Take Shelter – 7

I barely noticed Jennifer Chastain in Tree of Life and scarcely recognized her in The Help, but by the time I caught on to her in Take Shelter I was blown away by her acting skills, by the empathy she communicated. Michael Shannon’s may be the more bravura performance – I have no idea how realistic his descent into paranoid schizophrenia in one week was – but for me Chastain was the anchor of the story, the piece that kept it from swirling away like the murmuration of starlings we saw in the Texas sky.