Thursday, December 29, 2016

Awards Contenders In Brief - Fences

Sometimes, films are just performance pieces, and that's okay. Such is the case with Fences, Denzel Washington's adaptation of August Wilson's stage play. Plays do not always have to be "opened up" for the screen, especially when the material is strong and you have great actors tearing up the screen in every scene. This film version of Fences is dynamic and engaging thanks to the script (credited posthumously to the playwright himself) and the performances, especially those at the center.


Viola Davis and Denzel Washington create an entirely believable relationship that is thrillingly alive in every moment - there is never even one second where you don't want to be watching them. This is the best work Washington has done in ages, breathing fiery life into the character of Troy Maxson. And Davis is every bit his equal, taking everything we have seen of her in various roles on screens large and small and mixing them together into the most incredible performance by an actress this year (just don't let the campaign fool you - SHE IS A LEAD, and deserves recognition as such).


All told, this is easily the finest acting ensemble of the year, but thankfully Washington is no slouch in the director's chair, either. The direction here isn't flashy, but it's still smart and restrained, constantly emphasizing how the characters are either boxing themselves (and others) in or breaking out. And the few instances where the play has been "opened up" are well-chosen and beautifully shot. This is as ideal an adaptation of this play as one could hope for, containing a superb cast doing career-best work all around. And that's nothing to sneeze at.

6 comments:

  1. I love Denzel and I do want to see this film because it looks excellent

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    1. This really is one of the best performances Denzel has ever given. Just incredible.

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  2. Just saw this last night, and...wow! Just wow. Still wrapping my head around it. And so much yes to Viola Davis being a lead...and a great one.

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    1. Seriously. She's in a VERY tight race with Natalie Portman for Best Actress in my book.

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