Oscar Preview – Best Actor/Best Supporting Actor

28 Feb

I’m going to run through the actors in slightly less detail than I did the Best Pictures, so I’ll combine the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in one post, and the Best Actress/Supporting Actress in another. In the spirit of #OscarSoWhite, I’m also going to offer a couple of suggestions for worthy alternate nominees who aren’t white guys.

Best Actor

BRYAN CRANSTON (Trumbo)

A good performance by (IMO) one of our greatest actors, but fairly one-note. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of growth or development of the character, a Hollywood writer who was part of the anti-Communist blacklist of the mid-20th Century.

MATT DAMON (The Martian)

Damon’s charm and wit as stranded astronaut Mark Watney carries the film, and in any year that didn’t have him up against Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, he might have a chance of winning. (Note: In my Best Picture writeup for The Martian, I said that Damon was robbed of a nomination. Obviously, his inclusion on this list means that he wasn’t.)

LEONARDO DICAPRIO (The Revenant)

A gutsy performance and a “he’s due” sentiment make DiCaprio the prohibitive favorite in this race. There’s not a lot of character development, and the dialogue is sparse, so this may turn out to be the Best Actor winning performance with the largest amount of grunting and groaning in Oscar history.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER (Steve Jobs)

An interesting actor in a not-so-interesting performance. This slot should have gone to Michael B. Jordan for Creed.

EDDIE REDMAYNE (The Danish Girl)

See above. Interesting actor in an almost caricature  performance. This slot could easily gone to someone like Domnhall Gleason (who had a huge year) for Ex Machina. (Okay, he’s a white guy. But I couldn’t decide which Compton guy was a lead, and wasn’t all that impressed with Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight.)

My Choice: Leo

Prediction: Leo

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale (The Big Short)

Bale’s performance as one part of what was really an ensemble cast did very little for me. The character was quirky, but outside the fake glass eye and the unconventional-for-an-investment-genius wardrobe, there really wasn’t much there. I would have had less trouble with Brad Pitt being nominated for the same movie, as his role was more against type. This spot could have gone to Oscar Isaac for Ex Machina.

Tom Hardy (The Revenant)

A brash and rough-hewn turn, almost the opposite of the laconic Max Rockatansky (who he also played), Hardy’s Fitzgerald provided a worthy adversary for DiCaprio’s nigh-on-indestructable mountain man. My favorite of the nominated performances in this category.

Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

See my evaluation of Christian Bale, above. Ruffalo was part of a really outstanding ensemble, but I didn’t find much to distinguish him from the rest except for volume. This could have gone to someone else, maybe Corey Hawkins for Straight Outta Compton.

Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

As a stoic Soviet spy with a Scottish (or was it Irish) brogue, Rylance brought quiet dignity to a role that could easily have been cartoonish.

Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

The sentimental choice, and probably an Oscar record for an actor being nominated for playing the same character the most years apart. There’s nothing wrong with Stallone’s performance, and this could well be viewed as sort of a “lifetime achievement award” for an actor who, while known primarily as an action star, turned in some really great performances over the course of his career.

My choice: Tom Hardy

My prediction: Sylvester Stallone

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