2016 Oscar Nominations: Best Actor & Best Supporting Actor

oscar statueWe are only two weeks away from the Academy Awards live telecast, which means it is time to take a closer look at the ten men nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. Although there appears to be a clear front runner in each category, there could be surprises in store. I have not yet had a chance to see all of the nominated movies, but I still have my favorites. Who would you like to see win in each category?

This year, only three of the ten nominated actors (Matt Damon, Eddie Redmayne and Christian Bale) have previously won an Academy Award, and only two of those (Redmayne and Bale) in acting categories. This is also the first Oscar nomination for three of the actors (Bryan Cranston, Tom Hardy and Mark Rylance). Interestingly enough, all but two of the ten actors (Damon and Stallone) are nominated for portraying real people.

Most of the nominated films are still in theaters so not yet available in HCPL’s catalog, but make sure to check out previous works by the actors!

Best Actor:

Bryan Cranston (Trumbo): Although this is Cranston’s first Academy Award nomination, he is no stranger to the awards circuit with multiple wins and nominations for his television work (most notably for Breaking Bad), and a Tony win for Best Actor in a Play. In the biographical movie Trumbo, Cranston plays Dalton Trumbo, a famous screenwriter and one of the Hollywood 10, a group of 10 screenwriters who refused to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Matt Damon (The Martian): In The Martian, based on the book of the same title by Andy Weir, Damon plays Mark Watney, an astronaut presumed dead and stranded alone on Mars. A talented actor, Damon’s career spans genres with roles in critically-acclaimed movies (Saving Private Ryan, The Departed, Syriana) and box office hits (The Bourne Trilogy, Ocean’s 11). This is Damon’s third acting nomination at the Academy Awards, with previous nominations for actor in Good Will Hunting and supporting actor in Invictus. He previously won an Oscar, shared with Ben Affleck, for original screenplay for the movie Good Will Hunting.


Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant): In The Revenant, DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a trapper bent on survival and revenge in the harsh Dakota winter of 1823. This film, based on the experiences of a real person, is already notorious for its harsh shooting conditions and DiCaprio’s total commitment to the role. Previously nominated for supporting actor (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape), actor (The Aviator, Blood Diamond, and The Wolf of Wall Street), and producer (The Wolf of Wall Street), this is DiCaprio’s sixth Academy Award nomination. He has already taken home the award at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Critics’ Choice Awards, and is the favorite to win the Oscar.

Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs): Born in Germany and raised in Ireland, Fassbender is a critically-acclaimed actor best known for his roles in Shame, Inglorious Basterds, 12 Years a Slave (for which he received his first Academy Award nomination), and as Magneto in the popular X-Men prequel films. The biographical film Steve Jobs, in which Fassbender plays the title role, focuses on fourteen pivotal years in the life of Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs. This is Fassbender’s second Oscar nomination.

Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl): Although a steady fixture in film with roles in My Week with Marilyn and Les Miserables, it was Redmayne’s Academy Award-winning role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything that really pushed him into the public eye. He is also a talented presence in British and American theatre and previously won a Tony Award for Featured Actor in a Play. Currently, Redmayne is nominated for his second Academy Award in two years, for his role as Lili Elbe, one of the first people to undergo gender reassignment surgery. 


Best Supporting Actor:

Christian Bale (The Big Short): In the biopic The Big Short, Bale expertly plays Dr. Michael Burry, a neurologist and hedge fund manager with Asperger Syndrome. A method actor known for going to extremes to fully embody a role, Bale can be seen in a variety of films, from independent (The Machinist) to critically acclaimed (The Fighter, American Hustle) to big budget blockbusters (The Dark Knight Trilogy). This is his third Academy Award nomination, with a previous actor nomination for American Hustle, and a supporting actor win for The Fighter.

Tom Hardy (The Revenant): Despite starting his career in 2001 in critically-acclaimed productions like Band of Brothers and Black Hawk Down, it wasn’t until the last five years or so that Hardy really began to make a splash with audiences. Since that time, he has played key roles in a variety of films like Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Warrior, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Lawless. In 2015 alone, he starred in three highly-rated films: as Max in the Oscar-nominated Mad Max: Fury Road; as the twins Reggie and Ronald Kray in Legend; and as a trapper looking out for his own interests in The Revenant. This is his first Academy Award nomination.

Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight):  With roles in summer blockbusters like The Avengers, chick flicks like 13 Going on 30, and critically-acclaimed movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Normal Heart, Ruffalo’s career has always been diverse. In the biographical film Spotlight, Ruffalo plays Michael Rezendes, one of the reporters from the Boston Globe who investigated reports of abuse within the Catholic Church. This is Ruffalo’s third Academy Award nomination, with previous nominations for supporting actor in The Kids Are All Right and Foxcatcher.

Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies): In his first Academy Award nominated role, Rylance plays Rudolf Abel, a KGB spy captured and put on trial for espionage by the United States. A highly accomplished stage actor, Rylance has won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor twice, with two additional nominations, and won two Tony Awards, with one additional nomination. He served as the first artistic director to the rebuilt Shakespeare’s Globe from 1995-2005. In 2015, Rylance also received critical acclaim and an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Thomas Cromwell in the miniseries Wolf Hall.

Sylvester Stallone (Creed): Since his first appearance as Rocky in 1976, Stallone has had a long and successful career as an action star in the Rocky, Rambo, and The Expendables film franchises. Not content to stay in front of the camera, Stallone also wrote and directed many of the films in these three franchises. In Creed, Stallone reprises his role as Rocky for the seventh time. This is Stallone’s third Academy Award nomination, with previous nominations for actor and original screenplay for Rocky. With wins already at the Golden Globes and the Critic’s Choice Awards, Stallone seems poised to win his first Oscar.

Flickr CC: Oscar Photo by kara brugman