Saturday, February 9, 2019

10 best performances in 2018

By sati (harlequinade) Saturday, February 9, 2019 , , , , , , ,

It's time for another best of 2018 list! This week we look at the best performances of the year. And there will be quite a lot of surprises on that list. So here we go:

Honorable mention: QUEEN Olivia as her fabulous self in Widows and Game Night


10. Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

McCarthy has been one of my favorite actresses for a while now. While she is best known for her comedy performances she always adds so much heart to her work - Bridesmaids' most wonderful moment was when she was lifting Annie's spirits, in Spy she managed to make us feel her heartbreak over unrequited love and in The Heat over how much she cared about her family and her new co-worker (the film's ending is so lovely!). In Can You Ever Forgive Me? Melissa gets to play a more serious part but she does it with her usual bravura. She is the best in the quiet moments - like when she is heartbroken after her cat passes away or when she is enjoying the music in a bar, on her own, with a smile on her face. Because of how sincere and natural she is in her work her characters never feel like caricatures.

9. Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in Vice
Christian Bale's insane antics when it comes to him gaining and losing body mass are way past  worrying and are now horrific but damn it, if we don't get some amazing performances as a result. Bale is absolutely diabolical and shamelessly entertaining as cold, calculating Cheney and in spite of everything this man has done, he even manages to give his character the semblance of humanity at times. And he is far more horrifying here than he was in American Psycho.

8. Sam Elliott as Bobby Maine in A Star is Born
Here's the thing about supporting work - it doesn't lead the movie but it adds to it, creating rich background. The best actors make their characters feel like real people, no matter how little screen time they have. And that is exactly what Sam Elliott does playing Jackson Maine's older brother Bobby. You can see his heartbreak over being unable to help his little brother. And that look on his face when he is so touched by the words of someone he loves but he knows he will inevitably lose to his demons is unforgettable and shattering. It may just be the most memorable acting moment in entire 2018.

7. Emma Stone as Abigail in The Favourite
Emma Stone was hugely surprising in Yorgos Lanthimos' latest. Her Abigail is the most fascinating character of the year - was she always devious or was it the side affect of the power she gained? Stone adds a lot of nuance to a character that could easily be a caricature - a single tear when she burns the letter, suggesting remorse, a genuine look of devastation when she hears about Anne's tragedy. She makes Abigail so hard to figure out and in that so hugely entertaining to watch.

 6. Lady Gaga as Ally in A Star is Born

For a long time people thought Bradley Cooper's A Star is Born is going to be a disaster, even assuming Lady Gaga will win Razzie for it. And here we are, with Gaga who would be sure to win major awards had it not been for Glenn Close's "overdue" narrative. Gaga, who is anything but shy in real life, makes her Ally into slightly sheepish on the outside but very confident on the inside person, who we watch grow, become happy and then heartbroken. Gaga's Ally always feels like someone real, someone we both admire and like. And despite some of the script's shortcomings her transformation from shy girl who was too afraid to perform as herself into a superstar who is unaware of betraying her own identity and then finding it at last in the end is believable thanks to Gaga's acting.

5. Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock in Venom
Hardy is one of the greatest actors we have working in films these days. The thing is though, that he is usually either menacing, sad or straight up crazy. The last time Hardy was in something that wasn't a really serious drama or thriller was This Means War. So it was delightful to see him in Venom - a goofy, silly comic book movie.  His line delivery of nearly every single line he has in this film is some of the most fun things we saw in movies in 2018. And I cannot remember when is the last time an actor simply MADE the film worth seeing. Take Hardy's performance away and it's not much, but with him there Venom is hugely entertaining.

4. Olivia Colman as Queen Anne in The Favourite
Olivia Colman is one of the best British actresses around. She has given wonderful roles in countless movies and TV series (if you have a chance check out the lovely Rev with her and Tom Hollander). It's wonderful to see her get all that well deserved acclaim for her work here. Colman does the most incredible thing - she communicates her character's emotions wordlessly, showing them change one to another, time and time again in this film. And even though her character has numerous violent outbursts she never looses Anne's humanity in the process. In the end, our heart breaks for her.

3. Blake Lively as Emily Nelson in A Simple Favor
Blake Lively managed to give the most surprising performance of the year. She was decent in The Town and - while overshadowed by a bird - also quite good in The Shallows. And here she stole the spotlight from everyone. Emily would be a decent match for Amy Dunne. Lively can be both sympathetic and evil and she clearly has so much fun playing the part(s) and it's incredible how effortlessly she makes her performance fit comedy, thriller and in one scene quite intense drama, while also making Emily into quite a realistic villain who while cunning, makes mistakes. And she looks absolutely fabulous doing it. This is already such an iconic performance for me.

2. Ethan Hawke as Ernst Toller in First Reformed

Ethan Hawke is the aching heart and the torn apart soul of the remarkable First Reformed. As excellent as the script is the whole movie depends on Hawke's ability to make his character both likable and suspicious to the audience. We feel for him, we want him to be all right but we are also never sure what he is doing to do and in spite of our knowledge that this is a good man - Hawke entirely succeeds in convincing us of that - we never know what he will end up being capable of.

1. Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine in A Star is Born

Bradley Cooper has been giving wonderful performances for a while now, capturing the audiences with his natural charisma. But he was never better than he was here - as broken Jackson. Cooper makes his character likable and desirable but he doesn't shy away from showing the ugly side. Cooper changed his walk and his voice for this role but it never feels like a gimmick. Then there's also the fact he genuinely has a great voice and gave us so many wonderful songs here AND that he directed the movie. But even if you take all of that away, what he did here is he created a performance that is memorable and touches your heart. You care about him. And you feel just like Bobby did, because you know he won't be saved.

28 comments:

  1. Lively was so good in A Simple Favor and I had never thought much of her before that. I love seeing Olivia and Bradley so high on the list as those were great performances. Hardy too, because Venom was so much fun.

    And YES for an Olivia mention!

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    1. I really hope she gets to be in more good stuff, she is very charismatic! She may actually be the more versatile person in her marriage :)

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  2. I was not expecting to see Hardy lol he was awesome in Venom though!

    I saw Can You Ever Forgive Me? yesterday and I absolutely adored McCarthy's performance.

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    1. YEY! Her and Richard E. Grant were both so great in that film!

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  3. Awesome list! There's a few I still have to see like Can You Ever Forgive Me and Vice. A Star Is Born would have not been the same without Sam. Totally agree about Tom Hardy in Venom, obviously. lol Emma was unforgettably devious and vulnerable in The Favourite - definitely one of my favorites of hers. Loved Blake Lively in A Simple Favor. She did a wonderful job capturing what a mind**** her character is.

    You probably know how I feel about that #1 pick! lol But I honestly didn't know BCoop would be number one, so I totally squealed and scared my mom. :P I learned the other day that Bradley used to be an alcoholic, and for him to make this film while being sober for 11 years, I think is a tremendous accomplishment alongside all of the things he did such as acting and directing for the first time. I feel like he stepped back from his past experiences, but also used/refined them for the film. It's one of his best, if not the best of his, so far.

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    1. I think you'll like both of those! Well maybe not Vice, but at least the performances there are fun :)

      Haha, so glad you liked him being my number 1 so much! Yeah I know he is in recovery, it's even more impressive he decided to play that part that probably gave him some really unpleasant flashbacks to his own experiences

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  4. Big Screen Small WordsFebruary 10, 2019 at 1:31 PM

    Tom Hardy was awesome as Venom, he was clearly having fun with the role and he was a big part of what made the movie fun.

    Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper were amazing. Lady Gaga would have swept awards and competition might be tight between her and Olivia Coleman, who has a really big chance of winning as well. Still have to watch the others but been hearing great things about their performance.

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    1. I think Close is gonna win with both because of the 'overdue' narrative :/

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    2. Oh, definitely! If she wasn't in competition, Lady Gaga and Olivia Coleman would be in tight competition with each other.

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    3. Yes! I'm glad Colman at least won BAFTA last night

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  5. you are spoiling us, this list is fantastic. will have to check out 'can you ever forgive me?' because mc carthy's performance makes me curious!
    also same on lady gaga, just saw the netflix doc and she's so different in real life! some people thought she wasn't really acting but that just levels up her performance in 'a star is born'!

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    1. Yes, watch it! It's a very good movie and both McCarthy and Grant are great!

      I still need to see that Gaga documentary

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  6. Agree about Lady Gaga, what makes her performance impressive is she plays a somewhat shy person and Gaga really isn't in real life. That's hard to do with the cameras rolling.
    I was wondering if I should check out Can You Ever Forgive Me? as I usually like the work of screenwriter Nicole Holofcener.

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  7. Some really good mentions. I especially like you giving love to Hawke. How the Academy missed him is beyond me.I also really loved Mulligan in "Wildlife", Willem Dafoe in "At Eternity's Gate", Thomasin McKenzie in "Leave No Trace", Emily Blunt in "A Quiet Place", Joaquin Phoenix in "You Were Never Really Here", John David Washington and Adam Driver in "BlackKklansman". Last year gave us some good performances.

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    1. I loved Mulligan, she almost makes my Best Actress line up, didn't see Dafoe, wasn't big on Leave no Trace, LOVED Blunt and was a bit meh on Phoenix. Blackkkklansman performances were really good but they miss my line up, I am very happy Driver is nominated, though!

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  8. LOVE your top two, each perfect in their own way. I'm so sad Hawke didn't get an Oscar nomination after practically sweeping all the critics awards. And it's beyond insulting that Cooper continues to lose for the best work of his career to that karaoke night performance of Rami Malek's.

    Love all of these performances, actually (except Hardy's which I haven't seen), and of course your honorable mention is the TRUE QUEEN of the year. My own list is going to be going up in the next couple of weeks - there was SO much great work this year it's hard to narrow it down!

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    1. YEY, cannot wait for your list! I have the most trouble finishing my supporting actresses line up because there were so many great performances last year!

      AMPAS really looks like a bunch of hicks - they snubbed Hawke AND they are probably awarding Malek

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  9. When I heard Gaga was attached to A Star is Born, I honestly thought the worst. Boy, what a fool I am! Not only was she absolutely great, but so was the movie! You know my thoughts about that movie, and I'll be rooting for that cast to take home gold...although I'm afraid they won't...it's a shame...

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    1. I really hope the Academy surprises us and at least Cooper wins. Him losing to Malek would just be horrific

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  10. I am shook. How did I not realise it was the same dog in Game Night and Widows?! Olivia you are an absolute furry legend!

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  11. Great picks. I was hoping Hawke would be no.1 but kinda knew Cooper would be :P Hopefully I agree with you a few hours from now after seeing it. I like you picked a supporting role too, you are really right in what you said. Coleman was probably my favourite (ha! :P) performance, a few other foreign films had some great ones too.

    LOVE seeing Hardy there. Anyone else and that movie woulda been awful, he makes it worth watching 100%

    Can You Ever Forgive Me, damn I missed that one totally. Worth a watch you think? Looks like a bit of a change of pace for Mellisa.

    and I TOTALLY forgot about Blake Lively. Great pick. I'd never even heard of her but she killed it in that movie.

    Great picks!

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    1. It was very close, I kept switching between Hawke and Cooper but I just love Cooper's songs way too much not to have him as number 1.

      Can You Ever Forgive Me? is still in my top 5 of the year.

      You should check out The Town, it's pretty good and it's one of Lively's better roles

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    2. The Town.. that was the heist flick from 2010 I think. I'll grab that one, that's two films I've had recommend from you today :)

      Top Five of the year eh? I guess I need to check that out too!

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    3. Oh God it was 9 years already since that? :/

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  12. I love this list. Couldn't agree more with your words about supporting performances, and how that applies to Sam Elliott's work in A Star Is Born. And shit, wouldn't it be great if Cooper some how won Best Actor? I would love that.

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    1. He would be such a hero if he defeated that abomination that is probably winning

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