DVD of the Week: Take Shelter

My DVD pick is Take Shelter, #2 on my list of  Best Movies of 2011 and probably the single most overlooked film of last year.

Michael Shannon (Shotgun Stories, Agent Van Alden in Boardwalk Empire) is perhaps our best creep actor. And what’s creepier than watching a solid parent and spouse enduring a full-fledged psychotic breakdown?

Shannon plays the most grounded guy in America until he starts having terrifying dreams and then hallucinations. One of his parents is mentally ill, and he is determined to resist a breakdown and protect his family. Unlike in a lesser screenplay, Shannon’s protagonist is very aware that he may be going crazy and is digging his fingernails into sanity.

Shannon gave a breakthrough performance in Shotgun Stories, by writer/director Jeff Nichols. (In the excellent Shotgun Stories, Nichols created a dysfunctional family with a father so dismissive of his offspring that he non-named them Son, Kid and Boy.) This time, Nichols has given Shannon the role of a lifetime, for which Shannon should have received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

This is also the performance that should have earned Jessica Chastain her Oscar nod as Shannon’s wife. Chastain must react to her husband’s behavior, which starts out quirky, becomes troublesome and spirals down to GET ME OUT OF HERE.

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