Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Frank Langella Blogathon

Carissa of Cab Drivers and Coffee Pots is hosting a blogathon focusing on the Oscar-nominated actor. And as Alex has shown a few years back, Langella has had quite the extensive career. But which film of his have I decided to cover? Why, the one that got him an Oscar nomination, of course:

(2008, dir. Ron Howard)

Nominated for four other Academy Awards (alas winning none), this is one of those based-on-real-events films that holds up on re-watches. (Not many of those hold that honor.) And quite honestly, it's perhaps one of the best films from the last decade.

Based on the play by Peter Morgan (who also adapted it), Frost/Nixon chronicles the series of interviews conducted between British TV personality David Frost and disgraced American president Richard Nixon. And Howard had the right frame of mind in casting the men who originated the roles on stage.

After years of being a character actor, Langella finally got his moment in the spotlight. He plays Nixon as a man who tries his damnedest to escape the shadow of his misdeeds, Watergate in particular. But he also plays him as a man more clever and cunning than he may appear. (Apparently his time in office gave him some perks.)

As Frost is Michael Sheen, another hard-working thespian whose work could qualify under the character actor category. He plays Frost (who passed away in 2013) as a flamboyant playboy entertainer, the kind at first glance who’s more interested in the spotlight than the job at hand. (It's stated early on in the film that Frost has "no real political convictions whatsoever.") But when pressure begins to mount, he starts to take things much more seriously.

But the film is about more than the interviews and the behind-the-scenes problems. It also chronicles the men's egos and insecurities, how they behave beyond the persistent glare of the public eye. (The phone call scene towards the climax is the crux of this.) Both Howard and Morgan simply want their audience to see the two leads as human beings with their own flaws.

Frost/Nixon doesn't glorify Nixon's past actions though it does shine a light on their effect in the years afterwards. It'd be a stretch to say that politics have taken a turn for the better (especially considering the current U.S. election) but one thing has certainly changed since the Nixon administration; with the exception of Eliot Spitzer, politicians are (considerably) more careful about what they say behind closed doors.


  1. Nice post.

    I'm still a bit peeved Langella didn't get an Oscar for this. He's magnificent in it.

    1. Well, considering whom he was up against that year, it must've been a tough choice for the voters.

  2. Langella and Sheen are both phenomenal in this film. That phone call scene might be Oscar-worthy all on its own.

    1. Yeah, that scene was definitely Langella's Oscar moment. How the hell Sheen didn't also get nominated is beyond me.

  3. Great post!

    I was so incredibly impressed with this movie. I only saw it the one time, but Frost/Nixon is the type of film to really stick in your memory. I need to watch it again one of these days. I'm so happy someone wrote about it since it's just so phenomenal.

    As I'm sure you noticed, I ended up postponing the blogathon until tomorrow through June 3rd. The link-up post is up now and I've added your blog post to it.

    Here's the linkup list and thanks so very much for participating! You're awesome, Anna!

    1. Well, I signed on for several other blogathons so I wanted to finish up with this one. And the pleasure is mine. :)

  4. How is this movie 8 years old? Holy cow, I could have sworn it just came out a couple years ago. Weird. I remember seeing the trailers for it so clearly!

    Anyway, you're making me really want to see this soon. Alas, my library doesn't have it (but they have the soundtrack, go figure), so I'll have to scare it up on Amazon Prime or at the used book store, I guess.


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