Sunday, January 21, 2018

10 best performances in 2017

By Sati. Sunday, January 21, 2018 , , , , , ,

Every year I think I celebrate most aspects of my favorite movies of the year properly. After all, my final list has so many categories and there's plenty of love (and hate, I think I need to create some new categories for Baby Driver this year) there. But I always felt if there is one thing I could write more about it's the outstanding performances. I always only write about winners in each of the four categories and that's not enough. So this year, for the first time ever, I decided to put all of my 20 nominees together  and choose top 10 performances out of those. And deciding between the top 2 was an absolute nightmare.

10. Allison Janney as Lavona Golden in I, Tonya

I was worried that Janney's turn as Tonya Harding's horrible mother is going to be one-note. There's not necessarily anything wrong with it being the case, there are some people who are monstrous like that, but it doesn't really make them very interesting to watch. Thankfully, there is one scene in the movie that secured Janney's position as my favorite performance in Best Supporting Actress category in 2017. She is working as a waitress in the diner and she is watching her daughter skate on TV. Her manager is telling her to go back to work and she yells "I wanna see her fucking face at the end!". LaVona Golden was - and still is - a terrible mother. But there were moments, however brief, where all she wanted was to see pride on her daughter's face.

9. Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier in Logan

Much like Hugh Jackman, Stewart played the iconic part for nearly twenty years. In Logan it's absolutely shocking to see him like that. We saw Professor X as someone who is so strong and who, in spite of being on a wheelchair, was always so powerful. Here he is frail and he depends on Logan to survive. Stewart, who lost 21 pounds for the role, is not only delivering a performance that was very demanding physically but he is also absolutely heartbreaking here. There are many scenes where he is close to breaking our hearts but in his final moments in the film he finally manages to do that.

8. James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist

Franco is simply terrific in this one. His brother Dave is the heart of the film, but James is the one who drives it. His energy is insane and he nails both comedic and dramatic moments, somehow managing to create a character that feels real in spite of being so insanely eccentric and outlandish. And his dance to "Rhythm of the Night" and delivery of "too much wind machine, blow me away, my God!" is something I could watch over and over again and laugh hysterically every single time. 

7. Jeremy Renner as Cory Lambert in Wind River 

As the tracker who experienced a terrible tragedy, Renner delivers the best performance of his career and one of the most heroic characters of 2017. We feel for this man and we root for him. It's a quiet performance, without lots of screaming or big breakdowns. Even in his big scene his character starts apologizing to the agent played by Elizabeth Olsen for making her uncomfortable with his confession. This is a good man who wants to do the right thing and who wants to find hope that there can be justice. And his final actions in the movie are just so wonderful to watch. 

6. Gal Gadot as Diana in Wonder Woman

Ever since I saw Wonder Woman I kept Gadot in my line up and I swear almost every time I went to update Best Actress category, I moved her up. This is just such a lovely, lovely performance. I know it's in huge part thanks to the casting - much like how Robert Downey Jr.'s natural swagger completes his work as Tony Stark, Gadot's warmth and grace work so well with her playing Diana. But there is just so much heart here - how natural she is when she is so innocent ("a baby!"), how fierce she is in the battle and how profoundly good she is and how sincere Gadot makes it look -"No, Charlie. Who will sing for us?". How many actors have the power to make you truly admire and love the character they are playing? Gadot did that.

5. Woody Harrelson as Chief Willoughby in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Even after he is gone, it never really feels like Harrelson's character is truly gone. His words are the source of guidance for Dixon and his kindness affects the main characters. Harrelson has several hilarious lines in this movie but it's the dramatic scenes where he absolutely shines - the letter to his wife is the film's second most moving scene and then there's of course the above moment of sheer panic and embarrassment that is painted on his face after he accidentally coughs up blood on Mildred. There is such innocence and fear in his eyes here. It's absolutely crashing.

4. Chris Pine as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman

2017 has truly been incredible when it came to comic book movies -my top 10 of best performances feature four from that genre. There would be no Wonder Woman without Gal Gadot but the fact that the movie has so much heart is also because of Chris Pine's beautiful performance. Pine gets to play a love interest for a superheroine, a part that is usually so thankless when it's given to a woman who plays a love interest for a superhero. But both the writing and the actor's work go against that cliche - Steve is courageous, kind and he is an equal partner to Diana. And the scene in the plane where Steve is flying to his death in the name of what he believes in and his love for Diana, laughs and then closes his eyes as the plane explodes is one of 2017's most shattering and moving scenes.

3. Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding in I, Tonya

I have always been a huge fan of Margot. Ever since I saw her being so confident around much more seasoned actors in The Wolf of Wall Street. And then she delivered a wonderful performance as Harley Quinn in a total mess that was Suicide Squad. As Tonya Harding, disgraced figure skater, Margot is truly incredible. She is so feisty, determined and unstoppable. I did talk about her wonderful scene in the courthouse in yesterday's post but the mirror scene is just as impressive. But in truth, Robbie is brilliant in every single moment, mixing the naiveté of her character with her ruthlessness and desire to be the best and to finally be admired, in spite of her difficult background.

2. Hugh Jackman as James "Logan" Howlett in Logan

The biggest travesty of 2017 Oscar season is that Jackman's remarkable performance has been completely shut out. There was a little love for the movie, for Patrick Stewart and for Dafne Keen, but there was absolutely nothing for Jackman. Not only is Logan the greatest comic book movie ever made, it's a fantastic movie, period. And Jackman put his entire heart and soul into this performance, knocking it out of the park in every single scene. We believe him. We believe him when we see how broken he is. And we so admire that in spite of that he keeps finding strength to do what he has to do for the people who need him. This is Jackman's best performance and a crowning achievement of his career, after playing that character for a almost two decades. And if there was any justice he would be winning every single Best Actor award there is for this beautiful performance.

1. Sam Rockwell as Jason Dixon in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

It was brutal to choose between Jackman and Rockwell and I just kept switching. But then I remembered the story of audience reaction back when the film premiered in Toronto. Dixon is a guy who uses racial slurs, who throws an innocent man out of a window and who punches a woman. But then when he scratches that guy in the bar and starts a fight once people realized what he was doing, they literally started cheering. Cheering. For this guy. Now, that's good writing but that's also the incredible strength of performance. Rockwell plays the most difficult character there was in 2017.  He is someone that the audience is supposed to dislike but then...root for? Maybe not that. Maybe just understand him. This is what the movie asks us to do and so many out there are lashing out, all uncomfortable. I was not uncomfortable. I was fascinated. And every single scene Rockwell has could easily be his Oscar clip. He cries in the bathroom like a little kid after losing his mentor. He brutally lashes out at someone who he thinks is to blame. He tearfully accepts kindness of his victim. He risks his life to do the right thing. Rockwell is the actor who can create an interesting character in Marvel blockbuster or while working with Max Landis' script. So when he is working with good material and is handed a character that is already interesting, you know what the outcome is? It's pure magic.


22 comments:

  1. CHRIS PINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I think him, Robbie and Franco will be in my top 10 too.

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    1. Pine just killed it in this role. Wonderful performance!

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  2. I loved all of these. Robbie and Franco are my favs.

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    1. We are probably rooting for Franco more than anyone in the Academy rn :)

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  3. Wow I never would've guessed Jackman wouldn't be at number one! Aside from I, Tonya which I haven't seen, I liked all these performances other than Pine. He wasn't bad, I just thought it was okay.

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    1. Rockwell's was just so much more difficult to play. It was a close call but this dude actually made people cheer. That is amazing considering he throws someone out of a window earlier

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  4. With the exception of James Franco in The Disaster Artist which I haven't seen, I can agree to this list. I just saw I, Tonya and I think it's fucking awesome as I now have Allison Janney as my pick for Best Supporting Actress while I think Margot does her best work as Tonya Harding as I rooted for her.

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    1. So glad you liked I, Tonya! It's such an excellent movie!

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  5. Well hot diggedy dog I didn't expect to see Hugh Jackman at #2 here! I can't argue with your top pick though, he was amazing. There are still quite a few performances here I haven't seen yet but I'll catch up soon!

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    1. You should see all of them, clearly I know what I'm doing and my taste is impeccable :)

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  6. I like Pine and Robbie, they are great!!!!

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    1. They really are! :)Robbie should be winning everything for this performance

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  7. Some nice picks here. Like the inclusion of Renner, seems he'll sadly go most unrecognized this season, which is a damn shame, 'cause he was simply phenomenal.

    As for your top picks, I'd still personally place Jackman at #1 for the year, and honestly probably Stewart at #2 at that. Damn shame that Jackman's performance is likely to go completely unrecognized. It's almost like the people who vote on these things don't actually watch a lot of the movies they're supposed to be voting on or something, I dunno.

    But as for Rockwell, he would very well make for a solid third place in my own rankings after those two, however. Nice to see that at least he's coming out with some recognition, if nothing else. :P

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    1. I think they saw it but they are just so dismissive of comic book movies. It's ridiculous. In what fucking universe is the kid in CMBYN better than Jackman in Logan?!

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  8. All great picks, and I obviously love that Rockwell gets the top spot. Yes, certainly one (if not the) most difficult character of the year to pull off. It IS pure magic. That's goddamn right.

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    1. I just want it to be March 4th already :P

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  9. Wow, I was expecting Hugh o win! It must have been a hard decision indeed. I've watched Logan five times now, freaking love it. Patrick deserves to be on there for sure.

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    1. Such a shame the Academy snubbed the movie other than the screenplay

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    2. screw the academy!! They're just a stupid popularity contest IMO. I mean, The Post got nominated. Hacksaw Ridge was nominated for BP, somehow, last year. And the film that won was an okay film, but its a popularity contest. Moonlight ticked all the boxes, it was always gonna win despite only ONE other nomination for a supporting actor who was on screen for aboput 15 minutes. Its all a big hollywood circlejerk. It is nice though when films like Three Billboards get recognised. But then amazing stuff like Logan isn't so fuck 'em I say.

      Sorry. There is my ramble, almost a month after I made the original comment! Sorry, I've been unwell and am catching up on your posts and comments

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    3. I hope you're better now! Well as long as they award Rockwell this year I'll be happy

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  10. Full disclosure, I kinda skimmed through Woody and Sam, just in case it got spoiler-y. And I didn’t see I, Tonya, so I’m going to have to trust you on those two (Ah, Robbie…making me eat all my words from my TWoWS post).

    As for what I did see, you totally nailed many (if not all) of my favorite performances from 2017. Hugh, Patrick….Gal….goodness. They were all tremendous. I was especially excited to see Pine on here, as I think his work gets lost in the shadows of Gal’s. Great pick.

    It’s been a long time, but I’m still absolutely floored by what Renner did in Wind River. He buries so much pain, so much of the worst things anyone could live through…it absolutely breaks my heart. I never would have imagined that Renner had THAT in him. Amazing.

    Oh, and I gotta see Franco’s work, too. That wind line kills me just reading it!

    EXCELLENT POST.

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    1. You need to see Three Billboards!! Yep we can never forget your scandalous TWOWS review.

      It's such a travesty Renner is not getting at least nominations for his performance. He is always solid but he was on another level here

      You're gonna love The Disaster Artist. However I doubt Franco ever tops his scene with outrage over what McBride did to that porn magazine In This is the End

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