Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Oscars 2015: Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress

Alicia Vikander in "The Danish Girl"
Earlier today, we looked at the screenplay categories. Now we're moving on to the races for best supporting actor and actress.


Christian Bale—The Big Short
Tom Hardy—The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo—Spotlight
Mark Rylance—Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone—Creed

This has always been perceived as a two-man race between Rylance and Stallone, and while it's possible one of the remaining contenders could pull the upset if his film picks up a sudden groundswell of support, it's unlikely. And frankly, Rylance winning is also unlikely. Bridge of Spies just hasn't developed any momentum this awards season, while the narrative surrounding Stallone—playing a character he received a nomination for portraying 39 years ago—is too powerful to resist. Of course, given the diversity backlash, there could be some trepidation among voters who are wary of honoring a white actor in a film carried by a black man, but Stallone has carried himself graciously enough on the circuit to put those fears to rest. Sylvester Stallone takes it.

Bale and Ruffalo are both perfectly solid in their respective roles, but they share the misfortune of appearing in ensemble pieces, and neither is the best player in that ensemble (see below). Stallone and Rylance are both very good, each underplaying his part with marvelous restraint. But Tom Hardy just will not be denied. His co-star is receiving most of the attention, but Hardy is masterful in The Revenant, combining sublime technique with utter ferocity.

Benicio Del Toro—Sicario
Tom Hardy—The Revenant
Michael Keaton—Spotlight
Oscar Isaac—Ex Machina
Mark Rylance—Bridge of Spies
Jacob Tremblay—Room

The entire cast of Spotlight is strong, but Keaton is the standout, effortlessly essaying his character's moral backbone along with his whispers of regret. Isaac is inhuman. Tremblay is remarkable in Room, matching Brie Larson's steeliness with wide-eyed wonder and whip-smart intelligence. And Del Toro is wrath personified. [NOTE: There are six names here because, due to a recordkeeping error, I inexcusably omitted Del Toro on the first edition of this post, and I'm not comfortable bumping any of the other names off. I expect to hear about this from Del Toro's publicist shortly.]

The Manifesto's ideal winner: Oscar Isaac—Ex Machina.

John Boyega—Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Joel Edgerton—Black Mass
Walton Goggins—The Hateful Eight
Ryan Gosling—The Big Short
Sylvester Stallone—Creed

There were simply too many good performances this year for me to stop at five in any of the acting categories. Boyega exemplifies the newfound humanism of The Force Awakens. Edgerton is the secret tragic hero of Black Mass. Goggins and Gosling are both comic geniuses.

Also deserving: Michael Angarano for The Stanford Prison Experiment (for relishing the chance to play a role of someone playing a role); Fabrizio Bentivoglio for Human Capital (for his revolting obsequiousness); LeBron James for Trainwreck (yes, really); Richard Jenkins for Bone Tomahawk (for his absolute lack of vanity); Menashe Noy for Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (for his integrity); Tim Roth for The Hateful Eight (for being the quippiest quipper in all of Tarantino Land); and both Jeremy Renner and James Spader for Avengers: Age of Ultron (for bringing some pathos and punch to a largely mechanical film).


Jennifer Jason Leigh—The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara—Carol
Rachel McAdams—Spotlight
Alicia Vikander—The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet—Steve Jobs

As with the men, this is really a two-person race, but Alicia Vikander is the obvious pick. Winslet won at the BAFTAs, but Vikander wasn't nominated there. (Well, she was, but in the lead category. OK, she was nominated in the supporting category too, but for a different movie. Let's just move on.) Vikander did, however, defeat Winslet at the Screen Actors Guild. Plus, Winslet has already won an Oscar, and the Academy will likely leap at the chance to honor an up-and-coming talent who delivered a fantastic 2015.

I'm ignoring Mara here, because the only thing she's supporting in Carol is the weight of the world (and she carries that just fine). Same for Vikander, who's clearly a co-lead in The Danish Girl. That leaves me just three choices, and while Leigh and McAdams are both sturdy, Kate Winslet is a no-brainer for me. She injects just the right amount of fragility into her performance as Jobs's "work wife", and the result is surprisingly powerful.

Elizabeth Banks—Love & Mercy
Rose Byrne—Spy
Kristen Stewart—Clouds of Sils Maria
Julie Walters—Brooklyn
Kate Winslet—Steve Jobs

Banks breaks your heart in Love & Mercy. Byrne, unappreciated in last year's Neighbors, is a deadpan riot opposite Melissa McCarthy. Stewart is an insanely talented actress, and we're all going to have to take her seriously someday. Walters lords over her Brooklyn boarding house with spectacular crispness.

The Manifesto's ideal winner: Elizabeth Banks—Love & Mercy.

Suzanne Clément—Mommy
Matilde Gioli—Human Capital
Lola Kirke—Mistress America
Sylvie Testud—24 Days
Alicia Vikander—Ex Machina

Clément's performance is an open wound. Gioli is beautifully brittle. Kirke holds her own against Greta Gerwig, which is no easy feat. Testud turns a stock character into the surprising heart of 24 Days. Vikander had an awfully good year (and I considered plugging in her sly performance from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. instead).

Coming Saturday: The Manifesto looks at Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and a thrillingly unpredictable Best Picture race.

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