2016 Calvin Awards: Best Supporting Actor

By Kim Hollis

February 25, 2016

Richard Jenkins and I should play brothers.

Eleven different actors received first place votes in the Best Supporting Actor category, making it one of the more exciting races of the bunch this year. Ultimately, one performer pulled away from the pack. He may be mostly unknown in North America, but he was the first artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London and has been a towering presence in British theatre for years.

By now, you’ve probably ascertained that the Calvin Award for Best Supporting Actor goes to Mark Rylance for his sublime portrayal of KGB spy Rudolf Abel. Although the character has a limited amount of screen time, Rylance is able to convey Abel’s sadness and loyalty. Although the film leaves no ambiguity about the fact that Abel is indeed a spy, he is presented as an everyman, someone who truly could be living in the house next door. Rylance somehow manages to make the character seem both ordinary and extraordinary. It’s not a showy performance like some we’ve honored in this category before (J.K. Simmons for Whiplash, Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained), but we appreciated the restraint and subtlety that went into bringing Abel to life.

Second place goes to Christian Bale for his work as Michael Burry in The Big Short. He’s a previous winner in this category, going back to when we selected him for his memorable performance in The Fighter. In The Big Short, he’s tasked with playing the quirkiest of the characters in the film. Burry isn’t really a people person. He closes himself in his office, plays the drums, and watches algorithms play out on the screen in front of him. Playing against type, Bale embraces his inner schlub and convinces us that Burry isn’t a guy people enjoy dealing with because of his strangeness, yet there’s a genius at work. He might not be Batman anymore, but Bale is definitely turning heads.

Next up is Room’s Jacob Tremblay, who was eight-years-old during the movie’s production. He’s simply a revelation as Jack, a young boy who has grown up in a shed where his mother has been held captive since her teens, leading to her eventual pregnancy by the man who kidnapped her. Tremblay convinces us that he’d have an affection for Room, seeing as it’s the only place he’s ever known (and the only real world that exists, as far as he knows), but also displays the complete irrationality that only a tantrum-throwing youngster could display when it’s appropriate. We view room through Tremblay’s eyes, and it’s to the youngster’s credit that the movie works as effectively as it does.

Tom Hardy is our fourth place selection. He had a big year, what with starring appearances in films like Mad Max: Fury Road and Legend, but we recognize him here for his supporting turn in The Revenant. He plays the absolutely unrepentant John Fitzgerald, a trapper who resents the presence of the protagonist’s Native American son and cares for little other than furthering his own cause. Hardy is unapologetically revolting and unlikable in the role, embracing his inner id as he antagonizes, well, just about everyone in the film.


We round out our top five with Sylvester Stallone, who returned to his role as Rocky Balboa in a film that hands over the reins to a new central character. As he works with former opponent/friend Apollo Creed’s son Adonis “Donnie” Johnson, the former boxing underdog becomes the mentor. It’s a nice bit of turnabout on the relationship Rocky had with Mickey in the original films. It’s a masterful way of extending the story in new directions while still holding onto its roots.

Sixth and seventh go to two actors from the same film - Spotlight’s Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton. Ruffalo plays Michael Rezendez, a reporter on the Spotlight team assigned to uncover information about child sexual abuse by priests in the Boston area. A lapsed Catholic himself, Rezendez struggles with notions of faith and God as he fights to bring the story to light. Ruffalo depicts this conflict with intensity. Keaton, our winner in last year’s Best Actor category, is also a the editor of the Spotlight team, and he must contend with his own systematic failures in past investigations when the same priests were under scrutiny. Both actors do a fantastic job of showing how this story would be deeply personal to people who grew up Catholic in the Boston area.

We close out the top 10 with performers from a crime thriller, a biopic, and a challenging novel adaptation. Benicio del Toro is captivating and confounding as the Columbian member of a special Department of Defense task force investigating Cartel leaders. When he is on-screen, the viewer sits up with rapt attention. We were also impressed with Jason Mitchell’s portrayal of Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton. It’s an intense, thrilling performance in a film that features numerous star-making turns. And finally, Idris Elba takes on the challenge of playing a completely unsavory character in Beasts of No Nation. Somehow, he manages to infuse the Commandant with both charm and menace, showing the viewer just how dangerous a person our protagonist is dealing with.

Actors who just missed the top 10 include Walton Goggins (The Hateful Eight), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina), Jesse Eisenberg (The End of the Tour), Jeff Daniels (Steve Jobs), Harrison Ford (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Kurt Russell (The Hateful Eight).

Calvins Intro
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Album
Best Cast
Best Character
Best Director
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Breakthrough Performance
Worst Performance
Worst Picture

Top 10
Position Actor Film Total Points
1 Mark Rylance Bridge of Spies 112
2 Christian Bale The Big Short 98
3 Jacob Tremblay Room 92
4 Tom Hardy The Revenant 84
5 Sylvester Stallone Creed 83
6 Mark Ruffalo Spotlight 76
7 Michael Keaton Spotlight 69
8 Benicio del Toro Sicario 65
9 Jason Mitchell Straight Outta Compton 53
10 Idris Elba Beasts of No Nation 49



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