It’s hard to believe that although the traditional Awards Season is long over, the Academy Awards have still yet to take place. Usually, there is much more debate and discussion regarding the Oscars’ biggest categories, but the winners seem to be already decided based on wins at other major award shows. What makes the Oscars’ predictability so interesting is that, of the six major categories (Best Supporting and Lead Actress/Actress, Director, Picture), Best Picture is already pretty much locked in. Based on the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice Awards and expert picks on GoldDerby.com, it appears that “Nomadland” will be taking home the gold.
However, there is one film that is not getting enough attention when it comes to the Best Picture race. This film is sitting towards the bottom of the pack, but in a different year where new movies are more readily available, I think this film would be more in the conversation. I’m talking about Florian Zeller’s “The Father,” my favorite movie of 2020. No film in recent memory was as immersive, frustrating and heartbreaking as Florian Zeller’s film adaptation of his own play.
The film follows Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), an aging man with dementia who is constantly forgetful and blurs people and events together. Anthony thinks that he is healthy and constantly denies the help of his daughter, Anne (Olivia Coleman). Both performances are absolutely stunning, especially Anthony Hopkins, who gives quite possibly his best performance since “The Silence of the Lambs.” His forever-present shaky voice and aloof confusion make his performance so raw and alive. As the only character the viewer follows, Hopkins’ performance immediately introduces the film’s world and what to expect.
While Hopkins’ performance does allow the viewer to gain some insight into the story and world of the film, there really is no preparation for how “The Father” messes with the viewer’s mind. While it is often cliché to say that a movie makes you “feel” like something, this movie quite literally puts you in the shoes of a man with dementia.
Rooms and furniture in Anthony’s flat will move to different places across the film. Established characters will have different actors portray them throughout the film—even information regarding the characters’ backstory from scene to scene. We not only see how Anthony reacts to these jarring events but feel firsthand what he’s experiencing.
This year, I also wrote about “One Night In Miami…,” and how it is very difficult to pull off an adaptation of a play because it needs to be helmed in a way that brings something worthwhile to the screen. This delusion experience through Anthony’s dimension is a valuable and raw tactic used by Zeller that warrants this adaptation and makes the film worth watching. This style immediately engaged me and not only threw me off but kept me on my toes, trying to put the pieces together.
Not only does this film hit so hard with its interpretation of Anthony’s dementia, but the ending pulls no punches when it comes to redefining the plotting of the film and bringing the audience to tears. The film’s final moments feature some of the best acting I’ve seen in any movie this past year. Again, Hopkins’ performance is so incredible. In another year where Chadwick Boseman does not deliver the performance of the year in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Hopkins is taking home the gold.
I haven’t stopped thinking about “The Father” since I saw it in late February. It’s one of the only films I saw from 2020 that I could say was an experience. It’s a film that certainly isn’t easy to watch. The answers are purposely never clear, giving the viewer a sense of Anthony’s condition. I cannot wait to watch “The Father” again and wish it gained more attention as the Oscars approach.
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