Friday, 5 August 2011

Best Actor 2002: Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt

Jack Nicholson received his twelfth nomination for portraying Warren R. Schmidt in About Schmidt.

About Schmidt depicts the life of Warren Schmidt after he has retired, his wife has died, and how he deals with his daughter who is soon to be wed to a somewhat crude dunce.

Jack Nicholson's performance here differs from many of his performance in that here he portrays a rather withdrawn character. Warren Schmidt is a far cry from characters like Jake Gittes, or Randall McMurphy. Those character were very expressive men, who always made their presence known in any situation, but Schmidt is a far less expressive man, yet Nicholson is just as effective with Schmidt as he was with his earlier roles. '

Warren Schmidt is a recently retired man, who really never made the stamp on the world he had hoped. Nicholson although certainly states this as Schmidt, also always reflects it thoroughly through his at least slightly sad and depressed demeanor which Nicholson carefully but effectively expresses. Nicholson underplays the emotion, yet always shows it underlying behind any other emotion of Schmidt's.

This is an interesting very different kind of performance by Nicholson. Although Nicholson does not have his classic moments that he had in his performances during the 70's he instead he has a different type of scenes, since this is a very different type of style of performance by Nicholson. Nicholson here has smaller scenes, but very honest and effective ones, that perfectly express the state of Schmidt.

Nicholson is incredibly effective here becuase he always portrays Schmidt with the utmost realism, never acting out in anyway, but always staying true to the character of Schmidt and his situation. For example Nicholson makes entirely true to Schmidt, that Schmidt can as a normal  man, disliking his wife one second, Nicholson showing Schmidt being basically tired and annoyed by her, but still never not saying he completely hates her making his grief just as true and realistic when she dies.

Nicholson simply creates an interesting  character here, that I found extremely easy to follow as he went through his emotional journey, as well his physical journey in the film. Nicholson does this through making Schmidt, although not an overly special still special in his own way. Nicholson makes him fascinating in his own fellow, by always expressing what makes Schmidt unique about himself in a consistently effective fashion.

Nicholson through his consistent effective performance makes a subtle transition through the film, as Schmidt slowly in a way because both  more depressed, but also more self aware of who he is at the same time. It is difficult to express both these changes but Nicholson does with a great deal of ease.

Nicholson makes it a powerful, heartbreaking transition, that is summed up by his final scenes depressed over his daughter's wedding and his gloomy outlook in life, but with a glint of light from the picture from the Tanzania boy he is sponsoring, Nicholson breakout in this final scene is completely earned and simply an incredible moment in Nicholson's performance.

This is a very different type of performance by Nicholson, but nonetheless it also is one of his best. He never for a moment overacts the part, instead he keeps a consistently realistic, and honest portrait of this particular restrained man. This a performance by Nicholson, where he finds the power in every underlying facet of the man he expresses so well.


dshultz said...

I'm hoping for Brody, but now I've got another film on my watch list.

joe burns said...

He was really good, but I need to rewatch him- It's been a long time since I've seen him.

Anonymous said...

I hope he wins. Hes so much better than Brody

dinasztie said...

He was so brilliant. He's going to be your pick. Although I prefer Brody, Jack is deserving as well. I think he was the runner-up for the win, not Day-Lewis (especially not after that silly campaign of his movie).

What did you think about Kathy Bates? I think she was adorable.

mrripley said...

I wish it was this perf that he earned his 3rd oscar for.

BlackGuy said...

Great performance. Probably my favorite Nicholson performance next to Chinatown.

Anonymous said...

He was brilliant, perfect, one of his best as you said, I really hope he wins and gets at least in the top 30.

Louis Morgan said...

dinasztie: I was not crazy about Bates, but I did think she was fine.