Move Over Oscars… Here are the 20 Best Performances of 2019
2019 was a great year for movies—and for the actors within them. Rather than bore you with a long and unyielding introduction, here are the 20 best performances—regardless of gender or size of role—of the year.
20. Alessandro Nivola, The Art of Self-Defense
Nivola plays a sociopathic martial arts sensei who teaches how to punch like a kick.
19. Adam Driver, The Report
Driver plays the most driven (obsessed?) man in America in this methodical and disturbing investigation of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program.
18. Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy
LaBeouf portrays his own father—who wasn’t exactly the most endearing of individuals—in this creative reenactment of his troubled childhood.
17. Taylor Russell, Waves
Russell is barely in the first half of this mesmerizing drama, but when she shows up, she shows up in force.
16. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
If anyone could pull off a
15. Antonio Banderas, Pain & Glory
The movie is a bore, but Banderas, playing a suffering filmmaker whose joy is slowly rekindled, is at the very top of his game.
14. Jessie Buckley, Wild Rose
Buckley was incredible in HBO’s Chernobyl, but she’s downright commanding in this drama that almost—almost—makes you appreciate countrymusic.
13. Rebecca Ferguson, Doctor Sleep
Ferguson somehow manages to be sexy and sinister as Rose the Hat, one of the most memorable celluloid villains of the year.
12. Awkwafina, The Farewell
While it pains me that someone named “Awkwafina” is a serious actress, Awkwafina is incredible in this understated drama.
11. Christian Bale, Ford v Ferrari
Matt Damon is fantastic in Ford v Ferrari, but Bale’s turn as the eccentric Ken Miles is one for the record books.
10. Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems
When a performance gives you literal anxiety, that means you’re watching a good performance.
9. Adam Driver, Marriage Story
As good as ScarJo is, it’s Driver who delivers the most emotional punches in this depressing drama.
8. Mads Mikkelsen, Arctic
Mikkelsen carries the entire weight of this survival film on his shoulders and barely breaks a sweat. He breaks a leg, though.
7. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Pitt was great in Ad Astra, but he’s even more impressive as the charming hero (and wife killer?) who somehow steals the show from Leonardo DiCaprio.
6. Lupita Nyong’o, Us
Should Nyong’o get mentioned twice on this list for her dual characters in Jordan Peele’s chilling thriller?
5. Robert Pattinson, The Lighthouse
As weird (too weird for me) as The Lighthouse was, it’s no shocker that Pattinson fit right in.
4. Joaquim Phoenix, Joker
Whether you loved or loathed this divisive comic book movie, there’s no denying that Phoenix absolutely immerses himself in the role.
3. Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse
Speaking of immersion, Dafoe goes full Lighthouse in The Lighthouse.
2. Florence Pugh, Midsommar
Here’s a secret: Little Women, for which Pugh will likely receive an Oscar nomination, features the actress’s third best performance of 2019.
1. Elisabeth Moss, Her Smell
Rarely do you see an actor unleash completely, but in Her Smell, Elisabeth Moss makes you believe… for the year’s best performance.