By disappointment media Staff
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Sean Boelman's Pick: Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami
Audiences probably thought that they had seen the definitive Malcolm X performance when they saw Denzel Washington’s turn in Spike Lee’s biopic, but Regina King and Kingsley Ben-Adir would like a word. Ben-Adir’s performance as the iconic Civil Rights leader in One Night in Miami doesn’t feel like an impersonation, but rather, an embodiment of the qualities that made him who he was. The entire ensemble is great (Leslie Odom Jr. also shines in his supporting role as singer Sam Cooke), but it is Ben-Adir’s presence that brings the whole thing together. And even though Ben-Adir has been a relative unknown up to this point, expect this performance to bring him a level of notoriety that will allow him to do big things in the future.
Camden Ferrell's Pick: Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
Sound of Metal succeeded in exposing and educating a wider audience about the deaf community, but this message was boosted significantly by the strongest leading actor performance of the year. Riz Ahmed gets a chance to shine in the spotlight as a lead actor, and he doesn't waste any time in proving how talented he is. From the start, Ahmed's performance as Ruben is engaging, but it slowly becomes mesmerizing to watch as the narrative progresses. Faced with a spiritual dilemma when he loses his hearing, Ruben's story is equal parts frustrating and heartwarming. This journey is one that isn't without challenge, and Ahmed does an astounding job of taking the audience along for the ride and to learn with his character. It's an extremely emotional performance that solidifies Ahmed's place in the future of film.
Dan Skip Allen's Pick: Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Sir Anthony Hopkins has been acting for quite some time now. His career spans over fifty years, not including his stage work. A lot of his work has been of the dramatic fare, but he has been known to take a role for its comedic elements. Being knighted by Queen Elizabeth has shown what his career has meant to the English people and monarchy. His latest film, The Father, might arguably be the best of his career to date. In The Father, Sir Anthony plays a man who is dealing with dementia. His daughter is dealing with him and her at her wit's end. She doesn't know what to do. Director Florian Zeller puts the person watching the film in both the shoes of the main character and his daughter at various points in the film. We feel the disorientation Anthony is going through as well as what his daughter feels like dealing with a man with this debilitating disease. It's not a good feeling being in either person's shoes. Sir Anthony makes the viewer believe he has this disease at every point in the film. It's not an easy thing to digest, having a loved one go through this.
Sarah Williams's Pick: John Boyega, Red, White and Blue
While best-known for Star Wars, John Boyega's strength as a serious actor has been made more clear than ever with this year's Small Axe. Red, White and Blue is the story of a young man who chooses to join a police force that actively works to keep him down, and he learns the corruption and unchanging nature of a police state through the inside. Boyega embodies the two poles here, from hopeful, young belief, to the quick descent into a seasoned man who's learned too soon how corrupt his world can be. His journey from realizing that what he wants for the police is not a mission of doom, but one not possible for this system is a deeply human portrayal of a young man who just wants better, and his inner turmoil is clear, making a tricky story to tell nuanced.
Adam Donato's Pick: Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
The Academy has yet to recognize Sacha Baron Cohen for his acting, despite a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2007 for Borat. Some movies are better if you know the behind the scenes of what went into making the movie, and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is definitely one of them. The fact that he had people tweeting about a KKK member walking through a Republican event over a half year ago before the world even knew it was getting a sequel to Borat is amazing. Just think about how much improvisation goes in this performance as Borat is interacting with actual people who are unaware of the celebrity that lies before them. He didn’t consume actual raw bison liver like former Best Actors, but he did quarantine with some old fools for days during a pandemic. This performance gives life to an iconic character that can only be pulled off by one man and the world is lucky it got to see it a second time.
What are your favorite performances of 2020? Let us know!
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