I think I’m sick, and I don’t know if my ailment has a name. It’s just me sitting and staring at the internet or the television for long periods of time, interspersed by trying to not do that and then lying about what I’ve been doing. And then I’ll get so excited about something that the excitement overwhelms me and I can’t sleep or do anything and I just am in love with everything but can’t figure out how to make myself work in the world.
“2015 was a banner year for Sam Elliott, who contributed consummate, movie-strengthening supporting performances as atypical love interests to Lily Tomlin and Blythe Danner in, respectively, Grandma and I’ll See You in My Dreams. That lovely latter film was written and helmed by Brett Haley, whose latest has given Elliott an ultimate, personalized showcase for his understatedly radical persona of open-hearted emotionality and strapping masculinity. Lee Hayden, the washed-up, cancer-stricken, pot-toking Hollywood gunslinger at the center of Haley’s earnest if uneven sophomore endeavor, is a role that could have potentially made Elliott, noted industry cowboy, into a victim of easy self-parody. And certainly, the actor’s familiar, irresistible trademarks are ever-present: the slyly cocked brows, the full-bodied drawl, the grinning, sidelong glances. But Elliott’s rugged minimalism continues to cut deep, layered this time with a hangdog melancholy that brings an added poignancy to all his scenes, many of which expose sides of his talent that some viewers might not even know existed. An anguishing late-film audition scene reveals Elliott as an observant deconstructionist, capable of taking apart a script and unearthing subtextual truths, all the while astutely blurring the lines between actor and character. Throughout his lengthy career, Elliot has built himself a commendable reputation as a no-brainer choice for sidelined parts that need to resonate in little time. But in The Hero, Elliot has at last found the starring role with which he can stretch and captivate at limitless capacity, solidifying himself as not just one of our most prolific and reliable actors but also one of our most masterly.” — Matthew Eng