Naomi Watts got nominated for an Oscar for playing Maria in The Impossible (out this week on Blu-ray), based on a real woman who fought for her life in the aftermath of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
She should’ve taken home the gold.
There aren’t too many performances that grab me like Watts’ performance does in this one. She is an acting force, as is Ewan McGregor as her husband, Henry, and Tom Holland as her oldest boy, Lucas. This is one of last year’s better ensembles.
While vacationing in Thailand, Maria and Lucas are separated from the rest of the family when disaster hits. The tsunami scene is amazingly well-done; you get a true sense of its awesome, destructive power, and the dangers in those rushing waters. The wave was re-created on a soundstage, but it looks like an actual tsunami. The authenticity of the moment is bolstered by putting Watts and Holland in the water; yes, that’s them holding a mattress as it is tossed about.
Watts’ character spends the majority of the movie in awesome pain. (The injuries are the stuff of nightmares.) She doesn’t have a lot of dialogue; this is a very physical performance, and it will always stand as one of her best.
McGregor handles some of the movie’s heavier emotional moments, and he does this with his usual standard of excellence. Holland, making his on-screen film debut (his lone previous credit was voicing a cartoon character), is a revelation. He isn’t overshadowed by the powerhouse performances by Watts and McGregor; he matches them.
Special Features: There is a director’s commentary that includes Maria Belón, the actual survivor portrayed by Watts. You also get some deleted scenes, and a couple of featurettes about casting and the special effects.