1/16/11 Update: MAZEL TOV to Paul Giamatti, winner of the 2011 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical. How great to see a real mensch get his just desserts!
From Jan ’11 Spotlight: The 2011 awards season is heating up! Three actors playing Jewish characters have been nominated for Golden Globes including Paul Giamatti as “Barney Panofsky” in Barney’s Version (based on Mordecai Richler’s last novel).
I truly enjoyed Barney’s Version. Dustin Hoffman (as Barney’s father “Izzy”) and Rosamund Pike (as Barney’s wife “Miriam”) provide Giamatti with excellent foils, and the plot ripens nicely as Barney ages (although the filmmakers make no attempt to capture the specific medical complications described by Richler in his novel).
Appearing on The Daily Show to promote his new film, Giamatti sent host Jon Stewart flying when he described “Barney Panofsky” as a “rapscallion.” It’s a perfect word in context, and I discovered a few days later that it’s Barney’s own word (see page 375). As is my practice, I saw the film first, then I read the source novel, then I saw the film again. Conclusion: While Barney Panofsky certainly is a rapscallion, he’s also a deeply felt character who is definitely worth getting to know in both his literary and cinematic incarnations.