Alden Ehrenreich did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Hobie Doyle in Hail Caesar!.
Hail Caesar is probably one of the Coen Brothers more divisive films perhaps partially because of how earnest of a love letter to old Hollywood it is. There is cynicism of course within the depiction of the personal lives of the various actors and directors, but it's at its heart a movie that loves movies. It doesn't matter what that movie may even be which brings us to our future Han Solo, Alden Ehrenreich. Ehrenreich plays Hobie Doyle who as the film opens specializes in b-westerns, where the gun play isn't too rough and there's always time to play a song on his guitar. We briefly see him at work where he seems very at home riding, roping and shooting though he doesn't say much,. Later on we catch a bit one of his films. Where again his speaking is brief and his singing is overdubbed, in a very classic Hollywood fashion. Ehrenreich does produce a certain something in this in that there's nothing great about what Hobie Doyle is technically doing onscreen, but he's certainly doing to the best of abilities. Ehrenreich brings the right confidence not of a great movie star, but of a man doing a good job.
Hobie differs from most of the other stars we meet. The graceful DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is in a course woman off screen, the confident Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is a simple dope and the happy go lucky Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum) is secretly a cold communist. Old Hobie is just the same easy going cowboy off screen as he is onscreen. Ehrenreich is really quite charming by just how pure he makes the character. He's just a simple chap who treats it all as a job. He brings such an enjoyable enthusiasm and earnestness to every one of his lines. Ehrenreich shows that Hobie has nothing ever to hide and every ounce of him is genuine. There is purposefully no shading which is what makes him such a delight actually. Even when he speaking about the possible duplicitous nature of eekstras (extras), there is only the best of intentions revealed in Ehrenreich's serious delivery, which in turn makes it very amusing. Ehrenreich is so straight forward in the best of ways in his whole realization of this cowboy, he never winks which is what makes him just so endearing.
Ehrenreich's standout scene is actually fairly early on in the film but it also is the best scene of the film. It is the one scene where Hobie is required to be something he's not, an actor. That is when he used as a last minute replacement for a role in the revered stage adaptation style drama. Ehrenreich is downright brilliant in the scene in his realization of just how ill-fitting Hobie is to the film. Ehrenreich is hilarious by making nothing about the process feel natural. Never has a man seemed more awkward when simply just walking towards than sitting down on a couch. Ehrenreich's great as he kind of hits every wrong beat within his performance as Hobie as he is terribly self aware, seemingly looking at every camera and person behind it, while failing to properly address the other actor he is suppose to be interacting with. When he finally gets to his line Ehrenreich is perfect as he almost seems to cough it as though he is attempting some unnatural process within his throat by speaking while a camera is rolling. Things only get funnier when the film's director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes), attempts to direct him. Fiennes and Ehrenreich's comedic timing couldn't be better as they portray the difficult exchange between the two. I love how Ehrenreich stays still so earnest, showing that Hobie only wants to do what the director wants him to do, but would that it were so simple. Again that is the highlight of the film, but whenever we see Hobie onscreen it's a highlight, because Ehrenreich steals the film. He hones in the Coens' style so well producing such a delightful and entertaining character in Hobie Doyle.