Christian McKay did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a BAFTA, for portraying Orson Welles in Me and Orson Welles.
Christian McKay does play Orson Welles and benefits greatly from the fact that he looks quite a bit like the real Orson Welles. McKay goes further than that putting on the Welles voice which might not be dead on I suppose, but it is certainly more than close enough and even more importantly feels natural in his performance. McKay also carries himself the way Welles would in his film performances and in interviews in that there was almost a distinct way in which he would interact with another. There is almost a separation about him in that he interacts like no one else, and McKay plays Welles as if Welles is almost performing in a certain way. It is not even necessarily to entertain anyone else but rather McKay pretty much plays it as Welles way of stroking his own ego at all times.
McKay definitely does bring to life the elements of that charm Welles showed particularly well as Harry Lime in The Third Man. McKay never gets to the great level Welles did in the performance but he does not fail to find some of it though. McKay creates the flamboyance of Welles well and fills the room in just the right way to make it so his presence is always known. McKay brings the slyness in that the charm is almost a deception. Although there is obviously no reason to find him likable McKay makes Welles oddly likable just because he makes him the sort of man you'd want to be around simply to watch. Although the film presents him as a genius it does not present him as a perfect artist as it also depicts him as an egomaniac who is not opposed to the temper tantrum.
One of the films weakness is although it delves into Welles's less savory quality it gives them very little depth often having people talk about them rather than showing it and for the most part reducing them to a few outbursts. McKay delivers them well by sort of dropping the act yet still keeping it at the same time when Welles loses his reserve. It's bizarre combination of a man losing his composure yet purposefully ACTED at the same time, but McKay does pull it off quite admirable as his outbursts seem like a perfect fit for his Orson Welles's persona that he created from that point. McKay has another quieter outburst later, McKay does that less flamboyantly which fits since there is not a crowd, and although short he uses it well to show a little more about Welles.
The problem with McKay's work has nothing to do with his performance. The problem comes from the fact that the film takes such a narrow view of Welles as either a charming egotistical man or a despicable one. When there might have been a scene for more of him the film chooses to let someone else tell you about it instead of actually allowing McKay to show it. The restrictions on him really do limit McKay's work here considerably and it does end up feeling like the portrait of this Welles is far from complete. McKay still does a very admirably job here and is easily the best thing about the film. Honestly I would really like to see Christian McKay revisit Welles again but in a better film that would delve further into the man than the fairly thin depiction we are given here.