Michael Shannon did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Curtis LaForche in Take Shelter.
Take Shelter is an effective film about a man who sees strange visions which may be indicating some sort of terrible future, or they may be caused by a developing paranoid schizophrenia.
Shannon did not receive an Oscar nomination here as the film, and his performance never gained enough traction for the Oscar nomination. He very well could have been close though. Shannon did receive an Oscar nomination earlier for his supporting role in Revolutionary Road which was quite over the top needlessly so depiction of a mentally disturbed man. I did not think he was terrible in that role as I do believe he showed some quality in the performance that suggested that he could have been given a far greater performance if he merely toned down the performance slightly.
Shannon seriously dials back his performance this time as a man with a possible mental problem, or a man who is having prophetic visions. What they are technically does not matter to Shannon's performance as Curtis is deeply disturbed by what he sees either way. Shannon portrays the disturbance in a low key fashion for a great while during the film. He shows the constant internal uncertainty within Curtis as he sees one horrible event after another with very little idea of what they mean. Shannon effectively brings to life all of the pain Curtis faces over his visions and how they bring out the worst fears in him.
The focus on the film is how the visions persist and how they slowly worsen his own mental state as well as his relationship with his wife (Jessica Chastain) and the local community as well. Shannon is quite effective as he builds the disturbance that grows slowly in Curtis as his visions become more frequent as well as more disturbing. At first Shannon portrays a struggle within Curtis to fight against the feelings of anxiety, and he tries to express some sort of sense of normalcy on his face although, Shannon shows it is very very difficult for him to do so for long.
In his more strained moments Shannon is quite good as he has fierce short moments of intensity where he tries to quickly cut off his paranoia, but as well Shannon keeps the same intensity in the scenes where his wife questions his behavior. Shannon again presents as a rather brutal anger to keep his wife from finding out more about what is affecting him. Shannon does not portray this as a cruelty, even if it is blunt, from Curtis but rather his way of trying to keep his wife from really finding out the truth of what really is going on with his behavior exactly.
He cannot shake the visions though, and his condition only becomes worse when he makes the connection that his mother became a schizophrenic at the same age he is now. Shannon importantly keeps us with him through this battle going on in his mind though as he does always manage to humanize Curtis. Shannon always manages to bring to life the idea that really part of what haunts Curtis is his own care for his family. Shannon always makes it very clear that he has a genuine love for his family, and great deal of his fear comes from that he is either alienating them do to his condition or being concerned for them due to the disaster in his visions.
Shannon is excellent in the slow decay of Curtis's mental state. Shannon is careful in this as he always shows that Curtis is trying his very best to not fall into what he believes to be a mental condition, and Shannon properly stresses the resistance Curtis has to the visions. The visions never do leave though, and Shannon falls deeply into believing everything that he sees in the vision. Shannon is able to reflect the conflicting emotions that result from falling into his state of urgency he is forced to feel do to what Curtis sees. Shannon never makes it so Curtis is ever one way, but always stresses the unbalances nature the visions have caused in him. Shannon is convincing by showing an incredible drive in Curtis in his scenes where he thinks he is being prophetic, but as well is just as believable when he shows Curtis's intense sadness and pain when he believes himself to be falling apart.
Shannon effectively leads to his final scenes which include his more Oscary scene, and his actual best scenes. His more oscary scene where he confronts the town people and espouses loudly about his apocalyptic visions. This is certain more like his Revolutionary Road performance, but really he earns it here. Shannon manages to make it work because throughout the film he has been building the anxiety growing up until this point, and it is earned that Curtis would finally burst out as he does. Shannon turns it into a strong scene because he shows really the full extent to what the visions have been doing to him.
His very best moments though come when he and his family going until the shelter during the storm. Shannon once again dials it down but he frankly more intense here than he was in the scene with the town people. Shannon is chilling here because he realizes his paranoia so quietly. He is truly off putting here as shows just how intense his fears have become. Michael Shannon though is equally strong as he portrays Curtis finally facing his fears. Shannon is absolutely heartbreaking as he shows the terror in his eyes as he finally confronts what is outside the shelter. Shannon gives an excellent performance here and as he is able to really allow the ending occur through his ability to maneuver through the complex state of his character. Shannon here shows exactly what his earlier Oscar nominated performance could have been with this powerful work.