The Best Film Performances of 2019

29 Dec

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15. (TIE) Antonio Banderas, “Pain and Glory” & Sienna Miller, “American Woman”
14. Jonathan Majors, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”
13. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, “Booksmart”

12. Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, “The Lighthouse”
11. Lupita Nyong’o, “Us”

10. Jessie Buckley, “Wild Rose” – A charismatic, electric, and richly textured performance that anchors a fairly conventional narrative. Buckley’s naturalism and energy play off of each other perfectly. She’s one to watch, in the same way that “Lady Macbeth” or “Leave No Trace” catapulted their respective leads into the convo.

9. Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers” – J-Lo commands the screen in every scene, bringing wit and charm to a role that needs it. She does an amazing job of balancing Ramona’s self-serving nature with her compassion and parental instinct.

8. Ana de Armas and Daniel Craig, “Knives Out” – Every cast member is having a blast, but none more so than Daniel Craig. Ana de Armas additionally deserves a lot of credit for playing straight so well opposite the ridiculous performances around her – she and Craig make a great team.

7. Florence Pugh and Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women” – The dynamic between Jo and Amy is the heart of the film, and it’s lovely to watch in all its messy ups and downs. Pugh also deserves recognition for her performances in “Fighting with my Family” and “Midsommar,” though I didn’t like the latter.

6. Adam Driver, “Marriage Story” – We watch Charlie essentially undergo the five stages of grief about his own character and his role in the divorce, and Driver handles that evolution with remarkable control.

5. Adam Sandler and Julia Fox, “Uncut Gems” – Sandler’s character is unpleasant, grating, over the top, and pathetic, but there’s something so deeply compelling about him that you can’t tear your eyes away. It’s an extremely physical performance, matched in every scene by the fiery, equally compelling Julia Fox.

4. Noemie Merlant and Adele Haenel, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” – A romance that is tender and quiet, but also playful and burning with passion. It wouldn’t work without these two incredible leads.

3. Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Lee Jung-eun, and Park Myung-hoon, “Parasite” – Maybe it’s a cheat to basically list everyone, but they all deserve recognition. Just sit back and marvel at the way they all play off each other, each one underscoring the intricacies of the script and characters as their worlds collide. What an ensemble.

2. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, “The Irishman” – Three legends of the industry delivering some of their best performances ever, tinged with the passage of time and regret. They somehow consistently manage to find new layers to versions of characters we’ve seen before.

1. Zhao Shuzhen, “The Farewell” – A performance that feels like a warm hug – so empathetic, so real, so funny, so tragic. It’s just such a joyous celebration of life and love wrapped up in one person, and it’s the performance of the year.

HM: Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir (Woman at War), Brad Pitt (Ad Astra and OUATIH), Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit), George MacKay (1917), Alfre Woodard and Aldis Hodge (Clemency), Laura Dern (Marriage Story and Little Women), Kelvin Harrison Jr. (Luce), Eddie Murphy (Dolemite is My Name), Samara Weaving (Ready Or Not), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Elisabeth Moss (Her Smell), Aisling Franciosi (The Nightingale), Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari), Geraldine Visnawathan (Hala), Mary Kay Place (Diane), Jake Gyllenhaal (John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch)

One Response to “The Best Film Performances of 2019”

  1. peggyatthemovies December 29, 2019 at 4:57 pm #

    liked reading the list.. I can never do these – but if I did, some of these would be on both. 🙂

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