Oscar Reviews: Frost/Nixon

Oscar Nominations (5):
– Best Picture (Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Eric Fellner)
– Actor (Frank Langella)
– Director (Ron Howard)
– Adapted Screenplay (Peter Morgan)
– Film Editing (Mike Hill, Daniel P. Hanley)Cheery, but washed up, talk show host David Frost needed a break to revive his dimming career. Richard Nixon just escaped a trial for “the greatest felony in American history.” The convergence of these two bodies manifests in four historic, at times train-wreck, interviews that make up Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon.

After the Watergate scandal that marred Nixon’s political career, the resigning President looked to walk away from the mess with little more than a scolding. David Frost, portrayed by Michael Sheen with a similar finesse as when he played Prime Minister Tony Blair in The Queen, sought further retribution.

While at times his character appears an insolent fool seeking for but never reaching the full attention of the spotlight, Sheen never loses the attention of the audience. However, it’s his costar Frank Langella who, at age 71 portrays the vilified Richard Nixon, commands the screen.

While obvious physical disparities exist between the actor and the character, Langella quickly masks them with his spot on performance, his attention to speech characteristics and bodily movements of the President.

The film initially inspires interest but begins to slow down during the buildup to the famed interviews. Not entirely a serious film, undertones of humor arise at various points often involving Nixon’s character making remarks about his opponent, or at one point phoning him up in the middle of the night for a drunken conversation.

Directed by Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon brings a historical event in American history to the screen for a new generation to observe. While the story may shift in character focus, the film never loses focus on the story surround the buildup to, or actually David Frost and Richard Nixon interviews.

Once the true focus of the film develops, though, the film picks up. Langella consistently delivers a powerful performance, coupling his well-delivered lines with coinciding facial expressions. While the film’s title may be Frost/Nixon, Langella, as Nixon, earns the spotlight.