Dylan Baker did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Dr. Bill Maplewood in Happiness.
Dylan Baker, the usually reliable character actor, is the focus of the darkest part of a film which is really saying something in the case of this film. Baker's first scene is unassuming enough as plays the bored psychiatrist to Philip Seymour Hoffman's sexually charged crank caller Allen. His disinterest though only hides the true nature of Doctor Maplewood's life. The next scene depicts his dream where he massacres a park of people with a rifle, but that is hardly the most disturbing element to the man. I mean even in his supposedly less disturbing side Maplewood is more than a little off. These are the scene where Maplewood is spending time with his wife and children. Baker plays the part as basically kinda a father knows best sorta guy as he brings that proper fatherly manner, and warmth that would not be out of place in old fashioned family TV show.
Even on this side though Baker's approach is almost brutally effective in a pitch black humorous fashion. The reason being that Maplewood does not discuss the normal things you might see a father and son say in a "man to man" sort of conversation. No, what Maplewood most often talks to his son about is his son's inability to cum as well as a few other issues relating to his genitals. Baker's performance is especially twisted thanks to being so wholesome while being anything but as he speaks about such matters without much hesitation, and even with some tenderness. These scenes are of course quite bizarre but Baker's makes them work in their own strange way due to the way he realizes the oddity that is Maplewood. Of course a problem lies in the fact that his explicit conversations with his eldest son are hardly the worst thing involving the man. The reason for that is because Maplewood also happens to be a pedophile.
During the film Maplewood drugs one of his son's friends and rapes him as well as visits another kid who is home alone to rape him as well. Thankfully the film does not depict these scenes, but the film is still more than a little off-putting in the way that it depicts the scenes around them. Baker's performance matches the distressing nature of the scenes and amplifies it with his performance. The reason being is Baker does not go for the psychopathic route and in no way does Maplewood seem obviously "evil" in anyway. Instead Baker is is most distressing by rather bluntly showing the excitement in Maplewood as he goes about preparing raping one boy. It is not with any viciousness that Baker portrays Maplewood, but rather he shows this horrible behavior as something Maplewood just really wants to do. It is not with maniacal glee, but instead he is most disturbing by playing it as Maplewood's personal desire.
Of course Maplewood's criminal acts do not go unnoticed for long since he leaves a very easy trace back to him, and he also names the other boy he rapes to the police when they were only asking about the first. This leaves Maplewood one last conversation with his son before his family leaves him due to his crimes. Baker is outstanding in this scene as he does not exactly portray as Maplewood truly regretful of what he did, but is very effective in showing rather that Maplewood for the moment seems to understand what he has done, and that one of results will obviously be the loss of his family. Baker is especially remarkable in the role because he never does compromise the role. He manages to be somewhat moving in the scene but only because he shows Maplewood as a man. Interesting enough though the way he always reinforces the close humanity of his character, rather than a distant inhumanity makes this all the more disturbing of a portrait of a pedophile.