Ralph Ineson did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying William and Harvey Scrimshaw did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Caleb in The Witch.
Ralph Ineson, the man with the amazing voice, plays William the patriarch of the family. The film opens as he is expelled from his colony for apparently having too puritanical view for even the puritans. He then takes his family off into the woods where they attempt to make a life for themselves secluded from the rest of the world. The Witch attempts to recreate period authentic dialogue which is a risky move to take this approach given it's kind of requiring a sort of Shakespearean performance but without the same well worn material to practice with. This approach though is successful in large part do to all the cast members effectively having a grasp on the dialogue. Not one of the actors struggles with it for more than a few words, and they make it sound wholly natural. Ineson though deserves special mention though for perhaps going full Shakespearean with how naturally the lines seem to flow from his mouth, though again it probably helps that his voice makes them all the more compelling. Ineson, and really the entire cast, Scrimshaw included, manage to merely seem of the period which helps in creating that creepy authenticity within the film.
Their attempt at independence goes very poorly very quickly as their crops fail to thrive, and the paranoia emerges when their youngest infant baby mysteriously disappears, through we as the audience know it has been abducted and killed by a witch. Scrimshaw's performance works very well in reflecting the simplicity of a boy's uncertainty. He presents Caleb's struggle well by providing the confused state that is only made more severe by his growing experiences of lust in addition to the uncertainty of their new life. Scrimshaw's work is very affecting by providing this tragic faulty attempt at bravery within this state. Now one slightly comforting element of sorts is his relationship with his older sister Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), although even this is problematic due those random thoughts of lust. Taylor-Joy and Scrimshaw an effective chemistry though at times where there appears to be an honest love between a brother and sister however brief, and even hidden beneath their other concerns. Scrimshaw and Taylor-Joy though still convey this connection, and even allusion to better times in the brief moments they speak without concern for their lives or their souls.
Ineson defines his performance by slowly becoming more sympathetic by essentially bringing William down to earth as the family's situation worsens. Ineson loses that passion of the zealot and trades it for a sad desperation. Ineson so well internalizes William's realization that he has made a terrible mistake for his family, and reveals just the man underneath the zealot. Ineson ends up showing particularly honest frustrations in the man as he tries to make peace between the ever growing divide between his family. I love that Ineson actually does not really stylize these moments but rather brings some honest humanity in portraying such realistic frustrations in William as he attempts calm the intensity within his family. The intensity only grows though when Caleb also disappears into the woods when he meets a witch in the forest. The scene is potentially ridiculous but the combination of horror and fascination portrayed by Scrimshaw grounds it. Eventually Caleb is found though he appears to be in a catatonic state. He eventually comes to which is a phenomenal piece of acting by Scrimshaw. There feels no performance, which makes it absolutely terrifying, as he first convulses to release an apple from his throat, then breaks into a hysterical prayer. Scrimshaw is absolutely haunting in bringing such a horrifying combination of this terrible glee, and terror as Caleb seems to give his own last rites before his sudden death.
William continues on as he attempts to still to bring them together even as his children and wife are at each other throats by accusing each other of witchcraft. Ineson continues to be so strong in the way he actually just keeps bringing William further from that pedestal he had initially placed himself upon. That pride is completely gone, and even though he's still far from a perfect man Ineson does reveal a genuine concern for his family. Ineson is particularly moving in the scene where William reveals he took and stole his wife's father's silver cup. A point of division between her and Thomasin because she thought Thomasin had taken it. Ineson is great in the scene as he so meekly reveals the truth and he shows William finally looking upon his own sin. There is the unfortunate scene where William locks all his remaining children in with the goat that they all believe may be demonic. It makes no sense not only because why would he put them in there, but it also isn't quite fitting to where Ineson has brought William to at this point in his arc. Frankly Ineson presents just a more reasonable man at this point, again this a case of not fulfilling the plot point, but Ineson's approach feels like the far better approach for the character. One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when we see Willliam praying for his family, this is because Ineson's delivery so different from the first prayer we saw. This one is without that zealotry, rather just a man who is actually pleading to God for help. Both Ralph Ineson and Harvey Scrimshaw give very compelling performances by crafting remarkably honest depictions of these two people. They do not excuse their work by genre or by the supernatural element. They give real people going through unreal events.