With the Oscar nominations being announced yesterday, I thought it would be fit to share some of my favorite acting performances of the past year that aren't being talked about enough and/or haven't garnered the award attention they deserve. The following list is ranked by film in alphabetical order. Enjoy!
1. Abraham Attah, 'Beasts of No Nation'
Abraham Attah gives an incredibly powerful and shocking performance in the Netflix-released Beasts of No Nation. It's pretty upsetting he hasn't been in the mix for this awards season. Good news is he was included in the Best Ensemble Cast at the Screen Actors Guild nominations. Attah also received a Critics' Choice Award nomination in the 'Best Young Actor' category where he will likely lose to my favorite performance of the year, Jacob Tremblay.
2. Steve Carell, 'The Big Short'
While Carell was nominated for a Golden Globe for his work in the brilliant The Big Short, he has failed to receive nominations in every other major award outlets. The majority of the film's acting attention has gone to Christian Bale, who is always great, but not the standout in my eyes. It's a shame that Carell wasn't nominated for an Academy Award, but he will have his time to shine eventually, that is for sure.
3. Emory Cohen, 'Brooklyn'
If I were to rank these performances, Emory Cohen would most likely be my favorite. Cohen brings an immense amount of charisma and charm to the screen in Brooklyn, and plays one of the most attachable characters of the year. He and Saoirse Ronan are what make the film so incredible. Their chemistry is off the charts and Cohen is a big part of that. Emory Cohen has a huge future in front of him and will get his fair share of awards attention down the road, but it's disappointing it couldn't start with this great performance.
4. Kyle Chandler, 'Carol'
If played by the wrong actor, Chandler's character could have been disgusting and downright evil. But he's not. You feel for him rather than despise him, and I believe a lot of that comes from Kyle Chandler's criminally overlooked performance. In the meantime, go watch one of my favorite TV series Bloodline on Netflix.
5. Michael B. Jordan, 'Creed'
I contemplated putting Jordan on the list because I have heard many people cheer for his performance, but I added it for the fact that he has not gotten any nominations from a major awards outlet. Not a single one, and that is unacceptable. Jordan was completely worthy of a nomination for Lead Actor, but unfortunately didn't get in. Creed did manage to get a well-deserved Oscar nomination for good old Sylvester Stallone. Also worth mentioning on this list is Tessa Thompson, who delivers a poignant and beautiful performance in the film.
6. Jessica Chastain, 'Crimson Peak'
While the film may have divided many critics and audiences alike (I personally loved it), no one can deny the over-the-top greatness of Jessica Chastain's performance in the film. And when I say "over-the-top," I mean it as a genuine compliment. She is completely crazy in this movie and I absolutely loved it. Chastain also delivers another great and underrated performance in The Martian.
7. Shameik Moore, 'Dope'
I loved Dope. I loved it a lot. A lot, a lot. And Moore made the film work as well as it does. He just pops on screen with wit and likability. Every time I think of the movie and this fun performance, and it instantly cheers me up. Moore will next be seen in the Netflix-original series The Get Down, created by Baz Luhrmann.
8. Oscar Isaac, 'Ex Machina'
Oscar Isaac is probably, most definitely my favorite actor working today. I adored Inside Llewyn Davis, one of my all time favorite films, and he gives one of my favorite performances ever in that film. But he's just as strong here. And that dance scene is the best of any movie released last year.
9. Elizabeth Banks, 'Love & Mercy'
Love & Mercy has gotten some well-deserved awards attention for the performance by Paul Dano, but my favorite performance from the movie has not been talked about nearly enough. Elizabeth Banks is wonderfully subdued and graceful on the screen during the film, and her character feels loving and caring due to her wonderful performance. This whole movie falls apart without her and I think she deserves to be recognized for that.
10. Jeff Daniels, 'The Martian' and 'Steve Jobs'
2015 was a great year for Jeff Daniels between these two show-stopping performances. He's great in both, but truly shines in Steve Jobs. He stars in one of the most intense scenes of the year showcasing an argument between his character and Jobs while simultaneously flashing back to a previous argument. It's terrific writing and Jeff Daniels makes it work to its full capacity. Daniels gives a much less showy role in The Martian but is still incredible.
11. Greta Gerwig, 'Mistress America'
Noah Baumbach's most recent film Mistress America is downright hilarious and touching. Gerwig's performance is outstanding in the unexpected layers of emotion she eventually shows. She delivers on the laughs and on the emotions. It's a great character and Gerwig pulls off another great acting performance that should have at least gotten a Best Actress Comedy nom at either the Golden Globes or the Critics' Choice Awards.
12. Andrew Garfield, '99 Homes'
99 Homes has been in featured in quite a few award nominations for the brilliant performance of Michael Shannon. And while I don't think Garfield is better than the five Oscar nominees for Best Lead Actor, I feel he hasn't been included in the conversation enough. Garfield is phenomenal playing a conflicted, worried father who just wants to do what's best for his mother and son. It's incredibly moving and deserves more attention than it has been receiving so far. I suspect Garfield will be getting some Oscar attention next year when he stars in Martin Scorsese's next film Silence.
13. Will Poulter, 'The Revenant'
The Revenant has had its fair share of award recognition, being nominated for 12 Academy Awards, but no one has even considered Will Poulter for a nomination in any awards show. Coulter brings a genuine and realistic performance to the table in the film. He isn't nearly as flashy or powerful as Leonardo DiCaprio or Tom Hardy, but he still turns in unexpectedly great and subtle work.
14. Stanley Tucci, 'Spotlight'
Spotlight is my favorite movie of the year. Everything about it is perfect and its ensemble cast is one of the greatest ever. While most people are rightfully talking about Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Rachel McAdams, Tucci should not be ignored. It's a small role, but he delivers the right amount of anger and disappointment when revealing some large plot points in masterfully delivered lines. Tucci is one of the best character actors working today and this performance further proves his incredible talent.
15. Rose Byrne, 'Spy'
Rose Byrne completely shocked me with her comedic talents in 2014's Neighbors and here she is even funnier. I absolutely adore Spy. It's easily the movie that made me laugh the most this year and what made me laugh the hardest was Rose Byrne's performance. She is completely hateful and spiteful but delivers the most insane, incredible insults I have ever heard. She's extremely talented and so deserving of a supporting actress nom.
16. Bill Hader, 'Trainwreck'
I contemplated putting Amy Schumer on the list, but I feel she has gotten a lot of attention, even though I genuinely feel she deserves an Oscar nomination for her brilliant work in Trainwreck. But I opted for an equally great performance from Bill Hader, who I thought would definitely be nominated for a Golden Globe but failed to get even that. Hader gives a sensational, calm, and hilarious performance in Trainwreck and helps Schumer's incredible script shine on screen.
17. Louis C.K., 'Trumbo'
Louis C.K. is a hilarious man, one of the best working today. Between his stand-up, his hit show, and his home runs on SNL, he never fails to make me laugh. So when I heard he would be playing a dramatic role in Trumbo, I was extremely excited. And he exceeded my expectations and was better than I could have ever imagined. He was my favorite part of the good, not great, pretty forgettable film. I was genuinely shocked to hear there was no Oscar buzz for him at all because he could have had a chance at a nomination.
So there we have it. My list of the most overlooked performances of 2015. Share your thoughts in the comments below and let me know which performance you feel was the most under-appreciated.