Welcome, everyone! To the Third Annual Awesome Actor's Awards here on Enter the Movies! Time to talk about the best performances of 2016! This year was particularly tough. The year was STACKED with great performances, but they were mostly in the actress category. Which is AWESOME. In fact, you may notice that not a single performance nominated for Best Actor makes this list. That's how good a year actresses had. And, even with actresses there are some big performances that just missed the list, most notably Isabelle Huppert and freaking Natalie Portman! Believe you me, I have 12 performances on this list and those two are 14 and 13, respectively. That was tough. So it was an excruciating process, but I finally came up with a list I can stand by. So, grab a beer and enjoy my Third Annual Awesome Actor Awards!
Honorable Mention: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Kicking off the list is Mahershala Ali from Moonlight! While his role is not huge in this film, he definitely leaves his mark as the film progresses. His presence is felt long after his character is no longer on the screen, and that is tough to do. His character is very rough and raw, and his scene with Naomie Harris (also on this list) was one of the best moments of the entire film. He's a father figure to Chiron, and seeing the portrayal of a man struggling with the morality of raising the son of one of his customers from Ali was heartbreaking. It is easily deserving of a Best Supporting Actor nomination, (he's also the current favorite to win) and the fact that it's nothing more than an Honorable Mention on this list should go to show just how great a year we had for acting.
Honorable Mention: Colin Farrell, The Lobster
Next up is the man who holds this movie together, Colin Farrell. Lawd is he SO good in this! This movie succeeds because of his totally dead-pan performance of this character. This dead-pan performance leads to some of the funniest moments of this film as well, but then you add the fact that he actually had to display a wide range of emotions while being totally dead-pan? Not an easy thing to do. Given the fact that this performance made my list versus anything the Academy nominated for Best Actor should tell you what I think about the Academy's choices for that category this year. Because you better believe Colin Farrell was snubbed. One of these years Colin Farrell will at least have an Oscar nomination under his belt. He'll just have to get mauled by a bear first to get it....
10) Ruth Negga, Loving
Kicking off the top ten is a wonderful little performance from Ruth Negga. This actress cracks the list because of how intimate the performance was. Negga showed us that "Less can be more" with a performance that never had an over-the-top kind of moment that makes it "iconic," but still carried the emotional punch it needed to for the film. There's a scene at the end of the film where Negga discovers that the Supreme Court had ruled in her favor that just emotionally destroyed me, and all Negga is doing (basically) is staring off into the distance.That look and the emotional devastation that comes with it comes from quietly building this character from the beginning of the film and....setting the pins in place, so to say. Just to have the bowling ball that knocks them all down take you completely by surprise. It really is hard for me to describe why I enjoyed this performance as much as I did, but I knew it had to make this list. Less can be more, everyone.
9) Ben Foster, Hell or High Water
This is the first of two over-the-top-but-believable crazy performances on this list. Ben Foster is freaking nuts in this film. It's always so rewarding to see someone play a psycho and play them well, and when this happens that performance usually makes a lot of people's top 10s for the year. And boy does Foster play him well. This is one of those performances where the actor plays the character so well I can't help but think this must be what he's like in real life because the line between the movie world and the real world becomes so blurred. That's great acting. He also screen hogs during this film, but he screen hogs SO WELL. It's tough to get me to enjoy someone who's trying to eat up every bit of your attention when he's in front of you but when you go this all-in on being an absolute psycho? You can do it all day long. Because sooner or later you forget that's what's happening and you just get completely suckered in to the performance. Well don,e Ben Foster. I look forward to seeing what he has to offer next.
8) Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Next on the list is the counterpart to Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris. The drug-addicted mother of Chiron, Harris is asked to really dehumanize herself throughout this film, and she does so with an undeniable poise. There are several scenes involving her outside the big one with Ali that are devastating, most notably a scene where she asks Chiron for some money so she can go buy more drugs. It was a heartbreaking sequence. Then the film hammers her character home in the third act as Harris suddenly transforms into almost an entirely different character. All of this makes for an incredibly demanding role, but Harris plays it so well that you don't even notice it. Any other year this would be higher up on the list. Heck any other year this performance would win an Oscar. Unfortunately, though, this is not every other year.
7) John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane
I bet I'm either being applauded or condemned for having John Goodman on this list, but this performance really resonated with me for almost the entire year. This film, the spiritual successor to one of my favorite sci-fi films of all time Cloverfield, came out of nowhere, and Goodman was such a dominant menace.....it was simply breathtaking. He's the calling card of the film and commanded the screen in a way that only he can, and he was absolutely terrifying. Poor Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Never stood a chance. Seriously, though, this is a great movie and John Goodman is easily the best part of it. There's a sequence with all three characters involving a certain bucket of chemicals that.....man. That sequence alone was enough to give Goodman a spot on this list. If you haven't seen 10 Cloverfield Lane yet.....you should change that. It's worth seeing for Goodman's performance alone.
6) Amy Adams, Arrival
For the record, I have no idea why Amy Adams was snubbed by the Academy for this role. Maybe it's because I'm kind of biased-though I try and keep my emotions and fandom in check when I put on the hat of "critic,"- but I have long had a soft spot for Amy Adams. Heck I've had a soft spot for her since 2002's Catch Me If You Can. However if there's ever example of why so many say she's one of the best actresses in Hollywood right now, this is it. Arrival is her film. From start to finish. It is impossible to imagine this movie, that has 8 Oscar nominations and received a perfect score on my blog, without Amy Adams. She's asked to carry this movie more than anyone else is in all of 2016. While there may have been more "obvious" acting performances like Portman in Jackie or Davis in Fences, Adams successfully is molded into the character she creates here. By the end of this film I really thought Amy Adams was a linguist who saved the world. It's very difficult for someone as recognizable as Adams to become a character unless they are playing a famous person in a biopic, but that's exactly what Amy Adams does. And that is exactly why she is more than deserving of a spot on this list.
5) Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures
It was impossible for me to pick one of these three performances to be on this list and snub the other two in the process, so yes. Grouping them together is a cop-out on my part. But it really is a deserving one! All three of these actresses were outstanding in this film, and all three had an undeniable chemistry between them. Taraji P. Henson may be the obvious lead here, but I was also really impressed with Janelle Monae, who has gone from pop singer to talented actress seemingly overnight. I even considered giving her my coveted (lol) "Best Actress of the Year" award because she was also great in Moonlight, but I'm hoping her place here on the list is enough. But she was outstanding in both films and has solidified her place as a bonafide star in Hollywood. And, of course, not to be lost in the mix is the charming and charismatic Octavia Spencer, who has her fair share of badass scenes in this movie. Finally, the bread holding it all together is Taraji P. Henson. Another snub from the Academy in their Best Actress category, (Meryl Streep was really better than all of these? And I haven't even gotten to the biggest snub yet) Henson would carry this film on her own if it weren't for her co-stars right there sharing the load with her. Henson has more than a few badass sequences in this movie, and her "We wear glasses" monologue, which made my Favorite Movie Moments of 2016 list, made me stand up and cheer. Oh! What a total boss. Lawd do I love this movie, and a big, big reason for that is these three actresses.
4) ANNETTE BENING, 20TH CENTURY WOMEN
You know, I really REALLY thought this performance was going to be nominated for an Oscar. In a year of great performances for Best Actress, I thought for sure this one would rise above the rest. Bening's performance here is just so touching. It's so grounded. She's so..... human, and yet has such a deep character. She also has some of the best mannerisms ever. I mean, just look at that picture! Look at how she's leaning on that table! That is Bening throughout the entire movie. She's so relatable and she's so lovable....her performance really brought me out of the dumps of a new world with an orange person leading the way. She holds this strong film together, and while she isn't the clear and obvious best part of 20th Century Women, she definitely had the best performance of the bunch. She made me laugh. She made me cry. And she made me feel everything in between. Should've been nominated for an Oscar, man.....no doubt this is the biggest snub of 2016. I loved this performance, and 20th Century Women is worth checking out just for Bening alone.
Alright! Now we take a break from counting down the best performances of the year to hand out some awards from yours truly. I'm sure everyone is on the edge of their seat wondering who will win this year's Actor's Awards from Enter the Movies. Uhhhhh, right guys? So let's get rolling! Also I'm gonna pretend that I'm handing these awards to these actors myself because.....well, why not, really?
The Breakout Actor Award Goes To.....
Was there anyone else that had as breakout a year as you did, Tom Holland? One reason, and one reason only: Spider-Man. Finally, Spider-Man has its champion. Sorry, Andrew Garfield, but your snubbing for the Marvel revival of the character was more than worth it. From the moment alt-J's "Left Hand Free" played with the "Queens" title card in Captain America: Civil War, we knew Spider-Man was in the right hands. And when you appeared on-screen, visibly creeped out by Stark flirting with his aunt, we knew you were the hero we needed for one of our favorite superheros. There's no doubt that this high-profile performance will elevate you to the A-List just as Star Wars did for Boyega and Ridley, so there's no doubt that you were deserving of this award.
The Breakout Actress Award Goes To.....
There may be a lot of people saying, "Who?" seeing that picture. I don't blame them: this is more of a "deep cut" pick from me. But 2016 was a REALLY good year for Annalise Basso. First you shined in Captain Fantastic, where you were just as good as the great Viggo Mortensen, then you shined in the highly underrated Ouija: Origin of Evil. Seriously: when I saw you on screen in these films I thought Chloë Grace Moretz level of talent. Haven't thought that since, well, Chloë Grace Moretz. You don't have a whole lot planned right now, other than a film called Nostalgia that stars Nick Offerman and Jon Hamm, as well as yourself, but I think if we give it a little time that will change. You are an extraordinarily talented actress and you blew me away in your two roles in 2016, and it won't take long for you to truly catch fire in Hollywood.
The Feel-Good Comeback STory Award Goes To...
Bet you didn't see this one coming after I took a shot at Andrew Garfield earlier! Well, that is exactly why you're receiving this award. Andrew Garfield....had a rough couple of years in Hollywood. Despite a phenomenal performance in 2014's 99 Homes, you were shunned and criticized heavily for your extremely lackluster performance as Spider-Man in Sony's cashgra-I mean reboot of the franchise. It wasn't entirely your fault, but you certainly didn't do yourself any favors with your presentation then and afterwards either, as you had a couple of interviews where you said some very nasty things and got on many people's bad sides. Well, after taking 2015 off, you TURNED it around in 2016. Between Hacksaw Ridge and Silence, you put in two of the best performances by an actor in Hollywood this year. Your performance in Hacksaw Ridge is even listed as my "Who should win" in the Best Actor category of this year's Oscars. Though it's primarily because I thought your performance in Silence was even better. Both of those performances could've made my top 10, but I knew I'd give you this award as a cop-out. Ha. But there's no doubt you are a deserving winner of this award as well!
The Worst Actor of The Year Award Goes To.....
No. Affleck. My man. What are you doing. What a difference a few years make. After being mostly criticized throughout the early 2000s as being a man who never prepared for a role, and rode the coattails of his college roommate Matt Damon into Hollywood during the preparation for Good Will Hunting, you REALLY turned it around in the early 2010's. You killed it in The Town, a film which I absolutely loved, then won a few Oscars for 2012's Argo. But the cracks in your armor became apparent in 2014 with a lackluster performance in Gone Girl, and it's only gotten worse. I defended you when you were announced to play Batman, Ben. I thought that was a good decision on your part. But you know what wasn't a good decision? Your decision to partner with Warner Brothers. They're bringing you down, Ben! You had several high-profile BOMBS under Warner Brothers in 2016, including Batman v Superman, The Accountant, and finally Live By Night, which you also directed! All of those films were average, if not worse, and you were one of the worst things about them! It's as if you got your multi-movie contract with Warner Brothers and said "Alright! Pack it up! We're done here!" and are now just phoning it in. Apparently you already want out of Batman, and you're a mere two films into the role. I think if anyone epitomizes the negatives of multi-film contracts with distributors, it's you. I hope the same thing doesn't happen to Margot Robbie, who has also signed on to a multi-film contract with Warner Brothers. Because if that happens I'll be sad. I'm hopeful that you can turn it around, Ben. But if you don't soon.....you'll be right back in your dog days of the 2000s. Take this as a warning, Ben. And just remember I say it because I love you.
The Worst Actress of the Year Award Goes To...
Speaking of people that I love.....what are you DOING Shailene Woodley??? Look. This award is just focusing on your on-screen....antics. I LOVE what you're doing out in the real world. You're doing great work as an activist! But you have really failed to capture the spark that I thought you would capture a few years back when I gave you my first "Actress to Watch Out For" award. After excelling in films like The Fault in Our Stars and The Spectacular Now, you've really failed to break out of the mold that has been the sheer failure of the Divergent series. You tried this year in Oliver Stone's Snowden, but sadly you couldn't break out of the mold of the "girlfriend" role. As with Ben, I give you this award out of love. I know full well what you are capable of. After all you emotionally DESTROYED me in The Fault of Our Stars. At that time I thought you were the next Jennifer Lawrence. I really thought that was your destination. And I still do! You just got a little sidetracked is all. I'm hopeful you'll turn it around in 2017-Big Little Lies looks outstanding, and being cast alongside the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Laura Dern always helps. But right now? I can't help but be saddened by what has become of you on-screen. But I know you can turn it around though, so let's go!
The Best ACtor of the Year Goes To.....
Cue the music. Hey, Donald Glover, are you even in the crowd who came to this awards show? I'm sure this one will take a lot of people, including you, by surprise, but I decided to categorize actor as "entertainer" this year, and if you do that there really isn't a better choice for this award. 2016 was an absolutely unreal year for Glover. You may not have been in a single film throughout the year, but you were cast to be in Spider-Man: Homecoming, as well as given the single greatest casting in the history of man to be Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Han Solo anthology film. Needless to say I'm excited about that. In addition to these castings, you dropped the TV series Atlanta, which you created, wrote several episodes of, and starred in. The series has won multiple awards already, including 2 Golden Globes for Glover as the star and the show as a whole, and will likely hear its name called multiple times at the 2017 Emmys. As if that wasn't enough, your music personality, Childish Gambino, dropped an album called Awaken! My Love that won a crap-ton of music industry awards. It was even in my top 10 Best Albums of 2016 on another blog I write for with my good buddy Derek, The Busted Amp, (it was in Derek's top 5) and Gambino's song "Redbone" was my top song of 2016. (and Derek's second-favorite pick) Oh, and did I mention the man also does stand-up? There really wasn't a more talented individual in 2016 than you, and it is great to finally see all your insanely hard work paid off with several great movie castings, a critically-acclaimed TV show, and an incredible, critically-acclaimed, music album. That is why you receive this award.
Also, sorry Billy Crudup. You were a close second, and if this award had only been for film, it would've been you. Just wanted to let the record show.
The Best Actress of The Year Goes To....
I bet this one also comes as a shock to many people, but again if we're defining actress as "entertainer," two words.....Hillary Clinton. Your portrayal as Hillary Clinton was the entertainment many of us, myself included, needed to get through the 2016 election season, and your soulful rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," played just a few days after his death and after Clinton's devastating loss, was one of my most emotional moments in all of 2016. On top of that, you found herself in several big budget productions, including The Angry Birds Movie, Finding Dory, Office Christmas Party, and of course you stole our hearts in Ghostbusters. You found your niche in 2016, and have definitely cemented yourself as one of the business's funniest people. You have several films coming up, including a high-profile casting as Ms.Frizzle in The Magic School Bus. I can't wait to see what you have to offer next! I'm sure there will be more and more content from you as the years move on, but in time we'll look back to 2016 as the year your hard work turned into success.
But, if we could jump into a serious note real quick, one sentence really won you this award, Kate. One sentence which has made me tear up every time I've watched it.
"I'm not giving up, and neither should you."
The Actor to watch out for is....
You know, I will not hesitate to admit when something is kind of an out-of-left-field kind of pick for me, because there's really only one reason why Glen Powell made this list: Hidden Figures. Besides for The Expendables 3, you really haven't been in any high-profile roles, but your portrayal as John Glenn was one of the most charming and charismatic performances I've seen in years. Like.....Chris Evans as Captain America or Henry Cavill as Solo (from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) kind of charismatic. I think this film will prove to be a casting call for him, and before you know it he will be the next Chris Evans in Hollywood. While you only have one film, Sand Castle, on the slate for 2017, I really think by 2018 or 2019 you'll have some great performances upcoming. All it takes is you landing one big role and you will find yourself squarely on the A-list, and the casting agent that grabs you for that high profile role will definitely look to your oozingly charming and charismatic performance here in Hidden Figures in 2016 as their reasoning for the casting. Keep this name in the back of your heads, folks. It may not be 2017 that proves to be Powell's year, but it's definitely coming.
The Actress To Watch Out For is....
Elle Fanning really hit her groove in 2016. You had, for a while, struggled to recapture the magic of your performance in 2011's Super 8, doing the best you could do on sinking ships that was highlighted by 2014's mediocre Maleficent, and you failed to make a huge splash in 2015's Trumbo. Well, I'd say you found your niche in 2016 with A24's 20th Century Women. And you were easily the best part of Ben Affleck's lackluster Live by Night. Now you have a TON of films on your schedule, and you have certainly solidified yourself as one of the top child-actors in Hollywood right now. Keep your eyes peeled for How to Talk to Girls at Parties, which is another A24 film, by the way, as well as Mary Shelley, Sidney Hall, and The Beguiled. And that's just your 2017! I give your performances in 2016 a lot of credit for your rise in popularity, and hopefully things only get better for you in 2017!
Ok, now that those awards have been handed out, let's take a look at my top 3 performances for 2016!
3) Viola Davis, Fences
While this performance is at the top of many people's lists, it's only at number 3 for me because I was more emotionally moved by numbers 2 and 1. That's it. When it strictly comes to the word "acting," I think it's safe to say that Davis had the best moment of the year with the clip below. It was pretty much the only time in 2016 I thought, "Damn... now that's good quantifiable acting." Davis is the absurdly heavy favorite to win Best Supporting Actress at this year's Oscars, and she probably would've made a strong case for Best Actress too had Paramount (and Davis herself) decided to enter her for consideration there. It kind of is unfair to the rest of the Best Supporting Actress category that Davis is here, because c'mon. This is a lead role. Anyway, outside of that clip (which is below) she is also excellent overall, as she acts the crap out of this play on film. But that's also what holds this performance back from being number 1 for me: she was acting, and you knew she was acting. I know that may sound obvious but there was never a point where I wasn't thinking, "Man, is Viola Davis acting the crap out of this right now." Again, nothing wrong with that and it's deserving of an Oscar and deserving a spot in my top 3, but because I knew I was watching a play on film take place in front of me I was never emotionally moved as much as I was by the top 2 on this list. This is purely subjective, I know, but you came here wanting my opinion, right? So let's talk about my top 2!
2) Nicole Kidman, Lion
This performance devastated me. I cried more in Lion than I did in any other film all year, and the majority of those cries was because of Nicole Kidman. The only reason she's not number one on this list is because she didn't have as much screen-time as my top choice, but that I used more as just a simple tie-breaker between these two performances. In my opinion they are all but equal. The primary thing that Kidman did so well with was look. That's it. What she was able to do with her eyes was something else. There's a scene later on in the film where she's in a chair and talking to Dev Patel and she's been crying and this scene was just an emotional trainwreck for me, and it was 100% because of her eyes. I mean, look at this clip below! Look at that first moment Kidman lays eyes on Young Saroo. That look is just so natural. It's so real. It'll bring a tear to your eye. I mean I love David Wenham and don't get me wrong he's a talented actor and great in this film too, but you look at how Kidman looks at Saroo for the first time, then how Wenham looks at Saroo and it really shows that Kidman's performance is on a whole nother planet. Kidman blew me away in this film, and I've never seen someone blow me away so much with such an intimate performance. It is easily deserving of this spot.
Here's more evidence for why Kidman's looks and her eyes make this performance my second-best of 2016.
1) Emma Stone, La La Land
Yup! You better believe Emma Stone is my top performance of 2016. Look. Before you grab the pitchforks and call me just another guy who loves films about Hollywood, let's remember what Emma Stone is asked to do in this film. She's asked to play a young, aspiring actress trying to catch her break in show business. She's asked to do several auditions during this film, including the brutal close-up below. She's asked to display every single emotion throughout the film, and she does so with absolute brilliance. There weren't many roles that were more physically demanding than this one in 2016, but then you add the fact that she had to sing and dance throughout most of the film? Wow. I mean her "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" scene is one of the best scenes of 2016, and is certainly a scene comparable to Anne Hathaway's "I Dreamed a Dream" scene from 2012's Les Misérables. But then, unlike Hathaway who's only in that film for like 5 minutes, Stone is also the lead of this film! This whole performance culminates with a thrilling final dance number, "Epilogue," and afterwards in the final few moments of the film there's another look Emma Stone has that makes me ugly cry every. Single. Time. I've seen the film like 4 times at this point and I still just BALL at this look. Then let's not forget her great performance in "Someone in the Crowd" AND her great dance sequence alongside Ryan Gosling in the "A Lovely Night" sequence. Oh, and let's not forget the amazing chemistry she has with Gosling, because of course she does. While Kidman's performance may have struck at me emotionally more than Stone's, I was just blown away by Emma here in La La Land. It is a performance for the ages, more than worthy of an Oscar, and certainly my top pick for best performance of 2016. If the clip below doesn't convince you, I don't know what will. (And remember this clip is like the number 6 best clip for Emma Stone in La La Land. Just saying)
Well, there you have it! Can't believe I'm done with the Third Annual Awesome Actors Awards Show. Only one post left! My best films of 2016! I will see you lovely folks back here tomorrow for that one tomorrow. Thanks for reading!
(20th Century Women)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTUwMDIwNTc3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDkxMDU0MDI@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_.jpg (Mahershala Ali)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMmNkZGIyNGMtYTZhOS00ODFmLWEyMzEtZjY4MDhjMjVmMTNiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjUwNzk3NDc@._V1_.jpg (The Lobster)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMjE4NTU0OTIwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjMxNTc3OTE@._V1_.jpg (Hell or High Water)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMjQxNDE1NjQ4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzYyNTMyODE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_.jpg (10 Cloverfield Lane)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BNjljZTRkNjAtNWJkZS00YjIyLTliMjgtMWJmOTNlMDE2MjRhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDg2MjUxNjM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1498,1000_AL_.jpg (20th Century Women)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTAyNzExNDY1NDNeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDA1MTEzMzkx._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1497,1000_AL_.jpg (Hidden Figures)
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMjM5MTU4ODg1MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTM0MTc5OTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1503,1000_AL_.jpg (La La Land)
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