This thread is inspired by Odi’s posting of James Devereaux’s post about his favorite performances. What are some of your favorite performances from both the old and new films you saw last year? As always, it would be great to hear some explanation as to why you liked the performances so much.
The three male performances that immediately jump to mind are Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor, Michael Shannon in Take Shelter, and Michael Fassbender in Shame. As for females, Tilda Swinton’s performance in Kevin really moved me. I would also like to say that Olivia Colman really impressed me in Tyrannosaur. I went into the film because of Peter Mullan but it was Colman that blew me away.
Speaking of lesser-known performances, I’d give a shout out to Reilly and Waltz in Carnage. Reilly did a masterful job of juggling the comedy and the drama that was required for that role. And I think Waltz also did a great job of bringing an aspect to the role that was missing from Jeff Daniels performance in the Broadway play.
I’ve been wanting to see Tilda Swinton’s performance (but the film hasn’t made its way over here). You know what I thought of Shannon’s performance. I liked Fassbender, although I though Carey Mulligan was just as good.
Reilly and Waltz were solid. Waltz is extremely watchable. (There’s something about him.)
Any performances from older films you saw last year? (I have to look over my list, as nothing comes to mind now.)
The two standout performances for me were Peter Mullen in Tyrannosaur (Olivia Colman and Eddie Marsan were also great), and Matthias Schoenaerts in Bullhead – a performance that had me on edge for the whole film. Tilda Swinton was very good, as always. Both Peyman Moadie and Sareh Bayat were excellent in A Separation, and the whole cast of Carnage were brilliant. It was a year of great performances. Also notable were Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson in The Sunset Limited, Daniel Henshall in Snowtown, Jacob Wysocki in Terri (Reilly was great in this aswell), Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor…the list goes on. Great year for movies, great year for performances.
Dang. I haven’t seen most of those^ films. (A Separation is opening this Friday, so hopefully I’ll check that out soon.)
I don’t keep track of older films that I watch. And honestly, I don’t watch a lot of older films on a regular basis (at least not ones that I haven’t seen before). This is what happens when you cancel your Netflix account. :(
I also forgot to mention Ryan Gosling. I thought his performances in all three films last year were diverse and quite compelling.
One of my favorite films from last year was Tomboy and while it’s difficult to asses child acting, I thought the lead actress was perfectly cast in the role. Zoe Heran completely embodied that role and I can’t imagine anyone else playing that part.
I agree with Scampi that everyone in A Separation was great although for me it was the writing that made that film as strong as it was. The acting was great and of course having great writing always helps the actor.
I run hot and cold with Juliette Binoche but I think her work in “Certified Copy” is my favorite since her exciting performance in André Téchiné’s “Rendez-vous” from 1985. She seems freer and more exposed in this great new film. Binoche has often been such a polite actress. I didn’t enjoy her in “The English Patient” and “Chocolat.” Maybe the new film’s unusual concept allows her this freedom.
^Yes! With another actress, Certified Copy might not have been nearly as compelling. But with Binoche, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen. This film might technically be from 2010 but I saw it in 2011 and loved her work in it.
Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, Juliette Binoche in Certified Copy, Jeong-hie Yun in Poetry, Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender in almost everything.
Also, Jean Dejurdain was charming in The Artist, and Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg pulled out all the stops in Melancholia.
Kate Winslet’s TV Mildred Pierce is also worth noting.
3/4 Oscar winners (Dujardin, Plummer, Spencer)
Entire ensembles of The Help, A Seperation, The Artist
Haven’t seen much this year. Best thing I can come up at this moment.
Angus Scrimm (Satan Hates You)
Rachel Korine (Septian)
Kate Winslet (Carnage)
Lizzie Brocheré (After Fall, Winter)
Allison Pill (Midnight in Paris)
Michael Fassbinder in Shame
Tilda Swinton in We Need To Talk About Kevin
Pleasantly surprised by Anna Paquin in Margaret.
Michael Shannon in Take Shelter and Kristen Dunst in Melancholia have all been favorites.
I was very impressed with Gary Oldman’s George Smiley in TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, a marvelous exercise is minimalism — every word, every gesture tells, nothing out of place. He does more with a slight turn of the head than a lot of other actors will ever do in their entire careers. This is the performance that actors like Kevin Spacey think they’re delivering.
I was also very taken with Jean Dujardin’s George Valentin in THE ARTIST. Funny and moving and very engaging, all the charm and fun of Douglas Fairbanks but with John Gilbert’s warmth and gravity.
Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad. Amazing performance. I would never have thought the dad from Malcom In The Middle could pull off a a performance evolving from an everyday family man into an evil criminal mastermind.
Howard said, I run hot and cold with Juliette Binoche but I think her work in “Certified Copy” is my favorite since her exciting performance in André Téchiné’s “Rendez-vous” from 1985. She seems freer and more exposed in this great new film.
Hmm, she seemed uncomfortable to me and the acting seemed awkward, not very natural or realistic, imo. Perhaps, the writing had something to do with it—and the nature of the subject matter. The two characters are supposed to be having a conversation, but it feels a little forced maybe a little preachy. If anyone has seen Mindwalk, that’s sort of what I mean. However, in that film, the three characters represented three point of views—the politician, poet and the physicist—so it’s understandable that the dialogue felt more like a speech than a natural conversation.
Or compare the film to My Dinner with Andre or even the Before Sunrise/Sunset films. The conversation seemed more natural and realistic in both (at least from what I remember).
Fassbender in Shame
Brit Marling in Another Earth
Giamatti and Hoffman in Ides of March
Chastain in Tree of Life
Michael Shannon in Take Shelter: He simply personified the current zeitgeist of paranoia running amok in our modern culture. Unsettling and brilliant.
Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene: I honestly thought the actress herself had just escaped from a cult…her loss of individuality and broken moral barometer were captured in every scene….and yet there was still an amazing childlike innocence to the performance as well.
Jessica Chastain and Ryan Gosling in just about everything I saw them in this year. Those two have careers that are currently smoking red hot.
Olsen and Shannon stand out in my mind.
Give me a few minutes to think up some who might not be as obvious (ie. Ones no one else has said)
Robert Longstreet who was in Take Shelter as the site manager was in a film called Septien as well. He was really good in that.
Michael Shannon in Take Shelter
Jessica Chastain in Take Shelter and The Tree of Life (Should have been nominated for both performances)
Michael Fassbender in Shame
Carey Mulligan in Shame
Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin
Ezra Miller, Jasper Newell and Rock Duer in We Need to Talk About Kevin
Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Olivia Colman in Tyrannosaur
Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia
Charlotte Gainsbourg in Melancholia
Jean Dujardin in The Artist
Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids
Leila Hatami in A Separation
Tom Hardy in Warrior
Christopher Plummer in Beginners
Jodie Foster in Carnage
Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Giancarlo Esposito in Breaking Bad
Margo Martindale in Justified
The entire cast of Community (particularly Danny Pudi, Jim Rash, Allison Brie, and Donald Glover)
Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler in Friday Night Lights
Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones
Louis CK in Louie
Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman in Parks & Recreation
Clare Danes and Damien Lewis in Homeland
Khandi Alexander in Treme
I was deeply struck by Brad Pitt in “The Tree of Life.” I know that as an actor he’s got some detractors, and I will be the first to admit that he had been inconsistent with his work up until about five years ago. In “The Tree of Life” he goes above and beyond anything else he’s ever done even though it isn’t a particularly showy performance. In all of his other films I am constantly aware that I’m watching Brad Pitt, but in this film he literally disappeared before my eyes and became the father raising his family in 1950’s Texas. Despite his love for his family, the character of the father is made up of many contradictions which makes his so achingly human. Pitt expresses all of this effortlessly and nothing ever feels contrived or even “acted.” I think that’s what separates the performances in Malick’s films from many others: his actors aren’t acting. They’re simply being.
Also, as a native of Pittsburgh, I was stunned by Tom Hardy’s work in “Warrior.”
Kirsten Dunst & Charlotte Gainsbourg – Melancholia
Jean Dujardin – The Artist
Rooney Mara – The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo
Banderas & Anaya – The Skin I Live In
Jessica Chastain – The Help & Tree of Life
Sareh Bayat in A Separation
Thomas Doret in The Kid With a Bike
Haris Markou in Wasted Youth
Cécile de France in The Kid With a Bike
Thomas Doret – The Kid With A Bike
Cecile de France – The Kid With A Bike
Melissa Mc Carthy – Bridesmaids
Jean Dujardin – The Artist
Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman in Tyrannosaur
Erika Bok in The Turin Horse
Sean Penn in This Must Be The Place
Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene
Michael Shannon in Take Shelter
Michael Fassbender – Shame
Antonio Banderas – The skin i live in
Lubna Azabal – Incendies
Peyman Moaadi – A Separation
Juliette Binoche – Certified Copy
Christoph Waltz – Carnage