Oscar Reviews: Doubt

Caroline Babula (’09) and Ashley Drazen (’09)/Eastside Entertainment Editor and Eastside Staff

Oscar Nominations (5):

– Actress (Meryl Streep)
– Adapted Screenplay (John Patrick Shanley)
– Supporting Actor (Phillip Seymour Hoffman)
– Supporting Actress (Viola Davis)
– Supporting Actress (Amy Adams)

Doubt. Everyone feels it at one point or another. It is also the premise of director John Patrick Shanley’s film, Doubt, based on the play of the same name that he also created.

Three-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep stars as Sister Aloysius, the principal of St. Nicholas Church School. Fellow nun and teacher, Sister James (Amy Adams), notices a new student, Donald Miller, acting strangely after a private visit with Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Afterwards, Sisters James and Aloysius begin to suspect Father Flynn of committing “improper conduct” with the boy.

As the uncertainty for the alleged misconduct increases, doubt crosses the threshold of the religious. Streep captivates the audience as Sister Aloysius and her confidence in Father Flynn’s guiltiness ricochets onto viewers. On the other hand, Hoffman plays Father Flynn so genuinely that audience members question Sister Aloysius’ assertions.

The innocent and inexperienced Sister James is the pendulum that wholeheartedly swings one way or the other. Her naivety causes her to struggle between the two sides, which triggers changes in her personality. Adams’s performance is easily Oscar-worthy, as it showed the great depth of her character.

Also Oscar-worthy is Streep’s powerful performance. A strict nun vastly differs from a free-spirited mother, which Streep played in her last film, Mamma Mia! This range shows how Streep is entirely absorbed in and strictly dedicated to each of her characters.

With a focus on doubt, the film shows viewers a world where definite black and white can quickly fade to gray because the truth will always be questioned in the end.