26 May 2008

Hailing Tom Wilkinson

In the last few months, all the best movies I've seen involved the British actor Tom Wilkinson. He played three quite different Americans:

  • the manic and doomed litigator Arthur Edens in Michael Clayton.
  • a canny, randy, and delicious Benjamin Franklin in the miniseries John Adams.
  • a smooth, brass-knuckled James A. Baker III in Recount, shown last night.
He was very impressive and entertaining in all three roles. I think Wilkinson's even pushed aside Jim Broadbent as my favorite British character actor right now.

Wilkinson won a BAFTA Award for Supporting Actor and international attention as the executive made redundant in The Full Monty. He's been nominated for an Oscar twice: for In the Bedroom and Michael Clayton. The first also won him a slew of critical awards, but it was a disturbing story with moderate box-office power, and thus not Best Lead Actor material for the Academy.

Wilkinson's been quoted as saying, "It's no good being great in something that goes straight to video." But two of the three roles listed at the top were HBO productions, and I'd be happy to see him in a lot more.


Sam said...

I haven't seen any of those yet, but I think I mentioned him in a post awhile back because of his great Pecksniff in the Martin Chuzzlewitt from a few years back.

Anonymous said...

I saw Michael Clayton and thought that he basically made the film. Without him the movie would have fallen straight on its face. He did an excellent job. I'd like to see him in something else.

J. L. Bell said...

Sydney Pollack, who died earlier this week, was an Executive Producer and featured actor in Michael Clayton, and had been scheduled to direct Recount until he became ill. Pollack's strength as a director was his work with talented actors like Wilkinson.

Anonymous said...

He's one of those actors of whom I keep an eye on everything he's in: he was superlative in the film Priest too, with Robert Carlyle and Linus Roache.