' ' Cinema Romantico: The 7th Annual Prigges: Top 10 Performances From 2011

Sunday, January 08, 2012

The 7th Annual Prigges: Top 10 Performances From 2011

Each and every year at the movies is stacked with great performances and 2011 was no exception. Young, old, male, female, great movie, good movie, so-so movie, they came from everywhere. These are the 10 (well, make that 12) performances from the year in movies that I most dearly loved. They are in no particular order aside from the first two, which I am proclaiming as my official Favorite Performance of 2011 and my Second Favorite Performance of 2012.

Shailene Woodley, The Descendants 

Perhaps the most difficult role to execute is a Realistic Teenager. Woodley was actually 20 years old at the time she played the part of 17 year old Alex King and I think that’s crucial. I think being a few years removed from her 17 year old self allowed her to look back and examine who and what any of us are at the R-rated movie age. It’s a confusing point for all of us but would be even more so when your mom is in a coma and she was cheating on your dad, your often-neglectful, though not mean-spirited, dad. When she is most desperate to be an adult is when she’s most like a kid and when she most wants to play the kid-card is when she most has to ante up and act like an adult. Ticked off and unfair but loving and fair she effortlessly conveys the whirlwind emotions of adolescence.

Rooney Mara, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo 

Without revealing much of anything, Mara somehow improbably shows most of everything. Consider the, uh, shall we say, torture sequence with a most unfortunate (but kind of deserving) gentleman which easily (and darn near is) gratuitous. Instead she plays the moment with an indifference that’s not so much casual as suggesting of a pent-up rage, a past long since buried and that manifests itself in this manner. I didn’t think it was possible to come across humane in such a moment. Mara proved me very wrong. Is it too over-the-top to say this performance sorta shattered my soul? No? It isn’t? Yes? It is? Either/or, I don’t care. It did.

Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 

He doesn’t speak until 15 minutes into the movie and even the few times he does speak he doesn’t say a whole lot or say any of it with much volume and yet no one male in a movie this year commanded the screen more. Except possibly for…..

John Boyega, Attack the Block 

In his first movie at the age of 17 he already appears to have more charisma than all the dudes in “The Expendables 2″ trailer put together.

Trieste Kelly Dunn, Cold Weather 

Dunn gives us someone whose fire has burnt out and who spends a whole film flicking and flicking and flicking the Lighter Of Life (???). At the last second, there’s a spark. My single favorite shot of the year is the final one in Cold Weather, and it’s Trieste who makes it.

Michael Shannon, Take Shelter 

What’s so phenomenal about Mr. Shannon’s work is the way he consistently comes across so ordinary in an increasingly extraordinary situation. Jennifer Lawrence, The Beaver Magnificent in Winter’s Bone, she proves in director Jodie Foster’s so-so, tonally uncertain film that, in fact, she can also convey an actual lived life in an under-imagined and under-written role and that, of course, is a trait typically only possessed by the great ones.

Bruce Greenwood, Meek’s Cutoff 

Virtually unrecognizable, he realistically embodies the ultimate wild-west cliche.

John C. Reilly, Terri 

This isn’t so much a departure as an assembling of all the traits the ever eclectic Reilly has developed over the years culminating in a character who speaks in cliches but (whether knowingly or not) leads by his very much unperfect example.

Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent, Christopher Plummer, Beginners 

Let me see if I can phrase this right, despite the fact Plummer and Laurent are never on the screen at the same time these three form a true ensemble in the way the characters not only share emotional similarities but how they underscore and illuminate one another. If Mr. Plummer wins an Oscar (which seems rather likely) I sincerely hope he makes sure to thank Ewan and Melanie.

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