Month: March 2018

Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name (2017)

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Timothée Chalamet had a pretty good year in 2017, if you ask me. Besides appearing in 2 films nominated for Best Picture, he also received his first Best Actor nod for playing Elio in Call Me By Your Name, making him the youngest best actor nominee.

This is a performance that has gotten rave reviews throughout the awards season, with several people listing it as their personal winner in the Best Actor category. Having said all that, I have to confess something – I don’t exactly get the hype over this performance, or even the film in general. While I think CMBYN is truly a beautiful movie (both visually and emotionally), it didn’t hit me as hard as it did for some others. It’s certainly a film that I wouldn’t mind watching over and over again. It’s relaxing, it’s moving, and as mentioned earlier, it’s certainly beautiful. However, while I couldn’t find any glaring flaws with it, it didn’t get me feeling all excited over it either. Overall, I would say it very much deserved its nominations, but that’s about it.

Essentially, what I said above is pretty much my sentiments about Chamelet’s performance. I think what drew people to the role is Chamalet’s highly relatable portrayal of growing up. Chamelet gives a very tender and beautiful performance that never rings false. For me, the strength of his performances comes in the first half of the movie; he excellently portrays Elio’s insecurities and his fear of how Oliver thinks of him, and I really loved how he showed Elio tried to mask these feelings. I especially loved the piano scene, where he played variations of Bach (I think) in an attempt to impress Oliver, but came off looking pretentious and aloof instead. Haven’t we all gone through such a phase growing up, thinking that we are smarter than we actually are? I really admired how Chamelet portrayed the way Elio became surer and surer of his feelings towards Oliver. Chamalet depicts the confusion of falling in love excellently, especially in contrast with his purely sexual relationship with the other girl Marzia.

The chemistry between Chamalet and Armie Hammer is actually terrific, if you ask me. Admittedly, I found this an odd pairing choice, casting wise, but both actors sold the romance of the characters extremely well. The latter half of this performance involves Elio’s romance with Oliver. While this part isn’t as layered as the first half, it is still extremely heartwarming to see these 2 characters fall in love. I really liked how Chamalet still manages to slip in Elio’s insecurities occasionally.

While I also find the final crying scene heartbreaking, I have to admit that I was too affected by the positive reviews of this performance to be affected by it personally. I am in no way suggesting that this is a mediocre or bad performance – and objectively, as seen by what I’ve written above, I do think it is an excellent performance. However, there’s something that’s holding me back from embracing it completely. It could be the quiet nature of the performance, but a part of me also ended up wanting something more. Like I said, I think the reason why so many loved this performance is because of how they personally identified and related to it. While I didn’t relate to it to that extent, I still highly admire it. 4.5/5.

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Margot Robbie in I, Tonya (2017)

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I knew it was only a matter of time that Margot Robbie would receive her first Oscar nomination since her breakthrough in The Wolf of Wall Street (of which she would have deserved a nom in my books). While I haven’t seen much of her movies, I always find her the standout of her films, such as Suicide Squad and Wolf. She’s certainly a talented performer, with a surprisingly strong film presence that I find rare, even in some of the young stars today like JLaw and Emma Stone, both whom I like too.

In I, Tonya, Robbie plays disgraced Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding. If I were to sum up Robbie’s performance in one line, it would be this: she acted her butt off for this film. Tonya Harding, to put it simply, is a mess of a character/person. This is a character which requires a great deal of energy from the actor portraying her: Her abusive childhood, her lack of education, her “trashiness”, her agressive competitive spirit all translates into a performance that isn’t exactly subtle, but not over-the-top either. Essentially, what Robbie succeeded in is taking such an unlikeable character and making her so damn fun to watch. In a way, it’s almost like how Vivien Leigh made the bitchy Scarlett O’hara such a delight to watch. While I’m not saying that both performances are of equal calibre, what I loved about Robbie here is that she is not afraid to make Harding unlikeable. She tends to have a mean streak and is unbelievably nasty to her coach, but Robbie justifies these acting choices, allowing us to see why Harding behaves this way. Figure skating is essentially her life, and I loved how Robbie showed the “all-or-nothing” spirit in Harding.

The downwards spiral of Harding is also excellently played, even though the focus isn’t that much on Harding but rather on her husband (played excellently by Sebastian Stan). As always, there are a few crying scenes here and there, but it comes extremely naturally and never feels forced or tacked on. I mean, who can forget that moment as she forces herself to smile while putting on makeup? I wouldn’t say it’s heartbreaking because I find Tonya a difficult character to feel sorry for but I found myself completely understanding how she was feeling. However, her final plea to the judge where she describes skating as her entire life was extremely saddening thanks to the desperation portrayed by Robbie.

Personally, her relationships with the other characters aren’t too complex as they are essentially abusive and violent, but the energy brought out by the actors made them extremely intense and electrifying to watch.

Overall, this is a terrific performance by a talented actress which, in my opinion, would have made a worthy win (I still love Frances McDormand’s performance of course). I think what made it work was the way Robbie actually had fun with the character while at the same time respecting her and portraying her motivations to perfection. The resulting effect is a performance that is chaotic, messy, crazy, and yet highly entertaining and saddening to watch. 5/5.

p.s. Allison Janney was great, but I found her performance a bit limited, both in screentime and layers. I’ll give her credit though – she does manage to find some depth in certain scenes, such as when she describes her abuse of Tonya as a “sacrifice” a mother makes. It is a very good performance, and Janney is such a terrific actress that I cannot begrudge her Oscar win. That being said, I’m still more in the Lesley Manville camp though.