These are not Oscar predictions. They are my preferences -- the five performances in each category I have loved most this year from the 50 films I've screened. I'm doing this since the year is half over... and also just begun. (Oh, you know how Hollywood waits and waits to release the juicy stuff...) Unfortunately none of them will get any traction for acknowledgements later in the year when various groups start giving prizes. It's all in the timing...
Best Leading Actress
Amy Adams -Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day (review)
Irene Azuelas -Burn the Bridges
Famke Jannsen -Turn the River (interview)
Frances McDormand -Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day
Julianne Moore -Savage Grace (review)
Watch out people. Julianne comes roaring back into psychosexual territory and none too soon. I need redheads experiencing mental breakdowns in dramas like most people need warm blondes falling in sweet love in romcoms. I just do. Adams and McDormand are appealing if not extraordinary in Miss Pettigrew (though I was tempted to replace one of them with Katharine Heigl who was ready to do a lot more for 27 Dresses if the film or screenplay had only figured out what to ask of her), Azuela holds all the threads of Burn the Bridges to her bosom like a protective makeshift mother (any Mexican readers know anything about this young talent?), and Janssen announces again that Hollywood isn't properly utilizing her talents. She's strong in Turn the River.
Best Leading Actor
Robert Downey Jr -Iron Man
Colin Farrel -In Bruges
Brendan Gleeson -In Bruges
Espin Klouman -Reprise
Dominique Pinon -Roman de Gare (review)
[note: Before anybody gets their panties in a twist: I have not seen The Visitor. I do enjoy Richard Jenkins work generally so...] The hyperbole was really out of control on Robert Downey Jr's Tony Spark/Iron Man spin. It's not like he was reinventing the wheel. Still it was thrilling to see this great actor headline a big star vehicle for a change. Every other performance here was more surprising in a way but you can't fault RDJ for being reliable. He's been consistently charismatic and spot on since way back in the 1980s.
The other men didn't get even 1/100th of RDJ's praise but they deserve some as well. Colin Farrel especially. He gives his best performance yet in the deceptively simple but intricately enjoyable In Bruges (from the amazing playwright Martin McDonaugh --I'd also highly recommend his Oscar winning short film Six Shooter.) He plays a hitman with a guilt-ridden conscience and it's amazing to see him drift away from his sadness whenever something amuses or surprises him (dwarves, drugs, women) only for it to snag hold of him again as his mind invariably snaps back. There's so much happening in his face. Gleeson partners him well. Klouman (in his first major role) is beautifully attentive to all of his scene partners and a true natural. Finally, Pinon improbably transforms his weird self into something resembling a romantic leading man. Wow.
Best Supporting Actress
Audrey Dana -Roman de Gare
Shirley Henderson -Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Claude Sarraute -The Last Mistress
Charlize Theron -Sleepwalking (review)
Victoria Winge -Reprise
My apologies have to go out to Patricia Clarkson in Married Life (review), Eva Amurri in The Life Before Her Eyes (review) both of whom I talked up previously but I couldn't do without Henson's mesmerizing schemer, Sarraute's hilarious horny grandma, Dana's accidental muse, Theron's film stealing mojo and Winge (stealing a line from Pajiba here) "who looks like Björk if Björk was from Earth"
Best Supporting Actor
Eugenio Derbez -Under the Same Moon (review)
Ralph Fiennes -In Bruges
Val Lauren -True Love (previous notes)
Victor Razuk -Stop-Loss (review)
Channing Tatum -Stop-Loss
I am commentless at this moment.
Best Cameo / Tiny Role
Steven Coogan Finding Amanda
Ernesto D'Alessio Under the Same Moon
Henrik Mestad Reprise
Jérémie Renier In Bruges
I couldn't think of five but these men added wonderful notes to their films.
Drrrty (Most Indecently Luscious)
Asia Argento -The Last Mistress
Angelina Jolie & James McAvoy -Wanted
Gilles Marini -Sex & the City: The Movie
Julianne Moore & Stephen Dillane & Hugh Dancy & Eddie Redmayne & Elena Anaya & Unax Ugalde -Savage Grace (Too bad they're all such pervs)
Which of these performances have you seen? Were you impressed? Whose acting reel (circa 2008) would you watch again?
Related Post: top ten of the year so far (Jan-Jun)