Albert Finney did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe, for portraying George Dunlap in Shoot the Moon.
Albert Finney plays the patriarch of the family involving four rather rowdy daughters who also is a successful author. Finney actually takes an effective approach in terms of the conception of George's problems. In the early scenes Finney is good in portraying the innate sadness in George as he just goes about the day to day interaction with his family. There is this quiet defeat about his manner as he expresses George's dismay at his life. Finney does not show a specific problem but rather does well to just convey the unease George has in dealing with his often misbehaving girls or his wife Faith (Diane Keaton). Finney portrays the detachment he has from them in the moment, and that there is an awkwardness he can't shake including the moment in which he attempts to tell a joke to his wife early on which feels like a horrible attempt to connect with her. What Finney continues to well is also in the portrayal of George's interactions with his mistress.
Finney does not show any great happiness when George is with his mistress either though, just a little less unease, he does not love her it is obvious it just is merely something he is doing to apparently alleviate the pain he feels in his home life. Finney does well to not portray George's affair as what he really wants either, but just more of a byproduct of the mid-life crisis he seems to be having. Finney is good in establishing this through his performance, and he even continues well enough in the early scenes, only the early scenes, where he is fighting with his wife. There is nothing sensible about the arguments exactly it is just raw emotion and give the fight the needed intensity. Finney also does allude to George's actual intentions when it seems Faith is moving on from him. In these moments Finney shows George as attaching himself actually for once. He loses that distance from the early scenes, as well as the ones with his mistress, and shows that George does still care about his family even though he does not seem to know how exactly express this.
Of course things also fall apart a bit as Alan Parker's direction becomes a bit bizarre to say the least. There is one scene that seems to have a great deal of potential where Faith's father is sick and George reveals that he very much cares about this. The one scene involving this though is so rushed feeling including Finney's performance which becomes manic in a second that it unfortunately amounts to very little. That is only the tip though as the film decides to depict any later fights within the family to be so over the top that they come across as unintentionally absurd. If they were meant to be absurd that is problematic since the film becomes quite serious before and after these sequences. For example when George goes off spanking his daughter, even with a wire hanger, that is done in a way that is unfortunately more oddly funny than harrowing, but right afterwards it becomes very somber when he tries to apologize. Even if these moments were suppose to be comic it makes no sense whatsoever. I'll give Finney credit in that he tries to give it his all, but he can't overcome the problematic nature of these scenes.
The film of course calms down outside of these scenes even acting like they never existed really. Finney is even quite great in the last act of the film when his eldest daughter comes to him for solace after a fight with her mother. Finney is very moving in the scene by showing the fatherly side of George to finally come out and in the moment the disconnect seems to break as we see that George finally seems to be comfortable with his family life. Everything almost seems to end well as Finney continues to express this sentiment in George as he speaks with his wife one more time, of course all this is thrown out the window with one more act of absurdity that the film decides to end on. Thankfully for the actors this is wholly action based so they don't need to get histrionics too much. Albert Finney's performance I actually do rather like for the most part as in terms of the overarching characterization Finney takes an effective approach. Unfortunately his performance lapses in to troublesome territory when the film does the same. Due to that this is most definitely imperfect work by Albert Finney but still more than decent performance on the whole.