Ten Best Performances from 2017 not nominated for an Academy Award
The 90th Academy Award nominations were announced this past Tuesday. While many people might be calling out foul play about those who didn’t make the cut, I am on the other side of the fence, irritated at who the media is claiming to be snubbed (WONDER WOMAN does not deserve a nomination people). I know ahead of time that not all my choices will make the cut (for my Ten Best Films of 2017 click the link), but I’m still pleasantly surprised. Three of my top five got some major love (DUNKIRK, GET OUT, and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI) and even my favorite BABY DRIVER managed to score three nods. But the general public and media usually talk about the acting categories, so I will keep my list in that wheelhouse. Some will be upset James Franco got snubbed for THE DISASTER ARTIST because of his recent sexual harassment accusations. However, I don’t think he deserved it because it was a glorified imitation of a bad performance. Good, but not top five worthy. Tom Hanks is a regular to get snubbed, but I’m not sure his role in the Oscar bait THE POST is qualifying. If only the Academy would realize that Meryl Streep’s good performance isn’t as great as some of the names I will be listing below. You’re ruining it for everyone else Meryl! Armie Hammer is terrific too, but I have an extremely dissenting opinion about his Oscar nominated film, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (click the link to read my controversial review). In no particular order, here are the Ten Best Performance from 2017 not nominated for an Academy Award.
Honorable Mention: Caleb Landry Jones in GET OUT, THREE BILLBOARDS IN EBBING MISSOURI, THE FLORIDA PROJECT, and AMERICAN MADE. That’s a pretty nice resume for just last year. He wowed me in every small part from these films. So much so, that I immediately had to look up who this guy with the strange energy that I can’t keep my eyes off of was. To my surprise, I kept looking up the same guy. You might recognize him as Banshee from X-MEN: FIRST CLASS. Based on this year’s line of great performances in great films, Caleb Landry Jones has a bright future ahead of him.
10. Jennifer Lawrence in MOTHER! – The controversial film from Darren Aronofsky is a metaphor about God, mother earth, and the sinful nature of the consuming people who inhabit it. It’s really quite brilliant and nothing like you’ve seen before. It doesn’t fully connect, but I appreciate the artful approach. I’m surprised at how much hatred this film has received. However, I can totally understand if the film isn’t for you. It’s definitely strange and different but it’s not poorly done. I can’t believe The Razzies gave Lawrence a nomination as one of the worst performances, so this inclusion is partly to counter that. But she’s great as the tortured and heart broken embodiment of mother nature who is kind but increasingly irritated as her space is continually invaded and violated.
9. James McAvoy in SPLIT – I truly believe James McAvoy is deserving of an Academy Award sometime in his future. In SPLIT, he plays a kidnapper with several different personalities. It’s a decent movie that is propelled to a greater level because of his showcasing performance(s). The creative comeback thriller from M. Night Shyamalan doesn’t work with a lesser actor.
8. Elizabeth Marvel in THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES (NEW AND SELECTED) – The whole cast is wonderful but this underrated comedic family drama’s shortcomings come by not giving enough attention to some of the female characters. Most notably Marvel as the quietly odd sister Jean. Her deadpan moments are usually the funniest and her backstory is the darkest. Jean ultimately just wants to be around her family more. And I want more Jean!
7. Robert Pattinson in GOOD TIME – Bob Patty has been shedding that guilty pleasure badness that is TWILIGHT. Consistently choosing interesting roles, GOOD TIME is that movie that proves he’s got more than brooding vampire looks. Pattinson controls every scene in this heist gone wrong evening as a complex bad guy trying to do the misguided right thing for his mentally ill brother.
6. Lois Smith in MARJORIE PRIME – I caught this film recently and was really moved by it. It was a good year for movies and seeing smaller films like MARJORIE PRIME solidifies that statement. Taking place mostly in a living room, this is set in a future where Siri has advanced itself into a computer hologram and can learn and look like your dead loved one. Lois Smith is wonderful as an aging woman who is losing her memory as she speaks to a younger hologram version of her husband, played by John Hamm. Geena Davis and Tim Robbins are also great in this highly recommendable movie that explores life, loss and how we remember it.
5. Ansel Elgort in BABY DRIVER – I can’t love on this film enough. I’m so excited it received three Oscar nominations (Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing). But one of the nice surprises that brings the film together is the lead character Baby. Elgort’s performance is natural. He has an ease and rhythm that is necessary for this action-packed, operatic visual feast that ranks as one of the best musicals I’ve ever seen. It is truly one of the most impressive films ever made and is not getting enough credit. While we’re at it, Edgar Wright should have also been nominated for Director and Screenplay.
4. Holly Hunter in THE BIG SICK – I was a little surprised not to see Hunter’s name in the supporting actress category but she is easily the stand out in a film full of amateurs. That’s not a knock at everyone else as they do a commendable job in a surprisingly sufficient dramatic rom-com. Once Hunter comes on screen as the distressed mother, the film lifts the ceiling of what might otherwise be a nice but forgettable attempt at the genre. The Oscar nominated screenplay by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon based on their true life love story is pretty great too.
3. Barry Keoghan in THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER – What a break-out role for young Barry Keoghan. You might recognize him as one of the two young boys on the boat in perhaps the year’s best film DUNKIRK. Here Barry takes creepy, vulnerable, evil to a whole new level in this amazing horror psychodramatic thriller from the mastermind writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos. I can’t wait to see what Barry does next based on this performance alone, which I think might be the best of the year.
2. Jessica Chastain in MOLLY’S GAME – Even though most of these performances are my favorite, I had no real expectation that they would be nominated. The films are just too small or they simply aren’t the showy type that the Academy goes for. All but one. Chastain is magnificent and was criminally left off the ballet as the strong, successful, self-made, savvy, FBI target running the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game. She also nails the sharp dialogue from Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay.
1. Andy Serkis in WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES – Serkis’ best work is still Gollum from THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS, but all his motion capture work is fiercely entertaining. The special effects team deserve a lot of credit as well, but Serkis embodiment of different creatures with exquisite facial and body movement is nothing short of amazing. While the new Planet of the Ape movies don’t move me like most of my collegues, I have a great deal of respect for them and Serkis’ portrayal of Caesar. Get this guy an honorary Oscar already.
Other notable performances:
Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, Steve Carell in LAST FLAG FLYING
Vince Vaughn in BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99
Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart in LOGAN