Nikolai Cherkasov did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying the titular character of Alexander Nevsky.
Cherkasov plays the Prince who must organize the Russian people to fight the Germans. This part had to be quite thin on paper as Nevsky's role is quite limited in the film as being the strong willed leader who leads the men to battle I will say Cherkasov to his credit does this very well. He suggests the powerful personality the great prince should have. He not only suggests a strength of the man, but as well there is a warmth that Cherkasov brings. He allows Nevsky not only to be a leader that one could easily follow into a battle, but as well a leader who could easily be liked as Cherkasov is very welcoming in his role.
This role is pretty simple and Cherkasov covers the main aspect of the role well which is being the powerful leader that Nevsky should be. Cherkasov does not leave his performance there, and does bring more to his part then what would have been required. When Nevsky calls out his decisions or turns down the request of a Mongol hoard, Cherkasov brings more to his character then just the strength of his resolve. There is a certain cunning that he suggests as well in his manner, and we see that Nevsky is not only a strong leader, but also a very intelligent one who understands how to achieve victory.
Cherkasov comes in and out of the film as the film also spends a great deal of time with a comic relief pair as well as in the middle of a battle scene. Cherkasov though does make an impact whenever he does appear on screen. One powerful moment in particular that belongs to Cherkasov is when Nevsky comes across a dying soldier. It is a scene that comes up quickly and ends even faster, but Cherkasov does make the scene appropriately poignant. He once again adds nuance to the character of Prince Nevsky by showing how the death of this one man is something that does affect even a great leader like the Prince.
Nikolai Cherkasov's portrayal of Prince Nevsky is a good performance. He makes the Prince the domineering yet charismatic leader he should be. He also does add more to his characterization through subtle moments with his performance which are always well handled, and give a wider portrait of the man. I can't quite say this is a great performance though. Although he brings more to the role than a lesser actor might have he still does not make Prince Nevsky's story the overpowering factor of the film, and he is sometimes overshadowed by the grandiose story around him.