Jon Finch did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying the titular character of Macbeth.
This version of Macbeth is directed in particularity grim fashion by Roman Polanski. It's certainly an interesting adaptation through its rather extreme choices which can be either quite effective or quite ridiculous.
Well this is the fourth actor featured here who has played the role of the ambitious Lord who tries to become King after a hearing a prophecy. Jon Finch is so far the youngest when he played the role, which is fitting since he was apparently cast over Nicol Williamson for a perceived sex appeal which Williamson evidently lacked. Now with anyone playing Macbeth it is always interesting to see what their unique take might be. Well I won't say Finch exactly has too much of one as his approach is fairly similair to that of Orson Welles's approach to the character, though thankfully without the use of a distracting accent. This approach is that the story is the transformation from hero to villain in rather straight forward sense. The age though of Finch does allow for something additional in this regard, which is utilized well by Polanki's choices in regards to the progression of Finch's clothing and facial hair. The film begins with a very much clean shaven Finch, looking basically as young as he possibly can in the simple clothing he wears. In the early moments we are presented with a young hero, and Finch very much carries himself as just the good eager soldier ready to do his duty.
Of course that Macbeth was never meant to be due to the prophecy he hears from a few old hags, that leave him with the idea of becoming King. Of course this involves murdering the current King, Duncan, who just happens to wish to stay in Macbeth's home. Macbeth is only encouraged in this ambition by his wife (Francesca Annis). Now with the contemplation of the murder we see one of the very specific choices Polanski takes in his adaptation of the material. That being many of the soliloquies found in the story are through voice over, rather than being directly acted out. Although this allows scenes to technically be more realistic it seems like an odd choice given how over the top other choices are. Furthering that it unfortunately does diminish the impact of the performances. The voice over, though not poorly delivered by Finch at any point, seem almost purposefully disconnected to the performances we see on screen. They never feel intertwined and because of that the emotional power capable from the soliloquies is sorely missing from almost every one. The voice just simply is there, and what the words really mean always remain detached since they are detached from Finch's physical performance.
Now even with the soliloquies being a bit wasted in this version that does not mean Finch gives an unemotional performance, since this version decides to make sure we see every gruesome detail that one could possibly imagine within the play. Here for example we get to see the murder, which naturally takes more than one stab, though even in this Finch's work is forcefully overshadowed by the violence as Polanski focuses much more closely on the act itself rather than the man committing it. Finch though deserves credit in despite having more than a few obstacles in his path he still manages to convey the conflict in Macbeth as he takes the damning step towards villainy by murdering the King. He importantly does not seem vague and still manages to find the needed intensity behind the character to make his descent convincing. Now as the film proceeds though it allows Finch a bit more room to breath once Macbeth's path is set, though still the focus of the film only occasionally fixates upon his work. However there still is enough of a focus to allow for Finch to realize his approach towards Macbeth's transformation as a man, which again seems to be purposefully connected to his age by Finch and the film.
Macbeth gains facial hair along with more clothing that although is more ornate seems more restrictive as though to show less of man who has aged many years in what seems months. Finch adds to this through his portrayal of Macbeth as he loses all of the exuberance of youth, and all joy seems to ripped from him. Finch very much keeps the madness contained with his approach though effectively so as he threads it into this method of a physical degradation of Macbeth. Finch begins to increasingly create the manner of a bitter old man as the tragedy proceeds, and he only goes about committing worse crimes. Any idea of that bright young hero is lost, as Finch becomes a certain personification of misery, and suggests perhaps that his embrace of the character's villainy is his only way to exist with what he has done. On that point Finch is very good as he becomes the vile fiend Macbeth is made out to be bringing the right grandeur to man whose only pleasure seems to come from his ability to harm others. Finch does not become one note through the pivotal moment where he learns of the death of Lady Macbeth. Finch is excellent in that scene by only showing a genuine love he had for his wife, and is honestly rather moving in bringing out this last bit of humanity in a man who is so far gone. This is wiped away though for Macbeth's final scene where he becomes an evil foe worthy of legend. Finch is really good in this scene as he again embraces that fully to make Macbeth brimming with a deranged confidence of sorts, as Finch physically plays the scene with almost a carelessness showing just how invincible Macbeth believes himself to be due to prophecy that seemed to deem him impossible to kill. I absolutely love when Macduff notes a loophole that he passes through. Finch's reaction is perfection as he so simply non-verbally says "ah nuts!", and all that confidence seems to vanish in a moments notice. Of course even his treatment at the end suggests Finch's treatment throughout the film, which is that the film seems more concerned with the violence of the story than even the main character. This is an oddly thankless leading role for Finch, however I do think he still succeeds in giving a compelling version of the character despite the limitations set upon him.