Antonio Banderas did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Dr. Robert Ledgard in The Skin I Live In.
Antonio Banderas is not commonly known best for his dramatic work, and in the past I'd say his best performance has been one that focused on an outgoing charm, which was in The Mask of Zorro. That is not the focus of his performance here, and apparently director Pedro Almodóvar asked him to tone down his usual style for this role. Now to properly detail this role I will note that I must spoil the film's twist in order to see how effective Banderas's approach to the role is. Chronologically speaking Dr. Ledgard at this earliest point is a man inflicted with tragedy. This begins when his wife is permanently scarred by a car accident who then proceeds to commit suicide. This is only compounded later when he believes he sees his daughter being raped by a man Vicente (Jan Cornet). Banderas in these scenes is properly affecting as he realizes the way the man's heart is ripped from is body. Banderas portrays this though as a change for Legard as his sadness turns to palatable rage after his daughter also commits suicide.
The target of the rage becomes the man Vincente who he decides to enact a peculiar form of punishment. The early stages of this Banderas portrays directly as a fierce hatred in the doctor, and is quite piercing in showing the way Ledgard has been absorbed by his desire for vengeance. Ledgard though does not go about killing the man, or even torturing him in the normal way. In fact Ledgard seems to specifically use proper anesthetic when going about his form of torture. In his first act he gives Vincente a vaginoplasty. During this process Banderas still shows the single mindedness in Ledgard as the act seems solely driven by revenge. Ledgard does not stop there though despite Vincente repeated attempts to commit suicide, which Ledgard overrides simply by always repairing his wounds. Ledgard though continues to proceed which more operations as well as attempts to change Vincente wholly in body and mind a woman Vera (Elena Anaya). During this process though Ledgard also changes as Banderas gradually alters Ledgard's emotional state during the manipulations.
This is a natural transition made by Banderas's work as he shows the rage that originally propelled the doctor's first act against Vincente/Vera dissipates over time. Banderas portrays Ledgard interactions with Vincente/Vera change from violent hatred to a gentle love. The viciousness of his original reactions to his patient wain for something else entirely to replace them Banderas depicts such a tenderness at times as Ledgard goes about repairing whatever self inflicted wounds Vincente/Vera might have sustained, as he begins to suggest a warmth of the very least a loving caregiver if not a loving hussband. Banderas though goes further than that though as he also shows in these moments as Ledgard as a master craftsman going about his work. Banderas eyes fill with a genuine pride of man who believes he's creating his masterpiece, though he works with flesh rather than paints or clay. Banderas's approach is fascinating as he presents a most unique transformation of his own as a man who becomes a most unusual monster.
Banderas is compelling in the way he manages to subvert the usual expectation of such a role, in that he becomes far more disturbing the more affectionate he becomes. Banderas's performance realizes so well the chilling achievement in Ledgard's experiment, by presenting the joy the man gets from it. Again this is notable in that there's not a hint of sadism after a certain point, yet Banderas makes it all the more off-putting by revealing the acceptance in Ledgard that he is essentially personally creating a replacement for his wife out of another human being. Banderas by purging his usually far broader style enables a most unusual yet intriguing approach to such a role. Banderas successfully manifests the more traditionally positive emotions to create a repellent portrait of a man permanently altering another's existence in order to complete his own.