Biopics based on the life of geniuses with dramatic ups and downs tend to augment cinema
Eddie Redmayne managed to do the impossible — at least given the buzz surrounding him — when he won the SAG Award for Best Actor last week. He had already bagged the Golden Globe and the Critic's Choice Award in the same category. In other words, his chances of bagging an Oscar have skyrocketed.
His meticulous portrayal of Stephen Hawking has earned awe as well as accolades. If not, it'd be interesting to see whether Benedict Cumberbatch manages to upstage him on the big night thanks to his spectacular performance in The Imitation Game. Both play troubled geniuses in their respective films and cinema is laced with instances where actors have tested their threshold. hitlist points out a few of them:
Character: Jackson Pollock
Actor: Ed Harris
Lowdown: From the moment he took out his dripping brush to the moment he died in a horrible car crash, one aspect was unwavering about Pollock: he was an artist par excellence. And this biopic makes that doubly clear. At the same time, moreover, he is shown to be a conflicted personality whose artistic endeavours took a toll on his personal life.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Character: John Nash
Actor: Russell Crowe
Lowdown: They say the only reason Crowe couldn't replicate Tom Hanks' achievement of winning back-to-back Oscars is because of his obnoxious behaviour at the BAFTA that year. He delivered a stunning performance as a schizophrenic mathematician on the verge of cracking a theory that would deeply affect modern economics.
Character: Sylvia Plath
Actor: Gwyneth Paltrow
Lowdown: If sorrow makes a poet's best friend, this peculiar story indeed proved fatal. Focusing on the young gifted poetess who had her troubles without a shoulder to lean on, the film makes a strong case for employing uncomfortable silence repeatedly — with desirable effects. Paltrow ended up delivering her most touching performance.
Character: Amedeo Modigliani
Actor: Andy Garcia
Lowdown: Are all artists morally twisted? Are all of them broken? These are just two of the queries this biopic poses as it showcases the confrontation between Modigliani and Picasso. The only trouble being the former is losing more than he can budge with while the latter seems to be making the most of the creative battle.
Walk the Line (2005)
Character: Johnny Cash
Actor: Joaquin Phoenix
Lowdown: In his remarkable song titled Hurt, Cash crooned "Everyone I know goes away in the end..." In his Oscar-nominated role, Phoenix gives us a peek into these lines as everyone, except his devoted girlfriend played by Reese Witherspoon finds it difficult to deal with him, thus providing a playful redefinition to the word 'genius'.
Character: Truman Capote
Actor: Toby Jones
Lowdown: The only difference between Philip Seymour Hoffman's and Jones' portrayal of Capote is that the latter didn't win an Oscar. Threading on the line of a melancholic writer who was disguised his loneliness in the garb of socialite flamboyance, Infamous perceived the happenings around him with sensitivity.
La Vie En Rose (2007)
Character: Édith Piaf
Actor: Marion Cotillard
Lowdown: The French actress surprised quite a lot by grabbing the Oscar for Best Actor, owing in parts to the transformation she went to fit in the character of a Cabaret dancer. As is the norm with most biopics, the swing between happiness and gloom is evident but what sets this film apart is the manner Cotillard compels you to relate with her loss.
I'm Not There (2007)
Character: Bob Dylan
Actor: Cate Blanchett
Lowdown: There's no mention of Dylan in the film but from the music and the various characters that are moving in a linear motion, we can make out that the film is based on the celebrated singer. Every song that breaks out every now and then gives a peak into his state of mind.
Character: Ian Curtis
Actor: Sam Riley
Lowdown: When English musician Curtis committed suicide at the age of 23, the music scene was numbed. Twenty-seven years later, when this biopic came up, the black-and-white feel of his journey made headlines once again. Riley's cold portrayal of an artiste who couldn't bear the burden of depression turned out
to be clinical.
Character: Charles Darwin
Actor: Paul Bettany
Lowdown: The scientist who came up with one of the most staggering theories of all had his own demons to deal with. Darwin's Theory of Evolution faced — and still continue to face remonstrations, but its biggest opponents happened to be those who were very dear to Darwin. This biopic throws light on such personal turmoil that otherwise isn't known.
Theory of Everything (2014)
Character: Stephen Hawking
Actor: Edward Redmayne
Lowdown: During an interview, Redmayne expressed his mental fatigue while he was working on his character in this film. Portraying an Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patient took a toll on his psyche and there were long sleepless nights for this young actor. Going by his splendid act and the ensuing rewards, his efforts didn't go waste.
Pawn Sacrifice (2014)
Character: Bobby Fischer
Actor: Tobey Maguire
Lowdown: If you thought Maguire's finest work was kissing his ladylove upside down as Spiderman, you're mistaken. This chess-centric film has him essaying probably the most eccentric of champions. And what's more hitting is the fact that it focuses on a controversial match while capturing Fischer's character beautifully.
The Imitation Game (2014)
Character: Alan Turning
Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch
Lowdown: Ever wondered why Apple's logo looks the way it does? Well, one theory suggests that it's a tribute to Turning because he killed himself with a cyanide-injected apple. Regardless, whether that's true or not doesn't get in the way of Cumberbatch's portrayal of a man rightly called the father of computer science.
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