It is Hollywood award season and although I have no use for the sycophantic, self-obsessed nature of entertainment awards and self-congratulatory ceremonies I would like to pick some winners of my own. But like my "greatest films" list I will not be picking anything for just 2007 or even just the last decade, but the bests of my generation.
For the first category I will choose the top actors.
A brief synopsis of the storied history of film acting can mostly be confined to the British and American schools. In the early days, since film was mostly an American medium the best were former stage actors, most notably John Barrymore, but soon the Shakespearean talents of British actors rose above them (most notably in the person of Sir Lawrence Olivier who was THE Shakespearean actor of both stage and screen.) But as the 50s dawned a new kind of acting took over and it was to put the Americans on top again. Marlon Brando's performance in A Streetcar Named Desire, and later in On The Waterfront, changed acting forever. Although there had been great American actors before him, like Spencer Tracy and James Stewart, it was Brando who took us out of the melodrama of Hollywood's "Golden Years" and paved the way for the more complex and realistic form of thespianism still used today. Many other great "method" actors followed him like Dustin Hoffman and Robert DeNiro, and strong personalities like Jack Nicholson. DeNiro became the Brando of his generation but he has long since ceased giving us any new voices worth celebrating.
In my opinion the torch has passed once more to the British side and even some to the Australian. We have seen the best roles performed by the likes of Geoffrey Rush, Jeremy Irons, Clive Owen, Colin Firth, Daniel Craig, Christian Bale, Anthony Hopkins, Ralph and Joseph Fiennes just to name a few. Even Australians like Russell Crowe have won Oscars over their American counterparts. Of the great actresses the same is true: Miranda Richardson, Kristen Scott Thomas, Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Emily Watson, Judi Dench, and Brenda Blethyn just to name a few more.
Over many years I have come to view two particular actors, one male, one female as the best by a mile in their craft. The range of their acting ability puts them in another realm from all of the others and as the pattern is going it is obvious that neither is American. One is English and the other an Aussie.
My "Daylight Award" for "Best Actor of this generation" goes to.....(drumroll)
He picks the roles he wants and only acts every three or four years now which says alot about value to the directors he gets to work with. He won an Oscar ages ago for My Left Foot but has amazing roles in Gangs Of New York, In The Name Of The Father, and There Will Be Blood for which some are saying he will win another Oscar. His Bill the Butcher from Scorsese's Gangs Of New York is the best villain probably ever in a movie for my money.
My "Daylight Award" for "Best Actress of this generation" goes to....(more drumrolling)
She continues to astound me with her range. She can be masculine (as her impression of Bob Dylan in I'm Not There, or at times as Queen Elizabeth in both films about the English queen) or extremely feminine (like her comic performance in Barry Levinson's Bandits or the New Jersey girl in Pushing Tin). Although Meryl Streep may be the best living actress, like DeNiro, her best work may be in the past, while Blanchett is getting better as we speak.
Next Daylight Awards: Director, Writer, and Picture. Stay tuned.....