Vincent Gardenia received his second and final Oscar nomination for portraying Cosmo Castorini in Moonstruck.
Vincent Gardenia portrays the father of Cher's character who is facing a late life crisis. Cosmo is one of the many colorful family members in the film. Gardenia though although certainly is colorful in his own way in his portrayal of Cosmo never goes over the top to make these sorts of qualities apparent. Gardenia simply adds to the color of the film with his presence with a great deal of ease in his performance that realizes the character of Cosmo quite well.
Gardenia has terrific chemistry with everyone else that he interacts with and with this chemistry he effectively conveys everything he needs to about Cosmo. In his scenes with Cher there is not an a lot of fatherly love found, not that he is cold at all as he does want what is best for her. The two actors though naturally convey a long family history between the two that leaves him less than enthusiastic to hear about her new martial plans with a man he has no respect for.
There is always a certain frustration in his performance that is just perfect for Cosmo, and Gardenia manages to make it appropriately humorous while still keeping Cosmo fairly realistic. Gardenia is very good because he doesn't show Cosmo frustration around his family and his wife as just him being tired, but Gardenia subtly suggests that there is always more on his mind and that he is most certainly hiding something.
What he is hiding is that he is having an affair outside of his marriage with his wife Rose (Olympia Dukakis). Gardenia is great when he is outside the family in one particular scene where he is acting as a plumber where he has a great deal of cockiness and a certain that is totally unapparent in the family scenes that shows just how Cosmo is without his frustrations about that he has at home.
The most interesting factor about Gardenia's performance though is his chemistry with Dukakis. Again they show a family history together that can just be seen in the way they react with one another in such a quiet but knowing fashion. The best single scene I think is a short but just about perfect moment where she tells him she wants him to stop seeing his mistress. Gardenia reaction is almost silent but really quite perfect as he shows Cosmo's history and connection is strong that he instantly understands and accepts. Gardenia throughout is always exactly as he should be adding color, humor and depth whenever needed with his nicely handled performance.