For the third year in a row, I’m taking a brief look at the careers of every actor nominated for an Oscar this year. Below I pick my favorite roles for each nominee, and highlight the one that I consider the actors’ best. Do feel free to share your favorite performances by this year’s nominees as well!
Notable Roles: Seinfeld, Malcolm in the Middle, Drive, Contagion, Argo, Godzilla
Best Role: That would be Walter White, Breaking Bad. No brainer.
Notable Roles: Saving Private Ryan, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ocean’s Eleven, the Bourne films, The Departed, The Informant!, True Grit, Contagion
Best Role: Still have to go with Good Will Hunting. What a fearless announcement of a new star.
Notable Roles: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Titanic, Gangs of New York, Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator, The Departed, Inception, The Wolf of Wall Street
Best Role: Tough, tough call. I’m still on a sugar high from The Revenant, and his Wolf of Wall Street performance gets better and better, but ultimately, I’m going to stick with the tortured Frank Wheeler from Revolutionary Road. For now.
Notable Roles: Hunger, Fish Tank, Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class, Jane Eyre, Prometheus, Haywire, 12 Years a Slave, Macbeth
Best Role: Shame, every time.
Notable Roles: The Other Boleyn Girl, My Week with Marilyn, Les Misérables
Best Role: I’m still not over Redmayne beating Michael Keaton for the Oscar last year, but, alas, Redmayne’s performance in The Theory of Everything remains his best.
Notable Roles: Elizabeth, The Aviator, Babel, Notes on a Scandal, I’m Not There, Blue Jasmine
Best Role: It always changes, because Blanchett keeps upping her game. I could literally pick any of the notable roles I mentioned as her very best.
Notable Roles: United States of Tara, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 21 Jump Street, Don Jon, Short Term 12, Trainwreck
Best Role: Larson is flawless in Short Term 12, but her best work is Room. I’ll be thrilled if Room earns her an Oscar this year.
Notable Roles: Like Crazy, X-Men: First Class, the Hunger Games films, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle
Best Role: Winter’s Bone, by miles.
Notable Roles: The Night Porter, Stardust Memories, Angel Heart, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Melancholia, Young & Beautiful
Best Role: What a legendary career. I’d probably go with her mysterious turn in Swimming Pool, but she was astounding in 45 Years as well.
Notable Roles: The Lovely Bones, Hanna, Byzantium, How I Live Now, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Lost River
Best Role: Briony Tallis from Atonement. What a vile little creature she was.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Notable Roles: Empire of the Sun, The Machinist, The Prestige, The Dark Knight trilogy, The New World, Rescue Dawn, Public Enemies, The Fighter
Best Role: Another one that changes depending on the day. I’ve always championed his under seen work in Rescue Dawn, but today I’m going with American Psycho, because there is never a bad reason to choose Patrick Bateman.
Notable Roles: Bronson, Inception, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Dark Knight Rises, Locke, Mad Max: Fury Road, Legend
Best Role: Right now, it’s an even split for me: Warrior and The Revenant.
Notable Roles: We Don’t Live Here Anymore, Collateral, Zodiac, The Kids Are All Right, The Avengers, Begin Again, Foxcatcher, Infinitely Polar Bear
Best Role: Ruffalo is one of our most reliable actors, which makes this choice a very difficult one. I’m going with his quietly explosive work in You Can Count On Me as his best. He’s absolutely unforgettable there.
Notable Roles: Intimacy, The Other Boleyn Girl, Anonymous
Best Role: I’m not terribly familiar with Rylance’s film/TV work, so I’ll go with his arresting turn from Bridge of Spies as his best.
Notable Roles: the Rocky series, the First Blood films, Over the Top, Cliffhanger, Get Carter, The Expendables films
Best Role: Sly is excellent in Creed, but if you haven’t seen his Freddy Heflin from Cop Land, then you haven’t seen the best that Stallone has to offer.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Notable Roles: Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Rush, Short Cuts, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, eXistenZ, The Anniversary Party, Margot at the Wedding
Best Role: I’m so happy that Daisy Domergue earned Leigh her first (!) Oscar nomination, but her heartbreaking work in Georgia still wins out for me.
Notable Roles: The Social Network, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Side Effects, Her
Best Role: The fireball that is Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Notable Roles: Mean Girls, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers, Red Eye, Midnight in Paris, To the Wonder, Passion, A Most Wanted Man, Southpaw
Best Role: I can foresee the vitriol already, but the choice is easy for me: Ani Bezzerides from the second season of True Detective.
Notable Roles: A Royal Affair, Anna Karenina, The Fifth Estate, Ex Machina, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Burnt
Best Role: I loved her work in Ex Machina, but nothing prepared me for the power of her performance in The Danish Girl.
Notable Roles: Heavenly Creatures, Sense and Sensibility, Titanic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Little Children, The Reader, Mildred Pierce, Contagion
Best Role: Sarah Pierce from Little Children will always hold a certain place in my heart, but, like Leo, I’m going with Winslet’s fearless work in Revolutionary Road as her best.
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