Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Batman had the Joker. Ali had Joe Fraser. And Nixon had his Frost.

In all of these scenarios, our Hero is met by a Villain. Each presents his side and asks the audience to root on one of them. Never before on film is a battle so magically portrayed as it is in Frost/Nixon.

The story follows the interviews led by David Frost (Michael Sheen, who played this role in its Broadway run) of ex-President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella, who also comprised this role on Broadway). The film is a, now considered long, two hour epic of a battle that takes place in the living room of a Republican man fond of Nixon. This battle, not on of swords and guns, but of words and intellect, is a sight for sore eyes, ready for a new kind of movie. These two duke it out harder than Rocky and Apollo, and in the end all you want is more. After seeing this movie, I felt compelled to seek out more information about these two, both character and performer, to learn where such acting came from and where such a story took place.

I could bore you with the semantics of it all, where each person was from, what they spent their life building up to this role, both in real life and on film. Instead, I will pull this film up to the pedestal it belongs on. Frost/Nixon IS what a movie is supposed to be. I feel that Michael Sheen's performance will get him an Oscar Nomination, and gets him dreadfully close to Sean Penn, who in my eyes is the front runner after his performance in Milk. Now the challenge becomes, who gets the Supporting Actor nod in this film.

As with most films, the other actor who is on screen most will get this, in this case Frank Langella (Nixon), but this is where I come to a crossroad. The performances given by the slew of supporting cast give each of them a chance at this. Now I am uncertain as to how this category is nominated and awarded, however, if it is similar to the Original Song category and one can have several nominees from a single film, here would be my push. Nominate Frank Langella, Sam Rockwell, and Kevin Bacon for this category. Each of them gives a standout performance in this movie. While Kevin Bacon is a shade off his role as the lead in The Woodsman, his ability to portray the chaos of being Nixon's go-to guy post-Presidency is hard to miss. Sam Rockwell also gives a shining performance as author James Reston Jr., who pushes to delve deeper into the "betrayal of the American people" by Mr. Nixon.

The obvious choice, however, is Frank Langella. His performance gives all those pushing for a post-humonous Oscar bid for Heath Ledger, including me, a run for their money. I can honestly say that no character that I have seen in recent years has had me feeling truly sorry for the bad guy more than Langella does with Nixon. His range of emotion, from anger to almost childish antics to sadness that seats you next to Nixon on the roller coaster he was on. His ability to show us all that people do bad things, and honestly feel sorry for the mistakes they've made, tears at your insides as Nixon is reduced to a child clinging to a blanket for security. All-in-all, this film is a must see, a force to be reckoned with, and proof that Ron Howard just keeps directing better and better films.

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