Every once and a while a performance comes around that is unusually perfect, yet is widely ignored. That undoubtedly was the scenario with Max von Sydow in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. What makes this performance astonishing is the mere fact Sydow was able to convey emotion without his character uttering a single word throughout the entire film. Relying simply on the “yes” and “no” markings on his palms, Sydow was remarkably comfortable in the performance and never showed any strain when relating to the film’s principle character, a young child who is trying to solve the mystery of what a key he found in his deceased father’s closet unlocks. Sydow’s performance is perfectly executed further by representing his character as someone who is regretful of his past and wanting to make amends, yet allows his past to control him still. Furthermore, despite the deep emotional core of the character, Sydow is able to give the film moments of tenderness and laughter.
Many have argued Sydow’s nomination was his reward. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close wasn’t a particular favorite with critics and audiences, which hindered his chances of winning. However, many argued his ability to do such a performance at the age of 83 ought to be acknowledged. This seemed to help Sydow until Christopher Plummer’s performance in Beginners made its appearance in cinemas. Plummer, also 83, was able to snatch the sentimental vote away from Sydow, thus making his Oscar chances close to zero.
Lost to: Christopher Plummer for Beginners (2010)