Robert Redford did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Bob Woodward in All the President's Men.
Woodward does actually have a bit of a personal story within the rest of it all, but it is all within the main investigation. The film opens with Woodward not as a particularly important reporter for the Washington Post, and Redford simply plays the early scenes as Woodward more or less going about his job. There is nothing particular special about it, other than the confusion and intrigue that Redford conveys in him as there appears to be something rather strange about the men who were arrested for an attempted break in. As the story develops though this appears to not be the case causing Bernstein to join, although their initial meeting comes from Bernstein's criticism of Woodward's original article. Redford is very good in portraying the quiet yet firm defensiveness in Woodward as his credibility as a journalist is questioned in anyway. This is not something that the film dwells upon but Redford after this point begins to play Woodward as a bit more of an incisive personality as though he is making sure he does not lose any step with the somewhat more seasoned Bernstein as they continue on the investigation together.
In the scene between the two together Redford shapes the difference in Woodward well who he makes even more to the point than Bernstein who's method is more gradual which is emphasized all the more through Hoffman's charm focused turn. Redford is very effective in his realization of Woodward's approach while even managing to attach in it a way to Woodward's seems to be purposefully proving himself against the way Bernstein could possibly view him as out of his element. In this way Redford portrays this as somewhat mechanical in the way he projects a certain coldness about Woodward when he makes certain particularly incisive remarks around Bernstein, and it is interesting to note that Redford only does this in his scenes with Hoffman. Redford makes Woodward blunt statements as almost a way in which he is cutting off Bernstein's routine somewhat, or at least in a way playing off of it by in a way being the bad cop to Bernstein's good cop who always pretends to be the person's friend no matter what. Redford creates this dynamic which importantly creates a certain distance between the men's personalities.
Redford creates that small personal of arc of Woodward, but also is pivotal in just amplifying every positive element of the film such as realizing the sense of paranoia in the scene where Woodward meets his most confidential source. Redford helps to amplify the performance he's working in there by showing the way every new, potentially dangerous information arises, that Woodward is shaken not as a reporter but also a man. Of course the meat of the film is really the conversations with named individuals that reveal more information and which technically are just people talking often just over the phone. The amazing part of the film is these manage to be quite captivating to watch even with their simplicity. A part of the credit for this should belong to Redford. Redford's performance works so well in making them as engaging as they are by reflecting so well the meaning of each so well in his performance. Even with the act of talking and taking notes, Redford is excellent in his depiction of the slight reactions of Woodward that manage to convey all that Woodward's going through during the conversations. Whether it is the exasperation of a failed lead, the switching from friendly to confrontational in the conversation, and just the small moments of excitement when something new is uncovered. One particular great sequence comes from just a one shot of Woodward handling two conversations at once. Redford is exceptional to the point that even though he actually messed up a line, he manage to carry it naturally into the conversation. Redford does great work here because he avoids any detachment that was possible given that really there isn't much to the character of Bob Woodward. Redford finds what there is between the lines, and most importantly makes him always feel like a real guy investigating this even if we don't ever see what he does when he's not working.