CINEMATIC PASSIONS’ 2008 ACTING AWARDS

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Some of these were very close calls. But I don’t believe in ties.

No guts. No glory, baby.

What I found is that, despite the fact that this cinematic year was greatly inferior to the embarrassment of riches that was 2007, there was no shortage of fantastic performances.

So I will now give tremendous credit where it is due and award the most awesome acting that I’ve seen this past year.

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
JAVIER BARDEM – VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA

The genius of this particular performance is that it operates superbly on a wide variety of levels.

JUAN ANTONIO is an exceptionally fascinating handsome charming man with a surplus of seductive sex appeal. In his opening scene, he attempts to pick up two gorgeous American women and invites them to a nearby town for the weekend – wonderful food, wine, sightseeing, great sex.

It’s a testament to JAVIER’S fabulous artistic skill that he claimed that a brazen move like that was far beyond anything that he would ever have contemplated off screen.

But underneath the bold macho charisma and seemingly unshakable self confidence is a true romantic with a very vulnerable heart. JUAN ANTONIO also possesses his own unique sense of honour.

He genuinely adores women. The reason he goes through so many of them is because he’s terrified to be alone.

JAVIER was not only utterly convincing but he allowed you to see that JUAN ANTONIO was a complex person driven by many things besides the obvious.

It’s a great multilayered blend of comedic forcefulness and dark dramatic mystery.

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
HAYLEY ATWELL – BRIDESHEAD REVISITED

HAYLEY ATWELL is both a young star on the rise and a bold, bright revelation.

As the powerfully enigmatic JULIA – who enters CHARLES RYDER’S life and then unwittingly destroys it – she is the epitome of grace and classic elegance. You can understand why anyone would be romantically obsessed with her.

She’s like a princess in a fairy tale. Only more drolly amusing, intelligent and strong willed.

JULIA
is, of course, CHARLES’ complete undoing.

But what good is being a beautiful woman if you can’t tempt somebody?

Ms. Atwell is a promising newcomer who should have a long, successful career. I genuinely anticipate her future efforts.

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BEST ACTOR
SEAN PENN – MILK

SEAN is one of the greatest actors to ever set foot in front of a movie camera. With his perfect portrayal of gay rights activist HARVEY MILK, the bar has been raised even higher.

I am completely in awe of him…

The subtle makeup and the brown contact lenses assist in the thorough transformation. But SEAN also has the gruff East Coast accent, the body language and all of the mannerisms down. There is not one single solitary second that reminds you of SEAN PENN…or any other character that he’s ever played.

You can fill paragraphs full of words like amazing, astonishing and incredible. But they would never be enough.

In decades full of remarkable work, this is definitely the pinnacle.

When you have an artist like SEAN PENN, that’s genuinely saying something.
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BEST ACTRESS
KATE WINSLET – REVOLUTIONARY ROAD/THE READER

I was originally going to give this award to KATE simply for REVOLUTIONARY ROAD. Though she soars to fabulous heights in THE READER, I think her work in RR is even better.

But who are we kidding really…?

I finally decided to go along with the ACADEMY. Both of these parts are actually lead roles.

Though I have long admired her talent and tremendous versatility, I have never been a fan per se. But this intensely moving one two punch can definitely not be ignored.

In THE READER, KATE does something nearly impossible. If HANNA is not a monster, she does some very questionable things – the least of which is to seduce an innocent 15 year old boy who is decades younger.

Yet you worry about her welfare. Hope that she’s going to be all right.

You actually sympathize with her. KATE involves you in the story and makes you care deeply.

In REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, I found myself easily relating to the glamorous goddess APRIL WHEELER.

KATE creates a woman who is strong and independent, but who ultimately was born into an era where the life that she wants is not going to be easily available to her.

In her early 30s, her crumbling marriage and her two children are simply weighing her down. She sees her dreams of an artistic career moving further from her grasp at every turn.

APRIL longs to break free in some way and get her autonomy back. My favourite scene of the entire movie is when she does.

In a nightclub booth, she sits with her married friend Shep. APRIL’S husband Frank has taken Shep’s wife home. Shep worships the ground that APRIL walks on. He would do anything for her – a fact that she is completely aware of. Just like she knows that the sun will come up tomorrow.

She sits, smoking. Her body is tense under her gorgeous halter dress. Finally her mind is made up – irrevocably and for all time.

She strides determinedly to the dance floor and fixes him with her intense emerald gaze. “Let’s do it,” she huskily intones.

This bombshell has far more on her mind than dancing…and she has set the groundwork for what is about to happen next.

I firmly believe that KATE will be remembered for that movie. It’s the kind of legendary performance that film stars are always associated with.

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