‘The Hunger Games’ Performances Ranked

         
 

04 April 2012| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Suzanne Collins’ world in her pop novel contained a large population of characters. On Friday, March 23rd we finally got The Hunger Games. In addition to life-and-death struggles, and the collusion of politics with violent TV in the future, the movie also has given us a gamut of great performances. Who I couldn’t include in this list is Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne, who is not given enough depth (that’s not the actor’s fault, it’s the script). The top ten “Hunger” performances:

1. Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen) – Lawrence already proved her chops in “Winter’s Bone.” Magnetic movie star allure is solidified by her starring in this gritty futuristic thriller that will be her enduring claim to fame. As Katniss, the 21-year old actress does everything a smart heroine would do without hesitation. And while the character lacks monologue (that the book had), we feel in our interpretation of her that she is out to not only survive but to prove to Panem that a girl can be a winner. And she’s out to return home to her sister Prim. So many dimensions. Certainly is a case of a girl catching fire.

2. Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark) – Surprisingly one of the great performances of the film is Hutcherson (“The Kids are All Right,” “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”). Yeah, yeah. It should be a good performance. But I believe Hutcherson gives dimensions unto the lovestruck Peeta that go beyond the call of duty, including surprising heft and potency that he brings into the arena.

3. Donald Sutherland (President Snow) – He brings a clout of intellectual arrogance and muted control that other actors wouldn’t have been capable of. It might have been interesting in a comic book movie way had Malcolm McDowell or Patrick Stewart had been cast as a smirking lunatic president of Panem. But Sutherland would truly rule the world with his cold calculation.

4. Wes Bentley (Seneca Crane) – Once famous for his work as an introverted outcast in “American Beauty,” his career faded away. I’m sure glad he’s back. Seneca only has a few years of experience as gamesmaker. And Bentley is at the right pitch as a smug little bastard acting big and important with his mural for a beard.

5. Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman) – Caesar is the Donohue of the future, and Tucci as the purple pony-tailed TV interviewer is a little smarter than he lets on. Somehow, you know Caesar is patronizing the Tributes worth to the masses but at the same time selling his audience soap opera-ish entertainment. He’s one of the most sinister figures of Panem, and Tucci plays him with a gleaming smile.

6. Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy) – This is where my admiration and disappointment coalesce. I had anticipated months earlier that Harrelson would give the best performance of the film, one that could cry out Oscar. Imagine Mickey Knox of “Natural Born Killers” combined with the hunched-over madness of “Aguirre the Wrath of God” with a little Jeff Bridges of “Crazy Heart” mixed in, and you’ll get what I had hoped Harrelson would have imbued. Nevertheless, Harrelson is captivating as a tattered drunk on the rebound after he gets a newfound hope for District 12 to win.

7. Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket) – Banks is bizarre which is exactly what is called for. As a character with no human dimension, who is completely bereft of humanity, Banks knows that Effie isn’t a character. Effie is a materialistic monster.

8. Jack Quaid (Marvel) – The son of actor Dennis Quaid, young Jack portrays a lethal Tribute from District 1. He’s twice as effective with his homicidal stare as he is with his dialogue. He’s key in giving Katniss a legitimate threat in the film.

9. Amandla Stenberg (Rue) – The fragile girl Tribute from District 11, we know that she’s a goner before the games begin. But as she plays hide and seek in the arena until she makes an alliance with Katniss, the performance summons the poignancy necessary to break our hearts.

10. Lenny Kravitz (Cinna) – Kravitz is a little too wise and conscientious as Katniss’ stylist. To get his position in society, Cinna had to have made some concessions. But I’m not exactly convinced that Kravitz is a dweller amongst the Panem aristocracy. Still, the rapport that he connects with Katniss – and the movie audience – melts any doubts we have of him.

 

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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