2011 in Film (Best Actor)

This was a good year for actors, as you’ll see in the below performances. It was rather hard to rank all of these, and the amount of inspiration I got from these performances was immense. Below is my comprehensive look at the best of the best.


*Lucas Pittaway* in Snowtown
*Brad Pitt* in Moneyball
*Ryan Gosling* in The Ides of March

These 3 performances could easily appear on any top 10 list. Newcomer Pittaway tackles a tough role in a tough movie and comes off turning in one of the most realistic performances of the year as a wayward kid roped in by a serial killer. Brad Pitt had an amazing year with this and Tree of Life (which he ranked #1 in my best supporting actor list). His work in Moneyball is just as solid. Ryan Gosling proved again this year he is one of the best young actors out there. The fact that he didn’t get nominated for Blue Valentine still irks me. He was the driving force behind Ides of March and held his own with a cast of greats.

#10 – Antonio Banderas – The Skin I Live In

What an insane movie, what an insane character! This is the best performance of Antonio’s career. Reuniting with long time collaborator Aldmolovar – this is pretty tough stuff to stomach. Somehow Banderas make’s you understand the characters journey – no matter the disturbing his acts in the film. This is must see.

#9 – Ewan McGregor – Beginners

Christopher Plummer put this picture on the map – but the work done by its other actors is truly special stuff too. Thankfully Plummer always thanked McGregor in his speeches – and rightfully so. His performance would not have been as powerful without the support and brilliance from McGregor as his son. I am rather shocked that he didn’t get more accolades. I truly think he should have been in the mix.

#8 – George Clooney – The Descendants

I really enjoy this Clooney performance. I think he sometimes rests of his laurels, but here he truly is up to something new. He sheds that charming handsome guy image as the rather pathetic husband and father who has just found out his invalid wife has cheated on him. He has moments of true brilliance in this film which more than warranted all of the attention for the film.

#7  – Michael Shannon – Take Shelter

Michael Shannon, like this film, is a force of nature. I believe he is one of the most underused and always perfect actors. He never turns in a bad performance. I believe he should already have an Oscar for Bug, which got little to no attention. He tops himself here and finally has been given a role that is not a “character role” – but a living breathing flawed person – albiet an eccentric one. This performance will shake you to your bones.

#6 – Ryan Gosling – Drive

In a year with 3 great performances (Crazy Stupid Love and Ides of March) – this is the one that I feel was the best. With so little dialogue, Gosling turns in a multi-faceted performance that’s central power lies within his control as an actor. It’s hard when an actor is this good looking to be taken seriously, but this is a performance that is truly brutally real. He is the only one who could have taken the role to this place – brilliant.

#5 – Demian Birchir – A Better Life

I am so happy that this performance was nominated – or I may have never seen it. I did find flaws in the movie itself, as I do not believe the film or the other performances rise to the level of Birchir’s acting. However, his performance is an instant classic. We don’t get to see movies about this character – and I am so thankful that he was so convincing and so inhabits his character that it was nominated and will now see the light of day.

#4 – Jean Dujardin – The Artist

I was so overjoyed that Dujardin won the Oscar, as he was brilliant in the film. People in the U.S. needed his presence up on that screen. It’s a performance that is truly something special. With uttering only 2 words in the film (and a couple of breaths) he conveys so much emotion. More than that he fills audiences with a certain joy and excitement that very well could have been missing since the silent film era. Bravo and welcome to the US!

#3 – Michael Fassbender – Shame

This is the performance I was most shocked that wasn’t announced on nomination morning. Because it was that good! Fassbender has had a breakthrough year as well – however here he really strips it all away (literally and figuratively) and gets to inhabit a character that surely will make you a bit uncomfortable. Finding the humanity in a character who so desperately is afraid of love and true affection – makes this a hard to watch performance – but nonetheless a brilliant one. Everyone who has seen this knows he was robbed.

#2 – Michael Fuith – Michael

When I saw this movie at the Chicago film festival I knew this would be my favorite male performance of the year. Which just shows you how much I loved my number 1 choice. That being said, it really is a tie – as this performance is brilliant. Playing a child molester must be tough, but playing it in such a way that you feel for the character and question your own thoughts and beliefs on the matter (yeah that’s so sick but right) is quite a feat. I want to see this man in more movies and I want it now. This is acting at its rawest form. Brilliant.

#1 – Peter Mullan – Tyrannosaur

This is a performance unlike any I have seen. His co-star Olivia Colman gives the best performance of the year, and Peter Mullan is right there with his devastating performance in this tough and beautiful film. There are many flawed characters on all of my lists, but none perhaps portrayed so brutally than Peter Mullan. This performance, and this film, was overlooked and that is a crime. From the first scene Mullan scared me, then I felt pity, then I felt regret, then I felt love, and that was within the first 45 minutes of the film. You stick with him every step of the way. A brilliant film and a brilliant performance.

Now it’s your turn!
What do you think of my choices?
Who’s your pick?