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Six Spot: Which Actor Contender Got KO’d in the 2015 Supporting Actor Race

Happy Monday and welcome back to our eighth entry in our Six Spot series.

We continue on in the 2015 Oscar race with Best Supporting Actor. The big story from this race seems to be Mark Rylance’s shocking upset over Sylvester Stallone. However, this win comes after a crazy season where every precursor had wildly different Best Supporting Actor lineups. Many competing narratives went head to head this year (Best Picture traction, career win, stage legend, breakthrough star). Before we take a look at who was snubbed, let’s first look at who was nominated.

The Nominees Were:

  • Christian Bale: “The Big Short”
  • Tom Hardy:“The Revenant”
  • Mark Ruffalo: “Spotlight”
  • Mark Rylance: “Bridge of Spies” – WINNER
  • Sylvester Stallone: “Creed”

Overall Summary

Mark Rylance’s win for “Bridge of Spies” was an upset waiting to happen. Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”) was the heavy favorite heading into the ceremony for reprising the iconic role of Rocky Balboa. Stallone had previously been nominated for the first “Rocky” film in 1976, which won Best Picture. Two major stumbles pointed to Stallone’s loss. Despite huge box office and glowing reviews, “Creed’ did not contend in other categories, while “Bridge of Spies” was a Best Picture nominee. Additionally, the Screen Actors Guild snubbed Stallone, despite his film being widely seen. The three actors who have won Oscars despite a SAG snub – Marcia Gay Harden (“Pollock”), Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained”), Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) – were in small films or films that came out late and had difficulty sending screeners to SAG.

That’s not say there weren’t other possible spoilers in the category. Mark Ruffalo served as the male representative of Best Picture winner “Spotlight’s” sprawling, SAG-winning cast. There’s a world where that movie’s heat in the top category could’ve given him his first Oscar win. Christian Bale also hoped the Best Picture campaign for “The Big Short” could’ve propelled him to an Oscar win. However, just as “The Big Short” lost in Best Picture, Bale lost in this category. Finally, Tom Hardy competed for “The Revenant,” despite little to no precursor support. “The Revenant” led in Oscar nominations this year, and Hardy was likely swept up on the film’s coattails.

The Six Spot Contenders Are:

  • Paul Dano: “Love & Mercy” – Golden Globes Nominee, Critics Choice Nominee, Indie Spirits Nominee, New York Film Critics Online Winner (Lead)
  • Benicio Del Toro: “Sicario” – BAFTA Nominee
  • Idris Elba: “Beasts of No Nation” – SAG Win, Golden Globes Nominee, BAFTA Nominee, Indie Spirits Nominee
  • Michael Shannon: “99 Homes” – LAFCA Win, SAG Nominee, Golden Globes Nominee, Indie Spirits Nominee, Critics Choice Nominee
  • Jacob Tremblay: “Room” – SAG Nominee, Star of Best Picture Nominee

Category Fraud Confusion

The Academy loves few things as much as music biopics (see Rami Malek’s recent win). However, back in 2015, one music biopic performance got overlooked despite precursor support. Paul Dano stars in “Love & Mercy” as the younger version of Beach Boys singer Brian Wilson. His timeline chronicles the recording of the “Pet Sounds” album and the early onset of Wilson’s mental health woes. Dano was nominated by the Golden Globes, Indie Spirits and Critics Choice Awards, among other smaller critics group. He also won the New York Film Critics Online, albeit for Best Lead performance. This speaks to the biggest roadblock in his campaign. Dano was considered the lead of the film for many, despite John Cusack playing Wilson in the section of the film that takes place in the ’80s.

Another lead performance in the hunt was “Room’s” Jacob Tremblay. The Oscars have a long history of nominating children in supporting; even if they are the lead (see Tatum O’Neal in “Paper Moon”). While Tremblay had a lot fewer precursors than Paul Dano, he had two very significant things going for him. First, the one precursor Tremblay got was the SAG Award, the most significant precursor. Second, Tremblay stars in the Best Picture nominee (albeit in the lead role). Four of the five nominees in the category were Best Picture nominees. Especially with the expanded lineup, most acting nominees come from a film that also shows up in Best Picture.

One must also not forget Benicio Del Toro in “Sicario.” As we talked about in last week’s entry, people forget how much guild support “Sicario” got. Along the way, BAFTA showed support for Del Toro, which often times signals a potential spoiler. While Del Toro seems supporting in the first half, the movie shifts to his perspective by the final act. Yet, in a year where this category was so competitive, Del Toro needed “Sicario” to get into Picture if he wanted to ride its coattails.

The Netflix Effect

Netflix’s long campaign to Oscar glory begins with “Beasts of No Nation” in 2015. Their searing drama about child soldiers in Africa was a wild card throughout the season. However, if the film was going to make it into any category, many thought it would be Idris Elba in the Supporting Actor category. After Golden Globes, BAFTA and Indie Spirit nominations, Elba’ traction seemed to be heading to Oscar. On top of all that, Elba won Best Supporting Actor at the SAG Awards.

The win at SAG makes Idris Elba a very interesting snub. At this point, he became the first ever SAG winner to not reap an Oscar nomination. This has happened only once since Elba (Emily Blunt for “A Quiet Place” this year). Even with very early Netflix bias, the actors had illustrated a love for Idris Elba’s performance. Between this, Bond-talk and also being on TV with “Luther,” Elba seemed primed for an Oscar nomination in 2015. Unfortunately, it seems Elba will have to wait a little longer for his first shot at Oscar glory.

Unlikely Indie Contender

It’s hard to think of an actor with a weirder Oscar history than Michael Shannon. The offbeat actor has been the surprise nominee here, twice. The first time, Shannon was the only acting nomination for 2008’s “Revolutionary Road”, despite the film reuniting Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. In 2016, Shannon shocked everyone by making it in this category for “Nocturnal Animals.” Unlike both of those movies, Shannon’s 2015 film, “99 Homes,” had no Oscar buzz outside of him. However, Shannon had a seemingly unstoppable amount of precursor momentum. He made the lineup for the three major precursors – SAG, Golden Globes and Critics Choice. Additionally, he won the supporting actor prize from the LA Film Critics Association and was nominated for the Indie Spirits. Perhaps Michael Shannon only makes it into the Oscars when it’s a surprise. Even more likely, voters maybe never got around to “99 Homes.”

The Six Spot For 2015 Best Supporting Actor Was:

Idris Elba – “Beasts of No Nation”

Agree or Disagree? Let us know who you think was the Six Spot for the 2015 Supporting Actor race in the comments below.


What do you think?

AC Fan

Written by Christopher James

Christopher James has been an Oscar obsessive ever since watching his first ceremony at age 5 when "Titanic" won Best Picture. He is a recent graduate from Loyola Marymount University with degrees in Screenwriting for Film and Television and Marketing. Christopher currently works in media strategy and planning at Liquid Advertising, based out of Los Angeles, CA. You can find Christopher running on the sunny beach, brunching at trendy restaurants or mostly just sitting in a dark room watching movies and TV in sweatpants. Follow me on Twitter @cwj92movieman


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