My first reaction to Nick Nolte being nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, based on his recent body of work and having not viewed “Warrior” yet, was distaste. Not that I completely dislike Nolte, but “Warrior” didn’t stand out to me as award-worthy. Perhaps I was also bitter about Albert Brooks not gaining a nomination for his performance in “Drive”. But sitting down to watch “Warrior” and walking away with tears in my eyes showed me that I was completely mistaken.

Nick Nolte plays a former alcoholic father, who has cleaned up his act, long after his wife and one of two sons run away. All grown up, Tom Hardy, the runaway son, returns, cold and bitter and looking to fight. Nolte takes this opportunity to show his son he has changed, but none of this means anything to his son. Nolte visits his second son, played by Joel Edgerton, who also berates him. Nolte’s reactions to his hurtful sons (who by all accounts may be justified, but still…) is devastating and Nolte delivers a performance that truly is award-worthy in my eyes. Every stutter, every sad voice, and every hopeful outlook is master in a side of Nolte I feel we’ve never seen before. He broke my heart every time he was on screen and when he finally breaks down, his spiral is absolutely devastating.

To say I was surprised, not only by Nolte’s performance but the film in general, would be an understatement, I will recommend this film up and down now. I feel it will be hard to top Nolte’s performance, though the Academy seems keen to give the award to Christopher Plummer for “Beginners” (probably more so because Plummer deserves an award for his body of work and less so for his actual presence in “Beginners”). On pure emotion, Nolte deserves this win thus far and I personally may be pulling for him to win, unless one of the other nominees completely blows me away as well. Until then, Nolte is my front-runner.

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