2015 In Review: Best Actor

There were a bunch of Best Actor performances I couldn’t fit into my Top 10. Ian McKellan (Mr Holmes), Samuel L Jackson (The Hateful Eight), Al Pacino (Danny Collins), Liam Neeson (Run All Night), Kevin Costner (McFarland USA), John Cusack (Love and Mercy), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Maggie), Will Smith (Concussion), and Mark Ruffalo (Infinitely Polar Bear) all delivered strong performances, but I just didn’t feel they were Top 10. Here’s my Top 10 for 2015:

10) Joseph Gordon Levitt (The Walk)
I’m excited to see what he does in Snowden. He’s really been stretching himself a lot as an actor, and he picks great roles. I thought he was terrific in The Walk, and the whole film is based around him. It’s like a less violent version of The Revenant, which was crafted around DiCaprio. It’s just no one really saw The Walk, and people forgot about it. It’s a shame, because he was really good.

9) Michael B Jordan (Creed)
A weaker actor would have ruined Creed, but Jordan once again proved himself to be the leading voice of his generation of actors. I fully believe Jordan will one day get an Oscar nomination, because he chooses great roles.

8) Tom Hanks (Bridge Of Spies)
Sometimes we forget just how good Tom Hanks is, and we take it for granted. Don’t write off an actors performance because they’re always good. That’s fine. It’s OK to be consistently amazing. Sure, this wasn’t Philadelphia, but I thought Hanks did a great job and carried a well written, smart film.

7) Matt Damon (The Martian)
Another actor who carried his film, and he did so with extreme weight loss, putting himself out on the line. Usually, Damon is buff, ready to be Jason Bourne at any given moment, but his performance here was very real, and authentic. It’s easy to write off big-budget films as not being “actors” movies, but Damon really gave everything he had for this, and I salute him for it.

6) Tom Hardy (Legend)
He played two very different men in the same film, and it’s basically the only reason to watch Legend. Hardy is a method actor, who really goes all in on a role, and you can feel his intensity on screen. I’m constantly amazed by Hardy, and I think he’s one of the best new actors to have come around in the last 10 years.

5) Tobey Maguire (Pawn Sacrifice)
Another film that suffered because no one really saw it. This is easily Maguire’s best performance. A career high for him. Sadly, I might be the only one recognizing him in my year end list. He’s extremely powerful as a man slowly unraveling on stage. It’s the kind of performance and role I would never have given to Tobey Maguire, but he so proved me wrong. Absolutely, watch this film and his performance.

4) Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
A divisive performance, but I thought he brought the perfect balance of wit, comedy, honesty, and suffering to the role of Dalton Trumbo. It was a brilliant way for a TV actor to cross over permanently into film.

3) Jake Gyllenhaal (Southpaw)
I think this might be Gyllenhaal’s best performance ever, as well. Talk about doing a complete 180. I never would have thought he could be this angry, this gritty, this intense. He’s played so many quiet roles. I think he’s really going for an image change, with Southpaw following Nightcrawler. Gyllenhaal dares to be different, and his explosive performance in Southpaw deserved Academy recognition. I’m sad that he wasn’t nominated, because I would have much preferred him over Fassbender.

2) Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
Redmayne was my favorite performance last year too, and he damn near did it again with The Danish Girl. I really didn’t see Redmayne in the role, I felt like I was watching a real person transition. He really became the character, and it was heartbreaking to watch. One of the most powerful performances of the year, and one of the most real. Redmayne has quickly proven himself in Hollywood, and it’s amazing to see his meteoric rise.

1) Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
If we don’t give him an Oscar, DiCaprio’s next role might actually kill him. Talk about an actor giving every bit of his soul for a role. This is DiCaprio’s crowning achievement. He bleeds for this film, and for this role. He left everything on screen. It’s his greatest performance to date, and it’s the best performance of the year. Hands down. It is finally his time.

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