6. Agyness Deyn in Sunset Song
Sunset Song is the first Terrence Davies movie in five years, since the stunning Rachel Weisz starrer The Deep Blue Sea. With his defying sense of rhythm and beauty, plus his utter control of the camera, Davies adapts a Scottish classic about a young girl coming of age in the early years of the 20th century. In the lead role, British model Agyness Deyn stuns in what could and should be her breakthrough performance.
Deyn has a very distinct on her modelling work, and she leaves it behind for this role, even though her face is as distinctive and inviting as ever. With subtleties and smart choices, she guides us through this meditative film that doesn’t want to escape the slow pacing of its source material. Deyn is endlessly fascinating to watch as she goes through a gamut of emotions with the vibrant expression the young character needed.
7. Alden Ehrenreich in Hail Caesar!
When you become the absolute stand-out in a cast that includes George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Frances McDormand and Jonah Hill, you know you did something right. The name is Alden Ehrenreich, and before you forever remember him as the young Han Solo, please check out his brilliant performance in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, a delicious romp through the Golden Age of Hollywood.
The amazing thing here is that Ehrenreich seems to understand the movie he’s in better than all of those seasoned and critically acclaimed actors I mentioned before. He’s terribly funny, and shows unexpected pathos, just like the film itself. He’s markedly American and very eccentric, but nevertheless somewhat universal in its humor and feeling. It’s an absolutely stellar performance that deserves to be remembered before Ehrenreich takes the Millennium Falcon way to stardom.
8. Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic
At this point in his career, Viggo Mortensen has delivered so many great, largely unseen performances, it’s hard to even keep track. Captain Fantastic is just the latest, then, but it feels like there’s something special in this one nevertheless – the former Lord of the Rings star plays a devoted father of six that has raised his kids away from the world, in a strict physical and intellectual environment. When he is forced to leave his paradise for the world, he starts to question what it means to be a parent.
The key to all great Viggo Mortensen performances is how unsuspectingly sensitive he can be to the character’s very specific situation, and how he can translate that on-screen to something every viewer can relate to. He does exactly that here, putting together a unique and still very typical father, and shining light in his conflicts with his own choices the way every parent does in real life.
9. Kate Siegel in Hush
Kate Siegel co-wrote Hush with her husband Mike Flanagan, who also directs it. It’s kind of a family affair, then, but it’s also one of the very best claustrophobic thrillers of the last few years. Brilliantly crafted, harrowing and unique, but also slightly unbelievable to the point that it’s fun, the film’s a gem that should be discovered immediately by genre fans on Netflix, and Siegel’s performance is fundamental to the way it works.
She’s not just your average final girl – she portrays the difficulties of being hearing impaired with intelligence, walking the fine line between exploration and exploitation, and makes for an intensely relatable subject, which helps the viewers put themselves in the despairing situation she’s in. And as the movie delve more and more into suspension of disbelief territory, she’s the one that keeps it grounded and compelling.
10. Kate Beckinsale in Love & Friendship
Everyone thinks that Kate Beckinsale found the role of a lifetime in Love & Friendship, but no one is willing to give her recognition for it. Truth is she was never made for self-serious roles or blockbuster stardom (anyone else wondering how the Underworld franchise has survived for nearly 15 years?), while taking on a mischievously funny role seems like the opportunity to flex muscles no one even thought she had. As Lady Susan Vernon, a matchmaking nightmare of a mother and socialite, she proves she should’ve been in comedies all along.
It’s also Whit Stillman’s first film in five years, and oh how his wit was sorely missed from the comedy scenario. Love & Friendship is a whip-smart, surprisingly relevant Jane Austen adaptation that benefits immensely from Beckinsale malicious delivery, scheming looks and impeccably faked poise. Now please, for the love of God, finish up the Underworld franchise and get her more roles like this one.
Author Bio: Caio Coletti is a Brazilian-born journalist, a proud poptimist, and has too many opinions to keep them all to himself.