Honorable Mentions for My Best Leading Actor Performances
Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire), Tom Hanks (Big), Woody Allen (Annie Hall), Denzel Washington (Flight)
To start off the leading categories, I begin with the men. Over time, we have been able to experience some great male performances as well as actors. And these are easily some of the best even if they are honorable mentions. They truly are worthy performances.
First is Dev Patel in Slumdog Millionaire. Film people call the movie overrated, but you really got to get past the fact that maybe it won’t last for much longer than that one year it won, but that it was so uniquely and well done. Danny Boyle did a fantastic job and really got a lot out of his cast, cinematography, art direction, etc. Out of all the cast though, Dev Patel was the real standout. Some may argue this is more of a supporting role, but really it’s his story that we’re following so I’m sure that categorizes him as a lead actor. His performance was mostly one-sided in the seriousness he brought to the screen for most scenes, but I’m sure was very physically and emotionally draining. For the majority of the film he is getting beaten up pretty badly, though it’s fake to make that look so real and his reactions so gut-wrenching took some work. And I mean the scenes where he is reunited with his brother and a lost love, the magnetism he has on that camera only emerges with so few actors and I think it’s great some of the younger generation actors are really shining in some of these mature films. I only hope he’ll get another great role so that he can really make a name for himself since i think he has a lot of potential.
Next up we have Tom Hanks in his first Oscar-nominated role from the Penny Marshall coming-of-age flick, Big. No, this will not be the last time you see Tom Hanks on this list. I’m a huge fan, he has many amazing performances, unfortunately this one did not make the cut. Seriously, a very underrated performance especially since it was found in a more kid-oriented film, but it’s probably one of my faves from him. He is able to play a kid and an adult at the same time. Then, bring a level of young love into it… Can we just talk about the piano scene please? Do you really think any actor could’ve made that more adorable and perfect? I’m not sure anyone but Tom Hanks could’ve done that, he is such a unique and refined actor that there are so many roles nobody but him could do as well. I really hope in his later years as an actor he can find another role like this where he gets to play both sides of the court since I think it’s something that will garner him some much needed acclaim.
We arrive in Woody Allen territory in his one of many Oscar nominations, but the only one for acting and deservedly for Annie Hall. People may not understand this, but Woody Allen is a good actor, he is able to create characters and make a performance. In that respect, I actually think he might have been better than Diane Keaton at certain points. His “breaking the fourth wall” moments were so well-executed and it’s hard when you bring that in to a movie since it requires a whole different interpretation and Allen has such a way with the audiences. He’s a stand-up by nature and it’s something not many diversified or dramatic actors can attest to and it really enhances his performance as Alvy Singer. It’s a shame that being the actor/writer/director he is, he only put himself in roles that he wrote because I really think he might be able to be just as great in a role that anyone could play, but with his own spin on it. I’ll still look forward to whatever great writing he spouts out in his remaining years.
Finally, there is Denzel Washington and I will spare you all, but this is his only spot on the list. I have not been so enchanted by him as others have and never really found another performance I felt that stood out. Training Day, he is a true monster and so terrifying, then in Malcolm X, he was able to bring a person to the infamous historic figure, but there just was nothing that ranked with what I think are the best. His most recent performance really took me by surprise. This is the first time Denzel has ever walked the fine line between good guy and bad guy where it’s been either or an I think that’s what I really liked. He wasn’t playing a real person, he was playing a character and more or less a real character in Flight. He wasn’t mimicing someone else or playing a being so-to-speak, but creating a real person and he is so intriguing as Whip Whitaker. He’s a drug addict, a lady’s man and very lonely all the same. He is put through so much in the film and yet never loses some quality that he has attained in the role. The last scene is just stunning and the physical acting put into it is only that of a great craftsman. It’s no wonder how Denzel Washington has been so consistent and lauded. I really hope to see him in another role like this and not fall back on the bad cop or the historical figure. He really can make something out of nothing when given a person he must create.
Before I ramble on too much, let me get to the ladies again, shall we!