Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Best of 2012: Performances

It is the night before the announcement of the Oscar nominations for 2012 cinematic achievements. And by this time the selections in each category are already predictable, each pick so thoroughly vetted, debated, handicapped and politicized, that many of us will revel in finding the few errant names that sneak past expectations to win a nomination.

Below are my picks of the best of 2012 performances, a list that for the most part will not have much in common with what will appear in the Oscar nominations tomorrow. Also, I have refused to limit to only 5 picks in each category; if the point of such lists is to enable recognition, all the better to be generous when doing so.

Adam Scott (and Jennifer Westfeldt) in Friends With Kids
So here are the actors who I think are best in class, listed in the rank order of my appreciation of their work.

Best Actor, Male
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Adam Scott, Friends With Kids
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour
Suraj Sharma, Life of Pi
Matthew McConaughey, Killer Joe
Rosemarie DeWitt in Your Sister's Sister
Daniel Day Lewis, Lincoln
Denis Lavant, Holy Motors
Tom Holland, The Impossible
Liam Neeson, The Grey
Channing Tatum, 21 Jump Street
Jason Segal, Jeff Who Lives At Home

Best Actor, Female
Rosemarie DeWitt, Your Sister's Sister
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Rashida Jones, Celeste and Jesse Forever
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Emily Blunt, Your Sister's Sister
Michael Fassbender in Prometheus
Cecile de France, The Kid With A Bike
Melanie Lynskey, Hello I Must Be Going
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Supporting Actor, Male
Michael Fassbender, Prometheus
Sam Rockwell, Seven Psychopaths
Michael Pena, End Of Watch
Christopher Walken, A Late Quartet
Irrfan Khan, Life Of Pi
Thomas Dorat, The Kid With A Bike
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Bryan Cranston, Argo
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Susan Sarandon in Jeff Who Lives At Home
Woody Harrelson, Seven Psychopaths

Best Supporting Actor, Female
Susan Sarandon, Jeff Who Lives At Home
Salma Hayek, Savages
Judi Dench, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Catherine Keener, A Late Quartet
Emma Watson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises

Let me know which of these picks got stuck in your craw, and which ones were criminally left out.


  1. I see you keep leaving out the best movie of the year - The Dark Knight Rises!!!!

  2. Hi Afreed :) But that is what I love about these movie lists. They will (hopefully) never be the same for any two people. 'The Dark Knight Rises' was the best film of the year for you - and MANY others, including Techwalla on our Moviewallas podcast. But I found it drowning in self-importance, always trying too hard. Trying to convince us it is making a profound commentary about how we live today, which I found unbearable. In terms of its craft though, it is a near-perfect film, and Christopher Nolan is incapable of making a bad-looking or badly filmed movie. That is why, in spite of all my reservations about this film, I felt it got a bad deal with the Oscar nominations; because it should have received several nods in the technical categories, but did not garner a single one.