"Bronson's" Tom Hardy--Snubbed by the Academy?

2/08/2010 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Hillary Weston

The Oscars are an American tradition, a staple in the film industry for the last 82 years. I cannot deny that come Oscar night, I will be on my couch with a bottle of champagne and waiting in anticipation for the winners to be announced.

Be that as it may, sometimes the Oscars infuriate me. Stars who deliver baseline performances find themselves in the nomination categories in place of brilliant actors who are not yet on Hollywood’s radar. This year alone, there were quite a few actors snubbed by Oscar (Julianne Moore, Sam Rockwell, etc.), but if you witnessed the sick pleasure that was "Bronson," you are fully aware that Tom Hardy takes the cake when it comes to this year’s snubs. With tomorrow’s DVD release of "Bronson," it makes me tear up a bit to realize that such a phenomenal performance is going unrecognized.

For those who did not have the chance to see "Bronson," the film chronicles the real-life story of Michael Peterson, better known as Charles Bronson, and to many, England’s most violent criminal. Peterson was a petty thief who, after robbing a post office, was sent to jail for seven years. Instead of quietly serving out his sentence, he realized that prison was where he belonged in the world, the place where he could make a name for himself. He did everything he could to extend his sentences and was the epitome of brutality, stripping himself down to his darkest, most primal emotions and desires while wrecking havoc on every institution he bounced between.

Hardy, if known at all, was known for such roles as Heath Cliff in "Wuthering Heights." And yet here, he had to undergo a complete transformation from the inside a out to take on the part of Peterson. Here, this slim pretty boy is hardly recognizable on the screen--he envelopes the character so completely, it’s hard not to be transfixed by his performance from the first shot to the last frame. In the role, Hardy is brutal and unapologetic; the fervor in which he plays it makes it difficult to imagine anyone else being capable of encompassing the same intensity and devotion to character.

By no means is "Bronson" your typical prison film. It teeters more on the border of the surreal.  It's an insight into the man whose life revolved around art and violence, where the world was reduced to a stage, and where all the people around it were just faceless audience members along for the ride. The film proves too bitter a taste for some; it plays like a twisted nightmare in which you have no escape as your emotional landscape flutters between nausea, laughter, and an absurd sense of wonder. Yes, the story is intriguing and Nicolas Winding Refn does a fantastic job directing, but the film would be so much less if it was not for Tom Hardy. His performance was one of the best I have seen all year, if not in years.

As mentioned before, the DVD comes out tomorrow, so if you did not have a chance to catch the movie in theaters, consider doing so. It’s not for the faint of heart or stomach, but be prepared to be taken by Hardy’s performance. Watch the DVD extras as well to see just how spot-on Hardy’s acting was when paired up with the real Michael Peterson.

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