Ten Best Performances from 2018 not nominated for an Academy Award
The 91st Academy Award nominations were announced last week. And I have to say, I’ve never been so out of touch with the list of nominees as I am this year. My Top Ten List (click the link) names about 30 movies total as the best of the year. Disappointedly, my list is barely represented in the nominations. With so many interesting films that came out this past year, I am genuinely shocked at the rather boring choices. Yes, it’s nice to see a quality superhero film with an almost entire black ensemble and director be so successful, but BLACK PANTHER is hardly Best Picture material (it’s not even the best superhero movie of the year). However, it is light years above such ordinary fair as A STAR IS BORN, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, and GREEN BOOK. It’s not that any of these films are terrible, it’s just that they are…well, basic. Is it 1989? Perhaps I’m mostly bitter about those three choices, which don’t really offer a fresh perspective or voice on anything relevant. Thankfully, adding some much needed unique artistry to an award ceremony celebrating excellency, THE FAVOURITE, ROMA, and BLACKKKLANSMAN are available to root for, but I’m not holding my breath on actual wins. Even VICE is at least a good representation of our current satirical view on politics. Where is EIGHTH GRADE? or perhaps a little more love for FIRST MAN? Not even the lovable Mr. Rogers story, WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? preaching kindness and goodwill was able to receive a Best Documentary nomination. It’s the first time I’ve had a documentary place so high on my end of year list and nothing! I’m usually the guy that agrees halfway with the Oscars and lifts my nose at the practice of “snubs” because if you were gonna add one, who would you cut? It’s usually a tight, subjective race in which I understand that I will never agree with 100 percent of the time, particularly when it comes to acting. But here I am, particularly grouchy about the nominations. I’ve never felt so jaded about the hostless award ceremony. So here it is, My Top Ten Performances In 2018 Not Nominated For An Oscar list. In the spirit of squeezing more in, I group some together. And as usual my list goes to eleven.
11: Ethan Hawke in FIRST REFORMED – I did not totally connect with this film, but as usual, I loved Ethan Hawke’s performance. It would have been nice to see, who I consider a criminally underrated actor, get some Oscar love.
10. Lucas Hedges in BOY ERASED – Hedges is quickly making his mark in Hollywood as he continually chooses interesting roles after his breakout performance in MANCHESTER BY THE SEA. As a boy guilt-stricken by his homosexuality and the despicable practices to rid him of his perceived disease, Hedges shows a touching sadness and quiet strength. Nicole Kidman is also terrific as his internally conflicted mother.
9. Lakeith Stanfield in SORRY TO BOTHER YOU – Stanfield is quietly becoming a heavy hitter to look out for in Hollywood. With strong supporting work in last year’s phenomenal GET OUT and now a hilariously understated performance in the brilliant (should have been nominated for original screenplay) SORRY TO BOTHER YOU.
8. Toni Collette in HERIDITARY – Collette is downright terrifying as a mother on the brink of hysterics as she deals with the loss of her mother and daughter with some haunting implications. Toni Collette’s gradual descent into madness is masterful.
7. Kathryn Hahn in PRIVATE LIFE – A Netflix film that is both comedic and tragic that did not receive enough attention, about a couple going through the difficulties of trying conceive a child, adopt a child, and/or have a surrogate. The entire cast (Paul Giamatti, Molly Shannon, John Carroll Lynch, Emily Robinson) is great, but it’s Hahn who balances the funny and fear as she struggles to have a child.
6. Jim Cummings in THUNDER ROAD – The opening scene is a brilliantly performed monologue where Cummings delivers a sad, thoughtful and embarrassingly physical eulogy at his mother’s funeral. It is both hilarious and tragic. The film is relentless and worth seeing for nothing else if just to see Cummings performance. I can’t wait to see where he pops up next.
5. Charlize Theron in TULLY – Theron truly is one today’s best actresses. She nails the exhaustion that comes with having a baby and the motherly will to keep moving as she cares for her family. An observant film anchored by a lived in performance.
4. Elsie Fisher in EIGHTH GRADE – Why my favorite film didn’t get a single nomination (not even a screenplay nom for Bo Burnham?) is beyond me. Elsie Fisher embodies the agony of being thirteen to painful perfection. I love this movie so much and Fisher is exactly right in the role. Josh Hamilton as her loving father also deserves some recognition.
3. Emily Blunt in A QUIET PLACE – Many people were pulling for her Mary Poppins role, which is terrific, but as the matriarch in A QUIET PLACE, Blunt is magnificent. Giving birth without making a sound as monsters are hunting you in the other room should be a drama class exercise for year’s to come.
2. Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy in FIRST MAN – I was really hoping this film would have pulled off a Best Picture nomination, but I had little doubt that the leads would get some recognition. Everything about this movie is spectacular, deserving nominations in almost every category. The two stars nail a marriage that is increasingly closer to the brink of failure as they encounter one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments of walking on the moon.
1. Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet in BEAUTIFUL BOY – Easily the best performances of the year. I’m not sure why I seem to be on an island with my support for this movie, but it was the best portrayal of a father dealing with their child’s drug addiction that i’ve ever seen. I loved Chalamet, but it was Carell who had my heart more than any other performance this year. Much like EIGHTH GRADE, it was honest and painful.
Other notable performances:
Emma Thompson in THE CHILDREN ACT, Joaquin Phoenix in YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE, Tom Cruise in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT, Felicity Jones in ON THE BASIS OF SEX, Michael Shannon in WHAT THEY HAD, Keira Knightley in COLLETTE