2011 in film (Best Actress)

2012 didn’t have a slew of “amazing” leading actress performances, but the ones below are MUCH better than the usual list a year gives us. These women blew me away. I think they are all fantastic, and you should for sure search all of them out. I cannot fathom how Oscar got it so wrong this year (with its choice of nominees and moreso with the ones it left off). All of these performances are pretty perfect.

RUNNER’S UP:

*Elizabeth Olsen* in Martha Marcy May Marlene
*Felicity Jones* in Like Crazy

Both of these women actually belong on a top 10 list, however the above performances are just to perfect to ignore. However don’t let that take anything away from them. Elizabeth Olsen proved that flawless acting can come from an Olsen sister as MMMM escapes the cult and tries to escape her past. It’s a stunning performance. And Felicity Jones in Like Crazy is the kind of buzzed about debut you wish for. She is the girl you want to find and never to lose.

#10 – Kristin Wiig – Bridesmaids

Not only did she co-write the film, she is also its heart. Bridesmaids could have been just another run of the mill chick flick, but Wiig’s realness and true hilarity elevates the film to something completely different. She portrays desperation and wit side by side. It’s sometimes sad and sometimes lovable but always hysterical.

#9 – Viola Davis – The Help

I can just hear everyone railing me for putting this performance so low – and that’s fine. The fact is Viola is always fantastic. I preferred her in Doubt, but that takes nothing away from her performance as Abileen. It is a flawless performance. The movie was a bit of a let down for me, but the performance is as strong as ever. She made me tear up, and she delivered a performance which will be remembered after today and for many years to come.

#8 – Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Taking on a role that is so popular, and that was done so well (by Noomi Repace) so recently, was a daunting task. However, in the hands of Rooney Mara, it was the type of daring and dangerous performance that stood out for all the right reasons. The commitment Mara showed in making sure she nailed Lisbeth Salander is visible in her ever frame. This is a performance I cannot wait to see more of. I’m ready for part 2.

#7 – Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady 

I will start by saying I am very happy that Meryl won the Oscar. I preferred her to Viola (and it seemed to be down to those two). I think her work in Iron Lady is legendary. She truly inhabits Thatcher. I was not impressed with the film however, and that’s why she is not listed higher. That being said her work is (as always) amazing. As the elderly Thatcher, she really gets the chance to shine. As the character struggles with dementia and Alzheimer’s, Streep connects with emotions we have never seen her reach before. I don’t know how to say its the best work shes ever done .. as that’s tough. But when you compare it to her later great work – this is top knotch. Congrats Meryl and bravo to you.

#6 – Tilda Swinton – We Need to Talk About Kevin

Speaking of best performances, this could very well be Tilda’s shining moment so far (however you never know, I’ve been a long time fan!). I didn’t love everything about this movie either, but Tilda’s performance made it all worthwhile. This is a performance I couldn’t see anyone else doing – and I would never want to see another actress portray this character. Swinton shows the gamete of emotions as the mother who is trying everything in her power to connect with her children and can’t. I’ve read the book, and the role could have come off as cold and weak – however in the hands of Swinton she brought layers upon layers to the role of Eva. Such astounding work.

#5 – Charlize Theron – Young Adult

In this criminally overlooked film, Charlize tackles the toughest character out of the bunch. A woman who is so pathetic, so cruel, so mean, and so awful. Diablo Cody wrote the role with no sympathy. It’s not about a mean woman being changed through her circumstances – its about a hateful woman becoming more hateful regardless of what happens to her. Yet in the hands of someone as talented as Theron, you still get moments which help you realize why this woman is as nasty as she is. This is her best work since Monster (which is one of the best performances of all time). And how odd this is, because both women are different kinds of monsters. Theron get’s to let loose again, and it was a pleasure to watch (and cringe at).

#4 – Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs

It takes a real talent to make this script work. Glenn Close has lived with the role of Albert for over 20 years now. And it shows. As I mentioned in my pick for best supporting actress (Janet McTeer from the same film) a lot of people give this movie a lot of flack. I think its a great film. And that is because of the passion of Glenn Close and the subtle brilliance of her performance as Albert. I can see how this wouldn’t appeal to a broad audience. Close is known for her over-the-top scenery chewing performances, and she abandons all of that here. But I believe it works wonders. With a small curl of the lip, or twinkle in the eye – Glenn says so much more than a monologue could allow. It’s a brilliant performance. Out of the nominated performances – it was my favorite. I hope this leads to more screen work for Ms. Close as she is one of our best talents, who is too often overlooked.

#3 – Kirsten Dunst – Melancholia

I dare you to say Kirsten Dunst isn’t a talented actress. Actually dare you. Like, I will fight with you for the whole night if you try and tell me otherwise. All the proof is in the pudding! As Justine in Melancolia – she turns in one of the best performances of the year (man or woman). I haven’t seen depression portrayed so realistically on screen in quite some time – if ever. But its growing depression – as the movie goes on she continues to deteriorate right in front of our eyes. The fact this performance didn’t get nominated for every award is criminal.

#2 – Ellen Barkin – Another Happy Day

Yet again I am choosing a performance from this film. So if you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting on? This is the type of performance that gets me so excited! Barkin hasn’t done much lately (onscreen .. she recently won a Tony though) and if this doesn’t lead to better and more mainstream work I will eat my shoe. This is a performance that I knew would be one of my favorites within the first 15 minutes of the film – and yet it only got better and better and better. As the central character of one of the most dysfunctional families ever – Barkin proves she is an actress who can handle any material thrown her way. The fact that this was not widely released or nominated – is sick. Brilliant performance!! Please see (its on dvd!)

#1 – Olivia Colman – Tyrannosaur

This is not just the best female performance of the year – this is the best performance of the year. This is probably the best performance of the past 5 years. I cannot get over the SICK lack of support for this film or this performance. I haven’t been so devestated by a performance in memory. Those I have shared this movie with have all watched it and suddenly agreed with me. Folks – THIS IS THE REAL DEAL – it doesn’t get any better than this! I promise! Olivia Colman is truly haunting in this tough film. I could go on and on about this performance, but why waste my time when you can pre-order it on amazon and in April see for yourself. But I go on record saying THIS IS THE PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR!

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

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2011 in Film (Best Supporting Actor)

There have been better years for supporting male performances, that being said – the Oscars got it all wrong. Some of the nominated performances were huge misses for me – and the fact they left some of these off really offends me quite bit. Here’s my comprehensive look at the best supporting male performances of the year.

RUNNER’S UP

*Hunter Mccracken* – The Tree of Life
*Keifer Sutherland* – Melancholia
*Phillip Seymore Hoffman* – The Ides of March
*Ezra Miller* – Another Happy Day
*Stellan Skarsgaard* – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

All of these fine men turned in wonderful performances this year. As the center of the family in Tree of Life, Hunter McCracken turned in the best teen performance of the year. Keifer Sutherland proved he is back in business with a stark and subdued performance in Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia. Phillip Seymoure Hoffman proves again he can do no wrong as a cutthroat political strategist in Ides of March (he was also great in Moneyball). Ezra Miller had a stellar year as well turning in a performance as the sons from hell in both We Need to Talk About Kevin and the under seen Another Happy Day. And finally the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo wouldn’t have contained as much of a tense punch if it weren’t for the terrifying work from Stellan Skarsgaard (also great in Melancholia).

#10 – Albert Brooks – Drive

Uh-oh, here comes trouble. The comedian couldn’t be found anywhere in Albert Brooks threatening performance in Drive. An excellent movie all around, Brooks brought a level of danger to an already dangerous film. Some of his one-liners in this film rank among the best lines of the year.

#9 – Sasha Baron Cohen – Hugo

In a role which screams typical Baron Cohen quirkyness – Sasha turned the tables on us. His character in this film has as much heart as the adorable children, or the recluse old filmmaker. Bringing the movies big laughs is easy for him, but making the villainous character lovable and  likable takes true talent. I loved a lot about this movie, but I believe I may have loved him most.

#8 – John Hawkes – Martha Marcy May Marlene

Following his stunning performance in Winter’s Bone, Hawke’s returns as another backwoods character you won’t soon forget. Here he channeled his inner David Koresh as a dangerous cult leader. The miraculous part about the performance is that he provides the audience with the charm needed to prove the point of why people followed this man. Also his song which he performs, is the best scene in the film.

#7 – Nick Nolte – Warrior

This performance is one which could get Nick Nolte back in the mix. It seems to be a performance which hit quite home to the man himself. Nolte is well known for his struggles with drugs and alcohol – so playing the father who is struggling to stay sober I am sure was quite a painful experience. But from pain comes moments of true perfection – of which Nolte gives in spades. His best work in years.

#6 – Patton Oswalt – Young Adult

This movie was criminally overlooked! In a shockingly funny yet mean script, there was a lump of gold sitting right in between all of the selfishness of the characters – and that was comedian Patton Oswalt. Building upon what he started in the film Big Fan, Oswalt really shows he has dramatic chops. Who would have ever thought of him next to the glamazon Charlize Theron, in a romantic-ish relationship? Well it works – to a heartbreaking level.

#5 – David Henshall – Snowtown

Out of all the “dangerous men” on this list .. no one holds a candle to Henshall’s John Bunting. This is the performance I wouldn’t recommend to everyone, because I do not know if everyone could handle it. I’ve seen many films that try to delve into showing us a realistic portrait of a serial killer – I doubt there’s been one in the last 10 years that feels as realistic as this. Watch at your own risk – but it surely is a brilliant performance.

#4 – David Rauchenberger – Michael 

11 year old Rauchenberger turns in a performance that many will never give in their entire career. As the captive of pedophile Michael (the title character), Rauchenberger handles insanely difficult and mature material in a sensitive and mature way which highly surpass his age. I am hearing this movie is getting a wide release very soon, and my hope is that you will hunt it out.

#3 – Michael Parks – Red State

Here we go, another nutter! But this is something altogether different. Growing up in the South I have come into contact with many a nutty preacher – none hold a candle to Abin Cooper. A replica of the true life Phelp’s family clan – Abin is like all of them wrapped into one. This is a no-holds-barred over-the-top insane performance – and it works oh so well. I am honestly shocked that he didn’t get more attention. I think people ran away from this movie because it assaults religion, because Kevin Smith may not be “the cool guy” he once was, and it was billed as a horror film. I beg of you to give it a shot – its a great film and this is an award worthy performance. His opening sermon alone deserves an award.

#2 – Christopher Plummer – Beginners

Oscars pretty much got it right here. Plummer is a fantastic actor, and has been for many of his 82 years. However he truly has given his career best performance in Beginners as the newly out father. After his wife’s death, he is now able to live the life he has always wanted – as a gay man. Plummer brings his own life experience to a role that couldn’t be more different to himself on paper. The character and Plummer mold into one and the performance is one that won’t keep a dry eye in the house. Bravo to you Mr. Plummer!

#1 – Brad Pitt – The Tree of Life

Speaking of turning in career best performances, Brad Pitt did just that this year. No, not in Moneyball, but in The Tree of Life. As the father of the world’s “first family” Pitt made me think of my own father. Those moments where he loved me so much, those moments he tried to make me tough, those moments he made me mad, those moments he made me proud, etc. And the fact of never being able to “be the man your father is” was all there. With very little dialogue and elongated screen time – Pitt gets across emotions that have taken a lifetime to build. This performance is a marvel.

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