Nocturnal Animals (2016)

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Director: Tom Ford

Stars: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

This animal deserves to be seen in daylight

Tom Ford’s brilliant new thriller, ‘Nocturnal Animals’ had a release date primed just in time for Oscar season. When I first saw it, I was sure that it was going to get nominations for every major category because it deserved them. When the Golden Globes were announced I was surprised to see that it was only up for three gongs (Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor) despite all being deserved, I would’ve liked to have seen noms for Best Actor and Actress as well. Thankfully the BAFTA awards came and recognised the film’s fantastic efforts by nominating it in 8 categories. Surely that means that the Oscar noms will come flooding in? Apparently not as #NocturnalAnimals is up for one measly award for Michael Shannon as Best Supporting Actor.

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Whilst I’m glad that Michael Shannon has finally been recognised for his sensational performance in the film, a film as visually gorgeous and stunningly complex as Nocturnal Animals really should be recognised for more awards. In my opinion it’s better than Best Picture nominees #Arrival and #Lion, more competently directed than Mel Gibson’s #HacksawRidge and has a screenplay more dazzling than any film nominated in the Best adapted screenplay category.

Let’s also not forget just how incredible the cast is. #AmyAdams always seemed to be Oscar-nominated but in the year when she pulled out not one, but two career-best performances (the other film being Arrival) the Academy completely snubs her. Her performance in Nocturnal Animals is so brilliantly subdued and intricate, she could’ve single-handedly stole the whole film if it wasn’t for the equally strong supporting cast. #JakeGyllenhaal can always be relied upon for giving a role his all and that’s exactly what he does here. Playing two characters (the author and the book’s character) Gyllenhaal is up for the task of playing two different characters, one a love-struck author and the other a weak father on the quest for vengeance which is no mean feat as seemingly both characters are different; however Gyllenhaal still has to stay true to his author character whilst in the role Edward Sheffield as he is essentially the author’s manifestation. Jake pulls it off exquisitely.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson rightly garnered a lot of recognition in his supporting role as the slimy villain of the story. The Kick-Ass star is often known in likable roles, however here Taylor-Johnson boasts his versatility by playing a vicious and animalistic character that you can’t help but hate. However, it’s the previously mention Michael Shannon who steals the show for me. He plays Bobby Andes, a stone-faced detective with a Southern drawl and a troubled past. He chews up just about every scene he’s in and still proves himself to be one of the very best actors of our generation.

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It isn’t just the acting that makes Nocturnal Animals so great though, if anything it’s the screenplay. Adapted by Tom Ford himself, the film beautifully weaves and winds around a dual narrative reminiscent of David Lynch. Not only does it manage to be entertaining and gripping on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll find a rich smorgasbord ripe for analysis and interpretation. Each character is fantastically realised and fleshed out, and both stories are handled with a precision which is close to perfection. Let’s also not forget about Tom Ford’s gorgeous directing. Pretty much every shot could be framed and placed in an art gallery, it’s that beautiful.

So where are this film’s much-deserved Oscars? It does everything a great film should do and more. Its intelligent ambiguity means that the film never quite leaves you. I was left wondering about the events and characters for weeks after which is more than can be said for a few of the films nominated this year.

nine-out-of-ten

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