Don Cheadle received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Paul Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda.
Don Cheadle's Paul Rusesabagina character is in some ways similar to Liam Neeson's Oskar Schindler in that they are both runners of a business which they use to save people facing genocide otherwise. They both initially are not devoted to this cause but Paul is not just a selfish profiteer like Schindler really, but rather a man who doubts people could really could commit such atrocities, and at first seems to be more concerned with his family's safety mostly. As soon as he is pressed to help others in a potentially deadly situation he does, proving a that he was a good man all along. Cheadle does handle Paul's good nature well, by not over doing it at all. He still makes him a common man who does his best in completely uncommon circumstances.
A rather interesting part of the film and Cheadle's performance is the specific scenes in which he deals with the violent threats, and helps to save the people in his hotel. His method is an interesting contrast to the method of Liam Neeson's Schindler. In Schindler's list Schindler many times dominated the Nazi's he was manipulating to serve or save his workers, on the other hand Paul never really shows off a larger than life presence to manipulate people. Cheadle shows that Paul who is just a normal man who very modestly convinces them through bribes, and quietly laid threats. Cheadle handles the pleads and manipulations of Paul exceptionally well, since I found every success Paul made completely believable.
Cheadle acts well as a very human guide through the atrocious circumstances of the genocidal Rwanda. Cheadle is compelling to watch, and he allows us as the audience to follow him through his hardships and dangerous circumstance. He acts as an emotional core to the film who does his best to stand for what is right despite the odds against him, and gives a quietly passionate performance that works well for Paul as a man. Cheadle's performance allows us to really empathize with him throughout his circumstances, and Cheadle makes the most emotional scenes of the film even more so.
Cheadle gives authentic emotions throughout the film, which gives the film an honesty that somehow becomes inspiring despite the subject of the film. Cheadle makes every emotion all the more effective because of his honesty in his performance. I think particularly strong moments are when he tells his wife to commit suicide if the the Hutus ever attack, and his reaction scene after he gets back to the hotel after he accidentally stumbled across a scene of a massive massacre. Cheadle's performance makes these emotional moments completely heartbreaking because of the honesty of his performance. Cheadle performance is strong authentic modest piece of work, that works impeccably well with the film it is in.