This year’s nominees are making for a lot of head-scratching in Hollywood. Best Picture and Best Director nominations are presenting a big challenge for predictors. The one “lock” this year, however, is the Best Actor category.
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Matt Damon, The Martian
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Bryon Cranston’s nomination is a kind of “We loved, loved, loved you in Breaking Bad, so welcome to the movies, and you did a really solid job here in Trumbo.” Not a snowball’s chance in Hades for a win.
Matt Damon, who should have won the Oscar for The Informant!, wasn’t even nominated for that film. This is a great American actor who is so pleasant and sympathetic that we almost don’t notice that he create a myriad of complex and fascinating characters in a variety of genres. He’ll win someday, but this is a nod to his likability, this ability to carry a film almost single-handedly, and to the film itself. Sorry, Matt. You’ll get your Oscar for acting at some point.
Michael Fassbender’s nomination is a bit of a surprise—not because he didn’t deserve it, but because most folks thought this finely-acted film would be lost in the shuffle. Whatever buzz it had seemed to be nearly gone by nomination time. So it’s a joy to see this future Oscar-winner get a nomination. But it’s not Michael’s year yet.
Eddie Redmayne just won this award last year for The Theory of Everything. It’s not impossible to win two years in a row; both Spencer Tracy and Tom Hanks have done it. But while the first wave of admiration for the film included both Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, most of the enduring love has been aimed in her direction. One, it’s not a strong enough performance to overcome the reluctance to grant the award to an actor two years in a row. Two, it’s not his year.
It’s Leo’s year. Yes, he gave an amazing performance. It’s a triumph of endurance, to be sure, as well as a feat of acting skill to hold together a film of his epic scope with so few words. The sheer difficulty of pulling this all off is in Leo’s favor. But the bottom line is that it’s his time. He could have won from as far back as when he was 14 years old in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Everyone agrees that it’s award his year, and there is no stronger performance that could threaten his win. He will win, people will stand, people will clap for a long time. You can count on it.