' ' Cinema Romantico: My Favorite Performances of 2018

Thursday, January 03, 2019

My Favorite Performances of 2018

As in any given movie year, there were a ton of splendid performances, some destined to win awards, many more not, and a lot more than we have the space to fully address. Of all the great performances in 2018, however, there were five, or five-plus (you’ll see) that I would particularly like to highlight.

Jennifer Jason Leigh, “Annihilation” 

In a movie where the central mystery, a sci-fi shimmer, is actively re-arranging people’s DNA on the fly and causing them to have legit otherworldly bodily sensations, it is only Leigh, playing commander of a group that sets out to figure out the shimmer, who truly lives out the notion of shifting DNA, giving the most indelible physical performance of the year, luxuriating in the ineffable shimmery sensation in a way the movie itself is never able to equal.

Rachel McAdams, “Game Night” 

As a woman who loses herself, at least for awhile, in a violent game that turns out to be real, McAdams loses herself too, giving a performance that feels not so much finely calibrated as totally, gloriously unmoored.

Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman” & Ethan Hawke, “First Reformed”  

As, respectively, a Jewish detective going undercover as a violent anti-semite to infilitrate the KKK and a Protestant Minister suffering a crisis of faith, both Driver and Hawke give splendid internal performances, outwardly emitting professionalism even as simultaneously they convey the emotional and philosophical contradictions eating them alive.

Special Jury Prize: Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born” 

As a self-avowed Little Monster, I fear I might be too close to Ms. Gaga on a secularly spiritual level to fairly evalute her performance. As such, we give it the Special Jury Prize, a means of acknowledging my deep bias while also labeling Eventual Oscar Winner™ Gaga’s star turn as, indubitably, the Movie Star Performance of the Year, so good that the movie sort of becomes about the leading man realizing in real-time that the leading lady is passing him by.

“Paddington 2”: Cast

No doubt Hugh Grant is worthy of individual citation in a ceaselessly inventive turn as the film’s flamboyant villain. And yet, the arc of Grant’s character leads him to the realization that every actor is only as good as his ensemble. Indeed, as good as Grant is, he is matched by Brendan Gleeson’s comically gruff tenderness, and Sally Hawkins’s pure fucking joy, and Hugh Bonneville’s flustered fastidiousness. Few movie scenes in 2018 were as good as Grant’s character discovering the characters of Hawkins and Bonneville sneaking around his home, the trio’s exhilarating acting freshening up theh familiar. They are all great; they all get citations; they are the ensemble of the year.

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