Thursday, February 28, 2008

Best Lead Performance (Male), 2007

Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood (142 points/19- out of 20!- votes)

"Day-Lewis' performance is one for the ages. Without a doubt, the ferocity he applies to this hateful man is responsible for much of his acting's power. Daniel savors his misanthropy and competitiveness like a lion feasting on a gazelle. Electrifying as his monstrous moments are, Daniel Plainview isn't all bluster and scenery-chewing. Observe him as he sits back to size up everyone else, as he moves the focus from himself and onto those wishing to negotiate. He could sell water to a drowning man, but his skill is rooted in shrewdness in reading people and spotting their weaknesses rather than just talking a good game.

"The ultimate scene in Day-Lewis' staggering performance comes when Daniel goes through the motions of pleading for Christ's forgiveness. He must put on a show so he can purchase a desperately needed slice of land. There's definitely a bemused quality in how he professes his desire to receive the blood and be cleansed. Yet there are glimpses of the vulnerability that he otherwise never allows to be visible. Daniel may be acting for the congregation, but the brilliance of this scene is how Day-Lewis slips in flashes of the character's acknowledgement that he knows he has not been a good father. It's devastating to witness and devastating for Daniel to feel. The rare soft cell he may have still had will turn hard from this point on." ~ Mark Pfeiffer

"A huge performance that fluctuates from intense theatricality to subtle shading, sometimes within the same scene and sometimes even within a single line of dialogue. The bigger moments have a grandiosity to them that will probably outlive the film's critical darling status and become cliché clips shown in Oscar montage sequences, with Daniel Day-Lewis' work reduced to "I've Abandoned My Child!" and "I Drink Your Milkshake' in the same way Marlon Brando's work in The Godfather and Robert De Niro's work in Taxi Driver have been similarly reduced to shtick. Like those grand performances, Daniel Day-Lewis' work in There Will Be Blood is nuanced and should not be reduced into these mile markers; some of his best work is in the quiet scenes where he confesses his inner thoughts to his brother at the beach or by firelight. It is also a very completely formed character in terms of physicality, showing the trials of Daniel Plainview's struggles through the way Daniel Day-Lewis walks increasingly like a broken Scarecrow, and his voice is also a compelling creation that fits the character's ruthless confidence and assuredness in a way that actually does a lot of heavy lifting for the screenplay." ~ Jason Overbeck

Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises (58/9)
George Clooney, Michael Clayton (37/6)
Sam Rockwell, Joshua (34/5)
Sam Riley, Control (31/5)

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