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Tom Wilkinson with co-star Sissy Spacek in ‘In the Bedroom,’ for which he received a Best Actor nomination. 

Mr. Movie: More Tom

Tom Wilkinson Part 2


Here’s another handful of really good flicks featuring the great professional, Tom Wilkinson.


 In Rush Hour (1998), Wilkinson is the very bad guy Griffin in a complicated plot involving the Hong Kong police and some stolen Chinese artifacts. Not his best part by far, but Wilkinson carries the water in this Jackie Chan potboiler.


Then comes the legendary Shakespeare In Love (1998), a multiple-award winning movie with Ralph Fiennes as William and Gwyneth Paltrow as his lover, Viola. Wilkinson portrays Hugh Fennyman, the money who finances the plays at the Globe. He lights a fire under Shakespeare’s rear to write a new play and the result is Romeo and Juliet. Fennyman plays his role as the apothecary to the hilt. Without this somewhat minor character we would not have Romeo and Juliet! Wilkinson never overplays, and that rings just the right bell in this extraordinary movie.


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), though adored by the critics, has had a somewhat checkered relation with movie fans. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett portray a couple whose love affair ran sharply aground. They each agree to have their memories of their partner erased by Lacuna, a company specializing in this procedure. Wilkinson is on board as Dr. Mierzwiak, an employ of the company trying to convince the principals that this is a good idea. Okay, but what if it works and they later meet up again?


Wilkinson was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in In The Bedroom (2001). He plays Matt Fowler, the father of  young college grad Nick, who gets tangled up with an older woman (Natalie Strout, played by Marisa Tomei), who is separated from her violent husband Frank. Answering Natalie’s frantic call for help, Nick goes to her home to find Frank breaking in. A fight ensues and Nick is shot dead. Frank is arrested but makes bond and the Fowlers have to endure seeing him walking freely around town. The Fowlers are told that Natalie won’t testify about the killing and that Frank will receive a minimal sentence. Matt decides to take justice into his own hands. Sissy Spacek plays Ruth Fowler. She and Wilkinson were both losers on Oscar night, Tom to Denzel Washington for Training Day and Spacek to Jennifer Connelly for A Beautiful Mind. Wilkinson is superb in a difficult role.


Michael Clayton (2007) stars George Clooney as the a “fixer” of a somewhat shady law firm. Tom Wilkinson plays Arthur Edens, a firm partner going off the rails and threatening the firm’s reputation. It gets to the point that the firm hires hit men to take care of Arthur. Tom Wilkinson was nominated for Oscar but lost to Javier Bardem for No Country For Old Men. Playing a topnotch lawyer going slowly crazy is just grist for Tom Wilkinson’s mill. He’s the best thing in the picture.


All of the movies in this article are for grown-ups.