For decades, the contenders for Best Actor have read like ingredients from a recipe:
-2 Stars from Big Studio Productions
-1 Star from an Independent Production
-1 Star from a Biographical Drama
-1 Rising Star (British, if available in season)
Mix ingredients in a large fish bowl
Bake for 6 weeks on high heat
Hope the mixture rises and the result doesn’t taste like regret
This year’s recipe: Leonardo DiCaprio & Matt Damon in big studio productions? Check. Bryan Cranston in an independent feature? Got it. Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs? Yup. Need to recognize a rising young actor? Oh, we had Eddie Redmayne last year and he tasted good—let’s get him again.
Were there other actors that the Academy could’ve picked up at the store? Sure. Jake Gyllenhal in Southpaw, Michael B. Jordan in Creed, Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight, maybe even Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies. Sadly, the fact is that there weren’t enough ingredients at the store this year and diners are more concerned with the name of the dish than the quality of it’s ingredients.
The freshest of the available produce is undoubtedly Eddie Redmayne’s softly tactile portrayal of transitioning genders, but it’s hard to tell if diners can even taste it over the pandering aroma of Leonardo DiCaprio’s aged cheese melted on top.
Who will win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Who should win: Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Who should’ve been nominated: Michael B. Jordan, Creed & Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful Eight