14. Take Shelter
Director: Jeff Nichols
Stars: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon
Release Date: September 30
Why we’re excited: Chances are, Michael Shannon never receives any calls from casting directors looking to fill up their latest romantic comedies. Not that the Boardwalk Empire star isn’t able to switch up genres; it’s just that, we’re willing to bet that Shannon exudes psychological creepiness even when he’s counting sheep. With pain-filled eyes and a shaky disposition, he’s a natural at playing disturbed, imbalanced characters; just check out his insane performance in 2006’s slept-on Bug for proof.
In the independent psychodrama Take Shelter, though, Shannon has found perhaps his best role to date. It’s arguably his greatest acting work yet, a nuanced bit of paranoid lunacy that’s backed by writer-director Jeff Nichols’ unsettling camerawork and his script’s powerful march toward doom. Shannon plays a hard-working everyman stricken by horrific, seemingly prophetic nightmares that, in his mind, foreshadow an apocalyptic disaster; as he begins to show his fears around his wife (Jessica Chastain) and young daughter, his terrified demeanor causes friends and family to question his sanity.
How Take Shelter plays out is best experienced without spoilers, so we’ll wrap this summarization up here. In a bizarro reality, Shannon’s performance would be in any and all pre-Oscar discussions; we live in a society in which The Blind Side is an awards season champ, though, so don’t count on Take Shelter’s prize-worthy impact.