With December here and quite a few of the year’s biggest films arriving just in time for Oscar season, I thought I would pay a quick tribute to ten performers from 2010 that will most likely be overlooked when the nominations are announced in a couple of months. I’m still playing catch up on a lot of films (Kentucky isn’t exactly a hot-spot for first-run foreign and indie films) but these ten (actually twelve) performances really blew me away and they all deserve recognition.
Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick Ass and Let Me In): For my money, the best actor of the year is a 13 year old girl from Atlanta, Georgia. Chloe Grace Moretz was absolutely thrilling as Hit Girl in Matthew Vaughn’s terrific Kick Ass and she was even better in Let Me In, where she gave a layered and unbelievably moving performance as the tragic vampire Abby. Moretz is the real-deal and the best young American actress to come on the scene since Natalie Portman.
The Rest (in Alphabetical Order):
Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism): Bell brought a real freshness to what could have been just another stock shock role with a terrifying performance that teetered wonderfully between a sincere awkwardness and a mesmerizing insanity.
Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows): Oh Bonham Carter was born to play Bellatrix Lestrange and damn she owns every scene she's in. I'm actually glad Helena only sporadically pops up in the Harry Potter films because I literally hold my breath every time she is on the screen. She's absolutely perfect in everything she does and, as Lestrange, absolutely spellbinding.
Noomi Rapice (The Girl Who Played with Fire): She should be a no-brainer for the Oscars this year but I have a bad feeling they will overlook her. She was fascinating to watch in the whole series but I especially loved her in the second chapter where she gave a performance that projected both an intense strength and marked vulnerability.
Kristen Stewart (The Runaways): Here’s the thing, I don’t care how awkward she is in interviews or how many Twilight films she makes or who her boyfriend is…I find Kristen Stewart to be one of the most moving and effective twenty-something actresses on the planet. She doesn’t just play Joan Jett in The Runaways as much as she completely inhabits her. It’s a breathtaking and poetic performance in an undervalued film.
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone): Respect please…this guy has been stealing film after film for well over twenty years and he is jaw-dropping in Winter’s Bone, delivering a completely unique and totally compelling performance as the very flawed Teardrop. Magnificent…just magnificent.
The Rest (In Alphabetical Order)
Casey Affleck (The Killer Inside Me): Casey is tremendous in everything he does and his chilling turn in The Killer Inside Me represents some of his finest work so far.
Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine): Has middle-aged angst and despair ever been so freaking hilarious? Rob's brutal bulldozing performance is one of the funniest and most effective I have seen in a long time. I'll never hear "Home Sweet Home" again without thinking of him in this film.
Russell Crowe (The Next Three Days): Crowe is rapidly joining the likes of the great actors like Pacino and Hoffman who routinely turn in astonishing performances that are ignored just because it is expected of them. Russell's turn in the highly underrated The Next Three Days (easily the best film Paul Haggis has ever delivered) is exceptional and it carries the film through to its very flawed conclusion.
Armie Hammer (The Social Network): Playing twins and giving the best performance in the year's best film (or damn near close to it), Armie Hammer really deserves some love for his incredible turn(s) in Fincher's The Social Network. In a film loaded with great performances, he really stands out every time he is on the screen.
I'll be more than thrilled to see actors like Natalie Portman, Jeff Bridges, Christian Bale, Nicole Kidman, Ryan Gossling and Michelle Williams nominated this year.
I hope at least a couple of folks from my early list make the cut especially Moretz and Hawkes, whose work won't be bettered in my eyes in 2010.