When it comes to the category of best supporting actor, this is really a two horse race. That is in no way any slight to the other three nominees. Every single actor in this category is more than worthy to walk away with the Oscar. Three of the nominees have never been nominated before. Two of them have been nominated and, on more than one occasion. Only one of the nominees have had the pleasure to stand on that stage and accept it.
Christian Bale The Big Short
Christian is a multitude nominee and the only one in the group to win. It was in this same category that he won for his stellar performance as Dicky Ecklund in The Fighter four years ago. He is nominated this year for his role as Mike Burry, the hedge fund investor who was the first to identify the coming implosion of the housing market in 2008. Burry is someone who has an odd array of mannerisms and way of communicating. Bale captured all of this with, what we have come to expect from him, greatness. He will not win on February 28th but it is not for lack of giving a worthy performance.
Tom Hardy The Revenant
Tom Hardy has constantly been one of the best and fearless actors of the last seven or eight years along with his co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio, who was instrumental in convincing Hardy to take this role. Hardy is also one of the hardest working actors around. Many felt he has been snubbed so far this awards season, more so for his incredible turn as the gangster twin brothers in 1960’s England with drastically different personalities. Instead, he shocks everyone by being nominated in a movie that has overwhelmingly been centered on the performance of DiCaprio and his elusive Oscar. Hardy is without a doubt worthy of this, his first nomination and, in a different year a lock for a win. He does remain the dark horse in this category, but it would likely mean that The Revenant would wind up winning everything it is nominated for. There is no question this is not the last time he will be nominated.
Mark Ruffalo Spotlight
When it comes to respect amongst his peers, very few have more than Ruffalo. His nomination is not a complete surprise to anyone who has seen the ensemble driven movie. He does stand out and in every movie, not just Spotlight, his passion and work ethic are noticeable. The work he put in to do as much just for the story and for the people who were involved, namely his character Mike Rezendes, is why he was nominated. Being the humble actor who loves his work and is always looking for a challenge, he no doubt feels the nomination is honor enough. This is his third nomination, but he need not worry as he will have one on his mantle soon enough.
Mark Rylance Bridge Of Spies
This long respected stage trained actor has quickly made a name for himself in Hollywood. Rylance will now be someone who will be seen on the big screen more often now that everyone has seen his undeniable talent. With his first nomination for playing Rudolf Abel, a Russian spy who was captured in the US and eventually traded for U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers. Rylance makes the entire film and, it doesn’t receive the praise it has gotten without him (all due respect to Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg). Rylance is one of the two most likely to walk away a winner, but so far, at this moment, he is a close second.
Sylvester Stallone Creed
I have been championing the performance Stallone gives in his seventh go round as movie fans favorite boxer, Rocky Balboa. Stallone took a big chance on director Ryan Coogler when gave up all control of his beloved and career making character by letting Coogler write and direct the film. This is the first time in the history of the franchise Stallone hasn’t either written or directed. Stallone approached the movie with a different viewpoint and seemed to enjoy not being the center of attention in a Rocky movie. Stallone is clearly the front runner to take Oscar home, not just because he is the overwhelming sentimental favorite, but because he really is THAT good. He will have that whole auditorium on its feet if his name is called.