Each time I make my annual year's best lists, this one is always the most difficult to narrow down. And from where I stand, 2021 was a particularly strong year for acting performances. This year's thespians brought to life a plethora of intriguing characters with impressive skill. It's therefore my pleasure to salute this year's troubled and troublesome women, ambitious men and everyone in between. These are my Top 20 Acting Performances of 2021:
20. Andrew Garfield in Tick, Tick... Boom!
A tour de force musical performance that resonates with heartrending truth.
18. Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of Macbeth
17. Nicolas Cage in Pig
Nicolas Cage like you've rarely seen him before, utterly vulnerable and tremendously moving.
16. Jodie Comer in The Last Duel
The pivotal heart and soul of one of the year's most compelling films.
15. Mercedes Hernández in Identifying Features
14. Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter
Prickly, funny and thoroughly captivating.
13. Tessa Thompson in Passing
Thompson's exquisitely delicate performance showcases her masterly attention to detail.
12. Anthony Ramos in In The Heights
Anthony Ramos announces himself as one to watch with this delightfully charismatic performance.
11. Reed Birney in Mass
An understated performance that nevertheless speaks volumes.
10. Emma Thompson in Cruella
Emma Thompson is a callous delight in a film that doesn't deserve her.
9. Emma Stone in Cruella
Emma Stone once again proves her "it factor" with this pitch-perfect interpretation.
8. Renate Reinsve in The Worst Person in the World
A remarkable breakout performance that leaps off the screen with its honesty and relatability.
7. Will Smith in King Richard
Will Smith reminds us of his talent with this transformative and passionate performance.
An endlessly disarming performance that cuts deep.
1. Ann Dowd in Mass