25 Performances That Shouldn’t Be Forgotten During Awards Season

25 Performances That Shouldn't Be Forgotten During Awards Season
25 Performances That Shouldn't Be Forgotten During Awards Season

The media might be focused on Bond and Katniss right now (and ever looking forward to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” of course), but awards season ticks onwards. In fact, it’s ticking much closer: we’re just a couple of weeks away from the Spirit Award nominations, and the critics’ groups and precursor awards will start rolling out regularly from there.

There’s plenty still to come — especially with big-hitters like “The Danish Girl,” “Carol,” “Youth” and “45 Years” still to open, and potential juggernauts like “Joy,’ “The Revenant,” “The Hateful Eight” and “The Big Short” going unseen by anyone — but as ever, awards prognosticators are starting to set in certain narratives, declaring certain people locks, and others hopeless cases. But as ever, it feels like a chicken and egg scenario: are people talking about the same seven performances in each category because that’s what Academy members are talking about, or are Academy members only considering a small number because that’s what the prognosticators have deemed likely to get nominated?

You could debate about it for hours, but we’d rather use the space to perhaps shine the spotlight on some of the performances that aren’t being talked about much in the awards world, but who are as deserving as anyone else that could be, or will be nominated. For your consideration, as it were, and not just for the Oscars, but for the Globes, Spirit Awards, critics groups, and any other awards nominations coming up. Take a look below, and let us know who you’d like to nominate in the comments.

Best Supporting Actress – Naomi Watts – “While We’re Young”

Of the two Noah Baumbach movies we got this year (three, counting the festival premiere of his “De Palma” doc, which hits theaters next year), we’d probably edge towards the delightful “Mistress America” over the spotty, axe-grind-y “While We’re Young,” but the latter has a truly cherishable performance from Naomi Watts that, given the film’s crossover hit status (it’s Baumbach’s biggest-grosser ever), deserves a bigger place in the awards conversation. Watts’s awards nominations have come from dour pictures like “21 Grams” and “The Impossible,” but she’s underrated as a comic performer. Here she gives her role as one half, with Ben Stiller, of a middle-aged couple trying to cling on to their youth, both a deft lightness she clearly relishes (her attempts to fit in at a hip-hop dance class, throwing herself in despite sticking out like a sore thumb, is stellar), but also a sweetness and a moral core that lesser actresses might have struggled with.

Best Supporting Actor – Oscar Isaac – “Ex Machina”

Is Oscar Isaac the most exciting male actor we have right now? He’s making a strong case for it the last few years, going from “Inside Llewyn Davis” to “A Most Violent Year” through to “Show Me A Hero,” wildly different performances that are each united by the surprising and thrilling choices that the actor makes. One of his finest hours to date must have been in Alex Garland’s terrific sci-fi chamber pace “Ex Machina,” in which the actor, head shorn and beard lustrous, plays computer genius Nathan Bateman, a former prodigy who’s invented a possibly self-aware AI (Alicia Vikander), and has invited an employee (Domhnall Gleeson) to come and test it. Isaac is introduced exercising, and it’s a near-perfect, defining portrait of a certain kind of Silicon Valley tech-bro, one who’s reinvented themselves but can’t get over their insecurity, and the slow-burning misogyny caused by the girl who wouldn’t go to prom with them. All that and the best dancing of the year.

Best Actress – Kristen Wiig – “Welcome To Me”

2015 was the year that Kristen Wiig cemented her chops as a dramatic actress: she was solid in “The Martian,” and terrific in “Diary Of A Teenage Girl” (a performance that, like several in that film, nearly made this list), but really shone in the sadly little-seen tragicomedy “Welcome To Me.” Shira Piven’s film sees the former SNL-er play a manic-depressive woman who hasn’t turned off her TV in over a decade, who wins the lottery and uses the funds to pay for her own Oprah-style talk show. It’s a part that could have been (and possibly was) tailor-made for the actress: playing into the slightly skewed, manic side of many of her “Saturday Night Live” characters, but also letting her be more subdued and delicate than she would have been there. It’s not quite her “King Of Comedy” — the film’s a touch too uneven for that — but Wiig tackles a difficult character with a remarkable degree of compassion and skill.

Best Actress – Charlize Theron – “Mad Max: Fury Road”

For all the critical love for George Miller’s astonishing blockbuster, it remains to be seen if it can crack the Oscar race, and it’s frankly unlikely that it’ll get much momentum in the acting races. Which is a damn shame, but Charlize Theron’s turn as Imperator Furiosa can stand alongside the best that anyone did this year, and indeed, the best that Theron has ever done. The one-armed, deeply badass lieutenant to the evil Immortan Joe who’s rescued his five wives and is making a break for freedom, Furiosa was an icon from the moment that she stepped out, thanks largely to Theron’s extraordinary physical turn. Miller’s film is close to a silent movie in its economy of storytelling through movement, and Furiosa is the best example of this: every little gesture she makes, every look from her eyes, show the guilt she feels about her past, and her determination to make it right.

Best Actress/Best Supporting Actress – Brit Marling/Munu Otaru – “The Keeping Room”

A film with such a strong cast that even Sam Worthington is good in it, Daniel Barber’s feminist western went woefully underseen back in September, but is definitely worth a second look for anyone complaining about a lack of voting options in the female races: as two-thirds of the three women besieged by a pair of drunken, murderous Union soldiers, Brit Marling and Muna Otaru do awards-worthy work (Hailee Steinfeld is good too, but spends much of the film knocked out). Marling, a world away from the sci-fi indies that made her name, is tremendous as the one who’s forced to take charge to survive: there’s an inner steeliness, but also a real sense of vulnerability and fear. Otaru, an almost total newcomer, is staggering too: the family slave who right from the off makes clear that she’s not going to be treated as a lesser human, who’s affectionate towards the two sisters but won’t put up with any shit from them.

Best Actor – Ben Mendelsohn – “Mississippi Grind”

Since making his name in the U.S. with that stunning turn in “Animal Kingdom,” Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn has become one of everyone’s favorite character actors, so it’s not surprising that when he’s finally given a chance to lead a movie, with Anna Fleck and Ryan Boden’s “Mississippi Grind,” he makes it sing. A 70s-throwback road movie that sees Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds as a pair of gamblers heading to New Orleans, it gives the star a chance to play something apart from the black-sheep or villains he’s mostly had the chance to do, making his Gerry a battered sad-sack who has some street-smarts, but doesn’t know when to stop, and though he finds companionship with Reynolds’ Curtis, he’s also enabled. It’s a desperate, heartbreaking and deeply humane turn, one that serves as a reminder that Mendelsohn can do just about anything, and should be in everything.

Best Actress – Cobie Smulders – “Results” and “Unexpected”

Those who know Cobie Smulders from “How I Met Your Mother” know her to be a talented comedienne, but until now, the big screen has mostly seen her standing around without much to do in Marvel movies. But she had a killer year, even if 99% of the viewing public didn’t know it, with the Sundance one-two of “Results” and “Unexpected.” The former, by the great Andrew Bujalski, saw her as a beautiful personal trainer wooed by Kevin Corrigan’s wealthy client, and brought a loose, caustic charm to a sweetly unconventional romantic comedy. She might be even better in Kris Swanberg’s “Unexpected,” as a pregnant, somewhat overbearing and overprivileged teacher forming a complex bond with a similarly-expecting student (the terrific Gail Bean). Smulders expertly displays both a burgeoning maternal side, and a quiet fear of what’s to come, in a way that feels utterly authentic.

Best Actress – Melissa McCarthy – “Spy”

As we all know, death is easy, comedy is hard, but try telling that to the Academy, who rarely give people (and especially women) nods or trophies for comic turns, let along in big summer hits. But we’d urge them to reconsider when it comes to Melissa McCarthy’s “Spy.” The film isn’t Paul Feig’s best, but as we wrote at length back in the summer, McCarthy is terrific in it, playing against her brash persona as a mousy, lacking-in-confidence CIA analyst who ends up in the field. The star takes a well-rounded character and then builds layers and layers on top of it, letting Susan Cooper play pretend that she’s a superspy before eventually coming to the conclusion that she always was one. For a big, brash comedy, it’s incredibly subtle and nuanced work, and another reminder of why she’s one of the most exciting comic leading ladies to come along in an age.

Best Actress/Best Supporting Actress – Elisabeth Moss/Katherine Waterston – “Queen Of Earth”

They’re only two films into it (after another tremendous turn in last year’s “Listen Up Phillip”) but already the collaboration between writer/director Alex Ross Perry and actress Elisabeth Moss is shaping up to be one of independent film’s most exciting. The unsettling, whip-smart “Queen Of Earth” sees Moss and Katherine Waterston as two old friends who go to a cabin for a break together, only to see their relationship sorely tested, and they each give a performance that ranks among the year’s best. Moss is the best she’s ever been in a career full of great performances, nervy, unhinged, sharply funny and in deep, deep pain, while Waterston is more nominally ‘normal,’ but subtly hints at a darker side beneath the surface. It’s the firmest deliverance on the enormous promise they’ve both shown in recent years, and the monologues each are gifted with will surely show up on lifetime achievement highlight reels many years from now.

Best Actor – Richard Gere – “Time Out Of Mind”

Oren Moverman must come near the top of lists of the most underrated filmmakers working right now, and “Time Out Of Mind” depressingly failed to catch on with audiences. But it’s worth catching, both for the formal audaciousness of Moverman’s direction, and for a fascinating performance from Richard Gere. The veteran star has always been more experimental than he’s sometimes given credit for, and he’s truly remarkable here as George, a homeless alcoholic on the streets of New York. It’s transformative in the truest sense of the word: Gere’s fierce commitment and lack of ego lets you forget the baggage that he carries as a star, and shows you an utterly poignant, fully realized portrait of a man being increasingly pushed out onto society’s margins, a man who dislikes himself so much that he’s let himself get lost in the big city. It might be the best thing he’s ever done.

Best Actress – Alicia Vikander – “Testament Of Youth”

Alicia Vikander will certainly figure into awards season this year: she’s almost guaranteed to be nominated (and possibly win) for her supporting turn in “The Danish Girl,” even if it is really a co-lead. And people will be talking about her fine work in “Ex Machina” too, but her least popular role this year might have been her best, in the shape of British World War One drama “Testament Of Youth.” James Kent’s film sees the Swedish actress play Vera Brittain, a young British woman struggling to be treated the same as the men around her, only for war to break out and see those men (Kit Harington and Taron Egerton among them) fall in the trenches. Vikander’s Vera has a sparky, almost modern fire to her when we meet her, and though that spark continues in her passionate, unconsummated romance with Harington, she’s increasingly overtaken by sadness at the cost of the conflict. When we meet her, she is a girl, by the end, she’s become a woman.

Best Supporting Actress – Kitana Kiki Rodriguez – “Tangerine”

A raucous, light-on-its-feet breath of fresh air in the independent scene this year, Sean Baker’s “Tangerine” owes much of its immense energy to a fantastic turn by newcomer Kitana Kiki Rodriguez. Alexandra (Mya Taylor, who’s also great) might be the film’s nominal lead, but it’s driven by Rodriguez’s Sin-Dee Rella, a sex worker freshly released from prison and on a path of vengeance across Los Angeles on Christmas Eve to find the boyfriend who’s allegedly been cheating on her. A first-time actress who worked as a health educator when she was cast, Rodriguez is a glamorous, fiercely funny whirlwind causing havoc everywhere she goes, and turns in one of the most memorable bits of acting we’ve seen all year. The film’s distributors have mounted a campaign for Rodriguez, and she’s picked up a Gotham Award nod too, but we’d dearly love to see her get closer to mainstream recognition.

Best Actress – Nina Hoss – “Phoenix”

The partnership between director Christian Petzold and actress Nina Hoss has already paid out extraordinary dividends with films like “Jerichow” and “Barbara,” but they’ve excelled themselves with their most recent endeavor, “Phoenix.” A gut-punch post-war melodrama that blends “Vertigo” with “The Return Of Martin Guerre,” it sees Hoss play a Jewish woman who returns to Berlin disfigured and unrecognizable after surviving a concentration camp, and finds her husband, who may have betrayed her to the Nazis, and who now wants to use this new ‘lookalike’ to obtain his wife’s inheritance. It’s a chilling, utterly wrenching, beautifully made picture, and Hoss, who continues to stake a claim as Germany’s finest actress, is just spectacular — deeply haunted by her experiences, her heart breaking every time she sees her husband, and piling on layers of deception that nevertheless prove entirely transparent for the viewer. It’s hard for a foreign-language film to break into the main categories, but if anyone deserves to, it’s Hoss.

Best Actor & Best Supporting Actor – Jesse Eisenberg & Jason Segel – “End Of The Tour”

We’re very wary of biopics, but fortunately James Ponsoldt’s “The End Of The Tour” proved to be less a biopic and more a two-hour conversation between Jesse Eisenberg’s Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky, and Jason Segel’s David Foster Wallace. That’s not to say that this is some improv-y exercise, though. The casting might have seemed counter-intuitive at first, but Segel makes a terrific Foster Wallace, showing the giant intelligence of the man behind his hulking, chummy exterior. And Eisenberg continues to go from strength to strength, playing a fundamentally decent man who’s as prone to jealousy, bitterness and hero worship as the rest of us. The two fence and jostle across Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest” book tour, like a fiercely competitive platonic version of “Before Sunrise,” and though they have very different styles, prove to be perfectly matched. A24 are actually pushing Segel in Supporting Actor: it’s likely a long-shot, but a deserving one.

Best Supporting Actress – Jessica Chastain – “Crimson Peak”

It divided critics on release last month, and its box office underperformance and genre cred mean that it’s unlikely to figure on Academy radars, but voters would do well to have a look at Guillermo Del Toro’s “Crimson Peak,” if only for the killer turn by Jessica Chastain. The actress has had a wide range of roles so far, but gets to go into full-on villain territory for the first time as Lady Lucille, the seething, jealous sister of Tom Hiddleston’s Sir Thomas Sharpe. With a faultless English accent (is it any surprise?), Chastain makes for a tremendous Gothic villainess, sometimes coming across like a living embodiment of the film’s looming, intricate, menacing production design. But she also finds the humanity in the character, and even as she chews the scenery towards the end, there’s still something tragic and sad about Lucille, not contemptible. It’s now three years since Chastain was last Oscar-nominated: given the work she’s been doing in the time since, it seems about time for another.

Best Actor And Supporting Actress – Christopher Abbott and Cynthia Nixon – “James White

Yes, a little movie like this is not going to penetrate the Oscars, that’s just how it works unfortunately, but for broader awards organizations like the Independent Spirit Awards and The Gothams, it would be ridiculous to sleep on the stellar performances in “James White.” A movie about sinking into our self-destructive tendencies when tragedy strikes, the film centers on the titular aimless 20-something (Christopher Abbott) and his dying, cancer-riddled mother (Cynthia Nixon). Nixon in particular is having a banner year, perhaps demolishing the ghost of Miranda from “Sex And The City” and reminding all that she can act with intense ferocity. In “James White” we watch in near horror as she withers away while battling for her life, fighting for fits of oxygen through semi-consciousness. And Abbott gives a visceral performance as the young tortured man grappling with the knowledge that his beloved mother will soon be gone; it’s a grief soaked in all kinds of grimy vices that’s tangibly sweaty. 

Best Supporting Actor – Stanley Tucci/Billy Crudup/Liev Schreiber – “Spotlight”

Tom McCarthy’s sublime investigative journalism film, “Spotlight,” about the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting about Catholic Church conspiracies and cover-ups in child molestation cases, features an embarrassing riches of acting. The main cast, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Marc Ruffalo, Brian d’Arcy James, and John Slattery, all deliver solid, unshowy performances. It’s subtle stuff and the kind of acting that gets overlooked during awards season (though thankfully Keaton looks like he’ll get his due) and there are so many good utility players, it’s hard to single any one person out over the others; this is a huge team effort. But lets try a little and dig past the main cast because three of the satellite players on the fringes are outstanding. Stanley Tucci delivers a phenomenal turn as testy lawyer with a reputation for being extremely bad-tempered, but what beautifully unfolds is a righteous, deeply empathetic man, just so appalled and outraged with the injustices around him, he has little time for any niceties. As the new editor and outsider who has to lead the Boston Globe, stern yet ultimately worthy of respect, Liev Schreiber puts in an excellent turn as Marty Baron. And the always-terrific Billy Crudup bares an incredibly nuanced performance as an oily corporate lawyer who gets blindsided with a big comeuppance. All these performances are brief, even indirect, but all of them ingeniously understated. There’s a murderer’s row of talent in this one, but these three in particular are masterclasses in unshowy but effective performances.

Best Actor – Abraham Attah – “Beasts Of No Nation”

It’s still unclear whether Netflix’s big Oscar gamble on “Beasts Of No Nation” will pay off — box office was disappointing, but the streaming giant claimed that three million people watched it over the first few days online (though how much of it they watched isn’t clear). Assuming Academy voters can get on board with the streaming revolution, Idris Elba has been deemed the film’s most likely route to a nod, but we should be talking about his young co-star Abraham Attah just as much. A first-time actor from Ghana, just 14 when he filmed the movie, Attah is the heart and soul of the film as Agu, a young boy who goes from messing around with his friends to a haunted veteran of conflict. It’s a performance that an actor three times his age with far more experience would be proud of, with Attah selling the tricky shifts and the deep humanity of the character like he was born to it.

Best Supporting Actress and Actor – Sarah Paulson & Kyle Chandler – “Carol”

Quite rightly, people have been raving about “Carol” since its premiere, and in particular its two central performances, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (the latter of whom picked up Best Actress at Cannes). Category skullduggery means that despite the two being clear co-leads, Mara’s campaigning in Supporting, which means that the pair are likely to both be nominated, but also means that the film’s outstanding (actual) supporting cast are at risk of getting frozen out. Everyone does great work, but Sarah Paulson stands out in particular as Carol’s ex-lover Abby, a rock of support whose faint suspicions of Mara’s Therese won’t overshadow her love for her friend. Even the men are beautifully drawn. Jake Lacy adds intriguing texture to his nice guy persona, but it’s Kyle Chandler who’d be getting another vote: the ever-reliable Coach is again tremendous as Carol’s ex-husband, hurt and broken and lashing out in fear, a man without the compassion to let his former wife be happy, but who Chandler never makes a villain either.

Best Actress – Marion Cotillard – “Macbeth”

Whether it’s because they realized the film’s awards chances might be trickier with Michael Fassbender’s other film “Steve Jobs” looking like a big deal, or because the film proved more expressionistic than expected, The Weinstein Company have shown all the signs of not having any faith whatsoever in the Oscar prospects of Justin Kurzel’s excellent take on “Macbeth.” From Fassbender to Adam Arkapaw’s stunning cinematography, that’s a shame across the board, but not least when it comes to Marion Cotillard’s Lady Macbeth. The actress is a natural at the manipulative early moments of the story, clearly having Fassbender’s Macbeth wrapped around her little finger, but the pain at the loss of a child is never far from her, and Cotillard’s even better as she sees the terror that she and her husband have brought on the world, and is besieged by grief, regret and madness. It culminates in the final “To bed” monologue, which stands with any version of it we’ve seen. As if she needed more achievements, Cotillard can now add ‘great Shakespearean actress’ to the list.

Best Actress & Supporting Actress – Greta Gerwig & Lola Kirke – “Mistress America”

Noah Baumbach’s second, and more delightful, movie of the year, this lower-budget picture reunited him with muse Greta Gerwig, who might be even better here than in “Frances Ha.” The flighty, privileged-yet-broke Brooke, a sort of cultural omnivore whose immense charisma masks a sad aimlessness, is like a great lost Whit Stillman character, and Gerwig makes it utterly plausible that you could be picked up in the tornado that is her life. Equally great, though perhaps less showy work is done by relative newcomer Lola Kirke, as Brooke’s future step-sister. The wide-eyed innocent in the big city as the film begins, Kirke makes her loneliness palpable, but intriguingly lets our sympathies slip away as she emulates her new BFF like a Lubitschian Single White Female, before recovering them again. Baumbach’s always been a terrific director of women, but he’s rarely had two performances as terrific in the same film as these.

Best Supporting Actress – Cate Blanchett – “Cinderella”

Given that it’s only two years since she won her second Oscar, for “Blue Jasmine,” and that she’s likely to be nominated for another for “Carol” this year, few would say that Cate Blanchett doesn’t get a fair shake from the Academy. But such is her brilliance that she has several performances that could and should be in consideration, but rather more than “Truth,” we’d love a little more attention for her supporting turn in Kenneth Branagh’s “Cinderella.” The Disney live-action re-do of the classic fairy tale seemed pretty redundant on paper, and it kind of was in practice too, except for when it came to Blanchett as the wicked stepmother. The actress got to tear through the scenery in a way that she’s rarely been able to do, giving her Lady Tremaine an almost Bette Davis-ish fury. But there was also an unexpected pathos there, the sense of a woman in a man’s world trying to find a better future for her children. Like all the best actresses, Blanchett can spin thread into pure gold.

Best Supporting Actor – Emory Cohen – “Brooklyn”
It’s probably fair to say that Emory Cohen has been a divisive actor so far: for every person who raved about him in TV show “Smash” or as Bradley Cooper’s n’er do well son in “The Place Beyond The Pines,” there was another who found themselves deeply irritated by him. But audiences have been united in praise for him. A far cry from his previous roles, Cohen plays a young Italian-American plumber who falls head over heels for Saoirse Ronan’s Eilis, and brings a Brando-ish intensity to the role, but with a swoonsome romantic side. It’s the kind of part that could have been phoned in: that of a decent, solid man. But Cohen makes it unbelievably compelling to watch somehow, his offbeat charisma and enormous chemistry with Ronan doing so much to sell the cross-Atlantic dilemma at the story’s heart. The film’s likely to pick up nods for Ronan and Julie Walters, but we hope voters don’t forget Cohen while they’re ticking boxes.

Best Actor, Supporting Actor & Supporting Actress – Paul Dano, John Cusack and Elizabeth Banks – “Love & Mercy”

A deeply underrated and sympathetic picture about creativity, suffering and how the two can collide, Bill Pohlad’s “Love & Mercy”— about troubled Beach Boys songwriting genius Brian Wilson—could easily have turned into a movie about the tortured artist with all the destructive, dysfunctional cliches that entails. And while the movie has some of these stories and beats, its greatest strength is its empathy-driven compassion— a movie trying to understand the psychology and reasons behind a mental breakdown. So, the movie, creatively written by Oren Moverman (“I’m Not There”) has two halves and two periods, the young Brian Wilson during the 1960s Pet Sounds years played by Paul Dano and the older Wilson, played by John Cusack in the 1980s under the manipulative guardianship of cruel and opportunistic psychotherapist. Both actors play different cracks of fragile, oversensitivity—like the Beach Boys song goes, “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times,” — but they’re distinctive and complementary; Dano a young, overexcited genius showing the early stages of breakdown and Cusack more shellshocked and fearful of his controlling analyst. Then there’s genuinely loving and maternal character played by Elizabeth Banks who is almost a kind of angel that attempts to save Cusack’s Wilson. All three actors are seemingly breathing the same air of warmth and it makes for a wonderfully humanist picture about survival, perseverance, and possibilities of love beyond life-altering struggles.

Best Actress – Olivia Wilde – “Meadowland

A well-known and established actor on a new creative tear is exciting stuff to watch; the transformation of Jake Gyllenhaal in the last few years has been phenomenal to watch. And while it could be a little premature to call, actress Olivia Wilde feels like she’s at the beginning of something new. The actress, perhaps still best known for “The O.C.”, really hasn’t had a definitive role to date other some fun supporting turns (Spike Jonze’s “Her” for example). But the actress recently admitted that Joe Swanberg’s “Drinking Buddies,” easily her best role to date, perhaps a new kind of breakout turn, changed everything for her; as if that improvised, knowing-your-character experience was a new beginning. So for her follow-up, Wilde tackled “Meadowland” with naked, visceral intensity. A movie about grieving, Wilde plays a mother trying to cope with a son that has been kidnapped and will never return. Story-wise, “Meadowland,” while well-intentioned, is fairly clunky, even manipulative, but Wilde’s raw and shattered performance is deeply moving and affecting. Keep an eye on co-star Luke Wilson too who doesn’t have as much to do as Wilde, but is also on his quiet comeback too.

And of course, there’s plenty more great performances looking from the outside in on the awards conversation, but that deserve a little more consideration. From the big-budget world, Jason Mitchell and O’Shea Jackson Jr. from “Straight Outta Compton,” Harrison Ford in “Age Of Adaline,” Sally Hawkins in “Paddington,” Bill Hader and Brie Larson in “Trainwreck,Jake Gyllenhaal in “Southpaw,” Joel Edgerton in “Black Mass,” Tobey Maguire in “Pawn Sacrifice,” “Josh Brolin in “Sicario,” Chiwetel Ejiofor or Kate Mara in “The Martian,” Michael Stuhlbarg in “Steve Jobs” or Michael Shannon in “The Night Before” (yes, really). And though we may never see a voice-only performance be Oscar-nominated, Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith are both deserving for “Inside Out.”

And from the indie world, we’d love to see more recognition for Mary Elizabeth Winstead in “Alex Of Venice,” Margot Robbie in “Z For Zachariah,” Ben Rosenfield and Taissa Farmiga in “6 Years,” Bel Powley in “Diary Of A Teenage Girl,” Adam Driver in “Hungry Hearts,” Maisie Williams in “The Falling,” Elizabeth Banks in “Every Secret Thing,” Carey Mulligan or Matthias Schoenaerts in “Far From The Madding Crowd,” Viggo Mortensen in “Far From Men” and Peter Ferdinando in “Hyena.”

And there’s also Gerard Depardieu in “Welcome To New York,” Kristen Stewart in “Clouds Of Sils Maria,” Sidse Babett Knudsen and Chiara D’Anna in “The Duke Of Burgundy,” David Thewlis in “Queen & Country,” Rinko Kikuchi in “Kumiko The Treasure Hunter,” Mark Ruffalo in “Infinitely Polar Bear,” the cast of “The Stanford Prison Experiment,” Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon in “99 Homes,” William H. Macy in “Room” and Sarah Silverman in “I Smile Back.” They aren’t all great films, but they’re all great performances. Anyone else we forgot? Let us know in the comments.

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