Friday, January 20, 2012

For Your Consideration: Ryan Gosling

He does have a lean and hungry look, wouldn't you say?
Just in general. But also for Best Actor for Ides of March. Though I haven't seen the complete slew of films Gosling appeared in this awards season, I was mightily impressed by his turn in the Clooney-directed political drama.

The movie itself is compelling, but uneven. It has that feel of a film adapted from a play (as it was--the original drama is called Farragut North), with all the attendant strengths and weaknesses that tend to accompany such projects. So we get the dizzying pleasure of a two-man scene between Gosling's political operative, Stephen Myers, and the candidate's campaign from which he was recently fired, Clooney's Mike Morris, in which they basically play poker with each other's lives. I've always admired Clooney for taking roles that simultaneously acknowledge that he is a hyper-evolved examplar of humanity and expose the cracks that form beneath men who were seemingly born powerful and good looking. Gosling takes a similar tack here, and more than holds his own against George the Mighty.

The film also has more excellent actors than it knows what to do with, which doesn't sound like a problem, but it is. And the plot itself swerves towards the sensational and melodramatic in a way not entirely earned. However, none of this is Gosling's fault, and watching his character evolve, and I use that word intentionally, into a creature best suited to survive in its chosen environment is mesmerizing. He does it almost entirely through the way he holds his face and the way he speaks. It's something to see, and I think it's a performance deserving of a nomination. The film itself is a mix between The Candidate and The Godfather, and I think Gosling lives up to the major stars that anchored both of those films. Plus, he'll probably show up to the ceremony in a tux, and that would be enjoyable in and of itself.

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