With this morning’s release of the Oscar nominations, I thought it’d be fun to dive into the careers of every acting nominee. Below is an expansion of my usual In Character column, highlighting the best roles of the 20 actors vying for film’s top prize.
Notable Roles: La Vie en Rose, Public Enemies, Nine, Inception, The Immigrant
Best Role: Holy hell I’m so happy she’s nominated this year. Marion Cotillard is my favorite living actress, so this is no easy choice. Ultimately, I have to go with her Stéphanie from Rust and Bone, my favorite female film character since I don’t know when.
Notable Roles: The Diary of Anne Frank, The Tempest, Breathe In, The Invisible Woman, Girls
Best Role: I’ve loved few film characters more in recent years than Jones’ Anna from Like Crazy.
Notable Roles: Short Cuts, The End of the Affair, Boogie Nights, Far From Heaven, The Hours, A Single Man
Best Role: Impossible to decide, so I’m going with two. As the horribly depressed Linda Partridge in Magnolia, and the vile Hollywood goddess, Havana Segrand, in Maps to the Stars.
Notable Roles: Die Another Day, Pride & Prejudice, Fracture, An Education, The World’s End
Best Role: Amazing Amy. No question.
Notable Roles: Fear, Pleasantville, Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde, Walk the Line, Mud
Best Role: “They think they can just, all of a sudden, one day out of the blue, waltz right in with no qualifications whatsoever and try to take away what other people have worked for very, VERY hard for their entire lives! No, didn’t bother me at all!”
Notable Roles: Bruce Almighty, Anchorman, The Office, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Little Miss Sunshine
Best Role: I had no idea Steve Carell had Foxcatcher’s John du Pont in him. Easily my pick for his best role.
Notable Roles: Alias, Wedding Crashers, The Hangover, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, The Place Beyond the Pines
Best Role: I love Cooper’s work in The Place Beyond the Pines, but his American Sniper performance was completely revelatory.
Notable Roles: Hawking, Atonement, The Fifth Estate, 12 Years a Slave, Star Trek Into Darkness
Best Role: It must be Sherlock. Though what he did in 12 Years a Slave (including perfecting a deep Southern accent) should not be overlooked.
Notable Roles: Night Shift, Mr. Mom, Beetlejuice, Clean and Sober, Batman, Jackie Brown
Best Role: Michael Keaton is one of my all-time favorite actors, so I don’t say this lightly, but his Riggan Thomson from Birdman is hands down the best performance of his career. I’m ecstatic that he could likely win the Oscar this year.
Notable Roles: The Good Shepherd, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, My Week with Marilyn, Les Misérables
Best Role: Stephen Hawking. No brainer.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Notable Roles: True Romance, Ed Wood, Fliting with Disaster, Bringing out the Dead, Medium, Boardwalk Empire
Best Role: I love Arquette’s Alabama from True Romance, but it has to be Boyhood for me.
Notable Roles: Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Jurassic Park, Citizen Ruth, We Don’t Live Here Anymore, Enlightened
Best Role: Watching Dern’s work in David Lynch’s Inland Empire, you become acutely aware that she is the only actress who could do that performance that way.
Notable Roles: Bend It Like Beckham, Love Actually, Pride & Prejudice, Never Let Me Go, Last Night, Begin Again
Best Role: I actually adore her emotive turn in Last Night, but Cecilia from Atonement wins out for me.
Notable Roles: Superbad, Zombieland, Easy A, Crazy Stupid Love, The Help
Best Role: That would be Birdman.
Notable Roles: Manhattan, Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, Silkwood, Adaptation, The Hours, Angels in America, The Devil Wears Prada
Best Role: Then, now, and forever, Linda from The Deer Hunter.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Notable Roles: The Godfather Parts I-II, Apocalypse Now, Tender Mercies, Sling Blade, A Civil Action, Get Low
Best Role: All told, I’d honestly go with his towering work in The Apostle. Duvall also wrote and directed the film, and you can tell that passion is injected into every frame of it.
Notable Roles: Dead Poets Society, Alive, Before Sunrise, Tape, Training Day, Before Sunset, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
Best Role: Close call, but I’m going with Before Midnight. I could just feel Jesse’s faults, regrets, fears, and, most importantly, his aching desire to hold on to what he values most.
Notable Roles: Primal Fear, Rounders, American History X, Fight Club, The Illusionist, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Role: Montgomery Brogan from 25th Hour is one of my favorite film characters. So conflicted and scared.
Notable Roles: You Can Count On Me, We Don’t Live Here Anymore, Zodiac, Shutter Island, The Kids Are All Right, The Avengers
Best Role: Dave Schultz, Foxcatcher. The way he moved, the way he spoke, the way he constantly had his hands on people. I really knew this guy.
Notable Roles: Oz, Spider-Man 1-3, The Ladykillers, Juno, Burn After Reading, The Music Never Stopped
Best Role: Few characters are more despicable than Vern Schillinger from Oz, but it’s gotta be Terence Fletcher from Whiplash. That work is definitely my tempo.