While other categories in the Calvins have had repeat or recurring winners, we've been relatively stingy in going back to someone in the acting categories for a second win as a group here at BOP. Only Christoph Waltz in the Calvins era (and Benicio del Toro in awards lost to time) have earned a second acting award from us. With so many great actors out there, it only makes sense to spread the wealth. This year, however, for the first time we have a recurring winner in a lead category.
2016 Calvin Awards: Best Actor
By Reagen Sulewski
February 25, 2016
Leonardo DiCaprio walks, stumbles and mumbles away with his second Best Actor Calvin for The Revenant, after his first win in 2007 for The Departed, and missing out on another two years ago by one point. As 19th century explorer Hugh Glass, DiCaprio went through an enormous ordeal during filming, beating himself up from Canada to Argentina for the role. It's a monumental performance, with DiCaprio shedding every ounce of Hollywood glamour as a man simply trying to survive the elements and an environment either hostile or at best indifferent to his survival. Driven by an all-consuming desire for revenge, DiCaprio's performance is a magnificent show of pure animalistic rage and anguish.
DiCaprio has been, rather unfairly I think, regarded by many as simply a face or idol without a lot of acting skill. However, he's continued to improve his craft since his major breakout in Titanic. The Revenant represents perhaps the pinnacle of this ascension, as he dares audiences to find anything attractive about his character. While we've long recognized his talent here at BOP, The Revenant may just be the role where he finally becomes one of the greats in the public's mind.
Coming in at a solid second is Michael Fassbender, playing the title role in Steve Jobs. Now, I know this may not be common knowledge, but Jobs, despite being a brilliant business person, was not a very nice guy. Fassbender plays up both the public side of Jobs, who wanted to be adored and revered, and the private, of a man who couldn't really give a crap what anyone else thought as long as they bent to his will. Like Jobs himself, Fassbender was impossible to look away from on screen, and he brought one of the 20th century's Great Men to life in a warts and all (and it's mostly warts) showcase.
While Fassbender's performance was largely outward, our third place finisher, Michael B. Jordan in Creed went the other direction, with a fascinating inward performance as Adonis Creed, son of Apollo. Born into poverty but rescued and raised in the lap of luxury, Jordan's character nonetheless feels the need to prove himself and find his place in society, by giving up that unearned privilege. Jordan plays this difficult nuance in spectacular fashion, showing the struggle inherent for successful black men in modern society.
Fourth spot goes to Matt Damon for The Martian, bringing the stranded astronaut Mark Watney to life through humor and an ever-increasing amount of worry as life as the only man on Mars becomes more desperate. Raw movie-star magnetism (in an ironic counter-point to our winner) brings what is essentially a one-man show to life and has us urging on a solution to him being marooned. Watney's steadily decaying hope and sanity are masked juuust barely with a brave front, and Damon was the perfect choice to bring this to life.
Characters with a large dislikable streak to them figure prominently this year, as we reach fifth spot and Steve Carell in The Big Short. As the misanthropic fund manager Mark Baum, Carell personified the audience's anger at the deception and fraud rampant in the financial industry – taking what might have been an irritating one-note character and injecting him with a measure of sadness.
Just a short distance behind in the voting is American Treasure Tom Hanks for Bridge of Spies. It's become almost blase to note how great Hanks is in everything, but once again in this film he brings a calm dignity to a world gone insane, and defeats the byzantine rules of spycraft with simple common charm and appeal to morality.
Paul Dano has been on our radar for some time, but really exploded this year with his role in Love & Mercy as the younger version of Beach Boys lead singer Brian Wilson. An inspired genius with music who simply had to have what was in his head brought to life, Dano showed the positive and negative sides to inspiration with aplomb.
Bryan Cranston as the title character in Trumbo finds himself in eighth spot, portraying the blacklisted screenwriter as an uncompromising supporter of free expression who pays a dear price for his stand. Through it all, his wit and verbosity pull him through and Cranston brings this character through complex dimensions.
A rare actor finds himself on our worst and best lists of the year, but Eddie Redmayne manages this feat with a ninth place stop for The Danish Girl. As one of the first people to attempt to transition genders, Redmayne's character has to walk a delicate line in both masculine and feminine worlds. It's a daring role, brilliantly executed. Now just say no to more sci-fi, okay?
We finish the portrayal of yet another misunderstood genius, with Jason Segel as author David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour. As a man who gets everything he ever dreamed of and finds it's not enough, Segel brings the spectacularly verbose Wallace to life as a barely disguised tortured soul, reaching depths that Segel has hinted at in his performances before but here fully realizes here.
Best Overlooked Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music