By disappointment media Staff
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Sean Boelman's Pick: Mercedes Hernandez, Identifying Features
Oftentimes, the performances that get the most attention on end-of-year lists like these are those which are big, flashy, and command the screen. However, it is just as important to recognize those turns which have a quiet power to them, and that is exactly what Mercedes Hernández brings to her role in Identifying Features. As a mother looking for her lost son who went missing while emigrating to the United States, Hernández doesn’t have a ton of dialogue, but when she does, she delivers it in a way that is entirely subtle. Instead, it is the emotion of her performance that she is able to convey through her smaller mannerisms and movements that is more impressive. In a year full of great performances from seasoned veterans and newcomers alike, Hernández’s is one that could be overlooked, but certainly deserves the attention.
Camden Ferrell's Pick: Sidney Flanagan, Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Sidney Flanigan's lead performance in Never Rarely Sometimes Always is one of the most profound and moving experiences of the year. Playing Autumn, a teenage girl traveling to New York after an unintended pregnancy, Flanigan is able to speak volumes without much dialogue. Every pause, breath, and action she performs is meaningful, and she does it with such grace and ease. Her role is more subdued than her peers this year, but it is one of the most brilliant performances you may ever see. She plays the role so convincingly that it will simply tear you apart into pieces with its authenticity and emotional power. Flanigan's debut performance will leave you speechless and in desperate need of a tissue. It is an awe-inspiring exhibition of her raw talent as an actress, and it shows the promise of a star in the making.
Dan Skip Allen's Pick: Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Frances McDormand has had a pretty good career if I do say so myself. Her two Oscar-winning performances couldn't be more different, though. One was this happy go lucky police chief who fell into a murder investigation, and the other was a no-nonsense woman who would take any crap from anybody. Once again, McDormand changes it up for her turn as Fern, a woman with nowhere to turn after the plant she worked at and the town it was in both shut down. She is forced to become a nomad traveling from place to place and town to town looking for work just to survive. She lived in her van and eventually finds a community she can feel at home with. Chloe Zhao used a similar style to her previous films with Nomadland. It was semi-nonfiction because of the people Fern comes across, but the character of Fern is fictional. The world she resides in is all too real. This is a much more subdued performance from McDormand than her ones in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Fargo.
Sarah Williams's Pick: Kate Lyn Sheil, She Dies Tomorrow
She Dies Tomorrow is a surreal oddity, made more real with Kate Lyn Sheil playing a version of director Amy Seimetz. Sheil is an actress who many say is an acquired taste, but her tactile, on-edge acting style and distinctive voice work wonders to bring the psychological horror to life. For every flashing neon light and dramatic tearful closeup, there is a distant moment of monotony, one of acceptance and forced emotionless. Between these, there's a sweet spot where her performance shines brightest, these raw cracks in the masks her character puts on, whether it be one of acceptance or hysteria, shown in her relationships to one of the year's finest ensembles, scenes with Sun Don't Shine co-star Kentucker Audrey perfectly encapsulating the alienating chemistry of a toxic relationship on the outs.
Adam Donato's Pick: Elizabeth Moss, The Invisible Man
Two of the best performances last year were Lupita Nyong’o in Us and Florence Pugh in Midsommar. There’s just something so satisfying about watching a character navigate their way through a horror movie to come out a badass by the end of it. Elisabeth Moss was so good that she made her co-star seem invisible. Usually, performances torpedo when an actor has to act opposite a green screen, but seeing all the effort behind the scenes in how it was made to work is impressive. After mostly being known for the hit series The Handmaid's Tale, it’s nice to see Moss in a leading role for a blockbuster-type movie. It’s been months since this movie came out and Moss’s face at the end of the movie is still ingrained in the audience's heads. Moss is so good in The Invisible Man that she’s not just the final girl, she’s the only girl and that deserves some recognition.
What are your favorite performances of 2020? Let us know!
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