Jeff Goldblum’s performance as the Grandmaster is, at this point in Thor: Ragnarok’s life cycle, widely and accurately recognized as a master class. But there is one specific moment that functions as a brilliant index to the whole of it, and it is so good that I literally keep a recreation of it on my desk. It demonstrates Goldblum’s mastery over the character, the craft of acting, and the very concept of human communication.
You may feel a little disoriented; that’s understandable, as we have just observed what top Goldblum researchers call Schrödinger's wink. The replay footage clearly indicates that the Grandmaster blinks twice slowly and then barely smizes, and, yet, he has clearly winked. Did a wink physically happen? No. But did it cosmically happen? 100%. And did it feel like someone extremely cool has singled you out for purposes unknown? Well, Loki and Thor’s responses both speak for themselves.
What I love about this is how much is crammed into one wink-that-is-not-a-wink. We learn basically everything we need to know about how Loki’s made his way into the Grandmaster’s grandbox: It’s something he almost opens his mouth to defend to Thor, but then he closes his mouth. What is it? Loki, one of the most shameless divas of the Marvel Universe, would rather not say...
I also don’t want to discount the strength of Chris “Clare’s favorite Chris yeah you heard me I picked a side” Hemsworth’s look of hostile bafflement here, or Tom Hiddleston’s look of concern and mild embarrassment; it’s all great stuff. But none of that would work without the foundation of one of the most Goldblum-iest acting choices I've ever seen. Bravo.