Tuesday, July 13, 2010

For Your Consideration: Mark Ruffalo

I know it's a long time until the awards season comes back in full throttle, but I think I've already seen one the best performance of the year and pray that a loving, tender, merciful God will remember.  It's courtesy of Mark Ruffalo in Lisa Cholodenko's sublime The Kids Are All Right.  I've already fussed about my awe of the film before, but it's worth reiterating, because it's far and away one the 2010's best, at least so far.  This warm, generously spirited, sexy comedy-drama works on a handful of levels, and exceeds expectations because of the committed cast.  Much has been fawned at them already-- Annette Bening being the one singled out the loudest, but Ruffalo is awesome as donar dad Paul.  This criminally underrated actor, who first got attention in his breakthrough a decade ago in You Can Count on Me, has unfathomably never been nominated before, and that's a crying shame, but it makes perfect sense, as sad as it is to here.  He's such a subtle actor, never one to lay on actorly tics, always infusing his characters with a naturalism, that too often goes unnoticed.  The Academy likes 'em big.  With a decade of enviable performances in many terrific films (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Zodiac, You Can Count on Me, The Brothers Bloom, Collateral), it's an honest to god shame that he's never gotten the recognition he deserves.  But there's something perhaps a bit more special about Paul.  Here Ruffalo gets a play up his immense charm and gives one of his freshest, warmest performances yet.  Paul's a bit of a ladies man, and could easily have been seen as a flakey too-smooth operator in lesser hands, a cad, even full of himself.  But Ruffalo nails ever nuance, especially the first half, which delves from one awkard scene to the next.  You need an actor with incredible integrity and charisma for it all to work, and Ruffalo is the perfect fit.  In my own world view, Ruffalo should be on he's third or fourth nomination, but I'll settle for a first, and possible win.  Here's hoping that The Kids Are All Right remedies that come next February.

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