“Hey girl, remember that time Ryan Gosling got nominated for an Oscar? Oh what, you forgot (or didn’t know)? Yeah it happened in the 2007 Academy Awards. His Best Actor nod was the sole nomination for Half Nelson, but he lost to Forrest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland (although I still think he shoulda lost to Leo in Blood Diamond, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant for a whole ‘nother day).
Gosling plays a teacher at an inner city middle school, who also happens to be a drug addict. There’s not really a whole lotta plot. It’s mostly just him navigating his life: dealing with his students, battling his inner demons, attempting to make a connection. He ends up befriending one of his students after she catches him using.
The role is very much a departure for the actor, which is probably what drew the support for the nomination. I just can’t really get into the movie. It’s a little too slow and has a kinda bummer feel to it.
IMDB trivia did point out that most of it was done with a handheld camera, and for these last few minutes, that’s all I can focus on. The unsteady camera does kinda throw you off balance, which I suppose is to suggest the state of mind our character is in. It’s effective, but also makes it that much more difficult to go with and enjoy. Maybe you’re not really supposed to enjoy this one. You’re supposed to feel it. Or something.”