I wrote my top 10 list a while ago, but I thought I’d make my own list for the best performances of the year. This isn’t ranked and plus I’m pretty loose about the criteria for a spot, but whatever. I can’t say I saw every And here they are:
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Yes, this is the most obvious inclusion on the list, but I’m going to have to say it again. Daniel Day-Lewis was incredible as Lincoln and gave one of the most powerful performances in his great career.
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Chastian has really emerged as an actress in 2011 in films such as The Tree of Life and Take Shelter. In Zero Dark Thirty, she plays Maya, a cold, ruthless CIA agent determined to find Bin Laden. Chastain is simply stunning in her role.
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
One could arguably say Phoenix’s performance wasn’t too different from his role in I’m Still Here. Whatever the case, Phoenix was fantastic as WWII veteran Freddy Quell, who gets lost in a cult. Phoenix may also be in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s next film, which I’m eager to see.
Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Amour is such a beautiful film, and both Trintignant and Riva were at the film’s core. The two veteran actors gave emotionally powerful performances in Michael Haneke’s masterpiece.
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Wallis gives a committed and stunning performance as Hushpuppy. Her performance was so strong it’s hard to believe this was her first time acting.
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
While Lawrence turned into a teen idol for her role in The Hunger Games, her best performance of the year was in director David O. Russell’s new comedy. Lawrence was funny and dry as Tina in the film and deserves much praise in her role.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
While Christoph Waltz was the one who took the Oscar nod, DiCaprio has the strongest performance in the film in my opinion. As the vile plantation owner Calvin Candie, DiCaprio is quite frightening on the screen and chews up every scene in the movie.
Edward Norton, Moonrise Kingdom
There were plenty of great performances in Moonrise Kingdom, but my favorite undoubtedly is Norton’s. As Khaki Scout Master Randy Ward, Norton is hilarious and plays the role perfectly.
Richard Parker, Life of Pi
Am I giving a performance nod to a CGI tiger? Yes. But let me just say that director Ang Lee brings the special effects to life, making the tiger look not only realistic but making its actions believable.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Hoffman is one of the greatest actors of today’s generation and he brings life into cult leader Lancaster Dodd. He is domineering and demanding in his role, and gives a powerful performance.
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
As abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens, Jones is fantastic. He convincingly plays the character and does an amazing job.
And now for some honorable mentions.
Jared Gilman and Kara Heyword, Moonrise Kingdom
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Amy Adams, The Master
Bruce Willis, Moonrise Kingdom
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Alan Arkin, Argo
Javier Bardem, Skyfall