Ralph Fiennes did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Caius Martius Coriolanus in Coriolanus.
Coriolanus is an interesting adaptation of a lesser known Shakespeare about a successful but unpopular Roman General.
Ralph Fiennes makes his directorial debut and stars in the titular role of the man eventually dubbed Coriolanus. It is always interesting to see exactly how an actor performs when he is directing himself especially in a leading role. Anyway the story begins with the common people launching a protest at their government with the focus being against Caius himself. Fiennes makes his entrance to confront the mob, and he establishes the character incredibly well. He bares the facial scars of a soldier who has seen many battles, but also the mental scars. In Fiennes's eyes there is the wear of many conflicts as he presents Caius as man truly hardened by his life. Fiennes is one of the masters of intensity and one of the best used examples of this is in his first scene of this film. All the rage and the hate needed for such a life is within his strict yet volcanic manner. Fiennes reveals a man ready to burst due to his past, especially when he sees a seemingly ungrateful mob dismissing his personal sacrifices.
Caius and the people avoid a direct conflict as he commands the situation. Fiennes proves himself to be an extremely strong Shakespearean actor as the language flows so naturally, and so effectively from him. Fiennes brings the overpowering presence needed for a great general as he dominates with every word and gesture towards the crowd. It is not a clear victory though as the people's disdain is still known to him, and Fiennes importantly portrays the way this outrages the man, however he avoids acting out after the crowd has been calmed. Caius is soon called upon to save Rome again by confronting the commander of the opposing Volscian army Tullus Aufidius(a surprisingly good Gerard Butler). Fiennes is excellent in the war scenes we do see as he essentially portrays his certain devotion to the state of Rome through the devotion to the battle. Fiennes brings the conviction of a true soldier in these scenes. He also reflects the severity of the situation, and active wear caused by the stress of the situation in every halted breath.
After yet another success in battle he is only held in higher regard by the elite of Rome as he is not only given the title of Coriolanus but he begins a political career as well. Caius is triumphant but Fiennes effectively realizes a palatable discontent in Caius. Fiennes suggests an unease due to no longer being a war. Fiennes is excellent by finding the complexity of this state as the war, which paints his body with wounds, is also what he has been so acclimated to that he can understand little else. As Caius becomes senator Fiennes portrays only a growing disdain which exacerbates severely when the commoners once again use him as a specific target for attack. Now this I imagine leads to the more divisive moments in Fiennes's performance as Caius lashes out against the people. Although it is Fiennes unbound, not even held back by a director after all, but I actually find it is absolutely fitting to the character. The sheer hatred that Fiennes unleashes is equal to man having pent it up for far too long as well as makes Caius seem a monster to the masses .This makes the result of the outburst convincing as public outcry causes Caius to be banished from Rome.
There's brief scene where we see Caius wandering alone which is a pivotal moment in Fienne's performance. Fiennes is rather moving and uses well as he shows the actual vulnerability in the man after this defeat that establishes what Caius has lost. Eventually Caius finds Aufidius and his men who end up embracing their former enemy. There are few words that explain this yet it is made believable by both Butler and Fiennes as they convey the earnest respect between the two in every glance. Fiennes goes further to also show a certain comfort in Caius as he interacts with men who lived the same life he has. There is no longer the same type of repressed anger, though that is not to say the man no longer hates. Caius though now directly hates by swearing vengeance against Rome, and joins with Aufidius and his men to destroy his former home. Fiennes in these scenes essentially becomes the villain, or at least the dictator that his critics had claimed to be. Fiennes internalizes the intensity though now of a man with a specific purpose. With that purpose Fiennes loses any of that unease presenting a man made hard by war, now finding comfort in that life. The Romans attempt to assuage his rage first by various envoys, but they come to a final resort by using his family, including his wife Virgilia (Jessica Chastain) and his mother Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave), to make a final plea for him to stop. This is perhaps Fiennes strongest scene in the film. He's largely reactionary yet incredibly affecting as he portrays the way his family's words slowly wear away on him. Fiennes is terrific by just barely revealing the weakness in the armor as that vulnerability quietly returns, and we do see his love for his family. Fiennes here not only proves himself capable of directing his own performance, but also a truly capable Shakespearean actor. Fiennes finds the power in the tragedy through his portrait of soldier unable to cope with peace, but also forever damaged by war.