All Is Lost
This is what happens when studios do not market/campaign for their movie. All Is Lost is a far and away one of the best, or even the best, movie of this season, and its main - and only - star, Robert Redford is in a class of his own, easily trumping over any of the Best Actor nominees this year. Riveting, exciting, tense, harrowing, humbling and undeniably intense, the simple plot belies a tightly complex character study.
J.C. Chandor wrote and directed this gem and it is an amazing example of a complex character study. With barely any dialogue, we are given an immensely exciting movie with a character with whom we know anything about, but just based on his actions (and reactions), we can come to slowly understand him. We can guess his background, his motivations and his drive. However all these are just speculations and endless possibilities are abound. But instead of being frustrated by the lack of clarity, it is to Chandor's credit that he was able to weave a fascinating story out of such a simple idea.
The real star of the show is Redford. Well, he is the only star. But what a performance. A tour de force performance over 100 minutes where less words were spoken then minutes passed, but with each grunt, each purposeful action, each emotive reaction, Redford has us in a spell. We are enraptured by this man and his adventure; we are perplexed by him and his reasons for being; we are worried for his safety and rooting endlessly for him to survive. This is not a simple role to play. The amount of backstory that he, and Chandor, had to create for "Our Man" must be staggering, and then to put all that backstory into character without any context and yet translating it to the audience...mindblowing! There has not been such a rich character in a such a minimalistic movie in a long time.
Kudos also goes out to the Sound Mixers and Sound Editors, their job here was crucial. And of course praise to Alex Ebert for the score. In a movie, such as this, the score is itself another character, and Ebert's score gave it life.