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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The 2015 RyMickey Awards - Best Actor

Honestly, this was a somewhat weak year for actors in general.  My Best Supporting Actor list wasn't particularly strong, and beyond my Top Four below, the rest of the list was a bit of a puzzle trying to figure out placement (hence only a "Top Five" as opposed to a "Top Ten" below -- the past few years I have expanded the four main acting categories to ten when performances deemed it necessary).  I just wasn't incredibly moved or genuinely excited by many performances by actors this year.  Still, you won't be disappointed with any of the actors' performances listed below, but I'm not sure anyone beyond the Top Four would've really been in contention for an Oscar for me were I an Academy voter.

Best Actor of 2015
(SoN = Streaming on Netflix / SoA = Streaming on Amazon / SoH = Streaming on HBO)

In the Running...
(in alphabetical order)
Kevin Costner - McFarland, USA
Johnny Depp - Black Mass (SoH)
Michael B. Jordan - Creed
Will Smith - Concussion

Honorable Mentions
#10 - Al Pacino - Danny Collins
Bringing a cocky suaveness to his aging rock star title character, Pacino is hugely entertaining. (SoA)

#9 - Matt Damon - The Martian
Balancing the humor and drama quite well, Matt Damon brings a charm to Mark that is quite watchable. (SoH)

#8 - Tom Courtenay - 45 Years
As a man coping with a physical ailment who then gets huge emotional news about a person from his past who now affects his present, Courtenay plays a man forced to come to grips with the notion that he is neither the man he physically or emotionally once was.

#7 - Jeremy Jordan - The Last Five Years
While I overpraised him after my first viewing of the film (after a second viewing, he's not the "revelation" I wrote in my initial review), Jeremy Jordan is very good in this musical as his character embarks on a journey from infatuation to disgust and hatred. (SoN)

#6 - Michael Caine - Youth
The film is not very good, but Michael Caine captivates as a man coping with repressed guilt from past indiscretions. (SoH)

And the Top 5...

#5 - Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant
There's no denying that Leonardo DiCaprio is good in The Revenant.  The problem lies in the fact that the film is hugely overrated and that this simply isn't the film for which DiCaprio should've won his Oscar -- that should've been for his revelatory work in The Wolf of Wall Street.  He was overpraised all awards seasons because he fell into that "Overlooked" or "He's Due" category for so long.  Still, this is a very good role from DiCaprio who doesn't talk very much, but conveys everything we need to know about his character's motivations through his physicality. (SoH)

#4 - Abraham Attah - Beasts of No Nation
Beasts of No Nation is all about Abraham Attah's character Agu and his horrific journey from a fun-loving kid to a child mercenary who needs to try and be heartless in order to survive.  This young, first-time actor has to carry the film's emotional heft on his shoulders and he does a fantastic job bringing the audience into his horrific struggles.  Thanks to Attah, we fully grasp the pain Agu feels when he must kill someone in order to please the man who is essentially his captor.  It's a tough role, but one in which Attah succeeds.  (SoN)

#3 - Michael Fassbender - Steve Jobs
I think Steve Jobs doesn't give its title character as much of an emotional arc as it thinks it does -- and that's not a bad thing -- but it did maybe hinder Fassbender's chances of seriously being a contender at the Oscars despite being nominated for Best Actor there.  Still, Fassbender is in every moment of the film and in his interactions with each and every actor feel natural, real, and never forced.  He helps make a film that really shouldn't have worked shine (its set-up by Sorkin and director Danny Boyle still astounds me in its uniqueness) and Fassbender surprisingly captivates as a guy who may not have been the nicest kid on the block. (SoH)

#2 - Christopher Abbott - James White
Christopher Abbott delivers a powerhouse performance in James White, as the title character who uses alcohol (and some other drugs) to mask his pain.  And boy does James have pain - he's jobless, his father recently died, and his mom is facing yet another battle with cancer.  The intensity that James bottles up - and that Abbott eloquently depicts - bursts out in some painfully unfortunate ways, but his character's journey is a gripping one thanks to Abbott's powerful portrayal. (SoN)

#1 - Jacob Tremblay - Room
At the age of nine, Jacob Tremblay burst onto the cinematic scene in Room - a film in which he holds his own against the talented Brie Larson, perhaps even outshining her at certain moments.  Imagine seeing the world for the first time - we can't even begin to contemplate the cacophony of sounds, the frenetically fast-paced movement, and the sheer brightness of something as commonplace as sunlight.  Yet Tremblay pitch-perfectly portrays five year-old Jack who steps outside of Room for the first time. He depicts the awe-inspiring, frightening, and bewildering emotions of his character with such precision and childlike innocence that makes it certain that Tremblay will be on the cinematic scene for years to come.  The youthful zest ever-present in Jack and depicted by Tremblay deserved to be nominated for an Oscar, but I have to wonder if production company A24's campaign to push Tremblay as a supporting actor hurt his chances.  Oscar voters are able to choose the category into which they want to place actors and Tremblay is undoubtedly a lead here.  Unfortunately, this may have mired his chances.  At least I hope that's the reason -- because there's no other reason this role shouldn't have been nominated. (SoA)

Previous RyMickey Award Winners
2014   ---   2013   ---   2012
2011   ---   2010   ---   2009

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