2015 Best Actor Thoughts

For this decade so far, I daresay that 2015 is one of my favourite years for the best actress and best picture categories. Unfortunately, I wish I could say the same for the best actor lineup for this year. I thought 2014 was pretty underwhelming after the brilliance of 2013, but 2015 might even be…worse.

I never considered myself a profession and qualified film critic/reviewer, which is why I never do a full technical breakdown/analysis of films and performances. Instead, I often choose to focus on the kind of emotions the film or performance evokes within me. I guess that’s why I am always so generous with my scores, giving out 4.5s and 5s like crazy. These scores are arbitrary anyway. The important thing is, I always find something to like within a performance and film, even those that people tend to put down. Last year, I thought Steve Carell had some chillingly good moments as John du Pont, even though I agree with the criticisms. I thought Eddie Redmayne’s physical transformation as Hawking was amazing, even though his characterization was a bit boring.

This year, however, was just kinda dull for me, with 3 of the performances scoring below 4 points. Placements of 4 and 5 were straightforward. Number 3 grew on me slightly, and his score is more of a 4 for me now, frankly. I have always liked 2, but I did overrate him initially. This makes my 1 the obvious winner, but that’s only because he is the shining light out of this group for me.

5. Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl – 2.5/5

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Eddie Redmayne seems like a really nice, friendly and warm guy in real life. I really like his real-life personality when I watch him in interviews. That being said, I wish he would stop transforming his characters into these kind, eternally good and flawless souls who are victims of the circumstances they are in. Einar/Lili is an extremely one-dimensional character, who barely struggles with her own identity and only exists to want to be a woman. It is a boring characterisation and Redmayne doesn’t really add anything exciting to this role. He is also a bit mannered and unbelievable, though not a terrible as some say.

Favourite moment: When he first attends the party as Lili, wonderfully capturing the awkward fish-out-of-water sensation.

4. Bryan Cranston in Trumbo – 3/5

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This one, to be honest, was the most disappointing for me. I had really high hopes and I actually expected him to be my personal pick. After watching Trumbo, however…I don’t know man, the whole thing is just really artificial and I feel the same way about Cranston’s performance. He is also really mannered, but I actually thought he was pretty convincing in this area. I have no emotional attachment to this performance, and at the end of the day, it was just okay for me.

Favourite moment: The final speech

3. Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant – 3.5/5

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His portrayal of physical agony is great, and his fight for survival is also terrific. That being said, something is just holding me back from loving this performance like the whole world does. I don’t find him a very convincing father in the beginning, and I am not entirely sold on the main motivation for the character’s journey – revenge. Still, a solid and perfectly fine performance from a good actor.

Favourite moment: The final stare

2. Matt Damon in The Martian – 4/5

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It has been a long while since I watched this, so my impression is admittedly a bit vague. He makes Watney a very likable, witty, sarcastic and funny character and that is the best part of his performance for me. I rooted for Watney throughout the whole film, and I found Damon’s presence to be very charismatic.

Favourite moment: When he thought he was going to die, and his goodbye speech to his family.

1. Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs – 4.5/5

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I knew he was going to be my pick right from the beginning, when I saw him verbally humiliate and tear down the other guy. Fassbender does not look like Steve Jobs at all – in fact, Ashton Kutcher might actually have a stronger physical resemblance LOL. However, Fassbender doesn’t go for an impersonation of Jobs, choosing instead to create a complex, fascinating and layered portrayal of an undoubtedly talented guy with major issues. It’s a three-dimensional performance that I really enjoyed.

Favourite moment: A couple of scenes, like the opening scene, or the various moments where he tries to reconnect with his daughter.

My personal lineup: Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight (5), Jacob Tremblay in Room (5), Michael Fassbender in Macbeth (5), Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road (5), Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs. #1 and #5 are clear to me, while Tremblay, Fassbender and Hardy are pretty interchangeable. I know some people might find Hardy nothing special in Mad Max but I really loved his work there. Haven’t watched Legend. Alright, if I were to follow the academy’s style of one performance per actor I would replace Fassbender in Jobs with Tom Courtenay in 45 Years (4.5). Borderline supporting, but still a fine performance.

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