Several of our recent choices have featured Academy Award winning performances.
The Last King of Scotland features Forrest Whitaker as Idi Amin, the brutal dictator of Uganda in the 1970s. How well did Whitaker do? Let's just say I was completely convinced. I thought the movie downplayed the brutality, but Whitaker captured perfectly the man's charismatic insanity. From what I'd heard, Whitaker's performance was one of the few things worth watching, but I thought James McAvoy did just fine as the doctor who falls, willingly at first, under the dictator's spell. A good movie, featuring a great performance.
Walk The Line. I love Johnny Cash about as much as I love any other musician, and for that reason avoided this movie for a long time. And while Joaquin Phoenix didn't quite nail the man in black in appearance and vocals, I thought he got it just right in the emotional department. Reese Witherspoon, on the other hand, deserved all of the kudos she received for her portrayal of June Carter. I've watched some old videos of June, and let me tell you, Witherspoon just flat out nailed it. And while I know that Rosanne has said she had some problems with how the film portrayed her mother (Vivian), the emotions of the relationship rang true. Also worth mentioning is the wonderful opening scene, with Cash waiting to go back onstage at Folsom Prison and pondering the table saw as the bass and drums (and the crowd) can be heard in the background. Genius.
Ray. Jamie Foxx nailed it, but I liked the movie less than I did Walk the Line. I'm not exactly sure why, but it felt less authentic to me. But that should not detract from the performance of Foxx - absolutely amazing. I also enjoyed the portrayals of Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler, and those seemed consistent with what I know about the history of Atlantic Records.