Robert Pattinson did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, for portraying Constantine "Connie" Nikas in Good Time.
A great deal of Good Time's success comes from the kinetic pace of the film that is so well realized through the 80's synth score, the editing, and the directing of the Safdie Brothers, and is heavily reliant on Robert Pattinson's lead performance. Pattinson's, an actor who seemingly has taken strides to wipe away his past in the Twilight franchise and his performances as a sparkling vampire. Pattinson ever since the end of the series, and even during the tail end of it has seemingly attempted to tear himself from those YA roots by taking on roles in films far off the beaten path. This seems to be a successful strategy as he's essentially just attempting to prove his talent lie far beyond what he became known for. One can remove any of that baggage from your mind here as he takes on this challenging role in this film. Again challenging through the film's style which demands Pattinson be right in the forefront of almost every scene to the point that quite often his face fills the frame. Pattinson though needs at the same time to develop this character really as the film is constantly on the move to the next series of events in portraying Connie's long night. Pattinson needs us to know Connie, but also in some way make the audience feel that it is worthwhile to follow him through his time in NYC despite his many questionable actions throughout.
Pattinson's work is dynamic from the start and one can almost forget even of his English roots with the spot on New York accent he pulls off here. He's just in the role as we see him from his first scene where Connie takes his brother Nick (Ben Safdie) out of a therapy session in order to bring him over and rob a bank. This is the start of Connie's amoral actions however it is also the beginning of Pattinson's portrayal of what compels Connie from the start. Although when he picks up his brother Pattinson portrays a lack of respect for the therapist there is this definite passion he brings towards his brother with a honest concern in the moment. After the seemingly successful bank robbery, where Nick is showing signs of worry, there's this quick moment that Pattinson delivers flawlessly where Connie builds up his brother's morale. He lauds him as doing so well in the robbery and for being an essential part of it. Pattinson makes this absolutely earnest in his delivery towards Nick, showing a genuine concern for his brother at this point. We later learn the robbery was some odd idea of Connie's to try to take care of his brother. Pattinson in just this brief moment shows that this intention was completely honest in Connie as he shows only an absolute truth within the care he brings in every interaction between the brothers. Pattinson projects this warmth of the guardian who is desperately trying to take care of his brother even if it is perhaps to everyone's detriment.
The robbery quickly goes wrong and quickly leads his brother to be in jail with Connie trying to find anyway for his brother to get out of jail and for the two of them to escape out of the city together. Connie's first choice to solve this is to bail him out with the help of his older girlfriend Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh). This is where Pattinson begins to realize his brilliant approach to the role of Connie as he tries to fix everything he can through the first most practical solution he can think of. There is something very special in this way that Pattinson portrays the way that Connie tries to ease his way through any situation best he can. Pattinson brings this very low key, yet palatable charisma to the role in depicting one way of Connie's method of trying to get what he wants. Pattinson's approach to this greatly aids the film since he does not depict this as though Connie is some sociopath just trying to manipulate everyone, even if he is manipulating a whole lot of people to try to get what he needs. He does this two ways. In one, throughout the film, there is this sense of devotion towards his brother that whenever he speaks of him it is with genuine care and concern. The second though is that Pattinson portrays Connie as basically using these honest feelings to do his dishonest work. Watching it, you'd probably try to help Connie out yourself, as when Pattinson makes any request his delivery is as such that one would think "that seems reasonable enough".
When the mentally unstable Corey can't really help, and he hears his brother is in fact at the hospital this leads to Connie employing some real free jazz techniques in order to try to solve everything. Pattinson is great here by capturing this mindset of the man and kind of doing two things at once. In that he lets us into really his mindset throughout the night while also putting on any front, for usually about a second at a time, in order to smooth over one problem after another in an attempt to help his brother. Pattinson is fantastic in every scene by always realizing the vividness of this thought process as he goes from place to place in order to fix everything for himself. Pattinson's terrific though in playing up any part for even a second at a time. Again Pattinson matches the same kinetic energy that the film has in his portrayal of Connie being absolutely anything he needs to be for even a moment. If he's a son of a dying father, Pattinson's that with an absolute concern. If he's just a friendly neighbor looking for a phone call, he's unassuming and quite appealing to be frank. If he's a security guard for an amusement park he seems very respectable and on the ball. What I love about what Pattinson does here is that as convincing as he is in those moments he always shows us the way the wheels are turning in his mind in between those moments. There is frustration and desperation just before, and after in Pattinson's eyes, it's in these acts that Pattinson reveals a man on a rather thin tight rope.
Again what Connie's doing throughout is pretty bad. Breaking and entering, lying, letting a prisoner out of custody, stealing a car, drug dealing, or even home invasion Connie is game for it. Once again though Pattinson's so good in the way he brings us into the mindset of Connie which is that he always portrays this passion within sort of the performance that Connie himself is doing. This is beyond even the charm he can bring out when he needs it, but rather there is something greater in the way Connie is fooling himself. That passion that Pattinson brings is that of a guy who thinks he's doing the right thing again and again. Pattinson uses this idea particularly effectively when Connie accidentally lets out another criminal Ray (Buddy Duress) who was also in the hospital bearing a similair resemblance to his brother. That man is more or less just going along in life without a second thought for a future beyond that of a single night just as Connie is, however Pattinson specifically reacts to Ray differently than every other character Connie comes into contact with. Throughout the night Pattinson exudes a level of respect to everyone he speaks to even as he's cheating or ripping them off in some way. That is except for Ray. Pattinson reacts to Ray in every moment with this level of disdain and distaste for the criminal. His little threats are vicious and true from Pattinson who shows that Connie cannot stand the man even as he might be a key to solving his problems.
Pattinson's specific reactions towards Duress's Ray alludes to a fundamental truth within Connie that Pattinson reveals so well. Again Pattinson shows that Connie thinks he's doing the right thing however with his hatred towards Ray Pattinson uses as a tell. The thing is Ray is more or less like Connie in terms of their mutual amorality. When Ray expects any sort of camaraderie from Connie due to their mutually desperate situations as criminals, Pattinson is terrific in reveal the greatest intensity in his performance. Pattinson's delivery is a true verbal lashing at every point showing that Connie has views him as just screw up and thug. The thing is though Pattinson brings a level of vulnerability in his reactions with Ray's come backs, that they are not so different, showing these brief moments of self-reflection before he covers it up by trying to tear the guy down all the more. Pattinson puts on just a bit of sanctimony though and portrays rightfully that this Connie is struggling with the truth being spoken about him. This is incredible work as Pattinson dissects this character just in the margins really revealing that his attempts at being the "hero" for his brother have lead him to become a bad person. The final moment of Pattinson in the film is a wordless scene as Connie rides in the back of a police cruiser having failed his "mission". This moment shows the greatness of Pattinson's work in terms of realizing the arc of Connie as in the silent scene we see him finally come to understand where his actions have left him. Pattinson is outstanding in revealing such a raw emotional breakdown as he shows the man seeing what his actions have done, and without saying a word he earns what Connie does off-screen that ends the film. That moment if clarity is just incredibly portrayed by Pattinson showing Connie has finally lost any delusions in terms of his purpose. Now that is perhaps the crowning achievement of Pattinson's work but this whole performance is a fantastic piece of acting. He brings you into every moment of the night through his work that is effortlessly compelling throughout. He takes you not only into what Connie is thinking but also makes every single one of his "accomplishments" believable. Pattinson matches the tone and the pace of the film to deliver sort of a 1970's style star turn here in the best of ways.