Friday, December 28, 2012

My Unofficial 15 Favourite Performances of 2012

So I'm continuing on my year-end yadda yadda, but this time, I'm restricting my list to just 2012 things and 2012 alone - my favourite performances of the year. Now just to clear things up: when I do "Best of" lists, they do not go by NZ release dates. Because to be honest, I don't think it is right to be talking about films like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or War Horse now because they feel so old, and I cleared 2011 up in July. However, there are a few 2011 films that came out after I did that, like Margaret and Carnage, but neither of them will be included here. As for 2012 films, I haven't seen a hell of a lot so this is a very unofficial list. I mean, there's no Jessica Chastain, and that's because Lawless still hasn't been released at all in NZ and barely anyone has seen Zero Dark Thirty. I couldn't add Ezra Miller, either. So what we have here is a colourful list, but one bursting with some great talent.


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?

22 comments:

  1. Love it. Really enjoyed most of these performances and it truly is McConaughey's year.

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  2. Ironically, my lack of interest towards McConaghey that had been from his previous work with rom-com's has lead to a situation where I haven't seen ANY of those movies you mention as his greats. I keep wanting to see Magic Mike and then decide not to because I don't have any wine near by or something. I will try to fix that problem when the new year arrives!

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    1. I never used to like McConaughey, AT ALL. But he's so great in those three films! Magic Mike is a pretty okay film, but a bottle of wine would probably come in handy!

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  3. So many brilliant performances from this year. Cid from Looper and Matthew McConaughey were definitely the biggest surprises, while I fully expected Javier Bardem to give a great performance.

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    1. Who didn't expect Javier Bardem to give a great performance? He's practically made to be creepy, aha.

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  4. Though Washington's turn in Flight dethroned Matthew for me, it's great to see all of his three awesome performances on number 1!

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    1. :O I must see Flight, then! Still, it is me and Matty M against the world foreverrrrrrrr.

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  5. I'm a fan of a lot of these performances. The more I think about The Grey (and Liam Neeson in it), it's slowly moving up my list for this year. Such a surprising movie, especially in its last act. It's also cool to see you call out Jack Black in Bernie. He does a great job using his charisma but putting some wrinkles in his standard persona. I also keep forgetting that The Hunger Games was this year. It seems like forever ago! Jennifer Lawrence really makes that movie; it doesn't work without her.

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    1. Yeah, the more I think about The Grey, the more I like it too! Must give it another go soon. The Hunger Games definitely wouldn't work without Jennifer Lawrence, she knows how to carry a film!

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  6. Fass and Bardem delivered the usual perfect performance, of course. I still need to see Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin, I'm glad you liked it.

    oh I've loved McConaughey for so long (different reasons, granted), I'm so glad to see him rock this year! His future performances are so promising as well.

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    1. Julianne Moore is so great in Game Change! She pretty much looked like Sarah Palin, too.

      McConaughey looks to be set for a good year next year, too, with Mud, The Wolf of Wall Street and especially The Dallas Buyer's Club. I smell Oscar!

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  7. Love Bardem, Weisz, Hathaway, Neeson, McConaughey, and DeWitt. A great year for performances, no doubt.

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    1. Definitely - especially male performances, it would seem!

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  8. Dane DeHann in Chronicle, Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, Rosemarie DeWitt in Your Sister's Sister, Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea, Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises, and Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike are all in my favorite performances of 2012 list. Some of my other favorite performances of 2012 are Tom Cruise in Rock Of Ages, Robert De Niro in Being Flynn, Seth Rogen in Take This Waltz, Edward Norton in Moonrise Kingdom, Adrien Brody in Detachment, Michelle Williams in Take This Waltz, Zoe Kazan in Ruby Sparks, Julie Delpy in 2 Days In New York, Maggie Smith in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Sami Gayle in Detachment.

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    1. I really liked Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages, Michelle and Seth in Take This Waltz, and Maggie Smith in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (I would also throw in Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy from that film, too).

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  9. We're gonna have a number of shared ones here...

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  10. I didn't really get the hype for Blunt until seeing her in Looper

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    1. I don't blame ya - I've always loved her, though.

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  11. Fantastic list! I haven't seen any of the number ones but 2,3 and 4 are all excellent! Lots of my faves on here too! Mads Mikkelsen in The Hunt would be my number one though. Hope it gets to you in NZ soon if it's not there already! Also Tom Hardy in Lawless might shift this list once you get it!

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    1. The Hunt was at the Film Fest I think, but it hasn't had a proper release. I did really like Mads Mikkelsen in A Royal Affair, though! And I can't wait to see Lawless mainly because Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain are so adorable together.

      Also - check out Matty M's performances, pronto!

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You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.

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