Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Making the case for Frank Langella

The Making the Case blogathon is an event in which the purpose is to profile a movie from 2012 that deserves Oscar consideration, even though the odds on it getting a nomination are slim at best. It is hosted by Cinematic Paradox. For a complete list of participating blogs, please visit the host site.

So this is the time of the Oscar season when we start hearing from critics groups around the country, as well as some of the major film industry organizations, including the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globes this week alone. In the acting race, some names are definite shoo-ins, like Daniel Day-Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence; others are less certain. One name I have yet to see is Frank Langella for his performance in the film Robot & Frank, and at the time I wrote about it I believed his performance was Oscar-worthy. I still believe it.

Between The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Hope Springs and Amour, among others, this has been an unusually strong year for movies featuring senior citizens, a highly unusual development given Hollywood's constant pursuit of the youth market. In these movies, seniors confront their own mortality in different ways: either through perking up their sex lives or coming to terms with their impending demise as best they can.

In the sci-fi flick Robot & Frank, Langella's character initially sees the presence of a robot home attendant not only as an intrusion but as an ever-present reminder of his own senility, until he uses the robot for a more sinister purpose. It's a great character, and Langella finds the right balance between pathos and laughs. He's not as showy as other potential Best Actor nominees, but he rarely is. It helps that the sci-fi elements in the movie never overwhelm the human factor; indeed, they're much more low-key than, say, your average Marvel superhero movie.

Langella has never been a marquee name actor, but he's always been around, quietly turning in quality work year in and year out on both the small and big screens, sometimes being the only noteworthy element in less than quality material. I recently mentioned here that he's always been my favorite cinematic Dracula. He's definitely been typecast as a bad guy most of the time, but I find it awesome that he's even able to take pride in something as cheesy as Skeletor in Masters of the Universe

His one and only Oscar nomination was for Frost/Nixon, playing Richard Nixon. I saw it on video and I honestly don't remember much about it, but I do remember liking Langella in it. His take on the former president was different from Anthony Hopkins' in Nixon, perhaps because of the story's theatrical roots. His Nixon felt more lived in, more familiar.

At this point it doesn't look like Langella will even get in the Oscar conversation this year, and that's unfortunate, but then it has been another highly competitive year in the Best Actor category.

The argument for Viola Davis
Weighing Serkis' Oscar chances
When will Meryl get her third Oscar?


  1. Great stuff - thanks for taking part! I'd really like to see this film. Frank Langella is always impressive.

  2. It had a limited release here in the US, so it may take awhile before you get it down in NZ.


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