When has a John Goodman performance not been exemplary? Sea of Love, Barton Fink, The Babe, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Flintstones, The Big Lebowski, Argo, Inside Llewyn Davis, Trumbo…he never misses the mark. But there’s no way JG’s performance as a paranoid, domineering hermit in 10 Cloverfield Lane will even jiggle the meter as an awards-level thing.
Goodman has been playing guys like Howard Stambler, an eccentric oddball survivalist, for a long, long time. Howard is a bit of lower-key type, but he could easily be the cousin or kid brother of Mad Man Mundt, Walter Sobchak or Roland Turner. Same genes, same attitude, same gut.
Why am I even mentioning this? Because Kris Tapley, Variety‘s usually astute columnist, has suggested that Goodman’s performance “deserves earmarking for year-end kudos.” Tapley foresees a combination of (a) respect for the Howard performance plus (b) the old Oscar-season melody called “he’s due.”
Tapley: “Goodman’s performance is impressive for its complexity.” HE response: No — it’s impressively familiar.
Tapley: “Working from a script that ebbs and flows with ease and tension, the actor’s work is like a waltz, gliding on the narrative’s rhythms, commanding acute attention every moment he’s on screen. It’s a clinic, really — a performance as compelling in its quieter moments as it is in its explosive ones.”
HE response: Goodman knows how to play this kind of guy in his sleep, and if you ask me on some deep-down level he was kind of sleeping…awake but comfortably half-nodding — when he performed it. Goodman to self during shooting: “Shit, this is a piece of cake. No sweat. Another quietly intense, muttering fat guy with a slight glint of madness in his eye.”
Tapley: “I wouldn’t flinch if someone called [this] Goodman’s best work.” HE response: Nope, nein, ixnay, forget it.