With the Oscars coming in soon, I thought I would weigh in on the nominations for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. The movie choices and performances this year seemed stellar compared to last year, making for exciting competition. In case you are not interested in the reading: My favorites are Casey Affleck, Emma Stone, Mahershala Ali, and Naomi Harris.
Best Actor: All of the performances were wonderful, although I have my clear favorite. Andrew Garfield was excellently cast in “Hacksaw Ridge”; Ryan Gosling was very good as a struggling jazz musician in LA in “La La Land”, and Denzel Washington gave a powerful performance (one that he perfected from his portrayal of the role on Broadway) in “Fences”. Viggio Mortensen as a father who risks losing his family in “Captain Fantastic” is really good but not among my favorites. My favorite is Casey Affleck in “Manchester By the Sea”. His performance as a man torn by deep grief was his best and, I think, the best of the group.
Best Actress: Noticeably (and surprising to me) missing from this list is Amy Adams, who had two excellent star performances in “Arrival” and “Nocturnal Animals”. Meryl Streep was great, as always, as a singer who cannot sing in “Florence Foster Jenkins”. Ruth Negga was excellent as the wife of the Loving couple whose case for interracial marriage was decided in the Supreme Court in “Loving”. Isabelle Huppert is such an excellent actress and gave a very nuanced performance in “Elle”. My two favorites are Natalie Portman, who was a very convincing Jackie Kennedy in “Jackie”, and Emma Stone; I thought that “La La Land” was totally her movie. In the end, I loved the energy Emma Stone broght to the movie.
Best Supporting Actor: Gosh, another category with killer competition. Missing is Aaron Taylor Johnson, who played an utterly creepy villain in “Nocturnal Animals”. Two other wonderful performances that aren’t in the list are by Andre Holland and Trevante Rhodes, who play the two friends in “Moonlight”. Dev Patel was fantastic as the adult version of a boy who lost his way from home and then finds his way back in “Lion”. Lucas Hedges shines as the nephew who suddenly finds himself without a father in “Manchester By the Sea”. Jeff Bridges gave a performance of a lifetime in “Hell or High Water” as the sheriff on the hunt for two bank robbers. And Michael Shannon plays a serious yet rather wacky sheriff hunting a double-murder with the same artistry as he does in other roles in “Nocturnal Animals”. My favorite is Mahershala Ali, who gives such a heartfelt performance as the father-figure who cares for Chiron as a little boy in “Moonlight”.
Best Supporting Actress: One powerful performance that is missing is by Riley Keough, who plays a leader of the magazine sellers in “American Honey”. Viola Davis is powerful as a wife and mother who sacrificed her dreams for her husband in “Fences”. Nicole Kidman was wonderful in Lion. Octavia Spencer was perfect as the fiery manager who was not given the title of manager in “Hidden Figures”, and Michelle William’s scene with Casey Affleck when she tries to reach him is stunning (and one of my favorite single-scene performances from her) in “Manchester by the Sea”. My favorite is the Naomie Harris, who gives a layered and complex performance as Chiron’s drug addicted mother in “Moonlight”.