Matt and Matt’s Oscar Countdown: Best Supporting Actor/Actress

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By Matt Paolizzi and Matt Soderberg, Co-Sports Editor and Staff Reporter

Next up on our list is the supporting performances categories. Often the most powerful and screen-stealing acting moments come from those not in the lead role. This year the categories are packed, though certainly there were some obvious snubs. Here are the nominees and who we think should win.

Best Supporting Actor

The Nominees

Christian Bale – “The Big Short” as Michael Burry
Tom Hardy – “The Revenant” as John Fitzgerald
Mark Ruffalo – “Spotlight” as Michael Rezendes
Mark Rylance – “Bridge of Spies” as Rudolf Abel
Sylvester Stallone – “Creed” as Rocky Balboa

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Matt Soderberg

Should Win – Tom Hardy

All five of these movies are great. There’s not an oddball mistake that the Academy threw in, they all are deservedly acclaimed. Christian Bale exchanges a superhero costume for headphones as the best part of The Big Short, and journeyman character actor Mark Rylance is terrific, playing a game of cat-and-mouse in Bridge of Spies. The often-telling SAG Awards gave this one to Idris Elba, not even nominated (the most notable snub for #OscarsSoWhite), who certainly would have been a contender. And Mark Ruffalo is nominated for the second year in a row for his really meaningful Boston affectation in Spotlight, but the performance that really should capture the trophy is Tom Hardy’s in The Revenant. He outshines Leonardo DiCaprio in every way, and quickly becomes the best part of the film, adding dimension where DiCaprio lacks it, and giving substance to the beauty. He likely won’t get it, and this might be the biggest tragedy on Sunday.

Will Win – Sylvester Stallone

He’s good. He’s Rocky! But he’s not that good. Just the nostalgia of the movie makes his character enjoyable, but Creed is good for one reason: his co-star Michael B. Jordan. Unfortunately, because of factors that mainly include race, the Creed award will have to go to Stallone. It was refreshing to see him not phone it in, but his performance is the weakest of anyone’s in the category. Here the Academy is messing up.

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Matt Paolizzi

Should Win – Tom Hardy

This is one of the more interesting categories. Ruffalo especially impresses, but really doesn’t have the momentum to keep his bid going. However, his performance is truly genuine. He has a lot of moments that make you smile and he really aids in immersing the viewer into the neurotic and anxious world of journalism that Spotlight put you in. The man who plays the Hulk in those Marvel movies really does have his acting chops. Rylance has been a critic’s favorite and Bale is normally always a contender no matter what he does. But it’s Hardy that really stands apart from the crowd. It really has been his year. He was the leading man in Mad Max and he comes close to stealing the show from Leo in The Revenant. I thought his stoic version of the classic Max character was intense and worthy of a nomination, but Revenant-Hardy provides us with an even better showing. The Revenant could not be carried by Leo alone and Hardy gives us a perfect foil for his character. The final confrontation between the two is an outstanding piece of filmmaking and Hardy steals it. I never thought I could love someone so repulsive, but Hardy does it all and more. Perfection.

Will Win – Sylvester Stallone

I didn’t mention Stallone in the previous paragraph. His nomination is undeserved. I never got where all the praise came from. He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t Oscar-worthy. Idris Elba, whose emotional portrayal of an African warlord in the overlooked Beasts of No Nation left me with something Stallone could never do. Elba made me feel. He made me speechless. Both take on a sort of mentor role in each of their respective films. Stallone is training a boxer; Elba is training a child soldier.  I’ll say it like this. Creed could’ve been done with another actor. Hell, replace him with De Niro and you’d get the same effect.  Beasts of No Nation could not have had anyone else than Elba. He brings so much passion, so much intensity to the table in a form that Stallone does not come close to matching. I would have loved to have seen Michael Keaton get some recognition as well thanks to his work in Spotlight (and maybe to make up for his robbery at the hands of Eddie Redmayne last year). But, sadly, this is Stallone’s to lose. The momentum and support he has is off the chains right now and it will shock me if he doesn’t win. It pains me to say all this. The Rocky films were a large part of my childhood. But I came away from Creed impressed by Michael B. Jordan, and not with Stallone. Yet, even with all this, Stallone will come away with the trophy.

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Best Supporting Actress

The Nominees

Jennifer Jason Leigh – “The Hateful Eight” as Daisy Domergue
Rooney Mara – “Carol” as Therese Belivet
Rachel McAdams – “Spotlight” as Sacha Pfeiffer
Alicia Vikander – “The Danish Girl” as Gerda Wegener
Kate Winslet – “Steve Jobs” as Joanna Hoffman

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Matt Soderberg

Should Win – Rooney Mara

Fast times @ Minnie’s Haberdashery? Jennifer Jason Leigh makes a comeback with a rousing, filthy performance as an outlaw in The Hateful Eight, but it’s not Oscar worthy. Rachel McAdams is good but doesn’t have a shot. Kate Winslet is gripping, but no one saw Steve Jobs so she’s out. The best here is Mara, playing Cate Blanchett’s younger partner in Carol, in a performance that should probably win her Best Actress, let alone supporting. She manages to outshine Blanchett, and their chemistry probably should earn them both the nod.

Will Win – Alicia Vikander

I say Rooney Mara is the best in the category, but it won’t be a disappointing Oscar night, because Vikander is almost as good. While the Academy overlooked her better performance, (In Ex Machina) she also shines in The Danish Girl, a cluttered, disappointingly mediocre film that revolves around two amazing performances by Vikander and Eddie Redmayne. With momentum from the Producer’s and Screen Actor’s Guilds, Vikander should get the win here.

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Matt Paolizzi

Should Win – Alicia Vikander

At first, this award seemed like Leigh’s to lose. An industry vet who hadn’t really gotten any major attention before, Leigh was the best part of the underwhelming (but not bad) Hateful Eight. But Winslet has gained momentum with her Golden Globes win and both Mara and Vikander have seen their own stocks rising. McAdams, always the scene stealer, was another crucial part of the Spotlight equation. This is easily one of, if not the most, competitive categories of the entire night and one that proves very hard to pick a winner. I was surprised that Kristen Stewart, after becoming the first American ever to win a Cesar (The French Oscars), wasn’t nominated for her work in Clouds of Sils Maria. The film performed poorly over in the States though and I really was looking forward to Stewart proving the world wrong and showing them that the Twilight years were just a fluke.  I feel that all of these ladies deserved their nominations, but Vikander is the one that really stands out for me. Vikander had a sneaky good year, almost becoming a sort of female equivalent to Tom Hardy. I thought she was better in Ex Machina than in the boring and disappointing Danish Girl, but at least she was recognized. Her performance is, simply put, real. Emotional. I judge actors on how much they affect me, how effortless their performances are. Vikander outperforms almost everyone she shares the screen with, even beating out Eddie Redmayne at times. Coupled with the fact that she has possibly the best campaign out right now, I think next year, along with Hardy, there will be a lot more Vikander out there. I’m picking her to win this one.

Will Win – Alicia Vikander

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