Now it’s time to cover the best of the best in terms of male performances from this year.
I hate to keep piling it on when it comes to discussing the male performers this year, but I couldn’t help but notice the difficulty I experienced while compiling this list. Sure, there were a number of standouts but compared to their female counterparts the list of exceptional male performances were a bit lacking, in comparison.
In no particular order:
MICHAEL FASSBENDER in Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth
A masterclass in embodying mental and emotional turmoil. When Fassbender delivers the line “O, full of scorpions is my mind”, I fully and unequivocally believed his statement.
ROBERT LONGSTREET in Brandon Colvin’s Sabbatical
Perhaps the divergent of Fassbender’s mental turmoil embodiment, Longstreet ably captures some of the same characteristics albeit in far more subdued manner, communicating through body language and uneasy silences.
LELAND ORSER in Riley Stearns’ Faults
Orser captures the pathetic/end-of-his-rope personality with ease and because of this, Faults benefits greatly. Taking what is a rather simple psychological tug of war and multiplying the compelling factor considerably.
DEL HERBERT-JANE in Sophie Hyde’s 52 Tuesdays
It was a helluva year for first-timers and Herbert-Jane is another performance to add to the list. A deeply moving turn that conveys a multitude of emotions rendering every scene with him an affecting experience.
JAMES ‘PRIMO’ GRANT in Keith Miller’s Five Star
Another first-timer and another great performance. Grant is absolutely compelling playing a real-life version of himself – a five star general in the Bloods – painting a portrait of a complex man in gang life, one rarely presented on-screen.
ANTOINE-OLIVIER PILON in Xavier Dolan’s Mommy
An exemplary turn from Pilon as a brash, obnoxious yet vulnerable young man. So full of energy, appealing and repellent all at once.
AHMAD CHAHROUR in Christopher Jason Bell’s The Winds That Scatter
Yet another first-timer and this time around I’m not even sure if Chahrour was acting. Considering my difficulty in determining so, Chahrour’s earnest depiction of a Syrian refugee looking for work in America might be one of the year’s best.
JOSHUA BURGE in Joel Potrykus’ Buzzard
The main reason to experience Potrykus’ Buzzard would be to get yourself acquainted with Burge’s apathetic slacker persona.
JOSH LUCAS in John Magary’s The Mend
Again, the main reason to seek out Magary’s feature debut would be to witness Lucas rambling about the space, free-forming gruffed masculinity.
ABRAHAM ATTAH in Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation
Realizing a solid trend here, another first-timer. Attah modestly paints a portrait through quiet confidence, an unassuming portrayal of emotional nakedness.
RICHARD JENKINS in S. Craig Zahler’s Bone Tomahawk
A humorous mix of genteel simple-mindedness and heroism, Jenkins steals the show every time he opens his mouth. I would love to hear his character’s thoughts on just about anything.
KENTUCKER AUDLEY in Charles Poekel’s Christmas, Again
Audley’s portrayal of a man engulfed in grief is something to behold, full of nuance, he delivers a muted performance wherein a prequel of Christmas, Again plays out in his pained facial expressions. No exposition needed as everything is written on his face.
CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT in Josh Mond’s James White
Abbott shines, elevating Mond’s feature debut, as the insufferably selfish man-child grappling with grief, anger and helplessness, seemingly unaware of affects or at least willfully ignorant.
NICK CANNON in Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq
Perhaps the biggest surprise of this year, if you were to tell me that I would be including Nick Cannon on my year-end list highlighting great performances I would have dismissed you politely. But, here we are.
CORI GONZALEZ-MACUER in Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s What We Do in the Shadows
This may seem like an odd choice, but I find it rather remarkable that Gonzalez-Macuer is able to inject a genuine sense of emotional weight – while, simultaneously being hilarious – into a mockumentary involving vampires.
LAWRENCE MICHAEL LEVINE in Lawrence Michael Levine’s Wild Canaries
Levine’s physical comedy gets a lot of mileage out of a neck brace and I, for one, am pleased by this.
JAMES LANDRY HÉBERT in Alex R. Johnson’s Two Step
CALEB LANDRY JONES in the Safdie Brothers’ Heaven Knows What
PATRICK FUGIT in Alex Ross Perry’s Queen of Earth
GREGG TURKINGTON in Rick Alverson’s Entertainment
KEVIN CORRIGAN in Andrew Bujalski’s Results
BENICIO DEL TORO in Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario