Tag Archives Hollywood

Best Movie Performances of 2017 (According to Me)

Guest Post by EMAS Community Member, Joanna Enright

2017 is coming to a rousing conclusion as far as great film performances go. The year got off to a slow start, but it is building up great momentum as the big films of the year come through in time for the end of the year holiday season. This year, the competition for awards will be fierce, especially in the Best Actor category, as we’re seeing some major (and new) stars taking on highly challenging roles and bringing them in with everything they’ve got.

I’ve singled out a few of my favorite performances from 2017 (so far) to highlight here. The actors in these roles are all, in varied ways, with different approaches and styles, working at the top of their game, with passion for what they do and calling on their highest intelligence and craftsmanship. All of this is why each of these actors can offer a lot to those who love and are inspired by the art of acting.

 

Dustin Hoffman, The Meyerowitz Stories

hoffman-and-ben-stillerjpg

Academy Award-winner Dustin Hoffman (Tootsie, The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy) is back in top form in Noah Baumbach’s ensemble comedy about a family that comes back together after years of dysfunction to celebrate their artist father’s career retrospective. Working with a script (by Baumbach) that is both hilarious, trenchant and at times painfully heartbreaking, Hoffman offers a singular character performance as the ego-driven yet utterly emotionally unaware patriarch of the Meyerowtiz clan. The tiny details in Hoffman’s performance, as he glides through fractured interchanges with his sons, wives, and (secretly envied) artist friends are hilarious. Hoffman wonderfully captures the quiet egomania of a New York artist who keeps propping himself up in the face of his failure as an artist and a father, and yet keeps on going. This highly watchable film also features uniformly great performances by the ensemble cast, including Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler as Hoffman’s estranged sons, who are unable to stop competing for their dad’s attention, even in middle-age.

 

Gary Oldman, The Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill

Gary Oldman (Sid and Nancy, Immortal Beloved, The Dark Knight) delivers a towering performance as Prime Minister Winston Churchill in director Joe Wright’s The Darkest Hour. The film is the riveting story of Churchill’s leadership in the stark early years of the Second World War, as France was being overtaken by German forces and England was beginning to realize the enormity of the threat they were facing. Oldman’s character work in this film is indelible, as he captures Churchill’s persona as a brilliant yet eccentric leader who was tasked with leading the English public (and parliament) towards support for entering into war with Germany.

Oldman, wearing heavy prosthetic makeup and extra weight, comes through with incredible emotional force as Churchill, from the high moments of his great speeches to the English people, and also in the small moments when he faces his fears over England’s possible fate. This stirring performance by one of the best actors of our time is a must-see for any actor working today.

 

Mark Rylance, Dunkirk

mark Rylance in DunkirkMark Rylance is one of the most arresting and skilled actors working today, and this Academy Award Winner (Best Supporting Actor-Bridge of Spies) brings an emotional center to the searing story of Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan’s rendition of this key battle during the early days of World War II (in events also covered in “The Darkest Hour”) is a fast-paced epic that offers few breaks from the unrelenting tension of the story. As the film cuts between scenes of the war’s horrors on land, sea, and in the air, Rylance brings a feeling of emotional stability to the story. As an Englishman who sails a small yacht to the village of Dunkirk to help with the rescue of British troops, Rylance, with minimal dialogue, offers an emotional gravity and sensitivity in his scenes that is brilliant and heartbreaking. This is another must-see performance in a year of great ones.


Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name

Call Me by My Name Chalamet

Timothee Chalamet delivers a breakout performance in the sensitive and ultimately heartbreaking love story, Call Me By Your Name. As the teenage Eliot, a student and musician in 1981 Italy, Chalamet captures the painful longing of first love, as he and the graduate student living with his family (Armie Hammer) fall into a forbidden love affair they know must ultimately come to an end. Hammer and Chalet are gorgeous together, and their tasteful love scenes together are beautifully rendered.

There’s no doubt this year will be remembered for a host of great films marked by amazing writing and cinematography, but more than anything, it’s the performances by some of the best actors working today in these films that will leave a lasting impression on me.

– Joanna Enright

 

EMAS Acting Teachers give their Oscar Picks

academy award candidates

The Oscars are almost here – a time of year when everyone looks back takes some time to contemplate on their favorite movies and performances of the past year. From academy members to cinephiles to casual moviegoers, everyone has their own opinion about which work merits recognition.

Getting in the spirit of things, we asked our staff of acting instructors to share their thoughts on which films and actors impressed them the most in 2015. Below are their votes for the 87th  Academy Awards:

Jordana Oberman, Technique instructor

Best Leading Actor: Eddie Redmayne
Best Leading Actress: Brie Larson
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance
Best Supporting Actress: Kate winslet
Best FilmSpotlight
Best Direction: The Revenant Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Sandy Egan, Meisner Instructor

Best Leading Actor: Leonardo Di Caprio – just for shooting conditions alone (I also really liked Matt Damon)
Best Leading Actress: Saoirse Ronan – a beautiful heartfelt performance
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Ruffalo – I like him in everything
Best Supporting Actress: Rooney Mara is the very soul Carol
Best Film: Spotlight – it worked on every level
Best Direction: George Miller – a great achievement so late in a long career [Mad Max: Fury Road]

Thom Rivera, On-camera Instructor

Best Leading Actor: Leonardo Di Caprio or Michael Fassbender
Best Leading Actress: Brie Larson
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vykander  or Kate Winslet
Best FilmThe Revenant
Best Direction: Alejandro Iñárritu

Ken Weiler, Meisner Instructor

Best Leading Actress: I’m going with Brie Larson. She won the Golden Globe for Room. Her performance was raw, and powerful. She’s new, even though she’s been working for over 20 years. Ha! Room is just the sort of movie the Academy gives Oscars to.
Best Leading Actor: I’m going with Leonardo Di Caprio. He’s overdue. His body of work is remarkable and he hasn’t won an Oscar yet. And he was incredibly good in The Revenant.
Best Film: The Revenant, Alejandro Iñárritu won last year for Birman and, as crazy as it sounds, I think he could win again.
Best Direction: Alejandro Iñárritu, The Revenant is just so cinematically magnificent and, like Birdman,left me asking “How did he do that?”

Elizabeth Mestnik, Founder & Director of EMAS

Best Leading Actor: Leonardo Di Caprio
Best Leading Actress: Brie Larson
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Ruffalo
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander
Best Film: Spotlight
Best Direction: Alejandro Iñárritu

 

Have your own thoughts on who did the best movie work of 2015? Let us know what you think!

Survey Results: Favorite Actors of 2014

2014 favorite actors survey, Bradley Cooper, Denzel Washington, Jennifer Lawrence

So the verdict is in and, overall, it’s not very decisive:

After conducting a poll of internet users asking them to answer the question, “Of all the actors who appeared in a feature film in 2014, who do you most respect or admire?” the most voted for actor was Bradley Cooper with 6.8%. Although not released in 2014, this is probably due in large part to his recent portrayal of Chris Kyle in American Sniper.

With a few exceptions, such as Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, and perhaps Matthew McConaughey, it seems that most people’s opinions of their favorite actors are not decided by one year’s work. Outside of these two, the other actors making up the top eight were Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Lawrence, Angelina Jolie, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Although these actors did feature in 2014 films, one could argue that their prior work had a greater influence on opinions than their performances over the last year.

When comparing male and female responses, the top two actors remain the same. However, across age groups, one begins to see a difference in the people’s preferences.

The clearest trend here is Bradley Cooper getting the most votes among the three age groups between 25 and 64. People clearly feel strongly about American Sniper’s political implications which likely influenced peoples votes (not to discount Cooper’s performance). The preference for Chris Pratt among 25 to 34 year-olds illustrates that he has an ability to strike a chord with this generation’s sense of humor. George Clooney among 65 and up?  He’s an excellent actor, but as to why this age group? … your guess is as good as ours.

The nod to Robin Williams, ranked 12th overall, is worth noting. Despite not having any leading roles in blockbuster films in 2014, one can see his prominence in the survey as a well deserved tribute to an actor that managed to work his way into many hearts, both through his endearing comedic roles as well as his moving dramatic performances. (See our Improv Actors blog post.)

Lastly, a special thanks for the response “I don’t go to the movies.” … duly noted.

THE MEISNER TECHNIQUE SUMMER INTENSIVE

The Meisner Technique was developed by Sanford Meisner over 65 years ago, and remains one of the leading actor training techniques today.  The summer intensive is a month-long course that meets three days a week for three hours. It’s purpose it to give student actors a full exposure to the philosophies as well as the structure of this demanding yet dynamic process. It develops sensory and emotional skills and introduces actors to the strength of using one’s own uniqueness within performance.  Students are expected to present work at each class. In addition, Ms. Mestnik expects students to rehearse in preparation for each class.

If you are ready to ignite your imagination, reconnect to your emotions, trust your instincts and develop the essential skills of great acting, and work harder than you have ever worked before…

This program is for you!

Auditing:

EMAS does not permit auditing of technique classes. We consider technique classes at EMAS to be a personal laboratory, where the students are encouraged to take risks. There is a sense of safety created by the closed classroom that allows for such risk-taking. EMAS does everything to encourage and support the actor in this endeavor.

Preparation:

We recommend reading On Acting by Sanford Meisner or The Actor’s Art and Craft by William Esper before interviewing for our program.

Attendance:

Students presenting themselves to EMAS for training must be prepared to undertake the rigorous and demanding work required to ready themselves for the demands of a professional career.

Ms. Mestnik is very strict about class attendance and students rehearsal in preparation for each class. Students who are not professional in conduct or undependable as partners and class members will be discontinued. Many of our students are working professionals and every effort will be made to accommodate student’s professional demands.  Students are allowed two absences in this 5-week session.

Tuition:

14-Class Core Acting Program $595

Add 4 Body/Voice classes for $150

Class Schedule:

Session A:  Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7:00, Saturday mornings at 10:00.

Session B:  Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 10:00

Physical Voice:  Mondays:  7:00pm

Acting: How To Get Started

Acting is a tough profession. It’s a distinct balance of experience and skill perfected over a period of time. A lot of patience and time ends up being thrown into the equation, and those who are disciplined enough to work hard and persevere for what they love and aspire to will reap the rewards in the end.

Rigorous training and practice – a minimum of three to four hours a day, six days a week for at least two or three years before you reach the bare minimum of becoming a professional. Which means you might have the potential, but you’ll have to work hard in order to be able to push that potential to the max.

It also comes down to how you present yourself. Imagine this: you are given a basic monologue and a rundown of what the casting director is looking for. What if you look down at the script in hand, your self-doubt gets in the way, and you freeze? The first few seconds are crucial. Your monologue either flies and you deliver, or you fail to sell them your speech, and you’re axed before you can unearth your character. Two seconds or so to prove youself – probably the most essential two seconds of your life.

The Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio, a dynamic Los Angeles acting school, is willing to help you unmask your potential in truthfully, emotionally, and courageously expressing yourself. Ms. Mestnik founded EMAS in 2001 to provide Hollywood actors the same comprehensive training she received in New York City. Using the Meisner Technique to help challenge and invigorate actors to fully encompass their roles, EMAS will help guide you in understanding and improving your craft.

What’s most likely standing between you and your goals, is yourself. With the help of some great acting instruction, you’ll be able to acquire the skills that you will need to deliver those lines with fiery appeal, or with enough pizzazz, or dynamic panache to impress the right people.

Enrollment for Spring Classes Beginning Acting Classes starts now!