Tom Ford's brilliant thriller Nocturnal Animals had a release date primed just in time for Oscar season. When I first saw it, I was sure that it was going to get nominations for every major category — and it deserved them. When the Golden Globes were announced, I was surprised to see that it was only up for three gongs (Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor). I would’ve liked to have seen noms for Best Actor and Actress as well.
Thankfully, the BAFTA awards came and recognized the film’s fantastic efforts by nominating it in eight categories. Surely that meant that the Oscar noms would come flooding in? Apparently not, as #NocturnalAnimals is up for one measly award for Michael Shannon as Best Supporting Actor.
While I'm glad that Michael Shannon has finally been recognized for his sensational performance, a film as visually gorgeous and stunningly complex as Nocturnal Animals really should be up for more awards. In my opinion it’s better than Best Picture nominees #Arrival and #Lion, more competently directed than Mel Gibson’s #HacksawRidge, and has a screenplay more dazzling than any film nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.
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Let’s also not forget just how incredible the cast is. #AmyAdams always seems to be Oscar-nominated, but in the year when she pulled out not one but two career-best performances (the other film being Arrival), the Academy completely snubs her. Adams is so brilliantly subdued and intricate in Nocturnal Animals, she could've singlehandedly stolen the whole film if it weren't for the equally strong supporting cast.
Jake Gyllenhaal can always be relied upon for giving a role his all, and that’s exactly what he does here. Gyllenhaal is up for the task of playing two different characters, one a lovestruck author and the other a weak father on the quest for vengeance — which is no mean feat as the latter is essentially the former's manifestation. Jake pulls it off exquisitely.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson rightly garnered a lot of recognition in his supporting role as the slimy villain of the story. The Kick-Ass star is often known for likable roles; however, here Taylor-Johnson boasts his versatility by playing a vicious character that you can’t help but hate.
That said, it’s the previously mentioned Michael Shannon who steals the show for me. He plays Bobby Andes, a stone-faced detective with a Southern drawl and a troubled past. He chews up just about every scene he’s in and still proves himself to be one of the very best actors of our generation.
It isn’t just the acting that makes Nocturnal Animals so great though — if anything, it’s the screenplay. Adapted by Tom Ford himself, the film beautifully weaves and winds around a dual narrative reminiscent of David Lynch's films. Not only does it manage to be entertaining and gripping on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll find a rich smorgasbord ripe for analysis and interpretation. Each character is fantastically realized and fleshed out, and both stories are handled with a precision close to perfection.
Let’s also not forget about Tom Ford’s gorgeous directing. Pretty much every shot could be framed and placed in an art gallery — it’s that beautiful.
Nocturnal Animals does everything a great film should do and more. Its intelligent ambiguity means that the film never quite leaves you. I was left wondering about the events and characters for weeks afterward, which is more than can be said for a few of the films nominated this year. So where are this film’s much-deserved Oscars?
Have you seen Nocturnal Animals? What do you think about the film’s lack of recognition?