#5 Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
It had been nomination after nomination for Leonardo DiCaprio, and yet nothing had come of it. So when 2016 came around, we all wondered, could this be his year? DiCaprio’s beautiful performance in The Revenant will go down as simply incredible. The whole film barely stars anyone else except for DiCaprio as he fights his way through the snow in order to seek revenge on the man who killed his son. With his body broken, and the elements snapping at his back, DiCaprio envelopes the pain and endurance of Hugh Glass. Some might think that DiCaprio earned this as a testament to his overall career, but I believe The Revenant is some of DiCaprio’s best work.
#4 Denzel Washington, Training Day
We’ve seen Denzel Washington play great men in Philadelphia and Glory, among others. But it’s when Washington goes into full crazy mode that we can see the full extent of his acting abilities. Not to say that his acting abilities aren’t always on point, but Washington doesn’t always reveal himself through the eyes of an unlikeable character. In Training Day, Washington plays the character of Alonzo, narcotics detective for the L.A.P.D. If there was any other performance by Washington that would be deemed truly scary, I ask you what that might be. Training Day offered him the ability to play, not only someone who is not his usual character, but rather a type that will truly cause a fear in whatever may happen next. Definitely well earned.
#3 Sean Penn, Mystic River
In my opinion, Mystic River is in the top tier of Sean Penn’s filmography. Penn’s performance as Jimmy Markum will resonate with you for days after you’ve watched it. I speak of one scene in particular, and I’m sure you guys know the scene I’m talking about. The scene in which Jimmy finds that it’s his daughter who has been killed, and he shows up to the scene of the crime. He then proceeds to fight the authorities to find some answers. The scene had me in tears as he continues to scream, “Is my daughter in there?” Penn’s overall performance could have been utter nonsense, but he would still have my vote for the Oscar with the impact of the scene. Jimmy’s character is neck and neck with Penn’s portrayal of Harvey Milk in Milk. But I just can’t shake what Penn’s performance did to me in Mystic River.
#2 Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
How magnificent is Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance of Truman Capote in Capote? Capote centers around Truman Capote’s book, In Cold Blood, as he travels to Holcomb, Kansas in 1959. Capote, who is rather sure of himself, comes across as a rather cold and self-centered person, creating a story centering on the deaths of four people, while befriending the murderers in the process. With this performance, the only one to have garnered him a golden statue, we shall treasure it even more. It’s sad to not be able to see how many more performances Hoffman might have created, had he lived to be an old man.
#1 Daniel Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood
What can I say about Daniel Day Lewis? The man doesn’t star in many movies, but when he does, it’s almost always guaranteed that he will be nominated for an Oscar. So this was a hard one for me to choose from Lewis’ Oscar winning performances. But in the end, I went with not only my favorite performance, but one of my favorite films, There Will Be Blood. Lewis plays Daniel Plainview who’s hunger for money and oil seems to poison him from the inside out. The film, most importantly, centers on one plagued oil endeavor that Daniel embarks on. Lewis has played a mix of both good and bad guys. Antagonists and protagonists. But Lewis’ portrayal of Daniel Plainview takes the cake in every way.