PG Cooper: Best Actress, Actor, and Cast (2012)

Posted: January 25, 2013 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

PGCMA 2012

*The above image represents 2011’s PGCMA Best Picture Winner; Drive.

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty– In the last two years, Chastain has risen to prominence with a string of great performances in a variety of films. With Zero Dark Thirty, she’s done her best work yet. Maya is a character who has to carry them yet at the same time keep most of her struggle and development internal. None of it is laid out on the surface. It’s a hell of a challenge, one Chastain more than rises to.

Judi Dench, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel– Rumor is that Judi Dench plans on retiring since. If this truly is one of her last years as an actress, it would be a great one to go out on. In addition to a PGCMA nominated turn as M in Skyfall, Dench also delivers fine work in this film. Truth be told, I thought the writing of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel left a lot to be desired, but Dench is such a great actress it almost doesn’t matter.

Kara Hayward, Moonrise Kingdom– Young Kara Hayward has a significant challenge in Moonrise Kingdom. She needs to be charming, but also remain a kind of disturbed child. She also has to work with some strange and unusual dialogue. Thankfully, Hayward succeeds and delivers a very strong performance.

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook– Jennifer Lawrence may have hit the peak of her financial success with The Hunger Games, but it’s with Silver Linings Playbook that she’s found her greatest aesthetic success. Her character needs to be funny, charming, likable, well-intentioned, disturbed, forceful, and even manipulative. It’s a hell of a character, one that could easily fallen apart in lesser hands.

Noomi Rapace, Prometheus My biggest concern going into Prometheus was that the female scientist would simply be Ellen Ripley 2.0. But that isn’t really the case at all. Noomi Rapace’s Elizaebth Shaw is indeed a strong female, but she’s also a very sensitive character who is driven by both her work and her faith, and though the film isn’t really about her specifically, she still delivers a great performance.

And The Winner Is…

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Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

 PrintAt the end of the day, the simple fact is that Chastain simply had the biggest challenge of any actress this year. Even though Zero Dark Thirty is a film with a good script and great direction from Kathryn Bigelow, the film still rested on Chastain. Even with all the other positive elements, if Chastain had failed the film would have failed. Thankfully, Jessica Chastain delivers an unforgettable performance made all the more impressive by how minimalist it is. This isn’t a performance defined by dramatic scenes and rousing speeches, but my subtle movements and actions.

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook– I can’t help but feel a little prophetic with this nomination. After Limitless last year, I remember saying that Bradley Cooper had more charm and ability than I had given him credit for. I though a day might come where Cooper delivers a truly great, award worthy performance, one with complexity and depth. That day came when I saw Silver Linings Playbook.

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln– I remember hearing talk of how Daniel Day-Lewis playing Lincoln was a clear Oscar grab. Than people saw the movie and that talk ceased entirely. The fact is, Lewis gives a truly magnificent performance as honest Abe, fully embodying him and also bringing a surprising amount of subtlety to the role. Another excellent performance to the resume of one of the world’s best actors.

Michael Fassbender, Prometheus– Fassbender’s first great performance is 2008’s Hunger, but the man didn’t really explode until last year where he appeared in movies from X-Men: First Class to A Dangerous Method. While his work here doesn’t quite match as performances in Hunger or Shame, Fassbender is still excellent and helped make David one of the most memorable characters of the film.

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master– After the largely forgotten I’m Still Here, Phoenix returned in epic form with The Master. No one who saw The Master made wisecracks about his recent career choices, everyone was simply captivated by the bizarre and unforgettable character he played.

Denzel Washington, Flight– Flight uses Denzel Washington’s talents better than any film in recent memory. Not only is his natural charisma important for keeping his character somewhat likable throughout the film, but it’s also required to explain how his character could be so successful for so long with such a huge drinking problem. It’s also important to note that Washington really needs to carry Flight and he more than succeeds.

And The Winner Is…

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Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

the-master-poster1It was a tight race between Daniel Day-Lewis and Joaquin Phoenix, but which tipped things into the latter’s favour is that Abraham Lincoln was a real person and there’s a lot of sources to draw from in creating him. Freddie Quell on the other hand only existed in Paul Thomas Anderson’s script and Phoenix had to create him from that. What a job he did. Phoenix plays Quell as almost animalistic, reacting primarily (if not solely) on instinct. It’s truly fascinating to see. Equally important however is that Phoenix is able to inject a sense of humanity into the character. This is important for two reasons. First, it helps the character feel more real. Second, it helps the audience stick with Freddie even when he does unlikable things.

Best Cast

Argo– Though I don’t think any one performance rises up to true greatness, the cast of Argo does work wondrously well together. The standouts are John Goodman and Alan Arkin as two Hollywood players working on the fake film. Ben Affleck and Bryan Cranston also do some good work, and the film has small appearances from the likes of Bob Gunton and Philip Baker Hall.

The Avengers– The main draw for The Avengers is seeing so many heroes interact with one and other. The film delivers on that, with every actor breathing a lot of life into their parts and the team has great chemistry. Sam Jackson and Clark Gregg help round out the cast while Tom Hiddleston makes for a great villain.

The Master– This is a case of quality over quantity. There’s not a lot of characters in The Master, but the film delivers with what it has. The three principles are especially impressive, as shown by each of them walking away with a PGCMA.

Moonrise Kingdom– Wes Anderson formed a truly unforgettable band of misfits with Moonrise Kingdom. Veteran actors like Ed Norton and Bill Murray deliver great performances, as do child leads Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. I was also really impressed with the other child actors with small roles.

Silver Linings Playbook– Great performances from everyone here. Almost every character is memorable, even small ones like Patrick’s psychiatrist. There’s also some unconventional casting choices that turned out to work extremely well, like Chris Tucker.

And The Winner Is…

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Silver Linings Playbook

silver-linings-posterThough it may not have the best individual performances, no cast worked as well together as the cast for Silver Linings Playbook. None of the performances overshadow the others, the cast has great chemistry together, and every character has personality, even the small ones. Great casting on the part of David O. Russell, and great delivery by the cast.

Comments
  1. Bold choice, going Pheonix over DDL. I kind of looked at it the opposite way… DDL had the challenge of being someone we already knew. Phoenix could work without the baggage of audience expectations!

    It was t ough call between them anyways. :)

    The other two are very well deserving!

  2. ckckred says:

    Good picks. Chastain was great in ZDT.

  3. Chantal M. says:

    For me Jennifer Lawrence is the winner. I haven’t noticed her so much before, but in this movie she had shown how much talent she has. I think she stole the spotlight in Silver Lining Playbook. She was even better than Bradley Cooper. I’m sure that we will see more of her in the future.

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