Stumping for Molina in ‘An Education’

Posted by · 10:04 am · June 30th, 2009

Alfred Molina in An EducationI’m late to the table in some sense given that Lone Sherfig’s “An Education” dazzled audiences five months ago at the Sundance Film Festival.  But after catching the film last night, I was left with one mission: spread the word on Alfred Molina.

Most of the end-of-year awards talk will surely surround Carey Mulligan’s absolutely peerless and incredibly refined leading performance, as well it should.  She won’t need much of a boost into the Oscar race when people get a load of what she has to offer here.  But I’m circling the wagons for Molina, whose portrayal of a concerned father of the era is, not to put too fine a point on it, the work of a master.

Molina has no showy moment.  He has nothing you would say represents a classic “Oscar clip.”  But truly, when has he?  This is an actor, still without proper recognition from the Academy, who has delivered time after time, from “Boogie Nights” to “Frida” (his one brush with the derby) to “The Hoax” and even blockbuster fare such as “Spider-Man 2.”  And in “An Education,” he’s at the top of his game.  I was more affected by his subtle additions to the film than I expected and that, I’d say, is the hallmark of an accomplished supporting performance.

As for the film itself, it’s something close to a miracle.  “Near-perfect” is how I keep describing it, that rare occasion when a filmmaker taps into profound truths with the help of a cast that gets it, the themes surging through every vein, a driven vehicle of purpose.  The ensemble could well get its props from the Screen Actors Guild come year’s end, but they also deserve individual commendation: Mulligan, Molina, Peter Sarsgaard, Cara Seymour, Rosamund Pike, across the board.

A knock-out of a film.  I look forward to discussing it more throughout the year.

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9 responses so far

  • 1 6-30-2009 at 10:07 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Hurray. I was just going to get into what a strong role the father has in Lynn Barber’s memoir, for tomorrow’s Page to Screen.

  • 2 6-30-2009 at 10:18 am

    Jenni Miller said...

    I also thought An Education was excellent. I’m not sure I agree with you on Molina as an Oscar possibility, but definitely for Ms. Mulligan.

  • 3 6-30-2009 at 10:19 am

    Liz said...

    I am excited beyond words for this one. It appears that the book is only available from Amazon UK right now, but I’m looking forward to ordering it anyway.

    Kris, not to travel off-topic, but how was Peter Sarsgaard? I can’t be the only one who was disappointed when he missed for “Shattered Glass,” and I was hoping this would finally be his chance. Would you say he’s the male lead?

  • 4 6-30-2009 at 10:28 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Sarsgaard was perfect, especially when the film winds down and you more fully understand the performance.

  • 5 6-30-2009 at 10:53 am

    Zac said...

    The more I think about it, the more I believe that it was because of Alfred Molina that Spider-man 2 was the best of the trilogy and one of the best comic book movies of all time.

    He grounded his performance in reality and understatement and I think that rubbed off on everyone else allowing the filmakers to make a superb superhero movie.

    I’m looking forward to An Education. When is it supposed to come out? Sometime this fall?

  • 6 6-30-2009 at 1:15 pm

    rosengje said...

    Yay, I loved this movie and can definitely see it being a huge breakout hit. I’m a college female and this is one of the first movies that seemed to really understand my demographic. This is definitely something I can imagine all of my friends wanting to see. For less discerning viewers there is still the allure of the time period and the fashion and Paris.

    I also wanted to point out Dominic Cooper’s performance. Not the standout in the ensemble but I definitely think he excelled as the film went on and everyone’s motives get a bit murkier.

  • 7 6-30-2009 at 1:31 pm

    Michael W. said...

    I’m all for an Oscar nom for Alfred Molina. His scene i Boogie Nights just leaves me with a smile on my face every single time I watch the film.

    It would also be great if Peter Sarsgaard could make it after he got royally screwed for Shattered Glass. I believe he was the one who won most critics awards for best supporting actor that year, but incredible he missed the big one.

  • 8 6-30-2009 at 3:34 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Sarsgaard got screwed two years in a row — a nod for “Kinsey” was supposed to make up for the weird “Shattered Glass” snub, but it somehow got lost amid the Academy’s peculiar distaste for the film. Sight unseen, I doubt this will be the one, but he’s so due.

  • 9 7-06-2009 at 8:45 am

    Jane Crowner said...

    I agree that Alfred Molina is a wonderful actor who has been very underappreciated by the Academy. He is an extraordinarily versatile actor and when I see him in a role, I can always focus on the character and not be aware that it is Molina up there. He transforms himself with every role.