Well, there is actually 16…
We joined forces to come up with just a handful of our very favourite performances of 2018 in cinema so far. And in this bunch there is more than enough to be proud of. Don’t forget to listen to our recent podcast in which we discuss the first half of the year. Have a read, and please tell us your top acting turns for the year thus far.
Toni Collette in Hereditary
Whether Hereditary has divided audiences and critics or not, we can’t deny the sheer power in Toni Collette’s performance as the deeply troubled mother Annie, battling demons in the metaphysical sense. As the film develops, Annie and her dysfunctional family come apart at the seams. Collette’s facial expressions become more twisted and full of suppressed emotion. She is barely able to contain herself from screaming, holding back her fear, frustration and anger. This is a woman on the edge, ready to snap at any moment, and we go from feeling sorry for her, to fearing her.
Collette presents a real depiction of someone truly haunted, but it never topples over into comedy or caricature. Often actors in the horror genre get overlooked by the Academy, but I hope Collette gets a nomination at least. This is up there with the likes of Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby, Ellen Burstyn in The Exorcist and Shelley Duvall in The Shining. All have played mothers who will do whatever it takes to save their family, even if it means losing their sanity. – – – – – Bianca Garner
Joaquin Phoenix in You Were Never Really Here
Joe is a tormented former FBI Agent who specializes in locating kidnapped girls who fall into the hands of sex traffickers in You Were Never Really Here. He carries the weight just below the surface of soft but sad eyes and a salt and pepper beard. He utilizes a hammer as a favorite weapon when confronting dangerous men in his line of work. And more than once makes a visually disturbing mark on the film’s story. Phoenix plays a man driven by utility and meaning, he is himself a violent weapon, a tool, until a young girl gives him reason to go on. He ends up condemning those closest to him by being caught by surprise in a moment of vulnerability.
Phoenix represents a character who truly has nothing to lose, making him the most dangerous person you could stand in the way of. The weight of Joe’s sorrow is never far from the surface. This is juxtaposed with his intensity and brutally efficient violent streak. He disables his enemies thoroughly and without question. The precision of his strikes speak to his specialized background and training and confirm Phoenix’s total commitment to the role. – – – – – Rob Motto
Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow
The prospect of Red Sparrow many moons ago was a tantalizing one. Weighed heavy by the central casting of Jennifer Lawrence. You think audiences were excited about a Russia-set spy thriller? Nope. The expectation was carried on the shoulders of Miss Lawrence, an A-lister that much of the fickle public cinema-goers have not given up on. Passengers fired and missed by a long shot, and mother! divided audiences like the red sea.
Whatever your opinion of Red Sparrow might be, Lawrence deserves credit for opting into such diverse projects, getting her hands dirty, and doing so with a gravity of uncertainty. This is a ruthless business after all. Dominika Egorova’s famous ballet career is ended with injury, and her career branches to Russian intelligence. Of course. Her character is used for sexual bait, she is tortured, and quite frankly none of this executed tastefully I might add. Lawrence gives pretty much her all in a scattered film, perhaps putting some of those leaked photos ghosts to rest with unflinching scenes of full nudity here. – – – – – Robin Write
Charlie Plummer in Lean on Pete
There have been so many coming-of-age dramas, it is always a challenge to ensure that your film and your performance is fresh and original. This is something that Charlie Plummer manages to do here, presenting us with a character that is wholeheartedly believable, relatable and unique. A character that seems rooted in the pessimistic 1970s cinema, or the authority challenging films of the 1950s. But also seems to belong to the millennial and post millennium generation. Plummer’s character, also named Charlie, is a lonely teenager, no friends, no company (aside from his single parent father), and no real hobbies. He finds himself one summer in a dilapidated house in Portland, Oregon, having been uprooted from his Washington state hometown.
Despite his poor background, he had been a good student and promising track star, Charlie finds himself working for a nearby racecourse, for a seedy and unscrupulous horse trainer Del (Steve Buscemi). That’s where he meets the horse, Lean on Pete. Soon, Charlie becomes alone once again, but this time he has a companion, Pete. There’s something poetically beautiful about seeing the awkward teenage boy interact with the horse. No words are necessary to explain the bond these two lost, and isolated souls have. Despite his young age, Plummer proves himself to be a capable actor, wise beyond his years. – – – – – Bianca Garner
Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place
Taking place in a post-apocalyptic world where keeping noise to a minimum is a must, Evelyn Abbott is the glue that keeps her family together. Played confidently by Emily Blunt, Evelyn’s calm demeanor and self control ensure her family’s survival. Blunt made the film with Husband John Krasinski, who also directed the picture. We can feel that intimacy creep into the film, especially in their scenes together. Evelyn must endure long periods of silence, with Blunt having to be able to showcase an incredible physical acting ability. The pain she must endure, and making us believe it all.
The scene with the nail in particular is difficult to watch, and is still running through my mind. Blunt gives Evelyn heart and soul, infusing a warmth, that would leave the film lacking without. She does everything that she has to in order to protect her family and ensure its survival. She knows great pain and loss, and perhaps this is what makes her so prepared to not curl up into a ball and admit defeat. That’s a character that I want to watch and root for, a character that I can really believe in. – – – – – Rob Motto
Hurry, there’s plenty more of these…