On Wednesday, January 30, six of the biggest upcoming stars were gathered to receive the Virtuoso Award at the Arlington Theatere. The Virtuoso Award was created to acknowledge a small group of actors who have made a name for themselves through their performances in film this year. The recipients arrived at the red carpet around 7 and spent close to an hour taking photos, signing photos, and giving interviews. Then each had around a 10 minute interview with moderator, Dave Karger. Out of the 5 main award events I attended, this group was by far filled with the most genuine actors, each hilarious interview left the audience in tears.
Ann Dowd was the first to be interviewed. The actress was being recognized for her recent role in Compliance, a film illustrating an elaborate hoax where a man posing as a cop calls a restaurant from a pay phone and informs the manager that they have received a tip suggesting an employ has been smuggling money from the business. The heartbreaking story of violation based off of a real event produced a challenge for Ann. Her role as manager obviously had a dramatic impact on her view of identity and morals. Her work in this movie won her the National Board of Review award for Best Supporting Actress in a Film and was also nominated her for the Independent Spirit Award and Critic’s Choice award for Best Supporting Actress. When asked how her role in compliance has changed her view of people and their vulnerability Ann responded, “In the way I’m raising my children in to let them know that what feels wrong is wrong most of the time and to act on that instinct and sense of self that can help you to make those decisions and never let go of it.”
The next to take the stage was 14 year old Elle Fanning, in a white fitted dress that seemed to intensify the fairness of her skin, she sat on the chair with grace. Her sweet gentle personality would provide the truth behind her acting talent as she illuminated the screen with a very different persona. Ginger and Rosa is a film that captures the very existential crisis being a teenager can feel like. Set in London’s 1960s, Elle Fanning’s character Ginger is dealing with the Cuban Missle Crisis, fearing that the world is going to end. She is also dealing with her father’s affair with her best friend, Rosa. Elle portrays the emotional outburst in a beautiful performance that leaves your heart aching for Ginger. Elle auditioned at 12 for the role of a 17 year old Ginger. When asked why she was not intimated by this age gap she responded, “ If you read something and you think you can do it and you’re able to do it, then try it. It doesn’t really matter about the age I think.”
“In my mind, reading the book when I was 14, just coming into highschool, I read it as Charlie…it was sort of incredible four years later to get the script and then I realized I had aged to a point where I could be the helpful person and not the confused young child,” said Ezra Miller reflecting on his role in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, directed and adapted by Stephen Chbosky from his original book. The young actor continued to comment on many social issues such as the structure of the American school systems and how there has become a, “token gay”character in the film industry as he revisits his amazing portrayal of Patrick, a supporting but significant character in both the movie and book.
Miller continues to explain what a powerful character Patrick is when he says, “ It’s a lot of tokenization. Oh, look it’s the token gay character! He’s so funny and fantastic, or they’re often purely victims. I mean there is an element of that that should be depicted but it’s exciting to read the book and then have a film where there is such a strong, brave, compassionate, confidant, gay character.”
It’s true that Patrick is a great character but the role could not have gone to a better, capable actor.
Eddie Redmayne, possibly the most well known of the six, starring in such films as My Week With Marilyn, The Other Bolyen Girl, The Good Shepard, and the award winning Les Miserables, was the next to chat with Dave. Possibly the best explanation of this actor’s talent is when he explained how how he tackled one of the biggest heartwrenching scenes of the whole movie, “When I first sang this song to myself in this trailer, I thought I had an idea that if you pulled it down and made it intimate, you would have somewhere to go and you could draw the audience in and I came up with the idea of also starting it without any accompaniment because the problem of doing this thing with musicals on film is that the second that accompaniment starts, the audience sits back and going and now i’m ready for the song. So the idea of a thought being spontaneous or instinctive is instantly taken away because they are waiting for the bit when you start.”
The next actor graced the screen with scenes from his movie, The Intouchables. Omar Sy, a french actor,comedian,comic writer, and television personality won the Cesar Award for Best Actor and shard the 2011 Tokyo International Film Festival Best Actor Award with Francois Cluzet. Although Sy had a difficult time finding the English words to fit his thoughts he was not shy in asking the audience for help with translation. This alone brought a connection between the audience and actor unmatched by the other recepients. “Its easy for an actor to act in reality because I never took acting school,” said Omar. “ It’s just life school.”
The last actor to accept her award is also possibly the youngest to ever acept an award at the Film Festival. At the young age of 9, Quvenzhane Wallis already has an Oscar Nomination. One might expect that such a young girl would feel uncomfortable in front of a crowded theatre that has the potential to fill 2,000 seats, but the shy quiet girl that was expected was lost when the firecracker that is Quevenzhane Wallis took her seat. She by far had the biggest personality of them all and was not afraid to talk back to the moderator or audience. The little starling has a long road ahead of her seeing as how she won the room over within the first 5 minutes of her interview. Not only has she got a great head on her shoulders but she also has determination and raw talent that was easily seen in her clip from Beasts of the Southern Wild.
“It was just something I had to try so I just went after it,” Wallis replied when asked what made her decide to get into acting.
Wallis is making history already wheather she wins the Oscar or not and is the prime example of what recieving the Virtuoso Award means.