Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal pursues his Pulitzer... or is it merely his price?Photo: Open Road Films
5 StarsWhy I Saw It: Praying that it’s the performance for which the Academy makes amends to Gyllenhaal for last year’s Prisoners.
What I Thought: The Academy can hold its head up with a nomination here, and Gilroy directs a car chase William Friedkin would be proud of. Update: Bumping it to five stars; been six months and still wafts through my mind regularly.

Nightcrawler. Dir. Dan Gilroy. Perf. star - Qualifying Role Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed. Open Road Films, 2014.

An eccentric yet driven man finds his calling when he stumbles into the world of crime journalism… and begins to blur every line as he goes in search of excellence.
This guy won’t show up on the FBI’s most wanted list; he won’t show up as the crazed psycho terrorizing the cast of your favorite horror movie. No, Lou Bloom is the kind of crazy that walks among us. He’s at our local Chamber networking event… he hangs out at the water cooler… he’s in the grocery store… he brings us our evening news.

Criminy. Now I’m scared. (Has anyone seen Dexter around anywhere?)

This movie just reiterates why I don’t watch television news. But hey – as a person costume Lou’s pretty easy to carry off, and will scare the bejeebers out of anyone at the punchbowl. He starts out as an awkward guy just trying to get by; doing what’s necessary to keep ramen noodles in the pantry, he sustains himself by studying the likes of Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, and master salesman Tom Hopkins, et al. He’s strange and broke, but he’s got vision and knows what it takes set goals, get to yes, influence people, and create opportunity.

But once he comes into his calling he starts using those powers for something a bit less than good.

I was desperately disappointed for Jake Gyllenhaal last year after his tour-de-force performance in Prisoners (and Prisoners itself) went unrecognized at awards time. That year was just one of the best since 1999, and any other year Prisoners and Rush would have easily been nominated, and Gyllenhaal as well.

But the Academy is known for “apologizing” to an actor a year or so later via nomination for a respectable role, even if it’s not as good as the missed one, and Nightcrawler is its opportunity. Gyllenhaal is superb, and anyone who would nominate this performance can easily (easily!) hold their head up for doing so.

Nightcrawler takes a little time to warm up, starting off more as a drama than as the promised thriller, but by the end has blossomed into unmitigated tension broken only by a car chase straight out the tradition of William Friedkin.

Writer/director David Gilroy can sleep easy tonight knowing his film is out here. We, on the other hand…

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