Max von Sydow did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning KCFCC, for portraying Joubert in Three Days of the Condor.
Max von Sydow plays a freelance assassin known only as Joubert who we first see leading the murders of Condor's co-workers. Sydow plays the assassin of a similar sort to say Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men, who goes about his task quickly and efficiently. Sydow though doesn't exactly take the approach one might expect from the assassin who is too good at his job. Usually they are played in some sort of detached psychopathic manner, Sydow does not take this approach instead gives a most unique portrayal of the strange man Joubert, that succeeds in being the killer he should be but does something else quite remarkably.
In being the killer Sydow is excellent in portraying the incisive manner that the man takes about his task. He is very quiet there such an eerie quality to Sydow's manner here. He is believable as being a man you might not notice at all in his modest style, yet Sydow is brilliant as when you do notice him there is that element to him that creates such menace. Sydow isn't cold exactly but nevertheless is quite chilling as he conveys the ruthlessness that is in Joulbert. Joubert doesn't yell, or even get angry he calmly moves and talks as he goes about killing. Sydow portrays it as simply as his nature and he doesn't require a second thought.
What especially stands out about Sydow though is the emotional quality he does have in the role. For example in the scene where he has leads the murders the last person says she won't scream Joubert responds with a simple "I know". There is a feeling in Sydow's performance that he almost can empathize not that it stops him from completing the murder in anyway. It makes these moments particularly striking though because Sydow shows Joubert who understands human emotions just fine, he does not portray him as a soulless monster, but a man with all the feelings within a man yet still fully capable of killing without hesitation.
Sydow through portrayal of Joubert in this fashion actually makes him all the more memorable of figure. Instead of being just a killer who does not know anything else or anything better Sydow's makes him a man who certainly knows of many things and can enjoy the little things of life yet he has chosen that his profession simply is what suits him the best. Sydow's final scene where he talks to the Condor in just a casual manner is an incredible scene for Sydow. Sydow in the scene presents both Joubert's considerable intelligence as well as his philosophy behind what exactly it is that he does.
The intelligence is best summed up by the vivid description of the Condor's possible future which is perfectly delivered by Sydow which emphasizes past knowledge of this man, as it is clear Condor's possible fate is something Joubert has seen before. In terms of philosophy Sydow has such an ease and grace in his delivery that he allows one to understand exactly why Joubert does what he does, and even why he is able to do it without blinking an eye. Joubert describes it as refreshing, and even though what he is speaking about is killing for money Sydow plays it so well showing the complete contentment within the killer.
Sydow establishes Joubert as the man who seems the most comfortable not only with himself, but as well the whole world. It is quite strange as well as considering he is the cold blooded killer of the film, but it succeeds because it fits the nature of the film as well as due to Sydow's completely selling this character. He creates just a fascinating man in Joubert who can be a peace not needing to know why but rather simply needing to know how much. This is simply the best type of supporting performance in the film one that is wholly intriguing when he is on screen and always remembered when he is off. This is a great performance by Max von Sydow's as he left me only wanting to know more about this man.