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10 Great 2016 Performances That Probably Won’t Get Oscar Attention

08 December 2016 | Features, Other Lists | by Caio Coletti

Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic

Every year, 20 actors get the distinct honor to be Oscar nominees – and even though they are (mostly) given to good performances, there’s no way you can think they truly are the greatest of any given year. 2016 will not be different: the Academy’s prejudices will be front and center, and by that I don’t even mean racial prejudices, but their unfair predilection for polished drama films over genre fare or indie mood-pieces.

These 10 spectacular performances I selected from this year’s films probably won’t be Oscar-nominated (there’s one or two of them who have minor chances according to the specialized media), but they deserve to be seen, heard and celebrated just the same. Be sure to check them out.

 

1. Krisha Fairchild in Krisha

Krisha

Even though Krisha won the Independent Spirit Awards’ John Cassavetes Prize last year, it had a qualifying Oscar run just this year in March, making its lead, Krisha Fairchild, eligible for awards – and let me tell you, she definitely should be nominated to more of those. As a film, Krisha is a bare-bones passion project made for a few bucks and with little to no plot, revolving around a woman’s confrontations with her family on Thanksgiving.

The lead’s performance, though, is truly riveting. It’s not her cinematic debut, since she had a couple of roles before, but it feels like a late introduction to a great performer – she’s magnetic, fiery and fierce, a bit reminiscent of Gena Rowlands’ legendary work in A Woman Under the Influence. It’s no wonder the film is named after her – it only works as the stylistic and emotional downward spiral it wants to be because of her.

 

2. Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water

Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water

This is one of the performances that still can make the cut for the Academy, but I’m earnestly betting it doesn’t. Even though it received a lot of critical praise, David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water has been quite forgotten among the heavyweights of the awards season (read: La La Land, Moonlight, Jackie, etc). It also harbors a kind of strangeness in its approach to a seasoned genre that might not sit as well with the Academy as it did with the critics.

This is a shame especially for Jeff Bridges, who delivers one of his finest performances in recent memory as Marcus Hamilton, the Texas Ranger facing mandatory retirement after a stellar career. Because this is a movie, he gets one hell of a last case, and we get to know and care for Hamilton, at the same time as the actor exposes all of his typically placed flaws. It’s brilliant work that turns expectations on their heads in the best way possible.

 

3. Emily Blunt in The Girl on the Train

Emily Blunt in The Girl on the Train

This is one of those cases in which the movie not being that good altogether ruins the chances of their star to break through in the Best Actress race. As an adaptation, The Girl on the Train is clunky at best, and as a film in and on itself it’s not particularly brilliant or original. Emily Blunt, however, is even more exceptional than usual as the title character, a recent divorcée who sees something terrible happening from the window of the train she catches every day.

The film rests on her shoulders, and she manages to overcome all of its flaws to create a beautifully composed portrait of a hopelessly ruined woman. Her despair is palpable and her helplessness hurts the spectator too, because Blunt has that kind of quality only great actresses have of communicating their emotions directly to the viewer’s most sensitive spot. It might not really warrant an Oscar nomination, but it’s certainly commendable work.

 

4. Patrick Stewart in Green Room

Patrick Stewart in Green Room

Green Room is exactly the kind of fun and fascinating genre movie the Oscars will never recognize, but should. Not only Jeremy Saulnier’s narrative is ingenious, his direction is masterful in its balance of tones and elements. The film’s most “awardable” quality, however, has to be Patrick Stewart’s absolutely terrifying performance as the leader of a neo-Nazi group chasing after a punk band that witnessed a murder.

If you never thought that’s a role you’d get to see Patrick Stewart play, well, join the club – and yet, he’s spectacularly good at it, transcending his pompous Shakespearian background to deliver a menacing, ominous performance, with a raging quality that could only work on this film. What he does is not so much scenery-chewing as it is scenery-thrashing, and yet not one time he sounds or looks out of conceivable reality, and everyone knows that’s what’s truly terrifying in horror villains.

 

5. Anya Taylor-Joy in The Witch

The Witch

Another amazing genre film that will not get Oscar attention, The Witch is perhaps the most exquisitely crafted film of the year. It will be a true shame that its cinematography, soundtrack and editing don’t get recognized as the artful, beautiful works they are. Another aspect that should be more commended, however, is the young lead’s brilliant performance as the character goes through a harrowing journey straight to the heart of darkness.

Her name is Anya Taylor-Joy, and you’re going to see her in quite a lot of films in the next months, from Barack Obama’s biopic Barry to M. Night Shyamalan’s Split. This 20-year old star has a way to mesmerize the camera with her eyes, and a talent for alluring the spectator to a sense of familiarity that should work wonders for her in any well-crafter horror movie. As The Witch is built around her, Taylor-Joy’s performance gets more and more subtle, and it’s weird to think she’s this good so young.

 

 

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  • Mortimer

    I agree with this list. But we must be positive that at least Isabelle Huppert has a good chance to be nominated for the first time (!).
    Rooney Mara is missing here. Critics say that she is terrific in UNA but unfortunately, movie wasn’t picked by USA/UK distributors this year.

    • Afrikoka

      First time but for the wrong movie.

  • Kate Beckinsale deserves a Best Actress nod for Love & Friendship as it’s the performance of her career.

    • sailor monsoon

      I didn’t think she could act till i saw that movie.
      I was Pleasantly surprised

      • She’s always been a pretty good actress. It’s just that she doesn’t show that very often due to the mainstream movie she’s in. I recommend films like Snow Angel and The Last Days of Disco which show what she is able to do.

        • sailor monsoon

          I’ve actually never seem those films.
          The last time i thought she was good was the aviator

          • That is one of her finest performances. I would also suggest Cold Comfort Farm which she is excellent in. Avoid stuff like Pearl Harbor and Click which are just beneath her.

          • sailor monsoon

            Click is terrible but i feel like a better actor could’ve made that premise work

          • Pretty much anything with Adam Sandler (unless it’s Punch-Drunk Love) is likely to be bad.

          • sailor monsoon

            True But i think it would’ve been interesting to see him in inglorious basterds as the bear jew

          • I think it would’ve been interesting since Sandler does have the talent to do it. It’s just that he’s too fucking lazy and greedy in wanting to do something that is challenging.

          • sailor monsoon

            Reign over me and punch drunk love stretched him.
            And kinda funny people.
            I think he really wanted to do basterds but scheduling prevented it

          • Reign Over Me I didn’t like while Funny People was a film that needed more work in the editing room. I do love Punch-Drunk Love. I just hope the Noah Baumbach film he’s doing will be good.

          • sailor monsoon

            I absolutely agree but he was atleast trying in those films

          • True but those films weren’t very good.

          • sailor monsoon

            Agreed I’m just countering your argument that he’s just lazy and doesn’t want a challenge.
            He definitely doesn’t now but there are some roles you can tell he’s legitimately trying.
            And those films aren’t bad because of him.
            Which is always the opposite

  • sailor monsoon

    Daniel radcliffe-swiss army man
    He’ll make you care about a farting corpse

  • Unkle Amon

    Imo, Ben Foster in Hell of high water gave performance for Oscar nod.

  • jithindurden

    I would add Daniel Radcliffe in Swiss Army Man and Kate Beckinsale was brilliant in Love and Friendship

  • Rudi

    Emily Blunt in The Girl On The Train, really? That could very well be the worst performance I’ve seen in cinema this year (and I saw around 50 movies).

    I’d replace her with Bella Heathcote in The Neon Demon, although all four female ‘leads’ were terrific.

  • I think both Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman should be up for acting in 10 Cloverfield Lane, also maybe Jena Malone in The Neon Demon