Peter Dinklage did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Finbar McBride in The Station Agent.
Peter Dinklage portrays the man who tries to keep to himself as well as is fascinated by trains. Early in the film Dinklage portrays Fin as a man who very much keeps to himself, even though where ever he goes his dwarfism makes him always seem somewhat out of place no matter where he goes. It is not that Fin is automatically discriminated against actually, but people tend to act abnormally around him. Dinklage is effective in that he does not portray Fin as becoming obviously angry at any point over people's reaction here, but rather all he does is react in a form of exasperation.
Dinklage portrays Fin's reaction well as just tired of them clearly from dealing with these type of people his whole life, so he has come to accept it to a certain degree, even though he doesn't like them still he very much is use to them. Dinklage establishes Fin's antisocial behavior well in these early scenes. He handles it well because he does not show it as Fin's hatred of others, but rather more effectively Dinklage shows it as a disconnection more than anything else. Due to the fact that Dinklage does not portray his behavior as hate, he allows Fin to be far more likable.
Early on the film as a few people in the secluded place he goes to such as a troubled older woman Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), and a very energetic food stand operator Joe (Bobby Cannavale) attempt to get involved in Fin's life in some way, much to Fin's dismay. Dinklage is excellent in these earlier scenes as he practically plays the part as dead pan. His slight sometimes slightly taken aback, or slightly annoyed reactions are always well handled by Dinklage. It is not that he is going for laughs exactly but Dinklage manages to bring the natural humor out of the situation with ease.
The film itself is really about Fin slowly coming out of shell through his interactions with the people around particularly through the constant pestering from Joe to do so. Dinklage is terrific here because of how little he really does give in as Fin. Fin's slow, very slow transformation is handled in the subtleties of Dinklage's performance. He never once oversteps in his performance, and the reluctance of Fin to really recognize people who are honestly interested in is always prevalent. He never makes Fin's transition too easy, keeping it believable throughout the film.
Dinklage never cheats his character and because of that the way he slowly does open up is far more moving. Dinklage small movements to opening up and accepting the people as his friends is well done. It is not that he makes Fin a new person by any means, rather he presents Fin as just a man who has learned to loosen up and accept human contact. Due to this Dinklage makes his whole transition entirely believable, and emotionally truthful. His change from the man of few words to the man of not so many words but can have an open conversation is entirely honest because of Dinklage.
I must say the big emotional breakdown scene near the end of the film, where he tells everyone in bar to look at him already and get it over with, is the least effective part of his performance, and does not seem entirely necessary. This is not to say that Dinklage does not portray it well enough though it is maybe a bit hasty especially considering how well he handles the rest of Fin's transitional moments in his performance. The point is the delight of his performance is in his quiet portrayal. As Dinklage besides the big emotional scene, which he still does well I must stress this, simply creates a wonderful entertaining performance that leads his film marvelously.