George Clooney did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning a Golden Globe, for portraying Ulysses Everett McGill in O Brother Where Art Thou?.
As I'm sure you know George Clooney is far from a favorite actor of mine and the only performance of his which I reviewed that I have liked was his against type turn in The American. George Clooney here is technically seems a bit more in the Clooney zone as the part of the supposedly charming leading man, although even this part is a bit unorthodox for him considering the screwball nature of the film. Although I suppose I should note to begin with that I actually find his Oscar nominated work to be below average Clooney as those performances exemplify his very worst tendencies of an actor actually.
In this film Clooney does not just do his confident voice for most of his scenes except for a big dramatic scene where then he does his slightly stressed confident voice, no here Clooney actually goes about trying to be charming here rather then just assuming everyone will find him to be so. Clooney here first finds Ulysses as a character with his accent, which Clooney is rather solid on only wavering from it on occasion, and developing the schemer style of Ulysses. Clooney makes Ulysses both smart enough in that he is the smartest of the trio, but still gives the right sense that Ulysses probably does not exactly use every part of his brain either.
Clooney finds the right tone for his performance, and honestly by not seeming so excessively sure of himself his performance is a whole lot more endearing in this film. Clooney is actually just find to be around in this film as we follow his adventure to reunite with his wife while making sure his hair looks its very best with the best Dapper Dan has to offer. Clooney is very energetic here and goes to brighten every scene of the film in some way. Clooney does this pretty well, but he also has the right variations in his performance as he never overdoes a scene drawing back on the screwball attitude at the right times.
Clooney is actually just quite a bit of fun here and he proves a fit for the Coen brother's particular style here. He delivers each line with the right timing and the right drawl for this particular film. This is mostly a comic performance but there are some slightly dramatic moments late in the film. Even these moments though are still done in the film distinct style though as the dialogue still keeps his unusual flamboyance. Clooney brings the weight in the right way by internalizing it in his physical performance, and he really makes the scenes work well through reaction particularly his very effective one as Ulysses's sees something strange right before he is about to be hanged.
This is not an amazing performance by George Clooney but I genuinely liked him here which is really saying something when considering my usual view of his performance. To make me like him here did not require him to be intensely introverted either like in his best performance in The American. This is an extroverted performance by Clooney that never becomes overbearing in his attempt to entertain. Clooney actually is entertaining here as Ulysses, and acts as a likable character to follow through the various misadventures found in this most unusual Odyssey.