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Yesterday I sat down with "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" star and Oscar nominee Max Von Sydow for about a half hour to talk about this and that but mostly his and his film's surprising Academy goodwill. Warner Bros. has him in town for a few days for some TV here, some radio there, plenty of interview opportunities and a fair share of post-screening Q&As. Perhaps they smell a window of opportunity.
As I've noted here and elsewhere, Christopher Plummer may be lighting up the circuit as of late, but having his old "Dreamscape" and "Emotional Arithmetic" co-star in the category makes things a lot more interesting. Given the number of parallels between the two and equal arguments for being due a statue, I wouldn't call this race sewn up. Then again, it's tough to build momentum this late in the game and Plummer has been a full-steam locomotive for a number of months now.
With all this in mind, the studio has pushed out a new featurette focused on Von Sydow's performance in the film. When I spoke with him yesterday (and briefly in December prior to the film's first big screening in Los Angeles), I loved how much of a heartfelt yet straight-shooting person he was. He doesn't linger on things too much and won't layer on unnecessary or, to be sure, hyperbolic verbiage.
Director Stephen Daldry, on the other hand, has a penchant for playing things up, and he certainly does so in the featurette below. "He has the most extraordinary, expressive face in the world," he says of Von Sydow. Okay, there are some interesting physical quirks to the man, but slow down. "It's one of the singularly great performances of his extraordinary career," he adds later.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. I'd be willing to agree if the actor was in the film more than he is. It didn't feel as fleeting a portrayal the second time I saw it as it did the first, and that quivering-lip moment when he hears certain telephone messages toward the end is beautiful and touching, but I don't think what Von Sydow was giving was really served by the material enough to put it up in that echelon. We have at least Antonius Block, Töre, Johan Borg, Father Merrin and Lassefar to get to before we even start to consider The Renter, but that's my two cents.
I'm nevertheless happy for Von Sydow, who has been pitched as a potential spoiler in the race around these parts since way back in September. It's great to have the likes of him and Plummer in the hunt, making it a very diverse race.
Check out that new WB featurette on the actor below.
For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.