Orson Welles received his only acting nomination for playing none other than Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane.
Citizen Kane is constantly hailed as the greatest film of all time. I do think because of this it is a bit overrated. They act like it does not have a single flaw. It is true it is shot brilliantly, the lightning, the angles, they are perfect, but that does not alone make a good film. It needs a good script, which is pretty good, but it also needs good acting, which is what Kane lacks a lot of. Many of the actors act in a over the top theatrical fashion such as the Everett Sloan and Dorothy Comingore, even Joseph Cotton does a little of that when he is the old man, or the act just dully which includes Agnes Moorehead in my book. Most of the players act like one or the other, but there are few good performances such as mostly Cotton's and partially Welles's.
Welles first off does have a natural charisma. He has a natural air to him that is quite effective. Welles goes through his whole life in this picture. Welles does a very good job aging actually. From his exuberant youth, his mixed middle age and then his depressed end. Welles does play all parts of Kane's life well and is properly transformation in the film. Welles properly shows the early hopes and wants of the character very well. His charisma in these scenes is very well done and his just the way he carries himself here fits the character very well.
Superior parts of the performance come from his middle aged section. When he becomes a worse and worse person Welles' performance actually gets better. Welles has many memorable scenes in this phase particularly his big campaign scene. His speech there seems just like a real politicians speech with all the proper boisterous nature, and extreme delivery. He then has the scene where he loses his chance at politics and loses his wife, by being confronted by his political opponent and his wife about his mistress. Orson Welles shows the opposite side of the character. This scene is incredibly well done where he basically is not in control for once, and Welles subtlety handles the scene until at the end where he becomes the boisterous Kane once more. Welles than as the depressed Kane has very good scenes of just his face, especially his finally one where he realizes all he has lost. He does that without saying a single word.
I do not find his performance to be perfect though, and it is far from the greatest performance of all time as some say. Welles at times particularly in his youth scenes and his middle aged scenes can seem oddly dull and distant. Unfortunately during few time in the performance he seems a little like he is just going through the motion. Also he comes off as a tad theatrical in some other scenes. For example when he says people will think what he tells them to think. I think it is a good performance though and some scenes are very good and overall it is good, but it is not perfect. Welles certainly makes an iconic character here but I do think he could have played him even better than he did based on some of the other performances in his career.