Another year of cinema has passed, which means it’s time for our second annual Golden Cages awards, the only end-of-the-year awards program featuring everyone’s favorite actor as a screaming statuette! Over the next two weeks leading up to the Academy Awards, we at Flixist will be announcing our winners across seventeen different categories for what we consider the best achievements in film in 2019. Why do we wait so long into the year to do this? Because we can! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the awards.
One of the hardest things for any actor to do is to embody a character that feels truly human. At the end of the day, a character is nothing more than words put to a page, waiting to be brought to life by a talented (or not so talented) actor or actress. 2019 had no shortage of characters that truly felt human, whether it be Joaquin Phoenix’s achingly honest portrayal of the Joker, or Robert Pattinson losing his mind in a lighthouse. As great as those performances were, they lacked a certain intimacy that really stopped me from completely becoming enamored with them.
With that in mind, Marriage Story is a movie that is so relatable and human that it hurts. We’ve all probably known someone in our lives who has been divorced or may be going through the process right now. As much as we may want to believe that all divorces are clear-cut with one party being all good while the other are clearly abusive and manipulative, Marriage Story instead paints both sides as being just people. They can be good, they can be bad, but they’re people that are neither right nor wrong. They still care about each other but just don’t feel that spark that they used to, and that couldn’t be more true for Adam Driver’s character.
Adam Driver plays Charlie, a theater director in New York who is currently going through a divorce with his wife Nicole, played by Scarlett Johansson. Charlie is trying to do whatever he can to make the divorce amicable for both him and Nicole, but he also wants to still be there for his son. Charlie has a ton on his plate to deal with, whether it be putting on his show in New York, trying to find time to spend with his son, or dealing with the escalating divorce, made more difficult by several lawyers complicating matters.
Throughout it all, Driver paints Charlie as a man who, above all else, wants his son to know that he’s fighting for him and that he still cares about his ex-wife even if they don’t love each other.Driver has to hop between emotions on a dime, from one scene being playful and goofy to full of seething rage, a task he is able to perform with ease.
Adam Driver has quickly become one of the best actors of his generation thanks to wonderful supporting roles in Logan Lucky and BlacKKKlansman, but Marriage Story is arguably his best performance yet. Throughout it all, you can tell that he’s portraying Charlie as not just a man who is trying to make the best out of a bad situation, but a man who has flaws and is slowly losing everything that he cares for.
There’s a scene towards the end of the movie where Driver really lets loose, as does Johansson, and the result is probably the most poignant and gut-wrenching breakdowns I’ve seen in a while, with Driver ending up broken in a way that I’ve never seen him before. For that and more, Adam Driver wins our Golden Cage for Best Actor.