Sunday, December 13, 2015

My Acting Contenders for 2015

Who am I forgetting? Who would you root for? Whose work have you not seen? Because if they're listed here, you definitely should...

Best Actress
Top Contenders
Elizabeth Banks, Love & Mercy
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Cate Blanchett, Truth
Emily Blunt, Sicario
Sandra Bullock, Our Brand Is Crisis
Laia Costa, Victoria
Marion Cotillard, Macbeth
Blythe Danner, I'll See You in My Dreams
Rinko Kikuchi, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
Rooney Mara, Carol 
Bel Powley, The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Honorable Mentions
Geraldine Chaplin, Sand Dollars
Golshifteh Farahani, About Elly
Michelle Hendley, Boy Meets Girl
Arielle Holmes, Heaven Knows What
Dakota Johnson, Fifty Shades of Grey
Jacqueline Kim, Advantageous
Sidse Babett Knudsen, The Duke of Burgundy
Sarit Larry, The Kindergarten Teacher
Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Maria Alexandra Lungu, The Wonders
Ellen Page, Freeheld
Teyonah Parris, Chi-Raq
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Sarah Silverman, I Smile Back
Cobie Smulders, Results
Sarah Snook, Predestination
Mya Taylor, Tangerine
Karidja Touré, Girlhood
Alicia Vikander, Testament of Youth
Mia Wasikowska, Madame Bovary
Kristen Wiig, Welcome to Me

Best Actor
Top Contenders
Ibrahim Ahmed, Timbuktu
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Tom Courtenay, 45 Years 
John Cusack, Love & Mercy
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Jesse Eisenberg, The End of the Tour
Michael Fassbender, Macbeth
Michael B. Jordan, Creed
Michael Keaton, Spotlight
Frederick Lau, Victoria
Sam Louwyck, The Wonders
Josh Lucas, The Mend
Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind
Jason Mitchell, Straight Outta Compton
Olivier Rabourdin, Eastern Boys
Géza Röhrig, Son of Saul
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes

Honorable Mentions
Christopher Abbott, James White
Jason Bateman, The Gift
Adam Driver, While We're Young
Bill Hader, Trainwreck
Corey Hawkins, Straight Outta Compton
Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina
O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Straight Outta Compton
Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight
Reda Kateb, Far from Men
Shameik Moore, Dope
Viggo Mortensen, Far from Men
Stephen Plunkett, The Mend
Ryan Reynolds, Mississippi Grind
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Matthias Schoenaerts, Far from the Madding Crowd

Best Supporting Actress
Top Contenders
Angela Bassett, Chi-Raq
Cate Blanchett, Cinderella
Viola Davis, Blackhat
Noni Hazlehurst, Truth
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Cynthia Nixon, James White
Jada Pinkett Smith, Magic Mike XXL
Erica Rivas, Wild Tales
Elisabeth Röhm, Joy
Isabella Rossellini, Joy
Lise Roy, Tom at the Farm
Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria
Mickey Sumner, The Mend
Tessa Thompson, Creed
Kristen Wiig, The Diary of a Teenage Girl 

Honorable Mentions
Diana Avrămuţ, When Evening Falls on Bucharest, or Metabolism
Rebecca Ferguson, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Nicole Kidman, Paddington
Andie MacDowell, Magic Mike XXL
Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars
Lucy Owen, The Mend
Sheu Fang-yi, The Assassin
Phyllis Smith, Inside Out
Tilda Swinton, Trainwreck

Best Supporting Actor
Top Contenders
Emory Cohen, Brooklyn
Michael Cyril Creighton, Spotlight
Billy Crudup, Spotlight
Benicio Del Toro, Sicario
Taron Egerton, Testament of Youth
Sam Elliott, Grandma
Sam Elliott, I'll See You in My Dreams
Keir Gilchrist, It Follows
Tim Guinee, 99 Homes
Stacy Keach, Truth
Jimmy LeBlanc, Spotlight
James Marsden, The D Train
Reynaldo Pacheco, Our Brand Is Crisis
Austin Pendleton, The Mend
Chris Sarandon, I Smile Back
Liev Schreiber, Spotlight
Michael Shannon, Freeheld
Michael Sheen, Far from the Madding Crowd
Alexander Skarsgård, The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Martin Starr, I'll See You in My Dreams
Stanley Tucci, Spotlight
Daniil Vorobyov, Eastern Boys

Honorable Mentions
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Reg E. Cathey, Nasty Baby
Kevin Corrigan, Results
John Cusack, Chi-Raq
Joaquim de Almeida, Our Brand Is Crisis
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Paul Giamatti, Straight Outta Compton
Walton Goggins, The Hateful Eight
Scott Mescudi, James White
Michael Peña, Ant-Man
Bernard Pruvost, Li'l Quinquin
Édgar Ramírez, Joy
Peter Sarsgaard, Black Mass
Jamey Sheridan, Spotlight
Leonardo Sbaraglia, Wild Tales
Michael Welch, Boy Meets Girl

Best Ensemble Cast
Top Contenders
About Elly
La Jaula de oro
Mississippi Grind
Our Brand Is Crisis
The Wonders

Honorable Mentions
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
I'll See You in My Dreams
The Kindergarten Teacher
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
Love & Mercy
The Mend
Nasty Baby
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
The Princess of France
Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Straight Outta Compton
Wild Tales

Still Anticipating
Animals, Appropriate Behavior, Blind, Bluebird, Buzzard, By the Sea, Concussion, Digging for Fire, Good Kill, Jimmy's Hall, Kilo Two Bravo, The Lady in the Van, Learning to Drive, Legend, Love at First Sight, Mr. Holmes, Ned Rifle, The New Girlfriend, Office, Saint Laurent, The Second Mother, Secret in Their Eyes, She's Lost Control, Spring, The Stanford Prison Experiment, Theeb, Time Out of Mind, Tu dors Nicole, What We Do in the Shadows

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Blogger Keith said...

Also worth considering:

Anne Dorval, Mommy; Ronit Elkabetz, Gett

Antoine Olivier Pilon, Mommy; Jacob Tremblay, Room (I don't care how they're campaigning him; he's a lead)

Cate Blanchett, Cinderella

9:58 PM, December 13, 2015  
Blogger MD said...

The Lobster isn't getting a 2015 US release, is it? Because even leaving Farrell aside, that movie was packed with even more memorable supporting performances than I was expecting.

I never thought I'd be pitching this, given the complete aversion I've had in the past, but I think Nicholas Hoult did a great job in Mad Max: Fury Road. I've barely even sensed any signs of life from him in the past, but he was the heart of the movie for me (as corny as that is).

I just saw Creed a couple of days ago, and I'm so happy that you have Tessa Thompson listed here. That part could have been so much less than it was, but the entire cast was great. My only question is if Stallone is really a support in it? I know everyone's placing him in that category, but so much of that relationship is based on Stallone and Jordan's relationship.

Other than that, I can't think of anything else I should mention, but thank you for these lists! There are so many things I still need to track down.

11:13 PM, December 13, 2015  
Blogger James T said...

Thank you so much for sharing these choices, Nick. I'm afraid I have nothing to add but I wanted to point out what a constantly reliable player Wiig has proved herself to be. I hope she gets a chance at the Oscars in the near future.

3:08 AM, December 14, 2015  
Blogger Jonathan said...

The main omission I'd aruge for from films you've already seen is Golshifteh Farahani, who played Sepideh in About Elly. Maybe Joan Allen in Room? That performance has stayed with me moreso than Larson/Tremblay, for whatever it's worth. From the films that you're still anticipating, I'd keep an eye on Tang Wei in Office, as and when you get around to seeing that one. It's verrrrrrrry different from her Lust, Caution role, which I remember you liking a lot, but still really good.

Otherwise, I think everyone who I'd single out this year is either a contender or an honourable mention on your lists! <3 the Sam Louwyck/Alexander Skarsgaard shoutouts.

5:28 AM, December 14, 2015  
Anonymous Lou said...

Obsessed with this list.

So glad about your Michael Cyril Creighton shoutout! He is really special in that part. Same with Martin Starr, Tessa Thompson, Ben Mendelsohn AND Ryan Reynolds, and the stupendous Victoria leads. Nearly all of my nominees and runners-up are represented here, which is somewhat surprising. I see you gave Carol ensemble attention but didn't single out any supporting players.

From your most anticipated, I'd prioritize Mediterranea, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Results and Nasty Baby. And I'd add The Mend!

10:56 AM, December 14, 2015  
Anonymous Liz said...

Great list as usual.

If I could make a single recommendation, it would be Melanie Laurent's Breathe, for Joséphine Japy and especially Lou de Laâge. de Laâge might actually be my single favorite performance of the year.

A few other FYCs for movies that I don't think you've seen:

Best Actress: Hadas Yaron for Felix and Meira
Best Actor: Martin Starr for Amira and Sam
Best Supporting Actress: Rebecca Henderson for Appropriate Behavior
Best Supporting Actor: Kevin Corrigan for Results

12:19 PM, December 14, 2015  
Anonymous BVR said...

So glad someone else noticed Creighton in "Spotlight." It's a short scene, but he deepens our understanding of the story that "Spotlight" is trying to tell. So happy you liked him, Nick.

As for actresses, I'm rooting for Blunt all the way to the shortlist. And you really think Banks is supporting? I can't decide.

I would love to hear what you liked about Jordan in "Creed." I wasn't too taken by him, at least not as much as Stallone.

1:38 PM, December 14, 2015  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

you have so many fun things left to see! Of that list "to see" my favorites are: Animals, Appropriate Behavior, Blind, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Nasty Baby, What We Do in the Shadows

1:46 PM, December 14, 2015  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Keith: I think Mommy had a short qualifying run in 2014 so I didn't consider it, but in truth, I just wasn't as wild about that movie or any of its three principal performances as many others were. Also not a big fan of Elkabetz in Gett, though I did think about mentioning the guy who played her lawyer. Blanchett was an oversight in Cinderella; thanks for prompting me to add her.

@MD: Thanks! No Lobster Stateside till March or May. I can see the argument for Stallone as a co-lead, though Jordan is so the core of that whole movie, even when Rocky's on the scene, that I think Supporting feels right. I agree that I've never responded this much to Hoult, but I still didn't dig him enough to consider him here. Or anyone from Fury Road, even as I appreciate how they all served Miller's plan.

@James T: I, too, am super-impressed at how Wiig keeps making all these movies that might not even exist without her backing, and taking creative risks in most of them. Sometimes I don't get anything from her on screen (Hateship Loveship, for example), but she's like nobody else, that's for sure.

@Jonathan: I should have had Farahani in the runners-up category. What a consistently engaging performer. I wish more of her festival movies would open commercially, like My Sweet Pepper Land. I liked Tremblay and Allen just fine but not quite enough for even the runners-up circle. Will definitely keep an eye out for Tang.

4:27 PM, December 14, 2015  
Anonymous John said...

Love the Noni Hazlehurst and Jimmy LeBlanc shoutouts, as I do most of these performances. Spotlight has such an impressive ensemble aside from the usual team members who are often, rightfully, celebrated, and Noni Beatrice-Straights a fierce scene in Truth.

I think I prefer Sam Elliot in I'll See You in My Dreams to his work in Grandma, but I see the case for the latter. Very eager to hear your thoughts on Queen of Earth, which I found an all-around excruciating exercise. But I seem to be in the minority, so certainly seek it out soon!

4:35 PM, December 14, 2015  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Lou: The Mend is a great suggestion! Forgot about that one. Thanks. I think Nasty Baby and Mediterranea will probably be very soon. So glad you're enjoying the lists.

@Liz: My favorite suggestions are the ones I've never heard of, and you've offered a lot of those. Thank you! Your endorsement means a lot.

@BVR: I've waffled most on Banks and Isaac in terms of category placement. They could each go either way for me. I think Jordan consciously plays somebody who's stuck within a certain register of unprocessed anger, rather than just feeling one-note, and I think his physicality expresses a whole lot in every scene, even down to his specific beats in the ring of each match. I love the character inflections like the bathroom panic before the first match, or his cautious and bashful approaches to Thompson, etc.

@Nathaniel: All coming up soon! I've been looking at your list, too, and definitely encourage 99 Homes, About Elly (Farhadi!), Chi-Raq, The Duke of Burgundy, Eastern Boys, Eden, Girlhood, Heart of a Dog, La Jaula de oro, The Kindergarten Teacher, Macbeth, Mississippi Grind, Our Brand Is Crisis, Timbuktu, and The Wonders. I know that's a lot, but I think you'd really love a lot of these, and I'm dying to know what you'd think about several of them!

4:36 PM, December 14, 2015  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@John: I love Elliott in both, but Grandma needed him even more to shake that movie awake, and give Tomlin something interesting to react to. I didn't like that movie at all till he showed up. Maybe I should mention him for both. I haaaated Listen Up Philip even though I admired the performances of Pryce and Moss tremendously. So I have no sense of what to expect from QoE; we could easily be in the same boat.

4:38 PM, December 14, 2015  
Anonymous Mike said...

Great choices, though I'm surprised you consider Kristen Stewart supporting in 'Clouds of Sils Maria.'

5:38 PM, December 14, 2015  
Anonymous Don said...

Great picks as always although I’d add Jennifer Ehle to supporting for THE FORGER. She only has a few scenes in the first 30 minutes but makes an indelible impression as a drug addict mom meeting her estranged son.

6:30 PM, December 14, 2015  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Mike: Fair point. Been meaning to rewatch this anyway, so I'll revisit the issue.

@Don: Is that the John Travolta movie? I trust Ehle completely but am put off by the vehicle. Worth it

8:02 PM, December 14, 2015  
Anonymous BVR said...

I'll have to check out "Creed" again, in that case. Maybe I'll be won over on second viewing.

Also, no love for the supporting players in "Victoria"? Franz Rogowski as Boxer was particularly magnetic, I thought. I realize Costa and Lau are so tremendous that they practically suck all the attention, but Rogowski more than held his own, IMHO.

Other supporting men you may consider are Richard Madden in "Cinderella" and Jeffrey Tambor in "The D Train." Supporting Actress is unusually lacking this year. Lots of solid performances, but not too many that scream "end-of-year worthy."

10:56 PM, December 14, 2015  
Anonymous Matthew Eng said...

Love just about all of this!

However, I do have to passionately cast my vote in the Elizabeth Banks-as-lead camp. I've seen Love and Mercy twice now and love Banks in it, but I swear that she has more screen time than even Cusack. In a way, I actually think she's the protagonist of those eighties chapters, even though I get that the familiar function of her role typically connotes a supporting character. But I think that's part of what makes L & M (and her character especially) so memorable: that archetype is rarely at the forefront of the story and she's seldom performed with as much marvelously active attentiveness as she is here.

I understand the urge to position Banks as Supporting; it's not the strongest year for that category and she obviously stands the best shot at being nominated there, even though I think the chances of that (and even Dano) are sadly dwindling. But I think she's as clear-cut a lead in this as Vikander is in Danish Girl. Except, you know, well-performed... (Too mean?)

12:23 AM, December 15, 2015  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@BVR: I actually came a little closer to mentioning Yigit than Rogowski. Liked them both, and Tambor, too... just not enough for this list. Couldn't agree more about Supporting Actress, a strangely fallow field this year.

@Matthew: Good enough for me! There are few people I'd trust more on this point. Consider her promoted.

12:54 AM, December 15, 2015  
Anonymous Laika said...

Not much to add or suggest here, beyond Malin Akerman and Angela Trimbur for supporting actress in 'The Final Girls'. That film is one of those modest films whose virtues and flaws are so codependent that it makes it a little embarrassing to recommend it, but Akerman's directness and emotional transparency in a slightly gauzy role seems to me to be an almost comparable achievement to that of Banks in 'Love and Mercy'. On the other hand, Trimbur uninhibitedly embraces caricature, and I thought she was audaciously funny.

Also, I'd tagged Neal Huff as the standout in 'Spotlight'; he manages to play the range of perceptions the journalists have of his character - hoped-for break in the case, crackpot conspiracy theorist, helplessly symptomatic victim, prickly territorial expert - in his first scene, thereby clarifying and illuminating the other characters as much as his own.

1:18 AM, December 15, 2015  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Laika: I was thinking when I led my Spotlight film group yesterday that Huff really belonged as an Honorable Mention, at least. I'll add him. Joe Reid gave a similarly warm pitch about Final Girls, so I'll keep that recommendation in mind.

8:54 AM, December 15, 2015  
Anonymous Ken said...

Count me as a member of the "Why isn't Nicholas Hoult's name popping up more in the Awards conversation?" club. He adds so much wild card energy to an already rip-roaring scenario. And I was glad to see Mya Taylor from "Tangerine" made your list. Her delivery of "Toyland" in the film isn't her only memorable moment but it is quite a moment. Also a shout-out for some of "Tangerine"'s supporting players: Karren Karragulian (the Armenian cabbie), James Ransone (the donut shop pimp) and - especially Mickey O'Hagan as Sindy's bedraggled semi-shoeless captive. I admire every part of what she does with the role. And I'm still wincing from that knee-scraping fall she takes while getting shanghaied onto a city bus.

1:57 PM, December 15, 2015  
Blogger Murtada said...

Seing Cate twice warms my heart. The same heart that was broken when you preferred Adams to her Jasmine two years ago.

11:09 AM, December 16, 2015  
Blogger Unknown said...

How about Keir Gilchrist or Maika Monroe from "It Follows"?

8:13 PM, December 16, 2015  
Blogger Murtada said...

Assa Sylla in Girlhood for supporting actress.

11:21 PM, December 16, 2015  
Anonymous goran said...

Aw, why no Binoche? And Sarah Paulson?

And no Diary of a Teenage Girl for Ensemble? Even the two-line walk-ons seemed not only really natural and perfectly cast but totally keyed into the world of the protagonist. I also really loved the Mistress America ensemble.

Otherwise your shortlists cover pretty much everyone I liked this year. Even names I didn't expect to see on anyone else's lists, like Tim Guinee, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Daniil Vorobyov and [oh-my-god-i-didn't-even-realise-that-was] Noni Hazlehurst [!!].

The only one I'm sad not to see is Mickey O'Hagan in Tangerine. She reminded me of Shelley Duvall in all the best ways, not least for how she mixed pathos, farce and flashes of intense, inappropriate (but hilarious) conviction without hitting a single inauthentic note.

Oh, and I thought Wiig was outright genius in Welcome to Me, and among the year's very best.

On the other hand, re. del Toro in Sicario - I obviously missed something here since I just thought he was playing clips of the same performance he's been giving for just under a decade. I'm curious what you liked? I actually much preferred Brolin in the same film and found his take on that kind of person kind of original and uncomfortably believable.

12:06 PM, December 17, 2015  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Ken: Karragulian was a near-miss. I liked the ensemble-ness of Tangerine even more than most of the performances taken individually, though you and Goran make spirited cases for O'Hagan.

@Murtada: Similar answer, insofar as I dug what all the (mostly) gals were doing in sync in Girlhood even more than the individual contributions. But she is really striking. And I'm still an Adams voter in that race, no question, as fascinating as Blanchett's Jasmine often is.

@Unknown: I knew I'd mess up if I didn't cross-check against my Fifties! Gilchrist is in, no question. Thanks for catching that.

@Goran: Sils Maria is near the top of my rewatch list, so we'll see. On first pass, I really only liked Binoche in her scenes with Stewart and not that much elsewhere. I may have had a version of what you with Del Toro, where a performance that seems specifically shaded to an admirer looks too much like a bunch of previous performances to someone else. Wiig in Welcome to Me falls somewhere between those poles, for me, though I'm intrigued to see it again. Love all the synchronicity with those out-of-the-box picks. Can't get anywhere near Mistress America or its ensemble, though. Not my bag at all.

12:40 PM, December 17, 2015  
Blogger Robert MacFarlane said...

I promised myself I wouldn't ask this, but none of the new Star Wars cast in honorable mentions at least? I was really taken aback at how great the ensemble was this time around. I don't know, maybe I'm attaching myself to them more than I should in comparison of what we got with the prequels.

5:57 AM, December 20, 2015  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Robert: I loved them too, even more together than separately, though Ridley and Boyega especially got to me. Not enough for separate mentions here, but I share at least some degree of your enthusiasm.

12:51 PM, December 21, 2015  
Blogger Robert MacFarlane said...

I just saw it again and really think you should reconsider Ridley. I feel like she added a lot to Rey that wasn't in the script. Please keep her in mind and see if she lingers.

3:08 PM, December 21, 2015  
Blogger Unknown said...

Did you think direction of Danish Girl didn't allow them to go anywhere? Or you didn't even like what they were going within the confines

7:42 PM, December 22, 2015  
Blogger Unknown said...


7:42 PM, December 22, 2015  
Blogger David said...

I have to say, I'm dying to see what you think of Queen of Earth! I was very impressed with Elisabeth Moss and the film in general, even though I tend to shy away from that particular brand of Baumbach-esque post-hipsterdom. I also thought Patrick Fugit was excellent, and I've not heard a word about him since the film's release.

I hope all is well with you this holiday season!

4:38 PM, December 28, 2015  
Anonymous Taylor said...

Anyone from The Hateful Eight or The Big Short qualify? So happy you also like Rinko Kikuchi's performance so much, by the way!

2:59 PM, December 29, 2015  
Anonymous Lucinda said...

This list has been an incredibly helpful guide to my end-of-year viewing. Thanks so much, Nick. La jaula de oro is a major wow.

A recommendation: Mediterranea, which despite its formidable craft, thematic timeliness, and success at NBR and the Independent Spirit Awards somehow hasn't gotten much press or critical attention. For me, it's one of the best films of the year, and it seems in your wheelhouse. From some of the Beasts of the Southern Wild crew, too, including Zeitlin and Romer composing the score. Don't miss it before you publish your top 10s!

9:21 AM, January 03, 2016  
Blogger Robert MacFarlane said...

Out of curiosity, what impressed you about Ruffalo? I'm one of the few who found him to give a fussy mess of a performance in Spotlight.

11:39 AM, January 09, 2016  
Anonymous Diana said...

Glad to see you enjoyed the cast of The Mend! Were you a fan of Lucy Owen's performance?

8:02 AM, January 23, 2016  
Anonymous Abel A said...

Just wanted to say that I love this list and your dedication! This helped me with so much of my end/beginning of the year screenings. Performances I really liked but I don't think would make your roster include:
Carey Mulligan - Far from the Madding Crowd
Forrest Goodluck - The Revenant
Emma Stone - Irrational Man
Sebastian Silva - Nasty Baby

10:16 PM, March 02, 2016  
Anonymous Mirella said...

Any chance we can get one of these for 2016? Your opinions and recommendations mean so much to so many of us.

11:38 PM, January 16, 2017  

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