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Acting over the years

Old 10-02-11, 08:40 AM
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Acting over the years

Do you feel mainstream acting has gotten better or worse over the years?

I don't know if it's just me, but starting some time the 90's, it's become rare for a mainstream movie to have any blantantly bad actors. Not counting certain action stars and certain non-actor celebrities. I don't know if actors are getting better, or it's just better casting.
Old 10-02-11, 09:23 AM
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Re: Acting over the years

Originally Posted by Yeti4623 View Post
Do you feel mainstream acting has gotten better or worse over the years?

I don't know if it's just me, but starting some time the 90's, it's become rare for a mainstream movie to have any blantantly bad actors. Not counting certain action stars and certain non-actor celebrities. I don't know if actors are getting better, or it's just better casting.
There's probably a greater pool of trained actors to choose from nowadays, what with all the drama departments and acting schools, plus all the different vehicles for actors to find work in before entering movies.

Still, my issue with actors of the last 20 years or so is that they lack charisma and screen presence. They may be good actors, but I don't enjoy watching them. Mark Ruffalo, for instance. I'm sure he's a fine actor, but I'd rather watch someone with strong screen presence, even if they're not that good an actor. I'd rather watch a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie than anything with Ruffalo or Leonardo Di Caprio or Katie Holmes or Michelle Williams or Kate Hudson or Maggie Gyllenhaal or Chris Evans or Ryan Reynolds or Sam Worthington or any of a number of generic leading men and women filling up multiplex screens these days.

In the old days, you got movie stars who were great actors through and through (Cagney, Bogart, Tracy, Stewart, Fonda, Grant, Stanwyck, Davis), actors with limited range who became great stars as long as they stayed within their range (Gable, Flynn, Wayne, Cooper, Ladd, Dietrich, Garbo) and movie stars who weren't great actors at all but managed to keep you interested anyway, e.g. Tyrone Power, the Tom Cruise of his day, and Marilyn Monroe.

Some of today's stars get better with seasoning, e.g. Tom Cruise in THE LAST SAMURAI and COLLATERAL. Maybe Matt Damon at some point--he was fine in the Bourne films. Brad Pitt is 47 and beginning, in my eyes, to show promise, although I still can't i.d. a starring role (where he was the main star) that I found completely satisfying. Bruce Willis is fine in character parts. Mel Gibson would have been fine if he didn't have his meltdown. I'm not a fan of Tom Hanks at all. I'd like George Clooney more if he made westerns, but he keeps making "serious" movies with a "message" that I just find tiresome. He's got the stuff to be a great star but he's got to get off his high horse and get on a real horse.
Old 10-02-11, 10:08 AM
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Re: Acting over the years

I think there are better actors, just by numbers. But looking at the mainstream and the change of the business and what the mainstream shoves out may be of lesser quality. Which in turn demands certain performances that aren't of quality.

@Ash...why did you put Katie Holmes in that pool of otherwise known as solid actors(still iffy on Worthington but he did fine in The Debt)? I haven't seen Holmes do good work since Pieces of April (was that her? I can't remember if that is it's title). I'm not sure on your thought of actors needing a screen presence or charisma. Sometimes a role demands a role for such a thing but not all the times. It's all about what that character demands as an entity for the story.

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Old 10-02-11, 10:09 AM
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Re: Acting over the years

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Old 10-02-11, 10:40 AM
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Re: Acting over the years

I liked Katie Holmes in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
Old 10-02-11, 11:59 AM
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Re: Acting over the years

Originally Posted by Solid Snake PAC View Post
I think there are better actors, just by numbers. But looking at the mainstream and the change of the business and what the mainstream shoves out may be of lesser quality. Which in turn demands certain performances that aren't of quality.

@Ash...why did you put Katie Holmes in that pool of otherwise known as solid actors(still iffy on Worthington but he did fine in The Debt)? I haven't seen Holmes do good work since Pieces of April (was that her? I can't remember if that is it's title). I'm not sure on your thought of actors needing a screen presence or charisma. Sometimes a role demands a role for such a thing but not all the times. It's all about what that character demands as an entity for the story.
Your points are well taken, Solid Snake. I think it's a generational thing. I grew up in an era where the stars were like Gods. I mean, even in the ghetto neighborhood I grew up in, we worshipped John Wayne, despite his hard right political views. We were enthralled by the movie stars of our parents' era because, in the pre-video, pre-cable era, that's who we saw on TV every day in the dozens of old movies broadcast every week on the local channels. I'd see Wayne and Robert Mitchum in old movies on TV and then go see EL DORADO, starring both of them, at the neighborhood theater. I'd see Bette Davis in DARK VICTORY or ALL ABOUT EVE on TV and then go see her in HUSH, HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE in the movies. They were larger than life. So I grew up expecting lead actors to have these kinds of qualities. And when I'd see stars in real life, e.g. Gregory Peck, James Coburn, Roy Rogers, they had this aura about them.

People in your generation did not grow up with movie star "gods." People like Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie and Julia Roberts, for instance, are more like big brother or big sister figures. They're more accessible, seem more down-to-earth. You see video clips of them on entertainment news shows all the time. I don't remember EVER seeing John Wayne on TV outside of his movies. I saw Harrison Ford in Barnes & Noble once and he looked like an ordinary joe. (I had gone to visit my daughter, who was working there at the time and she was helping him and Calista find cookbooks as Xmas presents for people. John Wayne would have sent a secretary to do that kind of shopping.) I've got nothing against Harrison Ford and enjoyed him in the Indy films and THE FUGITIVE. (I also like the fact that he and Calista were doing their own shopping.) But he's no John Wayne nor, I guess, should he be. Every age has different demands of its stars. And this age is not demanding "gods."

So, yeah, I can see how you would say that the character was more important than an actor's "star" charisma. There's more to this issue that's worth discussing and analyzing. I wonder how much else I'm missing in today's perceptions of actors and stars. I'm intrigued by this and would like to hear more reaction.

But I'm still gonna gush over Jason Statham and Megan Fox.
Old 10-02-11, 01:06 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

Actors seem to be more accessible now days. We can relate to them more because they "act" more realistic.

Many actors from the 40s, 50s, and 60s were in theater productions before movies really started taking off. Charlton Heston, for instance, was "talking to the back row" in virtually all his movies. He overacted so even the people in the rear of the theater could see his performance. That type of acting transferred over to movies and certainly made the actors charismatic but was no where near "realistic".

Today's actors act as if they are reacting to real life, no matter how absurd the story, they still play it as realistic as possible which make it more relateable to the audience.
Old 10-02-11, 01:28 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

Originally Posted by GoldenJCJ View Post
Actors seem to be more accessible now days. We can relate to them more because they "act" more realistic.

Many actors from the 40s, 50s, and 60s were in theater productions before movies really started taking off. Charlton Heston, for instance, was "talking to the back row" in virtually all his movies. He overacted so even the people in the rear of the theater could see his performance. That type of acting transferred over to movies and certainly made the actors charismatic but was no where near "realistic".

Today's actors act as if they are reacting to real life, no matter how absurd the story, they still play it as realistic as possible which make it more relateable to the audience.
yeah...this.

somewhat going off topic...I sometimes think about well...who were the better actors? the BEST we have today I'd say is Daniel Day-Lewis. The closest I can think of from a previous era is Toshiro Mifune. For whom I also think was better than most, if not all, of the actors in his era within his prime years.

Last edited by Solid Snake; 10-02-11 at 01:35 PM.
Old 10-02-11, 01:38 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

No way would I classify Leonardo DiCaprio as a "generic leading man". He's done some terrific work over the years and is easily one of my favorite actors in their prime today. Others would be Ryan Gosling, Matt Damon and Michael Fassbender. Along with them, I think we have a solid group of actors such as Bardem, P.S. Hoffman, Bale, Cillian Murphy, Clooney, Hardy, Hirsch, Owen, Michael Shannon, Jeremy Renner, Franco, among others. And Ledger would have probably gone on to have a great career. I think we have a pretty good group nowadays.
Old 10-02-11, 02:01 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

I haven't really thought about it much but I do have an off-the-cuff thought that I will throw out here without much conviction. I think the late 70s were the heyday of performance quality in American cinema. I think Hollywood moved sharply towards glamour and charisma in the 80s and it has taken awhile for the acting talent and prowess to catch up with looks.
Old 10-02-11, 02:26 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

Originally Posted by GoldenJCJ View Post
Actors seem to be more accessible now days. We can relate to them more because they "act" more realistic.

Many actors from the 40s, 50s, and 60s were in theater productions before movies really started taking off. Charlton Heston, for instance, was "talking to the back row" in virtually all his movies. He overacted so even the people in the rear of the theater could see his performance. That type of acting transferred over to movies and certainly made the actors charismatic but was no where near "realistic".

Today's actors act as if they are reacting to real life, no matter how absurd the story, they still play it as realistic as possible which make it more relateable to the audience.
Nicely put. But it would be nice to have just a couple of actors that act that way.
Old 10-02-11, 02:42 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

Originally Posted by Solid Snake PAC View Post
yeah...this.

somewhat going off topic...I sometimes think about well...who were the better actors? the BEST we have today I'd say is Daniel Day-Lewis. The closest I can think of from a previous era is Toshiro Mifune. For whom I also think was better than most, if not all, of the actors in his era within his prime years.
Solid Snake, you're the son I never had. Mifune was, arguably, the finest film actor among the international movie stars of his peak years, roughly 1950 (RASHOMON) to 1969 (SHINSENGUMI).
Old 10-02-11, 02:51 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum View Post
. Mark Ruffalo, for instance. I'm sure he's a fine actor, but I'd rather watch someone with strong screen presence, even if they're not that good an actor. I'd rather watch a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie than anything with Ruffalo or Leonardo Di Caprio or Katie Holmes or Michelle Williams or Kate Hudson or Maggie Gyllenhaal or Chris Evans or Ryan Reynolds or Sam Worthington

Ruffalo has a lot of presence. Watch Zodiac, It's a flawless performance full of nuance. He commands the screen without chewing scenery.

Holmes, Hudson, Reynolds and Worthington aren't anywhere near the talent of Ruffalo, DiCaprio or Williams...and Jean-Claude Van Damme is just a dreadful actor.
Old 10-02-11, 03:25 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

Originally Posted by JumpCutz View Post
Ruffalo has a lot of presence. Watch Zodiac, It's a flawless performance full of nuance. He commands the screen without chewing scenery.

Holmes, Hudson, Reynolds and Worthington aren't anywhere near the talent of Ruffalo, DiCaprio or Williams...and Jean-Claude Van Damme is just a dreadful actor.
He was great in...Universal Soldier: Regeneration.
Old 10-02-11, 05:32 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

I don't understand the question





Old 10-02-11, 05:41 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

I think the 90's were a good time for acting not only because the 80's were so terrible but because of the rise of indie film and taking film seriously again. The 2000's meh.
Old 10-02-11, 06:13 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

Originally Posted by GoldenJCJ View Post
Actors seem to be more accessible now days. We can relate to them more because they "act" more realistic.
Which is both a blessing and a curse.

Back in the 1940s and 1950s, actors were groomed and protected by the studios. They were brought into the system and given personas that they projected to the public. You only saw them at premieres or on variety shows. Many were leading more scandalous lives than today's crop, but the trade papers would ignore or spin the trangressions. Jennifer Lopez is given a hard time for three failed marriages and a few long-term boyfriends. Elizabeth Taylor with her eight husbands--one of whom she basically stole from a good friend--couldn't possibly make it today with TMZ and US Weekly lurking.

Today, actors seem to come across as 'one of us.' You see them in flip-flops, getting drunk, walking their dog. I have no issues with that but it's erased the line that kept movies' fantasy aspect in check. We get to see the ballet up close, so to speak, and we see that the staging is poorly painted, the violins have broken strings and the ballerina is wearing a bad wig.

There are more great actors these days, but no true movie stars. The facade has vanished.
Old 10-02-11, 06:44 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

I don't think actors have gotten better. They just got prettier and that has become the most important criteria.
Old 10-02-11, 11:04 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

I have to admit that my personal preference is for the style of actors from the early sound era through to the 1960s - those, like Heston who had a theatrical bent. Not just the style of shouting to the back rows, but a kind of heightened awareness, almost camp if you like that allowed them to be larger than life.

Just a few examples;

1) John Wayne - Watch any Wayne film, even his micro budget five day westerns for Mascot from the mid 1930s and it is clear that he is the dominant presence in those films. It was not just his physical size but also a personality that refused to be cowed by celluloid. Even simple lines uttered by Wayne have a resonance, even a look can entrance. Look again at The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Sands of Iwo Jima or even an innocuous Republic entry like War of the Wildcats and you see an actor dominating every moment.

2) Joan Crawford - Hardly a natural actress but one with again tremendous presence...star quality if you will that is so difficult to capture or define. Perhaps she was a manufactured product at MGM but she had a grace and a feeling in her performances that was divine. Take another glance at Sudden Fear, A Woman's Face or even Trog and how can you deny that we have not lost something with the emergence of modern, arguably too passive acting styles.

3) Boris Karloff - Karloff was the epitome of the stage actor with at least twenty years on the boards before his Frankenstein fame. Yet, he almost always speaks softly, never projecting to the back rows. His performances are generally arch, even camp, but again they are right for the roles he played. There is none of the laziness of modern actors. When Karloff is on screen every line, every inflection, every movement is important. I would ask anyone to take a look at The Ghoul (1933) as an example and not think that his performance is the stuff of wonder - "If this should leave me, then you will have reason to fear. For when the moon strikes the door of my tomb...I shall come back. Do you hear me? I shall come back from hell...to kill!"

4) Charlton Heston - He has already been referenced in this thread but like Wayne he is regularly the most compelling thing on the screen. It is notable that Kenneth Branagh cast him as the Player King in his version of Hamlet, a role that certainly required a back rows performance. Yet Heston was capable of great subtlety. I refer to works such as Khartoum (1966) where his subtlety makes Laurence Olivier look like a ham in his black-face make-up as the Mahdi. "Who will be remembered from Khartoum? Your God...or mine?" Or, yes, even that most dogmatic of films, Ben-Hur, where he has a key moment of realisation upon seeing Jesus carrying the cross, "I know this man." I would defy any modern actor to find just that right note of awe and self-awareness implicit in that tiny moment of screen time.

I suppose my key for admiring actors is how well they dominate the screen and essentially wipe their arses with the performances of those around them which leads me to;

5) Conrad Veidt - A genuine creature of the theatre Veidt utterly dominates ever single frame of film he was ever captured upon. From early works like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) to The Man Who Laughs (1927) he is a spectre on celluloid but one with great resonance. Again, a good actor can make a poor film into something special. King of the Damned (1935) is much-remembered and eulogised, but apart from its title the only thing memorable about this Devil's Island prison film is Veidt himself, striding manfully about, even as a prisoner he loses no position in the pecking order, even as a slave his is predominant. Or see a few years later, Under the Red Robe (1937);

"They call him the black death."
"Why?"
"Because that is what he is."


Even such legendary scene stealers as Raymond Massey have no call to arms against the power of Veidt.


Actors really need to forget a little about acting and remember that they need to be presences as well.
Old 10-02-11, 11:29 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

Originally Posted by GoldenJCJ View Post
Actors seem to be more accessible now days. We can relate to them more because they "act" more realistic.

Many actors from the 40s, 50s, and 60s were in theater productions before movies really started taking off. Charlton Heston, for instance, was "talking to the back row" in virtually all his movies. He overacted so even the people in the rear of the theater could see his performance. That type of acting transferred over to movies and certainly made the actors charismatic but was no where near "realistic".

Today's actors act as if they are reacting to real life, no matter how absurd the story, they still play it as realistic as possible which make it more relateable to the audience.
This is precisely why I've never enjoyed and therefore don't seek out the classics.

For all the accolades and legendary status, I simply couldn't sit and enjoy a "Gone with the Wind" or "Casablanca" -era film because of the actors' performances being so over-the-top compared to the methods and styles of acting in the present.

Clearly I've limited my exposure to film by doing so but I'm not remotely concerned about that because well, to each their own.
Old 10-02-11, 11:42 PM
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Re: Acting over the years

Originally Posted by Jason View Post
I don't understand the question
Great actor.
Old 10-03-11, 12:26 AM
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Re: Acting over the years

Originally Posted by Nick Martin View Post
This is precisely why I've never enjoyed and therefore don't seek out the classics.

For all the accolades and legendary status, I simply couldn't sit and enjoy a "Gone with the Wind" or "Casablanca" -era film because of the actors' performances being so over-the-top compared to the methods and styles of acting in the present.

Clearly I've limited my exposure to film by doing so but I'm not remotely concerned about that because well, to each their own.
Marlon Brando is the one that ushered in the change from theatrical to the modern style of acting. I think you should at least check his films out.

And if you think those films from the "Gone with the Wind or Casablanca era" have performances that are over-the-top, then clearly you've never seen a silent film.
Old 10-03-11, 01:00 AM
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Re: Acting over the years

Originally Posted by PopcornTreeCt View Post
And if you think those films from the "Gone with the Wind or Casablanca era" have performances that are over-the-top, then clearly you've never seen a silent film.
I've seen many scenes from them, yes but not an entire film from beginning to end.

Exaggeration to compensate for no dialogue except for title cards and piano melodies.
Old 10-03-11, 03:59 AM
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Re: Acting over the years

Originally Posted by Nick Martin View Post
This is precisely why I've never enjoyed and therefore don't seek out the classics.

For all the accolades and legendary status, I simply couldn't sit and enjoy a "Gone with the Wind" or "Casablanca" -era film because of the actors' performances being so over-the-top compared to the methods and styles of acting in the present.
Jeez. I understand "Gone with the Wind," since melodrama is a dead art-form in today's Hollywood and thus not appreciated by a lot of people, but the acting in "Casablanca" is uniformly excellent and not over the top.

For me, over the top is Daniel-Day Lewis in "There Will Be Blood" or Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight." Those performances (as fun as they are) reach the stratosphere of over-the-topness. It's kind of funny that today the performances with the most scenery chewing are often the ones most highly praised. Realism be damned.

I've seen many scenes from them, yes but not an entire film from beginning to end.

Exaggeration to compensate for no dialogue except for title cards and piano melodies
There is great, realistic acting even in silent films. Check out Chaplin in "City Lights" or Falconetti in "The Passion of Joan of Arc."

***

Many actors from the Golden Age did some of their best work in the modern era of DeNiro and Streep. You should check out some of the late films of greats like Burt Lancaster, Katherine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Robert Mitchum and Lillian Gish.

Last edited by Gerry P.; 10-03-11 at 04:11 AM.
Old 10-03-11, 10:39 AM
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Re: Acting over the years

Originally Posted by Nick Martin View Post
This is precisely why I've never enjoyed and therefore don't seek out the classics.

For all the accolades and legendary status, I simply couldn't sit and enjoy a "Gone with the Wind" or "Casablanca" -era film because of the actors' performances being so over-the-top compared to the methods and styles of acting in the present.

Clearly I've limited my exposure to film by doing so but I'm not remotely concerned about that because well, to each their own.
Bogart over the top?! I take it you've never seen CASABLANCA although you're quick to dismiss it. Compare any Bogart performance to any Robert Downey Jr. or John Travolta performance and tell me who's overacting.

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