The Academy of Motion Pictures in Arts and Science over there in Hollywood is not a perfectly moral institution. If it was, Robert Duvall would have won an award -- if not for his powerful performance of a character that epitomizes the complexity in the human being and in human life then for the very gripping storytelling as both writer and director. The Oscars really dropped the ball on this one. Duvall is known as a highly talented actor but not particularly known for his screen writing or directing, but in "The Apostle", he just dazzles. All of the acting performances including Duvall's was just outstanding, but the one supporting role that seems to me was the most challenging to pull off was that of Sammy, portrayed by the very gifted Walter Goggins. Wikipedia doesn't even list this role as one of his finest, but I have a hard time understanding why it wouldn't be. Character actors who tend to have smaller roles are often overlooke, but here we are talking about an under-rated actor in an under-rated film.
There are so many good things about this film, including the fact that it was filmed on location with the use of local citizens as supporting actors, it is difficult to point to one thing I like the best about Apostle. But if I was cornered and forced, it would have to the artistic skill in Duvall's directing abilities. In the main final scene in the movie when EF decides to continue with the sermon even though the state troopers are waiting for him at the door and outside of the church, the way Duvall was able to show the wide range of emotions from the church members, how those emotions changed in some, where in some it didn't, captured the complexity in our society I think. There was one short clip of the one member kind of saddened and dismayed whereas another member, in the same shot, was still carrying on in religious praise -- all in the back drop of the very stoic, no nonsense state troopers outside ready to make the arrest. I don't give the film it's full justice, but this is one that everyone, at least in the United States, should see. It should be seen in schools and studied in colleges, it's that good.