Every year, many deserving actors receive Golden Globe & Oscar nominations. And this year, terrific performances like Emma Stone’s in La La Land and Casey Affleck’s in Manchester by the Sea should definitely earn them nominations. But there’s always brilliant work that falls through the cracks when it comes to year-end awards.
The Entire Ensemble, Everybody Wants Some!!
With a few notable exceptions, the Oscars are notoriously stingy about recognizing comedic work. Richard Linklater’s wonderful film Everybody Wants Some!! follows a college baseball team during a wild weekend. Part of what makes it work is that the members of the team all feel like real guys. The actors (Blake Jenner, Glen Powell, Tyler Hoechlin, and many others) give performances that feel effortless, natural, and very funny. It’s acting, not ACTING.
Blake Lively, The Shallows
Horror is another genre that typically gets short shifted during awards season. In The Shallows, Blake Lively plays a young surfer attacked by a shark and fending for herself on top of a rock a long way from shore. There are a few interactions with others, but the film is almost all Lively. She has to command your attention and your sympathy, and she does. If she were just a damsel in distress, she wouldn’t be interesting. But it also wouldn’t be interesting if she were completely composed and unflappable. Lively’s performance strikes the perfect balance of seeming smart, resourceful, and believably terrified by a nightmarish situation.
Jack Reynor, Sing Street
In the delightful Irish film Sing Street, the main character is an 80s teenager who forms a band to impress a girl. The boy’s big brother, played by Jack Reynor, offers musical advice. Reynor captures the delicate mixture of emotions he feels towards his younger brother. He loves him and helps him, but he’s also jealous when he sees his brother achieve moderate success. And he’s mad at himself for being too lazy to pursue his own dreams. There’s a lot going on in a performance that could have been a one-note mentor role in a lesser film.