. The way James Bond should be.
16. – Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho”
I want to be Patrick Bateman (well…not the homicidal serial killer part). But deep down inside, don’t we all have an element of ourselves that is Patrick Bateman? Don’t we all from time to time get filled with disgust and greed? Or is it just me?
15. – Cate Blanchett as Sheba Hart in “Notes of a Scandal”
Blanchett is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, and she’s one of the greatest ACTORS ever. She’s just remarkable in everything she’s in (well…maybe not that last Indiana Jones movie). As Sheba Hart she engages into an inappropriate relationship with a 14 year old student of hers, which is both erotic and haunting. What she’s doing is wrong, but what gets done to her by Judi Dench is ten times worse.
14. – Alec Baldwin as Juan Tripp in “The Aviator”
Baldwin is remarkable in the way he’s rebuilt his career over the past decade. The guy went from being a tabloids wet dream. His personal life took a tremendous toll on his profession career, but with an Oscar nominated turn in “The Cooler” it spring boarded him into working with Scorsese, Robert DeNiro and his staple, “30 Rock”. As Juan Tripp he’s one of the most menacing corporate villains, standing second only to Gordon Gekko.
13. – Sean Penn as Paul Rivers in “21 Grams”
This is one of the most heartbreaking performances ever. How he won for “Mystic River” over “21 Grams” is bullshit. Probably because it was a Clint Eastwood film.
12. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill “the Butcher” Cutting in “Gangs of New York”.
Day-Lewis single handily saves this film from the utter nightmare it could have been. If he wasn’t in this film to counteract the terrible performance of Cameron Diaz and the miscasting of the decade of Leonardo DiCaprio – this film would have been a sheer train wreck of a great director’s most personal project. How he lost to Adrian Brody for “The Pianist”, I’ll never understand.
11. – Ted Levine as The Warden in “Shutter Island”
Levine was only in three scenes in this film. He had only one scene that last about ten minutes with dialogue. This is the perfect example of less is more; by showing us everything about this character without telling us one thing about him. Levine is absolutely jaw dropping in this role. He shows us what a great, great actor he really is. This film should pave the way for meatier roles on the horizon for Levine.
10. – David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow in “Good Night, Good Luck”
I think there is always hesitation when an actor takes on the role of an icon like Murrow. David Strathairn has always been one of my favorite character actors – from his roles in “Eight Men Out”, “The River Wild” and “LA Confidential”. In “Good Night, Good Luck” he finally becomes the leading man that he deserves to be. He’s absolutely amazing as Murrow and gives the performance of his career.
9. – Heath Ledger as The Joker in “The Dark Knight” and Enis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain”
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about his performance as the Joker. I guess the SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar said all that there could be said. And for “Brokeback”, he was overshadowed by PSH for “Capote”. What a shame, a real shame. It’s hard for me to pick which performance of his is better? Sometimes I lean towards The Joker, and other times I lean towards Enis. Face it, they’re both perfect.
8 ½. – Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido Contini in “Nine”
Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor I have ever seen. I will challenge anyone who claims that someone is better. Sure, you can throw around Bogart or Brando or DeNiro. But I will stack his performance in “My Left Foot” and “There Will Be Blood” against any Brando or DeNiro performance. In “Nine” Day-Lewis talks with a genuine Italian accent, and sings (though he’s no Dean Martin) in an Italian accent. He is brilliant in this film, just fucking brilliant.
8. – TIE: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep in “Doubt”
This is truly a team effort. The entire film is a battle of showmanship between Streep and Hoffman. The way they fight each other is as epic as Luke Skywalker battling Darth Vader. The display of their acting craft is monumental, and will bring anyone to their knees. Watch this if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s amazing to watch.
7. – George Clooney as Bob Barnes in “Syrianna”
Clooney completely broke his typecast in this role – more like fucking shattered it. He became an artist that year, actor, producer, director and writer. He’s a marvelous talent. This film is truly an ensemble piece that doesn’t have a lead actor – oil is the main focus and character of the film. But George Clooney brings the house down in his final scene. It floods me with overwhelming emotion every single time I see it.
6. – William Hurt as Richie Cussak in “A History of Violence”
This is the biggest example of less is more. The little screen time that Hurt is given, he uses it to the extreme. He’s absolutely unbelievable, and I think his character is much like that of Col. Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now”, he’s the final trial of the main character’s journey to return home to his family. His performance is burned into my brain. There are very few actors with raw talent like William Hurt.
5. – TIE: Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa in “Inglorious Basterds” and Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men”
This is much like Ledger’s role in “The Dark Knight”. There’s nothing more I can say about their PERFECT performance. There is a reason both of them swept critics awards, won the SAG, Golden Globes, BAFTA and Oscar. This was their major introduction to American audiences. That’s one helluva break through! To be honest, I do have to give the edge to Waltz. He’s amazing.
4. – Julianne Moore as Charlie in “A Single Man” and for Cathy Whitaker in “Far From Heaven”
Academy, please give her an Oscar already! I don’t care if it’s for a lifetime achievement award! Just someone, do something! She’s absolutely brilliant. ‘Nough said!
3. – Colin Firth as George in “A Single Man”.
Colin Firth gave a performance like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I’ve never see a performance that is so…empty. He’s unbelievably touching and gives a beautiful performance that brings me to my knees each time I see it. We need to see more Colin Firth. Now.
2. – Jeff Bridges as Ted Cole in “The Door in the Floor”
This is hands down Jeff Bridges finest performance. If you ever want to see an excellent, perfect, mind boggling performance, try and seek out Tod Williams’ “The Door in the Floor”. Bridges is heartbreaking, just plain heartbreaking. Ted Cole will stay in your heart forever.
1. – Daniel Day Lewis as Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood”
This is the biggest tour-de-force performance ever on screen.
“The Color of Money” – 1986. Dir. Martin Scorsese. With Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and John Tuturro.
“You gotta have two things to win. You gotta have brains and you gotta have balls. Now, you got too much of one and not enough of the other.”
This film catches up with Fast Eddie Felson twenty-five years since we last saw him in “The Hustler”. Now Fast Eddie is older, wiser and a liquor salesman. He’s no longer a pool player, but he’s still a hustler. The film opens with a great narration by director Martin Scorsese explaining the rules of nine ball and how luck is an art form to some people.
Eddie Felson is still smooth, fast talking and cooler than shit. He may be older, but Newman had aged so well, I’d even have slept with him. This time around Eddie meets Vincent, a young, fast talking, charismatically egotistical young pool hustler. He is a mirrored image of Eddie thirty years ago.
Eddie than gets to know Vincent, and his domineering girlfriend Carmen, and the three of them embark to Atlantic City to enter into the country’s biggest billiard tournament. Along the way, they hustle and get to know one another. Newman takes on the role of George C. Scott from the first film; he takes on the role of the mentor to Cruise. He tries to break Vince’s ego, and tries to get him to hone his skills.
Newman is excellent (that goes without saying) – but Cruise gives one of his top five performances of his career as the young and cocky pool shark. Mastrantonio gives a decent performance (although I’ve never been much of a fan of hers) and Helen Shaver who plays Eddie’s girlfriend is terrible.
I know you’ll tire of me stating this, but “The Color of Money” wasn’t a personal project for Scorsese – but – the entire film feels like a vintage Scorsese film. His use of popular music is impeccable, he uses Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Robert Palmer and in one of my all time favorite Scorsese scenes ever, “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon.
Scorsese is a master at brilliantly executing his shots. Once the three of them reach Atlantic City and they enter the pool hall, there is an amazing shot of the three of them standing in profile. Newman and Cruise play off of each other so well; it’s a shame that they never made another film with each other.
I’ve said for a long time that Newman winning his long overdue Oscar for “The Color of Money” was a make-up Oscar. It is and it isn’t. Bob Hoskins should have won that year for Neil Jordan’s “Mona Lisa” – but Newman is pretty fucking great in his second turn as Eddie Felson. The film comes down to an epic show down between Vincent and Eddie – and it’s wonderful to watch. Paul Newman is the man.
The authenticity is what makes the film flow incredibly well. All of the shots of Newman and Cruise playing pool are actually them making the shots. There’s not fancy camera editing and cuts to trick us into believing that Newman and Cruise are making these shots, they actually are.
I found myself wondering why George C. Scott or Jackie Gleason’s characters weren’t mentioned, or even had cameos. I think the answer to that is that Eddie left that life, and doesn’t refer back to it ever – until he meets Vincent. What I really enjoy about “The Color of Money” is that the film exists on its own terms. It doesn’t rely, or even need “The Hustler” to exists. One quick note – Jake LaMotta was in the first film, “The Hustler”, and LaMotta was the center of Scorsese’s so-called masterpiece “Raging Bull”. So maybe this film is a little more personal than I thought?