Ranking the 88th Academy Award Nominees: Best Actor in a Supporting Role

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Last year, the Best Supporting Actor category was truly one of the strongest of the year, and that is very often the case with this category. For the first time in my career of watching and following the Academy Awards, I have not seen this category be quite as weak as it is this year. I honestly don’t feel too much passion for any of these contenders, and even though my top choice is someone I liked very much, in any other year I am not quite sure I’d even nominate him. To make matters even worse, this was the category that had the widest range of contenders, and the eventual five were not the best five by any stretch. However, these are the five men that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences deemed worthy enough to nominate for Best Supporting Actor. There doesn’t seem to be a frontrunner to win (yet), but somehow I don’t really care who wins, because none of them inspire much passion in me.

#5 – Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes in Spotlight

I like Mark Ruffalo, I really do. But his performance in Spotlight is dreadful. He carries himself uncomfortably, and he is just absolutely grating. Ruffalo is good when he isn’t trying so hard, and here he is just unbearably irritating. He is supposed to be some sort of hero to the story, but instead he just proves that while he is capable of giving a tremendous performance, he is also able to give an equally bad one. Of this entire ensemble, Ruffalo was easily the worst, and I would’ve preferred to see Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci and even Brian D’Arcy James nominated over him.

#4 – Christian Bale as Dr. Michael Burry in The Big Short

Christian Bale is a complex actor, and a very serious one. It was great to see him in an unexpected role such as this, and The Big Short is loved by many people. However, I found his performance to really not be a performance at all – I feel like any actor is capable of playing this mildly disturbed man who walks around barefoot and listens to loud music in his office. The Big Short as a whole left me somewhat cold, and I thought Bale’s performance, while not terrible, was nothing special either. However, it would be delightful to see him win for this, just for the pure reason that nothing makes sense anymore, and I love surprises, and if we need to get a surprise, it should be in this barren and boring line-up.

#3 – Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel in Bridge of Spies

I thought Bridge of Spies was a great film, and Mark Rylance was very good in it. I wish he could win it, and he might still be able to. However, as good as his performance was, it was far too brief, and he just appears in the first act and in the final act, disappearing for the vital second act where his presence could’ve given him much more work to do, and shown off his range. He is squarely in the middle because while I thought he was very good, he didn’t have the screentime to justify a nomination, and while his nomination is a wonderful surprise for an acting legend like him, I just don’t feel like he is really that present in the film to warrant awards.

#2 – Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in Creed

Sylvester Stallone was far and above the best aspect of Creed, which I thought was a mediocre and middling film. Stallone was actually my favorite for a while, mainly because he simply really defines the term “supporting”, because that’s exactly what he did – Michael B. Jordan gave a really bland and unimpressive performance, and it was up to Stallone to keep things interesting. However, we have to consider that Stallone is an action star, and while his performance as Rocky in the series of films was iconic, he’s never been able to handle dramatic fare too well. Saying that, Stallone does do his very best in Creed, and he brings the humour to the role that the film required. The dramatic work isn’t as strong as it should be, but overall, Stallone does his very best and he’d be a worthy winner, and considering the response his role has received, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win.

#1 – Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald in The Revenant

Many people hate Hardy’s performance in The Revenant, and I have to disagree somewhat. I loved his performance, perhaps not because of the performance itself, but for how he interpreted the character. His confusing accent aside, Hardy is actually pretty great, because he creates a character that isn’t a one-dimensional villain, but rather a complex and fascinating character who does what he does for a reason. Hardy is very good, and while Leonardo DiCaprio is absolutely spell-binding, Hardy gives a very good performance, and probably my favorite of the bunch, even if Hardy has been better in many other films in his career.

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