Best Actor watch: Hal Holbrook

Posted by · 5:35 pm · April 25th, 2009

Hal Holbrook in That Evening SunIn his roundup of highlights from the Nashville Film Festival, Nathaniel Rogers chalks up a highly plausible contender for Best Actor honours this awards season: Hal Holbrook in “That Evening Sun,” an indie debut feature from Scott Teems.

Playing an 80 year-old farmer desperately trying to hang on to his land, Holbrook’s performance has already drawn praise at last month’s SXSW  fest, where the film won an ensemble award. Amid a rave for the film itself (“an exceptionally fine example of regional filmmaking”), Variety declared Holbrook’s turn the best of his career, calling it “a vividly detailed yet subtly rendered performance.” Rogers clearly agrees:

It’s based on the short story by William Gay about a farmer who escapes the old folks home and returns to his beloved farm only to find it occupied by new tenants. The film is well directed by Scott Teems, graduating from short films to his first feature, and an Oscar campaign could materialize for Holbrook if this movie gets a solid enough release. Holbrook plays a stubborn old ornery codger… one could say it’s an Eastwoodish role with less of Clint’s squinty menace and more of Hal’s weary sensitivity.

There’s a theory I can absolutely buy into. From Richard Farnsworth to Richard Jenkins, the Academy has shown a soft spot for veteran character actors in gentle independent dramas, while their affection for Holbrook was made clear last year when they nominated him for a film they otherwise couldn’t have cared less about. Hell, in a weaker year, he could easily have won. (On a trivial note, the 84 year-old thesp could beat his own record as the oldest male acting nominee.)

No indication yet of what kind of release the film might enjoy, but it sounds like one to keep an eye on. Powerful trailer after the cut.

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6 responses so far

  • 1 4-25-2009 at 6:58 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    I remember back in early 2008 when people were feeling remorse for Hal Holbrook not winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar because he likely wouldn’t get a chance to win one again due to his age. Well, here’s his second opportunity.

  • 2 4-25-2009 at 7:42 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    Looks like something David Gordon Green would be making if he hadn’t sold out.

  • 3 4-25-2009 at 11:00 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    He moved me in Into the Wild

  • 4 4-26-2009 at 11:26 am

    head_wizard said...

    He should of won in 2008 and not because he was old but becasue he was the best. Hope this is another great performance.

  • 5 4-26-2009 at 5:58 pm

    Dean said...

    Holbrook is always great, but he looks especially so in THAT EVENING SUN, another terrific-looking film. 2009 is really shaping up to be a special year!

  • 6 4-28-2009 at 5:41 pm

    McAllister said...

    I saw it at the Atlanta Film Festival this time last week… where it won the jury narrative prize (congrats! well deserved!). Holbrook HAS to get a nomination. He is beyond brilliant. There could be some supporting nods too.