I’ll hand out my personal Oscars for the year’s best lead and supporting turns, on both the big and small screen.
Best Supporting Actress in a Movie: Alicia Vikander is considered an Oscar lock in this category for her work in The Danish Girl (which I haven’t seen) but I would give her the trophy for her remarkable turn as Eva in Ex Machina. She managed to make both Domhnall Gleeson’s character and the audience fall in love with her without ever letting you forget she’s an artificially intelligent robot.
Best Supporting Actor in a Movie: I’m tempted to stick with Ex Machina and give this award to Oscaar Isaac as the charismatic mad scientist Nathan Bateman. Though he’s clearly a villain of sorts, Isaac’s winning performance has you rooting for him half the time. However, I have to go with my heart and honor Sylvester Stallone, who is heart breaking as an aging Rocky Balboa in Creed.
Best Supporting Actress in a TV Show: Both Carrie Coons (so good in 2014’s Gone Girl) and Regina King are devastating as a pair of grieving mothers in The Leftovers. Their face-to-face showdown in one late episode was so riveting I think I held my breath throughout. Let’s call this one a tie.
Best Supporting Actor in a TV Show: This could go to Justified‘s Walton Goggins or Better Call Saul‘s Michael McKean, but instead I’m looking to Fargo. Even that restrictor makes it tough, as Jesse Plemons, Bokeem Woodbine, Ted Danson or Zahn McClarnon are all worthy. However, it’s Nick Offerman who gets my vote on the strength of Episode 6, titled ‘Rhinoceros,’ which he dominates. Offerman was a sideline character for most of the season, but in that episode he took center stage and devoured some of the richest dialogue the Coen Brothers may as well have written. A tour de force.
Best Actress in a Movie: With the already stated caveat that I have yet to see many of the top contenders in this category (Brie Larson in Room and Saorise Ronan in Brooklyn chief among them), I’ll give this award to Charlize Theron for her fierce turn as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Best Actor in a Movie: I believe Leonardo DiCaprio’s name has already been etched on the gold statue (signaling the death of a thousand memes), but until I see The Revenant my own choice is Matt Damon for The Martian. In a largely one-man show, he brings his character to life with humor and intelligence while barely masking the dread that sits just below the surface.
Best Actress in a TV Show: Going back to the Fargo well and giving this award to Kirsten Dunst. Dunst has had an interesting career, from child roles to romantic comedies and indie dramas. Her embodiment of the dim but resourceful Peggy Blomquist is her best work yet.
Best Actor in a TV Show: I’m getting into broken record territory here, but I’m swinging back to The Leftovers and Justin Theroux’s powerful work as former police officer Kevin Garvey. Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta put Theroux through the cosmic ringer, and he grounds every metaphorically resonant moment. I have readers who have yet to watch Season 2 of The Leftovers so I won’t offer any explanation of today’s SOTD clip, but it’s a standout moment from a season-long showcase of fine acting.