Rebecca Hall from Vicky Christina Barcelona – just when you think she’s repulsed by Javier Bardem’s straight-forward nature, Hall is able to help you understand why she might be of two minds on the matter
Carey Mulligan from Drive – though it might just be due to the strong chemistry she has with Ryan Gosling, but she even made scenes with almost no dialogue full of emotion and had them speaking volumes
Gina Carano from Haywire – she didn’t just run around and kick ass in a believable way, because that wouldn’t necessarily be worthy of praise. Gina actually did a great job with the other half of the movie, too. I’ve seen far worse out of athletes who turned to acting. I’m expecting plenty more good work from her.
Kara Hayward from Moonrise Kingdom – it wasn’t just a good performance for a first-time actress, but it was a GOOD performance. Certainly not the best I saw all year, but she deserves praise because she was more than just believable.
Meryl Streep from Julie & Julia – I would be remiss to not mention this portrayal of Julia Child by one of this generation’s finest actresses, especially as she delves into the under-dog role mixed with the fish out of water concept. Needless to say she pulls it off.
Amy Adams from Julie & Julia – even if you don’t care about cooking, she makes you care about what she’s doing because of how she pulls you into her emotional struggle. Not many actresses over-shadow Meryl Streep, but that’s exactly how I felt about her performance.
Evan Rachel Wood from King Of California – such a near-heartbreaking performance about a girl trying to reconnect with her father while thinking he might still be crazy, all the while being the only responsible one of the two of them.
Rita Hayworth from Gilda – there’s a reason Rita Hayworth is one of the all-time most memorable actresses, and this is her signature role. I’ve said it before, but this role had more sexual energy coming from it than most everything I’ve seen. She had great chemistry with Glenn Ford, and her performance turns into one of confused sadness as the second half of the film plays out.
The Winner: Viola Davis from The Help – How can you not get emotionally drawn into this performance? The internal struggle, the outer strength on display and the inter-personal relationships.
Ryan Gosling from Drive – at times during this film, I questioned whether it was an amazing performance or a lackluster one, but the more you watch of Ryan Gosling’s work, the more you see the subtle things he does that makes his work memorable.
Leonardo DiCaprio from from J. Edgar – though this performance was a bit too reminiscent of some other roles from DiCaprio, there’s still no denying his talent.
Will Ferrell from Casa De Mi Padre – he steps out of his typical performance coated in absurdist humor and presents Armando as a hopeful, sympathetic character who you can laugh at, but you also want to see him succeed and move out of the shadow his family has placed him in.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt from Brick – not once during this film did this film feel like it had the weight of a teenage drama, and JGL’s performance as a high school aged detective was a huge part of that.
John Boyega from Attack The Block – it took quite a bit of natural talent for Boyega to portray his character, Moses, with a tough-as-nails exterior with a partial Jello center. His trust issues and leadership skills and willingness to shoulder the load was well portrayed by such an inexperienced actor.
Denzell Washington from Book Of Eli – the strength of conviction, the quiet power, the finesse and brutality, the humanity… Denzell does quite a bit with this performance.
Dane DeHaan from Chronicle – the struggle, the sadness, the anger, the desire to fit in and the desire to stand out and the desire to be socially invisible and the quest for absolute power… there’s a lot going on with this role, and DeHaan gives an excellent performance.
Ben Affleck from Argo – you get a strong sense of who this character is through the confidence and mostly-hidden sadness with which Affleck presents Tony Mendez and attempts to make his fellow Americans believe he can help them get home safely and as he convinces his bosses that his plan, absurd as it may seem, is the only viable option.
Andrew Garfield from Amazing Spider-Man – this was a far better version of Spider-Man than the Tobey Maguire version, and Andrew Garfield captures the youthful exuberance, anger and sadness of Peter Parker significantly better than Maguire did, too.
Brad Pitt from Moneyball – you really get the sense with Pitt’s performance that his character is going to do whatever it takes to make his strategy a success, and how gut-wrenching it is for him to want to see it in person but not be able to do so. Mix in the relationship he’s continually building with his daughter, and it’s such a great role which Pitt makes his own and presents it excellently.
Otto Jespersen from Trollhunter – you might not understand the words coming out of Jespersen’s mouth, but you don’t have to read the subtitles to understand what he is saying. Peter Parker isn’t the only character on this list for whom his great power is also a great responsibility, and when you mix in the role this character plays within the government, you can see by Otto’s portrayal how he feels about his job.
Ryan Gosling from Half Nelson – such a strong role, which takes the mentor role and finds a way to knock it on its ear. Gosling’s character is motivational, yet he’s so broken and flawed. It’s an extremely interesting role, and Gosling does an excellent job with it.
Martin Freeman from Sherlock – despite the great performance given by the series’ titular character, Freeman’s Watson character never gets lost in the shuffle and is rarely over-shadowed to the degree where he’d seem like a “supporting” character.
The Winner: Benedict Cumberbatch from Sherlock – this is one of the most complicated characters I’ve ever seen, and the more I get to watch Cumberbatch portray Sherlock Holmes, the more I feel I can appreciate what he’s doing with the part.
Top 10 From Film Quest 12
I realize there aren’t just 10 here, but some of them are essentially tied… so sue me.
- Sherlock: A Study In Pink
- Sherlock: The Great Game
- Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia
- Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall
- Moonrise Kingdom
- Book Of Eli
- Amazing Spider-Man
- Runner-Up: Avengers
- Winner: Dark Knight Rises