2013 Oscars Challenge: [24] The Master – Three Nominations

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THE MASTER
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Nominated Role: Joaquin Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, an alcoholic World War II veteran who turns for help to the founder of a controversial group known as The Cause.

As much as Joaquin Phoenix has fallen off the deep end as of late, with the whole mock-umentary debacle that hovered over our lives for almost a year, that and his real life erratic behavior, Phoenix still finds a way to deliver in this role, as alcoholic, misguided, and ill-equipped “scoundrel” Freddie Quell, a role that no other actor could have played and a performance that is truly brought to life by both Phoenix and Anderson. Whether Phoenix is just naturally crazy and that comes off in the role, or whether he really has the act down and is one hell of a performer, I think we may never know, but regardless, he deserves this nomination and Paul Thomas Anderson’s film “The Master” deserves so much more than what it has so far received.

Phoenix is no stranger to the Academy Awards and although he publicly criticizes the awards ceremony, he has been nominated twice before, as Best Actor in a Supporting Role in “Gladiator” (2000) and Best Actor in a Leading Role in “Walk The Line” (2005). This will unfortunately be another year where he only makes it to the nomination stage as Daniel Day-Lewis has this category locked with his performance as “Lincoln”. With such an impressive year in the acting categories, it would be hard to say that Phoenix could even beat out Hugh Jackman (“Les Miserable”) or Denzel Washington (“Flight”) who both continue to add to their impressive careers. Despite who takes the award, having Phoenix back in the acting spotlight is reward enough for me. As long as we don’t have to watch his rapping career.

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THE MASTER
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Nominated Role: Philip Seymour Hoffman portrays Lancaster Dodd, the founder of a controversial group known as The Cause.

In a category that is almost completely up in the air, I want Philip Seymour Hoffman to win the Academy Award. But want and believe are two different things, and the way things are shaping up, I believe Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln” will probably take the award come Oscar night. At a close second, Christoph Waltz for “Django Unchained” could also step up to accept his second Academy Award. But sadly, I am not able to predict Hoffman winning his second and will simply have to be in my book as the winner and not etched in the annals of the awards.

Hoffman has always been one of my favorite actors and to see him in a Paul Thomas Anderson film like “The Master”, coming from a director that truly produces the best performances out of already astounding actors, was truly an honor. Having been to the Academy Awards with nominations three times before, winning Best Actor in a Leading Role for “Capote” (2005) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for both “Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007) and “Doubt” (2008), he has definitely been honored appropriate, that point cannot be argued, but to see him win yet another award from such an undervalued film would be the pinnacle of my Oscar watching experience. Since this is a category of all previous winners, there is no one would can be said is “due” for the award, but when it comes down to it, it will be hard for Hoffman to top this performance. He’s a great leader, strong in his linguistics, and mesmerizing from the moment we meet him. Commanding this role and stealing the show, Hoffman deserves this Oscar… but as with many this year, his merit will go unnoticed.

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THE MASTER
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Nominated Role: As Peggy Dodd, Amy Adams portrays the determined wife of the controversial founder of a group known as The Cause.

Different from the case of Hoffman and having already been adorned with an Academy Award, Amy Adams is an actress that most deservedly should win an Oscar, herself, but like Joaquin Phoenix’s chances, unfortunately she will not be leaving this year’s awards show with a big golden statue.

Adams has been nominated three times prior, all in the category of Best Actress in a Supporting Role to which she competes again this year. Her first nomination was for “Junebug” (2005) in which she played a pregnant young woman. Then, she was nominated for her stunning role as a nun in “Doubt” (2008) also alongside her “The Master” co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman (they both received a nomination for their roles but did not win). And most recently, she was nominated for her work with David O. Russell in the ever popular “The Fighter” (2010) to which she was the only actor/actress from that film that got a nomination but did not take home the gold (Melissa Leo and Christian Bale both won their respected categories).

Despite her deserving an Oscar for the constant stream of stellar roles she produces, this simply will not be her year, especially going up against Anne Hathaway, who delivers a much more dynamic role than that of prissy wife of a cult leader that she plays in “The Master”. But what gives me hope is that she’ll continue down this amazing career path that she’s assembled and in a not-so-distant-future, we will finally see Adams take home an award that she’ll finally earn.

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REVIEW

Paul Thomas Anderson has a way of telling a story that both challenges and entertains its audience in the most unique and interesting ways. Not to mention Anderson’s ability to extract exquisite performances from his leads. Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers what could be his best and most convincing performance to-date while Joaquin Phoenix matches him in complete insanity. At briskly over two hours, the relationship between the two men could carry on much longer, with a constantly changing dynamic, in new and exciting ways. Although the supporting cast often gets lost in the shuffle, there is little need for them, besides backdrops for the unyielding lead performances. There are several key moments of the film, including a powerful, audio-recorded session between Hoffman and Phoenix, that highlight the essence of “The Master” and will live on beyond the viewing of the film. I feel many will take this at face value and regard it as a social piece aimed at Scientology, but this subject matter is merely a vessel to transport this story worth telling. As much buzz as this film has gotten, it will definitely be a contender come awards season, with performances, directing, and cinematography at the top of its game.

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// Produced by Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison, Daniel Lupi, & JoAnne Sellar // Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson // Lead Actor: Joaquin Phoenix // Supporting Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman // Supporting Actress: Amy Adams //

// Dated Viewed: Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 // ONLINE STREAMING //  14 films – 19 days //

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