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February 02 2010

Jeremy Renner receives an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Known to us as Penn in the Angel episode "Somnambulist", the nomination is for his role in The Hurt Locker.

I added the bit about which episode he was in as I couldn't remember!
Jeremy Renner was on Angel?! AWESOME.
If you've not seen the film, please do. Jeremy Renner & Mykelti Williamson ("Boomtown", "Forrest Gump") give outstanding performances. Renner's nod is completely deserved, as is Kathryn Bigelow's directing nomination. Brilliant film!
Jeremy Renner reminds me of Nathan Fillion a lot. I mean physically they could be brothers. I was going to say younger brother but I googled it and found out they were both born in 71.
Thanks, Simon, for the assist. For a moment there, I thought gremlins had invaded my entry, then it dawned on me that an admin must have provided an able assist.

And I wholeheartedly concur with Intrepid Reporter - The Hurt Locker is taut, gripping, and very well-directed. Also check out Jeremy in the little seen 2002 indie film Dahmer.

Dahmer (2002) IMDb entry

He played Jeffrey Dahmer and turned in an unsettling performance. Renner's an incredible talent, that's for sure.

[ edited by jason.cinema on 2010-02-02 16:15 ]

[ edited by jason.cinema on 2010-02-03 07:19 ]
I didn't recognize him from playing Penn. I have even watched "Somnambulist" since seeing the movie and I still didn't recognize him. Wow.

He does a great, great job in a great, great movie.
The movie and his performance are great.
Definitely gold. I loved the film, the performances, the cinematography, everything! Loved every part. Good luck to him.
Wonder if ABC is kicking themselves for canceling The Unusuals now.
'The Unusuals' wasn't bad, with more time it might've really turned into something (the entire main cast were good or better).

'The Hurt Locker' on the other hand was way beyond 'not bad'. Pretty amazing film and a stunning performance from Jeremy Renner. You believe him basically, you believe he's there and you believe he's mired in the existential shit just as deep as a person can be and still function. Kathryn Bigelow did a good job too, she's always been great at visceral, believable action scenes (does anyone not wince when Mace is being beaten in 'Strange Days' ? Seen it loads and I still do) and puts that ability to brilliant use.

(not seen enough of the others to judge if - IMO - he deserves it though. Clooney was good in 'Up in the Air' - another good film BTW - but the part was well within his comfort zone for most of the movie. Not seen the rest)
I haven't seen the film--although it's on my "to buy" list--but I'm rooting for it. No woman has ever won Best Director, and the buzz seems to be that this might be the film and the year.
Terrific film. Mr. Renner is also the heroic soldier in "28 Weeks Later" and the bad guy in "SWAT." I had occasion to meet him briefly last year, before "Hurt Locker" was released. Because I am a huge fan of Kathryn Bigelow and knew she had directed the movie, I asked Mr. Renner if we could talk about "Hurt Locker" for a minute and he was totally gracious and enthusiastic.
OMG I had forgotten he was in an episode of Angel. That's really cool. Was also excited that Carey Mulligan was nominated as she was Sally Sparrow in the excellent Dr. Who episode Blink.
Yep, the Stupendous Sally Sparrow - the companion that got away IMO (wouldn't she have been great ?). Carey Mulligan was excellent in 'An Education' too which I enjoyed though it's a fairly conventional story in a lot of ways (Olivia Williams has a smallish but pivotal role and as you'd imagine, she's great too).
He does deserve the nod as actor, I don't think Katherine Bigelow deserves it as director. The constant shakeycam made it unwatchable in places. Maybe this technique has become mainstream enough that it doesn't get mentioned anymore, but it still makes me nauseous, it's still stupid, gimmicky hackery, and I won't take any director seriously that uses it. Sorry. It could have been one of the best movies of the year too.
Intrepid Reporter, were you thinking of Anthony Mackie?

I agree Mykelti Williamson is awesome, but unfortunately, he's not in this film.

Also, just a side note: You have no idea how much of a kick I get out of telling people this is a 'Guy Pearce film' or a 'Ralph Fiennes film.' Heh heh.

[ edited by QuanticoMVP on 2010-02-02 22:02 ]
I had no idea they were in it so seeing them pop up like that was a pleasant surprise. And Ralph Fiennes and his lads rang quite true too, their appearance etc. tallied with what i've read in a couple of accounts by British soldiers from Iraq where fairly ragged guys in mixed uniform/civilian clothing would rock up, sometimes with some fairly impressive (if non-standard) weaponry, whereupon they and everyone around them would very pointedly not mention "special forces" or "intelligence agents" until these guys left.
Harsh, dispatch.

Fair enough if you don't like the technique, and it is certainly overused in some films, but to call it 'gimmicky hackery' is a bit dismissive, especially given how beautifully framed and composed each and every shot in that movie is.

A well-deserved Oscar nod in my book.
I'm so excited by this that I just might watch the Oscars. I really liked "The Unusuals" and I love seeing Whedonverse actors gain prominence.
I've been a fan of Mr. Renner's ever since I saw him in Dahmer, so hearing this made my day. There were a lot of well-deserved nominations this year; it'll be exciting to see who wins.
I love it when our "verse" actors go to bigger and better things!:)
interesting side note, that ep is sked to play on TNT tomarrow at 600am
Fair enough if you don't like the technique, and it is certainly overused in some films, but to call it 'gimmicky hackery' is a bit dismissive, especially given how beautifully framed and composed each and every shot in that movie is.

It's not that I don't like it, it's that, after about 30 minutes of nonstop camera shaking, I start to get physically ill. I don't get carsick so it's not like I have a weak stomach-- maybe I'm susceptible to motion sickness.

And as much as I'd like to see a woman director win an Oscar, I worry that that would legitimize this "technique" even further (notice the snarky quotes). So I'm actually rooting for her to lose, out of no malice for her as a person. It's for the self preservation of my stomach.

I stand by calling it "gimmicky hackery". If your scene is exciting, that should be evident by what's on screen without shaking the camera all over the place. And if it's a boring scene then it should be a boring scene. Shaking the camera around when nothing's happening makes it even more ridiculous.

Of course there's a time and a place to move a camera around jerkily, even for extended periods of time. I use the term "shakeycam movie" for the ones that do it for the entire movie, literally, even when the action on screen is just two people talking-- like the last 2 Bourne films, and this one.
I didn't think it was a gimmick. To me it felt like I was viewing the scenes from the viewpoint of someone on the ground desperately trying to keep up with the action. Come to think about it, I hardly noticed it. What I did notice was how unusually quiet the film was, and how that hush heightened the tension and excitement far more than any Michael Bay bang-em-up soundtrack could hope to.

But while you're rooting against the director out of spite against the camera technique she chose to allow her cinematographer to employ, don't forget that as the film's director, she was also responsible for a thousand other decisions that collectively resulted in one of the best war flicks ever made. Like the decision to trust that a relative unknown actor could totally kick ass and own the screen, even when sharing it with powerhouses like Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes. For that decision alone I'd give her the prize.
Kathryn Bigelow had actually worked with Ralph Fiennes before on "Strange Days," which employed an eight-pound camera, invented especially for the film, that mimicked the rapid motion of the human eye.

I didn't have any problem with the cinematography on "Hurt Locker." I'd have to see the film again to deconstruct its elements, but however it was achieved, I came out with emotions similar to those I would experience with a real-life incident, which I think was the intention.
Exactly Shapenew (and BrewBunny). Shaky-cam is one tool in a director's toolbox and like any tool (crane shots, fast cuts, whatever) it can be used inappropriately. But when used well it creates a real sense of immediacy, you feel like you're in the middle of the action (I also barely noticed it, I was so immersed in the movie - which in itself was partly because of the shaky-cam. Twisty turny ;). In a film like 'The Hurt Locker' that's entirely appropriate and works to great effect IMO. Mileage varies, as always.

(anyone interested in a more restrained non-fictional take on the same job by a British soldier BTW could do worse than read "Eight Lives Down" by Chris Hunter. The title's from the adage about cats - in Northern Ireland British army slang for bomb disposal officers was 'Felix' because the squaddies reckoned they must have nine lives)

[ edited by Saje on 2010-02-03 11:28 ]
I haven't seen the movie yet, so I can't comment on the camera work. Just want to say I always thought Jeremy Renner's performance as Penn in "Somnambulist" was excellent. IMO it was a well done episode and I always wondered why I didn't see Jeremy in more roles.
It's a pity that shaky cam's always going to give some percentage of the audience headaches and nausea, since it's fairly difficult to enjoy a movie that's making you physically ill. For me, it works, if deployed well, and I barely notice it in the hands of skilled film makers since they use it to get me into the story.

Dollhouse used a lot of hand-held without prompting (IIRC) too many complaints. Maybe the technique is easier to take on a smaller screen (for those who react physically to it on a large screen)?
I had no idea that he was Penn. Yay for Whedonverse connections!

This was the best movie of the year for me. I saw a lot of others I liked, but this is the movie (and the character) that stayed with me more than any other. I think Jeff Bridges is going to win the actor award, though.
Is his a better performance do you think jcs or is it maybe as much for a body of work (like John Wayne for 'True Grit') ? Jeff Bridges is a great actor, don't get me wrong, but sometimes I wish it was just whoever was judged best that year.

Maybe the technique is easier to take on a smaller screen (for those who react physically to it on a large screen)?

As someone who's a bit subject to motion sickness (was much worse until I learned to drive) I think it's easier to take when you can see both sides of the screen Pointy. For 'The Hurt Locker' I sat back a bit further in the cinema than I normally do and was pretty much totally unaffected (only saw it once though so no "control viewing" from nearer the screen to really separate variables). Reckon it might have something to do with the "horizon" - if your eye has something steady at the sides to anchor it then you're OK, if it perceives the shaky line as the actual horizon you get into trouble.
Interesting idea, Saje. I wonder if dramamine would help, too. They could market it especially for that purpose as Drama-Mine.
I'd *groan* but that could actually fly ;).

(bobbing up and down motion is worse for me too. Used to get it playing certain FPSs wherein, by default, the screen bobbed as the character ran. 'Quake' was one IIRC)
I wonder if dramamine would help, too. They could market it especially for that purpose as Drama-Mine.

Hee hee hee.

We've been meaning to watch this for ages. Maybe next week. Good for him.
Could be an advertising tool--"This movie is such a wild ride that you need to medicate yourself first." Might appeal to some people.

Is his a better performance...

I don't see it as a better performance (although it's great--certainly better than John Wayne in True Grit :), but Bridges is a well-loved actor who's been nominated but never won & I think his is the kind of role the Academy seems to like. I'd vote for Renner myself.
Kathryn Bigelow had actually worked with Ralph Fiennes before on "Strange Days," which employed an eight-pound camera, invented especially for the film, that mimicked the rapid motion of the human eye.

Not how the eye works!

Try this: get up and walk across the room, then walk back. Does your vision shake up and down with every step? Back and forth?

Your brain, eyes and inner ear work together as stabilizers, so that you're always seeing a steady image, even when your head is moving up and down and side to side, like when you're walking. Riding a bike, even jumping up and down... try it. Jump up and down. Now jump up and down with a camera. When you play it back, it won't resemble what you saw.

A steady image already is the best emulation of the human eye.

I just wanted to weigh in again because I felt bad about being harsh on this movie. I'm still bitter about not being able to not finish the last 2 Borne films, because I liked the first one so much. In The Hurt Locker I took a break halfway through and was able to finish it. I watch DVDs on my computer, with the screen about 3 feet from my face, so, it's probably more like a movie theater experience (in terms of screen size) than watching something on TV.
That comment was referring to 'Strange Days' which uses a kind of shaky-cam effect to recreate an individual's point of view. I'd say "that mimicked the rapid motion of the human head" (rather than eye) is slightly more accurate - in the "cartridge" segments the screen doesn't shake a huge amount but it does move around at odd angles (i.e. it's rarely level, despite often being quite steady) and very rapidly.

But the technique isn't about verisimilitude IMO, it's designed to instill the sensation of being there, which, when used well, it does.

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