REEL BRIEF’s 2015 “Best Supporting Actor” Nominees

The 2015 REEL BRIEF nominees for Best Supporting Actor are:


Paul DanoLove

Paul Dano, “Love & Mercy”

Love & Mercy is the gripping and powerful biopic story of Brian Wilson, the singer, songwriter and leader of The Beach Boys. With sensational dual performances by Paul Dano and John Cusack as the younger and older life versions of Wilson, both provide a chilling and fascinating peek into one of music’s most influential creative forces of all time. Dano gives viewers the most riveting, chart-topping performances on film since Eddie Redmayne’s Academy Award-winning achievement as Stephen Hawking in last year’s The Theory of Everything. Together they take us back to the 1960s and 80s, educating audiences on the real life mental and physical struggles of abuse, drug addiction and mental illness. Love & Mercy demonstrates how one young man, with a talent only found in music albums once or twice per generation, transformed dance songs into lyrics and harmony for listening.



Jacob Tremblay, “Room”

A fascinating drama about a teenage girl abducted and held captive with her son, this movie combines daunting societal isolation with the need for long-term coping mechanisms. The young mother, Joy “Ma” Newsome (Brie Larson), raises her 5-year old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) in captivity until the time comes to try an escape attempt.  Matching Larson’s exceptional effort is the work of costar, Jacob Tremblay, who magnificently portrays her 5-year old son, Jack, and narrates the film. Look for “Room” to be both Larson’s and Tremblay’s career ground-breaking moment. What starts off as a mother and son survival drama methodically transitions into a story of a daughter and grandson attempting to reintegrate into society. Tremblay’s impressive depiction of Jack’s overstimulation to his surroundings packs an emotional punch.



Michael Keaton, “Spotlight”

Keaton and “Spotlight” costar, Mark Ruffalo, both stand almost equal chances of earning an Oscar nomination this year. I’m giving Keaton the nod over Ruffalo’s reporter portrayal only for the fact that Keaton’s character was perhaps more vital within the Boston Globe hierarchy and the storyline. Keaton didn’t just go shake trees at the District Attorney’s office in Boston, he also pushed buttons of his contacts inside the Catholic Church.  Additionally, Keaton’s role was to keep upper management informed of the investigation, as well as, ensure his hand-picked reporters all pulled the story in the same direction. With a focus on getting to the truth, Keaton’s superb work in “Spotlight” shined light on the cover-up of child molestation.  What makes Keaton & Co. so effective in the movie is their commitment to the fundamentals of news reporting–accuracy, objectivity and impartiality.



Benicio Del Toro, “Sicario”

Del Toro, as a government consultant, joins a naïve FBI agent (Emily Blunt) and the leader of a U.S. clandestine unit (Josh Brolin) in this drug cartel story ripped from today’s headlines.  The trio meet along the blurred desert borders of corruption, deception and hitmen to fight drug lords and a jurisdiction system that still tilts in favor of the criminal minds.  Del Toro provides the film’s fuel, giving a gripping and intense performance. “Sicario” is a two-hour adrenaline rush, in part due to Del Toro’s mercenary role–and how he tends to lean in the direction of the highest payer.  The frustrated Blunt wants to play by the rule of law. Except, for Del Toro (and Brolin) the only U.S. move left is to toss the game board upside down–creating chaos and noise in a cartel family business led by ruthless killers.  Del Toro exceptionally illustrates how one’s savvy street smarts and keen instincts are necessary in the dangerous drug cartel environment where nothing is as it appears to be. Talk about trust issues.



Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

Sylvester Stallone is phenomenal in “Creed”! The Champ answers the bell with his best on-screen performance since he ran the steps of Philadelphia 39 years ago in the original. Rocky Balboa is still standing–with his big heart, halting speech and tender memories. Stallone’s easy demeanor and solid advice carries “Creed”. Without a doubt, the film’s best moments are seeing Rocky acknowledge Adrian, Paulie, Mickey, and of course, Apollo. One step. One punch. One round at a time.  Stallone’s Rocky reluctantly trains the unpolished son of his former boxing friend and foe, Apollo Creed. The real match-up in “Creed” is between mentor and protégé. Stallone was a late add to this year’s award card.  But, “Creed” marks his best chance in decades of earning an Oscar!


Honorable Mention

Christian Bale, “The Big Short”

Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”

Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”



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