“Do you know what ‘fear’ stands for? False Evidence Appearing Real.”
Those who claim Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in Nightcrawler represents a career best for the actor are not exaggerating. For all the talent Gyllenhaal has shown in the past – not least in 2013’s Enemy, which also appeared on this list at number 21 – his starring role here as the somewhat sociopathic but disarmingly charming Lou Bloom is a portrayal deserving of comparisons with a young Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver (1976).
I stated when talking about The Babadook that it was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had at the cinema. Well, my second viewing of Nightcrawler was perhaps THE most memorable cinematic experience I’ve had. During awards season recently, the film briefly appeared for a second theatrical run, late showings only, and it was courtesy of one of these late (and very sparsely populated) screenings that I experienced Nightcrawler the way I believe it should be experienced – at midnight, with little or no company. Curious as that may sound, it helps put you in a similar mindset to Lou Bloom himself, whose ‘profession’ in this film sees him literally crawling the streets at night in his car, with a camera in tow, hoping to film a newsworthy piece to sell to the highest bidding news station for broadcast on the morning news.
The film highlights the ethically grey environment of American broadcast journalism; stories are often added to or even largely fabricated, and of course sensationalised, to get people tuning in again. It is within this murky environment that the ambitious Bloom, whose interest in others relates to how they can further his own plans, is able to flourish. Nightcrawler takes you on this journey with him, from his first job through his gradual rise up the ladder. Every step of the way you can’t help but admire the man, though it is an apprehensive admiration due to his ambiguous moral compass.
Like The Babadook, I can see this film possibly rising higher on my list given time. Also like The Babadook, it is by a first time director in Dan Gilroy, and this was perhaps a factor in both films being overlooked at this year’s Oscars. Why is Nightcrawler currently higher on my list? Well, I’d say that has at least something to do with its soundtrack by James Newton Howard, which perfectly fits with its night-time setting and resonated with me more than any other from last year. Next time this film crosses your path, take the opportunity to invest a little time in it, and you too may end up with a new favourite.