Women Reign Supreme
With the Oscars looming large, it's time to talk about the best performances I saw throughout the year! This year's list is filled with women: in fact, there's only two men in my entire top 10, and one of them shares the spot with the female lead of their respective film. No doubt this is the result of one of the strongest years for female actors I've ever seen. Certainly the strongest since I started writing this blog. Now, let's give more female directors the chance to shine, shall we???
For my reviews of each film discussed, click on the actor's picture.
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Let's just get this one out of the way first. Yes, Rami Malek was really good as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Yes, he saved the film. If only the film he saved was any better. Ok, got that out of our system? Good. On we go, then.
Olivia Cooke, Thoroughbreds
A criminally underrated film that quietly went wide in early 2018, Olivia Cooke's deadpan, no holds barred, no shit taking performance in Thoroughbreds still haunts me today. Also you should watch this movie.
EXTRA Honorable Mention
Josh Hamilton, Eighth Grade
I may have added this extra "honorable mention" just so I could gloat about Josh Hamilton. Because this is the best performance of the idiosyncratic character actor's career, and we cannot forget that it happened. Plus he has a speech at the end of the film that will floor you, so I want to be sure we never forget that, either.
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
While the movie has seemingly faded from our collective conscious for a variety of reasons, I still do love this breakout performance from Lady Gaga.
Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther
This intricate performance from Michael B. Jordan laid the cornerstone for the best villain in Marvel movie history, bar none. You've come a long way since Chronicle, dude.
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Regina King was a quiet force of nature in If Beale Street Could Talk, patiently waiting her turn to take over the narrative in this ensemble film. And when she did, it was worth it.
Daniel Kaluuya, Widows
In total contrast to Regina King, Daniel Kaluuya's screen-chewing, over-the-top, terrifying portrayal of the overtly villainous Manning brother can be felt every second of this film, regardless of whether he's on screen or not. Plus, there's this. A menacing scene like that always helps.
Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
A rarity in cinema, this genuine, human portrayal of a shamelessly unlikable character was Melissa McCarthy's first foray into dramas as Lee Israel. It was certainly an arduous task, but she executed it with a quietly energetic performance. Her co-conspirator, the lovably flamboyant Jack Hock portrayed by journeyman Richard E. Grant, was equal to the task, and made for a wildly enjoyable film.
Sakura Andô, SHOPLIFTERS
This was my first experience with Sakura Andô, a successful actress in her native country Japan, this performance was the most human performance I saw all year. With the added bonus of some reservedly great moments like this scattered throughout as the icing on top of this humble, down-to-earth cake.
Joanna Kulig, COLD WAR
Again in total contrast, this heroically spectacular and overt performance was the most charismatic I saw all year by a significant margin. The Polish actress grabs hold of Cold War from the first moment she's seen until its closing scene, delivering an unforgettable amount of suave along the way.
The Breakout Actor of 2018 was....
Henry Golding, Crazy Rich Asians
Look at that infectious smile and tell me how Henry Golding doesn't make any film graced with his mere presence instantly better. I want to be stranded with him on a deserted island somewhere....
The Breakout Actress of 2018 was....
Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade
Besides Yalitza Aparicio, who else could this award go to? Bo Burnham and Elsie Fisher tore up this year's award's circuit with their quirky adorableness after her breakout performance in A24's depressingly underappreciated Eighth Grade. Any other year this performance would've netted her an Oscar nomination, but it will certainly net her more work in Hollywood.
The Feel-Good Comeback Story of 2018 was....
Glenn Close, The Wife
She never left us so it's not really a comeback per say, but the trajectory her film The Wife took the past few months was absolutely wild. What started as a small minority murmuring about the underrated brilliance of this performance blossomed into a heavy hitting, seemingly all but assured Oscar win that started when she shocked everyone, including herself, with a surprise W at the Golden Globes, of all places. Looking forward to the end of her unlikely arc Oscar Sunday!
The Actor with the Worst 2018 was.....
Clint Eastwood, The 15:17 to Paris, The Mule
Can you go back to yelling at a chair, please? Because you can't make movies anymore, dude. Someone has to deliver him the news.....
The Actress with the Worst 2018 was....
Alicia Vikander, Tomb Raider
Hey, remember when Tomb Raider came out this year? Neither do I.
The Best Actor of 2018 was....
The Best Actress of 2018 was....
Say anything negative about Awkwafina and she will find you, and she will enthusiastically and hilariously change your mind. Because she is wonderful and needs to be in EVERYTHING ever made. Also, SHE'S IN AN ACTUAL BUNNY SUITE IN THAT PICTURE FROM CRAZY RICH ASIANS. WITH A LIME FOR A PILLOW NEXT TO HER. HOW DID THAT MOVIE NOT GET NOMINATED FOR PRODUCTION DESIGN OR COSTUME DESIGN FOR THOSE FACTS ALONE? Also. she was in Ocean's 8 and I loved her there, so there's also that.
The Second Annual Michael Stuhlbarg Award for Showing Up in Everything Goes to....
Yes, Josh Brolin was in two superhero movies that came out in the span of like two weeks, but he was also in Sicario 2. Plus, Carell gets the benefit of recency bias since all his films, Beautiful Boy, Vice, and the ill-fated Welcome to Marwen were released in the final six weeks of the year. So it feels like he's been on the award's circuit for a millennia promoting something. Even if one of those three films was garbage.
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
The Favourite gets my imaginary award for "best ensemble cast" if I had it, but if I was forced to pick one of the three actresses in the film, I'd go Rachel Weisz. She's menacing and diabolical, yet you can't help but feel for her as the film goes on. Plus, dat hunting costume dough. Want.
The scene below is a perfect example of the brilliance of her performance. She lurks in the shadows as you think you have a leg up, then she strikes and reminds you that you are not in control. At all. Which is also a good allegory for Rachel Weisz. In general.
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Yalitza Apricio's legendary performance in Roma is this high on the list mostly because of the circumstances surrounding it. Not only was it the former schoolteacher's debut acting role, but it was on one of the most grueling sets for an actress ever conceived. Director Alfonso Cuarón shot this film sequentially and held back the script until only a day or two before that individual scene was to be shot, and even then Cuarón withheld key moments until they literally happened in front of the Yalitza's face. The result: a mesmerizingly genuine performance from the Mixtecan actress, one that stays with you long after the film's end credits rolled.
Toni Collete, Hereditary
My top performance has stayed in this slot since I first saw it all the way back in June. A grueling and epic performance from Toni Collete as the troubled and emotionally unstable Annie, the beauty of this performance can be found in the details, namely, in Collete's face. This performance features some of the best facial expressions I have ever seen in a film, which, combined with extreme and abrasive tonal shifts for the character, made this role as challenging as it was. Yet it was all effortlessly handled by Toni Collete. What's not to love in a borderline psychotic character, right?
Nothing can follow up a scene as emotionally gruesome as that, so I won't even try. Thanks for following me on this journey, friends! I'll be back with my all-encompassing 2018 film recap in a few days.
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https://www.bfi.org.uk/sites/bfi.org.uk/files/styles/full/public/image/shoplifters-2018-001-girl-woman-tiles_1.jpg?itok=SplxMIOS (Sakura Andô)
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