Dramatic Acting Honors 2015


This was a very difficult list to narrow down.  Some of the longlists numbered three times the five I allow.  Let’s see what I chose.

My nominees are:

The Gentlemen

Best Actor in a Leading Role, Drama 
Abraham Attah – Beast of No Nation (“Agu”)
This was quite the year for child actors!  The big Netflix release about child soldiers in an African military occupation left some cold and many disturbed.  It left me admiring the emptiness portrayed by the young Attah.  
Paul Dano – Love & Mercy (“Brian Wilson”)
Playing the younger of two Brian Wilson’s, Paul Dano inhabits his role with a slow progression into maddness while he lives the music he is creating.  
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs (“Steve Jobs”)
Some were angry that they didn’t make Fassbender look more like Jobs, but honestly, who the hell cares!?! This tour d’force performance lets the ever amazing Fassbender let loose with the cutting Sorkin dialogue.  Pairing him with Winslet was inspired!
Michael B Jordan – Creed (“Adonis Johnson”)
Brutal, physical and emotional, Jordan produces his strongest starring role.  He and Stallone work perfectly, and he’s ready to take this role further.
Jacob Tremblay – Room (“Jack”)
Where I wasn’t terribly crazy about Room, book or movie, and where Tremblay kind of annoyed me through most of the movie, I openly admit that this role was the best in the movie.  He’s not caught acting, and he deals with some very tough material here.  Three cheers for the child actors of the year!
Runners Up 
IMG_0119 Jason Segal (The End of the Tour)

Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton)

Tom Courtenay (45 Years)

The Leading Ladies

My nominees are:

Best Actress in a Leading Role, Drama
Cate Blanchett – Carol (“Carol Aird”)
 Beautiful and perfectly primmed, this suburban upperclass wife and mother is heavily layered with the emotional heft expected from Blanchett.  Pitch perfect!  
Nina Hoss – Phoenix (“Nelly Lenz”)
Playing the woman behind a mask, Hoss maintains the noir appeal with an amazing portrayal of love scourn.  That final scene is by far the best of the year!
Rooney Mara – Carol (“Therese Belivet”)
This woman produced some of the most gorgeous moments of the year.  Her subtle looks, smiles, well dropped lines that whisper off her lips and connect like a high speed shovel, Mara falls in love in front of us, and we can’t help but to fall in love with her
Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years (“Kate”)
Rampling owns this stellar movie.  Every step is guided by her confident, graceful, sexy portrayal of an aging spouse unwilling to give up or settle.  Her intensity is electrifying, and the last third of the movie is captivating.
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn (“Eilis”)
When Ronan hit the scene with her Oscar nominated role in Atonement, the blossoming career ahead of her was not entirely unexpected.  She had the ferocity of a child scorned, but how would the woman inside arrive?  Brooklyn is how.  Ronan comes alive on screen, absolutely transforming.  Powerful, and she is the only actress to actively make me cry with her performance this year!
Runners Up 
IMG_0120 Brie Larson (Room)

Emily Blunt (Sicario)

Elisabeth Moss (Queen of Earth)

Give the Ladies a Hand

My nominees are:

Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Drama 
Elizabeth Banks – Love & Mercy (“Melinda Ledbetter”)
So much more nuanced than your standard supportive love interest role.  Banks disappears into this role, much different than her usual high energy comedy, but a very welcome detour.  Her quiet moments are as great as her fiercest.  Her standoff with Giamatti sealed it for me.
Sarah Paulson – Carol (“Abby”)
Carol’s supportive friend is prepared to go to bat for her.  This woman is entrenched in her role as Abby is entrenched in her love for Carol.  Carol is a story of love and relationship, and Abby demonstrates a brilliant form of friendship love.  One can see a yearning behind her motives, but she also sees that what she has with Carol is more important.  
Kristen Stewart – Clouds of Sils Maria (“Valentine”)
I really never expected to have Kristen Stewart outact Juliette Binoche, steal a movie, steal a heart, and desire for this woman to be in my life.  Stewart is the epitome of natural acting here, holding the role with finesse and passion.
Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina (“AVA”)
Alicia Vikander has been on the radar for years, but she had her massive breakout this year.  Attracting attention with The Danish Girl landed her an Oscar nomination, but most people, outside the acting branch at least, will agree that her strongest work was as the android AVA in Ex Machina.  Every moment she is on screen, she is absolutely captivating; when she is gone, the mind never drifts from her presence.  So aware, so intelligent; the Turing Test has its work cut out for it.
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs (“Joanna Hoffman”)
 Kate Winslet, as always, you are fantastic.  Battling Michael Fassbender and Aaron Sorkin and eighty’s clothing is no easy task.  Doing it with style and scene stealing greatness is even harder.  She does it; of course she does it!  She’s Kate Winslet!
IMG_0122 Marion Cotillard (MacBeth)

Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Phylicia Rashad (Creed)

My nominees are:

Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Drama 
Michael Keaton – Spotlight (“Walter Robinson”)
Standing out in an ensemble piece is not an easy task, particularly in an ensemble as fantastic as Spotlight‘s.  Mark Ruffalo got the Oscar nom for impersonation much more showy.  From the man he actually plays, Keaton was just as spot on, but far less distracting that the twitchy Ruffalo.  His position in the scandal is troubling, and he has the opportunity to monopolize on his role.  Keaton will eventually get his due; he is back in a big way!
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies (“Rudolf Abel”)
 For such a quiet role, he had ample payback, and for a man needing to decide whether to speak out against his country or keep his allegiance, he knows what he’s doing.  This theater performer works half of his role in his face rather than words.  
Liev Schreiber – Spotlight (“Marty Baron”)
In such a small role that could have been forgotten, Schreiber’s editor in chief role has more staying power than would be expected.  He possesses authority and patience.
Sylvester Stallone – Creed (“Rocky Balboa”)
 Surprisingly nuanced for a man mostly associated with action movies, and of lately, not great ones at that.  His aged athlete still has some fight left in him, but enough loss over 40 years has worn on the man behind the myth.  Gruff but caring, Stallone exceeds expectations.  I look forward to him winning his Oscar.
Benecio del Toro – Sicario (“Alejandro”)
 Benecio del Toro is a wonderfully reliable actor.  Dripping masculinity and confidence, Alejandro comes like a wave you weren’t expecting.  Hellbent and mildly terrifying.
IMG_0121 Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation)

Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Michael Shannon (99 Homes)


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