Rae Kasey over at Nitflicky just recently posted an article in which she said Tom Hardy in Bronson delivered her favorite performance of the year so far. This got me to thinking about what my favorite performances have been so far this year. I am a firm believer in the fact that powerful acting can raise a mediocre film to one that is wholly worth seeing. My most recent example would be Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard in An Education, who both give towering performances, and in my opinion, are what make the film worth seeing.

I also just reviewed A Serious Man and Michael Stuhlbarg delivers what is easily one of the best male performances so far, and I think he definitely deserves an Oscar nomination. Another male performance that is probably not on most people's lists, but is one that has stuck with me for months is Johnny Depp's work in Public Enemies. Similar to my thoughts on An Education, I thought Depp and Marion Cotillard were much better than the script they were given, and still managed to create something powerful out of a mediocre foundation.

Another romantic duo I would add to my list is Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in Adventureland. A terribly mismarketed film, Greg Mottola's teen romance is a sincere effort straight from the heart that is brought to life with lively, charming, and believable performances from both of the leads. And I cannot end this article without mentioning Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds. A complete lock for an Oscar nomination, Waltz's performance as the infamous "Jew Hunter" is -- along with Heath Ledger's Joker -- one of the best villains this entire decade has seen.

A Few Other Favorties: Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker; Matt Damon, The Informant!; Abbie Cornish, Bright Star

Obviously I have not named all of my favorites, but only a select few that come immediately to mind. I would enjoy to hear from all of you. What are the performances from 2009 that have had the greatest impact on you? 


julianstark said...

Ensemble Casts
1. Inglourious Basterds
2. The Hangover
3. Adventureland
4. The Proposal
5. Fame

Leading Actors
1. Robert Downey, Jr. in The Soloist - He's my favorite actor, so I'm obviously biased, but I think his performance here is perfect
2. Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds - Overdone? Yes, but hilarious

Leading Actresses
1. Amy Adams in Sunshine Cleaning - Love her to death. Great leading dramatic performance
2. Ellen Page in Whip It - Completely different role from Juno, but she exudes the exact same charm
3. Amanda Seyfried in Jennifer's Body - She's been proving herself to be fantastic, and this performance is no different
4. Katie Featherston in Paranormal Activity - I thought she played off the paranoia well

Supporting Actors
1. Jamie Foxx in The Soloist - His best work since Ray. Probably going to be his best work for awhile...
2. Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds - Great. Simply fantastic
3. Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover - Great scene-stealer
4. Ed Helms in The Hangover - Another strong performance but slightly more subtle in approach
5. Zachary Quinto in Star Trek - Perfectly embodied a character who was already well-defined by someone else

Supporting Actresses
1. Melanie Laurent in Inglourious Basterds - The best of the cast
2. Kristen Stewart in Adventureland - Love this performance. I mean, this girl gives the emotionally vapid Bella (Twilight) personality
3. Diane Kruger in Inglourious Basterds - Another great performance in this brilliant film
4. Emily Blunt in Sunshine Cleaning - Love her to death
5. Marion Cotillard in Public Enemies - She outdid Johnny Depp... that should say everything

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Although I have performances I'd consider worthy I can't say I've gotten favourite as yet. But if forced in each category - Renner, Pfeiffer, Kruger, Waltz

Candice Frederick said...

definitely Jamie Foxx in 'The Soloist,' Mo'Nique in 'Precious,' Adam Sandler in 'Funny People,' Nicole Beharie in 'American Violet.'

Danny King said...

@ julianstark: Very detailed list, thanks for your opinion. I definitely agree on Pitt's performance. Who cares if it was over the top, it was absolutely hilarious. I also love Ellen Page -- she was terrific in Whip It -- and I can't wait to see her in next year's Inception.

@ Andrew: Haven't seen Cheri yet, but Renner and Waltz are certainly on my list. Kruger was also ravishing in her limited screen time.

@ Candice: Haven't seen Precious yet, but all of the early work on Mo'Nique's performance has been "Oscar, Oscar, Oscar". She looks devastating, as does Sibide.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing really this year yet that has been overly impressive. Perhaps Christopher Waltz. I'll wait until Oscar season comes around.

Danny King said...

@ Anon: I'm sure there are a lot of great performances that will be revealed in the coming weeks.

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