Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The 100 Best Movie Performances of 2015

At the end of the year, it is my duty as a film blogger to consider the year as a whole. Last year, I said that 2014 had been a year of great films. I must say that I think 2015 was a year of many good films as opposed to truly great films--my top ten of last year is a whole lot stronger than my top ten for this year, with a few notable exceptions. There were still many excellent movies, and in particular many excellent achievements. Even if I felt that the films as a whole were stronger last year, this year featured some rather incredible feats in directing, writing, and in particular acting. As I thought of this year, what stood out to me was how many truly incredible performances there were. This was, to me, the year of the actor. And in honor of that, I went through this year's movies and came up with what I think were the top 100 best movie performances of the year. It's a lot to go through so I'll save you any commentary on my part, but I have very carefully gone through this list and put a lot of thought into these rankings. So without further ado, here are my picks for the top 100 performances of the year, in order from great to greater.

100) Bridey Elliot as Harper, Fort Tilden
99) Chloë Grace Moretz as Jo-Ann Ellis, Clouds of Sils Maria
98) Demián Bichir as Bob/Marco the Mexican, The Hateful Eight
97) John Goodman as Frank King, Trumbo
96) Charlotte Rampling as Kate Mercer, 45 Years
95) Regina Casé as Val, The Second Mother
94) Michael Madsen as Joe Gage/Grouch Daniels, The Hateful Eight
93) Richard Jenkins as Chicory, Bone Tomahawk
92) Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, Straight Outta Compton
91) James Spader as Ultron, Avengers: Age of Ultron

Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac, one half of the small but excellent cast of Ex Machina.

90) Domhnall Gleeson as Caleb Smith, Ex Machina
89) Tessa Thompson as Bianca, Creed
88) Tom Hiddleston as Sir Thomas Sharpe, Crimson Peak
87) Tobey Macguire as Bobby Fischer, Pawn Sacrifice
86) Jason Statham as Rick Ford, Spy
85) Mya Taylor as Alexandra, Tangerine
84) Peter Sarsgaard as Stanley Milgram, Experimenter
83) Nelsan Ellis as Jesse Fletcher, The Stanford Prison Experiment
82) Bruce Dern as General Sandy Smithers, The Hateful Eight
81) Stanley Tucci as Mitchell Garabedian, Spotlight

Mark Rylance as a Soviet spy in Bridge of Spies, and Tom Hanks as the lawyer tasked with defending him.
80) Tom Hanks as James B. Donovan, Bridge of Spies
79) Paul Dano as Jimmy Tree, Youth
78) Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Philippe Petit, The Walk
77) Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, Concussion
76) Chris Sheffield as Tom Thompson (2093), The Stanford Prison Experiment
75) Phyllis Smith as Sadness, Inside Out
74) John Cusack as Brian Wilson, Love & Mercy
73) Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener, The Danish Girl
72) Géza Röhrig as Saul, Son of Saul
71) Rachel Weisz as Lena Ballinger, Youth

Billy Crudup, who lead the excellent ensemble cast of The Stanford Prison Experiment.
70) Billy Crudup as Dr. Philip Zimbardo, The Stanford Prison Experiment
69) Chiwetel Ejiofor as Vincent Kapoor, The Martian
68) Jake Gyllenhaal as Billy Hope, Southpaw
67) Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper, Spy
66) Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer, Spotlight
65) Abraham Attah as Agu, Beasts of No Nation
64) Richard Kind as Bing Bong, Inside Out
63) Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa, Mad Max: Fury Road
62) Clare McNulty as Allie, Fort Tilden
61) Oona Laurence as Leila Hope, Southpaw

The fine work of Jake Gyllenhaal as a boxer and Oona Laurence as his daughter elevated the otherwise underwhelming Southpaw.
60) Benicio del Toro as Alejandro Gillick, Sicario
59) Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, The Revenant
58) Tom Courtenay as Geoff Mercer, 45 Years
57) Tim Roth as Oswaldo Mobray/English Pete Hicox, The Hateful Eight
56) Rinko Kikuchi as Kumiko, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
55) Juliette Binoche as Maria Enders, Clouds of Sils Maria
54) Michael Caine as Fred Ballinger, Youth
53) Ian McKellan as Sherlock Holmes, Mr. Holmes
52) Andrew Garfield as Dennis Nash, 99 Homes
51) Michael Keaton as Walter "Robby" Robinson, Spotlight

The deservedly acclaimed cast of Spotlight.
50) Shameik Moore as Malcolm Adekanbi, Dope
49) Liev Schreiber as Boris Spassky, Pawn Sacrifice
48) Lily Tomlin as Elle Reid, Grandma
47) Cynthia Nixon as Gail White, James White
46) Ronald Zehrfeld as Johnny Lenz, Phoenix
45) David Thewlis as Michael Stone, Anomalisa
44) Parker Posey as Rita Richards, Irrational Man
43) Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald, The Revenant
42) Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes, Spotlight
41) Kristen Stewart as Valentine, Clouds of Sils Maria

The work of Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche, as well as Chloë Grace Moretz, makes Clouds of Sils Maria easily one of the best acted movies of the year.

40) Elizabeth Banks as Melinda Ledbetter, Love & Mercy
39) Kurt Russell as John "The Hangman" Ruth, The Hateful Eight
38) Tom Noonan as everyone else, Anomalisa
37) Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel, Bridge of Spies
36) Imogene Wolodarsky as Amelia Stuart, Infinitely Polar Bear
35) Cate Blanchett as Carol Aird, Carol
34) Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeldt, Steve Jobs
33) Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Brancato, Joy
32) Walton Goggins as Chris Mannix, The Hateful Eight
31) Idris Elba as Commandant, Beasts of No Nation

Jennifer Jason Leigh gives two equally brilliant performances this year, including her voiceover work for the brilliant Anomalisa.

30) Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lisa Hesselman, Anomalisa
29) Jacob Tremblay as Jack Newsome, Room
28) Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue, The Hateful Eight
27) Oscar Isaac as Nathan Bateman, Ex Machina
26) Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson, Creed
25) Matt Damon as Mark Watney, The Martian
24) Ezra Miller as Daniel Culp (8612), The Stanford Prison Experiment
23) David Morse as Mike Webster, Concussion
22) Emily Browning as Frances Shea, Legend
21) Emory Cohen as Tony Fiorello, Brooklyn

Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett, the two leading ladies of Carol.
20) Rooney Mara as Therese Belivet, Carol
19) Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren, The Hateful Eight
18) Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey, Brooklyn
17) Harvey Keitel as Mick Boyle, Youth
16) Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs
15) Paul Dano as Brian Wilson, Love & Mercy
14) Mark Ruffalo as Cam Stuart, Infinitely Polar Bear
13) Johnny Depp as James "Whitey" Bulger, Black Mass
12) Jessica Chastain as Lucille Sharpe, Crimson Peak
11) Nina Kunzendorf as Lene Winter, Phoenix
The three central performances of Phoenix, including those of Nina Hoss and Nina Kunzendorf, help make this German film one of the best of the year.
10) Emily Blunt as Kate Macer, Sicario
9) Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo, Trumbo
8) Ben Mendelsohn as Gerry, Mississippi Grind
7) Michael Shannon as Rick Carver, 99 Homes
6) Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, Creed
5) Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace, The End of the Tour
4) Alicia Vikander as Ava, Ex Machina
3) Brie Larson as Joy "Ma" Newsome, Room
2) Nina Hoss as Nelly Lenz, Phoenix
1) Tom Hardy as Reginald Kray & Ronald Kray, Legend

Tom Hardy, who gives what I think is the best performance of the year. Which he accomplishes by basically giving two Oscar-worthy performances.

So, there you have it--my picks for the 100 best performances of the year. Five actors managed to make it onto the list twice: Paul Dano, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mark Ruffalo, and Alicia Vikander. Also, ten films had three or more performances on my list. Anomalisa, Clouds of Sils Maria, Creed, Ex Machina, Love & Mercy, and Phoenix all had three performances on the list, Spotlight, The Stanford Prison Experiment, and Youth all had four performances, and The Hateful Eight stakes its place as my pick for the best acted film of the year with a whopping eight performances making the list.

What are your thoughts? What did I get right? What did I get wrong? Who did I completely miss? who did I give way too much credit to? Share your own favorite performances in the comments. And I'll be releasing my picks for the very best films of the year soon.

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