… And the Academy Award for Best Actor goes to … Robert Redford in “All Is Lost.”
It doesn’t? What do you mean he wasn’t even nominated? When you watch the credits at the end of the movie, all it says under “Cast” is Robert Redford. He’s the only person in the movie. This part has Oscar written all over it … at least an Oscar nomination.
Redford commands the screen playing an elderly man sailing solo across the ocean. Why he is doing this never seems to matter. All that matters is that a hunk of debris pokes a hole in his boat, and for the rest of the movie, this fit, capable man gets little respite from “What do I do next?” He does what he can. He handles himself quite well, but his dilemma is way more definitive than any shortcomings he left on terra firma.
As if being the only person in every scene of a feature film isn’t challenging enough, this is a very physical film with a lot of no-nonsense water involved. About 95% of the action is 75-year-old Redford – no stunt guys. As if depicting the claustrophobia of this vast open setting isn’t challenging enough, Redford slips past the opening voiceover narration and barely speaks another word.
“All Is Lost” is an ambitiously humble film. Does it work? Yes.
Robert Redford won a Best Director Oscar (“Ordinary People,” 1980). His contribution to film, especially his Sundance Institute, earned him an honorary Oscar for his “inspiration to independent and innovative filmmakers everywhere.” Despite his devotion to the craft of acting and his enormous success, he’s rarely regarded as an excellent actor.
I don’t begrudge Christian Bale (“American Hustle”), Bruce Dern (“Nebraska”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”), or Matthew McConaughhey (“Dallas Buyers Club”) their Best Actor Oscar nominations. (Well, maybe I begrudge Bruce Dern’s nomination.) Hey, I wouldn’t have begrudged naming Tom Hanks (“Captain Phillips”) or Forest Whitaker (“The Butler”) to the list of five. Oscar, Schmoscar. See Robert Redford in “All Is Lost.”