The Father

The Father

Directed by Florian Zeller; Winner of Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins) and Best Adapted Screenplay

Oscar prognosticators rightly deemed French playwright Florian Zeller’s account of a middle-aged daughter (Olivia Colman) coping with her father’s dementia as the ceremony’s dark horse contender. Considering that Anthony Hopkins gives the best performance of his storied career as the titular parent, his Best Actor upset over the late Chadwick Boseman seems warranted. Of all the films nominated, The Father is the most cohesive, dedicated to its characters and in full service to representing the dissolution of mind and family in the face of incurable disease. Rather than merely escaping the trappings of the staginess that often mars play adaptations, Zeller cultivates a visual language that forces viewers to experience the memory lapses and fragmented subjectivity of an individual in cognitive decline. As the sole European-financed nominee and a serious film about a universal issue, The Father is less relevant to discussions of American inclusivity despite the surprise over Hopkins’s win. Still, with Variety already attacking the Academy’s banner diversity year, such a reprieve may be short lived.