Two days ago Variety‘s Ramin Setoodeh posted about 11 under-the-radar performances “that haven’t been buzzed about enough, but deserve Oscar consideration. To my surprise I agree with six of his assessments. I’ll start with these and conclude with my four disagreements. No comment on Helen Mirren‘s Woman in Gold performance as I haven’t seen the film.
(1) Robert De Niro, The Intern. As a retired windower who becomes a chauffeur and trusted confidante for online-fashion tycoon Anne Hathaway, DeNiro “injects this comedy with so much soul he’s almost as impressive as Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give,” Setoodeh writes. HE comment: Definitely a winning supporting performance. It’s odd to think of Jake LaMotta or Neil McCauley playing a correct and well-mannered Mr. Belvedere, but that’s what this performance essentially is. But two things may happen. One, DeNiro’s performance as Jennifer Lawrence‘s dad in Joy may outshine his Intern-ist. And two, a Norbit-like effect from Dirty Grandpa, a throwaway horndog comedy in which DeNiro costars with Zac Efron, may spoil the soup.
(2) Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria. HE comment: Yes, 2014 was a banner year for Stewart with three striking performances in Clouds, Camp X-Ray and Still Alice. She definitely upped her game. But nobody paid the slightest attention to Olivier Assayas’s film, which I found glum and meandering when I saw it in Cannes 17 months ago. Stewart’s Best Actress Cesar award for her performance as Juliette Binoche‘s personal assistant will have to do.
(3) Robert Redford, Truth. HE comment: Redford is one of those actors who can’t change his appearance or accent, but he captures Dan Rather with that particular, very familiar cadence that the former CBS Evening News anchor used on the air for so many decades. Plus he conveys a affecting sense of dignity. Truth has been killed by the liberal media and is currently buried in a 20-foot-deep pit so Redford hasn’t a prayer, but this is one of his best post-1990 performances.