Albert Finney did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Charles Hanson in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.
The robbery though is botched which leaves Charles's wife severely injured to the point she falls in a completely unresponsive coma. Finney is tremendous in the first scene, chronologically speaking, as Charles comes back to the shop to discover the police investigating the crime scene, and so well portrays the overwhelming fear in Charles as he tries to find out what has happened to his wife. Soon afterwards his children come to the hospital and we see Charles as he has to wait to know his wife's condition. Finney is heartbreaking as he portrays the anxiousness in Charles as he sits in the waiting room chair barely able to be still as well as a striking confusion and sadness he shows Charles trying to come to grips with what exactly happened with his wife. Finney is incredibly moving as he plays Charles as being barely able to speak as he portrays just how distraught Charles is over his wife's condition, and clearly how much he loved her. Finney is terrific in the scenes succeeding this one chronologically as Charles has to make his choice whether or not to pull his wife's plug, and let her die since her brain is no longer functioning.
Finney portrays so well Charles's grief as he almost seems to retire into himself as he must contemplate letting his wife go. Finney shows that Charles almost can barely comprehend how he's in this situation and depicts so well this sad state where Charles does not want to have to recognize this decision he must make. Finney reveals all the pain in Charles in such a poignant fashion as Charles finally says to let her go. Afterwards we see Charles in his state of grief and Finney keeps Charles still attempting to comprehend what has happened while suffering every moment of this confusion. During this time there is a fantastic scene for Finney where Charles's elder son Andy voices the distance he feels from the rest of the family largely because of the cold treatment he received from Charles. Although we never see any of the boys childhood Finney is marvelous in the way he brings out such a considerable sorrow and regret, as well as warmth as Charles attempts to apologize to Andy for this. What makes Finney's performance of this scene particularly brilliant though, is when Andy seems to go too far in his anger, Finney brings out the Charles that caused that, showing the stern father as he quickly slaps Andy to set him straight.
Charles's story does not end as the film continues to follow him as deals with his wife's death past the funeral. Finney again keeps Charles unable to stop thinking about what happened, and so good at portraying this obsession in him. Finney naturally eases away from the confusion in Charles to a palatable anger, which Finney always portrays coming directly from his sadness. Finney creates the sense of discontent in Charles as no one seems to care about what really happened at the crime scene. Finney builds the overwhelming frustrations in Charles as all of his attempts to get the police to do something fail, and Finney makes Charles decision to investigate the crime himself an inevitability. Finney is outstanding because when Charles makes this decision Finney expresses finally a sense of purpose in Charles. Finney perhaps reveals a bit of the old Charles as he brings a considerable determination in him, as it becomes clear that Charles will have his revenge. This brings Charles to a fellow jewelry dealer who he knows was a fence, and happened to be the man Andy goes to to ensure he'll be able to move the jewelry from the robbery.
When the fence reveals that Andy was behind the plot due to Andy having left his business card with the fence, Finney's reaction brings the weight of this revelation to Charles, as he seems to shatter from the inside, and Finney delivers the severity of this betrayal. This leaves one last scene, the final scene of the film, where Charles visits an injured Andy in the hospital, after Andy's back up plan has also failed, to finally confront his son. Finney's performance is amazing here as he still suggests just a hint of the support of the father as he claims to accept Andy's apology, but it's only a hint. Finney then reveals the full extent of Charles's rage towards his sons. The intensity Finney brings is shattering, as he shows Charles finally unleash everything he has just barely been able to pent up since the robbery. This is a great performance Albert Finney, perhaps his very best, as he creates such a vivid and powerful portrait of a man's loss and the need for vengeance that comes from it.