Watch Joaquin Phoenix give depth and meaning to ‘Her’

If you haven’t yet caught the captivating “Her,” consider fitting it in before the Academy Awards show March 2. This novel film from writer-director Spike Jonze is deservedly one of the best picture nominees.

Though its star, Joaquin Phoenix, didn’t get an Oscar nomination — it is a very competitive year — his performance most certainly helped put “Her” into the race.

If you step back and consider the premise, it gives you a deeper appreciation for what Phoenix managed. Nearly all of his scenes are spent as the only human on screen, and he’s usually having a conversation with a computer, more specifically an operating system named Samantha. Sam is brilliantly voiced by Scarlett Johansson, but for now focus on Phoenix. His challenge was to create a plausible and engaging emotional life for Theodore Twombly, a man whose job is writing Hallmark-esque personal letters for other people.

The actor’s performance is a master class in subtlety. Slightly less animated and Theodore would have bored us to death; slightly more and he would have become a silly fool. Instead, Phoenix makes the romance between a guy and the computer-constructed essence of a girl achingly real.

Jonze is equally astute in using Theodore and Sam to contemplate our growing interdependence on technology, finding the sweet spot between erudite and insufferable.