Top 10 Movie Performances of 2017: Ryan’s Picks

Honorable Mentions

Baby driver

Woody Harrelson – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Jamie Foxx – “Baby Driver”

Javier Bardem – “mother!”

Tom Hardy – “Dunkirk”

Colin Farrell – “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”

Benny Safdie – “Good Time”

big sick

10.) Kumail Nanjiani – “The Big Sick”

The reason Nanjiani’s performance isn’t higher on my list is because he plays himself in this movie, and I feel that is something that can either add merit or take it away, but I felt like it may be a tad easier to play yourself than to emulate someone else. Nonetheless, Nanjiani is incredible in “The Big Sick.” He does a masterful job of setting the tone of this movie that is about events in his life, and there are so many different layers to him that are conveyed through his casual, yet comical mannerisms and dialogue. Nanjiani is certainly a huge part of what made this film so great.

it comes at night

9.) Joel Edgerton – “It Comes At Night”

Edgerton plays a protective, yet sensitive character in a very intense film in “It Comes At Night.” Edgerton has had so many roles that I loved, and I am a big fan of his, but this one stood out to me specifically. He is able to be a hard-nosed, family-oriented man in a very dangerous world, while also succumbing to his own guilt and sensitivity by allowing a stranger family to stay with them. I found Edgerton’s character to be so interesting, and he has made himself into a pretty safe bet when looking at a cast list.

big sick

8.) Ray Romano – “The Big Sick”

I don’t think I would have ever guessed that Ray Romano would be on my list of top performances of the year, but here he is. Yet another great performance from “The Big Sick” (Holly Hunter and Zoe Kazan were both phenomenal as well), Romano played his role to a tee as the goofy, somewhat air-headed father. Romano’s character was certainly awkward, and I loved how he never tried to really be more than that. Even when he did try to offer some insight (if you saw “The Big Sick,” you should know what scene I am referring to), it did not end up being very helpful. Romano was a pleasant surprise and I am so happy I could include him on this list.

A ghost story

7.) Rooney Mara – “A Ghost Story”

Rooney Mara has certainly proven to be light years ahead of her sister, Kate, which can be argued is due to the movies (or shows) they choose, but Rooney is undoubtedly one of the great female actors working today. I cannot say I am surprised by her excellent performance in “A Ghost Story,” but what was so impressive about Mara here is how little she had to work with. Her character practically has zero dialogue in this movie, and she is still remarkable to watch. She uses facial expressions and posture to express any emotion she may be feeling. This is another wonderful performance by a tremendous actress.


6.) Daniel Kaluuya – “Get Out”

I had not even heard the name Daniel Kaluuya until the night I saw “Get Out,” and wow, did he pop off the screen. Kaluuya did such a good job at playing this character, which was his first lead role in a film. He seemed to handle every scene with such composure and grace, and I am certainly excited for what Mr. Kaluuya has to offer in the future. Also, I learned after I saw this movie that Kaluuya is from England, and his British accent was not even close to noticeable in the film, so that makes his performance that much more impressive.

good time

5.) Robert Pattinson – “Good Time”

I think I sort of wrote off Robert Pattinson after the “Twilight” saga, and never really expected he would amount to much else after that (sorry, Robert). But wow, was Robert Pattinson fantastic in “Good Time.” He blew me away. I certainly did not think he had this type of performance in him, and like Romano, I would’ve called you crazy if you told me he would be on this list earlier this year. Pattinson played a vigilante bank robber – a role I never expected him to be in – and killed it.

call me by your name

4.) Armie Hammer – “Call Me by Your Name”

I am extremely upset that Armie Hammer is not getting more Oscar buzz, because this was a hell of a performance. I am definitely a fan of Armie Hammer’s, especially from his roles in “The Social Network” and “Nocturnal Animals,” but this is one of his biggest roles, certainly his boldest, and probably his best. Hammer’s character was one that was meant to exude confidence while trying to mask the insecurity of discovering something new about himself, and he pulled off every bit of it. In my opinion, Hammer deserves an Oscar nomination for this brilliant performance that demonstrated superiority, confidence, and nervousness.

I tonya

3.) Margot Robbie – “I, Tonya”

I was excited for this movie from the moment I learned Margot Robbie was playing Tonya Harding, and she did not disappoint. Despite signing up for some bad movies (cough cough, “Suicide Squad”), I think Robbie is a phenomenal actress. I wouldn’t imagine Tonya Harding is an easy person to emulate, but I believed every second that Robbie was on the screen. Unfortunately, this year contains a loaded Best Lead Actress category, and I am in the camp that believes Robbie should make the cut, but I hope the Academy thinks so, too. I also hope that although Robbie has been in several great movies, like “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and “The Big Short,” this is the one that vaults her into getting any role she wants.

Call me by your name

2.) Timothée Chalamet – “Call Me by Your Name”

Ah, two of my top four performances of the year come from “Call Me by Your Name,” and rightfully so. As good as Hammer was, Chalamet tops it. This may be in part because Chalamet has a bigger role and one that requires a bit more emotion due to more alone on-screen time, but Chalamet has no faults in this role. Like Hammer, Chalamet’s character, Elio, is learning something about himself that is very unfamiliar and foreign, and we see every bit of that struggle. But we also get to see how he begins to settle into that reality and become more comfortable, and we see every ounce of pain along with it. This is such a moving performance, and one that felt so incredibly real. Keep your eyes on Chalamet, he’s going to the stars.

Three billboards

1.) Frances McDormand – “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

When I saw Chalamet’s performance in “Call Me by Your Name,” I was almost certain, especially so late in the year, it wouldn’t be topped. And then I saw “Three Billboards,” and Frances McDormand knocked me right out of my seat. McDormand plays a mother whose daughter was raped and killed, and she makes it feel exactly like you would think a mother enduring that harsh reality would feel. She has a bitterness that shows when she’s around people, but she also has her moments alone where she reaches her breaking point. I think part of what made this performance so great is how many layers McDormand’s character has to her. I loved that this wasn’t a cliché, stone-cold mother who wants nothing but blood, but instead, one that felt so much more real by showing a soft side at times and understanding that she is still a person and has values and feelings. I would bet my life McDormand gets nominated, and I really hope she pulls out the win, because she deserves it.

What was your favorite movie performance of 2017? Comment below with your thoughts.

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