William Hurt won his Oscar from his first nomination for playing homosexual prisoner Luis Molina in Kiss of the Spider Woman.
I will get out of the way first that there is one problem with the film that sort of affects his performance. That is the fact that Molina is a pedophile and neither the film or Hurt's performance really deal with this, and in fact it is odd that was not reflected upon at least just a little bit. I want to get that out of the way because that is the only real negative thing I have to say about his performance, because William Hurt gives an incredible interesting and intelligent performance as the prisoner in a South American jail.
Hurt portrays a homosexual very differently than many other portrayals. The character is flamboyant and Hurt knows how to use that to be part of the character rather than control the character like certain portrayals. He still makes Molina a human being, and the flamboyant aspects of the character are made realistic by Hurt rather than over the top. Actors before and after William Hurt have failed miserably to realistically portrays mannerisms like this, and not just seem like a performance. Hurt actually becomes as Molina is and never feels like he is just putting on an act, it really is quite an achievement.
William Hurt is very good at showing and creating the depth of the character. He hints to the reveals about the characters very well, not so you see them coming, but instead to make them believable when you watch the film again. Also when the character does reveal more he does still not reveal everything and still shows that not all of Molina is truly known. He keeps the character somewhat mysterious even though he certainly lets you get to know Molina very well. He finds just the perfect dynamic between telling you enough and too much with this performance. He never leaves his character under or overstated he finds the perfect balance.
Hurt is excellent in portraying the character's hopes, wants, and fantasies. Hurt really shows well the character's love of the terrible Nazi propaganda movie. He shows his personal problems, and the character belief that he should have been a woman. This could seem too odd or over the top but Hurt makes it work wonderfully. Hurt is perfectly in tune with his character showing his feelings fantastically. He works incredibly well with Raul Julia and they create incredibly memorable scenes because of the effective way they work together. There antagonism and then movement to mutual friendship is earned perfectly. Hurt gives a fantastic performance in role which is most certainly a challenge.