Monday, 18 February 2019

Alternate Best Actor 2018: Jakob Cedergren in The Guilty

Jakob Cedergren did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Asger Holm in The Guilty.

The Guilty is a brilliant thriller following a disgraced police officer, having been regulated to the police emergency call center, who attempts to save a woman who he believes has been kidnapped. 

The setup to the film is a daring one as it takes place in a single location. Although this is nothing new in thrillers, however typically there is still a strong visual element in such films, and the actual dangerous elements do take place in the one location. That is not the case for this film as our police officer Asger Holm is all in the one place, and technically entirely safe where he is. The film then to create its tension depends on two especially important elements, one being its taut screenplay, the other being in their lead of Jakob Cedergren. In many ways Cedergren is the film, as if his performance did not bring you into the story, than the film would falter no matter how well written the scenario may be. Cedergren's work of course isn't just as this blank slate watching the event, as it must grow to mean much more. Cedergren is great then in the earliest scenes of the film handling the routine work of the emergency center. He exudes just the right sort of dismissive smug attitude of a man who believes he's above the job. He conveys an annoyance at following the policies of the position, and just a joking bit of self-satisfaction as he brings this sort small bit of humor in his face showing very little concern towards his callers. Although to be fair these initially are not overly concerning, and Cedergren is great in creating this distance in his eyes, of a man very much thinking of something other than his job as he waits. We only briefly hear a possibility of what it might be when a reporter tries to talk to him, but more than anything this is conveyed within the sense of weight on  Asger's mind so well realized through Cedergren's performance.

This state of indifference towards his job though changes when receives a call from a distressed woman Iben. A call he initially takes a drunkard with that same indifference however when it becomes clear there is something wrong Cedergren's excellent in bringing this sudden conviction within the moment. In this instance Cedergren is fantastic in a way he shows sort of the proper police officer gear chime into the man as he takes this call far more seriously. Cedergren's delivery brings the right urgency and concern as he tries to talk her through finding her location as it appears she is being held hostage. Cedergren becomes absolutely captivating as he tries to find more information through call as we see him so chimed into the conversation as he tries to speak to her, while pretending to be her daughter to her potential kidnapper. Cedergren brings out the true professional in this moment try to cover any information he can, and in his reserved intensity as he calls the local officers to try to find the woman.. Cedergren's brilliant in the way he shows the man now truly pulled into this situation, and in turn pulls us right in with him. There is not a single bit of information that passes unnoticed within his performance. Cedergren is in the moment in every single word as his reactions do create that pivotal sense of tension. This is as he shows the man knowing the longer the situations lasts the worse it could become, and he brings a considerable sense of  the growing gravity of the situation through his performance.

As it is not quickly resolved Asger attempts to become an investigator himself within his limited resources to try to figure out the situation. He's excellent then in changes his work as he calls to the home of Ibsen to find her young daughter on the phone. Cedergren brings the right sort of quieter approach in this moment with a warmer tone in his voice. This is with his eyes still conveying the need in Asger to try to find out the information, but with the right careful concern evoked within his performance that shows the officer's attempt to keep the daughter calm. Again Cedergren excels in the way his performance grants the sense of Asger taking in everything he hears. In the cries of the daughter Cedergren is moving as he shows such a palatable sympathy in the man, showing the right natural humanity in the man as well as the ever rising personal connection with this situation. Cedergren's brings such earnestness in the moment where he tries to tell her that everything is going to be alright, and as he speaks the words there is such a sense of sincerity as he tries to assure her. Cedergren is fantastic by so naturally showing the best side of the man as he portrays him truly trying to do the right thing as the situation escalates. This includes though with that the frustrations of his limited power, and Cedergren is equally remarkable in expressing this growing tension right within his physical work. I love the way he brings that bubbling anger as Asger throws away his headset, not once but twice, as the local authorities somewhat dismiss his attempts to do more.

As the night goes on we are given a bit more of the sense of Asger's life before this time, in the time he speaks to his former boss and his partner over the phone attempting to resolve the matter. The moments with his boss are brief but very effectively realized by Cedergren in giving the sense of sort of a cocky jerk that he likely was before this time. Cedergren brings the right sort of the overly chummy attitude of two who are perhaps just a little casual in their attitude towards police work. His moment with his partner though Cedergren finds the complexity of the man perhaps trying to be better than his previous actions might have suggested. As his partner asks him if his desire to handle the current situation has anything to do with a legal inquest he'll be facing tomorrow, Cedergren's reaction is outstanding as it conveys this moment of introspection as he grants the sense of this connection in this emotional unease. It is just a moment of staring forward yet it says so much due to Cedergren's performance. His work is this effortlessly dynamic turn as again as it so deeply intertwines with every revelation of the situation, as well as his own past. Again the physical work can be something overlooked, however it shouldn't be, as the tightening of his hands, his forward posture and his often pinching lips all convey the personal investment of Asger only growing stronger as it appears the situation is becoming worse.

Cedergren's performance realizes this idea on every front, as this connection only grows. This is in his calls to the assumed kidnapper/husband of Iben Michael, where Cedergren brings such a venomous hatred in his voice. This showing perhaps the attitude of his former days as his anger towards the man, though understandable, Cedergren makes that of a self-appointed crusader more so than of a concerned law officer. Cedergren's terrific in the way he conducts this morality towards immorality as we see in the scene where he calls his partner to break into Michael's home. Asger is breaking the law himself, which Cedergren in the moment, as Asger pushes his partner injects the moment with the real passion of a man absolutely believing he is doing the right thing, even though it leads him to poor decisions. Cedergren, without focusing on it, reveals the man who in the past probably overextended his authority towards the idea of justice, through his convictions and his belief of who was guilty.  In this instance though it appears he's on the right track as he encourages Iben to fight against her captors, and there is an absolutely wonderful moment in his performance as he tries to get her to calm down. Cedergren brings the appropriate relaxing tone to his voice, but what is so notable about the scene is the quiet somberness that slowly engulfs his expression. It shows this poignant little moment of the man struggling to separate himself from his burdens in this calming moment, but still clearly with too much of a burden to remove himself entirely in the moment. Everything is turned on its head though when it is revealed that *SPOILERS* Iben is technically the one "guilty" as she is mentally ill, having killed one of her children, and her husband was merely trying to bring her to get help at a mental institution.

Cedergren's portrayal of the moment of realization is outstanding work as he creates such a sense of the sheer dejection from the constructed truth he's created for himself, and exudes this sadness through his misjudgment. There is nothing lost though in terms of the investment within the situation, it is all though of a calmer more understanding approach that Cedergren depicts. In the end Asger takes the final call from Iben as she's about to commit suicide. Cedergren's rough voice is perfection as everything he's been through in the night is in his delivery. He brings such a power as he delivers still this conviction, though with his eyes filled with such a sense of his own guilt, as he tries to speak her towards survival. Cedergren is downright heartbreaking in his hesitant way of finally speaking of his own crime of having killed a suspect. A revelation that feels wholly earned through that burden he brought throughout the film. When he finally brings it forth here though Cedergren's performance is absolutely harrowing as his eyes are a man looking into the past, and haunted by his failure to be a better man. As he tries to speak her down, his voice is only of this utter conviction towards her with an absolute sympathy if not empathy, with such a quiet yet devoted approach of a man without ego just an absolute concern for the well being of the woman. What is as powerful as that moment though is just his silent reaction as he waits to know what happened to her. The weight of his burden being at its greatest which Cedergren's wears so poignantly. What I love most though is his final reaction to hearing that he was successful. Cedergren's reaction actually is extremely subtle, yet so potent, as it expresses the intense relief, but also this sense of understanding of the man having become a far better man by the end of his experience. This is a great performance by Jakob Cedergren. His work manages to create the central tension of the film flawlessly, ratcheting the tension so naturally in the way he embodies the situation in every part of his being, while at the same time weaving within that  such a remarkable portrait of man realizing his own failures.


Charles H said...

Such a pitch perfect performance. The film does work entirely because of him. Every risk and challenge there is Cedergren is more than up to the task.

Calvin Law said...

Brilliant performance, capped off by an astonishing final revelation. Excellent review though don’t read it if you haven’t seen the film guys - part of its effectiveness comes down to just how much it takes you by aback.

Matt Mustin said...

Won't read this yet, because I still have to see the film, but based on the rating you seemed to have loved him, which I expected.

Bryan L. said...

Outstanding. I think he could place in the Top 5.

Louis: Do you think Richard Attenborough could've been great in Choi min-sik's roles in Oldboy and I Saw the Devil (in British versions of said films)? The latter as an even more devilish riff on John Christie.

Charles H said...

I'd be over the moon if Cedergren makes the top 5, which seems likely.

Unknown said...

One of the moment that I overlooked was his tears dropping during the water break in the opening. The moment when recalling back also brought the sense of regret of what he did in the past, reasonating with the revelation in the end, creating such a strong emotion anchoring in the deepest place of my heart! Such a wonderful performance and once again, being totally overlooked by those mind-f****d voters :(

Charles H said...

I'll admit i was surprised that The Guilty did not get a foreign language film nom.

Burning, Shoplifters, Roma, The Guilty & Cold War could've been the greatest line-up ever for that category.

Emi Grant said...

An excellent performance that only kept surprising me as the film went on. I now hope Cedergren does make the top 5, it'd be very deserving.

Louis: Your favorite "one man show" performances?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

I saw this just the other night, he was outstanding.

By the way, I found out that there's this YouTube channel called Be Kind Rewind, which covers many Best Actress Oscar races in depth. It's quite interesting, to say the least

RatedRStar said...

This might be a tiny spoilery question although it isn't to do with the main investigation,

Everyone do you reckon it goes well in court for Holm and his partner in the end?

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What's your opinion on the upcoming remake with Jake Gyllenhaal.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Kursk is online.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Have you seen Christopher Robin, Apostle and Journey's End yet.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Have you seen Mirai? If so, could I have your ratings and thoughts on it?

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Also, I'm really excited for Gosling's review tomorrow.

Emi Grant said...

I don't know if anyone here checks theshiznit's Oscar nominated Honest Posters, but I just finally got around it and let me tell you it's glorious.

Louis Morgan said...



Emi Grant:

This, Locke, Secret Honor, Silent Running and Moon.


Probably not, as I don't think he was willing to lie anymore.


Completely unnecessary. Having said that the role ought to get Gyllenhaal away from being weird in everything (the praise for Nightcrawler might have gone to his head), as I could definitely see him pulling the part off.


I have seen Mirai, which in some ways is the tolerable version of Boss Baby, of the film being the perspective of the young boy with the fantasies of such a mind. Beautifully animated, though I wouldn't sat exceptionally among other films of its ilk, story wise though I thought it was a touched too disjointed. Obviously it is built as sort of these lessons through fantasies, making it okay to be a bit more like vignettes, however even in that way I think a better flow could have been created for the narrative. It does feel just a bit too random at times. Having said that I did like the majority of the vignettes even if I didn't feel they quite built to something extraordinary by any measure. Still I liked the film, I'd probably rank it 3rd behind Isle of Dogs, and Spider-man but above Incredibles out of the animation nominees.

Only one of the vocal performances really stood out to me. I thought they rest were all fine. Masaharu Fukuyama's heartfelt work as the "motorcycle man" is the one that I felt added a real texture to his material beyond just the animation. His performance does stand out within the animation actually creating what I found to be the most striking vignette, and creating a more emotionally resonate sequence. I'd give him a 3.5,

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your top ten Steve Buscemi and Jason Isaac acting moments.

Matt Mustin said...

Louis: What are your thoughts on the "Rhapsody in Blue" segment of Fantasia 2000?

Calvin Law said...

I saw both Journeyman and Dogman. Former was pretty good, Considine was great as per usual though I wouldn’t consider it his best work, and Whittaker was fantastic. Latter was a very interesting film for sure, and Fonte definitely warrants his review. I’d go for a very strong 4.5 for him and Edoardo Pesce is very strong too.

Louis Morgan said...



1. Carl Negotiates with Wade - Fargo
2. Highway Massacre - Fargo
3. Finding Stalin on the floor - The Death Stalin
4. Receiving the news - The Messenger
5. Sentencing Beria - The Death of Stalin
6. Great conversation - Fargo
7. Refusing to pay his share - Fargo
8. Colluding with Zhukov - The Death of Stalin
9. Meeting Jerry - Fargo
10. Colluding with Molotov - The Death of Stalin

You can find Isaacs here:

Louis Morgan said...


Haven't seen it.