Thursday, November 20, 2014

Legendary Nichols has left us...


We've broached the awfulness of waking up to bad news before.  This has happened many times in the past two years.  Such cinematic legends have been taken from us, some tragically too soon, but even when that individual has been with us for decades, as with the case of Nichols, it is still heartbreaking.  Mike Nichols, at the ripe old age of 83, has left us.  His legacy is a strong one, maybe not necessarily from the quality of film (which is debatable, as is all art), but his talent as an actors director was undeniable.  What he was able to pull out of his actors was just remarkable.  It's no surprise that he managed to direct his actors to 18 total Oscar nominations (ironically, this is the same number of feature films he directed).  Sure, the iconic nature of some of these remarkable performances are often attributed to the actors or actresses who portrayed them on the screen, but without the guiding hand of a deft director, they would never have been able to reach the heights they did.  So, to celebrate Nichols' legacy, I've put together a Top Ten Performances He Directed.  This is strictly film (mostly because I haven't seen Angels in America), but his film work is truly vibrant and full of varied performances, so it's worth singling out.



10] Emma Thompson~Primary Colors

09] Ann-Margret~Carnal Knowledge

08] Meryl Streep~Silkwood

07] Nathan Lane~The Birdcage

06] Dustin Hoffman~The Graduate

05] Natalie Portman~Closer

04] Sigourney Weaver~Working Girl

03] Elizabeth Taylor~Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

02] Anne Bancroft~The Graduate

01] Richard Burton~Who's Afraid of Virgnia Woolf?

As a fun fact, six of these performances have already been confirmed Fisti Nominees (so far, none have won).  Those would be Ann-Margret, Bancroft, Hoffman, Portman, Thompson and Weaver.  The only actor here who has had his film year finalized for Fistis and missed out on the nom was Lane, who came in 7th in a very strong Actor field (although, after some thought he probably deserved the nom).  The rest in this Top Ten (Burton, Streep and Taylor) will all get noms when their years are finalized (like, for real) and at least two of them will win.

12 comments:

  1. This is sad news even if I felt he had more lows than highs but one can't deny his place among the greats. I have not seen Closer but the rest are all deserving films and the actors went to town in their roles here. H e really showcased their talents and glad Richard Burton is #1 for this performance. He was excellent with Elaine May even though his pairing with her was many moons ago

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    1. Burton's Oscar loss is possibly the worst case of Oscar snubbery ever...I mean, just wow. He's simply transcendent, but he's probably my favorite actor of all time (at least top three), so I'm a tad bias.

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  2. The fact that Nichols directed so many great performances just shows what a talent he was. I really need to check out Wit and Angels in America.

    Wonderful list man. All but Thompson and Lane are CinSpec nominees, and Burton, Bancroft and Portman are winners. If it weren't for Persona, Taylor would've easily won a second CinSpec for Virginia Woolf.

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    1. I love Persona, but Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a force through the Fistis of 1966...at least ATM.

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  3. Well it's been a hell of a year for the loss of legendary talents. As it was when Shirley Temple passed away earlier this year it seems odd on the one hand that he was that old since he always seemed vigorous and active but on the other that he was not older since he was always in the public consciousness.

    He made some real classics but even in projects that were less fully realized, Regarding Henry, The Fortune etc., he was able to draw excellent performances from his casts.

    I can't recommend Angels in America highly enough! It's a big commitment of time to view but so incredibly worthwhile. The story is compelling but the work that Nichols drew from that remarkable line-up of actors/actresses is staggering.

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    1. I will be adding it to my Netflix soon!

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  4. This is truly a horrible year. Especially since 2 of our recently deceased actors have been in a Mike Nichols film. I've seen 2 of his films in the theaters. The Birdcage w/ my mother and sister and we loved every minute of it. I also saw Closer on my 24th birthday. Natalie's performance was so great. If she had gone all the way, I would've gotten arrested.

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  5. Dude. I got a major wake-up call when I heard this on the radio this morning. Just posted a memorial piece myself. Sad news. Genius filmmaker. I happened to note his unparalleled ability to direct actors as well.

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    1. It was uncanny the way he worked with them! I'll check out your post in a bit. This is such a sad year...as was last year.

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  6. Great tribute, Drew! What a sad news, boy so many great cinema people left us this year :( There are a lot of his films I missed but I LOVE Working Girl and The Birdcage, boy he really can tackle a bunch of different genres.

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    1. You have to respect a director who branches out and attempts to cover a lot of tonal ground, and for the most part he succeeded in doing so, themes and all, so I applaud him!

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