Best Supporting Actor:
Christian Bale for The Big Short
Tom Hardy for The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo for Spotlight
Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone for Creed
Who Should Win: Sylvester Stallone. In my opinion, this is the 2nd strongest acting category of the four. The only one who I don’t think is truly deserving of the nomination is Christian Bale, who is in his own movie in The Big Short and while he is fine, there was nothing that stood out about his performance to me. I’d rather have seen Benicio del Toro from Sicario, which is a quiet but towering performance. Of the remaining four, all are impressive, Hardy gives a credible, sinister menace to The Revenant. Mark Ruffalo is the emotional heart at the center of the investigative team in Spotlight. Mark Rylance gives a great subtle, understated performance in Bridge of Spies. But the performance that Ryan Coogler got out of Sly Stallone for Creed is spectacular. It packs an emotional punch and is a fitting late-in-life role for the Rocky character to slide into, being the new Mickey for Adonis Creed.
Who Will Win: Sylvester Stallone. It is difficult for anything related to a seventh film in a franchise to garner a major category nomination, which is probably why Coogler and Michael B. Jordan were not nominated for Director or Best Actor despite their work. Stallone winning will have to serve as validation for both of them, and it really is, as it would be the first Oscar win related to the Rocky series since the first movie.
Bryan Cranston for Trumbo
Matt Damon for The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant
Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne for The Danish Girl
Who should win: Leonardo DiCaprio. I think 2014, two years ago, was the most loaded year for Best Actor in recent history. By comparison, last year was slightly down, and I think this was another down year. I’m happy to see Cranston get attention after so many years as a TV star. Fassbender delivered in a larger than life role in a messy biopic. Redmayne effectively conveyed the anguish of his character who realizes something hidden about himself that no one else can see or understand. I can see a case being made for Damon, as I thought it was a great movie and a great performance. But I think DiCaprio, despite the criticisms of it being a lifetime achievement award if he were to win for this role, is deserving of it.
Who will win: Leonardo DiCaprio. Has he had better performances? I think so. Is it a lifetime achievement award of sorts if he were to win? Maybe. Is it just rewarding the actor for enduring a difficult shoot? Perhaps. But I do believe that he embodied his character. It did feel like he was experiencing what his character was going through on screen. All of the evidence suggests that this time around Leo finally breaks through and wins this category, and if people vote for the right outcome for the wrong reasons, I can live with it in this instance.