Comedy and Musical: The Actors 2015


I’m realizing quickly that my favorite comedies aren’t always what one would find hilarious.  Last year was topped by old age, abortion, suicide, Wes Anderson, and Birdman.  This year, a little on the lighter side, has some fine performances from a wide array:


My nominees are:

The Gentlemen

Best Actor in a Leading Role, Comedy and Musical 
 Jemaine Clement – What We Do in the Shadows (“Vladislav”)
As co-writer and -director of the vampire mockumentary, Clement had ample responsibility, but his spot on Vlad the Poker was the funniest part of a too flat movie.  
Matt Damon – The Martian (“Mark Watney”)
Matt Damon, enjoying an Oscar nomination for playing himself, is self-assured, charming, and in the occasional stretching moment, existential and grieving his solo journey through the red planet.  I’m gonna “science the shit out of this”; not everyone can pull off that line!  
Bill Hader – Trainwreck (“Aaron”)
Hader, returning with another nomination this year, shifts drastically from his astounding gay, suicidal brother to Kristen Wiig in last year’s The Skeleton Twins.  Grounding the outlandish Amy Schumer in Trainwreck, he balances the occasionally uneven movie with his genuine likability and unbeatable line readings.
Shameik Moore – Dope (“Malcolm”)
Headlining this Sundance breakout, Moore is the black nerd for a generation.  Exhausted by the violence of his neighborhood, Moore revolts with good grades and 90s style, but his helming of this very original comedy is very strong.  Reacting to the craziness surrounding him, Moore establishes himself as a contender.
Jason Sudekis – Sleeping with Other People (“Jake”)
Another SNL alum, Sudekis is charming as ever with more edge than Hader.  He bounces off costar Alison Brie with sex appeal and comedic tension.
Runners Up 
IMG_0405 Michael Caine (Youth)

Jeremy Jordan (The Last Five Years)

Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)

The Leading Ladies

My nominees are:

Best Actress in a Leading Role, Comedy and Musical 
 Blythe Danner – I’ll See You in My Dreams (“Carol Peterson”)
So strong on stage and the small screen, Danner comes out strong with her first starring film role.  Heartfelt and aching for rejuvenation, her performance is lasting, and her singing is magnificent and touching.  
Bel Powley – The Diary of a Teenage Girl (“Minnie”)
Such a troubled youth she plays, this breakout portrays so much through her big eyes.  Pain and distrust and angst.  Completely unafraid, Powley lays herself bare in this emotionally wrought comedy.  
Amy Schumer – Trainwreck (“Amy”)
Amy is playing herself, name included.  However, there’s nothing wrong with this!  Even if her dramatic bits need a bit of work, her comedic skills are on as always.
Mya Taylor – Tangerine (“Alexandra”)
This performance stole the movie.  Much less flashy (loud) than her costar, she steals the show from the beginning with “Merry Christmas bitch” and seals it with her performance.  This lady needs more roles; I vote for Laverne Cox and her to do a roadtrip movie!
Lily Tomlin – Grandma (“Elle”)
One of the funniest women in movie history, Lily Tomlin made a big comeback in 2015 with Grace & Frankie and Grandma.  Another comedy centering around abortion, Tomlin runs this movie.  Perfect star role with her best performance since A Prairie Home Companion
Runner Up 
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy

Anna Kendrick – The Last Five Years

Kristen Wiig – Welcome to Me

Give the Ladies a Hand

My nominees are:

Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Comedy and Musical 
Rose Byrne – Spy (“Rayna Boyanov”)
Another fantastic comic turn from this continuously rising queen.  Steals the show at all times and wears dolphin trainer garb with utter confidence.  Physical, perfect line readings.
Olivia Cooke – Me & Earl & the Dying Girl (“Rachel”)
I could have easily watched an entire movie of her alone.  Touching, real and dry, she took the sick girl role and rose above The Fault in Our Stars heaviness for an original portrait of teenaged disease.  She is supporting the sad sack that is “Me” to be the true standout.  
Julianne Moore – Maps to the Stars (“Havana Segrand”)
I didn’t particularly care for this movie.  Cronenberg is very hit and miss for me, and the US barely acknowledged this movie beyond big names and Moore’s Golden Globe nomination last year.  Moore is nearly infantilely detached in this role as a waning star.  She sticks with you though; that cathartic scream and her nearly painful relationship with those around her makes for a true standout.
Rachel Weisz – Youth (“Lena Ballinger”)
Jane Fonda was getting all the attention for her few scene’s in the hit-or-miss Youth, but in my eyes, the exceptional performance came from Weisz.  Entirely her own woman, her ability to release is remarkable.  Her interactions with Caine are not to be missed; if the movie were just them, it would’ve been monumentally better.
Kristen Wiig – The Diary of a Teenage Girl (“Charlotte”)
This SNL alum has broken out in a big, new way this year with more dramatic roles.  Though still technically in comedies, this one, Welcome to Me, and Nasty Baby have really shown she can be more than a clown.  This coke enthusiast, mildly absent mother is fierce, sharp and biting.  She’s a mother who would rather be friend than caregiver and Wiig lives it.  Confrontations are key.
Runners Up 
Brie Larson (Trainwreck)

Isabella Rosselini (Joy)

Jane Fonda (Youth)

The Supporting Men:

Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Comedy and Musical 
RJ Cyler – Me & Earl & the Dying Girl (“Earl”)
For a role seeming so insignificant, Earl is the quiet heart of the picture.  Certainly, much of his role is just saying “titties”, but when looked at more closely, he opens up as Greg (Me) opens up.  Cyler is a strong rising star I look forward to seeing grow.  
Sam Elliott – I’ll See You in My Dream (“Bill”)
Quite the year between this and Grandma, Elliott plays suave with a natural ease.  It’s easy to see why Danner fell for this one.  
Donald Glover – The Martian (“Rich Purnell”)
This wildly eyed astrophysicist is only in a few scenes, but Donald Glover, as always makes an impact.  He steals the show (and winds up solving a plot point along the way).  By far my favorite part of the movie.  A jackass is a jackass, but a good one is the best!
Alexander Skarsgard – The Diary of a Teenage Girl (“Monroe”)
Best role from this True Blood star.  Escaping the fangs, Skarsgard presents a layered portrait of a troubled manchild barely able to control his own life and further complicated by his underaged entanglement.  Complicated showing from an improved actor
Martin Starr – I’ll See You in My Dreams (“Lloyd”)
Pool guys usually aren’t treated with such delicacy, but this young man wins over Danner as her drinking buddy.  The title song cinched this note, but his friendly nature makes him lovable.
Runners Up 

John Cusack (Maps to the Stars)

Kevin Corrigan (Results)

Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Martian)


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