Thursday, 25 January 2018

Best Supporting Actor 2017: Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project

Willem Dafoe received his third Oscar nomination for portraying Bobby Hicks in The Florida Project.

The Florida Project focuses on the denizens of a low grade motel near Disney World during the summer.

The Florida Project doesn't hold back, well other than in its questionable ending, in terms of portraying the state of its impoverished characters. It doesn't ease this by giving them hearts of gold. The mother is a violent crude prostitute, the daughter's favorite hobby is vandalism, and random creeps are a norm in and around the motel. The one breath of fresh air within the entire film is Willem Dafoe as the motel super Bobby. This is interesting as Dafoe usually is cast as duplicitous sorts including in 2017, such as his death loving demon in Death Note, or even as one of the suspects in Murder on the Orient Express. Dafoe even in some of his more sympathetic roles can often be as colder men, so it is a nice change of pace to see Dafoe in this role. Now on the surface though this role might not seem like a whole lot. Dafoe is technically in quite a few scenes but on the whole he doesn't have an excessive amount of lines. Dafoe is usually there in some way or another though, and what Dafoe does here that is so special in finding the exact presence that Bobby brings to this rather dingy place.

Dafoe first appears as he settles a dispute caused by the often unaccompanied kids. I love Dafoe from this very first scene in the way he handles Bobby's method of dealing with the problem. The thing is Dafoe doesn't portray it as some angelic saint in the moment as he brings a realistic demanding quality as he requests the mother sort it out as well as is particularly blunt in his delivery of threatening to kick her out for smoking in their room. What Dafoe though does do is portray this inherent sympathy in Bobby's attitude not as just a guy doing his job, even though he is doing that, but also someone who is doing his best to do the right thing. Dafoe is great at being a downright great guy. I love his scene of dealing with a blackout in the motel where he depicts a genuine frustration of course when it first occurs, but carries so naturally this good nature of Bobby as he fixes the problem, despite the less than positive attitude of everyone else around. Dafoe makes this believable because he shows the effort in the right way. It's not in terms of the "effort" of his performance, nor does it show that Bobby is faking either. Dafoe rather has this way within his reactions where he turns for a moment like he's going to get mad, but smiles instead. It's not a false smile but rather Dafoe realizes the thoughts of the moment as though Bobby always finds his way into a bit of optimism whenever he can.

Dafoe's performance is this balance he finds in his work through his portrayal of a guy who is trying to make the best of his situation at every point. Dafoe is terrific in this because he makes it so convincing in every scene. It is not as though he is without moments of melancholy however Dafoe presents these moments as Bobby seeing the reality around him but not being overwhelmed by it. Dafoe's work is this great portrayal of a man always looking for the bright side of life. In this sense he is always this source of relief whenever he appears onscreen. Dafoe isn't one note in this and it's remarkable how much he can do within his seemingly limited part. Dafoe offers not only that relief but also some natural humor throughout the film. This includes his way of dealing with the kids directly which are all minor gems. Dafoe brings the energy of an adult who wants the kids to enjoy their childhood, though too much, and bringing the right sense of fun every time he speaks to them. Whether it is directly allowing them to play, such as giving them a hide and go seek spot, or kicking them out of his office for sloppy ice cream eating Dafoe delivers every line with a real warmth. His whole manner towards the kids is as technically proper father should be as there is enough of a stern quality in Dafoe portrayal but always with this sense of a real concern no matter what the interaction may be.

The good nature of the character is never one note or simplistic. One scene that I adore on Dafoe's end is when he insists on counting a tenets money despite her protests against it. Dafoe's great though as he does reveal a sense of frustration in the complaints but even within the frustration is oh so endearing as there is this emphasis on the positive even when there are no positives through Dafoe's approach. Dafoe makes Bobby this mediator in every moment as trying to find the right option in dealing the situations. Two particularly strong scenes for Dafoe are in this way one where he deals with a john where Dafoe manages to have this forcefulness despite always carrying this certain ease as he calmly points out the man and the woman's wrongs separately in turn. The second being when he dispatches a pedophile who has invaded the child filled property. Dafoe again realizes so well this method of Bobby as he gets the man away from the kids through this smoothing things over by so earnestly offering a drink, though Dafoe's eyes always show the real disgust in Bobby, until he's gotten him sufficiently away before lashing out just enough to scare the man off. That's what Dafoe does so effectively throughout which is showing this guy just smoothing everything out best he possibly can given his situation. Dafoe also though is always as this decent man in really an indecent place, and this facet of his work is especially poignant. Dafoe in his moments of just reacting to what's going on around him with Bobby only getting involved when it is right to. Dafoe never wastes a second in any moment, particularly towards the end as Dafoe reveals such a sense of the real pains of the place just through Dafoe's subtle portrayal of Bobby's humanity. He doesn't have a moment exactly in the final scenes yet I found him easily the most resonate aspect of the ending because he makes that sense of concern in the man so honest every moment he is onscreen. Dafoe delivers a great understated performance here as he successfully makes Bobby such a cathartic character. Although he not exactly the focus you get to know his Bobby, and you particularly start to like him a great deal as he stands as this true bright spot within candy colored darkness. Now this review should be over, but I would be remiss if I did not mention his scene of wrangling a few large birds. It's hilarious, we need more scenes of Dafoe talking to birds. That is all.

71 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Very pleased with the rating as I do recall you having fears about Dafoe not measuring up to Ali.

Luke Higham said...

With Rockwell and Harrelson definitely getting fives, this is the greatest supporting lineup ever.

Calvin Law said...

Hell fuckin' yeah. Do you like the way they ended his character? I thought that final shot of him being unable to do anything was heartbreaking, and actually they could have ended it just there (though I'm one of the defenders of the ending). Also love you mention that scene with him dealing with the two customers. That's great acting of the atypical sort.

Mitchell Murray said...

Yes! So glad you loved his performance. Its very strange for me to say this considering I like him in general, but I'm not sure I've ever seen Dafoe this down to earth. The movie truly wouldn't be the same without him and the comparisons to Ali's marvelous work in Moonlight are wholly deserved.

Mitchell Murray said...

Just out of curiosity Louis, have you already revealed your thoughts on Steve Carell in "Battle of the Sexes", or are you saving him?

Luke Higham said...

Mitchell: Probably for the time-being but I don't see him making the final 10.

Calvin Law said...

And yeah the birds scene is gold.

Anonymous said...

Glad you loved him.

Bryan L said...

I will gladly second any motion for Dafoe to interact with birds in any of his next roles.

Seriously though, I'm glad you liked him. I'd be pretty content if he wins.

Michael McCarthy said...

The mention of the bird scene was always gonna be the most important part of this review for me. But yeah, this is probably the right rating for him even though I had him at a strong 4.5.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: You gave your thoughts on Charlie Day as an actor, I couldn't find your thoughts on his performance though.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: thoughts and rating for Kenneth Choi in The Wolf of Wall Street?

Matt Mustin said...

Calvin: Oh, awesome that you asked that. He's got one of my favourite small moments in the film. "No, I don't recall that at all."

Robert MacFarlane said...

I'm glad to see you give him a five. I've been thinking about his performance a lot, more so than any other aspect of the film. I feel bad that he swept so many critics awards only to hit a roadblock with Rockwell.

Bryan L said...

Louis: Can I have your thoughts on this cast for a 2010s The Truman Show?

Truman- Chris Pine (Can't think of a comedic actor with the same stature and age as Carrey when the movie first came out)
Hannah- Michelle Williams
Christof- Javier Bardem (A better version of his character from that one movie he starred in 2017)
Louis- Brian Gleeson
Sylvia- Lily James

Matt Mustin said...

Louis: I have a suggestion (not a request) for a possible review in the future. Christopher Plummer in Remember for 2015 lead. The script's kind of ridiculous and Atom Egoyan's direction does it no favours, but Plummer is absolutely superb nonetheless, and above else, it's an interesting performance to examine.

Calvin Law said...

Robert: I agree, felt like he was a shoo-in for a deserved 'veteran win'.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What's your rating for Bettany in Age Of Ultron. You gave him a 3.5 on initial viewing but isn't listed in the 2015 supporting overall.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: And your ratings for Everett and Firth in The Importance Of Being Earnest.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Ratings on Jarman Jr. and Brian in Intruder in the Dust.

Psifonian said...

Dafoe was sublime, definitely worthy of a nomination even if I'm not quite sure how he falls into my own particular lineup. It's refreshing to see him take on a role like this. Very reminiscent of Mahershala Ali's last year.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on Paddington and Paddington 2, if you've seen it and the casts.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I'm happy you gave Bonneville a 4 for the original.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Ratings and thoughts on Alex Lawther in The Imitation Game.

Omar Franini said...

Louis: your thoughts on The Florida Project cinematography? And is Prince still a 4?

Calvin Law said...

Saw Downsizing. Thought it was more boring and inert than actively bad, apart from one aspect which ironically involves the film's best attribute. Definitely can't blame the performances, I'd say the onus is on Payne entirely.

Damon - 3
Wiig - 3
Waltz and Kier - 3
Chau - 3.5/4 (frankly has the worst written role out of this lot, apart from maybe Wiig, and certainly the most offensive one. Payne's caricatures in the past never bothered me because the writing would often try to give some depth, here it gives no depth whatsoever to the role. The very nature of the role seems primed for Breakfast in Tiffany scenario. The fact Chau makes anything of it is kind of inspiring in a way, and though I didn't love her performance and I hated the nature of her character, she also helped me get through the film with my admiration for her character)

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the theme from Born on the Fourth of July.

houndtang said...

Another Christopher Plummer performance worth looking at is his role as Ralph Nickleby in the 2003 Nicholas Nickleby. Not a particularly notable film but he is memorable in it.

Luke Higham said...

Houndtang: Yeah, he would be a good supporting review, though the film came out in 2002.

Louis Morgan said...

Saw Hostiles, the film has problems, but Bale secured himself a spot in alternate lead.

Calvin:

Loved his final moment.

Choi - 3(Along with the other gang of brokers, he's very funny in very short bursts, particularly "Can I try that danish". Choi's quite good in this curious combination of smug assurance while still seeming like a complete doofus, which includes speaking with his mouth filled with pastry while continuing his testimony. It's enjoyable work just like every performance in that film.)

I think Dafoe ran out of steam mainly due to The Florida Project not connecting with the industry outside of him. Also though because of Three Billboards doing so well in general and Rockwell not exactly being a newcomer himself. Dafoe's first credited role was in 1982, Rockwell's was in 1989.

Mitchell:

For the moment.

Tahmeed:

Well there's not too much of a difference in that since I've either seen him as Charlie, and Horrible Bosses, where he played a slight variation on Charlie, and Pacific Rim.

Bryan:

Fine choices, but maybe Jason Segel for Truman.

Luke:

3

Paddington, haven't seen Paddington 2, is a most delightful remake of Beethoven, I mean it does have just about the exact same plot only with the addition of Darkest Peru, oh and Nicole Kidman's plan makes more sense than Dean Jones's.

Bonneville - (Excellent successor to Charles Grodin. He's pretty hilarious for much of the film in portraying the slightly grumpy state of the father and his somewhat callous attitude to Paddington. Obviously the character arc is pretty short and light, but Bonneville handles it with all the heartwarming sweetness you'd like as he slowly eases up on his strict attitude.)

Hawkins - (A delight as per usual from him. She's most here for a direct injection of warmth again and again doing so quite effectively at every turn in the film.)

Capaldi - (He delivers exactly what you'd expect him to do so, being a more direct grump properly and humorously. He gets a bit more though for his very funny portrayal of just how smitten his character is with Kidman's nefarious taxidermist.)

Kidman - (She's a great deal of fun here bringing just the right type of maniacal energy through her performance. She's properly ridiculous in the role, but actually thankfully doesn't overdo it in sort the "I'm doing a family movie so I don't care way". She really gives a genuinely devoted performance in terms of portraying this most vicious of hunters.)

Whishaw - (Lovely voice work from him as he manages to help make Paddington only ever endearing and never annoying. It's wholly charming work as he so successfully projects just the best type of politeness in his vocal performance.)

Tahmeed:

Lawther - 3.5(It's impressive work even if his facet of the story isn't perfectly interwoven with the whole film as one. Lawther though does a fine job in portraying the detached loneliness of the Turing, and the intensity of his connection when he does seem he has any type of friend. It's a moving performance that frankly deserved more time in the film.)

Anonymous:

2's.

Omar:

My thoughts are unchanged in regards to Prince.

The cinematography is pretty fantastic other than the ending, for multiple reasons, which is yet another failure of that ending. The work in general though is quite impressive as Alexis Zabe's work manages to find this beauty within what most would consider rather ugly places if you were there in reality. The composition of every outdoor shot has this certain majesty through how grand everything looks. The way they someone captured every place to have this certain beauty was particularly impressive as it seems they waited for just the right natural light for every shot to achieve this effect. Downright impressive work until those iPhone shots at the end.

Bryan L said...

Louis: Jason Segel does sound good as well, since he's adept at combining comedy with drama.

Omar Franini said...

Louis: ratings and thoughts on the cast of Hostiles?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your ratings for Hawkins and Kidman.

Omar Franini said...

Louis: I'm glad you are saving Bale, i loved his performance, while i was really disappointed with Pike's.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What did you think of the Yaybahar in Richter's score.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I hope you'll see Paddington 2 during the alternates, I can't be bothered waiting 3 years for Gleeson/Grant reviews since you've seen the first one. I'd rather have more detailed thoughts on them instead.

Louis Morgan said...

Omar:

Pike - 2.5(If she had pulled this off it would have been an amazing performance, unfortunately she comes up short particularly in her big scene that should have been far more devastating than it is. She just never quite gets there emotionally, which is a shame. I do think she's fine in doing the hollowness of her later state but even then she's just not quite there. I do think the material was there, but the performance just was not.)

Foster - 4(I mean it is a testament to the greatness of Foster that I can almost brush off this performance as a mere walk in the park for Foster. Of course he's dynamic, of course he's intense, of course he absolutely makes you understand the character in matter of a few minutes. He makes for a great villain in his very brief screentime, and manages to make the theme of the film really come to life in his sort of philosophical confrontation with Bale. Foster delivers as to be expected, in a definite "Ben Foster" role at this point, but hey I really don't think anyone else would've been better in this role.)

Cochrane - 4(Well he certainly should keep working with Scott Cooper because at the very least he delivers a strong performance again and again. I do thinl they should have devoted just a bit more time to his character, but Cochrane is pretty fantastic in his "killed everything" scene in portraying the vicious hollowness of it all yet with this striking sadness hidden by that. I do think his character's actions feel slightly like a jump, only in that I think it could've been more powerful if given more time, but I have to say Cochrane absolutely delivers in terms of his portrayal of the complete emotional exhaustion of the man that leads him to that point.)

Plemons - 3.5(Again would've loved more time with his character but I'm pretty much always saying that about Plemons at this point. He doesn't get much focus but he's good in just being there really yet still establishing who this man is. He's terrific though in his one major scene with Cochrane portraying the fear towards Cochrane's character's resignation when it comes to death.)

Majors - 3.5(Thinking about Plemons, Cochrane, and Majors I really wish the film had just devoted more time into fleshing out the unit because the performances are definitely there. Majors is good in his role though in creating a real sense to the understated and often unsaid camaraderie between his and Bale's characters.)

Studi - 4(Studi is great at doing the completely stoic yet still managing to infuse the role somehow with a definite emotionalism within that. I wish the film again had built up more in terms of his relationship with Bale's Blocker, as again Studi's performance is there I just wish the material had granted more to do. Studi though still gives an impressive portrayal of finding the character's own state of acceptance of his own killings, though in a very subtle fashion. In terms of the supporting cast I will say it just shows how much potential the film had for greatness, and it's a shame it just doesn't quite reach that.)

Stephen Lang, Timothee Chalamet, Q'orianka Kilcher, Peter Mullan, Paul Anderson, and Scott Wilson are all good in minor roles.

Luke:

3.5/4

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

I found it to be rather well used, and helped to create the rather distinct score which is one of the better aspects of the film.

Omar Franini said...

Louis: what are the main problems you have found in Hostiles?

Calvin Law said...

Glad Bale is getting saved, I'll probably check out Hostiles in the next few days. Still showing in a few cinemas around my area, I believe.

Louis Morgan said...

Omar:

I did like the film, actually liked some scenes a great deal. It's one of those films I'll sound more negative towards than I actually was since I thought it could've been a masterpiece but it just doesn't quite make it there. Like Scott Cooper's other efforts the potential is there, the ambition is there, it just doesn't quite make it that final step. I think it might have tried to cover too much ground at times with the Pike's journey, Bale's journey, Studi's journey, Cochrane's, Plemon's then throwing in Foster's just for good measure. It's not that it is unfocused it just felt as though a great film could've been made out of just honing in on any two or three of those but trying to weave them all together I think diminished their impact as most just needed a bit more time and focus to develop themselves fully.

I also will say on a side note that given the film's Peckinpah sized body count, it could've used some of his naturalistic dark humor.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I'm very pleased, he's too talented to have only 1 five.

Calvin Law said...

Louis: your 1960s or 70s cast (choose whichever you think more approptiate) for a Peckinpah Hostiles?

Calvin Law said...

Luke: Agreed. To be fair though he's a close 5 for a couple of his performances.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I'm hopeful for Out Of The Furnace and we'll see with The Machinist. Pretty sure he'll remain the same for American Psycho and Rescue Dawn though let's hope he goes up for Empire Of The Sun.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: Do you plan on seeing Early Man.

Calvin Law said...

Luke: Yeah, I'll be getting a few other 2017 films out the way first, it was after all on my 2018 most anticipated list.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

1960's directed by Sam Peckinpah:

Captain Blocker: William Holden
Rosalie Quaid: Jeanne Moreau
Yellow Hawk: Chief Dan George
Sergeant Willis: Warren Oates
Lt. Kidder: Donald Sutherland
Sgt. Metz: Ben Johnson
Corporal Woodson: Brock Peters

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Will you be watching Gerald's Game soon. I believe Greenwood's performance is the last contender to be considered for Alternate Lead.

I think Vaughn will get a 4 for Brawl in Cell Block 99.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

I've seen both, I felt Greenwood was supporting.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on both films and the casts.

Luke Higham said...

And ratings too please.

Luke Higham said...

I think Greenwood could get a 5 due to his placement.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Have you seen The Greatest Showman. Could I have thoughts on the film/cast with ratings if you have.

Michael McCarthy said...

I also just saw Hostiles. I totally agree that it could've been a masterpiece if it didn't have so many glaring narrative missteps. The overall themes are solid but in a lot of ways they were executed quite poorly. They really should've given more time to the perspective of the Native Americans in general, especially when it came to the Bale/Studi dynamic. Also, even though it was well shot, the whole openeing sequence probably should've been left out.

I also disagree slightly about Pike. I think her character was extremely uneven in conception alone, so I don't blame her at all for the performance not working. On that note though, Bale did a hell of a job making sense out of a character that was TOUGH to sell.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

I didn't love Gerald's Game, particularly not its novel ending which while required for a thematic point one would imagine there had to be a better way to realize it than an absurdly long, Psychoesque, exposition scene, but I quite liked it. I will certainly give it credit for making the story of someone stuck to a bed quite compelling for the majority of its run time.

Gugino - 5(She's fantastic to be sure and certainly carries the entire film on her shoulders more than admirably. This is in her most direct portrayal of the extreme fear of the situation itself, and successfully portrays every step of her certain decay both mentally and physically. She makes every moment of the predicament as raw and real as possible making the peculiar horror of this film work. Beyond that though she just is captivating in the role in portraying both that side and the imagined sides of the character we see. That being the woman in absolute fear we see on the bed and her imaginations of perhaps some other possibilities of one sort or another. Gugino is a match for the material here and embodies it all while revealing the emotional toll of it so effectively. She essentially has to convey the entire arc while in very limited setting both literally and metaphorically and does so in quite a remarkable fashion.)

Thomas - 3.5(He's pretty good at being quite disturbing as a real creeper. Thomas makes it particularly chilling since he doesn't over do this aspect at any point just showing the father reveal himself as horrible in this rather subtle way that is particularly unnerving.)

Struycken - 3(Effective as usual this time as a much less benevolent visitor in the night than what is found in his role in Twin Peaks.)

Also on a note of the placement for Greenwood, while it starts as a two hander, the way Greenwood pretty much fades out at the half way point made me feel he was definitely supporting.

The Greatest Showman is one I haven't seen.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 takes some time to get going but once Vaughn gets to the prison it is a whole lot of fun, in a rather crude grindhouse sort of fashion. It's entertaining if you can stomach it in its old videogame style plotting as he goes from one prison to another, one section to another in order to save the day.

Vaughn - 4(Completely solid work from him actually as he manages to create this distinct sense of the nature of his character. He manages to do stoic with a bit of atypical character by bringing that southern good ole boy in his manner. Vaughn makes for a fine hero though, and even uses his comedic sensibilities while in some careful low key one liners. It's an entertaining performance that carries you through the film quite effectively. Also when he does have a more emotional moment in there, particularly the ending, Vaughn absolutely does deliver some really poignancy to it.)

Carpenter - 2(Ok one thing S. Craig Zahler needs to do is work on his casting of the woman are hero risks everything for, as in with Bone Tomahawk his damsel is most underwhelming. Carpenter's performance just is pretty terribly bland throughout leaving Vaughn to pretty much do everything particularly in their more emotional scenes together. She's mostly just there, which you needed a bit more than that.)

Kier - 3(An entertaining bit of sleaze from him.)

Johnson - 3(An entertaining bit of a different type of sleaze from him.)

Louis Morgan said...

Michael:

Perhaps I should have specified, in that her scene where she first meets Bale, the material was there, in that scene, for a great performance, but her whole breakdown was underwhelming, to me.

Luke Higham said...

F****** Hell, 10 fives for Leading Actress with Streep still to be decided.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your cast for a 50's Hostiles (I assume the director would be either Ford or Mann)

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

1950's directed by Anthony Mann:

Captain Blocker: James Stewart
Rosalie Quaid: Shelley Winters
Yellow Hawk: Chief John Big Tree
Sergeant Willis: Robert Ryan
Lt. Kidder: Stuart Whitman
Sgt. Metz: Edmond O'Brien
Corporal Woodson: Woody Strode

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your Oscar winners for 1975.

Deiner said...

I just finished The Florida Project. I'm still ruminating the film, but my feelings towards it are very positive. I adored Prince and Vinaite's performances and, as to Willem Dafoe, I just thought his performance was sheer perfection. Oh, and yes! That scene with the birds was really cute and funny. I haven't seen Three Billboards yet, but if Sam Rockwell's performance isn't as good as Dafoe's I'm going to be pissed...

RatedRStar said...

Its a great decade for film and the Oscars in general the 2010s, whereas if we were all doing this blog in the 1990s we would have been frequently dissapointed by the quality of the acting categories especially the mid 90s.

Deiner said...

Louis: have you seen Beatriz at Dinner, Personal Shopper or Princess Cyd yet?

Luke Higham said...

Deiner: Personal Shopper is 2016 by his rules.

Luke Higham said...

For the extended Lead lineup, my prediction is:
Stanton
Gosling
Jackman
Bale
Franco
Pattinson
Renner
Hawke
Jane
Miller

Calvin Law said...

I reckon they'll get the following ratings -

Stanton - 5
Gosling - 5
Jackman - 5
Bale - 5
Franco - 4.5/5
Pattinson - 4.5/5
Renner - 5
Hawke - 4.5
Jane - 4.5/5
Miller - 4.5

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

If you mean my wins, it would be best to ask that after I revisit the year.

Deiner:

I've seen Beatriz at Dinner.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Thoughts on Beatriz at Dinner and ratings/thoughts on the cast.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I'll go 5s for Franco, Pattinson & Jane and 4.5s for Coster-Waldau, McAvoy, Cruise, Carell x2 and Fishburne.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

I did not care for Beatriz at Dinner which was basically the story of six caricatures come to dinner which even includes our supposedly sympathetic protagonist who is just as thinly written as her vapid hosts. It's a film that wears its allegory so broadly on its sleeve that it would need some remarkable style within its direction to make up for it. That is severely lacking in the film's overly literal direction. The characters do not stand on their own and only have any substance if you go "oh she's suppose to be representative of immigrants in general and he's suppose to be Donald Trump". It relies far too heavily on the allegory to get but then it even further botches this idea through its introduction of sort "Death and the Maiden" elements that feel particularly haphazard.

Hayek - 2.5(To me she did not overcome her caricature in the slightest and perhaps even amplified it a bit. All of her deliveries are all a bit too ethereal for their own good as though she is beyond the earth, but in doing so it seems as though she is just as detached from reality as her hosts who are vapid in a different way. I don't think this was the intention. This is failing in her performance especially when the character confronts them directly it seems odd since before than Hayek plays every scene as though she is barely present in the moment. She's a caricature of the new age healer type just as John Lithgow's the caricature of the capitalist.)

Lithgow - 3.5(Lithgow does it a bit better though even though his material is just as weak. At first he's pretty much on the same level in his overtly "big cat" delivery of every line as though he is above everyone and everything. I will give him credit though in that he at least offers a bit of naturalism in his portrayal of the man seemingly getting changed a bit by her words. He handles his scenes of defensiveness particularly well as though he is earnestly trying to diffuse the situation. The same goes as her words seem to get to him, and Lithgow's blunt delivery of his own philosophy he manages to make logical to the character while no longer being over the top. It's cynical delivery yet Lithgow makes it feel honest to that worldview at the very least. I still think he's held back by the material, and I will say it only made the film worse for me since he managed to find any depth to his role while Hayek did not, despite the reverse being the intention of the film.)

Everyone else is one note, and pretty forgettable.