Outstanding Acting of 2017

There have been some exceptional performances well worth recognizing for their character, nuance and heart.

My nominees are:

The Leading Gentlemen

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nahuel Pérez Biscayart – BPM (Beats Per Minute) (“Sean Dalmazo”)
Emotional heft is found behind the French actors slow march to death, but he doesn’t take it lying down (not the slow death from AIDS, at least).  Sexually open, painfully truthful about how he arrived where he is.  This counterbalance to the idealized summer courtship in CMBYN, Biscayart is thrust into a painful situation and he has no hesitation fighting while he can.  
Timothee ChalametCall Me By Your Name (“Elio”)
Elio is a precocious seventeen year old.  Musical prodigy, wise beyond his years, but so painfully unequipped for loss.  Chalamet flaunts and pushes, but under his confidence lies a ticking pain as he closes in on the end of summer.  Such passion, that peach scene, and the finale; this newcomer knows pain.  
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread (“Reginald Woodcock”)
For his final film, the greatest working actor found a difficult, puzzling fashion designer to manipulate in his usual glorious way.  His ability to be so present in his work and absent in his personal life allows this unusual love story to careen through Alma’s visualization for their relationship
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out (“Chris Washington”)
Terror is hard enough to pull off, but when your girlfriend’s family unveils itself to be trying to swap your brain for a white person’s, your fear is more pressing and urgent.  Funny at moments, but largely a reactionary role (until that finale) as he uncovers the shit he’s become buried in.
Robert Pattinson – Good Time (“Connie Nikas”)
Redemption roles for the Twilight crowd are proving themselves quite vital.  Pattinson finds chaotic sociopathy within his criminal on a mission.  He lacks concern for who he takes in his dash for redemption, only caring about getting his brother out of trouble (and keeping himself out of that range)
Runners Up 

Shahab Hosseini (The Salesman)

Christian Bale (Hostiles)

James Franco (The Disaster Artist),

Claes Bang (The Square)

The Leading Ladies

My nominees are:

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Sally Hawkins – Maudie (“Maud Lewis”)
Playing two women with disabilities in a year would normally draw groans regarding an actress lacking those disabilities, but Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water is delicate with her portrayals as a mute woman.  In Maudie, she is a revelation.  Filled with the physical and vocal transformation of Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot, she progresses through worsening arthritis and emotional fortitude in her troubled relationship to produce one of the most profoundly touching performances in memory.  
Vicky Krieps – Phantom Thread (“Alma”)
It’s not easy to upstage Daniel Day-Lewis, but Krieps manages with a starstruck muse turned lover.  With her halted speech and strong willed personality, Alma becomes the quiet force driving Woodcock’s imagination and passion while being the bane of his quiet existence.
Cynthia Nixon – A Quiet Passion (“Emily Dickinson”)
 Fitting so naturally into her hushed world, Nixon portrays the poet as a woman beyond her age.  Lived in, nuanced, and deeply personal, the actress finds herself transformed by more than just makeup.  Her humor is sharp and her drama is a touch melodramatic; she enlivens the stale biopic realm for something more Love & Friendship than The Young Victoria.
Brooklynn Prince – The Florida Project (“Moonee”)
Wild and uncontrollable and incredibly obnoxious, Prince gives the best child performance in years.  Naturally gifted, her role in Baker’s homelessness drama delivers striking ability to blend into her surroundings like it is the only life she has ever known.  Joyous with her friends and appropriately concerned at her actions and the actions of her mother, Prince is never caught acting in this brilliant debut.
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird (“Lady Bird McPherson”)
Saoirse Ronan is still surprising with her versatility and comfortability with a wide range of roles.  In Lady Bird, she unleashes her coming of age angst.  Hilarious and touching even while she’s pissing you off.  “Lady Bird” has so much growing up to do hanging over her strife for freedom.
Runners Up 

Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper)

Danielle Macdonald (Patti Cake$)

Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)

Nicole Kidman (The Beguiled)

Frances McDormand (Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Give these Supporting Ladies a Hand

My nominees are:

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Hong Chau – Downsizing (“Ngoc Lan Tran”)
There’s best in show, and then there’s Hong Chau in Downsizing.  The redemption for a mediocre premise film, Chau’s Vietnamese refugee goes from hilarious to heartbreaking with ease.  The film comes alive when she arrives and she steals every moment she is given.  The repetition doesn’t even phase her as she stays fascinating through the entire film.
Holly Hunter – The Big Sick (“Beth”)
Humor is difficult enough.  When you’re Hunter, you have it perfected.  As the mother of a daughter in a coma, she is endlessly flustered with her deep Southern accent.  Brilliantly concern and furiously motherly, Hunter steals the show.  
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird (“Marion McPherson”)
Another mother with some parenting issues, Metcalf is subtle while wrestling with her headstrong daughter.  Attempting to be mother, worker, wife, and savior, the overworked mother fills in the space where every mother can find the ire.  TV star turns movie star.
Michelle Pfeiffer – mother! (“Woman”)
The best portion of a polarizing film.  Spinning in for a bit of chaos, Pfeiffer reminds of her usual MVP status.  Malicious and dominating, Pfeiffer’s character is the beginning of the terror for Lawrence’s character.  Stepping into the home, her personality unravels as the horror mounts.  That look she gives is chilling.
Bria Vinaite – The Florida Project (“Halley”)
As a mother raising her daughter in temporary housing, Vinaite finds the world against her.  Wanting to be a good mother but also trying to live her life as a young woman, she portrays attitude and warmth with equal measure.  A protective mother bear is challenged by the difficulties she is facing in her financially challenging situation.  A breakout actress!

Betty Gabriel (Get Out)

Allison Janney (I, Tonya)

Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread)

Jennifer Ehle (A Quiet Passion)

Mary J Blige (Mudbound)

And finally the Supporting Lads

My nominees are:

Best Actor in a Supporting Role 
Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project (“Bobby”)
The protective manager of a hotel housing numerous homeless families, Dafoe finds his problems are not his own but he makes them his, often to his own irritation.  From chasing off predators to shuffling tenants, he is surrounded by people taking advantage, but these issues are better than handling his own.  He is a formidable man but also an enabler.  His struggles are not unnoticed.
Jason Mitchell – Mudbound (“Ronsel Jackson”)
Being caught within a stellar ensemble can often leave actors missing individual acknowledgement, but Jason Mitchell finds standout moments as an African-American solider returning from World War II in the racist south.  Whether defending his right to use a front entrance or battling his wartime demons, Mitchell provides a troubled man facing societies hatred and his own love.  
Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (“Dixon”)
Villains are impressive when they are all encompassing evil, but Sam Rockwell found the villainy and partial redemption in a man too ignorant and unintelligent to realize the pain he creates.  Hilarious at times and brutally violent at others, Rockwell toils with a changing mind with the town turned upside down by Mildred’s actions.  He capitalizes on the cultural revelation of police brutality, and he finds a character marred with all that is wrong with abuses of power.  The best hate-able character of the year.
Patrick Stewart – Logan (“Charles Xavier”)
Rarely do superhero movies produce exceptional performances, but Patrick Stewart’s last run as Professor X / Charles Xavier finds the grumpy old man within the most powerful living mutant.  His abilities are taking over as his mind creeps into dementia, so he ranges from peacefully serene and reflective to a lucid, indignant asshole.  This conclusion to the character adds far more to the human behind the teacher/mutant than the other films combined.
Michael Stuhlbarg – Call Me By Your Name (“Mr. Perlman”)
A touching father is a rarely presented character, but Stuhlbarg’s role in Call Me By Your Name is vital.  Understanding a son striving for adulthood, he keeps a careful watch on his son without being invasive.  He is supportive and kind and precisely what Elio needs in this time.  His final speech is crushingly perfect, but each moment is a stellar next to the showier lead roles.  Impressive without being scene stealing, and a tremendous parental figure.
Ray Romano (The Big Sick)

Bob Odenkirk (The Post)

Gil Birmingham (Wind River)

Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water)

Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water)


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