15. Dane DeHaan as Andrew Detmer in Chronicle
Dane DeHaan is a rather bright young actor who burst onto the scene earlier this year with the surprisingly good found footage film Chronicle. He was kind of like the male version of Carrie White, given special powers and using them against all of his detractors. It was a stunningly real portrayal of a teenager, which was something I definitely wasn't expecting from one of the earlier blockbusters of the year. I can't wait to see what the guy does next, he has a great future ahead of him.
14. Emily Blunt as Sara in Looper
Looper is a film that is filled with great performances, from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis playing two different sides of the same coin, and then some other little gems from Jeff Daniels and Paul Dano. Emily Blunt is a bit of a stand-out in the film, though. She's an actress of many talents, but she's been getting the wrong films lately and it has been stalling the fantastic career she was supposed to have after The Devil Wears Prada. In this film, however, she dons a perfect American accent and plays a character who is struggling to keep a handle on her son and her life in near poverty. She's just so wonderful, I hope she gets some more films of this quality.
13. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games
To be honest, I keep forgetting that this film happened this year, but one thing has stuck with me: Jennifer Lawrence's extraordinary ability to carry one of the biggest phenomenons of the year. I'd say that a good 50% of the film's success rides on her and even though I was rather distracted by the amount of shaky-cam in the film, she never really missed a beat. Let's just say, she's a talented enough actress to not resent such a role, and also talented enough to make sure that she isn't just known for being Katniss.
12. Pierce Gagnon as Cid in Looper
Easily the biggest surprise of the year. For someone who didn't appear in any of the marketing for Looper, it sure was a shock to go and see the film and come out the other side feeling wowed by 5 year old Pierce Gagnon's performance. His performance is phenomenal for such an age, but it is also so great compared to many of the other performances this year. I feel so short-changed that I'm 17 and still suck at acting.
11. Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin in Game Change
Normally I wouldn't care about a made-for-TV movie, but as soon as I saw that Julianne Moore was in this one, I made a special point of watching it. I'm very glad I did. I don't really know all that much about Sarah Palin as I was rather young back then and I didn't really give a crap about US politics (still don't, either), so I can't say whether Julianne Moore hit Meryl Streep heights of mimicry, but I do know that her performance was very good. Somewhat better than what Meryl Streep did in The Iron Lady. Apparently Palin had a few screws loose and Moore portrayed them all so beautifully.
10. Rosemarie DeWitt as Hannah in Your Sister's Sister
I don't know what it is about Rosemarie DeWitt in this film but she's just so darn perfect in it. Hannah just runs around, stuffing everything up, and yet, you feel her incessant desparation. It is kind of sad to watch, but at the same time, DeWitt is so adorable.
9. Matt Whelan as Michael in The Most Fun You Can Have Dying
Normally I wouldn't care about a NZ film but exceptions can be made, and this film became one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. Especially because of Matt Whelan's terrific performance. I'd always known him as the guy off that moderately average Kiwi show Go Girls (which also stars Anna Hutchison from The Cabin in the Woods) and I didn't really see any greatness in him, but his work in this film really proved me wrong. I guess it would be unfair to compare him to Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas, but his character is baked in the same bread, and Whelan's performance is almost as wonderful.
8. Juno Temple as Dottie Smith in Killer Joe
Killer Joe is another film that is filled with great performances - I could have easily have made a top 5 list filled with all of the main players - however, aside from the obvious, Juno Temple was my next best in show. Basically everything in the film lies on her, and that is a big duty to carry. Her character is both innocent and alluring - which is a rather odd blend that she's able to pull off extremely well. Plus, I don't know how she could have handled those scenes with Matthew McConaughey, since I couldn't even watch them.
7. Rachel Weisz as Hester in The Deep Blue Sea
I didn't really like this film all that much but Rachel Weisz was wonderful in it. She plays a difficult character with ease and a real essence for the 1950s time setting - this movie seems like something that could have been made back then. It'll be interesting to see if she gets an Oscar nomination, considering the amount of love she's been getting lately. I won't be disappointed if she does get through.
6. Javier Bardem as Silva in Skyfall
Even though Javier Bardem is done a great disservice by the film's rather poor script - which doesn't even introduce him until half way through the film and doesn't give him the greatest of plans - and yet another bad hair-do, he still excels and gives probably the creepiest performance of the year. From that 'interrogation' scene to the scene where he's in the cell, Bardem is out to just scare the crap out of everyone, and he definitely succeeds.
5. Jack Black as Bernie Tiede in Bernie
I never thought that I would make a list of great performances and Jack Black would be on it. Jack Black is one of my least favourite actors around, but it is hard to deny that his performance in Bernie was anything short of fantastic. Just everything about it was so carefully done and it was sad to see someone so nice get in such a bad way. I don't know what was more shocking: that this story was true or that Jack Black was so good in the film.
4. Liam Neeson as Ottway in The Grey
It is such a shame that The Grey will largely go unnoticed thanks to the fact that it came out right at the beginning of the year, meaning that Liam Neeson's first wonderful performance in years will slip under the radar. However, he deserves to get some recognition for carrying this survival drama, and not using those 'special skills' as a mask to cover how absurd his career has become. This was almost Schindler's List level stuff, and while I was a little concerned that he'd never hit those heights again, I can rest a little easier at night now.
3. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises
I want to be her. I mean, I'd love to be Anne Hathaway because then I would have the most beautiful smile ever and I'd be able to sing, like, really effing well. But I'd love to be Selina Kyle because I would be able to beat up everyone wearing extremely high heels and having really straight hair. Anne Hathaway was just perfect in this role, in every single way. I mean, even her voice purred.
2. Michael Fassbender as David in Prometheus
David definitely wasn't my favourite character, as he spent more time pissing me off with his button touching than anything else, but Michael Fassbender was terrifyingly good in the role. He actually acted so much not like a human that I couldn't believe that I was watching the smoothest actor on Earth on the screen. He was easily the best thing about this movie.
1. Matthew McConaughey as Danny Buck in Bernie, Dallas in Magic Mike and Killer Joe Cooper in Killer Joe
I couldn't just pick one performance of Matthew McConaughey's for this list, so while his performance in Killer Joe is still by far my most favourite of the year, his work in Magic Mike and Bernie are close behind. Matty M just rocks, okay? Stevee and Matty M against the world foreverrrrrrrr (okay, this is getting weird...).
What do you think of this list? What are some of your favourite performances of 2012?