As with the other 2015 performance articles, I’m done ranking actors as I think all these actors deserve your attention and also because the race this year was so tight that they’re all award worthy.
Michael Fassbender - Steve Jobs - Steve Jobs
I have to give Michael Fassbender a lot of props for his performance as Steve Jobs. Literally no one wanted him in the role and as soon as he got the lead role, people stopped caring but it’s unfair that happened. Fassbender has proven he’s a hardworking talented actor. He’s even a former supporting actor nominee (from me and the award circuit) Now Fassbender doesn’t become the actual Steve Jobs but he does enough to create his own version of Steve Jobs that honors the spirit of the real Jobs. He’s absolutely wonderful in the movie and has so many terrific moments in the movie. Even though Aaron Sorkin wrote a wonderful script for his actors, I think Fassbender takes it to the next level. You easily forget that he doesn’t look or sound like Steve Jobs because he encompasses the energy so much. Also don’t forget that he’s a huge improvement over Ashton Kutcher.
Steve Carrell - Mark Baum - The Big Short
I didn’t expect, Brick, I mean Michael Scott, no I mean Steve Carrell to follow up an extraordinary performance with another one. I didn’t even know he was the lead in the Big Short but he shines heavily. Steve Carrell has always been a personal favorite of mine but I’m beginning to think he might go down as one of the greatest living actors. I can’t compare him to the real Mark Baum but Carell plays the role of a tragic hero perfectly. He’s funny and he’s crazy but the journey Carell takes his character of Baum is astonishing. The character is always in inner turmoil the whole movie and his last couple of lines in the movie encompass the tragedy of the story. I can’t say enough good things about his performance and you forget that it’s Steve Carrell, a guy who’s graced everyone’s comedy screen for years. It’s a shame the Academy overlooked his wonderful performance.
Matt Damon - Mark Watney - The Martian
Matt Damon is another personal favorite actor of mine and I think his career speaks for why he’s a great actor. Now The Martian isn’t as loud as The Revenant or Cast Away but I think Damon brings a whole new take to the role. His positivity is fun but you can see through that. He’s using his optimism to fight through the inner anguish he suffers and him breaking down towards the end showcases the ingenious of his performance. You also have to factor that how difficult it is to act by yourself & come off believable. It’s incredibly difficult and Damon does it with such ease. I think people might underestimate this performance due to the film’s lighthearted tone but there’s a lot of talent going on here. And I’m so happy to see Matt Damon to get another nomination & be back on top.
Leonardo Dicaprio - Hugh Glass - The Revenant
This will probably be the performance that wins Leo his first Oscar (and the internet can finally shut up about it) or by the time you’re reading this he already won it. Or maybe lost it. Whatever the result may be, Leonardo DiCaprio put in work for his role. I will say the character was underwritten and it kind of affects the character but Leonardo DiCaprio does enough to give the character a personality and have you root for him in the movie. Just like Matt Damon had to act by himself, Leo has to do a majority of the movie by himself and he put himself through hell to give an authentic performance and I can respect that. Him winning the Oscar for this role wouldn’t be a bad thing because Leo worked very hard & deserves it.
Benicio Del Toro - Alejandro - Sicario
I don’t understand how more people aren’t talking about this one. Everyone who’s seen Sicario has agreed Del Toro shines & gives one of his best performance in years. It’s hard to really describe why his performance is great without giving away key details in the movie but I’ll say a couple of a things. Del Toro’s Alejandro is a character with dark painful past that we don’t find out about till the very end and Del Toro does little things to help the mysteriousness. I make fun of the fact that Del Toro has his eyes closed for the entire movie but Del Toro made that decision on purpose to add to the ambiguity of Alejandro. You clearly figure out he’s hiding something. He makes small body movements that make the character more intimidating And once we finally understand who Alejandro is at the end, he takes the film by a storm & owns every scene. Benicio’s film choices in the past few years haven’t been that great & a little silly but his performance in Sicario reminded me on why he’s one of the greatest actors to ever live. The line “Time to meet god” will never sound the same again.
Honorable Mentions: Jake Gyllenhaal - Southpaw, Samuel L Jackson - The Hateful Eight, Abraham Attah - Beasts of No Nation, Tom Hiddleston - Crimson Peak, Johnny Depp - Black Mass