Colin Farrell did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Travers Robert Goff in Saving Mr. Banks.
Colin Farrell plays the important role of Travers Robert Goff who is the father of P.L. Travers. Farrell's role is a somewhat problematic one because of that disjointedness between the two stories told in the film. There is an inherent problem that Farrell must deal with which is that whenever it seems like we are finally going to really get into his character the film cuts away from him. When the film bothers to cut back to him it frankly seems to take too long to do so, or does it too awkwardly making it so the story of Mr. Goff is not as prevalent in the film as it should be considering that the whole relationship between Travers and her father is suppose to be a very important part of the film.
Farrell though does not allow himself to be completely forgotten in the film, despite the structure weakening some of the impact he is able to have on the film as a whole. Travers who tries to be a successful banker but finds problems in that he is alcoholic. The character is very reminiscent of James Dunn's Oscar winning performance in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Both men are not opposed to their brief flights of fancy and have a very close relationship with their daughter. They also though are both tragic figures whose vice not only costs them their job, but in the end costs them far more than that. There is a key difference though in the overall nature of Traver's flight of fancy as portrayed by Farrell.
On the surface of it all Farrell plays Travers with an enthusiasm and an ample amount of charm as he plays with his children and tries his very best to treat them well. In these few moments you can easily see why Travers would make such an impact on his daughter. Farrell shows the right highs in these moments, although he takes a rather interesting approach in that the fantasies are actually rather problematic. Farrell does not show Travers to be a man who faces reality with a twinge of delight by his flights out of it, rather Farrell shows him to be a man who tries to avoid reality by using fantasy to the point that is in fact extremely problematic for him.
As the flashback scenes go on we see that Travers is far from the happy man that his constant day dreaming must suggest he is. Farrell is very good in the moments where Travers basically thinks he not being seen by his daughter. Farrell is good because he does not even drop the fantastical ideas in Travers rather he shows them to be far less heartwarming than in the previous scenes. Farrell is instead very effective in giving these less pretty moment a miserably intensity, and making them appropriately disconcerting with Farrell not changing the gentle man we witnessed at the beginning of the film, but rather showing who unfortunately always was.
Colin Farrell performance here hits the right notes when he needs to, and gives a moving depiction of his character's pain, but it is never quite as powerful as it could be, certainly never close to James Dunn's performance for example. I really don't think this is really Farrell's fault as whenever he is on screen he definitely does deliver but his work never resonates as it should. The film constantly reinforces the idea that P.L. Travers is never able to forget her father, but it oddly does not do a very good job of making the audience remember him. It's really not Farrell's fault though as he does give a good performance and with better directing or even editing it perhaps it could have been a great one.