A pain-in-the-ass HE reader named Brad was putting me down yesterday for being inconsistent in my appraisals of subtle acting. When Sasha Stone and Erik Anderson labelled Rachel McAdams‘ Oscar-nominated performance in Spotlight as “robotic” during Oscar Poker #120, I suggested they were looking for “big” moments when none were written or intended. On the other hand, he complained, I’ve been dismissing Mark Rylance‘s Bridge of Spies performance as annoyingly, even arrogantly subtle. Let me explain something to Braddie-poo. Subtle acting is not just one, precisely quantified thing. There is overly subtle (Rylance), perfectly subtle (McAdams, Liev Schreiber‘s Marty Baron in Spotlight, Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn) and not subtle enough (Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay in Room come to mind). I’ll admit it’s rare to witness a performance that is irksomely underplayed and even smug, but Rylance takes the cake in this regard. If I was king Schreiber would be a Best Supporting Actor nominee right now, and he’d be favored to win.