Oscars 2016: Best Supporting Actor Analysis

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Christian Bale (The Big Short)

Not only is this another great Christian Bale performance, but once again the actor manages to expand his acting capabilities.  This was a very different type of performance, as Bale plays a socially awkward financial analyst, and does so brilliantly.  The subtlety is beautifully executed.  As Michael Burry is constantly awkward to everyone he comes into contact with, he’s also weirdly confident.  There are even times when Burry is hyper active, rocking out to heavy metal music.  Bale’s role in The Big Short is one of those performances you have to nominate, but has very little chance of winning.  It won’t be this year, but Bale will hold a second Oscar at some point.  He’s too damn good.

Chances of Winning: Low

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar?  Yes

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Tom Hardy (The Revenant)

Every time Tom Hardy is in a movie, he’s guaranteed to be memorable.  Now we can finally say “Academy Award nominee, Tom Hardy.”  Hardy wasn’t in a lot of projections to get this nomination, but as The Revenant started picking up monster momentum, it seemed inevitable.  Many believe he’s even better than DiCaprio in the film.  I can’t go that far, but there’s no question The Revenant doesn’t work nearly as well without him.  The voice he settles on for this scumbag of a character is perfect, gruff and mumbly.  Hardy brings his usual brand of intensity, but it’s the evil stubbornness of the character that really makes him shine.  It’s not completely out of the question, but it will be a tough fight for Hardy to pull off the upset.

Chances of Winning: Middle of the Pack

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar?  Yes

Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

I was surprised both Ruffalo and Michael Keaton were being pushed in this category, as you could make a case for either of them being the lead.  Spotlight truly is an ensemble though, and it seemed inevitable one of these guys would get in, while the other got the boot.  Keaton is superb, but Ruffalo is the more deserving, if we can only pick one.  His passion and dedication as the ultimate news boy oozes out of the screen.  Every time he pops on, you are riveted.  With all the great performances we see in Spotlight, Ruffalo is the true point man, as he seems to have memorable moments with every cast member in the movie, most notably his back and forth with Stanley Tucci.  This is the third go around for Ruffalo, and he’s got a real chance here.  Win or lose, there’s a guaranteed Oscar in his future.

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Chances of Winning: Middle of the Pack

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar?  Yes

Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

In a category that’s so deep and competitive, it’s a shame Rylance is the front-runner.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the performance.  But when I compare Rylance to all the other nominees, and even many of the people who didn’t get in, such as Michael Shannon (99 Homes) or Benicio Del Toro (Sicario), he’s not even close.  This is the type of performance I classify as pandering.  He’s playing the charming elderly man who delivers an endearing accent and cute dialogue.  This tricks us into thinking the performance is amazing, but it’s really not.  It’s a simple crowd pleaser.  Again, I enjoy Rylance in Bridge of Spies, but this isn’t Oscar caliber.  Maybe in another year I’d be fine with it, but when you look at all the other staggering performances he’s matched up against, I’m going to have a real pit in my stomach if he wins this.

Chances of Winning: High

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? No

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Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

In a category that was so competitive, I feared Stallone wouldn’t get in.  It’s one of those times where the general public wants it too happen so badly, I figured the Academy would ruin it.  When he didn’t get the SAG nomination, I was convinced.  Thankfully, the Academy acknowledged how great a job he did in Creed, and I was dead wrong.  Now that he’s in the race, he could legitimately pull this off.  I have him second, only behind Rylance.  The momentum for Stallone is incredible.  People forget that when Rocky won Best Picture and Best Director (John Avildsen) in 1977, Stallone went home empty handed on Screenplay and Best Actor.  He never collected a statue for his work on Rocky.  To see Stallone walk on that stage 39 years later for the same character would be one of the greatest moments in Oscar history.  I want this too happen so badly, maybe even more so than DiCaprio finally getting his statue.  He may not be the front-runner, but it’s also not a dream scenario.  It’s in the realm of realism.

Chances of Winning: High

Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes

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Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.