Who better to portray someone with a soul the size of a chickpea than Paul Giamatti? A man whose obsession with anger, spite and conformity to his own reality has steered some of his finest performances. Cold Souls feels like a continuation of the narcissism of Miles from Sideways. He wasn’t as soulless, but certainly just as driven and running on empty. There are parts of American Splendor chipping away at the isolation and glum colour tones used throughout this Sophie Barthes piece. What an undersung piece it is too, with its commentary on Anton Chekov bleeding through into a piece that looks to rip into Giamatti’s neurosis and talent as he adapts his best character of all, himself.
Ambition and nightmares fuse rather nicely throughout Nightmare Alley, a modern spin on the defiant, dormant neo-noir genre. Every so often, a creative will come along and be so sure of their abilities in reviving it. Naturally, whether the work they offer is great or godless, they are met with stirring reviews and a box office bomb. Nightmare Alley is on that course regardless and probably knew it. To know that and persevere is bold and inevitable because Nightmare Alley is a certainly grand film and far closer to the top of the Best Picture pile than any of the others to be given such a nod. It is at least filled with worldbuilding and experimentation, which is no surprise since Guillermo Del Toro helms this delightfully twisted feature.