It’s time to continue my look back at the best performances of 2015. Today we look to the men specifically actors in a supporting role. This category was stacked with deserving performances and I found it to be the toughest to narrow down. It’s filled with an amazing assortment of diverse work and a few nice surprises. No need to waste time. Here are what I believe to be the five best performances by actors in supporting roles.
#5 – Liev Schreiber (“Spotlight”)
There are so many fine performances from Spotlight’s fabulous ensemble cast. But the one that has remained with me for several reasons comes from Liev Schreiber. Perhaps a part of it is due to the surprise element. I’ve liked Schreiber in the past but this caught me off guard. But it’s more than that. He hits every note perfectly and crafts a character with more layers than you may originally think. It’s a quiet performance truly focused on serving the character and the greater story. I loved it.
#4 – Tom Hardy (“The Revenant”)
Since his big breakthrough in Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” Tom Hardy’s star has only gotten brighter. 2015 was a huge year for him with “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “Legend”, and the film which earned him a spot on this list – “The Revenant”. Talk about a fierce and intense performance! Hardy has the tough and rugged part down to an art and he melds perfectly into Alejandro González Iñárritu’s dark, bleak, and blood-soaked frontier world. Hardy is a powerhouse and here he shows it.
#3 – Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”)
I say this every single time I talk about Ryan Coogler’s “Creed” – what a wonderful surprise! To go hand-in-hand with that is the supporting performance from Sylvester Stallone. Again, what a wonderful surprise. Sly shows a level of dramatic acting that we haven’t often seen from him. A lot of it is due to the richer, stronger material which allows him to take his Rocky Balboa into entirely new places. Stallone is so naturally in-tune with his character and he projects a true comfort and confidence into the material he is given. This could and should grab Sly an Oscar nomination and I wouldn’t be upset if he won.
#2 – Benicio Del Toro (“Sicario”)
I can’t tell you how hard it was to keep Benicio Del Toro out of my top spot. In fact, if you asked me again next week he could be my #1 supporting actor performance. He’s that good. Del Toro lurks in the background of Denis Villeneuve’s border thriller looking both menacing and cryptic. This is a gritty role that requires Del Toro to keep a lot of information veiled. He maneuvers through the material remaining unreadable and thoroughly captivating. Del Toro has always been a solid actor, but this is some of the best work of his career.
#1 – Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation”)
The first impression Idris Elba’s performance in “Beasts of No Nation” leaves is a powerful one. But it was during a second viewing that I realized just how phenomenal he is. It’s not an easy role. It is the flashiest role in the film. After all he is a snake oil salesman feeding on the fears and untrained anger of children. He has to be bigger than life to truly be persuasive. That’s how his child army sees him. But we see the brutality and sadism behind the charisma. And later Elba brilliantly goes a bit deeper in defining his vile, morally corrupt character. It’s such a rich performance and another that features more layers than you may originally think. Also the details in Elba’s work truly stand out. In such a crowded field it’s still the performance that sticks with me the most.
We are now halfway through. Next time we will look at the Lead Actress category. So what did you think of today’s list. Please take time to share your thoughts, approvals, or disapprovals below.