Foxcatcher

On Saturday night my husband and I went to see “Foxcatcher”.

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Although the movie wasn’t nominated for Best Picture last week for the Oscars I still wanted to see it for the nominated performances of Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo, not to mentioned Best Director nominee Bennett Miller. It is unusual for a film to get two acting nominations and a directing nomination and not get nominated for Best Picture, especially since the Academy now allows up to ten films to be nominated.

However, after seeing “Foxcatcher” I can understand why it wasn’t nominated for best picture. It was just another one of the many fall and winter Oscar contenders that turns out to be somewhere in the okay to good range. If people want to know why “Boyhood” is the clear frontrunner for Best Picture next month all they need to do it look at “Foxcatcher”. A movie that should have been great considering the talent involved is only…okay.

The film should have been a nail bitter. You have an Olympic sport, an eccentric rich man and a murder but it’s not. Bennett Miller clearly was going for something very subtle, which I’m very much in favor of. Yet, there is subtle and then there is empty film space for the sake of empty film space. I really don’t know how Bennett Miller was nominated for Best Director over say David Fincher for “Gone Girl”.

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Moving onto the performances…I had seen Steve Carell on the shortlist to get nominated for this film but some had him in contention for Best Actor and some had him in contention for Best Supporting Actor. I wasn’t sure why this was before seeing the movie but now I do. It is a supporting role. In no way shape or form Carell the protagonist of the film but I’m guessing the push was for him to get nominated for Best Actor so he wouldn’t split the vote with Mark Ruffalo. Only compared to Ruffalo’s performance is Carell the lead.

The true protagonist of the film is Channing Tatum, trying desperately to act. The role seems custom made for Tatum.

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A buff athlete who doesn’t speak much, but even with a role that is built for Tatum’s strengths I couldn’t help but  wish there had been somebody else cast in the role. He tries he really tries, and I appreciate that, but he’s just not a naturally talented or charismatic actor. With that being said I will give credit for one scene. There is one scene set at the 1988 Olympic trails where somehow he managed to really do a good job. It was in the scene, and that scene only, that I thought “Maybe, just maybe, he can actually develop into a passable actor”.

As for Carell and Ruffalo…I get that the performance is a departure for Carell but I felt like I could always see him acting with a capital A.

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He was trying even harder than Tatum was and because Carell is more talented he is better able to pull it off. But I always felt that I was watching Carell play a character that was designed to get everybody to take him seriously. I never really bought him as the character. Despite the fake nose he never really became his character and it’s a shame he was nominated for Best Actor. His spot should have gone to Bill Murray and “St. Vincent” or Jake Gyllenhaal in “Nightcrawler”. The best performance of the film comes from Ruffalo but the only problem is he’s barely in the movie.

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I wish we had seen more of Ruffalo’s performance and character.

In the end I’m glad I saw “Foxcatcher” because I like seeing all the Oscar nominated films and performances but that doesn’t mean the movie was great. If you like wrestling you might love this film. If you like the actors involved it’s probably worth your time. Otherwise you should probably skip this one.

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