Absolutely no one bothered to see Mel Gibson in The Beaver. It’s a shame really, since he gave one of the 5 best performances I saw by an actor in 2011. Yes, a lot of people can’t forgive Gibson for what he did (and of course no one has to, since they were pretty awful things), but for me…I only care about the work. I’m not friends with Mel, so it doesn’t matter what his issues, opinions, or problems are. I just want to be entertained/moved by his acting (or his directing when he does that). Here, he impresses me in a way he never did before. It doesn’t hurt that his baggage makes the story about dealing with mental illness strike a different cord than it otherwise would have, but I contend that he hit a home run here regardless. Jodie Foster directed him perfectly, and he made a puppet on his hand come to life. For all those reasons and more, I’d like to submit him for Best Actor consideration. Of course the Academy is going to ignore me, but maybe ACCA won’t…
Gibson plays Walter Black, a seriously depressed man who loses his family due to the cloud over his head and only decides to work towards getting them back when he finds a discarded beaver hand puppet that speaks to him after a failed suicide attempt. Allowing the beaver to now speak for him, Walter sets out to win back his family and put his company on the path to success again. His youngest son is taken heavily with the beaver, while his wife goes back and forth. His oldest son shows contempt for his father’s supposed psychosis and a bigger wall develops between them. As all of this goes on, Walter and the beaver begin to no longer see eye to eye and a struggle ensues. All throughout, Mel Gibson does seriously outstanding work, channeling his charm, his emotion, and his profound sadness to give us the most complete performance of his career. Again, it’s a shame that no one saw this and ‘The Beaver’ is one of 2011’s more notable flops.
Even after the film tanked, I thought the precursor season would reveal a bit of love for the towering performance. I was wrong though, and I admit it. Gibson hasn’t received one citation yet. That could still change, but I’m not holding my breath. It seems that he’s truly persona non grata now, and that’s sad. He may not be a good person, but he’s a great actor, especially here, and I reward the work. I guess I’m in the minority though. Alas.
I humbly submit Mel Gibson’s work in ‘The Beaver’ as a Circuit Consideration for Best Actor. I can only assume that the voters of ACCA will reject him like audiences did, but I can hope against hope. If nothing else, it’s a bit more attention for a film and performance that I thought was quite worthy of it. The fate of Gibson rests in your hands dear reader. I hold no illusions about what will happen, but I’ll cross my fingers anyway!
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