Oscar mystery: Are we underestimating Tom Hardy (‘The Revenant’) for Best Supporting Actor?

Tom Hardy is nominated as Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars for his riveting performance as the leader of a hunting party who abandons his guide (Leonardo DiCaprio) after a bear attack leaves him for dead. The English actor landed the role after two-time Oscar champ Sean Penn (“Mystic River” 2003, “Milk” 2008) passed on it. According to our exclusive odds, this first-time Oscar nominee sits in fifth place, but we could be underestimating him in this race. Below, the top five ways in which Hardy could pull off an upset on Oscar Sunday (Feb. 28).

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22 nominations
Hardy headlines the top two nominated films: “The Revenant” (12) and “Mad Max: Fury Road” (10). With two films in the Best Picture race Hardy is almost guaranteed for his work to be seen. The Supporting Actor frontrunner, Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”), is his film’s only nominee. Christian Bale‘s bid for “The Big Short” is one of five for that film while both Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) and Mark Ruffalo (“Spotlight”) are one of six each for their respective films. 

MVP status
Besides these two roles, he starred as twin gangsters in “Legend” last year. This triple play is reminiscent of 2001 when Jim Broadbent won this award for “Iris” (2001) but also had scene-stealing roles in “Moulin Rouge” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”

He gets ugly
Heartthrobs such as Hardy tend not to win Oscars till later in their careers. Like his co-star, Hardy is all but unrecognizable, hidden under layers of dirt. However, he upped the ante over DiCaprio by shaving his head and completely disappearing into the character. 

He’s the voice of the film
DiCaprio is the overwhelming favorite to win Best Actor for his largely silent performance. Hardy does most of the talking as his character casts his web of lies leading to a final showdown. 

Oscar loves villains
Recent winners in this race include Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men,” 2007) and Christoph Waltz (“Inglorious Basterds,” 2009) who both played winking devils. 

Leonardo DiCaprio (‘The Revenant’) wins 2016 SAG Award for Best Film Actor — Oscar next?

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“The Revenant” photo: The Moviestore Collection Ltd/REX Shutterstock

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