Five Great Performances With No Oscar Chance

I know the Oscars aren’t a proper a benchmark on what the best of any given year turns out to be. This is something we have all accepted. What bugs me is the punditry that so quickly dismisses or ignores great work, for whatever the reason, and doesn’t even mention great performances. It’s rare, but sometimes the ball gets rolling when enough people are adamant about an actor or actress.

Perhaps it has too much to do with campaigning, which is always a vital part of why certain turns get recognized and other don’t. It might be due to few people wanting to include in their predictions long-shot, even by name, as to not appear foolish. The Academy has a type they like and outsiders are rarely invited. Nevertheless, the following are all well worth discussing for their respective categories. Though there are only so many nominees allowed, these deserve to be, to use the parlance of our times, considered.

Rose Byrne in Spy for Supporting Actress

Why It Won’t Get Nominated : Funny performances and Oscar rarely mingle.

Why It Should Be Nominated : As the villainess Rayna Boyanov, Byrne is delectably arrogant and nasty, tossing off insults as if you should be thankful for them. Surrounded by ludicrous actions and brigades of foul-mouthed heroes and baddies, Byrne keeps a stone-faced disdain that lifts an already amusing picture higher.

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Michael Sheen in Far From the Madding Crowd for Supporting Actor

Why It Won’t Get Nominated : The film never found footing beyond respectable counter-programming.

Why It Should Be Nominated : Creating a well-rounded, emotionally rich character in only a handful of scenes, Sheen’s portrayal of Thomas Hardy’s William Boldwood is remarkable. He’s sad without being pathetic and a man whose stature belies his inner yearnings, brought to life with great simplicity and elegance by Sheen.

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Elisabeth Moss in Queen of Earth for Lead Actress

Why It Won’t Get Nominated : Too intense, weird and did I mention intense for most.

Why It Should Be Nominated : In a masterful film that is joined by an equally sensational bit of acting by Katherine Waterston, Moss is a livewire of creeping madness. Playing the daughter of a recently passed rich, respected man, Moss brings to life the horror of a psychological breakdown with messy, viciousness. Quite honestly, it borders on frightening.

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Oscar Isaac in Ex Machina for Supporting Actor

Why It Won’t Get Nominated : Science fiction doesn’t drift into many voters purviews, even when the reviews are this glowing.

Why It Should Be Nominated : Though I admittedly admire Ex Machina – on a whole – less than most, there is no denying Isaac’s eerie inventor. Understandably, Alicia Vikander got the majority of the press for the movie; she is stunning in it and the film was an introduction to the actress for most. Still, Isaac makes getting a beat on this man of intelligence and secrets a slippery, and as such engaging, affair.

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Nina Hoss in Phoenix for Lead Actress

Why It Won’t Get Nominated : It’s not in English, and that kind of thing just won’t stand unless you’re more prestige-y or are a crossover star.

Why It Should Be Nominated : Despite being one of the highest-grossing foreign films of 2015, Phoenix just hasn’t made the leap for pundits. Director Christian Petzold is well-respected, yet not on the level of a Haneke, Almodovar or the Dardennes, making his releases less of an event for cinephiles at this juncture. This is too bad, for Hoss may have the best performance of 2015. Her Nelly Lenz is a hell of a role; a holocaust survivor trying to covertly determine if her husband turned her into the Nazis while re-ingratiating herself into his world. Did I mention said husband doesn’t recognize Nelly after facial reconstruction required by the cruelty she endured? Yet, it all comes together with aplomb, with Hoss bringing a tender, confused and inquisitive energy to the proceedings.

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