Viggo Mortensen and Tadanobu Asano
I’ve only had the opportunity to see a few of the films nominated for Academy Awards this year and besides David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, I haven’t been all that impressed with what I’ve seen. Since I don’t write about modern film that often I wasn’t going to mention the Oscars this year, but I will be watching the award show tonight and I hope to catch a glimpse of two of my favorite modern actors; Viggo Mortensen and Tadanobu Asano.
I’ve been following Viggo Mortensen’s acting career closely since I first saw him in the entertaining horror film Prison back in 1988. Viggo really stood out and it was clear to me back then that he had the good looks and acting abilities to become a major star so I’m not sure why it took so long for everyone else to notice him. Besides acting Mortensen is an accomplished poet and artist, and he’s also recorded multiple albums. He’s a truly talented individual and an American original who’s not afraid to speak his mind and stand up for what he believes in.
After enjoying Mortensen in somewhat lackluster films like Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990) and Young Guns II (1990), he went on make some of his best films in the early 1990s such as The Reflecting Skin (1990), The Indian Runner (1991) and The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995). By the late 1990s, I had sort of lost track of him and stopped paying attention to the films he appeared in until his name was suddenly everywhere following the success of the Lord of the Rings movies. I naively assumed he would continue making blockbuster action films in Hollywood after that so I was completely caught off guard by his incredible performance in David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence (2005) and I’m really happy that the director and actor seem to have forged an interesting creative bond that I hope will continue to evolve over time. I’d like to see Viggo Mortensen take home the Oscar for Best Actor tonight, but the odds are not in his favor.
Top: Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises
Bottom: Tadanobu Asano in Mongol
Much like Viggo Mortensen, Tadanobu Asano is a true “Renaissance Man” and besides being one of Japan’s most accomplished modern actors, he’s also a talented artist and musician.
I first discovered Asano’s talent back in 1998 (exactly 10 years after I came across Viggo Mortensen in Prison) when he starred in the excellent Japanese crime thriller and dark satire Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl (Samehada otoko to momojiri onna) followed by his impressive role in the samurai drama Taboo (Gohatto, 1999). I lost track of Asano for a few years until I caught him starring in Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer (Koroshiya 1, 2001), but he was hard to recognize at first. His hair was bleached bright blond and it took me awhile to figure out that he was the same handsome actor that I had been impressed with in earlier films. From that moment on I was determined to know more about Asano and I’ve made an effort to see many of his early films as well as his newest efforts whenever I can. Some of his best movies in recent years include Bright Future (Akarui mirai, 2003), Last Life in the Universe (Ruang rak noi nid mahasan, 2003), Zatoichi (2003), Vital (2004), Survive Style 5+ (2004) and Rampo Noir (2005).
Unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to see Tadanobu Asano’s new Oscar nominated film Mongol (Sergei Bodrov; 2007) yet, but it’s up for Best Picture in the much-contested Foreign Film category. I hope Asano will be able to attend the award show tonight on the off chance that the film he starred in might win.
Countless Oscars have been handed out as consolatory prizes for overlooked work and Viggo Mortensen and Tadanobu Asano’s ongoing and impressive acting careers have been overlooked by Hollywood and American film audiences for far too long. The odds might be stacked against them both tonight, but I’ll be rooting for them!
– Unfortunately my guys didn’t win anything and I thought the Award show was dull as dishwater this year (my favorite moment was when the Coen brothers won best director and Joel’s wife Frances McDormand couldn’t contain her happiness!). Oh well, there’s always next year. In the meantime, here are some pics of the most interesting actors who attended last nights red carpet affair. For my money, Asano was the best looking and best dressed man there. Even Viggo looked terrific with his bushy beard.
Viggo Mortensen and Tadanobu Asano at the 80th Academy Awards