Oswald Iten’s Paddington Acting Analysis

An excellent analysis of what makes Paddington’s animation so special. Both films are real gems, and I highly recommended them if you haven’t seen them. Continue reading Oswald Iten’s Paddington Acting Analysis

Acting Analysis: Contained Emotions

Here’s a great moment from The Holiday:

Kate Winslet’s character, Iris, goes through three emotional states. Her acting is contained, nuanced, and communicates all three emotional states in pantomime. It’s full of texture, and is a great example of subtle acting within a single pose.

At the head of the scene, Iris is excited. Her boss has given her a new task in front of all her colleagues. Iris is in unrequited love with Jasper (and he knows it). When she finds out that her task is to write about his engagement to another woman in the office, she immediately turns to heart broken sadness. When Jasper sees how upset she is, Iris fakes tears of happiness to save face. When Jasper continues celebrating his engagement, Iris’ is disgusted, and leaves.

This scene has a nice mix of stillness and awkward movement. When Iris is processing her emotions internally, she remains still. A single expression change, heavy breathing, and a couple of blinks keep her alive. Less is more. It’s essentially one pose. When she has to address others, shes shifts her weight and moves around.

As her colleagues laugh at Jasper’s quip, she looks around uncomfortably, faking a smile. She recomposes herself and goes internal again. It’s at this point that Jasper sees how upset she is. She gives an approving, but messy nod (note the weird arc). This is followed by an oddly timed weight shift that feels off, and reveals the insincerity of her approving gesture to Jasper. If she had no feelings for Jasper, she might not have had a weight shift, and her nod would likely be direct and purposeful. The odd timing and movement communicate through the body that she’s falling to pieces, and not completely in control.

Jasper is able to brush it off and continue congratulating himself. Iris is repulsed by this slap in the face. She turns her nose up and away in the same manor one would if confronted with a bad smell or a disgusting visual. In combination with a series of blinks (suggesting the welling up of tears), and an attempted smile that quickly fades, she effectively communicates disgust and we immediately understand why she has to leave.

Her emotions are clearly communicated throughout, and there’s a nice contrast between her internal and external states. This gives the performance texture.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Reflective Silence

Though Paul Thomas Anderson made a name for himself with elaborate and technically complex film making, one of his defining trademarks is a simple one–letting his camera linger on a silent character. While many filmmakers rely on dialogue to convey poignancy or gravity, Paul Thomas Anderson allows his lens to absorb a character’s silence. They may be watching, they may be listening, or or they may be in utter shock, but the result is the same; we feel the moment. Here is a look at Paul Thomas Anderson’s lingering and reflective silence. Continue reading Paul Thomas Anderson’s Reflective Silence

David Badgerow – Smurfs Reference Reel

David Badgerow shares his acting reference from his work on Sony’s Smurfs: The Lost Village.
Continue reading David Badgerow – Smurfs Reference Reel

Ten Meter Tower

Ten Meter Tower is a social experiment which found people that had never jumped off a 10 meter tower and filmed the results. All manner of reactions, inhibitions, insecurities, and fears are on display from wide range of people. No two people react in quite the same way. incredible reference for the animator.

Continue reading Ten Meter Tower

Top 10 Performances on Film

Cinefix takes on the unenviable task of picking the top ten performances (on film) of all time. How Daniel-Day Lewis did not make this list is beyond me. Still it’s worth a look. Continue reading Top 10 Performances on Film

Excerpts from Bryan Cranston’s, ‘A Life in Parts’

A couple of insightful observations on acting craft from Bryan Cranston’s autobiography, A Life in Parts.

On preparing for the “Jane’s Death” scene in Breaking Bad:

When I do the homework for such a delicate scene, I don’t make a plan. My goal when I prepare isn’t to plot out each action and reaction, but to think, “What are the possible emotions my character could experience?” I break the scene down into moments or beats. By doing that work ahead of time, I leave a number of possibilities available to me. I stay open to the moment, susceptible to whatever comes. The homework doesn’t guarantee anything. With luck, it gives you a shot at something real.

On sincerity in acting choices:

I knew on camera, when you walk into a room, you must know where the light switch is. You can’t need to look, or else it’s a lie. Which is like giving the audience a pinch of poison. When you tell a story, you have to take liberties. You compress time. You create composite characters. You jump years ahead or flash back. Art is not life.

The audience might not be consciously aware of these little pinches, but if you keep doling them out, they’re reaching for the remote or walking out of the theatre. They’re sick of the poison. They don’t want anymore; they’re done. They might not even realize they’re responding to inauthenticity or sloppiness in storytelling. It’s not the audience’s job to articulate the reasons they don’t respond. It’s their job to feel. All that matters where the audience is concerned is: Did it work? Were they moved?


The Origins of Method Acting

Method acting encourages actors to immerse themselves in the world of the characters they are playing, so that they can more accurately inhabit their roles. This can extend to some actors never breaking character until the last shot of the movie, even when the camera turns off. – IMDB