With two recent, staggering performances in Winter’s Bone and Martha Marcy May Marlene, John Hawkes has emerged as one of the most important, if still somewhat unrecognized, actors working today. His newest film, The Sessions, has Oscar material written all over it. To me, this one has the feel of an “also-ran,” similar to My Week with Marilyn from last year, but look for him to again be in the discussion all the way until the end.
Here’s to an actor going to spaces often left untapped by other performers. His expression shows a decency and inner hope amidst danger that feels like an distant ancestor to contemporary acting. Unlike Daniel Day-Lewis or Sean Penn, it’s not Hawkes’ over-the-top, transformative qualities, but his humanism, that makes him so magnetizing. In a cultural time where everything feels very “now,” Hawkes is a throwback to when not all characteristics were locked up in easily categorized phylums. One can only hope that Hawkes continues to take roles that push him as an actor, as his relatability to the contemporary American everyman is unrivaled.