Tag Archives: Best Actor

Review: On Golden Pond

Director: Mark Rydell
Year: 1981
Score: 7/10

Both Fonda and Hepburn died during filming, and their corpses were used in scenes that still needed to be shot. Pretty disrespectful, I thought.

Both Fonda and Hepburn died during filming, and their corpses were used in scenes that still needed to be shot. Pretty disrespectful, I thought.

Tender if saccharine drama about an elderly man, his troubled relationship with his daughter, and the time he spends fishing on Golden Pond (a lake) with her boyfriend’s teenage son.

Henry Fonda won an Oscar for his solid lead performance, and died soon thereafter. Katharine Hepburn also won one – her fourth Best Actress Oscar, a record unlikely to ever be equalled – for playing his wife, though reportedly it was widely regarded as a sentimental win rather than necessarily being deserved for this particular performance. In my view both are good enough to deserve their wins, though Hepburn is really in more of a supporting role than a lead one. The relationship between their characters is the film’s strongest and most moving facet.

On the other hand, the relationship between Fonda’s character and his daughter – played with mixed results by his real-life daughter Jane – doesn’t quite click, though from a narrative perspective it’s supposed to be the main event. Dabney Coleman is amusing in a supporting role. The stuff with the loons is a tad heavy-handed, contributing to the sense of over-sentimentality.

Still probably worth watching for the performances, the warm humour, and the bits that succeed on an emotional level, of which there are quite a few. After all, there really aren’t enough good movies about old age.

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Review: Ray

Director: Taylor Hackford
Year: 2004
Score: 7/10

Surely the only movie I've seen that features both Bunk and Willow.

Surely the only movie I’ve seen that features both Bunk and Willow.

There are three drawcards here: Jamie Foxx’s powerhouse performance as Ray Charles; lots of great Charles music used well throughout, including some pivotal musical moments; and the story of his rise, compelling despite flaws in the telling. Foxx is truly excellent and fully deserving of the Oscar he won. He basically does a spot-on impression of Charles, but his commitment and the emotional depth he conveys elevate the performance well beyond mere imitation. It’s a real shame the movie is let down by its lack of subtlety and its simplistic approach to the ‘conflicts’ in Charles’ life selected to be the points of drama: his drug addiction, his womanising, and his guilt over a childhood tragedy. In particular, making the drug story so central and tying it to that tragedy – and then wrapping it all up with the most unsubtle flashback sequence of the whole film – doesn’t really work. There’s also a disappointing old-fashionedness to director Taylor Hackford’s approach, perhaps best exemplified by the use of newspaper headlines and neon signs floating across the screen to indicate media coverage and concert venues; surely we’re done with that technique by now? Nonetheless, the aforementioned drawcards are easily enough to make it worth watching.