Friday, February 24, 2012

Top 10 Performances That Should Have Been Honored With Oscar Nods In 2011

I realize some of these performances had no chance because they were in relatively obscure films.

Nevertheless, each of these actors deserve recognition.

(And of course, this list is in descending order, as lists should be.)

10) Ezra Miller (Kevin) – “We Need to Talk About Kevin”
It’s rare to see an actor play a sociopath with such commitment and believability. This kid scared the hell out of me.

09) James Cromwell (Clifton) – “The Artist”
Clifton doesn’t carry this film, but he certainly carries our hero. He’s the humanization of the yappy dog always at our protagonist’s side. His performance is subtle, but vital to the success of the film.
(For that matter, Berenice Bejo was the leading lady of the film and though it was nice to see her recognized, she really should have gotten a nod for Best Actress, not just Supporting Actress.)

08) Emily Browning (Lucy) “Sleeping Beauty”
Lucy isn’t just flawed – she’s sadistic. She’s not just self-loathing – she hates everyone around her. Browning makes us see her with equal part of revulsion and pity.

07) Michael Fassbender (Carl Jung) – “A Dangerous Method”
Fassbender gave three Oscar-worthy performances this year. “Jane Eyre” and “Shame” were better films because of his presence. But his turn as Carl Jung who turns to an elicit relationship with a patient almost as an extension of his research just captivated me.

06) Eva Green – (Rebecca) “Womb”
She’s sympathetic and creepy. She’s willing to break the ultimate taboo to get her dead lover back. We feel like we should judge Rebecca for what she’s doing, we feel a very marked pity for her and Green deserves as much credit for that as the film’s writer.

05) Shailene Woodley (Alexandra King) – “The Descendents”
Woodley matches Clooney stride for stride as she plays off him in this film. This is one of the rare cases where the leading man wouldn’t be quite so good if he didn’t have such a capable actress to spar with. Woodley’s Alexandra is her father’s most ardent supporter, but she never lets him off easy. Not many actresses could walk that line.

04) Elizabeth Olsen (Martha) – “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
Martha is a complicated character whose personality evokes revulsion and pity in equal measures. Olsen, a new face to the world of independent film, makes every moment believable.

03) Ryan Gosling (Driver) – “Drive” – Gosling’s Driver is simply the coolest action hero since Clive Owen in “Shoot ‘em Up.” Gosling’s performance is kind of like a Pixies’ song. His character is brooding and quiet, but he’ll explode when he’s cornered or threatened.

02) Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Adam) “50/50”
In most actors’ hands, this role would just be your typical ‘sad-sack’ kind of character. What makes Gordon-Levitt’s performance so great is the fear and self-pity takes a backseat to the confusion that would overcome someone in his shoes.
01) Tilda Swinton (Eva) – “We Need to Talk About Kevin”
Swinton has such a wide range of emotions to play here. From grief to loneliness to guilt to desperation and even glimpses of wickedness, she plays it all with grace. Short moments of relief are the closest Eva can get to happiness and Swinton plays these snapshots with such restraint. That’s what makes her performance, without question, the best of the year.

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