Ten Best Performances from 2015 not nominated for an Academy Award

The Academy Award Nominations have been revealed (click the link to see the list).  And while I’m surprised by a few choices, I have to admit, I am pretty pleased with the outcome as a whole.  I’m not sure if the Academy is reading all my reviews or not, but they are starting to agree with me.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple of egregious errors – Quentin Tarantino left out of the Original Screenplay category for THE HATEFUL EIGHT and Aaron Sorkin left out of the Adapted Screenplay category for STEVE JOBS. While all eight of the pictures nominated wouldn’t have been my choice (check out my Ten Best Movies of 2015 for an idea what I would have chosen) I can’t say that I’m too surprised or disappointed as all eight films would make my Top 20 with three of them (MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, SPOTLIGHT, THE REVENANT) in my top five. Most of what other people are upset about I would vehemently disagree with, actually feeling a little vindicated that CAROL was left off the Best Picture list.  However, the supporting actor category did have some troubling omissions, but there always seems to be too many beloved performances and not enough spots for them. Here are the Ten Best Performance from 2015 Not Nominated for an Academy Award.

Dope

Honorable Mention: Shameik Moore in DOPE – A lesser seen gem about a nerd in high school who not only has to worry about wedgies but also being shot at, DOPE is full of potential talent.  The film is unable to maintain the original wit it begins with but DOPE is still a much stronger screenplay than another predominantly African American film nominated (STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON). Newcomer Sameik Moore as the commanding lead, however, proves to be very consistent and clearly has a bright future ahead of him.

10. The Gentlemen in THE HATEFUL EIGHT (Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Kurt Russell, and Russell’s mustache) – Everyone does amazing work in THE HATEFUL EIGHT.  Thankfully Jennifer Jason Leigh did get a nomination, unfortunately the boys were left out in the cold.  I think Tarantino’s amazing (not nominated) script lends itself to many different actors, but Russell, Jackson, and Goggins elevate the material.  Kurt Russell and his mustache particularly hit every humorous note with his brute sincerity.

Hateful Eight

9. Greta Gerwig in MISTRESS AMERICA – Writer/director Noah Baumbach can be hit or miss for me.  Thankfully, his most recent film was a big hit.  His muse Greta Gerwig is always fascinating to watch and she once again hits it out of the park as a flaky single New York girl with lots of passionate ideas but no direction.

8. Paul Dano in LOVE & MERCY – Paul Dano has been one of my favorites ever since LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE.  He is an extremely talented actor and will hopefully find Oscar gold one day.  I’m not a fan of biopic pics, especially about musicians as they are mostly all the same. However, LOVE & MERCY went with a more unconventional approach by splitting the life of BEACH BOYS leader Brian Wilson into two parts.  Dano’s portrayal of the troubled genius in his younger years outshines the film.

7. Tom Courtenay in 45 YEARS – I was ecstatic that Charlotte Rampling got nominated for best actress, but her co-star, Tom Courtenay, was also very deserving.  The two portray an old married couple who are facing an unusual situation from the past that is effecting their life together after 45 years.

Melissa McCarthy in Spy

6. Melissa McCarthy in SPY – I know that McCarthy is becoming a superstar but I still feel she is a bit underrated.  She is busting down doors for women in comedy by taking roles usually deemed funny for guys and flipping the script.  SPY shows off McCarthy’s range who plays both mousy and rage-filled, all of which is absolutely hilarious.

5. Idris Elba in BEASTS OF NO NATION – A strong film but a little repetitive in its heaviness, Idris Elba is the standout as an abusive militant leader. He is the first of three, that I was genuinely shocked not to see make the Supporting Actor Nominee list. The man has talent and presence in everything he does.  On a side note, I would love to see him be the next James Bond.

Benicio del Toro in Sicario

4. Benicio del Toro in SICARIO – I didn’t love SICARIO as much as most but I did love Benicio del Toro. I even thought he might win this category but that’s sort of though to do when your not even nominated.  Without his presence the film fails to have any of the mystery or dread that it’s trying to convey, and I don’t just mean his character.  I don’t think any other actor could have had the presence that del Toro brought.  I just wish he did more films.

3. Michael Shannon in 99 HOMES – My Kansas City Film Critics Circle deservedly named Shannon the best supporting actor of the year for his portrayal of an immoral real estate broker who exploits the housing system by profiting off the poor people who can’t pay their mortgage.  Shannon is always great and once again proves he is a force to be reckoned with. I am in awe of his capability every time I see him on screen.

Ex Machina

2. Alicia Vikander in EX MACHINA – Seeing this film way before the hype, I feel a personal relationship with EX MACHINA. I’ve been championing it along with all the performances for quite some time.  It’s odd (but not surprising) to me, that her great performance in THE DANISH GIRL was chosen over her phenomenal performance as a sympathetic lifelike A.I. in EX MACHINA.

1. Charlize Theron in MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – Action stars, don’t get enough credit for what they achieve in film.  But when talking about the history of brave, physically strong women in film, two names jump to the forefront – Sigourney Weaver in ALIENS and Linda Hamilton in TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY.  Well, we can finally add a third name to that top tier, Charlize Theron as Furiosa in MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

For the record, these actors were not snubbed: Johnny Depp in BLACK MASS and Will Smith in CONCUSSION – Both are mediocre performances in subpar movies.

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