Guy Pearce did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Captain John Boyd in Ravenous.
Guy Pearce is an actor who recently has been cast in the wrong types of roles. For one thing Pearce should be a leading man, this is not to say he can't do well in a supporting part, but leading is where he excels best. I tend to always like Pearce except in the roles of one dimensional villains such as in The Count of Monte Cristo and in Iron Man 3. To be frank, he just seems out of place as villains as they are just not the parts for him and sincerely hope he and the casting directors stop placing him in such spots as he is a great actor when it comes to just about every other type of role but not a great actor when it comes to playing a villain. A weakness certainly but one that can easily be forgiven when he is so good in just about every other type of role.
Anyway with that rant of sorts over on to Ravenous which places Pearce where he should be in the role of Captain John Boyd who at the beginning of the film is a soldier who has recently been promoted during the Mexican American war although he only proved the hero by proving himself a coward who pretended to be dead which placed him under a sea of corpses. For several minutes in Pearce really does not say much of anything but, as he would show later in, The Proposition as well, he is amazing in portraying a powerful internal angst. The film really leaves it to him to show the guilt and shame in his character and Pearce handles his end flawlessly. Even without saying much of anything we see where Boyd is coming from even before he enters the secluded army base surrounded by the wilderness.
Boyd stays rather quiet and reserved until a strange man (Robert Carlyle) appears at the base, who claims to have survived a cannibalistic massacre although things quickly turn for the worse when it turns out that man was actually the cause of the massacre and wishes to make the men at the base his new meals. Guy Pearce is excellent here by just being a man who is way in over his head and correctly reflecting how someone would be in such a situation. While Carlyle, properly so, brings the absurdity of the situation alive through his insane performance Pearce off sets that very effectively by being the sane man in the situation who honestly shows exactly how most people would be through his performance that believably shows all the fear and disbelief that should be shown.
The cannibalism in this film is not shown to be just an extreme survival method but rather a powerful curse that makes you stronger and creates an irresistible urge for human blood once you've tasted a drop. Due to the Captain's time under his comrades' corpses suffers from the curse already. The curse might sound like a somewhat rather silly prospect, and really it is, but Pearce plays it so effectively actually bringing to life in a believable fashion. Robert Carlyle and Jeffrey Jones portray as both going way off the deep end, but Pearce keeps Boyd as the man who wants to retain his humanity and his performance stays far more reserved. Again though Pearce is a master of the silent internal conflict and portrays Boyd's struggle brilliantly.
Guy Pearce gives a pretty terrific performance here actually that does so much for the film. Captain Boyd is a man of few words and his whole point is not going crazy while others do so it would have been easy for him to have been overshadowed. Pearce though owns the film from beginging to end through his assured and thoughtful performance. He makes Boyd's struggle believable and as a guide for the absurd affair brings a surprising amount of realism with his performance. Due to his approach he really builds up the tension of the later scenes of the film because we do care about Boyd. His reactions to the insanity are always remarkable, a particularly love when Boyd sees his new commanding officer turns out to be the cannibal mystery man. This is a very solid turn by Guy Pearce and a good example of the strength as a leading man.