I finally saw Freeheld on Friday night, and I didn’t find it half bad. A TV movie, okay, but heartfelt, reasonably well constructed, straightforward. But mainly I came away convinced that Michael Shannon‘s performance is the best thing about it, and that coupled with his performance as a guarded real-estate guy in 99 Homes he absolutely deserves a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Shannon is 41 (three months older than Leonardo DiCaprio) and has been delivering honest, first-rate work since the ’90s but especially, I feel, since his breakout role as a dysfunctional but ruthless truth-teller in Revolutionary Road. In Freeheld he plays an Ocean County detective who stands by his lesbian professional partner (Julianne Moore) when she’s afflicted with cancer and has to fight local bureaucrats to pass along her pension to her partner (Ellen Page). I like and respect this guy more than his 99 Homes character, who is basically a scared, flinty prick…but with a measure of vulnerability. Shannon definitely steals that film from Andrew Garfield. And he steals Freeheld from Moore and Page. And both films are playing side by side at the Arclight now. Shannon is the guy, the master of that thing that he does. He doesn’t have to be nominated for anything — he’s fine — but he should be.
Michael Shannon as a fearful real-estate shark in 99 Homes.
As Julianne Moore’s Ocean County detective friend/platonic partner in Freeheld.