Movie: The Judge
What it’s up for: Supporting Actor
When Robert Downey Jr. is the lead in the feel-good movie of the Oscars, you know that it’s a weird year.
The Judge tells the story of a lawyer, Hank, (RDJ) who is estranged from his family but finds himself back in his hometown for his mother’s funeral. His father (Robert Duvall) is the local judge and Hank has a hostile and damaged relationship with him. When the judge is accused of murder, Hank finds himself forced to stay in town and try to keep his aging and ailing father out of jail.
I actually really enjoyed this movie. I thought it had a nicely complex plot and a variety of solid characters. The writers did a great job building up certain events and plot twists. Just when you think you have a firm grasp of what’s going on, they surprise you. With the main descriptions of the movie focusing on the judge’s murder trial, I was expecting something dark and intense but it is far from either. Due in large part to Thomas Newman’s wonderful score, the story plays out more focused on character development rather than on the murder case. It works well for the story and creates an intriguing atmosphere that captivates your attention.
Robert Duvall did an absolutely incredible job as the aged judge. I’ve now seen all the supporting actor nominees and I believe Duvall ranks strongly in second place. He goes from spiteful to pitiful in the blink of an eye. He tangibly brings out the emotions of the movie and accentuates the actions and emotions of the other characters perfectly. As you grow into a part of this dysfunctional family and learn about the stories that have led them to this place, Duvall’s performance remains strongly at the center of everything that happens – regardless of the fact that he’s the “supporting” actor.
I give the movie two thumbs up as a feel-good, character drama.
I think it’s possible that Duvall could win but unlikely. JK Simmons should have this in the bag, but with the partiality of the Academy towards artsy movies, this category could go to pretty much anyone.