Movie acting

An interesting article over at Cineaste asks “What is Great Acting? in the context of film”  While the answers it provides are perhaps a little vague, I’m glad that someone is at least asking the question.  People identify “great” and “bad” actors all the time without ever really analyzing what it is that makes them respond that way.

Is it “great acting” when Jack Nicholson shouts in A Few Good Men?  Or is it so affecting only because Aaron Sorkin wrote him some good lines.  Is great acting nothing more than choosing good roles?

Is it great acting when Woody Allen plays himself in Annie Hall?  It’s a convincing and touching performance; does it matter that the character is little different from the actor (or anyway, the actor’s public persona)?  Is there anything inherently wrong with creating an effective persona to be used again and again in a variety of roles?

And if editing does most of the work (as shown by Lev Kuleshov) and the specific role does the rest, is Sean Penn’s emoting really any better than Keanu Reeves’s blank stare?

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One Response to “Movie acting”

  1. YLlama Says:

    I don’t think great acting can just be a matter of choosing good roles. To cite an example, I don’t think either John C. Reilly or Gwyneth Paltrow are good actors, but I think both have chosen some marvelous roles, and I often find myself wanting to see films in which they appear as a result.

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