Actor in a Leading Role - Bryan Cranston
Trumbo hearkens back to a time in America's history when people working in Hollywood were under investigation for sympathizing with or being a member of the Communist party. While the Constitution placed no bans on being a member of any kind of political party, the government played on the fears of common people about the Communist threat and went so far as to jail people for their memberships. In addition, members of the Hollywood community ardently supported rooting out commies from their midst. Dalton Trumbo was a member of the Communist party because he believed in taking care of one's citizens, and he was one of many to be placed on the blacklist - meaning no one could hire him without putting his/her own reputation in danger. To be blacklisted meant financial ruin and social isolation.
Having been placed on the blacklist, Trumbo had to write under a pseudonym, and won two academy awards while he was at it.
As I have mentioned in prior blogs, if you are outraged that some actors were snubbed for nominations, then you have to name names as to whom one would oust from the list of actual nominees. Cranston is not one of those people - he deserves his place among his peers for this incredible performance. Irrespective of how you view this period in our history, it would be hard not to be outraged for jailing anyone for an act that is legal under the constitution. As Trumbo, he does such a superb job of capturing the righteous indignation any American would and should feel were he/she in the same situation. You might not care for the politics, but you can certainly relate to an over-empowered government official ruining lives over political affiliation.
All of the performances are wonderful, and I suspect anyone seeing the film will learn a thing or two about this shameful period in American history. If you're intrigued by this film, may I recommend the 1950 documentary about Trumbo and others called "The Hollywood Ten." (available to watch on youtube.com) Upon its release, the filmmaker was, of course, immediately blacklisted himself.
I thought Trumbo was a terrific movie and I highly recommend seeing it. Frankly, it had the chops to be a Best Picture nominee, but not the exposure required to make it to the top of the list.