Javier Bardem did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Bafta, Sag, and Critic's choice, for portraying Raoul Silva in Skyfall.
One of the reasons for that is that it contains my favorite Bond villain of all time beating out one of my very favorite actors who played one of Bond's earliest adversaries. Bardem holds the distinction as the actor to come the closest to ever being Oscar nominated for his role as he did receive most of the important precursors, but he lost out in the end. The academy apparently preferred Alan Arkin giving a less complex version of his Oscar winning performance than Javier Bardem once again playing a villain. Although Bardem's performance here as Raoul Silva could not be more different from Bardem Oscar winning turn as Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men.
Bardem takes a long time to actually appear in the film, and there is quite a bit of build up for his character as we already know many of his actions therefore Javier Bardem is required to meet these expectations, and does that quite brilliantly in his first scene. The entrance of Silva is something truly special not only the brilliant way it is shot, but as well Bardem flawless delivery of Silva's opening monologue. Bardem is outstanding making this monologue a fantastic way to introduce the character. Bardem establishes the very unique style that Silva has a villain with his method of delivery, but as well brilliantly through that final look we see the underlying connection between Bond and Silva.
In regards to his style Bardem really makes Silva a memorable villain that is the polar opposite of his previous villainous turn in a film. As Chigurh he was extremely reserved in his depiction of that psychopath. He barely spoke, and his intensity was in his silent uncompromising stare. As Silva though Bardem is as lively as one can be as shown in his opening story he tells from the was he says plop, to the way he nibbles when describing the rats. Bardem has a great deal of fun in the role and is extremely energetic in his performance and seems to be almost tirelessly trying to make Silva a memorable villain. Bardem efforts pay off beautifully and he does just that with this character.
Something particularly fascinating about this performance that attests to the talent of Bardem as a performer is the way he brings out such menace in such a different style. He was of course chilling as possible really as Chigurh in No Country For Old Men in being as cold as a character can be. Here as Silva he is definitely is more emotional about the whole thing on one side but is just a dismissive of murder as Chigurh. Where Chigurh kills with a distributing expressionless demeanor, Bardem shows Silva kill with a gleeful smile on his face that is equally effective. The way Bardem plays the scene where he kills his girlfriend, Bardem plays it like Silva is simply done with a toy he had enough fun with, which is equally chilling to the way he was in No Country For Old Men.
Bardem is excellent as he knows just how flamboyant to make Silva without overplaying his hand. He plays him up as a larger than life villain for sure as James Bond villain should be, but he holds the proper restraints to keep him as a convincing character fitting to the film at hand. On the flamboyant side every little mannerism that he does do, only does add to his characterization of this man basking very much in his "glorious" accomplishments. The joy one can have just watching an actor perform is always something wonderful when an actor achieves that. Bardem does that in his performance here, and it is simply entertaining to watch him perform as Silva.
Already being entertaining to watch is certianly a plus to begin with but Bardem does not stop there and seeks to make Silva into even more. This starts in the early moment where he seems to be coming on to James Bond. Bardem allows several interpretations to this scene as is certianly shows that Silva is quite enjoying being so close to Bond, but as well by the way he breaks off the scene when he does not seem to bothering Bond at all that perhaps it was just Silva playing a bit of game. There is the whole brilliant play Bardem uses in these early scenes never allowing you to never really get a full read on Silva at any point. Bardem will play one moment with such conviction making it seem like Silva is going one way, but then he is equally convincing in Silva's instant rejection of his earlier behavior.
Bardem creates such a terrific dynamic within the character of Silva, and my personal favorite moment of him doing this is when he confronts M (Judi Dench) with his disfigurement that he received from being given up while he was an agent under her command. The moment is great, and Bardem almost makes you feel sorry for Silva as he pleads with M to say his real name. He is absolutely genuine in showing the pain Silva has over this betrayal that he suffered and he sets up brilliantly where the intense hatred Silva feels for her comes from. The incredible thing though is after portraying Silva so tragically well the moment after M and Bond leaves that knowing smile returns to Silva and he seems to instantly laugh off his pain from earlier. Bardem has a tremendous amount of fun leaving Silva with the right amount of mystery he should have.
A fascinating thing about Bardem's performance here is the subtlety he does infuse into the role despite the fact that this tends to be something quite rare for a villain in an action film. Bardem of course is very strong in being as imposing as he should be, and he makes Silva threatening with such ease of his performance that frankly he allows himself to bring even more texture to the role. My second personal favorite moment of his entire performance comes when Silva seems like he is absolutely going to completely succeed in his plan. He comes so close, and it is interesting becuase Bardem plays it that the reason he fails is Silva's own hesitation. The moment right before he is going to shoot M is a outstanding moment for him in his reaction where in his face we see the hatred, the pleasure in his face, but as well a reluctance that Bardem makes to be almost a disbelief that he has been able to accomplish his goal.
Javier Bardem actually is not in the film all that much since he takes awhile to appear as I stated and then he even disappears and reappears. Bardem though makes the most of everyone of his scenes though and importantly in the scenes we do see him he makes sure we do not forget him when he is off the screen. Silva is quite the accomplishment becuase by having him as flamboyant as he is, and even quite humorous as well Bardem risked Silva being not entirely convincing as villain. Bardem though of course never allows this to be, and he honestly makes the drive within Silva something that seems to be one thing he definitely does not joke about. Even when he seems to be entirely joking around in a scene, Bardem is extremely effective by showing behind it all there is a vicious determination. This determination that is truly fierce when his plan is the only thing on his mind, it is terrific the way Bardem brings this out.
Bardem brings the most to everyone of his scenes infusing so much style and energy into every second he's on screen. My number one personal favorite moment of his performance is when he once again gets to confront M. He aims his gun and he seems to cry out in a pained anger. It is a fantastic moment suggesting he definitely hates M, and wants to kill her, but that his connection to her from the past leaves him unable to just break it so easily. The idea of having Silva try to do due a murder-suicide pact with M seems absurd but Bardem is brilliant and makes it feel entirely genuine. Bardem through his earlier reactions suggests that really for Silva the only way he could be satisfied due to his history with her. He brings such weight to the end of his character, and it is amazing the way he honestly achieves this very character based moment in such an action packed conclusion. This is a great villianous performance that does more than anyone could ask for in such a role. He goes far beyond the call of duty here as Silva could easily have been far less than what Bardem brings with his portrayal.