Oscars: Watch the Scenes that Nailed the Nomination for 20 Actors

9:00 AM 2/9/2016

by Anna Lisa Raya

From Leonardo DiCaprio's battle with that bear to Charlotte Rampling's steely portrayal of a wife consumed with jealousy, THR's critics and awards gurus spot the moments that mattered most for this year’s leading and supporting contenders, including exclusive video of Brie Larson's emotional escape from 'Room.'


  1. 1

    Cate Blanchett's Divorce Decision

    Best Actress, 'Carol'

    It's a performance some critics have faulted for being frosty, but Blanchett is on fire during the scene in a divorce lawyer's office when her character gives up custody of her daughter. "All of that volcanic stuff comes to the surface," the actress tells THR. "She's someone who has to learn to give in to the flights of fantasy that our hearts drive us to — but that's a dangerous place to be."

  2. 2

    Brie Larson's Escape

    Best Actress, 'Room'

    Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival

    They're separated only briefly, but their reunion inside a police car — after Larson's character and her young son escape from the maniac who has kept them locked in a garden shed for years — is gut-wrenching, and at least half the reason why is Larson. "She was just so warm," says director Lenny Abrahamson of the decision to cast the actress. "We needed somebody with that kind of warmth."

  3. 3

    Jennifer Lawrence's Sales Pitch

    Best Actress, 'Joy'

    Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

    Watching her character's confidence crumble when Joy first steps onto a QVC set to sell her Miracle Mop on TV, it's abundantly obvious what a confident actress Lawrence can be. "This was the first time Jennifer and I did something together in which she's not playing someone who is crazy," notes her frequent director David O. Russell. Our second clip choice is the one below, in which Lawrence's character icily tells her sister to "Never speak on my behalf, about my business, again." 

  4. 4

    Charlotte Rampling's Anniversary Party

    Best Actress, '45 Years'

    Courtesy of Sundance Selects

    Her pained expression in the last scene — at her character's 45th wedding anniversary party — is the perfect, if enigmatic, ending to one of Rampling's most critically acclaimed turns: a wife consumed with jealousy over a long-dead romantic rival. "The end was the moment I was most nervous about," director Andrew Haigh has said. "The final shot was essentially the first image I thought of when I started writing the script, so everything was building up to that moment." A close second choice was this scene just before the anniversary party at the heart of the film, below.

  5. 5

    Saoirse Ronan's Ode to America

    Best Actress, 'Brooklyn'

    Fox Searchlight Pictures

    After a trip back home to Ireland, Ronan's character stands on the deck of her ship, where a young Irish immigrant asks her about life in America. "It's a big place, at first," she answers in one of the most poignant moments in the film. "You'll feel so homesick you'll want to die. And one day, the sun will come out, you'll catch yourself thinking about something that has no connection with the past and you'll realize, this is your life."

  6. 6

    Bryan Cranston's "Victims" Speech

    Best Actor, 'Trumbo'

    In the film's emotional denouement — set 20 years after the height of the blacklist era — Cranston, in old- man makeup, delivers the actual speech Trumbo gave to the WGA in 1970: "Scores of people lost their homes, their families disintegrated... but when you look back upon that dark time, as I think you should every now and then, it will do you no good to search for heroes or villains. There weren't any. There were only victims."

  7. 7

    Matt Damon's Epiphany

    Best Actor, 'The Martian'

    Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox

    The scene in which Damon's marooned astronaut realizes he needs to figure out a way to travel halfway across Mars in order to survive, is why the film won a Golden Globe — for comedy. "In the face of overwhelming odds," Damon's space castaway tells his video journal, "I'm left with only one option: I'm going to have to science the shit out of this." For a glimpse at a similar scene in the film, click play below.

  8. 8

    Leonardo DiCaprio's Bear Hug

    Best Actor, 'The Revenant'

    Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

    There are no words spoken during the shockingly realistic sequence in which DiCaprio's character inadvertently comes between a bear cub and its mother. But it still might end up winning Leo his first statuette. "[It] pushes the limits in ways we haven't seen before," says producer Mary Parent. "You feel the bear's breath and her saliva dripping on you." While Fox wouldn't release a full clip of the bear attack scene, you can see some of it in the trailer below.

  9. 9

    Michael Fassbender Getting Fired

    Best Actor, 'Steve Jobs'

    Courtesy of Universal Studios

    Fassbender shows Jobs' sharper edges during the scene in which Apple's former CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) calls for a quorum to oust the company's founder. "I'm the world's leading expert on the Mac, John. What's your résumé?" Fassbender fumes. "I sat in a f—ing garage with Wozniak and invented the future because artists lead and hacks ask for a show of hands."

  10. 10

    Eddie Redmayne's Mirror Moment

    Best Actor, 'The Danish Girl'

    Venice Film Festival

    This was Redmayne's first full-frontal nude scene — although some of the frontal bits were tucked between his thighs. "People think actors are always wanting to take their clothes off for the camera, like, 'I'm ready to get naked!' " says Redmayne. "But it's not true. It was as uncomfortable an experience for me as it would be for anybody." Focus Features understandably wouldn't release Redmayne's nude scene, some of which exists in the featurette below.

  11. 11

    Jennifer Jason Leigh's Beating

    Best Supporting Actress, 'The Hateful Eight'

    Courtesy of Lionsgate

    She takes several of them over the course of the three-hour film, but the bloody-faced, cackling one she endures after a failed escape attempt is particularly riveting. "The reason I never flinched and I never ruined a take is because I had so much faith and trust in Kurt Russell," Leigh tells THR. "I knew he was never going to actually hit me, so I could really be in the moment when the punch lands."

  12. 12

    Rooney Mara's Lonely Train Ride

    Best Supporting Actress, 'Carol'

    'Carol,' Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

    Stripping off her clothes and climbing into bed with Cate Blanchett was the easy part ("It wasn't any more challenging than any other love scene I've done, I'll tell you that," Mara tells THR). Much harder to pull off was the post-breakup scene, when Mara's character crumbles as she sits by herself on a train and nurses her broken heart.

  13. 13

    Rachel McAdam's Doorway Interview

    Best Supporting Actress, 'Spotlight'

    Courtesy of Participant Media

    After knocking on countless doors investigating child molesters, McAdams' character finds herself face-to-face with a pedophile priest who has no problem blandly confessing his sins. "That scene was just about allowing herself to be surprised," says director Tom McCarthy. "To listen without any expectations and then to scramble to put her thoughts together in the face of absurd horror."

  14. 14

    Alicia Vikander's "I Need My Husband" Scene

    Best Supporting Actress, 'The Danish Girl'


    The moment Vikander's character realizes she's losing her husband, Einar (Eddie Redmayne), to another woman — in this case, himself, as Einar becomes Lili, one of the world's first gender-reassignment operation recipients — is among the most traumatic in the movie. "I need to see Einar. I need my husband. Can you get him? I need to talk to my husband, I need to hold my husband. I need him. Can't you just get him? Can you at least try ..."

  15. 15

    Kate Winslet Threatens to Quit

    Best Supporting Actress, 'Steve Jobs'

    Courtesy of Universal Pictures

    Playing the tech tycoon's "work wife" could have been a thankless role, but Winslet makes the part the moral center of the movie, especially in the scene when she nearly quits Apple over Jobs' indifference to his teenage daughter. "I love you, Steve. You know how much. I love that you don't care how much money a person makes; you care what they make. But what you make isn't supposed to be the best part of you. But when you're a father — that's supposed to be the best part of you."

  16. 16

    Christian Bale's Drum Solo

    Best Supporting Actor, 'The Big Short'

    Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

    Investors are starting to bail, the market is not doing what it's supposed to do, so Bale's character — hedge-fund manager Michael Burry, one of the few who see the 2008 financial crash coming — retreats to his drum kit for a solo that would leave J.K. Simmons speechless. Bale, who learned to play the drums for the part, performed the scene despite a serious knee injury. "He nails [the scene] perfectly, then limps off the set afterwards," recalls director Adam McKay. This featurette on Bale, below, shows some of his drumming skills and how he feels about portraying real-life Mike Burry.

  17. 17

    Tom Hardy's Showdown

    Best Supporting Actor, 'The Revenant'

    Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

    The bear gets all the attention, but Hardy's climactic fight scene with DiCaprio is every bit as intense. "It's not just a face-off we've waited the whole movie for," explains producer Mary Parent, "but it's a complex, emotional roller coaster from the perspective of both characters, playing out against this raw fight for survival."

  18. 18

    Mark Ruffalo's Outburst

    Best Supporting Actor, 'Spotlight'

    Courtesy of Kerr Hayes/Venice Film Festival

    This decidedly understated film's most volatile moment belongs to Ruffalo's newsman character, who loses his cool ("It's time, Robby, it's time!") after discovering that nearly 90 priests were guilty of abusing children in the Boston Archdiocese. "I will say Mark was aware that this was just about the one time in the film that someone, anyone, explodes," says director Tom McCarthy.

  19. 19

    Mark Rylance Goes to Jail

    Best Supporting Actor, 'Bridge of Spies'

    Courtesy of DreamWorks and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

    You know an actor is turning in a special performance when he steals a scene from Tom Hanks. "The first scene when [Hank's] Donovan meets [Rylance's Russian spy] Abel — it's Abel's scene, not Donovan's!" Spielberg tells THR. "It was the rhythms of Rylance's choices that determined how long to hold the shot on him before cutting away to Tom."

  20. 20

    Sylvester Stallone's Mirror Moment

    Best Supporting Actor, 'Creed'


    It has been nearly four decades since Stallone has turned in such a poignant performance in a Rocky movie, as he gives Apollo Creed's son (Michael B. Jordan) instruction in both boxing and life. "See this guy here?" he says, as Jordan stares into a mirror, "that's the toughest opponent you're ever going to have to face."

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