Javier Bardem received his third Oscar nomination for portraying Uxbal in Biutiful.
Before watching this film, I must say I have heard some very positive things about this performance, not only being the best of the year, but as well one of the best performances in a long time. I must say I wasn't exactly completely surprised to find, that I could not find any of this brilliance so many seemed to see in this performance.
In fact I only really noticed one thing that Javier Bardem seemed to do in this performance, was make a sad face, basically the same sad face throughout his entire performance. Now I can see how some might think I am simplifying what he does in this performance, but I do not believe so. All I really saw in Bardem was the repetition of the same emotional state almost throughout the film.
There are slight alteration through the performance, but never are they particularly notable. At times Bardem may get a little angry, or even sadder, but he never does very much that results in any sort of complex or interesting performance. It really just remains a bizarrely simple, and frankly quite a boring performance from Bardem.
There was not a single scene, where I really felt he really brought Uxbal alive as a real person going through what he is going through. I always saw just Bardem, sort of, acting with his repetition of his almost perpetual sad face. I am not saying an actor can't have a sad face, Uxbal should be sad, but Bardem needed show a little more going on inside Uxbal than he does.
I failed to find anything interesting out of Bardem's performance as Uxbal. Everything, and I mean everything failed to impress me even with all the overly emotional things occurring around Uxbal, whether it is violence, or his messed up wife, or his relationship with his children, despite how emotionally charged these scenes are suppose to be Bardem goes through them with just that same dull expression almost throughout.
With a film like this, with its overly emotional tone, and its want to be something "important" I would think that Bardem could at least have a moment or two of emotional power, but for me he never for a moment has an effective scene as Uxbal despite the nature of the part, and the nature of the film. I now many have seen this performance as one of utter brilliance, but I only saw dullness and underacting.