Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

December 30, 2009

Best Movie Performance of the Year

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 9:53 am

David Schwartz invited me to contribute to a year end round-up of the greatest film, tv, YouTube –any kind of moving image — moments of the year.

I picked Christian McKay’s performance as Orson Welles, in Rick Linklater’s Orson Welles and Me. Don’t miss it.

This is an explanation of my choice; feel free to suggest yours in comments.

Seeing Christian McKay’s performance as Orson Welles in Richard Linklater’s film was almost shocking to me. Prior to that time the supreme Welles moment for me was his unforgettable performance as Falstaff — in his inexpressibly beautiful Chimes at Midnight. His conflation of Shakespeare’s two plays, which he directed as well. It was a high point of my Shakespearean experience.

But McCay gives us not the aging Welles of (released in ’65), but the young Welles, at 22, putting his on Broadway. The whole thing is ahectic, thrilling portrait of New York City in the late 30s, as well as a persuasive portrait of Welles manic, chaotic but glorious creative process — and a meditation on the nature of genius.

I’m a big fan of Richard Linklater (see my essay on in the Criterion DVD box set), but this surprises. It’s like nothing he’s done before from After Sunset or is it Before Sunrise (I get them both confused) to the amazing Waking Life.

While I’m not too fond of the Zac Efron ingenue subplot, Orson Welles and Me gives you so much Orson it’s worth the price of too much “Me.”

In case anyone cares it inspired me to write this essay on the ambiguities of genius:.

In which I say: “Linklater has found a British actor, Christian McKay, who
conveys the brusque impatience and urgency of genius convincingly, the blithe and utter self-confidence of it. His performance convinces you that one aspect of genius is never really doubting one’s own genius.”

In Welles case, it had its costs but it was forgivable because he created something immortal and Linklater’s film and Mckay’s performance are fitting tributes.



  1. Can’t wait to see this film… have been especially fascinated by this era of Welles life since reading the first part of Callow’s biography of the great man… which seems to me the most honest portrayal… unlike Bogdonavich’s fawning Callow shows both the genuis and his many downfalls. There is no other place in American artistic history I would rather have been than watching Welle’s Julius Ceasar or his Harlem MacBeth.
    The Efron thing may have kept me away for a few weeks, but I’ll check it out tomorrow.

    Comment by bryan — December 30, 2009 @ 10:30 am | Reply

  2. that being said, my performance of the year would be between Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds, Jeff Bridges in Crazy Hearts and Viggo Mortensen in The Road.

    Comment by bryan — December 30, 2009 @ 10:32 am | Reply

  3. An inviting review. Thank you for the recommendation, Mr. Rosenbaum. I must confess to not being aware of Linklater. You may envy me then in the manner an old academic colleague once quietly confided he felt for all those who heard Beethoven’s Seventh for the first time.

    Comment by Stephen Clark — December 30, 2009 @ 10:39 am | Reply

  4. Best Picture: “The Hurt Locker” Best Actor: Jeremy Renner “The Hurt Locker” Best Actress: Zooey Deschanel “500 Days of Summer” Best Supporting Actor: Anthony Mackie “The Hurt Locker Best Supporting Actress: Alexandra Maria Lara “The Baader Meinhof Complex” Documentary: “Herb and Dorothy”, Memumi Sasaki, Director Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow “The Hurt Locker” Best Foreign Film: “Dream of Silk” (Iran) directed by Nahid Rezai

    Comment by charlie finch — December 30, 2009 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

  5. Best Youtube performance (speech): Barack Obama, Oslo Best Youtube performance (music): Bryan Ferry “Both Ends Burning” (live in Germany) Best art video: Pipilotti Rist “Put Your Body Out Best digital animation: Cao Fei, “Building a City in Second Life” Most satisfying Youtube download: Greta Garbo “Ninotchka” Best television documentary: “The Supreme Court” CSPAN Best showbiz book: “Leiber and Stoller” Most riveting YouTube experience: Teheran protests Best radio show: The Bob and Tom Show Best sports peformance on YouTube: Zenyatta winning the Breeders Cup Classic Best cultural news site: Commenter of the Year: Michael Ledeen, PJM Comeback of the Year: Aretha Franklin Most admired cultural figure: Michelle Obama Best Financial Guru: Doug Kass Wave of the Future: Sarah Palin

    Comment by charlie finch — December 30, 2009 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

  6. Charlie, Hurt Locker may very well be the best film of the year, but in their 15 minutes total screen time Fiennes and Pierce act circles around everyone else in the film, proving what great acting can be. The other guys are adequate, but best performances of the year is a major stretch. The two in Brothers were better, and they weren’t very good.
    Nothing special about the performances other than being in a great script with great directing.
    I will give you the Biggelow directing nod. Hands down.

    Comment by bryan — December 31, 2009 @ 1:20 am | Reply

  7. see my review in archives

    Comment by charlie finch — December 31, 2009 @ 3:47 am | Reply

  8. Ron, I think you know where I stand on Welles, and yet up till now I haven’t been able to convince myself to go see this film. Partly, I hate to give up my own assumptions on the origins of Welles’ precociousness, his influence on the euphoric and profound era of the WPA theatre, his as-yet unwrecked self-control. And also, I just don’t want to be disappointed. All ruminations on Welles up till now have fallen short. How can this be different?

    Happy New Year, BTW.

    Comment by chris schomer — January 1, 2010 @ 6:40 pm | Reply

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