12 February 2015

Skandies: #12

Picture: Goodbye to Language (84/6)
Director: Ramon Zürcher, The Strange Little Cat (104/10)
Actress: Scarlett Johansson, Lucy (69/8)
Actor: Steve Carell, Foxcatcher (80/10)
S. Actor: Martin Short, Inherent Vice (57/6)
S. Actress: Eva Green, 300: Rise of an Empire (70/7)
Screenplay: Jim Jarmusch, Only Lovers Left Alive (85/10)
Scene: UFO interruption, Force Majeure (52/5)


The Strange Little Cat is Zürcher's first feature.

Two-time Supporting Actress winner Johansson (Ghost World, 2001 and Her, last year) makes her seventh total appearance in the top 20, and I won't bother pretending that her eighth nod isn't forthcoming in the next 11 days. So I'll wait and detail the rest of her history then. Carell also placed 12th in 2005 for The 40 Year Old Virgin, as well as 14th in Supporting a year later for Little Miss Sunshine. Green landed at #8 in Supporting for Casino Royale in 2006. Short is new.

Jarmusch's screenplay for Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai squeaked in at #20 in 2000.


Private Joker said...

FOXCATCHER is one of those films where it's murky who's a lead and who's supporting, especially since focus shifts so often. But it seemed to me at least that Tatum was the general protagonist for the vast majority of the movie, with Ruffalo and Carell supporting. But I'd like to hear arguments about how Carell is the main character the film is about. To me he just spends way too much time off screen -- he may drive much of the narrative, but I don't think the movie is necessarily about Du Pont.

Scott Renshaw said...

Viva Eva.

Ryan said...

I think this question reflects the limitations of the "who's this film about?" framework for determining lead v. supporting. While the framework is undeniably useful, it's a mistake to treat it as some kind of iron law.

Viewed narrowly, purely on a narrative level, Foxcatcher looks like it's "about" Mark. Tatum occupies the most screen time, and we begin with him and (I think) close with him.

But viewed more broadly, Du Pont's the more important character. The movie's titled Foxcatcher, and Miller is less interested in telling a story than in exploring themes. And here Du Pont bears the film's entire symbolic weight, whether it's the capriciousness of the American aristocracy; the "winner" fallacy; masculinity: expectations and discontents; the delusions of self-styled saviors of America or whatever. Stated differently, Foxcatcher is really more about what Du Pont symbolizes or represents than what Mark represents.

[Vague SPOILER for Foxcatcher]

And even on a story level, Du Pont is positioned as at least a co-lead. His story exists independent of Mark's, the film appears more invested in his backstory and psychology than Mark's, and the key action hinges on Du Pont, not Mark. In fact, Mark doesn't figure into the climax of the story at all.

Ultimately, I can see an alternate version of this movie without Mark; I can't see one without Du Pont.

So the answer to the "which character is the movie about" question depends on one's perspective. But why limit the inquiry to that? If you look at the film as a whole, both Du Pont and Mark are central characters, and both Carell and Tatum are leads.

md'a said...

And here Du Pont bears the film's entire symbolic weight, whether it's the capriciousness of the American aristocracy; the "winner" fallacy; masculinity: expectations and discontents; the delusions of self-styled saviors of America or whatever.

I'm not convinced that this is a good metric. Godot bears the entire symbolic weight of Waiting for Godot, and he doesn't even appear (SPOLIER!).

Private Joker said...

I dunno, Ryan. I'm still kind of with Mike that a character can bear weight and not even or barely appear. APOCALYPSE NOW, etc.

But then again I didn't consider Hopkins a lead in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, both because he's only on screen for 16 minutes and because his role is clearly supporting Foster's, not co-leading with it (even if it does when they do share the frame). So I may be on the strict end of the spectrum -- I can see why you and others play more broadly with lead definitions and that's fine.

Ryan said...

Obviously, I wasn't using that as a "metric" (yuck!)--or something that would work for other works necessarily. For *Foxcatcher*, a movie all about symbols, this is one important aspect to factor in, so long as one *takes into account other ways* in which Du Pont's character functions. Who's arguing that we should *ignore* other ways in which the film functions, like screen time or narrative?

My broader point is just the opposite, that *some* movies work in weird ways, and it makes sense to examine how the character works in the film itself, rather than simply jam everything into a reductive theory. (Note: I think the "who's this film about" analysis does conclusively answer the lead/supporting question in a majority of cases.)

Frankly, for those who insist on applying a standard metric no matter what the film, why not just use 80% screentime or something? That seems like a far more objective approach.

Ryan said...

Did Leo deliver a supporting performance in Great Gatsby? Because it looks like this to me:

Du Pont:Mark::Gatsby:Nick

Ryan said...

Btw, I agree that Hopkins should be seen as a supporting performance in Lambs, Zach. In that case, his scant screen time resolves the issue.