Lino Ventura did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Philippe Gerbier in Army of Shadows.
Army of Shadows, which incidentally took until 2006 to find a U.S. release even finding itself high up on many critics' top tens that year, takes the approach of narrowly following a few members of the French resistance that operated in the darkness. The primary figure focused upon, although not the only one, is Philippe Gerbier played Ventura. The film opens as he is being sent off to an internment camp for problematic French although a camp that seems almost a safety measure to stop them from being further along to Nazis control. The film at first even seems as though it may be about Phillipe's life in the camp. Ventura plays his role as particularly unassuming as he portrays Phillipe as very much a calculated man who in no way seems fearful of what the camp has to offer. Ventura presents basically Philippe as a man in wait just examining his surroundings and waiting for his chance to escape. Ventura supports properly what his character does as eventually Phillipe takes action which involves fatally stabbing a guard then proceeding to run as fast he can back into the city to hide.
After his successful escape Phillipe first course of action is to work with a few of his fellow resistance members to execute a traitor in their midst. Ventura keeps essentially the same reserve for much of his performance which works in creating the way Phillipe operates as a man. Ventura's whole approach works in that he establishes the manner in which Phillipe deals with the fact that they must resort to rather extreme and shadowy methods to maintain their organization. Ventura expresses through Phillipe as a man who is always somewhat aloof in his manner. It is not that he does not care, but rather Ventura shows that he is basically trained himself to not care. This gives sense to the essentially heartless way he goes about the killing of the man as he and his associates openly discuss the manner in which to kill the man who is well in earshot. Ventura's performance realizes the nature of the man that likely he has realized over some time which is that he never has too much of a connection to anything, which allows him to make the tough decisions required to maintain their resistance.
Although I don't hesitate in anyway to name Ventura as lead, the film does focus on several individuals in the organization sometimes moving with them instead of Phillipe as it examines the various tasks each person must take, and how they react to their responsibility as well as deal with the constant threat of death and torture. The film always comes back to Ventura's Phillipe who acts as a steadfast individual within the group. Ventura always keeps a certain level of cold detachment. It is not even though he acts inhuman, but rather he presents him as a man who very much knows his duty following it without much hesitation. Even when he stays over in London briefly for supplies Ventura still presents Phillipe as determined and staying very much heavy with responsibility. Ventura's quite good though in portraying as the method of still essentially a normal man in a particularly intense situation. Ventura still has some very well handled subtle moments such as his quiet fear when he must reluctantly jump out of a plane to return to France. All of these moments are well momentary as Ventura presents him as fixed in his path.
Ventura's emotional moments are sparse and even then they are all that emotional. Some of the more emotional moments Ventura allows is when he reacts with a great deal of happiness from a surprise visit from the head of the organization, or when he portrays a blunt dismay when one of the most brilliant operators has made a foolish mistake that leaves them all potentially compromised. Ventura snaps in and out even in these cases he still keeps Phillipe only just barely losing his manner. It is interesting in that technically his most volatile scene is when captured and set up with others prisoners to run from gunfire by guards as a sick game, the scene ends up about being unemotional. Ventura stays steadfast, and convincingly so as he almost botches a rescue attempt by bothering to maintain his reserve as he at first refuses to run from the guards. It's an intriguing approach and he allows to be rather believable that Phillipe would barely bat an eye as he organizes the plan to kill one of their very best. It's a good performance which stays strictly with the nature of his constrained character almost wholly without a moment of compromise.