At the 88th Academy Awards, one of the bigger surprises came in the Best Supporting Actor category. Mark Rylance won for his performance in Steven Spielberg’s historical drama Bridge of Spies, upsetting Sylvester Stallone in Creed. While he wasn’t a runaway favorite a la Leonardo DiCaprio or Brie Larson, many were predicting Sly to take home the gold, coming full circle after the original Rocky received Best Picture nearly 40 years ago. He was the sentimental pick, delivering perhaps his finest dramatic turn in Ryan Coogler’s spinoff.

Unfortunately for the millions of Rocky fans pulling for the perpetual underdog, it wasn’t meant to be. Despite winning the Golden Globe and a handful of other accolades, Stallone didn’t get the big one. Nevertheless, the fact that he was nominated is an impressive accomplishment in its own right, something that’s not lost on Stallone’s friend Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Shortly after Stallone lost, the action icon took to Twitter to offer a heartwarming message. “No matter what they say, to me, you were the best. You were the winner. I’m proud of you,” Schwarzenegger said.

It’s a touching statement and a nice sentiment that’s sure to stir up emotions in anyone who’s even a passing admirer of the Rocky franchise. With his role in Creed, Stallone reminded the world just how talented of an actor he could be. When the first film came out in 1976, critic Roger Ebert compared the charismatic leading man to a young Marlon Brando. Obviously, Stallone went down a different path as his career progressed, but it was nice to see him back at the top of his game after all these decades. Playing Rocky Balboa now seven times, Stallone is very comfortable with that character; still, his raw performance was very affecting and moving. [And now, the actor has responded to Schwarzenegger’s tweet to say thank you and wish him good luck on his new role as the host of The Apprentice.]

To my good friend Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A video posted by Sly Stallone (@officialslystallone) on

Those hoping that Sly will get another shot at an Academy Award may never see that wish come into fruition. Though Creed 2 is currently on pace for release in fall 2017, Stallone is unsure of coming back. He feels that Rocky’s story may be done. Of course, the actor initially was not going to return to the series for the first Creed, rejecting Coogler’s offer before reconsidering. Depending on the sequel’s story and what the team has in mind for Balboa, there’s a chance Stallone signs up for one more round. But even if he does, that doesn’t mean the Oscars will recognize him again. For all intents and purposes, this ship seems to have sailed.

Not that it truly matters. While it would have been nice to see Stallone win, his snub does not take anything away from the fine work he did in Creed. There are many who will echo Schwarzenegger’s thoughts – particularly the “I’m proud of you” part. In their minds, Stallone doesn’t need the extra validation for the impact he made on countless moviegoers. Much like Rocky Balboa, Stallone gave it his all and didn’t leave anything on the table. In true Italian Stallion fashion, he went the distance, came up short, and still emerged as the people’s champ. That’s a fitting way to end the Rocky legacy.

NEXT: Stallone Thinks Rocky’s Journey Is Done

Creed will be available on Blu-ray March 1, 2016. We’ll keep you updated on the development of Creed 2.

Source: Arnold Schwarzenegger

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