REEL BRIEF 2015 Nominations – Best Actor

“I’m proud to announce REEL BRIEF’s 2015 nominations for Best Actor.  Easily the strongest pool of lead performances we’ve seen in years.”

Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

The 2015 nominees (in alphabetical order):


Matt Damon, “The Martian”

With his survivalist instincts and inner fight to seek victory over the Red Planet, Damon exhibits one small step for food rationing, one giant leap for botany science.  Damon’s astronaut character, Mark Watney, almost single-handedly gives audiences the best sci-fi outer space saga seen in years.  As we watch him endure and implement his impressive “science the s—” out of Mars problem solving skills, we learn as much about Damon’s character as we do about the peril he finds himself in on Mars…90 million miles from Earth.  A fascinating (and often funny) Petri dish study that pushes the human mental and physical limits.  A jaw-dropping lesson on science, survival and sci-fi thrills.


The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

This was a Leonardo DiCaprio acting performance with which I am not familiar.  Yes, he’s that good!  The 41-year old Wolf of Wall Street is gritty, gangly and tough.  Very tough.   DiCaprio not only gets down to Earth in this 1800’s wilderness flick out West–but he actually gets into the soil, streams, snow and heads of others–specifically a bad apple played perfectly by costar Tom Hardy. Benefiting from Academy Award-winner Alejandro G. Inarritu’s keen eye in direction and sensational cinematography, DiCaprio guides poachers through rugged mountains, snowy conditions and the constant threat of attacks from Indians. Between his gnarly beard, guttural speech and hell-bent desire for revenge, viewers won’t even recognize DiCaprio by halftime of this 136-minute journey. Parts of “The Revenant” are intense, nail-biting blood bathes courtesy of this bear attack survivor.  All that’s missing is for DiCaprio to let out a “I am King of the Wild!” by the time the credits roll.  “The Revenant” is released nationwide in January.



Jake Gyllenhaal, “Southpaw”

Gyllenhaal, sporting the body of a Tony Horton lab specimen, takes us on a powerful journey of a devoted husband and father who has risen to the top of the boxing profession only to face one personal struggle after another.  The dominant and disturbing character Gyllenhaal portrays carries “Southpaw” all 12 rounds.  He provides a credible and gripping look of a father–who is down, but not out–in the fight for his survival.  His mental transformation and body punches he endures outside the boxing ring, make it difficult for viewers to take their eyes off of Gyllenhaal.  A perfect cast compliments a powerful one-two combination of Gyllenhaal the husband and Gyllenhaal the father.  No split-decision here; this actor has deserved award recognition for years–particularly in last year’s “Nightcrawler”.  But the Jake Gyllenhaal we see in “Southpaw” is a leaner, meaner and better actor than we’ve ever seen before.



Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”

Movie fans mesmerized last year by this actor’s Oscar-winning portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything” will find Redmayne’s latest role perhaps even more impressive. Based upon true events and David Ebershoff’s novel in 2000 by the same name, “The Danish Girl” stars Redmayne as successful artist Einar Wegener in 1927 Copenhagen, battling a life-long struggle as a woman born inside a man’s body.  He gives us his bravest performance to date…a groundbreaking masterpiece. Despite the enormous anticipation and hype surrounding Redmayne’s challenging transgender work in this movie, he actually delivers…and does so big time!  The remarkable actor slowly brings Einar’s true female thoughts and feelings onto the big-screen–in a fascinating revelation we all know is coming, but still find shocking to witness. A sensational film on a difficult subject matter to broach…and only possible with extraordinary performances by Redmayne and his stunning costar, Alicia Vikander.



Will Smith, “Concussion”

As Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist who performed an autopsy on former NFL football player Mike Webster, the gifted Smith gives us an effort worthy of a Super Bowl ring.  Methodically and passionately performed, the former “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” takes us inside the life and brain of Webster–the long-time Pittsburgh Steeler center–who sustained repeated blows to the head during his 16-year professional career.  Only through costly special testing, microscopic brain tissue samples, and a likable (but determined) personality, we learn not how people died…but how they lived.  A spectacular Will Smith confirms for us that there are no coincidences in life.  Like Dr. Bennet Omalu, Smith uses his own vast talent to expose and highlight the dangers caused from repeated head trauma.  Not only does this exceptional actor bring needed awareness to cognitive and intellectual impairment, but Will Smith does so with a flawless performance in the Steel City of America.  “Concussion” gets released in theaters on Christmas Day.


Honorable Mention

Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”

Johnny Depp, “Black Mass”

Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”

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"Patrick, you are my go-to guy when it comes to the box office".   - Judy O.

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