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« Halfway Mark Box Office (Pt 1: The Mainstream) | Main | June. It's a Wrap »
Sunday
Jun302019

CONSIDER - Actors of 2019, First Half

With the year half over, it's time to look back on the first six months and what treasures they brought us. Here are the 19 performances by actors we liked most at the movies thus far this year. We hope you'll sound off on these and share a few of your own in the comments... and we hope this list serves as a reminder to Oscar, Globe, critics, and SAG voters that amazing performances can happy at any time of the year. Why wait til December to start considering your "Best of" ballot? We're not saying that all 19+ of these fellows deserve prizes, just that everyone should be keeping lists of standouts for their own pleasure and edification and to combat faulty memories as the year progresses.

Subject to Change! I regret missing the following actor-led pictures which I will catch up with as soon as I have the opportunity: The Mustang and Sorry Angel. Okay here we go...

9 FAV LEADING ACTORS
(Jan 1st - June 30th releases) 

Chao Deng as "Jing Zhou/ Zi Yu" in Shadow
An amazing dual role wherein he delivers both near-camp level villany and subdued stoic masculinity sometimes in the same frame. [Awards for this performance: Best Actor nominations at both the Golden Horse Awards and the Huading Awards.]

Taron Egerton as "Elton John" in Rocketman
Such an exhaustively committed performance, that you feel that "I'm Still Standing" triumph late in the picture. How Taron, how are still standing? Plus we love an actor who can do their own vocals for a musician biopic.

Awards for this performance: TBD, Bohemian Rhapsody fatigue will likely and unfairly hurt Egerton's chances for a MUCH stronger performance than the earlier film had but at least a Golden Globe nod seems likely IF they campaign in the Musical category.

Ma Dong-Seok as the Gangster in The Gangster, the Cop, and the Devil
There's a reason he was already cast to reprise his role in the American remake.

Jonathan Majors & Jimmie Fails as "Montgomery & Jimmie" in The Last Black Man in San Francisco
What a tender and beautifully judged portrait of a close male friendship. All that plus character quirks and the texture they bring to scenes outside of the friendship where they are less comfortably themselves in the sometimes hostile world of San Francisco.

Félix Maritaud as "Leo" in Sauvage/Wild
The 26 year-old gay actor has been making quite a name for himself these past two years with uber-committed performances in racy French movies (see also: BPM and Knife+Heart), especially this one as a feral yet somehow innocent street hustler who is unable to look past the given moment, any moment. It's time for more international attention and high profile auteur opportunities. He's earned it.

Awards for this performance
: Lumiere Award Winner in France "Most Promising Male Actor" and Louis Roederer Foundation "Rising Star Award" at the 71st Cannes Film Festival]

Himesh Patel as "Jack Malik" in Yesterday
How do you know a star turn that's kind of an anti-star turn (Jack is all unlikely deer-in-headlights superstar... and weirdly passive for most of the movie) is going well? When you feel for him every step of the way.

Robert Pattinson as "Monte" in High Life
Franz Rogowski as "Georg" in Transit

Two seemingly* effortless performances filled with elusive feeling.

* Performances this good aren't ever actually effortless

 

 

10 SUPPORTING ACTORS

 

Evan Alex as "Jason Wilson/Pluto" in Us
Wonderful in both roles

Winston Duke as "Gabe Wilson/Abraham" in Us
His dorky dad is so endearing, especially when he tries to get tough for his family or get it on with this wife.

Ralph Fiennes as "Pushkin" in The White Crow
Fiennes barely seems to move at all in this ultra-subdued performance... but it works.

Danny Glover as "Grandpa" in The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Great to see him in a quality film again.

Tim Heidecker as "Josh Tyler/Tex" in Us
Convincing as an old chill friend of the family. Even better, more surprising, and inventive as the doppelganger.

Ben Mendelsohn as "Talos/Keller" in Captain Marvel
Some actors coast through genre pictures merely by going a big bigger and broader, even Mendelsohn has been guilty of that before. But he's having so much fun in this dual (kind of) role that he seems to be rubbing off on Samuel L Jackson, too, who ups his game in this umpteenth Nick Fury reprise)

Rob Morgan as "James Sr" in The Last Black Man in San Francisco
When are people going to notice, collectively, that Morgan is one of the best character actors out there?  

Will Sasso as "Terry" in American Woman
Our first glimpse of him is as a kind of visual punchline to a mischievous conversation -- that schlub? -- but he's never less that three dimensional despite never really moving inside from the periphery. We know this guy. We trust him.

Matt Smith as "Charles Manson" in Charlie Says
Perhaps not a surprising take, but the actor draws on his innate charisma and capacity for psychos, revealing inner darkness, hostile insecurities, and barely veiled manipulations.

John Turturro as "Arnold" in Gloria Bell
Bravely this is the opposite of endearing. Turturro draws you in initially with compelling sadness and regret -- you want to know more and even get Gloria's surprising attraction though she's out of his league. But the more layers he reveals... the more offputting he becomes. Back away, Gloria, get out while you can!

 

 

BONUS LIST 1
CAMEOS, LIMITED ROLES, AND VOICE PERFORMANCES WORTH NOTING

Louis Hoffman as "Teja Kremke" in The White Crow
As Nureyev's only onscreen male lover, he has a fine scene in which we see that Teja understands Nureyev's attractions to various people (not just sexually) better than Nureyev himself does. This is also a perfect excuse to point out that the 22 year-old rising German star was exceptional in a major role in the Oscar nominated Land of Mine a couple of years back. 

Martin Lawrence as "Captain Wack" in Beach Bum
It's not a secret that I despised this movie and found the lead performance close to unbearable. Perhaps Lawrence amused because he wasn't given an opportunity to overstay his welcome or hit the same note repeatedly like some of his cast-mates in this short performance as an unlicensed and foolish tour guide. 

Keanu Reeves as "Duke Kaboom" in Toy Story 4
The Keanussaince continues, at the mic this time.

BONUS LIST 2
GRATUITOUS SEXINESS

Carloto Cotta as "Diamantino" in Diamantino
Guileless sex appeal and adoringly dim goodness. Even the narcissism is innocent.

Hugh Dancy as "Charlie Fain" in Late Night
So casually sexy, he disrupts workplace ecosystems without even trying. 

Kim Moo-Yeol as "The Cop" in The Gangster, The Cop and The Devil
Swaggering through a stock role (the rogue but heroic cop) with lots of BDE

Who were a few of your favourites thus far? 

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Reader Comments (26)

For Actor I would add Mads Mikkelsen for Arctic and Matthias Schoenaerts for The Mustang.
Supporting Actor I would add Jamie Bell and Richard Madden for Rocketman.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRod

Andre Holland in High Flying Bird.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

I'm also on board with Taron Egerton's performance. Especially compared with whatever that was Rami Malek presented us with in "Bohemian Rhapsody", possibly the worst Oscar win since Mary Pickford in "Coquette"
Javier Bardem was marvelous in "Everybody Knows"(as director Asghar Farhadi continues to impress).
Jean-Claude Van Damme"s "The Bouncer" went direct to video (as Van Damme vehicles almost always do). But in this -as well as several other latter-day efforts - the man emanates a worn, soulful melancholy I find intense and distinctive.
And returning to "Rocketman", I loved Tate Donovan as Troubadour owner Doug Weston. He somehow found the charm in blondined, perma-pickled, in your space extrovertism.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen

Lead
Robert Pattinson, HIGH LIFE
Franz Rogowski, TRANSIT
Roman Kolinka, MAYA
Marcello Fonte, DOGMAN
Félix Maritaud, SAUVAGE
Ki Joo-bong, HOTEL BY THE RIVER

Supporting
Nicolas Maury, KNIFE+HEART
André Benjamin, HIGH LIFE

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

I will bet you anything poor Taron Egerton will go ignored while that atrocity that was Rami Malek got a giant tongue bath. It’s so not fair

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

Wow...harsh words for McConaughey.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTony Ruggio

MDA beat me to it. Andre Holland was terrific in High Flying Bird.

I also respected the lack of vanity in Andrew Garfield's performance in Under the Silver Lake. The film works better because there's no mistaking what a tool his character is, and Garfield doesn't try to soften it.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMIchael C.

Really loved Skylar Gisondo in Booksmart.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBen

For consideration: Best Actor: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth-Avengers: Endgame.

Best Supporting Actor: Don Cheadle, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd, and Jeremy Renner-Avengers: Endgame.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Michael -- Garfield was my cutoff person on this list. Just missed it.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

High Flying Bird doesn't qualify for film prizes since it was released directly to streaming without a corresponding theatrical run.

Nathaniel you're contradicting yourself with the Danny Glover remark since you liked Sorry to Bother You. I hope Majors is campaigned supporting.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I know it's not out yet but look out for Aldis Hodge, who was so good in Clemency. Woodard seems to be getting all the buzz but she could possibly pull him in if buzz starts building.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Lao Fan "Ash Is Purest White"
Guillaume Canet "Non-Fiction"
Marcello Fonte/Edoardo Pesce "Dogman"

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterken s

Ben -- he was adorable, yes!

/3rtful -- not a contradiction. For a long while it seemed like he was never in good movies but lately the tide is turning which is very welcome.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Great picks. I especially loved seeing Ben Mendelsohn get cited. Some honorable mentions I'd personally throw in are Jack Lowden in Fighting With My Family, Dev Patel in The Wedding Guest, Richard Madden in Rocketman, and James Saito for Always Be My Maybe.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew St.Clair

I was absolutely bowled over by Chao Deng in Shadow. That is a tour de force performance and then some - kind of reminded me of Miranda Richardson in Spider in terms of sheer versatility and the dichotomy between good and bad.

I was also impressed with James Badge Dale's understated work in The Standoff at Sparrow Creek. And of course Mad Mikkelsen's basically mute turn in Arctic.

Best of them all for me though is Andrew Garfield as a thoroughly unlikeable character in the unfairly derided but soon-to-be cult classic Under the Silver Lake.

Also Nathaniel - I totally agree RE: The Beach Bum. Total shit.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLuke

I was absolutely bowled over by Chao Deng in Shadow. That is a tour de force performance and then some - kind of reminded me of Miranda Richardson in Spider in terms of sheer versatility and the dichotomy between good and bad.

I was also impressed with James Badge Dale's understated work in The Standoff at Sparrow Creek. And of course Mad Mikkelsen's basically mute turn in Arctic.

Best of them all for me though is Andrew Garfield as a thoroughly unlikeable character in the unfairly derided but soon-to-be cult classic Under the Silver Lake.

Also Nathaniel - I totally agree RE: The Beach Bum. Total shit.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLuke

Egerton deserves a best actor nomination- he gives it his all.

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Jake Lacy in Diane

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Tom Burke in THE SOUVENIR

June 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

Hoffman's frontal was very apreciated here, yes it was.

July 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Tate Donovan was fantastic in Rocketman. He was so happy with his wig.

July 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I'd fourth or fifth Andre Holland in High-Flying Bird. I'm assuming you haven't seen it, Nat.

John Lithgow was great in Late Night. I'm not sure if it qualifies as a limited performance or supporting role.

July 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Skyler Gisondo in Booksmart is my only addition to this list.

July 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterWilsonB

Shia LaBeouf in THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON - my 2019's HALF NELSON. Loved it

July 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEd

Of the few I've seen on this list, I enthusiastically agree with Evan Alex and Rob Morgan.

July 2, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKJ

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