By John H. Foote
That all-important buzz for awards season begins at the major fall film festivals, and indeed First Man, Roma, Green Book and a handful of other films, and performances attracted attention.
Yet strangely, the Best Supporting performance I have seen all year is being under-discussed. Last years breakout star, Daniel Kaluuya was Oscar-nominated for his riveting work in Get Out (2017) making the British Actor instantly one of the hottest actors in the business. Small roles previous in Kick-Ass 2 (2013) and Sicario (2015) drew attention to him, but Get Out (2017) shot him into the stratosphere.
He is back this year as part of the superb ensemble film Widows, portraying a radically different role. In a word, he is electrifying as Jatemme, a dangerously, psychotic killer, muscle for his crime Lord/ politician brother. Jatemme does what his brother bids, and should he get to kill someone over the course of the day, well, all the better.
From the first moment we see him, sitting still behind his brother, he attracts our attention simply by the manner he stares at the person in front of his brother. His eyes are dead, devoid of compassion and empathy, he is a dangerous killer. Watch how he brings a false sense of security to a doomed young man, dancing to his rap music, before shooting him without a shred of mercy.
The actor does something quite exceptional, radiating danger and genuine menace without saying much. Of course when he speaks we listen, because he speaks so infrequently when he does, one best listen.
Though he has less than thirty minutes of screen time, more than a month after seeing the film, it is him I think about when the film comes to mind. The actor is truly terrifying because we see very early in the film what he is capable of doing, and each time he appears on screen, we tense up. Utterly unpredictable, ferocious and purely evil it is one of the most intensely terrifying performances I have ever experienced.
So where is the buzz?
Do we really have to wait for reviews to celebrate the film and performances? While others are basking in glowing reviews, ever closer to being in the shadow of Oscar, Kaluuya appears forgotten!
I hope not, truly.
Pure evil has never been portrayed as frightening as this.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.