Jennifer Lawrence – “Mother!”
Mark Hamill – “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
John Mulaney & Nick Kroll – “Oh Hello: Live on Broadway”
James Franco – “The Disaster Artist”
Woody Harrelson – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri”
Michael Shannon – “The Shape of Water”
Nicole Kidman – “The Beguiled”
Joel Edgerton – “It Comes at Night”
10.) Steve Zahn – “War for the Planet of the Apes”
The “Planet of the Apes” prequel trilogy has had some staggering performances, from James Franco in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” to Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Toby Kebbell in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”. And of course, the series is anchored by Andy Serkis’ remarkable performance as Caesar. However, leaving the trilogy behind, the one performance that springs to mind is that of Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape. Zahn has created a hilarious, sympathetic, and loveable character that performs heroic acts throughout. Bad Ape is a genius character and one that the “Apes” franchise desperately needed.
9.) Ana de Armas – “Blade Runner 2049”
Not only is Ana de Armas’ performance in “Blade Runner 2049” one of the top performances of the year, but the character of JOI is my absolute favorite from 2017. Armas brings such soul to the character of JOI, a computer programmed A.I. girlfriend. She is beautiful, sensitive, strong, and heartbreaking.
8.) Ross Lynch – “My Friend Dahmer”
Whoda’ thunk that a Disney star could so startlingly portray one of the most terrifying serial killers in American history? Ross Lynch stars as Jeffrey Dahmer in his youth, growing up in Ohio and discovering truths about himself. Based on Derf Backderf’s graphic novel, Lynch portrays Dahmer’s out-of-control antics as well as his demonic obsessions in a way that feels terrifyingly honest. Lynch doesn’t hide behind the weirdo factor too much, allowing us to see inside Dahmer and relate to his struggles with his family and his sexuality. In the end, it’s a painfully truthful performance that doesn’t hide a thing.
7.) Daniel Kaluuya – “Get Out”
If you’ve seen this movie, then you understand this pick. Kaluuya is a powerhouse, totally conveying the horror and confusion that comes with the “Body Snatchers” style attacks in the film. His sunken place performance alone puts him in the top 10, but the humor he brings throughout also lends to this being an essential performance of 2017.
6.) Sally Hawkins – “The Shape of Water”
A silent performance for the ages, Sally Hawkins is mesmerizing as Elisa in “The Shape of Water”. Through listening and the use of sign language, she is able to show the audience her desires and her longing. It’s a masterful performance.
5.) Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne, Bryan Cranston- “Last Flag Flying”
The main cast of “Last Flag Flying” present to audiences the absolute definition of a perfect ensemble cast. The chemistry between these three old friends and veterans is shown through the way they act around each other, the way their attitudes change, and the way they support each other. Carell is the grieving father, subduing his pain and trying to stay strong for himself and those around him. Fishburne is a reformed man of God, judging and struggling to understand his old friends while also reckoning with his past, and Cranston takes a big swing as the party-guy, the cigar smoking, foul-mouthed character who causes a lot of the problems the characters deal with all for his own sense of truth and purpose. It is a must-see film with three must-see performances.
4.) Patrick Stewart – “Logan”
From the moment Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier appeared on screen in “Logan”, I knew he was going to break my heart. The fragile former hero who is losing his mind, Charles is not the man we’ve seen in films past. He is mean and scorned by age and regret. He is funny when he needs to be and cripplingly sad the next moment. His relationship with Logan is constantly fascinating and charming, and this is a beautiful send off to a much-beloved character.
3.) Holly Hunter & Ray Romano- “The Big Sick”
While the ever so charming Kumail Nanjiani and the great Zoe Kazan may be getting a lot of the awards talk for their romance in “The Big Sick”, the performances I remember most are Emily’s parents played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. Hunter is a take-no-shit mother whose only concern is for her daughter’s well being, and Romano surprises with not just his hilarious dry persona, but also his dramatic chops. You truly believe the two of them have been together for a long time and know each other far too well.
2.) Barry Keoghan – “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
A big year for Barry, his performance as Martin in “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” is the most chilling villainous performance in years. He is complex, evil, and mysterious while barely hiding anything. The movie takes its time with Martin, revealing his intentions slowly and disturbingly. Never has eating spaghetti been so menacing.
1.) Frances McDormand – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri”
The best performance of the year, hands down, goes to the brilliant Frances McDormand for “Three Billboards”. McDormand’s Mildred Hayes is a tortured but kick-ass mother seeking answers in a system that is designed not to give them. She is determined, stubborn, flawed, and honest. The pain behind her eyes, whenever she talks about her daughter, is palpable, and her ability to change who she presents herself as in any given scene makes this a commanding performance and the years best. People, myself included, will be talking about Mildred Hayes for a long time.
What was your favorite movie performance of 2017? Comment below with your thoughts.