Alec Baldwin received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Casino owner Shelly Kaplow in The Cooler.
Baldwin plays Shelly Kaplow who is tough no nonsense Casino boss who heavily believes in the Old Las Vegas and despises the modern one. Baldwin plays his character as that of a tough man who wants his business going the right way no matter what. Who keeps himself strict and tough almost completely throughout the film. He has the right command as the character and handles all of his scenes just as they should be. He is never particularly special as the boss but he acts as he should. He has just the right amount of anger and coldness to the way he reacts when someone is not doing exactly what he wants, not amazing, but he plays the part as it should be played.
Near the end of the film he begins to show a little bit more to his character, but only incredibly briefly. He shows well when he seems to have gone too far with having to keep his Cooler (William H. Macy) and finally starts to see some error in his ways. When he does do this he does not do an amazing job still but a good job, and does not make the slight change of his character seem forced. Still even with this his well done ending scenes he still keeps mostly the tough facade throughout and that is fine but his performance still is never anything so special that it really needed to be awarded.