Here we are, the end of another year of amazing films and amazing performances. Even though the box office performance has continued its downward trend, movies in general haven’t satisfied movie goers and Movie Pass has made a huge splash in the lily pond, there are several noteworthy performances that appealed to our roving film critics, Ben Cahlamer and Kyle Jonathan. Here are their favorite 10 performances of 2017 along with honorable mentions.
- Daniel Day Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock in Phantom Thread Although the film is still in a limited release, plenty of critics and LA and New York filmgoers have raved about Daniel Day Lewis’s Golden Globe – nominated and storied turn as a dressmaker in this turn-of-the-century period piece.
Honorable Mention: Barry Keoghan as Martin in The Killing of a Sacred Deer.
- Gal Gadot as Diana/Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman and Justice League. It’s very rare that filmgoers get two performances of the same character in one year from two separate movies, Ms. Gadot’s performance in her solo Wonder Woman film just leapt off the screen. More than her beauty is her intelligence and her empathy for the human race. The fact that she played a larger role in Justice League is just icing on the cake.
Honorable Mention: Bella Heathcoat as Olive Byrne in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women.
- Melissa Leo as the Reverend Mother Marie St. Clair in Novitiate. The convent featured in Melissa Betts’ film is a place where young Cathleen (Margaret Qualley) finds herself. Melissa Leo’s Reverend Mother St. Claire runs the convent on a very short leash, holding tradition sacred, despite the Vatican Papers directing her to follow the new order. Her stoicism in the face of adversity and her adherence to what she has practiced all her life is something to be admired.
Honorable Mention: Sally Hawkins as Maud Dowley in Maudie.
- Robert Pattinson as “Connie” Nikas in Good Time. In one of the most brilliant of independent films of 2017, Robert Pattinson breaks out of his Edward Cullen role from the Twilight film series into a more dramatic and adult role. As “Connie,” he is always looking for his next angle. Between trying to hide from the police, trying to get enough scratch to get his brother out of jail and just trying to keep himself sane, Pattinson’s tour de force performance is one for the ages.
Honorable Mention: Richard Jenkins as Giles in The Shape of Water.
- Michael Stuhlbarg as Sam Perlman in Call Me by Your Name. Let’s be clear that this is a film actors dream of being able to participate in. Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer are at the center of the film and both are worthy of the accolades they have already received. However, it is Michael Stuhlbarg’s widely praised performance as Sam Perlman that truly gels the film together. I suspect he will be among a very few select actors to be nominated by the Academy for one single scene.
Honorable Mention: Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles ‘X’ Xavier in Logan.
Finally, in the Year of the Mustache, I extend honorable mentions to Kenneth Branagh for his exquisite mustache as Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express and to Henry Cavill for his lack of a mustache, which was digitally removed for his reshoots as Superman in Justice League and the talk about it on social media. Well done, lads.
- Florence Pugh – Lady Macbeth
Pugh’s performance is one of the year’s best surprises. Tackling complex themes of female empowerment, sexual freedom, and class entitlement, Pugh’s total commitment to the role is dangerous and entrancing. This is a stunning turn that shows how much promise this young actress has and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
- Vince Vaughn – Brawl in Cell Block 99
Vaughn started in comedy and appeared to have pigeonholed himself into forgettable roles in which he plays the charismatic underdog. True Detective season 2 showed exactly how much skill he has and I was eager to see him push his limits. His quietly ferocious role in Brawl in Cell Block 99 is exactly what I was hoping for. This is a landmark performance that will undoubtedly go overlooked by many viewers. S. Craig Zahler’s furious grindhouse homage is an unrelentingly brutal time and Vaughn dominates every one of his scenes. This is not to be missed, an almost mythological performance.
- Robert Pattinson – Good Time
Our first tie! Pattinson has really developed into something special since his Twilight days. Not only is Good Time one of the best films of the year, I am hoping that Pattinson is able to nab an Oscar nom for his performance. Connie is a narcissist who is able to turn the world to his desires….yet unable to escape the darkness of his predicament. Good Time is more of an experience, a neon soaked love note to Breathless and After Hours and it simply does not work without Pattinson’s bravura at the center.
- Kristen Stewart – Personal Shopper
Another Twilight veteran, Kristen Stewart has shown that she is one of the most talented actresses working today. Pairing with auteur Olivier Assayas, her performance in Personal Shopper has been lauded by film critics across the globe. A murder mystery, ghost story, and heart breaking meditation on loss, this is one of 2017’s best and Stewart’s endearing role as a medium searching for her brother’s spirit remains the epitome of acting prowess for the year.
- Barry Keoghan – The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest continues his trend of divisive, darkly comical, and utterly terrifying storyteller. Barry Keoghan’s supporting role as Martin is simply astounding. He has two monologues that absolutely dominate the entire film, producing some of 2017’s most memorable cinematic moments. Part myth, part morality tale, and always uncomfortable, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is my favorite film of the year and Keoghan gives my favorite performance.
Honorable Mentions – Pekka Strang – Tom of Finland, Michael Fassbender – Song to Song, Keanu Reeves/Jim Carry – The Bad Batch, Gil Birmingham – Wind River, Tiffany Haddish – Girl’s Trip