The Wolf of Wall Street
CONTENDERS: Jonah Hill and Michael Fassbender
Could anyone have expected that the hefty kid buying fishbowl shoes in The 40 Year Old Virgin would end up being a two-time Oscar nominee? Jonah Hill is a hot mess in Wolf of Wall Street, and his gonzo turn, equal parts Joe Pesci and sputtering early eighties Eric Roberts, powers some of the film’s manic set pieces. It’s a comedic performance, which may hurt him: Hill has very few moments to actually provide a conscience to his devil-may-care deal broker. As such, he probably suffers from not having that show-stopping moment where he realizes the error of his ways.

Everyone seems ready to anoint Michael Fassbender as the next massive star, and an Oscar sure would speed up that coronation. It’s not unmerited: Fassbender is sulfurous in 12 Years A Slave, bristling with the frustrating rage of impotence. Steve McQueen’s direction makes Fassbender’s anger seem bigger, almost emblematic of the rage that voters would like to believe existed within the ignorance of those who willingly participated in the slave trade. It’s ugly, villainous work, and there’s the sense Fassbender is so good that he’ll be even better someday, in a more dynamic part. A win for him is possible, but he’s a Leading Man, and that’s something that will be in voter’s minds when they think about awarding him for a supporting ensemble part.

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