5) Joaquin Phoenix – Her
While credit does lie with the Oscar-winning script, it is, however, Joaquin Phoenix who manages to bring sincerity and warmth to a romantic relationship with an operating system. His loneliness and battle to find companionship is something anybody can relate to, but not many actors have brought such believability to this struggle. The moustache alone is enough to validate a spot on this list.
4) Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
The career of Tom Hanks is littered with exceptional screen roles and he has two Best Actor Oscars to prove it. Nevertheless, he can still feel aggrieved that he was not nominated as the titular Captain Phillips, in what is arguably his strongest performance of the last 15 years. The final scene alone demonstrates this; he is overcome with trauma and breaking down in a devastating release of emotion.
3) Ryan Gosling – Blue Valentine
Ryan Gosling has been nominated once before for his turn as a drug abusing teacher in Half Nelson, and most definitely deserved a second nod as one half of a fractured relationship. Gosling’s work in Blue Valentine is among his finest, bringing an honesty and brutality as a husband/father failing to hold onto those whom he loves.
2) Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
As time passes, Jake Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of bug-eyed reporter Lou Bloom will only grow in stature to the point where it will be assumed that he must have been nominated. Gyllenhaal brings a deep level of commitment and intensity, which mirrors the character’s single minded determination for success. This is reflected in his desire to lose 30 pounds for the role to create a ‘hunger’ within him.
1) Michael Fassbender – Shame
It’s abundantly clear that the explicit material within Shame alienated the more elderly members of the Academy. What they neglected to see was the film’s study of a damaged soul and the sheer number of layers Michael Fassbender had embedded into his pained character. This is a haunting performance showcasing a man riddled with addiction, and he is one of the greatest in committing himself to a film.