Javier Bardem won his Oscar from his second nomination for portraying Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men.
No Country for Old Men details a man(Josh Brolin)'s attempt to get away with money he accidentally found, well being chased and followed by a psychopathic killer, as well as a world weary sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones).
Javier Bardem is not an actor who has done particularly well in the past with me. Both of his lead nominations received below a 3 from me because of what I found was a bit of a hallow characterization on his part. This is not a problem though in the case of Chigurh though who is a hallow psychopathic killer. Any possible weaknesses I would have with Bardem are not really apparent because Chigurh is the perfect character for Bardem's style.
Bardem's turn Anton Chigurh into a very memorable psychopathic killer. Everything about Chigurh is rather particular and very odd right down to his name. Bardem's performance in turn is appropriately peculiar from the way he looks to the way he talks, and moves. Bardem creates a completely distinctive character with Chigurh in everything he does. Bardem is especially effective in this because he never seems to be acting any of these mannerisms, or his voice, he simply is Chigurh.
Bardem manages to be especially chilling in his performance because of how manner of fact he is as Chigurh. This is simply what he does, and he does it as effectively as possibly. Bardem has cold determination that Chigurh's job is something he will do no matter what, even if he no longer really is hired to do it. There is a really history of this strange man that Bardem suggests to, by his ease with what he does, an ease that makes him all the more frightening.
What I find is particularly strong in his performance are his few moments where he shows more to Chigurh, as well as when Chigurh acts "normal. There are moments small subtle moments that show Chigurh enjoying what he does a little bit, I particularly like for example when he sees one of his old acquaintances or when he says that everyone says "You don't have to do this" Bardem is just terrific, and manages to even be rather funny in a very very pitch black fashion.
Also in what are some of his most chilling moments, are his scenes where he talks to people in a seemingly normal fashion. There is obvious something wrong with him, but Bardem happens to make this fascinating the way he awkwardly interacts with people. Bardem manages behind his talking even when talking about really nothing, he creates an incredible menace, this is particularly true in the great scene where he plays a coin calling game with a gas station attendant.
It is Bardem's choice never to make Chigurh as one dimensional as he technically could have been that makes this performance so memorable, and interesting. He manages to both create a chilling portrait of a psychopath with a seemingly unlimited ability to create a visceral reaction in the viewer, as well as turn Chigurh into simply a fascinating enigma as well. This is a great villianous performance that works perfectly in creating the tremendous dread for the film.