Sylvester Stallone Might Have Just KO’d the Supporting Actor Oscar Competition

'Creed,' Sylvester Stallone Enter the Oscar
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

A new heavyweight joins a very competitive race.

As an upcoming column will attest, the supporting actor race is positively thick with strong contenders this year. But none of them have really felt like a winner just yet. A year after “Birdman,” Michael Keaton could get a lot of residual affection for his work in “Spotlight.” Tom Hardy may prove to be a ferocious favorite in “The Revenant.” But few performances pack the emotional punch Sylvester Stallone does in “Creed.”

With the Ryan Coogler-directed film, Stallone has now taken on the role of Rocky Balboa seven times on the big screen. He was nominated at the outset for 1976’s “Rocky” and lost to Peter Finch for the late actor’s fierce “Network” performance. But the truth is he might be even better this time around. I would be tempted to call it his best on-screen work to date as he finds such subtle, unassuming textures in the performance that both deepen a character we’ve grown to love over the last 40 years, as well as present him in a whole new shade.

The film itself could certainly be a contender in other respects. Michael B. Jordan is sensational and deserves to be in the best actor conversation. Coogler proves beyond “Fruitvale Station” that he can deliver on a big platform while keeping a certain edge to his vision and voice. The film looks absolutely stunning, cinematographer Maryse Alberti finding countless iconic images (with one entire fight sequence seemingly filmed in a single take). Plus, it’s sure to be a bona fide Thanksgiving hit upon release, which will only fuel the awards fire.

But Stallone should be the campaign’s North Star here. Like Harrison Ford in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” he’s bringing a beloved ’70s cinema icon back to the big screen. But it’s not for a stunt or a misguided spin-off cash-in. It’s a complex portrait, one that feeds the journey of the film’s main character rather than steal his spotlight. “Without straining for pathos, using his battered body as an asset but never as a prop, the actor finds continually surprising, understated notes of tenderness and regret,” Andrew Barker wrote in his Variety review of the film.

We have a long way to go, and Warner Bros. already has another strong competitor in the field (Joel Edgerton in “Black Mass”). But this is a left hook to the face of an already stacked category, one that could set a screen legend up for his first trip to the Oscars since he originally donned the gloves four decades ago. Perhaps he’ll even leave the competition dazed for a 10-count.

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  1. Miranda Smith says:

    In my opinion its the years best film and it had no Oscar campaign. Warner Brothers should be embarrassed by this. It deserved nominations in many categories including best actor and director.

  2. I just saw “Creed” today and loved the movie. Stallone did a wonderful job. He had a lot of funny one liners and was great in the dramatic parts of the movie (being sensitive I got tears in my eyes in parts). I always liked Sylvester and hope he gets nominated and recognized for the performance.

  3. Bobby DeAngelo says:

    I absolutely agree, Stallone is brilliant in this, perhaps, final saga of Rocky Balboa. This is in fact a wonderful film with terrific performances, however, you cannot for a moment take your eyes off of sly! His performance is extremely deserving of the gold statue, and if the Academy does not present him with one they should be a shamed of their selves.

  4. teriekwilliams says:

    Mark Rylance, Benicio del Toro, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Jacob Tremblay, Idris Elba! Anybody but Stallone.

  5. whispersd says:

    Just have to wonder if Tapley has seen Spotlight.

  6. sosgemini says:

    I’m just glad to see people chatting again. I got a bit worried that with this new move, my favorite bloggers and talkbalkers had disappeared.

  7. Gerard says:

    The last time two actors from the same film were nominated in this category, the winner was a former action star who hadn’t been nominated in nearly forty years, giving a performance in a mainstream film with no other nominations.

    Just sayin’…

  8. hugo says:

    Yeah He deserves it. Not for resentful

  9. Rachel says:

    We really are in the middle of Oscar campaigning, aren’t we? Stallone has zero chance of getting this nomination. First off, he is not thought of too highly in the actor’s branch. He’s made a career out of playing 2 characters. He has no range at all. His first performance in Rocky was great…but then he became a caricature of himself. Time has shown that he is not a good actor. I’ve also worked with him and he is someone who grabs credit from others and does a lot of self-promotion. I’ve seen him cheat people (especially writers) out of credits they deserved. Tapley, are you out of your mind here or just under the thumb of some PR person?

    • Kim says:

      Rachel, I too worked with him once. Granted, it was as his Dog Groomer’s front desk secretary’s 2nd cousin’s boss. But I KNOW him. Really??
      The Oscar isn’t for the actor’s entire body of work. If that were the case lots of actors have done stuff purely for the payday and later received Oscar Praise. Or they are Cuba Gooding, Jr. who went from Oscar to Snow Dogs and Anna Pacquin circa “the piano” to a background character in “she’s all that”. Like everyone else has said, “WATCH THE MOVIE”.

    • me says:

      Asking him if he “wants fries with that” is not the same thing as “working with him”.

    • Rachel, none of what you said has anything to do with his performance in Creed! I just saw the movie this morning and I can tell you that he deserves to be nominated! Get a clue!

    • Phillipa says:

      Wow, Rachel, it sounds like you are coming from a place of bitterness, rather than genuine criticism.

    • Hi Rachel.

      Since you asked, I’m actually someone who saw a film, found a performance in it to be a potential Oscar player and wrote about it as such. I look forward to your educated opinion when you actually see it and have something to say about it other than bitter baiting.


    • Matt says:

      Have u seen the movie yet? Stallone is definitely worthy of a nomination.

      • Stallone, in my opinion, does not deserve the award or nomination. Have seen the movie, but what needs to be understood is that he is portraying the same character over and over which is not a stretch for an actor. The other actors portray new characters which requires real acting and getting into a new character for that particular movie. To get an award for sentimental value is not right and that is what this would be. He needs to show he can really act and open a movie on his own. It has been shown time and time again he cannot open up a movie anymore with success. So this performance compared to other actors is simply not enough to get the award. Same old acting, just not a good enough stretch for the top award with the other actors in the category .

  10. David says:

    I think I clicked on The Onion by mistake.

  11. Bill B. says:

    I can’t believe that this is being seriously discussed.

  12. Roy MM says:


  13. Shiraz says:

    Stallone deserve it this time….he has been robbed twice on Rocky and Rocky Balboa. he is very under appreciated…… the physical roles he has done are at the same par with the likes of DeNiro and Pacino in drama….not many men can do what he has done with Rambo and Rocky! Give it to the man…..he is a living legend !

    • Susan Lobe says:

      No he does not deserve it this time. His acting in this, as I said before, does not hold a candle to any of the other actors in this category, nor the other Rocky movies. He just was older and sick, again a far cry from how all the fine actors acted in the movies they were in. Really having to dig their heels into a completely different character from their past roles in movies. Sentimental reasons for an actor to be nominated for a role is not a test of is acting ability. He is not a legend in many respects as most of his movies that he tried to act in different roles tanked. Bombed. That showed us that he must go back time and time again to his only character that he can portray!

  14. Sophie says:

    I think the the top 10 candidate are Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton for Spotlight, Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Harvey Keitel (Youth), Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Jacob Tremblay (Room), Paul Dano (Love & Mercy), Christian Bale (The Big Short), Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight).

  15. LP Hugo says:

    This article is music to my ears.

  16. Pixarfan22 says:

    What are your thoughts on Benicio Del Toro for Sicario?

  17. filmguy78 says:

    No mention of Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies? In my opinion, so far he’s the candidate to beat, with Keaton coming in on a close second. I’m sure Tom Hardy will be up there as well. But Stallone? Really?

  18. JOE S HILL says:

    MGM has pretty much shown the audience today what they’re all about-REMAKES! and the “ROCKY” franchise,which was launched by United Artists in 1976,has pretty much lost steam,especially after “ROCKY BALBOA” in 2004-now they’re partnering with Warner Bros.,who practically owns their Birthright,with most of the classic and vintage MGM library they inherited,when they merged with Ted Turner in the mid 1990s-so now,they want to co partner with Warners,after being with SONY,,and they think that “CREED” will save their Bacon-really Pathetic! who knew that “Apollo Creed” had any kind of off spring? first time i’m hearing about this! what’s next,,The Revenge of Clubber Lang?

  19. Ron Head says:

    That would be great for Sly Stallone. He deserves the honor. He should have won in 1976. If he is as good in this as Mr. Tapley states, he may actually get an Oscar this year. My two big recent disappointments were Burt Reynolds losing for his Best Supporting Actor nod several years ago and Michael Keaton losing last year. However life is full of disappointments.

    • Matt says:

      I think Sly didnt win in ’76 in part because he wrote the part and was virtually an unknown. He didnt write “Creed”. the movie is phenomenal and his performance is worthy of a nomination. speaking of snubs, Sean Penn winning over Bill Murray in ’04 and Mickey Rourke in ’09 still pisses me off.

      • teriekwilliams says:

        No way Stallone deserved to be a respected and distinguished actor like Peter Finch in anything. Mickey Rourke was good in the Wrestler, but Sean Penn played a real person in a role outside of type and convincingly whereas Rourke played within his skill set. I understand sour grapes over Michael Keaton, though Benedict Cumberbatch in his final scene was better than Redmayne or Keaton.

      • Bobby DeAngelo says:

        I agree, Matt. Mickey should have won for The Wrestler and Bill should have won for Lost in Translation! Let’s hope Sly wins this year, if he doesn’t, I won’t be watching the Oscars ever again

    • Gustavo H.R. says:

      No, he shouldn’t have won over Robert De Niro or Peter Finch,

      • teriekwilliams says:

        Obviously, you know nothing about acting.

      • Stallone was pretty good in Rocky.

        Finch, however, was incredible. The only thing wrong with that performance was that so many other actors in that film also delivered incredible performances (Faye Dunaway (won an Oscar for it), William Holden (nominated for an Oscar for it), Ned Beatty (nominated for an Oscar for just one scene in it), Beatrice Straight (won an Oscar for just one scene in it), Robert Duvall (nominated for a BAFTA for it), and Marlene Wakefield’s fantastic cameo scene) that for several seconds at a time you could forget about Finch. Then again, the fact he didn’t have the scenes stolen from under him just shows how brilliant his performance was.

        Having said that, I could certainly see William Holden as more deserving than Finch for that film – less showy, but more subtle. I guess the fact that it was giving Finch a posthumous recognition probably swung the balance.

  20. benn says:

    “sure to be a bona fide Thanksgiving hit” seems like words perfectly set up to quote back to you later, when it is not such a hit. If I were an entertainment writer I would not be making such statements, a lot of movies have bombed lately, and I would hardly saw this is sure.

  21. Calling it says:

    Forest Whitaker in SOUTHPAW should be nominated and win!

  22. icrodriguez7 says:

    I am so excited to hear that Stallone is getting such great reviews for this film! It would be wonderful to see him honored with at least a nomination after such an interesting career. Now I’m DEFINITELY going to see this movie!!!!

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