By Diana Drumm
In trying to keep up the pretense of being a proper film writer, I attempted to come up with a list of favorite and/or best performances (sometimes mutually exclusive, if we’re being honest here and with ourselves), but in writing up said performances, a few of them fell into the fangirling abyss of gushing rather than actual analysis.
So with that general concern and the thought that other more inside, informed and experienced writers have been identifying their top and/or breakout performances throughout the past week or so (see Indiewire’s Breakouts and Sundance Poll), I present you with a list of my Sundance actor crushes (in alphabetical order), with which you may judge, mock and agree with as you will and with other glowing performances showcased in the other comparative pieces that are or will be popping up on this site.
Oh, Billy “what a smile” Crudup… You are so talented and so attractive. Maybe you’re too talented or too attractive or too much of both? On stage and onscreen, you’ve played everything from an on-top-of-the-world or (more literally, on top of the suburban house) rocker (Almost Famous) to an emotionally disturbed author of horrifying children’s stories (“The Pillowman”) to a twisty British spy (The Good Shepherd) to a Westernizing Russian literary critic pre-Revolution (⅔ of “Coast of Utopia”) to an actor playing an actress playing a male role (Stage Beauty). But for some reason, you have yet to make it to the can-never-take-it-back big leagues of film acting, in spite of working on top productions in Hollywood, on Broadway and as part of the indie scene. In the clunky father-(deceased)son story of Rudderless (come at me, raving Sundance audiences and critics), you and your performance were a shining light full of moments of pure dramatic emotion from cocky adman (giving Don Draper a run for his money in that one drunken moment with the receptionist) to wandering jobbing handyman (though admittedly through the scruff and scrub, you were still too good-looking) to a grieving father (being a heartless misandrist, I normally grin at men’s tears, but you had me, hook, line and sinker). You have talent, range, chiselled looks, enough so to counteract being involved in Eat, Pray, Love, and this role could be the one to win you over with the rest of America. According to various sources, a distribution deal is “looming,” but no official words yet on a release.
Oh Fassy… You weren’t even in Park City and you were the talk of the town. In Frank, we could feel your emotional intensity whether we could see your actual head or not. If the latter, we could still feel through that cartoonishly bulbous fake head, whether your character verbally declared his emotions or not. Your drama, your humor, your sadness were expressed through the fluid motions of your whippet-like body running to and fro through the corners and crevices of creative madness. In spite your character’s American accent (with rounded Rs as a giveaway that it was put-on, that the speaker was a Kansan), your Frank words inspired all around you to be the best or more musically enlightened that they could be, albeit sometimes to dire and Svengali consequences. As for your person, we didn’t need your sharky grin, your piercing blue eyes, your ginger-but-not-too-ginger hair.. For most of the film, we had a facially muted you and, with a physical trapping of a papier mache head, you captured the hearts and minds of many audiences. It was a romance of the mind, a maddening mind, but a romance no less, however brief, however fleeting. Once outside of the theater we may baffle about what it was all about, but for those 95 minutes, you could have lead us into battle against any preconceptions of normalcy, clanging at a drum, washboard or whatever else suited your fancy. Get ready for Magnolia’s roll out later this year, with the film and Frank’s pervading presence hitting U.K. shores in May 2014 (though no word yet on U.S. shenanigans).
Oh Jonathan “seductive owl eyes” Pryce… Supposedly, you were the life of a few parties and scenes around Park City, though we never crossed paths, and also supposedly, you ordered the finest tequila available on the rocks on at least one occasion (a man after my and many others’ hearts). In Listen Up Philip, you played a sharp-tongued, blunt-witted, sage author with hang-ups surrounding creativity, genius and women (or quoting myself, “an arrogant, isolated, misogynist monster of steeping literary reputation”). Every time Zimmerman reminded Philip that he was like him at that age, but only better, my eyebrow cocked in sync and there was a jolt to the sternum. With your bemused brow, your penetrating glare and prominently subtle stance in literary-looking tweed, barbour or similar jacket, you were the egocentric bordering on maniacal author to a tee. As Zimmerman partook in red wine, brandy and cigars, scotch, my mind went to there, beside you and being chided for being a lazy writer while generally soaking up all of your wisdom on life, love and the mysteries of it all (however unwarranted). Even now, outside of the Sundance haze and overlooking Zimmerman’s American accent in lieu of your lilting Welsh, I wonder whether I fell for the character, you, the idea of you, or some hybrid of all three in my mind’s eye, placed there thanks to the infiltrating power of the cinematic lens. With Listen Up Philip not yet picked up out of Sundance, audiences will have to wait and linger (rewatch your Hamlet in a brief youtube clip, rewind their Brazil VHS, skip through the Evita and/or Miss Saigon soundtrack, etc.) a bit longer, but it will be worth the wait.