2008 Calvin Awards: Best Actor

February 21, 2008

Give me all your Oscars now.

The results in our Best Actor category this year could probably quite fairly be called an upset. While three of the five Oscar nominees are in our top ten, a few of them landed in surprising places, and were beaten out by some lesser-heralded performances.

The upset begins in first place, which we've given to an actor from No Country For Old Men. No, not that one. No, not the other one either. This award goes to... Josh Brolin, whose subtler turn as the in-over-his-head Llewelyn Moss flew a bit under the radar against some of the showier performances in the film, but was quietly the rock solid center of the film. As a man determined to keep ahead of a psychotic killer and keep a suitcase full of filthy lucre, Brolin carried the film with just the barest amount of dialogue, an iconic western performance for the ages.

What was I saying again about those showy performances? Daniel Day-Lewis is in second place here, as the oil baron Daniel Planview in There Will Be Blood. Day-Lewis can be a force of nature when given a meaty villain role to chew on, and this one is no different. His Plainview is a man seemingly without scruples, almost devoid of compassion and with a competitive streak so fierce it leaves him a hollowed out monster of a man. And yet, underneath this ferocious beast, we can see some humanity even as greed takes over his life. It's a performance that few could ever forget.

From the outlandish to the sublime, we move to third place's Tommy Lee Jones, the second of the No Country actors to be recognized here. As Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, Jones was another quiet presence in the Coens tale of a drug deal gone bad. Jones's character is forced to deal with a world that was spiraling out of his understanding and his sad yet accepting demeanor as he puzzles out the facts of the horrendous crimes going on around him gives a grandeur and gravitas to the film.

After three kicks at the can at Jason Bourne, Matt Damon continues to surprise and impress. He lands in fourth place for The Bourne Ultimatum, moving up from tenth place for 2004's Supremacy (we apparently didn't quite know what to think of him in Identity yet). While a lot of the thrill of the Bourne movies is the stupendous action scenes, they'd be nothing without a rock solid central performance. Damon has that to give and more for them, growing further into the role of the reluctant spy and killer, who simply wants his life back and to be left alone.

Don Cheadle is a frequent favourite here, having placed in the top ten in this category previously for Crash and Hotel Rwanda. He sees his highest placing to date of fifth for Talk To Me, playing Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene, a convict-turned-Washington, D.C. disc jockey in the 1960s. Playing a man who literally talked himself into fame, Cheadle is both electric and moving as one of the key figures in broadcasting and civil rights in that volatile time period.


In sixth place is Viggo Mortensen for Eastern Promises. Playing a Russian mobster with a shady past and violent nature, Mortensen could easily have been a parody, a laughable caricature. However, he found a way to bring unexpected depth to the generic 'mysterious ethnic' character, adding subtlety and emotion where it was needed.

An unlikely candidate for multiple nominations, Casey Affleck takes up two spots in our top ten, seventh for Gone Baby Gone and a tie for tenth for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. The younger Affleck sibling has started to make a quiet case for himself as one of the finest actors of his generation, bringing a ferocity and generous helping of pathos to his roles.

In eighth spot is another familiar face to BOP voters, Michael Clayton's George Clooney. Clooney as the conflicted and compromised hero is almost becoming old hat at this point, but this film saw him work his magic as a fixer who has everything under control except his life. And if you're scoring at home, that's five of our top ten spots taken up by Ocean's Eleven actors. I think we deserve a commission from Steven Soderbergh.

The final two spots are take by Jake Gyllenhaal of Zodiac, for his portrayal of a man driven to obsession by the search for evil, and Christian Bale in 3:10 to Yuma, as a rancher searching for respect in a world that tries to take it from him at every turn. (Reagen Sulewski/BOP)

Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Album
Breakthrough Performance
Best Cast
Best Director
Best DVD
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Best Video Game
Worst Performance
Worst Picture
Top 10
Position Actor Film Total Points
1 Josh Brolin No Country for Old Men 61
2 Daniel Day-Lewis There Will Be Blood 53
3 Tommy Lee Jones No Country for Old Men 48
4 Matt Damon The Bourne Ultimatum 45
5 Don Cheadle Talk to Me 39
6 Viggo Mortensen Eastern Promises 38
7 Casey Affleck Gone Baby Gone 36
8 George Clooney Michael Clayton 29
9 Jake Gyllenhaal Zodiac 23
10(tie) Casey Affleck The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford 22
10(tie) Christian Bale 3:10 To Yuma 22



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