Pete Postlethwaite did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Tommy Davies in Distant Voices, Still Lives.
Pete Postlethewaite's performance is essentially one of memory within the film. We open the film as the family is essentially moving on from their father, and we granted glimpses into their past with their domineering father. Postlethewaite's performance in turn is fashioned towards specific glimpses into what will be held by memory. There is not a slight moment in what we witness of Postlethewaite's father to the family, they are all extremes, though logically so within the context of his purpose within the film. Postlethewaite's performance is there to quickly grant truth to these memories though as memories which can be a rather curious thing. In this way we don't see the whole picture of the man but rather just the facets. Postlethwaite's does excel in his portrayal of every one of these facets. The most overwhelming memory seems to be those of his abuse towards the family. These scenes carry a cold brutality to them because of how effective Postlethwaite is in portraying the vicious behavior of the man.
Postlethwaite delivers the same intensity whether he is verbally assaulting his family or physically assaulting them. These moments are particularly difficult to watch as Postlethwaite makes them feel so natural to the man, and just the way he simply was. We are granted other glimpses of the man though in ill health in moments but others as a more loving father. Postlethwaite's performance delivers in these glimpses and even makes sense to them. The moments of warmth are of the same man who beats his wife, as even in the moments of warmth there is this a sense of the nature of the man. The nature being of a quick temper, though there are times where he can be charming when not currently in his most hateful state. These again though are only glimpses we see we don't see the transition though Postlethwaite makes it always seem the same man despite the different extremes. It is an effective turn that leaves the strongest impression on the film even though all the performances are limited within the style of the film. Postlethwaite gives an understanding to the father's influence within the family's collective mind even though we are granted a limited portrait of the man.