10 Great Movie Performances From 2017 No One Talks About

5. Lily Collins – To the Bone

It’s merely coincidental that three Netflix original movies wound up on this list. To be fair, Netflix release a hell of a lot of movies last year. It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that some got more credit than others. Mudbound and Icarus may have earned plenty of attention, but some movies are bound to fly under the radar. If the actual movies are underrated, so are the performances within those movies.

With that being said, let’s talk about To the Bone. This 2017 drama earned solid reviews, but the modest viewership meant that nobody would be talking about it several months after release.

By the time the “best of lists” starting coming out, everyone had forgotten about Lily Collins’ incredible performance. This could be because not enough people saw it, but it could also be because the reviews simply weren’t strong enough.

Regardless of the quality of a performance, critics are unfortunately liable to ignore strong acting if the movie isn’t memorable. With a 68% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, To the Bone is certainly good, but it’s not good enough to compete with the competition.

It’s a shame because Collins really does give one of the best performance of 2017. She presents the audience with a protagonist who’s both quick-witted and surprisingly vulnerable. She presents herself as a character who isn’t afraid of anything, but her ability to slowly reveal her sensitive side is impressive. There was clearly an awful lot of work put into making Ellen a strong character. It would be silly to ignore that.


4. Adam Driver – Logan Lucky

Daniel Craig’s baffling Southern accent may be fun to watch, but he’s got nothing on Adam Driver’s performance as Channing Tatum’s dimwitted veteran brother. Clyde Logan is a different beast than Kylo Ren. He’s a lot less intimidating and a lot more hilarious.

In other words, audiences get another example of Driver’s surprising range after eclectic performances in This Is Where I Leave You, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Silence. We haven’t seen Driver quite like this before. Thank goodness he nails it.

Nobody is smart in Steven Soderbergh’s bonkers heist film, but Driver is a special sort of stupid. He’s clearly meant to play an age-old archetype that audiences have been seeing for years. Somehow, Driver puts a spin on the character while simultaneously nailing the stereotype he’s meant to play. The combination of fresh and formulaic works to his advantage. It results in a performance that’s consistently fun to watch even jokes aren’t being made.

Logan Lucky is more than just a redneck Ocean’s movie. Sure, that’s an easy way to describe it, but that’s not giving the movie enough credit. Soderbergh brought together a bunch of talented actors to make us laugh while a wild heist is planned and (sort of) executed. Driver seems to be the one having the most fun here, which means the audience will have fun with him.


3. Sally Hawkins – Maudie

Okay, it’s a little unfair to include this performance because critics lost their mind over it. That being said, it was ultimately overshadowed by a different Sally Hawkins performance involving a bipedal amphibian and some emotional sign language usage.

Hawkins picked up countless award nominations for The Shape of Water, which meant that this equally enchanting performance had to be put on the backburner. Truthfully, her work in Maudie is roughly as powerful as her work in the aforementioned movie. The bigger budget, well-timed release, and big-name director inevitably meant that one Hawkins performance was bound to reign supreme.

Last year, Sally Hawkins proved that she can make anyone cry under any circumstance. In The Shape of Water, the strong relationship between her and the experiment combined with the underlying themes about humanity ensured that the most soulless viewers would leave the movie feeling emotionally drained.

Maudie’s a little more straightforward with its melodrama, but that only works in Hawkins’ favor. She uses the sappy script to her advantage by putting on a performance that’s enormously rewarding and heartbreaking.

Similar to many of the films on this list, Maudie is an underrated movie in general. Performances aside, Maudie is an incredible movie even when it gets a little formulaic. The lack of chatter surrounding the film means that nobody is talking about Hawkins. Not to overexaggerate, but that’s a travesty.


2. Will Poulter – Detroit

Will Poulter plays one of the most despicable characters to come out of any movie in recent memory. The fact that he can make you hate him almost immediately says a lot about his work in Kathryn Bigelow’s criminally underrated Detroit.

The latest from the director of Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker is one of the most intense experiences to come out of 2017. This is partially because the Algiers Motel incident was brutal and partially because Will Poulter screams his lines for nearly 150 minutes.

Maybe saying he screams his lines for the entire movie isn’t fair. Anybody can yell out the words written in a script. That doesn’t require skill. It would be more appropriate to say that Poulter delivers his lines with such power that viewers are liable to quake with fear.

If they aren’t scared by Poulter’s booming performance, they’ll certainly be affected to some degree. His performance works because the audience is practically guaranteed to feel a wide range of emotions. People will leave the film feeling frustrated, shaken, and maybe even a little inspired, and that’s how they’re supposed to feel. Basically, Poulter is one of the most integral parts of the movie’s social message.

The rest of the cast is pretty impressive too. In particular, Boyega and Smith provide moving performances that strengthen the powerful themes. Unfortunately, they just don’t stand a chance against Poulter’s fiery bad cop performance. Philip Krauss’s disgusting behavior is put front and center, so the actor playing him gets the spotlight. It’s a good thing Poulter knows what to do with that spotlight.


1. Lois Smith – Marjorie Prime

Looking for a full length Black Mirror movie? Marjorie Prime is about as close as you’re going to get. Revolving around the use of artificial intelligence to recreate the experience of living with a deceased relative, Michael Almereyda’s thought-provoking sci-fi drama explores territory that has admittedly been explored before.

Sci-fi flicks about artificial intelligence are all the rage lately, but Marjorie Prime’s sensitive commentary on loss means it’s more than just another science fiction movie with big ideas. A lot of the film’s success is owed to Almereyda’s introspective script, but the top billed performance is also hard to ignore.

Lois Smith is 87 years old, but that doesn’t stop her from giving one of the best performances of 2017. She plays the titular character, who finds a way to reconnect with her late husband after technology has progressed far enough to make that a possibility.

She doesn’t always remember that he’s artificial, and she doesn’t always remember much about him, but the connection between her and this computer is enough to make a grown man cry. There’s a lot of subtlety in her performance, but she’s able to emote when she needs to. Basically, she understands how to strengthen an already exemplary script.

It’s impressive that Lois Smith is able to outshine stars like Jon Hamm and Geena Davis, but she does it with ease. There’s not a moment where Smith isn’t completely demanding the attention of her viewers. As if the strong script wasn’t enough, there’s one hell of a lead performance to grip the audience from beginning to end. There are a lot of stellar performances on this list, but Lois Smith’s work deserves to be remembered for years.