Monday, January 17, 2011

Some Good News from the Golden Globes

I am not one for taking awards seriously, particularly in the domain of show business.  However, I have been watching Melissa Leo ever since the days of Homicide and have never been disappointed in her performances.  She knows how to command a role without commanding the spotlight;  and, as a rule, one does not get very much recognition, let alone awards, for that kind of technique.  So, while the London Telegraph may have preferred to focus on Helena Bonham Carter not getting the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe, I think that a bit of attention should now be paid to an actress who was consistently doing good work long before the buzz began to start over The Fighter.

Steve Buscemi is, of course, another actor who has been consistent in his technique.  However, Boardwalk Empire is a case in which he could command both role and spotlight.  From a historical point of view, this series unfolds a far more interesting narrative than that of The Sopranos, because it is a serious attempt to tell an “origins story” about the emergence of organized crime as we know it (and as J. Edgar Hoover staunchly tried to deny it).  The very title of the series is a major clue;  and, from a metaphorical point of view, the series probably gives a more comprehensive reading of Suetonius than Rome did (which is not to belittle the efforts that went into Rome or, for that matter, to promote Suetonius as a reliable historian).

I am sure that most viewers came to Boardwalk Empire for its uncompromising take on the blood-and-guts violence of its period.  However, what elevated the series above the ordinary was that same attention to detail that gave life to Rome;  and, as an actor, Buscemi had the sort of technique required to make sure that no detail in his own character was unduly neglected.  So that means that two awards went to performers of substance at a time when substance tends to take a back seat to special effects.  I guess we just have to take our good news where we can find it these days.

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