Jeremy Renner received his first Oscar nomination for portraying SFC William James in The Hurt Locker.
Jeremy Renner performance is a different type of performance that seems to be nominated a lot of times these days, I feel, because it is an action based performance in many ways, and he really is not given many scenes where he is suppose to give a big Oscary performance scene. Instead he has to show his character development largely well the film moves forward quite rapidly.
In this respect Renner succeeds quite well. In his early moments we do not stop and see who exactly he is, or where he has come from precisely but Renner manages to indicate what sort of man he is with ease. It is rather fascinating in the way Renner goes about the first bomb disposal, he shows a command most certianly in the situation, suggesting his long history of a bomb disposing.
As well Renner effectively brings the audience in to the disposal incredibly, his performance conveys the risk of the job, and interestingly suggests the joy and kick he gets out of the job. He shows that James loves to do his job, loves to do it well, and does not exactly mind the risk because of a certain need that it provides for him. This whole drive for risk is suggested more than said, but it is abundantly clear due to Renner understated and realistic portrayal of it.
Renner whole performance is effective work because he manages to be a truly compelling lead, in what is in many ways a director's film, in terms of style. He also manages to be a compelling and in his own unique way charismatic. He gives a leading man performance really, in an entirely unorthodox fashion, which works wonders for his characterization.
Renner's few moments that more directly let him expand his character, are terrific scenes for him. One for example is when he shows the rest of his squad his box of thinks that almost killed him. His fascination with death the death causing instruments is almost chilling because Renner portrays James' feelings in an understated fashion.
Also Renner carefully in this same scene tells about his home life with his son, and wife, who he seems to admire in a fashion, but clearly has his deep routed troubles. The best part of Renner's whole portrayal is that he does not tell everything about William James, he instead more realistically, shows only part of a very complicated man.
This a strong performance that knows that just because he does not have constant scenes devoted specifically to character development, that does not mean it can't be a fully developed character anyways. Renner is tremendous from each scene, in his small subtle revelations about his character.
Renner's performance is filled with realistic understated reactions which is why his performance is so effective. Renner always brings out the most out of each scene because of this, particularly in the disturbing bombs that are used with people attached scenes.
He never overplays his performance, trying instead to meld his more off the wall leanings, mixed in with his duties which never seem forced or off the mark. This is perfectly attuned performance which brilliantly makes use of restraint, making his more emotional moments all the more effective.