Friday, January 1, 2021

Best of 2020: Top 20 Acting Performances

In true Norma Desmond fashion, 2020 was marked by small films with big performances. Indeed, while most of the year's best acting was unfortunately confined to our humble screens at home, they shone with talent and charisma. From new takes on the damsel in distress, to sensational interpretations of historical figures, here are my picks for the Top 20 Acting Performances of 2020:

20. Rachel Brosnahan in I'm Your Woman
"Mrs. Maisel" goes rogue with marvelous style and grit. 

19. James Norton in Nowhere Special
A delicate portrayal of fatherly love.

18. Julia Vysotskaya in Dear Comrades
 Julia Vysotskaya takes audiences on a emotional rollercoaster with this fierce performance.

17. Wunmi Mosaku in His House
A pillar of strength, channeling the resilience and pain behind the "strong black woman.

16. Mark Rylance in The Trial of the Chicago 7
A riveting acting masterclass played just right.

15. Levan Gelbakhiani in And Then We Danced
This stunning debut commands your attention with tremendous passion and vulnerability.

14. Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman
Mulligan challenges herself and the audience with this astonishing performance. 

13. Sacha Baron Cohen in The Trial of the Chicago 7
A typically genius Sacha Baron Cohen performance - amusing, provocative and enlightening. 

12. Sope Dirisu in His House
Dirisu perfectly conveys the fear of the unknown.

11. Jessie Buckley in I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Further proof that Jessie Buckley is a one-of-a-kind talent. 

10. Mads Mikkelson in Another Round
His character might be drunk but Mikkelsen's dynamic performance leaves you on a high.

9. Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
This thunderous, bittersweet swansong dropped the metaphorical mic. 

8. Viola Davis in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
This impressive transformation showcases Davis' iconic talent in a whole new light. 

7. Kingsley Ben-Adir in One Night in Miami
Ben-Adir makes a major career statement, channeling Malcolm X with vigor and gravitas. 

6. Jesse Plemons in I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Unassuming yet magnetic, Plemons continues to redefine what a movie star can be.

5. Toni Collette in I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Collette amazes once again with an inscrutable, quirky and endlessly compelling turn. 

4. Ben Affleck in The Way Back
Affleck reminds us of his acting talent with this deep, tortured portrayal. 

3. Issa Rae in The Lovebirds
The most enjoyable comedic performance of the year, enriched with Rae's trademark self-deprecating sense of humor. 

2. Frances McDormand in Nomadland
A sublimely openhearted performance as sympathetic and generous as the film it's in. 

1. Nicole Beharie in Miss Juneteenth
Beharie deserves an acting crown for the lived-in, soulful realness of the year's most fully realized character and performance.


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