A look at other lead actors in the mix for Oscar recognition, including Ryan Gosling, Ewan McGregor and Michael Shannon.
“A Better Life”
The passionate dignity that Bichir delivers throughout this implicit homage to “The Bicycle Thief” is an achievement worthy of Academy voters’ attention. He captures the nuances of Carlos, a man for whom even the most incremental improvement is one he hangs onto for dear life.
There’s a lot simmering under the surface of this delightful modern-day economics lesson. As a cash-strapped attorney, Giamatti manipulates the legal system to earn some coin while also trying to stay morally centered. And as a high school wrestling coach, he takes in an emotionally lost student who happens to be a grappling great.
“The Ides of March”
Playing a Democratic political operative looked quite instinctual to Gosling, who tries to carefully navigate between loyalty to his party and what’s best for himself. It was quite a busy year for the thesp, who also made strong impressions with two wildly divergent pics: film noir “Drive” and well-reviewed laffer “Crazy Stupid Love.”
In his first feature film, Irvine had to bond effectively with the film’s namesake horse in order to convince auds that their pivotal relationship is real. Not only can the young actor convey a range of emotions without dialogue, but he plays a naive teen and a self-assured soldier with equal skill.
As the centerpiece of simultaneous love stories (paternal and interpersonal), McGregor is at once inspiring and heartbreaking in his yearning to come to terms with his feelings and dreams. While Christopher Plummer is earning deserved supporting actor notice, McGregor makes a deep impression as the soul of the film.
Shannon gives his ordinary father-husband the burden of envisioning an upcoming apocalypse. Through Shannon’s guilt-conflicted character, we can feel the weight he carries by doing whatever it takes to protect his family from what he believes is impending doom.